My Morning Perspective

Chair_smallOne of the great things about my job is that it gives me perspective.  We have been working with a Boston medical center on a video featuring the writings of cancer patients.  This morning, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, I spent some time shooting cover video for one of the stories – a poem actually.  Being in an Oncology unit before patients arrive is humbling.

So this weekend the forecasted rain, over-cooked hamburgers, and loud, talkative guests will be looked at as welcomed sights.

Have a great weekend – Jay Dobek

Budget conscious video planning

Sitting down and planning out a video project can seem challenging, especially if you know the budget is smaller than you’d like. One idea to consider is re-purposing the video. Most event videos, which are created to be played one-time before a large audience, will be posted to an organization’s web site or given out on DVDs, so they usually have a productive second life. Other content can be more challenging to place.
About Us videos are great for home page web content and can be played at trade shows and at job or career fairs. With the low-cost of LCD/LED monitors, I’m betting more companies will add screens in lobbies and waiting rooms, which adds another playback (and marketing) option as well.

Walkin' small picWhen we work with our clients during the planning phase we often remind them to think about the future … we suggest they think about what extra video content that can be recorded while our crew is on site. We have our gear, we’re going to be on location, what b-roll or cover video can we capture during our visit? Shooting additional outside or exterior footage during the visually stimulating summer months really makes sense. Why not  take full advantage of the green grass, leafy trees and the flowers when they’re in full bloom. That video can be used when putting together a project during the not so picturesque months. What may take a little extra time to shoot in the summer (possibly using our jib) can be a big time and cost savings in the future. That extra b-roll helps build out a healthy library of content every editor dreams of having.

And for the producers creating educational content, don’t forget about the interviews. If schedules allow and you have a sense of the content and script direction, spend an extra 30-45 minutes to set-up and record an interview with your expert. The timing may not be appropriate, but if it is, the time and budget savings could make it worthwhile and you’ll have the benefit of some extra content.

So the next time you sit down to think about a video project be sure to think about the future  … consider your next project and let us help  you save time and money!

– Jim Johnston

Big Ideas with Big Data

When working with a new client, who was in stealth start-up mode, we were posed with the challenge of creating an image piece without using video or showing their product. As a SasS business their product is proprietary software … ok, the mission is getting clearer.

Why is this so challenging? Because their business  revolves around data, big, big, BIG data. Data that sits on servers and was being unused, mostly due to the fact that the amount of data was just too enormous. This newly developed software has been designed to devour massive amounts of data and crunch it! And after the data has been culled, sifted and sorted it is delivered in an understandable form that will make sense of how millions and millions of people are using the interwebs everyday AND what that means for certain big businesses.

Quant5 – About Us

Our real challenge was making a visual concept about a SaaS business that didn’t have a trendy Boston office, a slick logo or snappy tag line. How do  you visualize software that doesn’t sit neatly packaged on store shelves but instead  sits up in the cloud and devours mass quantities of internet data. The unseen software is basically manipulating ones and zeros … and … ah …  that’s where it began. Merging and whipping numbers, sounds, keywords to animated graphics that help tell the story of why big data IS important and why Quant5 was founded. Without an interview or  a single frame of b-roll video the story of a new company was told … and unveiled as they emerged from stealth mode.

Messege sent

Communicating. A simple glance or subtle gesture can be a significant form of communication. Flipping though magazine ads its easy to recognize the message advertisers are attempting to convey, messages that will heighten product awareness. And if you look deeper into the product images, the colors or wording you may discover subliminal suggestions to reinforce a theme or emotion.

When storytellers choose video as their medium there are a number to subtle ways to communicate a message, a theme or mood that can be driven by the music, by pacing and transitions, just to name a few. All of which can be communicated in seconds before a single word is spoken. It is those nuances that video editors utilize to build a framework. The written or spoken words play a significant role in the overall message but our sense can’t help but be affected by the style and tempo of music, the pacing of the edits or the transition used between shots. Each choice helps determine the mood or style of the video and message.

And its no surprise that music from the 80’s and 90’s are making a comeback. That positive feeling you get from a  familiar song is an emotion advertisers are looking to transfer to their product during a commercial. The same is true with imagery and visual locations … like bustling scenes of New York or a crowded bar that conveys energy.

Words may tell the story and be the driving force but the numerous other methods used reenforce the message being sent and effect how it’s received.

