4 Tips For Filming in Remote Places

The following is a guest article from Katie Conlon of Pro Am USA.

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere naturally beautiful, or if you’re able to travel far and often, you probably want to be able to capture those pristine settings and use them in your projects. Shooting video in remote areas is difficult and dangerous, but the allure is undeniable, and the payoff is –almost– always worth it. Here are a few tips that will help you adventure filmmakers shoot with more confidence and create higher quality art, in those hard to access, unbelievable, remote places.

Remote Cameras

The best part about shooting outdoors when you’re adventuring is the potential to shoot from places no one has shot from before. When terrain is tough and there’s an aspect of danger, using remote cameras will allow you to explore and capture the most difficult locations, while staying safe. When out in the wilderness, and in a particularly precarious situation, safety comes first. So when you’re setting up your remote camera on the side of the cliff or high up in the trees, be sure to run metal safety cables through the heavy-duty strap loops on your camera. Above all you need to ensure that you’re safe and that your gear is safe. Then you can focus on capturing the perfect, adventure vid.

Minimalist Gear Bag

Unless you have the resources to drop-in via helicopter, filming in extreme locations usually means trekking to remote places. The less kit you have, the more nimble you are and the easier it will be to get to those obscure locations. No one wants to spend the whole morning lugging extraneous gear around. It’s important to have all the necessary items you need to be safe and to get your shots though, so make a plan and prepare for your outing. Wide angle and zoom lenses will certainly be needed, but you probably don’t want to hike for hours with video camera jib. Zip ties, safety clasps and cables, and water proofing will also come in handy, as will a camera cleaning kit. The weather is never dependable, so keep your gear clean and protected during the shoot and at the end of each day. Definitely come prepared, but if you’re going remote, don’t overpack.

Filters & Lenses

Lenses are crucial, because when you’re filming outside, the natural environment is so much more open than the indoors. Take advantage of focal length. This is accomplished quite simply by using prime lenses, and particularly wide-angle lenses such as a 28mm. If you need to get closer to your subject, using something like a Nifty 50 –a 50mm lense– will allow you to play with the depth of field and create really cinematic footage.

In addition to a few specialized lenses, neutral density filters are a must-have when you’re shooting outdoors. An ND filter can make a huge difference between getting a shot and not getting a shot in the brightness of the midday sun. By applying an ND Filter to your lens you can adjust your ISO, f/stop, and shutter speed to “near normal” levels in order to get all the shots you want.

The Sun

The sun can either be your best friend or your worst enemy when shooting outdoors, so be sure to use it to your advantage and be aware of it’s behavior. When you’re hiking in the middle of the day, make use of the sun’s shadows and the natural filter of the midday clouds, when they’re out. It’s a great time to get awesome silhouettes or a killer time lapse. You can also frame your shots so the sun will backlight your character and don them with glowing edge light. By being aware of your surroundings and knowing the sun’s schedule, you’ll get some incredible picture and video.

The most important thing to remember when you’re filming in remote areas is to be safe. Bring some friends, and let others know your location and schedule. With the right tools and the right knowledge you’ll be able to capture some of the most beautiful things, never before caught on camera.

3 Things That Will Surprise Americans About Cuba

Havana Antique Car

We recently returned from Havana so I thought I would share a few interesting notes.

Cigars are hard to find

We thought they would be on every corner of every street. A cigar is called a Tobaco in Cuba as well. Very confusing at first. There are sketchy people trying to get you to follow them to who-knows-where to get budget cigars but there are very few actual cigar shops. Maybe they don’t realize what a marketing machine they have going? I don’t know but not that many Cubans seemed to be smoking cigars and shops were scarce. Also, Cuban cigars to my taste weren’t anything to write home about. Again, spectacular marketing: a product that’s just about non-existent made famous by a leader who’s dead but they still hold the undisputed cigar world title. Why? Marketing.

Order the Pina Colada, not the Mojito

My fiancee and I make better mojitos at home. I couldn’t believe it. I’m from Wisconsin, how can I make a better mojito than the Cubans? We narrowed it down to the rum they use. There’s basically only one kind of rum in Cuba because Socialism, so Havana Club is everywhere. Each island in the Caribbean pretty much grows its own sugar which gets distilled into their rum and you would think they’d all be fairly similar but they’re not. I hate rum from the French islands. Well, hate is a strong word. I’m not as fond of French Island rum but I certainly wouldn’t turn it down in a pinch. Or really anytime. No offense intended. So Cuban rum has its own unique flavor that just doesn’t really mix well with mojitos. We couldn’t believe it. We all tried to fake it but everyone came to the same conclusion independently. It was only after we tried the Pina coladas that we really started to appreciate Cuban rum. Oh my god. They’re amazing. I had about $4000 worth at two bucks a piece so you do the math. They’re that good. I’ve never had a better Pina colada.

