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Thermal Vision Lenses

When you mention the phrase “night vision” it conjures up images of military raids or hotel heiresses eating powdered treats.  Well, we should put those days behind us and focus on the high quality imagery new lenses are able to capture with incredibly low amounts of lights.  Light sensitive digital cameras can now open a world of images not yet before seen to the human eye.

Celluloid film has a magnificent resolution but under low lighting conditions suffers from suffers from tiny particles of silver halide that creans the “grainy” effect.  This results in a finished product that in almost no way resembles the actual actions taking place and puts the quality to a dismal resolution.  Infra-red lenses were an advancement for a time but filmed light-waves that were outside the scope of human vision.  This is a nice thing for weather patterns but not for seeing what is happening in the dark.  Once filtered through reflective lenses this advancement did eventually create a monochromatic image that was much clearly and less grainy but still not in full color.  Then thermal cameras came about and took the infra-red a step further by capturing emitted light from the subjects.  Since these wavelengths travel at different frequencies they displayed various forms of colors.  Still not always the natural ones the objects exists in but enough to distinguish what is going on.

However technology has advanced and thermal cameras can actuate real images into the perceived colors.  One of the new cameras that capture this is the Sony A7s which retails for under $3,000 and also captures remarkable 4k footage.  The way the camera does this is oddly by having a lower pixel rate allowing each pixel to absorb more light and lower noise reduction for a clearer image.  The Sony A7s is a handheld camera with interchangeable lenses and perfect for various operations from attaching to drone or concealing in an waterproof case for a range of filming options.

These types of cameras have evolved immaculately over the last few years and the perceivable future will develop ways of filming we can only dream of.  The best part is this technology once only available to the military is in the palm of any consumer’s hand.


Lower Production Costs in 7 Easy Steps

There’s nothing more embarrassing than asking your client for more money.  You agree on a price and if the production goes over budget then it comes out of your company profits.  This is the honorable way of doing business.  Sometimes things change with the client’s requests and there is reasonable room for renegotiation but if everything falls your way and you still go over budget then you need to re-plan on the next project.  Experience is the best way to understand what costs will arise and how to best plan for them.  Until then, knowledge is a decent road to take.  Let the experience of others provide some useful tips on how to cut costs.

Production Brief – Research is always the first step in any project.  Study what the impact of the video will be and how much you have to work with.  The client may want a video that is not going to have a very profitable result and this is something you might not want to venture into.  On the same token, the client might present you with a very unrealistic budget.  It’s your company’s job to guide them to the best options.

Actors – Professional actors can run you up the wazoo.  There are plenty of aspiring talent that is just begging for any screen-time possible.  Most casting websites have a non-paid option.  See:




And these are just a few.  There is also the option to cast your own company employees.  You will find many of them begging to do this job and if they can handle the task of delivering lines in front of a camera you are obtaining them for their regular salary.  This can sometimes cost even more than an established actor but it does give a realistic touch.  If in the case, you do want to hire an actor with some Hollywood credits get to know people out there.  You will be surprised who may want to work with you.  There is the story of Zero Impact Home, an ecological company in Sherman Oaks, who wanted to make a “Back to the Future” parody as a promotional video.  One of the producers of the video attended the same church as actress Claudia Wells from the original film.  She was more than happy to provide her services to help with a cause she believed in and all it costs the production company was her specific request of a 12 pack of Diet Barq’s Root Beer.

Music – I’ll never forget the story of a video game that came to my production office stating they had blown their entire million dollar advertising budget procuring the rights to 30 seconds of “Free Bird” and needed something on the fly for no budget at all.  There is no need to be one of those idiots.  Library music cues are efficient and precise for any task.  There are public domain options for songs older than 35 years as well.  I recommend finding local musicians and forming in a symbiotic relationship between promoting their music and the product.  Regional audiences will definitely respond to this.

Schedule – Plan your shoot days as efficiently as possible.  Try to maximize on all locations and hours.  Doing pick-up shots and re-shoots is the most costly part and real pain for consistency.  If you are paying someone by the hour it is best to make the most use of their time when they are around.  Don’t ask people to show up early only to have them wait around.  Know when you will need which crew departments when and plan it into the schedule.  This also has the effect of showing you appreciate the crew’s time.  When securing locations determine when it would be cheaper to shoot.  Some places are not open on weekends or nights and you could use this to your advantage.

