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Tuesday
Feb102015

CASE STUDY // The Mercadantes

At the time, they called themselves EVERYNONE. It was back then, a few years ago, when I first saw their piece called WORDS. I didn't quite get it at first. It was just a sequence of random shots that told no coherent story at all. But I looked at the comments under the video & saw people using adjectives like "beautiful" & "brilliant". It made me wonder what I was missing. So I watched it again.

Towards the end of my second go-around it, the light switched on for me. Play. Blow. Break. Split. Run. Fly. Fall. Light. Space. Such a simple concept for a film, but it was brilliant, and it was beautiful. So I searched for more from them.

I wasted no time to fandom.

I've been following them ever since, and it was no surprise when I started to see their work on television last year. Commercials for VWDicks Sporting GoodsFacebook, and more recently, Fitbit. I had no problem identifying the work as theirs. What they craft is so unique & exceptional, of course companies are going to approach them with opportunities to create for them. They established themselves as the people who do this work. They're sought after because of their style & their ability to take a simple concept & create something remarkable with it. The thing that's so inspiring about this, is that it all started out with their passion projects.

That's one of the lessons you can obtain from following the journey of The Mercadantes. You can take time to develop your own style. Refine it & perfect your craft. Put your work out into the world, and if you persist, people will take notice & opportunities will present themselves. Sounds rad, does it not? So let that inspire you & go create something you can call your own!

Fin.

Thursday
Sep252014

RANT // Stop Trying to Impress People With What You're Shooting On

Because there's a good chance I can find loads of work shot on a T3i, a hacked GH3 or even an iPhone that's more inspiring or engaging than what you shot on that RED or C300. Personal experience has showed me that many of the people who boast about gear aren't actually producing work that makes their viewers feel much of anything, or at least captivates them. And too often it's just plain boring.

Before I go on making myself out to be even more of an arrogant cynic, it's not my aim to discount the value of higher end cameras like REDs & C300s, and there's an abundance of exceptional work shot on them. I've used them a few times & I'm aware of how their advancements & innovations benefit us, the brand equity they bring, and how not using them or others can prevent us from landing higher paying clients. The RED, for example, is kind of my whipping boy in this post because so many times over the past few years I've heard the words "We shot on RED" used as a means of impressing & blowing sunshine up the butts of people who don't know any better. Too often, it's the answer to a question nobody asked. It's flaunted as a badge of honor, or at least a means of validating their project. And this is a prime example of a mindset that's too prevalent in our industry.

Now to the core of what I'm really saying. Don't try to impress people with the gear you use. Impress them with the quality of your work. Impress them by making them feel something when they watch it. Impress them with how you structure & tell your story. Or at the very least, spend more time being detail oriented enough to eliminate the sloppy distractions in your work, instead of focusing on how to make your production appear to be more pro than it actually is.

Just focus on the creative first. Once your message & vision for the piece are defined & polished, then move on to the techy crap. But remember kids, oftentimes they really don't matter as much as you might think. This will be heresy to many, but quite often, it doesn't matter that you shot on a RED, C300 or F5 instead of a DSLR. Getting caught up in the minutia that comes with the former can be a real waste of time. It also doesn't matter that you used a knockoff Steadicam and not a MoVi. And in some situations it doesn't matter that you used a monopod and not a Zacuto shoulder rig complete with a matte box.

You don't need that stupid matte box. Get over yourself.

People just want to look like pros, even if their work isn't pro caliber. It annoys the crap out of me. That elitist mentality that sometimes comes with using top notch video gear, when the final product is anything but. It seems like in some circles it's become an unspoken rule that you need the latest & greatest to produce good work. This is so mindless & shows that their priorities are out of whack. You don't. You need a good eye, some heart and a creative vision. Like my pal Pablo Picasso once said, "Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist." This is a craft you're working in, so get crafty instead of talking about your tools all the time.

Rant OVER.

Tuesday
Sep162014

IMPERIAL MOTION // Color Change T-Shirt Series

Every once in a while you get to work with the kind of brand that kind of made you want to get into video in the first place. Imperial Motion is one of those brands. One day back in November, I got a call from them with an interesting idea for a project. They were coming out with a line of thermo-reactive dyed T-Shirts (or color change T-Shirts) like what I remember seeing in the early nineties. They were asking for a series of short pieces showcasing just how cool these shirts are.

