Week 49: Azuquita Pa’l Cafe

Still waiting on an opportunity to go to Hawaii with our niece and her family, we did the next best thing and headed to Puerto Rico for Episode XXXIV for some snorkeling, sun, and some of the best lechon this side of the globe :) We followed by hiking to La Mina waterfall in El Yunque National Rainforest to celebrate a birthday over a Sandwich Cubano and washed it down with a couple drinks at Casa Barcardi.

Music Credit: El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico – “Azuquita Pa’l Cafe”

Production Notes:

  • Just in time for Week 49 and to be caught up and on schedule! =)
  • Four full days of shooting on-location with 3 different cameras (7D, T2i, and GoPro Hero)
  • Same light-weight tripod/slider setup that we used for traveling through Europe (Giottos VGR-8225 + Manfrotto 701RC2 + igus 1040 DIY slider @ .5m + Manfrotto 496RC2)
  • I wanted this one to be a bit punchier, so I really amped up the colors and saturation here.  Each shot was graded by hand in FCP X
  • And as much as people give it flack, this was cut entirely in FCP X as well.  Maybe it doesn’t work well with the pros out there, but for my specific DSLR-based workflow, no other NLE cuts it close for me (we just finished shooting this past Tuesday!)
  • Speaking of FCP X, I used a plugin called “ShrinkRay X” for the opening beach shot.  Check out CrumplePop for more plugins.
  • The hermit crab shot and many of the food shots were done on the new Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro.  The short focal length definitely leaves more to be desired in terms for working space, but for what I need it for (small, inanimate objects), it works well.  I’m surprised how far down I have to stop down this lens just to make things clear – down to f/9+ in some cases!  Guess that’s the way it is, but sure does eat up a lot of light!
  • The underwater shots were done with the DiCaPac SLR underwater case.  This is only the 2nd time we’ve been able to bust it out (the first for our Santorini video which we haven’t finished yet) – but definitely some decent underwater life found off the coast of Playa Tamarindo.  I got some advice on underwater grading from Under Water Realm.
  • The opening timelapse felt quite a bit choppier than I would’ve liked.  I think this is partially due to the framing – the waves coming up on shore don’t looking smooth at all when shooting every 15 seconds.  I’ve started watching Red Owl’s timelapse tutorial about how to shoot timelapses in RAW and I think I’ll consider this for a future project…
  • Did anyone else notice that this film was shot entirely in 30p?  Yep – this is a departure from all my other films (which are typically shot in 24p), and I did that as I thought it would cut better with the 60p footage I had planned on shooting… however I didn’t realize that the GoPro Hero’s LCD BacPac ate up battery life so quickly! (I guess I’m spoiled by my DSLRs – if that?).  So we didn’t end up getting much footage (I had it on standby through the long 1-hr hike through the rainforrest).  In any case, this is definitely a lot less “film-like” and more “video-like”, but it is what it is :)
  • Another note to self: when shooting sunsets, try to stick to 5-second intervals between timelapse shots.  I felt that 15-seconds wasn’t often enough to capture the dramatic sunset (seemed to go by very quickly @ 30p)
  • We brought the Glidecam HD-2000 along but unfortunately didn’t rack up the nerve to assemble it, balance it, and use it for any shots.  Ended up being extra weight and without a large crew or lots of assistants, things get heavy quickly.
  • One of those travel-sized jib/cranes would’ve been wonderful here for some sweeping shots of the beaches.  Maybe one from DSLR-Devices or another manufacturer will be in store for me in the coming year?
  • While in the edit suite, I tried to concentrate more on the narrative side of the film making process – one part that I think is severly lacking in my edits.  I think I did a decent job this time around, but as this 52-week project comes to an end, this is definitely something i want to try to improve on in the new year.
  • Turns out that the island of Culebra was used for target practice back in the WWII days.  In fact, you can still find abandoned tanks rotting away on the shores of Playa Flamenco.  Also, during the snorkeling section, you can see the shell of an old bomb laying at the ocean floor – it’s turned into a reef for a few fish.
  • I told my wife that I wanted to get some footage of some turtles :P  Luckily, we found one off the coast of Playa Tamarindo.  Maybe we’ll come back in the future during Turtle Season and watch them lay eggs in their nests :P
  • Before heading to Puerto Rico, we had watched a few videos to get some ideas.  There was a sunset shot that I had really admired but didn’t know where to find it.  On our last day, we finally did find it: Isla de Cabras.  Put that on the shot list for next time – great sunset silhouette with the palm trees.
  • Yeah – bad experience with the GoPro Hero’s battery dying while we were hiking in the middle of the rainforest.  Note to self: always bring along the DiCaPac.  And only use the Hero in places where a DSLR is just not usable (i.e. needs to be strapped to your body).
  • Puerto Rico’s “Pan de Mallorca” looks just like the “Ensaimada” that they have in Spain.  Our Filipino version has cheese – I prefer that one more :)
  • One last thing – we might have an opportunity to film a Destination Wedding next summer – so I call this practice leading up to the big day :P
Wow – technically on 3 more weeks left on this 52 project!  Any suggestions on what I should work on?  My thoughts were:
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • NYE in the Philippines

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