Bald Eagles in Pittsburgh

On June 3, 2013, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Here’s a look at a nesting pair of American Bald Eagles that have built a 6′ wide nest, a little over 1000ft from the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail, a few miles south of Pittsburgh, PA USA. The male and female have one rather large “eaglet” in their nest. He looks almost ready to fly.

As a commercial director/cinematographer, this was my first experience with nature photography. I’m used to planned projects and production schedules. I now have complete respect for the men and women who shoot nature photos and videos.

Every scene in this video was shot from about a quarter mile from the birds and their nest. At this distance, the birds aren’t really noticeable to the naked eye.

It’s great that the American Bald Eagle has made a complete comeback from near extinction. They are now in every US state except Hawaii. We have 3 nesting pairs in the Pittsburgh area. They hunt in a radius of several miles from their nest and can easily lift small animals weighing up to 4 pounds.

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A “Knock-Out” Shoot for Przyborski & BrabenderCox

On September 14, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski


It’s like the story of David vs Goliath… only this time Goliath wins. It’s all from the crazy mind of political media superstar, John Brabender. The spot’s a visual metaphor for the unfair tax advantage a big internet business has over small local shops.

I shot the commercial using a RED One camera at Pittsburgh’s 31st Street Studios. At the rear of the 31st facility is the interior of an old industrial warehouse. A crew erected a full-sized, professional boxing ring as our set. We used 4 “space lights” over the ring as a primary light source. Numerous other HMI’s and other lights were used to highlight portions of the old steel warehouse.

I used the RED for most of the camera setups outside the boxing ring. The fighter’s “punches” were shot at 96fps. Inside the ring, I used a Panasonic AF100 for POV shots from both fighter’s perspectives. All the POV scenes were recorded at 40fps to add a “bigger than life” feel to the action. For several intense fight shots, I wore the primary boxer’s glove on my right hand and punched past the lens to the actor’s face for action cutaways. In case you’re wondering, it’s hard (and very unusual) to shoot a scene while you’re punching your actor.

Senior editor, Thad Christian of Pittsburgh’s, Phenomenon Post edited the high energy spot and created the original title graphics.

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to direct and photograph Steelers’ coach, Mike Tomlin in the new TV spots for “The Extra Mile Foundation.” This worthwhile, non-profit organization gives urban kids the chance to attend a school where they learn in an atmosphere that’s free from drugs and violence.

When you’re the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, every hour of your day is blocked out with meetings, interviews and other activities. Mike Tomlin was kind enough to give us 3 hours of his time. Producer and production coordinator, Judy Gurchak and I worked our entire shoot day around Tomlin’s schedule.

Stan Muschwek wrote and produced the new ad campaign. Stan thinks in visual terms, so he wrote scripts that didn’t require our featured talent to rush through his on-camera and voice-over copy. Stan and I have worked together on numerous projects for the past 25 years.

I shot all the 1080P “B-Roll” footage in actual working classrooms. For these scenes, I used Panasonic’s new GH2 camera. It makes great images and it’s small enough that kids don’t feel intimidated having it close to their face. Gaffer, Ted Weigand used small LED soft panels, bounce cards and battery powered LED fill lights to minimize classroom disruptions.

I shot Mike Tomlin’s on-camera segments with Panasonic’s new AF100, HDTV camera. I also photographed the still images for The Extra Mile Foundation’s 2011 print campaign. It feels great to give your time to such a worthwhile cause.

Rebellion 2012

On January 22, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Usually, I’m shooting nice things… like attractive people eating food while smiling. This project was completely different.

John Brabender (BrabenderCox) is one of the country’s top political media consultants. For over 10 years, he and I have worked together on many successful TV campaigns. John rarely thinks anywhere near the box, much less inside it.

John gave us less than a week to put together this project. Fortunately, I remembered scouting an old abandoned manufacturing building in Pittsburgh for a previous TV campaign. My producer and production coordinator, Judy Gurchak and I re-scouted the location and it was still available.

