Global Cinematography Institute

In 2015 I attended 2 sessions at the Global Cinematography Institute to further my professional skills.  Over a month in Los Angeles working at Hollywood Rentals stages in Sylmar.  The program is run by Yuri Neyman ASC, and Vilmos Zisgmond ASC.  Vilmos passed away on 1/1/2016, I was fortunate to have two days with him on set and it was a very memorable time for me. If you don’t know who Vilmos was, please take the time to look up his IMDB credits, he was one of the most accomplished cinematographers of his time.

Why would an industrial and documentary producer attend an intensive seminar on cinematography?  Cinematography is one of the foundation skills of film making!  I started my career hanging lights and operating a camera for other producers and today I do it for myself.  Many of the films I make are best produced with a minimum of crew, so I shoot my own material for those productions.  Cinematography is a craft, and to excel one needs to practice and learn from others.  I went to GCI because they put me on stage with some of the best cinematographers in the business today. I learned a lot from that experience and put those new skills right back into my business to better serve my clients.

Read More New website

I’m putting up a new website  It’s a site dedicated to my documentary film I’m in production with now. I’ll be posting some clips of the interviews I have already conducted and more; stay tuned!

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Color on the web: What are you seeing?

If your monitor is not color profiled, you are not looking at the same color and density I am, or anyone else!

All computers, monitors, printers, etc can be “profiled” to display uniform color across a variety of media. No two display panels are alike, certainly not between different technologies, and that is the point of calibration. Normalizing everyone’s display to a standard, so that content creators can be assured that what they create is seen as closely as possible to what they themselves were seeing.

I have had a color profiled system since 2001, when I was running Windows 98, that was some time ago and the equipment is better and cheaper today, but you still have to do it.  I use the Spyder 4 elite, you can get away with the lower cost models as web video, and images are calibrated for sRGB, you do not need the higher cost models that calibrate monitors to the REC 709 HD video standard for viewing video on the web. Video on the web is designed for the sRGB color space.

Do you have an 8 or 10 bit display? For non-critical viewing an 8 bit panel is fine and is made for the sRGB gamut.  10 bit panels are much more expensive and are designed for those who work on high quality image editing or video editing projects.

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Interesting information about Google and video

Interesting article about how having a video about your company will push your viability higher than traditional SEO (search engine optimization) techniques.


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Let’s make a viral

Great idea, “let’s make a viral” and then everyone will see our video…

“Everyone” does not have to see your video/industrial film for it to be successful, only the target audience needs to see your video.

When you have some time to waste, really waste, go to youtube and see what are the most popular videos.  If you can promote your company by making videos of cats dressed in clothing, or kids picking their noses, go right ahead.  Just don’t ask me to watch, though if you really want me to it’s $200.00/hr for a review.  I don’t waste my time.

Unlike most other forms of marketing, viral video makes a claim that it can almost never live up to: It will be so compelling that people will want to share it.

To simply call a video ‘viral’ because it is intended to shared virally – much like calling a video ‘amazing’ because it was intended to be ‘amazing’. Whatever your definition of viral there many factors that can mitigate against the success of your video project.

So why do viral marketing projects fail?:

Great Expectations: Creating a hit viral video is like creating a hit record. It’s very difficult. Of the hundreds/thousands of viral-intended videos created every year for businesses only a handful truly go viral.

Viral video is free and easy! No it’s not. It takes time, expertise/talent and facilities/equipment to develop a good viral video. Having more is always preferred in all three of these production resource categories (in spite of the ‘do less with more’ mantra.) ‘More’ costs more, always has, always will.

Viral videos promote themselves! No, usually they don’t – they need help. ‘Video seeding’  is a common practice now for large scale viral videos where companies will help seed the market with videos by encouraging or paying influential bloggers, PR outlets and other influencers to promote a viral video. There are a growing number of companies that offer this service. Most popular corporate viral videos had a significant seeding component that contributed to their success. Is this in your budget?

Viral video is not risk free. Just grab a Flip and start posting your video online, right?  What if your video is embarrassing or just plain bad and it goes viral anyway? Would Apple or Coke or Nike allow this to happen? Does how you present your company to the world matter? Just who is going to make your video? Your teenager? Your child may be “cheap labor” but would you trust your accountants teenager to do your taxes? Doubt it.

It is very difficult to measure success of a viral video. Is 167,000 YouTube views a success? Are any of those viewers your audience? Did they associate anything in your video, in a positive way, with your brand? Will that video affect their behavior or attitude towards your brand? Can you measure any of this? Look at the most “successful” you tube videos, they are stupid, and pander to the lowest common denominator of society, they are generally made by children for children, they are not going to sell your product to your prospects demographic.

The ‘viral’ label is a distraction. “…and we’d like the video you’re going to create for us to be viral as well.” Clients want any video they do, regardless of the market, message and purpose to have a “viral component.” The way to create a successful viral video project is to start with that purpose in mind – the video is so compelling that people will want to share it. You can’t throw in ‘viral’ as an add-on to the project. Not only will the video not be viral, you may take away from the primary purpose of the video by trying to amuse, shock or bewilder people. If you really don’t care about your public image, make a “viral” video.

The term ‘viral’ is misused. I have read a number of recent articles that interchange the terms ‘web video’ and ‘viral video’ as if they refer to the same thing. A web video is any video that is consumed on the web. Viral video is a specific type of video that is intended to be so entertaining, or remarkable, or shocking that people will be inclined to share it with their friends and colleagues, again this will probably not bode well for your public image.

There’s a fine line between selling and entertaining. If no one remembers or associates your brand with the video then you’ve wasted your money. Conversely, if the video looks like a two minute product demo no one is going to share it. A great example – Coke does a nice job (as usual) in straddling that fine line between promoting the product – the whole video is about a Coke Machine!, and entertaining – brilliant. What do you think Coke’s budget was, I bet it was wayyyy north of $100K

To truly succeed viral videos have to be great. There is extra pressure on viral videos to be really entertaining, or shocking or… something. Some of them are great and some of them are just plain awful. A viral video has to great in order to spread virally. Good usually isn’t good enough. The advantage of promotion through disruptive advertising (TV) is that your television commercial can be absolute crap and people will still watch it. With the budget of “crap” commercials in excess of $500, 000, how do you think your $10,000 “viral” will have a chance? Oh, wait, you thought it was going to be made for free, by a teenager? Good luck.



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Web cam video

A web cam is great to speak with someone in person, but making a “web cam video” is not the same as a well crafted industrial film.  I do not discount the value of the web cam, it’s very inexpensive, always present on your desktop and immediate, but unless you are willing to spend 10~20 times longer editing and post-producing your “web cam video” it’s not a very effective communication tool.  If you set up a “video blog” this is where the web cam can come into play as part of your marketing mix.

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