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art inspires art.”UNFORGETTABLE”.HOMEBOY SANDMAN

Art inspires art, right? Or so I’m told.

I’ve recently become inspired by minimalism, as in minimalism in lighting, in framing approach and in lens choices. More specifically, certain films have inspired me to go back to the basics: Ida, and of course Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalgia, both of which share the photo-frame characteristics. Both of which inspired me for…

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HOMEBOY SANDMAN

After hours of staring at these films with the subtitles off, I came to the conclusion that this was a style I wanted to lend back to Hip Hop. My vision was how it was back in the Golden Age of Hip Hop- experimentation and lots and lots of artistic risks.

Our awesome-ass writer, artist and Hip Hop artist, Angel Del Villar– or as we know him on this stage, Homeboy Sandman– totally was down for this artistic expression for the video. He was already going off the beaten path by choosing a recent music video for an older song from an older album, “Unforgettable“. A non-linear approach to a very linear industry. It was all good then.

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LOCATION LOCATION

…was the order of the day. I wanted lines and shadows to define the story on screen and shoot everything as if it were a still photograph. Totally inspired by these films, I wanted to go all the way with this look. Maybe 4:3 squared look next time though.

All of the shots were daylight centric and more so, window-centric- which fed into the “lines” idea.

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UNFORGETTABLE- Homeboy Sandman (COLOR TIFF).00_02_40_06.Still004 UNFORGETTABLE- Homeboy Sandman (COLOR TIFF).00_00_46_03.Still002 UNFORGETTABLE- Homeboy Sandman (COLOR TIFF).00_03_32_16.Still006

DON’T TOUCH THE CAMERA

If you’re a control freak like me, you may always need to be doing something, adjusting something, making the image breathe or sumthin’. So for this look, omitting that entirely was a bit odd at first, but gave the image the look that I wanted.

But enough talk. ENJOY!

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my experience.JAY MANUEL BEAUTY at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week F/W ‘15/’16 

Joining the Jay Manuel Beauty Team (w/ Jay Manuel himself being on site), I was brought back into the hectic and beautiful tents of Lincoln Center in New York City. This time around I witnessed the work of Bibhu Mohapatra walking down the runway and his host of gorgeous models.

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Totally shot documentary style, I wanted to express the insanity and beauty of the entire ordeal from start to finish. The whole of Lincoln Center was a whirlwind of high pressure and art, a really difficult spot to be in but an amazing one just the same. For some reason I’m a glutton for punishment; just in love with these types of environments. It’s like going to art school and learning to produce all in real time. I can only wonder how others who don’t enjoy this deal with the pressure, but if you come back each and every season, you’re undeniably a bit of a lovely masochist. I think all artists are in some way.

The tools of the trade were the same as before: my trusty Magic Lantern powered Canon 50D (recording 14bit DNG RAW files, then transcoded to 10bit DNxHD files for a final 16bit DPX output) for primary shots and the ML-powered 60D for slow-mo footage.

Lastly, this is the first major piece where I’ve wanted to use Hip Hop- all to show that real Hip Hop indeed can be and should be placed alongside high art. You can find the entire track from DJ Premier, Nas and the Berklee Symphony Orchestra here!

Enjoy and leave some feedback.

Kahl

Desire.reel 2015

New Outlook, A New Reel- 2015 & Beyond

A new year a new reel. This time around I wanted to do something different.

My first reel was more fast paced in comparison to the later ones mostly because it all came  from editing background primarily. But, as a result my dedication as a cinematographer and director over the evolving years, I had begun to tone down the nature of the reels; making them calmer, more “approachable”.  Of course a lot’s changed.

So I now give you my 2015 reel, which contains material from 2014, 2013, and some of my earlier work but I consider all to be my favorite pieces. It’s an ever-evolving video and I hope you enjoy and of course spread the word!

 

the lovely ZEN SKYE in top form

Hyperdeck Shuttle II recording on [ML] Canon DSLRs?!

Cinematographer to Colorist

Being a Director Of Photography these days means that you’re working with any number of digital sensors of various sizes, formats and looks. Usually we shoot or work in LOG color spaces if we desire film based looks and advantages (assuming so for our readers), so a bunch of other factors come into play. But, we’ll fast forward to the fun stuff.

 

Street shooting. Literally.

Street shooting. Literally.

External Recording On the Digic-4 Canon DSLRs

The biggest issues with the Canon last-gen line of sensors are their codecs and resolution quality loss. However as DPs have learned to use these small cameras over the years, you learn to work around the weaknesses and in some cases, make them strengths (for instance, their tendency to look like Super 16mm film; see: Mathew Libatique ASC’s work for “Black Swan” as once core example).

