Posts Tagged ‘corporate video production’

On the Road Again…in Bonn, Germany

September 7, 2013

I don’t have favorites, never have. I’ve always found confusing questions like: “What is your favorite color?”  — I like all the colors of the rainbow and the hues in between. Same thing when people ask me my favorite places to travel. My husband Curt Fissel — who is a director of photography and my business partner – and I (a producer/writer) are constantly on the global go for corporate video production and documentary shoots, but I don’t have a favorite destination.  There are aspects of each place I appreciate, so I thought I would write some blogs from the road, elaborating on things that make me smile in different locales.

 

Last week we were in Germany, videotaping for a private equity client that had just sold a company in its European portfolio and wanted us to produce a video highlighting the corporation and its impressive success over the holding period. When we finished all the field production relevant to producing a top line video, we took a few days to ourselves, visiting close friends who live in Bonn.

 

Enjoying sunny days with temperatures in the mid-70s, everyone we met told us that the winter there had lasted until the end of July. In fact, the past year in northern Europe has been exceptionally and uncharacteristically cold, snowy and rainy – much worse than usual. Curt and I had been well aware of that. We’ve been working on a project in Normandy, France for the past few years, and Rouen is listed in his phone’s weather app. Every morning since last mid-September we have had the same conversation:

 

Curt (checking weather in various locations we frequent): “Rouen: 50 degrees and raining.”

 

Me: “OMG. I’d feel so depressed.”

 

Yet that was not the weather that greeted us in Bonn last week, after the late spring climate had finally arrived on the cusp of July meeting August, and we had the chance to frolic in a few of the country’s attractions.

 

One of my favorite activities in Bad Godesberg, the little hamlet where our friends live, is jogging on the pathway that contours the Rhine.  Settled into rising hilltops along this segment of the majestic river are ruins of once-imposing castles. The age-old strongholds still convey a bygone aura of feudal importance, overlooking through cataract-type vision the goings-on of the world at their feet. Sightseeing cruises and cargo ships pass me as I run, reminders that the countryside’s natural counterparts (e.g., the river) run timelessly.

 

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Later in the day we all hop on board a train that also travels along the Rhine’s path. Whisking us south about 35 km., we get out in the village of Ahrweiler to partake in a winefest. Yes, you read it correctly: A winefest in Germany. Formerly not known as a serious competitor in the world of quality wine, this region has joined many others worldwide in improving its reputation, with impressive results. The vineyards in the Ahr Valley – known for its red wines — sit on 45 degree angles sloping up the sides of the Rhine. The fruits of the vines were exhibited in booths lining Ahrweiler’s main square, which framed the festival and the events taking place inside. An old-fashioned German brass band blared music to the much-anticipated annual election of a Wine Queen. A few speeches later, the coronation took place, after which the new queen was greeted by throngs of happy villagers holding bottles of locally grown Pinots and Rieslings. The year was 2013, of course, but it could have been 1913 or 1713. Unlike the physical castle structures along my morning jogging path, these old customs have survived in tact.

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Of course, even traditions are affected by change over time. Prior to World War II Ahrweiler had a small Jewish community. Apparently, the town was known as Nazi-resistant, but its Jews could not escape the Holocaust’s engine of death. No survivors ever returned to Ahrweiler. Significantly, however, the town has preserved the old synagogue, which is today used for cultural events. Curt and I, who have produced a number of documentaries on Jewish-related subjects, always visit these sites of former Jewish life in Europe. In Ahrweiler, our friends accompanied us to the former synagogue. We spent a few moments meditating in the atmosphere, listening to the voices in the wind and in our hearts, pledging anew to work to stamp out evil somehow, and experiencing gratitude for the energy of good people who remember, confront and commemorate.

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The next evening we visit a biergarten, the classically German hangout for the classically German drink. It’s as fun today as it was decades ago to sit at the tables covered with red and white-checkered cloths, surrounded by people drinking tall glasses of amber-colored beer with impressive white foam tops, toasting and celebrating everything always. (But in my opinion, with all the delicious craft beers available in the US today, the opportunity to imbibe the German selections are no longer the highlight of the biergarten experience.)

