Category Archives: Film

Indie filmmaking is one of my current paths in life. As such, my portfolio is located in this category.

Jasyn Lucas: Flin Flon Station Museum Mural

June 23, 2014. Jasyn and I were on the road to Flin Flon early in the morning after he let me know about a mural he had to paint a few days prior. The mural was behind the Station Museum, and the goal was to create a film based on time lapses.

Summer was upon us, and it was going to be a hot week with sunny conditions and no chance of rain. When we arrived, we set up our campsite, which was only a few seconds’ walk from the job site, and we set up a tarp to store his supplies and my camera gear.

The weather was even hotter than I imagined! We constantly kept hydrated and I was always in fear that my camera would overheat from the extreme amount of long exposure time lapses I took.

Jasyn Lucas - Flin Flon Station Museum Mural Banner

That said, the first night was brutal! It cooled off immensely and dropped to 10 degrees Celsius, I had trouble sleeping because it was so cold. The next day, I bought a sleeping bag, which increased my camping experience to the Fairmont level.

It seemed like we were the only ones who were actually camping, because everybody else in the area were in campers and motor homes. I actually preferred my experience to theirs!

The campground was exceptional because there was a washroom and shower facility that was well maintained. I never used to like camping, but I had a fun time despite myself. Bugs have always bothered me, but they didn’t this time around, even though there were bees everywhere (inside joke: Jasyn dislikes bees)! Hahaha.

Jasyn Lucas - Flin Flon Station Museum Mural Poster

I always thought Flin Flon was a nice town. The extreme hills and little shops remind me of a Canadian San Francisco neighborhood. I really enjoyed myself there and could easily see myself living in such a place. While The Pas has more conveniences, Flin Flon is just a prettier place, in my opinion.

I did a few things differently with this film aside from all the long exposure time lapses. I animated all my titles. I also stuck to a single music track, which kept the amount of content limited. Review times were greatly reduced as a result, and that sped up my workflow. I tried using Magic Bullet Looks to do my grading, but it was tedious and the interface wasn’t intuitive. I guess I’ll stick with manually color grading with Colorista II!

I think the coolest thing I did in this film had to be the animated photo. When we drove around one evening, we stopped at a cliff side overlooking the lake and town. I snapped a photo of Jasyn, and it seemed like a perfect opportunity in post production to experiment with a parallax effect using 3D in After Effects. I also used the Puppet Pin tool to simulate motion, and the results were amazing (to me, at least). I try to find a couple new techniques to experiment with in each film I make.

Jasyn Lucas - Flin Flon Station Museum Mural Panorama

The techniques I picked up while working on wedding videos for the past four months really culminated in this fantastic film. If I had started work on this before the wedding films, I don’t think it would have turned out as well as this did. Like Jasyn mentioned in this film, I can’t wait to pick up more techniques so I can further elevate my filmmaking skill set to the next level.

Lauren and Todd: A Wedding Film

This is the final wedding I filmed over the summer. It was a hot and humid 16 hours of non-stop guerrilla filming, and even though I didn’t wear my suit this time, it really didn’t feel any different!

I was introduced to Lauren and Todd through my brother, who met them in University. I’m pretty sure I met Todd at some point while visiting my brother. I’m about 71.3% sure (let’s see Todd calculate that one! :D). But even if I didn’t, I got to know both Lauren and Todd while filming and during post-production.

It was the first time I got to work with such a sweet couple. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my first two wedding film couples, but something about Lauren and Todd made me want to depict their story differently because of their “chemistry” (haha guys, I made another science joke for you).

Lauren and Todd - A Wedding Film Banner

Call me a sucker for romance or a big romantic at heart, but a major part of me are put into these wedding films. I say this because in the wise words of wedding photographer extraordinaire, Joe Buissink, “You can’t take a photo without leaving a piece of yourself.” The same rings true for film; every frame is a part of you.

It was the first time I got to use 16-35mm f2.8L and 100-400mm f3.5-4.5L glass. I tried to rent my favorites, but Vistek’s stock was all booked up by the time I made my rental order. Needless to say, the 16-35mm became a quick favorite of mine. I’ve since bought a Sigma 24-105mm f2.8 ART to keep the costs down, but I miss the short focal length of the 16-35mm.

