Okay my droogies, your faithful narrator has returned in more ways than one. Having wallowed in a dark place known as writer’s block, as well as a self imposed prison of boredom. Now I have come back at the turning of the moon and sun reborn and renewed. [url=http://www.ohiofilmandvideo.com/][img]http://www.sonnyboo.com/images1/blog/dec06/crane7.jpg[/img][/url]

Last Saturday we did the first shoot I’ve done outside of Horrors of War web docs in over a year. This time I shot with my corporate/industrial/commercial sometimes boss Mike Tavares. Mike, as regaled in this here blog before, got a new JVC HD110 HDV camera for his 50th birthday. This opened the door for us to test out the camera.


The sales pitch from me was that I had a project that benefited both of us. He could try out and play with his camera, in HD no less, and learn it’s ups and downs, while working on something that will be seen and possibly profitable in the long run. The upside is to learn the camera without worrying about clients and lost revenue, and then having something classy to show to potential new clients wondering what the difference between HD and SD (High Definition and Standard Definition) standards can do for you.


We shot a car chase scene in downtown Columbus with a crane hovering inched off the ground & then passing inches over the hood of a BMW as it races by. My sexy girlfriend Veronica ™ played the sexy spy getting away from the cops. Luckily, by pure happenstance, we got 2 police cars racing past. Then again, it wasn’t a shock since we shot on the corner next to the police building.


Sean McHenry came through in a big way and rented us his crane that got us some amazing shots that I originally intended to get by going to the 3rd floor of a parking garage. Instead, I got some moving shots and sweeping looks that made the final cut.


TJ Cooley was gripping and also helped in the Jack Of All Trades capacity. It was needed. After the crane shots, we drove around in Mike’s van shooting out of the side door and back windows open so we could vary the shots up. I was not expecting Mike to strap a seatbelt on himself and hang out with the camera 4 inches from the ground as we went 40 Miles Per Hour. He lost his hat on a rather dodgy hill and we had to go back for it.

Of course it was only 14 degrees out too. The coldest day of the year so far (and it was 55 degrees the next morning…). We froze and suffered for the art. Again, my pal Buzz brought the limited edition 12 cylinder BMW race car and it looks great on camera. Since I am a huge fan of the BMWFILMS, this was a bonus I hadn’t counted on, plus it raised the roof on production value for this little shoot.


To think, all this for a simple EDUCATIONAL VIDEO… I’m astounded. The first of these videos will go online for free in traditional Sonnyboo style, and sooner than I had anticipated due to reasons to be addressed later in the blog.

From downtown we relocated to Ken Wilson’s, a rather popular site for shooting. We used their dining room for a dinner scene where I will demonstrate several basic filmmaking techniques in the series of videos that will probably see their own distribution in 2007.


My own portable VIDEO VILLAGE is always welcome on set these days. I can’t live without seeing the basic shots anymore. I am much more concerned with framing than I used to be.


In other news, I returned to a less appealing stature recently too. In my usual abrasive manner, I commented on the Yahoo Group to someone who said they loathed self promotion, but his producer Philbert Ooper insisted he do it. I cannot comprehend this attitude, so I said that no one should be ashamed of self promotion, then I said something stupid – I posted that people who hate self promotion are wishing they had what the self promoters had. This was stupid of me, but hardly the last act for me.

The response from the poster was confusing as he then said that people should feel ashamed of self promotion and yada yada yada. I then did some research and found this guys site (he self promoted a few months ago), plus his blogs, and MySpace pages etc. The strange part is that he even listed Philbert Ooper as an alias on his site.

Now, where I found an all new low was reading his MySpace Blog where he wrote an impassioned rant about local yahoos that call themselves AWARD WINNING FILMMAKERS when all they’ve won are insignificant awards at meaningless festivals. He said it was deceptive to investors, etc. I took offense to this because I am an award winning filmmaker from smaller festivals, but more importantly, on a core level I cannot see where the deception is. A “debate” ensued (which is a polite way of saying a flame war) and then we agreed to disagree and pretend each other don’t exist.


I stand by my way of doing things in terms of promotion. As long as you’re honest, there is no misleading or deception. I do not hide what festivals I’ve won awards from and I don’t make up festivals awards or flat out lie. That crosses the ethical 180 degree line and there’s no way to make that okay. If you disagree, then do things your own way and stop worrying about how I do it.


