Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thunder Drift Jingle Bells Jerift Event 2009

Thunder Drift is one of the very few organizations in the area that has held an annual full track event every year for the past three years. Each year seems to get better and better. The schedule was no different then previous years, open practice Saturday, Drift Competition Sunday. Only this year's Sunday Competition was a little different.

Xander Newell, seasoned Drifter/Judge, came up with a different type of competition that I feel made the day much more enjoyable, and probably one of the better events I've been to. Definitely the most exciting drift event to film since All Star Bash this past summer. The categories for winning prizes varied from "Longest E-Brake Slide" to "Milk Chocolate Award", which went to the whitest car that ended up the brownest.

Drivers knew where the judges were, but didn't have strict "drift criteria" to focus on. They didn't have to worry about scoring points and getting 1st place. Picture an open track event where there is no pressure, only pressure from yourself to push yourself harder, and at the end of the day, you get prizes for having fun. That is the best way I can describe it and I can tell by the driver's reaction to each award, they had a blast. I had tons of fun being there as well.

The sprinkling rain and fog made for a hard shoot. I faced similar conditions in Marina for UFO's event, but that was on a close skid pad. Trying to focus in on cars at far distances at much faster speeds was a little bit harder. Luckily, I didn't have to color correct as much in this edit, so I was able to release it sooner. I did not plan on using the award ceremony that I filmed in this video, but it felt like it went well and told a bit of a story. Shaky camera and BAD angle of the awards being handed out made me want to skip that, but I think I made the right choice. For future events, I will make it a point to place myself in a better position to get these types of shots.

This years annual event marks one full calender year since we lost a fellow drifter. David Andrew Kula participated in last year's Jingle Bell Jerift Event. A tragic accident following the event last year would turn out for the worst. No, it was not reckless driving or misbehaving behind the wheel. Kula used a pacemaker, but I'm unsure if that was determined the cause of death. Instead of focusing on our loss that night, I'd rather have everyone who knew David remember the time we had with him. From what I remember, he was a really chill guy. Didn't seem like anything could ever get him riled up. Real relaxed dude, and the drift world will miss you. Rest in peace, or better yet, Slide in Peace, friend.
-Andrew Zaragoza
Video: http://vimeo.com/8347246

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thunder Drift Mustache Style Full Track Drift Event

You can't really get a grasp on how big Thunder Hill Raceway is until you try walking around the track. Even though I didn't reach every end of the track, the few spots I did venture out to, really left me winded after the long up and down hill walks. Made me wish I had left some equipment at home. After viewing the footage, I felt the angles I got were a little bland and dull, but hopefully at least the drift community can appreciate it.

The day consisted of a lot of good drivers on Thunder Hill's 15 mile course and a lot of great mustaches. Sorry, you won't see any in this video, but I wish I did capture some of the great staches that day. "Mustache Style" was just one of many fun themes Geoff Pitts can cook up. Drivers actually received a $20 discount if they came with an upper lip sweater. Mustaches only. All other facial hair had to be removed or drivers would not receive the discount. I wonder what Geoff will think of next. Be sure to check thunderdrift.com to see when the next crazy themed event will be.

I honestly had a rough day shooting. I've never been out on course with my camera before, I feel the some what boring footage shows that. I have to thank Geoff Pitts for the media pass that was provided to me. I feel this will give me the experience needed to film an event like this in the future. I hope you enjoy the video and please send me comments, positive or negative. You can reach me here, on vimeo or at localstreethero@gmail.com.

Andrew Zaragoza

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Andre Williams, Jingle Ball Star Search

Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6m90pOAm1U
Background info:
Its been a while since I've had something to post up here, I do apologize. I've been working with Vchi Studios and learning SO much. Filming different things than I'm accustomed to, but still enjoying every second of it. So much so that I've ventured on a solo project of my own. Filming, directing, editing, etc etc, the conclusion, I hope to do this for the rest of my life. I recently hooked up with the extremely talented Andre Williams to put together this gem.

Andre is not your average Joe. He has one of the best voices you will ever hear, but do not let that voice fool you. This artist can submit beautiful music, and put you in a submission hold. Andre trains and is a well balanced Jujitsu student. He trains along side professional fighter David Terrell in Santa Rosa, CA on a regular basis. In this video, Andre showcases some of his techniques, but we couldn't film all of them. You never know when an opponent is watching trying to get an edge. Even as good a fighter Andre is, when it comes to music, you really can see what a talented individual he is. To watch him pick up a mic, no warming up, no play list, nothing, yet still sing as if he had been doing it all night. Its seems so effortless when watching him produce such perfect vocals. I had some camera mic issues, but you still can hear how great of a singer he is.