The biggest challenge about this shoot was that Lauren wanted me to be as unobtrusive as possible. I chose glass with long focal lengths so that I could catch the action from afar, but every once in a while, I snuck in close so long as I didn’t get in the way, because shaky footage is inevitable with long shots using only a monopod. The audio was also difficult to capture, so I relied on the soundtrack to tell the story through emotional cues. I also spent more time in post production trying to balance the color temps of all the used clips so that the look would be more uniform. I eyeballed most of it, so it’s not perfect, but I didn’t have enough time to learn SpeedGrade or figure out how Magic Bullet Looks worked. With so many clips coming from different environments, it was difficult to unify temps accurately. The ending title was also a huge blunder; I did it in Premiere using the Pen Mask tool at first, frame by frame. Halfway through, I scrapped the whole idea and did it the right way in After Effects. Even now, I have no idea what I was thinking when I started doing that. So much time wasted, but I sure learned that lesson the hard way! An unexpected issue that I ran into was a lot of the clips were dark, so i had to really bring up the brightness until I was seeing high ISO grain. Since I did this with most of the clips, I used this as my overall look. The couple was so busy that I didn’t get a chance to have them record secret messages for each other. To compensate, I quickly put together two short vignettes during the photo shoots, so I hope they enjoy them.

Lauren and Todd - A Wedding Film Poster

With three wedding films under my belt, people have asked me why I enjoy making them so much. I recently joked with a fellow photographer that it’s probably because I’ve never been married or in a long-term relationship, so the wonder of marriage is still fun to me. Seriously though, I like it because marriage is a happy occasion for everybody involved. The bride gets to be the most beautiful woman for the day. The groom has to wait with anticipation to see her until the ceremony. There’s bad news in the media everywhere. Would I rather film the news or film a wedding? I guess the choice is just obvious to me.

The other part of it is that I love stories, especially about people. Weddings tell a story, and I get to be a part of that story and tell it to many people. When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a filmmaker and that I make films. I’m not just a videographer, because that title is just technology focused. As a filmmaker, I’m an artist and films are my craft. I like to write stories, and film seemed to be the next logical step in my life.

Next year will be interesting, as I will start charging for my services. I wonder how many new couples I will meet?

Check out this project on my Behance portfolio!

Jaime and Joey: A Wedding Film

Another wedding that Jenn P. got me invited to, this time in The Pas. We listened to electro music a lot; it was a blast.

Joey happened to be the son of two long time customers at my parents’ restaurant. I had never met Joey in person, but he was a guy with a good sense of humor and a subtle charm that lended well to the camera. Jaime was the kind of bride you would see in magazines – statuesque and tall, but with an approachable air and a great sense of humor. She held her emotions in check for most of the day until I trained my camera on her for her secret message to Joey. I felt so bad for almost making her cry, and I feel like when she watches this, she’s probably going to cry again.

The church. Holy cow, the church. Now, I’m not a religious man, but that church!! Did I mention the church yet? It was a beautiful venue full of wonderful nooks and crannies. I could make an entire film of the church alone. Even in the much larger church of the third wedding I did, this one blew it out of the water. And in The Pas, no less! Sometimes you find these kinds of gems in small towns.

Jaime and Joey - A Wedding Film Banner

The venue sucked for lighting, though. My nifty-fifty came through once again, but it was at that point that I was really chomping at the bit for Canon’s 50mm f/1.2L. That would have been amazing to shoot with.

Jaime’s brother happened to be a filmmaker as well. It was interesting to swap stories and talk shop with him. I don’t know how his film turned out, but I hope it went well. Unfortunately, it was challenging to keep him out of the shot since we were both competing for the best ones, but I think I did well under the circumstances. The great thing about my style of cinematography is I only ever need a few seconds of footage at the most.

I didn’t leave the camera recording on this one. Power was limited, and I didn’t know if I would have easy access to setup my laptop and transfer files off while charging batteries at the same time. So I was very selective with my shots.

