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Upskilling is vital. If you are seeking a job, ensuring your business is nimble, or tackling a career challenge, upskilling will be an essential part of your new year. Here’s why.

If you run a business

Upskilling employees is cheaper than replacing them.  

According to Gallup, replacing an employee is expensive:  from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. And that’s probably a low estimate. When you lose an employee, you lose their relationships with customers and their knowledge of critical systems and workflows. A better investment is upskilling them on what they need to succeed.

Upskilling can help you diversify your team. Women and especially women of color lost significant ground during the pandemic.  Even prior to the crisis, progress toward parity between men and women in technical roles had been falling steadily.  Upskilling has been shown to improve diversity in leadership ranks, which is not only the right thing to do but also improves the bottom line. Be sure to make advancement learning available to ALL employees, of every race and gender as well as people with differing learning styles.

Technology is speeding up. And yet half of executives feel that a lack of familiarity with technology is a barrier to digitally transforming their companies.  A global survey of 4,300 managers and executives shows that 90% of workers feel they need to update their skills annually just to keep up. This is one area where retraining can help.

If you downsized your business during the pandemic, upskilling your workforce can help you gain relevance.  According to McKinsey, “to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now.” Two researchers from the Aspen Institute say adding skills is the only way workers taking on new roles in downsized companies will be able to function: upskilling “is a lifeline that turns an overwhelmed and unprepared employee into one with the knowledge and skills to take on new tasks confidently and capably.”

If you are a worker…

Upskilling is essential if you want to move up.  Employees can take on new leadership roles when they add new knowledge and skills. With all the remote learning opportunities available, it’s great to know that e-learning boost retention by 25 to 60% (as opposed to 8-10% with traditional training).

You need tech skills for the distance economy.  In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. One Brookings study found that the share of jobs requiring a high level of digital skills more than tripled—to encompass nearly a quarter of all jobs— between 2002 and 2016.  And the share of jobs requiring AI skills has grown 4.5X since 2013. The benefits of digital transformation are everywhere, from improving customer engagement and revenue to boosting employee morale.

Adding a certification to help you do your job better and get better pay. Workers with certifications such as PMP (Project Management Professional) earn more than their non-certified counterparts. According to one study, PMP’s earn 22 percent higher salaries than their non-certified peers across 42 countries.

If you are self-employed, now is the time to increase your learning. And you may even get tax deduction for the cost.  In addition to improving digital skills, consider what knowledge will make you better at running your small business. For example, there are loads of great courses in everything from public speaking to accounting on LinkedIn Learning.

 

Amy DeLouise owns a digital media company and helps people improve their digital and entrepreneurial skills with courses on LinkedIn Learning.

Photo by Gabriel Benois, Unsplash

Brands deliver value. To customers (a consistency of brand promise, or “knowing what you’ll get”). To shareholders (increased revenues, a shorter sales/conversion cycle). To employees (motivated and brand-engaged employees have less turnover, higher satisfaction, and deliver better on KPI’s).

So if the ROI of good branding is so high, why is it always so hard to keep the brand at the center of strategic focus?  One simple reason is cost.  If the opportunity cost of NOT branding effectively or efficiently isn’t factored in, decision-makers often think it is too expensive to expend time and financial resources on brand-building exercises.   Here are four strategies that are cost-effective ways to keep your brand alive and well.

