The Return Of New Music Monday

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Now a ways back before the shit Show of ‘The November’ we were shooting this weekly series called New Music Monday. Yeah I know not an original title but we couldn’t come up with anything better because it literally described exactly what we were up to.

Coyotee – One of the First New Music Monday Bands

The idea was let’s focus on the incredible local musical talent and bring em into the Polka Dot studio, ply them with beer to play a couple songs in front of 6 cameras and then record/live stream the whole thing.

Coyotee – One of the First New Music Monday Bands

We also wanted to showcase the bands as they were and not have them do a stripped down acoustic version of what they did which was quite common on the good old YouTubes! If you fucking rocked out we wanted to let you FUCKING RAWK OUT!

That wasn’t to say we only wanted hardcore rawkers we tried very hard to make sure that we didn’t filter on genera in anyway.

Royal Oak lulling us with multi-part harmony and acoustic wonder
Zach Kleisinger – Darling Just Breathe

All in all we had filmed three different sessions with a bunch of amazing artists and smack dab in the middle of our weekly release schedule and it basically brought everything to a screeching halt.

But we still have them here in the can so to speak, and while the metric shite tonne of footage we had took a while to unarchive from google drive we are starting this back up again starting with this amazing duo from the north shore of Vancouver.

Porteau – Rebirth

The return of the New Music Monday Segment brings us the indie folk duo Porteau. Hailing from Vancouver’s North Shore this duo blends electronic looping with haunting vocals to fill out a sound indicative of a full band experience. They came into polka dot studio to record a couple of songs this is one called Rebirth.

For filming this we literally rounded up every camera we had at the time starting with both of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 2.5K ‘s we had as well as the two Nikon D610‘s and the Nikon D800. We had the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera with the Nikon 14-24 on a Metabones speed booster rigged up to the Kessler pocket jib for all the moving shots, and because we didn’t have enough folk around this day to have an operator for the DJI Osmo it didn’t make an appearance here. Lens used included the Nikon 14-24, the Nikon 70-200 2.8 and the Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 as well as the sigma 35mm art lens and the Sigma 50mm Art lens. these camera’s were all routed to a computer and streamed live via YouTube and on our Facebook page.

Past Life & A Cardboard Box

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Again More Past life photos because it is all I can manage on my phone while tiny human sleeps on me :) This is from a time that we came home drunk from some sort of gathering to continue the party at our studio to find this huge ass cardboard box in the lobby of our building!

We stuffed it in the elevator and it was the exact size of the door so some one had to get in and push the buttons and then the box got shoved in. Once the elevator doors closed the inside of the Box was pitch black. well we didn’t get the button pressed in time and the elevator went to the basement instead of our floor. The elevator doors open and there is a half dozen drunkards in a box. The neighbor took it is stride and hopped into the dark box with the drunk folk and away we went!

anyway the box lived in the studio for a few weeks and many photo-booths and other shenanigans happened with it.  This photo however…. It has no purpose :) It is just what drunk folk do with a box they find in the lobby :)

Walk about Terminal Ave with the Pocket 4k & the Ronin S

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This is just some more footage that I grabbed from the Pocket 4k and Ronin S Combo. This test was slightly different as this was one of the first days that I have the Tilta Nuculus Nano on the rig! I Highly recommend this setup! The Nano comes with the cable to power the Focus motor, it also comes with a convenient way to mount 15mm rod for that motor + the fiz unit mounts so delightfully on the Ronin S, and when you have the Tilta Nuculs M system this one just works in that system flawlessly :)

Sparrows 3 – Our entry into a 48hr Film Competition

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So Polka Dot Rocket was a film collective that was born out of the first “This Is A Spoon” 48 hour film competition.

For those that are not in the know a 48 hour film competition is a contest is which teams compete for a variety of prizes around who can best Write, Cast, Shoot, Edit, & Deliver a short 5 min or less film in 48 hours or less. I hear you in the back, That doesn’t seem that hard. Well here is the Rub you have to do this all while incorporating secret elements that you don’t get until the competition starts. These can be anything from an over all theme, character, a prop or a line of dialog that needs to be included in your film. and the deciding factor on who wins the different awards is who incorporated these elements the best.

