Inspiration comes from many places. For me I often find daily nuggets of wisdom from my kids. Where they get them is beyond me. Perhaps some divine combination of cartoons, conversations and observations of parental frustration. My daughter amuses me with her proclamation that “This is the life” whenever the opportunity for an ice cream appears or a lazy day on the hammock. One of my all time favorite quotes is courtesy of my son who aptly observed that worrying about things is a waste of time and why bother second guessing yourself… It is what it is. It’s not what it’s not.
by Chris Valentino, Partner/ECD
I have had the fortune of working on a number of rewarding film and video projects from independent features to documentaries, talk shows and consumer campaigns. Each project has been its own reward and offered creative and technological challenges that have thankfully proved successful. As a result, I am approached by various industries to produce and direct projects for just about every screen. With each project I am often given a creative objective or marketing task. As with any medium there is no easy answer for execution and rarely do I make the decision alone. There are talented cinematographers and technologists who understand the emerging formats and the advancing post process who I am fortunate to collaborate with. More often than not the process involves me designing a desired result wherein my invaluable crew helps determine the best way to execute it. From a video standpoint there has never been a better time to work in the medium. The technology is within reach of anyone (for better and worse) and you can push creative boundaries to new limits. Unfortunately, as technology is evolving at an ever increasing pace clients are requesting to do more and more for less and less.
Video as a technology offers a specific way to tell a story and spread a message. As it becomes easier and more readily available to produce it creates a very specific problem. I call it the “my nephew can shoot this on his iphone” syndrome. Sure mobile cameras have killed the Flip camera (thankfully), but it doesn’t mean anyone can “point and shoot”. As an artist, (and someone who handed NYU film school a small fortune) I feel a dedication to the craft. Beyond that dedication I carry a weighted responsibility and understanding of the importance of producing video correctly. I could easily discuss the number of clients who have asked to produce videos with flip cameras, over skype or on iphones, however, I still cannot figure out why. Sure it may be perceived as being cheaper, but really? Isn’t audio a major concern in an interview? Isn’t exposure a necessity for capturing the essence of your subject or is silhouette shooting the new art form? There are no shortcuts; there are no cheap avenues without sacrifice. I wish I could call every other vendor and ask them what they are thinking when they say “yes” to these requests. I wish I could speak with every client who is soon saddled with extravagant post expenses to fix their skype or flip footage. The truth is YouTube and our acceptance of America’s Funniest Home Videos has contributed to the breakdown of quality in our industry. (In March Google purchased a tech company to improve quality of YouTube videos which is hopefully a sign of good things to come for consumer quality acceptance.)
I have been asked to meet with companies to talk on this subject. I have been asked to outline my opinions on how to produce a strong video and how to capture a subject in a way that will reach and engage an audience. Each time I have the same response. Do it right, or not at all. If a client is going to spend a dollar on a video they should understand where that dollar is going to go, how it will affect future dollars and how it will impact results.
If a client is looking to shoot video, I ask two questions. The first is “what is the story you want to tell?”. The second is “what else can you capture in that time?”. For example how will still photography enhance the project? How may additional audio extend your campaign? and how will the video be used (not just tomorrow, but a year from now)? It is important to think about not just your desired results, but the greater possibilities for it. There are certain a
spects of video that you can control and it is important that before you begin a project, whether as a vendor or client, that you plan accordingly. Think big, and then allow yourself to proceed with small steps. The problems with many projects result from small thinking and shortcutting expenses without analyzing the impact.
As you embark on your next project take a moment to think objectively. Examine your costs and your desired results, and then think about what else you can accomplish. Lastly, before you unplug the USB charger on your Flip, remember your efforts need results. So, Think Big Picture. In the end tell your story and do it right or not at all.
This holiday we collected some photos from the team and frequent collaborators to display. While the interpretation of beauty is personal, we believe these photos inspire creative and introspective thought for all.
Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year!
I am all about Social Media. Infusing digital brand dialogue’s secret sauce into creating a batch of Social Brand Action. While Social Media has many tentacles stretching across platforms such as twitter, google+, instagram, foursquare and more here are some tips I utilize when developing facebook campaigns.
YOUR BRAND + FACEBOOK
KEY THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Give people a reason to like your page
- Stay relevant and active
- Pictures say a thousand words – use them as conversation starters
- Run a Contest or Sweepstakes
- Celebrate your fans, make the experience rewarding
- Take advantage of facebook ads’ Sponsored Stories
- Remember facebook fans are a network – and an extension of your on-air network (connect your website and social media outlets)
- Use Events as drivers for everything brand related to activate your fans
• Pages like RedBull and LL BEAN do a great job of like-gating offering an email opt-in as well. This is great for connecting your web experience with facebook.
• It also create a visual presence on landing – make a splash.
Be A Part of Their Story
• Stay on topic
• Stay relevant
• Make your message cohesive using images, threads and contact with your fans
• Use the wall to jump start conversations and feed existing ones
• Contests can be simple – from a scary quiz, to a sweepstakes, to recognizing your top fan interaction.
