Monday, June 14, 2010

A hand written note

I ran in to Mannie by pure chance. I was up at AFI listening to his son John give a lecture to a group of young film students. It had been so long since I had seen Mannie. While we talked in the hall I couldn't help but be drawn into the sparkle of life in his eyes. I don't know why I asked if I could photograph him.

We brought Mannie a cup of Starbucks on the morning I photographed him. That was so typical for Mannie, a cup of Joe and a little conversation about life or politics or his grand kids. The shoot was really simple. A white roll of seamless paper taped to the garage door of his house and a camera.

These are the images that John had given to Vivian, his mother.

Mannie Blas

Mannie Blas

Mannie Blas

A week or two after John gave his mom the prints, I received a letter in the mail from Vivian. I haven't had a letter sent to me since I was in Iraq in 2003. I won't go on to much but I will say that Vivian and Mannie had a huge influence on me when I was young. It was after hearing their stories of travel and adventure that I decided to leave home at 19 and head for Europe to look for creativity and life.
Vivian's words were so touching and beautiful. I don't think I fully understood how impacting photography could be on someone until I read her letter.
Once again Vivian and Mannie have influenced how I look at life.

Vivian Blas
Dear Scott,
I was amazed when John told me about all the effort you put into taking photos of my husband, Mannie. However, when John presented me with 3 of the finished products on Mother's Day I was so moved that tears came to my eyes.
As you are well aware since the days of your adolescence and your visits to our home - I am a lover of art and therefore, I was highly impressed with your photographic artistry. You captured the essence of who my husband is. It's almost "too real" when I gaze on the expressions on Mannie's face which you captured most effectively.
I know that when Lisa arrives in town this June she shall also be quite impressed with your talent.
In closing I want to say "thank you" so very much for the photos but also for sharing with our family your talent.
Fondest regards,
Vivian Blas

I wanted to enclose one of my favorites from that day.

Mannie Blas

Mannie passed away this April and he will be missed. He has touched the hearts of many and I am honored to have known him.
I am trying to swear less because Mannie said "there are so many beautiful words in the English language that there is no reason to use swear words".

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

That's alot of cameras

It started with a call from Tim while I was in Haiti. "Hey brother, do ya know anything about the Red?" Just weeks before I had spent two days down at Clairmont Camera doing some work flow and shooting tests and had immersed myself into the deep menus and great mystical settings the Red had offered. "Sure man, what do you want to know?" I replied. "How would you like to come out and DP a Hyundai Sonata video for me?" asked Tim Baur, Director extraordinaire!

2011 Hyundai Sonata

Director: Timothy Baur

Director of Photography: Scott Shepard

Agency: Innocean

Creative Director: Kelly Kliebe

Art Director: Andrew Reizuck

Flash ahead to the California desert at the HATCI Proving Grounds in Mojave. Hyundai America Technical Center, Inc. (HATCI), is the design, technology and engineering arm for all North American models of the Korean-based Hyundai-KIA Automotive Group. The $60 million California Proving Ground is one of the most comprehensive and advanced vehicle testing facilities ever built. Anywhere.

Our goal was to take the new Hyundai Sonata and accelerate it, turn it, and brake it. We had quite an arsenal of cameras and equipment at our disposal. Let's see, 1 Red One camera with the new Mysterium chip(killer), 2 Canon 5Ds(what's that you say? If it's good enough for "House" and in HD and on the networks....)a couple of Gopros(the new POV standard), a Canon XL H1A, the totally rad X-6(Google it), and last but certainly not the least... the Filmotechnic Gyro Stabilized CRANE on top of a new Mercedes AMG ML63 with 505hp. That's 0-60 in 4.9 seconds! Whew!! What a selection. It's a good thing that we had all this equipment because for almost a week we shot all around the Sonata with cameras on the crane, on sticks, and hand held. We shot on it and under it and in it, not to mention over it. We shot it wet and we shot it fast. Slow motion and quick shutter speeds, from the crane and from exterior car mounts. We put cameras in the suspension under the Sonata and under a HELO over the Sonata. We covered it from here to eternity and back! We shot beauty shots and car to car shots. We shot interviews and test drivers. I could go on and on. Let's just agree that there is a LOT of beautiful footage for our carveboard riding Art Director(Andrew Reizuck) to choose from. Don't be surprised to see the documentary surface sometime in the future.

A few days later we ended up at the old, and near to my heart, El Torro Marine Corps Base(Semper Fi) I could still smell the jet fuel and diesel if I closed my eyes.

The base is now home to the AMCI proving grounds and special events field. Because it used to be an air station, AMCI has miles of flat tarmac which used to be used for aircraft carrier landing simulations. That makes it perfect to run vehicles wide open and still be relatively safe. This time we got to shoot the Sonata going hard and fast into turns, wet tarmac handling tests, and fighter jet length runway braking tests. Awesome! More interviews with the AMCI staff and the most amazing beauty light I have seen in a long time. Things went so smoothly on this job. The only thing that really came up was a few missing generator cables and a rapidly overflowing data capture station. Is that a bad thing? A few new terabyte hard drives later and we were rocking. I've had more problems getting my ipod to work on my home theater during my annual Fourth of July BBQ.

On the last day of shooting we were at Hyundai's design center in Irvine. Aside from having my truck towed the night before and scrambling to get a cab the day went smooth. Sixty bucks later and I was at location and only a few minutes late. The design center is so cool and modern and clean that it made me feel like I had to clean my house. Peer pressure I guess. The shots were mostly of the design team members and some of the facility. We shot a lot of hand held style and multi camera captures here. The Canon 5Ds really shined here. Their small form factor and the amazing footage they created, allowed us to get in with a small production foot print and still be able to deliver some truly beautiful footage. This setup really sings!

After all was said and done I would say we killed it. The agency was very happy with the shoot and the deliverables were above and beyond what they had asked for.

On a side note, I wanted to talk about the camera house we rented the Red Camera from. Keslow Camera is in Culver City, CA. Robert Keslow(CEO) went out of his way to accommodate my camera equipment needs. He went as far as giving me extra lenses and equipment at no additional charge just for me to try out. His shop is large and clean and the tech and support staff are great. Dennis McDonald, Robert's Director of Operations, is just plain crazy but in a good way. The kind of crazy you only get from military service and that was the reason we got along fantastic. Before I left, Robert bestowed a great honor upon me...he gave me a Keslow Camera shot glass. Scoundrels and scalawags!

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