Dec 26, 2009

Merry Christmas Toronto with a Canon 5D

Shooting with a Canon 5D in the cold of downtown Toronto in the nights before Christmas resulted in more amazing night time video. This was shot with the 24-105 and a 50 mm 1.4 lens, some from a monopod, some from a tripod. ISO 1250 and 1600 shutter 1/30. The street sounds were recorded with the built in microphone. The music is from Digital Juice. Composited in Adobe Premiere with the Blend effect. Premiere had no problem ingesting the QuickTime encapsulated h.264 video although I cheated and dropped the 30 frame per second file into a 29.07 fps XD-CAM project. On YouTube and better quality on Vimeo

Dec 16, 2009

Graphics Canada 2009 HD Tradeshow Promo

We have worked with Graphics Canada again to produce a promo video of exhibitor testimonials. Shot in HD, the video will use YouTube for distribution to a wide audience, and individual clips of each exhibitor will also be distributed by email.

The video is at

We also did show photography featuring people seeing the latest in printing and graphics technology at the show.

Dec 6, 2009

Canon 5D Music Video

Actually more a performance video than a highly edit Music Video, but this clip recorded live at Hughes Room in Toronto shows some of the low light video capabilities of the Canon 5D Mark II. The Room was modestly lit, but not bright or even office light level by any stretch of the imagination. This video was shot about 15 feet from the stage, with the Camera mounted on a tripod. AF off, IS on.

A Canon 24-105 f4 L IS lens was wide enough to cover the stage, and long enough to get reasonable close-ups of individual performers. The lens image stabilization helped smooth out minor tripod vibration. The video was shot at 1/30 shutter, ISO 1000, f4 aperture. No video gain noise is visible in this YouTube version, nor in the full HD original. The 5:00 original file was 1.6 gb, for an average data rate of about 50 mb per second. HDV is only 25 mb per second. And h.264 is a nicer codec than HDV. Nice

Audio was provided by a Sennheiser ME66 shotgun feeding the mic jack. The microphone was mounted to the flash hot shoe with a Rycote suspension mount and a few bits of grip hardware. Rock is pretty loud, even at small room levels, and that was more than the camera AGC could handle. Much of the audio waveform was clipped. Processing through Adobe Premiere Pro restored a some of the peaks. Distorted guitars don't sound much worse with a bit more distortion applied.

The camera makes nice video, but it is not a video camera per se. No zoom rocker, no audio control or meters, no way easily to change iris (aperture) on the fly, no full time auto focus, mono audio only, no remote zoom, nothing that can approach the 20x zoom of my Sony V1U, the list is long. But in the end, the objective is nice HD video, and the 5D and this lens can't be beat for $5500.00

On Youtube now.

Nov 29, 2009

TTC streetcar using new Canon 5D MkII for low light conference and trade show shooting

Canon 5D streetcar f4 1-30 ISO 1600I just added a Canon 5D Mark II camera with 24-105 mm lens to my equipment list. The full frame image, with noise free high ISO shooting will make it possible to deliver high quality available light photos at conferences and trade shows. The 24-105 lens has a maximum aperture of 1:4, but image stabilization makes it compete well with 1:4 lenses. And the 24-105 lens is sharper than my old 50 mm f1.4 lens. When this camera will be used with my 70-200 mm 1:2.8 lens it will absolutely rock.

This photo of a Toronto TTC streetcar at Danforth and Main at night was taken at f4 1/30 second at ISO 1600. Amazing clarity, even through the car windshield. More at flickr

Low light shooting was one reason to add this camera. Amazing low-light 1080p HD video capture is the second reason. Look for a demo here, soon.

Nov 8, 2009

Ed Bartram Landscape Artist in the Shadow of the Group of Seven

Ed Bartram, Toronto area landscape painter and print maker, exhibits his work at the McMichael. His work features the shores of the Georgian Bay, often extreme, abstract close-ups of rock formations. He talks about his studio and describes some of his techniques used in making the prints.

Ed Bartram also reminisces about the Gallery in earlier times, when A. Y. Jackson sat in front of the fire there. The video is encoded for YouTube

Inuit Art anniversary at McMichael

The 50th anniversary of the founding of Cape Dorset's West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative brings a new exhibition of Inuit art to the McMichael. Based on the theme of mapping, the exhibition examines mapping of the past, the spirit and the present over three rooms. I interviewed Anna Stanisz at the Gallery as she speaks about the work, and how her own interest in mapping finds parallels in the art.