 

Updated rig w/ Blackmagic Design's Hyperdeck Shuttle II

Updated rig w/ Blackmagic Design’s Hyperdeck Shuttle II

Another older issue was the inability to record “uncompressed” to an external recorder, due to Canon’s default placement of the framing box. Thanks to Magic Lantern, that’s been long solved.

In this personal project and episode of Model Profile, I set aside the RAW DNG work in trade for ML 60D’ed ability to record DNxHD 10-bit 422 to a 256GB SSD drive with the Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle II.

 

THE DEFAULT IMAGE

Here’s the deal. Canon [Digic 4] DSLRs do not actually record in a full HD resolution, even with the sensor binning/downsampling being done before the image outputs to the LCD or HDMI feed (which is also an 8-bit 420 native output). What actually happens is that while there is a 1920×1080 output happening, the image itself is recorded within a window. By default, this all happens internally, with the video being upscaled to a 1080p frame onto your SD/CF card.

Still with me here?

Now, when recording to an external device, the upscaling obviously doesn’t happen as it’s up to the user to do so on their end. So in Premiere, a small bump in scaling remedies this. The final difference is that while there won’t be any resolution advantages, the benefits lie in color rendition being increased slightly and chroma noise being less muddied due to not being bonded to the Canon codec.

 

 

a slight bump in 18.5% scaling

a slight bump in 18.5% scaling

...and voila, there you have it. Matched resolution of an original Canon DSLR file.

…and voila, there you have it. Matched resolution of an original Canon DSLR file.

A SOFT IMAGE

So why shoot a piece on a less compressed codec with a soft resolution? Simple, because it fit.

Shooting RAW on various formats has made me appreciate the Super 16’ish quality of the Canon video format and now instead of looking at it as a setback, it’s become an artistic choice. After all, as cinematographers, what are we without our choices in tools?

 

the lovely ZEN SKYE in top form

the lovely ZEN SKYE in top form

Another reason was the need to shoot high-speed (on a shoestring budget). With the 60D’s sensor and the right processing, it can work wonders! Of course a higher spec camera would’ve faired stronger, but then I wouldn’t have achieved the aesthetic I wanted. So it fit the bill.

WORKFLOW

It sounds complex but each step within this workflow has benefitted me greatly recently.

  1. Record in DNxHD 422- the HDMI signal out of the Canons is an 8-bit one
  2. File ingest into Premiere
  3. Edit footage
  4. Export in Cineon LOG format w/ adjustments in either 16-bit DPX files, 10-bit TIFF or 10-bit DNxHD 422 RGB

 

I’ve found that the maximum latitude of the image shows through here, even beyond filming on the native Cinestyle LOG profile. There will be some initial abnormalities though (such as odd gamma stretches from fade in/fade out portions). All that there’s left to do here is color though, which solves them easily in the end.

EXTERNAL RECORDING IS A GOOD IDEA?

…in certain instances. While I wouldn’t shoot w/ an external recorder in the Subway for guerilla shots, it serves its purpose in controlled environments (much like RAW). It all just totally depends on what you’re going for and the circumstances allowed.

What are some unorthodox methods of filming that you’ve found works for you?

ME filming Wayne Barret- by Anthony Geathers - ABG Photography

LEARNING AS A DIRECTOR HOW TO BE A BETTER CINEMATOGRAPHER

Cinematography is a wonderful profession. You get to understand dramatic uses of lighting, play with the latest gear, become addicted to lenses, congregate with some of the best visual artists in the world and um…did I mention play with the latest gear?   Seriously, one of the areas that aren’t talked about as much are the roles of being a Director. And not just of the Photography portions. Those consist of commanding the Gaffer, G&E crews, working with makeup artists for the best portrait shots or working with production design to setup lighting. No, I mean the act of Directing in its rawest most potent form: communication.

Like many nerds, I am—or WAS mostly an introvert. I’d stick to the lunch room or library drawing comic pages, thinking of great martial arts stories, creating game designs and level layouts and become excited at the thought of going to the arcades later that afternoon. But, that doesn’t tend to lead to a very social-able lifestyle beyond a small clique of friends usually. Me- Tremor Team 12. 03   Flash forward to today, as a filmmaker you’re forced to overcome shyness unless you don’t mind your project failing in production. Communication is such a powerful tool that it can totally shape the scope of your actors’ performances, and how the images are painted on camera. Essentially, this is a nerd’s PARADISE. From my own recent experiences, not only have I learned to express what I want as passionately as I can, but I’ve learned to call onto my old creative experiences as a visual artist, a young storyteller within game design and action scene scenarios from martial arts direction.

Un-colored still frame from Temore Team 12

This is probably one of the strongest areas where being a total geek can cause you to succeed. Think about it, we have the fanatical drive, technical know-how and obsession for information and tinkering. So if you can tap into that zone, (the zone of a total child, really) and express yourself to the actors, you’ve crushed it! What’s more is that I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some very strong Directors and watch them work, watch them communicate and gain some insight on how to express an element that you’re going for in a variety of situations with a variety of different types of people.

