While the current trend in movies and TV has directors adopting an ever more cinema verité, documentary-realism style to inspire an immediacy in their big budget projects, the team at Pacific Pictures have flipped that concept around. They take extra effort to bring a modern Hollywood polish to their documentary work that adds a grand, commercial look and feel, and uses fiction narrative in ways that enhance the viewer experience and add layers of depth to a real event.
Kevin latest pièce de résistance, Flawless, is a stunning 12-minute action film chronicling a couples' harrowing engagement night. The film premiered at the wedding reception. This might seem an unexpected choice when he’d been hired to make a wedding video, but his clients’ story had elements that lent themselves well to the action genre, and Kevin was looking for opportunities to push the limits of his creativity. In this case he was eager to film a motorcycle chase scene with a Porsche Cayenne chase car mounted with a Gemini Crane and the Cannon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR Camera.
...included a full-speed car chase filmed over two nights on a blocked-off street in Long Beach
In telling about their relationship, the groom had described how perfect he wanted the night to be, and how a few things had gone wrong. Kevin recognized his opportunity and expanded the couple’s story into a dramatic script that included a full-speed car chase filmed over two nights on a blocked-off street in Long Beach. This project required the biggest crew to date for a Pacific Pictures film, commanding a complete production team including stunt drivers.
'Flawless' the official trailer
In 2010, on his breakout 28-minute concept wedding film City of Lakes, Kevin had returned from shooting in India and hired a rough-cut editor to assemble and synchronize two terabytes of footage before the creative editing could begin. The editor faced a huge, tedious job and they expected it to take more than a week of solid work.
PluralEyes has completely changed his work processboth on set and in the editing suite
The editor asked if Kevin had heard of the PluralEyes plug-in and initially Kevin brushed the comment aside, thinking it was the usual editor tech talk. When it came up again, he resigned himself to checking out the plug-in and was astounded as, within seconds, all the audio and video footage from multiple cameras over multiple days became instantly synchronized.
Kevin says that PluralEyes has completely changed his work process both on set and in the editing suite. It has cut an entire component out of the post-production schedule and allows him to get into the creative work sooner, which is where he prefers focusing. “Relying on PluralEyes allows us to be more creative, quicker. Inspiration tends to die when I am forced to figure out a technical puzzle. This process allows us to be creative more immediately.”
It also allows him to move quickly on set by not having to stop and slate between each take. Kevin shoots a lot of coverage often using simultaneous cameras, and doesn’t like to slow down if he doesn’t have to. While directing numerous takes where actors are running the same scene over and again, not worrying about issues like camera and audio sync keeps the focus on performances. He mentions that working this way makes his sound recordist skeptical, but Kevin trusts the PluralEyes software will clean up the mess. “I don’t have to wait, and the rate of success is amazing. We just click a button and literally in a matter of seconds the work is done.”
Kevin is an epitome of the highly creative, avant-garde filmmaker. During post-production he works from his studio in Los Angeles alongside colleagues in other cities and as far away as London, UK, where his VFX artists reside.
Rough-cut editors in LA set up the edit and project file, and use PluralEyes to sync everything. On live event films this team assembles a basic documentary-style edit of all the footage and then Kevin comes in to complete the artistic version.
Content is shared through the exchange of hard drives with communication by phone and email. His primary creative tools are Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe CS5 with add-ons including Tiffen dfx software, Adobe After Effects, and Magic Bullet Looks.
On this latest action film Kevin has taken on sound design as well as being the primary editor. In a medium where money is always being stretched, use of the Singular software cuts down on the need for additional staff as well as time. “What I love about PluralEyes is it can be running in the background while other work is happening.”
“Tell Bruce he could be charging about five times more than he is for PluralEyes. I always feel like I’m stealing something with this product.”
Kevin and Pacific Pictures also take on same-day wedding edits where the team works quickly to deliver footage that gets shown at the reception. These are balanced between other ideas for films and concept wedding stories, and the ongoing adventure of filmmaking. Kevin is preparing himself to direct feature films using all the creative and technical experience he’s gaining along the way.
Kevin caused quite a buzz at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in April 2011 with the release of his trailer for Flawless, which can now be seen online at www.pacificpicturesblog.com. Keep an eye on that site and www.pacificpictures.net for more boundary-pushing creativity from Kevin Shahinian and the Pacific Pictures team.