Please Promise – Making Me New Promo

Here’s a quick video I made with local Kalamazoo band, Please Promise.

Please Promise talks about their newest single “Making Me New”.

Demo Reel Update, Video List Update, and more

It’s been a while since I updated my video list tab, so I updated it with all the films and visual effect videos that I made in the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013. Lots of gems both good and bad, and a lot of stuff that has been unlisted on my youtube channel. I also uploaded and posted a demo reel from 2012 to 2013 that I made for a class at the bottom of this blog post.

I also would like to apologize that I haven’t been true to my audience. I know that many of you have subscribed to my channel and website thinking that you were going to be seeing a load of amazing visual effects and be able to learn how to do them. I’m greatly sorry for my YouTube leave of absence. A new school year is upon me and I have been granted a very special opportunity again to reignite the flame and blow the minds that have watched my videos. Stay tuned because there’s some good stuff in store.

When do you upgrade your equipment?

There’s a saying out there that goes, ” You are only be as good as your equipment is.” I highly disagree with this statement but it brings up a good topic, when as an artist do I upgrade my equipment? My answer is, the best time to upgrade is when either society demands you to upgrade or when you need to upgrade to make artistic change. I guess the only way I can explain this is by giving examples of when I actually upgraded my equipment.

I first made videos on my parents’ Sony Cybershot camera that recorded in like a 360×280 setting which I uploaded and edited everything on an old desktop computer on Windows movie maker. A majority of these crappy videos that I made are private now on Youtube but all the equipment was perfect for the time being. I was solely making videos for fun and didn’t need anything special. You first have to determine what you need as oppose to what works for you. If everything runs perfect why would you ever upgrade?

You begin to upgrade when you know modern technology is beyond you. The age of high definition cameras were coming out and I finally had some birthday money saved up for an HD camcorder. I had a desire to make my videos higher quality and to make them better and more enjoyable. I watched thousands of videos on YouTube studying what camcorder I wanted and finally purchased a Canon HF20 over a Canon HF10. I still use the HF20 today whenever I’m on the go and don’t feel like using a dslr. Switching from a camcorder to a dslr wasn’t really a hard upgrade thanks to many resources such as Dave Dugdale that help you understand dslrs. I knew the benefits that dslrs had over camcorders but the reason I got a Canon Rebel T3i was because my HF20 was acting up and I needed a camera for a job. A need.

The issue I’m finding now is when do I upgrade my lenses? I got a perfectly good Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens off ebay for $160, the kit 18-55mm lens and a 55-250mm lens. When I upgrade lenses will I go full frame and get a 5Dmark III? I probably will once the raw video gets figured out completely with magic lantern because that quality rivals the Black Magic Cinema Camera . I do think that will be my breaking point where I’ll upgrade again and start to buy L lenses. Once all my lenses from my wish list are purchased I’ll probably go for a red epic or scarlet with a Leica Noctilux 50mm f/0.95. Who knows…

I think that it’s important to realize that once you’ve maxed out your potential with your equipment then I think you’ll be ready to upgrade to make a better artistic change to better yourself. My T3i and I have a long way to go still but below is my wishlist for the future when I get more money.


-A Canon 5D Mark III for quality boost, low light performance boost, and full frame. I’ve played with one and they are nice.
-A White Canon EOS M w/ 22mm lens for convenience with EF Mount. I fell in love with the white version of this camera. It’s so cute for a nice date camera. A T3i or 5D Mark III would be crossing the line a little bit on a date.
-GoPro Hero 3, I’ve played around with a GoPro Hero 1 and now with the Hero 3, I’m excited for the boost in quality and everything.
-A Tamrom SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD Lens for walk around. All purpose travel lens. The image stabilization/ vibration control makes it worthy.
-A Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens. For sports, nature, and animal photography. One of the best on the market.
-A Canon EF 50mm  f/1.2 L USM Lens to replace my f/1.4 lens.
-A Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens. Known as one as Canon’s sharpest lenses. Could get into portraits or just about anything.
-A Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens. For Macro Photography.
-A Canon EF 8-15mm f/4 Fisheye USM Lens. Fisheye, a toy lens for fun.
-A Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L Lens for landscapes and nature.

