One of our recent video shoots took us to Hazleton, PA to work with Cargill Solutions. They were looking for a series of different display videos to run in-house for the employees. We met with them and figured out the best game plan for shooting and got ready.
The goal was to create three sets of display videos. First being overall welcome to the Hazleton facility. They had a visit from corporate coming up and wanted all levels of the staff involved in welcoming them.
The second was a series of correct/incorrect videos on differing things around the facility to reinforce procedures and rules. These were fairly simple and straight forward.
Lastly were a set of safety welcome videos. These are a way to welcome employees in each day and stress certain areas of safety (chemical, electrical, forklifts, etc).
Overall the shoot was fairly simple and everyone was great. The edit took some finessing as each video needed subtitles as the facility has a high rate of Spanish speaking employees. So making sure the translations were correct and the right spots took a few revisions. The last hurdle was the monitors themselves. Keeping the quality high enough for broadcast, but within the limits of the individual monitors took some trial and error, but we got it right in the end!
They say it’s not what you know, but who you know.
I never really liked that phrase. It implies that being skilled is less important than just running into the right people. What happens when the right people realize you’re the wrong person for the job? Or if who you know, knows you know nothing… ya know?
Yeah… no one wins.
I like to think of it more as what you know AND who you know leads to opportunities. If you’re really good at what you do and people know this about you, you’ll find opportunities for success. Of course, that also means letting the people you know, know what you know. (ok, I promise I’m done…but it was fun)
That’s how Kurlancheek Home Furnishings became a client. I was out one night shooting a concert and ran into a friend who was looking for someone to produce a few new commercials for Kurlancheek. We talked for a bit and about a month later (thanks to the first snowfall of the season) we were shooting.
They had recently bought air time with Comcast and the first production company they spoke with wanted to do the typical ‘local small business’ commercial. A couple of pans of the inside of the store, show one or two products, fade to a white screen with the address and phone number and call it a day. Kurlancheek wanted something a little more interesting and less generic. This is one of the biggest issues with local commercials, they are usually generic and follow the same template.
They wanted to highlight a few key points – big city items at a reasonable price, unique reclaimed pieces and that they could custom design pieces. After a short meeting, we had an outline for what the final commercial campaign would look like. The idea was we’d do 3 commercials that start and end the same. The ‘nosey neighbor’ peeping out to see furniture being delivered across the street. She’d head out to ask about how expensive it was and what fancy place it came from, only to find out they came from Kurlancheek Home Furnishings and were quite affordable.
This style allowed us to highlight a few pieces, their delivery service, and interior design. Across the three versions, get all the key points across. While it took a little longer than the cookie cutter ‘local commercial’, the result was something they were much happier with. Which is the way it should be. If you’re going to pay to have production work done, it should be done right.
“How do I succeed online?”
“How do I get my name out there?”
“What does a small business need to know about video?”
“How do I get started?”
Every year we hear a lot of the pain of local marketing while at NEPA BlogCon, the first, one and only social media and blogging conference in PA. Video, podcasts, production as a whole have come up each year, Getting Started with YouTube was even a presentation last year.
Park MultiMedia is proud to have not only attended NEPA BlogCon from year one but to record all sessions on video for anyone to reference online. This year Park Multimedia will also be on hand after the sessions for online video marketing advice at the NEPA BlogCon Expo Hall (new this year!) To get ready for the expo hall – we’re putting Park Multimedia’s own Dan Kimbrough on the hot seat with some popular local marketing questions. If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you better listen up!
1.Hi Dan! Number one question, can I use my iPhone to shoot my video?
Can you, yes! Should you, well that depends on the goal of the video.
Most modern cell phones (past 2-3 years) can shoot in HD resolution. This will give you the same pixel quality as a professional camera. The difference being that professional cameras have bigger lenses, a better zoom and focus control and handle light better.
If the video is supposed to be fun, quirky, ‘day of the life’ or behind the scenes focused, sure! Grab your phone (turn it sideways!) and shoot away. YouTube, Instagram and many other sites have made us accustomed to seeing this kind of video. While not always professional quality, it’s a great way to connect with clients and give your business a personality to set it apart from others. They are like little home videos we share with the world.