1. Mine Your Own Content

A tool everyone has, but rarely maximizes is your own media library. Maybe because it’s not so much a library as a mish-mash of files that are not indexed, so no one can find them. Every graphic, photograph, video clip, newsletter article or blog post you and your team have created are already sunk costs. Properly archived and tagged with metadata, they can be repurposed and reused in multiple ways to put your brand front and center with customers, clients, employees and other stakeholders.   The key is to use a DAM (digital asset management system) or MAM (media asset management system–often for larger files like video and audio) and build workflow best practices into every time you create a digital asset. Create a consistent system that works for everyone in your organization, with anywhere anytime access–vital with teleworking–is essential, so that you can build and share branded content that everyone can access, not only the intern, editor or photographer who first created it. A photo DAM system can help you avoid those awful automatic names (IMG_001) for photos, for example, by batch renaming name on ingest. But always maintain the original name in the data. Adobe Bridge, Google Photos (heads up–free is over June 2021!) and Adobe Lightroom are tools for managing photo content. LuminarAI is out in Beta from Skylum* and has a number of great photo management tools built into its AI-powered creative engine. For video, there are a number of DAMs (digital asset management) systems out there–from Imagen to CATdv by Squarebox.  (If you are looking for a MAM, this is a handy guide.)  There are also brand-specific systems, designed specifically for the marketing department (as opposed to a video production company or broadcaster) such as Brandfolder, Bynder, and Cloudinary.

  • Bottom Line: If you can’t find it, you can’t use it. So whether you use a sophisticated archiving system or a spreadsheet, save money and create your own “stock” library of branded content to tell your organization’s story.

*disclaimer: I do some writing and marketing work for Skylum. I do not receive any fees related to sales.

2. Video Sells

According to IndieGogo, “Crowdfunding pitches with video content raise 112% more than those without.” Video certainly is one of the top-most searched items on the web. But producing a branding video in-house can be daunting. It’s a time-consuming process, and commissioning one to be made can be costly. With just the investment in a Zoom H4N digital audio recorder, a SONY FDR-AX100 4K Ultra HD video camcorder, and some basic audio recording/mixing software like Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, you can quickly share useful branded video clips to your target audience. Or consider building your community by sharing useful content with a podcast. For a quick rundown on the latest podcasting software, check out this review.

  • Bottom Line: Build video into your brand strategy. It works.

    Photo by Sam Mcghee, Unsplash

3. Show Not Tell

So many people want to say WHAT it is they do, before really explaining HOW and WHY they do it. This is the core of your brand, and that’s the story you want to tell through any platform, whether it is a speaking engagement, podcast, blog post, or branded video.  BTS, or “Behind the Scenes”, is some of the top-shared content online. Why? Because as humans we are naturally curious and love to know what makes things work. So build “How to” or “How we made that” into every production or project.  That means adding a BTS camera. At the low end, could be a mobile phone. But for under $300 you could add a LOT of quality and pizzazz with a tool like the 4K DJI Osmo Pocket Gimbal Camera. Or if that’s too pricey, throw your mobile phone onto a gimbal with this little number, also from DJI. In a future post I’ll talk about good lighting and sound.

  • Bottom Line: Make shooting and sharing BTS part of your brand best practices.

DJI Pocket Osmo Camera in action

4. Email Signature is Free Branded Space

Lately, most of my incoming emails from systems like MailChimp and Constant Contact are going into my Spam and Promotions folders. So those are lost efforts to convey branded content. Why not supplement those efforts through a free space your contacts see every day: your e-mail signature. What a great opportunity to do a little brand storytelling!  A signature line doesn’t just give you a chance to tell your name and title, it gives you space for a blog link, twitter hashtag for an upcoming event, or YouTube link to your latest video.  This simple free advertising can be employed unilaterally—and uniformly–across your organization. (Send a “signature of the week” email to everyone in your organization with easily copied information and links.)

  • Bottom Line: Creating an email signature strategy builds brand awareness for free.

Using these four strategies, you can gain ground with your brand, and decrease the cost of creating or trying to find existing content to share with your audience.  More story. Less hassle. And that adds to your brand ROI.

 

Amy DeLouise is a video and virtual event producer, brand strategist, author and speaker. 

Covid-19 has entered all our worlds  with a bang. Many of us are having to rework existing workflows–which were only partially virtual or cloud-based–and develop entirely virtual processes and end-products.  Here are some key things to know as you transition to all-virtual.

