3 Tips For More Organized Audio in Post

Sound effects don't have to become a tangle mess of tracks when you lay then down in post.

If you work with sound and audio in post-production, things can get really complicated really fast, especially if you're working on a big project that requires a lot of tracks. But editor Dan Bernard has shared a video with three tips that can help keep you more organized and efficient in post.

One of the biggest culprits of low efficiency is disorganization, which is why it's so important to have a clean and clear post-production workflow when you're dealing with such a high volume of media and assets. Though there are many ways to achieve this, Bernard's three tips are super easy and quick ways to speed things up:

  • Label and name your tracks
  • Lock your clips in time before you move them
  • Use bus tracks to keep your effects in one place

Like pretty much anything, a bit of planning can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. I highly suggest sitting down before every project to take a bird's-eye view of it—mapping out your assets and planning your approach (and yeah, labeling every damn thing) so that when it comes time to dig in and get to work, your process won't be impeded by avoidable things, like locating and replacing the media you need.

How do you stay organized when working in post? What are some simple tweaks other editors could make to speed up their workflow? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: V Renee
Source: Article

Chemistry and Intimacy with Alfonso Cuarón's Long Takes

Alfonso Cuarón has mastered the long take. 

Like a Russian doll, every cinematic technique contains smaller techniques within it. There is no one technique, for instance, called “the close-up.” There are extreme close-ups, in which you can see every pore on a character’s face. (Think of Tom Cruise’s perspiring visage in Mission: Impossible.) Alternately, there are medium close-ups, in which we are allowed to watch a character thinking, but we don’t feel we’re barging into personal space.

The long take, similarly, must be qualified. There’s the long take a la Orson Welles in A Touch of Evil, in which the camera twists and turns, the viewer’s tension slowly building as we wonder, "where are we being taken?" Or there’s the long take of Goodfellas, for instance, which amounts to a celebration of an entire demimonde, frolicking at the Copacabana Club; by the end of it, you feel as if you’ve met everyone in the room.
There’s also, as this thoughtful and wise video essay by Nathan Shapiro shows, the long take of Alfonso Cuarón.

In this interpretation of Cuarón's technique, this focus is less on the camerawork in the scene than on what we can learn about characters by simply looking at them for a while. The camera follows the action, but Cuarón’s goal is not so much to draw attention to the camera as a tool as to show us something about characters’ interactions and personal history—something about what we might call their chemistry.

In Y tu Mama Tambien, one very long take shows us the growing relationship between Luisa and her two teenaged escorts; in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a long take shows us the developing confidence between Harry Potter and a mentor; in Children of Men, one particularly long take builds tension as the protagonists run through a war zone, bombs falling and shots firing all around them.

And as if that weren’t enough, consider the 17-minute long take that opens Gravity. As we watch an astronaut spinning through space, the hapless victim of flailing machinery, we find ourselves wholly empathetic. Cuarón’s approach demonstrates that the long take can help to develop a story’s underpinnings even as it makes a film more thrilling to watch.

Author: Max Winter

Source: Article

The Best Countries in the World to Film Your Movie, Based on Production Incentives

This comprehensive guide to global production incentives asks: why not film in Fiji when you can recoup 50% of your production budget?

Filming a movie internationally has more benefits than merely exotic locale. In an effort to create jobs and stimulate local economies, many countries worldwide essentially pay productions to shoot within their borders. These production incentives vary significantly in structure and scope from country to country, but the end goal is universal: a symbiotic financial relationship between the country and foreign film productions. For a film with limited resources, shooting abroad could be just the ticket.

There are, of course, caveats to consider when comparing incentives. Each country stipulates a unique set of requirements, but the main issues to flag are the minimum amount of qualifying local expenditure (which can be high), local employment regulations, and whether or not the country requires the film to pass a cultural eligibility test.

International production incentives should not be confused with co-productions, which are multi-country productions that operate based on government treaties.

Here are the most common forms of incentives:

  • Cash rebates function similarly to grants and are paid to the production company in percentages based on qualifying local expenditures, including labor, production costs, and other services
  • Tax incentives are similar to rebates, but the production company must file a tax return to claim the funds. In turn, the company will receive a credit for taxes owed on qualifying local expenditures, including labor, production costs, and other services
  • National or regional film funds are limited government-sponsored grants for which a production must specifically apply 
  • Tax shelters, relief, or waivers allow investors tax breaks on their investments

Below, we've broken down the world's most attractive production incentives by continent. Based on our research, you should start thinking seriously about setting your next film in Colombia (60% cash rebate), Fiji (50% cash rebate), or Canada (30% to 70% tax credits).

Best in Eastern Europe


'The Fencer,' shot in Estonia

'The Fencer,' shot in Estonia

  • Film commission: Estonian Film Institute
  • Financial incentive: Up to 30% cash rebate for film productions. There are also hefty sums available for development, pre-production, post-production, and distribution
  • Requirements: The amount of aid is calculated as a percentage of the costs done in Estonia (up to 30%) and paid out retroactively after all the expenses are audited. The maximum grant can be applied if the film production uses Estonian-based filmmakers, actors, and other production crew. It can also be applied if the story is set in Estonia


Best in Western Europe


Credit: Shutterstock 

Credit: Shutterstock 

  • Film commission: Irish Film Commission 
  • Financial incentive: 32% tax credit on local Irish expenditures 
  • Requirements: The production company must reside in Ireland, or trade through a branch or agency; not connected to a broadcaster.


    Best in Scandanavia


    Northern lights in IcelandCredit: Shutterstock 

    Northern lights in IcelandCredit: Shutterstock 


      Best in Asia


      Credit:  Shutterstock

      Credit: Shutterstock

      • Film commission: Media Development Authority of Singapore
      • Financial incentive: In 2004, the Singapore Tourism Board introduced the "Film in Singapore Scheme," which promotes production in the country by subsidizing up to 50% of qualifying expenses incurred in Singapore, including local talent, production staff, and production services. Additionally, there are various grants available through the MDAS, including a "Production Assistance" grant that supports up to 40% of qualifying expenses.
      • Requirements: Films and television shows must portray Singapore in a favorable light.


      Best in Oceania

      #1: Fiji

      'The Blue Lagoon' (1980), shot in Fiji

      'The Blue Lagoon' (1980), shot in Fiji

      • Film commission: Film Fiji
      • Financial incentive: Film Fiji offers a whopping 47% tax rebate on production spend in the country.
      • Requirements: The production company most be locally registered in Fiji; in addition, you must demonstrate an ability to release and distribute the film in a major international market.


      Best in North America (excluding the US)

      #1: Canada

      'The Revenant,' shot in CanadaCredit: 20th Century Fox 

      'The Revenant,' shot in CanadaCredit: 20th Century Fox 

      • Film commission: Divided among provinces, with the most generous being OntarioQuebecNova ScotiaNewfoundland and LabradorNew Brunswick, and British Columbia 
      • Financial incentive: Depending on the province, producers can access combined federal and provincial tax credits ranging from 32% to 70% of eligible labor, as well as tax incentives on local qualifying spend ranging from 20% to 30%.
      • Requirements: Varies depending on province


      Best in Latin America

      #1 : Colombia

      'Embrace of the Serpent,' shot in ColombiaCredit: Oscilloscope Laboratories 

      'Embrace of the Serpent,' shot in ColombiaCredit: Oscilloscope Laboratories 

      • Film commission: Colombia Film Fund
      • Financial incentive: Two-tier cash rebate system provides 40% for film services (including services related to post-production, artistic, and technical services), and another 20% for film logistical services (including services provided for transport, accommodation, and food)
      • Requirements: Production must be partially or totally filmed in Colombia, with a minimum $600,000 local spend
      • Notes: Medellin is the only city in Colombia that offers rebates in addition tothe above incentives; you can receive up to 15% of production spend in the city


      Best in the Middle East

      #1: United Arab Emirates

        Credit: Shutterstock 

        Credit: Shutterstock 


        Best in Africa

        #1: South Africa

        Cape Town, South AfricaCredit: Shutterstock 

        Cape Town, South AfricaCredit: Shutterstock 

        • Film commission: National and Film and Video Foundation,  Trade and Industry Department of South Africa
        • Financial incentive: 20% tax credit (production), 25% tax credit (post-production)
        • Requirements: 100% of the filming must be done in South Africa, and there is a $1.5 million minimum spend
        • Notes: There are lucrative regional film funds in Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban, and the Eastern Cape
        Author: Emily Buder
        Source: Article, Image

        The 5 Major Mistakes Inexperienced Gaffers Make on Set

        Working as a gaffer can be a very difficult and stressful job. It can be very easy to make simple mistakes or let the stress get to you.

        There are definitely some things you can keep in mind that will make your day easier, more efficient, ease communication, increase the possibility of a call back and ensure a lasting relationship with your favourite Directors of Photography. Don’t forget to get your copy of The Set Lighting Technician’s Handbook on Amazon

        5 Mistakes Inexperienced Gaffers Make on Set:

        Let’s talk about the common mistakes inexperienced gaffers tend to make on set. These mistakes aren’t of a technical nature, but more about set etiquette, the way you run your crew and work on set.

        Making Inappropriate Suggestions

        Part of your job as a gaffer is to look for ways to help the DOP improve the look of a scene or make things more efficient for later scenes. This is all based on what you have already done, the established look of the film or things you know the cinematographer likes.

        What I see happen quite often is a Gaffer making a suggestion based on having seen that particular technique done on other sets and not because the scene or shot calls for it. Sometimes a gaffer will even make a suggestion because they are hoping to get some sort of credit, not because it is what needs to happen in that moment.

        As you gain experience as a Gaffer making appropriate suggestions will become easier and easier. The best advice I can give you is to think twice before making any suggestions at all. Analyze the scene, what you’ve already done then decided if your input is necessary.

        Stepping on Toes and Throwing People Under the Bus

        On a film set you will have to work with various departments and the last thing you need is to bump heads with someone all day.

        There is his common trend with young technicians trying to be heroes and over stepping the bounds of their positions. This will make people hate you!

        Yes, you might be working with a less experienced Key Grip or Camera team, but that doesn’t mean you should make enemies with them or cause them to look bad in front of the rest of the crew. It’s unprofessional and will make you look like a terrible person long term.