This film which we call Sparrows 3 is our half hearted entry into the competition this year. Based on the resources we had and the way things got laid out I am pretty pleased with our film. I think we incorporated the elements of

Theme: First World Problems
Prop: Hawaiian Pizza (but it couldn’t be the first world problem)
Line of Dialogue: So you are just going to leave me here with this/a ______ in my hand.

I say half hearted as we really had a lot going on this month and we abandoned a really great script idea because it needed more writing/work-shopping to make it great. We also had a variety of our crew that we had lined up have to drop out for various reasons over the weekend leaving us to abandon our first idea (that we stayed up until 4:00 am writing to instead get back at it at 9:00 am to write a whole new script based on what we had available to us!

It is no Influenced or Sense Memory but I think it is pretty good none the less.

The Film was shot entirely on the new (well new to me at least) Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K mounted on the DJI Ronin S. I had both of our Ursa Mini Pro’s and the while Readyrig and Full Size Ronin Rig all ready to go for filming this, But we opted to stick with the Pocket/Ronin S combo because with the Tilta Nuculus Nano it is a very great one man band Run’N’Gun setup. Sound was a combo of the Sennheiser MKH416 when they were stationary enough to mount a boom arm (we didn’t have anyone that could run boom) and the Rode Filmmaker Lav Kits all plugged into the Zoom F8n that literally hung around my neck on a camera strap. Again no sound person :)

I ran (figuratively and Literary) around most of the day and the night shooting for many hours straight and the Ronin S battery held out strong being not even half spent. I did have to change the Nano’s Battery twice in the shoot but I don’t think it started the day fully charged. It did however only take about an hour to charge up again with the magnetey USB charger thingy out of a standard USB port of of my iMac, so i was able to swap it in with out issue.

The big surprise was the Pockets Battery life. I have heard nothing but heavy complaints about the battery life on the Pocket, and how it is utterly useless with out a cage with a v-mount screwed to it in a cumbersome way.

I gotta say BullS**t. Yeah the on-board LP-E6N are not going to last long enough to shoot a droning lecture from my 68 year old Poli-Sci Prof in University uninterrupted. But we started the night with 7 LP-E6N’s (specifically these ones from amazon) and I was super diligent to stick them on the charger the moment they went dead thinking i would blast though that 7 in a couple hours to hopefully have fresh recharged ones ready to go. I ended the night with 4 batteries left untouched an the one in the camera at around 80%

Lighting was all done with some combo of the Aputure 300 or aputure 120, or some of the small aputure 20’s

The film made it to the semifinals and for what we had to put in to it I am pretty happy with what we got!

Black Magic UrsaMini Pro + Sigma 50-100 Art Lens + ICSO Star Anamorphic Projector Lens

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Now I have had this lens for a few years now and every now and then I will pull it out and rig it on a camera and shoot something with it.

But shooting with this lens, particularly Run ‘n’ Gun Styles is Hard.

Wait… Actually I might be going about this the wrong way round… Let me start over. This is an Anamorphic projector lens that used to be used in a theater to play back true CinemaScope movies that were shot using anamorphic lenses on 35mm film. In a nut shell an Anamorphic shooting lens would film the film ‘squishing the image to fit twice the horizontal frame onto a standard 4:3 35mm film frame so your image would look like this

Then after editing and the like you would project the film though an Anamorphic projector lens and “un-squish” the image for the audience.

Now true Anamorphic shooting lenses are really fucking expensive. Like sports car expensive so not readily an option for the average indie shooter :) but being that we don’t project 4:3 images though an Anamorphic lens for playback anymore these Projector lenses are fairly common to find on eBay.

The Drawbacks of shooting though a projector lens is they are not the complete shooting package. you essentially stick them in front of a ‘Taking Lens’ almost like a filter. the difficulty comes in that you need to focus both lenses to get a sharp image which is cumbersome to say the least. not something that is easy to do on a shoulder rig or a gimbal, so they tend to cramp my personal shooting style a little bit. Couple that with they have at least a meter minimum focus, they are stupid heavy and depending on your taking lens they can make you camera super long, to get cinema scope you need a camera that can shoot in a 4:3 mode which usually means cropping in on your sensor, and on super 35 you need to shoot 75mm or longer lenses (understanding that you do double your horizontal Field of view making that 75mm more like 37.5mm on the horizontal scale only) unless you want lots of vignetting .

