A Bit of Fun with Truffles


Every now and then I get to really have fun on a shoot.

Take a look at the finished video on Vimeo

Take a look at the finished video on Vimeo

In late March, with NAB looming and the James Beard Awards coming to Chicago for the first time, my crew and I descended into a cramped warehouse space on the near north side that is home to  Rodrick Markus‘ bastion of unquestionably rare and yet edible ingredients known as RareTeaCellar.

Sourcing those teas, herbs and exotic ingredients from around the world RareTeaCellar has become the go to source for Chef’s in the midwest and around the world when looking for exotic items to go on their plates.

Tough work, but someone has to set up the shot and that requires every truffle be inspected prior to going on set.

Tough work, but someone has to set up the shot and that requires every truffle be inspected prior to going on set       Photo: Adam Seger

Yet Rodrick does not stop there, he regularly collaborates with Chef’s and Mixologists and for our shoot, we would working with Adam Seger to capture some of the essence of their  Truffe Amere, the worlds first botanical truffle bitters.  We went to work, first selecting the best looking of the fungi, picking through a couple of kilo’s of Black Winter Perigord Truffles just to find the 800-900 grams of truffles (about a pound) we used for the for pouring down a luge into the waiting lens of a Phantom Flex4K so we could capture the truffles in slo-motion at the highest resolution possible.

Paul DeMarte and I discussing how our test looks onscreen

Paul DeMarte and I discussing how our test looks onscreen  Photo: Adam Seger.

An Intel camera crew captured the behind the scenes action that day then interviewed me after the shoot on how my use of Intel’s Thunderbolt technology defines my process and my workflow.

My thanks for the support on this project go out to
Bob Monaghan at GlueTools, Toni Lucatorto at Vision Research, Rob Vose at Zacuto, Paul DeMarte on Camera and Thomas and Joshua from Intel for their assistance and support.

Yet I am left wondering when the next time I will be able to muster up craft service that was comprised of hand sliced Iberico “pata negra”  ham and truffled wonton soup to feed my crew on a shoot.

A look at Promise’s R2+

Adding the R2+ (plus) model to their Thunderbolt2 toolset, Promise Technologies offers users an effective hardware solution to consolidate media offloading activities from a variety of camera sources, optimizing ingest from multiple types of camera media when paired with software tools like Imagine Product’s ShotPutPro or Pomfort’s Silverstack for a seamless offloading and backup experience.

Both the Reader Pods and the hard disk drives are interchangeable.

Both the Reader Pods and the hard disk drives are interchangeable.

Most people think of Promise as the first High-speed Thunderbolt Storage company, their 2nd Generation Pegasus R2 models are able to utilize the full 20Gb/s of bandwidth using Intel’sThunderbolt2 architecture across a wide range of storage devices and tools for fibre and 10gE connectivity.  The addition of the Pegasus R2+, with a MSRP under $800.00, offers users a studio quality media handling and archiving tool utilizes both Thunderbolt2 and USB3 for connectivity, yet is durable enough for location use without breaking your bank.

Each R2+ unit ships with 2 spinning discs and a removable CF/ SD Card Reader Pod for media ingest. Other options currently include Reader Pod modules for 2.5” SSD’s or Spinning disks and an additional 1TB Hard drive. Promise wisely has included both a 6Gb/s Sata interface and a Micro USB3 connector on each Reader Pod, allowing the inexpensive but well built Readers to be used in conjunction with or independently from your R2+ unit. The company is looking into creating additional versions of the Reader Pods for other types of media sources such as C-Fast, RED’s Mini Mag’s or the widely used Sony SxS Card Media.

Sustained read write in excess of 350MB/s guarantees performance in both RAID1 and RAID0.

Sustained read write in excess of 350MB/s guarantees performance in both RAID1 and RAID0

At 6” x 7” x 10” and weighing in at a hefty 13.4 lb (6.1kg), the R2+ units have a relatively small form factor but have been designed to handle the long, rugged days most of us work onset. Keeping the number of individual drives down in the unit has  allowed Promise to solidify the backplane support internally, making a for more reliable device for location and field use.

My demo unit was equipped with 2- 3TB Toshiba 7200RPM drives for 6TB of usable disk space in Raid0. The Promise Raid Utility allows the 2-drive array to be configured as RAID1 for redundancy or in RAID0 to allow for speedier transfers.
With average transfer speeds in excess of 350MB/s,  the R2+ handled SD & CF card media without effort. During my testing I found the Raid0 and Raid1 configurations to maintain fairly equivalent data transfer speeds in each config, but was unable to configure the unit as JBOD, something that I will assume should be easily achieved via a software update.

The Promise R2+ is a welcome addition to the Pegasus line, built with a production style sensibility, at a price point affordable to a wide range of users on both the Mac and Windows platforms.

Promise Technologies R2+


NAB 2015 first look.

So we are about 4 weeks out from NAB 2014 and already the web is buzzing about new products that have surfaced prior to the big show. Once again CES has set the bar pretty high, I expect to see even more 4K | QHD content as the creators are finally starting to catch up to the hype from the Consumer TV groups.

Arri's Alexa Mini

Arri’s Alexa Mini

Arri announces the Alexa Mini, at BVE, this is a smaller, light weight (at 5lb) fully capable camera to fill in those Steadicam, Drone, and other times when a smaller lighter camera is necessary. Acquisition specs match those of the current Alexa models.  0.75-120fps ProRes2k, up to 30p in 2160, Arri Raw, DnxHD, with both 16×9 and 4×3 rasters available on the Alev4 Sensor

BlackMagicDesign Released the latest Intensity Pro4K, a PCIe based capture and playback card geared at emerging filmmakers and prosumers  that includes not only 1080 60p functionality but also has the ability to handle 2160px QHD at up to 30p for just $199.00 USD.

