Monday, August 19, 2013

My directorial debut - A commercial for Orlando Baseball

"Baseball has been very, very good to me."

-Too many people to list

DP David Tinsley and I review some of the 1500 FPS video footage

While on assignment, many people ask if I majored in photography while I was at the University of Miami. I was an Architecture major, but if I could have done it, I would’ve studied film instead. For as long as I remember, I have always enjoyed going to the movie theater. I actually made a movie years before I even took a single photo in college. That movie was called “Four point Oh”, based on that old rumor that if your college roommate were to die during the semester, you’d be given a 4.0 GPA. Shot with a super 8 film camera, my 5 minute movie had the protagonist try all sorts of ways to accidentally kill his roommate. Ironically, one of the major set pieces was a baseball scene, featuring a bunch of my real life teammates. Pitcher Jim West, would bean my protagonist “roommate” with a baseball to the groin. Amazingly, I did get an A for this assignment. 

This spring, after participating in the UM Alumni baseball game, I decided to play again for the 38+ and older MSBL Orlando Baseball league. Halfway through the season, I realized that the baseball league has never advertised and has no presence in Central Florida. As a advertising professional, I knew that I could help. After speaking with the league commissioner, I came up with a plan to shoot a 30 second spot that would be used to brand the league and give it some needed exposure. 

Having played the game, it always annoyed me to see bad baseball action on screen. You can tell if that actor doesn't have an ounce of athletic ability. My vision was to show the confrontation between a pitcher and batter and shoot it in an interesting but realistic way. I enlisted the help of my friends David Tinsley, a very talented cinematographer, and gaffer Michael Smallwood. We developed a storyboard and produced the video ourselves. We shot with an Arri Alexa and an Olympus iSpeed video camera for the 1500 frames per second video.

Pitcher Warren Hanson fires a fastball. Yes, that is me catching. 

George Kerst hitting a HR (filmed at 1500 FPS). Although this was our favorite shot, we wound up cutting this because the story was told better with the other pieces. 

I asked my teammates from the Orlando Nationals to help me and they all agreed to give me a day for this project. I am indebted to my friends Mark Hammond, Rob Hererra, Billy Kiernan, Warren Hanson, George Kerst and Orlando Baseball League Commissioner Brian Blevins. As a token of my appreciation, we shot high speed video of everyone's swing. 

I think the important thing for us still shooters to understand is that when it comes to motion, you need to assemble a great team. You may be a great photographer who can light the heck out of a portrait, but I guarantee that the gaffer with 30 years experience will out light you EVERY TIME. A still shooter can set up a beautiful image but doesn’t know how to move the camera. Hire the best and learn all you can.
The commercial is going to run on local cable TV, Youtube and Vimeo. I am real proud of this spot and I hope it drives couch potatoes back onto the baseball field. We need more players!

Orlando from Preston Mack on Vimeo.

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