Archive for the ‘Lasso The Sun’ Category

Editing and The Story Process.

I have been in the freelance video journalism world for about five years now. Prior to entering the VJ (video journalism) world, I co directed El Inmigrante, a documentary about the US/Mexican border crisis, I did some short narrative films, and finally I used to work on film sets doing various jobs. But I eventually, during those years I became a second assistant in the camera department.  I really enjoyed being a 2AC. I loved when I clapped the slate I settled in and then watched the talent and the director do their work.

However, I got into film to make stories, not just be a crew worker. So after being inspired by working on a NYU masters film project in Creede, Colorado I decided that it was time to make my own content. After a few short films El Inmigrante got launched and we were full on in making a feature documentary. For a very limited budget we did pretty good with the film. I am very proud of what we did as a team in creating that documentary. By creating your own films and producing them yourselves, you may not get all the funding that you would love to have, but you get a lot of freedom to make the film you want.

I feel that it is important to teach aspiring VJ’s that once you enter the professional world of creating content for a news agency that you have to being ready to work as a team with your producers. It is nearly impossible that your first cut will be the final cut. Some times there are minor changes, but at some times there are major edits to your original cut.

Here is an example of my first cut of a recent story I did for the BBC. Since this edit is not the final, I went back and did some minor changes to the text slates that are in this version of the story. But for the most part this is my concept of how I wanted to tell the story.


After I got my edit list from the producer, here are the second wave of changes.


Finally, here is the edit that went live on the BBC.

I you have time to watch all three versions of the story, you can see the differences. In short, video and film is a highly collaborative work environment. I love the process of it all, but still to this day I love making our own content. It is in this place that I feel free.


Lasso The Sun: Navajo Translation & Transcription Kickstarter project

We have launched our Kickstarter campaign today. Get involved, spread the word, watch the video and be apart of a great documentary.

Lasso The Sun Documentary Kick Starter campaign

Welcome 2013 and now it is time to get our documentary Lasso The Sun in postproduction. I have been watching and looking at successful Kick Starter campaigns this morning and taking notes on how we can build a winning fundraising portfolio. First off we need funding to translate and transcribe the Navajo footage that we have. To get an accurate transcription it is going to be expensive. Unlike our last documentary El Inmigrante, which is about seventy percent in Spanish. Lasso The Sun will have far less translation to be completed, but there are not too many professional Navajo translators out there. So we really are limited in who we can hire to do the job. I am excited and nervous at the same time going out and fundraising. We never want to be tacky and pushy, however with out funding important documentaries will never get finished. Just like NPR and PBS we have to hit the trail and go for it.

Below is a montage of some of the footage that we have for Lasso The Sun.

Kristen Iversen Interview and Radioactive Dump Stills

October 19, 2012 1 comment

I am very much looking forward to my interview with author Kristen Iversen and discussing her book Full Body Burden. Here are some stills taken from video on my last B Roll shoot at an old Department of Energy uranium mill tailings site.

Motion Picture Cameras to the Ouzel DSLR rig

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I was back at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington studying documentary film with shot with old super VHS, super 8 film and then finally we got our hands on the 16mm film equipment. We were able to shoot with the schools, Bolex’s and the CP 16. It was a blast, but there also was a lot of trial and error. I loved shooting on 16mm, but I did not like the cost. I finally got better with shooting 16mm when I bought a Krasnogorsk K3. I love that camera, but once again film is expensive. It was not until I moved to Los Angels for a short time that I finally learned how film and film cameras worked. When I was in LA, I was film loader and then trained to be a second assistant camera tech, or as in the industry we called it simply second AC.

I really enjoyed doing second AC work, it took me to San Francisco and then back to Colorado. I did some days training as a first AC, but to be honest I liked being a second AC better. Once I clapped the slate, I loved settling down in a quiet position and watching the director and the actors do their magic, or well not do their magic. I saw a lot of really bad performances as well. Most of those awful performances were when I was working on some really bad Cinemax movies in LA. But the process was the same as making a great film and I had a blast working with the camera crew that I got hooked up with. My favorite second AC job was actually back home in Durango, Colorado when I got the privilege to work on the movie The Claim. Michael Winterbottom, was the director. I really enjoyed the few days that I got to work on that film to see how he approached directing. Winterbottom’s style was very freeing from what I was used to seeing form other US directors. However, that is for another topic.

