Sony RX100 VII at the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone

Sony RX100 VII at the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone

I’ve been searching for the perfect “carry around” camera for years. Sometimes I try to make my daily use cameras work for that, other times I buy specific ones for the task. To say I’ve owned a lot of cameras is an understatement. To date I’ve owned… an Olympus E-Volt something, Canon 20d, 5d, 5d mark II, 5d mark III, 5d mark IV, 6d mark II, G10, G12, Fuji X100, X100t, X-Pro 1, X-Pro 2, Sony RX10 II, and that’s not to mention the 10 or so video cameras. When I heard about the RX100 VII from Sony I knew I’d be pre-ordering one and trying to slot it in as my carry around camera. That position had currently been held by the Fuji X-Pro 2 and a DJI Osmo Pocket. But I was looking to get a little more range from the focal length, better quality video, and a smaller form factor.

On paper, the RX 100 VII fits the carry around title perfectly. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket, has a 24-200mm focal range, shoots 4k in slog as well as some solid slow motion. It’s so small, it’s almost too small. The day I received it, I immediately hopped on Amazon and ordered a little grip for it. Otherwise it was sure to hit the ground at some point. But that size means it is easy to have on you to grab those family photos, but robust enough to leave the DSLR at home for a vacation trip. Which is exactly what I used it for this past week.


My wife and I were taking a trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone and I knew I wanted to be able to hike around and just experience things without the camera being a hinderance. I’ve traveled the world with my Canon DSLRs and at times, they just get in the way of being present. The RX100 VII didn’t seem like it would be that way. Plus, I’m no wildlife photographer. I wasn’t planning to stake out a spot and wait for animals to come by. I was planning to move around, get some snap shots to put together into a book, and enjoy some time away.

In some aspects the RX100 VII shined at that, in others I found it annoying. First off, the positives… as I said above, the biggest thing is being able to have a small camera that can shoot high quality stills and video without getting in the way. This camera hit all the marks with that. While we were hiking, it was easy to have in a small side pocket of my backpack or in my pocket and pull it out to grab those little moments. It was also nice to be able to have sitting in the cup holder in the car while we drove so I could quickly pull over and grab a shot of some bison or elk. I could have done the same stuff with my DSLR, but it would have gotten in the way more and been more of a task. I have some great shots I wouldn’t have gotten with my other setup, just because I was able to always have the Sony at hand.

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That’s not to say it’s all positives. I found myself annoyed with the camera on a number of instances. In bright sunlight, it’s annoying to shoot with. It’s hard to see the back screen and the pop up EVF is awesome, but I constantly found myself having to hold the camera with one hand and use the other hand to block out the sun. I also found it hard to tell if things were in focus. With the standard autofocus, and the amount of grass/trees/etc in the frames it felt like the focus would be all over the place. I’d switch to single point and that would help, but with the screen on back I still couldn’t tell what had sharp focus until I got back to the office. That was probably my biggest annoyance. I don’t know if it’s a resolution issue or my eyes issue, but I’ve got to figure out how to tell what’s sharp with the LCD more than I could on this trip.


With the size of the camera, I wish they could add a dial to the top for shutter speed / ISO in manual mode. I found myself using auto much more than I usually would because the little wheel on the back for the shutter speed was annoying to use. I imagine I’ll get more comfortable with it as I use the camera more. But my favorite camera ever, the Fuji X-Pro2 had a dial on top for shutter speed and ISO that made it much simpler to use in manual mode. I wish Sony could implement something like that.

All in all, I’m quite pleased with how the camera worked out and I know I’ll only enjoy it more as I get used to it. It hits all the marks for an every day, carry around camera that can capture great moments without getting in the way of actually experiencing them as well.


CODB - That rate seems good, no?

CODB - That rate seems good, no?

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I don’t know if anyone reads this, but sometimes I like to post things to help other people in similar situations. So today, we’re going to look at a project and the costs that go into doing said project to better understand how everything fits together. This is by no means a dig at any clients or budgets or anything. It’s just a look at how costs fit into budgets. When you own the gear you don’t usually think about those things.