This video presentation features a thumbnail slide show of the work on display to highlight that Inuit art takes many expressions to entice viewers to come to the Gallery.

The video is encoded for YouTube

Nov 2, 2009

Charles Taylor Prize Winner Tim Cook @ IFOA

Tim Cook, author of Shock Troops, part of a two volume set on Canadians fighting in World War I, spoke about his work and read from his book at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. Tim was the Charles Taylor Prize winner for this non fiction work in 2009. I taped Tim's reading for posting on The Charles Taylor Prise YouTube channel

Low ambient light and low sound board volumes made this a bit of a challenging shoot.

Oct 4, 2009

Gale Zoe Garnett "Savage Adoration" Word On The Street Bookvideo

I had the opportunity to interview Gale Zoe Garnett, author of "Savage Adoration" about her book during the Word On The Street book festival in Toronto. She talked about the book and read a few paragraphs. Garnett is also a well known Canadian actress, starring recently in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and a long, long series of television shows.

Shot live in HD with only ambient light, and an Azden hand held wireless microphone. A bit more background noise than I wwould have liked.

The video is on Youtube

Sep 14, 2009

Totem Pole with iPod Raised at McMichael in HD

Don Yeomans is one of the most respected and renowned Northwest Coast Native artists. This latest thought-provoking artwork challenges many traditional native values by interweaving traditional iconography and totemic animals with today's different modern modes of technological communication: an iPod, a cell phone and a computer. We interviewed the artist on location in HD, and added Digital Juice royalty free music. Edited in Premiere Pro and exported to HD Youtube.

Jul 28, 2009

Diana Thorneycroft Discusses Group of Seven in Art Video

We had the opportunity to meet and interview Diana Thorneycroft at the McMichael last week. She talks about her work as being elaborately stages like producing a movie of just one frame. She talks about creating new stories using Group of Seven art as background and theme. A story that blends Tim Horton's Double Double, the seal hunt, GI Joe, Tom Thompson making love in a tent, a mysterious German watching, Bobby Orr, Hockey on the Don River, the Avro Arrow, Snow White and Bob and Doug with the Group of Seven just has to be a truly Canadian story. We added just a bit of DigitalJuice to the HD footage of Diana speaking. The video is destined for YouTube and

Jul 23, 2009

Pachter Atwood McMichael Video Installation Opens

The beachdigital video to support the Charlie Pachter "The Journals of Susanna Moodie" exhibition was unveiled at the gala opening of the exhibition. Thanks to curator Chris Finn and McMichael gallery and tech staff for the wondeful setup among Margaret Atwood's words and Charlie Pachter's illustrations.

The video is available on YouTube.

Jul 2, 2009

Curator in McMichael Art Video Named Order of Canada

We just finished and posted a 5 minute video promoting the Challenging Traditions exhibit of Contemporary West Coast First Nations art at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection featuring curator Ian Thom when we learned that Ian has been named to the Order of Canada. Definitely an honour to have worked with him.

The video was shot in HD, edited in standard definition wide screen and then up-converted to HD again for YouTube upload. Backgrounds and music from Digital Juice. Some of the shots were keyed in Adobe Ultra, without any advance planning for keying, just working with enough of a difference between the walls behind the art and the art itself to pull a key. More planning might have produced cleaner edges, but the effect achieved works well for the intended medium. Probably would not have gotten permission to stick a green screen behind the art anyway.

It is listed on Open Book Toronto.

Jun 25, 2009

Horizontal and Vertical Plasma Digital Signs

We produced 2 matching clips for playback on a horizontal and a vertical plasma display for a conference reception. The videos were played back on two DVD players. One clip was shorter than the other to create a bit of randomness to the viewer once they started looping. The clips were composed entirely of stock footage, stock photos, logos and text. Play reformatted version.

Jun 16, 2009

We add Juice to conference presentations

We have just added thousands of Digital Juice's motion backgrounds, motion design elements, sound effects and royalty free music to our library. These lush visual and audio elements make presentations more eye-catching and engaging. They can be used to build complete presentations and stage backgrounds visuals to be played back on BluRay, DVD, solid state media players and even in a PowerPoint presentation. And because there are so many elements in so many styles, it is a relatively inexpensive production process to raise the graphics at your next conference, tradeshow, AGM, celebration event to the next level.
See YouTube HD demo.

Lets talk.