If you want a professional video, that has all the bells and whistles that come with it being ‘professional’, you should hire someone. Having a camera (on your phone or otherwise) doesn’t make you a professional. I have golf clubs, but Tiger Woods I am not! Often times as business owners we want to save a few dollars here and there, but when it comes to your image…hire a pro.
2. How do I prep for a video shoot? Both as a shooter and the talent? Anything to do when prepping in PA?
Preparation is the single most important thing you can do to make a shoot go well. Whether you are the shooter or the talent, you need to make sure you have done your homework and are thoroughly prepared the day of your shoot
Shooter – The first step for any shoot is to make sure all your equipment is ready and what you need is packed. Batteries charged, cameras working, tripod, lights and microphones are in working order. Make a checklist so that you always know you have what you’ll need on hand.
Another good idea is to always have a backup location ready. The summer weather in PA can be pretty crazy. Wet one minute, hot another…just a crazy American summer. If you plan to shoot outdoors, have an indoor backup. It’ll save you time, talent and equipment.
Speaking of equipment – always use a tripod or some sort of camera support, always. Trained professionals still have some sort of support for the camera, always. Shooting handheld is difficult, don’t ruin your shoot trying to stand perfectly still.
Also, when it comes to equipment, keep it simple. Get a tripod or support, some sort of microphone, cheap lights and a camera. Practice with what you can afford and get good with it. If money comes pouring in, buy better. But for now, just get shooting.
Talent – Know what you’re doing. If it’s an interview, research the subject. Know how to pronounce their name. Already know the simple questions (where are they from, how they got started, etc.) so you can get to meatier ones. Talk with the shooter, know what the piece is and where it’s going. Is it just for a sound bite? Will you be on camera? How will the interview be used? The more you know beforehand, the better ‘talent’ you will be.
Also, and this may sound weird, always have a mirror or compact. Male or female, keep one handy. As a seasoned producer, I usually have one in my gear bag, but if you’re working with a newbie, they may not. You want to look your best, the shooter just wants to get the footage shot. You’d hate to start and realize BBQ sauce from lunch is hiding on your face. The shooter may not even notice with all they are setting up, so it’s on you to make you look good.
3. What’s the best format of video to shoot in?
The short answer – the same format that the editing software or the destination prefers. The problem is that not all cameras allow you to decide what format you shoot in.
If you’re working with an editor, ask them before you start shooting. While they can probably work with whatever you give them, or let you know specifically what they can’t use, it’s better to ask first.
If you’re editing on your own and you can’t change the format or match what you’re editing software needs, video conversion is your answer. Conversion allows you to change from one format to another. For most consumer cameras, MPEG Streamclip works well. It’s pretty straightforward in allowing you to pick your a format, change the size, how big the file is and other features. What’s also great…it’s free. I would suggest exporting as an MPEG-4 (see below).
4. VCR’s are dead, right? If I’m working with a video export tool or a videographer, what type of format should I request for my final format? What’s the most useful format?
Unless you still have the entire Disney Vault on VHS, VCR’s have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur. The most versatile format of video, right now (who knows how long anything will stay relevant) is probably MPEG-4 (.mp4).
Without getting too technical, if you’re using a video export tool look for H.264 with a .mp4 extension. Just about all computers will recognize this with their default video player. On Windows it’s Movie Maker and a Mac it’s Quicktime. Also, this type of video works well with uploading to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and other online video websites.
If you’re getting video back from a videographer or editor, still go with the .mp4 as a digital file. I would also suggest getting the files on a DVD-ROM (not playable, but as data) as a physical backup. You never know when a computer or hard drive will reach the end of the road and this way you have your video safe, in a physical format.
I live in NEPA – the land where the sun never shines, how do I make my shoot look good?
Actually, the lack of sun works in our favor. One of the biggest tells between professional and amateur video is the lighting. Too dark, too light, too many shadows are all signs that a professional wasn’t consulted.