The Project

We were hired to shoot photographs of sponsor activations, at a three day concert. I would arrive an hour before doors and we’d shoot until the sun went down. The clients would provide shot lists ahead of time and we’d be responsible for cover that and doing some same day edits, the first day. The budget for this was $1,000/day all in. Meaning no expenses added, we were getting paid a flat $3,000 for the photography and editing.

At first glance you’d think… couple hours a day to make $1,000?! That’s a no brainer, but let’s dive in a little deeper.

The Hours

So the first thing we should do is figure out just how long we spent on this project. I advise doing that on everything you do, so you can see if you’re really making money, but if you do it periodically you’ll get a decent state of where things are.

  • Pre Pro - 2.5 hr - We had emails, calls, and shot lists to go over.

  • Friday - 9 hr - The venue was an hour from our office, and we try to get there a half hour before we’re needed. Then we shot all day and had to drive back home.

  • Same Day Edit - 3 hr - Three of the sponsors had requests for same day edits. That means after shooting all day, we went back to the office and edited/uploaded photos.

  • Saturday - 9 hr - Same stuff as above.

  • Sunday - 8 hr - We left an hour earlier due to weather.

  • Editing - 10.5 hr - Importing everything, sorting it, editing it, uploading it, emailing about it.

Total? 42 hours. It’s about what I would have thought. I don’t know exactly how many photos we shot total, but it was about 280gb worth. That takes a minute to go through.

The Expenses

This is the main reason I wanted to go through things. Because we own our own gear, like many people, you don’t always factor those costs into budgets. Which is a fine approach, as long as you’re cognizant of what that stuff costs. So for gear, I went with BorrowLenses.com 3 day rental prices. For hard costs, I dropped those in. For software costs, I just took a stab. Keep in mind, the client budget was all-in. That means every penny spent came out of my end, not added on to theirs.

  • Parking - $150 ($50/day times 3)

  • Food - $40

  • Gas - $15 (approx)

  • Canon 5d Mark IV w/ grip - $137

  • Canon 6d Mark II w/ grip - $86

  • Canon 24-70mm - $42

  • Canon 70-200mm - $53

  • Canon 25-105mm - $28

  • Batteries/Cards/Etc - $42

  • Hard Drives - $100

  • Software/Hardware - $50 (computer, smug mug, adobe, etc etc etc)

Total? $743. Like I said, some of that is a hard cost (parking, gas, food) others are more approximations (the gear), but the stuff isn’t free. Every shoot knocks down the value a little bit, so it’s good to know how much that is.

The Number Crunching

$3,000 gross minus $743 in expenses leaves us with $2,257. We worked 42 hours on the project. That means we took in $53.74 per hour. At first glance that seems like a pretty solid number. But there are other things to consider. That’s obviously pre-tax. You’ll lose 20-30% to Uncle Sam, plus payroll taxes, 401k, electric, rent, internet, etc. Then there’s the other gear we need to own for projects but didn’t use for this one (video cameras, tripods, flashes, etc). Even though we didn’t use them for this, we have a general “Cost of Doing Business” that needs to be covered to pay for everything.

Was It Worth It

That’s a question you need to ask yourself after every project. You should be doing stuff you like. For us, this project was probably not worth it. But for a reason we haven’t discussed yet. Generally speaking if we can slot in a project in an open time, make some money on it, and some new contacts, we’ll consider it. But the problem with this came in an unexpected way. An event came up on Friday that we didn’t know about and needed filmed for a documentary we’re working on. Because I committed to this shoot, I had to hire someone to shoot that for me, which cost $1,000. That takes our income on this project from $2,257 to $1,257 or $29.93/hr. At that rate, a video / photo business cannot remain open. There’s just no margin there.

We Don't Need Clients...

We Don't Need Clients...