        If you are working with a less experienced key or crew member, rather than calling them out on mistakes or doing their job for them, simply take them aside and give them a friendly suggestion. Whatever you do, do not embarrass them in front of the DOP or their team.

        Not Delegating Tasks 

        This is a big one because it can slow down your whole day. There are even grips that I have avoided working with because I feel they miss manage their team, causing us to waste a lot of time.

        They work as a group and attack simple tasks together, rather than splitting up for the smaller tasks then coming together for the big ones. This is a big mistake.

        There is no sense in having your best boy and 3rd tech stand around watching you set a flag just so they can toss a sandbag on it when you’re done. What can save you and your team a lot of time is if you split up to work on the small tasks, then come together for the big ones.

        As a Gaffer, you can have your 3rd run your power as you start to set up the light. By the time the light is ready to be sparked the power should have arrived already. When setting up multiple small lights you can all split up and set them up individually, then when the DOP is ready they can be sparked and aimed one at a time.

        Not Watching Rehearsals and Takes

        When I was coming up as a Gaffer, I was trained to always be on the monitor. At first I never really understood why and I actually hated having to watch every take. I wanted to be able to relax during the roll, not focus on a tiny little monitor. As I started to work for different DOPs I started to notice little things during rehearsals.

        Sometimes the key light would be a little off or the back light would be too bright or a wall would look flat. I was able to catch and correct these things before the roll and those DOPs were very grateful for my attention to detail

        This goes hand in hand with the first mistake listed at the top. If you are watching rehearsals and really paying attention you can make awesome suggestions that can really improve or even save a scene.

        Little things like that are what makes people remember you and want to call you back in the future.

        Not Spending Enough Time Near the DOP

        It sounds weird, but when ever you aren’t doing something or watching a take you should try to spend that time standing by the DOP.

        When I say “standing by” I DO NOT mean just standing around waiting for them to ask you for something! 

        Watch them, pay attention to what they are looking at…are they metering a lot? Looking around at lights trying to figure out what they are doing? Do they have a confused or anxious look on his face? You can tell how they feel about what is happening just by their look or body language. Not all DOPs will be vocal about how they are feeling about the set up. A good gaffer learns to read their body language.

        Often times just asking “everything ok?” or “need anything?” can make all the difference. They might end up bouncing an idea off you or want to discuss a later set up they are unsure about. It is very much a give and take relationship and some DOPs might need a little nudge before they are able to open up to you.


        Working as a Gaffer is one of the most difficult and stressful jobs below the line. It is very easy to lose track of things and make big mistakes that can really slow down your team.

        So, keep these in mind next time you’re on set and feel free to add any mistakes you see inexperienced gaffer make on set in the comments below!

        Author: Iggy
        Source: Article, Image

        The 16 Sexiest Roles on a Film Set, Ranked by Sex Appeal


        I know why you really got into the business. It wasn’t because you’re a masochist for long hours or a sucker for uncertain income. You think film is sexy. Actually, you know film is sexy. And you’re right.

        If you’re attracted to a career in filmmaking, it’s only natural that the people in the industry will turn your crank. But beware – there’s a hierarchy of hotness on set.

        Here’s a wildly subjective ranking of roles, and what gives them different degrees of beddability. Actors have been disqualified for obvious reasons (they’re all bat-shit crazy).

        The 16 Sexiest Roles on a Film Set

        16. Data Wrangler

        Look, somebody had to be last. And let’s face it – most Data Wranglers have their heads buried in a laptop all day and rarely register on set. When you do, it’s usually disastrous. Being the bearer of bad news that a file is corrupt or a card won’t read is the ultimate buzz kill – even if it’s not your fault (and it usually isn’t). Sure, you can sometimes score points with actors by giving them a sneak peak at the digital dailies, but even then you’re just being used. It’s sad to say that the one job on set with zero room for error is not exactly a head turner, but at least you made the list (sorry, Craft Services).

        Letter: Dear Arnaud Hemery Data Manager for LUCY | Purchase LUCY on Amazon

        15. Production Assistant

        You’re not last! It wouldn’t be fair to pick on this job, especially since so many of us have been PA’s at one time or another. Yes, it’s unglamorous and often attracts unskilled go-getters, but stick around because it gets better. People usually have an eye on you (to see if you fuck up), but at least competence will get you noticed. It’s an entry level-job with big-time make-over potential.

        Letter: Dear Natalie Wood Production Assistant for DOWNHILL RACER | Purchase DOWNHILL RACER on Amazon

        14. Dolly Grip

        Here’s a job that many people enjoy doing, but few people enjoy watching. Dolly Grip’s win “Most Likely to Flash Plumber Crack”, but are not nearly as likely to get any ass themselves. The process of laying track and guiding the camera is one that requires a lot of focus and steady work, so luckily most Dolly Grips are too busy to care what anyone else thinks. That’s worth something.

        Letter: Dear Bruce Hamme, Dolly Grip for PRISONERS | Purchase PRISONERS on Amazon

        13. Props Master

        Being a Prop Master is only as sexy as you make it. Depending on the film, you’ll have various chances to show off your good taste and handy skills. The only problem is that once props are loaned out, most of you turn into neurotic headcases trying to keep track of everything; making sure that vintage book pages aren’t torn or that the vase in the background gets back to your grandma safely. Lack of control inevitably loses you points.

        Letter: Dear Michael S. Martin, Property Master for 12 YEARS A SLAVE | Purchase 12 YEARS A SLAVE on Amazon

        12. Continuity / Scrip Supervisor

        Good continuity is a total turn on, but more in a reliable relationship way. You got here by proving you have a great attention to detail, and as such, are often seated at the right hand of the director to keep an eye on loose strings. Like many relationships, pointing out inconsistencies or faults might be encouraged early on, but you also have to be okay with being regularly dismissed or overruled. It’s a tricky dynamic to have work in your favour.

        Letter: Dear Ronit Ravich-Boss, Script Supervisor for THAT’S MY BOY | Purchase THAT’S MY BOY on Amazon

        11. Best Boy

        Like the Best Man at a wedding, the Best Boy is a true misnomer (shouldn’t the “best man” be the one getting married?). Second-in-command of either the Grip or Lighting department, the term dates back to when managers would yell “bring me your best boy!” to come help with lighting or electrical. This official wingman status is often a thankless job, but at the same time, being shown favour on a big set gets you noticed. Plus, some people would probably hook up with a Best Boy just to say they did.

        Letter: Dear Greg Fusak, Best Boy for BEHIND THE CANDLEABRA | Purchase BEHIND THE CANDELEABRA on Amazon

        10. Line Producer

        Though being the money manager isn’t as sexy as it sounds, there’s some true power here, and that’s the basis for most of the appeal. Many of the department heads are likely to cozy up to a Line Producer just to try and squeeze a little extra money their way. Enjoy it. It’s the best play you have.

        Letter: Dear Sarah Craig, Line Producer for TIME LAPSE | Purchase TIME LAPSE on Amazon

        9. Unit Production Manager

        What’s hotter than hiring and firing people? Well, a lot, but this is still a position that demands respect on set. Points are mainly lost by being so removed from the action when the camera’s rolling, usually holed up in a trailer somewhere crunching numbers and fixing schedules. But with the power to make or break many below-the-line careers, it’s no wonder there’s a little strut in your step.

        Letter: Dear Brian Bell, Unit Production Manager on NEIGHBORS | Purchase NEIGHBORS on Amazon

        8. Assistant Director

        There have to be some cheats here, so I’m grouping all you A.D.’s together, even if the difference between a First AssistantSecond Assistant and Third Assistant is rather huge. It goes without saying that your appeal is directly related to your ranking – no one’s getting hot and bothered by a Third A.D. bossing extras around (well, bothered maybe), and Seconds are usually tucked away in the office somewhere (which at least provides an air of mystique). An effective First A.D., however, really has presence on set – even if all the yelling has more in common with a drill sergeant than a rock singer. In fact, using the band analogy, First A.D.’s are more like the drummer – making a lot of noise and keeping the rhythm of the production going. And we all know drummers get plenty of action.

        Letter: Dear Lauren Wells-Jones, Casual Assistant Director for THE BABADOOK | Purchase THE BABADOOK on Amazon


        7. Make-up Artist/Costume Designer

        If there’s a cool kids club on set, Make-up and Costumes are the gatekeepers. You get a lot of face time with the stars and are the hub of production gossip. But the real appeal comes from being so hands on; cozying up with measurements and touch-ups, striking a quick level of intimacy and familiarity the actors. By extension, Make-Up Artists and Costumer Designers are usually approachable and friendly by nature. Both disciplines (combined here for simplicity) are true art forms in and of themselves, where excellence can be rewarded with an Oscar or a spot on SyFy’s FaceOff. That’s hot.

        Letter: Dear Robin Matthews, Makeup Department Head for WILD | Purchase WILD on Amazon

        6. Boom Operator

        If you don’t have a sense of humour, you can’t be a boom operator. The big rod you brandish makes you the butt end of easy jokes, but owning that absurdity goes a long way. It’s a low level position, but also the most visible one in the sound department – and the most fit. Keeping your mic out of the frame isn’t easy. Arm strength is one thing, but there’s also an agility required to keep up with hand-held moving action. For that reason, you’re hotter than you think. Plus, who doesn’t love somehow who knows how to work a pole?

        Letter: Dear Valeria Ghiran, Boom Operator for THE ARTIST | Purchase THE ARTIST on Amazon

        5. Key Grip/Gaffer

        Another big cheat to combine these two professions, but the same principles of attraction apply to setting up lights and laying cables. These are technical jobs that require both brain and brawn. Both land on a respectable rung of the professional ladder, and watching someone who really knows what they’re doing is always appealing. But really, this ranking is all about the belts. A lot of people wear them, but no one on set owns them like a Key Grip Grip or Gaffer.

