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In just a few days I’ll be at NABShow, the Superbowl of my industry. Or as I like to call it, 110,000 of my best friends in content production. If you want to catch up with me there, here are my 7 (yes, seven) sessions and 2 panels during Post|Production World. Plus, I’ll be hosting an amazing group of women in UAV, VR, 3D, VFX, Editing and more during a multi-camera, livestreamed show called #GALSNGEAR on Tuesday, April 25th. Come for the coffee and donuts at 8:30, stay for the show at 9AM!
Here are a few things I’ve learned in my years at NABShow. See you in Vegas!
- Have a Shoe Strategy – Bring several pairs, and plan to swap out at least once per 15-hour day! While this is especially true for women, it applies to men too. A few years ago I shared a cab with an attendee who confessed he only had brought one pair of shoes. Big mistake. You will walk many miles a day across the 1 Million square feet of show floor (!), not to mention the miles of sidewalk on the strip.
- Have a Transportation Strategy – The monorail is great if your hotel is right on it. If not, there’s actually a decent Express bus that runs up the strip and over to the Convention Center. You can buy a multi-day pass for much less than the monorail. Thank goodness Uber has come to Las Vegas, which cuts down the cost of other rides. And of course once the show is in full swing, there are free buses that go to most convention hotels. If you’re in a hurry, however, these can take quite a while.
- Bring Business Cards – I’m always amazed at how many people don’t bring them, or don’t bring enough. It’s a show with more than 100,000 people! You can’t remember everyone to tag them on LinkedIn when you get home, so share cards. A strong visual and a simple declaration of what you do is important. I hate getting back with cards to scan that feature only a name. If you’re not Oprah or Cher, include details!
- Have a Daytime Food Strategy – Lines at the convention center food trucks and stations can be long. On days when I’m presenting, I bring a sandwich and a yogurt from the Walgreen’s on the strip (there are three). This will save you time and frustration on peak days of the show.4. Have an Evening Food Strategy – Are you sensing a theme here? Since I’m feeding myself on my own dime during NABShow, I try to skip the overpriced strip restaurants for many meals. These are some of my all time favorites as well as places I still want to explore. Let me know if you want to grab a bite!
Lotus of Siam. Excellent, authentic, and seriously spicy Northern Thai cuisine. Try the spicy prawns or the sea bass in any of the three sauces–I’ve had the ginger sauce with mushrooms and it was divine. Kaizon Fusion Roll. Asia fusion with interesting (and gigantic) sushi roll combinations in a low-key, hip bar atmosphere. Just across street from Hard Rock Casino, but not nearly as pricey as their famous sushi spot. Tamba Indian I plan to give this place a try this year based on a recommendation of an Indian friend. Lindo Michoacan. A local Mexican 3-restaurant chain well regarded, including by my local friend whose wife hails from Mexico. Sen of Japan gets rave reviews and is more authentic Japanese, for purists. Pamplemousse. Locals go here for special occasion, reasonably authentic French fare. Pricing more on par with the strip restaurants, but reviews are rave. Echo and Rig Pick out your cut of steak, then have it grilled up at the restaurant next door. Talk about “on-demand” dining! Piero’s. A Las Vegas institution and close to the Convention Center where we’re all living for this conference. Dinner only. The only Vegas eatery on the strip that makes my list is Beijing Noodle No.9 at Caesar’s. Try the Soup Dumplings–the soup is actually IN the dumplings, not the other way around!–and a bowl of Lanzhou noodle soup.
Amy DeLouise is a director-producer specializing in nonfiction, short form videos for large live events. When she’s not in production, Amy is also a frequent speaker and workshop leader. She has courses on #LinkedInLearning and will be presenting at #NABShow.
If you’ve been following the #GalsNGear hashtag on Twitter, then you know I’ve been working behind the scenes with many colleages–women and men across production and post–to put the focus on women in the technical fields of our industry during NABShow this year. On our program, we’ll be featuring 14 top pro’s talking about VR, UAV, VFX, CC, 3D, and more. Plus we’ll be giving away thousands of dollars worth of cool stuff! We want to be sure these professionals get the limelight they deserve, and inspire the next generation of women working behind the lens in our industry.
NABShow in Las Vegas is an incredible annual smorgasboard in our sprawling industry of content creators and distributors in TV, video, cable, OTT, satellite and more. Or as I like to call it, 100,000 of my best friends in media. Special thanks to NAB and Women in Film & Video, and our partners Broadcast Beat Magazine, sponsors Black Magic Design, Snell Advanced Media, and Vitec, as well as supporting partners Adobe, iZotope, Zacuto, Ott House Audio, Rampant Design, Sundance Media Group, and Radiant Images.
If you’re coming to NAB, then we’ll see you at the show! (8:30AM is free coffee/donuts and networking, the show goes live at 9AM). If not, join us live online at 9AM. Broadcast Beat, our streaming partners, will be carrying us to more than 2M viewers in 180 countries! Details here.