So finally Panasonic came out with the DVX 100 that shot 24 frames per second, just like film. I was very excited about this when I read that there was a video camera that had a film look and feel to the image. So I called Able Cine in New York and asked a tech if it was true that the DVX 100 had a film look to it’s image. The answer was yes. I was convinced, so I bought one from a place in Portland, Oregon. I got one of the very first units that shipped. I still have that camera and it has served us well. It was the main camera that we used to film our documentary El Inmigrante. While I loved the film look of 24p on our DVX 100 and our HVX 200 HD cam, I still longed for a digital camera that had more control over your ISO, shutter speed and having the opportunity to have a lens kit like 16mm and 35mm cameras have. Then all of a sudden DSLR cameras started to shoot high quality HD video, plus all the benefits of image control like on a film camera. I was sold. I wanted a DSLR badly. I did my research and I finally chose to get a Panasonic GH2. Boy, was I ever happy with my decision. I love my GH2, now with the hack created by Vitality and the Driftwood settings we are able to push the GH2 to some amazing results. I have quickly created a lens kit that I love. This past week, while in AZ I was shooting a lot with an old Sears 55mm 1.4 lens and I just love the results.

The DSLR film making is awesome. In the past few months I have created with my welding friend a DIY cage/fig rig and a slider/dolly system that has augmented my creative abilities to have more range with my shots. I am very excited to see where large chip DSLR, camcorder cameras are going, the future is bright for film making, I love the mix of old school and new technology. But first and foremost, excellent film making can be done with any camera, just as long as the vision is there by the artists who are creating the film. Here is a list of lens and gear in the Ouzel DSLR kit.


Panasonic GH2


Panasonic kit lens 14mm-42mm 3.5-5.6

Sears 55mm 1.4

Konica 55mm 1.7

Vivitar 135 2.8

Vivitar 85mm-205mm zoom 3.5 (3.5 all the way through)

Soligor 180mm 3.5

Soligor 300mm 5.5

Computar C Mount 12.5 mm 1.3

Nikon DX 55mm-200mm 4-5.6

Nikon DX 18mm-55mm 3.5-5.6


Audio Technica AT 897

Audio Technica wireless kit

Tascam DR 40 field recorder


A set of variable ND filters 52mm, 55mm, and 58mm

Lasso The Sun… Documentary film shoot

Navajo Code Talkers from WWII

This past week, I was out on a film shoot for our documentary, Lasso The Sun. I was out filming in Tuba City, AZ and out near Monument Valley. I had the privilege to interview a WWII Navajo Code talker. After the warm he returned home and worked as a uranium mill worker. The exposure to uranium has critically effected his family. We also interviewed a few other exposed uranium workers and their families. I am going to be editing a quick video of some of the footage that I gathered. So stay posted.

Radioactive Ducks Uranium Miner and Power

Radioactive Ducks Uranium Miner and Power were shot on my Panasonic GH2 using Nick Driftwood’s Quantum Me Baby 176 setting. I love the results. Most of the shots were filmed in Shiprock NM USA at the Department of Energy UMTRA (uranium mill tailings remedial action) site. The ducks are swimming in low level radioactive water. The Four Corners power plant is a huge coal burning station that pollutes the area in excess. Edited on FCP 7 and compressed to H264 from Apple Pro Res HQ.

Panasonic 14-42mm 3.5
Nikon DX 55-200mm 5.6
Soligar 300mm 5.6

Music: Stars Of The Lid, Requiem String Melody

Locations: Shiprock NM, San Juan River, Utah, Durango, Colorado.

Categories: Film Art, Lasso The Sun
%d bloggers like this: