Marketing your company blog

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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Community involvement

Be it social projects, sustainability projects, or a sports team; don’t forget to write about it on your companies web site! For very important programs, commission a film about the effort, these films are great information for your web site and YouTube, you have a YouTube channel don’t you?

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Sustainability: What can I do?

Your company may not have a sustainability plan, but you can do something on your own.

Influence purchasing decisions.  This is a very easy step, and the larger the company, the larger the impact daily purchases have.

Buy recycled products! Start with paper towels in the kitchen and bathroom, so simple yet often overlooked.

Buy recycled coppier paper/laser paper, envelopes, etc, etc. It does “cost more” but in a large company you buy by the pallet, get a volume discount for the whole company.

Recycled content toilette paper, no it’s not like cardboard!

“Green” cleaners, do you really want to breath in solvents?

The same purchasing decisions you make at work, can be made at home as well.

Do you really have to have the HVAC at 70 degrees in the summer?  Do you have a programmable thermostat to adjust the heating/cooling of your home when you are away? Small things add up quickly over the course of a year.

Can you Skype with a colleague rather than going to visit? Travel is very expensive in resources and time.

Suggest your company invest in distributed electrical production= a grid tied solar array on the roof, your local utility may help finance and maintain the equipment, find out.

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Sustainability: What is your company doing?

If you currently have no sustainability plans for your company, then how are you going to show your customers, your community, that you are part of the solution, and not part of the problem?  Having a sustainability plan and actually doing something is a great way to interact with your community.  Making inroads to a more sustainable company is a great reason to write PR articles for your website and an even better reason to make a film about your initiatives, to “show” you are doing something for us all.

Are you constructing a LEED certified building? Show it!

Energy savings strategy?  Show that as well.

Not all marketing efforts are directly related to sales of products, there is value in “selling” the idea of your company as well, build your brand as a responsible corporate citizen in your community, and show how you are doing it.  Never miss an opportunity to tell the public about something good you are doing, the news agencies are always ready to slam you for what you do wrong!  Build a good reputation.

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DIY vs spending money?

Who is going to produce a film about you, you? Your employees? Your kids?

Are you really going to spend the time it takes to LEARN how to do it?

Will you have the time it takes to finish it?

Will it be a low priority and never get finished?

Did you build your own house?  Program the software that runs your computer? Repair your own car? Change the tires when they wear out? Make your own clothing, shoes? Do your own dentistry? Surgery?

But DIY is so popular! Sure, DIY for things that don’t negatively affect your businesses bottom line, cook your own food, clean your own house, etc. DIY things for your personal life, if you make a mistake, fine, you can easily get over it and try again, you cannot do that in business, make a mistake, loose a customer.

Just because you know how to watch TV, does not mean you can create it.

That’s why you hire me to do it for you.

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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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Steps to making an industrial film:

The steps involved in making a film:


There are generally two types of films, Narrative and Documentary. Making either type of film usually employs the four phases of film production summarized below, though some details are unique to each film type and genre.

Development Phase
A book or other story source is adapted, usually by a writer or writer/producer into a screenplay or script or an original screenplay is written or acquired. Once approved to proceed through development by the producer, a director is hired and the script is edited and refined until it is approved as a shooting script. A detailed budget for the remaining phases of production is created during development.


For a documentary, a “scrip” is really an outline, or a series of questions to lead the narrative of the film. Often topics will come up in conversation that were not anticipated and the direction of the narrative will change to incorporate new and more interesting information. A “detailed” budget is also less clear, but as there are less people and equipment involved in documentary production in comparison to feature production, budgets are not beyond control. Faithfully shooting a script when making a documentary or most industrial films is folly, all the information is not known at the start of production (as it is in dramatic film) the “reality” of this type of filmmaking must be taken into account.

Pre-Production Phase
The producer(s) and director begin to hire associate producers, a production designer, line producers, casting agent(s), cinematographer (or director of photography) and others on the lead or executive team who acquire all the elements that will appear in front of the camera including locations, sets, props, talent, crew, etc. as well as ancillary support services for the growing army of professionals who will be working on the film. Any locations are scouted and locked down and storyboards and/or previsua lization is created during pre-production to help the director communicate his/her vision to all other parties on how the story is to be executed.


For industrial films, pre-interviews of the principals of the company are needed to understand the company and how the message to customers will be conveyed. Locations still need to be scouted and “B”roll footage needs to be thought of.

