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Archive for March, 2013

Are you ready for your close-up?

With the growth of video-driven marketing comes an increasing number of companies taking video into their own hands, and leading with their chins, literally.

The “talking head” video is a staple in the corporate marketing world. When you need to deliver your message or position your company as a thought leader, it’s common to position your executives as one. This often positions you or your executives under the lights and in front of the lens.

On-camera professionals are paid to make it look easy, and they do, which then makes it harder for the rest of us. Here are a few tips when contemplating putting you and yours on-camera.

Cue cards are bad

Video is an intimate medium, and the close-up is always more powerful. Chances are the viewer is going to get a good look at your face, and your eyes. Cue cards cause your eyes to drift further and further away from the camera, and almost never work – so don’t plan on using them. Prepare with a combination of memorization, practice, pre-interviews and perhaps the use of a teleprompter.

Teleprompters aren’t as easy as they look

With a teleprompter, you can just read the words as they are displayed right in front of the lens! Easy, right? Well, yes and no. Delivering a smooth performance with a teleprompter takes some getting used to, so don’t expect the ‘prompter to be an easy solution. You should still do your homework with the script in advance, and allow for extra time during the shoot to get comfortable with the teleprompter.

It’s not natural to act natural on camera

Just because the CMO presents great PowerPoint, and your CEO is great in front of his Board of Directors, doesn’t mean this charisma is going to translate in front of the camera. In front of a live audience, pauses can appear thoughtful, struggling to find the right word can be viewed as passion or natural enthusiasm, and wandering eyes becomes an effort to make eye contact. In the lens and under the lights, these traits can be perceived as confusion, indecision and a bad case of the nerves. Winging it is for the birds. Someone needs to summon the gumption to tell the boss he needs to practice and prepare. Good luck with that.

Pre-interview the interview

If you are on-camera in an interview or Q&A format, arrange for a pre-interview with the video producer or director. The questions and answers can be discussed and practiced in advance, so you don’t go into the on-camera shoot “cold”, and the director/interviewer knows what answers to expect.

What not to wear

Green. You never know when a director might say “Hey, let’s use green screen for this…”

White. A white shirt under a dark jacket is fine, but a solid white shirt is not a good look on-camera. It limits the visual contrast and could wash out your skin tone. Plus, you never know when a director might say “Hey, let’s use a white background for this…”

Tight, busy patterns. Your shirt could end up looking more jittery than you do.

Putting yourself or your executives on-camera is a great idea if it works and a bad idea if it doesn’t. Guarantee it will work by preparing, practicing and working with professionals. We can help make it look easy.

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Communicating a 3D Fly-Through of a Product with Your Client

Animated 3D fly-throughs of products are common, but how do you communicate the camera moves, choose which areas of the product to show, and decide how the shot relates to the VO with your client? The answer is a storyboard created in PowerPoint with photos of the product. PowerPoint is easy because all of us can use it, as well as make changes. The client can mark things that need changes and send them back to us, which is much easier then over the phone or in an email.

We created a yellow path that shows our animator how the camera should travel. We also highlighted the areas of the circuit board that the camera could hold or swoop towards.

This method made communication clear and simple so we can focus on making a great looking animation and not let the process slow us down.

The final video came out just as planned and does an excellent job at combining VO with product imagery. Click here to check out the final video.

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Shooting a Boutique Without Going to a Boutique

How does one shoot a boutique-clothing store without ever going to a boutique? The answer may surprise you. You may be thinking Chroma key is the answer, but this would take hours in post-production. Instead, you must give the viewer visual cues that say “boutique clothing store.” Just a window and a wall are a great start.


Just as we did in the storyboard above, the shot must be carefully planned, and you have to be willing to spend a few bucks on props. We layered the shot and created lots of depth by using racks of clothing in the foreground, store clerks, tables with clothes, and mannequins.

During the shoot

Creating this faux-boutique looks great on camera and as you can see below, the results are perfect!

Still from final video


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How To Create a High-End Looking News Set with a Small Budget

No big deal, people have been doing chroma key news sets for years; but how do you make an expensive-looking one without spending much money? First, we started with a couple of real-looking set elements and placed them in the background so the set would have layers and depth. Adding nice lighting and a bunch of reflections made it look posh.

Next, we created a CGI glass-top desk with matching perspective, lighting and reflections.  The trick to selling the CGI desk was making the hands look like they were reflecting on the desktop. A $50 piece of plexiglass with black cloth behind it did the trick.

In post, we combined the real-life reflection with the 3D desk. Since the three elements (background, anchor and desk) are each separate elements, we could do camera dolly shots and keep everything in proper perspective. Important since the camera moves make it look slick. All in all, our client was happy to say goodbye to spending a lot of money on a news set.

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