Creative Storytelling in web, iOS, and Film


Final Cut Pro X Delivers a New Paradigm and Opportunity

By on Jul 10, 2011 in Blog, Consulting, Video |

After our latest round of evaluations related to Final Cut Pro, it’s clear to me that the software does some remarkable things. It manages media in a completely new and interesting way – and once you learn what you can do with it, for a stand-alone editor, it is really powerful. You can search by tags (similar to other NLE apps). As an individual working on various types of projects, managing your media, laying it into the magnetic (which can be demagnitized, if you like) timeline, and building a story quickly is pretty trick. However, if you collaborate, FCPX is equally remarkable in its snub of TV and Film production. Why are professionals so annoyed by this latest release? There are many comparisons that can be made, but the bottom line is that TV and film editors have specific functions that are not just traditional, they’re part of the established workflow process. Final Cut Pro changes the workflow and creates a completely new paradigm and for these individuals, its too much, too soon, and misses many of the simple requests that they’ve been showering Apple with for a number of years. Is this iMovie Pro? Generally speaking, FCPX is a pro version of iMovie. And, if you look at the catalog of Apple software, it’s supposed to be just that. Just as Aperture is a “pro” version of iPhoto, FCPX is a “pro” version of iMovie. Who didn’t see this...

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CES 2011: 2,500 exhibits, Video & Internet Collide.

By on Jan 6, 2011 in Blog, Consulting, Internet, Video |

The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show opens today, and when the doors open, more than 100,000 people will rush onto the hundreds of thousands of square feet of exhibit space, searching for the latest and greatest new technologies and products. Yet, when you take into account the many variables that each CES delivers, it’s more than likely that only ten percent of those products will offer truly innovative evolution. In our business, we work with a wide range of products, all involving media, and all related to interaction with a sales team, and distribution network, an employee base, or a broad public audience. In year’s past, it was questionable that the many products shown at CES would impact our clients and our production/communications process. This year, there is critical and essential links between what nearly all of our clients do, and what these new products will deliver. So, what are we looking for? What will you be looking for in the coming months? The short answer is connecting the home and office to the Internet. This year’s show will highlight the television as a window into multimedia, not just cable or satellite television. Already, companies like Apple and Microsoft have created links between their computing and smartphone devices and TVs. Now, television companies will be linking the Internet with their large LCD, LED, and Plasma screens. The “app” will move into the TV, bypassing the computer. And the relationship between apps, computing devices, and televisions will blur into a jumble of names, brands, positioning, and pricing. And that’s where the mess could begin. Only a few companies truly understand the relationship between all of these technologies and users. And only users can truly determine what works and what is look alike nonsense. But beneath all of these devices, there are some substantial trends we should all be aware of. The ability to manage music and video via a phone or iPad style device is here. Linking the data between those devices allows a completely new way to watch media or to share photos, presentations, play games, or communicate with others. In the home, this means a more diverse and controllable environment. In business, this opens new doors to the marketing...

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Lucky Idiot with a Tripod

By on Jan 3, 2011 in Blog, Video |

I’ve been struggling with the success of the latest web video sensation. His name’s Jamie Stuart and he’s responsible for “Idiot with a Tripod”, the latest viral video to get an inordinate amount of playtime – 384,684 views so far on YouTube – and recognition – an ITV profile piece on Jamie as Suddenly Famous Filmmaker and an early Academy Award nomination from legendary film critic Roger Ebert. It’s not the film I’ve been struggling with. It’s not even the enviable number of downloads. It’s the recognition. Jamie knows how to make a film. That much is obvious. “Idiot with a Tripod” chronicles the blizzard that hit New York City on December 26, 2010. Jamie knows his camera equipment. He used a Canon 7D with multiple Nikon lenses, a portable slider and tripod (as the film’s title suggests) beautifully. He knows his post production. He used Final Cut Pro, converted his H.264 footage to Apple ProRes 422, and edited together a beautiful story using music and shot length to increase pace and create tension and interest, just like the storm’s pace increased throughout that day, increasing the tension and interest of those who witnessed it firsthand. Jamie knows he was in the right place at the right time living in Queens, New York on December 26th. His background in news videography served him well that night. Instead of stocking on up milk and toilet paper then hunkering down like most sensible people would do, Jamie went out into the maelstrom, camera, lenses and tripod in hand. He forgot weather-appropriate footwear, so he’s not the most seasoned news videographer, but we’ll forgive him that. He went out multiple times and recorded a truly remarkable visual event. It wasn’t the worst blizzard New York has ever seen. It might not even be the worst blizzard Jamie has ever seen. But he made it epic by taking the time and expending the energy to record it skillfully and then turn that skillful recording around QUICKLY and get it online. This is where his news background really shined through. A current event is, most importantly, current. If he’d waited even one more day, the film’s relevance would have lessened. ITV’s interest in Jamie makes...

