Posts tagged video
High Fashion at St. Regis

Jenn Knight. Bay Area tech superstar.

We just completed a two day intensive video shoot at the St. Regis in San Francisco, for House of Borel. With an amazing creative team to complete the look needed for these shots, and three amazing women who are superstars in their respective fields, these two past days have been some of the most inspiring hours we have spent on set.

We have tons of post-production ahead of us in the next couple of weeks, and we couldn't be more excited to dive head first into this project.

Melissa San Vicente. UX Designer and Fashion/Lifestyle Blogger.


House of Borel: Charlotte Welch, Natalie Crane, Adam Simonoff, Claire Borel.
Hair and Makeup: David Reposar, Lonnie Rivers


Camera: FS7, A7Rii
Lenses: Sony/Zeiss FE 90mm/2.8, Sony/Zeiss FE 35mm/1.4, Sony/Zeiss FE PZ 28-135mm/4.0
Other: DJI Ronin-M, Linepanels ASTRA

Isis Hockenos. Painter.

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

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

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!

On Faces

With our media pass this year at Burning Man, we wanted to photograph and film as much as possible. As it turns out, filming didn't happen at all, since we were so inspired by just the thought of carrying around the Sony A7R to take high-res photos of cinematic memories on the Playa.

We are currently still working on hundreds of photos we took at the event (pre-event as well), but one of the things we did was take a series of portraits of our campmates at Burning Man. Our theme camp this year was called FAFA (Fucking Awesome French Americans), and it quickly became a family of friends.

True genuine souls, there for each other, representing everything that Burning Man signifies. After nine years of attending this week-long life experience, I couldn't be happier to have been welcomed so warmly to this tribe, and as a result these portraits are just a small testament of their incredible generosity and humanity.

I would randomly ask people throughout the week to think, visualize, and relive their favorite moment so far at Burning Man. And as they took a deep breath, they would open their eyes and look straight at the camera. I would only take one single photograph. That would be it.

I feel these portraits were so successful in capturing that emotion, and it's already giving me many ideas of what to do next year to take it a step further and venture into video portraits instead.


Zazzle Review

We just got some great client feedback from Jeremy Britton at Zazzle, Director of Creative Design.

We loved working with Zazzle several months ago on a video project with their clients Rickshaw Bagworks in San Francisco. The video was tremendously successful, and is available to be seen on our Portfolio page.

In the meantime, here's what Zazzle had to say about our work.

Before we even began, Afonso challenged my assumptions for our video project, then carefully worked with me to reshape my expectations for it. That thinking provided the bedrock for a concise, emotionally compelling, and honest video with Rickshaw Bagworks that became the exemplar for all other productions that came after it.
— Jeremy Britton - Director of Design Strategy at Zazzle

Making three videos for the same clients at Zazzle and Rickshaw: one around 4 mins long, one around 1 min long and another around 30 seconds long. It's fascinating the different challenges the time constraints provide to still create something engaging, compelling and grabbing while still telling a solid story from beginning to end.

It's all in the little details and we love it. Here's a screen grab from one of them. We'll be writing an extensive blog post with behind-the-scens and everything explained of what we've done once the videos are released. It's been amazing working with these clients!



Success on Kickstarter

So it's been an adventurous whirlwind of 24 hours. Our clients, GUSTIN, had the most successful first day in Kickstarter's history for any fashion brand and of course, our work has been all over the Internet in all kinds of different blogs and news. If you haven't seen our video yet, check out below, or go to our promos/commercials page to see it. Keep reading for some behind-the-scenes on the making of this video. In less than 24 hours, GUSTIN surpassed their original goal of $20,000 and they are now just over $33,000, less than two full days up. How incredible is that? You can go to their Kickstarter page, or you can go to see the video here.

We are proud to have worked with such awesome clients like GUSTIN and couldn't be happier to see them succeed. If you want to hear more about how we can help YOU and your company, product or idea, send us a message.

So it all started when we sat down together early in the process for a first meeting. As soon as I saw the product that the GUSTIN guys brought along with them and I heard their history, what they wanted to achieve, their experience and everything, I knew that I wanted to help them out any way I can. And I knew that we could create something pretty great. They had ideas of a cinematic piece, which is always hard to do on a low budget, but fortunately it's what I like doing. From my experience in the film industry for over ten years, this would be a challenge that I would gladly accept.

So the process started. Lots of emails back and forth to maintain always a good brainstorm of ideas and know that we were all on the same page. Creating a Kickstarter campaign is not to be taken lightly, since a lot of the success of it comes from engaging the viewers, and potential clients and investors, in bidding on the actual product. And a product of high quality demands a campaign of high quality too.

Starting with the photos. I rented out a studio I tend to use for some photography shoots, which would provide plenty of space and conditions for a productive shoot. They brought a model who was patient enough to try different jeans and be photographed a gazillion times. We decided to go for something really simple, after all, we wanted to show the product. So all the photos were using a white seamless backdrop. After the photos were edited on Lightroom and Photoshop, we quickly had setup a private client space on this website so that GUSTIN could access, look at the photos and choose the ones they wanted at full-res immediately.

We then used DropBox for transferring all files as necessary.



While working on the photos, I kept studying ideas and doing tests with the camera to make sure of what could work or not when the actual film shoot took place. I decided that using a slider adds a lot of cinematic quality to any shoot, since it gives many more possibilities to create an added level of cinematography. And it would work with the kind of thing I had in mind for some of the shots. We used the KesslerCrane Cineslider for the shots and the Sony FS700 camera for the whole shoot.



The shoot itself was done over a period of five hours, on-location. The audio was a combination of wireless lav mics and a Zoom H4n to get some of the environment sound. And also, record the actual monologue that GUSTIN had decided to go with for the Kickstarter campaign. It was a very efficient shoot, a lot of fun, and despite the rain, it actually added a great level of grit to the feel of the video, which is exactly what we wanted.



Now that the video was shot, lots of editing and post-production to do. We did everything in Final Cut Pro, with grading through DaVinci Resolve. I actually added some film grain in post, to add even more to that old-school feel of the film, the denim and the music we chose through, this great blues track that I just felt it was perfect for the film.

And since I wanted to take the cinematic level of this the best way we could, a great example of this is the opening shot, where you see the letters "San Francisco, CA", coming in on lower right.



To make them appear belonging more to the environment, I actually added them as a reflection in the street right below. Since it was raining and the ground was wet, this was perfectly justifiable, and even though it's very subtle it's one of those things that just makes it work even better.

But since I was doing that, it also means that the letters would be placed in space at precisely that spot. And since a car comes in from screen right towards the end of the shot, I had to make the letters go behind the car for a while. The car was rotoscoped using Apple Motion so that everything could be composited properly in the end.

The result is pretty subtle but it works really nicely with the piece visually. It adds a lot to the whole film and it's the kind of level of quality and professionalism that Sutro Studios will always provide.

We couldn't be more grateful on having worked with GUSTIN and looking forward to hopefully many more future collaborations.

You can see the whole video again below.