I set up most of the shots to take advantage of a wall of windows that lined the North side of the building. This became my primary light source, supplemented with 1200 and 2500 watt HMI’s. We used smoke machines to add atmosphere and distance to the scenes.

Growing up in Florida, I hate shooting in freezing cold weather. For the entire shoot day, our set temperature was less than 50ºF. We couldn’t use heaters because they quickly dissipated the smoke. Our shoot day was overcast and snowy, so we knew we would loose useable window light by 4:30PM.

I used a motorized, 7′ slider for the marching feet scenes and all ground level camera angles. This slider can smoothly move 25 pounds of camera.

I photographed everything with a RED Epic M using the standard set of RED primes including the 300mm telephoto. Every scene (except the fall) was shot at 30fps for playback at 23.98.

Thad Christian at Pittsburgh’s Phenomenom Post did an amazing job editing and grading the 90 second spot in less than 2 days including numerous effect shots. Michael Goodis handled original sound design. Steve Parys worked his butt off as my assistant director. Without the talents of gaffer, Ted Wiegand and scenic designer, Rich Schutte none of this would have been possible in such a short amount of time.

PLEASE: No political comments… I’ve uploaded this commercial to show an interesting assignment and production treatment… it’s not intended to be a political statement.

More Eat ‘n Park TV Fun

On October 10, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski


For the latest series of Eat ‘n Park TV spots, Sarah Marince asks employees what they love about Eat ‘n Park (besides their paycheck.) In my favorite spot of the new “Team” series, Sarah gets to put the icing on EnP’s iconic Smiley Face Cookie.

I currently shoot these spots on 2 HDTV digital cameras. All the sync sound sequences are shot on a Panasonic AF-100 equipped with Canon and Olympus lenses. I use the very heavy 14mm – 35mm F2 zoom for most wide angle scenes. Either a 50mm F1.4 or a 85mm F1.2 lens handles talent close-ups.

My second camera for quick, hand-held cutaways is either a Panasonic GH2 or a Canon 5D mk2. All the cutaways in this spot were shot on a GH2 equipped with a 20mm F1.7 lens.

Over the years, I’ve found that the only way to direct and shoot this “scripted spontaneity” is to think of each sequence as a very short play.

While gaffer, Ted Wiegand is setting lights with the crew, I’ll have the talent first perform the scene or sequence without any direction. Invariably, people will naturally stay too far apart for TV. After a couple run throughs, I’ll get the desired distance between the actors. Then I’ll determine the best wide shot or master shot angle to cover the action. The close-up, return shots between actors happen naturally based on the master shot.

Although I often use a Fisher 10 crab dolly, for this spot I shot all the test kitchen dialogue with my camera mounted on a monopod. It gives the scenes spontaneity and just enough movement as if the action was natural and unrehearsed.

When you’re working in tight quarters, such as Eat ‘n Park’s test kitchen, the choices of camera angles and camera positions are limited, so you make the most of the best overall background for your master shot. The backgrounds for close-ups will be out-of-focus, so you can add, subtract or cheat certain scene elements.

One last bit of advice, when working with “real people” as opposed to actors, let them play themselves. As long as the role they’re playing is within their normal “world” you can usually get a pretty credible performance. I’ve found that non-professionals do their best on the second or third take. After that it’s a crap shoot.

BTW, that’s actually Sarah perfectly icing the cookie in the close-up!

Zacuto Inc. /Chicago

On September 18, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Zacuto is one of the world’s leading suppliers of innovative camera equipment and technologies. The company’s high-tech accessories for DSLR cameras are used throughout the world. If you shoot commercial video with Canon cameras, there’s a good chance you own Zacuto accessories.

Based in Chicago, Zacuto has a world-wide distribution network of dealers in Germany, France, Sweden, Tokyo and Singapore.

