Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tim Kay Films - Production & Video services, is now live

After months of back end work and pulling together content spanning over 10 years, I have now brought together all my experience into one central place. san francisco video production. Stop by our new and improve website and say hello to us. We'll also be blogging tips and tricks on the site.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Got the camera, now what?

So you're all excited. In your hands you hold the same tools that are now being used by some of the greats in the industry, from television to movies. But whats that you say, why does your film still look & feel like a home movie ? Focus bad, framing off ?

Ah...you see the camera isn't the end all be all. These cameras are more connected to films made 70 years ago then the video era.  Do you know what ISO will start to cause noise ? What frame rate to shoot ? What shutter speed matches your frame rate ? Over the past 20 years, thanks largely to video formats, we could ignore most of these rules. Not anymore. Especially with DSLR. And this is just the tip of the ice berg. But lets put all this to the side, for now. Theres a more pressing issue.

How to make a film?  The premise for countless Direct/Produce yourself books, online videos, etc...but they miss one fundamental element. Building the team.  For those in the Bay Area, check this event out:


(fyi - i have no affliation with them, nor have I been personally, but have heard good things).

If you're not in the Bay Area, (what, there exist a world outside of us?) search and find your co-op, non profit, community group. A great first step, surround yourself with those that share your passion and then together you can figure out what frame rate to shoot at.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A friend of mine asked me this question:

Hey Tim !

How are you ?

I've been following your work with your Canon 7D, pretty good stuff :) ... I also read you blog ( by the way, I was amazed by the two legged tripod trick :P ... ) and you seem to be right person to ask about cameras :).

I've been thinking of buying a 7D but at the moment it's a bit too expensive for me ... I was looking at the 550D, the little brother of the 7D I heard ... as I'm a beginner in the DSLR world, I was wondering if that's actually a better idea than the 7D, for the moment being.
What I'm really looking for are the HD video features and they seem to be similar in some ways ... am I right ?
I just wanna know how happy you are with your 7D and if you heard of what the 550D can do, video wise ...


To which I replied:

(the greetings first, which I took out, out of respect for my friends privacy)

Since I don't hear much talk about the 550D I'm assuming it must be an older model.

If the 7d is expensive, then I'd buy the Canon T2i, just came out a couple months ago and it basically shoots the exact same video/codex as the 7D. Really there is no difference in video mode. The cameras main difference is in photography and the body construction. Thats the main difference, and it comes in under $1000 - the best deal out there for a new and up and coming director like yourself! Never in the history of filming could you get this much camera and opportunity for so little. I think the video controls might be a menu or two buried, but not a big deal considering the price.

I am happy with the 7D. The biggest challenge I face on an almost daily basis while shooting is aliasing. There are tricks to help minimize the effects but I run into at least 2 to 3 times a shoot. While the 7D is great & revolutionary in so many ways ( anyone still talking about 35mm Adaptors?), its a steeping stone camera and I look forward to future models where these bugs can be worked out. I'm currently working on a narrative film shot on the 7d using external audio ( only use camera audio as a guide track ) so I will post more about the work flow of using audio shortly.

Hope this helps!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

State of the Art and not so state:

So much of what I see, read and talk about is state of the art technology.

This is not. This is not my rig.

Although I might be jealous.

It does represent so much of our business though, ingenuity, getting the job done. Even if it does involve a lamp cord!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A couple more notches in the DSLR belt

The list is growing and the growth will continue as more networks are jumping on the DSLR bandwagon. Add shows to the list like

Fox's "House " Season Finale:


The intro to Jay Leno on NBC :

and you have the big boys incorporating the latest in technology. George Lucas is also testing the camera for parts of the "Tuskegee Airmen " he is executive producing, schedule for a late 2010 release.

Heres a video shot with DSLR cameras screened at the exclusive theatre with Lucas, Tarantino & some other big shots!

Can't wait to hear the continuing news at the NAB conference regarding DSLR's and the latest and greatest gadgets to support them!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

creativeLIVE - A Live Worldwide Creative Classroom

Free Education! It doesn't get much better then that. Watching the classes is free, DL's are where they make their money - sounds fair.

