Tag Archives: t2i

IF3 Photoshoot

I was recently hired by Felix Rioux from IF3 (International Freeski Film Festival) to shoot their new teaser for the 5th edition of the festival, on which I will do another blog post later, because the vid is not yet finished, even less launched.

For an ex-ski-movie producer like me, this was a nice experience, because it involved shooting with some of the top names in freeskiing right now. I had the chance to shoot with skiing’s most decorated athlete, Tanner Hall, Sean Pettit, Henrik Harlaut and Paul Bergeron, who actually used to be in my movies back in the days.

At the same time, my mandate was also to snap a few pictures of the riders wearing the new Snooz Bandanas they’re putting out this year. Since this was a complement to the video shoot, we had very little time and means to do this photoshoot, so we really had to improvise with what was available around. Fortunately, there were some nice abstract paintings in the house where the riders were staying, so I was able to take them down and use them as backdrops.

I had no flash setup available, so I had to manage the ambient light that was inconstant at the end of the day.

I tried shooting with my Zeiss 50mm f1.7, but the small size of the backdrops was a pain for the lens’ focal length. I had to resort to my Canon 85mm f1.8, by far the lens I’m the least experienced with, because it’s a very hard lens to shoot video with, and that is clearly what I do the most with my T2i. I had a hard time handling the very sensible focus, even at f5.0. When I looked at the shots on my computer, many of the pics I thought were the best were finally a bit out of focus, but I was able to get a couple of very good ones.

Here are the 4 best:

Tanner Hall

Sean Pettit

Paul Bergeron

Henrik Harlaut

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Plenty Humanwear Lookbook 2011

Back in November, I produced a teaser for Plenty Humanwear’s spring/summer line, called The Natural Path. Oriented towards environmental consciousness, the collection presents various pieces on which the designs focus on nature, and that was exactly the mood that was set for the teaser.

So, when it was time to officially launch the collection, Greg, the company’s founder, and I sat down and established somewhat of a complex plan to produce between 8 to 10 clips, each presenting one of the collection’s pieces through rather abstract, eco-imagery. Everything was going good, except for the time factor. Him being busy with sales and design, me being buried under dozens of projects at the office, we came to the conclusion that we had to find an alternative plan to release a video sooner than later, since spring was almost already over.

Luckily, we benefited from Greg’s birthday party, which was scheduled to be a camping weekend in a nearby National park, where all his friends/associates/models would be, in a perfect natural setup to fit the focus of the collection. I then took my shooting arsenal and met up with the crew for an afternoon of casual shooting.

Fortunately, the lighting was great. The sun was out along with a couple of clouds to put some contrast in the scenery, so I quickly decided to make the most out of it and find the angles that would render the best flares and shadows. I brought my good old Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.7, my lens that has the ability to create some of the most bizarre and interesting flares and light bursts, and after seeing how it reacted with the light in the forest, I decided to shoot mostly with that. While I was shooting video, two of my friends, Tony Verge and Phil Dionne were also shooting pictures for the Plenty website, and we managed to produce an incredibly high amount of quality imagery in a ridiculously short time-span.

Later on, when capturing the footage, I knew I had material to make something pretty cool for this new web advertisement. As much as I usually think that the T2i/DSLR footage in general looks cheap when looked at stock, this footage really looked stunning right out of the camera. It was contrasted, warm and it just exhaled summer.

Original footage

Graded footage

Once the editing was done, I tried a couple of looks in color grading, to finally go for the kind of vintage look I used also in the November teaser. As usual, it is unnoticeable because of the Vimeo compression, but the graded footage has a very neat grain that accentuates the look of it when you look at the uncompressed footage.


Apple ProRes 4444 footage


Vimeo h264 compression

The video is now embedded in Plenty’s website, surrounded by a mosaic of Tony and Phil’s best pictures they snapped during the weekend. The Natural Path collection is available in several shops in Quebec and also online, so check it out.

Here are some behind the scenes pics:

Myself rocking the shoulder pad…

…and looking at the results.

Coming back from a blinding flare attack.

Rocking the cowboy look.

Swix.tv Introduction

A couple weeks ago I released a little behind the scenes video of an opening title sequence I did for Swix.tv, without however showing off the final result. Well, now that Swix.tv has been launched, there’s no more secret to be kept, so here it is.

When finishing the video, the client and I came to the decision to change the soundtrack, to maybe better suit the intro to the targeted audience, because the intro is definitely not what you usually see in the freeskiing domain. I thought it’d be fun then to show you guys the original version. So here it is, my “Director’s Cut” of the Swix.tv intro.

Enjoy.

Plenty Humanwear – The Natural Path

Two years ago, when I first heard that Greg Desjardins was starting a new clothing brand, I have to be honest with everyone, I told myself “not another guy who thinks he can just start printing t-shirts and become a clothing brand”.

