Finding the Story

I watched the movie Road to Perdition again last night. I remembered it as a great film, directed by Sam Mendes, starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law and Daniel Craig. It won numerous awards including the 2003 Academy Award for Best Cinematography by Conrad Hall. Of course, it resonated with me because I’m an image guy. But it was also an interesting story well told and a visual treat.

As people we are all looking for the story. It’s simply a part of who we are as a species. When presented with a group of images we automatically start searching for a connection or common theme between them.

Those are “Red” things and “Round” things in case you got lost… 😊

The extension of this phenomenon is that we enjoy films that require us to look a little closer to find the message. Sometimes the on-screen action is so fast and frantic we struggle to keep up. In other films the story develops more slowly, and the message is in the details. Crafting scenes with dramatic lighting, unusual camera positions and other techniques is the art of cinematography. Filmmakers have developed their own signature styles like the action blockbusters of Michael Bay (Transformers and Armageddon) to the monochrome deadpan presentation of Wes Anderson’s work (The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Royal Tenenbaums). Check out more at https://screenrant.com/directors-with-a-signature-style-tarantino/.

As a maker of 2-minute website introduction videos I certainly don’t include myself with these icons of the industry. However, basic understanding of storytelling and creating interesting scenes is a part of my toolbox. Viewers subconsciously respond better to crisp, colorful and well composed images. Clear and easy to understand audio is an equally important component of a well delivered website video or social media video message. At times, I am simply the cameraman filming the client’s ideas of what they want. However, I’m usually able to suggest a more creative way to tell a client’s story.

My budgets are consistently less extravagant than the $147 million Michael Bay spent to create Transformers. But let’s get back to the more reasonable $87 million Road to Perdition.

It is a crime film set in 1931 based on a graphic novel of the same name written by Max Allan Collins.

As many times is the case, the film adaptation of the novel bounced around Hollywood for years before finally coming to production. It was filmed in 2002 in and around Chicago and made use of the many buildings and neighborhoods that remain architecturally intact from the great depression era. It was also filmed with minimal digital effects, meaning that street scenes, signs, cars and costumes were created primarily in front of the camera rather than being computer generated.

Although a mob/gangster story, the inherent violence and gore was minimized. From Wikipedia;
“In the film, most of the numerous acts of violence are committed off-screen. The violent acts were also designed to be quick, reflecting the actual speed of violence in the real world. The focus was not on the direct victims of the perpetuated violence, but the impact of violence on the perpetrators or witnesses to the act.”

In many films important plot details are delivered indirectly requiring the viewer to search for the story. Sometimes only a partial face or a quick glance is seen adding importance to what that person has just heard or seen. Additionally, a new character can be briefly introduced early in a film, but we don’t understand their significance until an hour later.

As a maker of short website videos (2 Minute Films), I employ some of these same filmmaking concepts. I try to create interesting visuals rather than just walking up to a scene, plopping the tripod down and shooting it. Sometimes if I just walk around the room or area for a few minutes I will find a more interesting or thoughtful way to shoot it. In the editing of an introduction video, I’ll sometimes open with a series of detail images while hearing the person speaking and don’t show the speaker for 10 or 15 seconds. Just because I only have two minutes, instead of two hours, doesn’t mean my films can’t also be interesting stories well told and a visual treat.

Thank you for reading our 2 Minute Films Blog!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL

Equipment Packages

About 20 years ago my wife Sherri Barber (www.sherribarber.com) and I were shooting sports every week. She was a newspaper photographer and I was a free-lance sports photographer. We had an equipment “Package” for each sport. A selection of cameras & lenses, fanny packs, knee pads, rain slickers, ear protection, sunscreen and accessories all designed for the effective coverage of whatever the day’s event was; basketball, football, golf, skiing, car racing, tennis or rodeo.

Not often but occasionally I need to build a new package. That was the case last week when I was going to the east coast of Florida to shoot stills and video for In-Situ Inc., a Colorado based manufacturer of water testing devices. We were going to be out in boats, wading around on sandbars and doing some half underwater half above water filming too. We were using Nikon HDSLR cameras and GoPro’s on this trip.

The gear we have now is so much easier to use than what we were working with 20 plus years ago. But it still requires some pre-planning and adherence to a schedule, you can’t just go for a boat ride and expect to get everything you need.