It’s time that I put this down on paper for all to see. We don’t need clients, we want partners. I know that sounds weird to some people, but it’s true. Photo and video can be seen more as commodities than creative endeavors. There are lots of production companies who are happy to cash the checks and just churn out the projects. That’s just not us.

What You Can Expect From Us

We will be a collaborative partner for your project in every way. We will speak up when we think something could work a little better one way versus the other but we know there are larger forces at play. You can expect us to be available for you. We may not be able to call back immediately when we’re in another meeting, but we’ll get back to you ASAP and we will always be available to answer questions or bounce ideas off of. We understand that projects are fluid and sometimes timelines change, we can be flexible.

What We Expect From You

Every few years we do a project and at some point, someone says… “Shut up and do the work!” In fact that was a quote from one email I received. It’s not that we’re difficult to work with, we’re definitely not. It’s that we care very deeply for what we do. We are open with our clients and share ideas or tweaks to things that we think will help the overall project. If you don’t like the idea, we don’t push, we just expect you to listen and collaborate. But just know, and hopefully appreciate, that we’ll always be working to deliver the best end result for your project.

This Two Way Street

In the end it’s a give and take. We want you to feel comfortable and understood and we want to feel respected and like our opinion is valued. This isn’t a paycheck for us. It’s about telling great visual stories and creating work we are all proud of. One time a lawyer told me I should “be happy that a project is being dropped on my doorstep.” If that’s how you feel about your projects, kindly pick them back up and bring them to another doorstep. We’re here to partner with the people we work with, for everyone’s mutual gain.

So you're gathering assets...

So you're gathering assets...

A lot of the projects we do are a mix of thing we create from scratch (motion graphics, filming, etc) and utilizing assets our clients provide. If you don’t do video a lot, it’s really difficult to know just what to send and what can be used in a video, so here’s a quick outline on what works and doesn’t work.

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Existing Videos

Great! You have some existing video content you want to put to work or make a change to in a new video. There’s just a couple things to keep in mind. It’s always best to get the original / raw files. What does that mean? It means if you created a video and can get us the assets used to create that video then we can make it into whatever you want. That includes the original stuff that was shot as well as project files (if you have them).

If you don’t have the original files you’re not out of luck, it just depends on what you want to do. If we’re picking up stuff that was shot just to use as b-roll in another project it’s not a problem. However if you want to use say an interview, it can get tricky. The two major issues you’ll run into are graphics and music. If there’s graphics, we’d need to be able to cover them up to match the rest of the video. Sometimes that’s simple, sometimes it’s complicated. Where it gets really tricky is with music. If the existing video has a music bed under it, you might be stuck. There’s no real way to take the music and separate it from the person speaking. That means you’d either have to use the same music track (if we can find it) and put the person in at the same point, so the music matches. Or we’d have to brainstorm together on ways to think about the project differently.

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Images / Graphics / Logos / Oh My!

Usually what we get is images and logos from clients. This is where high res and low res come into play. A HD video is 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels at 72 dpi. So what does that mean in practice? It means that almost all Powerpoint and Word documents you send over with images in them will be too low resolution. In short, they’ll look pixelated because we have to scale them up to fit the size of the video. At a minimum you want your short edge of the image to be about 2,000 pixels long at 72 dpi. The way to get that is to track down the original images. Find the photos people took vs the ones someone else ended up putting into a presentation. Same thing goes for logos. Vector versions of the logos work best vs JPEG or whatever you have in a PPT.

Vector vs Raster

On the logo front, we mentioned above that vector images work better than JPEG or PNG. That’s because they’re able to be scaled to any size without losing quality. A vector image is created in a program like Illustrator and we can scale it without issue. If it’s a graphic that’s been created, that also lets us go in and “break apart” the file into different layers and animate those to create a more dynamic final piece.

But all I have is low res?

This happens from time to time. Don’t fret immediately. It’s just a matter of thinking about the project. Maybe we can take the low res images and work them into a photo collage and show more than one at a time. But if you really want just one big image on screen, we’ll need assets big enough to make that work.