Add to that the latest update to BMD’s big dog, DaVinci Resolve 11,  and recent release of a Free version of professional compositor FUSION (a Windows only release).  I am waiting to see what the team at BlackMagicDesign has in store for us on the Show Floor once the doors open on Monday.


FCPX was used as the main NLE for the Feature Film “Focus”


Apple has been touting FCPX with the release of “Focus” with Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Back to showing that their software is fully capable of being able to handle the needs of feature production, I look to see some things happening in the background at NAB to talk more about this.

Other companies are also showing some of their newest NAB2015 gear and software already.

Rampantdesigntools.com and their newly released 4K Effects and 5K Lighting Effects that allow users drag and drop simplicity for use within your productions.

The newest JVC 4K camera supports MFT lenses and is under $4,000 USD

The newest JVC 4K camera supports MFT lenses

JVC is already shipping their sub $4000.00  GYLS300U camera with full 4K recording utilizing a Micro 4/3 mount.


I will also state that there will be way too many “cloud” discussions and even more companies trying to push their hyper- specific version of the sharing platform on us.  Only a couple of the really big players understand the cloud and how it needs to be handled when working with really big data.


More to come. The announcements are only now starting to roll in.




Missing IBC this year because once again I am Working Onset again

Process trailer

Called the “process trailer” because of the process it takes to make it look real we are taking a moment to re-loading the cameras on side street, we get between 14-24 minutes before having to reload the cameras, then we need almost that long to re-set,

rigging the ambo

Rigging the Ambulance to shoot the driving shots common to most TV shows.


the first week of production on the Season 2 of Sirens on USA has begun. Working onset can be long and arduous, luckily with this crew even the long days seem enjoyable. I thought I would post some of the Behind the Scenes images that I take all day long.

Here are some images of the crew and what it takes to create a TV show.



NAB 2014 Kicks off with Thunderbolt2 announcements

After 2 days of leading the Director of Photography Conference, part of the 10th Anniversary of the Post Production World Events, it is time to start talking about all the things I have not bean able to mention.

There already have been camera announcements from Aja, Codex and others, I expect to see at Blackmagic Design and one other company early this morning. Yet for me its some of the Thunderbolt News that really has me excited.

Interested in seeing what BMD will show from the Cintel acquisition? Will there really be a Thunderbolt enabled Film Scanner announced at the show.

HP & Intel are going to show peer to peer, Mac to PC networking over a direct Thunderbolt connection, using 10gE protocols, proving that Intel’s Thunderbolt technology offers far more to Media and Entertainment sector than people are imaging.

LaCie shipped the Little Big Disk2 offering greater than a Gigabyte per second, and Rack mount unit designed for 4K post workflows.

While G-Tech should be showing larger volume Desktop Raids as well as updated SSD and raided versions of their G-DriveEV for the GDock-EV my personal go to drive solution for handling data OnSet.

Promise shows smaller second gen version of their SanLink Product, and a smaller SSD based array.

Just a start- need to hit the show floor to start seeing what I can talk about.


New for NAB 2014 LaCie’s Little Big Disc 2

So it has been awhile since I posted here, been busy working on 3 projects, one of which included one of the new “social media clauses” so it has kept me rather limited.I will post my thoughts on some of the new gear that is already shipping prior to NAB so that people can check them out at the show.

First up, LaCie’s Little Big Disc 2

I use storage from a number of manufacturers and never have I ever opened a hard drive box and recieved this level of performance with the ease and simplicity of the LBD2. LaCie has delivered the fastest single device I have ever used with my laptop.  Equipped with Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 Technology, this 1TB  sleek black box, elegantly styled and compact for it’s 1.4 pound weight, offers users the single most powerful drive I have ever used.

The Thunderbolt 2 interface in conjunction with the raided dual SSD drives inside offer users up to an astonishing 1.3 Gigabytes of data throughput per second, easily making LaCie’s LBD2 the fastest single drive publicly available. While listed price at around $1300 USD for a 1 TB volume might be cringeworthy to some, when you have the need for speed this is the drive to have.

This shows the raw speed of LaCie's Little Big Disk 2, here showing performance  over 1 GB per second when paired  with a 2nd Gen Retina MacBook Pro with Intel's Thunderbolt 2 technology.

This shows the raw speed of LaCie’s Little Big Disk 2, here showing performance  over 1 GB per second when paired  with a 2nd Gen Retina MacBook Pro with Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 technology.

The cost vs. performance is nothing short of astronomical, because we are talking about moving Gigabytes per second with this beast. That performance, equal if not better at times than the internal flash memory found in Apple’s New Mac Pro, and is unheard of outside of a incredibly small number of Post facilities or in the massive server farms that allow ITunes, Amazon and Google to spit out information to you in realtime on the web.

However for desktop users, this is a first, when built my first 1GBps array for a client in 2007, at that time it required 2 computers just to control the 72 spinning disks and cost nearly $500,000 in time and materials when finished.

I can now walk into a store and buy nearly the same throughput off the shelf and have ready to work on in mere minutes after I am out the door.

LaCie’s Little Big Disk 2 has become my main carry around work volume, I recently used it during an extended trip, where it allowed me to cut 4K ProRes 4444 content on my laptop, well away from my office, without having to work with the associated hassles of the offline / online workflow that location editing of that much content would normally require.

There is plenty more to come. Stay Tuned.