Jaime and Joey - A Wedding Film Poster

Post production went in a different direction this time. I had discovered The Music Bed, among other licensed music sites, but something about the way their site worked made it easy for me to curate more accurate results. I wanted music to be at the forefront because I planned to design this film to be more like a music video. I marked two tracks by beat in Premiere Pro and used musical cues to layout each sequence. Once that was done, it was a matter of varying up the b-roll until I was satisfied. It made the process go by smoother than ever before. This resulted in a film that I think is my best yet.

Unlike the last time, I avoided my zoom lens. I got in real tight for my close shots, so I was always on the move. Throughout the ceremony alone, I think I circled the church’s circumference at least twenty times. Unfortunately, the church didn’t have a PA system with XLR, so I was left out in the cold for audio. The reception had perfect PA audio, but with the length of each music track, I decided to just forego the speeches and let the music speak for them.

All in all, I loved the experience of being in The Pas, hanging out with Jenn, meeting some incredibly fun people (shout out goes to Trevor, the best man, for livening up the place by 9000%), and mastering my craft even further. However, I didn’t get to eat the cake because I was so busy!

How about that music track by Landon Austin? I’ve got that song hecka stuck in my head!

Check out this project on my Behance portfolio!

Anna and Shaun: A Wedding Film

I was given a chance by a photographer friend, Jenn P., to film a wedding that she was shooting. As luck would have it, the bride, Anna, happened to work at a business I visit occasionally.

Anna was a blast to work with; she set no boundaries and no expectations, and was even shocked to see my previous film footage, so I think she realized at that point that she got way more than she was expecting. On the flip side, Shaun was very laid back. They chose a wonderful blue theme for their wedding, from the accent decorations all the way down to the bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen’s ties and pocket squares. I still think this wedding was more on schedule than any of the ones I did afterwards.

I shot this wedding like any of my previous events; I captured every single moment I could possibly take, filling up my SD cards and eating up my batteries as fast as I could transfer media and recharge. After this wedding shoot, I learned quite a few things.

There were a few challenges presented to me, namely the variety of available light. The church had frosted windows, so natural light was diffused. Due to the focal length of my lens and limited aperture, I had poor performance in low light, so I had to film at ISO 800, which added some noise to my footage. I also brought the monopod into the ceremony to keep myself portable and out of the way, but monopod + zoom lens = exaggerated shaky footage. The reception was a low light situation, but I shot with my nifty fifty instead which alleviated the situation of camera shake, but due to the amount of natural light coming from behind the wedding party table, I ended up with silhouetted shots which didn’t look ideal after I brought up the brightness.

All in all, my best shots happened in the hotel room and trailer, due to natural light and the small spaces. Post production wasn’t that terrible, but I know now that I need to bring my white balance card along on these shoots to compensate for different venues and exposures. A second camera would be great too, which I alleviated by the third wedding.

I also learned another important lesson: weddings are 16+ hours of hell spent on your feet!! Wear comfy sneakers. :)

Anna and Shaun - A Wedding Film (Remake) Banner

Update: Three months after wrapping up post-production, I noticed a message from Anna asking if I could add the rest of the speeches to her film.

I was going to say no at first, since I was already behind in so many other projects from the summer. Then I realized how much I had learned from doing the next two wedding films that I saw this as the perfect opportunity for me to fix all the mistakes I saw in the original film. I hadn’t published it yet either, so I agreed.

I had recently made several positive changes in my life since the film, so I put all my new skills to good use and planned out the entire project, estimating about 4 weeks to completion. I wasn’t going to just make some changes and hand it off, I was going to treat this as a whole new project and start from scratch.

Despite some of the poor amateur footage I took, I feel so much better about this new version of the film. I also took the time to create a new set of film packages, and what I’ve released here publicly is just the FoSho (Focused Short) Film version. The Featurette Film version has several private moments between the wedding party, and I wanted to keep that just for them.

