Tom Lowe

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Posts by Tom Lowe

Spring 2011

After shooting for Malick and Godfrey, January was rather quiet, as we worked on acquiring new gear and funding. By February, we were back in action at Yosemite for the annual “Firefall”, and we haven’t looked back since.

Filming the Eclipse on my way home from Oklahoma

Back of the camera

Filming on Red MX at Salton Sea

At Salvation Mountain with its creator, Leonard!

Shooting the annual Firefall at Yosemite on Red MX camera and camBLOCK

Sizing up Horsetail Fall with the Canon 600mm f4

Firefall

Moonrise on Red MX and Duclos 80-200mm plus doubler

The Doctor manning the big guns in Palm Springs.

Shooting on Ketch Rossi's Red Epic M #8 at Joshua Tree.

After years of waiting, the Red Epic camera arrives!

Tom shooting on Red Epic at Salton Sea

On the shore of Salton Sea

Frame from the Epic

Beautiful sunset clouds at Salton Sea

Dr. Kanab with the Epic at Salton Sea

Sadly, about 15 days after getting the Epic, we crashed it into the Salton Sea when an RC helicopter failed :(

Well, no problem, we can always shoot timelapse! Showing Vincent Laforet the camBLOCK system in LA

Motion-control gear takes over my garage

My beautiful Mom came for a visit :)

One of the things I like to do when not filming.

Epic on CineSlider

Jarred from Red was kind enough to loan me his Epic for a week at Death Valley. He made me swear to stay away from water! Haha.

Sailing stone

Denz PL-Mount Canon 1D4 camera with Zeiss Ultra Prime 50mm and Kessler CineSlider!

Everything you need for effective filmmaking!

Badwater.

In March, I became the first natural history shooter to film on the new Leica Summilux-C prime lenses, thanks to a recommendation from master Ron Fricke.

I didn't bother shooting test charts. We went straight into the wild with the Leicas..

Up before the cowboys, with Epic and Leica

Leica 18mm on a Denz 1D4. Deadly!

Filming with Red Epic by day, and Canon DSLRs by night.

By April it was time for the annual NAB conference in Vegas. This poor bellhop.

With Curt Morgan from Brainfarm. Kindred spirit.

BandPro and Leica played my footage on a 103-inch plasma at NAB.

One of my filmmaking buddies actually got married in Vegas, so of course I had to go!

Finally got a replacement for the Epic. My friend Mike Flores operating.

Nights don't get more f#cking epic than this.

From the most dry and remote desert, to the most epic coastline imaginable. Big Sur.

Beautiful.

Kessler Shuttle Pod Dolly and Epic at McWay Falls, Big Sur.

Filming the Redwood trees at Big Sur.

While at Big Sur, I was also filming sequences for the upcoming feature film BIG SUR, based on the Kerouac novel. DP is David Mullen, ASC.

From Big Sur, straight to the biggest telescope site around - The Very Large Array! Kessler Timelapse Crane setup.

Me location scouting at VLA.

A single frame from VLA: The Ancient and the New.

Chased out of VLA by incredibly high winds we took another crack at these rock formations in Nevada. My cousin Mike Goveia operating.

Maybe we've been in the deserts too long...rocks are starting to look like animals!

Me sleeping under the stars in Nevada. :)

With June upon us, Summer is on!!!

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Winter 2010 Hiatus – Working with Godfrey Reggio and Terrence Malick

We took a break from filming “TimeScapes” in November and December to fulfill my wildest dreams, a chance to work with legendary filmmakers Godfrey Reggio and Terrence Malick on their new feature films. Without the influence of Malick and Reggio, I would not be making “TimeScapes,” so I could not turn down this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Dr Kanab joined me for the Reggio shoot in New Orleans, then Chris M flew into Oklahoma to help us with the Malick shoot.

Godfrey checks the frame on our timelapse shot in New Orleans

We are back in the deserts of California now, embarked on another seven months of filming for “TimeScapes.” We plan to wrap filming after Burning Man in early Sept, and start editing.