In addition to my “day job” directing and photographing TV commercials for clients and ad agencies across the US, I’ve been designing several new camera accessories for Panasonic’s GH1/GH2 series of cameras. These upcoming products will enhance the functionality and usability of these popular cameras.

Everyone who knows me is aware that I can’t buy or use a piece of equipment without taking it apart and modifying it. I’m guilty of never being happy with the status quo. I always think something can be better.

Check out Zacuto’s website: http://www.zacuto.com My short bio is part of the “Zacuto Product Designers” section: http://www.zacuto.com/zacuto-product-designers


Taye Diggs stars on ABC-TV’s “Private Practice” He’s a Hollywood “A” list TV actor with a long resumé of shows, movies and guest appearances.

16 years ago in ’95, Taye Diggs was a young actor making the rounds doing New York casting sessions. I was in NYC, with agency producer Frank DiSalvo, casting a series of Giant Eagle Supermarket TV spots. We were looking for a young male actor to play the “helpful, polite deli clerk” (that’s how the client approved script referred to his part.) 24 year-old, Taye Diggs had a great look and did a killer job at the session.

We flew Taye to Pittsburgh for an all-night shoot in one of Giant Eagle’s Supermarkets. Back then, Giant Eagle insisted that all TV production be done between 10PM and 6AM. Taye did a great job and maintained a positive attitude… even at 3AM!

Next thing you know, he’s featured on an episode of NBC’s Law & Order. Then he’s a regular on Ally McBeal… next he lands the lead on the TV series, Kevin Hill … then it’s Grey’s Anatomy… Now he stars in the popular, Private Practice airing every Thursday night at 10PM.

I’d like to think that Taye’s good fortune started when he appeared in our 1995 Giant Eagle spot… after all, his agent requested several VHS dubs of the commercial to send to West Coast casting directors. You know…the more I think about it, Taye Diggs owes his success to Giant Eagle!

American “Pop” Artist, Burton Morris

On May 3, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Director, Glenn Przyborski and artist, Burton Morris

Just finished shooting an internet video project with Burton Morris, one of the country’s hottest artists. I love his energetic, vivid, fun style of unique “Pop” art, which is a tribute to artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Although Burton now resides in L.A., he has family and professional ties to his home town of Pittsburgh, PA. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Burton started his career as an art director at several major Pittsburgh ad agencies.

Burton Morris has created major works for CocaCola, The Academy Awards, Heinz, the Olympics, Absolut Vodka and hundreds of other corporations. Although he’s an internationally famous artist, Burton Morris’ is also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

He just completed a fun project for Eat ‘n Park Restaurants. Burton created his own original art to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Smiley,” Eat ‘n Park’s corporate cookie icon. This summer, Burton Morris’ original artwork will adorn t-shirts, coffee mugs and other items that are sold in Eat ‘n Park’s chain of over 80 restaurants.

Sorry, I can’t reveal Burton’s original “Smiley” artwork, ’till it’s unveiled in June!… stay tuned!

Shooting in Florida

On April 21, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Producer, Judy Gurchak dining at JB's Boca Raton, FL

Just got back from Florida where I directed and photographed a new commercial for Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s amazing orthopedic services. We had a great crew from Miami who primarily work on the popular show, Burn Notice. Pittsburgh based, assistant director, Rich Schutte made the trip with us. We shot continuously from 6am to 4pm! I’ll post the new spot as soon as its edited.

The Stinkbug vs The Laser

On September 9, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski


Consider yourself lucky if you’re not familiar with the pesky stinkbug.

These insects have migrated to portions of the US from China. They multiply by the millions and destroy crops such as apples, tomatoes and virtually all other fruit that they stumble upon.

They don’t bite or sting, they just irritate everyone they’re near. In the fall and winter, they hide inside your home. When you least expect it, they appear on a wall, a couch, table, your bed or whatever. During cold months, you might come upon 2 or 3 stinkbugs every day!

My son, John and I have been having fun exploring unique methods of killing these worthless bugs.

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