Category Archives: video

JetLag RocknRoll: The Video Travel Guide Series

I’ve been so wrapped up in multiple projects that I forgot to update this blog with JetLag RocknRoll’s latest incarnation! Years ago I attempted to produce online travel guides with wanderlustful rocknroll aficionados in mind but writing each listing was incredibly time consuming and a bit too ambitious for just one person. Last year, C suggested we make it a video form instead and ask local bands about their favorite spots in the places they call home. Well, the first episode is now live! It spotlights the San Francisco East Bay and features Shannon & the Clams, Tina Lucchesi of the Trashwomen, and Jesse Townley of Blatz. You can watch the video above and get more details about the businesses, places, and bands covered here.

Other destinations in the works include San Francisco, Tokyo, and Chicago. Check back here or jetlagrnr.com for new episodes!

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Trundling through Hong Kong

Here are 52 sped-up seconds of one of my first tram rides through central Hong Kong, taken in 2012. It’s such a fun way to get a quick look at the city—can’t wait to do it again!

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Inside a Sick, Sick Dream

bokeh fireworks

July 4th fireworks, Marin County Fair | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/25, f1.4, ISO 400

You may have noticed that I’ve been obsessing over the Jesus & Mary Chain these past few posts. Hopefully making the following video will get the mania out of my system.

As I mentioned in “Tripping Up with the Jesus & Mary Chain,” I shot video in addition to photos at their recent San Francisco show, but it was a challenge capturing a full song since all I wanted to do was thrash about wildly and bellow at the tops of my lungs. I managed to get their first encore song, “Hardest Walk,” in its entirety, including the bit where Jim Reid first introduced the song as “Never Understand” and then later told John Moore to “shut up for a second” as William fiddled with his chords. At that point the audience was in full swing and I couldn’t contain my own enthusiasm (that’s likely me singing, screaming, and shrieking in the background) so it’s pretty shaky.

Using a long lens amplified each crowd bump and my terrible panning attempts, so I tried to offset their vomit-inducing effects with stills from the show as well as firework and Ferris wheel footage from the Marin County Fair, shot using the same camera/lens combo (Olympus PEN E-P2, 24mm f1.4 CCTV lens). But, to be safe, you might want to skip this if you’re prone to migraines, motion sickness, or epilepsy. I also omitted the fumbling preamble for brevity’s sake.

I can’t promise I won’t blog about the Mary Chain anymore, but I think I’ll be good for a while. Thanks for indulging me!

bokeh fireworks

July 4th fireworks, Marin County Fair | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/25, f1.4, ISO 400

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Flippin’ Out at the Burger Boogaloo

King Tuff, Burger Boogaloo 2011 | Canon 60D, 15mm, .5 sec, f6.3, ISO 500

The Burger Boogaloo, a collaboration of Burger Records and Total Trash Booking, returns to San Francisco March 23-25 for two days and three nights of lo-fi garage punk and jingle-jangly toe tappers. This year’s headliners include Thee Oh Sees, the Cuts, Strange Boys, and King Tuff (who made his highly anticipated SF debut at last year’s shindig). Supporting bands include Gravy’s Drop (one of my favorite new Bay Area bands; they recently premiered their “Runaway” video), as well as flame-haired Chicago duo White Mystery, primitive cave dwellers Cyclops, Puerto Rican popmeisters Los Vigilantes, and Oakland wam-glam oddballs Sir Lord Von Raven. An Electric Boogaloo danceoff and record swaps round out the festivities.

At last year’s Boogaloo, I took some stills but mostly video with the Canon 60D, which C and I had purchased just a few weeks before the event. If you’re not a tech geek, please skip to the photos and videos below. Otherwise, here are a few things I learned about the camera and the Transcend 32GB class 10 card I used that weekend:

  • The 60D has slight shutter lag when compared to the Canon 5D so, as far as live music photography goes, it’s best for available-light shots of fairly still subjects.
  • The 60D takes awesome video (assuming the file gets written to the card properly—see next item). The flipscreen is a definite plus, as is the ability to adjust the sound levels while recording.
  • The Transcend card is unreliable, at least when it comes to recording video (e.g., it’d abruptly stop recording 10 seconds or so into a segment and take a minute or so to process it before allowing me to either take photos or video). Yes, Transcend cards are super cheap but we’ll stick to SanDisks, thanks.

