Posts Tagged ‘Voices & Visions Productions’

Video Challenge: Helping the Sales Team Make Software Products Catchy

September 18, 2014

In a business world populated by countless organizations relying on seas of software programs to achieve unlimited goals, breaking through the competitive landscape with a new offering is a very difficult task. It requires a sales team with a belief in and knowledge about the product at hand, enthusiasm, persistence – and a tool kit. While the box of assistance is likely to contain virtual demo programs, its effectiveness initially requires a simple and easily comprehensible explanation about the unique uses and value of the software. This messaging and its presentation is the key to getting the potential buyer to stop, listen for a moment amidst the constant hum of information, and peek in at the opportunity. It is also a challenging task that recently landed on our doorstep.

Among its diverse offering of amenities designed to meet the ever-changing business world, our client Ricoh has been providing IT services to the legal industry for over 20 years, including comprehensive document resources. One of its recent software products in this department is called REDI (Ricoh Electronic Discovery Insight). When installed in a company’s server, REDI enables a user to retrieve information through a simple-to-use search system, saving the company a lot of time and money in completing discovery requests.

To reign in new customers, the REDI group wanted to begin the sales process with a short and catchy video, which brought our video production team into the discussion. After reviewing the department’s written materials and getting walked through a demonstration of the software, we were convinced that explanations of its uses and benefits recited on-camera by programmers, executive staff, or professional voiceover artists would be too wordy to be impactful. This was particularly so when the topic precluded visual imagery to sprinkle over their sound bites.

Instead, we opted for a high-energy, visually appealing, and originally created kinetic typography video. V&V worked with the REDI team to understand the software in its minutiae, then to translate that knowledge into short, easily comprehensible phrases. Integrating the simple text with Ricoh branding, REDI screen imagery, a catchy melody, and creative motion, the alluring end product is causing heads to turn in REDI’s direction.

And that is its objective. Once a prospective customer pays attention to the introduction, the door opens to a demonstration of the product. That, I am convinced, will sell itself to companies inclined to improving their litigation strategies and defending against overly burdensome legal discovery requests.

The Effectiveness of Testimonial Videos

August 18, 2014

Client headliner feedback: “The [first] video went over well at the convention! It definitely left the audience wanting more. We just did an email campaign around the [other two] videos … and our sales people love them!! The morning we launched the YouTube link announcement I got an email from a sales rep around lunch saying that it couldn’t have come at a better time because he played the videos in his presentation and they went over really well!!”

            — Marketing Manager Lauren Vellek, RICOH Americas

Beginning this summer we have been working with global technology company RICOH to produce a series of testimonial videos for their production print solutions — apparently with very promising immediate results. To fulfill the job requirements, we have been going to print shops that use RICOH production print systems to videotape owners’ feedback about the product.

Says the owner of a PIP Printing shop in northern New Jersey on camera: “When we tested the RICOH product, we brought some of our most complicated jobs. We were very, very pleasantly surprised that we got a lot more than we had anticipated with some of the extra features where we’ve been really able to put a lot more work, both black and white and color, than we ever have before because it’s just a much, much better product than we’ve had here in the past.

“… What came with it …was … a training program that didn’t only cover the uses of the equipment but also helped to foster a better business improvement program for things that we did here day in and day out for 20+ years.”

 

Says a metro Philadelphia area Sir Speedy shop owner: “The great thing with RICOH has been their service. We place a call and within in an hour or less, we get a phone call. I’m fortunate to have a fantastic technician that is assigned to this area and he goes above and beyond the call to help meet our needs and the needs of our customers.”

If these quotes stand out in written form, multiply that impression by many-fold when they appear in video. It is only common sense: seeing and listening to the sincerity and feeling behind impactful words spoken by an actual shop owner who was not obliged to make the comments goes a long way toward effectively making a sale or closing a deal.

Of course, this approach is not mutually exclusive of producing a more formal video ad for TV or online avenues using a script, actors and the type of sizable crew that such an effort requires. But in comparison to this more traditional commercial production, the budget entailed for short testimonial videos pales, and its results offer the promise of a resounding success.

