The drivers were awesome to be with.  Hard working drivers!!   It really stands out when the drivers jump in to help set up base camp, and tear it down.  Not to mention always having a fresh green tea for me just when I needed it every time.  They really were great and I’d ask for them anytime we get vehicles from you. Thanks!

" Mary Brooks – 3 Star Productions

The Helios is a great motorhome. Not only is it energy efficient but it offers a large space for production to work in. The copy machine is great because you can wirelessly print and make color copies and send faxes. The satellite phones came in handy when we realized we didn’t have any cell service on location. We received several compliments throughout the shoot day. Crew walked into the motorhome in awe of such a beautiful space.

" Courtney Witherspoon-Production Coordinator Three One O

We’ve used the Helios twice now and have been quite impressed each time.  It has everything production could want AND it’s earth friendly! We will use the Helios on every job in which we need a moho.

" Mario D’Amici—Production Coordinator, Beef Films

…the moho was super nice, everything was great! I will definitely rent it again!!

" Susan Borbely – Prod Coordinator

I wanted to give Rich another glowing report, He was AMAZING on our shoot. The most helpful driver I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely be requesting him on future shoots.

Thanks for everything guys!

" Adrienne Burton – Freelance Prod Coordinator

King Kong has great motorhomes and the best drivers in the business. Working with you guys is always easy and a pleasure.

" Cat Burkley-Portfolio One
King Kong has the best equipment & drivers in the biz.
" Tom Baker – gangboss

Thank you so much for lovely Eko lav — definitely the nicest port-a-potty I’ve ever used!

" Amanda – Producer

King Kong… top notch service, incredible drivers, clean, well equipped vehicles, on time—every time! Thanks guys…. you ROCK!!!

" Elaine Lee—Producer 5th and Sunset Los Angeles

You guys are the BEST!

" Marie D’Amore—Production Supervisor, HSI
Thanks again for helping out with our party. The restrooms worked out great and the service was awesome as usual!
" Steve Brazeel

You guys did a phenomenal job with the Helios. And Rob, as always, went above and beyond for us.

" Dan Kae—Assistant Production Supervisor

North Six has been working with King Kong for many years now.  Not only is their customer service unparalleled, but their fleet of motorhomes is always clean, reliable, and exactly what we need to support our photo productions.

" Kyd Kisvarday—Producer, North 6

I just wanted to send you a quick message and let you know how amazing Rich is. I have hired motos from all over and this was by far our best experience. Really nice to work with great people

" Crystal Raymond- Chinese Laundry

We truly enjoyed working from the Helios, the attention to detail to make it an Eco friendly asset to our industry should be commended. The quiet workspace you get when running on the solar power is delightful! Rob was pleasant to be around and always willing to help out. Thank you Rob and King Kong for bringing us the Helios!

" Rochelle Savory-Assistant Production Supervisor

Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome customer service. Our driver was friendly and professional. He arrived early and had everything ready to go for us. The motorhome was clean and in perfect shape. Every detail matters on a shoot to help keep everything running smoothly. We love working with King Kong!

" Jamie Williams- That Girl Productions

Rusty, Bruce and the guys at King Kong were a crucial asset to my photoshoot.  They took a lot of stress off of my plate and came through when I needed them, allowing me to focus 100% on the production.  Without a doubt, King Kong is now my go-to for production vehicles and I do not hesitate to recommend them to my colleagues.  And, not only is Rusty the best and most helpful driver I have ever had the pleasure of working with, he is also awesome with a fog machine!

" Brett Spencer-Producer,

Archive for July, 2013

Earthship homes: Living off the grid

July 19th, 2013  | 

Rural Virginia seemed an unlikely place for a green dream, as Melina Winterton and Larry Peck discovered when they told contractors they wanted to build an earthship.

“You want to do what?” was the common reply.

“They thought we were building a garage at first,” Winterton says.

No, they were building a home. But this wasn’t something out of science fiction.

Earthship homes, the creation of architect Mike Reynolds, have been around since the 1970s. Typically they’re solar-heated buildings constructed of tires that recycle water and are off the electric grid.