Why we switched to the Canon C200

Why we switched to the Canon C200

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A while back we posted an article about how we thought the Sony FS5 was the best camera on the market. And while we still think that’s an amazing camera, we switched it up and bought a Canon C200. For those of you who aren’t gear heads, this won’t be the most fun thing you see today.

It’s all about the color

We used to shoot on a Canon C100 Mark II and that camera always delivered exactly what I thought it would. And a big part of that is Canon’s color science. Things looked how I wanted them to, it was a better connection between my brain. That’s not to say people don’t shoot amazing stuff on the FS5. We shot some stuff we were really proud of, but this was the right move for us.

No more adapters / monitors / recorders

This is another big one for me. I’m the kind of person who needs a backup or two. So shooting Canon EF Glass on a Sony E-Mount meant Metabones adapters. But then I needed a backup for that adapter. Then there was the thing I loved about the FS5, the ability to put a monitor/recorder on and get ProRes and RAW. But at the same time it restricted me. The setup was large. 7” monitors are huge and the FS5 LCD is garbage. With the C200 I get internal RAW with a comparable (to the Sony) internal non RAW Codec.

One other thing that’s important to note and helpful for us is that our office is 20 minutes from a Canon repair facility. With our still cameras, we get them cleaned and checked and back in our hands by the next day. That’s a huge bonus for a piece of gear like this.

But what about the C300 Mark II

This was my biggest debate. I knew I was going back to Canon but I didn’t love the non RAW codec on the C200. After looking at footage and testing some stuff I’ve come to realize that the codec issue isn’t really one. But I had looked at the C300 Mark II, only down side? To get the 10 bit 4:2:2 codec you need to spend $1k more than a C200 on a camera with way more hours.

It’s about where we’re going

Sure, we do corporate work and will always do that. But the RAW on the C200 and the cinema camera feels more in line with where we want our company to go.

Whoa!  I only want a few hours of filming done...

Whoa! I only want a few hours of filming done...

In the past few weeks we’ve had a couple situations where we sent estimates and the response was “I’m going to have to pass. I only want an hour or two of filming and that’s too much money.” We get it. Everyone’s budget and expectations are different. But when it happens more a few times in a week I wanted to put together a little explanation about why things cost what they do. So if you watch the video above it will give the top line view. Below it will dive in a little more.

The Project

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For the sake of this example we’ll use a person speaking at a conference who wants some interviews done after or an introduction filmed before. I use this example for three reasons… we do a lot of these, they tend to be the projects we estimate that don’t go any further, and they are generally a “short” amount of filming time for a single person or a small company that typically doesn’t do a lot of video.

So for this figure filming 30-60 minutes of filming a presentation or speech and then filming 30-60 minutes before or after for either an introduction or some people’s reactions after the presentation. Generally speaking this runs about $1,500 - $3,000, depending on some specific factors (are we just filming or are we editing a video or two after, how far is it away, how long are we filming before/after, etc). We write up a detailed estimate, shoot it over and it leads to…

Whoa! I only want a few hours of filming done, I don’t have budget for that.

I get it. When you have a small business or solo practice, every penny counts. But to think it’s only an hour or two of recording and that’s all you should pay for means you haven’t really thought the project through. So here’s how the hours break down on a typical shoot.

  1. The project is going to start with a call or email exchange, then we put together an estimate (for bigger projects it sometimes includes a more detailed proposal deck). - 1 hour

  2. We check and double check everything is in the case, swap batteries on the charger, format the media, load up the car, etc. - 1-2 hours

  3. Then we have to drive to the location. For this, we’ll assume the city which means we’re leaving 90 minutes ahead of call time to be safe. - 90 minutes plus about $30 in gas/wear and tear on the car at the IRS rate.

