#‎jayaramsmiles‬

“Hello? Can anyone hear me?”

There was no reply, not even in cheerful melodies usually sung by birds. I dropped the sound kit on the forest floor and ran further along the dirt path.

“Hello, Hello!?”

Again, nothing except the eerie buzz of silence. I turned back, but every direction seemed a mirror image of it’s self. The only comfort came in the form of sunbeams piercing through the canopy. Even then, it was awfully dark for a Sunday morning.

“Jacquie?”

Searching for the voice proved unsuccessful until it’s owner emerged from the trees.

“I thought you might have missed the turnout.”

Indeed, we had to walk back quite a ways before finding the hidden route among the branches and leaves.

“I found her!” Zach called when the ground started rising into all sorts of ramps and rails. In the distance, Jayaram snickered. He knew it was hard to find. The bike trails had remained unmarked for years and it was exciting to be let into the secret world they created.

Jayaram showed us around. I remember specifically the rack where bikes were hung and the deck on which he and his friends spent countless afternoons. One couldn’t help but marvel at the structures that had been so carefully built and wonder how long it had taken. Coming out to watch the guys or even reading a book in the morning seemed like a good idea. Jayaram said it was ok as long as we kept the location on the down low. 

That day, there was no time for leisure reading in the woods. Instead, I glanced at an instruction manual as we set up tripods, cameras and sound. It was the second time in less than twenty-four hours. The first had been for Video Yearbook, this time Zach was filming for his ‘Group Production’ project.  I recorded sound on an R-44. Jayaram, an expert at his sport, was not short of tricks to perform. #‎jayaramsmiles‬We interviewed him afterwards and he told us about his childhood and passion for the outdoors. I was especially thrilled because I hadn’t realized how much he cared about nature. He seemed to be a genuine person to be friends with. Unfortunately, despite the various classes I shared with Jayaram, this was the only time that I got to hang out with him.

Two years later, while returning home from Central California, an unsettling post made it to my newsfeed. Fingers were crossed and prayers were sent wishing for a misunderstanding. Too soon, the social network was overflowing with messages confirming the fact. Jayaram was gone as a result of a tragic accident.

In the following days, I searched for the external drive containing the images taken of Jayaram during the shoot. I wanted so badly to post them on his wall, but felt uneasy since I didn’t know him like the others. Regardless, in those couple hours that we worked on the video, Jayaram’s character shown through and left an impression.

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The footage we took in the woods was used during Jayaram’s memorial. It starts off in the beginning and again at 06:11. I chose to post it today since it’s graduation weekend and he would have walked with a Bachelors in Communication.

This unfortunate event has left me thinking. Mostly, I realized that when treating with people – strangers especially – it’s wise to uphold a positive attitude. Life is unpredictable; one can never tell when the last memory will be shared or what will be the most lasting impression. Let it be a good one 🙂

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Drama Behind the Scenes

“This is probably the best still I have ever taken as a set photographer” read a post from last year which never quite got published… and so I’m just going to emancipate it from the drafts box:

The image was taken during a cinematography class project. We were supposed use a K3 film camera but nobody imagined that using it would be such a hassle!  At first, we couldn’t even get the film into the camera… it took six different people like two hours!

These are some other stills from the class project. We took great care on set design for that first shoot.  Costumes, poker chips and smoke, we had it all. Dolly tracks were set around the table, actors arrived and the tripod was set. Like I said earlier, it was two hours and 6 people before that camera saw the light of day.

As the problems with loading it became apparent, several suggested that we filmed on a HVX or Cannon T3i for backup. Unfortunately, it was decided to only film using the K3, as to save time. The director was freaking out and the rest of the crew and actors was stressed out. We needed to be done as soon as possible.

Being done as soon as possible turned out to be the least of our worries. Apparently the film was loaded incorrectly and the gadget responsible for pressing it against the shutter came loose during production. Fingers were crossed as we decided to move on.

The story evolved from the class’ desire to get slow motion shots of flowing fabric.  “What better way than a runaway bride in a gossamer dress?” They thought.

Being chosen as the bride was an interesting mix of fun and tragedy. Several class periods were spent running down the halls of the art department in a lime green dress. The rest of them regressed into the childish psychological mindset of ‘cooties’.   Yes, I did say the dress was lime green. In fact our costume designer did a wonderful job of creating it out of sheets and a slip.