“They are becoming increasingly mainstream because everyone is becoming more aware of climate change and dwindling resources,” says Reynolds, the founder of Earthship Biotecture based in Taos, N.M. “This is something that actually works and does not need fossil fuels.”

There are about 2,000 earthships around the world, Reynolds says. Events such as 2012’s Superstorm Sandy illustrate the advantages of not being dependent on a traditional electric power grid. “We now have a client in midtown Manhattan,” he says. “It’s our first in a major city.”

As well as saving energy, homes with contained sewage treatment have the potential to solve pollution problems facing a number of U.S. cities, Reynolds says.

Many of his ideas are being used in more mainstream homes, particularly in the western U.S., which gets more sunlight to power homes.

Reynolds is a pioneer to Julee Herdt, a professor of architecture at the University of Colorado. “Mike Reynolds got people thinking of new ways of doing things,” says Herdt. “It’s good if you start extreme.”

Herdt also has developed homes made of bio-materials. Her Boulder, Colo., homes use 70 percent less energy than traditional homes. Solar power is popular in Boulder because it means lights remain on during power outages.

In contrast, the eastern U.S. is behind when it comes to sustainable homes, something Peck and Winterton, who have since moved to California, learned.

$200,000 to complete

An earthship home was a natural progression of an ecological lifestyle for Winterton. She is from a family of Greek farmers for whom sustainability and living off the land is a way of life. “We were composting before composting was cool,” she says.

In suburban Silver Spring, Md., the family grew produce and kept bees in the backyard. When Winterton moved from Maryland to Virginia to be with Larry, they wanted to live “off grid” and considered geodesic domes and yurts before opting for an earthship.

“We wanted to live near a lot of wilderness,” Winterton says. “That was important to us. We had little children and animals.”

Undeterred by skeptical contractors, unsympathetic banks and local regulations, the married couple built their earthship in Suffolk, Va., near the Great Dismal Swamp. It was the first permitted earthship home in Virginia.

They initially hired a contractor in 2003 but parted company because of a late delivery and did the rest of the work themselves, occupying the home in 2004 as they continued to work. “The contractor thought it was some kind of joke,” Peck says. “It was hard to find people understanding the vision of what we were trying to do.”

It took nearly five years and more than $200,000 to complete the 1,600-square-foot earthship and install windows, floor tiles from surplus pieces of granite, the 800-square-foot greenhouse, the indoor greenhouse planter, the porch, the green roof with its rainwater system and the kitchen with a sink salvaged from a restaurant.

The couple couldn’t get a mortgage with rainwater as the sole water supply; when they added a well, they obtained a mortgage.

There were other concessions: The local health department wouldn’t allow blackwater planters that use toilet water, so the earthship has a traditional septic system. Blackwater from the septic field was used to grow hay that fed chickens.

The earthship ended up being more mainstream than traditional earthship homes because of compromises to meet local regulations. For example, concrete was used instead of tires to comply with local building codes. And the home is “bermed,” ­packed with earth on three sides. Reynolds’ company offered design input, including advice to install the south side gallery of windows to maximize sunlight.

Rainwater was collected on the roof and stored in cisterns. A solar heater provided hot water. Grey water from the appliances and sinks was used in the greenhouse’s indoor garden.

Insulation provided by the berms, sunlight and a wood burner kept the house from getting cold, even in winter. The coldest the house ever got was 63 degrees, Peck says.

Summer in Virginia was another story. One day the temperature rose to more than 100 degrees and they “broke down,” in Peck’s words. They added air conditioning. The earthship was connected to the grid from the outset to power some appliances. But even with air conditioning, the family kept power bills to $100 per month. Earthship dwellers typically pay no utility bills.

The house was wired for a grid-intertie, which can connect solar systems to the electric grid and feed back excess energy. But the costs prevented the family from moving forward with the system.

Earthships can now be kept cooler by using air vents combined with angled windows to maximize the sun’s energy in the winter and keep out intense rays in the summer, says Reynolds.