        Letter: Dear Andy Mountain, Lighting Console Operator for UNDER THE SKIN | Purchase UNDER THE SKIN on Amazon

        4. Director

        An ego monster by necessity, a director’s magnetism is a real crapshoot. Everyone on set is judging you, and expecting an answer to their question. If you make mistakes, people talk behind your back. If you act like a big shot without delivering world-class goods, word travels fast that you’re an insecure phony. But no matter what people say, you’re endowed with creative control – and that’s impossible to ignore. If you do all your homework, treat people well, and shepherd a stellar project, your sex appeal is second-to-none. But more often than not, seeing the sausage being made is a pretty heavy turn-off.

        Letter: Dear Marc Foster, Director of WORLD WAR Z | Purchase WORLD WAR Z on Amazon

        3. Production Designer

        You could be working anywhere – drafting buildings, designing big brands, creating personal installations – but you’ve chosen to give your talents to film. The wild variety of skill sets most Production Designers and Art Directors possess make you the most interesting people on set. Most of you care as much about Neo-classical architecture as you do contemporary tech interfaces. You might not sweat as much as the Grips and Gaffer, but you don’t need to. Plus, even in jeans and T-shirt, you still seem to dress better than most people on set.

        Letter: Dear Bobby Vanonen, Production Design/Art Direction for THE VALLEY BELOW

        2. Stunt Coordinator

        Not many sets have the luxury of a true Stunt Coodinator (or even stunt performers), but the ones that do – look out. Everyone’s eyes are on your action. It’s a rough and tumble profession, and one that, at its best, risks life and limb for our entertainment (will somebody give you and Oscar category already?). The reason it’s so high isn’t just because of the Ryan Gosling Drive factor, but the stunt makers who have really broken out, from Bruce Lee to Zoë Bell. Even when you’re doubling for a star, you’re the real show on set.

        Letter: Dear Brian Smyj, Stunt Coordinator for THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES | Purchase THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES on Amazon

        1. Cinematographer

        Was there ever any doubt? If the Director is the singer of a rock band, the Cinematographer is the lead guitar. It’s where the real music comes from, and where fans know to focus their attention. As the architect of light and movement, the Cinematographer (or Director of Photography) has enough help to side step most of the drama that plagues other department heads. And even so, you’re often the hardest working person on set. Most Directors are disproportionately indebted to their Cinematographer, so they can’t begrudge the praise you get. But don’t think they aren’t jealous when an A-list movie star lovingly uses your nick-name to announce your Oscar win to the world.


        Author: Christopher Redmond
        Source: Article, Image


        Werner Herzog on VR, the Future of Humanity and Internet Trolls

        I have a lot of trolls and a lot of imposters. I’m on Facebook, but it’s not me. I’m on Twitter, but it’s not me,” says Werner Herzog in a recent installment of VICE Talks Films (above).

        Herzog is doing press rounds to discuss his latest documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, which is now in theaters, on Demand, on iTunes and Amazon Video.

        The film, which premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, examines the past, present, and evolving future of the internet in Herzog’s signature voice.

        Author: Paula Bernstein

        Source: Article

        3 Examples of Short Documentaries to Inspire You

        “I wanted to make sheep shearing sexy, because that seemed like an unusual thing to do.”

        Yes. You read that correctly. As this director’s unique choice of subject suggests (and as we shall see), you don’t necessarily need the length of a feature film in order to tell a compelling story. 

        Here are three bite-sized documentary films that pack a lot into less than six minutes, by carefully conducting their elements of style.

        Enjoy these sensory snacks!

        1. Age of the Farmer | Dir. Spencer MacDonald, 2015

        “65 is the average age of farmers, and there are not enough young farmers to replace them. How did we get here?”

        Filmmaker Spencer MacDonald traveled the Pacific Northwest to document the thoughts and feelings of young farmers. He lived with the farmers he interviewed, trading room and board for labor. His dedication to and intimacy with his subjects shines through in the film’s poetic cinematography and sound design.

        Unlike some nature documentaries, Age of the Farmer does not depict nature as a utopia untouched by man. Instead, MacDonald’s short film reminds us that humans are as connected to the Earth as are the crops, rivers, and trees – but as some of the farmers argue, we as a modern society have forgotten our connection to our planet.

        The farmers’ disembodied voiceovers keep the focus on the film’s beautiful imagery, inviting us to share in the farmers’ appreciation of the land and lifestyle it affords. Not every documentary needs to feature “talking heads” in order to tell its story – MacDonald’s work stands as testament to the power of a sensory experience.

        2. Sheepo | Dir. Ian Robertson, 2016

        “Ian Robertson’s new short offers a glimpse into the sweat-soaked world of competitive sheep shearing.”

        Sheepo immerses us in sight and sound. “I wanted to make sheep shearing sexy,” Robertson says, “Because that seemed like an unusual thing to do.” His treatment of the craft dazzles with details and polish usually reserved for commercials. It’s packed with Closeups, flares, and slow motion cinematography, all packaged in a tight and fluid edit.

        Of course, the sound design also helps create the film’s strong sense of rhythm. The buzzing of the razor punctuates the shearer’s interview, as he describes his mission to be the best and fastest competitive sheep shearer in the world.

        By taking a strong point-of-view – “make the subject sexy” – Robertson has made his work stand out. Every decision is driven by this creative intention. The film knows precisely what it wants to be and successfully realizes that vision.

        3. On Killing: Murder | By cut.com, 2016

        “In 1976, Ed Hull was convicted of first-degree murder. He was released on June 15, 2015.”

        On Killing: Murder, the eighth episode in cut.com’s series, is a portrait of Ed Hull, who was convicted of first degree murder in 1976 and released from prison in 2015. The filmmakers ask him to recall the details of the night of the murder from forty years ago. It’s clear from Hull’s mannerisms and speech that he has lived this night over and over again in his head.

        The filmmakers choose to intercut Hull’s interview with images from his hometown and life post-prison, resulting in “a moving photo album” of sorts. This B-Roll reveals more about the man while providing tonally consistent and visually compelling images that sometimes help with transitions. For example, around 01:57, a montage ends with a shot of telephone cables, setting up for Hull’s next sound bite.

        On Killing: Murder features a much bleaker visual style than Age of the Farmer and Sheepo. Its muted color palette characterizes the town, and Hull’s interview is painted in murky shades of brown. Both creative decisions communicate the seriousness of the situation without telling us what we should think about it. Do we believe Hull’s account of events? Do we feel sorry for him? The filmmakers simply give us the story and leave us to draw our own conclusions.

        When making a documentary, not only must you find a story – you also must decide how to treat it visually, aurally, and editorially. Every frame is an opportunity to further your narrative. Some narratives need a couple of hours to unfold, while others can do their subjects justice in just a few minutes – assuming their elements of style work together!

        Author: Courtney Hope Thérond

        Source: Article

        3 Trends You Need to Know for Distributing Your Film in 2016

        “Breaking out of the rut will require bold, persistent experimentation, and a willingness to embrace fresh ideas. Of course, that’s only possible with a wider range of films.”

        This post is a part of our yearly series about how to distribute your independent film in the current industry landscape. 

        It is best read after our original introduction to the world of film distribution, covering key concepts such as the Release Windows System, primary Video on Demand (VOD) platforms, and strategies for indie filmmakers ready to distribute their films. For further context, check out our 2015 update, then read on for insights into 2016!

        A lot can happen in a year.

        In 2015, it became easier for cord cutters to keep up with many of their favorite television shows. HBO launched HBONow in April, unshackling its programming from pay-TV. Movie theatres scrambled to woo customers with new incentives, from reclining seats to alcoholic beverages to new business models. And of course, the VOD juggernauts continued their advance, expanding into feature film territory and growing their subscriber bases.

        That advance sweeps into 2016 – and at a much faster rate than many anticipated.



        The BFG | Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2016

        I. Movie Theatres: Evolve or Go Extinct

        “The theater business has weaker prospects going forward than at any time in the last 30 years,” claims media analyst Hal Vogel, citing the proliferation of failed blockbusters in 2016. This summer’s flops could cost their studios tens of millions of dollars, yet Hollywood’s tentpole superhero machine carries on, “essentially wrecking [its] own economics.”

        The rising price of ticket sales disguises the fact that “on a per-capita basis, the moviegoing audience is at its lowest levels in nearly a century”, with millennials – traditionally a moviegoing demographic – largely avoiding theatres. MoviePass’ new CEO, a veteran of Netflix, intends to win them back with the company’s ever-evolving subscription model, but its impact has yet to be felt. Meanwhile, Sean Parker’s Screening Room threatens to disrupt the status quo by making new releases available at home, but it’s meeting with resistance from exhibitors and several high-profile directors.

        As Hollywood struggles to adapt, audiences (and filmmakers) are turning to a wide variety of entertainment alternatives, including television and online content, where VOD platforms like Netflix and Amazon reign supreme. In January, Netflix launched simultaneously in 130 countries, becoming a truly global network. Amazon boasts an estimated 60-80 million global Prime members – all of whom have access to the service’s streaming video library – and it launched a standalone video membership option in April.

        If 2016-to-date is any indication, VOD is just getting started. The model has exploded.

        Stranger Things | Netflix, 2016

        II. VOD Platforms: The Gold Rush

        For one, despite stalled subscriber growth, Netflix remains undaunted, intending “to spend more next year on original and licensed content than the $6 billion it spent in 2016.”

        The streaming service snatched up SVOD rights for two of Sundance 2016’s hottest films before the festival even started, forcing dealmakers to rethink their traditional all-rights strategies. Next, it agreed to fund and distribute five original indie filmsand committed an unprecedented $90+ million to Bright, an upcoming tentpole feature from David Ayer. On the documentary front, two of Netflix’s films were nominated in the latest Academy Awards, and four more are premiering at The 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

        As Netflix improves its film catalog, it continues to add to its serialized content. Stranger Things is now its most popular show, and Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down – one of the most expensive shows in history – has made a splashy debut. For a sense of the impact Netflix is having on consumers’ viewing habits, consider this study that found that Netflix “caused 50% of US TV viewing” to drop in 2015.

        Amazon, too, is wading deeper into traditional television’s territory. Last December, it launched its Streaming Partners Program, creating access to a multitude of premium channels, including Showtime and Starz, à la carte. Like Netflix, Amazon picked up its fair share of films at 2016’s Sundance Film Festival, then went on to acquire five high-profile auteur works at The Cannes Film Festival, cementing its indie-friendly reputation. Trailing behind but closing the distance is Hulu, which recently moved to an all-subscription model in an attempt “to ratchet up its competition with Netflix and Amazon.”

