Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top Gear Style

Top Gear Style by Savage Land Pictures
Top Gear Style, a photo by Savage Land Pictures on Flickr.

Jeremy Clarkson had nothing on me today! Yep, after a hyper-car Photo shoot today I was treated to a set of keys to the drivers seat of the Maserati MC12. Talk about a day you will never forget.

As for the experience of sitting inside Maserati's masterpiece...I'm still trying to take it all in. The door opened with a beautiful percussive click . Stepping inside is like climbing into a fighter jet, both flexibility and balance play a important roll. Once inside the seat is so contoured that you instantly slide back into race position; the MC12 fits like a glove.

Staring at the massive gauges and holding on to that race spec GT wheel is a feeling of power I just can't yet put into words.

More on the photo shoot later, I have to wait for the medium format film to come back from the lab.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MEC Design SLS Roadster

The very first German MEC Design SLS Roadster, Part of a recent commission I did.
Shot in Medium Format - Kodak Porta 160

I have to say I am really enjoying the new Mamiya, the internet does this image little justice, the detail in the carbon fiber rear diffuser at high-rez is unbelievable.  More from this series in the future.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Behind the scenes - a day at work

I'm currently working on another automotive project with a tuned Benz SLS. On my way back to the lot from reloading film in the Mamiya, I decided to snap a pic from the cell of the DSLR setup and the 1,600 watt lighting array. The lighting was set up wide due to the 8mm lens.

More on this in the future :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Exploring Medium Format Photography

I’ll admit it’s been a very long time since I have worked with film camera’s and back then I never really had the best 35mm equipment. So like many people of this era, when digital cameras came I made the switch and didn't look back… well that was until recently. A few post ago I stated that I had picked up a Mamiya RB67 Pro S Medium Format Camera, well today I got my first roll of film back and suddenly everything those “film purists” have said about “film vs digital” on photography forums made sense… Film, especially IMAX sized medium format film has a stunning dynamic range and color consistency that I just haven’t seen in DSLR.

(The image above is a comparison of 220 Medium Format Film to 35mm.)

Here are some shots below (click to see them bigger) that have no post color processing, this is the fundamental image:

Ferrari 458 - Medium Format

Red Ferrari 458 - Medium Format

I notice the reds on these Ferrari’s are so pure, there is no half shade of magenta on the car curves or pink hues under bright light, just pure red. Look at this comparison between my trusted 7D and RB67 blown up to 80%:

Close look RB vs 7D

Both of the shots above are completely untouched by post process, the detail and color on the RB is awesome.

Ferrari F430 - Medium Format

There are details in the shadows, subtle shades of grey and black that to the critical eye offer up so much more depth. Then there is the whole depth of field look that seems so unique, almost tilt shift like.

I’m stunned, I feel as if I have been both humbled and enlightened by a single roll of 220 Film.

This isn’t to say I won’t shoot digital anymore because there are certainly things that are not easy to do with film (or cost prohibitive) but I will say this a powerful tool for those really special shoots that demand a fine art feel about them. I will also say if it weren't for digital I would have no idea how the hell to really set up a medium format camera. Digital has helped me understand the effects of f-stops, shutter speeds and ISO because it's free to experiment and I could instantly see what worked well and what did not.  After years of trial and error I have a solid understanding of the fundamentals.

Think about the first time you switched off the "Automatic everything" mode and tried the manual or assisted manual is honestly nothing more than a step beyond that.

Maserati GranTurismo - Medium Format

The Mamiya is fully manual, there are no electronics on it, no automatic anything. Light metering is required, f-stops, shutter speeds and focus are all done by dials. Then there is the lever to advance the massive film, removal of the dark plate and the lever to raise the mirror. After all that it’s down to the core of photography, composition, focal point, light and the perfect moment to hit the shutter. With a hefty “woomph, click” sound the shot is made and your wallet is a few dollars lighter. A video of how it works can be seen here

Out with the new in with the old

That is perhaps the thrill of it, the fact that unlike digital you can’t just shoot like heck and pray that in hundreds of shots there is a good one…in this format you have to make each frame of 20 count. Medium format is a serious challenge but also a serious opportunity to slow down and really learn the art of photography.