An Italian Adventure to Produce a Video Profile of a Private Equity Portfolio Company

February 13, 2014

The opportunity to produce a video profile of a company in a portfolio of our global private equity client The Riverside Company often takes Curt (director of photography) and I (producer) on interesting adventures. Two weeks ago, for instance, we had the opportunity to spend a day in Verona, Italy filming Olympics and World Championship swimmers who endorse the racing swimwear of the brand Arena, a company in Riverside’s European fund.

As I watched Ruta Meilutyte (Lithuania, 16 years old) and Daniel Gyurta (Hungary, 24) fly through the lanes of the Olympics-sized pool while testing out the latest carbon technology that has been incorporated into their suits, I imagined them standing on a podium, gold medal in hand, filled with emotions as the national anthems of their home countries blasted into the ears of the world after their wins. They and their World Championship gold medal colleague Katinka Hosszu (Hungary, 24), who was also present in Verona, are international stars, revered by swimmers, athletes, and ordinary people who delight in the extraordinary talents of superpeople. During international events like the Olympics or the World Championships, they live in a bubble of fame surrounded by countless other swimmers and coaches, reporters and fans. But on the day we videotaped, there was almost no one around but the folks from Arena and us, and we were treated to a slice of time with these wonders of the world.

 

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Curt was excited to use a GoPro to capture them from the underwater perspective. Attaching the camera to the end of a long stick, he walked down the perimeter of the pool holding one end, ensuring that the camera at the other end stayed beneath the swimmers’ bellies as they glided effortlessly through the pool lanes adjacent to him. His footage highlighted their perfect underwater moves — as well as the brand name of the company they endorse. Adding to the value of the video, we also spent time interviewing the Olympians, a formality that was preceded and followed by normal conversation. I was excited to learn that Katinka – and her coach/husband Shane Tusup – went to USC, my daughter’s alma mater. Most impressively, all three of the swimmers were very humble, friendly people simply doing what they love to do and fortunate to be so successful at it.

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We spent that day in the closed confines of an indoor pool facility which could have been located anywhere in the world, but when we finished recording the interviews and b-roll, we had two free days until the next planned day of shooting. We spent a sunny morning at the Adriatic Sea, and another day driving on little roads that traverse tiny towns with stone buildings that have been standing for centuries. In these non-tourist locations, I ate the freshest and most delicious Italian veggie food I’ve ever tried. A special treat was stopping for lunch one day to meet our friend Ruth Ellen Gruber, an award-winning writer and journalist who lives near Todi. She gifted us with a can of oil pressed from olives she had picked in her garden. I’m quite sure I will never be able to enjoy store-bought olive oil again.

A couple of days later we were back under the Arena wing. Katinka stopped by the company’s headquarters in Tolentino to meet the staff and learn about new products. It was fun to see her surrounded by scores of staff asking for her autograph. She chatted with them, one at a time, writing personal messages on the postcards they handed her. We also enjoyed watching her delight in the panoply of Arena products that filled the company’s headquarters, examining the fabrics of swimsuits, trying on new goggles, and picking out her favorite sports bag.

As Cristiano Portas, the company’s CEO told us when we interviewed him later in the day: “We want to fully understand the needs, the wishes and even the dreams of the athletes and to transfer this knowledge into products which are delivering an outstanding performance. The concept is that all the people watching the competition and going to the shops to get the swimwear or a pair of goggles, they will see the champions and they want to wear the goggles and the swimsuits of the champions because if it is good for champions, it is good for me.”

Very cool to have such incredibly talented and down-to-earth folks as brand champions for millions of people to emulate in countries around the globe.

As for the video, we are having a very good time in the editing suite. We get to ooh and aah over footage of perfect strokes of several of the world’s most talented swimmers. We even get to act as surrogate coaches in a way, choosing where to start and stop each beautiful shot.  Editing this company profile (as all videos we produce), we are ever mindful of its ultimate audience – the Riverside investors and others interested in the firm’s portfolio of companies. I am certain they will be very pleased to be a part of such an exciting and successful venture.