 

Back in Santa Monica, CA, I am working with some friends on an emerging project, www.EnjoyYourCoffee.net, which aims to be a travel website for coffee lovers around the world. Our Coffee Travel page lists good spots for coffee and conversation, beneficial for travelers to the region. Our group is trying to bolster the list of places worldwide, so wherever I travel, I try to visit the most popular cafes and add them to the list. In Bad Godesberg, my friends’ son Lorenz brought me to Café Lindentraum. The cappuccino was high quality and the atmosphere was quaint, but the conversations at each of the small tables were quiet and private (i.e., not group conversational). That’s a reflection of the culture, Lorenz told me. The same was true when I jogged along the Rhine: In many places where I have been, joggers passing each other share waves and smiles. Sometimes there’s even a “hello” attached in one language or another. Not here. It would be unfair to call it UNfriendly; it’s just not the nature of the culture to open up to strangers. In contrast, at the dinner party our friends hosted one night, we enjoyed conversations that quickly dove into interesting analyses.

 

I felt sad the morning of our departure. We had an amazing time with our friends. Their street fair was to happen that day, everyone on the block was cooking up something special to contribute, and the sun promised to continue shining. Anticipating the day’s events based on past years’ experiences, we were told that the young kids would run around and play together and the elders among the group would regale newcomers with stories that stretch back over decades.

 

Past, present and future live side by side there and find a way to communicate through the ups and downs of nature, time, governments, and people. And industrial and technological advancements whisk us across nine time zones and back to Los Angeles in about 11 hours so we can enjoy our coffee with our friends in Santa Monica a few hours after the fair has been cleaned up on our friends’ street in Bad Godesberg.

 

NY Times Highlights Subject of Film Produced by V&V’s Principals

June 5, 2013

Having started filming the documentary Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean back in 2006, the JEMGLO production team was excited to see The New York Times today refer to the cooperative of Christian, Jewish and Muslim coffee farmers who comprise the documentary subject. The principals of JEMGLO, producer/writer Ellen Friedland director/DP/cinematographer Curt Fissel, are also the principals of Voices and Visions.

Highlighted in the Food section, the Times noted that “J.J. Keki, a Jewish Ugandan coffee farmer…enlisted Christian, Jewish and Muslim farmers to form a coffee cooperative. The result: Delicious Peace Coffee (Mirembe Kawomera), which comes in a nutty-tasting light roast, a rich dark roast and decaffeinated.” The Times’ mention coincided with the launch of a Smithsonian Folkways recording on CD produced by Rabbi Jeffrey Summit of 16 songs by the farmers titled Delicious Peace: Coffee, Music and Interfaith Harmony in Uganda. 

The first version of the documentary, narrated by actor Ed O’Neill, was released in 2010 and screened at over 35 film festivals internationally, including many prestigious festivals, and won a number of meaningful awards. This past March Ellen, Curt and several additional members of a production team, returned for a fifth trip to the cooperative to videotape updates (link to the blog), including a qualitatively improved standard of living thanks in large measure to Fair Trade wages paid to the farmers by their coffee buying partner, Thanksgiving Coffee Company.

delicious peace, documentary, smithsonian, new york times, uganda, fair trade, interfaith, fair trade coffee, jewish nonprofit, documentary production

The documentary is available to educational institutions through the Video Project. In addition, socially-conscious media company Specialty Studios is distributing Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean by organizing Delicious Peace Parties where the film is screened and Fair Trade coffee and chocolate are enjoyed. Please contact them for more information!

Video for Private Equity Annual Investor Meetings

May 28, 2013

This is the time of year when many PE companies and PE divisions of larger companies are designing the content and activities of year-end annual investor meetings. Significantly, few industries are as friendly to the fashionable storytelling tool of video as private equity. Each portfolio company brings an engaging narrative of its roots that flourished over time and are expanding as a result of the vision, strategies and assistance brought by its private equity partner. Producing high-end and fast-paced yet short and comprehensive videos to showcase examples of companies in a portfolio that are encountering success is a great way to convey the information, break up the pace of the meeting in a popular and pleasing way, and encourage participation in future funds the PE firm will roll out.