I didn’t want to work from my normal “Lightware” cases with their porous Cordura fabric covers yet I didn’t really need to have my cameras completely protected in underwater housings. For my primary camera bag, I ended up buying a new variation of a dry bag from Gill, a sailing supply company. It opens along the long dimension rather than the traditional roll down end of most dry bags. I added some structure inside with a small box and a lens divider from a Domke bag to keep my gear separated. I wasn’t too concerned about cameras bouncing around I just wanted some level of water protection. My other gear, lights and strobes were packed in waterproof, bins and dry bags.

Fortunately, our primary shoot day was sunny, so I didn’t have to use any portable lights on the sandbar. I decided to sacrifice my oldest tripod and just plant it in the saltwater and rebuild it after the shoot.

I managed to keep the head dry so dismantling and cleaning the legs and feet was all that was necessary this week. Obviously, I was knee to chest deep in water all day, so my uniform was board shorts, Keen sandals and a long sleeve fishing shirt.

I have long been in awe of the crews that shoot the fishing shows and how they function in that challenging environment. Especially when the key moments are when the wild fish are being stalked and caught. I’m certainly no water sports specialist but I’ve been around the block more than a few times and can usually cobble together a package that gets the job done. At least on this shoot I could laugh at my mistakes and tell everyone to “Reset, we’re going to shoot it again”.

Here is a little “Behind the Scenes” video from the trip.

Watch for the dolphin surfing in the boat’s wake.

Thank you for reading our 2 Minute Films Blog!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL

Happy New Year to All

Each January as the planet earth begins a new trip around the sun, I always review my business and personal goals. I resist making classic New Year resolutions, that’s a set up for failure. Instead I recall successes from the previous year and ponder why other marketing attempts didn’t go so well.

As usual the new business I developed in 2018 came from several avenues. But often new video production clients came from basic website inquiries. Having a clear and easy to navigate website is extremely important for all businesses regardless of your products or services. We revamped our 2MinuteFilms website in 2018 to make it even more visual and easy to navigate. I have a personal introduction video on our services page. And I also use that personal intro video as part of my default email signature.

I recently came across this article Trends in Video Advertising from ShopKick. It addresses the growth of live streaming video on social media and goes so far as to call it “The future of social media”.

One of the most significant challenges in video advertising is not simply attracting viewers but in keeping them engaged from beginning to end. The longer a video is watched, the more likely the consumer is to retain the brand’s message or even buy its product. Content is just one of many factors that can determine if a video is viewed in its entirety. Making a video production interesting or “watchable” is our goal. We have a production formula for doing just that, regardless if your budget is hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Many of the major brands are using social media videos with celebrity endorsements tied into more complete marketing plans for products and services. This overall growth in video validates the continued effectiveness of even a simple video addition to your website.

Best wishes for 2019!

Thank you for reading our 2 Minute Films Blog!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL

Families in the Fast Lane

This summer Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR racing legend Bill Elliott, won his first Monster Energy Cup race at Watkins Glen on August 5th. Then he won two more races in quick succession; Dover on Oct 7th and Kansas City on Oct 21st  which solidified his arrival into the small world of successful top tier NASCAR drivers. NASCAR is a family affair, The Petty’s, Allison’s, Waltrip’s, Labonte’s, Jarrett’s and Earnhardt’s are names synonymous with the sport’s success. And now the Elliott’s have joined that group.

I was primarily a still photographer until 2008 or so. That’s when I evolved into full time video production. Before then I had worked on numerous video shoots making still photos during the breaks and resets. Occasionally I was sucked into a grip role with the video crew, usually because I was tall and could reach things or handle a boom microphone.

In February of 2000, I was hired to be a part of a nine-person group of photographers to shoot a coffee table book on the Daytona Speedweeks. Speedweeks is 10 days of practice, qualifying and races that kicks off the NASCAR stock car racing season each year. I was the “motorhead” of the group because I had covered auto racing before and had become a fan of sorts. Motor racing needs to be seen in person to fully appreciate the speed, noise, smell and energy that it entails. Being as knowledgeable as I was, I was an asset to the team. I could walk through the garage and recognize crew chiefs and some owners, and most drivers without their uniforms on.

During qualifying, which was a one car at a time affair in those days, lots of wives and kids would be around the pit area waiting for their husbands or fathers to take to the track.

Here is my photo of young Chase Elliott talking on the walkie talkie radio which made it into the book. And a shot from this year which is not my photo.

Eighteen years later I’m still watching NASCAR races and following the families in the fast lane. Now that I live in Florida I’m able to go to Daytona as a fan and get my annual dose of the spectacle that is NASCAR.

Here are a few more photos of mine from the 2000 Speedweeks book.