For those of you considering or curious about getting into film just know that the popularity of digital cameras is strongly working in your favor. Most of this type of equipment notably vinatge is extremely affordable on the used market. Many vintage medium format cameras from Hasselblad, Mamiya  and Bronica can easily be obtained for under $1000 on places like EBAY or Craigslist. Many like the one I found come with many extra accessories and lenses.  Film stock for 220 costs around $13 a roll at places like B&H and development starts around $20 a roll (scans can be much more). Considering these cameras costs as much as a car when new (the digital medium formats still versions do) the deals that can be found online are amazing.

Right now I am more excited about this heavy, mechanical, tool from long ago than I am about any camera under ten-grand today. The RB is a mystery box and in my mind I wonder if this is type of image can be the foundation photo, what happens when you take this image into the far reaches of digital post? Considering the resolution available on high resolution negative scans (the current set was just basic) I see a world of potential here.

Winter Garden - Medium Format

I don't look at Medium Format as some end all be all thing but I do see this as a powerful tool to further my skills and ability's as a photographer; this can be said about film as well. There have been many great photographers through the decades that did extraordinary things with film and low tech cameras, many better than the images taken with the best DSLR's today.  These light collecting instruments are all just tools , as Ken Rockwell said "Your camera doesn't matter" it's about your imagination and understanding of photography.

Thanks for reading

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gran Turismo MC Stradale

One of the coolest Maserati's since the MC12.

This image was done with HDRI at Ferrari of Central Florida.

Friday, January 11, 2013

430 Scuderia

430 Scuderia by Savage Land Pictures
430 Scuderia, a photo by Savage Land Pictures on Flickr.

As much as I like the new 458, this version of the 430 is still awesome in every way.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta - The first look

On January 6th 2013 I was one of the lucky ones to see the all new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta as it was unveiled to the North American public. Ferrari of Central Florida hosted the wonderful event.

This automobile is absolutely stunning in real life: The body design, the interior, that massive 730HP engine...this is a masterpiece.


F12 Front


F12-Drivers Seat

Friday, January 4, 2013

What I accomplished in 2012

This is a story about nine groups of amazing things I was able to accomplish in 2012. Some of the items include the making of seven video games, composing music, creating great images and even a tale of cosplay! Sound interesting? Then get ready for a great read and lots of eye candy.

2012 was one amazing year for me and it wasn't until I reflected upon all that took place did I realize how far I had really come in a single year. Here are the 9 amazing things:

#1 - I crossed the ten year mark in the video game industry:

Body of Work

Perhaps more significant than just being in the industry ten years is the fact that in that ten years I have been part of 44 video games in regards to sound, music and design! That averages 4.4 games a year for my entire game industry career, that is a lot of time in the virtual world. I have stayed in it because the industry is fascinating and ever changing. The people I work with are so creative, insanely talented and inspirational.

The image above is a glimpse at some of the wonderful titles I have been a part of over these past ten years.

#2 - The seven games I help make in 2012:

So the second most asked question I get in my life in regards to my job is "What are you working on at EA?" (The first question I get is normally from musicians asking "How do I get my music in a game?")  in both cases those questions are not easily answered for a variety of circumstantial and legal reasons. The game industry is very secretive and the majority of the "real stories" are never heard. So the only things I can really talk about are what happened, not what's happening, and even that is the tip of the iceberg (I guarantee my peers are reading this...what's up guys?) However you are in luck as I do have a little insight to share on seven games I personally worked on this past year.

 NFL Blitz 2012:

I was the lead sound designer on the reboot of the classic Midway Blitz game. For a sound designer this game was lot of fun to create. Nearly everything in Blitz was supposed to be over-the-top; This was all in stark contrast to the years of Madden and NCAA that have a very realistic sound pallet. Everything from the layers of metal and electric sounds in the menu, to the flank cannon type tackles and power up sounds.