Jun 10, 2009

beachdigital photos on Flickr

We are again posting random photos on Flickr Some of our previously posted images are starting to show up on other websites. They are more than welcome. These were uploaded under a Creative Commons licence, and are free to be used with attribution. Hi res jpegs are always avialable at stock photo prices. And custom photography of course.

Some of these photos were taken from public helicopter trips out of the Toronto City Centre Airport (Island Airport) That service is an economical way to get general downtown waterfront still and video aerial shots. Even more economical are shots from the CN Tower.

Charles Taylor Prize video clips on Bravo TV

The Charles Taylor Prize 2009 finalists video clips were featured on Bravo Television in February, 2009, and now on the Bravo website. Thanks to Stephen Weir who had a big hand in arranging for that distribution.

The original HDV video, edited in wide screen SD, was dubbed to DigiBeta at International Multimedia Corp on Queen's Quay, Toronto. The resulting video quality looks amazing.

Jun 8, 2009

Graphics Canada trade show testimonials video

5 minutes of exhibitor testimonial video will help convey to Graphics Canada exhibitors some of the benefits of participating in Canada's largest graphics, printing and converting trade show. The video was shot during the previous show at the International Centre in HD and published in Flash.

Open BookToronto website features Pachter Atwood video

Open Book Toronto features our video about Charles Pachter's illustrations for Margaret Atwood's The Journals of Susanna Moodie.

Open Book Toronto is a great source of news and commentary on Toronto's vibrant literary scene, with author blogs, book release updates and the latest on book related events, such as the Pachter Atwood exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Collection in Kleinburg in July 2009.

We are also on the McMichael website for this exhibit.

May 28, 2009

Artist Charles Pachter and Poet Margaret Atwood Art Gallery video installation

Artist Charlie Pachter's bold illustrations for poet Margaret Atwood's collection of poems "The Journals of Susanna Moodie" are the focus of an exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in July 2009. We shot the YouTube and promotional video in the artist's downtown Toronto studio with 2 Sony HD cameras and the fluorescent light system blogged about earlier. To bring the written poetry to life, we keyed the footage of Atwood reading live into images of the book pages. Beautifully typeset words became beautifully spoken words. A longer version of the program will become part of the McMichael exhibition to provide visitors with background on the production of the art.

The project was edited in Adobe Premiere and After Effects. Backgrounds and music from Digital Juice.

May 26, 2009

Book Videos for Canadian Authors and Publishers

We have created a special focus on consulting, producing and managing book and author promo videos to help publisher stake advantage of the OMDC Book Fund Digital Enhancements program. This program would see the Ontario Government pick up 75% of the cost of digital initiatives by publishers.

We can help realize that by creating podcasts, video cats for YouTube and publisher websites, blogs, micro sites and interactive website top support publisher sand authors. Read more at the website.

May 24, 2009

Live switching Leonard Cohen at Copps Coliseum

When I grow up ;-) I want to live switch a concert like this.

We saw the Leonard Cohen show in Hamilton earlier this week. He still has an amazing voice, and his songs and poems resonate as much today as in the 70's. Hamilton, the city, is like a small town in many ways. Even the misaligned imag projector and the echo from the mid house speakers felt good. And Copps is a much cosier venue than the ACC or Skydome. Somehow we beat the Ticketmaster system and sat close enough to feel like we had the ensemble on our back deck. The sound, echo and all, was wonderful.

The switcher operator had wiped Cohen and Sharon Robertson, singing at opposite sides of the stage, together on screen at the same time. Breathtaking. As if they were singing only to each other, not to the audience. Only other time I felt this way about imag was at a Bruce Springsteen show at the Skydome on a warm summer night in 2003. The dome was open and there was a full moon. The moon must have been visible from the camera area in front of the stage. The switcher operator had Bruce and the full moon on the screen at the same time. Absolutely, breathtakingly, beautiful.

May 8, 2009

Web site graphic for VE Group

We created a new website graphics to revitalize a tired corporate brochure website. Centered around a client supplied photo of a new factory and showroom building, logos and text, the new graphic is an eye-catching focal point of the website. Multiple Adobe After Effects generated lens flares hint at the high tech video conferencing, audio and television production furniture that VE Group manufactures. Wide angle photo by Mike Skinner.