 

 

 

New Year’s Acrostic-olutions

December 30, 2013

On the 2014 work agenda (some personal items too):

Aesolutions: Reading – maybe not AESOp’s Fables – but other great books that trigger the flow of creativity to many video projects.

Besolutions: Finishing the documentary Flory’s Flame, about 90-year old Sephardic musician, composer and performer Flory Jagoda, whose compositions in Ladino – an ancient Castilian Spanish language — harken back to pre-Inquisition Spain. “BESO” in Spanish (“bezo” in Ladino) means “kiss” – many of which are crucial to happiness in the coming year.

Cesolutions: While we don’t generally attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Curt Fissel in our office annually goes to the gigantic National Association of Broadcasters Show (April 5-10, 2014 in Las Vegas) where all the latest and greatest technology in the video production and broadcasting industry will be introduced and exhibited.

Desolutions: DESolate is what I plan NOT to be.

Esolutions: Helping our clients be ahead of the curve with regard to video and all its new arms as the electronic highway continues to expand, and finding E-SOLUTIONS to interesting issues that arise.

Fesolutions: FESsing up to gaps in my knowledge, filling them with deep dives into research, and supplementing weaknesses with the collaboration of colleagues strong in those arenas.

Gesolutions: Learning rather than GuESssing.

Hesolutions: As the female president of Voices & Visions, I’m all about “SHE –SOLUTIONS” (as compared to “HE-SOLUTIONS”), and I look forward to networking, brainstorming and collaborating with women executives.

Iesolutions: Exploring substantive topics calling for video production in their depths, then reducing the understandings reached to simple messages – the onscreen equivalent of the textual use of I.E.

Jesolutions: Like GESso used in artwork as a base before applying paint, continuing my commitment to thorough preparation before video shoots our company undertakes, which will ensure and preserve the quality of the final product.

Kesolutions: An English variant of “BESOlutions” (see above).

Lesolutions: Focusing on more solutions rather than LESs solutions.

Mesolutions: Always aiming to MESmerize with video productions we create.

Nesolutions: While the northeast (NE) is our home base, we now have an office in Dallas and we videotape on location internationally. Hoping to continue to expand our national and global work in the coming year.

Oesolutions: The US Bureau of “Oceans, Environment and Science” (OES) advances foreign policy regarding climate change, renewable energy, resource scarcity, infectious diseases, and related fields. In 2013 we videotaped the ways in which the farmers of the Fair Trade, interfaith Delicious Peace coffee cooperative in Uganda are trying to overcome the impact of climate change on their crops. We will continue to pursue producing video clips about this issue and otherwise helping the farmers.

Pesolutions: Had I been PESsimistic, I would never have taken the risk of running my own business. Optimism about everything – from small projects to the world economy – will dominate my thinking.

Quesolutions: QUEStions are beautiful; they prompt intellectual and emotional growth. I am grateful that I get to interview and ask unlimited questions to so many interesting people around the world in connection with producing corporate videos and documentaries. Looking forward to new questions and answers in 2014.

Resolutions: All of the above and below.

Sesolutions: Who “SAYS SO”? Our clients say so. I will listen to their goals, concerns, interests, and parameters and help them build tailored solutions.

Tesolutions: Marketing in 2014 will continue to TESt traditional vs. social media methodologies (including video) and with regard to the latter, how to measure ROI, the most effective combinations of approaches, and a host of other issues made possible by ever-expanding IT solutions. The question I will explore with clients is no longer whether to engage; rather, it is: What? Where? When? And how?

Uesolutions: YOU are the e-solution! Our We will rely on our partnerships with our clients to ensure our brains and talents work together to produce the best solutions.

Vesolutions: VES, Visual Effects Society, is an organization representing visual effects practitioners. From motion graphics in 2D and 3D to animations, audiences are growing accustomed to fabulous visual effects in videos. Looking forward to watching their growth in demand and providing clients with videos rich in a wide range of creative elements.