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The Power of Strong Storytelling…

By on Nov 25, 2010 in Consulting, Internet, Video |

Motion pictures. Television. Games. Books, Twitter. Everyone loves a good story. It can be six hours long, 1001 pages, or 140 characters. If there is a message well put, chances are, people will want to read, see, hear, watch. And the result is often a good (or bad) feeling. I personally love to see something clever – something different – that is above all else a great story. While getting set up for a large Thanksgiving event today, I had the good fortune to stumble upon a terrific story. It was short – one minute long. It was emotional – images we’ve all seen. And, it was from an entity I’d never expect to speak to us in this manner: General Motors. For GM to create this remarkable TV spot is one thing. To launch it on a day when family, memories, and emotions run high is truly brilliant. When the dust settles, GM is still GM. But they are speaking to the American people – their customer base. And there is no doubt it will inspire confidence in some, and general sales for the General. Regardless of what you think of GM, consider what they’ve been through as a corporation. Consider what their employees have been through, not to mention the people who own a GM product. And then, consider what this new TV spot means to them, and to anyone who pays taxes. This is a message that goes beyond simple sales. This is a message that speaks to our economy, our political process, our work ethic, and frankly, to everything that is American. Happy...

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Continuum Film Wins Best Documentary (again!)

By on Apr 5, 2010 in Blog, Video |

My Academy Award-winning father (twice!) keeps telling me that we have to promote ourselves at every turn. For some, it’s easy. For me, not so easy. But, in this case, easier – as the film in question, Continuum: Against All Odds, is the work of my remarkable wife, Cameron. The Going Green Film Festival saw fit to have its judges award our documentary on the University of Michigan’s solar racing team, best film in its category: transportation. Frankly, I thought we had a shot, while Cameron, nervous and talking a mile a minute thought no chance at all! It is sweet to hear the name of your film called out in a large auditorium as the winner of an award. The students at Michigan deserve all the credit: their story made the film interesting. For us, this is now past history. We’re very honored, and at the same time, we’re busy moving forward with new projects. If you saw the film and liked it, please let us know. If you would like a copy, send us a note. If you want your own award-winning production, we’re open to...

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Changing Workflow Ideal with AVCHD File Format

By on Mar 26, 2010 in Blog, Video |

One of the things our team spent considerable time evaluating was video formats. What I am referring to is the format used for compression when shooting full HD video. While our team has years of experience with HD production, eliminating tape has been the important migration for us. Tape is not dead, but for the types of product we create, we can be far more competitive if we produce our shows without tape. So, learning about the various options has been extremely important to us. And, as many other producers and creatives read this blog, it makes sense to share our experience. And, the most important initial obstacle has been the variety of claims made by manufacturers regarding the compression formats chosen, and how those formats interact with the other capabilities of the various HD cameras under consideration. Brand loyalty stepped up right from the start. We’ve had some wonderful experiences with Panasonic cameras in the past – in our standard definition days. That “panny mojo” image is hard to beat in terms of warmth and contrast. But, in spite of that, we’ve been very loyal to Sony. We’ve had Sony cameras and other gear in use in the harshest of conditions, and in every case, the gear has worked, and we’ve been comfortable not only with the results, but the production process (usability) as well. I was fairly interested in the Sony EX (XD-CAM) format, but had some reservations. CMOS sensors in the EX1 and EX3 meant possible problems when shooting in certain conditions or with strobe lights – and as we work with the Los Angeles Fire Department, that worried us. A test shoot revealed all kinds of shutter issues, even when the shutter was shut off. Oops. I was also concerned about MPEG-2 Long GOP (group of pictures) as a recording format generally, even though the images were lovely when viewed on a large HD monitor. Finally, the SxS memory cards are not cheap – the 32GB cards we’d use were on average $800 (street price). So, for six cards, that would require an outlay of $4,800. That was almost the cost of the EX1 itself (street price). And, for the first time in a long...

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