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Fall 2010 – Moab & Lake Powell

Sorry for the delay in getting this update done. No excuse! This will mainly be photos. I am planning to keep the blog more up-to-date this year. :^)

Setting up the camBLOCK 3-Axis moco dolly under Corona Arch

Zen

Milky Way

Thank you to Chris Dortch for these beautiful behind-the-scenes shots of Corona Arch.

Dustin, aka Dr Kanab, at Secret Spire near Moab

Kanab stringing up the camBLOCK dolly

Return to Holy Land:

Setting up the Kessler timelapse crane at Holy Land, Arizona

Final measurements for timelapse crane move. Tyler Ginter managed to take these photos of me wearing my grandpa socks.

Me and Dr Kanab chillin at the Holy Land with a nice bonfire, while the camera does all the hard work

Kessler Timelapse Crane in action

Captain Tyler Ginter US Army at Natural Bridges National Monument

The Kessler Crane 5-foot Cineslider performed flawlessly that night. Photo by Tyler

Tyler wrote a blog piece about his time with us: http://blog.tylerginter.com/?p=562

Night-vision goggles, speeding through the canyons of Lake Powell at 3AM to film astro boat-lapse

Carson Garner and his pint-sized assistant came out to join us at Arches National Park

Setting up a 3-axis move under Sand Dunes Arch

Me and Dr Kanab. I'm making stupid faces to try to get Carson to stop taking photos

Carson also made a blog post about his time with us: http://www.f9photo.com/node/73

Finally, I want to say a fond farewell to our 30-foot toy-hauler trailer, which treated us well for 9 months of filming. Adios, old friend

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New production footage video: “TimeScapes: Rapture”

TimeScapes: Rapture from Tom Lowe @ Timescapes on Vimeo.

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Thanks, Chris M!

I want to say a huge and sincere thanks to Chris Mierzwinski — better known worldwide as “Chris M” — for all of his help, advice and friendship filming with me this last May and June. Chris and I share a lot in common, including many shared ideas and sensibilities about cinema, life… and epic women (of which we saw many this summer!) Poor Chris had to endure some tough times on that leg of the shoot, including all manner of blowouts, failures and catastrophes related to our RV. But we also managed to have a lot of fun and to kick plenty of ass with our shots. Living out of casinos in Vegas, chasing bears through Yosemite, breaking every permit law known to the western United States… I wouldn’t have wanted anyone but Chris with me.

Thanks, Chris, I owe you, man. And I hope to have you back out here soon!

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Filming in July & August

First of all, just a quick update on how the film is progressing: fantastically. I apologize for the long delay in updating this blog, but we’ve been going to town on this film over the last few weeks. We’ve spent the last month or so based out of the town of Lee Vining, CA. Before that, we spent two beautiful weeks with the “Mobile Production Studio” parked off the grid at Green Creek, near Bridgeport.

As of now, my plans are to head out to Utah (Canyonlands, Arches, etc) at the end of this month, spend one month there, then spend the month of October at Lake Powell filming on the water, as well as filming surrounding locations like Antelope Canyon, Pink Dunes, Goblin Valley…. and of course a return trip to the “Holy Land” location in Arizona. November will probably be White Sands, New Mexico and possibly the Very Large Array, if I can get approval to film there. In December, I will begin to sort through my footage, maybe shoot some snow sequences, and sell the trailer. In January, I will travel to New Zealand to spend some time at the Rubber Monkey Studio with my producer and composer Nigel Stanford. At that point, we will begin to piece the puzzle together — to see how much footage we have, how much more footage we still need, how the music fits with the clips, and of course we will need to get serious about figuring out our post workflow.

Anyway, enough of all that, here are some pictures and videos from our last six weeks of filming:

Here is the trailer packed for the move from Bishop to Green Creek.

Filming at the hot springs near Bridgeport

Our camp at Green Creek

A Red MX frame grab shot at Greek Creek over 4th of July

Nilo built an awesome fire-ring at Green Creek

My producer and composer Nigel joined us for a few days at Green Creek in this stylish RV!