The biggest changes in this version were:

(a) Better narrative and flow. I wanted to make sure that Anna and Shaun’s story was more precise, and I had originally made mistakes by building it too much like a documentary. This was a wedding, for Pete’s sake, and poignant moments should have just been able to speak for themselves. Weddings #2 and #3 made me realize that selecting a great piece of music and allowing it to speak as a voice was a far better solution than having people talk incessantly over music, especially where time constraints were involved. However, with this new version of the film, the Featurette Film had the best of both worlds, and I chose high quality instrumental music that served as a backdrop for the speeches.

(b) Color grading. I’ve always wanted to do color grading in addition to color correction, but really couldn’t due to all the different lighting scenarios I had. I don’t have a portable lighting kit or crew, so lighting scenes is just not feasible for me right now. As a result, grading would take extra long because I can’t just copy and paste Colorista II settings or apply Magic Bullet Looks. I had to go through each sequence, clip by clip, and adjust Colorista II settings individually. It was painstaking, but I scheduled a week to do it, and managed to get done ahead of time. I went for a cool temperature look overall. The lighting is still uneven, but I’m much better and faster at color grading manually than I was before I started.

Anna and Shaun - A Wedding Film (Remake) Poster

(c) Audio. Yes, I had low quality audio to begin with. However, with my ever-improving Audition skills, I’ve taken mastering audio to a whole new level. I’m no audio engineer, but I’ve become much better at compression and noise reduction. Aside from the speeches (partway through, the compressor on my H4n dropped and never came back up), I’m proud of what I did with the audio this time around.

(d) Music. I could easily lump this in with audio, but music was such a huge part of the reason why I wanted to remake this film. In the first version, I purchased a track from Audiojungle, an Envato marketplace and used a free Lazslo track. While the stuff there is decent, it’s certainly not the highest quality out there. The track by Laszlo was good, but didn’t quite fit the narrative despite how much I forced the footage to do so. The instrumental track came from VideoBlocks (now AudioBlocks), who have music that is slightly better, but not high caliber. This time around, I licensed tracks from Music Bed, and that music is streets ahead of other competitors out there.

This is the first time I left in a bonus ending that wasn’t funny. Weird, right??

I can’t wait to take on more wedding films. Jenn P also expressed her interest in collaborating some more, so I need to get out there and start generating leads. What do you think of what you’ve seen so far?

Check out this project on my Behance portfolio!

Skate Thompson Ice Show 2014: A Short Film

On March 22, 2014, a local ice skating group, Skate Thompson, held an Ice Show event showcasing the talents of its youth membership. I had only heard of Skate Thompson through word-of-mouth but never really knew how much work went into these kids, and it was a mutual friend of the group that introduced me to them, quite literally at the last minute. Their videography arrangements fell through the day of the event, so I got in contact with them and I went on-site to quickly survey the situation. As it turned out, all they required was somebody to use their camcorder and tripod to record the event, but I had other ideas in mind.

I filmed the full event with my DSLR and did very minor edits in post to give them a video of the full event. However, I decided to put together a short film to really showcase this group and their event to people who didn’t have time to watch the event in full.

Skate Thompson Ice Show 2014 - A Short Film Banner

As a radical departure from my Project Thompson videos, I kept this film under five minutes. The reason for this was to generate interest. Not everybody has the time to invest 25 minutes in watching a video, and you have to hook short attention spans very quickly these days. As a result, I did have to heavily edit some of the narration, but I did so in a way that wouldn’t affect the overall message.

If you have a very good ear, you can sometimes hear the zamboni in the background when Megan is speaking. I foolishly thought my boom mic would pick up on her voice more than the zamboni, but it ended up being a nightmare in post.

Lesson learned: organize an on-site narrative when it’s relatively quieter. :)

Skate Thompson Ice Show 2014 - A Short Film Poster

This is also the first video where I decided to use music from a source outside of While a lot of their stuff is decent, a lot more of their stuff is kind of crap. I like house/EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and I subscribe to several copyright-free music channels on YouTube, which is how i stumbled on to Laszlo’s track, “Nothing Yet”. He’s an amazing, talented artist and the minute I heard this song, I immediately knew that it would suit this film very well.

Props to Laszlo:

Thanks to NoCopyrightSounds for featuring Laszlo on YouTube.

Check out this project on my Behance portfolio!