The themes of the videos will depend upon the emphases of the companies or divisions. There is no one formula; decisions are tailored to the firms and their investor audiences. Here are some examples of videos created for The Riverside Company, the largest global firm investing in the middle market, for their 2012 Annual Investor Conference. The goal of these videos was to highlight the different funds:

North American Fund Portfolio Company: Baby Jogger

European Fund Portfolio Company: Reima 

Asia-Pac Fund Portfolio Company: Learning Seat 

North American Microcap Fund Portfolio Company: Yourmembership.com  

V&V has been working in PE and related industries for over a decade with clients such as The Riverside Company, the former AIG Investments, Private Equity Investor, and Duane Morris LLP. We also count as our clients pension funds investing in PE such as the Texas Teachers Retirement System.

Please contact us to brainstorm ideas about ways in which video can provide added value to your annual investor meeting.

YouTube, SEO & Other Video Data

May 15, 2013

My email and LinkedIn group inboxes are constantly flooded with the latest information concerning every aspect of video. While often the information falls into the common sense category, sometimes I see data that piques my interest. Two such summaries came across my screen this week, one focused on YouTube’s algorithm for ranking video and the other containing an infographic with more off-beat statistics concerning the use of video by marketers and advertisers.

Several months ago the Official Youtube Content Partners and Creators blog announced that it would rank videos based on the extent to which viewers actually watch them rather than simply the number of clicks any given video receives. The blog noted that the company wants to “reward engaging videos that keep viewers watching.” This approach is consistent with the SEO focus of Google (which owns Youtube) on substantive content on websites.

This information interlaces with the infographic, posted by Larry Thomas on the Latergy Social Video Channel. According to a recent study by videoexplainers published by visual.ly, videos that are over one minute in length produce more click-through rates than shorter videos, except for videos that are 15 seconds or less. Videos that fall into the category of 16 to 60 seconds in length are 41% less effective than videos that are over a minute.

So putting these pieces of information together: Though it is commonplace today to lament the lack of attention span across wide swathes of the population, it seems that many folks out there are actually interested in more substantive content and are watching it in video form — and Google/Youtube is rewarding those producers.

My advice: Short sound bite videos (particularly those under 15 seconds) containing clear, articulated information are impactful (153% more effective in terms of click-through rates than videos between 16-60 seconds, according to the infographic) and should be included – in multiples – as part of an online video strategy. But they should be anchored to longer, content-filled videos. Of course, “longer” is a relative word, and it does not have the same meaning as “long.” An examination last year of Youtube codes seeking the length of the top 950 viewed videos on Youtube determined that the ideal length in terms of audience engagement (other than for music videos) is 2.5 minutes. That sounds about right to me. If the content is interesting, I think it is okay to stretch the timeline a bit. If there is more to say after that, it is, in my opinion, time for another video.

Two other interesting statistics that came out of the infographic:

  1. 4 in 10 social videos are humorous and viewers of those videos are more than three times as likely to click to a brand’s Facebook page than viewers of non-humorous videos.
  2. Celebrity videos drive 12% fewer visits to brands’ Facebook pages than non-celebrity videos.

My takeaways? Comedy over celebrities, and make sure your video budgets reflect the outcomes you are seeking.

Corporate Video Production Group on LinkedIn

April 17, 2013

Two months ago V&V, through an initiative spearheaded by our Director of Marketing, Lea Spencer, launched a new professional group on LinkedIn designed to address topics related to video in the corporate world. Already having attracted more than 200 members and growing by a number of additional people each day, the Corporate Video Production group has become an active platform for sharing advice and starting discussions on a wide range of relevant issues. Examples include:

Please join the LinkedIn Corporate Video Production group to gain insight into the most current trends in video from our dedicated community of industry professionals.

