Multi-Platform Madness: A Day on the Set

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This week I produced and directed a fun shoot for an international education association. What might appear at first glance to be a simple studio shoot  was really a multi-tasking day that allowed us to gather multiple content streams at once, for later multi-purposing.  Here are some of the elements we shot in less than 8 hours:

-5 interviews with a Canon 300 Mark II camera

-Secondary/side angle of all interviews w/a Canon DSLR camera on a slider

-6 direct-to-camera reads of a brief :30 appeal

-BTS (behind the scenes) video and photos

-Samsung Gear VR footage of our setup

-Hyperlapse time lapse footage of our setup

-Smart phone photos and videos of our day on the set

And now here are all the outputs we can achieve for this client: 

-A short video about the association for their website combining the interviews,  BTS footage, and other existing content from the association

-Social media sharing content using the BTS photo and smart phone content

-A Facebook video campaign using the direct-to-camera content

-An Instagram video campaign using the direct-to-camera content

-Interview transcripts that can be mined for quotes for website and newsletter sharing

-VR and timelapse content that can boost social sharing

 

Planning For Multiple Content Streams

Of course, this all takes advanced planning. You can’t accomplish multiple outputs without having the right people on your production team. You need to have a designated BTS Photographer and ideally a separate BTS Videographer.  These roles are different, but can sometimes be combined as long as you are clear about what you need from each format. You will also need a DIT–Digital Information Tech–who can be offloading, ingesting and verifying your footage and photo media cards as you go, because you will need to keep using cards throughout the day.  That person will also be meta-tagging your shots so you can find what you need for quick turnarounds later. Again, this person could have another role such as production assistant, but you had better be darn sure they really know what they are doing when it comes to media management. On some shoots I rely on my director of photography (camera op) to do this job, but then you have to wait until the end of the day. This means you need to purchase more media cards up front, since you won’t want to “blow them away” until you have ingested, duplicated, and verified all your footage. For a multi-camera shoot like the one we did this week, I did not want to distract my camera guy with that task, so we had our BTS photographer do it because she is also quite experienced at this DIT role. She also pulled up all our footage in a laptop version of Premiere Pro, our NLE (nonlinear editing) platform, so that we could check our colors “in the real world”.

Designing Your Workflow for Spoken Word Content

You’ll also need a workflow plan for your Transcripts. I like to use a real, human transcriber for long interviews or anything involving speakers with accents.  The folks at Noble Transcription do a great job. If you live in a town with lawyers, you can find a transcription service! For quick interviews, Speechmatics is an AI platform that does a pretty nifty job. You might have to correct things like acronyms, which it isn’t good at recognizing. I then import my transcripts into PremierePro using Transcriptives, a new plug-in from Digital Anarchy. Transcriptives attaches speech elements to every clip from the interview, allowing you to build your script, output drafts that everyone can review on paper, and output your final captioning.

Archiving and Future-Proofing

Really, the future-proofing comes in the planning stage. I like to shoot everything in 4K these days. That gives me enough lattitude to compress content for small screen delivery without compromising quality. It also allows me to crop images to 2K, giving me the ability to add a second “angle” without moving my camera.   It also gives me enough color space and pixels to crop unusual specs like the awful Facebook vertical, while keeping high quality color and resolution for larger-screen delivery.  Future-proofing also means ensuring that you have permissions “in any and all media” from all your participants, so you don’t have to go back to them every time you change your output. You also will need to get the right licenses for any music or stock images you add into your final products.  As far as archiving goes, we really don’t know what the next digital medium will be, so the best policy is to save all your content in its highest quality form, without any added text or soundtracks. This will allow you to continue multi-purposing well into the future.

I’ll have a new LinkedIn Learning course on this subject soon, so watch this space for updates!

 

 

Focus on #GALSNGEAR at #NABSHOW

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If you’ve been following the #GalsNGear hashtag on Twitter, then you know I’ve been working behind the scenes with many colleages–women and men across production and post–to put the focus on women in the technical fields of our industry during NABShow this year.   On our program, we’ll be featuring 14 top pro’s talking about VR, UAV, VFX, CC, 3D, and more. Plus we’ll be giving away thousaGnG_IG-Post1nds of dollars worth of cool stuff! We want to be sure these professionals get the limelight they deserve, and inspire the next generation of women working behind the lens in our industry.

