Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Santa Claus broadcast for London


On the weekend I was assigned by a Frankfurt based company to film news for a British TV station on the CLAUWAU Santa Claus world championship at a village called Samnaum. Seven different nationalities took part, even as far as Japan. I was under the impression that I was going to be the only cameraman at the event. In fact it was completely the opposite. You had to fight to get a spot at the action and interviews. Channels from all over the world were there. The broadcast company needed 15 minutes of rushes in DVCAM format. This was quite strange for me since lately I was getting frustrated with the quality of HDV footage and getting used to 4k files with its amazing clarity. To go back to DVCAM was for me like going back to the Stone Age. The quality is just terrible. Well that’s what the client wanted so that’s what he got. The village is quite remotely located and therefore I had to upload the rushes via FTP server. The client then downloaded it in Frankfurt, edited the package and sent it to London where it got aired. Amazing how things have changed over the last years that even the average Joe can send files as big as 4 GBits through the internet for broadcasting.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Current Affairs in Reunion Island


Being on a low-budget-current-affair-one-week shoot on the Island of Reunion can be a challenge. I had to produce 7 news feeds for the World Waveski Tour single-handed in just over a week. The biggest challenge with news is to not compromise on quality of pictures, but to know when to stop so that you do not fall behind. My goal was to bring across a very positive impression of the tour, waves and Island in the bulletins. It’s my responsibility as director to put the dream of the tour into the audience’s hearts and make the sponsors look awesome.



In my opinion, it’s incredible difficult to run a business in Reunion. The term COOL is the problem. COOL in French means that you do not care, are never in a hurry, never on time and do not stress about anything. COOL means that you just earn enough to live, you work for the town or government (since it’s safe) and the topic ‘money’ is rude and something that never gets discussed. All of the above is not what I stand for and therefore I believe I qualify as being completely uncool.


The not falling behind thing is almost impossible due to the fact that internet on the Island is scarce and slow. To upload a web cast of 50 mega-bytes takes anything between one to two hours. That is while the connection lasts. We were also hit by a massive rainstorm. Probably the heaviest downpour I have ever seen. The locals were not really moved by it and for them it was pretty average. Six hours without being connected can really put a spanner in the works.


I wish the budget allowed us to do the mobile studio filming with some lights. I ended bouncing the sunlight from my golden reflector into the studio and as long as there were clear skies, it did the job just fine. No back light unfortunately, but a beautiful golden glow. Ever since I started traveling with my microphone boom pole I believe I have added nice subtle production value to my web casts. The down side to the boom pole setup is that I need more man power, but now there are no more unnecessary microphones in the shot and the M66’s audio is just perfect.


I put in an extra effort to track down some epic musicians for the edits. Music is just as vital to a good edit as story and pictures. Sometimes I believe more than 50 % of the edits go down to the soundtrack. It really has to be a complete package from story to picture to sound. Being the producer I am the one with the vision of what I want to achieve with the production. How the music and the pictures will set a mood and feeling to the event. At the end of the day I need to be happy with the edit and once that happens the chance is pretty good that the audience will also be satisfied.


Check out the news feeds on www.subgraviti.com/reunion09.php


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

World Waveski Tour Event Teaser



From 2 to 8 November the Association of World Waveski Professionals is having another Tour Event Stop on the beautiful island of Reunion in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I have once again the honour to cover their news feed for them and will depart on the 29th of October. I had to produce a 24 sec commercial to market the event. The ad is made up of some scenes from B-Sides (the movie) and my up and coming Project XXX 09 rushes.

Music from Olivier Girardot: Check out www.myspace.com/ogcomposer

I will update this space again as soon as I have found my feet on the Island.


First Video Highlight now on www.subgraviti.com/reunion09.php

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Commercial shoot in Cape Town


Opportunities come every now and then and its up to us if we want to take it or not. This commercial shoot was one of those. A case of throwing yourself in at the deep end, take on the challenge and fill the production with high-risk manoeuvers.

