My Latest Video for Today’s Renovators

This is the latest video I’ve put together for the Ottawa based Today’s Renovators.

In a recent post, I showcased the first Today’s Renovator’s video I produced and talked about the do-it-yourself approach I take when making these simple kind of videos. ‚ The same process was used in this video, as well as a few of the same shots.‚ This latest video also includes footage from sites across the city‚ as well as a quick look at the Today’s Renovators‚ showroom‚ on Bank street.

Check Out My Latest Video – Home Renovation by Today’s Renovators

This past week, I was able to complete a video project I had been working on throughout November. You can see view it at the top of this page.

Working with Today’s Renovators, an Ottawa-based company, I shot and produced a video that showcased a home they’ve just renovated and are planning to flip.

You can read more about Today’s Renovators and the work they did on this 1950s home by clicking here.

From a video production perspective, this was my first time shooting a home renovation project. I used a lot of pans and tilts and made sure to keep the pace of the video elevated, with a new shot every few seconds. I also made use of the Ken Burns effect where video shots hadn’t turned out as well as I would have liked.

Lighting, as always, is very important in video. I made sure to bring a lighting kit with me to help the home look its best on camera. I feel it really payed off on the shots of the renovated hardwood floor.

After visiting the site and getting all my shots, I interviewed the co-owner of Today’s Renovators, audio only, and had him take me through all the work they did at the home. I parsed the 12 minute interview down to a quick and crisp two minutes and matched the audio up with the corresponding video shots, room by room.

I then visited and found an appropriate piece of background music, added some simple graphics that featured the company logo and the video was complete.

With basic gear and a DIY attitude, I was able to put together a video that the client was more than satisfied with. Here’s a list of everything I used:

  • DSLR camera (any camera that shoots HD video would work these days)
  • $40 tripod (From Amazon)
  • Four construction lights from Home Depot ($15 each)
  • A shotgun microphone ($40 from China on Amazon)
  • A sound recorder ($90)

Overall, a fun project, with positive feedback early on. Looking forward to doing more of this kind of stuff.

If you or your organization have questions about DIY video, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Chatting With American Filmmaker, Hal Hartley

Earlier this month, I was able to meet and interview American Independent filmmaker Hal Hartley. He was in town as part of a special retrospective celebrating his remarkable career.

A quick summary: Hal Hartley burst onto the film circuit in the late eighties and early nineties, with films that helped launch the careers of stars such as Edie Falco, Parker Posey, Martin Donovan, and Michael Imperioli. In mid 2000s, he moved to Berlin where he made some short films (one of which you can watch below) and now he’s back in the US. I was able to catch his latest work, the 2011 release, Meanwhile.

Hartley is a very “under the radar kind of guy. He makes movies, and that’s all there is to it. No need for any fanfare. He scores his own films, but uses the name Ned Rifle instead of his own.

He had some good answers during the Q&A session he had with audience members following the Meanwhile screening and in his short on-camera appearance when I interviewed him. Check it out!

Hal Hartley Berlin Short Film Accomplice.

Meanwhile Trailer

Check out Hal Hartley’s website at‚

Press Release – Bright Nights: The Baltic-Nordic Film Fest Celebrates Winter On The Big Screen


OTTAWA (February 6th, 2013) €œ The Canadian Film Institute (CFI), in collaboration with the Embassies of the Baltic and Nordic nations, is proud to present the 3rd annual Bright Nights: The Baltic-Nordic Film Festival running on select dates from February 8th through March 1st.

Featuring some of the world’s most exciting contemporary cinema, this year’s Festival features entries from eight Baltic and Nordic nations (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden), presented in their original languages with English subtitles. All films will be Ottawa premieres.

Each screening will take place at the Auditorium at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for members, seniors, and students. All tickets can be purchased on-site each night of the Festival starting on February 8th. A festival pass to all eight screenings is also available for $40. Visit for complete listings.

