We first connected with the team at Victoria Harbour Ferry in the summer of 2016, when they were searching for a way to showcase their new fleet of all-electric boats. The vessels were set to travel up and down the Gorge Waterway, offering tours to visitors and locals from across the region – so it seemed natural to us to create a video that would highlight both the tour and the boats themselves.
With no shortage of beautiful summer weather to work with, we shot this piece on back-to-back evenings during that amazing golden hour light. Once on board, we fitted our captain with a lavalier microphone to convey the true experience of being on board a tour. Then our team split up, one with camera operator on board and the other capturing the journey from the shoreline. With a mix of urban working waterways and secluded natural channels, the Gorge is truly a feast for the eyes (and the lens).
Once we were satisfied with the key pieces of the shoot, we set up at the turnaround point of the tour (near the Tillicum Narrows) to shoot some drone footage. As always, we were in close communication with the Harbour Control Tower and NavCanada staff to ensure our operation would not interfere with float plane arrivals just a short distance away.
Once complete, the video was an intimate perspective of the trip from start to finish, offering an authentic preview of the experience you’ll receive with Victoria Harbour Ferry Gorge Tour – including the oh-so-silent electric motor!
Guardians of the Green
CLIENT: Bear Mountain Resort
SERVICE: VIDEO PRODUCTION
SCHEDULE: 4 WEEKS
BUDGET: $4,500 - $5,500
With a new golf season about to tee off, the brass at Bear Mountain Resort reached out to us with hopes of creating a promotional video that was a little different from your usual fare. Most of us are used to seeing the perfect polished greens and laser-cut fairways on Bear Mountain’s pair of Jack Nicklaus golf courses, but a rare few know how they get that way. For this campaign, we decided to go behind the scenes with the grounds crew, who we dubbed the ‘Guardians of the Green.’
We set out with a plan to shoot three mornings at the resort, featuring course superintendent Chris Ainey as our central figure. The first morning we arrived more than an hour before sunrise to scout our locations and capture interviews with Chris and a couple of long-time members, setting the stage for a busy day two.
With the perfect early morning light on our side, the second day consisted of shadowing the grounds crew right from the morning meeting to the cutting, trimming, rolling, blowing and mowing that fills their day. It’s no easy task to cover more than 500 acres and 36 holes each day, and our team was definitely on the move to get everything we needed before golfers set out onto the course.
Day three was our opportunity to collect the jaw-dropping aerial drone shots that accentuate this video. As we moved from hole to hole, we also took the chance to capture the wildlife and more scenic elements of the course, including the stunning sunrise shot that opens the final video.
Once back at the studio, our editors crafted the story of a day tending to the courses and utilized some great footage from our colleague Dave Wallace at Riptide Studios to help showcase the PGA Champions Tour stop at Bear Mountain, the Pacific Links Championship.
We’re thrilled with the final result on this project, and hope that next time you have the chance to play a round you’ll take a moment to thank the team that keeps the course looking so stellar.
CLIENT: parkland secondary
SERVICE: VIDEO PRODUCTION
SCHEDULE: 4 WEEKS
BUDGET: $2,500 - $3,000
It's rare that we have the opportunity to work with Greater Victoria's public school system, but the staff at Parkland Secondary in North Saanich reached out to us to help showcase all the options they offer, including the new International Baccalaureate program, as part of a campaign to boost enrollment.
We quickly elected to use students and staff as the voice of the video, describing all of the elements that make Parkland unique. With such a wide variety of activities and clubs to choose from, the challenge was deciding what to include in our two minute window of opportunity. From a dynamic drama program to athletics such as hockey, judo and sailing academies - getting good visual elements was never going to be a problem at Parkland.
Over the course of two weeks we made a number of trips to the campus, shooting the bits and pieces that would eventually form the structure of our video. With the help of the NavCanada crew at Victoria Internationl Airport, we were also able to include some stunning drone aerials of the school and nearby Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club.
But the final shot of the video was the most challenging of all... at least, mentally. It meant scaling an enormous wooden ladder to rig our camera to the cable raceway above the school's lobby. Once our equipment was secured in place, we set the camera to take a timelapse image every 5 seconds over the course of an hour, capturing students as they filed out of class at the end of the day.
With the school logo front and centre for the closing image of the video, our project was complete - an upbeat look at all of the elements that make Parkland one of Victoria's hidden gems.