Check out these amazing women joining us on stage to demo and discuss gear and content production and post-production this year:
Jennifer Pidgen, COO, Sundance Media Group; UAV Pilot
Céline Tricart, Cinematographer & VR Filmmaker
Nina Page, Head of Business Development, Radiant Images
Amanda Shelby, Head of Production, Radiant Images
Csilla Kozma, Head of Content, Nokia Technology
Cheryl Ottenritter, Senior Mixer/Founder, Ott House Audio
Mae Manning, Editor
Sue Lawson, Editor
Megan McGough Christian, Production Manager, “Frontline”, WGBH Boston
Stefanie Mullen, CEO, Rampant Design, Visual Effects
Sophia Kyriacou, Broadcast Designer/3D Artist
E Samantha Cheng, Executive Producer, Heritage Series, LLC
Adryenn Ashley, CEO, Crowded TV
Trick question. The important query is WHY? Why will this information be better conveyed through graphics than through, say, a more documentary approach with powerful interviews or a personal story? Why will the audience care more about the content when this infographic ends? Once you’ve answered why, you can get to WHAT.
Info-graphics for Issue Advocacy
Sometimes, infographics can be used to tell a powerful emotional story that must convey facts and figures but also turn that data into advocacy. In this wonderful piece called The Girl Effect, music plays a powerful role in drawing us into the story line. By the end, we want to take action!
Info-graphics to Inform
Sometimes the goal is actually to DE-personalize highly emotional or difficult content, so people can absorb it and act on it.
In this info-graphic video I produced for a children’s hospital, we decided to use animated characters rather than interviews with doctors and nurses. Our goal was to help parents of very sick children admitted to the Pediatric ICU understand how to better participate in their care. Our creative team and consulting parent advisory group decided that parents already see enough “talking heads” in the ICU, so that our piece would take a different approach with friendly characters and a friendly, soft-spoken voice-over. We also wanted to be able to translate the graphic into multiple languages. The finished info-graphic appears on monitors at a child’s beside, part of an internal “TV” system within the hospital.
Infographics for Branding
TIAA (formerly TIAA Cref) decided to hedge its bets and use both the personal story approach and an infographic one to roll out its new brand. Here’s a look at the TIAA brand story using real people and commercial-style footage:
Here’s the same brand in an info-graphic approach:
Right away, the first difference you notice between these two cuts is the music. While one approach is poignant, the other is in your face. My guess is the creators decided there were two audiences to reach—one an older person thinking about the next generation, and one a younger person looking ahead to their future. The two distinct approaches work well for each audience.
One of the great things about infographics is that you don’t necessarily need to make way for a narrator. As with the TIAA piece, a brief story told entirely without spoken words can get across not just your message, but your brand personality. In this case, the creators are trying to tell us “TIAA is an up-to-date institution. This is not your father’s TIAA.”
Whatever approach you decide, infographics require a very specific and disciplined workflow in order to stay on budget.
- Define the Look. You need to decide the approach, which might take a few rounds of “look boards” before you come to a decision.
- Define the Specs. It’s important before starting any video project—animation or otherwise—to determine the output specs from the start. What is the screen size and frame rate? Will you be showing this on a big screen from a ProRes file or on the web from a Quicktime or H.264 file?
- Whether or not spoken words are involved, there is still a written script that tells the animator exactly what happens in each frame. I often use approximating clip art or stills to help the artist understand what I’m going for.
- Key Frames. These are still frames that map out the entire story line before it’s animated. Settling on the right key frames for each part of the story will save you from costly re-animating expenses.
- If the story has a narrator, this must be tracked as timing with animation is precise to fractions of a second. If there is only music, this still needs to be settled on so the timing works precisely. (If there is going to be a post-score, then the artist may still want to work to what is known as a “temp track” or even a “click track” to keep the pulse exact.)
- Once script is locked, soundtrack is in and script is approved, you’re ready to start animating your sequences. There may be several approval rounds within this step.
- Final output and mixing. Getting back to those first specs, you’ll need to output whatever versions you need for live events, online, email campaigns, etc.
Amy DeLouise is a director/producer and author of the book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera (Focal Press/Routledge).
So-called “real people” can add power to a video story. For testimonials, someone who actually uses the product can be compelling. If the story focuses on a charity, someone who has lived the day-to-day impact can help raise funds more effectively than an on-camera professional host. A person who works in an organization might be the very best at explaining a new process or tool.
But here’s the catch.
Using real people as opposed to actors affects the bottom line costs of your video, in both production and post. Often executive producers focus on the cost-savings of not having to hire actors–no actor fees, no casting fees, no pension and welfare payments (for union actors). However, pro’s bring their ability to hit their marks every time, to become characters convincingly, and to deliver a particular line the same way in the wide shot, the closeup and the shot that gets done after a lunch break.
So if you are using real people, you need to focus on 3 areas to minimize the budget negatives:
- Casting. While you may use an informal process, you’ll still need to “cast” people to be sure they can work with you, they have an interesting story, and to build a relationship prior to the day of taping. While actors can step onto a set filled with strangers and go, most regular folks can’t. Always avoid using someone solely on the recommendation on another person. If you will be the day-of-production interviewer, producer or director, you’ll need to talk to them yourself to be sure you have a good rapport.
