Filmed in Vietnam: Mimic the River

Over the past few years our video production team has done quite a bit of travel.  In 2018 we took two trips to Southeast Asia. In August we filmed in Singapore, Borneo, and Bali.  In October we returned to Southeast Asia, this time to Vietnam, to film a short film for the Global Aquaculture Alliance.

Our team filmed GAA Film’s Mimic the River along the banks of the Mekong Delta, documenting how innovative aquaculture created new environments for raising the native fish, after the pollution from beyond Vietnam’s borders tainted the river for downstream fish farmers.

International filming often involves substantial paperwork.  Our team worked with partners in Vietnam to fast-track the filming applications and ensure that all documents were filled out and filed correctly.  With the permits in place, our team headed off to Vietnam and filmed over the course of three days. Our tools were a RED camera package, a C200 camera package, a gimbal, a drone, wireless sound recording, and field lighting.  GoPros also came in handy, used when filming in environments where big camera packages would be disadvantageous.

Our team enjoyed this terrific opportunity to film once again with the Global Aquaculture Alliance, and looks forward to future video production projects across the globe!

Mimic the River, filmed in Vietnam in October 2019.

Commercial Real Estate Business Case Study for AIS and Nelson

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to film a business case study video documenting how AIS, a manufacturer of commercial office furniture and seating, integrated its headquarters and manufacturing into a retrofitted building in central Massachusetts, with innovative interior design by NELSON’s Boston-based team.

Over the course of one day, we ran two-camera interviews with team members from both companies in a glass-paneled meeting room, while simultaneously filming b roll of the facility and the interviewees.

Our team was Field Producer David Jackel, DPs Alex Pickering and Ken Marcou, and AC Nick Melaragno. We filmed with 2 Canon C200s on tripods and handheld, and a RED Scarlet-W on a Movi Pro.

Filming the Big Island of Hawaii

Since 2016 we have partnered with the Global Aquaculture Alliance to bring the captivating world of the aquaculture industry to viewers around the world.  Our latest filming adventure with GAA Films brought us to the Big Island of Hawaii, where we followed the lives of three young fish farmers who worked along the Kona Coast. 

GAA Films’ Aloha for This Place (watch in 4K!)

Traveling across Hawaii we encountered an enchantingly diverse range of climates and terrain.  We roamed sunny beaches and plains of black lava rock, dove through sparkling ocean coves, soared over pastoral valleys, took shelter from intermittent showers in the lush rainforest, descended the slopes of a steaming volcano crater, and traversed the foothills of its snowcapped neighbor. 

The fish farmers we followed were equally diverse in their backgrounds and interests, though they shared several essential qualities: marine science degrees, a commitment to responsible aquaculture, a passion for preserving nature, and love and respect for their adopted home island of Hawaii.

We worked with a small New England-based crew: two Camera Operators who shared directing and DP responsibilities (David Jackel, Alex Pickering), and our Producer Becky Holt.  We shot all of our footage in 4K, using the RED Dragon and the Canon C200 in Cinema Raw.  Alex ran the MoVI Pro for fluid moving shots, and the Inspire2 for sweeping birds-eye-view shots.  Dave primarily worked handheld, using the Kessler Second Shooter motorized slider for interviews.  We shot underwater with a GoPro Hero5, and captured run-and-gun b roll (and time-lapses) with the Sony a6500.  For sound we used an Audio-Technica shotgun mic on a stand, and a Sennheiser wireless lavalier kit with a hidden Tram mic.  We worked with natural Hawaiian sunshine as much as possible, occasionally supplementing it with a Litepanels Astra 1x1 Bi-Color LED Panel. 

We look forward to future collaborations with GAA Films, filming exemplary fish farmers and their aquaculture operations around the world.