 

It's nice having the kind of creative freedom they gave me for this. We had a clear objective & a 15 second time limit for each piece, but outside of that, they trusted my ability to communicate the main points in a simple & aesthetically pleasing manner. God bless 'em.

I'm stoked about all these pieces except the last one that just features our guy walking into frame & standing there while his shirt changes color. It's boring, un-engaging, and the change in color is hardly even noticeable in that one. The weakest of the five, for sure.

On a positive note, I saw this as a good opportunity to abandon my long lived dependency on music. I'd almost always depended on it to make the work more interesting for viewers. So for this one, I relied on the raw audio I picked up from the warehouse & had some fun reversing the audio of wine glass dings to add some fun. Worked well, don't you think?

Me too.

THE END.

Monday
Jan272014

JOGS FOR DOGS // Stay Fit. With a Friend.

Long before Jogs For Dogs ended up being one of the best clients to have worked with, I was left a somewhat vague voicemail about a potential project for some kind of dog running company. When Brenden left it, I thought maybe it was a joke, or at least I had a hard time taking it serious. He didn't tell me how he heard of me, and he seemed reluctant to tell me much about his business. In full disclosure, I kind of just went through the motions of corresponding & submitting a proposal, assuming it would be out of his budget, because after all, I perceived it as a dog running business.

Come to find out, this wasn't just a dog running business. It was a social network, of sorts, for dog owners & runners, and Brenden was in the process of refreshing his website & developing a mobile app to work in conjunction with the site. It also turned out that my normal rates were not out of his budget.

He wanted a high-energy edit featuring runners running dogs & using the new mobile app. He wasn't looking for something particularly informative, he just wanted something uptempo and engaging. He'd heard about me from Jared of 6th Ave Studios, who'd been working on the website & mobile app. I'd met Jared a few months prior at a New Years Eve party. Brenden liked (270) Seconds of Summer & thought some of that energy would be put to good use in the video he was looking to have produced for Jogs For Dogs. This was the outcome.

Almost everything went according to plan in the production of this piece, thanks in large part to Brenden! In many ways he's the ideal client. He trusts my creative direction & allows me to make a case when I need something & he maintains an open mind. When I told him I'd need to hire a second camera man & two actors, he was on board with that. When I suggested that we'd need an extra two hundred dollars for a music license, he agreed. He was prompt with payment & even offered to pay the full amount up front for the entire project. He showed many times that he trusted me & that was incredibly valuable.

The typography at the end was kind of a new thing for me. I'd wanted to learn how to mask text, and it took me almost a half day to research & figure out how to execute it.  It's amazing how much you can learn from YouTube & Vimeo tutorials.

For second camera, I worked with Kevin of Yes And Video, who's always a pleasure to work with, as we're always in sync while on shoots. For talent, I found J'nisha Towne & Dja Soufka on the Northwest Film Forum Callboard. A great team of people to work with on a day with such perfect Seattle weather.

Good times.

Wednesday
Dec112013

Brooks at O.R.

Bait me with an assignment that involves travel & I'll likely bite. It's one of the many reasons I got into video in the first place. Last January, Brooks hired Yes And Video, who commissioned me to travel down to Salt Lake City, of all places, to capture what they had going at Outdoor Retailer, one of the largest (if not the largest) outdoor gear & apparel trade shows in the world.

Brooks was putting together what ended up being an award-winning display & they wanted to document the process & the experience. This was the outcome.

From a creative standpoint I had a lot of fun playing with the photos of the Brooks logos at :07. That's something I've been wanting to try ever since I fell in love with what Guillaume Le Berre did at 1:27 in his riveting short, Incubation. I love the tempo & vibe of the piece, and so did the clients. On the flip side, after completing this video, I resolved to always try & use a monopod when capturing live action on the go, unless for some reason I want a raw & choppy aesthetic, which I really wasn't going for here. Overall, this ended up being a great experience & adventure, and I ended up with a piece of work I'm happy to slap my name on!