        Smaller companies also are expanding audiences’ VOD options. For example, TCM and The Criterion Collection partnered to launch FilmStruck, a catalog of “hard to find gems and cult favorites”. The Tribeca Film Festival launched Tribeca Shortlist, a collection of films “personally curated by industry insiders” – which, incidentally, is an Amazon Streaming Partner. In May, Vimeo acquired VHX, intended “to provide a complete set of SVOD tools for individual creators, niche programmers and media partners.” And of course, YouTube launched YouTube Red last fall, offering ad-free streaming and “YouTube Red Originals”, which has helped bolster opportunities for digital and social media stars. In fact, The Television Awards created a new Emmys category to recognize internet content producers’ achievements in “the short-form space”.

        Ultimately, many dealmakers are excited by the burgeoning role that streaming services are playing. “Digital platforms are valuing films not only for their trans­actional value but also for their prestige value and potential to attract and retain subscribers,” notes CAA’s Micah Green, but traditional distributors feel outgunned, while their brethren in the exhibition and television trenches are taking heavy fire from the on-demand, à la carte revolutionaries as well.

        III. Indie Filmmakers: Where You Come In

        If you keep up with our blog, then you know we’re excited about the future of indie filmmaking here at Lights Film School. Greater demand for content means more opportunities for content providers.

        VOD platforms have risen to meet the demand, while Hollywood, exhibitors, and cable television companies struggle to adapt. “[The industry] faces shifting tastes, increased competition, and a business model that seems to have been built for a different age,” Variety summarizes. “Breaking out of the rut will require bold, persistent experimentation, and a willingness to embrace fresh ideas. Of course, that’s only possible with a wider range of films.”

        To accommodate more films, both aggregators and self-distribution platforms are evolving, making it easier for you to get your film out into the world so audiences can find it. For example, aggregators like the Sundance-partnered Quiver and Distribber are moving toward flat fees and small-to-no-profit shares, making it more affordable for you to get your film onto prestigious platforms like iTunes and Netflix. Meanwhile, Amazon launched Video Direct in May, “a self-service option for video providers to get their content into a premium streaming subscription service.” If you’re committed to seeing your film on the big screen, then you can check out options like Tugg, a crowdsourcing platform that helps you build your audience and land that screening.

        In short, the horizon seems full of promise for us indie filmmakers, even as financing remains a challenge. It’s fun to remember that Hollywood was founded by a coterie of independents, after all. Perhaps the pendulum is swinging back.

        What are your thoughts on the state of the industry? What about opportunities for indie filmmakers? We invite you to share your perspective and distribution stories in the comments below!

        For more details, explore the rest of our yearly series about how to distribute your indie film in the current industry landscape:

        Part I – How to Distribute Your Indie Film in the Digital Age
        Part II – 3 Trends You Need to Know for Distributing Your Film in 2015
        Part III – 3 Trends You Need to Know for Distributing Your Film in 2016

        If you’ve yet to make a movie and are wondering where to start, then check out our online filmmaking course, designed to keep with your vision and schedule from concept through final cut – more guided than a blog, more interactive than a textbook, more flexible than traditional film school.

        Source: Article, Image

        How To Release Your First Feature Film In Theaters

        Has it been your dream to have one of your films being distributed in theaters? This can be a grueling process. You start planning your film, then you produce it and then there’s no assurance that your film will make it to the theaters or not. I asked people in the industry who know better than I do, and they say that 99% of all movies produced will NOT make it to theaters. That’s quite disheartening.  But wait… there is hope. And it wouldn’t be EntreFilmmaker if we would just walk away and accept this discomforting truth.

        Today I share with you an interview with a feature film director who just closed a deal to get his film distributed here in the U.S. and internationally. It’s also his first film, and therefore it makes it even more interesting for me how he actually did it. His name is Eric Bugbee, and his film is an awesome BMX film called “Heroes of Dirt”.

        I think this episode is so crucial because we get an insight into the life of someone who just broke into the big world of movie making. He is not one of those 20-year veterans who have already forgotten how they got where they are today. Not so with Eric. It was an over 7-year journey for him, and in this interview he gets into the nitty gritty of difficult path of becoming a full-fledged filmmaker.

        Interestingly enough, he started out producing promos and commercials and then made the leap towards becoming a feature film director. A dream that many of us have, right?

        Here are some of the topics we will be talking about:

        Why you need to become a business pro in order to get your film sold.
        How to sell a movie to distributors.
        How to test a film idea before you go out and shoot the film.
        How to pitch your movie to investors.
        How to shoot a film in a city that doesn’t cost you anything.
        Should you produce a PG or an R rated film? Which sells more?
        How faith has helped him get through the toughest times of making a feature film.
        Which distribution platform yields the most profits?
        How to write a business plan for getting big investors.
        What are the three most important steps for a starting filmmaker?
        What movie genres are the bestselling at the moment and for what types of audiences?

        Author: Shmuley Hoffman

        Source: ArticleImage



        How to Save Thousands When Traveling Internationally for a Shoot

        I travel about five times a year to foreign countries for my film projects. And as a filmmaker I always want to bring my own gear that I’m so accustomed to. The problem is, if you travel internationally with your equipment that is worth $25,000, you can be penalized up to $7,500 in customs fees, taxes and penalties by crossing from one country to another.
        Even if you would bring all your sales receipts with you in order to prove your purchases, you still have a good chance of paying fees if you don’t show the customs officers what they need to see.

        In this episode I show you a trick so that you will be able to take all your equipment for your shoots without ever getting into trouble with customs or paying those horrendous fees.

        Author: Shmuley Hoffman

        Source: Article, Image

        20 Films That Revolutionized Cinematography

        1. 1916 DW Griffith: INTOLERANCE (C: Billy Bitzer)

        A film that was originally subtitled "A Sun Play For The Ages" because it was Photographed entirely (Interiors & Exteriors) by Natural Daylight! It also revolutionised film language by utilising what Sergei Eisenstein would later call: "Intellectual Montage" by inter-cutting four (4) separate stories, from four (4) separate epics of time, each one hand tinted a different colour.

        2. 1927 Abel Gance: NAPOLEON (C: Leonce-Heri Burel & Others)

        A film that totally liberated the camera to the extent that Mr. Gance has been referred to as "The Tony Scott Of The 1920's!" He & his Cinematographers were 1. Hand Holding The Camera. 2. Mounting The Camera On Horse Back. 3. Mounting The Camera on a Boat For A Simulated Storm At Sea. & Intercutting that scene with a "Political Storm In Parliament" by 4. Mounting The Camera On A Pendulum & Swinging It Through The Scene in Parliament! (I won't even get into the use of MTV fast cutting and multiple superimpositions.)

        3. 1941 Orson Welles: CITIZEN KANE (C: Gregg Toland)

        A film that made Deep Focus & Long One Shot Tales famous... Also, in the "Mocumentary" about the life of Charles Foster Kane that opens the film: "Documentary Style" Cinematography was simulated for the first time and it also utilised at least four (4) filmmaking techniques that would not be seen again until the late 1950s during the French New Wave: 1. The Freeze Frame 2. The Jump Cut 3. The Flash Frame & 4. The Hand Held Camera.

        4. 1949 Vittorio DeSica: BICYCLE THIEVES (C:Carlo Montuori)

        A film that put The Italian Neo-Realists on the map! After WWII Italy was in ruins & the filmmakers had nothing to work with so got into the streets and invented the Independent Film Template by utilising 1. Natural Locations 2. Available Light 3. Non-Actors 4. Inexpensive Equipment 5. Very Little Money & 6. Organic Episodic Stories.

        5. 1950 Akira Kurosawa: RASHOMON (C: Kazuo Miyagawa)

        A film that had so little money to work with that is was shot on only three (3) Available Light Locations. 1. The Rashomon Gate. 2. The Court & 3. The Forest & utilised only mirrors or reflectors to supplement the Natural Light... When asked about the lack of funds and equipment the Zen-like Cinematographer Kazoo Miyazawa stated: "Forget the expensive equipment... Only a beautiful person, can take beautiful pictures..."

        6. 1960 Jean-Luc Godard: BREATHLESS (C: Raoul Coutard)

        A film that put The French New Wave on the map! Shot almost entirely Hand Held on Natural Location & with Available or Practical Light, since Mr. Godard wanted the film "to look like reportage..." or news footage... The Cinematographer was often pushed around in a wheel chair or hidden from view on the Champs de Elysee in a canvas mail delivery cart!!! This film that had some critics stating that Mr. Godard & his Cinematographer had "Driven a stolen truck over the rules of filmmaking and then had backed up and driven over them again!

        And Now We Come To Stanley Kubrick! & I believe that No discussion about rule breaking or revolutionary Cinematography can take place without discussing these next four (4) films...

        7. 1964 Stanley Kubrick: DR. STRANGELOVE (C: Gil Taylor)

        This film was the first time that Mr. Kubrick insisted that the lighting should be built into the sets. & it can be clearly seen in The Circular Table In The War Room. This film was also the first to simulate documentary like "Combat Cinematography" that utilised Hand Held cameras and I later learned a special "out dated" batch of film negative.

        8. 1969 Stanley Kubrick: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (C: Geoffrey Unsworth / John Alcott)

        Another film where Mr. Kubrick had all of the lighting built into the rotating circular space ship Interior, enabling his Cinematographers to create the illusion of weightlessness by basically capturing "In Camera CGIs", decades before CGIs were even thought of or invented..

        9. 1970 Stanley Kubrick: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (C: John Alcott)

        A film where Mr. Kubrick & Mr. Alcott totally perfected Practical Lighting in the form of 150 watt bulbs, that are often visible in the scenes! & in the famous "Alex Kills The Cat Lady Scene" this enabled the Actors to freely take their performances in 360 degrees as Mr. Kubrick followed along with his Hand Held Arriflex 2C Camera sporting an 18mm Wide Angle Lens.