Most of the sounds were designed with a device I made in Native Instruments Reaktor called "The Collider" that is very similar to a patch available to the public by "Twisted Tools" called S-layer .
The whole process is a bit like a Foley stage in the digital world. As I watch animations, I sequentially trigger sounds to be collided together to create rich and unusual tonal textures. The sounds came from Foley sessions,  heavily distressed stock sounds, digitally created sounds as well as musical elements.

The other thing I really enjoyed on the Blitz project was the commentary. I worked with a great producer named Brad Lippman who just did an outstanding job not only designing a great script but also worked with me on the creative integration of the lines. The commentary talent Tim Kitzrow and Brian Haley had us laughing so hard in the recording studio we were often in tears trying to breathe right.

The soundtrack was one of those rare instances were we had a green light to hire a composer so we picked   Josh Money  to create a menacing Dubstep type theme and menu music base .

Blitz came out in January of 2012 and was a "Skunk works" type project within the studio meaning we kept the entire thing so hush, hush that many people at our studio didn't even know development was underway much less the press. So obviously we were a small team but what a great team it was, all of them are a super creative bunch. Blitz was also the very first direct to consumer game I worked on...meaning I wasn't under the constraints of fitting on a DVD, that was a plus.

 NBA Live 13

Obviously because it was not released I am not able to say much. However setting aside the game release situation it was an incredible production. I enjoyed greatly a location recording in Hollywood with some basketball players, exploring designs in interactive music and working with some amazing sound source taken from basketball games from around the country in 24 channel surround sound.

Sadly, due to the games circumstances that's all I can really say.

Madden Wii-u and Wii

I was one of the first two sound designers on the EA Sports label privileged enough to work on the new Nintendo Wii-u. As hard as it was to work on a new platform on the first go, the Wii-u proved to be an an outstanding platform.

The Wii-u features both a tablet and an traditional game console, the two can share or have their own unique game experience, they can also both have their own isolated audio experience (something that I hope I get a chance to greatly explore more in the future). Though Madden 13 was based on the designs for the 360/PS3 there was no way for it to truly be a "port", the Nintendo hardware is very unique so audio functionality needs to be exclusive in the majority of cases. Keep in mind my integration background with Nintendo hardware goes back to the GameCube (A device from an audio standpoint I felt rivaled the Playstation 2). I also developed for the DS a few years back that from an audio standpoint was like a really cool VST synth/sampler. So taking Nintendo's latest tech out for a serious run was very intriguing and in the end very gratifying (it is a very powerful console).

In redesigning crowd and hit systems I actually was able to discover some new methodologies that could translate to better optimized designs overall. What makes the Wii-u so fascinating is how you play a game...this version of Madden allowed you to hand draw the routes at the line, sounds simplistic but boy does it change the game experience.  For the user, the process of creating routes is so much more exciting that I had to create some special mix and sound elements to cue the user that the ball has gone in motion in a natural way. I did this through manipulation of the line shuffle sounds so it would feel natural as if the whole chain of events was coming to life as it does on an actual field; the set of sounds would help the end user look up from the tablet at the right time.

The Wii version was easier since there had already been an effective audio design in place for that platform; so all it needed was a fresh mix, some tuning and better quality source sounds that we had plenty of due to a great year of field recording.

 Madden Vita

Finally a hand held PS3, sorta. Actually working with the Vita for the very first time was great. For this it was about refinement of audio designs to run on the Vita efficiently. For this project I worked closely with Nova Scotia based developer HB and thier internal audio group. By the time we had finished the audio experience was remarkably close to the PS3 version just not surround sound enabled. Though the biggest trick on a small console is making the mix and sfx sound great through headphones and that required some EQ and mix tweaks as well as some custom versions of sounds heard often.

 Madden Social

My first Facebook game! ( Give it a go, it's free!) From an audio standpoint I co-developed this with another sound designer named Rob Warren who had also developed audio for the I-pad version that I didn't work on.  The Facebook version however was really all about the sound. Graphically it was a simple flash game. Each audio clip had to unravel like hearing it live on the radio while watching graph updates; That aspect of the design really made it a unique experience to put together. From an audio standpoint I had to think through what would make a compelling audio event based based on what essentially was a user interface menu type graphical experience.

