Thursday, August 20, 2020

An Unusual Fall

CMU Women's Soccer meeting during half time, Nov 2019

Friday night lights, Saturday afternoons on the sidelines, Victory Light Sundays, band performances and appearances throughout the week.  These are just some of the things that we look forward to every fall.

If this were a normal fall, we at HDIC Productions would be buzzing with energy, getting ready for the busy fall schedule that we always face.  For me personally, I would be deep cleaning my cameras and lenses, syncing up my calendar with the Tartan Athletics home schedule, taking note of the Pitt Band performances and trumpet guards, and scheduling other photo shoots for events that happen every year.  Alas, this is not a normal year.  My cameras are in storage, the Tartans will not be active this autumn, it's doubtful that Pitt Band will be performing regularly and having Trumpet Guards, and all the other events that I normally shoot are cancelled.

Pitt Band Snake during Homecoming, Oct 2019
The last photo shoot HDIC Productions conducted was February 29th, 2020- The Tartan Basketball teams against the Case Western Reserve University Spartans.  It was also senior day.  What a day that was.  Both teams won, the women ended up winning the game by one point in double overtime.  That was one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking basketball games I've ever been to with the Tartans.  I was scheduled to be at the first softball game of the season that next week, but it was cancelled due to rain.  The week after that, the Tartans cancelled all remaining athletic events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the seasons cancelled, campuses closed, and stay-at-home orders in place, HDIC Productions has cancelled all of their photo shoots since mid-March.  That doesn't mean we haven't done anything, though.  We worked with our friends at the Plum Brass Quintet to do an "At Home" video series.  We also worked with the Shadyside Brass with the PBQ to do an even larger "At Home" video.  We're in the process of learning some more of Adobe Creative Cloud, namely Adobe Encore, and continuing to learn Adobe After Effects.  We've debuted the new intro for HDIC Productions, which replaces the particle fly-in with the old logo and have been working on reorganizing all of our archive footage.

CMU Women's Basketball celebrate a senior day win, Feb 2020

So, what do we have in store?  We are finishing up our archive footage reorganization, and next, we're going to start pulling footage from the archive to release some videos that we have never released from already shot footage.  We are still able to do "At Home" videos, so if you or someone you know would like to make a video, please get in touch with us.  We're hoping to restart our on-site photography and videography in the near future.  You can stay up to date with the information on our website.  Please take care of yourselves in this crazy new world we live in.  We're all in this together.

Monday, March 4, 2019

For the Glory of Carnegie: Kiltie Band

Did you know that Carnegie Mellon has its own marching band?  They are called the Kiltie Band, also affectionately called the "Band Without Pants."  Why?  Because they wear kilts to perform!  Well, at least for their main performances.
A Kiltie Band member wearing a funny hat
The Kiltie Band has three different seasons, with some overlap.  The first season is football season.  They perform at every home game- pregame, half time, and during time outs and other low-action moments of the game.  During the football season, there are several traditions, including wearing silly hats, beeping while going in reverse, and "Ask the Band" during the half time performance.
Beeping going in reverse
The second season is their concert season.  There are three regularly-scheduled concerts: a holiday concert, a mid-winter concert, and a Carnival kick-off concert.  The mid-winter concert just happened this week, and with a wide selection of music, both traditional pieces and some more modern, there was a bit of music for everybody.  My favorite piece was the John Williams medley, which I'll have a video of in the coming weeks.
Mr. Gerlach conducting the winter concert
The final season is basketball season.  During home basketball games during the spring semester, a pep band performs during half time and time outs.  This is completely optional for the band members, but there is always a nice group of them to make some music and cheer on the teams (or distract the other teams by singing the Pokemon Theme Song during free throws).
Basketball band
The Kiltie Band is led by Director for Life (without the possibility of parole), Paul Gerlach.  He leads the Kilties across the field every game day, and conducts them for all concerts.  The Kiltie Band is a subset of Carnegie Mellon University Athletics.
Mr. Gerlach conducting during a football game
I'm now just wondering what it takes for me to earn honorary membership into the Kiltie Band to continue gaining honorary memberships for college marching bands :D  If you'd like more information about the Kiltie Band, check out their website.
Mr. Gerlach leading the Kilties across the field on game day

Images copyright © 2018-2019 Allen Howard/HDIC Productions
Text copyright © 2019 Allen Howard

Friday, February 15, 2019

HDIC Events: Pitt Band Stadium Review Show

As most readers of this blog (and followers of my social media accounts know), I'm a big fan of the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band (also, I am an honorary member).  The Pitt Band is over 300 members of the Pitt community ranging from percussion to baton twirlers (also known as the Golden Girls).  They perform at all home football games, select away games, and bowl games and ACC Championship games, when Pitt is in them.

