Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bonded By Blood - Crawling in the Shadows (credits)

Bonded By Blood - Crawling in the Shadows

Damsel - Jenna Johnson (IMDB)
Monster - Erik Macray / Devin Law
Band - Mauro Gonzalez, Juan Juarez, Carlos Regalado, Jessie Sanchez

Director, Editor, VFX - Davidson Vorhes
Producer - Tyler Condon
Director of Photography - Stephen Paar
Production Designer / Creature Operator - Erik MacRay
Gaffer - James King
Key Grip - Gavin Davenport
Key PA / Asst. Creature Operator - Devin Law
PA - Ilya Chegodar

Special Thanks
Earache Records, Scion A/V, Fantail Entertainment, Marco Barbieri, Al Dawson, Carrie McCarthy, Ruben Dominguez, Sean @ Shotland Yard, Andrew Lim, Chris Pacifico, Shane Pacillo

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You've been Shattered

My video for Ventura, CA's thrash giants Warbringer recently dropped, promoting the band's new record "Worlds Torn Asunder." The opportunity came to me by way of the band's manager, Marco Barbieri, who also manages Bonded by Blood - a band I worked with last summer.

The video is for the song "Shattered Like Glass," which lyrically, concerns the delicacy of human mortality. The verses describe scenes of characters in decidedly brutal, "imminent death" situations. Initially, Marco sent me a concept that the band and label had agreed on, which was a non-low-budget-friendly, somewhat literal visualization of the lyrics. It was cool, but a no go. I sent back my own treatment, with a more straight forward, three-act narrative spin.

The story is about a man who encounters his evil-doppelganger in a spooky old attic mirror. "Mirror man" then terrorizes "normal man" in a series of surreal vignettes, eventually inspiring "normal man" to fight back. Though more straightforward than the original concept, this one was still quite ambitious considering the budget... and the time frame.

September was already filling up fast for me, so I knew delivering a video in time for the September 25th record release might mean an ulcer or two. Considering the popularity of the band and the prominence of their label, Century Media - this was an opportunity I didn't want to miss. I strapped my balls on and made the shoot happen immediately after returning back to LA after my Chicago / DC trip (that included the Diamond Plate video shoot).

My concept called for the band performing in a foggy dreamspace, surrounded by a thicket of mirrors. I wanted a sort of fun house / kaleidesopic reflecting effect. Not sure I would describe the final product in exactly those terms, but I think considering the time / resources we had, the effect comes across well enough. We shot the performance and the "black void" narrative scenes at a studio in Koreatown called "Monkspace" - one of the locations from last year's BBB shoot as well.

The narrative stars Don Danielson - a rad dude with very dynamic acting range and a high tolerance for noose-wearing. We shot the attic and bedroom scenes at this relic of a house near downtown LA. I'm not sure, but the place may have legitimately been haunted. That, or we may all have been a bit mental from the sauna-like temperatures and severe lack of ventilation in the attic.

The video was shot primarily on a Canon 5d, by cinematographer Dustin Pearlman, who also shot my Bonded by Blood video last year. I shot B-cam for the performance section with my hacked Panasonic Gh1. The two cameras cut together quite well, despite the variable bitrates on the Gh1 outputting much smaller file sizes than the 5d. If you want to know more about the technical aspects of the shooting, Dustin wrote an awesome blog post about the shoot that you should definitely check out. FX stuff was all done in after effects. Glass elements came from VideoCopilot's Action Essentials 2 2k package.

Special thanks to my producer / grip / wunderkind, Tyler Condon, who was able to assemble some great crew people, despite short notice, and ultra-low budget restrictions.

Director / Editor / VFX: Davidson Vorhes
Producer: Tyler Condon
Director of Photography: Dustin Pearlman
Production Design: Vicky Chan, Tim Otholt
Grips: Hunter Rogers, John Coffey

Cast: Don Danielson as the Man / Mirror Man.
Band: John Kevill - Vocals; John Laux - Guitar; Adam Carroll - Guitar; Andy Laux - Bass; Carlos Cruz - Drums

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thrash Devestation in Chicago

In August, I was commissioned by the good people at Earache Records to direct a music video for their up and coming Chicago thrashers "Diamond Plate." The concept was nothing crazy. In fact it was perhaps the most familiar format of music video - the live video.

Now, I've seen my share of concert videos and most of them are just 'meh.' It doesn't bug me that they usually aren't that well shot. Raw and messy footage can be cool, especially for metal videos. No, to me the most criminal fuck up is sluggish editing - or no editing at all! Call me crazy, but I just think the feel of a live video should match the feel of the music. To do that, you need plenty of coverage and a crowd full of maniacs. I got just that.

There were 4 camera ops total including myself - all using different gear (format clusterfuck, doh!). The band hooked me up with two of the shooters - Scott and Leah. They had just shot a making of video for the band's record, "Generation Why?" The other shooter, Collin, I found through the grapevine of my alma mater, Northwestern University. I told everyone not to shy away from camera movement, nor to strive for any kind of visual "cleanliness." This was a dirty rock and roll party and I had every intention of portraying it that way.