Graphics – Ask yourself if the video needs specific graphics and texts.  How animated do they need to be and is it truly relevant to the message.  Is this addition a gimmick or is it informational.  Gimmicks can be thrown out unless the client really wants to go that angle.  Information should not be over provided, the idea is to connect with the viewers and entice them to do further research for the full information.

Equipment – Before your company buys any new equipment, ask yourself if this is going to be worth it.  Technology advances all the time.  Smaller and newer production companies will struggle at first to procure the right equipment as well as clients.  It may be beneficial to rent certain cameras or audio devices until you can afford to buy one.  Used is always a good option so being in contact with some of your larger competitors can do you some good there.

Editing – The final product may be a 30 second video that took 12 hours to shoot but the time it spends in the editing room could be an undetermined length.  You can do the editing in house but remember your time is valuable as well.  There are some ways to make things easier on your editors such as pre-cutting clips and being specific with your time codes.  You could also hire a freelance editor to do the creative work and then do the finishing rendering yourself.  The best way to learn how much an editor will cost is to learn how they think.  The video below will give you some aspect as to how they will consider charging you to make their time worth it.

A lower budget proposal may help you land a job over your competitors and can often increase profit margins but there is no shortcut to good work.  High production value does not mean wasting money but these tips can be a valuable resource if your clients agree to it.  You are in the business of pleasing those who pay you and showing them that a nice project can be obtainable for less money is always welcomed.


Aspects of A Corporate Video Script

There are aspects of a corporate video script that differ from that of a motion picture but both have the same basic elements of storytelling. Besides the aspect of trying to please and work with your clients intent for a video product, there is a greater need to know the audience in corporate videos than in a script for pure entertainment. Knowing the audience is the first priority in any script.  After you know the mind you trying to reach you have the pleasure of tackling the ideas of connecting with them through the content and building a story arc within the given time-frame.

Know Your Audience – these are the first questions the production needs to ask the client. Who is their target demographic for each ad. The next is the research, what are the desires of this market and how will this product affect them. If you can answer these questions you will have the fundamental basis for what the story line needs to fill. Maybe this is an internal video for the client but the questions still apply.

Theme – the thematic elements of your story are what you pay your dream team creatives for. They will best know the trends and nuances of the target audience, how to draw an emotional connection between the product and viewer. The idea is to match the story and setting details to something that particular audience finds engaging. Sometimes the client may have an idea of what themes work on a particular demographic. Details do count and consistent aspects in that world help with the relating factor.

Emotional Arc – Viewers will respond to withdrawal or denial of something more than to the addition. Every story should be set up with the possibility of something being greater or being currently okay and then shown what it is like not to have that. When it comes to advertising the story ends here. The idea of teasing the audience into something they would want is the goal. Further information to obtain the product must be hinted at and accessible but not completely explained. Finding where the line is between drawing the viewer’s interest into the story and cutting it right at the point where they will want more without giving them a solid conclusion is a fine art form. Sometime it is as simple as a cut at the right moment but more importantly it should be the basis of the writing stage. Even if you are making an internal company video you will find the resolution comes from the employees taking some kind of action. You are still selling a story where the viewer completes the tale.

Once these three elements have been observed in the formation of the script it is up to your creative department to work within the budget and create a concept that pleases everyone.

Setting Up Lenses for Interviews

Interviews make up a large chunk of corporate videos.  When setting up these shots there is very little difference from that of filming a documentary or cinematic sit-down shot.  You might have to ask if the client wants a single or a double camera setup and the choice is not just aesthetic.  There are dramatic effects that can be implemented with a double shot as well as the functionality of having backup footage.  You can get away with re-positioning the single camera setup but then you have a slew of consistency problems to worry about.  There is a lot to be said about which lenses you chose for each of these setups and the types of lenses needed for close-up interviews do make a huge difference.

For single camera setups your best option is to start with a prime lens at 50mm and then switch to a zoom lens of over 70mm.  70mm is an excellent choice for this but you can go as high as a 200mm.  You can set the shot up once and will not have move for the close-up shot; simply switch the lens and use the zoom feature when ready.  If you can’t afford the zoom lens then try to set the shot up with enough room to be able to move forward with the 50mm prime lens.  This will still give you a wonderful, professional looking output.