• Offer up prizes to drive interaction and promote sharing of your page
Take Advantage of your fans
• A little goes a long way with facebook’s Sponsored Stories ad offering.
• Build relevance around a campaign by running a sponsored stories campaign in conjunction with on-air tent-poles
• Facebook Sponsored Stories Ads Have 46% Higher CTR, 18% Lower Cost Per Fan Says TBG Digital Test http://www.insidefacebook.com/2011/05/03/sponsored-stories-ctr-cost-per-fa/
ORGANIZE YOUR PAGE
Make a Great First Impression
• Control what your fans see when they come to the page
• Welcome new fans with a landing page that directs them to like you
• Get Creative
• Pick 5 relevant images to create a banner story
Organize Left Panel Topics
• Keep Videos and Pictures visible
• Highlight applications
• Incorporate Twitter
• Start a Discussion
• Connect other Fan pages
-KEY is order!
• Show Off Your Friends
• Pick up to 5 pages to feature here
• Add as many relevant fan pages to your own to connect with. This allows you to post as your page to their walls and attract new fans.
These are images stolen in the process of finding story.
We are all part of the process; our footsteps marking time.
by Chris Valentino, Partner/ECD
It has been a while since I have had a moment to sit and write about all the exciting changes that have occurred this past summer. The saying “one door closes and another opens” is an apt description of the recent past.
I have been fortunate to work closely with a lot of clients on various types of projects and proposals. Some go live and others to the wastebasket. Yet through it all the creative muscle is flexed, torn and rebuilt in a fashion of human endurance and adaptability. At the office we venture forth into the unknown and together sit engaged on the precipice of ingenuity. We fantasize over bold ideas and innovative creative in the assured resolve that our passion and creativity will bear fruit from which wine can be made and celebration experienced.
We have been fortunate this summer to engage with some amazing companies, from Microsoft to Google to Layar. As technology continues to progress faster than a melting froyo, we have kept our stride to stay informed and inspired. It is this pace of action and exploration that we infuse in every project we develop. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who love what they do as much as I do.
by Chris Valentino, Partner/ECD
Five questions…an old blog interview with Studio Daily.This is truly a reflection of a different time, a different company but the same positive outlook. Growth is an aspect of change. We learn who we are from where we’ve been. I really love what I do and the company I have worked hard to build.
“I love working with hsr|ny and MOTIVE because they expertly deliver two critical elements to the show – the audio and graphics, both of which are essential to portraying the whole story of each of our house hunters,” says John Bertholon, Co-Executive Producer, Leopard Films. “Our audience needs to be intoxicated by the story we’re telling and the expertise of the engineers and creatives at hsr|ny and MOTIVE help us do just that.”
Bertholon can often be found working with hsr|ny to mix the sound at the companies’ facility in New York City on any given day. Chad Roucroft and Tom Gehring, sound mixers at hsr|ny, both work on the series, alternating from episode to episode. When in session, it takes about seven hours to complete a mix for a typical episode of House Hunters International. In Pro Tools, staff members remove most of the background noise that comes with raw footage, leaving some intact to add to the show’s naturalistic sound, look and feel. Gehring, also notes that a major challenge is keeping the audio consistent from show to show. “The local crews always send us good quality sound; it is just that some portions of it is better than other portions,” Gehring says. “We’re just trying to make it sound the best it can.”
Roucroft explains that a big part of what they do, about sixty percent of their day, is to edit sound elements to better move the story along. “For example, if you want a husband or wife to say, ‘We’re really looking forward to this part of our lives,’ we’ll take different parts of different sentences and put them together to ensure it sounds natural. In the industry, these are known as “Frankensteins.”
Creating the graphics for each episode presents its own set of issues. “The map type of graphic, which depicts the destination town, includes any iconic highlights, such as the Coliseum in Rome or the Eiffel Tower in Paris,” says Will Hong, the MOTIVE artist who handles graphics for House Hunters International. Some cities lend themselves well to this, but if you’re in a lesser-known location, such as Ulan Bator, Mongolia, then you might have to show more graphics that are specific to the person’s experience, such as a school they will be teaching in, or the train station they’ll use for their commute. In these instances, Leopard Films helps us decide what kinds of graphics to create.”
MOTIVE also performs the final online edit for every House Hunters International episode. Leopard Film’s offline edit is very tight by the time MOTIVE receives it, so senior editor Stephen Hoppe, who handles this edit, usually only makes minor corrections. He checks to ensure that the graphics and color correction are of consistently high quality, as well as conforms any uneven shots.
“House Hunters International is an excellent example of the value the collaborative efforts of hsr|ny and MOTIVE bring to the client,” says MOTIVE Executive Creative Director Chris Valentino. “Since the episodes take place in some exceptionally gorgeous settings, it is absolutely critical that the look and sound is picture-perfect. That’s why our graphics and design skills and hsr|ny’s renowned sound services make for an especially powerful combination. Along with Leopard Films’ superb video editing talent, they help to truly bring the show ‘home’ to the viewer. We are looking forward to a continued relationship with all parties well into the future.”