Dinner at Green Creek

On location in Nevada near Goldfield

Rainbow near South Tufa at Mono Lake

Here is one of the resulting frames from the Red footage

Shooting Canon timelapse at the Tufa

Location scouting the lake in boat. Nilo in foreground, Ryan Christensen from Bristlecone Media in red jacket

My arm after a couple hours on the lake...it's really salty

Nilo setting up the camBLOCK at a Yosemite lake

Testing out a prototype Kessler slider on Mono Lake

Sachtler 150mm head on Kessler prototype

Location scouting at Mobius Arch. Mike Flores joined us on this shoot

iPhone grab of the resulting Mobius timelapse shot

Our office for the afternoon

My intern Nilo horsing around on our new Manfrotto CF sticks

I picked up a new sponsorship from KATA Bags. Thanks, KATA!

Our Red MX camera fits perfectly into this prototype Grizzly-4 backpack bag from KATA, completely built

Typical camBLOCK setup at Bristlecone. (Photo by Shawn Reeder)

Here is the result - a single frame from the above setup

Sleeping under the stars at Bristlecone during the peak of the Perseid meteor shower

Here is a video showing a typical morning for us:

iPhone frame grab from the aforementioned Milky Way

Eric Kessler and Kessler Cranes have been a HUGE sponsor of this film. Here are some photos and videos of the crane in action, including a super-cool “Timelase Crane” modification Eric made for us:

Timelapse Crane at Alabama Hills

Here is the resulting test shot:

Here’s a tour of our 30ft Toy Hauler:

Video of us packing the truck for a 2-day trip:

Another hard day at work:

**********************************

Special thanks for Ryan and Jonah from Bristlecone Media for their camaraderie and collaboration on our Mono Lake shoots. And also a special thanks to Shawn Reeder, Mike Flores, Larry Gebhardt, and of course Drew Walker for their friendship and help with this film.

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Eastern Sierras – June 2010

After Yosemite, we were two weeks behind on data backup and processing, so it was a real blessing when friend Tony Rowell offered to let us park the “Mobile Production Studio” in front of his house in Bishop for three weeks, and let us live and operate out of a beautiful 4-bedroom additional house he has on his property. This allowed us to catch up on a lot of business- and producing-related tasks, to get totally backed up on data protection and gear, and to operate out of a secure, comfortable base in a perfect staging location along legendary Highway 395. Thanks, Tony!

Here is a taste of our adventures over these past couple of weeks.

We chose correctly, because about an hour after that location-scouting video, we lucked out on some epic lenticular clouds near Alabama Hills

Then, like the next day, we saw another huge lenticular and raced out to film it. I often use my truck to block the wind.

Chris and Shawn Reeder in the moment.

As I said, in Bishop, we finally had a chance to get caught up on our gear and computer stuff:

Eric Kessler and I are designing a really cool new slider. More on this later.

After years of dreaming about filming this poignant place, I finally got down to business filming the monument at Manzanar

But I wasn't done yet. I am always looking for something special, so I shot it again a couple nights later.

But I STILL wasn't done. I filmed Manzanar for a third night, looking for something extraordinary. I will probably shoot it again several more times until I am satisfied.

Chris M and Nilo working on a camBLOCK astro move.

Next up, we filmed photographer Jeff Sullivan's beautiful daughter Nicole in a meadow full of wild Iris flowers. Cinevate sent this Atlas slider to test and it performed very well.

Haha, as you can see, these working conditions are horrendous!

Instant feedback. All of these meadow photos were shot by Nilo.

Nicole did an amazing job just being a free spirit, and the Red MX camera captured the images beautifully at 50 frames per second.

We happened to be in Bishop for a big rodeo event, so we grabbed the Red MX and had ourselves a good ole' time.

My new favorite sport: Steer Wrasslin'!

The Red camera allowed us to film this in slow-motion at 3K resolution.

After all that city slickin', it was time to get back to nature, with a two-night camping trip to Troy Meadows. As you can see, I need a bigger truck. ;^)

One of the most epic campsites I know in California.

