Posts in Behind The Scenes
Barstow

An aerial view of the campus and the sunset reflecting on the solar array. Filmed and capture by our Inspire 1 drone.

We just completed a successful film shoot in Barstow, CA for our regular clients Borrego Solar, documenting their recently installed solar array at the Barstow Community College.

Amazing effort by the local communities, and a super fun shoot getting to know the people behind a renewable energy movement at the College.

Levi Pike, our AC, helping setup one of the interviewees.

Interviewing the BCC President, with our FS7 setup.

Video is now entering the post-production phase, and should be ready and uploaded by the end of the month. Stay tuned for many more details.

Sarandon

Nothing inspires us more than surrounding ourselves with extremely smart creative people - people who have a zest for life, for fairness and kindness, that it makes all your daily struggles as an artist become all that much worth it. Yesterday, was one of those magical days. To the endless inspiration, we are thankful. More on this shoot later in the year...

A very special thank you to Michael Garlington, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Raiser, David Reposar, and Lonnie Rivers. And everyone who made yesterday possible.

Susan Sarandon getting ready for the photoshoot by Michael Garlington. David Reposar and Lonnie Rivers did her makeup and hair for the shoot.

Sony Loves Us!

We are very excited to share an article Sony Pro USA recently published on their industry blog about one of our currently on-going documentary projects following Burning Man, the Temple, and much more.

Take a look at the article below, and tell us what you think!

http://blog.sony.com/press/tossing-sonys-pxw-fs7-into-the-crucible-of-creativity/

Burning Man 2015. Photograph by Afonso Salcedo.

Scouting

One of our favorite things is the pre-production stage where we go to all these potential locations to do some photo/film tests, play with angles, with colors, and test some ideas for upcoming shoots.

It's the blank canvas before you start your first brushstroke.

We recently spent a few hours at the St. Regis in San Francisco, to test some ideas out for a potential upcoming fashion film shoot in December.

Keyboardio Kickstarter

UPDATE:

Our kickstarter video is now officially a kickstarter staff pick!


Update:

Our Kickstarter video campaign for Keyboard.io reached its goal of $120,000 in less than two hours!


With our previous Kickstarter success story of raising close to half a million dollars on GUSTIN jeans, we immediately fell in love with Keyboadio and knew we could help them be successful.
— Afonso Salcedo, Sutro Studios

We are very proud to finally share the work we've been doing for the past six months. Back in January 2015, we started working on a Kickstarter video campaign for Keyboard.io, a small startup from Oakland, CA who was building these amazing ergonomic keyboards, open sourced, with a maple wood enclosure.

From our first meeting, we immediately fell in love with the product, the Model 01 keyboard they had already designed and built. And we knew we had to help them out with their Kickstarter video.

Having worked another hugely successful Kickstarter campaign when we started our business two years ago (GUSTIN Jeans), we knew the kind of story we wanted to create. We wanted to show the passion of Jesse and Kaia, husband and wife, and how they created one of the most comfortable keyboards we have ever used. We started filming almost immediately back in January, and capturing as much footage as we could to use on telling their inspiring story.

The process was extremely intensive. Between some production delays on their end, and working some filming logistics on ours, and of course the back-and-forth of editing a cut together, it eventually finally launched this morning on Kickstarter.

 
 

Sutro Studios did all the filming, editing, color grading, and overall creative direction for the video. At one point, we hired our good friends and outstanding collaborators Jayson Carpenter and Max Savage at Noisy Savage here in San Francisco (http://www.noisysavage.com) to film one of the interviews for us, and our good friends and long-time collaborators Scott Mason from Oct28 Productions (http://oct28productions.com) in NYC to capture a couple of interviews on the East Coast. We also hired Sebastian Wendell to cover a user group meeting for Keyboardio, and he captured great footage throughout.

We couldn't be happier to have had access to such a talented team of people to help us out with this project.

Sutro Studios did all the filming, editing, color grading, and overall creative direction for the Kickstarter video.
— Afonso Salcedo, Sutro Studios

We always love collaborating and working with other teams of insanely talented artists, and knowing that we could count on Noisy Savage and Oct28 Productions to help us get all the footage we needed, only made everything better.

With a tight deadline fast-approaching, we constantly used frame.io as the main client review system for notes and comments on the video. With its easy- to-use interface, and great feedback system, it was easy to get timecode comments on each version of the video. Our productivity went through the roof with frame.io, and allowed us to create fast iterations.

Towards the end we used Slack as the main chat board for quick comments and discussions, between Sutro Studios and the Keyboardio team. We could immediately comment on everything, discuss ideas for the final cut of the video, and pin items that were urgent to fix. Slack is a super valuable tool to our business, and one that we will use much more in the future.

