European Bike Week 2014

Just back from shooting another Harley-Davidson European Bike Week in Faaker See, Austria. Unlike all the others I’ve filmed there over the past six years the weather was well and truly against us this year with every day being wet and grey.

The one saving grace for this shoot was that when there’s low clouds and mist in the area the passes surrounding the event site take on a whole new feel with rising mist over the tree lined roads.

A day at the races

I just wanted to share this snap from a shoot I did this week for Harley-Davidson at the famous Nurbugring racetrack in Germany. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more info about the shoot soon and maybe even some of the resulting footage but any motor racing fan will recognise this iconic track and understand what a thrill it was to be able to film on the track itself.

nurburgring

Croatia Harley Days 2014

Biograd on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast played host to this years European HOG Rally and once again I had the pleasure of being invited to the event to film it and create a video showing the highlights of the location and the activities that took place.

Approximately 50,000 people descended upon the event site over the four days of the festival, with an estimated 25,000 bikers experiencing Croatia’s fantastic riding roads and coastline.

I had my Canon C300 upgraded to include the Dual Pixel Auto Focus (DPAF) feature just before flying out to Croatia and I have to say that it proved to be a lot more useful than I was expecting. I really wanted the DPAF feature for shooting from the back of a bike as it’s impossible to manually focus well in that situation but as it turned out I used the Auto Focus a lot more than I was expecting.

Used in combination with the Focus Lock feature which I programmed to the magnify button on the handgrip I found myself allowing the AF to gain initial focus much of the time and then locking the focus before composing my shots rather than punching in and focusing manually as I would have done previously.

For any shots that required slower focus pulls I’d just lock the AF and then manually focus as normal.

One situation that I found the DPAF feature really helped with was using the Tokina 11-16 f2.8. In the past I’ve run in to quite a few problems with focussing that lens accurately. Having to work quickly in the midday sun it’s very easy to think the lens is focussed correctly only to find the images are actually a little soft. The DPAF helped a lot when having to work fast shooting wide.

The other lenses used were the Canon 17-55 f2.8 and the 24-105 F4, both of which also performed well with the DPAF feature.

croatia-pano-2

 

There’s a few slider and Jib shots thrown in courtesy of my Kessler Stealth Slider and Pocket Jib Traveller. The Drone shots were captured by my buddy Lorenzo De Angeli using a GoPro Hero 3 mounted to a hand built drone.

OK Go do it again

I’m sure most of you must have seen the impressive music video put out by OK Go where they performed their song “Here it goes again” using gym treadmills in a single take. Well they’ve just done it again and this time they have put together a single shot video for their new song “The writings on the wall” that simply has to be watched to be believed. Can you imagine how much work it took to make that happen!

My FCPX Location Workflow

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my location workflow and since the release of FCPX 10.1 it’s now a useful tool for ingesting in the field so I thought I’d take a bit of time to detail exactly how I go about managing data when working overseas.

Firstly i’ll list the equipment that I take with me for handling footage. This setup is designed to be as portable and light as possible mainly due to baggage restrictions at airports where every KG counts, especially when you fly using Europe’s budget airlines.

 

Keeping the kit small

My current kit consists of the following:

11″ Macbook Air
Lacie Rugged Thunderbolt / USB 3 Drive
Toshiba USB Portable drive
Nexto NVS2500
Lexar USB 3 Card Reader

 

paul_joy_location_workflow_1

 

Dual Slot Recording = Dual Benefits

One of the great features on both the Canon C300 and C100 is the ability to record to both card slots simultaneously. I use this feature for all of my shooting, it not only offers protection against loss of footage in case of a card failure but it also allows me to process and backup my data more efficiently.

paul_joy_location_workflow_2

 

Connecting everything up

The centre of my setup is the most basic model 11″ Macbook Air. I purchased this little mac just for handling footage but I’ve actually edited in the field with it a few times and it’s been perfectly capable. I normally connect my Lacie Rugged Thunderbolt / USB 3 Drive to the MacBook Air via thunderbolt just because it leaves both USB ports available. If you don’t have Thunderbolt as an option however USB obviously works just as well for the task.

I plug the Lexar USB 3 Card Reader in to one of the USB slots and the other one is used to power my Nexto NVS2500. The Nexto does have a built in rechargeable battery but I prefer to keep it powered via USB during the backup process rather than worrying about how much charge is remaining. Having it powered via the macBook also means one less power brick to worry about.

 

paul_joy_location_workflow_3

 

Ingest & backup

So here’s where shooting to both cards comes in really useful. For each pair of cards I have one goes in to the Nexto which creates a copy of the exact card structure and then verifies it. At the same time the other card goes in to the card reader and I use Final Cut Pro X to import the data from the card into a Library on the Lacie drive. It’s obviously important to make sure both cards contain the same data but if there’s any kind of error or difference between the two at least this way you have the data from both cards.

 

paul_joy_location_workflow_4

The great thing about working this way is that FCPX can be left to create it’s optimised media and do any processing required on the footage. I don’t like to have any rendering done by the macBook so I disable rendering but that’s a personal choice, if you like to work with render files then you could also have that process done for you as well. If required I’ll apply a basic set of keywords to the imported clips while they are fresh in my memory from that days shooting.

One big advantage to working within FCPX on location is if i find I have time I can begin making selects within FCPX and save myself some time during the edit stage.

paul_joy_location_workflow_6  paul_joy_location_workflow_5

The copy of the cards on the Nexto is really just an emergency backup, If for any reason the data within FCPX is incomplete or damaged then I can revert to the Nexto and perform a fresh import in to FCPX.

 

FCPX & Time Machine

As more and more data is imported in to the FCPX Library on the Lacie drive and I spend time adding meta data to it I like to also make a backup of that drive to a second drive using Time Machine. The beauty of Time Machine is that it’s able to look within the FCPX Library and only add items that have been added or changed since the last backup.

fcp-timemachine

 

 

Moving to the Mac Pro

Once I get back to base the real advantage to using FCPX on location becomes apparent. I simply copy the library file from the Lacie over to the RAID on my Mac Pro, open it up in Final Cut and I can continue making selects or start editing straight away. I don’t have to worry about importing cards and waiting for data to be processed, it’s all there ready to go and because I’ve handled the key wording and meta data on location while it was fresh in my memory I can filter my searches and create smart collections easily.

 

library-mac

Keeping the Card Data

Whether I keep the original card media as well as the FCPX libraries varies from project to project, if I do want to keep a copy of the original cards I’ll copy the data from the Nexto. I find that I’m much less inclined to do that these days however, I tend to keep the original media on the Nexto until the project has been completed and signed of by the client, at that point I’m happy to just archive the the FCPX Library and not worry about the original card data.

Once the project has been signed off and delivered I export a Master Pro Res file from each project (timeline) that has been signed off by the client and store those along with the Library File and any other external assets that were used in the project.

I hope that proves useful, if you have any questions just leave a comment.