Production Phase
Shot by shot, all principal photography (the capturing of images and sound) until every scene from camera positions determined by the director and cinematographer is “in the can.” Elements such as special shots or stills for marketing purposes are usually captured. Any computer-generated images (CGI) or visual effects sequences are also begun during production. Usually the costliest part of filmmaking, the Production phase employs more people on the project than the other phases.


For a feature film or television film, this phase is generally a contiguous production. For documentary or industrial filmmaking, where there is much less control over subjects or locations, production is normally spread out over a longer period of time to accommodate scheduling needs. The number of day of shooting may be fixed, but it will generally be over a longer calendar schedule. Saving days of production for after editing has begun is also a very good strategy for documentary and industrial filmmaking, often there will be ideas that come out of the edit which require additional footage to support. It would be foolish not to reserve some “production” for use during “post-production.”

Post-Production Phase
Under supervision of the director, the captured images and sounds are organized into story sequence by one or more editors, combined with unrefined versions of CGI and visual effects, then refined into a rough cut. From a rough cut screening for the director and all others with approval authority such as the executive producer, decisions are made as to how the final film will be edited. CGI and visual effects are refined and audio effects such as foley and any ADR (or looping) is recorded during post. Pickup shots and insert shots are performed at this phase and sometimes scenes need to be re-shot if problems with the story or with existing shots are discovered during editing.

A final cut or master is the result of the refined rough cut combined with all new elements. The film is then passed through color correction and a musical score is added. After a private screening of the final cut and hopefully approved, the master is considered locked and a “duplicate master” is created then prepared for reproduction/distribution according to the distributor’s specifications, whether for theatrical, or video/DVD release.


This is a basic outline of the steps to create any film, be it a feature, made for TV, or an industrial film. You cannot “save” money by eliminating any of these steps, if you do, you will not have a complete and viewable production, you will have wasted money and time. Budget for the full project and see it completed to a successful end.


Often in industrial filmmaking, it is impossible to anticipate the reaction of the client to the rough cut of the film. Many people are unable to judge their own performance on film and become self conscious of irrelevant things like the tone of their voice, their hair style or how much they weigh. If a client rejects the rough cut because of one of these “issues” which are personal, but not relevant in the eyes of the filmmaker or the viewers, the “budget” is no longer valid. Re-shooting scenes is expensive, eliminating a character is expensive, paying for “retouching” though cheap in still photography, is extremely expensive in cinematography. The money you saved on not getting a haircut or having a make up artist on set will cost you 100x more to “fix in post,” if it’s possible at all.


Clients are often their own worst enemies at this stage of production, everyone has “their” idea of how a film will come out, but “imagining” a film is not the same as making a film. The reality of filmmaking is in the hands of the filmmaker, not the client, and translating an idea to reality is not easy , nor is it going to please everyone. At some point you will have to “let well enough alone” and make sure you are making comments on issues that really matter, like the message of the film, and not how well your tie was tied, or your personal appearance.


Feature films, the cheap ones, cost millions, don’t’ expect the same look (production values) in your industrial film! That is just stupid. A feature film will have anywhere from a dozen to a hundred people on set, if you think you are going to get the same lighting as a feature, you are nuts. The entire budget of your industrial film will not even pay for the rental costs of the camera, much less the cost of producing your film. When I was working in New York City, many years ago, the DAILY cost of producing an average feature film was $100,000 PER DAY. That was only the “below the line” costs, it does not include, actors, director, editing, special effects, script, producers, marketing, advertising, etc, etc. That was just the cost of the equipment and the technicians to operate it, that’s it! Well, it does cover bagels and coffee, but that is what makes production possible in NYC.


Be realistic with your attitude toward your film; when you are spending $10,000 or $20,000 on a film for your company, it’s a lot of money, especially since it’s your money. I’m sure you would rather spend the money on yourself, but that does not MAKE you money, an industrial film has that potential. An industrial film works 24/7-365, and doesn’t take a vacation. Any marketing expense is an investment in your business, otherwise don’t’ do it. If you think you are “wasting” your money on marketing, advertising, then don’t spend the money! It’s your business, not anyone else’s, do as you see fit, but don’t complain that “nobody knows who I am” or “I need more business” Either invest in your business, or your competition will invest in their business and leave you in the dust.

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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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