Archive for Movies


In 2006, my Dad and I purchased an HD DVD player. For reasons unknown I felt that that was the better decision at the time. But we bit the bullet on that investment as Blu-Ray won the HD media player battle. Then in 2009 I bought a Playstation 3. I could have gone with an X-Box 360, but I liked that the PS3 had the ability to play Blu-Rays.

Whenever I went into Best Buy I would stop at an endcap display that contained a Sony Bravia TV hooked up to a Blu-Ray player. It was 1080p HDTV with 120 HZ TruMotion capability. Essentially it blurs and smooths motion on the TV. So I eventually bought an LG HDTV with the same features. The new TV and the PS3/Blu-Ray went together splendidly. The picture was so sharp, and the motion was so smooth. I was in awe. Thats when the collection process began.

My first Blu-Ray I purchased was Step Brothers. I used to be intimidated by the higher cost of Blu-Rays and the fact they only came with Blu-Ray discs. But progressively the prices have declined and are coming in Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Copy combo packs for a little over $20. Plus with my taste in movies usually being big, epic, sweeping blockbusters with beautiful cinematography, I figured it’d be worth the money.

Lately I’ve been on a big Blu-Ray kick. Mainly because I’ve started to get back into movies, having finished marathons of several of my favorite TV Shows. I’ve started to replace some of my favorite movies such as Apollo 13, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Boondock Saints, Kingdom of Heaven, the Transformers trilogy, Avatark etc. I’ve also started purchasing Blu-Ray packs. I bought the 9-disc Star Wars Blu-Ray trilogy, The Pacific, and most recently 15-disc The Lord of the Rings trilogy extended edition. The Blu-Rays I’m looking forward to getting are The Five Year Engagement, Titanic, and possibly the Hunger Games.

Why I Love Film & Video

My love for film goes all the way back to my childhood. As with most children in my generation, our days and nights were filled with tales and adventures provided by classic disney animated films. As I got older I connected with the Free Willy and Mighty Ducks series, and the baseball classics Little Big League and Angels in the Outfield.

When I was in 5th grade a simple christmas gift changed the course of my life. My mom got me Stephen Spielberg’s LEGO Studios Movie Maker Set. It came with a webcam and video editing software. I was instantly hooked. I was always making LEGO movies with my friends. In addition to my passion for architecture and construction (provided by the LEGO’s), this set the foundation for a new lifelong passion.

As I became more experienced, I started to shoot video, using my parents Digital 8 camcorder. I also began editing video with more advanced video editing software. I started out with Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator, then Adobe Premiere Elements 1.0. It was a rare sight to see me without my video camera.

One day, when I was in middle school, I watched Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers, and Black Hawk Down. They blew my mind, and sparked a new interest. The Military. It also introduced me to one of my favorite director, Ridley Scott (more on that later). I’ve done endless research on the military, and actually have considered joining several times. I hope to one day work on a production involving the military. I have nothing but respect for our active service members and Veterans.

Most people have a list of their favorite movies. I have a list of favorite filmmakers and their body of work. Michael Bay is my most recent favorite director. Bad Boys II was my first Michael Bay experience. Let’s just say, I’m in love with his cinematography, and action sequences. No project is too big for “Bayhem”. His use of camera movement, and attention to lighting detail are what separates him from a lot of filmmakers. I try to pay hommage to his style (as best as i can, I don’t have a camera crane) when I shoot video. Bay’s other films such as The Rock, The Island, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, and the Transformers trilogy are amongst my all-time favorites. His future projects are Pain and Gain, and Bad Boys 3.

As I mentioned before, my first Ridley Scott film was Black Hawk Down. Soon after I saw Gladiator. He’s famous for creating worlds like ancient Rome in Gladiator, Jerusalem during Crusades in Kingdom of Heaven, and 1993 Mogadishu, Somalia in Black Hawk Down. His sweeping epic movies take you on a journey back, or forward into time. He has created an incredibly lucrative pair with Russell Crowe, who is one of my favorite actors. They have teamed up several times to create some cinemas all-time classics. From award winning Gladiator and American Gangster, to the latest incarnation of the Robin Hood legend. I have yet to see his latest film, Prometheus. Its the next movie on my list, so I hope to get to theater soon.

If a movie sparks an interest, it automatically becomes one of my all-time favorites. Ron Howard directed Apollo 13, this is one of those films. It set me off on a research spree. I learned all I could about NASA and the American space program, especially the Apollo program. I’m still doing research and learning to this day. Howards style makes you feel like you there, and in the shoes of the characters. The ending of Apollo 13 gives me chills every time I see it, and the twist at the end of a Beautiful Mind will blow your…mind. Cinderella Man and the Da Vinci Code are a couple more favorites of mine. His next film, Legacy of Secrecy is scheduled to come out in 2014.