A Frigid Night Near Pagosa Peak

I’m working again at Sonlight Christian Camp this summer in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. There are tons of new faces working this time around whom I’m positive I’ll be making lifelong friendships with. We just finished up our staff training and I thought I’d share with you a little story about my adventures in the mountains this past weekend. I could have died so it’s pretty interesting I guess.

A group of  about 12 staff members planned on going up a mountain ridge about 12,000ft above sea level where they would camp in a meadow near a lake, summit Pagosa Peak, roughly over 12,500ft, and then hike back down the next afternoon. I heard some news that it would be below freezing that night in Pagosa Springs, roughly 7,000ft, and I couldn’t imagine sleeping in a place where temperatures could be even colder. I told my friend Grant that I wouldn’t go but as staff members began packing up their items, I fell into a slight bit of peer-pressure and I ended up going up the mountain.

As we packed our backpacking bags, I knew my little 30 degree temperature sleeping bag wouldn’t be enough so I rented out a mummy bag from one of our camp buildings. I had roughly 25 pounds in my backpack as we began our accession up the mountain. Not very much camera stuff but clothes, lots of warm layers and some food that we purchased before we made it to the trail head. Around 8:30pm, the sun was setting and our group was just getting over the ridge.  Our front leader said there was only ten minutes until we reached our destination but she didn’t factor in snow. If a path isn’t cleared, walking on snow and ice can lead to your death if you slip and slide right off the mountain. I was using my monopod as a walking stick when I walked over the snow so even if I slipped my monopod would still be caught in the ice. With the snow it would have taken us another 30 minutes to reach our destination if we continued our hike but we didn’t. At this point in time I couldn’t see our leader in front of us. It was pitch black, and windy I immediately began putting on warmer layers. It was so numbingly cold I couldn’t feel my fingertips.

We were about halfway through the snow when someone suggested that we head back, away from the wind and sleeping on the trail. Everyone agreed and began rushing over the snowy paths to find a spot to warm up at. Everyone moved so fast we didn’t realized half of our group was missing when we made it back to the trail. I gave a walky-talky to someone in the group that was split up from us but the communications were jammed. We didn’t hear from them for about 30 minutes. During this time, one of our staff members from the other group was sliding down the snow but was caught by another staff member. People were freaking out but others were confident that they would return to the group. I was with the group that made it back to the trail and I was in my mummy bag with my legs sweating. Mummy bags are surprisingly very warm and you’re even encouraged to sleep naked so that you can be warmer in your bag. If I wouldn’t had grabbed that bag however I may have gotten hypothermia.

Everyone cuddled together between two logs while I laid on the trail with two other guys. The trail was not flat and it was not soft. I slept for maybe 2 hours on and off but a majority of the group had the same if not less sleep. One amazing thing that I took away from this experience was the view of the night sky. Not once in my life have I looked up at the sky to see so many stars. I didn’t take any photos of it because my fingers were numb but it was definitely a sight I won’t forget. Below is a picture of the mountain range that my group of 13 people slept on. I left with a bunch of bruised shoulders, hip bones, and another crazy backpacking story to add to my memories.


Busy Schedules Again

Alrighty so let me bring you guys up to speed on what I’m doing. I heavily apologize if I don’t upload very many videos this semester. I’m taking 16 credits worth of classes, and I’m working part-time at WGVU, the local PBS station, doing shows and whatever else they tell me to record such as sporting events.

One other big thing that I’m doing right now is that I’m working on a documentary with some real professionals that could potentially reach platforms outside of PBS such as ESPN. Details can be found here, but the general idea of this documentary is the story of the second baseball team in American history that was given the opportunity to go over to Cuba to play against Cuba’s baseball team. This documentary is counting as an Independent Study so I will receive 3 credits when all is said and done.

I’m not saying that this schedule is hard or impossible for me but it really limits the time I have to make videos for the YouTubes. Again I’m sorry but what I’m doing is for the best interests of my future career. I’d love to just make videos on YouTube and do that full-time but while I’m at college I must take advantage over the resources and opportunities that are available.

What Should I Ask The Scriptwriter of Everybody Loves Raymond?