Wesolutions: WESOłych Świąt: Polish for “Happy holidays!” Since we have produced five documentaries in Poland, the culture and language are close to my heart. Early indications are pointing toward an event on the calendar in Poland in 2014.

Xesolutions: Having many opportunities to use XE, an online currency and foreign exchange tool, which helps calculate expenses when traveling to foreign countries. Italy, Spain, Bosnia, Croatia, France, Poland, and who-knows-where-else are on this year’s travel plans, so XE will come in handy.

Yesolutions: Saying “YES” much more than “no.”

Zesolutions: Tackling challenges big and small with ZESt as well as love for the opportunity to tell stories through video.

NYC Bar Association Panel: From Lawyer to Entrepreneur

December 19, 2013

One of the most fun aspects about being an entrepreneur is the opportunity to live in a number of different and challenging roles on a daily basis.

Some hours each day I am a producer of corporate video productions and documentaries, figuring out and implementing countless logistics of a broad range of projects. Other hours I am a writer, crafting the scripts and storyboards on which the productions are built. Sometimes I am a researcher, diving into the substance of clients’ businesses to ensure that the videos we are creating accurately reflect the nature of the organizations. Importantly, I am often the head of marketing and sales, seeking prospective clients to keep the business engine humming. Whenever I find a few free moments, I become the chief dreamer, configuring new ideas to improve or change my current businesses – or create new ones. And of course, I’m also the “baker and candlestick maker” (never a butcher – I’m a vegetarian!) for all the behind-the-scenes details that make the businesses run.

A break during a documentary shoot in Paris

Equally as exciting for me, last week I had the opportunity to put on my “entrepreneur” hat and speak on a panel at the NYC Bar Association (NYCBA) entitled “Lawyer to Entrepreneur.” The forum, organized by Emilia Roll of the NYCBA’s Career Advancement and Management Committee, was billed as an opportunity to “Come and learn from successful entrepreneurs about their paths from practicing law to running their own businesses and how they are using their ‘lawyer’ skills to advance.”

I am very lucky to love all the hats I wear, and the entrepreneurial one is at the top of the list. I have been a part of a number of entrepreneurial groups with different foci, and I almost always find that the commonalities between entrepreneurs outweigh huge differences in industries, markets, and strategies. There are unstated understandings, shared experiences and generous support systems that fuel the passion to take multiple business endeavors to the ever-next level.

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NYC Bar Association

That was certainly the experience for me on the panel last week. I was privileged to be joined by George Tsiatis of Group 113 and The Resolution Project, Rosena Sammi of Rosena Sammi Jewelry, Diana St. Louis of Bijte, Brian Trunzo of Carson Street Clothiers, and Suzie Scanlon of Bliss Lawyers. As I answered questions relating to the benefits of having a legal background as a jumping off point to becoming a businessperson/producer/writer/researcher/marketer/dreamer/baker/candlestick maker, it was inspirational to hear about my co-panelists’ paths, businesses, challenges, solutions, and ideas. It was also exciting to engage in discussions with an audience of lawyers poised on the verge of considering their business dreams. The experience was a reminder of the journey taken thus far, the never-ending possibilities offered by the entrepreneurial road, and the value of enjoying every step along the way.

Now back to a producer review of the latest draft video for a private equity client…

In Tokyo, sharing a real corporate video shoot with a fictional character

November 5, 2013

In one of the climax scenes of the novel 1Q84, the protagonist Aomame goes to Hotel Okura in Tokyo. She is moments away from a foreboding encounter to which an Alice in Wonderland series of events has been tensely building. Despite evidencing a personality that combines inner strength, courage, integrity, and selective sensitivity, Aomame feels an uncharacteristic apprehension, perceiving the unexpected presence of an undefined and potent hand of fate at work. She waits in the oversized, opulent lobby for an escort who will bring her to the room where her antagonist will be waiting.  Alone amidst a crowded diversity of people moving to the buzz of unlimited agendas, her mind skirts between its very rational and methodical proclivity and the nonsensical world that has somehow crept into her life.

