Tag Archives: Live Event Film

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 VideoBlocks.com. 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!

Live Ammo Freestyle 2014.

What is Live Ammo Freestyle?

That was the question running through my head when Dennis approached me to film this project. We had just finished filming the first Project Thompson, which was still in post production, and I was just hot off the heels of filming my first professional shoot and another winter film. Needless to say, it was a busy month and I was only just getting started!

As it were, the notice I was given was barely a day or so. They wanted me to come out to the Live Ammo compound and film their practice for the live event, which was happening the weekend after. I drove out of town and found the entrance to the compound with Dennis’ help, but it was rough going because the “road” was only a snow trail one vehicle wide and although I was driving my SUV, it was still touch-and-go given that my vehicle was built for luxury, not off-road.

When I finally arrived, I heard the sounds of snowmobile engines revving and smelled burning exhaust fumes in the air. The sun was high in the sky without a cloud in sight. For a Thompson winter in April, it was surprisingly a warm day. I got over the shock of what these young lads were doing pretty quickly and got into work mode. I filmed the ramping and talked with the guys. The same question kept popping up in my head.

What kind of person finds the motivation to risk their safety and future health so they can participate in an extreme sport? I sought to answer my question through this film.

Live Ammo Freestyle 2014 Banner

The practice went relatively well. Some guest rampers were coming into town and practicing throughout the week, but I figured I would catch them at the event instead of taking the long trip out there. This foresight was my downfall.

The event itself was great. Lots of people showed up, and the guys put on a great show. It was the first time I used my Manfrotto SYMPLA shoulder rig. There were two accidents, but the riders were able to walk away from it. I missed filming both accidents, which would have added to the film’s suspense. Partway through the event, the worst thing happened. My card filled up. It couldn’t be, though; I had a 32 GB card and it took two consecutive hours of non-stop filming to fill it up. While two hours had passed, I was doing a lot of stop-and-go filming. I inspected all the clips, and there were a handful of clips, but nowhere near 32 GB worth of them. I hadn’t even gotten to the interviews yet! I didn’t have my laptop on me, and the event still had a few hours to go. So I had to make a choice then and there; I formatted the card. :'(

I re-shot all the jumps I could. I shot the interviews. Two hours later, the card wasn’t even 1/4 full. The file system was probably corrupted. This taught me a valuable lesson. Always carry a spare card, bring my laptop to offload files, and format cards between sessions!

Despite that hard lesson, there were more to come. My battery died. I had barely caught all the riders ramping since some of them went early in the day, which were part of the data I had to delete. That taught me lesson #2: always carry a second battery, and bring the charger so that I can charge the dead battery while shooting with the second!

Live Ammo Freestyle 2014 Poster

Finally, the last lesson came in post. I was creating subclips in Prelude when I came across Mike Poirier’s interview at the event. The audio was missing! I checked the sequence numbers and sure enough, it looked like I didn’t even record it, which was impossible, because I remember listening to it when I got the files on my workstation. So either my memory is playing tricks on me or I completely failed to hit the record button. That didn’t teach me a lesson, but I was acutely made aware that recording audio separately had its caveats.

I hate to say it, but the entire ordeal of this project was crazy. I was stressed out the max, and due to the issues I experienced at the live event, I admit that I put off post production of this film for three months partly because of those bad memories (and mostly a busy schedule). When I finally did get to producing this, I ended up with missing scenes, audio, and sanity. Despite all of that, I managed to put out a film that contains my blood, sweat, and tears. This film is my kryptonite, lack of foresight, and my uncertainty of whether I’m doing the right thing or not. But at the same time, it was my adversity, ingenuity, and creativity which gave birth to a film that managed to be something I could look at and say, “You may have won the battle, but the war is far from over.”

On the plus side, I met local photographer, Jenn P., at this event for the first time. Dennis had been promoting her to me for a while, and after working alongside her, we finally formed a professional relationship that would later expand into a future project that I just wrapped up filming as I’m releasing this. Stay tuned!

Check out this project on my Behance portfolio!

Jennilee Martineau: Live at AACNM 2014.

My sister-in-law, Jennilee (jennileemartineau.com/), is a professional fiddle player based in Thompson, Manitoba. She does gigs throughout the province and regularly travels internationally to self-invest in improving her skills.

Once I started getting into filmmaking, directing, and producing, she asked me to film her live performance on April 21st at the AACNM (Aboriginal Art Centre for Northern Manitoba) event at the TRCC (Thompson Regional Community Centre) with a set list of 8 songs for a 30 minute time slot.

Armed with a Canon 600D, a basic Manfrotto video tripod, a Zoom H4n, and a Rode NTG-2, I made some establishing shots of the TRCC building itself, which was built just the year prior; the architecture is modern with lots of steel, glass, and an industrial feel.

I wanted to integrate this beautiful venue into her performance, so I wrote up a quick script in Celtx for me to follow, and given that I used to work at the building, I knew the path I wanted to take. I was also very careful with the way I composed my shots; I didn’t have time to write up release forms and even though it was a public event and this project was strictly pro bono, I wanted to ensure I would never need them, so I purposely filmed crowds out of focus as both an artistic and legal choice.

Jennilee Martineau - Live at AACNM 2014 Banner

I did a lot of research prior to the event, and had a reasonable expectation of things that could go wrong. Despite all that, I ran into the following challenges during this shoot:

  • My batteries ran out on my Zoom H4n, and I quickly learned that it was a battery hog when recording
  • I didn’t have a long enough XLR cable to connect to the audio technician’s equipment, which resulted in my mic being too far away from the performance area, so the audio from that source was unusable
  • The XLR input connecting to the audio technician’s equipment was a signal that had levels tuned for live speakers; while the sound was sharp and clear, it peaked many times which presented an issue with sound quality
  • The event coordinators had set up performance lights that constantly changed colors, which messed with the overall white balance of my shots

Jennilee Martineau - Live at AACNM 2014 Poster

Despite all this, I feel that this resulting film was a decent first try. Right after this event, I got tossed enthusiastically into other film projects and I learned a lot before I even stepped into post production with this film, hence why it took so long for me to produce. I also crash coursed through After Effects training to create the opening titles, which took me an extra week.

Could I have done better? Definitely. I recognized the issues I had as soon as I got the footage into Premiere, but I forged ahead anyway, determined to make the best out of a bad situation. While the film is not perfect, I put aside my self criticism and accepted that whatever I did, it would be my 100% and that this would contribute to my learning experience and workflow improvement.

TL;DR I’m a beginner that learned a lot of things while shooting and producing this film.

Filmed on Canon 600D. Produced in Premiere Pro with Colorista II, Adobe Audition, and Adobe After Effects.
I hope you enjoyed it! This is definitely not the last you’ll see of Jennilee or myself! Until the next time!

Check out this project on my Behance portfolio!