Sunday, November 6, 2011

Need a Hand, Joe?

Hi everyone.
I'd like to help you with whatever you've got going on.

I've been putting together my portfolio lately, and frankly, it could be bigger. So if you need photos taken, if you need a logo and a business card, if you need a video made, if you need your term paper edited, or if you need a hug, please get in touch. I won't charge you for the work. (except for hugs, those will cost you)

Also, here are a couple pictures from the last day of fall.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sound for Video- a few tips.

Need to improve your audio without spending any money?

There are a lot of students at my school that are excellent videographers, but a majority of them have trouble with sound. Often the levels are too low, or there's distortion, or both [which is actually kind of impressive if you know where distortion comes from]. This is a problem, because I'm convinced that sound is more than half of the experience!

I'm in the opposite position- I'm a sound guy that's just learning to shoot video. I'm also a videographer on a very tight budget [no budget], so I've learned some tricks that help me get better results using the on-camera mic.

Gasp! you can't do that, right? I'm sure every other article you've read has told you to go out and buy a. a Rode videomic or b. a Sony field recorder, and until you do that, you're sunk. The truth is that there's a lot you can improve while you save up your nickels and dimes for better tools. 

While Shooting:

Listen to the environment and adapt. Your ears are great at filtering out unimportant noise. Your camera is terrible at it. Listen for loud fans, rushing rivers, people talking, etc, and when they get in the way, move!

Put the camera uncomfortably close to an interviewee. With a 50mm prime lens, I get decent audio level when I  frame only their face. This still picks up the acoustics of whatever space you're using, so it's not perfect, but it is a start.

Use a backup. I've been known to use an iPod touch as a backup recorder, just in case there's something wrong with the camera audio. if you need to use it, carefully watch the consonants or any fast, sharp noises to help you sync it perfectly.

While Editing:

Watch your meters. The audio meters tell you how loud the sound is in relation to a standard voltage called "unity". Unity is marked on audio meters as the number 0 or the letter U. You want your audio to peak at unity unless you have a specific reason for it to be louder or quieter. Under NO circumstance should you let it hit the top of the meter, even for an instant. To help you with that, some video editors (like FC express) have a "peak hold" feature, which leaves a red light on at the top of the meter if the audio clipped at any point in time. If you see that light, go back and find the problem.

Use SFX. Now, things can get real cheesy in a hurry, so be careful to do this tastefully. A little [emphasis on little] wind noise adds a sense of atmosphere to your outdoor video, and helps to smooth out the transitions between audio clips. It creates a bed of soft noise that your important audio can rise out of and fall away into. Remember how carefully you listened to the environment while shooting? At this stage you can add back in the ambient sounds that you liked.  I like using for these basic sounds.

Use filters to remove unwanted noise. Are fans or wind noises ruining your spoken parts? A male human voice goes down to about 120 Hz at its lowest, so you can remove low sounds by filtering out everything that's below human vocal range. It will leave the dialogue untouched. This filter is called a High-Pass filter.

Just listen. Usually before exporting a video, I will let it play with my eyes closed. The audio should be able to tell much of the story by itself, after all it is more than half of your video. Just listening will help you hear all of the awkward audio transitions that you missed while you were admiring your brilliant cinematography.

Of course, these are very basic tips. Have a specific question? Feel free to ask.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weekend Choss: Under Cover of Darkness

Filming this was an absolute blast. I couldn't get enough of the shifting light on the texture of the rock. This is also my first short with no music, which was a challenge, but i'm pleased with the result.

I like the new title, but I still feel like there's some tweaking to be done. I'm really glad to be done with Rockwell-- the font from episodes 3-10. For you type nerds, I'm using Syntax and Chaparral Bold for the main title, and Chaparral Medium for everything else.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I'm finally in a typography class, and I'm loving it.

Here's what I've been working on:

This is a monogram for my Dad, Gordon Richards Brunson.
It was intended to be printed on the spines of the books
that he binds. 

this is an abstract composition
using Adobe Garamond

This is a 70's version of the main title for Weekend Choss

...and this is my Jack o'lantern.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Femme Fatale

A brush with R-rated trad, in which I discover the limits of my nationality. 

My first gear lead, Teton Canyon, 2010
Photo: Jack Cohen
I hesitate to share this story, because I know it will make my mother worry. Don't worry, Mom. This isn't a story about how brave I am. Au contraire.

Right now, my most common belay partner is my friend, roommate and co-worker Austin. After work last Thursday, we rushed out to an area called Midget Widget. It's a funny little crag, almost as short as the 28-foot wall where I do my routesetting. It's got one incalculable advantage over the gym though-- it's the only crack climbing we have.

Oh, the flow of climbing vertical cracks-- so delightful, even though my trip to Devil's Tower this July humbled me something fierce. (see A Minor Epic)

After messing around on the easy route for most of the afternoon, I spotted a crack that I had never seen before and she was gorgeous. Far taller than her peers, she swept up a right-facing corner with flirtatious grace. The orange sunset played across her and I felt myself inexorably drawn in. Austin finished cleaning the easy route and I racked up like Minnesota Fats. We were losing daylight.

The route started out steep and blocky, but I cast off, confident I would be able to find gear placements. 15 feet later I placed a good nut and an OK #2 Camalot.

I moved up another body length, checked for placements and found none. I reached for good holds (if a little sandy) and kept moving. The climbing was great; hard enough to be interesting, but still very controlled. I have no idea of the difficulty, but I might give it .10a.

Two body lengths later I was forced to the right around a blank section. Still no gear.

Three body lengths above my last piece, I traversed back to the left, hoping to see the mouth of that beautiful crack. I looked up and saw nothing but a few little pockets. I looked down and saw my little yellow cam placed sickeningly close to the ground.

Firmly in the groundfall zone, unable to downclimb to safety, I channeled my inner Alex Honnold and pushed on.

40 feet from the ground, I finally sunk a bodacious #3 into the beginning of the crack, and began apologizing profusely to Austin. I found a big ledge where I could sit down and told him I would never do that to him again.

Yes, I know you've done way bigger runouts and I just need to stop being a baby. But this is the 21st century, gawshdarnit, and I'm not English.

Would I add bolts to this nameless strumpet? Naw, I'm not that big of a jerk. (Also, I have no idea how to install a bolt.)

Am I proud of this little lapse in judgement? Definitely. In the year that I've been climbing gear routes, this is the most intimidating and difficult that I've done, and to do it as a pure onsight makes me feel warm and bubbly inside. Or maybe I just pooped a little bit while pretending to be Honnold.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Wow, I have a lot of new things to put up! I've recently brought Weekend Choss back from a 2-month hiatus, so here are the intervening episodes, latest first.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011