All editing was done on Mac Pros using Final Cut, and color grading using DaVinci Resolve. These have quickly become our go-to solutions for quick turnarounds and successful storytelling of cinematic content, and we couldn't be happier with our office suite.

So... this creative marathon is done. And another huge success story for Sutro Studios. We couldn't be prouder of  Keyboardio, and they have been one of our favorite clients to work with.

We'll be updating this story throughout the campaign, over the next 30 days.

Houghton College

Houghton College and borrego solar have completed a 2.5 megawatt on-site solar energy installation – the largest on a college campus in New York State.

sutro studios was there filming and capturing the story.

 

Day 1

 

The system will generate an estimated 3.15 million kilowatt hours of electricity in its first year of operation—the equivalent amount of energy needed to power 370 homes annually—and will allow the college to realize a 23 percent first-year greenhouse gas reduction and save up to $4.3 million during the 25-year power purchase agreement contract period.
— WXXI News

Atomos Shogun recorder in action at Houghton College, NY.

A screen grab from the shot shown above. We usually quickly apply a simple grade on top of the footage, to just start getting an idea of the feel and mood for the whole video.

Houghton is committed to being carbon neutral by 2050. This new solar array will get us 23 percent of the way there,” he said. “We expect to save $119,000 on electricity during the first year of operation, and $4.3 million during the 25-year power purchase agreement contract period.
— Brian Webb, Houghton College Sustainability Coordinator

The campus of Houghton College is perfect to film.

The FS700 and Atomos Shogun provide a ton of flexibility in capturing great footage if you know the camera well, and understand the power of color grading in post-production. Here we have a very quick and simple grade to test a certain look for the footage. 

The solar project reflects both Houghton College’s commitment to renewable energy and our commitment to form creative partnerships for the greater good of our region,
— Shirley Mullen, Houghton College President

Our creative team filming behind the scenes one of the student interviews. Levi Pike of Redbone Media to the left shooting on his 5Dm3 and SmallHD monitor, and Tommy Sunderland (right) of Borrego Solar conducting the interviews.

The students at Houghton College are extremely well spoken, and these were some of the easiest interviews we have ever filmed. We took advantage of a natural shade structure to be able to capture soft lighting outdoors, during a pretty bright sunny afternoon. Simple color grade applied to start testing skin tones, and overall look of the image and interviews.

The project was created and built by Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a designer, developer and installer of grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems, and financed by WGL Energy, through a power purchase agreement that covered the costs.
— Olean Times Herald

Atomos Shogun quickly became our favorite tool in production. That microphone is pretty incredible too, especially for outdoor environments.

Another screen grab of the students we filmed at Houghton. We love playing with composition for the interviews. Outdoors always provides great flexibility and opportunities for cinematic backgrounds, and for guiding the eye in a subtle way.

With this solar installation, Houghton College has taken a leadership role in sustainability in the education space. You’re going to see a lot more 2.5 to 2.6 megawatt solar arrays being constructed all around the state in the upcoming years,
— Amy McDonough, Sr. Project Developer, Borrego Solar
 

Day 2

With this project, Houghton College has shown itself to be a leader in clean energy investment in New York State.
— John B. Rhodes, NYSERDA President

Indoors filming an interview with Brian Webb from Houghton College. Litepanels LED are great for this kind of setup and give a nice soft light with great control of color temperature and hardness.

Shooting indoor interviews in office settings is always a challenge. You have to think about composition to make it interesting, and lighting that typically is very artificial and lifeless. Since we're going for a more cinematic tone, you can see here how we planned this composition for the interview. With Brian on the right of the frame, lit by a couple of soft LitePanel LEDs, the key from screen right, we can still take advantage of the outdoor campus to capture some contextual and interesting activity.

This is one way that we can do that with reliable and renewable energy that will remove a significant portion of our fossil fuel usage and create energy with a contract that we have now for 25 years with Borrego Solar to essentially lock us into a solid rate that’ll be economic and hopefully save about $2.5 estimated million dollars for the university over the 20-year period.
— Marshall Green, Public Relations Specialist, Houghton College

Levi Pike from Redbone Media was our assistant throughout the shoot. He's helping with sound testing for an indoor shoot with the President of Houghton College. We only had a couple of minutes available to us to film an interview after the luncheon meeting with the people associated with the solar array project, so we had to plan this carefully. With a very clinical and relatively uninteresting room, we found an American flag in the corner, and quickly realized this could be the perfect setting for an interview background. We used gaffers tape to secure the interview spot to save time in the end, and to extend the flag on the background wall.

And here's the result, with a quick small color grade applied. With two LitePanel LEDs and diffusers, we get a pretty even and attractive lighting effect for this interview. The key coming from screen left, and a soft fill is pointing towards the wall on screen right to fill in the shadows a bit, and create a bit of a vignette around her. For such a simple and challenging shot, we can still get a cinematic look if you take care in observing what's around you before filming.