Whenever I need extra luck on a shoot, I wear this incredibly bad ass t-shirt I picked up at a truck stop.

You thought that shirt was a joke, right? Not at all! This rainbow was the result, only the second time I have ever worn that shirt!

My camBLOCK 3-axis motion-control system bathing in the morning light after working all night.

Location scouting at the Ancient Bristlecone Forest

A single frame from an 880-frame timelapse we shot that night.

So here's a toast to you, Eastern Sierras. We had a blast!

Next up, we are leaving for the High Sierras in the morning!

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Yosemite May-June 2010

We had an awesome visit to Yosemite National Park in late May & early June, thanks to our gracious host Steve Bumgardner, aka “Yosemite Steve”: http://twitter.com/YosemiteSteve

The trip started with a real bang, literally, during the long drive from Palm Springs to Yosemite, when one of the tires on our 30-foot Toyhauler trailer blew out.

I actually drove like 20 miles on this thing without realizing it!

Thankfully, AAA sent someone out to fix it. After the tire blowout, my trailer brakes went out right when we crossed into Yosemite. I had to ride 1st and 2nd gears all the way into Yosemite Valley :( Next up, I had to maneuver the “Death Star” trailer through some crazy obstacles to get it parked at the Lower Pines campground in Yosemite Valley.

The Force was strong with me that day!

So after all of that nonsense, we finally got down to some filming!

Rainbows near El Cap. That's the Canon 70-200mm

Filming the photographers who flock to Tunnel View at Yosemite

Yosemite Steve tries his hand on the Red MX camera, with Chris M pulling iris

A pretty epic little waterfall scene we shot on Red

Chris M prepping gear at our camp

Steve supervises another waterfall shoot

Timelapsing the crowds at Tunnel View, with help from Edie Howe and Jeff Sullivan

When the weather got iffy, we went to Plan B: drinking lots of beer. Drew Walker, Tony Rowell, Steve Bumgardner's eyes and hat

Filming at Glacier Point with Chris M, Steve and Drew. We had an epic night up there, with 6 Canon cameras rocking various astro timelapses until 4AM

Memorial Day weekend madness. The unwashed masses had arrived!

Wimps! Girly men!

Red MX frame-grab of girl riding a bike through a meadow

One of the main goals of this early-summer trip was to film “Moonbows” on the waterfalls at Yosemite, which can mainly be done in May and June. We hooked up with well-known Flickr photographer and location expert Jeff Sullivan for several nights of attempting to capture these elusive moonbows. It was a lot of fun.

Moonbow, shot on Canon 70-200mm f/2.8

As cool as the moonbows were, probably the highlight of the Yosemite trip for me was the afternoon we spent filming wild bears in the meadows. All credit goes to Tony Rowell (http://www.tonyrowell.com), who spotted the bears and radioed us: “We got bears!…. turn around!” It was an incredible rush — a natural high — being out so close to the bears and filming them.

Red + Bears = a great afternoon

It was a sublime experience filming these bears. I am not going to reveal the best shots we got until the film, or at least the trailer ;^)

Tony got some beautiful still shots and even timelapses(!) of these bears, then snapped a photo of me and Chris coming back from the filming:

Beautiful

Swapping war stories and feeling euphoric after our bear encounter

Tony got both of those shots on his dad Galen’s (http://www.mountainlight.com/rowellg.html) old, beat-up, scratched Nikkor 300mm.

Galen's battle-scarred 300mm

Shooting waterfalls on the Red camera at 50 frames per second:

Next up, the Eastern Sierras!!!!

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Palm Springs and Nevada

Some behind-the-scenes pics and videos from April and May in Palm Springs and Nevada.

camBLOCK 3-axis motion-control system doing a push-in dolly move on a blooming Mojave Yucca at 4AM

Canon 5D Mark II mounted on my Tundra for some astro drivelape action in north Palm Springs at my favorite wind turbines

Gorgeous morning after a long night of astro drivelaping.