Andre is competing in 107.9 The End's "Jingle Ball Star Search" competition. Out of 100 plus contestants, Andre has made it to the top 10! The voting has already started, but I wanted to help out a good friend. It pains me to see someone like Andre not being able to make music everyday because of not getting "that shot". We sought out to try and get Andre some exposure, let everyone know him a little better, and GET MORE VOTES! Hopefully after watching this, you will be convinced enough to log onto http://www.endonline.com/pages/5482860.php and register and vote for Andre Williams. He could use every vote possible. Please take the time to register and vote, maybe this could be Andre's big break and we can all help a local man come up in this music industry.

I had so much fun making this, I hope you all enjoy it. Again, please go to www.endonline.com and click on the "Jingle Ball Star Search" link. Or go to http://www.endonline.com/pages/5482860.php


Monday, September 14, 2009

Misty in Marina- UFO Drift-O-Cross

In an ever changing world, the one constant you can count on is, finger numbing, lip chapping, eye irritating cold weather in Marina, Ca. Great for engines, bad for filming. Very similar to the last time I was there, but slightly colder. The mist and wind made for a challenging edit, nearly every shot was bland and lacking true color. The past Three days I have been taking a crash course on Color Correction, something that has plagued me in the past. It was actually a good opportunity to break out of my shell and learn a little bit on the subject. All in all, I feel the picture quality is a vast improvement on what was originally captured, giving me some confidence in color correcting.

As for the event itself, one couldn't ask for a better set up than what Dennis and Peggy of UFO brought us. Splitting the day into two parts, $40 for either the morning or after noon sessions, or $70 for the entire day. The first half of the day had two separate courses that ran two cars at a time. It was all self governed, meaning drivers ended their run when they felt it was over. This is great for getting as many runs in as possible, and it also showcases the respect each driver has for one another. The second part of the day was one big course where drivers did their best in one consistent run. Everyone had plenty of seat time, and at $40/$70, how could you complain? Last time it felt as if the event had gotten to be a bit out of control, long lines, not much driving time. This time around, that was not the case. What seemed like more drivers, was actually much less hectic, and everyone received plenty of driving time, which is the main goal in a practice event like this. It was just an awesome day with a great vibe. You could see nothing but smiles in all of the drivers, everyone had a blast.

I had a great time filming these guys, a whole lot of great talent, as well as some less experienced drivers who where practicing the correct way. I always preach to new drivers how you gain so much more experience at one drift event than you would a whole year of street drifting. Not to mention, you keep your car, yourself safe, you stay out of trouble, and you don't hurt anyone. So watching some new drivers at this event was great and it helps the motorsport move in the right direction.

Dennis and Peggy where extremely nice in letting me roam where ever I wanted to get different angles. To the flaggers who watched over me as I was filming, thank you. I don't know when the next UFO Drift-O-Cross will be, but during a conversation with Dennis, there is a chance they will host up to five events next year. Something for everyone to look forward to. Hopefully by then my car will be running so I can take part in the tire burning festivities myself.

I did what I could to keep my hands steady in the cold, but I inevitably had to resort to my tripod. The entire day was shot in 60i at 1/250th shutter. The intro clips where slowed down with JES Deinterlacer. The quality is amazing when you take the extra time to use JES to slow down footage. The opening two shots speak volumes for people unsure if going the extra mile is worth it. I have finally found a fluid slow motion work flow and I could not be happier. I also went a head and tried some new things. It isn't that convincing, but I tried to create a triple tandem shot. I had fun with that and I'm happy with the results for now. Soon I hope to be able to make the shot so good, you have to ask if it was real or not. Another new addition to this video is we have a sponsor. Geoff Pitts of Thunder Drift, thunderdrift.com , and I have come to an agreement and he has sponsored this video to promote his up coming "Mustache-Style" Full Track Event on November 15, 2009. Visit thunderdrift.com for all the details on the epic event. What an awesome way to get those who are interested in drifting to see when the next drift event in the area will be. Thunder Hill is still one of my all time favorite venues to drift and I urge everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to drive there. It has claimed one of my engines already, but I still keep going back for more. Hero Productions will definitely be there doing heavy media coverage. If anyone would like to sponsor a video, or even just a section of a video, contact me at: LocalStreetHero@gmail.com. Most of these videos you see have been viewed anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 and counting. Its a fast, painless, cheap, easy way to promote your event, business, or service.