With a two camera setup you will be able to set up the prime lens on camera A and the zoom lens on camera B so you can get the entire interview in one take, ideally.  This feature will allow one camera, the 50mm, to stay stationary while the zoom lens camera moves around the subject.  You always have your stable footage and then some close ups from various angles to edit in later.

Another option for a two camera setup is to treat them both like the one camera setup where you prime both shots with 50mm lenses then switch to 70mm or wider when needed.  The idea being that your cameras are pointed in opposing directions is you want to include two speakers engaging in a dialogue or pointed at the same speaker to capture a front and side view.

The goal is to capture the best footage possible but it should obstruct with the information in the interview so discuss the options with the person on the screen and let them know they should feel at ease and your intent is to capture the best image possible of them.

Canon C 100 Lens Test: In search of the perfect interview lens. from Eric Gould on Vimeo.

3 Tips to Maximizing Your Shoot Days

You pay for the lights, you put in a request for caterers, you secure locations, you go through the almost impossible task of making sure all your cast and crew shows up on the same day so you can have a few hours of actual production.  There is the idea of covering your ends so you don’t have to dare do the dreaded re-shoots but I’d like to offer a further notion and suggest ways to bulk up the amount of content produced on shoot days to maximize productivity and avoid the difficulties of rescheduling another shoot day.

  1. Use Multiple Cameras – Find a location large enough to angle more cameras than usual.  Remember you will have to set up lighting for each angle and that requires more room.  You need them to be comfortable and at least one of your camera operators should not be stationary.  Allow at least one camera operator to flow through the set; not exactly freely but in a plotted line of movement.  A good way to do this is to mark the floor with tape like a yellow brick road so they have a path to glide in unseen by the other cameras and close up to the action and then pull away back to an outside view.  Choreographic this dance is common on sets and rarely is the ground filmed thus there is often tape marking positions for actors and camera operators.  With this extra footage your editors have much more to work with and reusing particular parts of scenes is not always redundant but sometimes favorable for viewers.  Not all viewers will watch all the videos you create so a lot of times this will hardly be noticed.
  2. Stagger Your Scheduling – Not everyone needs to take a break at the same time.  Your wardrobe and makeup departments will often be the first to arrive in the morning and others will pour in afterwards.  Schedule meal breaks and rest periods throughout the day.  This is a benefit that extends beyond maximizing the footage and allows crew to get their food more quickly and be much more at peace when not on duty.  You are not thinking of the entire crew as a congruent unit but as piece on a chess board that move one at a time throughout yet in a focussed system to achieve one goal.  Only one piece will capture the king but many others will play defense and some are just used for distraction.
  3. Prepare Multiple Scripts  I can’t stress this part enough.  So many times do writers think of things that they should have added once the whole shebang is done.  Write down the various ways to say the same thing and get it all filmed with take after take.  Prepare all the material you can and just get it filmed.  Most of the filmed footage from sets is discarded to create the final project but the more the editors have to work with the more possibilities.

This can be a risky tactic if you have to rely on multiple on-camera talents so make sure to cast responsible actors and double check on their health status and transportation throughout the week.  Most of the time your crew will be iron-clad troopers determined to stay long hours and get things done.  Your editors might require more time to sort through the footage but it is still way cheaper and less stressful than organizing a re-shoot.

Skull Island on Google Maps: An Innovative Marketing Tactic

Have you wanted to visit Narnia but weren’t sure how to get from Mr. Tumnus’ place to the castle?  How about which space bus can drop you off at Dagobah so you can chill with Yoda.  Well we are not far off from flirting with these notions as Google Maps has now posted the fictitious location for the new movie Kong: Skull Island on its actual maps.  Yes, you can now locate a made up place in a real navigation tool.

The partnered venture between Universal Pictures and Google Industries becomes a first for this type of marketing.  Blending reality with fiction to promote a movie has been done before but never on this scale.  There actually is a Skull Island, two in fact.  One of the north coast of Australia and one just off Long Beach in California.  Kong’s Skull Island is listed as an archeological site and based on its location along the equator west of South America conjures up the idea of the Galapagos islands where Charles Darwin did his biological research.  It’s doubtful to think this recent Kong movie will inspire much educational research.  The current trailers make it to be the most action packed Kong film yet.  Still there are new creatures that emerge from the hidden jungles and the CGI effects to create them are obviously done with some zoological basis.