  4. When we get there, we’ve gotta park. Usually another $30. Then we load in. - 30 minutes

  5. Then we setup. - 1 hour

  6. We film the presentation. - 1 hour

  7. We film the after interview/intro - 30-60 minutes

  8. We break down and load out. - 1 hour

  9. And then we drive back to the office. - 60-90 minutes

  10. Back at the office we off load the files, put them on our server, back up the server. - 90 minutes

That means we’re 11.5 hours to capture your 2 hours of video. Plus $60 in hard costs.

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So you want us to use a camera?

Want us to use a camera, that costs money. 2 cameras, more money. Tripod to keep things steady, light to keep things bright, oh and media to record on. Here’s a rough breakdown of the costs of those things if we were to rent them. While we own them, they have to get paid for so they’re factored into our dost of doing business. This includes a camera, lenses, batteries, memory, tripod, audio equipment, cases, etc.

Most of the gear has a 3-4 year lifespan. Things like tripods, cases, and audio equipment have a longer life. All in, that equipment costs us about $250 per shoot. That’s MUCH cheaper than rental houses where the same setup would run approximately $750.


So we have to pay if a stand falls on someone’s head?

Need coverage in case someone trips on the light stand and it hits someone else in their head? We carry insurance for that, but that costs money. On a per shoot basis that’s about another $100/shoot.

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You need us to save your files?

A 2 hour shoot will run anywhere from 128gb to 2tb of data depending on the setup and what codec we’re using. To make this easy let’s say we throw it on an external and back it up to another external. That’s $150/shoot for 2 drives.

Need me to send you files or have a computer to work on or a phone to call you or power or internet or software or AA batteries or ________?

It all costs money. Yes your video is only 2 hours, but without infrastructure it’s impossible to film anything. Let’s say $50/shoot for all this stuff.


So where are we?

11.5 hours and $610 in hard costs. We’ll use the low end of the estimate range because we’re not factoring in editing or shipping hard drives. So $1500 - $610 = $890. 1/3 of that goes to the tax man, leaving a $587. Divide that by 11.5 = $51.09/hr and that doesn’t include things like accountants, 401k, payroll taxes, etc. So your quick project really takes about 5 times as long as you thought and more than 1/3 in hard costs. We’re not getting rich, but we’re doing what we love!

Ken Burns Teaches Documentary Filmmaking Master Class Review

Ken Burns Teaches Documentary Filmmaking Master Class Review

I posted this on a documentary project website called “Just Go Create!” Read the original and similar stories there.


“The only thing that matters is not which is the right step one. It’s that there be a step one.”

- Ken Burns


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I’ve watched many a Ken Burns film. National Parks is one of my favorite of all time. But my success rate with training classes like this has been hit or miss. I tried Werner Herzog’s Masterclass and realized I didn’t really care for his style. I did a similar class by Phillip Bloom and loved it. I tried the Muse storytelling series and it was so bad I immediately requested a refund. So when I saw Ken Burns Teaches Documentary Filmmaking I was quite excited and then tempered that for myself until I actually watched it. After 2 solid days, I’ve made it through the 26 episodes and I think I have a pretty good grasp on what it is and what it was.


What is it?

It’s a quick journey through Ken Burns’ brain from start to finish. He’s a very likable, well spoken person who spends most of the 26 classes talking directly to camera in 10-20 minute classes. Each class is broken into sub-sections. Along with that you get some communication/community thing (typical add on these days). And an incredible, on first pass, 156 page PDF of notes and things. I say on first pass because it’s something I’d like to print and read carefully. I haven’t done that yet.


Who’s it for?

This is for the video guy who has some experience in other areas but wants to be inspired to try documentary. If you’ve done a lot of filming before you’ll get inspiration and I got at least one thing I wrote down out of each class. But you’ll find yourself wanting more of the nuts and bolts of filmmaking versus his specific approach. Historical documentary filmmaking is pretty specific, and all the information is good. I just wanted to learn a little more about the technical side. Or like a class on his biggest failures could be a great learning point.