From earthship to California

Feeling that Virginia was not geared to sustainable homes, Peck and Winterton moved to Berkeley, Calif., in November 2010 to live a car-free lifestyle. “We were green, living in the country in the conservative South. There was not a lot of support,” Peck says. “We were tired of being a light in the darkness.”

Today the Virginia earthship home is rented and also on the market for $350,000. Winterton says its selling points include low utility bills ($100 a month) and no water bill, beautiful views and a greenhouse that’s 80 degrees and warm on the coldest days.

The couple didn’t install solar panels in Virginia, but their new home in Berkeley will be solar-powered. California provides more financial incentives for solar panels than Virginia. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 12 energy companies or localities offer rebate programs for renewable energy in Virginia. That compares to more than 100 in California and 50 each in Colorado and Oregon.

The couple’s biggest regret is not hiring an architect in Virginia. Winterton says an earthship could be better built using Reynolds’ plans and a contractor. At times she misses the home, which she believes is a realistic sustainable-living model for families.

“You don’t have to be living in a tent eating tofu to be environmentally friendly,” she says. “The house was a calendar and clock. … We could tell what day and month it was by how far into the house the sun would come. That was awesome. It was like living in a sundial.”


Earthship homes are designed to be fully sustainable and use natural and recycled building materials (tires, bottles, stucco, etc.).

What to consider


  • Compromises on materials might be required to meet local building codes.
  • Each state and the District of Columbia use the International Building Code but local bodies handle approvals differently. For example, an alternative method approved in New Mexico applies statewide. But in Colorado each county has the authority to interpret alternative methods.
  • Local deed restrictions may not permit earthship structures.
  • Banks are often unwilling to lend money for earthships. Earthship Biotecture recommends shorter-term loans: personal loans, small business loans and lines of credit.
  • Earthship Biotecture homes range in cost from the Simple Survival Earthship for $25,000 to the Phoenix Earthship at $1.5 million.


Source: Earthship Biotecture (

How ABC will use live streaming to challenge Aereo

July 16th, 2013  | 

This week, ABC is taking the fight against Aereo to the New York-based startup’s home turf: the network will start streaming its entire programming schedule in real-time to viewers in New York and Philadelphia. This marks the first time one of the major broadcasters has streamed a 24-hour live feed online.

However, there are a few key differences between ABC’s and Aereo’s approach: After a six-week introductory phase that will be open to anyone in the two markets, ABC’s streams will only be available to authenticated cable subscribers. And ABC is using cloud technology to deliver its live streams, making the endeavour a whole lot cheaper than Aereo’s.

ABC will start to stream its programming to iOS devices in these two markets Tuesday, and intends to quickly expand the service to other markets where it owns local stations. Viewers served by ABC affiliates may get access to the live streams a bit later — ABC first has to negotiate revenue sharing for advertising served on the live streams and navigate the treacherous waters of content licensing.

But Ken Brueck, co-founder and CMO of upLynk, the company that powers the live streaming for ABC, thinks it’s only a matter of time before affiliates join the live stream. That’s because, from a technology perspective, ABC’s live streaming is incredibly cheap: Local affiliates who want to live stream their feed only need a simple $,1000 Linux box that taps into their live broadcast feed and uploads everything to the cloud, where transcoding happens in real time.

Specialized software on the upLynk device also taps into the broadcaster’s programming guide, and Uplynk swaps out programming on the fly if the broadcaster doesn’t have the rights to air a certain show online. Also swapped out are ads, with ABC replacing its generic TV advertising with targeted ads served to iOS devices.

The combination of that $1,000 box and upLynk’s cloud transcoding may seem like a minor technical detail, but it’s one of the main reasons broadcasters haven’t attempted to stream live programming online before. Previously, live streaming would have required them to deploy hardware encoders to each and every affiliate, something that Brueck estimates would have cost many millions of dollars. Now, the transcoding is done by Amazon’s EC2.