Directing isn’t about having an insanely grand vision — for some directors it absolutely is and we get some really cool-looking movies — but directing is all about like communication. If you can communicate to somebody else, if you can communicate a thought, you can direct, it’s that simple. – Kevin Smith

ME filming Wayne Barret- by Anthony Geathers - ABG Photography Me- Tremor Team 12. 02   It’s been a very, VERY crazy journey as of late. Thank you guys all for so much support! A special thanks goes out to great friends in Richard O’ Sullivan from Lost Colony Productions (for being a great friend and creative partner through self-funded filmmaking ventures) , Shane Hurlbut, ASC from Hurlbut Visuals (for being that forward thinker we as young Cinematographers need and personally helping me in times of creative need, Bob Primes, ASC (for giving me the best advice that kick-started my career) and Michael Grady (for inviting me to observe and sit in the production DIT for the upcoming Annie remake film).

Here’s some latest work from a variety of different projects within the last 5 months. Some are still in production.

THIAGO poster image

Thiago The Pitbull and a love affair with Coconut Creek

YESTERYEAR

3 years ago I was granted the opportunity to film one of MMA’s finest superstars in Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves, who was at the time considered to be one of the top 10 most dangerous competitors in his weight class (170lb welterweight).   Years later, Thiago has suffered 4 different surgeries: one for each pectoral muscle and 2 on his other appendages. Consider that most fighters don’t come back from major surgeries, let alone FOUR. And, it probably didn’t help much that we haven’t heard from Thiago in the ring for two years straight. Thiago stretching   EVOLUTION

Flash forward to today, I’ve wanted to revise my original video for a long while now and wanted to do this with Pitbull’s kick back into the MMA spotlight in a major way. Thiago smiling   So here we are, in Thiago The Pitbull. A short film that delves into his psyche a lil’ bit and takes us into one of my favorite (okay, maybe my absolute favorite) MMA team and gym, American Top Team, located in Florida. Since I needed a vacation from NYC’s schizophrenic weather conditions, heading to Coconut Creek was a God-send. Thiago about to kick   Mike Dolce was also over at ATT for Thiago’s training camp to keep his meals and scheduling in check. Other than filming both of them, we were able to just simply hang out, which I picked up alotta’ pointers on what types of cooking utensils to use, all the way to watching Mike setup the meal piece by piece. Most guys suffer themselves steadily throughout the last week to cut weight, but Dolce had Thiago eating regularly 6-times per day. Did it work? Well, Thiago came into the event weighing 171lbs, 1lb over the weight limit of the class itself. That’s some proof for ya’! Thiago group photo Hosted by the great guys at SB Nation/Vox Media, this baby is a 15-minute short film, but you can also check it out in smaller 3-Chapter chunks. Just in case y’know, if you’re too busy and need your violent inspiration in bite sizes.   Enjoy and leave me some feedback, whether you love it or wish for me to kick rocks bare footed :)

http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2014/4/17/5625038/thiago-alves-discusses-return-to-ufc-action-after-two-year-absence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m_LrX97A_I&list=PLoxunllY4VqMxROXPra-pdapq7PRnVZA8

Joe FINALE WITHIN PAGES

PREVIEW: Joe Lozito – FINALE WITHIN PAGES

Three years ago, Maksim Gelman arrives in the Subway with knife in hand, caked with blood, ready to continue the trail he’s begun with a woman he’s stalked a day earlier. This time around he meets up with Joseph Lozito, a hardworking man with a strong love of combat sports, now headed to work in a botched up weekend commute toward the West Side of the City.

What ensues is a story suited for most Hollywood films: Gelman screaming, “You’re gonna die!” attacks Joe with his knife viciously, ripping open his face. Instead of sitting as a victim, Joe takes his life into his own hands, wrestles Gelman to the Subway car floor and apprehends him until the police arrive. Seconds later, Joe sits down and continues to bleed profusely on the floor, slipping closer to death, while nearby officers simply watch and provide little assistance to help this local hero recover.

Three years later, with physical scars healed, Joseph continues his battle but with the New York City Police Dept itself. Destined to leave him in the cold without any support whatsoever, he now struggles with legal battles with the authorities who stood by needlessly as a mass murderer went mad in mass transit.

This is a preview from the upcoming film where Joe sits down with me once again and shares what’s been happening since that day, the embrace he’s received from the combat sports community and the continuing struggle with the City’s authorities in their effort to dismiss his efforts in stopping a maddened killer on the loose.

 

UPDATE:
To see the original piece I’ve done with Joe 3 years ago, check out the video below: