Saturday, August 27, 2011

Painting in the Night.

Got the urge to go out last night and do some night photography. A few buddies of mine and I headed over to Natural Bridges State Beach with our camera equipment. The sky was overly hazy and was reflecting the orange glow from the surrounding houses and streetlights. This meant that with long exposures, the sky looked a bright orange color similar to that of sunset. As I began testing out some settings, my friend Shelby offered me his recently acquired Gary Fong Lightsphere. This is basically just a huge diffusion screen that mounts over the flash to give off a nice even glow. It worked great and I may have to pick up one of these in the very near future.

For each photo I took that night, I basically ran around whatever subject I was photographing and launched the flash a number of times. It was a lot of trial and error, but I'm very happy with how a number of the shots came out.

Check them out!

Find Light in the Darkness.



Random Beat #2.

Ever since I've started up working at my job for Lifetouch School Portraits, I haven't had much time to shoot my own stuff or work on any personal projects. One day when I got home from work, my girlfriend and I got the "photo bug" that could only be cured by embarking on a spontaneous photo safari. I've had this idea of a shot for awhile now, and I was finally able to capture it. I saturated the image slightly and added a vintage film texture in photoshop. Check it out below and have a nice day!

I'd Rather Be Shooting Film.


A friend of mine told me about a photography shooting technique called a "bokeh panorama." This is where one uses a fast lens with shallow focus such as a 135mm to take multiple pictures of a subject against an out of focus background. In post, these photos are then merged together to show a wide shot that has very narrow DoF, a trait uncommon with most wide-angles. As always, my girlfriend Jenny was ready and willing to be my test subject yet again. Shot came out pretty awesome although I wish I had gone a bit less crazy with the dodge tool on photoshop...

Bokeh Panorama.

48 Hours of Pain, Tears, and Joy.

Every year around this time comes the San Jose 48 Hour Film Festival, and each year I vow not to partake due to the stress of last year. Well once again, I got roped into working on another film. It's not that I don't enjoy making films in the least, it's just the stress of delivering a final product in 48 hours...

From writing, to production, to editing, to sound mixing, to exporting, there is so much that needs to happen in such a short time frame. The group I was working with are a great group of people that I love collaborating with. We all motivate each and always seem to be on the same page in terms of ides and visuals.

As with all 48 Hour Film Projects, we were given a few required elements to include within our film

Mandatory Elements:
+Inclusion of a chair (we had fun with this one)
+Line of dialogue: "Give me some kind of sign"
+Inclusion of a "recycling expert" character
+Someone with the name "Ian Jeffers" or "Eileen Jeffers"

PRODUCTION (8/12-8/14)

Luckily we drew the genre "horror" for our film. We knew we were going to go way overboard with this genre, but that was sort of the point. So after agreeing that we would use the super awesome abandoned naval base of Fort Ord as our location, we wrote our script. We finished our script by 11pm-ish friday night before heading home to get some props and few hours of precious rest.

The next morning we were off. As we drove into the town of Marina, CA, we were all giddy with excitement. The fog that had crept over the town in the middle of the night was perfect and looked straight out of a... well... horror film. We spent all day shooting at various locations throughout the fort. This place is a haven for people like me. This will be the third project I've shot here, and I still get excited every time. I highly recommend checking this place out if you find yourself ever down this way.

We shot until the last speckle of day disappeared behind the horizon. We drove home to begin the arduous task of post production. I was exhausted, but I knew we needed to have a rough edit done before the morning. I stayed up until 3-4am completing this task. When my eyes would stay open no lon ger, I trudged off to bed. I woke up around 8am the next morning knowing how much work we all still had to do.

A few members of our group recorded foley while Ben Southward and I worked on mixing the sound and adding in the music. We began our final export close to two hours before the due time. This was just to make sure we weren't down to the line like last year. Sure enough the film exported in about 45 minutes and we were in the clear. I wish we had time for some color correction, but honestly I don't think we could have made it.

A half an hour left to go, and we headed over to the meetup location at a bar and billiard room in downtown San Jose. We made sure we had all the necessary documentation before turning in our film and packet. That was it. We had finished. We all took a sigh of relief and smiled as we realized we had just completed our second film created in 48 hours.