That’s an approach that Aereo can’t take advantage of, because it has to transcode a unique feed for each and every customer, which is why Aereo’s roll-out is much more expensive — and has been somewhat slow. The startup, which captures live programming from major broadcasters with tiny personal antennas and then streams it to subscribers, announced that it wants to be in 22 cities by the end of 2013. But so far, it’s only available in New York.

The flip side, however, is that Aereo can serve up shows that even ABC can’t. The broadcaster doesn’t have the rights to stream each and every show online, so upLynk’s cloud servers occasionally have to swap out programming on the fly. “Sometimes, your content is going to be different” that on live TV, admitted Brueck. He added that he hopes that ABC’s new live streaming app can help the entire industry to sort out these kinds of issues.

Video: New Spock vs. old Spock

July 16th, 2013  | 

Audi ad shows challenge between new Spock — Zachary Quinto — in an Audi S7 vs. old Spock — Leonard Nimoy — in a Mercedes-Benz CLS.

And you thought Audi was done with summer blockbusters with Tony Stark’s R8 inIron Man 3?

A new, funny web film ad, from Volkswagen’s premium brand ties in with second film the Star Trek franchise reboot, Star Trek Into Darkness, due out May 17 though there are no Audis in the film.

In the web film, the new Spock from latest films — Zachary Quinto — challenges old Spock — Leonard Nimoy — to a race to the country club. New Spock’s starship is the new Audi S7 performance hatchback. Old Spock makes do with what cheeky Audi likes to portray as old-school luxury — a Mercedes-Benz, in this case a CLS “four-door coupe.”

The spot has a bunch of Star Trek references, but it’s no nerdfest for Trekkies. Its charm really is the interplay between the two actors, with Quinto as the straight man to a self-deprecating Nimoy.

Old Spock even treats us to a snippet of his “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” his campy, cult-hit Hobbits tune from his 1960s album.

And watch for the cameo at the end by Audi’s driverless car – the autonomous TTS that climbed Pikes Peak.

SolePower charges smartphones by harnessing walking power

July 10th, 2013  | 


SolePower charges smartphones by harnessing walking power

Looking to solve the issue of a dead phone battery and no power outlet in sight, a new invention on Kickstarter says it can capture, generate, and store power within a shoe insole.

SolePower is a power generating shoe insole that can charge portable electronics.(Credit: Screengrab by Dara Kerr/CNET)

What if people could charge their phones by going for a walk? No electricity, no power outlets, no more dealing with dead phone batteries. This idea actually isn’t too farfetched.

A new Kickstarter campaign is focused on getting funding for a power generating shoe insert that lets users charge portable devices — like smartphones, music players, and GPS devices — while they walk.

The device is called SolePower and is currently in an alpha prototype phase. The company is looking to raise $50,000 by July 18 to start working toward finalizing a mass producible product.

SolePower founders Matthew Staton and Hahna Alexander came up with the idea as mechanical engineering students at Carnegie Mellon University.

“We initially designed SolePower to simply light an LED on the shoe so students walking to and from campus at night would be more visible,” Stanton told CNET. “After we developed a proof of concept prototype for the class we realized that there were many more applications for the device.”

To generate energy, SolePower takes each step and converts it into usable electrical power. As the user swings their leg and steps down energy is created, the insole then captures this energy and stores it in an external battery. A two and a half mile walk generates enough energy for a solid smartphone charge.


“Our initial target market will be hikers, backpackers, and other outdoor enthusiasts in need of mobile power,” Staton said.


Eventually, the company hopes SolePower will have an even further reach. Not only could it be helpful to people in the military, forest rangers, and anyone stuck in a natural disaster, but it could also be life-changing to people who live in remote regions around the world with little electricity.

However, some issues arise with a phone-charging shoe insert. What about water and sweat? And, shoe size? SolePower’s co-founders seem to have these problems figured out. The device is entirely waterproofed and the company has consulted with podiatrists to ensure the insoles don’t affect the way people walk.

Staton said the company is planning to retail SolePower for around $150 to $175. If the company gets the funding it needs, the final product should be ready for consumers sometime between June and December 2014.

Reports: There Are More Solar Workers Than Coal Miners in the U.S.

