Tag Archives: shooting

I invented the integrated circuit.

17 Apr , 2009,
Chip Street
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Me as Kilby. The black gloves and neck thing are for the post guys, to aid in the animations.

Me as Kilby. The black gloves and neck thing are for the post guys, to aid in the animations.

Today was the video shoot for the Computer History Museum‘s new upcoming exhibits. In it, I play Jack Kilby, inventor of the integrated circuit. (I’d like to clarify that I play Kilby at the time he invented the circuit, not the more well seasoned Kilby shown on his wikipedia page.)

At left, me in wardrobe, with cigar and ill-fitting glasses.

The shoot was fun. The entire thing was shot out on a green screen stage in Pleasanton, California, at the LMA Productions Studio in partnership with Impact Media. After extensive post production, the thing will have the feel of the Mad Men title sequence … all silhouettes and animation. Should look way cool.

Since they will be compositing multiple assets in the final footage,  I had to repeat actions (simple stuff – writing, sketching circuits, etc) at a dressed desk, again at a green desk, all from several angles. No dialogue, and since it’ll all end up in animated silhouette, any subtle facial expression will likely not be seen… so it’s easy to understand why I got the part:  I look like an old computer geek from the 50’s, and it didn’t depend on my acting chops. :)

LMA Studio green screen stage. We shot on the RED ONE. First time I've seen one out of the box. It's way cool.

LMA Studio green screen stage. We shot on the RED ONE. First time I've seen one out of the box. It's way cool.

There were five other guys in fifties garb as well, and a young woman playing a contemporary character using a piece of modern technology.

My understanding is that the video will premiere for IBM sometime in June of this year, and then will be playing constantly within the new exhibit for about a year starting in 2010. So if you’re in Silicon Valley next year, check it out. If not for me, then for the children.

Mad (Men) style.

Mad (Men) style.

Don't videotape at the mall if you're a terrorist.

10 Dec , 2007,
Chip Street
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Shooting some b-roll at the mall tonight (people shopping, sale signs, etc) for Programming The Nation and was asked by security what I was shooting. I said “my wife” (she was sitting nearby, and at that moment I was shooting her) and he said “okay, just don’t shoot around the building.” I said I would be sure I didn’t get anybody’s face in any shots (I wasn’t) but he said that wasn’t his concern… just that I don’t video the structure and design of the building itself… because of terrorism. I assume it’s because the tape could be used to figure out structural weaknesses.

Anyway, I found it interesting that he simply believed me and moved on… didn’t ask me to stop. How easy we apparently make it for terrorists.

Making Arrangements – Day Three

12 Nov , 2007,
Chip Street
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How did we get everyone to show up on a weekday? Don’t these people have jobs? I don’t know… but it’s a Monday shoot and we’ve got a bunch of dedicated volunteers here again.

Today we’re shooting the first and last scenes in the story… funny how that worked out. We’ve got a small white empty room that we’re turning into a doctor’s exam room, and another small empty green room that needs to become a mortuary lab. Both are empty when we arrive… we have to dress them both. Fast.

First scenes first… we’ll shoot the opening in the doctor’s office. It’s a super simple set… intended to look kind of surreal, like a doctor’s office might look in a dream. Not a lot of dressing or equipment, just the icons of a doctor’s office… a padded exam table with paper stretched across it, an eye chart, and a wall clock. One short rolling stool for the doctor to sit on, and we’re done.

Of course, we have no exam table. We have a folding table with a vinyl chaise cushion on it, and a length of paper across it. We frame the shot just at the bottom edge of the pad, so we don’t see the table… Bill (Chad Davies) sits on the table, centered in frame, buttons his shirt and then waits uncomfortably for the doc to show up. It’s what we call our “lonely guy” shot, and I hold it for an uncomfortably long time before signaling the doc to enter scene. Again, it’s all played out in one long take as the doc enters and delivers the bad news to Bill. No cuts, no inserts till the end when the fantasy sequence kicks in (more about those another time).

There’s some medical jargon… “The infection’s responding to the broad-spectrum sulphanimides…” but luckily, our actor (Ken Keonig) who plays the doctor actually is a doctor. Not only is medical jargon familiar to him, but he was able to provide his own lab coat and stethoscope. Sweeeet for a no-budget shoot…

The scene, again, is designed for that long take… so all the dialog, medical jargon and all, has to go off end t0 end without a cut. We go at it several times, we try one alternative setup, and we grab an insert shot of the clock on the wall. I’ve also brought along the Felix the Cat wall clock that I wanted to have in Kayla’s apartment. We used it on that set yesterday, but never got the insert of it. So we hang it on the wall here, and shoot it… of course, the wall color’s all wrong, but we’ll fix that in post. The editor loves to hear that.