NAB Show: Day 3

April 11, 2013

I spent day three of the NAB Show learning about a variety of the latest and greatest technologies, intent on finding potential time-saving and creativity-enhancing products that will benefit the clients my company Voices & Visions Productions serves. A staggering number of vendors populate the conference, often providing demonstrations. I also enjoy keeping my eyes open for creative and interesting products outside the current scope of my needs and budget.

In the media storage and network data transfer departments, I was impressed by the affordable and fast G-DRIVE PRO with Thunderbolt — a two bay hot swappable drive system that can be used as a hub for multiple non-Thunderbolt hard drives. The docking station is configured as 500GB or 1TB interchangeable storage drives that can also be used as standalone external hard drives. Expect to see it on the market in May with a price point in the $750 range.

NAB Show, Las Vegas, video production

An aerial filming platform on display at the 2012 NAB Show in Las Vegas.

For a change of pace I spent a little time looking at aerial recording platforms (i.e., helicopter-style remote-controlled camera-mountable flying machines) made in New Zealand. These stabilizer-enhanced flyers come in all sizes, enabling usages that range from indoor shots to aerial footage of large vistas. A vendor’s rep was more than happy to help me visualize all the work and play scenarios for which I could use this toy.

Tuesday night I attended the 12th annual Creative Pro User Group (CPUG) Las Vegas Super Meet.  The CPUG is a welcome immersion in the latest developments in content creation. Formerly known as the Final Cut Pro User Group, the name was changed several years ago to better reflect the broad range of collaborative editing workflow systems its members are using.

NAB Show, Las Vegas, video production

Over 1200 content creators attended last nights 12th annual Creative Pro User Group (CPUG) Las Vegas Super at the Rio Hotel, in Las Vegas.

With 1200 professionals in attendance, numerous speakers discussed the newest innovations and trends in the industry, with Adobe, AVID, Black Magic/Divinci, and a host of others offering in-depth looks at new functionalities of their respective products. LA branch CPUG leaders Mike Horton and his colleagues structured the event to ensure ample opportunities for open discussions between audience and presenters.

CPUG attracts a wide spectrum of top-shelf sponsors who are receptive to insights that the attendees frequently provide. The industry looks to the users’ group meet as a sounding board for its newest product lines.

More Fun Facts:

·      The 2013 show hosted more than 1,600 exhibitors.

·      The show spans 900,000 square feet of exhibit space, up from 815,000 in 2012.

·       The Academy Award-winning Coen brothers (The Big LebowskiO Brother, Where Art Thou?True Grit) are using Adobe Premiere Pro for their next feature film slated for late 2013. Their last movie, No Country for Old Men (winner of 4 Oscars), was edited on FCP 7.

·       The show wraps Thursday at 2pm.

NAB Show: Day 2

April 10, 2013


Day two in the Nevada desert, and the NAB Show is up and running at full speed. My focus today was post-production content editing software. The big players here in the South Hall are AVID and Adobe Premiere, with a field of smaller companies having set up tent as well. Notably absent from the floor as usual is Apple and its content editing software platform, Final Cut Pro X.

I began digital storytelling at Voices & Visions Productions using AVID on a Power MAC 9600 in the late 1990s. I was an avid AVID user until about eight years ago when I switched to Final Cut Pro 7 based on advancements that system offered, so I was curious to spend the first part of my day today at the AVID exhibit. AVID has a proven track record of innovation. Many of the content producers here still recognize it as the industry standard.

avid, NAB Show, Las Vegas, video production, corporate video production

Avids’ exhibit area on the South Hall upper level at this years NAB Show

Traditionally manufacturers use the NAB venue for making announcements about their latest upgrades, and AVID did not disappoint, announcing audio and performance upgrades to its arsenal. Enhancements include a fully redesigned audio engine with a new 64-bit architecture, expanded metering and a direct HD video workflow. The new technologies are successfully luring back some former AVID editors who, like me, had made the switch to Final Cut Pro 7, but fell off the Apple cheerleading squad when the FCP X (ten), less professional-friendly system, was introduced two years ago.