Raising the Grade
CLIENT: Boys & Girls Club
SERVICE: VIDEO PRODUCTION
SCHEDULE: 2 WEEKS
BUDGET: $1,000 - $1,500
We have a soft spot for programs that work hard to help kids, and so when our friend Tyler Olson of the Boys and Girls Club Services of Greater Victoria asked if we could produce a video promoting their Raising the Grade program, we didn't hesitate to get involved and we were happy that they would have us.
The Raising the Grade program is an after-school education program for Youth in Grades 6 to 12 that runs out of the Kaare Norgaard Boys and Girls Club located in Central Saanich. This interactive program allows youth to get homework help, meet new people, and explore options for their future. We also produced a message from BC NDP Leader John Horgan, who used to work at BGCVIC, below.
Our aim was to showcase how beneficial this program is for youth so that they could receive the funds necessary to keep it going. The video, which features a variety of kids and staff impacted by this program, was unveiled at the 2017 Mad Hatter's Ball which was one of the best fundraisers we've ever attended and would strongly encourage everyone to come out next year.
SERVICE: VIDEO PRODUCTION
SCHEDULE: 3 WEEKS
BUDGET: $1,000 - $1,500
You will often hear in our studio, "it's hard to pull off 'funny'" in reference to scripting a video. It's even more difficult when you'd like the piece to be lighthearted, but the television broadcaster airing the commercial has a strict "no-humour" policy. Sounds strange, but it's true, as well as a myriad of other restrictions to boot.
Turns out, the humour didn't have to be scripted for our curling-themed promo with Used.ca - the laughs came naturally with our actor Shawn who was getting onto the ice sheet for the first time. And you can't argue that the man's ability was scripted that way - that's just how he curled, and luckily the broadcasters let it slide (pun intended). This project was also a good exercise in collaboration every step of the way.
We had a lot of fun on this quick and easy shoot and look forward to more projects with Used.ca in the future.
CLIENT: INN AT LAUREL POINT
SERVICE: VIDEO PRODUCTION
SCHEDULE: 6 WEEKS
BUDGET: $2,500 - $4,000
If you're looking to truly experience Victoria, the Inn at Laurel Point is hard to be. Located in the provincial capital's Inner Harbour, its views, service, and offerings are unbeatable. Which made it easy to do our job!
When filming such a lovely property, there are countless areas to capture and only so many hours to get them - so it was essential to make the process as fluid as possible by working with professionals. This was a rare shoot where we utilized paid actors, and it showed Katherine Slingsby and Lance Burrows were top notch.... not to say that our friends and clients have done a sub-par job in the past! ;)
Our concept was a day-in-the-life, which made for the perfect chance to shoot a sunrise time-lapse with our Kessler Second Shooter. It definitely took some early alarm clocks and perseverance to wait for that perfect morning light - but the sun glinting off the harbourfront windows made for the perfect opening sequence.
Thanks to some drone shots of the Inn from earlier in the year, and a few kitchen scenes with the hotel's renowned Chef Ito, we were able to give visitors an inside-out look at one of the city's top properties. The hotel's sales and marketing team are always coming up with creative concepts and we look forward to teaming up with them on many projects to come!
No More Salmon in the Classroom (or Office!): Fisheries and Oceans Canada Terminates Stream to Sea Education Program
We couldn't believe the news when Don Lowen got in touch - Fisheries & Oceans Canada announced they were cancelling the Sea to Stream program as of July 31, 2017, preceding the next school year.
Sea to Stream is a program that Mike participated in as a child in grade school and still sees the tremendous value it provides today.
There's no better way to educate children, and frankly adults, on the value of salmon in our ecosystem than to raise them, care for them and release them personally.
While we acknowledge this federal program focuses solely on the Pacific region, given the impact of Sea to Stream, the negligible expense of maintaining it (0.2% of FOC's budget) far outweighs the alternative.
From the release, which we assisted in distributing to local media:
Victoria, BC – Educators, superintendents and community leaders are expressing their disbelief to the news that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has terminated education support contracts across British Columbia and the Yukon as of July 31, 2017. The decision will severely downsize, if not end, the Department’s Stream to Sea Education Program that involves 35,000 students in the Pacific Region.
The 30-year long program, which provides firsthand education about Pacific Salmon, will likely end for 3,000 students in Greater Victoria and the Gulf Islands alone. Locally, 105 classrooms annually raise wild Pacific salmon in classroom incubators, for release into 15 local streams and rivers. In urban areas, students mark storm drains to raise public awareness about non-point source pollution, and educators can attend free workshops to learn how to raise salmon in a classroom, dissect a salmon, or access and teach relevant curriculum.
