Posts Tagged ‘cinematography’

In Motion

Friday, October 4th, 2013


One of the more dramatic motion segments I have experienced was in the course of shooting motion picture for a film project centered on Hawaii. The stills image above is a quick grab done as  Tyler Swain., Rob Dafoe and I worked 3 camera positions at Anahuli Bay, Hawaii. I think that we all got chicken skin in the course of this days long shoot, repeatedly. We were cognizant of being able to witness something bigger than some people from the Waikaloa Halau performing.

Shooting motion and understanding the nuances is really quite complex.  At least it is, if you engage as a Cinematographer, where your camera moves tell the story. For the purposes of this blog, I am going to use other people’s work.

Here is a great looking story on Hula. The Huamana.

Here is an outstanding body of timelapse work done by a young Cinematographer named Cory Hansen. The piece is entitled “Dark As Night”.

I doubt there is much as sacred or significant in this world as our story. It is that way because it belongs to us. So when we share that, and push the envelope of vulnerability, what we really are doing is baring ourselves to the universe in a way. We give our story up.

Years ago a close friend of mine rang me. He had just returned from a Studio Executive meeting. He is a well known screen writer. He told me that another studio had stolen my story (One published in a Magazine) given it to a screenwriter who developed the screenplay and it had somehow wound up on the desk of his EP. They had asked him to rewrite it.

I asked him what he was going to do.

“I said no. I told them I knew the writer and that the story belonged to someone else. But I suggested they have me write a new piece. They agreed. How do you feel about this, David?”

My response was instant. “Well, it is not my story at all. It really belongs to the men I wrote about. It is their story. I was merely a witness”

“Well, would you consider helping me pen the new one?”

“Of course. Their story matters. It is significant.”

So we did that, and as things go in the entertainment business the project was stalled in pre production and was never made. It was ironic and sort of funny. Possibly  a bit sad, even. Why? Because it was the story of Mark Foo, and what I had seen over the course of nearly 12 years. It delved deeply into the life and world of another friend, Maverick’s pioneer Jeff Clark, who helped me understand Maverick’s and come to terms with Mark’s death, which had affected me deeply.

So you see: our stories are sacred.

sacred |ˈsākrid|
connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration: sacred rites | the site at Eleusis is sacred to Demeter.
• religious rather than secular: sacred music.
• (of writing or text) embodying the laws or doctrines of a religion: a sacred Hindu text.
• regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual: an animal sacred to Mexican culture.
• sacrosanct: to a police officer nothing is sacred.

Motion picture capability is expanding rapidly. One of my favorite companies is Go Pro. They have been highly supportive when I needed help in production. One of their camera lead developers is Cinematographer Pete Hodgson. They even had Pete help me on a production for Nat Geo.

Here is the latest Go Pro trailer. Shot using the Hero Black 3+. You can tell a different story with the POV potential of this system. And beyond it, what heads in will allow for much greater focus on our stories. I like that a lot, because in a life, your story matters. It is all we have.

Aloha nui loa.

Sierra Partridgepuuadj.9261Mickey MunozMark Foo, photo Bobby Owens

 A young Mark Foo. Photo: Bobby Owens




Oceanlovers, Blue Ocean Sciences, Creativity and Commerce

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013


Note. click on any of the images to see them large and in full scale.

In this post are a few images from the past week shooting surf. It has been a remarkable Summer in that I never get to create a lot of high bar work around Ventura and Southern California this time of year. Weather and swell rarely line up as they do during our Winters. A warm and pleasant surprise is occurring!  That is one of the great things about Surfing. You never know when the presents will arrive. It keeps your appetite whetted and hones a weather eye which is innate to all of us who live attached to the Sea.



I work in some far reaching company endeavors these days. Two massive scale projects are Blue Ocean Sciences and the Ocean Lovers Collective. What those two groups are doing, is pretty incredible, really.  I never imagined being involved in something that could change the world, ever!  But it appears that I am.