The website is at

Apr 22, 2009

YouTube HD for Sharon McKay Writer Interview

We have been shooting HD for years now, but have posted to YouTube in SD because that is all that YouTube handled. The new YouTube HD features provide a better viewing experience, and we posted a recent interview with Sharon McKay about her war related children's book in HD. The original 1080i video (edited in Adobe Premiere) was resized to 1280x720 and encoded in the Adobe Media Encoder into the h.264 codec for upload. The 2:30 minute, 101 mb, encoded file was further encoded by YouTube to end up as a 35 mb file. Looks great within the YouTube web page, and not bad at full screen on a 22 inch monitor. Interestingly, the cached mp4 (not flv by the way) looks absolutely amazing when played through the VLC Media Player. See the HD version here.

Apr 17, 2009

New fluorescent video lights greener for interviews

We recently purchased 3 SLS fluorescent light banks to use on video shoots. The daylight balanced fluorescent lights reduce white balance problems caused when daylight creeps into a setup lit by standard incandescent lights, and keeps the setup cool enough to be comfortable in front of them. The two 55 watt tubes in each fixture appear much brighter ( still need to verify this with a light meter ) than a 250 watt Lowell Pro with an umbrella. And the soft light seems to fill the room and be much easier for the subject to look into. We used one with diffusion clipped to the big barn doors on a green screen interview shoot to light the green backdrop, but that seemed superfluous in the end. And, at 110 watts per fixture, the current draw is a lot less than incandescents and much more eco friendly.

There is a downside. Compared to a Lowell Pro and umbrella, the SLS light is heavy and bulky. It needs a heavier light stand as well. Nevertheless, these lights have become part of our interview video light kit. It seems only 5 years ago that we lugged 800 watt and 1K Redheads around.

Photos by Francis Fougere. Photos 1, 2, 3 taken in Charlie Pachter's artist studio and gallery. Photo 4 taken in Ben McNally Books in Toronto

Mar 31, 2009

Digital Sign and Stage Projection for Charity Event

Adobe Premiere as show control

beachdigital stage projection
Our favourite charity ran another successful fundraising dinner, and we created alternatives to the usual dreary PowerPoint shows with pixellated transitions and jumpy graphics.

A digital sign based on sponsor logos played off a DVD player on a 50 inch plasma in the registration area. Video segments, based on supplied still photos were synched with the MC's announcements of individuals in attendance. These videos were played from a PC using Adobe Premiere as show control software. Simple, inexpensive and foolproof. Both the digital sign and the projected video made use of Digital Juice motion backgrounds and motion elements. Music came from DJ's Stack Trax music collection.

Feb 19, 2009

Photographer Karsh and War Art the subject of videos for McMichael

The McMichael has 3 new exhibits that we created web promos for. Yousuf Karsh, photographer, is featured in 2 of the exhibits, and curators Chris Finn and Cassandra Getty discuss the artist and his work. Canadian military and war art is the subject of the third, and curator Lauran Brandon and two war artists talk about the role art played in war in the last century. All three videos were taped at the gallery The format of these videos departs from the more traditional talking head layout to a multi windowed presentation with backgrounds and music from Digital Juice. The wide screen format takes advantage of YouTube's support for 16x9 video. For the first time, Flash video versions were prepared for the Gallery website as well as Windows Media. All videos are on YouTube -- Karsh Portraits -- Karsh Industrial -- A Brush with War.

Feb 1, 2009

Building photo used in press release

Audio Video Metals used one of our photos to promote their new facility in Professional Lighting & Production magazine. This photo is one of many on the website, a beachdigital production.

Jan 29, 2009

Charles Taylor Prize Finalist Author Videos

The Charles Taylor prize is Canada`s foremost prize recognizing excellence in literary non-fiction. We produced three brief video clips for TV and web distribution of the three 2009 finalists talking about, and reading from their books. Ana Siljak, Tim Cook and Elizabeth Abbott were interviewed in the gorgeous surroundings of the Ben McNally Bookstore in downtown Toronto. Shot in HDV, with music and backgrounds from Digital Juice. Greenscreen shots were keyed with Adobe Ultra. All of the clips at YouTube Globe and Mail OpenBookToronto TV distribution planned for iChannel and Book Television.

Jan 7, 2009

CityHousing Hamilton - Custom CMS

custom CMS for housing agency
CityHousing Hamilton, Hamilton ON's social housing division, wanted a website that would be easily managed by staff, that would also integrate with existing internal databases. is the result. A custom developed content management system written in Visual Basic, with a SQLserver back end, it allows text, graphic and photo content be readily copied from internal systems for publication. An existing property management database feeds information regarding housing inventory. Google Maps, the City's transit planning system and an internal GIS system are linked to property data. Property data is augmented by linked photo, panoramic virtual reality tours and video galleries.

Photography and VR tours by Francis Fougere