James Cameron is behind the top 2 highest grossing films of all time. He is truly a pioneer in the advancement of cinema. In 1996 he literally built the Titanic and then sunk it. Then he helped develop the next stage of 3D and digital cinema during the production of Avatar. He uses almost every trick in the book, and then invents the rest. As a man, I am reluctant to admit this, but Titanic is in my top 5 all-time favorite movies. It also set me off on a research kick. I seem to like films where it takes you into an entirely different point in time or a world thats completely original. I like films that take you places, or take you on an epic journey. Cameron is continuing to develop sequels to Avatar, and they are still several years away.

I look at Christopher Nolan and just think class. Maybe because he’s British. He also is a pioneer in the film industry. He is one of the first directors to incorporate IMAX technology into principal photography of a major studio motion picture. I was captivated when I saw The Dark Knight. The big shots created by the larger IMAX film frame, it really makes you feel like you are in the middle of the action. I saw Inception in an IMAX dome theater, however, the film was still in the standard 2:35-1 widescreen aspect ratio, so it was seriously distorted and really had a negative effect of my moviegoing experience. I’m looking forward to seeing The Dark Knight Rises this summer! It looks legit!

Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings trilogy is definitely worth mentioning as well. I’ve taken a deep interest in these directors and their work. They have all inspired me, each in a different way, but it all comes back to film, and the art of story telling. I can’t wait to get into the world of filmmaking! Working with these directors would be a true dream come true.


Dream Jobs

I have many passions, and have a diverse set of skills when it comes to video production. I’d like to share with you several potential dream jobs i’d love to have. I have been the Video Coordinator for Drake football team for the past 4 years. I have had an unbelievable experience during my time at Drake. I’ve traveled all over the country filming football games. The access that Drake Football has provided me has been second to none for getting high quality video.

I would very much like to continue doing something similar, but on the professional level. My number one dream job would be to work for NFL Films (or HBO Sports). I was inspired by Hardknocks: Training Camp with the New York. I like football, and I love video production, so the combination of the two would be amazing.

My second dream job would be an MLB broadcast camera operator. I absolutely love baseball, and I love watching it on TV. So again, combining the two would be ideal. Also, to work at a Major League ballpark everyday would be perfect, given my love of sports architecture. I can take my experience working on sports broadcasting crews and apply it in the real world. And I would get to travel a lot, which is also something I’m passionate about. I think that would be a very fun and satisfactory.

Having the opportunity to work in the film industry would be like fulfilling a childhood dream. I feel like I have a cinematic vision, I’ve just lacked the proper tools and equipment (i.e. cameras, cranes, etc), so I’ve had to do the best with what I’ve had. As a professional Director of Photography or Cinematographer, you are responsible for the look and feel of a film. To create the look of a major motion picture film would be another dream job.

I’ve been editing video since I was in middle school, to do it on the professional level would be very fulfilling. When editing, its like putting a puzzle together. As an editor, you have a great influence on the final product of a film or video. I like that kind of pressure. Plus getting your name in the credits would be an incredible feeling. I would be proud to show my friends and family my work on the big screen or on TV. Doing anything in the film industry, or getting the opportunity to work with any of my heros or idols would be a true dream come true.

Michael Bay and Ron Howard’s use of camera cranes has inspired me because those are my favorite kinds of shots. You can start high and wide, and drive the camera all the way into a tight close up. The camera crane is so versatile, you can do almost any kind of shot with it. I’ve tried to build by own, and failed tragically. If I had the opportunity to be a camera crane operator either in the film industry, or television or at least incorporate those kinds of shots into my films would be an experience i’ve been looking forward to for a long time.

Aviation is always something I’ve been interested in. I’ve always loved to fly. When I watched Black Hawk Down, part of me wanted to learn how to fly helicopters. Aerial cinematography is often my favorite parts of films and videos. If I could either be a camera helicopter pilot or to be an aerial cinematographer / camera operator will be a thrill of a lifetime. As long as the camera is moving, I am happy. These are a few of my dream jobs. If I am able to do any of these in my lifetime it would be the ultimate satisfaction.

Summer at the Movies

Lately, I haven’t done a very good job keeping up with new movies, but frankly, there hasn’t been very many good movies out for a while. And nowadays the price of going to a movie is equivalent to buy a movie on DVD or Blu Ray, but you can’t get the experience of seeing a film for the first time on a huge screen anywhere else.