I wrote about some of that on the Oceanlovers “Beyond a Blog” education asset today, in a piece titled The Blue Forge. I recommend it for anyone who believes they need to “save” something or someone.

I have long maintained that we really cannot save anything, our goal is to contribute, and to flow, in that is happiness and the good fruit of healthy change.

You can find some my commercially available image work at Corbis images here.  Corbis has been a great asset and help to me over almost 15 years and they supply my work to a large number of clients around the world with instant download delivery, and easy licensing.

And yes, believe it or not, I am always available to discuss shooting projects in Motion or Stills, from weddings like this one, I did as a guest for fun, for my friends at Paradise Pantry as a gift, to just about any subject one can imagine. Yea, weddings SHOULD be fun things. They are all about happiness!

I love it all, and am well qualified in every way. Should I not have the time or acumen a project requires, I connect that project to one of my remarkable colleagues. We are a talented bunch. Best people in the world in more ways than one would expect, and what we do adds ease, efficiency, affordability and an exceptionally high bar of imaging and content creation. There is literally no aspect of Motion Picture or Stills creation that we are not masters of, and many of us have a long list of imaging awards from Emmy’s to Film Festival wins as well as Journalism and Commercial successes to our credit.

Seth Godin has a bit to say about “The Bar”, here in his post titled: “But it only works sometimes”.

In fact, this concept of collective development is outlined further below, in a growing Venture amongst Artists at Oceanlovers.

You can  support the work of Ocean Lovers and Blue Ocean Sciences by patronizing our online store here! We all really appreciate it, and it helps feed sustainable growth AND the Artists.  The funds go to project development. In many Orgs, only a fraction of income goes to the Artists or the causes. In this one, almost every dime fuels change that matters, and the people who drive it. The products themselves are highest bar, in terms of Art and quality.

Aloha oe.

The Supermoon




High Definition

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Hans in HD

The other day, I ran across an innovative new little POV videocam, produced by Sony, and posted the info in a  link to my Facebook page.

It breaks ground in a number of very important areas, oh and check out the price tag.  $200.00

Sony HDR-AS10 HD Action Camcorder

The conversation that ensued on FB with some of my talented colleagues, underscores how we as content creators, are moving into a new arena, one where POV may be  the simplest and most flexible to convey in the history of Cinema, and we are able to do it inexpensively and without a lot of fuss.

Almost 2 decades ago, I was fascinated by the arena of high speed motion picture Cinematography and was forced to design and build quite a few systems at great expense. Those motion picture camera systems were fairly bulky and complex, weighing up to 6o pounds per unit and capable of shooting up to 500 frames per second. I still have them all. They still work perfectly. But everything has changed and continues to really come together, with some companies listening to the right people and some others taking bad input and completely missing the ball.

Right now, I am particularly impressed by two camera Companies. Sony, and Black Magic. Canon, whose systems I have used and which made my stills career: not so much. It seems that they only have conversations with idiots these days. I sometimes wonder if they will survive those, after some recent developments I have been sad to watch occur.

One need only to look at the Red Camera System and you see  how a competitive market, demands critical, accurate informational input by users, for company product design and development. I have only shot on the Red System a handful of times. I won’t be purchasing one, nor would I rent one to bill out to a client. For me and what I do, they simply are not facile-versatile enough, and are approx 4-10 times the cost of other systems that will completely satisfy any end user demands, are simple, reliable, and that I could actually justify owning.

This was illustrated last year when a VERY talented DP and I were out collecting some footage for a TV Pilot pitch reel for a surf show. He was on the Red. I was filming with a Canon 5DM2 and the Canon 600 F4 IS. We were on a pier, pre dawn. One of the guys comes walking up and casually mentions he is going to do a  back flip off the pier with a surfboard. “Hang on a sec” I said and switched lenses, made a quick camera setting adjustment, and walked over to where he stood. “Okay, ready, I will cue you. 3, 2 1 Action” and I watched through the LCD as he did a perfect backflip, and handheld, I got a flawless capture with camera move.

