John Roche

Faces of America

We love it when great projects come our way. Don’t get me wrong, we’re happy to do commercials and industrials but the Documentary form is so very close to our hearts. “Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” was very special, with either Ned or I gaffing most of the episodes. My personal favorite was the interview at Stephen Colbert’s home. I had to ask his wife exactly what was inscribed in Latin on the fireplace mantel. She said, “The House that Jokes Built.”

Catching up...

Once again I have been very lax on updating the Liberty work blog and even with dire predictions on the economy the phone has rung a few times this year.

DP Hamid Shams, shooting for Verizon in Brooklyn NY back in March. Our small 3-ton lighting truck wedged in driveway off to left. I wish I could remember the guys name sitting on the stoop, as he was a word class harmonica player who keep us entertained all day.

Bob Bushfield, John Roche, Kevin Hunt
Filming the New York City segment of a commercial for the lovely beaches of the Dominican Republic. Nothing better than a cold rainy morning to contrast and compare. I have found that I can never have too many gaffers on a job, I mean who needs second electrics anyway... Here I am with fellow gaffers and friends Bob Bushfield (left) and Kevin Hunt (right) and yeah, that’s me in the center.

The set of for the cooking show “Avec Eric” rigged out in the production office. My partner Ned Hallick was LD while I played second rigging Grip for the build out days.

ABC Earth 2100 special with host Bob Woodruff which airs next week. My Partner Ned and I worked under our long time friend and colleague, Lighting Director Chuck Lofthouse. We had two generator plants as this whole set was several football fields long. Xenon and Mole Beam HMI’s at one end with Arri 4K’s sprinkled about. Key lights done simply with ETC Source Four Lekos.

It just doesn’t get any better than working in Central Park on a beautiful day. This was a shoot for PBS with host Alan Alda, and DP Larry Engel & producer Graham Chedd.

Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America

My partner Ned Hallick was the Lighting Director for Billy Crystal’s host wraps on the PBS series “Make ‘em Laugh: The Funny Business of America.” I worked as gaffer and Liberty Lighting supplied the bulk of the Lighting and Grip equipment.

Pink Panther 2 Promo

Press junkets used to stick the star next to a poster of the movie and someone asked a whole lot of dumb questions. These days the promos we do have become a much more complicated affair. Here is another Jib & Crash Cartoon Network Promo for the movie “Pink Panther 2” with Steve Martin. Rig required two Dolly Tracks, one for both puppeteers, one for the camera with two outriggers for lighting moving in tandem with talent and puppets. The whole scene was shot in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel which transformed to look like an art gallery. Mel Williams Director of Photography, John Roche Gaffer, Michael Vazquez Key Grip.

Arri Max Exercise

Here we are at Lehman College in the Bronx for an Insanity Exercise Video. The Lighting while not Rocket Science, is still a test of the capabilities of the Arri Max 18K (plus several 6K Par’s) to hold stop against a bunch of old big gym windows and Mother Nature. If we had the budget and time a Softsun would have been most welcome... but we made it work and the output of the Arri Max was quite impressive.

Season's Eatings & Food Network

(Above) A Throwdown! with Bobby Flay near Union Square. Winner: Desert Truck Guy. Sorry Bobby. (Below) Stills from this years Holiday Promos for Food Network called “Season’s Eatings”. I have to confess that I am a HUGE fan of Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats”. It’s a terrifically fun and innovative show and I was so happy to finally be able to work with Alton.

Paul Newman 1925-2008

Newman Lime Rock Speedway

Ned and I had the great opportunity to work on Barbara Walter’s interview with Paul Newman at Lime Rock Speedway back in September of 2007. It was a wonderful sunny afternoon on the track and a day I will not soon forget. A true legend...

Word of mouth...

Our business relies heavily on the good word of mouth provided by our clients, friends and colleagues. This month was no exception, thanks to a call from Ali Grapes at Hotcam NY, (I worked previously with Ali on the 2004 reality show “Things I Hate About You” w/ Mo Rocca) we were referred to Elizabeth Byrne, Producer of “Dinner With Portillio”(which airs on BBC4) in Northern Ireland. She hooked us up with DP Roy Estabrook and a brilliant bunch of lads from Belfast. Liberty Lighting supplied the lighting and grip gear and rigged out a 20x20 truss for a 360 degree Multi-camera shooting space in a suite at New York’s Waldorf Hotel. The project required an intimate dinner for 8 with lighting that wasn't flat but moody and well modeled on each of the participants. The photograph above depicts the completed rig with lighting about 80% finished, during first round of camera tests.