-Jim Johnston

Look Mom, I made a Corporate Video

My mother has no idea what I do.  I’ve worked in some form of video production since 1989, yet I have failed to communicate to her the basics of my profession.

See, to my Mom – I just can’t say “corporate video.”  When I do, I get that “Oh, that’s nice” answer from her – which really means, “I have no idea what my son just said.”

Truth be told, most people are not really sure what to make of Corporate Video.  “Oh, you do commercials?” – is normally the first response.

Actually, we shoot commercials, but the bulk of our work is telling stories.  We translate corporate messages into stories using the medium of video.

Sometimes the story is about the need for a cancer center outside of the Boston city limits.  Other times it’s a tale of how one world-renown institution teaches Science to students who are legally blind.  We also find ourselves producing a video where a Hall of Fame pitcher now goes to bat for kids in need.

So maybe I have to show my Mom what I do, then she’ll understand.  For that, she’ll need to go on-line . . . that of course, is whole new story.

– Jay Dobek

Cookies

We love cookies, especially chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin but when it comes to business we can do without the cookie-cutter approach.
While surfing the web I’ve noticed a trend of “package pricing” for corporate videos and testimonials, which I find to be nothing more than a gimmick. Yeah, it sounds great but what are you really getting in return for the “package price.”
Its our belief that every business has its own unique story to tell and that message should be crafted based upon many factors, including who your target audience will be and what you’d like them to know. Understanding those key two elements will help build a framework, supported by a variety of elements, such as: interviews, testimonials, audio narration, graphics and/or animations plus music, just to list a few.
At LMP we believe there are so many options we can utilize to build a cohesive and well thought out video message worthy of your company’s partnership. We would never sell it as a package with a cookie cutter approach … that would be a recipe for disaster.
If you’d like to learn more about what we could cook up for you please let us know.
Thank you for reading!
-Jim Johnston

Now hear this – 5 steps to record better audio for video

If you watch enough web video it becomes pretty obvious that poor video quality seems to be everywhere. Thanks in part to the gazillion videos on YouTube, we’ve been saturated with so many shaky, poorly shot and produced videos that low quality seems to be the norm. It seems those lower standards for the general population has opened the door for businesses to post lower quality video content on their web pages too.

But what happens when you stumble across a video with bad audio? Like when the voice sounds are too low or crackling, or there’s extraneous noise and you’re strain to hear what the person is saying. If you’re like me you click away … and that is a lost opportunity! I’m always surprised when I see business and professional organizations who compromise their reputation by posting poor quality videos on their website or Facebook page. But I’m even more surprised when I witness BAD audio that can usually be avoided.

Capturing quality audio seems to be a lost art and it shouldn’t be. Recording audio with a camera mic is just not acceptable unless the camera has something to say!

Here are 5 simple things to consider when setting up to record audio for video:

1. Use a lavalier mic or boom mic with a stand. When using a boom mic position the mic stand arm in front of and over the interview subjects head and point the mic at their chin. This one step will go a long way towards getting the audio you desire.

2. Limit extraneous noise by staying away from high traffic areas, open windows, rooms next to elevators and closing doors. It seems obvious but it should be one of the first considerations when selecting a shoot location.  When in an area where there are some unavoidable sounds, put the interviewees’ back to the sound and be sure to have the microphone placed as close to their mouth as possible.

3. Avoid large rooms with an echo. If you hear a slight echo when setting up you will certainly hear it when your editing, then its too late.

4. Careful placement of a lavalier microphone. Lightweight fabric, necklaces and jewelry will move and rustle, creating too much noise if the interview subject adjusts even slightly, which creates unusable audio. It may seem awkward to ask people to run a microphone under a tie, blouse or collar but the benefits will outweigh the potential embarrassment.

5. Using headphones is required! A set of headphones that cover your ears will block out most  other sounds and allow you to focus on the audio you are capturing. Ear buds will work in a pinch but investing $25-$75 in a quality set of headphones will go a long way to hearing the problems so you can work to eliminate them.

Hopefully these tips will help. If you’d prefer to call a professional … look no further, LMP is always happy to help!

– Jim Johnston

 

Take advantage of the mobile explosion

Everywhere you look people are using smartphones. Standing in line for coffee, waiting for an appointment or walking down the street, their heads are down, eyes focused and thumbs are tapping frantically. Phones like the Droid, iPhone or Galaxy have become a commuter or frequent flyers’ constant companion. I have to admit being a little envious when my neighbor showed me his recent purchase, an HTC with a stunning 4.3-inch screen.