I recognize some of the names, not all of them. I'll be tuning in as our field is rapidly changing, good to know what some of the top minds are thinking and how they use the software.

creativeLIVE - A Live Worldwide Creative Classroom

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blogging my short Film experience

I'm starting production on my next short film project and without knowing where to begin, I'll begin by blogging the complete experience. Names may be changed to protect the innocent but all stories, laughs and tears will be included --- no holds bar!!! (ok, maybe not that extreme).

The link for the blog will be here:


but i'll have exclusive photos right here on the blog!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The slow matriculation of older projects

While my short film is uploading on Vimeo, it has got me thinking. One of the catch 22 of my business is that having been doing what i've been doing (T.V., Sports TV., Movies, etc...) for over the past 10 yrs is the fact how much time can pass without having anywork to show. Getting copies is truly hard if copies are even made. Or how do you show your skills if your one camera out of 13 !

Finally i'm starting to get the momentum here and gather older projects and post them on yours truly Vimeo account.

I'm almost dreading the day I find my old work on VHS I did WAY BACK in the day for my college classes. All I remember is one of them I made a Dr. Kevorkian parody commercial.Other then gig badges, a fair amount of gig photos have been saved so here are some of them.

This is half of my collage I made during my Intern year with Giants back in the wind tunnel days of Candlestick park. I do not miss the days of swapping out old panels on Jumbotron. We were convinced it was a known shrine where rats would die in honor. And it wouldn't be a small strech to say thats when the rodent world outnumbered paying fans.

This is me on camera during the 2002 World Series Game. Going from Candlestick to then Pac Bell is like you getting your first car, which you're happy has 4 wheels and runs to a BMW. What it's like to have working power windows, AC., a stereo thats not a boom box in the passenger seat. I think you get the feeling. It was that good.

Friday, February 12, 2010

In the middle of a week

Haven't had much of a chance this week to work on my own projects as i'm working a crazy long week for a TV show. Working with some of the top camera guys in the industry ( like trying to learn all the tips and tricks from the Steadicam OP who works on American Idol!).

Will be fun and i'll be posting some new updates shortly!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2 legged Tripod

Answering how I did the movement in my video "Water" (below this entry)

Whoever said that 3 legs are better then 2 clearly didn't realize the epic cinematic style and movement created by merely amputating and removing one of the legs. Using tripods regularly over the past 10yrs, not once did I realize that this type of movement is possible on a tripod, it can look really good too. I recently saw a guy doing this move and it blew me away; got me thinking of a new possibilities and moves. By dumb luck I found this cool place to practice it on.

Heres the BTS video:


starting inside the statue. This move was also utilized with the sky tree branch to benches shot (legs at max height), shallow DoF tree shot, and a couple more.

I first tried this with my el cheapo tripod and the results were absolutely crap. Nothing was usable. Even with a good tripod this move is hard (especially in the rain with dirt that wants nothing more then to consume your tripod!). I probably tried about 10-15x til I got finally to the apex of the move (or my limit for patience); even then it gitters at the end because i'm moving a good couple feet with it!

But the results can be impressive; Hollywood style movement and quality with gear you already own, it's like finding a 20 bucks in your jeans! Why didn't someone share this with me 10yrs ago?!?

Also, did you catch it in the video? Inside the statue? The first part of the statue movement is a still. I felt the longer I could stay in there the greater the change would be. So I froze the image and did a zoom out in post, timed it with the live movement and it should feel like one consecutive shot (but you can tell when it shift from a still to live movement by the gain fluctuating).

Friday, January 22, 2010

New short film, "WATER" is online :)

Heres the link


After a week of wind and rain, my next short film is online. Shot almost all in Golden Gate Park this one introduces the wide-angle lens to my camera.

Birds eating are all shot at 60 f/s and slowed down to 24 in Cinema tools. The first couple shots with the birds I just wasn't getting close enough and the payoff wasn't that good (example is near the end the four shot of the black birds on the wide). A great look for landscapes, but not for detail. I was going to switch back to my long lens then I thought what would happen if I took my camera off the tripod and put it on the ground (left the plate on) and brought the birds to me; pleasantly surprised with the results. With some bribes to entice the birds to eat in front of the lens the only problem was I didn't bring enough bread!