Citicam Rocks

Our hats off to Scott Morette and Gary Nardilla of Citicam. We have done quite a bit of work w/ them over the years and they have always been a class act. This year we’ve been busy with tons more work; (below) another round of the tounge-in-cheek “Made in Eureka” Promo Spots, shot at Ceco Stages.

(Left) A Bravo Promo for “Shear Genius” with Gary Nardilla as DP; (right and below) The 2008 Sang Lee International Three Cushion Billiards Tournament at Carom Billiards in Flushing Queens. I was the Gaffer for all three of these projects.

Liberty Lighting

Casio and a certain Adam David Meltzer

Thanks to our good buddies at Sherpa Productions (aka everyone needs a sherpa) we were introduced to LA DP Adam Meltzer. Could not have had more fun on a commercial shoot. Below an in-progress set for a Casio spot. We have now done several other spots with Adam all thanks to Rick Kaplan of Sherpa Productions. White-on-White with lots of Maxi Brutes and a little AC/DC (and not the commercial stuff...)

Get Smart

What seemed like an ordinary press junket with Steve Carell for the new “Get Smart” movie was in disguise a Cartoon Network “Jib & Crash” production. Filmed at an undisclosed NYC Hotel. I could tell you who the Gaffer was, but then I would have to kill you....

ABC News: Secrets of the Sistine Chapel

Bookends for the ABC News show “Secrets of the Sistine Chapel” hosted by Martin Bashir. Multi-camera set-up shot in NYC in early April with a set requiring 5 rear screen projections and 4 custom light tables. LD Chuck Lofthouse & John Roche Gaffing...

Dating Game Circa 2008

This past week my partner Ned Hallick was busy recreating the look of vintage Dating Game Lighting. What's an LD to do except more multiple shadows and more hard lights... The spot was shot at Silver Cup Studios for Cablevision. Production company was Washington Square Films with Citicam's Gary Nardilla working as Director of Photography. Jim Lange and Chuck Barris would be proud.

few more updates....

Ned Hallick, Gaffer. John Roche, Key Grip on this recent Citicam production of a promotional spot filmed in SOHO.

Two cool things: my new iphone arrived and I got to work with Mo Rocca (again) doing man in street for a goofy Bank of America web spot. You must check out Mo on one of my favorite podcasts, the PBS "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me" radio show. bad

Hectic year already around the Liberty Lighting shop, and personally I can't recall a busier January than 2008. My bad for not updating the work blog since last August. Here is a small collection of Pics from the latter half of '07....

From last summer, interview with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Costas at Kareem's Harlem home; part of a documentary based on his book "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance". (with DP Don Lenser and Mark Roy on sound)

(left) DP Tony Rossi mans the TRIPLE threat on last summers ABC Soap Promos. Just in case you wondered how they got wide, medium and close-ups on your favorite soap promo... (right) And so it goes... when i was in college I spent many a late night watching Linda Ellerbee. What a treat to cover my friend, gaffer Kevin Hunt on a Lucky Duck Productions Green Screen Shoot for Nick News.

Pre light day on a CBS Holiday Promos, where I worked as Best Boy for our good friend and Gaffer Phillip Sorensen. Liberty supplied the Lighting & Grip equipment.

Flying Karamazov Brothers - DVD Shoot

Still taken by DP Mark Raker on a shoot I gaffed for the "Flying Karamazov Brothers" new DVD. Lots of great fire effects and a lighting challenge given the small budget and minimal crew.

It's a bird, It's a plane...

No... It's Lance Thunderbolt doing promos for Sci-fi Networks second season of "Who wants to be a Superhero?" Here on the grounds of the Super Agent Institute, DP Gary Nardilla and Dolly Grip Stian Nilsen capture the art of leaping and bounding. Just out of frame, I'm doing super human gaffing... DOH!

HBO - Cathouse: The Musical

My partner Ned Hallick just returned from a two week stint as Gaffer/Lighting Director for HBO's "Cathouse: The Musical (working title). Shot in an old opera house outside Reno with DP Tom Hurwitz.