When you go to the Google Maps – Skull Island Link https://goo.gl/maps/a1d5YDdZWMz you will notice it is a bare bones setup with no street view or directions.  A major mistake since the video was available from the film to take stills from.  It would have been nice to do a 360 view, turn and see Sam L. Jackson frowning at you.  Yet there are a few reviews already which read quite humorously such as the restaurant review.

The fact that this exists has been making news and promoting a movie that was unleashed unto the public without as much expectation or desire as the last King Kong (2005) film.  Stretching the limits of advertising is what makes this exciting.  There is an interactive, virtual experience that participates in our real lives despite its hokiness that appeals to our imaginations.  It makes the audience double think if they have slipped into a dimensional warp and woken up into Kong universe.  Maybe this instance lasts for only a fraction of a second but that possibility is questionable for viewers that want to believe in something.

At the very least this form of marketing creates a buzz that can go viral and stimulates more people to view the movie’s trailer or go to the film’s website just to check it out.


Video Marketing – How Non-Profit Corporations Benefit

Whether a corporate entity exists as a for profit or charitable organization the process is essentially the same: the company works to raise revenue.  The method is similar in that both need to raise awareness about the services offered and there is no better way to do this than creating video content and posting in the right places.

In the nonprofit world, videos are made to raise awareness about an issue that might pertain to a cause they are willing to support by donating money, to thank past donors and show how the improvements are going and remind those participating that the process of helping is highly active.  An organization might need to persuade people to offer up their time volunteering rather than money and video can do this by showing participants involved and get them excited about the work they could be doing.

Nonprofit corporations also still the same internal videos for training and communication that all businesses need. This is even more important for the nonprofits as volunteers are less likely to read material essential to the task but will watch entertaining videos with joy like the ones that convinced them to participate.

Reenactments play a big part in the videos nonprofits tend to use.  If you have a hospital that is working on developing a scientific cure then it is rare to go inside a working lab and film such.  Being there when a discovery happens is not exciting for viewers as it is for scientists but the idea of the impact can be spread through a scripted reenactment.  This is the same with showing the reasons how a patient could have gotten sick.  These mini-movies help to get your message across and make the videos alive from a third person omniscient view and should be filmed by a professional video company with such experience.  Even the work the company does itself should be carefully planned when filming to highlight the best aspects.  Viewers of video want to be entertained and emotionally provoked.

Nonprofits often exist on a tighter budget but that is not always the case.  They receive large tax incentives which trickle down to all those participating.  Some video production companies might take a loss to help create video content because it is a tax write off for them or because they believe in the project so dearly.  The best advice is to spread the word and find those who want to be included.  It’s all about communication and planning.

Video has the power to touch its viewers emotionally and when combined with a brilliant message of compassion can do wonders.  Don’t limit yourself just because you have a message and your experience in business has been cruel.  A lot of successful people are looking to help and convincing them to join your cause is what video content is all about.

Grow Your Business With Content Marketing

The use of traditional advertising has slipped over last few years and in it’s place most of the world’s largest organizations are switching to content marketing focused on attracting a specific target audience with valuable, interesting and unique articles and videos. This blog post will outline the “how’s” but the “why” is always the bottom line of increasing profitable customer relations.

Content marketing is used by businesses large and small to engage an audience on issues relevant their lives. It does more than just blast out their name to the public yet it does allow branding to seem in if done correctly. The idea is to generate awareness of your company strategically and draw traffic to your website which will potentially lead to sales and increase your SEO. This form of marketing is often created at a much lower cost than traditional advertising campaigns and it can establish your company as an innovator in the technical knowledge you are discussing. For smaller businesses this is particularly important because as it shows you have the same know-how as the mega-conglomerates but can give personalized attention to your individual customers.

Creating interesting content is the key and videos have the most potential for this as the story element is much more engaging than the written word. Your viewers will have a chance to see what you are talking about and relate on a much more personal level. There is an entertainment value to video which if done with a professional touch will form the desire to be watched repeatedly for enjoyment as well as informative reasons.

