Apr 15, 2014

My Song 2014 - Behind The Scenes!

Hey guys!

I haven't made many posts since November last year, but I'm back now. I generally try not to post unless I have interesting things to post about.

Today I have a bit of a post about a recent shoot I did, the My Song Award 2014.

I generally try not to do live performance shoots nowadays, as last year I came to the realisation that a lot of my audio problems come down to 1) my gear, and 2) the sound engineer at the mixing desk. So I've decided to limit the types of live performances I film.

When Mike from My Song Award/Australian Art Sales asked me to come back again this year to film My Song, I was stoked. Last year was great, and I wanted to come back and see what was improved. It was a great experience, but it's such a shame only a small portion of Dubbo turned out to see it. Dubbo missed out on a great showcase of talent from across Australia!

I'll detail how I filmed the performance, how I edited, and my personal thoughts of the experience.

The Gear I Used:


String Theories - the view from my little perch!

Panasonic GH2

My ever-trustworthy and loveable Panasonic GH2 was my A camera, which I had on my Weifeng 717 tripod. I used a Sigma 35-105mm MD lens that I purchased recently on Fleabay, which I found to be a little cumbersome and heavy... but was a nice sharp lens. I may do away with this lens next year and replace it with the 45-150 from Panasonic. I found that even the slightest touch of the tripod would make the camera wobble, and it really showed in the footage. I need image stabilization and a telephoto reach, so I think the native Panasonic lens will benefit me next time.
Still, I was happy with my GH2 footage (I am rarely disappointed with my GH2).


Dayna James-Gazi - Still frame from GH2

One thing to note is that on last years My Song shoot, I used a slider with my GH2 to add some movement to my shots. I didn't do that this year for two reasons.. one being that my slider is currently broken/not working properly, and two: It's cumbersome and annoying to use with telephoto lenses.

Panasonic G6

I recently purchased a Panasonic G6 to replace my aging GH1, as I wanted to have a bit more of a uniform image quality across multicam shoots. My G6 was on a SLIK Photo tripod, which was a cheapo I picked up before the shoot. I used the kit 14-42mm lens on this camera, and did my best to change the camera around a bit for some more interesting angles across the different performers. For instance, about half way into the String Theories performance I realized that the camera, which was positioned in front of the stage to focus on the Dobro player (guy in the middle) and the Violinist while my GH2 focused on the guitarist and lead vocalist, wasn't really getting just the back of the violinist without capturing much else. So I put it behind the stage to get a nice shot of the violinist with the lights above him. I felt it made for a more interesting shot.

 
 
Jade Lee Wright - G6 angle
Jade Lee Wright - G6 Still frame
Panasonic GH1

I had to borrow some extra cameras from my friend and frequent collaborator Bart Riley from Forgotten Walrus Entertainment as I didn't have the time or funds to purchase the cameras myself. I had sold my GH1 and my frequently blogged about LX7 (I used it on last years My Song shoot as well!) to Bart last year to help fund the purchase of my G6, as well as hoping to purchase a second GH2 body. Well, that never happened, so I had to hire my old gear back from Bart anyway!


The GH2 had the kit 14-42mm lens on it, and I had it also mounted on a SLIK tripod that I own. Of all the gear I used on this shoot, the GH1 surprised me most. I had sold the GH1 on the grounds that I felt it couldn't match my GH2 in quality, which was hindering the uniform quality of my wedding videos... and the My Song shoot made me instantly regret selling it. It was the angle that I ended up relying on most for the editing.





Canon HFR20


This was a camera I borrowed from Bart also, which I had mounted on a Magic Arm towards the back of the venue so I had a wide shot with the audience in it (something missing from My Song 2013's videos) to cut to in editing. Sadly though, this was the camera and angle that disappointed me most, so I didn't use it all that often. I think next time I will use my G6, or another camera that is better suited to the task.




