Inside View: South Coast Film & Video
Director/DP – South Coast Film & Video • Houston • www.scfilmvideo.com
By Christine Bunish
Markee: What changes have you witnessed since South Coast opened in 1979?
Mr. Gorel: “Migrating to file-based and solid state technology has altered the way we do things in the field and in post. I’ve worked in some pretty hostile environments such as the Middle East, where you could count on tape-based systems to fail.
You’d have to field strip the camera to get it up and running on a daily basis. But now, even in big windstorms, you only have to worry about protecting the glass – much less stressful. And in post, Final Cut and Avid can ingest virtually any format, which is important since we post other people’s projects too.”
Markee: How have these workflows affected jobs?
Mr. Gorel: “I just directed and shot a ‘Spring Break Pass’ campaign for Landry’s three amusement parks in the Houston area that used three different types of cameras and recording formats: the Sony F3 (via our Sound Devices PIX 240i recorder shooting 10 bit, 4:2:2 LogC directly to DNxHD), a Panasonic VariCam (AVC Intra 100 P2 files) and a bunch of GoPros (MP4 files). Amazingly, it all got sucked right into the Avid effortlessly.
“I also used the PIX 240i for a series of PSAs in Saudi Arabia over a period of three weeks. As the DP – with no DIT – I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with camera cards and backups. I could shoot three hours of footage on one drive and hand it off to post for backup and ingest at the end of each day.”
Markee: What else is in your equipment kit today?
Mr. Gorel: “GoPro enables me to get shots I couldn’t get otherwise. Half of that Spring Break campaign was shot with GoPros – roller coasters, water rides over the pier in Galveston. The spots were aimed at kids, so we wanted action and fun. Getting a $400 camera to cut seamlessly with cameras whose lenses cost $35,000 was impossible just a few years ago. But the latest GoPro has doubled in resolution, which makes a huge difference. What an incredible little tool! We throw one in the kit wherever we go – we know we’ll use it for some cool shot.”
Markee: Most of South Coast’s work is for corporate clients. How different is your work for that market?
Mr. Gorel: “We’ve never looked at corporate as a stepchild to our commercial work. You can’t really experiment with commercials since so much is at stake on the day of the shoot. But the corporate client recognizes you as the expert with no layers between you and them. So we’ve always been able to experiment and have fun with corporate – some of the weirdest stuff we’ve done has been on the corporate side.”
Markee: Got an example?
Mr. Gorel: “I just DP’ed a project for Space City Films about space travel to Mars that kicked off a big conference for space contractors. It’s about how two kids inspired by the Curiosity Mars Rover grow up to become an astronaut and a flight director. Twenty-five years in the future, they’re on the first crewed mission to Mars talking to kids in a lunar classroom. Almost all of it was shot greenscreen in our studio, although we did shoot in the Mars Rover prototype at NASA – very sweet! Since they wanted a filmic look and called for tons of FX shots, I used the F3 and PIX 240i again in LogC to give them lots of latitude in post.”
Markee: What else is new at South Coast?
Mr. Gorel: “We moved the animation suite from the studio area to be adjacent to post and added a Final Cut room alongside our two Avid suites. It’s just a better workflow. We also added a greenroom for make-up and wardrobe next to the studio where the animation suite had been. In the studio, we built a client viewing lounge with a nice work area and a 55-inch plasma that can receive the studio feed. And we installed a working kitchen for a tabletop photographer who now shoots here on a weekly basis; it’s also used as a kitchen set for broadcast.
“Our office has always been a fun place with fish tanks and a Caribbean look. We’re in a fun business. Sometimes I pinch myself and wonder why we’re allowed to do this for money.”