A Desire Ignited
When high school student Mark Klassen discovered an opportunity to win a grant to supply the rest of his media arts course with video production equipment, he jumped at the chance. For Klassen, it was an opportunity he just couldn’t turn down.
“I’m always excited to take on projects where I can jump on board and work together to turn words on paper into a vision and take that vision and turn it into reality – this was the perfect chance for me to do exactly that”.
The school video started off as a concept created by Klassen’s teacher Eric Moccio and fellow student, Evan Perusse. Moccio has been teaching students for a couple of years now the essentials of video production. Students learn about lightning and camera techniques, how to edit, and ultimately distribute videos. The course had gained more popularity, the class had expanded and the need for more equipment was becoming an obvious necessity.
After Moccio had found out about the opportunity to win a grant, he got in touch with Klassen and asked if he would like to be involved.
“I’d been busy editing for the past couple weeks and hadn’t shot much so I immediately jumped on the thought of shooting/directing a short video. ”
“I was given three things, the contest rules for the piece, the script they had created, and the date contest submissions were due. From there on creative freedom was left up to me to storyboard and shoot what I had envisioned for the concept. ”
Klassen is no stranger to video production. His first encounter with video was back in 2004, where he would lend his time to local organizations and volunteer his talent to help and learn in any way that he could. One evening he was asked if he could help prepare and monitor audio on a shoot that the video department of the organization was doing and he gladly accepted.
“After that, my initial desire to pursue film/video was ignited.”
“From there I continued to volunteer doing video for the organization, as well as take on small projects of my own. I mainly shot weddings, but I did the odd family event, music video, and corporate gig”. Klassen was shooting standard definition on prosumer and professional cameras, with just a camera, a tape and a tripod.
“It did the job, but the imagery was not flattering at all, and it was pretty much boring. There wasn’t a lot of area for me to invest in equipment because of my age, and lack of finances so I couldn’t go out and purchase things like 35mm adapters and high definition cameras to expand my horizons. ”
His break came when some of Klassen’s friends who did photography, showed him their camera – a Canon 5DMK2. Mark was smitten.
“I picked up a 5D and shot a promotional piece for a local photographer. I had no idea what I was doing with the camera, as it was the first time I had ever touched a 5D, but the video that came out of the camera was stunning, and easily blew away some of the cameras I used previously. ”
The school video was produced differently to some of Klassen’s other projects.
“I usually spend more time in the planning and scripting stages but this time, the only planning I was required to do was story boarding and gathering the equipment. ”
“I find that when I’m involved less in the scripting and other parts of planning like scheduling and budgeting it can take away from your vision and how you want to portray your piece because you start focusing more on the things like locations, talent, and time and you suddenly have less capacity to carry out your vision making it difficult to get that to come to life. ”
Mark was acting as both director and director of photography (DP). This was a perfect mix for Klassen, as it was a small production. The students shot throughout the day, starting in the morning and ending late in the afternoon.
“It was a surprisingly quick shoot, and I think the planning I did do, as well as Eric and Evan’s planning helped make things run extremely smoothly.”
The group used mostly natural light, not only because of the short turnaround time, but also due to the high ISO of the video dslr they were using, there really wasn’t any need to hire expensive lighting.
“We also used tripods, a boom, and a monopod. Some of the unique tools we were privileged to use were created by my friends at Cinevate Inc.. We were able to use the Pegasus Heavy Lifter to add motion and more life to some of the shots as well as a shoulder-mount rig that easily converted into a rig (minus the shoulder pad) that allowed me to use their Durus Follow Focus with a selection of my favourite Canon lenses. I prefer to shoot with primes, but still resort to telephoto lenses at times”
When the team hit post production, they started off with the Canon 5D MK2 workflow that Klassen had known for months. Dropping all the footage into Final Cut Pro, Klassen converted the files into ProRes LT clips, with a frame rate conversion to 29.97fps. After allowing that to convert overnight, he began the process of rough cutting each scene and slowly putting together sequences of shots to create the story.
“I do most of my work in Final Cut Studio, so once the video was done, I threw the audio into Soundtrack and mixed everything together from the voiceovers to the added foley and music.”
“Once that was done, I began to color correct with the basic filters available in Final Cut as well as Tiffen’s DFX software to correct and grade the shots the way I envisioned.”
With a completed final edit uploaded to YouTube, Mark and his class could only sit and wait to find out whether they had won the grant for their class.
When asked whether he had learn anything new producing the high school video, Mark demonstrates that he is always learning.
“Yes! Never use the mic input on cameras with auto gain control. It’s also a good idea to have someone around to do more of a producer role regardless of the size of shoot because they can manage time, something I’m not the best at!”
So what’s next for Mark? Probably owing to his ability and willingness to learn more about the craft of producing exceptional HD video, he was snapped up this past July by video dslr based StillMotion.
“Working with StillMotion I’ve had the opportunity of expanding my knowledge and learning at an award winning international cinematography company. I’ve been traveling around North America shooting weddings I had never dreamed of shooting and meeting awesome couples as well as shooting corporate and commercial work.”
Klassen has been keen on developing his filmmaking skills and in February of next year, he’ll be back at school after a full semester co-op with StillMotion.
“My goal is to complete high school and then attend a film school somewhere in the US, maybe in Florida or California, as long as its warm all year round. As for now, I’m continuing to work hard, do what I love, meet awesome people, and learn as much as I can.”
Mark is currently planning and working on developing a new video production business, doing what we loves. “I’m excited for this year, I’ve met so many awesome people, and I’m excited to do a lot of my own projects, as well as collaborate with a bunch of people in the industry.”