Audio Recording


I had previously discussed with the client that I wanted nothing to do with the audio side of things due to my previous disasters with live performance audio, but I had decided recently after purchasing a 5 channel Behringer mixing desk, that I would give it another go. I ended up borrowing a Windows 8 tablet PC from a family member, took the mixing desk along (it outputs to USB) and recorded the audio feed from the house mixing desk, into mine. I recorded directly into an Adobe Audition project so I could edit it all later. This is one of those times where I was so grateful to be working alongside an audio guy who isn't completely ignorant of any other professional in the room. Alan was more than helpful, even agreeing to keep a watchful eye on my recording to make sure I wasn't peaking or anything similar while I focused on filming. The resulting audio is utterly eargasmic... and my only real gripe was some guitars were a bit quiet on one particular set, but that was all.

Editing



Dayna James-Gazi's set - In editing

I generally do my editing nowadays in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, as I find the multicam editing feature to be utterly amazing. I did most of my audio tweaking in Adobe Audition. I haven't finished editing the entire collection of footage yet, I have cut most of it and finished up all editing of the "nominated songs". These are 6 videos of the songs that the artists wrote specifically to enter into the competition with and had to perform for the judges on the night. For these clips, I focused on making the edit flow nicely, including transitions (which I didn't do last year). For some clips, I even added some faux movement in the shots just for a bit of interest.

One thing that I decided to do, which I hadn't really thought about doing last year (not completely understanding the job I was given), was record informal interviews with most of the artists so we could get a bit of an understanding on what drives them as musicians. I neglected to take audio gear with me on the shoot (besides my mixer and Tascam DR40 for backup) so I borrowed a microphone from the sound/audio guy and used it for the interviews. I was so impressed with the mic that I decided to buy one of my own (A Shure PG58). You can see some of these interviews in the nominated songs clips. 

Conclusion

 All in all, it was a great shoot with a few small challenges but nothing that completely sucked the fun out of the experience. All in all I felt that my filming efforts this year were a miles-long improvement over last year. The final product speaks for itself, and although it has it's flaws... I'm again proud of my work. My understanding is that the client is happy, which in turn makes me happy.

Here's hoping there is a My Song 2015, and if there is I hope to be in attendance (either as a patron/audience member or working). 

 Thanks for sticking through another one of my novel blog posts. :) Check out the videos, which are below (Be sure to watch in HD for best quality):

 



 

Nov 27, 2013

New Wedding Package, Upgrading gear, 2014 Plans

As some of you may already know, I'm changing a few things about Daniel Rutter Films next year... including the name. I've been warned that this could potentially end up doing me more harm than good... I want to put a fresh name to the company.

Daniel Rutter Films over the last 3 years of my life has been growing into a very extensive body of work that I'm really proud of. The work I've done with weddings alone (7 by my count, with an 8th coming this weekend!) is work I'm forever proud to have done... and the music videos I wrapped about a month ago are some of my favorite parts of 2013's work alone.

Daniel Rutter Films will most likely relaunch next year under the name "The Faded Fedora". I am naming it after my signature piece of clothing that I pretty much live in. It will launch with a new take on wedding films, music videos... and make a move into quality promotional material for businesses in the region. There are a few films I am working on putting together next year as well (more on that later).

New Wedding package

A few days ago I wrapped editing on a highlights reel for a project I've been working on with Nathan Walsh and Allira Bourke which was my first foray into a new wedding package I'm offering. The idea is to add a whole new level to the humble wedding film by making it a lot more personal and have more emotional impact. Click the image above to check out the video, and you'll see what I mean.

Nathan & Allira were an amazing couple to work with... and I thank them for allowing me to test this new product with them. I'm really happy with how it came out, and I hope they are too.

More info on the wedding package can be obtained by making an enquiry via Facebook or Email.

New equipment/Upgrading Gear

A few months back I had made mention of purchasing the Black Magic Pocket Cinema camera... but upon further review, I have decided that this camera isn't really in my price range (with all extras needed) and doesn't suit me as a videographer. I will not dispute it's quality, but I don't find it appealing for my work style.

I have instead been looking to retire two cameras that have been a mainstay in my kit bag for a while now... including my fairly recent purchase the LX7. I'm also retiring my GH1. I will be replacing both of these with either a second GH2 body, or the new and improved Panasonic G6. I'm also adding a GoPro Hero Black Edition+ to my gear bag as well. These will be a part of my wedding shooter kit next year. Also on the cards are some new lighting equipment, a green/blue/black/white screen and stand kit and possibly a few lens upgrades depending on workload.