The Fitzgerald Field House
This past November, the Pitt Band brought back one of the old traditions from the old Pitt Band, the Stadium Review Show.  The concept is simple: an audience sits in the stands while the band is on a stage and they play.  Well, this year they hosted it in the Fitzgerald Field House on the Pitt Campus.  There was no stage, but the band sat in one set of bleachers while the crowd sat in the other and the color guard and Golden Girls performed on the volleyball court of the venue.
The Golden Girls perform while the band plays in the background.
Having worked with the Pitt Band before for different football games, Courtside at the Cathedral, Pep Rally concerts, and several Trumpet Guards, I knew that I wanted to be around for this concert.  I even was credentialed to do photos for the band.
Herald Trumpet Fanfare, with blue Pitt flags.
The concert started out just like every concert at Heinz Field, with the Herald Trumpets followed out of the tunnel by the Pitt Drum Line.  After the drum line got the crowd pumped, the rest of the band erupted from the tunnel and into the stands.
The drum line (aka The Crew), running out of the tunnel.
After that, the band played through all of their different concerts from the year, including the standard pregame concert and the new "Greatest Showman" themed performance.  While the band played, the Golden Girls and the color guard took turns providing visual effects for the audience.
Color guard adding visual effects to the performance.
In addition to their performances, they also played through their stand tunes including "Snakes on a Plane", "Pokemon Theme Song", and crowd favorite, "The Kids Aren't Alright".
One of my favorite shots from the performance.
The afternoon of music ended with a very special singing rendition of the University of Pittsburgh Alma Mater by the band students, staff, parents, and friends (Special shoutout to the assistant drum majors who let me sing the alma mater with them!)
The assistant drum majors dancing to "The Kid's Aren't Alright".
I was very excited to go to the event since I hadn't made it to any of the games during the season, and I was even more exited to be able to photograph the Pitt Band once again.  I'm looking forward to doing it again soon!
Pittsburgh flags on the trombones.

All images copyright 2018 Allen Howard/HDIC Productions
Blog post copyright 2019 Allen Howard.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Behind The Scenes: Our First Summer Tour

This past summer, HDIC Productions went on tour with a local brass group, The Plum Brass Quintet.  Now, we use the term "tour" loosely, since it was only around Pittsburgh, but it was at five different venues over the course of about ten weeks between June and August 2018.
The sun sets over a Plum Brass Quintet performance
Our involvement for the summer tour started out with promotional photos for the summer.  It was beautiful evening on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh (where two of the members of the quintet had graduated from), and we set out from Heinz chapel to get the shots.  We went all around some of the iconic locations in Oakland to make promotional shots they wouldn't soon forget.
Plum Brass Quintet poses in front of Heinz Chapel
The first performance was in their hometown of Plum as a kick off for the Plum Library's Summer Reading Program, which had a music theme this year.  They were joined by their friend, Trevor, who filled in for trumpet player Matt.
Plum Brass Quintet performs at Plum Community Library
They then kicked off the season of summer with Make Music Day Pittsburgh at the Forbes Digital Plaza in Oakland.   This day brings about a celebration of music and the summer season, always happening on the summer solstice.  The Plum Brass Quintet was joined by Jenny, who filled in for Matt; Morgan, who filled in for trombone player Jon; and Spencer, who added percussion to the mix.
Make Music Day performers
Shortly thereafter, the brass quintet headlined the first ever Plum Summerfest (A re-branded community day in the borough of Plum).  Despite torrential downpours leading up the outdoor event, the actual concert was dry and ended with fireworks.  The main quintet was around for this concert, and they were again joined by Spencer on the drums and added vocalist Natalie into the performance.
Natalie performs with the Plum Brass Quintet at Plum Summerfest
Returning to the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, The Plum Brass Quintet partnered with the Shadyside Brass, musicians in residence of Heinz Chapel, to create the Summer Brasstacular!  Both groups did an outstanding job and Heinz Chapel made the music sound so much fuller.  It was also the premiere of "Annie's Song" which featured a trombone solo by Donna.
Donna performing her solo in "Annie's Song"
Finally, the end of the summer came back at home for the quintet at the Plum Community Center.  This was a collection of the greatest music from the summer tour and a great way to finish out the summer surrounded by all of the friends and family from their hometown.
Plum Brass Quintet performs in the Plum Community Center
HDIC Productions considers ourselves lucky to be able to have worked with such a fantastic group of young musicians.  We kept this relationship going into the winter months for their Holiday Tour, although we only made it out to about half of their shows instead of all of them.
The Plum Brass Quintet and the Shadyside Brass at Heinz Chapel
Either way, HDIC Productions is looking forward to the next music tour that we get invited on!
The Plum Brass Quintet walks away after a successful summer tour.

Blog post © 2019 HDIC Productions.
All images © 2018 Allen Howard/HDIC Productions