New GAA Film: Hibernia and The Bay

In early October 2017 we travelled with GAA Films to Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland.  Our mission was to capture footage to help tell the story of the Harty family, their aquaculture farm Harty Oysters, the town of Dungarvan, and Ireland itself.  For three days we closely followed and documented daily life on the farm and in town.  We rose before dawn each day, riding with the crews as they drove out far into the bay to harvest their oyster beds.  At night we ventured into the town's pubs to see how Dungarvan unwound after a hard day's work.

"Hibernia and The Bay," filmed in Dungarvan, Ireland

Because we had to film in drastically different conditions over the course of each day, we used a wide range of tools in the field.  Our main cameras were the RED Dragon, mounted on a MoVI Pro; and the Sony FS7, used primarily in shoulder rig mode with a stabilized long lens.  For drone shots, we used the Inspire and the Mavic.  Some shots, like those we took hanging off the side of a moving truck, required a compact camera with exceptional mobility - for those shots we used the Sony a6500 with stabilized wide lenses.  We shot all of our footage in 4K.   

Our greatest challenge in the field was the ever-changing weather.  In between rain showers we ran drone flights and shot most of our exteriors.  Out on the water, we shielded our cameras from the intermittent rain under windbreakers and kept filming.  Another challenge was minimizing the volume and complexity of our equipment so that we could travel as lightly and nimbly as possible.  We streamlined our tools as much as possible, using battery-powered LED light sticks instead of our usually CFL lights and ditching our tripods for everything but the interviews on land.

Our classic team for GAA Films projects was in action:  GAA Films Producer Becky Holt had the masterplan - she developed the concept for the film, oversaw the pre-production, handled all onsite logistics, and supervised the edit.  Alex Pickering and Ken Marcou shared Director of Photography and Camera Operator responsibilities, with Alex running the drones and RED camera on the MoVI, and Ken setting up the interviews and capturing handheld shots with the Sony FS7.  I served as Director and filmed b roll with the Sony a6500.  Back in Boston, Shana Bethune edited and colored the video.

Our hosts in Ireland, the Harty family, were exceptionally hospitable and helpful.  Filming abroad and out in nature often leads to unexpected logistical challenges that necessitate quick changes to the schedule and set up, and the Harty family consistently aided us along the way.   We greatly enjoyed our time with them.

This was our third film with GAA Films, and we look forward to continuing this exciting partnership in 2018!

"Where There is Trout," filmed in Zitácuaro, Mexico

"A Jump Across the Atlantic," filmed in Acadia, Maine

A New Architecture Case Study for ARC

Last year ARC/ Architectural Resources Cambridge engaged our team to produce a case study video highlighting how their team designed the John J. Bowen Center for Science and Innovation in Providence, Rhode Island.  Working with ARC again in 2017, we produced this case study video of their recent Laboratory Fit-Out project at The Institute for Applied Life Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

In planning this video, we worked closely with our colleagues at ARC to determine the message they wanted to convey, the content that needed to be presented, and the best filming style to accomplish these goals.  It was important that the video demonstrated the diversity of ways in which the space could be used, and gave the viewer a sense of what it was like to walk through the space.  

We had a lot of ground to cover during our day of filming: more than a few interviews and plentiful, varied b roll.  ARC collaborated with their associates at the University of Massachusetts to carefully schedule the day so that we were able to get all of the shots on our list. 

We used the same filming team that we used in Providence: David Jackel (Field Producer), Ken Marcou (Director of Photography), and Daniel Olivares (Camera Operator).  As with most of our interview-based videos, we filmed with two cameras: one locked down, the other on a motorized slider.  For b roll we covered each location with a wide lens camera on a triple-axis gimbal and a long lens camera on a monopod.  We also included the same lead editor as with our last ARC project, Michael Gill, who has extensive experience editing documentaries and shorts.

We enjoyed working with ARC once again, and are happy with how this video tells the story of their engagement with U Mass. 

A Music Video To Celebrate Leonard Cohen

Working with Boston musicians in the Cindel project (which includes part of the Shave Media team), we produced this music video of Cindel covering Leonard Cohen's "The Guests".