There’s no denying our appetite for mobile technology. There are over 100 million smartphone users in the U.S. and 30 million current tablet computer users, which is expected to climb to over 90 million by the end of 2014.  Those numbers are huge! Cisco reports that 52% of all mobile data was consumed by video, which means people are doing more than checking news, weather and Facebook updates.

Combine those use habits and stats with a growing 4G/LTE high speed data network and there is almost no limit to what a smartphone user can consume.

From a business perspective, we are all consumers. For B2B or B2C, that means more opportunity to entertain and inform using video. Customers and consumers are watching video at a rapidly growing rate. Those same people are making informed decisions, influenced by word-of-mouth, reviews and video views. They are selecting their doctor, buying a car, choosing where to bank and how to donate their money.

The growth trend of mobile video viewing is undeniable. How do you plan to reach your audience? The screens and eyeballs await …

– Jim Johnston

Video is everywhere …

Every now and again I’m asked “so why should I use video?” Where to begin, there are so many reasons …

Let’s start with technology. We’re living in a time when we’re all connected to the internet 24/7. A culture has emerged where we (customers and consumers) are looking up information on our computer, tablet or smartphones constantly. Google and Wiki have become the portal to find instant answers and information. It’s that culture, supported by blazing data download speeds, that has propelled video to be consumed by all, even bad video … just ask Rebecca Black.

That ‘connectivity’ baseline has led companies to the realization that customers and B2B clients can and will consume any information available, beginning with the more entertaining form: video. Each day 4 billion videos are watched on You Tube alone! And we’ve learned that a well produced video can be incredibly effective, not only delivering a message but conveying emotion and information which can inspire viewers to action.

We are all customers and consumers and can learn about products and services by watching reviews, product launches and how-to videos. Savvy marketers are using video in a variety of forms including powerful testimonials, to educate their audience, and to raise brand awareness.

As our appetite for video has grown, so have the searches for learn about a business, to entertain audiences, videos that tout a specific service and even inform remote employees with simple messaging.

One of the most powerful and successful uses for video is honoring community members and motivating audiences during fundraising campaigns. Non-profit organizations have limited opportunities to recognize the efforts of volunteers but need maximum impact.
It’s that type of lasting impact and emotion that video can provide which has viewers searching for the play button.

– Jim Johnston

Welcome to our new virtual home

The name Last Minute Productions (LMP) started as joke in college.  Everything I did was exactly that — last minute.  So I injected humor into what could be a stressful situation and gave my work habits a name, “Last Minute Productions.”

In 2005, I found myself able to embark on what I always wanted to do — work for myself.  Finding the name was easy —  finding work was challenging.  Slowly, companies came to trust me.  As the jobs got bigger, I needed help — someone to handle the writing and producing.  Lucky for me, Gary Gillis was peddling his own company and was more than happy to help out.  We were fortunate and had opportunities to work with some amazing companies, including  The Home for Little Wanderers, Memorex, Catholic Memorial, and a number of hospitals throughout the state.

In 2007, Gary and I became partners and took LMP from a DBA to LLC.  Along the way, we’ve learned the meaning of plenty of business acronyms and what it takes to be successful in a competitive market like New England.  There are a lot of good video production companies in our area, so it goes without saying that price and quality matter.  What we always want to excel at is client relations.  We understand deadlines (it’s in our name).  We get that budgets are tight but standards are high.  Video can be hard work, long hours — we make sure that during every stage, no matter how stressful, somehow we will put a smile on our client’s face.

Maybe it’s because we have the privilege to shoot in cancer centers and schools for the blind that we  know not to take ourselves too seriously.

When Gary and I began this adventure, our offices were in my vacated step-daughter’s room and my dusty basement.  We now have a “grown-up” office space in Needham, Mass., which houses a studio and two edit bays.  One of those edit bays belongs to an extremely talented editor/compositor name Ryan Mecheski.  We also added another partner, Jim Johnston.  Jim and I were roommates in college for a year — he might have been the first person with whom I shared the joke about “Last Minute Productions.”

The first website we had was built on trade — Springsteen tickets.  Today, we proudly show off our new site.  Thanks to the good people at SPIN350 — spin350.com — we can now easily add new videos, write blogs, and post photos of our dogs.  (We are very happy about the last part.)

Thanks for finding us on the Web and reading my first blog. I promise the next one will be so much better.

Take care,

— Jay Dobek