The blue mic works well for podcasts

1) Streaming video requires excellent audio. If you are going to spend money, put it into microphones that will do he job right. You want to acquire 48kHz audio (24 bit). When you stream, your CDN may compress the files, so it’s

Mevo streaming setup is an affordable option

even more important to start with the best quality. If you’re hosting a podcast, consider the Blue Snowball microphone, that is easy to set up on a home desktop. If you are looking for an all-in-one 4K streaming option, for example for a worship service, wedding or meeting that now must be hosted virtually, take a look at the Mevo, and all-in-one system that allows recording in 4K, streaming in HD, on-board audio or the option to add an outside source, and even some mobile phone-based video editing capabilities.

2) Now’s a great time to dig into your photo and video archive. Since you won’t be able to capture new content out in the field, be sure you have tagged and identified source materials that can be repurposed to tell your story. Pull together folders of clips that can be repurposed to deliver messages about your mission, products or services.

3) Transcribe interviews. If you haven’t already, now’s a great time to get those old video interviews transcribed. You can cut them up into new videos, add quotes to your website or e-newsletters, and spice up your website with personal impact stories. Online services like Rev and Noble Transcription make it easy and affordable, all from your virtual work-at-home office.

We’re all in this together. Watch this space for more tips for building virtual community.

What happened at NAB? Join me as we review the emerging industry trends in an IBC365 Webinar today with Carolyn Giardina of the Hollywood Reporter,  dock10 CTO Paul Clennell and IHS analyst Przemek Bozek. Join us TODAY APRIL 18 as 4pm UK time (8am PDT / 11am EDT / 5pm CET) Click here for the webinar

On the show floor at NABSHOW 2018

 

This week I’ll be headed out to Las Vegas with 100,000 of my best friends in media, TV and video production for the biggest conference and technology showcase of the year, NAB Show. Many of us who are not on expense-account budgets will need to find good spots for dining, so here are my favorite places to eat well without breaking the piggy bank.  If you have other suggestions, please let me know!  Also, if you are headed to NAB, please check out my workshops during Post|Production World and don’t forget to stop by the always exciting #GalsNGear main event on Tuesday morning–a networking coffee thanks to Adobe and Blackmagic Design followed by a dynamic session with cutting-edge gals in UAV, AI, 360, VR, and post and more than $10,000 in gear and software giveaways. An event not to be missed!

Alright, back to my food picks:

1. Lotus of Siam. Excellent, authentic, and seriously spicy–thai cuisine. Try the spicy prawns or the sea bass in any of the three sauces–I had the ginger sauce with mushrooms on Saturday night and it was divine. For folks who love spicy (me!), beware. The scale at Lotus is the real deal. If you ask for 10, you might need a tableside fire extinguisher.

2. Kaizon Fusion Roll. Asia fusion with interesting (and gigantic) sushi roll combinations in a low-key, hip bar atmosphere. Just across street from Hard Rock Hotel but not nearly as pricey as their famous sushi place.

3. Sen of Japan gets rave reviews and is more authentic Japanese, for purists.

4. Pamplemousse Locals go here for special occasion, reasonably authentic French fare. Haven’t tried it myself, so give me your feedback.

5. Lindo Michoacan A local Mexican 3-restaurant chain well regarded, including by my local friend whose wife hails from Mexico.

6. Echo and Rig Pick out your cut of steak, then have it grilled up at the restaurant next door. Talk about “on-demand” dining!

7. Piero’s A Las Vegas institution and close to the Convention Center where we’re all living for this conference. Dinner only.

8.  Tamba Indian A family owned place with plenty of tables for big groups.

9. The only Vegas eatery on the strip that makes my list is Beijing Noodle No.9 at Caesar’s. Try the soup dumplings (they’re not IN the soup, the soup is IN the dumplings!) and a bowl of Lanzhou noodle soup.

10. Walgreens. No I’m not kidding you. The food trucks at the Convention Center are long, and I speak at multiple sessions with little turnaround time. So I will often grab a yogurt or a decent sandwich in the morning at Walgreens (there are three on the strip) rather than wait in line at lunchtime. And that saves more eating fun for dinnertime.

Alright, you’ve got my picks. I hope to see you soon at NABShow in Vegas!