I write this on an airplane, three hours away from landing in Japan’s Narita Airport for a corporate video shoot. I am here with Curt, my husband who is a director of photography for our company Voices & Visions Productions. This will be our second trip to Tokyo, so its sprawling urban landscape will not come as a surprise. On our last trip we had dinner one night on the top floor of our hotel and were seated at a table next to a large window overlooking the city. Actually, it was only a wedge of the city. Yet I remember thinking that the vision before us spread inescapably to the horizon, harboring within its dense mass infinite numbers of people and offices and stores and restaurants and everything. Like hotels.

When the logistics of this current trip to Tokyo were being planned, the office manager of our business client offered to reserve a room in the hotel where they have a corporate rate located a block away from their workplace. Eliminating for us the daunting task of choosing between countless hotels in the complex grid of Tokyo neighborhoods, we took them up on their kind gesture, then received the e-confirmation for a room at Hotel Okura.

lobby of Hotel Okura

lobby of Hotel Okura

 

I was reminded of Rick’s line about Ilsa in Casablanca: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” Of all the thousands of hotels in Tokyo, our client booked us in the one where this pivotal moment in the best book I’ve read in years takes place.

I am a big fan of Haruki Murakami, the author of 1Q84, and especially of this particular book. It took me weeks to finish the 1,200-page odyssey since I am often working until after midnight, leaving me exhausted when I lay down in bed at night and open a book. For the first third or so, I read two chapters a night, but by the time I got to the middle of the book, my appetite for the plot grew voracious. Each night after I closed the book, the characters and plot danced through my dwindling consciousness into my dreams. They would fade into the paper of the book’s pages through most of the daytime hours when the real world of documentary and corporate video production would dominate my brain. In other words, like Aomame in that pivotal scene, the book transported me to a mental place of vacillation between the real world and the fictional world of Murakami.

It’s been a few months since I finished reading 1Q84, and some of its details have begun dissolving from my memory like the ending slate of a video we create. As the long United Airlines flight to Murakami’s city approaches our destination, my mind is transitioning into the concrete producer/writer roles in which I feel comfortable. But I confess that, immersed in the setting of Hotel Okura, I will not be able to avoid looking out for the imaginary Aomame and the ominous meeting she has in a room that may be located down the hall from the one where we will be camping out the next four days.

Fortunately the nature of our work is creative, so the influence of imagination in video storytelling – as much for a corporate marketing video as any other type – promises to be beneficial.

 

EnjoyYourCoffee.net Bridges Virtual and Real Over Love of Coffee

November 8, 2012

Catalin Munteanu greeted my husband Curt and me two weeks ago in Café Lauri in Lohja, Finland carrying roses and euro cents for the parking meter. Until that moment, Catalin’s personality had been boxed in words and pictures on screen for us, as ours had been for him. Of course, online posts summarized in a few sentences at a time hardly shed light on a person’s inner being. That task requires an in-person meeting. From the outset, bridging the void between group-focused friendships and face-to-face relationships was a key goal of the fledgling social media site www.enjoyyourcoffee.net, and this meeting between Catalin and us was destined to be the first experiment, made possible because a client of our video company Voices & Visions Productions had sent us to Finland for a corporate video shoot.

About two years ago my friend Spyros Dellaportas in Santa Monica, California started an open group on Facebook called Enjoy Your Coffee. “Ellen, thees ees going to be the beeggest group on Facebook,” he told me in his charming Greek-accented English. I smiled because one has to smile when Spyros is excited. Every morning for decades he goes to Peet’s Coffee on 14th Street and Montana Avenue, reserving an outdoor table that expands with coffee drinkers through the pre-work hours. He brings chocolates for the kids who come by and biscuits for the dogs. People scramble to sit next to him and collect the happy energy that radiates out of his presence. He tells silly jokes that make him giggle, and his reaction makes others laugh more than the punch lines. He finds occasions to bring cakes to celebrate birthdays and otherwise undefined happydays, insisting that every passer-by try a slice of the daily special. He wears bright-colored t-shirts and Hawaiian prints and drives a neon yellow convertible Corvette.