Tips on the various ways to create content marketing are as follows:

Set Up a Podcast

While there are advantages to the audio format of podcast including smaller amounts of data to transmit and the ability to listen while driving or working, the video potential is still possible. The best podcasts are short, edited pieces that get down to the point as quickly as they can. Video content created for your podcast can also be re-posted on sites like YouTube to reach a larger audience.

Design Videos for Your Audience

Your company knows what they are selling but they should also know who they are selling to. Shoot and post videos with content that informs the viewers about subjects they care about even if it is on the fringe of your services. Potential customers will want to do business with a company that shares the same values as they do.
Blog to Reinforce Your Videos: Sometimes viewers can become lost in the entertainment value of videos or forget what they heard over the course of time. Providing a written companion to this can backup the facts previously stated in a concise visual format to increase comprehension. Written, audio and video blogs can also be redirected across a multitude of social media platforms.

Adding a Professional Touch

Your videos should be visually appealing. This means filming with the proper equipment and editing concisely. The addition of annotations and graphics can strongly achieve this goal if used wisely. Formatting an aesthetically pleasing and well-informed cover image can help target the ideal audience that will want to know more about the content you are presenting.
Stay Consistent with email lists: Every blog along these lines will tell you to grow your email list but the real idea is to stay on top of it over time. Subscribers may forget about your company for a time but will eventually see the emails in their promotions folder and be reminded that was a thing they were interested in and a catchy title can regenerate their desire to investigate your company at a better time.

Creating valuable content marketing means taking a different approach. It is about knowing your values as a company and allowing interested parties to be drawn to you rather than chasing them.

How Important Are Subscribers on YouTube

The idea of posting videos publicly on YouTube is to gain exposure for your product be it a commodity or creative service.  The more people that become aware of your product and company the greater value for revenue you can generate.  As views can be purchased the metric of measuring a video’s success can be tricky.  The use of the Subscribe button on YouTube allows your followers to be updated with videos you post directly.  When they log into YouTube they will have a ready supply of videos for the watching.

Subscriptions often take second place to view counts but since the addition of a the Subscribe widget button their value has increased.  A larger number of subscribers represents a strong following base of those who presumably will like your videos, not by pushing the like button but in a more personal approach.  You’ve won these people over already.  From this base you have your actively interested followers ready to hear what new products you are about to unleash.

Amassing a large subscriber base can yield sustained engagement with your audience making this a valuable tool to cultivate.  Every subscriber represents an member of your community rather than a viewer who may even have liked your video but can also be unfamiliar with your product. Reaching for increased subscribers almost guarantees larger views and likes for future videos.

Subscribers can be especially important for scripted content because it lacks the built-in call and response feature that video blogging has.  Transporting these subscribers to Facebook page likers provides the opportunity then for Facebook advertising to their friends.

Overall view count still matters at this point more than total number of channel subscribers.  This is in part that often when subscribers lose interest in a channel they do not unsubscribe yet no longer watch the recommended videos in their subscription list.

Non-scripted programming has the opportunity to go viral much more than scripted formats.  These views are a one time shot but also a bonafide chance for exposure of your channel.  Unfortunately there is the drawback of having large amounts of dislikes and negative comments but that is part of the game.  Most of the complaining rants will be ignored and you can block if necessary but running a censored institution is not necessary.  For instance, I hear all the time that McDonald’s french fries are better than In-N-Out Burger but this can be summed up with the simple fact reply that In-N-Out uses real potatoes.  Same for your company, back negative comments up with real statements.  Logic can win over but taste is personal and people understand that.

The more valuable metric to look at may be the statistics of who has gained increases in followers and where they come from.  Research if your new subscribers come from your previous subscription base or from other new sources of advertising.

Oscars 2017: Get Your Red Carpet On

Since 2014 the Academy Awards have decided to join the 21st Century and offer viewers the chance to stream the content live online in addition to the ABC televised broadcast.  So those of us who have abandoned the idiot box can tune in here http://oscar.go.com/live this Sunday February 26.  