        10. 1975 Stanley Kubrick: BARRY LYNDON (C: John Alcott)

        A film that was lit 100% either by Candlelight, Available Light or simulated Available Light... & it was only with the assistance of a Super Speed Lens from NASA (with an aperture of an f .7!) that Candlelight Cinematography was made possible, since that lens was 100% faster that the normal lenses available at that time... By the way Mr. Alcott won the Academy Award for his Cinematography.

        11. 1999 Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez: THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (C: Neil Fredericks)

        A revolutionary film! Because the Directors for the only time in film history made the unheard of decision of choosing NOT To Direct The Film! Instead there was No Crew & the entire production was captured by the Actors utilising a 16mm camera and a video camera, in only eight (8) days! & It was the "amateurish" Cinematography that made this film so authentically frightening!

        12. 2000 Danny Boyle: 28 DAYS LATER (C: Anthony Dod Mantle)

        A nearly 10 Million dollar Horror/Thriller that was shot entirely with a dozen Canon XL1 Home Video Cameras... By the way, It was the Cinematographers daring to capture the small Danish "Art" film THE CELEBRATION, entirely Hand Held on a Sony Hi8 Home Video camera, that had gotten Danny Boyle's attention!

        13. 2008 Danny Boyle: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (C: Anthony Dod Mantle)

        Another daring film mostly captured with the experimental Silicon Imaging HD Camera that enabled Mr. Boyle and Mr. Dod Mantle to run along with the impoverished kids in the slums of Mumbai on Natural Locations & in Available Light. This was the film that garnered the first Academy Award for HD Cinematography as well as for its fearless Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle.

        14. 2013 Alfonso Cuaron GRAVITY (C: Emmanuel Lubezki)

        A film that looks like no other and one that took the Director & Cinematographer four (4) years to figure out how to realise and capture... A film that made you actually feel like you were there experiencing that extraordinary 100% CGI thrill ride through the colliding satellites above the earth.

        15. 2015 Sean Baker: TANGERINE (C. Radium Chung & S. Baker)

        A film as revolutionary as the Italian Neo Realist's BICYCLE THIEF or the French New Wave's BREATHLESS... A film that reinvented The Independent Film Template by adding to it: Transgender Non Actors & capturing the entire production on two (2) iPhone 5's! Now That's Fucking Revolutionary!!!

        Films That Should Also Be Included:

        16. 2000 Mike Figgis: TIMECODE (C: Patrick Alexander Stewart)

        The first film to be written out on music sheets, improvised by name stars and captured on four Video cameras, in a Hand Held One Shot 90 Minute Take... It was also shown entirely unedited on a four way split screen.

        17. 2002 Alexander Sukerov: RUSSIAN ARK (C: Tillman Buttner)

        A film that captured an historical tour of the famous St. Petersburg Museum in a Steadicam One Shot 90 Minute Take and utilised over 850 period costumed extras as well as complete orchestras...

        18. 2004 Michael Mann: COLLATERAL (C: Dion Bebee)

        The first major studio (Warners) HD film shot in the streets of Los Angeles and utilizing so little light on its star Tom Cruise, that during a climactic scene, he is actually silhouetted against the night time skyline of Los Angeles!

        19. 2006 Alfonso Cuaron: THE CHILDREN OF MEN (C: Emmanuel Lubezki)

        The film that utilized Film & Digital & only Available or Practical Lighting to create a Hand Held Digitally Enabled One Shot Take, "Documentary From The Future"...

        20. 2013 Jean-Marc Vallee: DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (C: Yves Bellanger)

        A Hollywood indie that garnered multiple Academy Awards (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor Etc...) even though it was captured with a Hand Held Arri Alexa HD Camera on only two (2) lenses (a 35mm & a 50mm) and utilised totally Available or Practical Light since its Lighting Budget was exactly ZERO Dollars!!!

        Of course, when it comes to selecting "film lists..." There are really no right or wrong answers, since it is a very subjective choice...

        However, If you are taking a serious look at the films that "re-wrote the rules of Cinematography..." Then I feel that these above mentioned films need to be included or at least considered...

        To learn more about cinematography for your own films, check out the Basic Cinematography course at Raindance

        Also make sure to take a look at David's collection of books to learn more about the filmmaking world.

        Author: David Worth
        Source: Article, Image

        5 Ways That Virtual Reality is Changing the World

        If there's one thing that gets the film industry buzzing as much as a profitable blockbuster, it's a new toy that will help make the next blockbuster. 3D was the next big thing for a while, until something else took over: virtual reality. It's currently sweeping the gaming and film industries and much more: it's changing the world. Let us count the ways...

        Alter the senses

        The immersive quality of virtual reality, overtaking your viewing and hearing abilities, is so powerful that, when it comes to telling stories or setting you in a different environment, you completely disappear into another world.

        This eerie sensation that affects the body is about the gap between where you really are (and you actually know where you are) and the information that is received by your eyes and ears. The two latter senses are so primal and overpowering that they take over.

        Shift daily life

        Virtual reality is not just about the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard, or transporting you into entirely different places. At the heart of the technology is that the world that has been programmed into the VR experience can be entirely fictional or replicate reality. That is in part how Pokémon Go draws its success.

        That 'mixed reality' or 'augmented reality' has applications for gaming, but it also has applications to help with the most mundane tasks, and devices could show you the name of that neighbour who's passing by.

        Improve your health

        Of course, VR has applications for everyone in our daily life. It can also have stunning uses: think of a doctor who has a skill that no other doctor has, and only they can operate - but they're on holiday on the other side of the world. Never mind, they can put their headset on and control a robot in the operating room that is going to replicate their movement.

        Transform reality

        By mapping out digital environments, whether they're real or fictional, VR will take the training of pilots to entirely new levels. It will also better prepare soldiers by enabling them to scope out the terrain before they are actually dropped on the battlefield, and help automated cars.

        Tell more stories

        Of course, virtual reality lends itself perfectly to creating fictional universes and finding new ways of telling immersive stories. There have been incredible shorts and VR experiences created, by Pixar and many others, and 360 is having its moment as a promotional device.

        Wild was promoted with a tie-in 360 experience, but that indie is soon to be surpassed by Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated Ready Player One, which will have a promotional tie-in VR experience. It's spookily fitting, as the original novel was a dystopian exploration of a world in which people live in poverty, but can access a dream world to escape their reality in virtual reality.

        When reality catches up with anticipation...

        Is Audio Still 90% of Video?

        You may have heard experienced producers postulate that good audio represents 90% of a production’s perceived quality in the mind of a viewer. The psychology behind the statement is connected to a phenomenon that we might call the awful audio syndrome which postulates that poor audio overrides good video. 

        According to this theory, a great looking production — one that is well lit, in sharp focus and composed in a visually appealing way — will be perceived as a poor quality video by the majority of viewers if the soundtrack is lacking; even if the visual quality itself is superb. Weak, tinny, buzz-ridden, aurally unappealing audio undermines excellent imagery. Conversely, very well produced audio that sounds rich, full, clear and powerful actually elevates the perceived quality of a video with poor image quality. So a dimly lit, poorly shot video with stellar sound will be perceived as a higher quality production than a great looking video with a sub-par soundtrack.

        While the theory may seem illogical to visually-oriented video producers, it holds true, and professional producers have known the secret of superior sound for decades. Producers who want to drastically increase the perceived quality of their edits often purchase higher-resolution cameras with pricey lenses, or invest in more realistic look visual effects. They might, instead, do better to begin by concentrating on improving their audio tools and techniques.

        The assumption here is that producers are concerned with improving the quality of their productions.

        Many video producers aspire to produce professional looking, and sounding, programs. Those in this affinity group regularly compare their work to what they see on television or on the silver screen and find inspiration in creating media that rivals the quality of premium programming. However, not all creators of video are concerned with quality in a traditional sense. Web-based media has set a new standard by which would-be producers measure what makes a video good or bad.

        There’s certainly a vast aesthetic difference between the latest Hollywood blockbuster and the roughly 600 hours of video that have been uploaded to YouTube since you began reading this column. One of the biggest differences is in audio. It’s increasingly common for online videos to have been recorded without the use of an external microphone, without bed music, without sound effects and without any effort given to audio sweetening.

        In the world of online video sharing, the one measure of success is the number of views a video receives. The viewer does not usually have an expectation of quality production, but of raw entertainment value, communication of content or merely capturing a curiosity. As case in point, consider that a low quality, self narrated, YouTube video entitled, “Black Widow vs Praying Mantis: Spiders infest my house,” has received more than 12 million views; roughly the same number of people who tuned in to the first two episodes of the History Channel’s epic miniseries, “The Bible,” which was subsequently nominated for — among other things — three Primetime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie.

        Does audio quality still represent 90% of a video’s overall perceived quality?

        The most accurate answer may be to say, it depends. Media quality is no longer based on a single standard. Therefore, before any piece of media can be judged as good or bad, success or failure, one must first identify the intended audience and purpose of the video. While video of a spider in a box may gain millions of YouTube views, it will never be nominated for an Emmy. 

        Author: Matthew York
        Source: Article, Image

        3 Arri Alexa Alternatives

        Looking For An Alternative To The Arri Alexa? These 3 Cinema Cameras Have You Covered At A Lower Cost

        I don’t think I’ve met a single filmmaker in recent years who hasn’t marvelled over the Arri Alexa. Even with so much competition in the digital cinema camera market, there is no denying that the Arri Alexa is still without a doubt the camera to beat. In many ways, the Alexa look has even replaced film with regards to the base-line aesthetic that most of today’s filmmakers strive for. I’ve outlined this sentiment in more detail on a previous blog post here. 

        What makes it so great though? For a long time people chocked it up to dynamic range. When the Alexa was first introduced, very few cameras delivered anywhere near the DR that the Alexa was capable of. But today, there are many cameras that have dynamic range capabilities that are at least within arms reach of the Alexa – yet still none of them look as good.

        The reason why is simple: Color science. In my opinion, color matters more than anything else when it comes to the visual perception of a cinematic image. Resolution, dynamic range, grain, motion cadence, and many other factors play an important role too… But color science is at the very top of that list. A camera with less dynamic range but better color science will look more “filmic” than a camera with high dynamic range and poor color science. I believe that many of Sony’s recent offerings prove this point clearly.

        Unfortunately for the vast majority of independent filmmakers, the Alexa is simply a far too expensive tool to own. Even Arri’s lowest cost offerings (such as the Alexa Mini and Amira), will cost anywhere from $35K – $45K as base price, and will jump up significantly once the accessories are added. Inevitably, this has led many low budget filmmakers into a desperate search for affordable Alexa alternatives that can deliver similar image quality at a lower cost.

        It’s worth stating up front that the only way to get the exact “Alexa-look” that you may be after is to actually shoot on an Arri Alexa (or Arri Amira). That said, a few select cameras in recent years have come reasonably close to emulating the Alexa’s legendary image quality, and should be considered as viable alternatives for filmmakers that don’t want to break the bank.

        Below is a short list of three cameras that in my opinion render colors and images that are most similar to the Arri Alexa. Keep in mind, the list below doesn’t necessarily reflect usability, features/specs, ergonomics, reliability, and many other considerations. Rather, these cameras have been chosen based on the characteristics of their image quality – specifically color quality – and how strongly they hold up next to the Alexa.

        Here we go. In order of most expensive to least:

        PANASONIC VARICAM LT – $16,500

        With a price tag of over $16K for the body, or over $27K once fully accessorized, the Varicam LT clearly makes for a pricey investment. Even still, at minimum it will be 2 – 3 x less expensive than a brand Arri Alexa, depending on how each camera is configured. Not to mention, as a rental item, the LT is going to cost far less than the Alexa and will generally be much more accessible to lower budget filmmakers.

        Let’s take a look at some of the specs:

        • Single Super 35mm MOS Sensor
        • Interchangeable Stainless Steel EF Mount
        • Dual Native ISO 800/5000
        • 14 Stops of Dynamic Range with V-Log
        • 4K Up to 60 fps, 2K/HD Up to 240 fps
        • Simultaneous Dual Codec Recording
        • Selectable Gamma Curves
        • Removable IR Cut Filter
        • AVC-Intra, ProRes
        • 3.5″ LCD Control Panel

        Obviously, this camera boasts some incredibly powerful features, namely it’s dual native ISO capabilities which allow users to choose between ISO 800 or ISO 5000 as their base. But most importantly, the subjective image quality of the LT is absolutely incredible, and is arguably one of the best out there today.

        Panasonic Varicam LT – $16,500 at B & H

        The Varicam LT shares the same sensor as it’s bigger brother (the Varicam 35), which has been used to shoot some really gorgeous looking content – including the Netflix original series “Master of None”. Both cameras not only feature beautiful dynamic range capabilities that allow them to create detailed, rich images, but they also render extremely organic colors. This is what ultimately helps them achieve that Alexa look above all else. While footage from the Varicam LT might not be an exact match for Alexa footage straight off of the cards, the files are very flexible in post, and once graded they can easily hold their own.

        CANON C300 MK II – $11,999

        I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Canon for a long time, and presently don’t own any of their cinema cameras. With that in mind, I can’t deny that the Canon C300 MK II excels in the color department, which is really no surprise. Over the years, Canon have fallen by the wayside as other manufacturers have run laps around them with higher frame rates, more resolution, and better overall specs, but Canon has always delivered some of the best colors out there, which is largely why they are still relevant.

        Before we go on, here are some specs on the C300 MK II:

        • Super 35mm CMOS Sensor
        • 4K,1920×1080 60/50i, 23.98/25p True 24p
        • Canon XF AVC H.264 Codec
        • EF Lens Mount
        • Dual Pixel CMOS AF Technology
        • Rotating 4″ LCD Monitor
        • 2x 3G-SDI Output, 2x XLR Inputs
        • 2x CFast Card Slots
        • Timecode I/O, Genlock In & Sync Out
        • Canon Log 2 Gamma

        Canon’s C-series cameras have a long history of under promising and over delivering. Their cameras never look great on paper, but they always seem to deliver really strong images that far exceed what you might expect of them based on their spec sheets alone. Canon have also been accused of overpricing their cameras (I’m sure I’ve called them out on that myself), but with the recent $4000 price drop, the C300 Mark II is now more accessible than ever. And while their colors might not always look Alexa-like right out of the box, Canon has a new trick up their sleeves –

        The C300 MK II now comes with a “Production” camera profile that is designed to mimic the color science of the Arri Alexa. When combined with Arri’s Rec. 709 conversion LUT in post, the resulting images between the two cameras are almost too close to call the difference on. For this reason, the C300 MK II is often used as a B-Camera to the Arri Alexa or simply as a cost-effective alternative for the A-camera.

        Canon C300 Mark II – $11,999 at B & H

        For those of you that don’t think you can achieve great narrative results on the C300 MK II, I’ll remind you that the 2013 Cannes Palm D’or winner (Blue Is The Warmest Color), was shot on the original Canon C300.


        By far the best bargain on this list, the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera was hailed as the “Alexa Mini” when it was first released, and for good reason. Although the ergonomics, build, and overall design of the BMCC couldn’t be more different than the Alexa, the overall image quality is amongst one of the best matches to the Alexa to this day. The subtle colors, high dynamic range, and natural texture of the BMCC’s images are just a few of the reasons why this camera disrupted the cinema camera industry in such a dramatic way.

        Here are the specs:

        • 2.5K Image Sensor
        • 12-bit RAW, ProRes, and DNxHD Formats
        • 13 Stops of Dynamic Range
        • 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30p Frame Rates
        • Canon EF Lens Mount
        • LCD Touchscreen with Metadata Entry
        • SDI Video Output and Thunderbolt Port
        • Mic/Line Audio Inputs
        • Records to Removable SSD Drives
        • Includes DaVinci Resolve and UltraScope

        The fact that the original BMCC even shot at 2.5K (very close to the older Alexa model’s 2.7K ARRIRAW capabilities), made it even more compatible with the Alexa as a B-cam or C-cam. But as I stated above, the most important consideration here is the color science, and the 2.5K BMCC has some of the strongest color science I have seen on any camera to date. I am a big fan of Blackmagic and currently shoot on their URSA Mini 4.6K (also a fantastic camera), but it has a distinctly different look than the BMCC 2.5K.

        Blackmagic Cinema Camera 2.5K – $1995 at B & H

        With the URSA Mini 4.6K, Blackmagic have started to really define a “look” for themselves, much like RED has with their camera lineup. It goes without saying that the 4.6K generates beautiful images across the board, but they have a personality of their own, whereas the original 2.5K BMCC comes closer to an exact match for the Alexa – at least to my eye.


        Arri have managed to strike gold with the Alexa in the color-department, and as stated at the top of this post, the only way to get a perfect Alexa look is to actually shoot with an Arri Alexa or Arri Amira. That said, the cameras on this list can get you really close when treated right on set and in post. Once you know the quirks and limitations of these cameras (or any camera for that matter) you will be able to squeeze the most out of them from a technical standpoint.

        Post-production and color processing are also huge. Shooting with a color chart on set, and balancing your shots effectively in post are two of the most crucial steps in ensuring that you achieve the best possible results. In the end though, your skills on set and in the color suite will be the biggest factors in your overall ability to achieve a cinematic look, and that is something that should never be overlooked.

        Author: Noam Kroll

        Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on social media using the links below for more content like this!

        7 Strategies for Effective Visual Storytelling

        For Brian Barrus, Creative Director at Studio Element, the term “visual storytelling” perfectly describes what designers do. Barrus has worked with clients like Franklin Covey, Bluehost, Microsoft, and the Navajo nation to tell their brand stories through visual designs ranging from interactive infographics to video content.

        “The term ‘visual storytelling’ is a hot trend and I think it’s a new term to a lot of people, but the idea and the fundamentals behind it are universal truths that have always existed within design,” he says. Barrus shared his top tips with us for effective visual storytelling in today’s complex, cross-channel environment.

        Rethink Your Approach to Visual Hierarchy

        Effective storytelling requires a different approach to the way many designers think about visual hierarchy in their work. Instead of leading with the big idea, designers need to provide visual context early on to help draw viewers into the story.

        “In design, there’s a tendency to say, ‘This is what I need you to know, so I’ll make that the first thing you see.’ When you’re telling a story visually, however, you need to approach it differently. First, you set up the context or the problem, and then you deliver the resolution or moral to the story,” says Barrus.

        Integrate Visual Cues That Make it Easier to Commit

        Design and visual cues are powerful tools for helping engage audiences, especially when they’re reluctant. “Even as video becomes one of the most important visual storytelling formats, people are becoming less willing to commit and click the link, for example. It’s interesting to see how Facebook uses the autoplay feature. Designers can use visual cues like subtitles and playback times to help improve engagement,” Barrus advises.

        With Interactive Visual Storytelling, It’s All About the Small Details

        As interactive content grows in popularity, many designers find that investing in the small visual details helps bring stories in this format to life: “In one project we worked on, there’s a dog whose eyes move and tail wags. Little ‘Easter eggs’ add interest and entertainment – it’s a good way to get people engaged and hold their interest.”

        Consider Attention Span Differences Between Mediums

        Gauging the attention span audiences have for different mediums is critical for effective storytelling. For example, you need to get to the point of a story much faster in a social media design than in a layout for a complex white paper. “Many designers overestimate the attention that people are willing to give to what you’re trying to communicate. As a designer, you can fall in love with your own ideas and lose perspective on the end user,” says Barrus.

        Don’t Rely on Gimmicks:  Tell a Quality Story

        Barrus advises against using gimmicks to capture viewers’ attention:  “Don’t rely too heavily on gimmicks like motion or animation to trick people into giving their attention. People lose patience and get annoyed quickly unless everything points back to a compelling story.”

        Use a Visual Style that Conveys a Brand’s Authenticity

        According to Barrus, design is most effective when it moves beyond marketing language and platitudes, and really conveys a brand’s authentic message in a unique way. “It’s important to have a really distinct visual style and to be a little unexpected with how the visuals are executed. Creating a tone of authenticity in visual storytelling is key; when something doesn’t resonate, it pulls the viewer out of the story.”