I hope you all enjoy, and if there are any questions, just drop me a line on here, via email, on vimeo, in person, what ever! I'm an easily accessible person, reach out to me which ever way is best, I want to hear from you. Click on the video title to follow it back to vimeo to view the video in its best quality.

Thank you for watching,
Andrew Zaragoza
Hero Productions

UFO Drift-O-Cross Marina, Ca Sept. 12, 2009 from Andrew Zaragoza on Vimeo.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Just Drift/Ziptied All Star Bash 2009!

If anyone is remotely interested in cars, motor sports, or action sports, it is a MUST to experience what is known as All Star Bash. I was thinking this was going to be the best non-pro event to attend, my thoughts quickly changed to the BEST DRIFT EVENT IN THE STATES, period. No big sponsorships, no TV cameras (except Hero Productions :-), corporate America was non existent. Only the people who have a real passion for the motor sport. It simply does not get better than this. The event took place at Willow Springs International Raceway on two separate tracks within the raceway. Drivers had a rare opportunity to drift on Streets and the second track for the event was the now legendary, Horse Thief Mile (HTM).

It was a last second decision to go. We looked at the clock as it read 12 o'clock and decided it was going to be worth it. Took off around 1am Saturday morning to get to the track early so we could start the day. The drive was exactly 6 hours, am I crazy? No. I had the same passion and determination as a driver and that carries over quite well into this realm. "You have to be working while the next man is sleeping if you want to get ahead". Words from my dad that have stuck with me my whole life. Driving through the night, no sleep, just to get to a drift event to film? Yes.

I knew the event was going to be "hot", but I didn't know it was going to be HOT. Temperatures were well over 100 degrees causing most cars to overheat and causing me to run the car parked with the A/C on full blast between filming. Even with the heat, drivers were still doing what they do best. At an invitational only event, everyone was trying to do their best and they did not disappoint. People from Socal to Norcal, Arizona to Washington, big ups to those from South Dakota to CHICAGO! Everyone showed up for this event. Its that big of a deal.

This is my biggest event to date. I still have very little experience, but that did not stop Charlie from Just Drift from granting me my media pass. I know it was nothing, but just as easily as Charlie said "yes" to my request, he could have easily said "no, we need experience". So I must give a special thanks to him, thank you Charlie. I hope this video can put me and Hero Productions on the media map. I normally publish videos in 2-3 days, this has taken me a full week of non stop editing. I feel it is by far my best to date and I can not wait to view the feedback and responses from everyone. I even got a hand from Corey over at coredesignz to help me with my logo for this one. Visit him at www.coredesignz.com

I had a blast. I've driven many events, spectated many, but non can compare to All Star Bash. I met so many cool people and finally put some faces to screen names and cars that I've seen on the net for years. I hope the tradition lives on and by this time next year, I can be posting the 2010 rendition of All Star Bash. I do hope you like what I have composed here. I knew I wanted to get this video out while the buzz of ASB was still apparent. Too everyone that was there, you guys were awesome! Next year I hope to meet even more of you crazy animals.

With that said, I present to you, Just Drift/Ziptied All Star Bash 2009 by Hero Productions!

Just Drift/Ziptied All Star Bash 2009 from Andrew Zaragoza on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Feeling the heat at Thunder Drift!

Its been 7 months since the last time I paid a visit to Thunder Hill in Willows, Ca. Enough time to forget exactly how hot it can get. Having the hot sun beat down on you with only a hat for shade, it can be unbearable for some. Only few can take it, luckily, I love to film or else I would have packed it in early. I miss driving drift events, but with every event I film, I enjoy being part of the media more and more. I took this opportunity to play with a few settings on my camera, as well as test out my new Velbon UP 40DX II, which I HIGHLY recommend for anyone who shoots similar footage. The mono pod allows you to be very mobile. I was running up and down the skid pad, jumping on barriers with ease. Get one, you will love it. I recommend this particular mono pod because it has a smooth tilting head. That is a huge advantage over other stationary mono pods.