The FCP X launch took place in Las Vegas at the same time as the NAB, but in a separate venue (sigh), and was met with a cool reception. Among the devoted FCP 7 users with whom I have been chatting this week, there are some who have switched away from Apple’s FCP platform, others who are still considering alternatives to FCP X, those who have decided to embrace it, and a group who takes the approach of fluency across all systems.

avid, NAB Show, Las Vegas, video production, corporate video production

Adobe’s exhibit are on the South Hall lower level at this years NAB Show.

Following the tradition of announcing new innovations at the NAB, Adobe introduced Adobe®Anywhere, a collaborative workflow platform that enables editors using Adobe professional video tools to work together, allowing access and management of centralized media and assets across almost any network. This program works well with the Adobe Cloud introduced last year, which allowsusers to access all of the relevant software for one monthly fee. Updates are free, and the workflow is fully integrated, making content flow seamlessly streamlined. Adobe’s price structure for the package makes it a creative powerful suite of production tools worth considering.

Tonight is the Final Cut Pro Users Super-Meet. The event is an evening long gathering of some very creative storytellers exploring the latest innovations and industry trends.

 A few NAB notes as of noon today:

There were over 4200 tweets by @NABShow

There were almost 22,000 followers of @NABShow

@NABShow had a total reach of over 10,700,000

NAB Show: Day 1

April 9, 2013

The annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show opened its door this morning, Monday, at 9am for the first of four days of exhibits and events. The NAB is the world’s largest and most important media and entertainment event, featuring everything (and I mean everything) needed to bring “content to life.” Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the exhibit halls were teeming with scores of international industry professionals and providers.

The popular topic of the day in the camera exhibits area of the floor focused on advances in digital television, particularly higher resolution video formats. While industry professionals have now completed the transition to HD, there is a groundswell shift toward 4K products. 4K UHD has twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of the 1080p HDTV format, with four times as many pixels overall. Vendors recognize that total integration will not happen overnight, but 4K is on its way.

In this interim period, some of the major producers of video cameras are providing creative solutions for the industry, and third party manufacturers have produced some awesome gadgets that give professionals options to customize their core units.

NAB Show, National Association of Broadcasters, Las Vegas

A Canon EOS production rig on display
at the 2013 NAB Show. This is a nice example of all the
possibilities available to maximize productivity.

Some NAB notes:
Attendees come from 150+ countries; there are 63 delegations.
Over 91,000 media and entertainment professionals are expected.
NAB Show participants represent $20.7 billion (USD) in purchasing power.

More from the floor tomorrow.

Greening Video Production

April 5, 2013

going greenPhotographers generally crave the most innovative new cameras, and editors look to the next digital system that will process ever-increasing amounts of information at ever-faster speeds. I wear neither of those two professional hats (I’m the writer/producer in the group), but my wish list (read: “fantasy”) is for an eco-friendly camera and digital editing system.

Over the years we have found it a challenge to “green” our work, since our tools are generally made of plastic. Still, we struggle to find solutions, aided by innovations like making videos available online rather than in DVD format and using biodegradable DVD boxes when a client needs the end product tangibly in hand. Recently our Director of Operations Krystal Sancho made headway by diving into a project to digitize all the paperwork that has been collecting in files and drawers in our office over 15 years. V&V is aiming to be a paperless company in the coming months. Next step: Sustainable wood keyboards?

V&V Receives Prestigious Silver Telly Award

April 2, 2013

Voices and Visions is proud to announce that we have just been awarded a prestigious Silver Telly for the corporate video production called “What’s Missing?” that we created with our client Orion Engineered Carbons. The Tellys are among the oldest and most esteemed awards in the film and video industry, and the Silver Telly is the highest honor bestowed by the organization, given to the top 7 to 10% of over 12,000 entries from all 50 US states and five continents. Judges make determinations based on a scale of 1 to 10. To receive a Silver Telly, the collective score must be 9 or above.

ORION is a global manufacturer of engineered carbons that produce rubber black products and black pigments used in producing plastics, printing and inkjet inks, paints and coatings, adhesives and sealants, toners, and silicon rubber.

The video we created for ORION’s annual investor meeting highlighted the end products and applications for carbon black.

Please check it out and give us your feedback!