Amy DeLouise is a writer-producer-author-speaker and foodie who operates out of Washington, DC but travels the world.

#FemaleFilmmaker Friday: Saving Sea Turtles

Filming in the cold Cape Cod sunset.

For #FemaleFilmmaker Friday, I’ve brought you an interview with Seattle filmmaker Michele Gomes, co-founder and Creative Director of InterChange Media who I was lucky enough to meet at an #NABShow several years ago.  I produced an interview for her project Combating Ebola, a series of emergency response videos that aired throughout West Africa. We talked about her new feature length documentary, Saving Sea Turtles, co-directed with her production partner Jennifer Ting. The film won the Green Spark Award at the American Conservation Film Festival.

What got you interested in the plight of the stranded sea turtles?

I grew up in Rhode Island and spent my summers swimming in the Atlantic and I’d never heard of sea turtles swimming off the shores of New England. Then, during a visit to the Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Cape Cod, we met a naturalist who told us that the rarest sea turtle in the world was washing up cold-stunned (hypothermic) annually every November and December and dozens of people were volunteering to go on patrols to save them.  So we decided to rent a place for 5 weeks in order to capture this phenomena.

Did you set out to make a full-length feature doc or did the project evolve?

The project definitely evolved. I was interested in filming the conservation efforts and finding out what was going on with the sea turtles. Jenny wanted to make a film about the naturalist, who she thought could even make a good host for a television series.  We both agreed we needed to capture what a “sea turtle stranding season” was like. After being on the ground, witnessing an environmental crisis—the largest sea turtle stranding in Massachusetts history–and seeing how the local community came together to try and save 1200 sea turtles, we knew we had to tell the whole story. The species is Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, and marine wildlife specialists and volunteers are working hard to prevent them from

Filming hatchlings on the beach, helped by volunteers.

going extinct.

What were some technical challenges that you and Jenny faced with production and what were your solutions?

​While we brought a lot of equipment, we were not prepared for the weather conditions during the winter on the Cape. The patrols happen after every high tide, day and night. The first time we went on a night sea turtle patrol, we had plans to shadow a retired private school teacher named Nancy Rabke.  The wind was so intense that when she came over to our car I could barely get the door open and she had to fight to wedge herself into the car and said, “I don’t think you should come out with us tonight.  The wind is just too strong!”  We completely agreed. Cape Cod is an enormous sand bar that sticks out 60 miles into the ocean and the sand gets wiped around by the wind and it can be painful.  If we had tried to film that evening, our lens would have been destroyed and we wouldn’t have captured the rest of the events as they unfolded.  So we had to adjust and be patient and practical.

Because of the wind storms and the volume of sea turtles that got pushed ashore, everyone around us was overwhelmed and dealing with the unexpected.  So we had to think and move fast, be resourceful and ask lots of questions without getting in the way.

We also lost the main character because he ended up having a major health problem just when the mass stranding was taking place.  So we shifted our focus a bit and found another lead. Luckily, this story didn’t rest on one man’s shoulders. The film reveals a community network that involves thousands of people from states all along the eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as from across the US and Mexico.   

Michele with a 50 lb juvenile loggerhead sea turtle that she had just carried off the beach. It survived and was later released. The 275 lb female sadly did not survive.

Every documentary hits financial challenges. How did you approach the funding?

This was a passion project of ours, so we mainly ended up funding it ourselves.  We tried a Kickstarter campaign, but didn’t reach our goal.  We applied for grants but didn’t receive any.  Getting funding for a film about conservation is notoriously difficult.  It is not typically a flashy subject.  Women ​Make Movies in NYC became our fiscal sponsors so anyone who wanted to donate money towards the film could do so through them.  ​

Are there any tools–camera rigs, workflow management tools, etc.–that you used that made the process easier?

