ASSISTANT EDITOR

PHILIP’S INFLUENCE

Philip’s site has been a huge asset in my journey as a filmmaker. I can say, without question, that the resources on his site have been far more helpful than all the time I have spent in the classroom. For budding filmmakers, as well as professionals already working in the industry, it is a resource akin to none.

MEETING PHILIP

I met Philip through twitter. I remember struggling with time-lapses and asking Philip for help. Without hesitation, he willingly helped in any way he could – which blew my mind as I am sure he answered the same questions a million times for different people.

When thinking of how I got the opportunity to work with Philip, all I come up with is that it was purely luck. Philip posted an internship opportunity in Idaho through twitter. Living in Saskatchewan, Canada, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. To my amazement, he asked if I wanted to come out and play. I said, ‘yes please :) !’

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the internship. What I left with was more than I could have ever imagined. Philip’s depth and breadth of knowledge was/is amazing. However, what separates him from the lot is his willingness to share his knowledge. This willingness is what made the experience far more helpful and inspirational than all other previous experiences with filmmaking. In relation to my film a day project, it is very easy to see the dramatic shift in the films following the internship.

WHAT’S TO COME!

Philip’s site has already experienced over 23 million hits and until this point, he has managed the site ENTIRELY by himself, a huge accomplishment in itself. Having run my own sites for the last two years, I knew the amount of time and effort that was involved in maintaining a website. Not a small feat! I asked Philip if there was any way I could help with his site. Philip replied with an amazing offer — work as an assistant editor.

In Philip’s words:

“What Preston brings is not change or watering down of the site, he is bringing improvement.

His job is to post the little news stories, NOT RUMOURS, that happen. Like the 50% off Adobe deal that broke today or other more interesting stuff. At times I will task him to write about certain topics. As a young filmmaker he can offer a great insight”.

MY CONTRIBUTION

I am not completely sure what to expect as assistant editor for PB.net. One of my biggest hopes is that I am able to provide a unique perspective as a young filmmaker. I am sure my role will adapt and change with time and I am sure I will see a few bumps along the way. My biggest hope however, is that I am able to provide other filmmakers with the knowledge and perspectives I have gained from shooting a film a day.

Blog: A Guide To Filming In The Wilderness – The Introduction

PREFACE

I’ve always enjoyed camping. Growing up, every summer my family would spend exploring Saskatchewan from the dead south of Grasslands National Park to the far north at my uncle’s fly-in fishing resort. It would be safe to say that I have seen virtually all of Saskatchewan’s Provincial and Regional Parks. On weekends outside of our family camping adventures, my family and I would head out to our friend Aaron’s cabin at Wakaw.

Fast forward to 2001. My parents decided to purchase a cabin at Wakaw Lake, SK. We had been on the lookout for a place for over ten years but nothing was ever quite what we were looking for. I clearly remember the discussion my parents had over the cabin. Although it wasn’t perfect and required some work, they came to the consensus that if we were ever going to own a cabin, this was the time. The stipulation my parents made was that we had to be willing work to fix it up.

After having purchased the cabin, we stopped our yearly camping trips and instead spent every weekend and holiday working to improve the place. My dad’s mantra was that if my brother and I wanted to do something, whether it be camping or owning a cabin, that we would have to do the work. Although it was a lot of fun at the time, looking back, there is no way we would have tackled all the work we did! Ten years later and most of the heavy lifting work-wise is complete and it is now a place (the only place) where I feel completely relaxed.

I have grown an appreciation for the outdoors because of how my parents raised me. Having the cabin truly allows me to experience the outdoors much more than anyone I know. Whether it be snowmobiling, quading, or fishing, we are always outside when at the cabin.

I technically finished my film a day project back in January but have continued to post videos at a rate of about five films a week. After spending a year trying to find my niche, I think I found it! Without question, the 3 minute short film project helped me find my passion, which is filming in the wilderness.

THE INTRODUCTION

Now to the nuts and bolts!

Over the next two weeks, I will be writing my entire guide to filming in the outdoors, which will include both video and posts. I am by no means an expert but simply want to help others avoid some of the mistakes I have made and believe me, I have made them! Stories to come in future posts!

I know a I am not the only young filmmaker that also has a passion for the outdoors and for those of you that are passionate about both, this series is for you!