The biggest problem is that you set goals for yourself and when you reach them naturally you want to go bigger and better when the next project comes your way. Well, maybe not everybody is like that, but I know the Walsers are certainly built in this manner. With this job it was no different, but to achieve it I had to convince the client that if he wants to raise the bar further he has to increase the budget. I am not a particular great sales person, but this time round I knew that it was the only way to go forward, especially after the Parlotones blending film. In some ways you shoot yourself in the foot since this particular client might take longer to commission me again. The thing is the additional cost will go purely towards the hiring of better equipment to add production value and not more money in my pocket. The flip side of spending the money on the gear and stay humble is a mind-blowing end product that is not going to stand back for anything. If we want to take on the big guns and play in the 30 sec commercial space we better start pulling out a few more stops. This will however mean that I cannot blame the equipment anymore. If the commercial is not good now, then its just me who is not good enough.

I planed the ad pretty well, but with all the country hopping misunderstandings kept on crawling in. So much that 3 days before the shoot the only thing that we had left was the Cape Grace’s Bascule bar and their yacht. We hung on to our false hopes and my brother Pieter, the client and I held an urgent Skype call meeting. The question was should we terminate the project and delay it for a later stay. Walking away from it now was a crazy sinking thought. We came so far and now stopping? This kind of talk just inspired me more that we can make this thing work. Getting so close and then ending up not doing it was not what I wanted to hear and in my eyes no option.

Miracle after miracle started rolling in and we solved the problems one by one. I had to alter the script slightly, but mostly for the better. Just as we had thought we dealt with all the issues and found solutions for the problems the Cape Grace told us that there has been a misunderstanding and we cannot have the bar and the boat for the shoot anymore. It was the only two things that we actually had and the reason why we were committed not to abandoning the commercial. Loosing this would mean in theory we have nothing.

With a great deal of praying and Gods Grace over the Cape Grace we went in full blown on Thursday morning for the 2 day shoot. Things just fell in place like it was always going to be and so much better than we originally planned. I never had any doubt that it was going to work out, but when we lost the yacht and bar I was pretty disappointed about the entire affair. To cut a very long wonderful story short it was a big success and I am looking forward to dig into the editing. There are a lot of people worth mentioning that without them this ad would have been nothing at all. Thanks so much guys for sticking with us through the experience and help making it happen.

Steve Straker – (Hands on Wine). Siskha Brand – (Hands on Wine). Pieter Walser – (BLANKbottle) Planning, Actor, Assistant. Wilhelm Walser – Sound, Runner, Gaffer. Aneen Walser – Fill in actor, Make-up. Juan Slabbert – Fill in Actor, Runner. Allan Mullins (Woolworths) –, Actor. Ivan Oertle (Woolworths) – Actor. Okkie Slabbert – Actor. Johan Slabbert – Actor. Rob Kellerman – Band. Fred May – (Shofar) Band, Matthew May – Band, Ira van der Merwe – Shofar. Johan – Bodyguard. Calab Heymann– (Red One Africa) Camera Technician. Mario – Kaapseklopse. Andrew Rosettenstein – (Cape Grace). Eldine – Make-up artist. Christian and Alana Walser – Transport, Catering, Manfred Thieroff – Navy mission. Beba Hauptfleisch – Support, and finally the big master in the heavens, God for making the impossible happen. Ooh boy we would have been lost without Him.

Editing will probably start in the next few weeks. Just need a little bit of sleep first.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

In the Wine lands


Another day in the Winelands of South Africa behind the camera meeting interesting people. The last few days I spent with my brothers filming amazing winemakers in great locations. This is all part of a set of wine films that Woolworths will be showing all over South Africa to boost the Hands on Wine concept of finding the rock-stars of the wine-industry. We manage to find some epic locations and pulled of some crazy stunts in a very short timeframe.

The Parlotones - Giant Mistake premier

On Wednesday was the launch of Giant Mistake, the Parlotones’ new wine and the film in South Africa. After travelling for 33 hours from Australia with the master copy of the film, I arrived at Cape Town International at the same time the event started. Attending were 200 people consisting of mostly media, wine people, Woolworths executives and the friends and family of the people involved, some of South Africa’s most important wine makers and the prominent media people of the country were attending.