- Scheduling. Build extra time into your shoot schedule. Not just for each angle or shot, but also breaks for your “talent.” Unlike pro’s, who can muscle through a long day, most regular folks need some time out of the lights. Plus they will likely need to make calls, check on the kids being picked up from soccer, etc. I’m always surprised how often I’ve got someone telling me they’ve “blocked out” the whole day for our shoot, and then when we arrive, they’ve actually got several hours of phone calls, errands or other work scheduled. No one outside of production understands that what we do is a really focused, full day or more type of job.
- Post Workflow. Your post-production workflow will also need to be adjusted. If you are conducting interviews, be sure you get transcripts made (from mp3 or wav files of the interviews) so that you can make a preliminary set of selects and then choose from those for your final edits. This will save massive amounts of time slogging through footage to find soundbites. If you are creating a re-enactment or a direct-to-camera video, you’ll need excellent field notes via Adobe Live Logger, Google docs, Lumberjack, etc. that allows you to correct for the usual mistakes and changed dialogue or non-matching action that commonly occur when using non-actors. Again, this will save massive amounts of time and frustration during editing.
I’ve built some handy templates and other prep, shoot and post resources into my new book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera. Use code FLR40 at checkout for 20% off (not available on Amazon). Let me know any other tools you think I should add here on the website.
It’s been a cold, rainy spring here in DC, the perfect weather for planning and strategy (not so great for outdoor shoots). And post-NAB Show, it’s a great time to re-assess workflows, consider new technologies, and tidy up that digital media library.
So what key steps do you need for great video storytelling? It all comes down to Three Essential Questions you need to ask yourself when planning your edit.
Wait, you say. planning my edit? What about my script? My shoot? But let’s face it, the story all comes together during the edit. And when is the optimal time to start planning your edit? Is it a few days before you step into the edit suite? Is it when you start digitizing your media? Not surprisingly, the answer is well before you even shoot the first frame. Working in the digital media space now often means drinking from the firehose of assets–millions of frames to choose from as we acquire with more and more flexible cameras. So it’s even more vital to be prepared before you start working with all of that content. Ask and answer these questions before you shoot, and you’ll be ahead of the game for your edit:
- What tools can I use in the field to help my edit go more smoothly? (Tip: any tool that allows you to identify best takes and best soundbites–use Adobe Live Logger, paper notes, or Google docs with notations on your script. And don’t forget to metatag camera footage with more than just date and time–for example camera operator initials or some code that tells you where this footage fits into the story line)
- What workflow can I use to ensure that the media gets transferred accurately? (Tip: use the 3-2-1 backup system–make two additional on-site copies of digital media files so that you have 3 in the field, travelling back from the shoot have 2 identical copies (and the one original stays behind). When you get back, ingest one of your two copies and check for accuracy before blowing away the original field cards. And yes, it costs a few more dollars to have extra cards–which is way less than a re-shoot and lost time will cost you!)
- What other assets can I collect before or during my shoot to augment my edit? Think about field sound clips, archival photos and other visuals. (Tip: always collect as much as you can in the field–I’ve even brought a mini-scanner on site and scanned old photos after conducting an interview.)
Every ounce of planning will deliver impact on screen. Go for it!
Amy DeLouise is a producer-director, speaker and author. Her new book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera (Focal Press) is available here at a 20% discount for blog readers! Use Code FLR40 at checkout!
From Las Vegas, NV NAB Show 2016 –
I’m just back from NAB Show where I was privileged to co-host #GalsNGear Live! by Women in Film and Video (WIFV-DC) with Adryenn Ashley of Crowded TV to help showcase the amazing women working in production and post-production in broadcast, feature films, docs, commercials, branded content and more. Live-streamed by Broadcast Beat, we featured Megan Donnelly, DP and Camera Technology Specialist with AbelCine; Rose Fadem-Johnston, DP, Luisa Cassasnovas Winters, Drone Operator/Adobe/Apple Certified Trainer; an iZotope demo by Cheryl Ottenritter, Senior Mixer/Founder, Ott House Audio; Katie Hinsen, Senior Finishing Artist, Light Iron (on TWO Oscar-winning teams!) who is also a founder of the Blue Collar Post Collective; and Jillian Arnold, Video Engineer, Local 695; Lucy Seaborne did a demo for us at the Snell Advanced Media booth, and Christine Steele of Steele Pictures also conducted #GalsNGear interviews with Victoria Nece, Adobe After Effects and Alissa Johnson, Adobe Anywhere as well as Stefanie Mullen, the impressive woman behind the effects of Rampant Design. Christine also took time to make us an animated logo bumper. What an impressive crowd!
Terrific GNG graphics for our signage, logo and buttons were created by Deborah Humphries of True Color Chrome.
Shout-out to our amazing sponsors, including our lead sponsors Black Magic Design and Media Central! We had more than 100 people watch the show live, and thousands more watched online. Sponsors gave us more than $4,500 in giveaways–everything from cameras to graphics packages to audio software and tickets to creative conferences. Let’s do this again at another industry event! How about Cinegear, IBC, Sundance, Cannes?? Let us know what you think!