Go-Pros helped us to capture the underwater footage we needed as well as helping us to put the viewer into the footsteps of a volunteer (think pre-VR).  We discovered that the shoulder rigs we rented were too heavy and didn’t fit our bod​ies, so we went with hand-held except for sit-down interviews. ​

Not only do you have to be technically prepared, but you also have to be mentally prepared.  I’ll never forget the moment about a week before the production began that I realized that we will not only be shooting live sea turtles, but dead ones as well.​  Being prepared to expose yourself to some potentially traumatic content/experiences can be helpful.

What is your top piece of advice for any first-time long-form documentary makers?

​Be sure you are focusing on a subject that is meaningful and inspiring. If it is a meaningful subject, you’ll get it done no matter what obstacles you face (financial, time, technical, etc.)  Witnessing the dedication of the sea turtle patrol volunteers going out at 3 AM in 20 degree weather in harsh conditions inspired us every step along the way. We finished the film to honor their work and to help out with the plight of species. So in the end, we felt good about all the work we put into the film and we are so grateful that we get to share it with others.  Also, Jenny and I put down our cameras to help save sea turtles and that was a transformative life experience.

Any final thoughts?

Be sure to bring your post-production partners into the project early.  We’re so happy that we had meetings with an animator well before the film was in picture lock.  The more you can prepare your post-production team the better.  Talk to everyone about your film because you never know who is going to make a great suggestion.  It was our roommate who recommended our narrator and we were blown away by our experience working with a living legend, Dr. Sylvia Earle.  Creating a feature length documentary is a time- and energy consuming commitment. Our film took 2.5 years + and was demanding work.  Not only are you a filmmaker, but you have to be a social media expert, distributor, promoter, web designer and endless advocate.

Amy DeLouise is a Director-Producer-Filmmaker. She will be giving production workshops and hosting the #GALSNGEAR livestreamed discussion at NABShow in Las Vegas in April.

 

 

 

 

 

Levi Sim-10

In just a few days I’ll be at NABShow, the Superbowl of my industry. Or as I like to call it, 110,000 of my best friends in content production.  If you want to catch up with me there, here are my 7 (yes, seven) sessions and 2 panels during Post|Production World. Plus, I’ll be hosting an amazing group of women in UAV, VR, 3D, VFX, Editing and more during a multi-camera, livestreamed show called #GALSNGEAR on Tuesday, April 25th.  Come for the coffee and donuts at 8:30, stay for the show at 9AM!

Here are a few things I’ve learned in my years at NABShow. See you in Vegas!

  1. Have a Shoe Strategy – Bring several pairs, and plan to swap out at least once per 15-hour day! While this is especially true for women, it applies to men too. A few years ago I shared a cab with an attendee who confessed he only had brought one pair of shoes. Big mistake. You will walk many miles a day across the 1 Million square feet of show floor (!), not to mention the miles of sidewalk on the strip.
  2. Have a Transportation Strategy – The monorail is great if your hotel is right on it. If not, there’s actually a decent Express bus that runs up the strip and over to the Convention Center. You can buy a multi-day pass for much less than the monorail. Thank goodness Uber has come to Las Vegas, which cuts down the cost of other rides. And of course once the show is in full swing, there are free buses that go to most convention hotels. If you’re in a hurry, however, these can take quite a while.
  3. Bring Business Cards – I’m always amazed at how many people don’t bring them, or don’t bring enough. It’s a show with more than 100,000 people! You can’t remember everyone to tag them on LinkedIn when you get home, so share cards. A strong visual and a simple declaration of what you do is important. I hate getting back with cards to scan that feature only a name. If you’re not Oprah or Cher, include details!
  4. Have a Daytime Food Strategy – Lines at the convention center food trucks and stations can be long. On days when I’m presenting, I bring a sandwich and a yogurt from the Walgreen’s on the strip (there are three). This will save you time and frustration on peak days of the show.walgreens on strip4. Have an Evening Food Strategy – Are you sensing a theme here? Since I’m feeding myself on my own dime during NABShow, I try to skip the overpriced strip restaurants for many meals.  These are some of my all time favorites as well as places I still want to explore.  Let me know if you want to grab a bite!