Only after speaking with him for hours about his project did I understand that Plenty Humanwear was really going to be something else. I had never seen such devotion, perfectionism and attention to detail in someone starting a project. The idea behind the project, the branding, the prints, the designs…everything seemed so professional that one could hardly guess this was an emerging brand held by (at that time) only one guy with the help of a few people. Of course, this hard-working attitude eventually sparked a lot of interest in me, and I felt like I wanted to be part of the project.

At the end of this summer, we were having diner at a friend’s house, and I decided to offer Greg my help if he needed anything video-related for Plenty. A few weeks later, he called me back and we had our first meeting with his new associate and long-time friend, Pierre-Nicolas Lessard. Honestly, after that first meeting, I felt kind of insecure. The guys really had a very defined idea about the video they wanted to produce as a teaser for their upcoming Summer 2011 collection, called The Natural Path. They wanted to do a first-person abstract short film demonstrating the contrasts between the urban scenery and natural landscapes. Let’s face it, I tend to have a more corporate style, even in my personal projects, and I tend to have a very photographic style, where the camera doesn’t move much and the framing is 50% of the shot’s quality.

I was about to embark on a project filmed entirely with a Glidecam and a Canon T2i, without any actors except the main character’s point of view, which was actually me featuring Pierre-Nic’s arms. As insecure as I felt, I was also really looking forward to this challenge that would make me step out of my comfort zone.

We shot the film over 4 days, in non-summer-like weather, which was our biggest challenge. The leaves were already starting to change color and the sky was always cloudy. We had to make sure every shot could be portrayed as a middle-of-July image, to really fit the 2011 Summer collection. We managed to do pretty good in that domain, and with a bit of color grading we were able to get warmer tones that the original images didn’t provide us.

The editing had its challenges too. Going from city to nature back and forth without losing the viewer’s attention was hard, and each transition and flash had to be thought through. And after that, the color grading between the incredibly different sceneries was a tedious job too. We had to make sure every shot felt like it belonged in the same “universe” even if they were filmed in totally different locations, different times of the day, and also simply, on different days.

In the end, I think the feel of the video is exactly what the Plenty guys were looking for, and for my part, I think I succeed the challenge that was set for me !

**You can see behind the scenes photos and an article at: http://www.plenty-humanwear.com/summer-2011-video-making-of/

The Bokeh Experiment

In the past few years, I’ve embarked on a quest to obtain shallow depth of field in my video projects. For me, shallow depth of field was synonym to quality, an unobtainable style in the years I was shooting with a good old Panasonic DVX100a. In 2008, while studying in Montreal and working with my friend Charles-Etienne Pascal, I realized I wasn’t the only one involved in this journey. CE decided to manually create shallow depth of field in our short film “Face à Face“, rotoscoping each and every frame of the 10-minute long movie, to recreate the effect of out-of-focus backgrounds, something that could not be achieved with the Sony HVR-V1U we were using for the film. The result was still amazing indeed (check out the making-of), but it lacked something, and I couldn’t figure out what back then.

In the first year I started to work with Nova Film, the company acquired a Letus35 Extreme adapter, which allowed us to attach Canon FD lenses to our HVX-200. I almost orgasmed when I first saw the 1080p image with super shallow depth of field. The quest seemed achieved for me, finally. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. While now being able to produce the images I envisioned for close to 3 years, I had no knowledge whatsoever of lenses and aperture, which is key when your thing is shallow depth of field.

The next year, the first Canon 5D MKII videos started emerging, and boy did I get served with depth of field. Every single shot in every video was a close-up of something with almost everything out of focus. While watching those videos, it finally struck me. The sharp circles created by out-of-focus lights, the ocean of dots created by leaves, the massive reflections on chrome and metal… Every material and texture had its own unique kind of blur. Later on, Phil Têtu, a fellow worker at Nova Film who has more knowledge about lenses than an encyclopedia, pronounced the word that finally gave a name to the endless blurry-background descriptions I was using: Bokeh. The answer to all my questions.

Bokeh became almost an obsession for me in the last months. Now that I have a fair knowledge of lenses, and that I’ve tested quite a few, I’m always looking for the best out-of-focus background to put my subject in front of, the best texture that will render the most amazing circles, hexagons or octagons behind my subject.

Three weeks ago, I acquired an old Zeiss 50mm 1.7, from the man himself, Phil Têtu, and I decided to go out and take a few shots to see what this new baby could do. I came back with many disappointing shots, a few good pictures, and one that amazed me, this one.

I was really struck by this picture. To be honest, I almost didn’t look through the lens while taking this picture, so that’s why it surprised me. And of course, the blur, the circles, the light and the rainbow flare were the first things that caught my attention, not the few little flower tips that were in focus. And it inspired me to do some more. I then realized something: why do I need a subject when all I’m looking for is that perfect abstract shape that an out of focus background gives me ? Why can’t the background become the foreground ? And that is exactly the new challenge I’ve embarked on today and for the coming weeks, and maybe months.