 




With this new equipment, it is my hope that I will be improving the overall image quality of my work... and it will allow me as a videographer to shoot a uniform video quality.

2014 Plans

2014 is already shaping up to be a pretty kickin' year for me. I am in the process of writing a new script for a thriller short film that I will be working alongside my long time collaborator Bart Riley. My hope is to take this film, and (excuse the profanity) 'shit' all over my previous short film work.
I'm also in negotiations with a Dubbo based script writer about collaborating on his short film script. There will be more info on that sometime in the future once things are locked down. This will mark my second time ever working on someone elses script instead of writing and shooting my own.

I've already mentioned the company name change, the new promotional video offerings and the new equipment. This is just the stuff I have planned ahead with. You just never know what will come along though!

And that's all folks. If you read this far along, cheers! Stick around... new info comes out every so often :)

- Dan

Sep 17, 2013

New projects, busy end of year, confidence boost!

Hey guys!

So much news to tell you today, that I don't even know where to start.

First up, I have a documentary shoot that I am currently working on. I can't tell you much more than that, but it's going to be great... and I'm working with a brilliant team who seem to be doing all the leg work while I focus on filming and editing. The documentary wasn't my idea... I was brought on to help "make it a reality". We should see a finished product by March 2014, but I'll keep you posted as things happen.

Secondly, today I just confirmed booking for yet another wedding. That's 5 weddings before years end... 5! Ok, not that many in the grand scheme of things... but that's 5 weddings with less than 3 months left in the year. On top of that, I have 3 possible music videos (one confirmed, with Dubbo local band "Trollgasm"). So, it's safe to say I'm run off my feet. To be honest, it's nerve racking to have so much going on at once... but I like the idea of being busy. After spending a few months doing nothing really at all, it's a great change of pace.

Third... I can't give too many details out about this, but I will say... Daniel Rutter Films will be changing it's face and name come 2014. Along with the new face, will be a new logo, new website, and some new products and projects. One of our projects will involve a complete overhaul to how we do wedding videos. I'm working closely with a couple who are my "test subjects" for this project to see if it's viable... and so far, I think we're going to make something very unique that isn't done around here. Gotta have an edge on the competition eh? :)

Lastly... and this I believe is tied in with the notion of being busy: I have found a new take on life. For the last two weeks I've been working on making a better "me". A happier, more motivated person. I have a lot of people to thank, but I'd like to thank those who are bringing me all this work... my family, who don't even realise how much they inspire me... and of course, my lovely girlfriend Mel. Without her, I'd not have survived the last 10 months of my life quite as well as I did. Thanks to all our clients over the last 10 months for their patience as well.

Lets make the last 3 months of 2013 rock!

Dan, out!


EDIT:

I can't believe I forgot this. It seem it's flown under the radar of most, but I recently did a short skit with my best mate Bart from Forgotten Walrus Entertainment. It's got a few little production issues... but it was still a fun shoot, once again proving why I'm better as a videographer and camera operator... and not an actor :)

Check out Forgotton Walrus Entertainment on Facebook, and click play on the video below to see the film.



Aug 23, 2013

The future of "Daniel Rutter Films"

The question pops into my head far too often. In my heart, I have always wanted to make films... short films, feature films... anything with characters, story, and all the elements of a film that I love. but lately, my short film/feature film goals have been put on the back burner to leave room for my new loves: Wedding films, and Music Videos.

I'm still working out the kinks when it comes to weddings, but I think I have a new formula that will work. More on that in the future though.

Tonight, on this rather interesting Friday night, I want to tell you about the future of my company. As we currently stand, we're just a small not-very-well-known production company based in Wellington NSW... and a customer base in Dubbo NSW. What I'm hoping to do, is expand on this with a brand new name, slogan... and a new set of goals. Well, the goals will always be the same: Create a production company that caters to everything I love about story-telling with a camera, but again... with the new goals: Just create better content. We're launching a new side to our company which will cater to prospective businesses in the Wellington and Dubbo area. Of course, more of this in the coming months.