The decision will allow the Department will reallocate about $400,000, or 0.2% of its annual budget, to other national priorities.
Please join us in expressing your concerns to the following:
1. Your Member of Parliament
2. Dominic Leblanc, Minister of Fisheries
Online at http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister/honourable-dominic-leblanc
(Look for the email icon at the foot of the bio).
3. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister
Regardless, we will continue the ThinkTank within Roll.Focus. headquarters while working with members of the Goldstream Howard English Hatchery to find a way to fund the Stream to Sea program.
Now that we've been feeding our salmon for about a month, it's time to start moving the little coho to the next step in their adventure!
Since the start of April we have been feeding the fish a fine protein powder which has helped them develop from alevins into fry - and they're finally starting to take on some of the familiar adult salmon characteristics.
After netting a few of the most successful fish in the ThinkTank, we once again caught up with Don Lowen from Fisheries & Oceans Canada to go through the release process on the shores of Goldstream river. We begin by finding a calm eddy behind some rocks, and then cool the water in the bag down to the same temperature as the flowing stream.
Then we simply open up the bag and let the fry swim free, where they will begin the search for their natural food sources - invertebrates and various larvae that live in the river. In all, they will spend another 12 months in Goldstream, growing into juvenile fish before venturing out into Todd Inlet and the Pacific Ocean!
This release is just the first of many we'll be holding throughout the year - stay tuned for details on how your group or business can join along on one of our upcoming trips!
Now that our little fish are up and on the move, we thought it would be nice to let you check in LIVE whenever you like! Watch the feed to track the salmons' progress in the lead up to their river release and to take note as they learn to maneuver the current while being fed by us three times a day: morning, afternoon and evening.
The camera will be on the move 24/7 capturing their movement while providing you with a bit of therapy - for those who may not recall, watching fish is good for your health. So visit us again soon and enjoy!
Fry Feeding Time
It's fitting that the ThinkTank has really sprung to life on the first day of spring. Over the past few days, dozens of salmon fry have been emerging from the gravel and starting to explore their new home.
The variety between the individual fish is pretty remarkable, with some of the coho appearing ghostly white, and others ranging from silver to tan, brown and even black!
Now that the fry are using the last of their yolk salk reserves from their time in the egg, we will begin feeding the young fish a high protein power to help them thrive while they learn to navigate the currents in our miniature stream.
It won't be long before these little fish are big enough to venture out into Goldstream River - we expect our first batches of salmon to return to the river sometime in late April. Watch for details on how your group or company can get involved and join us on release day!
Eggs To Alevin
We're onto exciting times in the ThinkTank - over the course of the last week our batch of coho eggs have all hatched and moved to the alevin stage of their life cycle! The transition didn't come without some concern, though...
Our salmon were well ahead of their expected hatching time, according to the ATU charts we explained when the eggs first arrived at our studio - but it appears that all of the coho delivered this winter are advancing ahead of schedule, and so far our little school is looking healthy and happy.
Now the young fish will spend a couple of weeks hiding out in the gravel bed, consuming their yolk sacks and developing some the crucial organs and scales that will help them survive in the stream environment over the next 12-18 months.
As the temperature outside begins to climb we'll also be slowly increasing the degrees inside our aquarium - and already our natural grasses are showing signs of new growth with spring just around the corner.
By early March our coho should begin to swim up from the rocks and go in search of food, which is when our tank will really come to life!
The eggs in our tank, and all of the Stream To Sea programs across Greater Victoria, came directly from the Goldstream River where each year hundreds of coho, chum and chinook salmon return to spawn.
A few years ago we went behind the scenes with the Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association at the Howard English Hatchery to create a video for their website. Armed with hip waders, the staff wade into the river each fall to collect salmon of all species to harvest their eggs and milk. While the program raises thousands of fish in their own on-site tanks (as a means to improve the Goldstream stock), they also contribute more than 20,000 eggs to classroom programs across the Island each year.
It's a truly remarkable effort that has helped to maintain and increase the annual salmon run at Goldstream Park and across the Capital Region. The program runs a variety of programs across the city, and is always looking for more volunteers! Check them out online at www.gvsea.com
Soon enough our eggs will be hatching and make their move into the gravel bed to grow and develop as alevin... stay tuned!