        Don’t Let the Brand Story Just Come from Marketing

        Finally, Barrus says that talking to people outside marketing is essential for designers to get a well-rounded sense of a brand’s story: “Talk to different people throughout the company. Usually in design, it’s the marketing person who hired you and you may end up biased by how they see the brand,” warns Barrus. Talking to front line staff, to customers, and to end users can broaden your perspective and help you create story-driven designs that really resonate with your audience.


        Sources: Article, Image

        Virtual Reality Therapy

        Most of us experience some level of stress and anxiety in our lives. It can be relatively mild or extremely severe and debilitating — or anywhere along the spectrum. Some examples include general stress at work, relationship issues, fears and phobias, depression and other anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

        An estimated one in five people in the U.S. have a diagnosable mental disorder. Even those who don’t can still experience significant stress and anxiety. Psychological conditions and mental health disorders affect our daily lives, and cost an estimated $467 billion in the U.S. in lost productivity and medical expenses ($2.5 trillion globally).

        For many disorders, there are highly effective treatments that don’t require drugs. But many doctors still tend to over-prescribe medications that are either not effective, have disturbing side effects or are completely unnecessary.

        Part of the problem is a lack of specific training of family physicians in mental health, combined with the difficulty to find and access qualified mental health practitioners. While severe disorders may still require pharmacological intervention, techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy (ET) are highly effective in conditions such as anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, PTSD and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) when administered by a qualified practitioner.

        Can virtual reality become a global mental health treatment platform?

        Virtual reality (VR) has been used for decades as a tool for therapists to administer virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) in a safe and controlled manner. Due to cost and technology limitations, it has not been widely available, to date. With the advent of affordable mobile VR headsets, such as the Gear VR, there is a new opportunity to apply telemedicine to decentralize mental health treatment, reaching more patients and improving lives around the world.

        A key challenge today is the lack of clinical evidence and data to support if and how VR can be used to administer effective treatment both in the clinic (expanded use) and remotely. Companies wishing to penetrate this market will need to conduct well-designed, randomized, controlled, properly powered clinical studies in order to change or influence treatment paradigms. There will undoubtedly be a flood of VR apps in the coming months and years attempting to solve these mental health issues.

        For many disorders, there are highly effective treatments that don’t require drugs.

        Some examples might include remote teletherapy by qualified practitioners who use VR as a supplementary tool, in-clinic VR therapy, virtual therapists created using artificial intelligence or patient-directed VR therapy in the absence of a professional therapist. It remains to be seen which options can deliver real, effective and sustaining treatment to mental health patients across the world, or even people with no diagnosable disorder who want to reduce generalized stress and anxiety in their lives.

        Cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy

        Briefly, CBT is a psychotherapeutic treatment administered by a therapist trained in mental health disorders and specifically in CBT. Patients typically attend a limited number of sessions that focus on a specific problem, helping the patient identify, recognize and change disturbing thought patterns and feelings that are leading to negative or destructive beliefs and behaviors. There often is an avoidance behavior that stems from the anxiety.

        For example, if a person spends a lot of time thinking about plane crashes and accidents, they might avoid air travel. Or if they worry about how others perceive them in public, they may avoid social situations and become isolated, leading to depression and other issues.

        CBT can be thought of as a set of tools one can use to overcome these limitations, providing a way to cope with their thoughts and feelings effectively. CBT goes hand in hand with ET, which gradually encourages patients to face the troubling thoughts and fears directly. Over time, this effectively lowers the peak anxiety the person experiences when they are exposed to whatever causes the anxiety.

        Virtual reality is now convincing enough to simulate many of these anxiety-inducing stimuli, and is a safe, controllable and effective way to conduct various types of ET and CBT. Although ET is an obvious fit with VR, there are many other psychiatric conditions, such as childhood developmental disorders and autism, where VR may play a more dominant role in the future.

        Treating PTSD using virtual reality

        Virtual reality has been used fairly extensively to deliver prolonged exposure therapy (PET) for PTSD since the 1990s, mostly for the treatment of soldiers and war veterans. Dr. Albert “Skip” Rizzo, director of Medical Virtual Reality at the Institute for Creative Technology at the University of Southern California, is a leader in this field. His application, called Bravemind, was developed in partnership with Virtually Better, who sells the product to institutions around the world.

        The Canadian government purchased two copies of this software in 2014 for $17,000each. The system consists of various components, such as the VR environment, which is controllable and customizable, a vibrotactile platform, which delivers sensations associated with explosions and firefights and even a scent machine, which can emit smells like diesel fuel, garbage and gunpowder at specific times during the simulation to increase immersion. There have been a number of clinical studies (completed and ongoing) that investigate the safety and effectiveness of Bravemind.

        A recently published study found that the VR therapy alone was as good as a combination of drug therapy and VR therapy. In fact, one of the drugs studied led to a worse outcome for patients. There is another clinical trial ongoing that is investigating the use of Bravemind VR therapy in military sexual trauma.

        Military funding has allowed rigorous studies to be conducted. However, smaller private companies developing VR therapy applications with limited budgets must still demonstrate clinical efficacy if they hope to penetrate this market. I have spoken with one such company operating in the Netherlands who is attempting to tackle PTSD in a different, but scientifically based, way.

        There are an estimated 7.7 million people in the U.S. with PTSD.

        Beyond Care is working on a VR software solution for PTSD based on the principle of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR works by having a patient recall a traumatic memory, then having the patient follow a moving object with their eyes only at the same time. The dual task of memory recall plus eye movement taxes the working memory, causing the traumatic memory to become less clear and vivid.

        Eventually, after repeating this process, the memory permanently loses its ability to trigger such intense emotional responses. After a successful pilot study, Beyond Care is now coordinating a patient trial in partnership with a Dutch University and a company specializing in delivering specialized psychological treatment over the Internet. The results of this study will determine if the new VR desensitization and reprocessing therapy, called Beyond Care PTSD, works and, more interestingly, whether it can be successfully delivered virtually, under the semi-supervision of a therapist.

        Military PTSD is not the only type of PTSD: There are an estimated 7.7 million people in the U.S. with PTSD, many of whom suffer due to rape or sexual trauma in their past. It is highly likely that many of these cases go unreported and untreated, which is unfortunate because there are very effective treatments available. Beyond Care is initiating a study in this patient population, as well. Customizable applications such as Beyond Care PTSD will allow expanded access to therapy for all types of PTSD sufferers.

        Treating phobias and anxiety disorders using virtual reality

        Similar to PTSD, VR therapy has for many years been used in clinics for the treatment of phobias and other anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders affect at least 40 million people in the U.S. and cost the country $42 billion per year. Because of the vast number of patients afflicted by some form of anxiety disorder, decentralization of treatment through telemedicine or self-guided therapy could make a huge difference.

        Specific phobias affect about 19 million individuals in the U.S. A recently published meta-analysis of 14 clinical trials showed that VRET was similarly effective in treating specific phobias as real-life exposure therapy. Some examples of companies using VR to treat anxiety disorders are presented below.

        The Virtual Reality Medical Center has a system for treating those afraid of flying. It includes software and hardware, complete with airplane seats and a subwoofer system to mimic the sights, sounds and feeling of flying.

        Virtually Better also has software to treat fears such as flying, heights, public speaking and storms. This company has partnered with leading academic institutions, research and treatment facilities to undertake new R&D projects concerning childhood anxiety and childhood social phobias.

        Anxiety disorders affect at least 40 million people in the U.S.

        CleVR is a company in the Netherlands developing VR systems for fear of flying, heights and social phobias, also backed by scientific research. The company is undertaking a randomized controlled trial to study the use of VR as a therapist’s tool to treat psychosis and social phobia. Through proprietary dynamic virtual emotion technology, the overall atmosphere of the simulated social situations can be controlled.

        Psious is a company in Spain that offers a clinical toolkit for therapists to administer and control VRET to treat patients with phobias; it includes VR hardware, a customizable software platform and biofeedback devices.

        VirtualRet is another tool for psychologists and therapists to help evaluate and treat phobias such as public speaking, flying, heights, blood and public places. They provide a range of virtual environments, hardware and parallel services.

        A company from Sweden called Mimerse is developing gamified psychological treatment tools for VR for the mass market in partnership with the Swedish Government and Stockholm University. Their first game, “Itsy,” is focused on treating arachnophobia without involvement from a real-world therapist. Coinciding with the game’s release on the Gear VR app store, a randomized controlled study is being conducted comparing VRET using Itsy versus real-world exposure therapy. Because the majority of phobia sufferers don’t receive professional treatment, mass market games like Itsy could offer immense value for individuals globally.

        Virtual reality for stress relief and meditation

        Whether or not a person suffers from a specific diagnosable mental health condition, most of us experience varying levels of stress and anxiety during our lives. Meditation is a great way for anyone to improve their mood and induce a state of relaxation. While meditation and relaxation may not be the sole treatment for any particular diagnosable condition, the general overall health benefits are thought to be positive for anyone, healthy or otherwise.

        In addition to their work on phobias, Psious and VirtualRet also have solutions for generalized anxiety and relaxation. Another company developed DEEP, a unique meditative VR game where the user explores a strange and beautiful underwater world. The unique part is that the game is completely controlled through breathing (biofeedback). Correct breathing techniques are central to meditation and relaxation, and with the custom DEEP controller the user’s breathing coincides with what is seen in the virtual environment and controls how the user moves through it.

        Unello Design has come up with some meditation and relaxation experiences for Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift. Eden River is a relaxing nature experience and Zen Zone is a guided meditation journey. Individuals also can explore “sound sculptures” using their 3D music apps.

        Perhaps the most well-known relaxation app is Guided Meditation VR, created by Cubicle Ninjas. This app offers four relaxing immersive environments to enjoy during a guided meditation session.

        The market for improving mental health through the use of VR has been well established based on decades of scientific research.

        I had the pleasure of meeting their founder and CEO, Josh Farkas, at a We Are Wearables VR event in Toronto last October. Among a densely packed crowd of hundreds of people eating pizza and drinking beer, I sat down, put on an Oculus and headphones and tried the Costa Del Sol beach vacation VR experience. The environment was visually appealing and relaxing, but I was only in the experience for a few minutes so I didn’t have a chance to go through the guided mediation portion.