Now it’s time to shoot the “fantasy sequence”, one shot of which is Bill in a hospital bed with his wife Cassie (Kimberly Parrish) at his side. We get Bill to lie down on the same “bed”, throw a sheet over him, hang an IV and a shower curtain behind him, and then call Kimberly to come on down from work (a few blocks away). No dialog, MOS. Bing Bang Boom, we got our shots. Outside for one more fantasy shot in a planter in the parking lot (again MOS – Kimberly runs dirt through her hands) and we break for lunch.

After lunch we’ll be shooting the final scene in the movie… Kayla and Bill together in the mortuary lab. It’s the last scene to shoot, and it’s literally the last scene in the film. I’ve been troubled with the last scene (in particular the last lines) from the beginning. It’s a great little script, with a cool hook and good story structure… but I just haven’t been able to wrap myself around those last lines. The writer (Skot Christopherson) is very dedicated to that scene and those lines… I asked for a rewrite, but he really wants it to stay as is. Or at least, if it gets changed, he’d prefer it were someone other than he that makes the changes… I’ve discussed it with a number of people, and I’m getting a lot of support for a change… what to do?

During lunch, I take off to the cafe next door. I’ve got a blank pad and a pen, a copy of the script, and a sandwich.

I stare at the pad for a long time. I re-read the scene. Skot had inserted some changes into earlier scenes that I’d asked for, which conceivably would support the sort of ending I was thinking about. I write a few lines of dialog… I can’t go way off book, since nearly the balance of the film is in the can. But something starts to flow. I think about who the movie is really about (to me anyway) — who’s scene should this final scene be? Kaya? Bill? Kayla and Bill? What about Bill’s wife Cassie? In the context of the film, we won’t have seen her since the third scene… and now, Kimberly is back at work.

Just then Gina drops by the table with her hubby, Greg Camp (of Smashmouth fame) to say hi. He’s a very nice guy, and he ends up hanging around the shoot for a while. In the end, Greg and Gina help us out with some amazing music for the soundtrack… more on that another time.

I finally put something together that I think will work, and I call in the actors… Chad and Gina read it through with me, help me refine it. I think it’s gonna work… we’ll see what happens on set.

The little green room we had has been filled up by our Art folks… a white melamine exam table, a table filled with bottles and jars and stainless steel sharp things, a work lamp. I have no idea what a mortuary exam lab looks like (save the usual Law and Order/CSI insight) but this looks cool. It’s a family mortuary, after all. More like Six Feet Under. I like it, and it looks good on screen.

We shoot out the scene… it’s getting later and later, our DP Matthew has to get home really soon. I keep asking for more takes… again, it’s a long take with lots of dialogue. There’s a pan in it, some business (flipping back the sheet, walking around the table, hopping up on the table) and so a few takes are needed to get it all down in a take. But again, our actors come through, it all looks good, and we’re finally done. Matthew is really ready to go.

BUT – I also want to shoot the original end, the writer’s end. It’s only fair. We need to try both, to give it its fair due. So we run the scene two more times, with the original dialogue. We’ll make a final decision in the edit.

We break down the set and once again (hopefully) leave our location just as we found it… and I think Matthew made it home in time.

The last scenes are outdoor scenes… one, a long conversation walking down the sidewalk. We’ll be steadicamming that one. Another, a long conversation in a moving car (truck, actually) which we’ll be towing behind my pickup. Lastly, a short scene outside the Mortuary… for which we got permission to shoot outside an actual Mortuary. There’s a mini-jib in that one.

We’ll be shooting that all out next weekend, in one day.

That should be fun.

Potty Talk

5 Apr , 2007,
Chip Street
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Things I never thought I’d be shooting… I got hired to produce and direct a video on Infant Potty Training. Never saw that coming…

We shot it out in one 5 hour shoot just yesterday. Our available stage was already built out with a very industrial set used for shooting exercise videos. What we wanted was a warm, cozy living room feel. But we had no time or budget for moving or adding walls, so I went with a floating vignette. It worked pretty well, though it has kind of a “talk show” feeling to it. Since it’s instructional in nature, that kind of worked for us.

Details are HERE.

I seem to be falling into this “kids show” sort of groove. Sure isn’t happening by design. I better finish my horror script before it’s too late!