Monday, 25 July 2011

Bohemia - Shoot 1.

Two weeks break and back in the shooting game in Zurich at a restaurant called Bohemia. Bohemia is famous for being the first restaurant to roast their own coffee beans and as a result making the best coffee in Zurich. The place has got so much character and colour. Originally it started off as a butchery and then was taken over as Bohemia Cigar Bar, but since the smoking law kicked in things changed and Bohemia needed to move with time. The place asked for a make-over. Although clients don’t understand why they have to change something that suits them perfectly, the inside were old and very un-economic. The huge fridges originally for the butcher to hang his meat where a complete waste of energy.

I was asked to document the old Bohemia for what it is and then over 4 months follow the process of refurbishment all the way to the new Bohemia. From this I have to cut commercial films which they will use to keep excisting clients informed and for advertising purposes.

Together with my IT man, Benjamin Walz we developed this killer timelaps system that is made of 3 HD cameras taking a photo every 60 sec's. The photos are then transferred via wi-fi to a main computer where they are backed up x2 on external drives. Everything happens automatically. Even in case of a power failure battery power will provide energy for an entire day with enough memory to store 3 days of photos on every camera. As soon as power is restored the system will automatically start-up and download & back-up all unsaved data. I even have the possibility to access the files from anywhere in the world by logging in via an online server and check on the status of the cameras, external drives, and photo quality for dirty lenses etc. Let’s hope it all works out the way we planned it.

Bohemia looked well after us and there were never a hungry or thirsty moment. Gaffer Pietro Bartesaghi did a great job setting up our gear and making sure we could pump out the interviews and creative filming. Thanks also to Visuals Switzerland for all the rental gear. It helps so much to have a personal relationship with a rental company that goes out of their way to serve you with the best equipment. Three to four weeks from now the first film will be online.

Here is just a test film I made 2 months ago to show the client what Bohemia looks like through my camera lens. Nothing official.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Leaving a Legacy

A heavy last 2 weeks of work, completely burned out. It started with a career highlight as one of my hardest script writing voice over attempts became a reality.
It was between 12 and 2 in the morning in Barcelona when the inspiration just started flowing. By the time I put the pen down and went to bed, I had no idea what I wrote. I just wrote as fast as possible to get all the ideas down, however had a feeling I was onto something.

4 days later in a Zurich studio I got goose bumps as we recorded one of the world's most iconic voices reading the script that was written by a monkey. Pretty special moment.
The next day I departed to South Africa to work on a project that has been coming on for the last 10 months. The concept is something I have always been interested in and was stoked to finally get started.
In many ways it makes sense shooting in South Africa as it is a country that is extremely well geared for rental of filming equipment. Especially Cape Town has got it all. With my long relationship of rental with Panalax & Panavision and a reasonable budget for the project it was the perfect opportunity to take things to new heights.
During the last week we worked with 3 great companies to transport the concept & explain the message from the client about leaving a legacy. Art, music & diamonds were our subjects. First, we spent an entire day with what is probably Cape Town's most respected diamond cutter; Prins&Prins. What they are doing there is just one of a kind. With all the big bully monopoly companies it's refreshing to know that magic still happens in the heart of the mother city.

We shot a trade master at work with 41 years of experience in diamond cutting. Just incredible to watch his dedication and precision. The owner, Dr Petre Prins is a gentleman and he spoke from his heart as we captured his passion for diamonds on camera.
Next was the commercial kitchen artist Frans Groenewald. Very interesting creative character. It was raining cats and dogs that day and we briefly faced the elements in-between showers and pulled some pretty special shots off. One of the highlights of the shoot for me was shooting plenty of extreme close-ups with a 100mm macro lens. To be able to get so close to the action and capture so much detail was essential for the production.
Last was the beautiful music group, Zamar. The funny thing was that my dad told me first about the band. For me, who has the reputation of not listening to him, it was kind of remarkable to follow his recommendation. Just shows you, I should have started it ages ago.

We focus on front woman Veronica Bell to tell her vision of her mark she leaves in people as their music inspires rhythm in all of us. Again, we were challenged by the one storm after the other, but like always the clouds gave way and just gave us enough time to do our magic.
I have to mention gaffer - Barret de Kock & assistant - Dieter Fouche for their incredible commitment in making the production work. Barret is going to get far in this world since no problem is too great for him. The fact that you can just leave him to sort it out and you carry on with something else is priceless. Dieter on the other hand planned and scheduled our extras to make every scene flow into the other. This way we spent less time struggling and more time setting up the shots to get the most out of every scene. Thanks guys.
One scene worth mentioning is the last shot on day 5 of production. I wanted to have a tracking crane shot on top of a mountain panning out while a couple walks into the picture. The crane has to move outwards, revealing location as the sun sets with Table Mountain in the background. Logistically it was a mini nightmare. We already had to postpone the shoot with 2 days because of rain. Then it was the 10 meter crane to take up the mountain and none of us had a clue how to really construct the monster together. By far the biggest thing I have ever worked with. But it worked out like always with a few minor changes and the last 15 minutes gave us 14 takes to get one perfect shot. We shot with a wonderful Compact Prime 18 mm Carl Zeiss lens. Very thankful for the smooth aperture to stop down as we pulled back with the sun into the lens. But yes, keeping the right composure, exposure & focus was a great challenge for a humble camera operator.

The last two days I filmed for my brother's wine business, BLANKbottle. Always fun to be with him on the road. We cruised all over the Boland, even popped in at world renowned winemaker Eben Sadie, and shot some beautiful Swartland landscape. The snow covered peaks made it chilly, but stunning pictures.
Pieter H. Walser film I made a while ago.

Now there, a bucket full of editing ahead, but that's ok, would not mind if I don't have to pick up the camera for 2 weeks or so.