Monday, June 10, 2013

A Blast From The Past!

Some of you might remember my old website from the early 2000s - well - it's online again! I had a backup of it and uploaded it to - check out the link for some sentimental feelings!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My new portfolio website is open! has a lot of my work on display and all kinds of other goodies. Head on over and have a look.
I will still be posting here, but most of my efforts will go to my website.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One Year in the Air

During my first season of Spartacus, "Vengeance", we were still living in Wellington. So I commuted by plane - up to Auckland on Monday, down Friday evening. I made sure that I always had my camera bag with me and shot hundreds of photos. I always booked the same seats - either 28A or 28F depending on time of day and direction I was flying in.
Here is a selection of a few shots that I took during that year in the air:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Shooting Hires Stills from Helicopters

During the production of Spartacus: Vengeance and Spartacus: War of the Damned I was lucky to shoot thousands of environment reference photos from helicopters. There are a few things that I learned, some of them the hard way. I'd like to share them with you!

The core of the post comes from a message to my friend Lobo , who asked me about it. It is for shooting high resolution stills with a DSLR from a helicopter.

Shooting from helicopters! 

Most importantly - are you taking a 'tourist flight' or are you chartering a helicopter, specifically for shooting? I would recommend the latter and all my advice is for the chartered flight, since one can't do much on a tourist flight.Even half an hour on a chartered chopper is better than two hours on a tea & biscuits flight!


Heli's are expensive - time is money, so be prepared! Make a plan where to go and a backup route just in case weather or other factors don't work out.

Use Google earth to virtually scout your locations if it's somewhere you haven't been.

Brief the pilot before the flight, so he knows what you are looking for. Bring visual examples of it - photos, drawings etc.

A good pilot makes all the difference. Always listen to them!

A good pilot makes all the difference. They know their machine, they know the area.
While you're busy shooting away on a spot , the briefed pilot will try to get you the best shot. A good pilot has worked with lots of photographers before so they know how to support you.

Ask the pilot what he can do, what he can provide flight wise and what you are allowed to do.

One helicopter is not like the other - if given a choice, know your needs and pick accordingly


As for a helicopter - there is a difference between a small one and a more powerful big one. I found this out after one flight and kicked myself.

A powerful helicopter has a much easier time hovering.

So if you need to stay in one spot to shoot, to do 360s for instance, pick a strong helicopter. I needed to stick on a spot on a crater ridge and the helicopter we flew with was too weak - still worked out - but a strong machine like a "Squirrel" Eurocopter AS350 would have held it's place.


Have a backup camera. Nothing worse than being in the air and the only camera goes belly up - then it's game over!

Have your favorite lens on the main camera and an alternate on the backup - so you can just switch cameras instead mucking around with lenses.

Bring as many memory cards as you can - you'll burn through a lot of shots. I easily shot 64GBs in 3-4 hours.

Pack what you need - no more, no less. Pack well - you will not have time to rummage around. And there's nothing worse with stuff flying around the heli once the door opens.


Vibrations don't matter as long as you are shooting handheld. Once you mount stuff to the heli, it becomes a whole different issue - don't do it for digital high resolution stills. From my experience, handheld is still the best option in a helicopter.

Open door: when shooting through glass, stuff gets a bit fuzzy, so your hero shots need to be done with the door open, you hanging out.

Wear dark / black clothing, so when you shoot through the glass, your own reflections are minimal.

Most professional  helicopter companies provide a harness - or at least they will secure the seat belt, so you can turn towards the door and shoot. No need to hang out - once the door's open, there's a great view - almost a 180 degrees.

Those pesky rotor blades are in the frame! Just shoot two or more photos - if you're not totally unlucky, the blades will be in a different position in those other exposures. At home those photos can easily be blended to one clean photo in your favorite processing app.

 Exposure settings:

If  the heli's moving, never go under an 800th. You'll get motion blur when the helicopter is cruising along or  turning on the spot.  Try not to go under a 5.6 aperture - rather up the ISO - not higher than 320 normal, 640 in emergencies would be my rule of thumb..

Cold Environments:

When I shot in the winter, or up in high altitudes,  I needed gloves, a big jacket and a baklava. Is so surprisingly cold up there - batteries will run down quicker too! Thin gloves allow you to still operate the camera without your fingers freezing stiff.

An experienced second crew member can save your bacon and almost double the amount of photos taken

Helping Hands:
If you're taking someone with you, have them help you out with handing you stuff, changing memory cards, and lenses so you can keep shooting non-stop.

They can also shoot through the opposite window with the backup camera, while you're busy working the main view.

Shooting like that we got over 2000 shots in one hour on one flight.

In Conclusion: 

In my years as a matte painter, helicopter reference photos were often the most sought after - helicopter altitude is often used in movies for establishing shots. No matter how hard you try - stuff shot from the side of the road just doesn't cut it.

So, once the helicopter is in the air, it's on!  Gold mining time. One might be tempted to sight see a little bit and look out. I never do - I am constantly on the lookout for stuff to shoot and fire at anything that looks interesting.

Other than that, enjoy the flight, be nice and listen to your pilot and bring home thousands of stunning photographs!

Here's a little video from our White Island shoot. My colleague Berrin flew with me on this one and showed me how valuable a second person can be. Thanks again Berrin!