Tom Caltabiano, scriptwriter of Everybody Loves Raymond, is visiting my school sometime later this month. He helped co-write the script with Ray Ramano. What should I ask him if I’m given the opportunity to ask him 2 or 3 questions?

Top rated comments will be asked when the lecture is given. Post your comment now!

Filming Tips for Mountain Adventures

For the past week, I went backpacking into the San Juan mountain range and part of the Continental Divide in Colorado to record and make a promo video for this extreme backpacking program I am working for. I was pumped for the chance to see some mountains and finally get some authentic nature shots. However, this past week turned out to be one of the most enduring, both painful and stressful, and the most fun weeks of my life.

Before you start a trip with limited battery and memory you have to have a plan in mind. My promo is going to have a song that is 2 minutes and 26 seconds long. I memorized the song so I knew what kinds of shots I needed for each part and their lengths. Have a plan before you go out for work -related stuff and you will find yourself keeping better track of yourself and your shots so that you don’t run out of memory and can conserve the most battery you can.

Sunday- Night time,

I was packing my camera equipment, and I ended up bringing 9 pounds of camera equipment including my: canon rebel t3i, my two zoom lenses that cover 18-250mm focal lengths, my LCD Viewfinder, my 6 batteries (all fully charged), a backup camera (fully charged), a GoPro, my tripod, and two 32gb sd cards. I was also given a list of items to bring such as sunscreen, toothbrush and toothpaste, an extra outfit of clothes, wool socks etc. I had no idea that these items would add up so quickly and end up weighing over 45 pounds. My backpack was the heaviest in the group. We had a group of 14 people, myself included, and everyone else’s pack weighed about 30 pounds. After this day I learned to pack as light as possible. Bring only what is absolutely necessary. The group gear was dispersed such as food, cooking stoves, sleeping bags, and other heavy items but because I had my camera equipment, mine weighed the most.

Once the group was done weighing the packs we threw them into the trailer, had a hot dog dinner and watched a short slide-show on how to backpack efficiently. We got in the 12 passenger van and drove into the mountains and camped at the trailhead. We ended up sleeping on the ground and out underneath the stars. I recorded the group huddle before we left the backpacking base but it was too dark to record anything at the trailhead.

We woke up, had some cereal but were offered two options; Raisin Bran and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Everyone in the group excluding the guides ate the Cinnamon Toast Crunch and I felt bad that nobody was eating the raisin bran so I ate that only to have doomed myself later on in the trip. We said a prayer and started moving. Bringing the viewfinder for my camera was one of the best things I brought with me. It magnifies my screen and keeps glare out so I can keep my screen brightness to a minimum to save battery and can keep my focus as sharp as possible.
The group moved so fast I didn’t even get all shots that I think I wanted because I didn’t want to get a mile behind the others going up this mountain. I also figured I’d be out here for a week so I’d get the shots I wanted at a different time. I ended up having to run and was always last in the group to arrive at stopping points on the first day. I took advantage of the times when the group stopped by recording people eating, close ups of plants and bugs and those types of things. The first 3 hours were brutally painful. It was a hike up a mountain on pretty much a vertical slant. When we reached the top of the mountain, about 10,000 ft., we stopped for lunch and had some tuna wraps. While we were eating it started to rain. Rain and thunderstorms are overly dangerous in the mountains. You are one of the only charged objects in the highest places possible so you are more likely to get struck by lightning. Our group quickly packed the items away and went down in elevation towards some trees. We hid underneath the trees for about 2 hours and waited for the storm to pass. Thankfully my rain jacket and my rain cover for my backpack kept all the rain away. Prepare for rain. My batteries and cards were stored in a plastic zip-lock bag so incase it did rain hardcore they wouldn’t be ruined. I had my camera in a small athletic tie bag that I kept on my shoulders. If it rained I just put my rain jacket over the bag.