Based on my footage, Wrongs Words, the Rantouls, Personal & the Pizzas, and King Tuff kicked off the first night. The Traditional Fools headlined day two’s day show, while two Atlanta bands (the Booze and the Biters), the Mean Jeans, and Davila 666 made sure that everyone went home with stiff necks, beer-drenched hair, and fond memories to last a lifetime. Expect more of the same shambolic fun at this year’s Boogaloo!

Wrong Words | Canon 60D, 15mm, 1/50, f2.8, ISO 1250

The Rantouls | Canon 60D, 15mm, 1/50, f2.8, ISO 1250

Personal & the Pizzas | Canon 60D, 15mm, 1/50, f2.8, ISO 1600

Traditional Fools | Canon 60D, 15mm, .3 sec, f6.3, ISO 500

The Booze | Canon 60D, 15mm, 1/15, f6.3, ISO 320

The Biters | Canon 60D, 15mm, 1/5, f6.3, ISO 400

Mean Jeans | Canon 60D, 15mm, 1/5, f6.3, ISO 400

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Slapdash Culinary Adventure

Andrew Zimmern, genial host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, makes traveling, eating, and filming around the world look easy. I’m sure it helps that a professional crew of directors, writers, cameramen, and soundmen tag along on his excursions.

C and I had no such advantage when we decided to slap together a three-minute video for a “Share Your Adventure” video contest Lonely Planet was having. C learned about it at the start of Labor Day weekend, Friday, September 2. The deadline? Tuesday, September 6, at 11:59pm PST.

Ordinarily, we would’ve just thrown our hands in the air and spent the weekend as other Americans might (lounging by a refreshing body of water, congregating with friends in someone’s backyard for gossip and food), but the grand prize of $10,000 was just too tempting. We had no grandiose notions that we’d whip up a cinematic masterpiece in 96 hours, but maybe we could do something stupid/funny/intriguing enough to win the prize. What was there to lose except a few winks of sleep and maybe our trim physiques?

Sharing a culinary adventure (as opposed to urban, family, visual, and outdoor adventures) seemed to be our best bet. We brainstormed and considered cobbling together video footage we had taken while in Spain last year, or hitting San Francisco or Wine Country for new footage, but none of those options motivated us. I must’ve been subconsciously craving Shan Dong’s handmade noodles because Oakland’s Chinatown, right in our backyard, suddenly felt right.

And why not? With Chinese street signs; sidewalk grocers yelling out specials in Cantonese/Mandarin; windows displaying a menagerie of roasted animals; and droves of Asian locals elbowing past each other for the freshest bok choy, longan, and walter caltrops, Chinatown really is like stepping into another world.

With the Canon 60D and Olympus PEN EP-2, we filmed on Saturday and Sunday, spending four hours the first day and ten hours the next hobbling up and down every one of Chinatown’s 16 blocks at least half a dozen times. I don’t know how real TV people do it, but I jotted down a few lines of monologue the night before the first filming to give us some direction. But even my inner boy scout wasn’t prepared for the strangest development—the lack of hustle and bustle.

Chinatown on the weekend is usually a zoo of double-parked cars, sidewalk vendors hawking miscellany such as (illegal?) baby turtles, extended families heading to dim sum, and locals buying groceries for the evening. Much to our surprise and dismay, most people seemed to have left town for the weekend. On the up side, we didn’t have to wait long for our food and could film scenes with relative ease.

Still, we faced other minor challenges. The biggest one was probably getting up early enough to get to Madison Square Park by 8:30 a.m. to capture different groups practicing taiji, wushu, and kung fu. The other: Staying awake after dim sum (ordinarily, I’d go home in a daze and just laze around until the food coma wore off). It was also difficult coming up with witty commentary on the fly.

