Breaking Bread

To break breaGina Breaking Breadd is to come together informally for social interaction, usually over a meal or drinks. Breaking Bread is a web series I developed with Gina Ruccione. The concept is that a group of strangers come together over a meal prepared by a great chef in a comfortable surrounding, and potentially leave as friends.

Our first episode, which featured an Italian Modern meal prepared by Dustin Trani of Doma Restaurant in Beverly Hills had it’s premiere at the San Pedro International Film Festival. The meal was seafood driven and finished up with a wonderful duck breast, and was served at the Studio of Eugene Daub and Anne Olsen in San Pedro, CA (as were the still photos of Gina). The epsiode can be streamed below.

Breaking Bread episode 1: Italian Modern from Jeff Gatesman on Vimeo.

The web series Breaking Bread was developed by Gina Ruccione and Jeff Gatesman
Hosted by Gina Ruccione
Cinematography and Editing by Jeff Gatesman
Hair and Makeup by Janice Bremec Blum

Beth W

Sunset-RideIt’s a Honda CB550 Four, with an air cooled, transverse four cylinder, single overhead cam engine producing 50 horse power at 8000 RPM. Top speed, with a petite rider, around 103 mph. The rider, Beth W, is an environmentally friendly construction manager and yoga enthusiast. She rides a vintage Honda.

Speed Dating For Documentaries

This is one in a series of Micro Doc’s I have been making as a personal project. A Micro Doc is my idea of speed dating for documentaries. You get a really fast look at someone fascinating. It’s media snacking for the short attention generation (a group I believe defines us all to a certain extent). My only desire is that my tiny contribution to this medium be hopeful, positive and uplifting… or at least entertaining.

Why I chose Digital Bolex D16 to shoot “Passport”

As a Director of Photography just starting a new project, most times I read the script and have creative meetings with the Director about the look of the film and how to best capture that look. I try to do as much camera/lens testing as possible, have more meetings, and finally come up with a camera package that fits the look of the film as well as the budget. In the case of Passport, as I was reading the script, the only camera that was going through my mind was the Digital Bolex D16.
Continue reading “Why I chose Digital Bolex D16 to shoot “Passport””

Burj Al Arab

I get the feeling that Dubai is the epitome of desert Oasis. In what would seem a terribly hard and unforgiving land, they have built gleaming edifices, Palaces to opulence, magnificent resorts and spa’s to cater to any and all luxurious pleasure. Today our little production company was at the only 7-star hotel in the world, the incomparable Burj Al Arab which has a staff of 8 for every patron staying in the hotel and a butler for each floor. The resort is so exclusive there is no check-in desk, all of the arrangements take place in the privacy of your own suite (oh, I forgot to mention, there are no “rooms”, only suites). Here are a few of the images I made today.

I am in the UAE with 21st Century 3D and AeroCine to make the film Daydreams of Dubai for Producers Lulu Mahaini and Humaid Mohamed Humaid of Filmation Film Production in Dubai.

Mabel Screening at Santa Barbara Int’l Film Fest

Last week I was at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for the Premiere screening of a short documentary film I shot for Director/Producer Pia Clemente called Mabel. The film chronicles the life of Mabel Sawhill who, at 99 years old, and with a little help from her niece, who is deaf, still runs her own catering business, doing the shopping, cooking and serving for as many as 100 people several times a week.

Not unlike Mabel herself, the film is charming and delightful, and had audiences at SBIFF laughing and inspired. The film was edited by Geoffrey O’Brien, and features a wonderfully playful soundtrack by Aiko Fukushima.

Mabel is likely to be playing more festivals in the near future, so keep in touch and I’ll let you know where you find her.

There were a lot of other films at the festival worth talking about, but I just wanted to mention two features that are standouts, and oddly both have musical themes to them: Ragnar Bragason’s film Metalhead is a striking film from Iceland, a darkly comic drama about a grief stricken young woman who turns to Heavy Metal music after she witnesses her older brother die in a farm accident. And a beuatiful film by Felix Van Groeningen called The Broken Circle Breakdown which uses Bluegrass music to help tell the story of an unlikely couple who fall instantly and deeply in love.

Shooting “No Ordinary Hero” on the Canon 5D MkIII and Atomos Ninja 2

by Jeff Gatesman
I have shot a feature film called No Ordinary Hero with the new Canon 5D Mk III using the clean video output to an Atomos Ninja 2 and recording to ProRes 422 Hq. This was a conscious choice for several reasons, the main one being that we have a dozen or so FX shots, mostly green screen composites and we needed the fattest “negative” our low-budget film could afford.

