Category Archives: Commercials

Yo Soy Bilingue (No I’m Actually Not)

Director's Cut – The Look from Michael Blieden on Vimeo.

This is my director’s cut of one of the spots I did in Mexico this summer, and even though I basically have no idea what the actors are saying half the time I really love working in Spanish. I think it’s the future.

Here are some important phrases I learned on this job.

Me voy a echar un coyotito. (I’m going to take a nap)
Listo para me sandwich. (I am ready for my sandwich)
Chica de los Noventa (woman of the nineties)

My Hot Yoga Teacher Video

It’s finally done! Thanks to all of Alex’s friends who helped out on graphics, sound, makeup, wardrobe. Thanks to Birns and Sawyer for giving me a deal on the lighting package. Most importantly, take yoga from Alex! I had spine surgery 2 years ago and instead of going to physical therapy I went to her class. It made me stronger, more pliable, and sometimes in class I felt like I was having a direct conversation with my injury, negotiating with it, coaxing it into cooperating again. Her website is here.

Mad Men Emmys Commercial: My RAW Epiphany

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This is a technical post is for a narrow band of director/operator dudes and ladies like me who toil every day with prosumer cameras, trying to elevate the look of their work so there is no “sumer” left in the viewer’s mind, only “pro.”

I got to shoot this spot with a Red camera on the Mad Men set, and this was the first time that I really understood the power of working with the RAW format. When setting a look on the morning of this shoot, I balanced the camera to 5600K. This homogenized everything, giving it distinctly yellow/gold patina. It was a strong choice which added to the vintage feel. We shot the spot and everyone watching on the monitor was fine with it. When I got back to New York our editor Chris Tartaro and I looked at the footage in Red Cine X. We had the option to completely undo my color temperature choice from the shoot, and look at the same footage as if I had shot it at a more neutral 3200K.
Soon as we did that, I realized 2 things: 1) When a production designer and scenic artists have put a lot of work into something, the palette they choose should be allowed to speak for itself 2) The reason I have developed this tendency towards giving the entire scene an (occasionally over the top) unifying color bias in camera is because 70% of the time I am shooting in ad hoc locations that we don’t have the time or budget to repaint entirely. This technique has been valuable for me, but as I work on better and better sets I need to back off on this.

The RAW thing. Mad Men taught me to appreciate it.

Photo by Michael Yarish