After having caught up on sleep somewhat, my team and I were all excited to see our hard work displayed up on the big screen. Camera 12 Cinemas in downtown San Jose was the place to be Thursday night. The theater was packed and our group had to split up because of this, which was unfortunate.

Overall, the films were very well done. Some of the works made you question if the filmmakers didn't have some sort of head start based on their production value and sound work. EIther way, the films were extremely enjoyable.

When our name "Surfin' Kitty Productions" popped up on the screen our team and friends screamed with excitement. The film was awesome on the big screen. There were definitely a number of minor problems with the film, but nothing too drastic to take the viewer out of the film. We got a few laughs, which was awesome too, considering we mad a horror film...

As for now, I don't plan on doing anymore 48 Hour Film Festivals anytime soon, but I wouldn't mind making the San Jose 48 Hour Film Festival into a yearly tradition! Looking back on the whole situation, I had a blast and learned a lot. I'm not a huge fan of the sleep deprivation that comes with the film festival, but that's sort of the challenge. It feels almost like a marathon for filmmakers!

Here is our final film as it was presented to the audience at the screening. Since then, I've only done some minor color correction work. Enjoy!

I just received word that our film was nominated for 4 awards (best screenplay, best makeup, best cinematography, and DUN DUN DUNNNN, BEST PICTURE!). Fingers crossed!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Our First Wedding.

No not mine, but a cute young couple local to the bay area.

Andrew Cichowski, one of our good friends, was asked by one of his colleagues to document their wedding. Because Andrew was hard at work in Med School over in Chicago and was no longer local to Santa Cruz, he was unable to photograph the wedding. He threw our names out there for her to consider as replacements, and after a few emails, we were hired!

I've filmed one wedding in the past, but have never photographed one. After some discussion, I turned the bride-to-be on to the idea of having a video done in addition to photographs. She loved the idea.

We met the couple for the first time back in June to talk and take some photos for their photo engagement. We decide upon Panther Beach as our location, and man was it beautiful! We ended up getting some great sunset, golden hour shots.

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

A month later, the big day came. We all had butterflies, but we knew what we had to do. Jenny, armed with a Canon 5D and a Nikon D80, was in charge of photos. A friend, Ben Bunch, and I were in charge of capturing video. We mapped out all our locations beforehand so we could reduce the risk of getting in each other's shots. All in all, a very stressful day that went very well. We came back with hundreds of great captures as well as some absolutely stunning HD video. I can't wait to show the happy couple our work!

Here are some of our favorite captures from the day.

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

Deneka + Job

We just finished making them a custom book and are still hard at work on the edit. I'll post the final edit of the day as soon it's done.

If you're interested in any wedding or event coverage please don't hesitate to contact us at or check out our site at

Aseptic Solutions Corporate Commercial (Teaser).

Ben Zhang, a good friend of mine who I met through UC Santa Cruz's Film program, contacted me with a great job opportunity. Apparently, a filling and bottling company (Aseptic Solutions USA) that his family works for was looking to update their company video. Given the caliber of the job, Ben asked if I could help him out.

I wrangled up all my camera equipment and headed down south to sunny Orange County where I stayed at my mom's place. For the next three days, Ben and I spent countless hours in Riverside, CA filming in and around the company's facilities. Being a huge fan of shows like "How It's Made," I was in heaven. Each piece of machinery was engineered to perform a specific task in the mixing/bottling process. I told Ben that I could easily spend weeks inside the facilities just filming anything and everything. From an outsider's perspective of the multi-million dollar bottling industry, it was interesting to see the process behind what it takes to make, fill, bottle, pack, and ship many of the beverages that we enjoy at home.

For now, Ben has only edited together a teaser, but I cannot wait to see the whole thing!

Another Go.

After the recent success of our Build-A-Bear Smallfrys commercial, I was motivated to enter another video contest on This time around, Jenny and I collaborated with another stop frame extraordinaire to create our entry. A few months ago, Kip and I worked together on the rather dark comedy short film "The Life of a Carrot", which turned out great.

So without going too much into it, please check out our entry below. You can bet it has some stop-frame animation in it!