The film started and the attention was fixed to the screen. I concentrated on the quality of the sound and wasn’t really nervous. Everything went perfect and the people loved the 7 min short film. There after the Parlotones played live and unplugged for the guests. The guys gave it all and it was an incredible experience. Together with the band rocking, we drank the Parlotones’ wine – Giant Mistake. It couldn’t have been a better evening. There I stood in one of the most luxurious hotels in Cape Town, signing Giant Mistake Bottles, with media from all over and rocking with the Parlotones after watching our film. For sure a highlight of my career. Go and visit www.theparlotoneswine.com and enjoy the film yourself.

Last days in Australia

After a very busy 2 weeks of supplying news to all the local stations and our web casts, I had very little energy left. For 10 days straight I filmed during daylight and edited during the night. Falling behind was out of the question since it would only backlog and once that happen you will never be able to catch up again. It’s probably also better to keep it up, treat it as news rather than films and pump it out daily. News is only news for today, there after it’s not interesting anymore. It was a challenge giving attention to all the matters at hand. If this was not enough I had this bright idea to release a new Waveski DVD smack bang in the middle of the week. The premier for B-SIDES turned out to be a success with well over 150 people attending. If you want to get your hands onto this movie you can purchase it from subgraviti.com/movies

My last day in Australia ended on a pretty relaxed high note. After packing all the gear back in its boxes I went for a final quick surf. It was perfect. 3 ft left peeling sand bottom point break with only a hand full of surfers out. I had the opportunity to shake off all the hard work of the past weeks and just forget about all the responsibilities and enjoyed the surfing.

Monday, 7 September 2009

News Feed in Australia


For some it's luck, for others it's coinsedance, for me it's meant to be......even the insignificant!


For my trip to Australia, to cover the World Waveski Titles, I needed a new hard drive to back up my files. I read that LaCie drives are 'no good mate...' I do have 4 of them, but I am still of the old school, shooting onto tape. When I got to Zurich, I found that the price of the G-Drive I intended to buy was increased by CHF 200.- and this was not within my budget. I decided to scrap the original plan and went across the road to the first Apple dealer and bought another LaCie 500G for half the price of the G-Drive.


Emirates is really the nicest airline I have ever flown with. Firstly, 30kg of luggage is allowed on board - a gorilla filmmaker's dream! How cool!! Then probably the best of all was that we flew with the new A-380 monster Airbus. Whoooo... what an amazing plane. Wide Screen TVs, epic food, even power at your seat to charge your MacBook Pro for that last minute edits at 10 000 ft.


Many more meant-to-be's took me safely to Australia and all the way to my job. By now I have completed several news feeds that are available from www.subgraviti.com/worlds09. Check it out!



Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Loreley shoot


What a hard weekend. All for just 30 seconds. Anybody that’s not part of this filming world would not understand how much work goes into a 30 second commercial. I most certainly forgot.

After picking up all the hired equipment with a huge van, my navigation system sent me all around Frankfurt. Navigation systems and I am great friends. I remember so clearly how it once sent me right though a parking lot. I even had to get a ticket. At least I got out without paying. Imagine that.....

On Friday I made my way to my final destination. I wanted to set up all the gear the night before to make sure I was not wasting any time during filming. Saturday morning my assistant/ cameraman/ director/ lighting/ gaffer arrived and around 8 we started setting up outside in the street. All the actors arrived shortly after that and final practice and make-up was in full swing. Just before 11h00 we started filming outside on the crane. The head actress playing the character “Loreley” did a fantastic job under very hard conditions. There were really a lot of people in the streets. Then we had to close the roads and traffic was piling up for hundreds of meters. It was also hard to work with the general public, to play along and walk natural without looking in the direction of the camera while we were bagging the shots for the 30 sec puzzle. To say it was hard, would be a complete understatement. Continuity was virtually impossible but I remembered an interview with Danny Boyle about shooting in Bombay and how he just had to go with the flow of things as they tried to shoot a film in the highly populated streets of Bombay. If he could do it with a 7 million budget then I am for sure up for the challenge.