So why do it? well the idea of Anamorphic is the look, whether that is in the Bokah or the vintage feel of the lens or because how it flares when you shoot into the sun. What ever the reason that you might want to shoot Anamorphic it is pretty safe to say that it is not about fitting more image onto a 4:3 film frame anymore.

So I have pulled this lens out a few times a year and I play with it on some small project and then it would go back in the cupboard.

A film Filmed with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 2.5k and the Isco Star Anamorphic lens

For me this particular way to shoot Anamorphic on the cheap is all drawbacks with out any real tangible benefits. EG: It doesn’t have enough of a vintage feel to be worth for the overall look, this lens has coatings that really make it hard to get good lens flairs (I find my bare hood-less sigma art lenses can flair quite enough on it’s own)

it is to sharp to give a film feel but to soft to look like good glass. that bokah is great in those certain circumstances but i feel to combat the above issues you need to shoot a little more stopped down then I would normally so you loose the creamy Anamorphic bokah anyway.

All said and done I have sold this lens after having it since 2015ish and while it is a great lens I guess it is not really for me :)

First Footage From The Blackmagic Pocket 4K

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Here we have it a full month and a half after I got the camera, with countless ‘edited’ hours of footage after the fact, We have the FIRST footage from the Blackmagic Pocket 4K!!

I felt I should make it a though-back to the time way back in 2010 when I got my Canon 5D Mark II and ran about all night ‘testing’ the camera out

But yes… a month and a half in and I heart this camera!

A Quick Test of the Tiffen Black Pro-Mist 1/2 Filter

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At the beginning of April on a whim I bought the 1/2 version of the Tiffen Black Pro Mist Filter.

This filter come in a 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, & 3 Versions. Everything I could read about it was suggesting the subtle 1/8 or 1/4. Because I am anything but subtle I went for the 1/2 because you know what they say… go big or go home. (Well I say that I guess)

Now I bought it at the beginning of April and have been carrying it around in my camera bag ever since but other then popping it on once or twice in Vegas I have’t really used it.. So on this day I decided to walk about in the glorious sunshine (for those that know me they know that I am actually being sarcastic right now as the Sun actually hates me and is out to kill me) and give it a go. I popped it on with a IRND Filter onto the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art on the Blackmagic Pocket camera and gave it a “test’.

I ‘like’ it but I am not really sure about it so the verdict is out as of yet but more testing will be needed. It is way better then just a standard Vaseline on the lens style diffusers but it really shines when you are shooting back-light sunshine

For me it wouldn’t be a “put on a walk about all afternoon” sort of filter for me. I can definitely see it when shooting people in the golden hour (which I will try and post results soon) but in a standard normal front lit situation it kinda just looks like a cheap lens.

What is a Black Pro Mist Filter?

Well… feel free to correct me in the comments but it is essentially a Diffusion filter but not really. It reduces the highlights and lowers contrast but unlike a standard diffusion filter it does so with out severely decreasing the overall sharpness of your shot . How it works is if you look super close you can actually see tiny speckles of black Hence the black In the Black Pro Mist :)

It is a great add to the camera bag and it can definitely take the place of some crazy soured on ebay 1950’s Russian Iron curtain Zeiss knockoff that has just the right softness and bokah to make it hipster enough to pay $900 dollars for. so for $120ish CDN it seems like a win :)

Terminal Ave – Walk About

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This is a walkabout to the left of work. I hit up an ally behind the main drag and wandered just block or two away. I have to say that I am quite tired of my work hood already as there isn’t many directions to go.

