Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back to the Track

The bicycle racing track, that is. I stayed longer but seemed to get fewer good shots than last time. One reason was that the schedule was different today. The riders actually do more jumping during practice so that's more photogenic than the races. Most of practice was over by the time I started shooting today.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Named in the News

And I didn't have to get arrested first! My video production company, the Philip Randolph Parker Co., got a mention in the March 2010 issue of the Osprey Observer, a monthly newspaper in Hillsborough County, Fla. The article about PRP is on page 12 of the first section.

I never spoke to the reporter. She e-mailed some questions and also took — with permission — copy from our website as well as from the news release I had sent. (Previously published on my company's blog.)

If you click on the image, the photo might show up large enough that you can read the copy. I have not noticed a surge in traffic to our web site since the article came out last week but being featured in a news publication, no matter how small, without paying for it lends an air of legitimacy to our cause.

I haven't seen an online version but if one appears, I'll link to it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shooting and Photos

I did a freelance job Thursday and Friday for a Canadian production company. I don't think they want me to share a lot of details but it's a demo for a reality show that was one of the more unreal experiences I've had in video production.

Granted, my background is news so I'm not accustomed to staging events for the sake of the show much beyond asking people to interrupt an action so that we can re-set the camera in a different place so we can edit the shots together in a sequence.

That wasn't the case here. I know that there's precious little that's real about reality TV shows but I felt bad for the subject because she's not going to come off in a way that even remotely resembles how she really lives. And I'm not sure she'll be flattered by the portrayal, though to a lot of people there's no such thing as a bad appearance on television. Being seen is flattery enough.

They paid at the end of the second day of shooting and I got to work with a Sony HVR-Z1U camera and came away impressed.** Good picture, easy to use, not too heavy but enough heft to hold reasonably steady and the image stabilization worked well. Overall it was a good experience and proof that among all the spam and scams there are legitimate paying jobs to be found on craigslist.

Today I took another Sony camera, my A100 DSLR to a local BMX racing track and shot a few frames. The photo group I shoot with plans to go there next Saturday and the folks at the track say they'll outfit us with passes so we can go into the infield to get a greater variety of perspectives.

**Yes, I was actually hired as a camera operator and it surprised the people on site that videography comprises very little of my paying work. But they weren't disappointed. "The footage looked great," the field producer told me on our second day. They had reviewed the first day's tapes and sent some of the video back to their bosses in Toronto before our second day of shooting.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Oscars Re-Cap From A Guy Who Hasn't Seen the Films

I am surprised to read that last night's Oscars telecast had the show's highest ratings in five years. It wasn't very good. Still too long, something still doesn't click with the hosts and too many acceptance speeches that are no more than shout-outs to agents and lawyers.

They could cut the show from three-and-a-half hours to 40 minutes if they banned the words "I want to thank" and agents' names. If they cared about the TV audience, show producers would tell the nominees, "You have been nominated. This greatly enhances your chance of winning. Have something to say in case you do."

This will never happen, of course. The self-absorbed are rarely self-aware. It is fitting that Hollywood's biggest night is Hollywood talking to itself.

I sat through most of it anyway, hoping that the Oscars telecast will substitute for watching the films themselves. I haven't seen any of the nominees. Remember that as I recap some of the thoughts I had as I watched.

However much time Kathryn Bigelow spent in hair and makeup for was worth it. She had a lot of face time with "The Hurt Locker" winning six of the nine awards for which it was nominated, including the two biggies -- best picture and best director.

She bested ex-husband James Cameron for the best director honor. Success may be the best revenge but I can't feel sorry for the mind behind Avatar.

"The Hurt Locker" has made $21 million worldwide, which means that not even all the Academy members who voted for it paid to see it. Avatar made $21 million in the time it took Bigelow to recite her list of thank yous and Cameron can boast that he has directed the top TWO highest grossing films of all time.

Film critic Roger Ebert opined on his Twitter feed, "Guys half drunk, watching at home: 'That Kathryn Bigelow is a fine woman.'" In my case, no inebriation was required to share the sentiment.

At least she looked good. The woman honored for costume design wore an outfit that made me wonder why people who win awards for dressing the actors can't seem to dress themselves.

Another standout outfit was the one Miley Cyrus wore when she presented an award. She interrupted the hurried delivery of her lines to acknowledge her case of nerves. I'd be nervous too if my dress was designed for someone whose torso was five inches shorter than mine and was barely winning a valiant fight to keep my breasts covered by pulling them down to my belly button.

Whether Quentin Tarantino won any awards for "Inglorious Basterds," it was enough to see people in formal wear saying "bastards" numerous times on national television.

Good thing for best actress winner Sandra Bullock that voting closed before Oprah Winfrey's stirring tribute to newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. Oprah envisions a huge future for Gabby but I don't see a lot of film roles for morbidly obese people. Maybe she can star in Avatar 2.

Though denied best actress, "Precious" won for best adapted screenplay and for Mo'nique as best supporting actress. I am sure it is a wonderful film that I will never ever watch.

Some of the best movies are the least enjoyable. I am glad they are made, I admire the people who make them and I ask their forgiveness that I watch films not to immerse myself in misery but to avoid it.

Avatar wins for best cinematography and for best visual effects? One is for capturing beautiful scenery, the other for creating it. It doesn't make sense for one film to win both.

Neil Patrick Harris sang the show's opening number. He is a good singer among people at karaoke night. He is not a good singer among professional singers. If they couldn't have gotten a bigger name than Doogie Howser to perform that song, they should have gotten a better singer.

Humorist Dave Barry was listed in the show's writing credits. I bet he doesn't admit that publicly again.

Shooting Motorcycles

With a camera, of course. A state park in Hernando County features an area open to motorcycle riders.

I shot about 800 frames of the same five shots. There's a montage with more photos on my photo blog, if you want to see more. That's not a ploy to funnel traffic to that site, it's layout is simply designed to show larger images than this blog's.