On the North Island of NZ I flew with Heletranz - pilot Tony Monk is a seasoned pro that made this trip a success. Absolutely recommended.  

In Queenstown, on the South Island, I flew quite a few times with Jason from Heliworks. Jason is an ace and Heliworks is an absolutely professional, well equipped and friendly outfit. Also absolutely resommended.

Disclaimer: All statements in this post are my opinion only and are in no way associated with Pacific Renaissance / Starz or any individuals but myself.

Please leave comments with questions and remarks!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

All done with Spartacus

Not sure if anyone is still following this blog. BUT - all done with the last, epic, episode of Spartacus. In about 10 months we created around 4200 shots for 10 epsiodes - what a ride it has been! I'm gonna prepare a bit of a larger post to show what I've been up to. Glad to be back - sorry for the year-long break!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In The Waves

Here's a little video from the last weekend. :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hello again!

Well - it's been pretty much a year since I posted in my poor blog! I've been so busy with my new job ( being the vfx art director on the TV series Spartacus: Vengeance ) that I wasn't doing any personal art at all. I also spent a good part of the year commuting between Wellington and Auckland - so any spare time was spent with my family!

Season 3 of Spartacus is going into pre production right now. This means it's not looking good for personal artwork either I'm afraid. I'll see - now that we're living in Auckland, hopefully I'll have more time to do some stuff.

Thanks for hanging in there,


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Busy! Busy! Busy!

Hi! Long time no post! Sorry that I've been quiet for so long.

I started a new job in March - I'm working as vfx art director on the TV show 'Spartacus'. Fast turnaround, tons of visual affects and lots of episodes - you get the picture.

I'm having more fun than in a long time. Learning new things again, every day - is also something that I haven't done in a long time. I feel lucky to be working with a great crew.

All that is the reason for not updating my blog these days - this job keeps me insanely busy!

Hopefully see you soon!

Be well - be happy! :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More Guache!

Well, I kept going! So much fun!

Well, I kept going! So much fun and very relaxing!

Monday, January 31, 2011


Touched guache paint again after 10 years or so. Once you look at the painting it will also seem plausible that this must be like the 5th painting in guache I've done ever since I left school. Ah well, not everyone can be a traditional media ninja!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Old Matte Painting - Firefly Pilot Episode

I'm currently preparing my portfolio and came across this oldie. I think it's from 2002 when I did a couple of mattes for a SF show called "Firefly". This is from a battle field sequence.

Monday, January 10, 2011

On my own

My time at Weta Digital is over. I've been there for over six years. I'm very excited about getting out there again. Right now I'm working on some hopefully kickass portfolio stuff. Next week will be portfolio and reel assembly time. You might see a lot more updates here too.
Oh and if you're in need of an environment concept artist or matte painter, shoot me an email. Thanks. Cheers!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Know that movie?

This took 10 minutes (obviously) - have great holidays everyone!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just a Quickie Render

Hi! Here's just something I played with in Vue. Nothing special, but I like the atmosphere! :) Until next time!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Hi there! Yep - been busy again! At work. But - I had time to render this - nothing spectacular but I like it in a kitschy kinda way.
When I was asked years ago why I went into computer graphics I used to say that it's the perfect tool to manifest phantastic things in a realistic appearance. As examples I used to mention "you can make spheres of water, just floating like in space". I never made such an image - but finally I kept my word. Vue's caustics are pretty cool. I love the flower overload too. Anyway - let's see how long it takes until I make something else! Until then! Oh and - render time at 2K was 17.5 hours! Haha!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Songs

Hi there! No new visuals at the moment - sorry. I'm back at work and all my pixel powers are being sucked away by it. I found time to make a new track tho - and made some new ones during my time off too. Please enjoy!

Electric by F_6

Never again by F_6

Ohspecialyanot by F_6

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Just testing stuff with Vue 8.5 - more soon!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Making of Crater Lake

Hello and welcome to a step-by-step for my latest image! I had a request to make it and since I had some time on my hands I was happy to oblige. It's been way too long since I've been doing that anyway. Here we go:

This is the geo of the 'crater'. There are some cloud shadows on top - my apologies. And actually it's a vortex. The Vortex was modelled in a popular sculpting program - my first foray into it.

Initially I wanted to have a mystical green light shining from the bottom of it but I deviated ... looking at it now - maybe I should've stuck with it.
Maybe it might be worth doing another version. Anyway - here's one early render:

Here we have the first 'real' render of the final image. There is an eco-system with some shrubs covering everything. While it looks pretty good in that resolution, my computer gave me some problems rendering it in a higher one. Should have worked with dynamic population in Vue I guess.

Here is the final render out of Vue. Yes, it looks too dark. The reason why it's so dark is that I wanted to keep the contrast without the highlights blowing out. The eco system is painted in and there are cloud shadows from a cloud layer above the camera.

This is the first step in Photoshop. I color corrected the render a bit and since I wasn't happy with how the lake looked, I replaced it with something in a lovely blue. Once I put that new water in, I knew I was on the way:

Here's the final painting in Photoshop. Cloud layers, glares and a much softened, humid atmosphere help this along. Then I 'borrowed' some birds from somewhere and it is done:

As a last bonus, here's a side-by-side of the original render and the final:

I hope you enjoyed this quick and dirty show and tell. Please let me know if you have any questions! Until next time! :)