So far, this summer I have seen The Five Year Engagement, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Rock of Ages. I really enjoyed The Five Year Engagement, for several reasons. The first, being that it was written and starred in by How I Met Your Mother and Forgetting Sarah Marshall writer and star, Jason Segel. It also introduced me to Emily Blunt, who is an amazing actress on her way to the mainstream. The film itself was very good. Blunt and Segel had a chemistry that you don’t find in romantic comedies, which made it feel really real. While it followed the typical ‘chick flick’ dynamic (boy gets girl, boy looses, girl, boy gets girl back), it was in league with other Judd Apatow films, as he was a producer. The film was charming and hilarious, and I highly recommend seeing it. I’m looking forward to getting it on Blu Ray, but it still doesn’t have a release date.

Snow White and the Huntsman was pretty good. Kristen Stewart has forever stapled herself to the Twilight Saga. She played the damsel in distress as Snow White, but at times I felt like I was watching Twilight, which I am not a fan of. However, it was in the genre of medieval war. It had several battle scenes that I enjoyed. They included an open field battle, similar to Gladiator. A horse charge scene on a beach similar to Robin Hood, and a castle siege scene like Robin Hood and Kingdom of Heaven. While it has similar elements to my all time favorite films, I would have a hard time recommending it to someone.

Rock of Ages was in the same boat. I would have a hard time recommending it. The musical performances were excellent, and there were several funny scenes between Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand. Julianne Hough stole the show in her second film in a starring role after the reprisal of Footloose. And Tom Cruise transformed into a rock God.

There are several movies that I am really looking forward to seeing. The first being Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. The second is The Dark Knight Rises, the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I wouldn’t mind seeing The Amazing Spiderman. I wasn’t a fan of the original trilogy staring Toby McGuire, so I’ll be interested to see if it’s better. I’m also going to see The Watch, The Bourne Legacy, and The Campaign.

New Camera


The official camera of Chris Hansen Productions for the past 6 years has kicked the bucket. It was a Sony HDR-HC3, which captured video at a very crisp 1080i. It was a useful tool for my video productions over the years. However, as I have learned more about cameras I eventually outgrew the HDR-HC3. As a consumer grade camcorder it posed several challenges when it was being used for more professional purposes.

Sony is known for not outsourcing their accessories to be produced by 3rd party vendors. Because of this, for example, the only external, wireless microphone attachment available for the HDR-HC3 was a Sony Bluetooth wireless microphone for over $200. Another issue I had with the camera was the focus ring, or in this case, the lack of a focus ring, which made manual focus almost impossible. In order to adjust any settings manually, you would have to scroll through the touch screen menus, which tended to be very inconvenient. The easiest way to operate the camera was when everything was set on automatic, which wasn’t appropriate for some settings especially in low light situations. Overall, the camera suited my needs perfectly. However, now as a professional I will require more advanced features and settings from my camera.

I am in search of a low end professional camera, with an adjustable iris, and duo XLR audio inputs (among other features). These are important because two of the most common and most difficult parts of producing quality video is capturing quality light and sound. I shoot a lot of weddings, and no two weddings are the same especially when it comes to this. With a consumer camera with fully automatic settings, you loose a lot of control over what you are capturing.

My search for a new camera has only just began. I’ve been fortunate to be able to use Drake University’s cameras during the past two football seasons. I would love to have cameras of that caliber but they are easily over $5000, which is way out of my price range. The picture of the second camera is similar to the kind my roommate had freshman year. This would be a perfect example of what I’m looking for, however, I don’t remember the exact model number. I am open to suggestions from any media professionals who know their way around a camera. As my search continues, I am open to suggestions from people who have good ideas on what model or brand to look for. Please comment below!

Water Documentary


Chris Hansen Productions’ newest project has been green-lit. For my summer independent study I have been commissioned to create a 25-30 minute ecological documentary that depicts how problems associated with land use are causing impairment of Iowa’s water quality.

In this documentary I will identify and film 5-6 field sites which will serve as several of the natural locations. The sites will be selected based on current Department of Natural Resource information regarding Iowa’s impaired waterways. Some of the types of contamination I will examine will include manure spills, E coli, contamination leading to beach closures, and pesticide pollution.

The script will be based on a literature survey of popular and scientific articles that describe Iowa’s water quality problems and possible solutions. The documentary will also exclusively feature the Des Moines Water Works, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, The Iowa Department of Agriculture. The documentary is scheduled to be completed by August 15th.

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