Friday, May 16, 2014

Road Trip, West to East - Cincinnati and Filming at F+W Media

Camera 3

Standing up in front of students and teaching them the fine points of painting is difficult enough.  So imagine what it'd be like if you had to lecture intelligently without students to ask you questions to help you along.  Add a bank of hot studio lights and then turn off the A/C because it makes noise, and, finally, paint at an odd angle for six hours to avoid blocking a camera.  Now, add two helpful videographers and a director who are able to prompt you exactly when you need it, are happy to put up with your every stumble, tend to your needs for coffee, water and good food, and who believe in frequent breaks.  This is what it's like to shoot an instructional video at F+W Media.

At their Blue Ash, Ohio, offices, we shot three videos in as many days.  As nervous as I was about the prospect, I found the process incredibly enjoyable, and I think everyone had a great time.  On Sunday, I rode around with director Jennifer Lepore (also Online Content Manager for for half a day and scouted out painting sites for the plein air video.  We picked out two we really liked plus two more backup spots.  Things we looked at included not just the obvious such as sun angle and shadows, but also the risks of traffic and noise.  The rest of the day was free, so Trina and I went exploring and found nearby Sharon Woods, which is a city park with some nice woodland trails in it.

My palette, on-camera

Monday, we met for several hours at the studio to prepare for the shoot, which actually wouldn't happen until Tuesday.  We went over outlines and scripts, making sure to take them step-by-step to figure out exactly what I was going to do when.  (We focused on the plein air video, which we decided to shoot first because of a rather grim weather forecast later in the week.)  I also met Ric Deliantoni, Managing Photographer and also the head videographer, who helped make me comfortable with the concept of being on-camera.  Then we "dressed" the set by putting up some of the paintings I've done on this trip and added a fake ficus for more decoration.  Finally, we placed my easel, taboret and stool so they worked well with the cameras (three were used) but also so they were comfortable for me.

Tuesday, we met at the studio at 7 a.m., drove to the location, and were shooting by 9.  Despite a few stops for walkers, traffic and a lady who parked nearby to have an extended and loud, one-sided conversation on her Bluetooth headset, it went well.  We were done by lunchtime.  The topic for the day was "Making Your Best Guess," something I teach regularly in my workshops.  For this one, I worked in pastel on an 11x14 surface.  After lunch, we returned to the studio to prepare for the next day's shoot by going over more outlines and scripts.  Although I was happy with my pastel, I worked a bit more on it afterward in the studio, off-camera, to bring it up a notch.

Making sure everything looks good before shooting.
(Photo by Jennifer Lepore)

Wednesday arrived pouring rain.  We met in the studio at 8 to shoot the "Color Temperature in the Landscape" video.  This is some new material I've been developing, and I prepared some illustrations in advance.  The topic is a little more technical than the "Best Guess" one, so I spent more time going over concepts before getting to the demonstration.  In fact, I didn't get to the painting part until after lunch!  Again, I was pleased with the results, which was a 12x16 oil.  For the rest of the day, we prepped for our third and final video.  Prepping, by the way, involves not only going over outlines but also figuring out where reference photos need to be positioned and what tools and materials need to be laid out.

(Photo by Jennifer Lepore)

Thursday, it was still raining.  (It was a good thing we did that plein air video on Tuesday!)  Again, we met at 8, this time to shoot "Painting Wet-into-Wet."  I had a little time to touch-up the demo from the day before, but soon we were into the new material.  This topic was less technical than "Color Temperature," so things went a little faster.  We were done with the demonstration (another 12x16 oil) about the middle of the afternoon.  Next, we taped a short Q&A session that will be added to some of the videos and then, as they say, "That's a wrap!"

Was I tired?  You bet!  But I felt fulfilled.  Shooting video in a professional environment was a new thing for me, and I learned a lot about cameras and the process.  In fact, the videographers say I am now an expert with intros and outros.

All that footage is now heading to post-production.  Each video will be edited down to an hour or perhaps ninety minutes, depending on topic and complexity.  I'm looking forward to seeing the final cut, which should be sent to me sometime this fall.  All three videos will be ready just in time for the holiday season.  (Yes, I'll be sending out reminders.)

But the week wasn't all work.  I had dinner and some lunches with several of the great folks at F+W.  It was good to visit again with Pastel Journal editor Anne Hevener and Group Publisher Jamie Markle, and to finally meet Cherie Haas, the online editor for  It was especially nice, after all these years of working for her, to meet my editor at The Artists Magazine, Maureen Bloomfield.  I think she's been editing me for ten years now, and I can't believe we haven't met till now.  And I want to express my thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to visit and say hello, and to the video group in particular for their efforts on the soundstage.  It was really a wonderful visit.

So that's it for business on this trip.  Now it's off to York on the coast of Maine to visit with a friend, then a night in Bar Harbor, and finally - Campobello Island!  I'll write again once I'm safe in my summer studio.

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