The old cars really are a thing

This—unlike the cigars—is exactly what we were hoping for. These gorgeous old cars are everywhere. It’s not a novelty, it’s not a fad, it’s a way of life for lack of other automobiles. Most of these cars were passed down from grandparents and are tended to like they are life giving, which in most cases they are because the taxi is the main form of income. Another interesting tidbit is you’ll hear a lot of diesel engines in Cuba, but you don’t see many trucks. The diesel is coming from the antique cars and locals will tell you with more than a hint of pride that they converted the cars over themselves. Since no American products were available, these are a Hyundai diesel that’s apparently very reliable and doesn’t belch clouds of diesel exhaust, which would sort of ruin the moment for tourists, I imagine.

And there you go. I would suggest going to Cuba as soon as possible because there are more and more cruise ships coming in every day and it’s only a matter of time before Havana is crowded with Midwestern tourists and $4000 only gets you 250 Pina coladas. Ay dios mio! Enjoy the rest of the pics!

Jim Nantz Impressions

Masters Jim Nantz Impression
Regular golfers do their best Jim Nantz impression

Check out the video here.

Golf Digest has been using CSK Creative as a Golf Videographer to produce funny golf videos for years now.

 

For this shoot I camped out at several local municipal courses and got average golfers to give me their best Jim Nantz impression. Nantz is the long-time commentator of the Masters and has some…ummmm…unique catchphrases. I enlisted both strangers and friends to come help out on this one.

Florida Boat Videographer

Florida Boat Videographer

Among the many things we’ve shot video of over the years, boats might just top the list. Our Owner/Operator Craig Kotilinek was the Inboard Boat Editor for Wakeboarding and Waterski Magazine for years and shot, reviewed and surfed just about every new boat for five years.

We know how it’s done and we have all the equipment necessary for a pro-level shoot.

Gyro-stabilized, full-frame HD video cameras with a dedicated photo boat make us true Florida Boat Videographers. Check out our reel below, which is just a small example of our video and post production work. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or to get a free quote for your next job.

Our dedicated photo boat with custom tower

No Florida Boat Videographer would be complete without a dedicated photo boat.

Orlando Boat Videographer Photo Boat

Messing with a Check Scammer

The check scammer’s original check. Looks pretty legit. I don’t see any red flags here at all.

I got booked for a wedding video by what almost immediately sounded like a scammer. They wanted to send more than my original request for a deposit (very generous!) and they wanted me to pay for some subcontractors out of the original amount. The person’s dad tragically died that very day so they wanted me to just handle out. Sounds legit. The check looked great too. A “void” watermark and an address of “Sample Company at 100 Somewhere Rd. in Nowhere, CA.”

We’re clearly dealing with criminal masterminds here.

So I originally sent them a link to the exact same scam they were trying to pull and told them to go pound sand because it was wasting my time, but then after I talked to the Orlando Police and gave them the check and the scammer still persisted I figured I would mess with them a bit. The check was with the Orlando Police the entire time this conversation was happening. Also, for context the scammer had several times asked me something and then immediately followed up with “???” and “Are you there?” Like ten seconds after the original question. Enjoy!

Messing with a Check Scammer

 

Public Service Announcement Video

Operation Dry Water
We used a jib to create more dynamic movement and maximize the effect of the law enforcement vehicles.

Operation Dry Water is an action by law enforcement across the country to bust drunk boaters. The operation is year-round and puts enormous amounts of law enforcement officers on duty arresting impaired boaters. CSK Creative shot and edited this PSA in Kentucky, and fun fact, it’s actually me getting the cuffs slapped on me in the thumbnail of the video. Good times. Here’s the video.

Law enforcement brought out a half dozen vehicles—boats and otherwise—to really make an impression for the last shot, so we brought out our handy eight-foot mini jib and did a crane move up for maximum effect. Under high-pressure situations like this, where everything has to be right, CSK Creative shines. We bring multiple cameras in case something happens to one of them and we need to switch over to a backup, which does happen.

If your videographer is only bringing one camera to a shoot it might be time to start asking yourself what would happen if you took all the time and money to set up your shoot and his or her camera breaks. Pretty scary thought when you only have once chance to get the shot.

Leningrad Kolshik Action Sequence in Reverse

Leningrad Kolshik
A ringmaster gets shot into his three-ring circus as his monkey opens the valve on a compressed cylinder.

This is cool! It’s an action sequence played back entirely in slow motion, and entirely in reverse. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal but it takes something we see all the time and gives it way more attention by giving it a new twist. You’re sitting there trying to figure out what is going to happen that caused what just happened. It’s strange but awesome.