Lotus of Siam. Excellent, authentic, and seriously spicy Northern Thai cuisine. Try the spicy prawns or the sea bass in any of the three sauces–I’ve had the ginger sauce with mushrooms and it was divine. Kaizon Fusion Roll. Asia fusion with interesting (and gigantic) sushi roll combinations in a low-key, hip bar atmosphere. Just across street from Hard Rock Casino, but not nearly as pricey as their famous sushi spot. Tamba Indian I plan to give this place a try this year based on a recommendation of an Indian friend. Lindo Michoacan. A local Mexican 3-restaurant chain well regarded, including by my local friend whose wife hails from Mexico. Sen of Japan gets rave reviews and is more authentic Japanese, for purists. Pamplemousse. Locals go here for special occasion, reasonably authentic French fare. Pricing more on par with the strip restaurants, but reviews are rave. Echo and Rig Pick out your cut of steak, then have it grilled up at the restaurant next door. Talk about “on-demand” dining! Piero’s. A Las Vegas institution and close to the Convention Center where we’re all living for this conference. Dinner only. The only Vegas eatery on the strip that makes my list is Beijing Noodle No.9 at Caesar’s. Try the Soup Dumplings–the soup is actually IN the dumplings, not the other way around!–and a bowl of Lanzhou noodle soup.

Amy DeLouise is a director-producer specializing in nonfiction, short form videos for large live events. When she’s not in production, Amy is also a frequent speaker and workshop leader. She has courses on #LinkedInLearning and will be presenting at #NABShow. 

 

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

 

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.

 

 

AmyDirectsTalentSo-called “real people” can add power to a video story. For testimonials, someone who actually uses the product can be compelling. If the story focuses on a charity, someone who has lived the day-to-day impact can help raise funds more effectively than an on-camera professional host. A person who works in an organization might be the very best at explaining a new process or tool.

But here’s the catch.

Using real people as opposed to actors affects the bottom line costs of your video, in both production and post. Often executive producers focus on the cost-savings of not having to hire actors–no actor fees, no casting fees, no pension and welfare payments (for union actors). However, pro’s bring their ability to hit their marks every time, to become characters convincingly, and to deliver a particular line the same way in the wide shot, the closeup and the shot that gets done after a lunch break.

So if you are using real people, you need to focus on 3 areas to minimize the budget negatives:

  1. Casting. While you may use an informal process, you’ll still need to “cast” people to be sure they can work with you, they have an interesting story, and to build a relationship prior to the day of taping. While actors can step onto a set filled with strangers and go, most regular folks can’t. Always avoid using someone solely on the recommendation on another person. If you will be the day-of-production interviewer, producer or director, you’ll need to talk to them yourself to be sure you have a good rapport.
  2. Scheduling. Build extra time into your shoot schedule. Not just for each angle or shot, but also breaks for your “talent.” Unlike pro’s, who can muscle through a long day, most regular folks need some time out of the lights. Plus they will likely need to make calls, check on the kids being picked up from soccer, etc. I’m always surprised how often I’ve got someone telling me they’ve “blocked out” the whole day for our shoot, and then when we arrive, they’ve actually got several hours of phone calls, errands or other work scheduled. No one outside of production understands that what we do is a really focused, full day or more type of job.
  3. Post Workflow. Your post-production workflow will also need to be adjusted. If you are conducting interviews, be sure you get transcripts made (from mp3 or wav files of the interviews) so that you can make a preliminary set of selects and then choose from those for your final edits.  This will save massive amounts of time slogging through footage to find soundbites.  If you are creating a re-enactment or a direct-to-camera video, you’ll need excellent field notes via Adobe Live Logger, Google docs, Lumberjack, etc. that allows you to correct for the usual mistakes and changed dialogue or non-matching action that commonly occur when  using non-actors. Again, this will save massive amounts of time and frustration during editing.

I’ve built some handy templates and other prep, shoot and post resources into my new book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera. Use code FLR40 at checkout for 20% off (not available on Amazon). Let me know any other tools you think I should add here on the website.