| Chris Barrett Blog
Blog of architectural photographer and cinematographer, Christopher Barrett.
Architectural Photography, Interior design, Architecture, Arca Swiss
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One Point Perspective

a day in the life of...

This is just a head’s up for clients looking to schedule summer projects. I am currently booked solid through Mid-July. If you have something on the horizon, please contact me as soon as possible to insure booking. Also, I am always happy to hold time tentatively for future bookings. “Maybes” can certainly be penciled in. I know this can be rather frustrating and I do apologize for any inconveniences.

Sincerely,
Chris

As I understand it, the job of the guy who drives the UPS truck is to deliver your package. Lately, though, it seems as if the drivers have no interest in doing their jobs. Here’s the situation. I have a package coming, so I make sure to be around. I’m chained to my desk all day long, usually doing post-production work or creating invoices or estimates. My office is directly above the front door… so I can hear the drivers footsteps on the front porch. What I don’t hear is a knock at the door. In the time it takes me to run down one flight of stairs the UPS driver, his truck and my package are gone and there is the dreaded tag on my door about the missed attempt. Attempt? What attempt?!! Forgive me for ranting, but I am absolutely livid.

If the UPS driver doesn’t want to do his job, fine. Take his job away from him and give it to someone with some work ethics.

*Note… It’s not just my particular driver. A quick Google search reveals that many other people share my frustrations with this lack of service.

What’s interesting is… on both days that this has happened, I was also expecting packages via FedEx. The FedEx driver comes, he knocks on my door. He gives me my package. Sometimes we even chat about politics for a second. Now, I don’t particulary like chatting about politics… but I DO like receiving my packages.
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I’ve just returned from Los Angeles where we were invited to screen a teaser from our upcoming short Best If Used By. We all felt that this was an amazing opportunity, but honestly I had some doubts about whether we were going to manage to get something done in time. The last thing we wanted to do was let down Brian Henderson after his very generous invitation. Resolute, we set our minds to it with the mantra “No Sleep till Brooklyn” set firmly in our collective cerebral cortex.

Here were the challenges:
• The film was to be cut by our director, Aemilia, who was in the middle of moving to L.A.
• The edit was to be graded by myself on Resolve, in Chicago.
• The sound mix was in process.
• The grade had to get over to Aemilia as a 4k render that would be dropped back into her timeline with the newly mixed soundtrack.
• We then had to render that all out to a 4k ProRes and get everything over to RED in time to make sure that it all worked.

No problem!

Here was our process:
• We did a really intensive one light session on my system in RC-X Pro to nail the looks.
• I transcoded dailies for Aemilia to take to LA.
• She cut those in Premier and emailed her project file to me.
• I opened it up, relinked the footage and exported an XML.
• Brought the XML into Resolve, conformed to R3Ds, loaded looks from RMDs, graded then rendered out 4k ProRes clips.
• Brought everything back into Premier, copied over the audio and saved the new sequence.
• Jumped on a plane with hard drive in hand.

That should all work pretty smoothly, right? It didn’t. It didn’t all work. Not as smoothly as we’d hoped. The software end of things was flawless, but… our first render was the wrong res. It needed to be 3840×2160 to work on the quad SDI projector. Oops! Our computer in L.A. began to falter while rendering and we started running out of time. It was 3:00 a.m. wednesday morning. I’d been up 23 hours and we didn’t have a new render yet. After grabbing a meager three hours of sleep, we got back to it and struggled futilely for a few hours to complete a render. Exhausted, massively freaking out and still missing our sound mix, we placed a nervous call to Brian to beg some time on one of their Mac Pros. There was a bit of silence on the other end, then finally, “Yeah… yeah. We can… I think we can do that.” Salvation! Mind you, we still had to get 300gb of footage onto an external drive, our eSATA had crapped out and we were reduced to a FW 800 transfer. ARRRRRRRGGHHHHH!!!!

Eventually Ed, our unshakeable producer, and myself made a mad dash over to RED Studios with the files. Brian hooked us up with one of their carts and gave us the concerned-Tim-Gunn look.

Make it work, people!

At this point I have to give huge props to Mike Kanfer from Adobe for streamlining our render settings (and correcting our project size to match the projector)! We were beyond lucky that he happened to be there.