I filmed most of the basic master shot and vocalist coverage with a hacked Panny Gh1, using 50mm and 24mm lenses. Other cam ops had a 5d mark ii, a 1d mark iv, and an hvx200. All different kinds of looks, demonstrating the full range of strengths and weaknesses between the cameras. The 1d mark iv was the overall winner of the night, without a shred of grain on ANY shot, and the least amount of rolling shutter BS compared to the 5d and gh1. Any video whiz can plainly see in the footage - rolling shutter plagued this shoot. Not that I really care that the strobes look weird. It's an effect I guess - which objectively speaking is neither good nor bad. It's just there. And there. And there. And there. (yea, can't wait for global shutters)

While the shooting went well, this is a video that was born in the edit. For the afternoon part of the day, we ran through the song five times. So that's five takes times four cameras + four cameras covering the entire 60-70 minute set later that night + other random B-roll. Grand total? Seven hours. FOR A FOUR MINUTE VIDEO. Between epic stage theatrics and one of the rowdiest crowds I have ever seen for any band ever, I had nearly an hour of gnarly selects to work with. I recorded sound from the board too, so I even had the live audio at my disposal. I put it into the edit in select parts to really sell that energy you can only find in concert.

Overall, I think the video turned out great. Like all classic thrash, it's fast and raw. Cool thing of note: stage diving, which is explicitly forbidden at Reggie's was kinda / sorta permitted for ONE take. So, every stage dive in this video was captured in the first run through of the song. The stage was a rapid-fire launching pad for spastic fools. The band and I were totally stoked. "Reggie" was not enthused.

Director / Editor - Davidson Vorhes
Shooters: Davidson Vorhes, Collin Davis, Leah Howard, Scott Palmer
Band: Konrad Kupiec, Jon Macak, Jim Nicademus, Mario Cianci

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

no robots were harmed during the making of this video

Alas, my new video for LA thrash band 'Bonded By Blood' is online. It is definitely the most ambitious project I've done to date. So glad to have done it... and SO glad it's done!

The tune comes off the band's new release Exiled to Earth, which is a concept album taking place 600 years in the future during the tyrannical regime of an alien/robot race called "the Crong." The song itself tells a sub-story about a mad scientist that builds a powerful cybourg to try and destroy said Crong. Throw in some human resistance fighters, a Dr. Claw-style boss-Crong and a bunch of exploding robots and you get the video for "Prototype: Death Machine."

We shot this beast over two days in mid July 2010. The first day was for the performance. The concept called for the resistance-fighting-thrashers to rock out in their 'secret hideout'. Day 2 we shot all the battle and narrative stuff. It was an exhausting day, and we only upset one (yes, ONE) irritable-shopkeeper-next-door! Great success! Oh and as the title declares, no robots were harmed during the production of this video

Post production. Twas a doozy. I knew from the get-go that this was going to be an FX heavy video. I logged so many hours at the computer that my clicking finger now has a six pack. Worth every minute though... I think. In the future, I may try to do robot eye lights practically. I mean, frame by frame, manually motion tracked, faux 3d with roto is fun and all but... (shoots self in head). Seriously though, after effects rules. And so does

Another important mention regarding the video is the use of the Creative Commons. Almost all all of the green screen backgrounds and cityscape pieces come from photographs posted on flickr with the CC General Attribution license. I love and respect all things Creative Commons, and you should too! The full list of CC attributions are listed in the credits post by flickr title and user name, but if any of the original artists wish to modify their attribution, let me know and I would be happy to oblige.

In the last couple months, my eyes turned square, my brain melted a little, and I assisted in the destruction of a vicious race of alien robots. To the band, my cast, and crew... I say we succeeded. Our approach may have been total b-movie, but I'll be damned if we didn't get some B+ results.

Bonded By Blood - Prototype: Death Machine

Credits / Attributions

(or, for a general post about the video click here)

Band - Jose Barrales, Alex Lee, Juan Juarez, Jerry Garcia, Carlos Regalado
Scientist - Carl Solomon
Death Machine - Daniel Wells
Crong Sentinel(s) - Dennis Yang
Crong Leader (Dr. Claw Crong) - Alex Lee

Director / Editor / VFX - Dave Vorhes
Producer - Tyler Condon
DP / Colorist - Dustin Pearlman
Key Grip - Stephen Paar
Costume Designer / Fabricator - Robert Miller
Assistant Costume Designer - Mary Frances-Cusick
Costume FX - Tom Irvin
Makeup - Reuben Rivera
PA - Dave Singleton
Gear Rentals / G&E - Kyle Smith, James Penland, Joe Homokay

Special thanks to Monkspace, Israel Hernandez, Earache Records, JP Riley, and Andrew Kramer