July 9th, 2013  | 


Reports: There Are More Solar Workers Than Coal Miners in the U.S.


Coal accounts for a vastly larger chunk of electricity production than solar. But industry reports suggest there are more solar employees than coal miners in the U.S.“America has more solar workers than coal miners,” declared a CNN report in late April that summarized a survey done by the Solar Foundation, a nonprofit research and advocacy group. The National Solar Jobs Census, released in November 2012, found that there were 119,016 “solar workers,” meaning employees “who spend at least 50% of their time supporting solar-related activities.”


About 57,000 of workers were engaged in the installation of solar-power equipment, up 9,000 from the year before, while about 30,000 worked in manufacturing, off 8,000 from 2011. All told, solar jobs grew 13.2 percent in 2012 from 2011, and are projected to increase by another 17 percent in 2013.

But are there really more solar employees than coal miners? Well, it depends on which data series you look at. The Solar Foundation’s count comes from a database maintained by a solar-energy trade group, the Solar Energy Industry Association, which it used for a survey of solar employers. The Solar Foundation also sampled other employers, like universities, research labs, and energy companies, that might have some workers engaged in solar-related activities. The figure for coal employees comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, whose latest data, based on employer surveys, shows 87,520 coal workers.

There are, however, two other relevant data series. One, from the Energy Information Administration, shows 91,611 coal-mining workers in 2011, a 6.3 percent increase from the year before. A third data set, the most inclusive, maintained by the Mine Health and Safety Administration, reports 143,437 coal-mining employees in 2011 and estimates there were 137,361 in 2012.  According to the National Mining Association, which published its own report on mining jobs in 2010, the MHSA data is the most inclusive and best reflects the total number of coal jobs of all the government data sets. Why? It surveys the mines themselves, not the companies, meaning it can capture contract workers who are not necessarily employed by the company that owns or operates the mine.

In any case, there isn’t a great apples-to-apples comparison for coal and solar jobs. If we use the most generous survey of solar jobs and the rough midpoint of government surveys of coal jobs, the two seem to be roughly comparable.

In January, the most recent month for which data is available, coal accounted for nearly 40 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. Which is enough to keep coal miners busy.

But it’s worth keeping in mind that job creation isn’t the point of energy production? If you were too instead look at energy production from coal and solar, you would see vast, readily apparent differences. According to the most recent data from the EIA, in the last year through February, coal electricity production has clocked in at 1,536,564 gigawatt hours, while all non-hydropower renewable-energy sources, which includes wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass produced 222,407 gigawatt hours. Coal has been responsible for 38 percent of all electricity generation in the last 12 months. (This figure has been consistently falling—coal was 45 percent of all electricity generation in 2010.) According to the EIA, by contrast, solar accounted fora mere .04 percent of electricity generation in 2011. Of course, solar-electricity production is growing rapidly. Since 2007, solar production has increased by at least 28 percent every year.

A lump of coal packs a lot more power than a solar panel, which helps explain why you don’t need that many coal-mining workers to produce such a large amount of electricity. But other factors are in play. Many solar installations are small (say, a couple dozen panels on the roof of a house), and are being put up all over the country in a labor-intensive process. By contrast, coal mines tend to be incredibly large, highly automated operations. Solar’s distributed and growing generating capacity requires a larger job footprint for installers and manufacturers. Meanwhile, much of the infrastructure that supports coal production and distribution—the mines, the train tracks, the trucks, the power plants themselves—has long since been built.

It is clear, however, that coal is not much of a growth business—especially when it comes to electricity production. Research by two Duke professors estimates that 9 percent of all coal plants’ economic viability is threatened by low prices of natural gas, which emits fewer greenhouse gases than coal and is approaching parity in electricity generation. The study also found that 56 percent of coal plants might be threatened by stricter emissions standards.

Although solar is still a small portion of the nation’s energy portfolio, it is one of its fastest-growing components. According to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report of the 1,880 megawatts of new installed energy capacity in the first quarter of 2013, 537 megawatts came from solar, 958 from wind, 340 from natural gas, and zero from coal. Solar installers are clearly continuing to hire.