NABShow in Las Vegas is an incredible annual smorgasboard in our sprawling industry of content creators and distributors in TV, video, cable, OTT, satellite and more. Or as I like to call it, 100,000 of my best friends in media. Special thanks to NAB and Women in Film & Video, and our partners Broadcast Beat Magazine, sponsors Black Magic Design, Snell Advanced Media, and Vitec, as well as supporting partners Adobe, iZotope, Zacuto, Ott House Audio, Rampant Design, Sundance Media Group, and Radiant Images.
If you’re coming to NAB, then we’ll see you at the show! (8:30AM is free coffee/donuts and networking, the show goes live at 9AM). If not, join us live online at 9AM. Broadcast Beat, our streaming partners, will be carrying us to more than 2M viewers in 180 countries! Details here.

Luisa Winters on GalsNGear NABSHOW Live 2016

Check out these amazing women joining us on stage to demo and discuss gear and content production and post-production this year:

Participating women:

Jennifer Pidgen, COO, Sundance Media Group; UAV Pilot

Céline Tricart, Cinematographer & VR Filmmaker

Nina Page, Head of Business Development, Radiant Images

Amanda Shelby, Head of Production, Radiant Images

Csilla Kozma, Head of Content, Nokia Technology

Cheryl Ottenritter, Senior Mixer/Founder, Ott House Audio

Mae Manning, Editor

Sue Lawson, Editor

Megan McGough Christian, Production Manager, “Frontline”, WGBH Boston

Stefanie Mullen, CEO, Rampant Design, Visual Effects

Sophia Kyriacou, Broadcast Designer/3D Artist

E Samantha Cheng, Executive Producer, Heritage Series, LLC

Co-Hosts:

Adryenn Ashley, CEO, Crowded TV

Amy DeLouise, Producer/Director, Author of The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera

 

The Future of Story: A View from Shanghai

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Maryann Brandon, editor of STAR WARS, discusses visual effects edit workflow.

I just got back from China, and the nascent NAB Shanghai conference, where I was moderating the Global Innovation Exchange thought leaders event. The sessions on 4K, UHD, and 8K were packed. Speakers talked about how they are building new audiences through OTT, and how they are developing storage and workflows for complex, multi-platform delivery.  And not surprisingly, the VR track was packed with speakers presenting on this new and evolving format.

But what really impressed me was the focus on STORY. Yes, we need ways to move massive data packets around for a consistent streaming and viewing experience. Yes, we will continue to improve picture resolution and screen quality. Yes, we will continue to evolve the immersive experience. And yet we know that what leads to success—whether of a social platform, a webisode, a feature film or a game–is a good story. Characters that are memorable. Authentic moments that make us laugh or cry. A connection to emotions that make us return and share, again and again.

Maryann Brandon, editor of STAR WARS: The Force Awakens, STAR TREK: Into Darkness and the new release PASSENGERS, talked about how through all of the special effects, her focus is always on story.  If the story isn’t working, effects are not the answer.  Her goal and that of the film’s director is always to make an emotional connection with the viewer. Michael Uslan, the producer of the DARK KNIGHT, THE LEGO MOVIE, and many other films, TV series and games, spoke about what compelled him to cobble together the financing to buy the Batman franchise while still in his twenties: “Batman’s greatest superpower is his humanity.”

This could be said of our entire media-TV-film industry. We are of course always taken with technology. Technology enabled us to create the first photographs, the first talking pictures, and the first color films. Technology brought the moon landing into every living room and built the networks that allow CNN to report from around the world. And now technology is bringing us social media experiences, virtual reality programming and AI characters. The future is exciting.

But technology without humanity is nothing.  So as I watched speakers from around the world sharing and learning from one another, talking about the kind of stories that truly engage, I was encouraged. Through all the high tech, we must keep our focus on the stories worth telling: those all around us, and those we have not yet imagined.

***

On my way to Shanghai, I stopped over in London for the IABM conference with broadcast manufacturers.  Here’s my talk on the challenges of Transmedia Production.

Using VR to Free Local Space from its Boundaries

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Who isn’t intrigued by the storytelling capabilities of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)? My friend and colleague Danilda Martinez shares some of her experiences exploring this new frontier of media-making. Check out her post!