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The last scene was supposed to have the bride die gracefully into a body of water. What was not graceful was the ungodly hour at which the cast and crew met up on a chilly, cloudy Sunday morning. In February. IN FEBRUARY!!!  This was not plan A – a heated pool in someone’s fancy Napa villa, this was more like plan Z and a half –a visit to the school’s fountain.

The director actually waded into the water in an attempt to coax us in. She succeeded – but as the frigid water engulfed my body, I found death wasn’t as beautiful as the shot had been described.  The groom’s shirt suffered a make-up imprint in a desperate attempt to muffle my unwarranted screams.  No one wanted to attract campus security!

The crew watched in horror as the fountain was vacated and cloths came flying off bodies faster than bullets.  The campus may or may not have witnessed an underwear clad person being chased by an ice soaked individual who in turned was followed by someone who’d been slipped into cloths at the last minute >.<  We are all running for a position within the Student Association. Good thing the administrators didn’t look out the window during their meeting!

The film was promptly sent to be developed. I jumped into a waiting vehicle and spent the rest of the day avoiding paint balls at a shooting range.

“There was some good footage and some bad”  our professor wrote, “but among it was a few MAGICAL slow motion shots of a fleeing bride”.

Of course, our poker scene is ruined because the film was loaded incorrectly – but you know what the worst part is? One of the rolls is missing. Specifically the roll featuring a ‘not-so-dead-someone’ in the fountain. There were many unhappy faces  and under breath comments to go around.

Deep breath. It’s ok. Our grades WILL survive.

As discussed in class, there were other factors that affected the success of this project. Some commented that the director wasn’t getting along with everyone on the team. Others mentioned that the producer wasn’t contacting the right people. Several glared at the bride & groom knowing that our ‘none speaking terms‘ attitude during production had ruined the chemistry.

Regardless of the outcome, this film making fiasco has brought many lessons along with it:

  1. Have back up lined up so if plan A fails at least you will be able to rock plan B (and not get to Z1/2).
  2. Group effort is needed so work with your team regardless of personal differences.
  3. Enjoy whatever it is that you are doing and have fun while you are at it.

As for my film loading abilities -thankfully one of the TAs decided to take the time to teach me how the camera worked. I took two freshmen into the darkroom with us so they could watch him load the K3.  Besides the occasional flicker from the little red lights on the enlargers, you can’t see anything! Nada. Rien. The poor TA must have rolled his eyes as the freshmen and I spent the next 25 minutes trying to figure out why we could all ‘see’ and were seemingly running into a fictitious pole in the middle of the room. Other opportunities to load the camera were much appreciated and encountered with eternal gratefulness. Trial and error does pay off and by finals week I could load the K3 by myself with a record under 10 minutes. No time to run into imaginary poles there!

Linea Caffe

Working With the Coffee Guru 029Woke up early on a Sunday morning  and headed down to San Francisco. Mission: To help film  Linea Caffe‘s Kickstarter.

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On the way to San Fran, I talked to my professor about my interest in becoming a set photographer.  Tag gave me lots of advice. He said that the most important thing was to stay out of the way of the crew but mange to capture quality images of the set.

While I did take a bunch of images on set, my main job was to capture sound with an R-44.  Boy was I scared! I had spent the night before looking up information on how to properly capture sound. Of course, I had already survived one quarter of sound design, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

PicMonkey Collage2It took a while to get used to the jest of things; to properly set up the equipment, to make sure it was working and such things.  I had to be ready, hiding under counters or next to the camera ready to capture even the slightest wave of sound.  Ben and Zach, who where doing lights and grip work, also watched out for me and made sure I was doing things right.

All three of us were amazed by our professor’s ability to quickly get the task done.  The shots would be called out, we set up for the shot, filmed and were ready to move on.  It was such a professional environment in comparison to the sets of student films.

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We shot for a total of two days in three different locations.  I think my best memories of this project was the interaction between the crew and the public.  It was very interesting to see the reactions of people as we filmed on the streets. Some chose it as an opportunity to start fights while others wanted to hog all the attention. There was also some confusion with the word ‘shoot’ as several individuals related it to a gun rather than a camera.

f84b0fe981990e789f4ebbbb2282ba11_largeTo see the final product, click on the image above and watch the video from Linea Caffe’s kick starter page. Enjoy!