The time for "Daniel Rutter Films" as a company to close it's doors is upon us. But with this, I am looking forward to launching my services as a videographer and film maker under a new name.

I want to thank all the people who have stood behind us, helped us with our productions, watched our videos, hired us, believed in us. It has been you, and you alone... who have helped me build the skills I have.

Jul 17, 2013

Giving up the booze for a month, and the future of Daniel Rutter Films


Hey guys;


It's been an interesting and quiet month here. I wrapped up all my work for the last wedding, the MySong Awards videos are cut and dried (just awaiting upload, which falls on the client to do so). I was tasked this week with the job of helping Luke Towney, lead vocalist of Storm In The Orphanage, create a promotional clip for his fundraising efforts with Cancer Care NSW. Luke is giving up all alcoholic beverages for the entire month of July to raise money. If you want to see the video, check it out here:



In other news, Daniel Rutter Films is offering a massive $150 discount on our premium wedding package, which I call the "All Day Package". The offer expires at the end of August.


And lastly: Sometime towards the end of the year, possibly earlier... we will no longer be operating under "Daniel Rutter Films". I have decided to move into what I call "phase 2" of business... and change my business name. I realise this will probably cause some confusion, so I'm currently working out a strategy to smoothen the transition. I'll keep you guys updated as I go.

Now, I'm running late for a meeting with a lady about a Doco. So, farewell... till next time, folks!

May 8, 2013

Shooting For The Stars

I tend to save my "personal life" for my personal Facebook wall, and for the most part just those I trust that are close to me. But the truth is; as is the case for a lot of us, personal life is what shapes us into the people we are and who we become.

I've been through a bit of a ringer these last few months, mostly at fault of my own... but I've learnt from it in many ways. It was a journey of self discovery. I learned that I put my trust in people who don't prove their worth to me, and that I allow myself to be distracted from my hobbies too much.

In the last few months I've given serious thought to where I want to be in 10 years, and what my company means to me. I know I can't support a family by being a low budget film maker and no day job, and my life will no doubt find itself with a wife and kids. It's on the cards, and I welcome that with open arms. I thought about all the things I can do with my company, rather than just make my own films... I thought about some of the things I've always wanted to do, and that was support young film makers. I know, if I'd had the support of an established film maker at my age... I'd definitely be a lot more active than I am now. That said, I've supported myself... and I've come a long way. But sometimes you need that little bit of support from someone who believes in you. I want to be that guy.

I think it'll start small. I'll make my own films, produce promotional material for businesses... do basically what I do now, but on a bigger scale.
- Wedding videos that will still be affordable (but more expensive than what I do now) with a more cinematic take on them.
- Short form and feature films of my own, garnering funding from local supporters and kickstarter backers, as well as government funding.
- Helping young film makers develop their ideas into film scripts, develop their scripts into reality. Produce their films, give them the skills and gear they need to complete that film.
- Provide production services, editing and small film crews for indie film making productions.

It's a wild dream, and it's a very very big goal... but they say "Aim for the stars, shoot for the moon". That's the wild dream. I have no idea how to get there, but maybe the journey of self discovery will help with that.


May 4, 2013

Back Down To Earth!


 Hey guys;

Today isn't really an article, but more of a ramble. A discussion on something I've seen a lot of, and do experience as well. This is written as advice not only to those budding and otherwise talented film makers (and other creative types), but to myself as well.