The best part about this day is a guy came running out of a garage or workshop and ‘demanded’ to know why i was filming there shop. I said i wasn’t i was instead filming the telephone box (the one with the shoe on it) to which he responded WHY? My answer of why not wasn’t good enough for him and after a bit more awkward conversation it turns out my NOT SNEAKY AT ALL Cinematic Camera moves made him think that I was casing the joint to break in later….. Let’s recap a moment…. Full Ronin S with a pretty elaborate camera. on top and me doing the heal toe walk with huge sweeping camera motions all to ‘case a joint’ ….. You know instead of sneaking a photo with a cell phone….. I must need a haircut already or something :)

A Walk about on Commercial Drive in Vancouver with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

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This lovely morning I had a spot of time so I went for a walk about a couple blocks of The Commercial Drive area here in Vancouver. It was great light and I love that at 8 something in the morning the streets are pretty much empty. Not great for picking on strangers no one cares what the weird guy with the camera is up to:)
This idea of a photo-wander is nothing new to me. My blog is essentially a 17 year photo-wander experiment. But what is somewhat new is the idea of porting that over into a video-wander…. Needs a better name but you get the idea :)

The Hoover Dam – with the BMPCC4K

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While in Nevada for NAB I took a side trip and visited the Hoover Dam. I pulled in just at magic hour and managed to get some wonderful reds and warm colors. These are all handheld shots (some of which are quite obvious) and The music is from Art List.

The Gear
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
Canon to MFT Adapter
Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8 ART Lens
Braw UHD CQ 3:1

Walk About With the BMPCC4K and the Ronin S

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Today I walked home. Yeah I know it isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things I walk everywhere. or I at least try to :) However today I walked home with The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema and the DJI Ronin S. And Again I am sure you are like yeah big whop! Didn’t you do that like 3 days ago? Yes yes I know. But Today it wasn’t in the dark!  

I walked home with the Ronin S and the Pocket 4K, this was more about an exercise in shooting video as though I was on a photo walk, and then editing something up quickly and getting it up on the blog like I used to with Photos :)

The Gear:

The Edit:

Quick Motion lapse with the Ronin S

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I recently bought a new Ronin S to go with the Blackmagic Pocket 4K and while the verdict is still definitely out on it vs the original Ronin or the Ronin M it does have some cool as features like key-frame based time-lapse or hyper-lapse which is pretty cool! I would see sticking this on a cable-cam or a Kessler Slider with Motion Control and making some epic programmed movements. I just need to figure out how to soften out  those key-frames a bit. Anyone have suggestions, or third party software to suggest?

April 23 2019 – A Walk Home At Night

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I had to work late last night. So my walk home was in the dark. I grabbed the Ronin S and my BMPCC4K and away I went. I am still quite new to this combination and I am liking it although it is not nearly as stable out of the box so to speak as my big Ronin is or my Ronin M was. Nothing a spot of stabilization in Resolve couldn’t solve! I guess some care and attention is needed when walking about then the willy-nilly nature of the Ronin M or Original Ronin :) 

The Blackmagic Pocket 4K at night on Fremont Street in Las Vegas

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I thought way better way to end the day of driving then hitting up Fremont Street in Las Vegas. This is all shot at 24fps with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K & the Sigma 18-35 Art lens with a MFT to Nikon Adapter. ISO’s are for the most part 1250 with the odd jump up to 3200 and 4000 with one shot at 10,000 (the dancing) Over all I LOVE this camera almost as much as the Ursa Mini Pro! it is portable and the quality is amazing. It does have quite a few less options than the Pro particularly when it comes to sound and shooting formats etc But week two’s verdict on the camera….. It’s great :)

Valley Of Fire Nevada

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It was a whirlwind beginning of April. I got a new pocket 4K almost on a whim and managed to have it in hand three days later. Projects are piling up and all came to a head that week + I fired on down to Las Vegas for NAB this year. That was a great Experience in itself but that is also another story.

I took a day on my trip to NAB this year to drive to the Valley of Fire. Just out side Las Vegas. Mostly as a chance to really play with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. This is a combination Of The DJI Mavic Air, Go-pro Hero 6, & the Pocket 4K. For all the Pocket shots it is a Mix of Handheld, Tripod and mounted on the Ronin M. I did have a ND/IR Filter and Circular Polarizing filter mounted on as well. . I will do a future Video about the setup that works for me when I nail it down. It seems to be changing every week :)

Mid Span: 8 Degrees & 492 Steps in Bare Feet

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A New (actually old) Short Film

After a long night and an even longer walk home, two friends face some hard truths and discover what true friendship really takes.