Beyond the Scenes

Sophomore year, we had a Group Production assignment for a ‘fictional narrative’.    We were to work in pairs, each with our own project, alternating directing and cinematography positions. Zach and I actually stayed through spring break to work on our short films, but he was both director and cinematographer for his own project.

Beyond Production (1)Because his story was post-apocalyptic, we actually considered filming in a ghost town. Unfortunately, the nearest one was several hours away.  Location scouting proved that many locations nearby would work just fine.

Beyond Production (4)We did have minor difficulties getting access though. For example, Zach found a tractor graveyard but had the hardest time contacting those in charge.  He finally got the keys, and we moved right inside.

I was often distracted and wanted to do spontaneous photoshoots of Ben. He played the main character and his outfit went fashionably well with the locations.  Had a camera and reflector ready just in case.

Beyond Production (2)Kélanie did sound design for our first shoot. We were glad to have her on campus while the rest of the school was gone.  I’m not 100% sure, but this may have been one of her first experiences using the sound equipment.  She also went location scouting with us, and we pretty much hung out the whole break.

Beyond - Production

Funny as it seems, location scouting was not the biggest challenge. We needed to find a girl! Kélanie agreed to play the part as a last resource. There weren’t many options, since EVERYONE was out for the break.

We waited till after break to film those scenes. Serena played the girl. Serena was so much fun to hang out with. We were always up to some sort of mischief or another.

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The second day we shot at the lake was intolerably hot. The water looked so pretty and inviting from the bridge!  Serena and I told the boys that we were ditching production to go swimming. They were fine with it as long as we had bathing suits. We told them we didn’t. One of the boys had just asked if we were planning to go skinny dipping when the police showed up to escort us off the bridge.  It was so awkward.

The next time we returned to the lake, Serena and I were ready. After filming was done we grabbed the car keys, stripped to our bikinis and ran off screaming. We didn’t see the boys for a long time. When they finally appeared, they found us shivering and unable to get out of the water. Thankfully they weren’t upset.That Friday night, we returned with blankets, glows sticks and a larger group of friends. It was loads of fun and thankfully, this time the water was warmer.Beyond (2) (683x1024)

It took forever, but Zach was finally able to get all the footage for his film. We got to see it at the Vineyard Festival at the end of the school year. I didn’t post anything till now because the final video didn’t get uploaded to youtube till recently. Feel free to take a look!

Behind the Scenes of Harrison & Gregor

For our Intro to TV Production Class, thought by Tag & Rodney, we were asked to make a short segment for a children’s show. Our group was determined to make something better than the other team, so we set to work.

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We decided to use a green screen for our project because our lab hours where late at night and it would be too dark to film outside.
Hannah did make up for our actors. It was a bit exaggerated due to the nature of our short film. Nothing was supposed to look realistic.

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Connor was our director. He read over the lines with the actors. Chloe didn’t need to read from the script, she wrote it!

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We had plenty of time to mess around. Mostly because we had to get our lighting set up just right. There couldn’t be any shadows or anything in the background otherwise our green screen effect would be ruined. Charles, a upperclassman with much more experience came to help us out. We figured that the lighting formula was similar to that of high key lighting in photography.

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But we weren’t just using the green screen, we also had to set up studio space to look like a playroom. Morgan was in charge of production design.

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She did a good job. We got a little carried away there. Group coloring time, just like the good ole days, lol! Some of the girls and I also chased the guys and colored the tips of their noses with the make up sticks. Naturally, they didn’t like that too much!

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But soon, we all had to get back to work. We had to make sure all the equipment was ready to use. Half of it we hadn’t quite used before. Kalle did sound for us. He and his brother usually team up on film projects but this time his brother was chosen to be on the other team.

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The actors got ready…

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And Grace clapped the clapper board.  Are you ready to see our final result?
Here it is, brought to you by Chole’s youtube channel.

Flowers in Your Hair!

A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of helping out with Peter Han’s  Senior thesis film. I mostly helped out with the set and took stills.  We were all out in the woods behind our college. It was crew, parents and like 20 little ones.

During one of the breaks, the little girls got creative with the wildflowers around them. They put them in each other’s hair and also decorated the crew members with them.

I took notes and used the same flowers for the Blue Belle photoshoot  did later that afternoon (Even though you can’t see them in any of the pictures).