Creative Commons Attributions
(all licensed as 'General Attribution' at time of use)

Amy Loves Yah - Storm Cloud
o palsson - The Atomium
cjohnson7 - Storm Clouds
rodneyramsey - Los Angeles skyline in the rain
mediaman // - IMG_5393
pareerica - brick wall texture

urban_data - kuma-rockaz

peter huys - abandoned factory part 2
urban_data - machinesware
gshowman -Former Greenpoint Terminal Market
shiny things - bangkok bank go down
erix Urban Fragment (entrance door)
bob jagendorf - toledo factory sunrise

max wolfe - Lyric Theatre - Fire Escapes, Alley Side

oh sk - wall-to-roof scaling attempts

mangpages - road downtown

bob jagendorf - Steel Mill - Bethlehem, PA
dan deluca -bethlehem-steel-blast-furnace-2
tim psych - old cement factory
heyrocker - satsop nuclear power plant
nicholas nova - atomium

(Note to original artists: feel free to contact me if you wish to modify your attribution in any way. Thanks!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

White Wizzard - Over the Top

"Over the Top" - the second video in the White Wizzard saga - went online not too long ago. The band's eponymous album has now also been released in the UK and US. So far, the response for the video has been very positive (though i think the negative comments are my favorites). At this rate, the total views should pass GTO in the next month or so. Sweet.

The video was shot over two days in December 09. We shot in LA and Pioneertown, CA. Between surprise weather, last minute location scrambling, and disappearing band members, the shoot was hectic to say the least! But all said and done, I'm proud of the final product, and grateful for everyone's efforts.

Some "interesting" facts about the video:
-The snow was unexpected. It had just rained in LA, but that meant snow in Pioneertown (elevation 4000 feet). White snow, White Wizzard... it worked out.
-The red civic hatchback is my car. It rules.
-The bar we shot at was surprisingly open for business when we got 6AM! Hence the rad / drunk geezers in the background.
-I forgot to roto around the sorcerer's finger in the crystal ball shot @ 2:40.
-The mechanic randomly auditioned for this video while waiting to audition for something else entirely. He didn't get the other part.
-The bar maids are twins.

A few production stills

One of the first setups of the day.

"Chicks dig spells, what can I say?"


One of them is the actual bartender. Can you guess which one?

Deleted scene.

Cast (in order of appearance)
Sorcerer: Jack Curenton
Mechanic: Brian Flaherty
Bar Maids: Christine Mulhern, Elizabeth Mulhern
Bar Tender: Rox Ann Gonzalez
White Wizzard: Kai Cofer

Director: Dave Vorhes
Producers: Tom Mares, Dave Vorhes
Editor / (crappy) VFX: Dave Vorhes
Composer: Austin Wintory
Art Dept: Jessica Feavel, Dave Vorhes
Costumes: Priscilla Watson
Grip: Derek Copeland
PA: Anais Mares

Special thanks to Tony Ritter for the location referral, and Ali & Digby at Earache Records.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New website, new blog, new year!

Uploaded the new website - and started the blog! CHYEA!!

In theory, this blog is a sister-site to, where I can post more detailed updates on what I'm up to professionally. However, I anticipate the "Big Blog" will also serve as a vehicle for more casual blog-fare, like "ranting" and "plugging things my friends are doing." Who knows, who cares...

So, it being the new year, what better time to commit to e-paper the things I want to accomplish in 2010. They say writing down your goals makes them more tangible, more official (more disappointing when you fail?). So here are some things I want to do this year!

1. Get back into writing. Seriously what happened in 09? I feel like I hardly wrote anything! Or maybe its that I hardly finished anything. No matter, this year I'm gonna get back to taking classes, having dedicated writing days, and just being more creative. Which leads me to...

2. Write and direct 3 spec commercials. This is how directors "break in" right? RIGHT? right...

3. Get back into comedy - sketch, shorts, or whatever. 2009 was a spectacularly unfunny year for me. And with such an abundance of funny people in my life (and in LA!), NOT writing and directing idiotic videos would be criminal. So, let's say shoot at least 5 sketches! I can handle that.

4. Direct at least three new music videos. They don't need to be crazy ambitious. I don't need to lose any sleep, weight, or hair over them. They just have to kick a little bit of ass. Punt a small amount of tooshie.

5. Produce a new web series. Something along the lines of GEMS... mostly unscripted, somewhat educational, borderline entertaining...

6. Also, further develop GEMS. Bi-weekly content with 500 youtube subscribers by the years end, and/or find some sort of sponsorship. Ambitious, but necessary.

7. Find another "Jamba Juice." For those of you who don't know, I did a lot of work shooting videos for Jamba in the last few months of 2009. It was a great gig, lots of travel, lots of fun... and I'd love to get another just like it!

8. Get a life. No explanation necessary.

That's enough. If I manage to accomplish all this in 2010, I'll be pretty jazzed. So, here's to a new year and a new decade! Now, let's get to work!