Below is a brief look at some of the topics I will be exploring more in-depth as the project goes on. By no means is it a complete list and it will change and adapt to the experiences I come across on my two week roadtrip through British Columbia. In the end, I hope to have something to offer that may help in your journey!

What’s To Come:

- Back-country filming
– Day trips
– How to pack
– How to set up a tent
– The complete and not so complete camping lists
– How to set up camp
– Mobile editing station

Because of the sporadic cell phone coverage in BC, I will not be posting everyday but will try to post whenever I have an active connection.

Into The Wild – Wilderness Cinematography

HUNTING & FISHING RESORT DEMO

I have a passion for the outdoors and try to explore it’s vastness as often as possible. For the last few years, I have tried to work in as many road trips that time has allowed. I’ve managed to explore many impressive locations such as Prince Albert National Park, Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park, Lolo National Forest, Clearwater National Forest, Kootenai National Forest, Kaniksu National Forest, Colville National Forest, Jasper National Park, and many Provincial and Regional Parks through Saskatchewan as well as the rest of Canada. The video above features some of the footage from last year.

Carvings By Wes

ABOUT THE FILM

While on Vancouver Island, I came across Wes, a carver. I was intrigued by the work he was producing and immediately asked if I could do a short piece on him. His immediate response was sure as long as I didn’t do an interview with him! Really wish I could have as he was a cool fellow.

Instead of the interview, he insisted I include this write-up he created on the spot.

“My Name is Wes Reierson. I was raised in Quesnel, BC. I spent years carving along the Frazer River. I became an electrician and worked at that for 30 years while carving in my spare time. Now I reside in Victoria, BC. While here, Emily Carr has become my inspiration. I do most of my carving in the same place she hung out on the beach. Now all I do is carve mostly to put smiles and happiness into other people. The Norwegian Wizard is what I started with and I have now produced more than 3000 of them”.

Here is a short poem he also wrote:

THE NORWEGIAN WIZARD

Life is short
We all should know
for in it lives
a tree troll

I am Norwegian
This I know
I carve a Wizard
From my soul

It has eyes
They just don’t show
They follow you
Wherever you go

Hang a wizard on your wall
Norwegian stand tall

Having carved over 3000 Wizards, I aspire to accomplish as much as this man has in one life time. His experience comes across in everything he carves and it is easy to see all the good and hard times he has faced. It was a pleasure to share only a few moments with a man so passionate about his work.

Belle Plaine: CD Release Party

I have known Belle Plaine (Melanie Hankewich) for about three years and have filmed her off and on since her decision to make music full time. Her sound is unlike anything I have ever heard. I was lucky enough to hear what she has coming down the pipe with her next album (not this one) and I personally believe it is some of the best stuff coming out of Saskatchewan, if not Canada!

For this project, I wanted to do a little film for the CD Release Party. Initially, I was thinking about doing a montage video from the CD Release Party but after viewing the footage, decided to contact Mel and get her to do a quick sit-down interview talking about the album.

I wanted to take a different approach to this video and limit it to the two events (Live Performance & Interview). I thought about overlaying BROLL over the interview but liked the vibe of it without so left it without the BROLL.

I shot the live performance with another 5D shooter, Alex Stevens. We shot with two 5D’s and one 7D. For the interview, I shot it with a 5D and a 7D. The sound for the interview is pretty noisy and I have finally decided to invest in a nice shotgun microphone so I can avoid the ambient noise you get for Lav’s.

WHAT I LEARNED

The shooting of both the Interview and Performance was pretty straight forward. In order to match the 7D to the 5D’s, I turned the sharpness up a two notches higher than the 5D’s but shot neutral profile settings.

In post-production however, I struggled with the colour correction of this piece. For some reason, (assuming it was my choice to shoot Adobe RGB) the image’s colour changed drastically when uploaded to vimeo. Everything looked over saturated and very red. I ended up re-doing the colour, compensating for the change that was occurring during upload. It was a game of trial and error which was so frustrated. I will be investigating why this was happening (as I am sure there is a simple explanation). What troubles me however, is that out of over 400 uploads, I have never had this issue!

ABOUT BELLE PLAINE

Born and raised on a farm near the village of Fosston, Saskatchewan, Belle Plaine, aka Melanie Hankewich, is a true prairie girl. A performer by the age of five, she was the ringer for every local musical event. Classical voice lessons began at age six and continued through high school. At 18, she knew what she wanted: to write songs, perform and have a home recording studio.