And he doesn’t really understand how to use the Internet. But this Enjoy Your Coffee group, he insisted, would be the beeggest group on Facebook. So when it made Spyros smile, I smiled too.

And then Enjoy Your Coffee began to swell with members despite the lack of a formal plan for social media marketing or even a volunteer assigned to the job. Spyros did no outreach – remember, IT is not his specialty. Instead, he posted daily photos of the coffee group. He also posted photos of beautiful cakes and cappuccinos with artistic designs on top. He posted images of himself with his canine friends or of pretty scenes wherever. He posted lots of photos everyday, and each time he posted something, a notice was pinged to the collection of members. 200 members. 400. 1,000…

Ping! Spyros Dellaportas has posted on Enjoy Your Coffee (photo of himself in bright orange shirt smiling as he drinks his coffee).

Ping! Spyros Dellaportas has posted on Enjoy Your Coffee (photo of himself with the local moms and pre-schoolers).

Ping! Spyros Dellaportas has posted on Enjoy Your Coffee (mother-in-law joke).

 

I kept thinking: Poor Spyros. People will soon unjoin this group. Who has time for these diversions?

Then: 2,500 members. 3,000. As of this writing: 4,317.

Just as I was beginning to recognize that Spyros was onto something, he approached me again. “Ellen, now we need to create our own coffee social network! It will be the beeggest social network!” I smiled, because Spyros was excited. And when he asked for help in putting it together and assumed I’d be involved, I responded affirmatively. No one who enjoys the company of special people turns down that happy face.

Spyros gathered together a group of friends from the morning coffee klatsch to help him spearhead this initiative. After a few drinks and some truffle-salted fries (since this adventure was intended to be fun, first and foremost) we addressed a cornerstone question: How would we distinguish EnjoyYourCoffee.net from other social networks?

We realized that what we all have in common is shared coffee time together every weekday at Peet’s roughly between 7:00 to 9:00 am (on scattered schedules). Our lives diverge completely the rest of each day in work, ideology, interests, and a host of things that might otherwise be divisive, but in those hours we are one unified coffee group in Santa Monica, California. We were aware, too, that groups like ours meet in West Hollywood, a few miles away. And San Francisco and New Orleans. And in New York, albeit indoors for most of the year. In Europe as well, and Asia and South America. There were people enjoying their coffee around the world, together, everyday, as we did.

Then we thought: What if we could create EnjoyYourCoffee.net as a collection of coffee groups (and unaffiliated individuals) internationally, each of which/whom would be an in-person welcome pad for others when visiting its home territory? In this way, worldwide members could establish friendships everywhere we travel, bonded by enjoyyourcoffee.net and the love of this drink that we all share.

So that was thought. The meeting with Catalin was the first reality.

We met him at his favorite coffee shop in the Finnish town of Lohja, where Catalin currently lives, located about an hour outside Helsinki. It was easy to spot him when we walked in – of course, because he had posted photos of himself online, but also because a coffee mug with a big EnjoyYourCoffee.net logo plastered around its perimeter sat on his table. The logo had been designed by Spyros – that had been one of his bevy of professions – and he took delight in attaching it to coffee mugs, videos, t-shirts, and whatever other objects could comfortably advertise this new social network that made him smile. He was also happy to send the promotional mug and some other materials to supporters everywhere on the planet as committed to this project as Catalin. Next to Catalin’s mug sat a looseleaf notebook (sporting as its cover a super-sized print of the EYC logo) containing a ream of information about this new entity-under-development. Catalin, after all, had been crowned the Finnish Ambassador to EYC.

