In April we produced a video for the Breathe LA organization of Los Angeles. Shot with two Panasonic Varicams and edited back at Sloan Productions in San Diego on our high definition non-linear edit system by Bob Sloan. Photographers were Jeff Landie and Jim O’donnell. See the video below.
Director of Photography, Bob Sloan shoots while Lauren Salituro of Intersport conducts an interview with Danielle Paskowitz of Surfers Healing, A Foundation for Autism. Lauren’s feature will air in the CBS Program “Courage in Sports”. Intersport is a long time client of Sloan Productions, relying on us for their many varied projects from commercials and promos to programming for their network shows.
Chris La Palm directs while Bob Sloan shoots with the Canon 5D Mark II. One of the Canon 5D‘s advantage for a DP is that it has a full frame sensor which allows for very shallow depth of field to help isolate your subject from the background. You also have the entire line of Canon lenses to choose from, from 14mm to 600mm.
Many times we have incorporated our client’s PowerPoint slides into their video and DVD productions. Because computer displays and television displays are different, keeping a few things in mind will be of help to both of us.
PowerPoint presentations are optimized for computers. DVDs are optimized for television. There are a number of differences between high-resolution output for computers and low-resolution output for television. Basically, computer resolution is far greater than television’s resolution of 720 x 486 pixels (NTSC). Also, normal televisions at a minimum crop as much as 10% from around the edge (5% from each edge), resulting in a number of consequences when incorporating PowerPoint images into your video production and then to DVD. Keeping the following guidelines in mind when designing your PowerPoint presentation will help insure a good DVD experience as well.
These are as follows:
• Try to use 30 pt fonts or higher as small text may get lost on video.
• Use sans serif (e.g. Arial, Helvetica) bold fonts.
• Use no more than 4 or 5 lines of text per slide.
• Avoid the color red, use darker colors and greens and blues.
• Keep your graphics simple.
• Provide at least a 15% border around the edge.
We realize that these recommendations may seem limiting to you for your live presentation but it helps to be aware of this. In addition, audiences basically prefer simpler graphics. Too much information can cause them to disassociate altogether with the slide.
It looks like $225 is the price point for the holiday season and several manufacturers are committed to that entry-level price making them very attractive. However, I really recommend spending a few dollars more to get a player that is firmware upgradeable so you will continue to get all of the cool new features being added to this technology. (Tip: Look first for a player with an Ethernet or USB port and then double check the specs). By doing this you will avoid purchasing another player next year to replace this one. Another strategy; Hey it’s Christmas! Get this one now and put it somewhere else in the house next Christmas when you upgrade to the latest and greatest one. As we have seen all along, more and more features will be available soon. (The manufacturers know that too…).
It’s actually not that difficult to break into the business. But you first must have genuine passion for the industry and the craft, you have to have it in your blood. Then it’s just a matter of applying yourself. It all starts with desire, a desire to get into the business. With strong enough desire, and dedication to the effort, you can get into and find your place in the business. You may have heard, “Who you know gets you into the business and what you know keeps you there.” But there’s more. It’s how well you do the job that keeps you employed in the industry. So making contacts and learning craft skills are essential elements for successful entry but you must create your unique place and continue to add value in addition.
All this takes preparation. A top-rated film/video school is a good start. Working on student films and videos in any capacity is important. Seeing, analyzing and discussing films, reading books on production, observing film and video productions, visiting equipment rental houses and befriending camera assistants who are prepping camera equipment for an upcoming production, and attending professional exhibitions, seminars and workshops are all means of learning by living the craft.
There is no substitute for experience. There is no substitute for hands-on opportunities. Working on independent productions in any capacity is a way of acquiring that experience. It is well to keep track of any and all production experience by starting and regularly updating a resume which can be presented to prospective employers in order to gain more work opportunities and more experience.
Then you have to create a break for yourself. How do you get yourself in front of people who will see you as a valuable commodity to their staff or organization. This takes some ingenuity and patience. It can be about putting yourself in particular places at particular times that will increase our odds of a chance to be involved with an ongoing production or group of people. You have a choice between laying on the beach or literally walking the streets of Hollywood observing. Find out where productions are going on in public, where to people go to lunch, what do they do after work. You may even recognize someone you know. You have to be genuine though.
In addition, people like to work with their friends. This is one of the fundamental structures of any business, the relationships that you create, maintain, and nurture. This can’t be done by force, it must be organic. You want to build relationships with the initial people who are willing to share their time and knowledge with you. Be interested in them as individuals as well as members of the industry. If done well, these people will begin to care about you as a person as well and want you to succeed. People by nature want to help others.
Live programming is an area that Sloan Productions excels in. As a lead up to the start of the 2008-09 NFL season, ESPN toured the training camps of prominient teams for their program NFL Live. Sloan productions provided the facilities and crew at the San Diego Chargers training camp with multiple cameras, lighting, and sound.
YMCA’s across the country are promoting their Healthy Family Home program. New client Richmarc Productions and their client Eli Lilly shoot segments and interviews for the promotion. DP Bob Sloan employed the Sony F-900 high definition camcorder fitted with a Fujinon extreme wide angle zoom lens during this day of production for director Greg Perry
For the Animal Planet program Dogs 101, Powderhouse Productions of Cambridge Massachusetts came to San Diego to shoot a segment about “Murphy the Surfing Dog”. Director of Photography, Bob Sloan shot the feature in high definition using Sloan’s Panasonic Varicam package and lenses. The shoot consisted of interviews and B-roll and was produced by Tom Draudt.