But when she moved to Edmonton to study jazz at Grant MacEwan College, her focus shifted toward a more technical aspect of music: sound recording. After graduation, she worked in a recording studio in Calgary – close to the action, but not in the game. She occasionally sang jingles for commercial radio, but the work felt meaningless.

“I gave up on music in Calgary. I’d lost touch with my own voice. I had years of education, but artistically I felt drained.” Hankewich recalls.

After two years at the studio Hankewich realized she was better off waiting tables. Eager for change, she enrolled at the University of Victoria as an environmental science major. Science was not the right choice, but she had found the right city.
Having fallen in love with Victoria’s vibrant arts community she dropped out of school. She also began to sing again.

Two co-workers heard her voice at the Cook Street Village coffee shop where they all worked. Soon after they informed her that they were starting a band and she was in it.

A handful of performances at open mic nights followed. Hankewich began to write. An itch to travel carried her to Sydney, Australia. She waitressed at a dodgy restaurant, lived in a house with 10 boozy Australians and played gigs with a pack of mongrel musicians. There were pub shows, garage demos and back-up vocals. During her year abroad, she discovered she wanted to be a singer. Again.

In 2006, Hankewich returned to her home province of Saskatchewan. She had not planned to live in Regina, but quickly found a home in the city’s arts community. The scene was small and welcoming. She decided to stay.

By this time, Hankewich’s notebooks were filled with words and melodies. Having quietly decided to pursue music, she was now searching for the perfect moniker. While contemplating this very question on a long drive, she passed by the village of Belle Plaine. The name stuck.

Hankewich left her job to perform full-time as Belle Plaine in early 2010. Appearances that summer included the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, Gateway Folk Festival and the Regina Folk Festival. After hearing her sing, Grant Lawrence of CBC Radio 3 included her in his Summer of 2010 Musical Discoveries podcast.

Blog: Building Your Kit | The 3MS+ Gear List

STARTING OUT

I remember the feeling of being a budding filmmaker. The ONLY thing on my mind was purchasing my first camera. However, being a student, I knew that there was no way I would ever be able to afford one when in school. At the time, a friend of mine, Nils Sorensen had a Panasonic HVX200 and I was blown away by the short films he was producing. I wanted one of these cameras!

FIRST CAMERA

I was debating between the Sony EX1 and the Panasonic HVX200 but did not really understand the difference. I read posts after posts talking about the differences of both and watching hundreds of online videos. I would easily say that seeing someone I knew use the camera is what really sold me on buying the HVX200. I turned to my parents for support. Although reluctant at first, they ended up lending me money for my first HD camera and the rest was history. If it wasn’t for my parents, I would not be were I am today.

A constant question going through many people’s mind is whether or not to wait for the camera that is just around the corner. For people waiting for the next best thing, there is no point! Why not buy now and start making art now. Technology will always be improving and it is only one element in the filmmaking process. If the story and concept are rock solid, what gear you use to capture it really does not matter!

DEDICATION

I purchased my first HD camera in 2005. Having just made such a huge investment (at the time), I felt that I had to use it frequently to justify purchasing it. I started shooting almost every day.

THE STRUGGLE

I think the most fascinating thing about purchasing gear is the obsession that inevitably follows. After purchasing the HVX200, I immediately wanted more gear. First, you loath for the gear your friends have, then you look towards others creating similar works in the industry, and then you want it all.

BUILDING UP YOUR ARSENAL

When starting out, borrowing gear is key. My biggest recommendation is to make friends with people that have gear. I still borrow gear from friends that have equipment that I wish I had! Building relationships is key in film.

3MS+ GEAR LIST

I started out the 3MS+ project with only the Panasonic HVX200. I had no tripod. I had no sound gear. Only the camera! During the project however, I was given some free gear, which helped out tremendously! Alan Fullerton and Morris Hill Pictures gave me free tripods and Philip Bloom gave me a version two kessler pocket dolly. After the HVX200 I got the Canon 7D with 18-135mm kit lens (which I used in conjunction with the HVX200 and Nikon D80 for over half of the films) and near the end of the project, managed to purchase my Canon 5D Mark II kit.