We drank coffee together and learned about each other. In 2010 Curt and I had produced a documentary entitled Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean about an interfaith coffee cooperative in Uganda, and through the documentary we became very knowledgeable about the crop/commodity/addiction/pleasure. Catalin, a lover of the drink, could qualify as a Jeopardy contestant given all coffee subcategories of questions. He’s read the important volumes about the subject; knows about coffee production and flavors from countries around the world; is aware of the best growing, picking and roasting conditions; and knows about the plethora of ways of serving it. He is as sensitive to its flavors as a top oenologist is to the Wine Enthusiast’s choices. One day he’d like to have a coffee shop of his own, for which he’s already envisioned all the “must have” elements. But for the moment he’s content to drink his coffee at Café Lauri, the sole place in Lohja a coffee connoisseur would dare to bring appreciative guests.

(Interestingly, a woman at the next table overhearing our conversation chimed in her dissatisfaction with coffee in Finland. She had just put in a bid on a home in southern France, where she can drink good coffee, she said. Incidentally: It’s comments like these amongst coffee lovers internationally that spark the formation of regular coffee groups at coffee houses with members who post on coffee social network sites like EnjoyYourCoffee.net.)

Curt and I left our in-person meeting with Catalin carrying a few little gifts he had bought for Spyros (can’t say more until I see Spyros to deliver them – but I know they will bring him joy). Catalin has never met Spyros, and until I called our friend from the table at Café Lauri where we were enjoying our coffee to Spyros’ table at Peet’s in Santa Monica, the two men had never heard each other’s voice. Yet somehow Spyros’ smile had contagiously affected Catalin, EnjoyYourCoffee.net’s newest ambassador.

The next day Curt and I departed from Finland with more than videotapes we had shot for our client. We left with a feeling that we had made a new friendship through which we had the opportunity to experience a real-life snapshot of Finland. This relationship had born out of enjoyment of our coffee, expressed first in actuality at Spyros’ daily coffee table, then virtually through the EnjoyYourCoffee.net social media site he had created to expand his morning experience into the boundless world of the Internet, then in actuality again, this time across the globe, unifying folks who are eager to establish friendships over a shared bond of coffee enjoyment.

To quote Spyros: “The rest is history! Enjoy Your Coffee!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Videotaping at Carbon Black Manufacturing Facilities

May 22, 2012

You know those cool black boots you wore in the chillier weather? Or those black jeans that you like because they’re a bit dressier than the blue denims, or the black sweater you dress up with a multicolored scarf? You know the black casing around your phone or the tires on your car or the dashboard inside? They all share one characteristic: Black. And they all get that black in the same way: Through the carbon from oil.

I recently learned about that at the carbon black manufacturing facility of Orion Engineered Carbons.

Okay, so a backdrop of reactors and carbon products isn’t as sexy as a movie set. And travel for corporate video production rarely means world monuments. But it does mean something very valuable: Close encounters with detailed information about how the world functions, constantly expanding our base of knowledge and broadening our life perspectives.

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Orion is a global manufacturer of engineered carbons that produce black goods, including vehicle tires, sealings, hoses, anti-vibration systems, conveyers, transmission belts, plastics, printing and inkjet inks, paints and coatings, adhesives and sealants, toners, batteries, and anything black! Their plants are strategically located around the world, with major operations taking place in S. Korea, Germany, Ohio, and Houston. To convey its story, V&V began videotaping for Orion in Belpre, OH, just over the W. Virginia border, followed by a trip to the facility in Orange, TX.

In the coming weeks V&V will be editing the interesting manufacturing shots with numerous product images and motion graphics and animations we craft, designing an internal video that exudes know-how, industrial prowess, and importance in the lives of consumers around the world. Ironically, since the final product will be presented through the Orion intranet, the blacks on the screen will be made of 0s and 1s rather than carbon – one of the few exceptions to the carbon black rule!

Updates to Business Videos

April 11, 2012

A little about the substance and process of the informational video makeover I wrote about yesterday, in the production of which we stumbled upon The Tejano Monument in Austin, Texas…

Once upon a time a business video – whether for marketing, recruitment, or any other purpose – was budgeted to last for several years since overhauls were almost as expensive as original productions. Today, if the project is thought through and planned properly in advance, the video can go through periodic easy and inexpensive revisions, ensuring it is kept current at a fraction of the cost of the first time around.

