Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses

 Creating a Promotional Video for Kaikoura's Top Luxury Lodge

A couple of months ago i got the opportunity to head down to Kaikoura and spend a few nights at the The Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses, a beautiful Luxury Lodge that sits just North of Kaikoura and looks on towards the Kaikoura Ranges. In the early hours of a cold September day I jumped on the ferry in Wellington and made my way down the coast. The plan was to spend two full days and two nights filming at the lodge while staying in one of their famous Tree House rooms. From here i would be able spend my time filming around the lodge, capturing bits and pieces of the architecture, wild life and the natural landscape to create a short promotional video for Hapuku's website and social media platforms. The idea being that this video would convey the sense of energy, space and feel that the Lodge possesses, which is hard to communicate via photos alone.

First stop was a well known seal colony at Ohau Point, about a 15 minutes North of Hapuku Lodge. A stream leads inland from here and during a few months of the year, young seal pups enjoy freedom from the rest of the colony by making their way up the stream to a waterfall catchment pool. Here they dive and play about all within easy viewing distance of a well sign posted track for tourists and sightseers. I spent an hour or so here getting coverage of the pups frolicking about, as way to add a bit of variety to the final video and provide a close up view of one of Kaikoura cutest attractions.

Upon arriving I was totally spoiled at the Lodge, Chris Sturgeon (General Manager), and his team were fantastic to deal with. Right from the get go my access to the Lodge and it's facilities was top notch, i was free to make my way around and get the footage i needed, setting up various cameras to timelapse the clouds passing over the lodge. My Treetop room was everything i had read about and more, peacefully settled a good five metres off the ground, i was perched right in the trees with a view looking straight into the Ranges to the North-West, and to the South my room overlooked a large olive grove. Although staying it such a glamorous room was a double edged sword; as while i had access to all the spoils of this luxury room, i spent minimal time there as i was either out lugging camera gear around the lodge, or up at silly hours of the morning catching the morning light. Speaking of which...

No time for sleep, the next morning i was up pre-6am to capture sunrise along the coast, just a 2 minute drive away.... or a 5 minute walk for those not traveling with a car load of camera gear. While the morning was overly cloudy, this actually worked to my favour as the clouds provided a nice sense of depth and the contrast of the deep blues of the early light and the sun rising created some very memorable shots to start my video with. For the rest of the day i moved around the lodge, aiming to get more shots of the bird life that nestle around the tree tops, and the deer that graze on the paddock in front of the lodge.

That night i set up in the Kitchen, as Chef Fiona Read (also Chris's Partner) and her team put on a show creating a number of meals for the guests dining in the other room. Normally observing and filming such delicious looking meals would've been torture, but not to be forgotten, i was treated to a feast myself after we had finished. In fact, the whole time i was at the lodge i was always looked after with another meal right around the corner. Absolutely fantastic!

On my final day Chris set up a helicopter flight with a local Heli company with the idea that i would be able to grab some aerial coverage of the region. An overhead shot of the Lodge was priority, but also some shots of the coast and towards the ranges would add another dimension of scope to final video. With the door taken off the side door of the chopper, i was able to position myself with the camera and choose some good lines for the chopper pilot to follow to get some good runs. After an hour long flight, i grabbed one or two quick final shots from around the Lodge, and it was time to say goodbye and return to Wellington. A great experience! and one i won't soon forget!

After a month or so of editing, the final product came together in an energetic, concise and fast paced video. I am very happy with the final video and i think it reflects the feel of the Lodge very well. i highly recommend visiting if you're in the area a Chris and his team set the bar incredibly high!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wedding Videography

Better late than never, here is a post on my first foray into Wedding Videography.

Last November i had the pleasure of filming my friends Calvin and Pam's Wedding and creating a short film/music video of their big day. While i have to admit i was apprehensive at first due to the sometimes overwhelming stress and pressure that would accompany filming such a big event in someones life, the day was actually thoroughly enjoyable and i couldn't be happier with the finished result. Any doubts that i may have held were put to rest early on in my discussions with the couple when i saw first hand the amount of preparation and hard work that they were putting into the day. With a Vintage Carnival based theme set amongst the beautiful grounds of Ohariu Valley Farm, the day was well placed to be a stunner.

I began the day at Pam's house where she and her Bridesmaids were having their makeup done. I darted around the house for thirty odd minutes grabbing quick shots of the proceedings. I knew early on from my discussions with Calvin and Pam wanted a handheld 'indie film making' type aesthetic to the film, this meant that i would shoot primarily handheld with a very shallow depth of field, often moving the camera/subject into focus instead of pulling focus.

Next it was off to Ohariu Farm where Calvin and the Groomsman were preparing in a cottage just across from the main farm stay. Here, i darted around again grabbing some quick shots of the boys whilst the were getting ready. At this time i also noticed that the clouds in the sky were quite dynamic and whipping by at quite a rate, so i grabbed a few quick shots there too. These proved useful for the final video in the opening scene.

Next up, the ceremony. Overlooking the whole of Ohariu Valley, the wedding ceremony was absolutely picturesque. As i knew that i was only making a 3-4 minute short film from the days footage i realised that i could move about to get coverage of the event without having to stay in one spot to capture a whole sequence for the sake of continuity. This allowed me to jump from one side of the party to the other to create the illusion of a multi camera shoot.

After the ceremony i tagged along with the Bridal Party and the Photographer to capture some cutaway footage as the group posed for various photos. My goal here was to give the Wedding Photographer their space whilst still getting a number of beauty shots of the couple in different settings. This mainly meant i was using longer lenses to shoot the couple from a distance. The end result was satisfying as i captured a solid number of great shot, most of which made the final cut.

Next it was the speeches and reception. From our discussions, the couple and i decided that we did not want to cut in speeches from the evening into the video but that i would still capture parts of them just in case something fit. In the end i used a few brief cutaway shot from the speeches but no actual dialogue was edited into the final video.

Lastly, after the speeches and dinner, the couple took their first dance and the party moved to the ballroom. A nice touch from Calvin and Pam was moving the party outside and introducing fireworks sparklers to all the guests to play with. This added another dynamic to the night and gave me a great opportunity to get some lovely night time shots with the couple. It provided a fantastic end to the night, and served beautifully as the final shot in the film.

So after a 12 hour shooting day, a few weeks of editing, and a solid colour grade the final video was ready to pass on to the happy couple, and thankfully they were absolutely thrilled with the final result. What began with a bit of apprehension on my part has no doubt become one of my more proud pieces of video work, a very nice surprise indeed :)

The finished video is below, i hope you enjoy.

Wedding Video: Calvin and Pam from Luke Frater on Vimeo.