"Build Day 1" and view of completed set.

Two views from the working set...

Neal Brown 2nd Camera w/ DP Tom Hurwitz and Ned Hallick; Gaffer/LD Ned Hallick at the controls.

Still Photographers

Yes, we occasionally do still photo shoots. Recently, there appears to be a trend of still photographers working with "Hot Lights" as opposed to stobes, or hot lights in combination with stobes. My work with still photographer Stewart Cohen is a good example of this.

Two images of scenes lit w/ HMI, supplemented w/ strobe. Image on the left also uses a 400 Joker HMI Bug-A-Beam thru a ETC Source 4 Leko w/ pattern.

(L) Twilight shot supplemented with soft HMI gelled with CTB & magenta. (R) Night shot w/ HMI back edge and Kinoflo w/ Double Full CTO.

One last image, again using HMI hot lights...

All photos copyright 2007 Stewart Cohen Pictures

Made in Eureka - Lighting a fake infomercial...

This week I was Lighting Director for a series of spoof infomercials for the Sci-Fi Network's show "Made in Eureka". Three promo spots made in conjunction with Citicam Productions, shot at Cinemaworld Stages in Brooklyn, New York. Should one really claim "Lighting Director" credit on an infomercial? EUREKA! [APPLAUSE]

Green Screen - Redux

I finally got some photos (courtesy Jake Sauerbrey) of the Nike Green Screen Spot I gaffed for DP Brian O'Carroll last year. The spot required a very dramatic look, always difficult when shooting green screen. Below, two views of a 360 degree dolly move around talent. You can view the two completed Nike spots on our "Reel" page.

Sesame Street


Gaffer John Roche and Best Furry Boy Murray; Cobble Street Park, Brooklyn

Multi Camera Interviews - "The Good Shepherd"

We do a fair amount of multi-camera interviews. This one was 5 cameras with Diane Sawyer interviewing Robert De Niro, Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie for an ABC segment discussing the movie "The Good Shepherd".

Barbara Walters Special

Green Screen Wrap-A-Rounds for Barbara Walters Special; LD Chuck Lofthouse; Sony Studio Main Stage.

I have done a lot of large and small scale green screen set ups this year. This one I did today was fairly straight forward but you can check out the Nike spots I did earlier this year with DP Brian O'Carroll on our Reel Page. For those we needed a much more dramatic look, with very hard edges and bodies in silhouette. We were saved, in part, due to the much improved post process - they can pull a matte from almost anything these days....

Home on the Range; in Queens

Believe it or not, there exists a 47 acre farm located in Queens NYC. The Queens County Farm Museum dates back to 1697 and is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State. It served as our location for a Sesame Street Music Video "Elmo's Favorite Country Songs". Although not technically challenging by music video standards (we worked primarily with available light) the sun was out and it proved to be a fantastic November day. John Popper (Blues Traveler) and John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) were the featured perfomers.

The video was produced and directed by Mustapha Kahn and shot by cinematographer Marc Kroll.

Key Grip Jake Sauerbrey and Gaffer John Roche

End of Summer

Sadly I only made it to the beach once this summer and it was for work with Texas photographer Stewart Cohen. Somedays it's just a piece of beadboard and a warm breeze.... life could be worse.

Dinosaur Hunters Imax 3D Shoot

This past week I was gaffing the NYC segment of the 3D Imax feature film "Dinosaurs Alive!". The principal crew had just returned from weeks of shooting in Mongolia. We shot 5 days at the Musuem of Natural History in NYC with DP William Reeve, CSC at the helm.

Photos of the Imax 3D "Solido" camera, about the size of a small fridge. Best Boy Electric, Burke Heffner mans the fridge.

Left shows rear of Imax 3D "Solido" Rig; on the right a dual 35mm 3D rig with twin Arri's.

35mm Rig on Chapman Hybrid. DP William Reeve, CSC; 1st AC & Camera Op Dylan Reade

35mm Imax twin Arri rig on Mike Vazquez's Panther Crane above the T-Rex. The Solido Imax 3D rig with remote head at close to 600 pounds proved to be too bulky for tight moves around a sea of glass. Line Producer, Bruce Elfstrom (founder of OverlandExperts) informs me the next Imax gig is in Siberia... in January. Think I'll take a pass, January sucks bad enough here in NYC.