Should I buy it?

And should you buy it? Absolutely. It’s $90. The color checker card you toss in your case probably cost more and you’ll get more from this. A nice dinner with your significant other was definitely more. Ken comes across as a down to earth guy who is very successful at making interesting films, that somehow he gets funded.


So are you going to finally get started?

The last chapter didn’t have a lot of specific content, but it ended with a few heartfelt messages from Ken. The quote above is one of them. And another I noted was “All this conversation is meaningless unless you start.” If you’re one of the many [few] people who’ve stumbled upon this page you know I dream of being the next Gary Hustwit. I have the ideas, right now I don’t have the team. But I will say, watching this made me think about a few simpler ideas I have in a different way and has lead me to reorganize my notes and really get somethings going. So yes, hopefully you’ll see some new work from me here soon.

Unsplash, the future of stock?

Unsplash, the future of stock?

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It's a controversial topic for photographers... stock photography.  And to make that even more complicated, in comes a company called Unsplash.  It's a newer company, in that if you ask around most people outside of the photo community aren't really aware of it.  I'd been reading about it here and there, but never really checked it out.  Then came Zack Arias.  Zack is a photographer I really respect and was very active in the "photo community" for a long time.  Then it felt like he fell off a bit.  But he was back with a splash, ripping on Unsplash.  I'll give you the 1,000 foot view, if you want to see all his comments head to here.  The headline "Why You Should Never Upload Your Photos to Unsplash" the top level read... model/property releases, rarely do you even get credit let alone paid anything, it's just bad bad bad.

He makes some great points.  As a photographer the last thing you want is to get sued because you didn't realize you needed a model release and a corporation uses an image and you get a process server on your doorstep.  Personally speaking, if you don't know you need a release you deserve said lawsuit but whatever.  The not getting paid thing is the interesting part of all this to me.  Is the exposure worth the free nature of the business.  That's a tough one because I first found photography through concert photos.  I shot hundreds of shows and ended up working my way to a world tour with a prominent band.  But if one industry has been completely destroyed by photographers working for free it's music photography.  I'll get into the details in a future post, but I feel the pain of people wanting to work in the industry and getting undercut by free.

However, that didn't stop me from creating an account to see what it was all about.  I decided to put up 10 images and give it 100 days just to see what would happen.  I didn't get all involved in the community, I didn't promote it anywhere, I didn't even add any other images.  Just the original 10.  The results are interesting. 

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I picked 10 random travel images that I thought might work for a variety of applications.  One of which was a pretty terrible picture of flags around the Washington Monument in DC.  I picked it because it is a crazy time in US politics and I thought someone might search for a flag shot. That one ended up being my most viewed/downloaded because it was almost immediately added to a collection by Unsplash.  As I type this it has almost 200,000 views and 400 downloads.  All together my 10 images garnered over 350,000 views and 1,500 downloads.

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So what does that mean?  Nothing.  People searching stock go through so fast that 350k views doesn't mean someone stopped and admired my photos, it means they skimmed over them.  I did some reverse image searches of my top 3 photos and even with 1,500 downloads they were used minimally.  And in most places without any credit to me or Unsplash.  So is it worth it?  Not really.  You're better off investing your time in building your Instagram where people can actually follow and interact with you than you are trying to use Unsplash.

What should I wear for our shoot?

The big day is almost here!  You're going to be "talent" on a set.  No need to stress out, it's prety straight forward.  One of the most frequent questions I get prior to a shoot is "what should we tell people to wear?"  Most of the people we work with are not professional talent, and we want them to be comfortable.  If they feel uncomfortable they won't give their best performance.  But there are a few best practices to follow.

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Sometimes the budget allows for hair and make up, but frequently with "non professional" talent that can be a little off putting.  It's already a situation where they're not totally comfortable and getting makeup when they don't usually wear it or being fussed with can hurt their delivery.  Plan to come ready to be filmed as you are.  Make sure you look nice, but are also comfortable.