Back to the matter at hand. The day went extremely well. I got most of the outside shots, staying fairly calm. One classic shot is worth mentioning. I had to shoot a crane shot of wet tracks across the road coming from the Lady Loreley's bare feet. We tried several different methods but none was successful. Spraying water under her foot soles, standing in water, carrying her on a chair and then printing foot by foot. At the end the only thing that worked, was rubbing cooking oil on her feet, carrying her seated on the chair and print foot by foot. It was so successful that 2 days later, when I left for home, the prints were still in perfect condition in front of the hotel entrance.

At 22h30 Saturday evening we packed the gear and called it a day. On Sunday I was up and rocking by 6h30 setting up an extremely complicated restaurant shot. The problem was that I wanted to incorporate the great view from the Rhein river. This meant lots of natural light coming through the windows. We had 5 very powerful HMI daylight balance lights to light up the room. The glass windows and mirrors added to the adventure of the game. We did the lunch time shoot at breakfast time to have the restaurant as full as possible. Lots of interesting close-up’s with dripping water and great moving dolly shots to make for another epic day of filming.

All and all I am pleased with the outcome. My assistant, Lawence Richards, did an outstanding job and is a very talented producer to work with. Nattily, in the roll as the Loreley, worked extremely hard and was absolutely sent directly from heaven for this commercial. I cannot imagine another actor doing it better. The fantastic hotel staff helped as runners and made sure we always had refreshments. The end product will probably be available online some time in October.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

El-Paradiso trailer

I was commissioned to shoot a film of events happening over a period of one year at one of the most spectacular mountain huts in the world, the El-Paradiso. We are now halfway into filming. I had to make a teaser about what we are producing so the client can already use the material in marketing his business for the coming winter. Music was produced by Olivier Girardot. Over the next 4 months filming for a complete short film will continue.

Go and view the trailer at www.el-paradiso.ch under movies or just view it below.


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Casting

I am in Germany for the casting of a lady actor for the commercial shoot coming up the following weekend. What I love most about my trips up North is the Autobahn. You can drive as fast as you want or as fast as your car can go. Driving on the German roads is an absolute pleasure. Most of the cars, mainly BMW and Audi, are fairly new and with good drivers. The regulations for both car and driver are some of the strictest in the world and it can be seen on the roads. It’s a world apart from conditions in South Africa.


Any case, straight after arriving, I saw a lot of possibilities for filming beautiful behind the scenes footage. The mist was low over the Rhein river and I could not let this opportunity slip by. I ended up filming for a good 2 hours before checking into my hotel room and packing out all the gear for the casting.



I was a little worried after seeing that the first lot of girls was not what I had in mind. The hands and feet were the most important aspects and they did not match the criteria. But then things changed for the better. We found the perfect actress for the roll. She had everything that the client wanted and after practicing the part a few times everybody on the team was convinced that the production was on the right track.



The next day I spent a great deal of time on the background interviews in connection with the client's business and did some fox pop interviews with his customers as well as more beauty shots and cut-aways. Although I was a a little stressed before I arrived, things are starting to fall in place and I am now looking forward to the actual filming of the commercial next weekend.