The video itself is not the most exciting one. I was not able to get many angles, its just a big square skid pad, 4 corners, basically 4 angles. Not only was there minimal spots to shoot from, but there were not many drivers. I don't remember what the exact number was, but it was very few as you can see from the video. Good thing the drivers were good so I got some great footage. A bitter sweet moment when I filmed the collision with the wall, we hate to see it, but at least we got the shot. The video was shot in 60i HDV. I moved away from shooting 24 frames per second in this video, it seems like shooting 60 frames makes for a cleaner look for fast moving objects. I tested out many different shutter speeds, from 1/8th to 1/2000th. The majority is in 1/100th, the others will be for testing that I might post up soon. This day was meant to fine tune some settings and do some experiment's before All Star Bash in Socal next week. Be on the look out for that one! For now enjoy what I have so far, and please comment with anything that's on your mind after watching this video. Follow to vimeo for the best quality by clicking on the title. Any questions, email me at localstreethero@gmail or post here or on the vimeo page.

Hero Productions
Andrew Zaragoza (Local Street Hero)

ThunderDrift 7-18-09 Thunder Hill Willows, Ca from Andrew Zaragoza on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Just Drift - Willow Springs International Raceway - May 30th 2009

Woke up Friday morning to go to work at 6am ready to get the weekend started. Little did I know that the next opportunity I would have to actually sleep would be 48 HOURS LATER. Normally one wouldn't complain about having a quote "really long weekend", but this was the exception to the rule. Sitting back after it was all said and done, after all the editing was finalized and I can watch the video, I guess it was worth it.

Loaded my friend's car up on my trailer and left Woodland (near Sacramento) around 8 PM. Only 3 hours later than planned. Drove to Salinas, loaded my friends truck and prepped everything for the following day. We got no sleep through the night and left at 4 AM, only an hour later than planned. We drove all morning only to take wrong turns here and there and finally made it to the track at 10 AM, about 2 hours later than planned. This was only the beginning.

As I start to set my Camera up, I realized I had left my tripod at home. Huge let down. I came all this way to forget a very intricate part of my arsenal. I'll now make a check list for future filming so I don't forget anything important. I was now going to have to rely on the top handle that my father and I made, even though when we made it, it was designed to be used with the tripod. I had never shot with it before, but by the end of the day, I had mastered the art of the top handle. Not so much, but I got by ok.

The entire day I shot in PF24 HDV, which would later be converted into 24P. I used Tv mode with the shutter speed at 500. I didn't think to switch it up, I wish I did just to see what looks better/worse. Of course, the project looks better than it does on vimeo, but I think it looks great. Here is the video, please follow to vimeo to view in its highest quality:

Just Drift - Willow Springs International Raceway - May 30th 2009 from Andrew Zaragoza on Vimeo.

I love the "Pleasantville" effect. I just had to try it out. I did not want to over due it, so I figured the intro would be best fitting. I had to adjust some colors, but not much. Only one car looks a little pink-ish as opposed to its red actual color, but I can live with that. I set the White Balance myself at every different angle. I think it vastly improved the color of the shots and made for less headaches when editing in post. If you have any questions, please post them here. Any productive criticism, please post here. I do appreciate every comment I receive, from praise to despise.

Thank you and Enjoy,
Andrew Zaragoza aka "Local Street Hero"

Sunday, May 31, 2009

28th & B Skate Park, Sacramento CA

Now with the RAM upgrade, HDV footage was not going to be a problem, so I went out to the 28th and B Skate park, or EPIC Skate park, in Sacramento to get better footage than a YMCA soccer game (lol). Again there were a couple things I still forgot to do, but the montage was a much better video than my previous ones. Color Correction, White Balance, Sound, and better filming were areas that hurt me this time around. Even with a few obvious mistakes, the reaction I got from the video were all positive. I'm really looking forward to filming more skate videos, I just need to learn how to skate so I can film some good lines and not fall and break something. Here is the montage, be sure to follow to vimeo to view in its best quality:

28th & B Skate Park Sacramento, Ca 5/2/09 from Andrew Zaragoza on Vimeo.

Although when you watch in "HD", it still seems to lack the true "HD" feel. When I first got my Canon HV20, I wasn't planing on using HD, now that I'm using 60i, I feel that it is not good enough. So the next step is filming in 24P. Think of those daytime soap operas and the way they look. They're high produced projects, but still don't look like full on movies. They look extra clean and crisp. That is how I'm hoping my next project will look when I film in PF24 and remove whats called "pull-down" and edit in 24P. Don't worry, you don't need to understand everything, you just have to sit back and enjoy.
The next project was filmed in socal yesterday (may 30th) in PF24 so we'll see how good it turns out. Be on the look out for that video real soon. Thanks.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I guess I can edit HDV Footage - YMCA Soccer Game

After doing hours and hours of research and taking advice from other Mac users, I went ahead and tried to film and edit HDV video. I had plans on going to my nephew's soccer game, so I saw this as a great oppertunity to see what I can do. I filmed in HDV - 60i. I wasn't planing on sending this highlight reel to ESPN, so I caught some simple footage to see if my MacBook could handle the bigger, more complexed HD files.