We hiked back up and over the cliff until we reach a small pond. The water was very stagnant and dirty but thanks to a little Iodine and some vitamin C the water became drinkable. We reached Quartz Lake and setup camp for the night. I recorded some kids having quiet time with God and then we had some Ramen. A deer had been stalking us for the past few hours and kept creeping on our camp. It didn’t show any fear of us but after chucking some rocks at it and screaming he finally got the message and ran away. A previous hiker must have tamed it somehow. Part of “Leave No Trace” is to keep the animals wild and afraid of humans otherwise the balance of nature will be thrown off with tamed animals. It rained a couple of hours again and a rainbow came out. I got a quick shot of it but it vanished very fast so my shot wasn’t as great. Don’t put your camera away, always keep it out and ready in case something unexpected happens like a funny conversation or in my case a beautiful rainbow appears.
We went to bed at around 10:30pm.


I woke up at about 7:00am and pulled out my camera from my pack. The lighting was awesome. Take advantage of morning light. The lighting was so dramatic, about 70% of the shots used for the promo were captured with this morning light. After I got about a half-hours worth of footage we ate some sausage tortillas, packed up our stuff and left. We traveled around Quartz Canyon where I got a couple of shots of the backpackers. We went up and around some sketchy ledges and then had some lunch after about 3 miles of hiking. We had peanut-butter and jelly tortillas this time for lunch. Just as we were about to leave the rain fell down on us for about an hour. Packing rain protection gear is essential. In the mountains rain comes and goes and it’s very unpredictable. Always prepare for rain.

Something I didn’t really make clear in any of these previous paragraphs was that I was practically dying the entire time I was on this trip. The group took very few water and breather breaks and powered through till we got to our next campsite. Whenever it rained and I said that it stopped, I’m referring to that it stopped down pouring. We still ended up hiking in the rain for hours. We got over this ridge and then were bombarded by a thunderstorm. With zero trees for cover we had to run down a rocky mountain, through some snow until we could hide under a small cliff area. We were freezing and the rain lasted for about 45 minutes. Once it lightened up we took off until we reached the basin of Summit’s Peak, roughly about 13,000ft above sea level. We decided to camp on top of the mountain that night. It was cold, windy, and at night probably got to around 30 degrees F. Bringing multiple warm layers and gloves becomes essential when it gets freezing in the mountains. If your hands are freezing then you aren’t going to want to film anything. We had some awful chunky potato soup that night which would have been better if the water was warmer. It took 45 minutes to boil some water because the wind kept taking the heat away. I went to bed with a cold and the chills but thankfully my sleeping bag was warm.


Last night I didn’t get any sleep, maybe a half-hour at most. In the middle of the night I had to ask my guide for some of his water because I was so dehydrated and mine ran out. Oh I forgot to mention that I slept in a tent with my guide. I tossed and turned but couldn’t get any sleep. Around 6:30am I got out of bed and walked around a little. I walked a good 500 yards away from where everyone was camped at and I puked. I had stomach flu or so I thought. I walked back, told the guides and they told me that I didn’t have the flu but rather I had altitude sickness. I have never been at 13,000ft so my body wasn’t used to breathing in 25% less oxygen. I was also dehydrated so the condition worsened. I was told that for every 1% of hydration that you don’t have you lose 10% of energy. Another bodily function that I should probably mention is my stool. Remember when I said I had raisin bran on the first day? Altitude sickness worsened it. Enough said.

Anyways, I decided to stay back and try to sleep in the tent as the backpackers summited the 13,500ft peak. I took some pepto bismol and had a little oatmeal. Once the backpackers came back I got out of the tent, took down the tent, and packed my backpack. I left out my 10 pound tripod and the 4 pound peanut butter and jelly bag that I was supposed to carry. The items were given to other backpackers and I sat down and tried to get some calories in my body before we left. I was extremely weak. I slowly ate a tortilla with honey on it. In the process I was chewed up by about 20 flies.

I lead the way as we hiked gradually downward. I made the group take about 10 times the amount of breaks that we usually took. I was extremely weak with the 30 pounds of gear in my pack. I went about 2 hours until we stopped for lunch. Crackers and cheese were on the menu and I attempted to eat a few. The rain came and I got about 45 minutes more of sleep. The rain stopped and I started hiking again. I collapsed on the side of the mountain and got sick several times. The instant I stopped everyone in the group surrounded me and asked what they could take from me. They opened up my pack and took everything from me, my camera equipment, heavy sleeping bag, and clothes. I really felt the love of Jesus at that moment. Everyone came together to help someone that was in need of help. My pack was lighter than a feather. I got up and I trucked down the mountain with the motivation that once I got to the bottom a car would be there to pick me up and bring me to lower elevation where my body would heal itself with more oxygen. I took very little video that day, more than I wanted to record. Don’t let sickness stop you from doing your job no matter how rotten you feel.