The solar project reflects both Houghton College’s commitment to renewable energy and our commitment to form creative partnerships for the greater good of our region.
— Shirley Mullen, President, Houghton College

Closeup of one of the thousands of solar panels part of this new solar array at Houghton College, by Borrego Solar.

A screen grab of a shot we did of one of the rows of the array at Houghton College. Thanks to Borrego Solar, this solar array will be one of the largest solar arrays in an American college campus. Here, we set the FS700 filming a bit of a long shot on a tripod, so that we can speed it up in editing/post and capture the reflection of the clouds moving across the array. It's one simple way of adding interest to what typically can be a pretty cold mechanical shot, and it works really well for this perspective. We are also playing with lines to add a more dynamic and richer depth to this shot.


About Houghton College 
Houghton College is a liberal arts institution that challenges students to academic excellence in the context of a relevant Christian community and empowers them to enrich the world. The college of 1,000 students is located in Western New York just 65 miles from Buffalo and Rochester. For more information, please visit http://www.houghton.edu.

About Borrego Solar 
Established in 1980, Borrego Solar Systems, Inc. is one of the nation's leading financiers, designers, developers and installers of commercial and utility solar power systems. Borrego Solar's photovoltaic systems are efficient, reliable and cost-effective. With more than three decades of experience and more than 1,000 solar power installations completed—totaling over 150 MW—Borrego Solar offers a complete line of solar system design and installation services throughout North America. Borrego Solar was recently ranked as the #2 commercial EPC in the United States and the #2 commercial contractor in California by Solar Power World. For more information, visit http://www.borregosolar.com.

Nuke and Resolve

We've been working non-stop over the past couple of weeks in some new videos that we cannot wait to share more details on. Depending heavily on Nuke for compositing, and Resolve for color grading, these have been incredibly challenging to complete, but it's some of the most fun we've had.

The power and flexibility of compositing in Nuke using its 3D environment, mixed with the color grading power of DaVinci Resolve is nothing short of outstanding. And this being officially the first big project we complete in our new office space in Oakland, makes it all even more exciting.

Since we can't yet share details of what this is is, here's a little tease that shows a before and after of a single frame. We were given the green screen plate you see on top, and we created what you see in the bottom frame.

Need some green screen keying? Compositing? Grading? Need to learn any of these things? Let us know. We're soon starting small private lessons and workshops in our office space to teach some of these things. Send us a message in our contact page for more information.

Interview Shoot

We ended another crazy busy week in the best way possible: our interview shoot with the super talented people behind Keyboardio.

If you haven't been following our recent posts, we have been working on creating a video for Keyboardio's upcoming Kickstarter campaign. This is a highly anticipated crowdfunding event, so we couldn't be more excited to have partnered up with them in creating this video. Friday was the official interview shoot for the video.

With our arsenal of tools ranging from the FS700, the BlackMagic Pocket, a couple of monitors, some Kinos, and more, we filmed for two or three hours and we couldn't be happier about the results. This duo have an amazing story to share, and the keyboard they created and designed is insanely great. We've tried it several times already, and honestly, we cannot wait to have one ourselves!

Stay tuned for more details soon about the video and the campaign. Until then, check out the photo from Friday's shoot!

We <3 Keyboardio

We've recently been working alongside Keyboardio to create a video for their upcoming crowdfunding campaign. We won't go into too many details for now, but we couldn't be more excited about this product.

The work this incredible team (husband and wife) has done over the past couple of years to design, create, and bring this product to reality is staggering to say the least, and the product feels, and looks nothing short of amazing.

We can't wait to have the video ready for all you guys to see, but we're still a couple of shoots away. And of course, we couldn't be more excited to finally get our hands on one of these keyboards ourselves and use them in our everyday lives at home, and at work.

As a quick teaser, check the two video grabs below for today's shoot.

Szabo Shoot

Back in November we started filming a short documentary video for online distribution about local artist and sculptor Michael Szabo. It's still an on-going project, and one that we're very excited about.

It's been incredibly inspiring to see Michael and his team work tirelessly in their warehouse in San Francisco, and capturing some great cinematic shots while they build stunning new art.

This project will keep on going over the next two or three months, so we can't share much until then, but for now, check out the two following screen captures from our most recent shoot.

Stay tuned for more...

Location Scouting

We started doing some location scouting in San Francisco today, for a potential film Afonso Salcedo might DP this summer.

Always fun doing some tests with a camera, and seeing where we could take the image and the color profile of the images for the film. And of course, figure out the logistics and planning for actually using certain locations for the shoots.

Many more to come... This is only the beginning.