The sound mix was emailed to us at RED. We got everything lined up on the new Mac. People began filtering in for the open house, the render was good to go with an E.T.A. of 49 minutes on the progress bar. With a smile, a sigh of relief and the belief that everything was gonna be just fine I grabbed my credit card and headed over to the RED Store.

It was just incredible screening at RED Studios on their 40 ft. screen in 4k resolution during the open house. To say it was a bit daunting to have our footage follow trailers from The Hobbit, Prometheus, Spiderman and Underworld is a massive understatement. And, of course, Ted made us get up in front of the couple hundred people attending to talk about the project, which was just a little unnerving.

But then we got to see our footage.

Oh my freaking god!

You have no idea how good your work can look until you’ve seen it projected in 4k! It was such a powerful moment. Seeing something that I shot two months ago on a screen that was wider than my house filled me at once with awe for the medium and pride in what we had achieved. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my career. I think I became immediately addicted to shooting for the big screen.

God help me.

So, from Aemilia, Ed and Chris to Brian, Ted and everyone at RED… a huge THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!

That was crazy and terrible and indescribably wonderful. Now I’m going to kick back, enjoy the extra leg room of the exit row and focus intently on a string of bloody marys as the pilot chases the eastern horizon.
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I’m extremely excited to announce that the first short film I’ve DP’d, And I WIll Rise if Only To Hold You Down…will be premiering at the Ann Arbor Film Festival on March 31st.

This is a really lovely script, written and directed by our friend Jennifer Reeder. We’re all planning to head up there that weekend and I can’t wait to see our footage projected on the big screen! If you’re in the area, come celebrate with us in support of the Festival’s 50th running!


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We’re shooting on the 28th floor of 200 South Wacker this weekend. Earlier tonight we were all ready to go on a shot and just waiting for dusk to drop. While we were getting ready, I happened to notice that the sun was doing some exquisite things to the southern skyline. I had brought my Epic along just for fun and decided to grab it, throw on the Canon 24mm TS-E II and grab the view out the window.

Ahhh, that’s good fun!
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A couple months back we spent a few days in our nation’s capital making a little film to show off Smith Group’s new offices.  The space provided ample opportunities to capture some great footage and everyone was wonderful to work with.  We brought so much gear with us that our little crew of 3 ended up driving rather than flying there.  What could be more fun than a road trip with 3 cameras, 20 lenses, tripods, jib, slider and a van full of lighting?

Here is the competed film that we produced.

The client asked us to pull a number of stills from the footage to supplement their materials.  I knew the timelapse stills from the 5d2 would be fine and I was excited to see how files from my new Epic would hold up.  I have to say, I’m really pleased with our new Red as a still camera.

  

  

  

 

Aside from handling the audio for the interview, helping Patsy and I with lighting and taking down like thirty thousand “Exit” signs, Andy Resek also found a few moments to shoot this little behind the scenes video.

I just returned from Portland where Tim Whitcomb was hosting a big lens test featuring many of the “more affordable” lens sets.  I brought my Cooke Panchros.  Also on hand were Red Pro Primes, Illumina S35, UniQoptics, Schneider Cine-Xenars, Zeiss Compact Primes and Duclos’ Cine Mod’d Leica Rs.  We had three testing stations, each with a Red Epic, plus my own Epic with Canon mount for the Leica Rs.  Results will be posted to RedUser.Net once the huge pile of footage is sifted through.  Many talented and skilled individuals donated their time to make sure this was all very thorough and comprehensive.  It was a really impressive showing of the Portland cine community.  Head on over to Matthew Duclos’ Blog for some more insight and BTS photos.

photo: Matthew Duclos

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Ok.  As things wind down for the holidays, I’ve finally got a moment to catch up on the blog a bit.  We have been so busy this year with many projects both still and motion that I can promise a Parade of Imagery over the winter break!  First, let’s have a look at this awesome assignment to photograph some new furniture for Cumberland.  We were fortunate enough to secure a couple buildings at IIT as locations, which provided wonderful backdrops (and a very curious audience).  As usual, Michael Barile was art directing and it was wonderful to be able to work with our old friend again as well as the Cumberland crowd.  Without further ado…

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