WARDROBE

Someone wearing a suit, who normally wears just a button up shirt, will feel uncomfortable and that will come through on camera.  People should wear what they'd normally wear to a meeting with their boss.  Something nice, but comfortable.

Avoid tight patterns.  Big bold patterns are okay, but solid colors are better.  Small patterns can cause what's called Moire.  Cameras have a lot of resolving power, but tight patterns can wreak havoc especially for video where there's some motion to the shot.  Stick with solid colors, and avoid patterns.

For guys that usually means solid color shirts and sometimes ties.  Try to avoid wearing solid white.  A cream or solid color shirt will work better because it will have some color there.  If you love your white shirt, it can work depending on the background, but if you're going with white wear something over it (suit jacket, sweater, etc).  

For women, something similar works well.  Solid color with something on top with a solid color skirt or pants.  Again, avoiding white is ideal so that there's some depth to the outfit.

If you have a really light skin tone, don't wear a black shirt.  We'll adjust our exposure to what's best for your skin exposure.  Black can lose all detail if we bring down our exposure for your skin.  Similarly, if you have really dark skin tone, don't wear a white shirt.  It will glow when we expose for your skin.

One last thing to consider... you're probably sitting for your interview.  Wear well fitting clothes that aren't too baggy or wrinkled.  If your favorite jacket tends to push up in the back when you sit with it on, try something else or at least bring a backup option.

JEWELRY

Less is more in the jewelry department.  Why?  Because of audio.  Big necklaces can bump the lav mic if you're wearing one and lead to retakes.  Lots of bracelets on your wrist will bang and clank if you put your arm on a table or speak with your hands.

MAKEUP

As we said above, sometimes there is hair and makeup, typically there is not.  For women, this means they're doing their own makeup.  It's important that their makeup reflect what they'd normally do, but not be over the top.  You want to keep with tones that complement your skin and what you're wearing.  Avoid dark colors, smoky eyes, etc.  The camera will accentuate those and we want you to look your best.

For guys, make sure any facial hair is well groomed.  We capture everything in 4k so clean looks always appear best on camera.  We may ask you to pat down a forehead or cheeks, or maybe even add a little foundatoin to help.  That will give you more even skin tones and add to the final piece.

LOGOS

In a business environment big logos are branding aren't really an issue typically.  But if you wear your favorite team's hat every day or love supporting Nike, that's great.  Maybe try something different for the shoot.  If you really want to wear something, just remember that the video isn't about that brand, it's about your company.

If you love having your employees wear shirts emblazoned with your logo, those are okay.  But try to keep it subtle.  You want the video to be about the story, not the logo.

THAT'S IT!

We want you to be comfortable on camera so you give the best performance.  That is most important.  Don't over think things too much, and if you are... bring a backup outfit along.

Is Vero the Facebook / Instagram / Twitter Killer?

Is Vero the Facebook / Instagram / Twitter Killer?

By now you've seen the name Vero in one form or another.  The past week has seen instagram feeds fill with "follow me on Vero" posts.  So is it the killer they tout it to be?  Maybe.  We'll take a look at a couple of the key features that differentiate it and the main ways it falls short.

Signing Up

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First, if you want to sign up for Vero... good luck.  Their servers clearly were not built for the amount of traffic they're currently getting.  When I signed up last week it took almost 12 hours to get a code texted to me.  When I went to sign in this morning, it couldn't connect to the server for almost an hour.  When I finally did connect I had to re-send the post I tried to make 5 times before (I think) it went through.  It's the growing pains of a new social network that suddenly got hit hard.  If you want to try it out, just have some patience.

The People

While you've undoubtedly seen people asking for you to follow them, there's not really a lot of people on there yet.  That's literally changing by the hour.  I've been getting a few notifications an hour this morning about new people joining.  Until you get some more people on there sharing, it's a little sparse.  But that also offers opportunity if you're looking to grow quickly.  Some quality posting will help that going.

