Interview with Hollywood Director of Photography – Thomas Ackerman, ASC

I had the opportunity to speak to renowned Hollywood Director of Photography – Thomas Ackerman, ASC (Jumanji, George from the Jungle) – while on set in Munich for the new ‘AliBinAli’ TV Commercial. (Production: Voodoopartners – Producer Axel Breuer)

Here ‘s the transcript of the complete interview – I shot for the official ‘Making Of‘ this production.

“You can come up with the best plan, with a great AD, wonderful production staff, but at the end of the day, there’s no science of it.” – Thomas Ackerman

Thomas Ackerman
Director of Photography Thomas Ackerman, ASC

Alex: I’d like to welcome you on the set here in Munich. You just came from a big movie set and flew directly here to Munich for this commercial. What is the big difference between movie sets in e.g. Hollywood compared to this production here in Munich?

Thomas: I came from working on a movie in Montreal, straight to Munich to work on this production. So obviously there’s a time difference, there’s a cultural difference, there’s a crew difference, to certain extend an equipment difference. But the fact is that I like to mix things up. Obviously the dynamic of a large feature film production whether in Europe, Canada or the US is quite different from a commercial. A commercial is kind of custom crafted, it’s got a very specific setup, creative targets. And it allows you to really break out of a certain way of seeing into a new way of seeing films. That’s what’s exciting about commercials – both as a Photographer and as a Filmmaker. So, the difference is that at a large movie the process tends to be more industrial, larger numbers of people, a lot more equipment, longer schedules. You know – a movie takes maybe 4 months out of your life including the prep time, could be more. Where as a commercial – you get on a plane as I did – fly from Montreal to Munich, get off, meet the key people, look at some locations, and the next day you’re pre-lighting to shoot. So, commercials are immediate, that’s where the excitement is – and everyday there’s a new discovery.

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Doha-Dubai in a minute – (GoPro Hero2)

Timelapse: 2000 single photos

On my short flight from Doha to Dubai I took the chance to test my new GoPro Hero2 setup for inflight timelapse. So I set up the cam to take a photo every 2 seconds, switched the spot meter function to ‘ON’ and put the camera in position. I also used the extra battery pack, although it wasn’t really necessary for this short trip.

Doing the math: The flight is around an hour – taking a picture every 2 seconds results in 30 pics per minute – which means 1 minute realtime flight is 1 sec of clip footage with 30fps. (I finally used 25fps). The final clip consists of more than 2000 single photos – we have the start and landing included.

My GoPro setup:
GoPro setup

Remotely Control your Canon & Nikon DSLR via iPhone & iPad

NOTE: (added 20 NOV 2014) – I see from my stats that this page is getting hundreds of hits every day, please note that it was written over 2 years ago and might be outdated by now. I’ll try to post an updated review within the next week. Cheers Alex

Here’s a quick review testing the ‘DSLR Camera Remote’ app from onOne Software. The new version (1.4.3) supports a wide range of DSLR cameras from Canon (5D, 7D, 60D, 550D, 600D, ..) and Nikon (D4, D800, D700, D7000, D5100, ..)

You can now remotely trigger your DSRL camera via iPhone, iPod & iPad and even start, monitor and stop video recording. Latter might be very useful when operating your DSLR on a JIB. One thing beforehand: You still need your camera to be connected to your computer..

My test setup: Canon 60D connected via USB to my MacBook Air –
the iPad shows the live view and available options.

There is a free version offered (limited to live view & push the button only) as well as the PRO (iPhone, iPod) and HD (iPad) versions with costs. That brings us straight to the next point – TWO separate app versions are offered:
One for iPhone & iPod touch and one for iPad. That’s a bit of a pain as you have to pay twice to use it on all your devices. The developers website explains that with “a separate application that works specifically for iPad, it includes all the iPhone app features and takes full advantage of the larger screen on the iPad.”

Continue reading “Remotely Control your Canon & Nikon DSLR via iPhone & iPad”

‘Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra – Behind the Curtain’

‘Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra – Behind the Curtain’
A documentary by Alex Klim

Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra - Behind the CurtainAged looking Tannhauser score sheet blowing in the desert wind.
Photo: Opening scene © 2012 Alex Klim

Latest Update: Post production, to be released in November 2012, watch out for final updates.

Film Info:
The film tells the story of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, a world class orchestra established by the Arabian Gulf state to further its aims of investing in culture and education and developing cross-cultural understanding and bonds. It starts in the beautiful desert of Qatar, in a dramatic scene set to the Tannhauser Overture, by the German composer Richard Wagner.
Continue reading “‘Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra – Behind the Curtain’”

Making Of ‘AliBinAli’ TV Commercial (New Version)

Good Morning Doha! Have you seen the new AliBinAli TV commercial currently shown in Qatar and KSA? Be the first to have a look behind the scenes – watch the Making Of here.

Behind the scenes of the new ‘Ali Bin Ali Jewelry & Watches’ TV Commercial (shown in Qatar and KSA). Get an insight and many impressions from the set at the production studio in Munich, as well as nearby locations for the outdoor and underwater scenes. With interviews from Axel Breuer (Producer), Thomas Ackerman (Director/DOP), Franko Melisch (1st AD), Blanda Nunes (Female lead) and Adel Haj-Ibrahim (GM EURO RSCG Qatar).

Client: Ali Bin Ali Group
Agency: EURO RSCG Qatar
Production: Voodoo Creative Partners GmbH
Making Of: Produced, shot & edited by Alex Klim