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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Christian Lim, from Valhalla’s Mac Lab, and I have finally finished putting a DVD together for the Hillsdale Middle School Music Dept. I mentioned this project briefly in one or two of my other posts but essentially Danny Owens and Christian filmed the event under my supervision on Sony FX-1’s and then for post, I taught Christian the basics of Final Cut 7 and let him loose on the 2 hours of footage. From there he handed it off to me – I double checked and made small revisions to the cut and brought the video into DVD Studio Pro to build and burn a DVD which will be used to raise money for the department.

This was an excruciatingly slow project mainly because Christian only has so long to work on it while he’s in class, and I’m only present during 7th period 3-4 days out of the week to help him. He did extremely well however especially considering he has no prior experience with the program and that he did 90% of the editing on his own. All I really had to do after teaching him how to use the program was to routinely check up to make sure things were going smoothly.

We ran into quite a few bumps along the way – missing tapes, importing difficulties, missing audio, dark and overexposed footage, and don’t even get me started with DVD Studio Pro (the image above should give you a good idea as to how tangled the web of menus and script can get) but we were adamant on getting this thing done because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to move onto a much larger creative project we have in the works :).

Congrats Christian and Danny, one more project done and I hope the parents who choose to purchase one, enjoy the DVD.

On another note, I finished shooting footage for Digital Group Audio and their product, the Livespeakr, this Sunday as a part of something called the Senior Experience Project held by CSUSM. Long story short, business students from CSUSM are paired with distinguished local companies and work as a part of the company to gain real world experience. One of their last projects together is an ad – this is where I come in.

I’ll elaborate on this more as the project rolls along over this coming week.


I was recently asked to do some pictures of a few menu items for a great restaurant in San Marcos called China Wokery. The images are intended to be used on a new website they’re building.

Christian Lim and Zack Tatar from the Mac Lab at Valhalla stepped up as my students for this project. Both have already had some experience with cameras and Photoshop before but not in this context. The main challenge was being restricted to natural lighting – the client wanted us to shoot near where customers were eating and bringing lights would’ve taken extra space where customers could’ve been sitting; not to mention, a super bright flash every few seconds would’ve been a bit of an unpleasant distraction if you’re trying to enjoy a meal.

We arrived around noon with plenty of sunlight left. After we setup our gear and the first dishes came out of the kitchen I had Christian and Zack monitor what I was doing on my laptop (I used the EOS Utility that comes with the 5D MK II to use my laptop as a live monitor) so they could see exactly what I was doing to every variable on the camera to get the picture to look the way I wanted it to. After a shot or two, we switched positions – Christian took the camera while Zack and I monitored. After a few more pictures Zack took the camera while Christian and I monitored.

There are lots of sauces in asian food, and as you can imagine, they’re very reflective. So to keep any unmanageable highlights out of the image we simply just stood in front of windows to cast shadows on the table. At first we had a hard time deciding on how to point the camera at the food. After some playing around, we found out that tilting the tripod in odd positions is a great way to keep things looking interesting.

Now for the Photoshop side of things. I forgot how great RAW is. It’s so great in fact, that half our job was just playing with RAW info, because there’s just that much data. I split the work in two; Raw Work – which basically amounted to getting color work done consistently between each picture and Photoshop Work – which basically amounted to removing dust, blobs of sauce, crumbs, etc from the images, fine tuning any colors a little more if we didn’t get it 100% correct in RAW, and adding a nice gentle vignette to make the dish jump out at you.

Originally Zack was supposed to do the RAW work and Christian the Photoshopping. Unfortunately Zack’s laptop now rests in peace, so I did the RAW work. Everything worked out fine though, the images are complete. Here are some examples, enjoy:

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3