Friday, 7 August 2009

New toys

This month I have a new commercial shoot coming up in Germany and I really needed a new super prime lens for lowlight filming. A very good client of mine has got every lens in the book. The guy even owns a Hasselblad camera. It’s probably the most expensive DSLR money can buy. He also has a huge collection of Nikon lenses. I tried all of them. It’s an amazing privilege to shoot with equipment like this. But one lens in particular was my favourite. See, I remember Phil Darley from the BBC had this £10 000 wide angle Canon lens. Really a bomb of a dream lens to own, but if you can afford only one lens that has to do most of your production, then a wide angle can really spoil it. So, although a wide angle looks great, it was not what I was after. I needed to focus close and with a f-stop of 1.8 or bigger. The lens I was after was his 6 year old 28mm 1.4T .  It has a heavy cast iron solid body. He agreed on me trying it for the commercial and to make him an offer for the lens. This was what I wanted to hear. 
Life in general is expensive and on top of it all, our car was in for a major service and I had to buy a lot of new equipment. Equipment that I need for the  30 sec commercial in Germany. It’s one of my biggest jobs to date and I am pulling out all the stops to make this project as perfect as I can. One piece of kit that I need was a boom microphone. Normally I would hire the gear, but it is time that I spend some money and get my own things. Phil, my good friend from the BBC advised me to the little brother of the Sennheiser 416….. the ME66. I am a fan of Sennheiser since all the audio equipment I have from them works like a charm. After a bit of research I bought the whole kit, ME 66, pre-amp, boom pole, pistol grip and softie.






Saturday, 1 August 2009

Waveski Surfing World Titles 30 sec TV commercial

I had to help the Australia Waveski Surfing Association to produce a 30 sec TV ad that will be shown on local television before and during the event.


A year ago I shot some great footage in ReunionIsland and just had to find a way of editing the material and come up with something unique. I had a look at what the Association of Surfing Professional (ASP) do with their event advertisement, but I was not excited.
  
However, I saw something on YouTube done with maps and it triggered my imagination. I scanned in the world map and started working on it in Photoshop. The idea was to let it look like you are flying over the earth ball as the Island from Australia turns towards you. Then fly right into Coffs Harbour where the event will take place. It turned out well and the client is stoked. I also got a comment from Discovery Channel to say that it is awesome. So if they are happy……. I am happy.



I just want to thanks my music producer for composing the soundtrack for this commercial. His name is Olivier Girardot and really a world class musician. Check out www.myspace.com/ogcomposer

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Schule Champfér Premier


This coming weekend we will have the premier for the closing of a small school in a village called Champfer. It was a nice little project for me and a challenge to make something good out of it. I also learned a lot about people and especially working with children. The biggest challenge was that the children at this school speak Romanich as their first language. Romanich is the closest speaking language to Latin and I understand nothing from it.

Well I am pretty happy with the outcome of this little documentary and I hope the people attending the premier will be to. I just want to give a special shout out to all music artists for your help and support in this production. Well here is the film.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Boris Becker


Just the other day I had a really interesting project to do. I was commissioned to do the behind the scenes filming of the media frenzy around the Boris Becker wedding. Was really an interesting project. Especially to see what a stupid job it is to be a paparazzi. Around 30 photographers were fighting to get the best pictures and there was I with official permission to film wherever I want. The Paparazzi guys were forever asking me.. who are you?… I just smiled and walked right through them into the VIP area to get my shot, not saying a word. 


Friday, 8 May 2009

Crane shoot


Next project – I am with a group of international Waveski riders at the ocean, working on a documentary film on the sport. My good school friend David Jefferies helped me with an incredible crane project. The guy is a master in what he is doing and built the best crane I have ever seen. No project is too great for him. We tested the crane on a harbour jetty wall flying 4 meters over the edge. The crane focused on the wide moving angles, while I had another camera operator following the action with close-ups. Great weather and light made for an epic day of filming.

Check out www.subgraviti.com/projectxxx09.php

 for more on the adventure.

The Parlotones - Giant Mistake



I was fortunate enough to work with a group of wonderful people. The Parlotones is the number one music band in South Africa. The lead singer had a dream of one day making his own wine. Woolworths, the most exclusive shopping centrum in South Africa, supported this idea and together with the country’s top wine makers the Parlotones started the complicated blending process. After the success of the award winning BLANKbottle films Woolworths wanted to have a cult film on the blending process.  Two weeks of no sleep and the winemaking knowledge of my brother Pieter Walser I presented the final script I got the green light and then was giving 3 days with the band to pull this project off.
The Parlotones just won the SAMA (South African Music Awards) for best music video for the song “Overexposed”… so, no pressure on me to deliver the goods…. Ha.