This project presented several challenges.  First, we needed to develop and execute a concept in a little over a week's time.  Second, with many potentially-conflicting schedules involved, we needed to restrict filming to no more than 4 hours.  And third, we needed to develop a story around a song that was both long and repetitive in structure.

To address the first two challenges - essentially, limited time - we decided to develop a concept around a simple but dynamic visual: dancing.  To address the third challenge - how to keep things interesting - we decided to film two very different dancers, whom we would film separately, and then individually, at a variety of focal lengths.  We also incorporated a band performance to happen in the same space.

We found a location in nearby Cambridge, MA, prepped the set in 3 hours, and filmed the talent in 4 hours, working until we lost the natural light.  Our Director of Photography was long-time collaborator Alex Pickering, who has filmed with us around the world using a variety of cool rigs and drones.  For this video, Alex used his RED Dragon on the MoVI Pro, keeping the camera in constant motion.

In post we decided to differentiate the two scenes - dancing and band performance - through color grading.  We brought out the already-present reds in the dancing, and deepened the blues in the band.  We also tried a split-screen trick with the mirror, so that the dancers could become each other's reflections.

Since posting the video on Nov 7th, we've already seen it earn over 3,500 views on YouTube, and many shares on Facebook; interestingly many of the shares are happening in France, where perhaps Leonard Cohen has a particularly strong following.  We look forward to producing more music videos in the coming months!

Dungarvan, Ireland - Day 1

It's late Sunday night in Dungarvan, Ireland, where we're just completed our first day of filming with GAA Films at Harty Oysters, a pioneer of Irish Oysters in County Waterford. 

Our day on the farm began before dawn, when we loaded onto trailers and waded through the tide with the crew for the morning's harvest.  Alex ran the RED on a MoVI, Ken ran the FS7 handheld, I switched between the Sony a6500 and the GoPro Hero 5, and Becky ran the Zoom H5.  Throughout the morning we fought mist and drizzle, but it was worth it.

GAA Films Behind-the-Scenes in Mexico

We are planning three new films with the Global Aquaculture Alliance for 2017, with shoots scheduled in Acadia, Maine; Dungarvan, Ireland; and Provo, Turks & Caicos.  We will film with the same team as our Mexico production, with a focus on bringing out the rich stories in each location.  

In the meantime, here's a behind-the-scenes look at the production of THE FARMER: Citlali Gomez.

Filmed in Mexico, "THE FARMER: Citlali Gomez"

Last December our team traveled with the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) to the mountains and forests of Zitácuaro, Mexico.  Our mission was to film a case study of a family-run rainbow trout farm, and show how the farm integrated with its surrounding environment and impacted the local economy. 

The rainbow trout farm’s beauty exceeded all expectations.  Built on a hill just above a roaring waterfall, and tucked under a leafy canopy, the farm was practically a park.  It was also a model of sustainability and local productivity.  We were able to see first-hand how the farm provided a high-quality, healthy food source in “las truchas”, and gainful employment for local workers, all while leaving the smallest of ecological footprints.  Equally impressive was the warm, welcoming family who ran the farm.  We had the opportunity to follow them in their daily lives, and for a few days see the world through their eyes.

We travelled with a three-person video production team, and several colleagues from GAA who led our expedition.  We were fortunate to have a skilled guide who was fluent in Spanish and familiar with the landscape and local customs. 

Our team on the Shave Media side was Ken Marcou (DP), Alex Pickering (MoVI and Drone Operator), and David Jackel (Field Producer).  We travelled as lightly as possible, while still bringing along a substantial arsenal of filming equipment.  We shot with Canon and Sony cinema cameras, several DSLRs, and even a point-and-shoot camera packed in water-tight casing for underwater shots with the fish.  To bring dynamic movement to our shots, we used a triple-axis gimbal, a remote motorized panning device, and a drone.  We captured most of our audio with wireless lavaliere mics, but also used a field recorder at times to pick up environmental sounds. 