While coal may not be growing much as a source of electricity generation, it still accounts for a huge chunk of the power we consume every day. In January, the most recent month for which data is available, coal accounted for nearly 40 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. Which is enough to keep coal miners busy.

Here’s the McDonald’s Ad All the Web Guys Think Is Genius

July 8th, 2013  | 

Here’s the McDonald’s Ad All the Web Guys Think Is Genius

MAY 6, 2013 AT 9:12 AM PT

mcdonald's canada youtubeWeb video doesn’t look like TV. So Web video ads shouldn’t look like TV ads, either.

Right? Maybe!

But right now that’s not true: Just about every ad you see on YouTube or Hulu, or any other video site, is either an ad that ran on TV, a shorter version of an ad that ran on TV, or an ad that could run on TV.

But there’s a school of thinking that says Web video ads should be their own special thing that takes advantage of the freedom and flexibility that the Internet offers.

And, weirdly enough, lots of people keep pointing to the same clip as an example: A three-minute-28-second mini-documentary from McDonald’s Canada, which explains why the chain’s burgers look better in ads than in real life. (Spoiler: They cheat.)

Last week, before YouTube’s big “brandcast” pitch for advertisers, I met with a bunch of people who are betting big on Web video, and they cited this ad as an example of Web advertising’s future. Then, at YouTube’s event a couple hours later, content boss Robert Kyncl said the same thing onstage. And this morning, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield makes the same assertion in a research note (registration required).

So here you go:

Scintillating? Nope! And you can certainly think of other Web ads that were a lot glitizer, and got a lot more press. But it takes a lot of money and resources to get Jeff Gordon in costume and behind the wheel, or to drop a dude out of a spaceship. And there’s no way advertisers can treat each Web spot like a summer blockbuster.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s modest ad tells a story, flatters viewers by telling them they’re smart enough to go backstage, and still ends up pushing pretty images of hamburgers in front of them. That’s pretty clever advertising sort-of masquerading as something else but not really.

And people seem to like it: Since last June, it has racked up nearly 8.5 million views.

Volkswagen Passat TDI Sets 77.99 MPG World Record For Fuel Economy in 48 State Drive

July 3rd, 2013  | 

Volkswagen Passat TDI Sets 77.99 MPG World Record For Fuel Economy in 48 State Drive

by , 06/25/13

Volkswagen, Volkswagen Passat, Volkswagen Passat TDI, Volkswagen diesel, Guinness World Records, Wayne Gerdes, Bob Winger, diesel

The Volkswagen Passat TDI clean diesel just set a world record by achieving 77.99 mpg – the lowest fuel consumption for a non-hybrid car. VW announced that the new Guinness World Recordwas achieved by drivers Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger, who piloted the diesel Passat around the lower 48 U.S. states. The achievement also beats the hybrid vehicle record of 64.6 mpg by more than 13 mpg.


Volkswagen, Volkswagen Passat, Volkswagen Passat TDI, Volkswagen diesel, Guinness World Records, Wayne Gerdes, Bob Winger, diesel 

Gerdes and Winger left VW’s headquarters in Herndon, Virginia on Friday, June 7th, at 12:00 pm and arrived back on June 24th, having covered 8122 miles and visited all 48 states. Wayne Gerdes, founder of was the primary driver. Automotive journalist Gerdes has made a career out of hypermiling and has set mileage records in more than 100 vehicles, as well as achieving the record for lowest fuel consumption in the lower 48 U.S. states with a hybrid vehicle at 64.6 mpg.

How did the two drivers achieve 77.99 mpg? Gerdes and Winger obviously used some specialized techniques, that would be beyond the scope of the average driver, like hypermiling. But they do suggest that simple techniques like obeying speed limits, accelerating slowly from a stop and trying to not brake to hard will increase a vehicle’s MPG.

Read more:Volkswagen Passat TDI Sets 77.99 MPG World Record For Fuel Economy in 48 State Drive | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building