A perfect example is the video we created in December 2010 for the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Texas called “TRS: A Great Value For All Texans.” (Though we are based in New Jersey, we produce videos everywhere!) The video provided a visual rendition of a brochure TRS had published with the same title. It discussed the myriad ways that TRS is an asset in the state, rooted in the reality that its membership of over 1.3 million people live in all regions of Texas, and the retirees spend their pension money in their local economies.

The informational video was filled with facts and feelings about the ways participants benefit as well as the advantages that accrue to communities. When we were initially engaged by TRS for this project, we were well aware that the numbers would constantly be in flux, so we structured the graphics and interview questions in a way that would enable future changes without a complete redo. In fact, while the basic concepts and visual elements of the original video have remained intact in the year and a half since it was released, many of the statistical numbers cited have changed, and significantly, some members of the TRS leadership team have also been shuffled.

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Utilizing the pre-existing textual motion graphics, our graphic designer was able to make revisions with the latest statistical information in a short period of time. Sound bites of newly promoted executives were needed to replace those of former interviewees, but our field production required only one day, not three as the 2010 shoot had mandated. After transcribing the new interviews we recorded and thereby easily accessing the exact digital spots where interviewees made relevant points, we were able to slip out the old and slide in the new, adding a few additional b-roll images we captured to enhance the production. Some color correction, audio sweeps, graphics swaps, tightening of the timeline, and a bunch of other small tweaks – altogether taking a fraction of post-production time compared to the original work – and TRS has a very handsome, up-to-date and affordable video to re-upload.

V&V: A great value for all our clients!

Videotaping Bonus in Austin, Texas: The Dedication of the Tejano Monument

April 10, 2012

As a producer, for each video shoot I attend – whether marketing videos, web videos, business videos of any kind, documentaries, whatever! – I bring a checklist of all the details I want to capture in interviews and b-roll (visuals). But I view this list as more of an outline than a blueprint; invariably we find surprises along the way, the inclusion of which enhance final productions (as well as our own experiences, since having fun is also, always, part of the program).

A good recent example happened a week and a half ago. We were videotaping in Austin, Texas, updating an informational video for the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Texas (more about the update tomorrow). We stepped outside during an interval between interviews to get some b-roll and chanced upon a huge ceremony unveiling the Tejano Monument which was taking place at the Capitol, across the street from TRS’ office.

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The Tejano was 12 years in the making, a grandiose undertaking by sculptor Armando Hinojosa, depicting the early Spanish explorers and Tejano families, who introduced cattle ranching and farming. The sculpture includes a life-size scene, encompassing an equine statue with a cowboy, two longhorn cows, a family of settlers, and a Spanish explorer standing on a raised mesa, surveying the land before him.

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The work was significant since it was the first of 18 others on the Capitol grounds to celebrate the contributions of Texas’ early Spanish and Mexican explorers, settlers, and their descendants. Attended by hundreds of people, the unveiling ceremony was heralded with a Mariachi band whose members are students at University of Texas and who paraded through the streets for much of the remainder of the day trumpeting their contagious dancing melodies.

Roll the cameras! One of the messages of the video is that the Teacher Retirement System benefits the entire state since members live throughout Texas, spend their retirement monies locally, and volunteer hours in their communities. Here – right outside the door of the headquarters of our client — we found a gathering of Texans from around the state, all focused on an art project of importance. What nice and unanticipated visuals to mix into the final video alongside many other shots and graphics! And how lucky we were to get an unexpected and interesting history lesson about Texas, made possible by a slight veering off the pre-planned path.

One other thought: The unveiling committee was obviously aware that along with an official dedication of a state-sponsored sculpture comes the traditional and welcome spate of publicity. But they might not have imagined that their special event would have web video ramifications far beyond their intended audience. While only accounting for a few out of numerous shots in the video we re-created for TRS, the Tejano makes an actual and symbolic appearance that will be shared with millions of people in the State who benefit from the teacher retirement system. Yay for the ever-multiplying power of online video!

 texas, teachers, retirement, corporate video production, professional video, business video, new york video production company, marketing video