We got to the bottom and the van appeared. I took shotgun and we drove to a gas station. Once we got to the gas station I already felt 50% better, good enough to eat a footlong sub from Subway. We left the gas station and drove to Penitente Canyon. I slept the entire ride there and woke up in a desert. Penitente Canyon was a sandy-rocky desert and to my benefit was at 8,000ft, 5,000ft lower that what I was at earlier in the day. Around 9pm everyone unpacked their stuff from the trailer and started setting up their tents. I slept in the van where it was warm and away from any possible rain. I woke up several times in the night for water but overall had a good night’s sleep.


I woke up and felt refreshed. I had an egg breakfast with the campers. We packed up some stuff in some day packs and went into the canyon to go rock climbing. We climbed for hours. I didn’t do any climbing however. Climbing a fake rock wall and climbing on actual rock is very different. You don’t have any specified places to grab or place your feet and you have to rely on your belayer (rope holder) to catch you if you fall. Don’t put yourself or your camera at risk. I didn’t feel comfortable so I gave my camera to a guide and gave the GoPro to another camper.

After climbing we ate some more crackers and cheese and went back to our campsite where we played hacky sack, slack lining, Parcore up some rocky ridges, and played some card games until dinner. We had some chicken-alfredo pizzas which was by far the best meal on the trip. We all got ready for bed and I slept in the 12-passenger van again.


At this point in the trip I was ready to go home. I was done. My body was physically and mentally exhausted. We went back to into the canyon where our ropes were from yesterday and we repelled down the canyon. This was even scarier than climbing since you didn’t have a rope holder suspending you . If you let go of the rope to fast you’re done. I didn’t partake in this stunt but I enjoyed getting shots of the kids having fun. While we were sitting in the canyon there were a lot of ants and little bushes. I took out a macro lens that I was borrowing and started recording. Take notice of the little things and look for opportunities even when nothing is happening.

We packed up our stuff and went into the van around noon. We drove around for maybe an hour until we reached Creed, Colorado. Creed is a super small town with like a population of like 200 people. We then went rafting down the Rio Grande for about 3 hours. The water was about 40 degrees but it was super fun. We then went to a steakhouse called Kips where we had some delicious green chili burgers. I got a few shots of people eating. Don’t be afraid to take video or photos of food or of people eating. It started raining again while we were heading back to the van. We drove until we got back to Pagosa Springs, Colorado and we went to the hot springs. Hot springs’ water smells like rotten eggs but is ultra good for your skin. If you have any silver you have to remove it or else it will tarnish. The hottest spring was 112 degrees. They were super relaxing. We all got into the Van and drove back to base where I emptied what was left in my pack and took all my possessions back to my cabin.

This past week I went backpacking in the mountains of the Continental Divide filming a promo video for the backpacking program. It was by far the most challenging experience I have ever put my body through carrying 44.4lbs on my back for 17 miles of straight up hiking. I was sore, tired and hungry for the majority of the trip. I was 13,000ft above sea level and I got altitude sickness. I was puking on top of mountains and my body was dying, only breathing in oxygen 75% less dense than Michigan. If I was any higher in elevation I could have put my life at risk, thankfully my body was able to handle it and it didn’t develop into HYPE or HACE or any other conditions where my lungs fill up with fluids. I was able to explore God’s Kingdom and experience nature in a whole new way.

I’ve gained a new respect towards backpackers and mountain explorers and I had one of the best life experiences that I will treasure forever. I hope you were able to learn a thing or two from my experience and that this might have prepared you for any mountain adventures you may have.

Thanks for reading this monster long entry.

Next blog post you see will be the promo that I did.