This short shot in one long overnight shooting session on Vancouver’s Iconic Lions Gate Bridge with the Ever Talented Jenna Newton & Jasmine Walton truly going above and beyond as we braved the cold for multiple long takes and as we waited for the Sun to rise! Written and Directed by Shannon Mckague, Shot on the Original Blackmagic Pocket 4K with the Nikon 14-24 F/2.8 Lens on the DJI Ronin M Sound was two Rode Filmmaker Lav Mics feed into a Tascam Recorder. We had one LED Panel on a very tall stand that didn’t have any sandbags and that was it. Very low key shooting

Like most things Polka Dot this has sat on a Hard Drive for a couple years now waiting to get edited! But here we are a Complete Edit. Couple things that I learned while editing this is that constant lesson that i should know by now But I don’t!!


Seriously over 7 different shots in here are all from one camera roll. Which makes Colour Correcting from the RAW nearly impossible as the raw file settings for one shot are often not even close to the same for the next shot. It required a lot of frame counting and futzing about to get this one “Coloured” If i were to do this again I would have lit more shots instead of relying on natural light and I would have start/stopped that camera between shots!

A Photo wander to old haunts.

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My Camera’s (The Hassy, a Polaroid and Nikon) & I went for a walk today. We wandered to all of my favorite places to shoot when we had a studio in gas-town. Half to remember that they were still there and half to reminisce.
This is under what is essentially waterfront station and when you shoot here for more then about 6 min the security will come and shoo you :)

The New Wiral LITE Cable Cam

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I backed a kick starter a while back for a thing called a Wiral LITE. It is essentially a small cable cam that you can string up and grab footage anywhere ! I have had it for weeks and being sick and it raining and what not has meant that I haven’t come close to being able to try it out on anything cool But on Saturday I was hanging on set for a Film called #thephotographershort and this was a perfect time to try it out!

One of these is with the GoPro an the other is the Sony A6300

You can check them out here

On Set Photos From “The Photographer”

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Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of hanging out on set, shooting some Behind The Scenes for a short film Called “The Photographer” It was written by the lovely and super Talented  Andrea, Directed by Matthew Campbell and Shot by Jeff Zwicker as well as a whole team of amazing folk! The Scene was in an old school darkroom so it was a day of seeing RED while we shot on a Red :)
After spending the past two months super sick and not really having energy to do much other then the bare minimum I am super excited to be out in the world again.

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 6.0 ISO Test

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Thought I would share some quick ISO tests from the new Ursa Mini Pro 6.0 Firmware! having a whole stop to ISO 3200 is cool. While it is no A7SII but it ain’t all that bad :) Not sure if the internet compression will show the best details but here we are!

Matched the Exposure shot to shot by stopping up/down as needed using False colour as the guide. Just added the Blackmagic Film to Extended Video Lut and Rendered directly out of Resolve. Some shots are BRAW and Others ProRes XQ. 4.6K (the scope ones are 4.6k – 2.4:1)

Call for Audition

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We are doing a Call out for Auditions for our Short Film “Pour Away The Ocean”

Union Status: NON-UNION

Pay/Compensation: NO Pay but Snacks/meals as well as a copy of the finished film/BTS film, IMDB Credit. Any extra footage for reels and other self promotion. A Professional Head-shot session for all involved crew.

Shoot Location: Vancouver British Columbia Canada

Tentative Filming Dates: Sept 19th to 25th 2018

Audition Date(s):August 16th to 20th 2018

Submission Instructions: Please Email with your head-shot/CV/demo reel or what you have to show your skills off! Only potential candidates will be contacted.

Project Info: Three estranged friends road trip across western Canada to the sudden funeral of a close friend. But guilt-ridden regret causes old secrets to surface, long held grudges begin to flare As they attempt to say goodbye while following her last wishes they work thought the regret of things left unsaid while they each discover the importance of forgiveness and that love, friendship, and embracing each moment is all that really matters in the end

Looking to cast Main Female roles (3 Female Roles in total) Set to tentatively start filming on Sept 19th


23 to 28 years old, female Role. She runs a non profit artist foundation – Strong willed stubborn, ambitious puts duty before self, refuses to show emotions, is the rock that our other characters lean on. The story is mainly about her journey
23 to 28 years old, female. Cynthia – The character who has died, but is represented in Flashbacks. Impulsive Nothing to loose lived life to the fullest character.
25 to 30 years old, female. Allison – Sister of Cynthia – Shy and pragmatic Literal and Intellectual

Storyline: After the sudden death of their late best friend, four estranged friends come together after two years and make their way from Edmonton to Vancouver for the funeral. However, when a guilt-ridden regret causes old secrets to surface, long held grudges begin to flare. As the four friends attempt to say goodbye to their late best friend in all her favorite places, old memories and new life lessons force each of them to realize that love, friendship, and embracing each moment is all that really matters in the end.