The Experience

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Outside of the server issues, the experience is interesting.  It feels much more 2018 design than most other social networks, which is to be expected.  But along those same lines it feels over designed in a very 2018 way.  There's a slider for who your posts get to, that WILL be a problem.  It's easy to accidentally share something with more people than you anticipated.  But it's an interesting way to set up sharing.  You can have people follow you, or set them as an acquaintance, friend, close friend, etc.  It's a nice way to keep a big network but limit who sees what.

Posting music / links / movies is interesting.  It pulls up graphics already in their system and does an overlay of your comment as well if you're watching it or recommending it or whatever else.  It's the same thing people do with Instagram, but it takes out the user photos.  I don't know if that is a pro or a con.  It's much cleaner looking but it takes out a little personality.

A Killer

So is it a killer?  Who knows.  That's not really helpful but there's not enough people on their yet.  That's where it's a little weird.  Facebook, twitter, instagram all grew organically.  I got on FB and Twitter early and I loved it and became an evangelist for it.  Vero seems like it's growing exponentially just because people don't want to be left out.  So it's tough to know if it will last or just be a flash in the pan.  They're claiming no ads, no algorithm, a better experience.  But until it reaches critical mass it's difficult to know if they'll follow through on their promises.

Should have trusted my gut

Should have trusted my gut

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I was talking to a former colleague and friend the other day.  We've both been working in the advertising / marketing industry for a long time.  While reminiscing about the past and current state of the industry, I realized something.  I came through about 10 years too early.  What does that mean exactly?  It means that the stuff I was proposing to people at the time was just too new for them to understand.  Here's the perfect illustration...

I'm not sure of the exact year, but it was a while ago.  Facebook was in it's infancy and limited to only a couple colleges in the North East.  I was dating a girl who went to NYU so she had an account and showed it to me.  My mind was blown.  The amount of information people put out there was crazy.  I immediately got a meeting on the calendar with the head of strategy at the agency I was working at.  McDonald's was our main client and I saw an incredible opportunity here.  I put together my notes, borrowed my girlfriend's log in, and went into the meeting.  Laid it all out about how we had to get in on the ground floor here and just from a data standpoint alone there was a lot our clients could do with it.  But if they were one of the first brands on there it'd be incredible for them.  I saw the potential for huge growth.

The "senior management" person I was talking to looked at me.  Looked at the screen.  Looked back and me and said something along the lines of "I guess it's interesting, but I don't see a future here.  I don't see anything we can do with it."  I left the meeting feeling a little dejected.  I was a super junior level person who just loved technology.  Maybe he was right and I was wrong.

Obviously, that wasn't the case.  But when I think back, I learned a lesson.  Trust your gut.  I KNEW Facebook would be huge, but I just filed it away in my notebook as an inspired thought not acted upon.  Now a days, I'd say screw that guy and find someone who could have done something cool with it.  That's one of the reasons why I left the agency life and started AV Collective.  I can control my own future, and act on great ideas.

Client Gifts Are Always Fun

Client Gifts Are Always Fun

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Like many companies, we send out Christmas gifts to clients around the holidays.  In the past we've done gift cards and thank you notes.  But this year we wanted to mix it up.  We wanted something that was kind of cool and that people might put on their desk and show off to other co-workers.  Why?  For two reasons.  One, we always think something cool is better than a run of the mill gift card.  Two, we want to be top of mind.  When someone thinks about a potential video project they have, we want them to look at their desk and say "oh yeah, AV Collective would be great for this!".  To help that along, we stuck one of our brand new AV Collective stickers to the back.  We didn't break the bank, but we found some fun "My Cinema Lightboxes", ordered up some stickers for the back, added in a USB plug so the people receiving it don't have to come up with 6 AA batteries, and we mailed them off via the good ol USPS.

So what will come of it?  Hopefully it will make someone smile and let them customize their desk a little bit to show off their personality.  And if it makes them think of us for a new project, that's an added bonus.  

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