Screening Schedule:

  • February 8th: Simon and the Oaks (Sweden), 7pm

  • February 15th: Soundbreaker (Finland), 7pm and INUK (Denmark), 9pm*

  • February 22nd: Mama Gƒ³gƒ³ (Iceland), 7pm and Mushrooming (Estonia), 9pm

  • February 28th: Monsieur Taurins (Latvia), 7pm and Low Lights (Lithuania), 9pm

  • March 1st: King Curling (Norway), 7pm.**

*On February 15th, the Danish director of INUK, Mike Magidson will be in attendance to introduce and discuss his film with the audience.

**On March 1st, Bright Nights is encouraging local curlers to attend the screening of King Curling by offering a $2 discount to those who come dressed in their curling team jackets or uniforms.

The Canadian Film Institute (CFI) was incorporated in 1935 as a federally-chartered, non-governmental, non-profit cultural organization. It is the oldest film institution in Canada and the second oldest film institute in the world. More information can be found online at


Audio Workarounds For Your Videos: iPhones and Shotgun Microphones


I shoot video using a Canon DSLR. The Rebel T3 to be precise. It’s a great camera to get started with when new to the DSLR game. I had a lot of experience shooting video with TV cameras and camcorders, but didn’t know much about photography and DSLRs so I got one knowing I’d need to learn as I go along.

Now that I’ve gotten comfortable with the lens and made a few mistakes along the way, I’m really happy that I’ve gone down the DSLR route for video. The flexibility you get from a simple lens really helps craft a nice shot. It’s also forced me to become a better photographer. I now know how to shoot some pretty nice nighttime photos.

Unlike more expensive Canon DSLRs, the T3 doesn’t have an audio input. I guess this is a drawback, but it’s forced me to become more creative in my video shooting. While my Canon does have an onboard microphone, it’s very limited and tinny sounding.

Depending on where I’m shooting and how mobile I want to be, I have two workarounds I use for Audio.

iPhone as a Microphone

The Microphone on the bottom of the iPhone is actually remarkably powerful. It picks up a lot and is pretty warm sounding when compared to what an on-board mic will give you. I’ll hold it with the bottom facing my interview subject, much like a normal microphone. I use the iTalk app, you can see your levels and name your clips when you save them. I’ll then synchronize the iPhone audio with the picture. This is especially useful when you need to be mobile, for example in a scrum setting. This is what I did for the Jose Canseco media scrum in Ottawa. I held my camera on a tripod with one hand and held my iPhone microphone with the other. You can see it here:

I’ve also used the iPhone in more controlled environments such as this one.

Shotgun Microphone

For shoots with a lot more background noise, I recently ordered a shotgun microphone from You can buy one and see all the specs by clicking here if you’re interested. It cost $40. For the price, you can’t be wrong. The kit includes:

  • Windsock
  • Two microphone stands
  • Stereo 0.25in (6.35mm) jack to mini 0.14in (3.5mm) jack adaptor
  • A lengthy cable: 26.05ft (8m) 0.25in (6.35mm) jack – XLR cable
  • A nice storage box (Black)
  • And, of course, the actual microphone (14.37in / 36.5cm long / metal body)

I’ll plug this microphone into a little Olympus voice recorder I have, which records the audio as an mp3 file. It also has a separate jack for me to plug in some headphones so that I can monitor the audio as it records, which is really useful.

Shotgun microphones are really useful in crowded, noisy areas such as bars and pubs. Check out this video from a recent shoot, where the difference is clear.

If I hadn’t had a shotgun mic, an interview from that location would have been unwatchable. I would have had to move to a quiet room in the back of the restaurant. Having a shotgun mic allowed me to clearly hear my interview subject, while still catching some of the ambiance in the background.

So there you have my two workarounds for audio. As anyone with even a bit of experience with video can tell you: viewers on the internet will forgive poor video quality, but if the audio on your video is terrible, it makes the video unwatchable. So make sure you pay attention to your audio situation when shooting.