Ej& Sam’s Song

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So Last week you might remember that I had recorded a Song with EJ and Sam! Well here is said Song!! In all it’s Glory!

This whole evening was the result of a txt message at some ungodly hour from EJ asking…

Any chance you have time to help me record a song in the studio? I’m tryna do something nice for my best friend who’s coming to town”

Now EJ of course ment “record” the song like grab a couple of microphones and send it straight to 2 track. I took it as a let’s haul down all the lights and the camera to RECORD a song.

This video is the result of that miscommunication :) We fired down to the studio and set up some Audio Technica Large Diaphragm condenser mics and plugged them all into the Zoom F8. I went with the Zoom F8 as opposed to dragging a computer down and hooking up the multiple track audio interface and everything as it was supposed to feel like and off the floor. They literally wrote this song a few hours earlier while hanging out on the beach.

For the Video I shot with the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro. This was a little different than all the other things that we have shot in the Studio over the years as it was just one camera. In the past with New Music Monday or way back with my old band My Friend Lisa I would always set up a tonne of camera and shoot a single performance from Multiple angles.

This session was completely the opposite as we shot multiple performances with one camera.

This session was the opposite as we shot multiple performances with one camera. Meaning that we recorded them performing the song start to end from a few different angles and then I cut it together in post, but we didn’t play to a click track or film to playback. I literally got them to perform it till they had an audio take that felt good and then we called it good. complete with all the variance that comes from multiple performances :) If I get a chance I will pull together a video about how I did this quickly and easily in premiere.

I will do tutorial on how I did this multi-take song as a single camera edit. and Trust me It is not perfect to be sure, But with some time and Finesse you wouldn’t even be able to tell this was multiple takes at the song with out a click track or anything. For Now THE SONG!

Fort Ebey Park

Photos from the beach at Fort Ebey State Park In Washington State

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Just our view of things tonight here at Fort Ebey Park in Washington State! Yup that is correct… We are on another trek into the unknown! This time we are headed all the way down to to big trees in northern California

Fort Ebey Park In Washington State

Fort Ebey Park In Washington State
This is my stills/NOT Ursa camera Kit for all those fiddly bits and Not ursa stuff. It is in a pelican Air Case which I LOVE FYI!
My Camera Kit for all those fiddly bits

Ej & Sam Sing a Song

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These are just some Stills From a quick impromptu recording session I did with Ej & the equally talented friend Sam who was visiting in town for one night only. We literately grabbed the Ursa (which I think needs a name BTW) the Zoom F8 and some microphones that I had lying about and jumped into the studio and they laid out this amazing song. Which was written that afternoon I might add, and I filmed it.

Sense Memory – My Entry into a 48 Hour Competition!

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This was our Entry into the This is a spoon 48hr Run & Gun Film Competition!! This film was written, cast, shot, and edited in just 48 hours!

We were nominated in no fewer than SEVEN categories, with props for best director, best writing, best sound engineer, best actor, best actress, best film, and then even the audience choice.

Ultimately we took home best actress with a regrets-by-1-point on best film and best director and a solid 2nd for audience favorite. Couldn’t be more proud of the Polka Dot Rocket Team for doing such an amazing job!

UPDATE: Jan 2019
We are playing at the Vancouver Short Film Festival!

DJI Mavic Air – Ambleside Park West Vancovuer

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This is just another video in my never ending goal to not only to capture brilliant footage of the places I visit be but to also make sure that this footage doesn’t just rot on a hard drive somewhere. Tonight’s footage gathering session was actually cut a bit short as I clipped a log on landing and broke a prop. :| I was in a Class C flying zone but I also was never more then 4 Meters off the ground :)