        The most shocking part came when I removed the headset and discovered that I had forgotten I was surrounded by hundreds of people at the packed and noisy conference! Despite the fact that Guided Meditation VR is not clinically validated and is marketed for casual enjoyment and relaxation, it still has the ability to have significant positive impact on people’s lives.

        In one example, Josh and his team attended a military conference where they shared their work with active duty officers who generally struggle with a very high rate of suicide caused by mental trauma and stress. A veteran of the Vietnam War and another soldier who had been deployed in Iraq both broke down crying while trying the demo, stating they hadn’t felt that relaxed in years. They were extremely excited at the notion that experiences like these could help others, especially those on active duty.

        In another example, a young man who was wheelchair-bound because of a serious neurological condition tried the experience on the Oculus Rift. He reacted by moving around a bit. Unsure of what this meant, Josh asked the mother, who said, “He wants to give you a hug.”

        The Guided Meditation VR team is now working to improve the experiences to be as accessible as possible for those with limited mobility. As VR and apps like this become mainstream, we likely will uncover additional groups of people who can feel profoundly better through experiencing something as simple as a virtual Zen garden.

        Bringing light to mental darkness

        The market for improving mental health through the use of VR has been well established based on decades of scientific research. However, this market is still in some ways in its infancy as the technology to date has not been advanced enough to allow massive patient access across the world.

        Still, the majority of companies working in this space are focusing on developing clinical tools used by professional therapists to help them treat patients in person. Will the technology become good enough to enable safe, effective treatment in the absence of a professional therapist or clinician?Will we see increased diagnosis and treatment of patients, resulting in societal health and economic benefits?

        In a few years’ time there should be a lot more data available from clinical studies to properly evaluate these new treatment modalities in different psychiatric conditions. Until then, we are bound to see an explosion of apps making all sorts of different claims — some supported by data and some yet to be validated.


        Author: Alex Senson
        Source: Article
        Featured Image: Andrew Rybalko/Shutterstock

        What Makes A TV Commercial Memorable And Effective?

        Before I get to the point of my article, if you want to argue the point that TV advertising is dead and TV in general is dead and we’ll all be walking around on moving sidewalks like the Jetsons in the next 5-10 years, fine. Just leave your thoughts in the comment section and I will respond in kind with a reply which essentially says “you’re out of your mind.”

        Ok, now that we have that out of the way.

        A few years ago I posed the following query: What makes a TV commercial memorable? And follow up question, is it the product you remember or just the commercial itself?

        I was very curious to see what people thought when they saw a given TV commercial. Did they remember the spot itself? Did they remember the brand? Both? Kind of goes without saying that if you’re a brand manager or brand marketer or advertiser, etc. if given the choice you would rather people remember your brand or product, right?

        I received quite a number of replies to my query and I want to share some of them with you and I also want to see, based on your comments, if you think anything has changed in the years since I first asked the question.

        Some findings:

        • Humor was definitely the most-oft used word to describe what makes a commercial memorable.
        • Other words that came up a lot were “tagline” and “jingle”
        • Many mentioned the use of an iconic-type character as being an integral part of making a commercial stand out from the pack.
        • Another person took it a step further and delved deeper into the heart of the advertising matter (BTW, this is a great, GREAT point): ”Advertising, especially TV commercials can get customers in the door only one time. After that, it’s up the seller to build trust and loyalty.”

        The last comment ties in perfectly by the way with someone I wrote last year entitled “Social Media’s Dirty Little Secret” which essentially said the same thing only in the context of social media. Doesn’t matter how good you are at social media and/or advertising and marketing. What gets people coming back and becoming loyal customers is a) a quality product, service or ware and b) sold at a good price.

        Here’s some of the answers I received in their entirety:

        • “Heart and or Humor. One that tickles the funny bone, makes you laugh out loud and call a person in the other room … “Hey, you’ve gotta come see this commercial …” On the flip side, one that pulls at the heart strings, or even at times rips the heart right out of your chest with power, energy or fear, causing you to pause and think. Makes you say “wow!” They only come along so often. Product is not always the most memorable part – think of how many times you’ve said, “I saw this great commercial, don’t remember exactly what it was for, but …” I seem to remember product on the powerful serious spots – less so on the funny commercials where sometimes the punchline over powers product.”
        • “It is best done with an icon, a grabbing tag line, a memorable jingle, and humor, with the icon and the brand tied together…Examples: “Energizer Bunny” or “Tony the Tiger” for Kellogg cereal. To stand out and become memorable, it must be unconventional. The conventional is boring, and immediately forgotten, because it never engages the consumer.”
        • “If you don’t remember the product or service, the ad is a failure. The ad should address a need, demonstrate how the product or service meets the need, and do it in a compelling, memorable way, with a device known as a hook. 25 years after it ran, people still remember Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” ad. It is a great example of saying, “Wendy’s burgers are so big, they stick out from the bun. The other guys’ burgers are so small, you have to look for the patty!” Beautiful. Dang. Now I’m hungry for a Wendy’s burger.”
        • “Generally for me, a TV spot has to score high in 2 areas to be memorable: sheer entertainment value and disruption/thought-provoking ability. That second category covers those few ingenious spots every year that go completely against the settled order of things to really achieve something different. As for whether I remember the product or just the commercial itself, that varies. But I bet you a dollar to a donut that those of us in the biz latch on to the sponsor probably five times more often than the average viewing Joe or Jane — so if we’re inconsistent in our recall, imagine how they do on that score.”
        • “Commercials that portray people getting hurt are most memorable, i.e. falling off the ladder, walking into the glass door, the football player hitting office workers. Interestingly, I can’t say for certain which products they were pitching.”

        Getting hurt, falling you say? You mean like this one that’s currently running for Sears?

        By the way I love this spot for Sears. I love how it starts off one way then very quickly and quite humorously takes you in another direction. And no, it did not cause me to go buy an appliance from Sears but I did remember that it was for Sears in the first place.

        More replies:

        • “It’s just the commercial people remember. Many people (myself included) sometimes refer to the bunny as the Eveready Bunny. Don’ think that’s what the Energizer people want.”
        • “Stupid commercials are the most memorable, followed by funny ones. I tend to remember a commercial first then the product.”
        • “I produced commercials for ESPN for a few years. My experience as a producer and as a consumer tells me it’s the commercial.”
        • “A human truth engagingly presented. Most TV commercials are not effective because either 

          a.The writer would rather be in Hollywood or

          b.The client thinks the world is fascinated by his brand.

        Author: Steve Olenski
        Source: Article

        The Best Practices for Color Grading Commercials

        Color grading is an art form that can take years to master. I have been doing it professionally for four years now and I’m still learning new techniques every day and developing my skill set as much as I ever have. This is largely thanks to the fact that I now work on such a wide variety of projects that all call for such different looks. But with all that I have learned over the years, some of the most important lessons have come from color grading commercials.

        Oddly enough, commercials often require the most amount of color grading even if the source footage looks beautiful to begin with. To put this in perspective, consider what would be required to color grade a feature length narrative film.

        Often there is a short timeline (maybe a few weeks) to color grade hundreds or thousands of shots, and artistically there is a lot of freedom in terms of where things can go. This means that in many cases the rules are easier to break when coloring a feature (within reason)  and each shot gets less attention than a commercial, since there are so many other shots that you need to get to.

        Commercials are the exact opposite. A 30 second commercial may only consist of a dozen or so shots, but can still take a couple of days to grade. This is because: A) Commercial budgets can usually afford more time in the color suite, and B) More specific grading often needs to be done.

        So when you break down how much time is actually being spent on any given shot, a commercial project will always have a much greater number than a feature film. Commercials can be one of the hardest types of projects to grade for this reason, and in order to achieve great results, you need to be aware of some key fundamentals.

        So for those out there that do a lot of commercial work, the tips below are for you. Please know that there are of course exceptions to every rule, and these tips certainly do not apply to every single commercial. That said, they will be relevant for the majority of commercial spots you might be working on.

        1. It’s All in the Midtones

        As far as color is concerned, commercials are all about the midtones. This is especially true of commercials that feature talent and aren’t simply a montage of product shots. In a narrative film, it’s perfectly okay (or in some cases even encouraged) to place mid tones/skin tones in a unique place.

        For instance, you might be creating a really moody scene and want your actor’s faces to be underexposed, and you might achieve that by bringing down your midtones significantly… But on a commercial project you would almost never do this.

        Commercials almost always benefit most from accurate, neutral, and pleasing midtones that are a touch on the bright side. Since the talent in any given commercial is essentially there to sell a product (even if the commercial isn’t pitchy), their appearance needs to be inviting and attractive, and the first step in achieving that look is by color correcting the mid tones in a way that brings up your talent’s skin to an optimal point.

        2. Use Power Windows

        Most commercial projects use far more power windows than their feature film counterparts. This isn’t because the commercials need to be more stylized (more on that below), but rather because details are extremely important in any commercial project.

        For example, the color of a can of soda might need to be keyed and windowed to match exactly with the actual color approved by the brand or agency. Also, certain elements of people, products, or environments may need to be highlighted or brought down in order to draw the viewer’s attention to the right place.

        There is so little time to tell a story in a commercial, and the format is so highly visual that every last detail and shot becomes very important. Power windows are one of the best tools that you can use to achieve these results, but you always want to make sure to use them within reason. You don’t want your final product to look like it has windows all over it… It needs to look and feel natural, and just accentuate the most important parts of the frame without getting distracting.

        Here’s a video from F-Stop Academy that covers working with power windows.

        3. Never over-stylize

        Many amateur colorists that come from an independent film background make the mistake of over-stylizing their commercial grades. This is often because they are so used to working with directors (possibly on genre films) that ask them to go really extreme with their grading, that they are almost programmed to push things really far in the color suite. 

        In reality, most commercial projects need more color correction than color grading. In other words, a well-shot commercial should look great out of the can, and might not need a heavy look on it.

        Usually just applying a LUT, balancing your shots, and matching everything gets you most of the way there. Once your power windows are added, you are probably 90% finished. At the very end, you might want to add just a touch of a look (warmer, cooler, etc.). Once again, there are cases where you need to break this rule, but more often than not, neutral and accurate works best for commercials.

        Author: Noam Kroll
        Sources: Article