I will get to the meat of the subject with camera setup and recorder settings in a moment but first let me start by addressing the fat “negative” statement (and unless you are going straight from your camera output to a finished product you need to be thinking of the files as a camera negative, or at least a starting point for your final look) because when Canon came out with the firmware update on April 30 that allowed for clean video out via HDMI on the 5D Mk III, I read a few posts where people visually compared the h.264 video from the camera to the 422 video recorded by the Ninja. The conclusion that there was no discernible difference visually between the files is as expected–the codecs were doing their job, compressing and decompressing the file so that in the end they look like HD video. This is not the point of recording 422 Hq over h.264. The reason for recording the raw video to 422 Hq is to get as much information as possible for the post workflow in order to be able to cut keys easily, and color time the final film without the degradation that begins with a lossy codec like h.264.

If you compare the two codecs you can easily see the difference: h.264 is an 8-bit codec using 4:2:0 chroma subsampling, and the Ninja 2 records Pro Res 422 Hq at 10 bits using 4:2:2 chroma subsampling. A simplified comparison is that the identical files as recorded from the 5D Mk III on cf card vs the Ninja 2 weigh in at 129 MB vs 863 MB respectively. That is almost 7 times as much information in the Pro Res files. In order to make the files so miniscule, the h.264 codec has to throw away valuable information during the compression process and rely on interpolation to recreate it during decompression. You can see the effects of a lossy codec by viewing the frame grabs below, taken from the actual footage from No Ordinary Hero and cropped at 100%.

h.264 frame grab from cf card
Frame from the h.264 file recorded onto cf card Canon 5D Mk III


Pro Res 422Hq frame grab from Ninja 2
Frame from the Pro Res 422Hq file recorded onto SSD drive Atomos Ninja 2

Notice how much sharper and higher contrast the image from Pro Res looks. Continue reading “Shooting “No Ordinary Hero” on the Canon 5D MkIII and Atomos Ninja 2″

Gatesman DP For New Comedy Short

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Jewtholic Teaser from Jeff Gatesman on Vimeo.

Marie sees Saints. Not Jesus in a slice of toast or a cloud formation of the Three Wise men; no,in Marie’s case Moses brings his stone tablet to her dinner party, St. John blows leaves in her back yard, she even has a full conversation with the Virgin Mary and her newly born, yet fully grown, baby Jesus. This may all seem odd for some people, but Marie has been on a path of devoted Christian Faith since childhood, until one catastrophic moment, one devastating turn in her life, reveals her to not be the person she had thought herself to be.

Mazel Tov!  Continue reading “Gatesman DP For New Comedy Short”

The Most Talented People In The World

I am honored to have been interviewed recently for the blog, The Most Talented People In The World. The blog, which is run by Jennifer Stoots, dares to ask, in a fast-paced, digitally dependent world, is there still a need for classic, analog ideas and education?

Few professions are dependent on a single concept or tool; while it is important to be able to work with and incorporate new technology, success in many areas still relies on a working knowledge of historical precedents, creativity and, above all, hands-on experience.

In her blog, Stoots seeks out and interviews various professionals in the arts and sciences who all have one similar and undeniable trait. They all exist and work in the digital world, but began their careers and have experience doing their same job under a completely different set of circumstances–before the job was dependent on microprocessors, digital chips and sensors. Before social networks, when you had to rely on experience and abilities over apps and computer programs. I am proud to be a small part of this project because I believe in Stoots’ mission, that you need to be educated in what you are doing, not just how to use a program that accomplishes a task. Because ultimately any knowledge base is built on generations of people before us, but an app is only as good as the programmer behind it.

Drum Head composite
Drum Head

For me, todays real-world example in photography of this phenomenon is truly apparent in the multitudes of plugins and actions that are readily available for Photoshop. Some of them are true additions to a program that has been around for a very long time, but as I’ve been working with the program since version 3 (that would be 1994!), I notice that most of the bundles available today, do things that are easily accomplished within Photoshop itself. All the hard-earned money you pay for those shortcuts doesn’t get you anything more than you already have and in some cases, limits the control you need to make the end product truly your own.

Day For Night shooting

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Day For Night shooting from Jeff Gatesman on Vimeo.

Day for night is a classic way of shooting a night scene without expensive and huge lighting setups. Instead you shoot during the day and use various techniques to create night in post. I made this image as a test for a short film I am planning to shoot soon. It is best viewed in full frame mode.

Still from original footage

Here is a still of what the original footage looked like before processing. The cool thing about using post techniques to create night is the virtually limitless palette you have to play with: you can create any kind of night look you want, from zombie apocalypse to warm and romantic.