The creativity the director leant to this short film for the band Leningrad’s song Kolshik is exactly what the doctor ordered for multiple viewings, which is what the director was hoping for. Why more views? More views translate into more money. It’s not enough to simply make a solid video these days, it also has to be interesting enough to get huge amounts of eyes on it, which means it needs to stand out. How did the director accomplish that? Taking a normal action sequence and putting it in reverse. Brilliant.

If you need a creative eye on your next video project, don’t hesitate to contact us to see how we can help.

Apple’s New MacBook Pro Review

New MacBook Pro Crashing
The 2017 MacBook Pro mid-crash. It happens way too often, unfortunately.

I recently upgraded from an early 2011 MacBook Pro to the new Late 2016 MacBook Pro (they were backordered, so I didn’t get it until 2017) and these are my impressions. I’m a professional videographer and editor, so this review is justified toward those uses.

First of all, the reasons I wanted/needed to upgrade my Early 2011 MacBook Pro:

  • The battery lasted about 13 seconds.
  • It was glacially slow. You could notice the earth spin while this poor relic attempted to open Premiere Pro. Paint dried faster. I trimmed my finger nails when I hit the application and had to trim them again by the time it opened. Gross. 
  • I couldn’t properly edit 4K for lack of RAM, even though I had it fully maxed out. It was just too old.

And that’s it. Those are the only reasons I needed to upgrade, but unfortunately those were compelling enough to make it worth dropping $4,000, which brings me to my complaints about the new MacBook Pro:

  • It’s really friggin’ expensive. I bought a working, full-size truck for $2,800 (granted that was a screaming deal) and this stupid computer that I’m typing this review from cost another third more. That’s insane.
  • It crashes. Like way too often for something this shiny and new. I get way more of the dreaded “general errors” with this machine than my trusty, battle-tested early 2011.
  • The Touch Bar blows. It forces you to hit three buttons to turn down the brightness or music volume rather than the single button you used to hit. Don’t be fooled by Apple’s marketing, this thing is just a gimick that you won’t use. The color picker in some applications is sort of cool but there are so few uses for the Touch Bar that you don’t rely on it so it just ends up getting in the way when you accidentally skip a song you like because the thing is so damn sensitive.
  • The keyboard is horrible. I don’t care if it’s 1mm thinner if the shallow keyboard makes me type like a palsy victim. I’m hoping I get used to it but a month in we’re definintely not there yet (yes that was an ironic typo, but I originally made it because of an honest error and just chose not to correct it).
  • USB-C blows. It could be cool and it might be cool in the future because there is no up or down (unlike the old USB that made you look like the monkeys at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey every time you tried to plug it in) but for now, NONE of your devices will work with it so you need a dongle for EVERYTHING. Annoying and expensive.
  • The track pad is almost too big now. The way my yeti hands have to sit on the keyboard I end up engaging the track pad when I don’t intend to.

Whew. I’ve been saving that up for the last two months and it felt good to vent to someone other than Apple customer service (they don’t give a damn). Now for what I like about the new MacBook Pro:

  • It’s faster than my 2011 MacBook Pro. The solid state drive opens apps extremely quickly, even if they crash shortly after opening. It exports video a lot faster than my old computer so I can up my productivity a bit.
  • The fingerprint scan is AMAZING. It’s super reliable and quick. Works every time, unlike my phone, which has to have a case and the film over the touch sensor gets stuff stuck in it and has to be cleaned pretty often. It’s so nice to be able to walk away from your computer and know it’s safe but still easily access it.
  • Siri is pretty cool. I haven’t used her for a lot yet but just asking her to open applications you don’t have mapped saves a lot of time.
  • It’s lighter, which is kind of nice but I still would rather have my old keyboard back.

And that’s it. I’ll update this post as I think of more things but those are the main pain points and high points. As you can see, I don’t think it’s even close to worth the money to upgrade to the new MacBook Pro unless you absolutely have to but that’s life. RIP Steve Jobs, Apple had a good run while you were alive and now it’s probably time to sell their stock because their products are going downhill.

HP Printers

HP Printers invented the new standard for 3D printing and CSK Creative handled the worldwide announcement at the Rapid 3D printing event in Orlando.

HP is a big, demanding corporate video client so we had all hands on deck to create an all-encompassing presence at the show and on the internet. We had a live editor taking care of pushing out real-time videos while multiple videographers and photographers ran back and forth shooting all day long.

The result was a whole library of content that got edited and delivered from the day of all the way through to months afterward to keep customers informed on this complex and exciting new innovation. The videos above are just a fraction of the total video delivered. No job is too big or small for us. If you need creative services please don’t hesitate to contact us.