Today I got to edit the HD footage from Saturday. Now for my technical geek out of the week, the problem with HDV footage is the editing. What they call “Native Editing” means you edit HDV in it’s original, standardized format of MPEG2. MPEG is the MOTON PICTURE EXPERTS GROUP, a consortium of software and hardware experts that agree (to a point) on standards for the industry. HDV is a 1920×1080 or 1280×720 pixel sized video format, much higher quality to the standard definition MiniDV 720×480 format.

[url=http://www.sonnyboo.com/downloads/images/hdsd.jpg][img]http://www.sonnyboo.com/downloads/images/hdsd_sm.jpg [/img][/url]

MPEG2 is being used to get that high quality image onto a smaller format tape and edit it in a more realistic ([i]for consumer/prosumer[/i]) file size using the compression of MPEG2. Now, there are a few (meaning 2-3) additional CODECS for editing HDV. There is RAYLIGHT from DVFILM.COM and also CINEFORM’s ASPECT HD codec. Codec stands for Compressor/Decompressor, it’s the software that turns video signals into playable computer files like AVI’s and MOV’s.

Unfortunately, editing in native MPEG2 for HDV requires a much faster computer than what I have, and quite frankly what most people have at home. These alternate codecs are the answer, and they are more robust and apt for editing. Guess what? You have to pay for that codec too. It ain’t free and they ain’t cheap. Having tried out both, the ASPECT HD codec is hands down the winner for the JVC camera (No offense to RAYLIGHT, but they seem to be more interested in the Panasonic HVX200 customers who want to edit traditionally in Premiere, Vegas Video, etc.).

I have a 15 day trial for Aspect HD at home, and it expired before a single frame of the footage ever got shot. At least at Tavares, I have 15 days from now, but that is fading fast. I still have intro’s and additional clips to shoot. Yikes, 2 weeks is NOT a lot of time, so I had to edit a LOT today. I went through over 1 hour’s footage and cut the bulk of my first video in 1 day, but that’s normal. I did sound design and mixing at home tonight with an intermediate file (aka Proxy file) of lower resolution just to get it done, but now I’m due back at Tavares to get the other 3 videos edited ASAP.

It’s a mad rush to the finish line because I don’t want to spend $500 on a CODEC. Maybe it’s just the name, (pronounced “KO-DECK”) and maybe Santa can’t afford to bring it to me this year.


It feels good to get back on the horse and trudge forward. I miss being on sets and shooting, but I really don’t want to make anymore shorts. There’s little more I can say in the short form. What I’m doing now is something more of a pure educational nature and has multiple purposes. It goes along with the real appeal of the Sonnyboo site, as well as my need to be philanthropic, but this way it’s less of a waste of time like a wannabe filmmakers meeting and has a broader reach. Plus with the Canadian distributor interested, the one that was blown off by the powers that be with the HORRORS OF WAR web docs I made in the same vein, I stand to make decent money with these. Vindication always tastes good in the form of a check, even Canadian dollars.


The cats are doing well, if not stand offish with each other. “V” is trying to establish his dominance over Cousette. Many fights, lots of hissing, claws, and even biting go on for hours, day and night. Then, “V” will then get tired and turn into the most lovable little furball that still passes out on my shoulder. At this stage, he slips off when he dozes, but I hold him up as long as I can go without typing.


I’m not so much into the Xmas spirit. It’s homogenized and retail oriented. No one gives a gift because they feel selfless. When I feel selfless, I make a DVD for someone or help them out all year round. The cold weather and fat guys ringing bells don’t make me feel like doing anything more or less.

At least I have the new Beatles CD- LOVE to keep me warm. It’s a brilliant album of remixes using ONLY the Beatles themselves. I dig it mucho.

A-HA! My color correction pass has finished in After Effects, so I must get back to my now 14 day trial period of editing HD!

Have a blessed day, no matter what gods you feel the need to cow-tow to!

-Peter John Ross, aka Captain Exencamper!

Categories: blog

Peter John Ross

A filmmaker, a dreamer, and the world's only Dan Akroyd Cosplayer


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