Olympians in the living room

Every year I like to work on a few commercial video projects.  This post is a bit of a behind the scenes look at the video I created for the "Rowing App".  

Equipment Used:

Software Used:

This project was especially fun because it combines two of my great loves: video and rowing.  The video was for my friend Paul who started Hegemony Technologies and needed a video to promote his cell phone app called "The Rowing App".   I rowed with Paul for years in Sacramento and was excited to be working with him.  I also got the chance to work with Seth, an old teammate from my brief rowing career at UC Davis.  Seth was in the final stages of preparing for the 2016 Rio Olympics (he stroked the US Men's Four a couple of months after we finished filming the project).  I also got to meet and work with Esther Lofgren, a 2012 gold medalist in the US women's eight. Rather than tell you what The Rowing App is, let me show you the video we made if you haven't seen it yet:    

I worked with Hegemony Technologies to deliver a video of equal (or greater) quality for a third of the price they had been quoted by another video production company.  Scheduling time to film around Seth's training and the local spring regattas presented a challenge.  Borrowing a launch for filming and a boat for Seth and his friend Ambrose to row was also tricky.  Throwing a rainy spring into the equation stretched out filming over about a month.  We ended up filming all of the land scenes and speaking parts in my house.  I set up a simple three-point lighting setup and backdrop in my living room for the interviews and pretended my kitchen was Seth's home.  I got some much needed help from my then fiancé.  I gave her a crash course in boom mics and audio recording.  She did a great job, and freed me up to focus on filming.  For cameras I used my Canon 5D MKIII with Magic Lantern firmware and my Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera.  I used Veydra mini primes and a Canon 70-200 F2.8 lens to get nice crisp images with bokeh backgrounds.  I filmed the entire project in RAW which generated a ton of data, 764 gigabytes of hard drive space when all was said and done!  The final video file was just over three minutes long, about 500 megabytes in size.  Even though it fills up storage, I'm addicted to filming in RAW.  With video that looks as crisp as my still photos, I won't be going back to the H.264 video codec any time soon.  Below are some fuzzy cell phone pictures of the interviews and a little video of some of the footage that didn't make the cut.

NOte: If you invite Olympians into your house, be sure to have enough food to feed them!  I had a poorly stocked pantry that morning and was only able to offer Seth and Esther PB&J sandwiches and a half bag of stale tortilla chips (which Seth devoured).

In the video above you see a few shots from our first attempt to film the rowing scenes for the video.  We ended up scrapping all of these shots which were filmed on a Friday afternoon in Princeton.  We were trying to take advantage of a gap in Seth's schedule, but there was too much noisy activity at the boathouse and the afternoon sun produced a harsh light that wasn't the look I was going for.  That Friday filming session was useful because it gave me a chance to practice filming from the launch.  We decided to film the rowing sequences one last time on Sunday morning.  The morning was overcast with drizzling rain and flat water - great rowing weather!  The grey clouds produced even lighting and rain created a nice atmosphere.  Seth and Ambrose were well rested and having a good time.  I laid out over the front of the launch with my camera a few inches above the water and captured some of my favorite rowing shots ever.  After filming I finished up the app animations in After Effects, mixed the audio in Audition, and gave the final video a color treatment in Film Convert.   

Filming in RAW produces great images.  Some of these shots were used on the Hegemony Technologies website:


Here is a link to Esther Lofgren's website: http://www.estherlofgren.com/

Need a short video for your business or brand?  I'd love to hear about it!  Drop me a note in the comments below.  Thanks for reading my blog!