For now, this will be simply called The Bokeh Experiment, because, let’s face it, that is what it is. It’s probably been done before, and frankly, I don’t care. In the end, I’d like to come up with a series with a more original name of 10 to 15 pictures composed of nothing (or close to) but out-of-focus rendered shapes. I will start out with my personal lenses, and maybe rent/borrow some to achieve results that my personal gear can’t produce. If you have any suggestions of lens I should try out, please, PLEASE post them in the comments below. For the first time since I made my last ski-movie, I’m looking forward to the first snow, because sunlight reflecting on snow crystals is one of the most simple yet amazing things that light can create.

So here it is, the first picture of the set. I don’t know yet if it will make the final cut, but I feel like it’s a good start.

Nova working with Festival d’Été de Québec !

Note: All artists photos belong to Cyberpresse.ca

Seriously, where to begin ? This year, Festival d’Été de Québec, which I will go ahead and say is now one of the biggest music festivals in the whole world, contacted Nova Film to produce a short video demonstrating the ambiance reigning in the city during the 10 days of shows. Let me start by saying that in terms of fun and wow-factor, this is hands-down the best contract we’ve worked on yet.

The people from the organization were very cooperative, giving us all-access passes and letting us do what we had in mind, as long as it didn’t interfere with the artists’ media restrictions. Right from the start, the objective was to produce to least footage possible, because in the end, this will be a 60-to-90 second video. Focusing on quality instead of quantity, we set up a list of various, original shots we could create for every show, every stage, and the city in general.

All shot with the office’s 7D and my T2i, we grabbed every lens available to us, and pretty much every piece of equipment we own and we went to work. Dollies, 80-foot cranes, sky-high rooftop shootings, steadycam, poles, timelapses, body-surfing shots, hand-held shots… there’s pretty much nothing we didn’t bring to our game for this project.


Dave and I when we were going up an 80-foot crane to film the 100 000 people attending Black Eyed Peas.

Not only did we produce amazing images, but we also had the best seats in the house for every show, and need I tell you that there were some amazing shows going on ! We were off for the first Friday, because the forecast predicted thunderstorms. So, I decided to go see Dream Theater and Iron Maiden under pouring rain. Dream Theater is band I wanted to see for so long, and they did not disappoint. They gave a solid performance and John Petrucci proved why he’s considered as one of the top guitarists in the world. Then the always entertaining Bruce Dickinson, who speaks good French, accompanied by the 5 other members of Iron Maiden, came on stage. Despite the fact that they left out a couple of classics, like Trooper, Aces High, Run To The Hills and The Clairvoyant, they delivered a solid performance and Dickinson had a unique connection with the crowd.


Bruce Dickinson singing like he’s still 35.

On Monday, it was time for some handheld shots in the crowd, and was there a crowd gathered to see Arcade Fire ! I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing that many people gathered for a band I believed to be underground. They gave one hell of a performance, way beyond anybody’s expectations. This was definitely one the shows I enjoyed the most during the Festival.


Arcade Fire

On Wednesday we went to do some steadycam shots at The Cat Empire, a band that, despite the fact they’ve been in Quebec a few times, I knew nothing about. Well, this is definitely my musical discovery at this year’s Festival. Rarely have I seen a band perform better on stage. They sounded great, they interacted with the crowd and they always pushed their songs a bit further to get the crowd into it.


The Cat Empire

Friday was definitely the night I anticipated the most, with K’naan opening for the Black Eyed Peas. K’naan gave a tremendous performance, and one of the highlights of the shooting was when we got up in the crane at sunset to film the crowd during Wavin’ Flag. This was really something special. Then the Black Eyed Peas got on stage, and media restrictions prohibited us from having video equipment on the site. So, we put our gear away and enjoyed a couple of songs. The crowd was going crazy for what is probably the biggest band on the planet right now. I would have went ahead and said that it was pretty much the biggest crowd I had ever seen in my entire life, but then there was Sunday…


The Black Eyed Peas, giving a show that will definitely be remembered in Quebec.

Sunday… what can I say ? The Festival decided that Rammstein would close the celebrations, and to be honest, I thought that was a bad decision. I thought Rammstein was an old metal band that nobody listened to anymore… Was I wrong ! Honestly, I had never witnessed anything like that. Die-hard metal fans came from around the world to see this show. There wasn’t a single inch left in all the plains of Abraham for someone to be there. The crowd must have been well over 100 000 people. We went on top of the Concorde, the highest view point for the plains of Abraham, to make a timelapse of the first 30 minutes of the show. Once again, this was definitely one of the most insane views I had ever seen. We saw the whole city to our left, with the ocean of red flashing pins that everyone wears during the festival to our right.


One frame of the 160-frame time-lapse we shot on top of the Concorde.

We then put our gear away and went to see the rest of the show. While I’m not a huge fan of their music, I must say that this show sounded probably better than any show I’ve been to. The sound was unbelievably clear. But what definitely made this show one of the best in this year’s Festival is the visual aspect, that included more fireworks than a 4th of July party. I can’t even start to describe how it was, but if you ever have the chance to see this band, you’ll understand !


Rammstein !

Finally, I’d like to congratulate everyone who worked at bringing such a memorable event to Quebec City, and I’m anxious to see what you have in store for us next year !