All movement is actually done on the tripod. It's this new trick I learned using two legs. I took a behind the scene video and I'll show you guys later how I did it. All with two lenses. At this stage I wouldn't want to bring out more because it would take me away from focusing on what is truly important, a good shot!

My next one will be back with people but lets not rush ourselves, enjoy this piece and hopefully I'll inspire you to take out your camera this weekend :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Three new steps before transfer

As much as I dislike pigeons and do believe they're rats with wings, I'm grateful for how camera friendly they are (IE - The Godfather Pigeons in my film "City Life"). They were great practice today with the Tokina 11mm and excited about the footage I got for my new short. On top of that I put that sucker really low and shot most of it in 60p. Below is a screen grab from FCP (no altering)

Problem is that I also shot a bunch of 24p. So when I batch render to 422 via MPEG STREAM, I'll mess up the transfers on half them. Today I'm starting to go through every clip on my CF card and do three things BEFORE transferring to my computer: Label, ID & Delete

The latter will save me HD space with junk thats out of foucs (yes, it happens to me too). Figured I deleted about 20% on this card. While watching and labeling I'll note if it's 60p & tag that on the end, if not just a clip description. Run MPEG with the right settings for each group and you're in business!

Not only that but once you get the files into FCP ( or any other NLE ) they're nicely organized and logged.

Exclusive trailer - "Voro"

If you gave this man a camera and told him to film a pile of dirt & throw a soundtrack behind it, academy & other award conciderations wouldn't be far behind! Illustrating my point is his new trailer he just release, shot the RED camera.


Keep an eye on him as he's a rising star in Hollywood. I'll keep you guys posted when the film is released.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How to stop the Rain:

Be prepared! This week, weather forecasters have called for some of the biggest storms of the season. Some descriptions will have you believe the Almighty himself is poised above us with a giant bucket of water, ready at any moment let it out! Awesome, rain is fun. Rains cool. And makes great video.

If this camera can survive Antarctica,


it can survive some measly Bay Area rain. But I've discovered how to make it stop, prepare for it! Out of the two storms i've managed to bring out only the sunshine! Theres two more this week and i'm begging you person/enity in charge, make it rain as hard as you can. This camera can capture cool rain shots. So how well prepared am I? Like a true D.I.Y'er. What little drops it did do today my shower cap + rubberband DIY set up worked. Got beat up in the wind but no biggie. It will only last a day before being tossed. I did discover that for tomorrow I'll need to make one for each lens - on location changing the bags becomes a pain . But I find that this set-up works well for a quick solution to the elements. It also allows variable lens (like the kit one) to expand/retract freely.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First film with Canon 7D !

All the research and near purchase of the Sony Ex1 and it has come to this. A camera which has reinvigorated my love of film making and photography (where it all started at Academy of the Arts way back in the last century!).

While this work doesn't represent the best, it does show my first swings at a finished project from A - Z and can't wait to see the progress through trial and error.

Enjoy :D


New Lens & Testing 'Day for Night'

Ah, so the elusive and reputable Tokina lens has finally arrived! Seriously, this bad boy of glass is outta stock in almost every store that doesn't want to gouge their customers! Funny buts it's bigger and beefer then I expected. With the clutch to engage/disengage focus this will be a different beast then the kit lens. Below is a picture at 17mm on the glass (~27mm due to crop factor).

This also leads nicely to my next update. I shot a bunch of test footage today as I want to explore the best option to transfer footage from Day to Night. I shot about 4gb of footage all in a dizzying array of factors including shutter speed, aperture, shooting sky (supposedly a big no no) I'll post back with the results of my test. Will play with the footage in Apple Color.

In case you're wondering why I'm going through all this, it's to gear up for my next short film!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why I'm here

Better late then never is my motto and I won't let any new technology pass me by; like a blog.

Whilst I make a rough render of my San Francisco montage (why Imac, must you go so slow - did you catch me eyeballing that new 27" model? Just window shopping!) I'm here fulfilling a resolution. Woo Hoo.

The purpose of said blog is to chronicle my adventures and tribulations in the film making world! Freshly reinvigorated with my latest toy, the Canon 7D, I plan on making short films and you will be the first to know about them, and all the behind the scene stories about how I use the latest in technology to make it magical.

Stay tuned as I promise our journey will be fun and informative