Our adventure officially began this week when the salmon eggs arrived at our studio door. Fisheries & Oceans Canada Education Coordinator Don Lowen, who has been guiding us through the entire process, spent the last few days delivering batches to dozens of schools across Greater Victoria - and took a few minutes to explain the process for us (see the video above).
Our little bundle contained 200 coho salmon eggs, most of which were already showing signs of development - including little eyes shining through the translucent shells. There has been some concern about the eggs hatching early due to an unknown stress factor this year, and sure enough one of our little fish broke free within minutes of dipping into our tank. But it appears the rest of the bunch are now settled in for another 2-3 weeks of development before hatching and settling into the gravel bed below.
Now we'll be keeping close track of their progress using an ATU (accumulated temperature unit) chart - in which every degree of water temperature in a 24 hour cycle relates to the approximate hatching time of the eggs. The batch was delivered at 341 ATU, and are expected to hatch about 20-23 days later when they hit 450-475 ATU.
Watch for more updates as the salmon move from eggs to alevin in February!
The process of building the ThinkTank began with A LOT of research - ensuring that we created an environment that would be perfect for the needs of the young salmon, but also for the Roll.Focus. studio space.
With the help of our friends at UsedVictoria.com, we began by locating a 90 gallon tank that would fit nicely into the location we selected for the project. Because the fish spend the first two years of their life cycle in a cold freshwater environment, we also acquired a chiller to keep the tank at a crisp 5 degrees Celsius over the first few months.
From there we made a number of visits to Goldstream Park, Mount Douglas Park and the Colquitz River to observe the gravel, rocks and plants that exist in the salmon's natural environment, and develop a plan to integrate those features into our tank. We also found the root from a fallen tree that would fit perfectly in our tank, adding a fantastic decorative element to the display.
With all of the pieces in place, our next step was to assemble the tank step-by-step. After laying a sand bed for the native plant species to grow in, we placed a layer of gravel and a selection of local river rocks to provide the shelter and substrate the fish require.
Then came the faux-rock background, LED lighting and circulation pumps to simulate the stream environment the young salmon would emerge into. The next step was to fill the tank with treated water, free from any of the toxins, chlorides or heavy metals that may harm the fish in their most vulnerable stage.
With everything in place, the final stage was to leave the tank running for several days, allowing the water to cool and beneficial bacteria to begin to grow, all while keeping a close eye on the chemical conditions of the tank.
One week later we are ready for our batch of coho salmon to arrive, and can't wait to take you along for the ride!
This idea was spawned (get it?) from a video we produced for the Goldstream Hatchery in 2013, where we had the chance to witness first-hand the work volunteers are doing to revitalize the chum, coho and chinook salmon populations in our local waterways. Ever since working with their team, and other wildlife partners like Eagle Wing Tours and Swan Lake Nature House, we knew it would be important to play our part in supporting ecological initiatives in our own backyard.
Fast forward to a conversation in the fall of 2016 with Don Lowen - who serves as the Education Coordinator for Fisheries & Oceans Canada, running salmon incubation programs in schools across the South Island. We raised the idea of building a tank in our James Bay studio space, that would serve as both an educational tool for our clients and followers, but also a fantastic centrepiece for our work environment.
Within weeks, plans were hatched (heh) to get involved in the Stream to Sea Salmonid Enhancement program, and we can't wait to show you every step of the journey. Hopefully you'll enjoy watching our fish grow from eggs to alevin and eventually fry, and learn something along the way to releasing them back into local waterways!
2016 Victoria JazzFest
CLIENT: VICTORIA JAZZ SOCIETY
SERVICE: VIDEO PRODUCTION
SCHEDULE: 5 WEEKS
Where can you hear some of the best tunes in Victoria for ten days straight? Victoria’s JazzFest, of course! Stretching from the last week of June into July, everyone can catch the Victoria Jazz Society’s lineup of jazz, blues and world music from local, Canadian, and internationally acclaimed musicians.
Every year, jazz societies from across the country get together to showcase their festivals to one another, and Victoria Jazz Society approached Roll.Focus. in search of new content featuring their annual performances.
As big lovers of jazz ourselves, we were enthusiastic about taking this project on and getting the opportunities to see so many talented musicians at work. It was vital to capture the energy of these events as well as the wide variety of genres when it comes to jazz, so that is why a wrap-up feature of the event was the video style chosen. We’ve also never had a video that involved so many locations - eight shoot days across six different venues! But it was well worth the effort, and we’re very happy with the end result that celebrates all the talent our city has to offer.