I walked back over to my colleague and played back the shot. This is what he said. “My God that is perfect. I could not get my system in position or up fast enough to get that” My comment was this. “In this rapidly changing world we come up to speed or we are out of business”. The rest of the day went like this, as we filmed down at Zuma later, and I swum that same system I had shot the backflip with, and captured imagery infinitely more compelling than the Red could have.

This is just where we are today. It is about being there and not being in the way with our gear and systems ramp up times, while capturing a file that will be adequate for accurate post production, and delivery for web, broadcast or the big screen.

Here is a great review of the Black Magic by Philip Bloom.

Lest one thinks I have lost all faith in Canon, here is what I consider to be the single best camera in their lineup for Video, basic Cinematography and Commercial stills. It costs approx 750.00 and is generally known in our US Market as the Rebel t4i. I have access to a lot of high end and complex subjects, and use a lot of different cameras to capture those. I  always have a Rebel or two around. I have never seen one fail, and I shoot in the water a LOT. It even features phase pixel AF tracking in video mode, something the new flagship 5DM3 does not have, at 3800.00.

I continue to be stunned at what I see head our way daily, both good and bad. I spend a lot of time on study and research, as well as shooting. My colleague, Rob Dafoe, who is a talented DP and Editor,  pointed it out the other day. Systems are going off the back and being jettisoned every day due to inaccurate design and poor ROI (return on investment, time as well as money). For an independent creative, ROI is everything, and time, well you do not get any new seconds added in your life, and some companies take great liberty in stealing yours if you let them. Best not to give them that option.

In this thread are a few stills I captured that are fairly high bar. Easy to do, now, compared to 10 or even 5 years ago. But I also have the footage from these days in Motion, captured on the Rebel, the 5DM2 and the GoPro HD systems, that would have been impossible, prior. I shot these for Corbis Images, general editorial, and for the Ocean Lovers Collective, which I am also building a series of branding-message video pieces for, that will screen online, and in a couple film festivals.

My expensive, heavy, and most excellent high speed film kit, may be a museum piece soon.

What it is.

Canon 5D Mark 2: Trial by Fire

Saturday, August 28th, 2010
Me by Shawn Frederick

Me by Shawn Frederick

My 5D Mark 2 system has been getting quite the workout of late.

The other night Tyler Swain came by. Tyler is the talented director, writer, camera operator who, when I am lucky, I get to work with.

He had dropped by after a  long day working on an episode of Top Gear, to be briefed on the workings of the Canon 5DM2 which he would need to be shooting a show on in the morning. In explaining the workings of the system to him I realized how truly complex it is if one really wants to utilize the tremendous capability of this camera, And I also realized that much of what I had read on it by so called experts is wrong. Most of it’s advertised shortcomings are simply failure by the operators to own the skills most DP’s and Cinematographers take for granted. yet they wrote about it. Um, yea……

Philip Bloom is not of that ilk.

But in two hours Tyler was off head spinning, to get a little sleep before his 9am call time. If it were anyone else, they would likely be headed for their Waterloo. Not Tyler.

Here is a little early timelapse shot with the 5DM2. One of my first. I have done dozens of increasingly complex ones since. I have shot 3 music videos, 2 feature films, done journalism, action sports, the 2010 Maverick’s Challenge shot while working rescue, swam Bali, done fashion, military training shoots with K38 Rescue. What my camera has produced since it became my first designated principal body for motion capture and stills production is probably the most intense field testing of any camera ever produced. Of course Canon probably does not know this. I am simply a user.

stormtimelapseweb – Computer

Tech is incredible. For the first time in my 12 years shooting professionally, it all is REALLY working. I made a good choice in systems with which to transition from film. And once again, Canon has helped me to feel confident in my ability to outperform while in the field. This camera has been swum, shot from airplanes, boats, cars,thrown off buildings while housed, into a swimming pool, done large format art production, commercial fashion and produced innumerable covers and spreads seen in publications throughout the world and in my library at Corbis Images.