Exciting, Bold and Clever! The Amazing Spider-Man Review 9.5/10

First off, before you can enjoy this film, scrap all assumptions about how this film will start and all character stereotypes that were set forth by previous actors. Get rid of the Toby stereotype and let your mind start off fresh. James Jonah Jameson, Harry Osborn, Mary Jane, they are gone. This movie will set forth new and correct actors in ways that the comics may actually depict them. Now that that’s taken care of let me tell you how much I loved this film. I loved almost every bit of it. It’s a fantastic reboot to a dying series that is sure to keep kids buying toys and people loving Spider-Man for possibly another ten years until this series craps out.

Andrew Garfield, Spider-Man, plays his own unique Peter Parker, completely different from Toby but in a good way. This film tells you more about Peter’s parents and doesn’t completely ditch the idea that they didn’t exist like the other movies. I love in this film how Peter learns how to be a good guy and has to learn to be more responsible for his actions. He doesn’t fight crime instantly after his Uncle dies, he acts childish and searches for his father’s killer and has to learn that beating innocent looking biker guys to a pulp doesn’t solve problems. He’s funny in his own ways and acts like a kid like Peter Parker is supposed to be. Gwen Stacy is no Mary Jane Watson but is again completely different from the Remi series. The chemistry between Peter and Gwen is believable and makes more sense than the dream girl next door that magically falls in love with a superhero that saves her. She never screams in the movie for Spider-Man to save her like a wuss and actually helps in defeating the bad guy. The bad guy, I won’t go into details in case you haven’t seen the movie yet is phenomenal. The actor and the voice actor creates a new “creepy” evil that keeps you at the edge of your seat. The fighting style is unique and literally blows your mind as you watch it. A nice thing in this film is that the villain is defeated in the end but isn’t killed so you may get a chance to see some revenge in another sequel.

The costume was weird looking but I’m going to admit that the film makes way more sense as to how Peter would actually make it in the real life setting. The only thing I didn’t like in this movie was how Peter magically knew how to make the webshooters out of a formula that his advanced biologist father made. He’s smart but the ability to understand an advanced formula as a high schooler and use it is almost mind boggling and slightly confuses you. Let’s face it, high schoolers are not generally that smart. Another thing that ticks me off is the level of technology that is used to explain things. Iron Man 2 sucked was because advanced holograms confused the heck out of you. In this the holograms return and the experiments are done with holograms but in a lighter fashion. It ticks me off but what are you going to do. The next villain will probably shoot holograms just to tick me off. Mysterio?….Oh wait…

The overall look of the movie, graphics, action, chemistry between characters, direction of the movie and clever script makes this movie an instant hit for me. I’m going to buy it the instant it comes out on Blu-Ray despite some tech issues I have with it. 9.5/10 Stars.

Short Review: Pixar’s Brave 4/5 stars

Fantastic music, great voice actors, fantastic 3d animations. Pixar has never looked better than this film however its very predictable. Once you grasp the characters and their roles you can practically guess how the film will end. I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t end with a higher bang.

When you watch this film you get the feeling that it shadows “How to Train your Dragon” in some ways. You almost expect a little more action and it didn’t necessarily provide it. It needed more action, and more adventure in my opinion. I would have liked to have seen a better back story about the mystical whisps too. Being nit-picky now, I also think that the naked butts of the people and the amount of cleavage that was shown on the maid was a little too much. I think Pixar could have went without going that far. I still enjoyed the film and was fascinated the entire time by the hair of the characters and Pixar’s ability to create 3d animations. Highly recommended film for all. 4/5 stars.

Busy for 3 Months

I haven’t told anyone on Youtube this, I’ll make a video about it soon, but I’m currently doing an internship in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The internship pays well and I’m getting academic credit for it too. The internet speeds here are awful, worse than dial-up. What does this mean? It means that I can’t upload weekly videos. The company has a limited bitrate and I can’t abuse it by uploading videos. I can probably do a monthly video but I can’t promise anything. I’m still making videos though! In August, when I’m done with my internship there will be a new video uploaded like everyday! I’m recording amazing scenery of the mountains and wild life. Maybe I’ll do giveaway to ensure that my subscribers stay subscribed on my Youtube channel. Anyways don’t just freak if you don’t see any videos from me for a while.

Ryan Rakowski