First time Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel has to travel all the way across the street from where his nightly television show is filmed to attend the ceremonies at the Kodak Theater.  The Oscars have been searching for a more stable host for more than a decade now and seems displeased almost every time.  Last year’s 2016 Oscars show hosted by Chris Rock suffered the public complaint “Oscars So White” made popular in hashtag form #OscarsSoWhite and Mr. Rock was barred from further hosting possibilities for a joke that seemed to slander Asian-Americans.  With as many rehearsals and censors as the show goes through before airing it is a wonder any lewd behavior surfaces.

This year’s nominations hopefully reflect the ethnic diversity of the country a little better than previous years but progress in this area is always slow.  While I could expound on the many racial problems in the Hollywood system and the greater whole of the nation, this article will focus on the entertainment value of top three categories: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role.

With nine nominations for Best Picture there is still a thematic category that remains absent, there are no comedies.  Well LaLa Land, the current forerunner for your office pools, is the only film representing the merged comedy/musical category.  Critics love LaLa LAnd for its stunning visual eye candy but many feel it lacks real depth of story.  While dramas win most of the time for Best Picture every decade has a musical Best Picture win, (there is also a black and white print since the advent of color films took over in the 1970’s but there is no nomination for a B/W movie this year so look out in 2018 and 2019) and once in a great while a comedy wins out.  Action movies, no matter how good, rarely see the light of a Best Picture nom.  The Academy extended its amount of Best Picture nominations from five to nine to better include the various genres but as you can tell this year things took a dramatic turn.  (insert evil laugh here)

Arrival is the only Sci-Fi film nominated and it examines the possibility of alien life forms landing on planet Earth and how to communicate with them.  Possibly a very important movie in this multicultural nation that is suffering from reactionary positions due to globalization.

While Hidden Figures is the funniest movie nominated it is more a historical drama dealing with race issues that uses a lot of comic relief to ease the tension of the much larger subjects.  

Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water are typical Academy favorites as World War II dramas and Westerns dominate a huge preference for past wins.  

Regardless if the film Fences wins for Best Picture it will become the standard go to for students reading the play from the late August WIlson.  In my opinion it is the most worthy of the films.  Well shot and directed and marvelously performed.  This piece of classic American literature is brought back to life and will for sure be enjoyed by generations to come.  This is the second August Wilson play Denzel Washington has acted in.  Only eight more to go Denzy.  I’m waiting…

Mr.  Washington is also nominated for his acting Fences but not directing.  Denzel already holds two golden bald statues in his pocket but that should not restrict him in any way for winning this time.  This is the role he was born to play and it should be rewarded for the entertainment and artistic value it delivers.

Viggo Mortensen is the only other actor of a distinguished age that is being nominated in the Best Actor Category.  His work in Captain Fantastic is possibly his best yet and should not be overlooked as a promising contender.

This year also features another highlight in the online world as Casey Affleck was nominated for Best Actor in his work for Manchester By the Sea, (also nominated for Best Picture) a film created specifically for view on Netflix.  Technically as long as the film premiers in at least one movie theater it qualifies for nominations.  This trick has been employed for years by studios releasing their Oscar intended films before the end of the year in limited engagement usually at selected theaters in New York and Los Angeles then having the full domestic release after New Year’s.  The Academy might be cautious to recognize films made for online streaming networks as it harkens the end of the theater.  While Manchester is less likely to win for Best Picture it is the forerunner for Mr. Affleck’s acting.

Can Meryl Streep act in any film without being nominated by the Academy?  Just once I want to see her phone in a role but I bet it would still be astonishing.  Many are looking to Natalie Portman in Jackie as the best hopeful for the Best Actress win.

Newcomers Isabelle Huppert and Ruth Negga also earned themselves Best Actress nominations.  Both performers carry the bulk of these films and their work should not be missed despite winning or not.

The Oscars are live television and there is no accounting for what may happen.  If Ms. Streep wins we are almost guaranteed a political speech which she has every right to.  I’ve always wanted to see a winner ask for their co-nominees to join them onstage but this even frowned up by the Academy especially as the program reaches the end of its timeslot.  In fact it is a wonder the Academy has not figured out how to budget time better.  The program always begins slow paced and usually late then has to wrap up quicker than a 1930’s Universal monster movie, “well, the monster is dead, time to go home.”


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