In 1997 I weighed the development plans of Canon and Nikon in a close look,  and because of that glimpse, chose Canon. Wise choice. But only a sage DP or commercial photographer will ever really truly “get” what Canon has done and how they have changed imaging forever. The 5DM2 and my training in various aspects of Cinematography and Photography have produced more high profile motion and stills work in the 14 months I have owned mine, than many will get to do in a lifetime.

As I look out across the changing diorama of the imaging playing field, I realize how important it is to understand what you want to accomplish.

Here is the complete Video Tyler created as the anti music video for ElliotMinor. _”AllAlong”. Most of it is the 5DM2. This was one of it’s first tests.

You will see some newer ones shortly here and in a few films.

The images below are a small sample from the 5DM2 that sits here, ready to shoot anything, You would not believe what it has done. I barely do.

Metaphysical Momentum: Water Carriers

Monday, April 27th, 2009


Ventura has been in the throes of an art boom the past few years. I have watched amusedly as a diverse group of people have been drawn to our little berg from far flung corners of the earth and served as cultural and intellectual fodder for a renaissance of sorts. Creative seedlings they all are,  putting down root, bearing fruit that the town will benefit from.

No where has this been more obvious to me than in the recent Ventura Film Fest event where during a period of four days, film makers, artists and musicians mingled with a diverse cross section of the public to create an organic phenomenon that served to inspire and connect people.

The driving forces behind the festival are myriad, but when one needs to put a finger on the actual pulse, it was film maker and writer Lorenzo DeStefano whose vision for a festival that focused on interactive participation and community based cinema,  fostered what proved to be a unique experience. Simply put, Lorenzo wanted everyone to come and stay four days. What would arise was intended to be a collaboration of sorts that would motivate both film makers and art enthusiasts of all types to migrate here every year to experience, create and encourage. Though I could only attend for two of the days, my own experience illustrates well what happens when the creative commune. The following is one of many stories that developed.

I had been in an entertaining discussion with Director, Writer and Producer Robert Young, whose fantastic career was being profiled at the festival, when I was reluctantly drawn away  to shoot something.  I was collecting some stills and video footage for the VFF. It was a difficult conversation to leave since Robert was being incredibly generous.

The thing with creatives, is that we like to listen, we enjoy communicating, we drink of each others energies and feed off our collective experiences in a manner which in derivative fashion, expands us as people and artists. There is an enthusiastic charge that pulses through a crowd like the one at the event. You simply step into the flow and it carries you along without much effort on your own part. Easy as a languid swim in tropical waters, the experience is simultaneously  relaxing, and energizing. Once you step in.

I found myself with film maker William Farley, whose film Shadow and Light was to screen later in the day. He wanted a cup of coffee. I wanted to hear more in a conversation that had immediately hooked me: the communication of things spiritual via the medium of cinematography. As we strolled down Main St and into Starbucks we shared some of the fantastic things that we had experienced over the years in the course of our work, where when we simply listened, a project would draw us into another world and show us things, tell us tales, that we would never have expected at the onset.

As he sat down in the City Bus stop next to the Elks Lodge, coffee in hand, William expounded on metaphysical reality, quantum physics and the energy signature that is both our lives and the not so workaday process of listening and communicating the voices we hear via sound, imagery and creative intent. He recounted a few of his startling experiences in working with Native Peoples. I in turn shared a couple of mine, and for a period of time that seemed like minutes but was actually two hours, that bus stop became a heiau, a house on a reservation, a distant shore. We simply waved off the  bus drivers piloting the lumbering beasts past.

The key thing that transported us into the time and reality warp of that bus stop was the re enforcement that yes there are others like us out there. People who peer into a world possibly not evident to all, and whose prescient wish is to share a little of it.  Though at times the localized creative process may feel a little like carrying water to a desert, when one has a colleague, the task seems to become it’s own reward. I was so grateful to have been included.

Click on any of the gallery images for a larger view and a little back story on the subject.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.