Amazing clouds I captured in Palm Springs on a lucky day

My camera captured this surreal pic of me setting up an astro drivelapse shot

Testing camBLOCK moco system in my trailer

Intermediate dolly in action

camBLOCK shooting at sunset

1 Man. 2 Dollies.

My headlights flashed this tree as I drove away from the camBLOCK setup. We drove half a mile away to enjoy a campfire

Using my iPhone 3Gs to predict when and where the sun was going to rise

These girls seemed amused to see us out so early with all our cameras.

Canon 5D Mark II on Manfrotto sticks and ball head

Me and Chris with some down time at the so-called Mobile Production Studio

Location scouting at Salton Sea

Shooting on Red MX camera at Salton Sea

Red MX looking through the Duclos 80-200mm PL-converted Nikon lens

Chris thought he was staring in a Vincent Laforet video.

Next up, we are leaving for Yosemite tonight for two weeks in the park with Steve Bumgardner!

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Vegas NAB and Coachella

Kessler Party in Vegas with Laforet, Bloom, Rodney Charters, Dan Chung, Tyler Ginter, Khalid Mohtaseb, Tom Guilmette, Zacuto's Steve Weiss and Sue, etc. I'm standing between Laforet and Ginter

After years of wanting to attend NAB (National Association of Broadcasters conference) in Vegas, this year, I couldn’t resist any longer. My work was being featured in Canon’s “HD Theater” in the main convention hall, and there were just too many people I wanted to finally meet, and sponsors I wanted to thank. After a grueling 10-hour drive hauling the 30ft trailer from Lake Powell down to Coachella, I raced back to Vegas to NAB. Almost immediately, I was able to meet a lot of the major players from Canon USA, including (the real) Chuck Westfall and Amy Kawadler. The strangest part for me, was the fact that several times I was stopped in the hotel or on the convention floor with “Tom?? THE Tom Lowe from Timescapes??” *Blush* I am a guy who spends most of his time sitting on camping chairs under stars and trees in remote places. I was quite surprised that anyone even knew who the hell I was.

I got to meet some of the real luminaries of new digital cinema, including Dan Chung, Philip Bloom, Rodney Charters, Alex Buono, Khalid Mohtaseb, Jon Rawlinson, etc. I figured most of my time at NAB would be spent eye-balling new gear and cameras. But in fact, 95% of my time was spent just meeting people and saying hi.

Wednesday night, Eric Kessler of Kessler Cranes threw what was supposed to be a small dinner party for just a few of us, but quickly turned into a fairly epic little gathering (photo above). By night’s end, we were at Gustav’s bar at the Paris hotel having drinks with Laforet, Chung, Charters, etc.

NAB pics…

Crazy Cineflex Mad Max camera car from helicopter filming god Ron Chapple

Philip Bloom shows off his better side at Kessler party

Drinks with Vince, Dan, Matt Jeppsen and Rodney

Dan Chung, out for the count! That 60oz piƱa colada is no joke

From the frying pan of NAB, straight into the flames at Coachella! Dan Chung and Drew Walker joined me immediately after NAB for three days of filming at the Coachella music festival. Needless to say, this was a bit of a culture shock after the previous six weeks of filming cactus and joshua trees out in remote deserts. First of all there were gorgeous women everywhere. And the music.. wow!

Coachella pics…

The wristband

Dan rockin the Red One MX digital cinema camera

Crazy stuff at Do Lab stage

Trying to film people in various states of ecstasy


Dan was kind enough to bring me a highly prized Canon coffee mug!

Here are two frame grabs from the Red footage we shot… all of it was filmed at 3K RAW 50 frames per second…

Hula Hoop at 50 frames per second...

This girl was AMAZING. She had me mesmerized the whole time I was filming her

Next up, I am heading to Nevada soon to film for about a week to ten days, for a big new Nevada State Museum project. This will be a high-tech museum with video walls. I believe it will be built on the Vegas strip. I will use the earnings to supplement the modest “Southwest Light” budget, and will also be able to use the clips in my film.

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