It is said that laptops are not made for editing HD footage, who ever said that did not own a Macintosh. I was able to capture and edit the footage with ease on my stock White MacBook. Although the 1gb of RAM could not handle special effects, I could still edit the footage with out long render times, or any hiccups in between. Here is the soccer game I filmed to use as my test subject. Follow to vimeo.com if you want to view in its highest quality:

Asa's Soccer Game from Andrew Zaragoza on Vimeo.

After coming to the realization that I was going to have to upgrade my 1gb of RAM, I quickly ordered a pair of 2gb Memory RAM sticks and installed them. The process took me 5 minutes and cost less than $50. Post a comment if interested in where I got the hardware and how I did it.

At this point my Mac was even stronger, faster, and ready for more. The next video will again test my machine's power.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My first Drifting Video - UFO's First Drift Event, Marina Ca

The epitome of what is known as a "bitter/sweet" moment. Although I was beyond excited to use my video equipment for the first time, knowing that I was not going to take part in a drift event was a tough pill to swallow. I guess its what old veterans feel when they're forced into retirement, they don't want to sit on the sidelines. Fortunately, I have gotten over that feeling and now I've realized I can still enjoy the motor sport that I have loved for so long, but in an equally enjoyable, and a MUCH cheaper alternative.

Let the unprepared rookie get to work. For some, the next few statements might seem a little off the wall. When I went to film this event, it was officially the first time I had ever used my Canon HV20, a Tripod, multiple lenses, an external microphone, a lens hood, and headphones to check my sound levels. I stayed pretty much in one spot the entire event, never set my white balance and completely ignored the barrel distortion I was getting with my Wide Angle lens. Live and learn. I shot the entire day in Standard Definition, not knowing I was capable of editing HD. I later found out that was not the case, but we'll leave that alone for now.

As soon as I captured all the footage onto my Mac, I was astonished at how fast and efficient my machine was for video video editing. The entire project was completed in 4 days! A project like this would normally take me weeks if not months to complete on my PC. This was also a first for me. I had just switched over to Mac from PC, and to this day, I'm still learning more and more on Final Cut Pro every day. Looking back, I see many problems filming, as well as many problems editing. I'll let you decide what you think of the video. Watch here or click the link at the bottom entitled "UFO Drift Event in Marina, Ca", you can also read the original excerpt from when it was posted:

UFO Drift Event in Marina, Ca from Andrew Zaragoza on Vimeo.

My inexperienced shined through in this gem, but I'm glad I have something to look back on as I fine tune my skills. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Introduction - READ FIRST

Trying to get started in this foreign world of blogging. I'm using this mostly as a way to keep track of my videos and my progression through film and editing. It is by far the funnest hobby I have gotten into. Film and editing that is. I've been drifting for the past 6+ years, but I'm currently in the process of buying a house, so that has since stopped. Although it is depressing, selling car parts and saving for a house will pay dividends in the long run. Luckily, I've found something that has grabbed my attention far more than drifting.

The most enjoyable aspect of film is, it is as great as you want it to be. A mentor of mine always tells me, "Editing is what ever you make it. There is no right or wrong way to making a film, do what feels right". If someone absolutely hates a video I make, there is a great chance someone else will absolutely adore it. I've never been blessed with the skill to paint a beautiful portrait, or having a creative mind to scribble out a master piece, so being able to create art through film and video editing is amazing.

So far the tools I have acquired to create my Sistine Chapel are as follows:
Canon HV20 HDV Camcorder
Velbon Video-Mate 607 Tripod
Rode VideoMic Microphone
Tiffen Telephoto Lens
Merkury Optics Wide Angle Lens with Macro Lens
Multiple lens filters and Hoods
A home made top handle my dad and recently I made
And I just purchased a Velbon DL-11 Tripod Dolly that has not even been shipped yet
And my beloved MacBook with Final Cut Pro 6.0, the greatest thing ever invented.

I have 3 current videos I will post soon. I can already see some form of progress from the first to the most recent. If there are any question, you can ask me directly at localstreethero@gmail.com
Hopefully this will be something you will be interested in to check back from time to time. Be ready for HD videos, as well as some photos for I
might jump into that realm someday.

Thank you,
Local Street Hero
Andrew Z.