VR and The Quest to Free Local Space from its Boundaries

By Danilda Martinez, guest blogger

Danilda shooting 3D tour-web

My partners and I founded Immersive Spaces earlier this year with the goal of bringing a seamless VR offering to our local community and businesses. West Palm Beach, Florida has both a warm local vibe and a swank international appeal all at once. We knew that whatever we brought to market here had to feel world-class, not clunky, and accessible.  Immersive Spaces started mainly with real estate tours, and we’ve organically evolved into other spaces like galleries, and entertainment.

VR Challenges

The challenge was that producing 360-video through a traditional production approach is time-consuming and expensive. Not many local businesses have this kind of budget for marketing and content creation, especially for something as new as new virtual reality. So we had to find acquisition and editing technology that would work for our budget. We also had to consider lighting, and tried to take advantage of the best possible ambient lighting since moving lighting fixtures in and out of shots can affect the ability to “stitch” them together efficiently in post.

Exploring VR Tools

With that in mind, we approached the whole process from the end-user and client’s perspectives, which lead us to focus on acquiring technology that would produce fluid intuitive feeling tours for the end-user, and speedy turnaround for our clients. After researching options for gear and services we chose to work with Matterport, a turn-key solution which has proven to be the most effective solution for our start-up, offering affordability and quick turnarounds for us and our clients.  Rather than shoot everything with a traditional 3D set up, using production cameras or Go-Pro rigs, and Cinema 4D or Kolor for stitching, we purchased Matterport’s camera and use their cloud service to stitch and manage the 3D scans. The “Dollhouse” is a feature our clients and their audiences love, and it is essentially a 3D birdseye view of the space that can be interacted with so you select where to go next in the space.

Dollhouse-web

the “Dollhouse” view

While we wouldn’t use Matterport for producing traditional 360 video narratives because of its limited options for shooting flexibility and post-production, for now we can get VR projects going while we take our time exploring other in-house options.  At the heart of it all, we’re just having fun with new VR technology while connecting our community to the world both virtually and literally. We have an exciting year ahead of us as we constantly look to push the limits of how our local community uses VR in telling its stories through exploring space.

Danilda Martinez is the Chief Space Agent for Immersive Spaces in West Palm Beach, FL Her work can be found at www.ImmersiveSpaces.com and at facebook.com/immersivespaces.

 

 

Immersive Storytelling 101

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Henderson, NV – Today I’ve been surrounded by immersive storytellers, sharing their experiences with virtual reality, CG characters and the future of entertainment. 100 professors and filmmakers are taking this journey with me (several hundred more arrive for the main event starting tomorrow, where we’ll get to “hack VR” among other hands-on experiences). We’re participating in Digital Innovation Day, the prequel to the annual conference of the University Film and Video Association, “Content Creation in the 21st Century” where I’ll be speaking on Tuesday. As a self-taught filmmaker, I never took courses from the brilliant educators and industry leaders here this week, so this is an exciting opportunity to learn from them. Here are a few takeaways from the folks on the bleeding edge of this new generation of digital storytelling:

  • the workflow and camera technology are new and still evolving, and costs vary widely (from the $350 Ricoh Theta-S, good for shot planning, to the Nokia Ozo that can cost $60,000)
  • the role of sound is critical–we “see through our ears” (if we want a user to turn in a certain direction to catch some action, the sound might give them a clue)
  • throw out what you think of as “script”–VR doesn’t work that way (there’s not a beginning, middle and end or story arc as you traditionally think of it)
  • where do you hide the crew and gear when you shoot 360? (answer:  VFX is needed in post, and sometimes the director hides in plain sight as one of the talent)
  • promising collaborations between industry and universities are pushing the bounds of this new medium (we watched innovative productions involving professors and students from Florida State University, Loyola Marymount University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and more)

and…most importantly…

  • the story only works when we have an emotional connection to the experience. (some things don’t change after all!)

I’ll be back with more from the conference. If you’re looking for the slide deck for my prezy, click on the Speaking tab of this website. Tweet to me @brandbuzz if you’d like to connect during the conference. My new book will be at the Focal Press/Routledge booth.

Amy DeLouise is a director-producer of short form nonfiction who speaks at/occasionally gets to attend cool conferences.