If you’re shooting outside, overcast is ideal if you don’t have lights or a way to diffuse the bright sun. Overcast minimizes shadows and bright spots in your video and gives a nice even look. You never want to shoot too dark or bright as it’s hard to correct, so our cloudy days make for great shooting. If it is too bright, find some shade under under the abundance of PA trees or use a building to block the sun.
Other things to consider when shooting outside include paying attention to surrounding noises. You want to make sure you can hear your talent and not the cars behind them. Also, objects in the background. Parks make a great setting, just make sure you don’t have trees growing out of your talent’s head. The same goes for urban/city setting. Power lines going in and out of your talents ears can be distractingly funny.
Did we answer your video marketing question? Hopefully not! We hope to see you (yes, you!) at the conference this September 12th in Stroudsburg.
You’re looking at the newly redesigned Apple Mac Pro. Gone are the days of square towers and space consuming electronics, this is sleek, pretty, quiet and completely different. As Apple dubs it ‘the Desktop of the Future’ and ‘Something that provides an extremely powerful argument against the status quo.’
Some of the new key selling points of the Apple Mac Pro –
4k video support
Up to 12 cores of processing power
PCIe Flash Storage
Designed with built-in Thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI 1.4 ports
and so on…
So what’s the problem? The problem is what the mac pro is not, which is a performance machine.
To begin, the mac pro tops out at 12 cores. Fine for most people, but the old mac pro could go up to 16 cores, giving pro users the power the needed for larger renders and exports. Also, there’s no optical bay and all the inputs make most current drives obsolete. Apple has alway been on the forefront of technology and pushed us to do better, it’s just that they usually did it with pro users mind.
The race to get smaller and sleeker has lead Apple to all but abandon a lot of what made it stand out to the professionals in the media industry. Even with something as simple as burning a DVD. They have gutted the machine and opted for external drives and peripherals. Which is also an issue because they have abandoned legacy inputs like Firewire and USB 2. Apple has all but forced users to adapt to Thunderbolt with this flashy new machine. So no, your current usb 2.o optical drive won’t work.
Image from everymac.com
Many of us are still using drives with firewire. Thunderbolt may be the future, but many editors and creatives are still using firewire because: reviews aren’t the greatest yet for thunderbolt; the option are few at a professional speeds/standards, price per terabyte is still high; and their old hard drive works just fine. Even one firewire 800 port to daisy chain the rest together would be nice. And without the including a DVI out, even more money is being spent on adapters to use current monitors. As a professor by day, I dread is the amount of peripherals and cords that are going to be needed for this to be functional. That’s a lot of equipment, drives and cords to keep track of.
The new model also leaves you no room to expand internally. One of the hallmarks of the ‘old’ mac pro was the ability to grow it into the machine you needed and grew. It made it affordable enough to get one and still have the option to create a machine to meet your demands down the line.
While new, sleek and ‘all you’ll ever need’ works well for the average user, there’s a rather large segment of Apple’s core user group that can’t actually use this machine ‘as is’. Apple in its famous 1984 ad promised us a product that was inspired and different. Something that wasn’t everyday.
As of late though…they are failing us, at least those of us who use Apple products as high end hardware and software. Final Cut X was a water downed piece of software that was meant for everyone to be able to use. Their newest iPhone ads boast that ‘every day, more photos are taken with the iphone camera’ and show everyone using them. There are enough low end/consumer grade thunderbolt, usb 3 and HDMI 1.4 devices out there that the everyday person will be just fine with this new mac pro and we can all have one.
And that’s the problem. Apple is becoming the everyday computer company that everyone can enjoy. While that’s great for the masses, those of us who work in a world where growth, expansion, adaptability and performance are our life force, this is downright scary and appalling. A lot of this post was inspired by an old friend and current visual effects compositorKurt Lawson. His power/processing needs far outweigh mine, any day and I think he summed it up best with this –
Apple doesn’t care about the high end users they are alienating, because many more middle range users are going to want the new black shiny “pro” box. So in the end they will maybe sell more of them, while categorically cutting off anyone who wants a pinnacle performance machine.