Packing lights is always a challenge when working with limited space, which is why we used battery powered LED light sticks.  They were durable, practically weightless, and packed up tightly.  These lights allowed us to discretely light backgrounds as well as our subjects, and were easy to move and adjust.

In additional to filming the farm and the family home, we also shot b roll footage around the city of Zitácuaro, and took an expedition into the remote mountain sanctuary of the monarch butterflies, an ecological wonder and source of local pride.  And of course we got to sample Mexican cuisine, including plenty of rainbow trout.  We left Zitácuaro with a new appreciation for aquaculture and Mexico’s natural beauty and vibrant culture.

GAA has just released the film, “THE FARMER: Citlali Gomez.”  This film will be the first installment in their upcoming series of short films highlighting the people and practices behind sustainable aquaculture production. 

We greatly enjoyed working with GAA on this project and look forward to future endeavors together!

How To Look And Sound Your Best On Camera

So you're getting ready to do a video interview. You know your subject matter inside and out. You've read through the interview questions well in advance and you have prepared some insightful responses. All you need to do now is decide what to wear.

This is an essential part of planning for a video interview. Your clothing and apparel choices will affect not only how you look on camera, but also the overall quality of the image, and perhaps most importantly, the sound - which is essential to achieving high production value in a video.


What to Wear

Solid Colors
Blues, greens, greys, earth tones and pastels work well with most subjects. Simpler is usually better.

Form-Fitting, Well-Shaped Clothing
Blazers, jackets, and shirts with collars are generally flattering and give you a “sculpted” appearance.

A Microphone-Friendly Top
The video team needs to attach your lapel microphone close to the sound source without distorting the natural shape of your clothing. Buttoned shirts and V neck shirts work well. Blazers and jackets are terrific for this. Here are examples of outfits that work well on camera:


What Not to Wear

Solid Black, White, And Red

There are always exceptions (see the first example above, where the jacket is close to red), but in general these are not ideal for professional video interviews. A black or white shirt inside a blazer or jacket is fine, so is a red tie.

Tops With Colors Close To Your Skin Tone
You want to avoid tops that, under certain lighting conditions, might look like an extension of your skin.

High Contrast
Video cameras have a hard time with high-contrast. Camera operators set their exposures to match the subject’s skin tone, so avoid clothing that contrasts heavily with your complexion.

Shapeless Clothing
Loose, shapeless clothing tends to be unflattering on camera, and droops down when you are seated. It’s also generally not great for attaching a microphone.

Branded Clothing
The viewer’s focus should be on you and your words – and branding is a distraction. It generally looks unprofessional, and in some situations it can cause legal complications.

Clothing That Matches The Background
If the background is light grey, for example, a light grey blazer is a mistake. Here is a more extreme example:

Stripes And Small Patterns
Stripes and small patterns can lead to the wavy moiré effect:



Noisy Clothing Or Accessories
Anything that rattles or scratches will be picked up by the microphone. Simpler is better when it comes to accessories.

Hats And Glasses
Hats cast a shadow over your face, and glasses can reflect the lighting. If you need glasses to do your interview, or feel more comfortable wearing them, by all means do so – but it is better to skip the glasses if you don’t need them.

Hair and Make Up

For most video interviews, it’s best to have neat and tidy hair, no stray hairs, and preferably long hair is tied back or in an updo. Bring along some hair spray just in case you have an uncooperative strand of hair. For those who shave, do it just before the interview (when possible) so that you don’t have visible stubble. And even if you are going for a more alternative look, you don’t want your hair to distract the viewer from your message.

Make up should be subtle – it’s easier to add than to subtract. A little powder is enough to counter the shine of the lights. If you generally wear make up, bring it with you to the shoot for touch ups. Avoid glossy make up! On camera it just looks like sweat, and you don't want that!