In fact, we reshot my pandan waffle and cassava cake scene (on separate days) because, after viewing the “dailies,” I was mortified by my unrehearsed ramblings (did you know that tapioca is made of cassava root? You do now). I actually felt like a sham for pretending I was taking my first bite of each…until I read Eating China‘s fascinating behind-the-scenes account of appearing on Bizarre Foods. That’s some talent right there—not letting multiple takes suck the freshness out of a moment.

Here’s a rundown of the places featured:

  • Gourmet Delight Seafood Restaurant (dim sum)
  • Shan Dong Restaurant (vegetable bun)
  • First Cake (bakery; formerly Delicious Food Co.)
  • Golden Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant (pho noodle soup)
  • Cam Huong (refrigerated coconut milk sweets in cups)
  • BC Deli Sandwiches (pandan waffle, cassava cakes)

In the end, our submission was disqualified for having music in it. Major bummer, for sure, but I for one appreciate the kick in the pants the contest gave us to create a travel video. C, on the other hand, would’ve preferred spending that weekend lounging by a refreshing body of water, congregating with friends in someone’s backyard for gossip and food.

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Ferry ‘cross the Mersey with Clinic

Clinic, The Independent, San Francisco, 2008 | Canon 5D, 58mm, 1/60 f4, ISO 1600

Born and bred in Liverpool, Ade Blackburn of Clinic was kind enough to share his favorite and least favorite spots with JetLag RocknRoll—handy for those of us visiting the historic, musical city in the near future.

Speaking of Clinic, have you seen the cute, magical video from their latest album Bubblegum? It makes me crave Bubble Yum and Bubblelicious.

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Guerrillas in the Street

Wrong Words "Wrong Again" video shoot | Olympus PEN E-P2, 9mm, 1/80 f4, ISO 800

C and I recently wrapped up video production for Cheap Time and the Wrong Words. As with photography, I have no formal videography training, but the digital age just makes it so easy to experiment. Together we’ve made a total of five videos so far (including these last two), and each one has been a valuable learning experience. The most important lesson: working as a team is easier than working solo. Oh, and always get more than one take. To be honest, I have yet to physically manipulate our raw video footage, but having two people fussing with the file is probably not a good idea anyway, especially when C does such a wonderful job (and has a computer that can handle the workload, unlike mine).

Perhaps because I’m used to the spontaneity and unpredictability of photographing live music, I’m (we’re?) more comfortable with guerrilla-style shoots than staged settings. Drop me off somewhere and I’ll figure out what to do. It’s not even necessarily about the lack of a budget and high-end gear—having to set up lights and crafting a shot can add another dimension of stress. Of course, if we or the bands could hire professionals to do that stuff, it’d be a different story altogether….

We met up with Cheap Time for the few hours they were in San Francisco on tour. After a quick brainstorming session, we filmed around the Hemlock Tavern as well as inside. Thankfully, Jeffrey had strong arms—the monopod was not light! I worried a bit about the random people on the street being in the video, but the wide aperture we used rendered them virtually anonymous. Equipment used: Canon 60D, Olympus PEN EP-2, monopod, tripod. Obstacles encountered: aggressive panhandlers; needles, fresh excrement (human?), broken glass, and cartons of abandoned Chinese food in the alley; dim stage lights.

The Wrong Words video was the most complex project we’ve undertaken so far, involving four locations (practice pad, Mosswood Park x2, Down at Lulu’s), three separate days of shooting, and a storyline that we made up as we went along. Since there was a storyline, we had to keep track of people’s clothing and Layla’s hair, the shots we needed, and outdoor lighting conditions—somewhat challenging when full weeks passed between takes. Bassist Ajax made the Wrong Words sign and the secret admirer card—what a craftsman! Spencer (the secret admirer) was a total pro and provided his own slow-motion effects. C did an excellent job editing down the multiple hours of footage. I can only imagine how difficult a feature film must be! Equipment used: Canon 60D, Olympus PEN EP-2, monopod, tripods, 42″ reflector, revolving disco light. Obstacles encountered: busy schedules, mercurial weather, malfunctioning wardrobe, inoperative motorbike.

Next solo video project (assuming my computer can handle the editing process): The Inhuman Eating Machine‘s big salad session.

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