 Tiger Woods 14

In the week before writing this I had just finished hooking up over 4,300 sound emitters for the game. Sadly I can't say more until it hits the shelf but the game has been fun to work on. It's been several years since I have worked on this franchise.


#3 - The moments I captured:

And then there is the vast body of photography totaling over 5,300 images that I shot both professionally and personally this year. A list of my top ten favorite shots was blogged about in the post before this one you are reading.

CCXR @ 2012 Festival of Speed

Spyker C8 Laviolette LM85

I covered several large scale car shows including the Festivals of Speed in both St Petersburg and Orlando as well as the Concours d'elegance

An image I shot of the Bugatti Veyron was used for all the tickets and flyers for the Orlando Festival of Speed. I was one of the official event photographers for the show. 

1955 Ferrari 383GT

and the Rolex 24 at Daytona:
FXDD Ferrari 458 GT

I was part of the massive A day in the life of the world project:

May 15th 8:52 pm  ADAY.ORG

Then there was that story about the multi-million dollar Supercar collection hidden in a south Florida  flea market. You can read that here: The Swap Shop
Swap Shop Exotics

 I shot models...

Winter Wonderland

Historic spaces...

Advanced Redoubt Front


Stepping up

Race cars...

Braille Battery LP700-4 promo

and beautiful places:

Trees on the Wakulla River

#4 - The book I am in: "Game Interface Design the 2nd Edition"

Back in July I was published in a book on user interface design as it is (aside from audio) one of my great passions in video game creation. Inside of it I talked about some aspects of audio melding with the user interface experience.

#5 - The music I made in 2012:

Outside the game world I spend a good amount of time composing original music. Here the music cues I composed in 2012:

#6 - My online crowd collaborations:

I also produced a good number of sounds for the company 8dio as part of their Free Radicals crowd sourcing sample instrument 

as well as huge numbers of free loops for music creators world wide on Looperman

#7 - The video I produced and directed:

Then there is the wonderful music video project I co-produced with Tampa Bay cinematographer Fernando Lopes, composer Josh Money, Universal Studios make up artist Kyle Vest and the dancers from Flamenco Del Sol

This was an incredible experience that I wrote about in great detail here "Love like that again"

#8 - Then there was that Valve Cosplay project:

It should be no surprise that with part of my career being wrapped up with game design that outside of work I spend a ton of time playing games. People who follow this blog my recall a post I made about building a Personality Sphere from the hit Valve game "Portal 2"  , well that got kind of out of control by Halloween and in the end I had built a whole set of costumes including a 1:1 scale Half-Life 2 Gravity Gun. Even among my EA Peers this raised a few eyebrows.

#9 - Helping others

I did three lectures in 2012; two were video game related. The one above was a panel lecture at the Orlando Science Center's "Otronicon" video game expo

This video above was from a lecture at Full Sail University in January of 2012

I also did a workshop for the Orlando Digital Photography Group called "The world beyond Photoshop"  about image manipulation and processing using various 3rd party plug in tools such as the Nik Software Master Collection


My advice for the year... if 2012 taught me anything it was hang around positive and creative people and those crazy artistic ideas you think up with them at a coffee shop, actually go do those things for real! Seriously, if you want to achieve something just straight up go after it you will only become stronger and more skilled no matter what happens. The only thing holding you back from a creative milestone are one's own perception that somehow it can't be done.

 I had some amazing opportunities in 2012 but I also had a support network of peers, clients, friends and my wonderful family behind me and that is by far the greatest thing to have.  

Huge thanks to:
My Family
EA Sports
All my EA audio teammates
and The audio team at HB Studios

All of this made for an extraordinary year of professional and personal growth. Wow, 2012 was a good year! I have a feeling 2013 will be all that and a bag of chips :)

Thanks for reading; I hope your year is outstanding as well.