CAMERAS

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Panasonic HVX200
Nikon D80

LENSES

24-105mm 4.0L
70-200mm II 2.8L
14mm II 2.8L
50mm 1.2L
18-135mm

TRIPOD

Miller DS20

SUMMARY

Although not my complete look at all my current gear, the list above is a snapshot of the gear I used for the first year of 3MS+. If I was asked to provide advice to others starting out with no gear, the biggest word of advice is relationship building. The key, when there is no such thing as a budget or parents to lend you money, is being able to borrow gear. I started out with one camera and because of being able to borrow gear, I was able to make money to purchase more gear. If it wasn’t for the support system I had in place, I would not have been able to finish 3MS+.

Blog: Apple’s Lion, FCPx, And Adobe Production Suite: Fresh Installs

The Plan

With the release of Lion today, I also purchased FCPx and the Adobe Production Suite. I held off on purchasing FCPx until the release of Lion as I was planning on doing a fresh install of my OS. I wanted to do this so I would be able to boot off of my ‘working’ drive and continue with my daily workflow uninterrupted.

What started out (in theory) as a quick, low stress day filled in with editing during download and install time, turned into a full day endeavor.

The Low Down

I was hoping I would be able to boot off of my Snow Leopard disc in order to install Lion (an oversight made by apple in my opinion). When trying to boot off the disc, I was getting a kernel error which raised concern. However, when looking at the disc, I noticed there were a few scratches on it. I swapped the original drive to make sure my computer would still boot up. It did, so I headed to the local apple dealer in hopes of purchasing a new Snow Leopard disc. This is where the fun began.

Three weeks before the release of Lion, Apple requested the return of all Snow Leopard discs. Luckily, the tech said that he would be able to burn me a copy of Snow Leopard because I proved I had purchased it previously. However, when talking to the tech, he raised concern that the kernel error was more likely unrelated to the scratched disc and rather a problem with my Mac Pro. I decided to bring in my Mac Pro for him to test, and while he was at it, install Snow Leopard.

The Install

By the time I finally had a functioning drive with Show Leopard, I had visited the tech shop three times! So frustrating! In any case, everything worked out and I spent the rest of the day downloading and installing all the software. Download time of LION was approximately 3 hrs, FCPx was about 30 minutes, and the Adobe Production Suite was about 3 hrs. Install of LION took an hour and Adobe also took an hour.

Functionality

LION: So far I am absolutely loving Launchpad but wished I could nest Applications beyond the one level or organization. This is something you are unable to do with the IPHONE/IPAD but wish you were able to do this.

My major concern at this point is whether or not all of my apps will work with LION. I have slowly been installing my apps and have not ran into issues as of yet but will be updating this post if I do run into issues.

I have only started to play with LION so haven’t experienced all of it’s features yet but similar to the APP compatibility, I will be updating this post as I explore more.

One thing to note when it comes to APPS is that Apple has dropped support for all PowerPC based apps as well as Rosetta so many older APPS will not port over at all.

FCPx: For now, I will not be using FCPx on a daily bases but plan on editing one short a week with it to familiarize myself with it as I believe within a year that it will be a strong competitor to that of Avid and Premiere.

***UPDATE: I have spent about two hours sifting through FCPx attempting to cut my first music video with it but after much frustration, I ended up back with FCP7. What used to be the simplest tasks with FCP7 is now impossible with FCPx. I think I may need to set aside a few days to learn the new workflow as everything is so damn foreign…

ADOBE: So far, all apps seem to be functioning properly.

Although VERY basic, I have included step-by-step LION OSX instructions below.

HOW TO INSTALL LION with NEW HD:

      1. Insert Snow Leopard Disc into optical drive
      2. Hold down option key and boot from DVD
      3. Install Snow Leopard
      4. Update OSX.
      5. Download LION: At the time of this post, LION was not available from the APP STORE and was only available through apple’s online store.
      6. Install LION.

Overall

It is evident that Apple is trying to phase out optical drives as it is a fail point for computers. They have decided to offer LION for purchase on thumb drives starting in August for $69.99 verses $29.99 in the APP Store. I am honestly okay with this as it may have saved me from my trips to the tech shop…

Overall, I am happy with LION. My opinions are fairly fresh however as I only have about an hour or run-time under LION. I have heard a lot of negative feedback on gestures but have not tried them yet as I installed it on my Mac Pro. I plan on purchasing the magic track-pad before installing on my Macbook Pro’s.