It's starts with something simple. We have that creative urge. Pick up that pencil or paint brush, pinch Mum and Dads video camera, start a new word document, grab the beat up guitar with old strings... and we make do with it. Because we don't have a choice. We want to explore our creative minds and we'll use whatever we can to begin that process. I remember starting out first with a video camera I borrowed from my then-girlfriend. I had a film idea, a rough word document to explain the story... and a few cap guns. I ran outside with my siblings and filmed what would be my first foray into "directing"... A film called Car Lovers Revenge. It was a nasty little SD JVC Everio camera, on board mic system and a horrible built in lens. But, it's what I had.
I had a split with that girlfriend a month or two later, and unfortunately lost the footage before the film could be made. All that survives from that project is a Youtube based trailer that proved how bad the film truly was going to be. But I didn't care. I was learning, I was creating.
Fast forward, after my few months of pining "lost love" and I dived into my new love... making short action clips. I was armed with a nokia N95 stolen (or "eternally borrowed" as I preferred to say) from a friend, my mothers brand new Acer work station and a pirated (yes, sadly) copy of Sony Vegas Pro 6. I also had siblings, Skye and Patrick who were my crew and actors. We made about 5 short films or more using that setup, each in their own ways really BAD.. but I was learning my craft still, and doing what I loved.

Fast forward at least a year later and I was looking at getting a new camcorder to replace the phone. I was developing some films I wanted to make that I knew the phone wouldn't be up to the task, so I purchased a brand new Canon HV30, $1200 later. From there on, I was more choosy with my projects. I found myself not writing "just any action scene that came to mind" and wanted to start making more serious projects. I had a few false starts, a few "bad eggs" in scripts that turned out to be terrible films... and suddenly it slowed to a crawl. I stopped shooting films, I started doing videography work... and thats when the "gear collection" started.

My "GH1 collection".

You see, what I'm getting at here in my "ramble sesh" is that we all get lost at one point, when we stop seeings stories and start seeing other peoples work with amazing sound, cinematography... and compare our work to that. I know, in my case I was watching short films with slider/dolly shots, steadicam sequences, decent audio, not-that-shaky-handheld that looked good... And I wanted to put all that into my films. I bought my GH1 because I wanted the shallow depth of field that removable photographic lenses provided, and better low light performance than my HV30. I'm one for al-naturale light, not lighting setups. Better dynamic range/sensor-tivity made my job a little easier. I found myself caught up in the "what else can I add to my gear?" "What else to I need?".

This week I finally woke up to that fact. After I'd bought my LX7, and my new slider... and I was looking for the next piece of equipment to add to my gear. I look at all the work I've done over the last 8 months of owning my GH2... and I don't see a great deal to show for all that money invested in gear. I do a lot of videography stuff, but my original reason for picking up a camera... I don't seem to do that much anymore. Lost in the world of being a "dude with a camera", I no longer write scripts because I'm afraid I'll write another stinker of a film. I do more work tweaking scripts for others, lending my knowledge in gear and cameras to friends and other interested peoples... and I forget about my original 'plan'.

So my advice to you all out there is this: Don't get lost in the world of technicality. I did that. I started reading forum posts, I started reading stats and specs sheets for gear... I stopped seeing "any camera can be used to tell a story" and started seeing the distractions instead. Too many times have I seen other film makers (and myself) not do a project purely based on the fact that they're just waiting for "that next bit of kit before they start filming". Forget that. Use whatever you have, get out there and make that bloody movie. Stop letting the world of specs and gear lists weigh you down. If you fall down that hole, it's hard to get out of.

Things are a bit different for me now that I'm a videographer primarily, and a film maker secondary. What gear you have, can definitely help your production values (as I discovered recently with the 'MySong Award' music clips ) but it can distract you as well. While I do raise the quality of my projects, I run into a variety of other situations where I don't spend enough time really "testing" my new toys, and instead learn 'on the fly'. Whilst it's a good way to learn quickly, it can be frustrating when you're filming a wedding and you can't figure out how to balance your damn flycam. In the end you chuck the bloody thing and refuse to use it ever again.

As a film maker, you have creative license. There is a reason why people out there are able to create films on their phones and use cheap cameras creatively. I keep wanting to "go back to basics", and I may do so one day in the future. The point of film making is to focus on the story you're telling, not the gear you use to tell it. Your most important "gear" is your script, and your actors. Your directing skills help, but I think that one is a learn-as-you-go kinda deal. Pull that phone out of your pocket and go out and make that film you've been wanting to make. Take that challenge, you never know how much better it'll make you as a film maker.

Thanks for reading my post. I do apologise if it was a long one. I hope it was informative and you learnt something!