My grandmother, Mary Frances Sharp, always plays a piano medley when I visit. And with each visit, this developed tradition becomes more timeless for me.

Production notes:

5D Mark II
lenses: 70-200 f2.8, 50 1.2, 24-105 f4;
Kessler Pocket Dolly,
Zoom H4n
PluralEyes plugin.

I recorded the entire thing in one pass. You can't ask grandma to play it again. Too priceless the first go round, no? I wanted to maintain journalistic approach, too. I didn't ask her to do anything. Just got prepared, and hit record when I saw things develop.

I heard my mom asking her to play, and I knew the routine: she would wheel in soon. I got the camera/tripod set up for the wide shot I knew I wanted to open with. I set the Zoom audio recorder on the piano, and hit record. Five minutes later, I hit record as I hear her enter from the kitchen. My mom follows her wheeling to the piano. I start recording her playing with a wide shot, to set the scene. Then quickly I moved the tripod (with camera still mounted) to a new position and swap lenses real fast, and then hit record again, zoomed on her hands, recording for a long time, panning to her eyes. I got a third angle, from in front of the piano. My mom sat down to play, and it only made the moment more eloquent. I decided to edit for a mother/daughter eloquent moment.

Then finally, when she had finished, she began talking, and made touching comments about her desire to have this song played at her funeral. We all talked about it in a natural, beautiful way. I knew when she made the comment that I would use that as the lead that would give some commentary/context for the intro. Then it was a matter of giving a sense of "a life lived well" by capturing the details of table-tops and walls that reflected the history of everyone in her life.

When I returned home, I transcoded the clips, and then took the relevant clips from playing piano along with the Zoom, and "Pluraleyezed" them. Once the 5-6 clips were synced to the audio, I began structuring the rest of the timeline. I shot warm intentionally, using the Shade WB preset on the 5D, which resulted in an orange combination with the tungsten lamp lights. Overall, piano and age seem warm to me, so I liked it in the end. Finally, I slapped on a 1:2.35 widescreen filter, and exported...

My grandmother is alive and well, in case you were wondering. Her secret is a bowl of Blue Bell, and Diet Coke, daily.

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