Thank you for reading our 2 Minute Films Blog!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL

Home Movie Video Production

We took a quick trip to Maine last week to escape the Florida heat for a few days. It was the  Last of the 50 United States for me to visit. I’ve been to all of them now even though a few states were just drive throughs, but that counts doesn’t it?

Here is a 4-minute video production of our trip shot entirely with my iPhone and a GoPro.

I seem to always shoot video now instead of still photos. In my opinion still photographs need to be captured in high quality and viewed on large screens or in prints. That way the viewer can study and fully appreciate the slice of time that the photographer has chosen to capture. Crafting still photos is a similar yet different skill than filming and editing a video. Video can be watched quickly and enjoyed on phones and pads, providing the video tells a story and the individual scenes have interesting content. Home videos of long unedited scenes can be painful to endure… we all have been subjected to these home movies and wedding videos that drag on and on and on…  I know this 4-minute travel video is just my own “home movie” but curiously it contains some of the same production elements that I use when making videos for my clients.

At 2 Minute Films we tell our client’s stories with audio dialog and well-crafted visual scenes. Usually we film an interview with the president of the company or a spokesperson. Then we film scenes that are directly associated with the story being told or other general visuals called “B-Roll”. The ratio of story information to visuals can vary wildly from 90% story – 10% visuals or 10% story – 90% visuals. In the case of my home video it’s 95% B-Roll and only 5% story. The only story being presented is a few words on screen; 4 Day Getaway, Maine, Portland, Rockland, Pie for breakfast, Vinalhaven, and a handful of audio words; “ice cream, nice to be cold, eat/shop”. The rest of the video is scenes that I grabbed when it was convenient (remember I was on vacation).

The video clips in this home movie also contain tiny bits of information; one windshield wiper swipe indicates rain even though the scene is too short to see rain, mussed hair while sipping coffee indicates morning, Sherri making a face at me in the car tells you I made another stupid husband comment, etc.

I intentionally edited this home move to be about 3-4 minute long. I chose the music first and then marked the timeline to the beat of the music and cut the scenes to blend with the music. Music is the lubrication of many films and videos. A film or commercial without music can be rather dry to watch. Trivia note: The TV series “The Wire” used music only when it emanated within the scene like a jukebox or car radio. This places an emphasis on the dialog.

Many of the 30 second commercials we see on tv are finely crafted short films that tell elaborate stories and show exquisite emotional moments even though each scene may only last a fraction of a second. Generally, at 2 Minute Films, we pace our client videos to show each scene an average of 3 seconds. This pacing varies of course due to the type of business we are working for and the target audience. My home video is a bit quicker and I used a bunch of time lapses to further compress time and make it fun. Time lapses are fun… I don’t know why, they just are! Thanks, Bill

Thank you for reading our 2 Minute Films Blog!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL

Simply Trees

Recently we were asked to run down to Naples and film a big tree removal job for Simply Trees aka Florida Tree Monkeys. We were glad to oblige. Having done absolutely no pre-planning, story building or script writing it was a blank canvas. We threw this quickie together overnight. It’s fast and rough. kinda fun for us because so much of what we do is very organized and buttoned down.

SimpleTrees

Thank you for reading our 2 Minute Films Blog!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL

Stop Making These 3 Excuses for Not Creating Business Video

e-InterviewSet-2
Stop Making These Three Excuses for Not Creating Videos

You’ve heard all the stats.
Over 88 million people watch an online video on a given day.
Online video is currently 40% of consumer Internet traffic.
YouTube remains the world’s second-largest search engine.

So, are you putting video marketing to work for your organization?
I suspect people avoid creating videos because of one of three reasons:
You hate being on camera.
You don’t have the budget to shoot high-end video.
You can’t imagine what you know or do that would make an interesting video.
None of those excuses is acceptable. Let’s dig into them and find solutions that will get your first video uploaded in no time.

I Hate Being on Camera
It’s a rare person that likes the way he or she looks in photos or on video. So, people avoid it like the plague.

The good news about our Sarasota video production is that we have plenty of options in terms of style and content delivery that can bypass putting you on camera.
Remember: The purpose of an online video is to share your knowledge, expertise, or product’s usefulness. Videos should be less than 2 minutes long, actually the shorter the better.

The even better news is that no matter how beautiful you are, the talking head style of video is typically pretty flat. Using other visuals will enhance the viewer’s experience and increase the likelihood of your video being shared with others.

I Don’t Have the Budget to Shoot High-End Video
Our video production company uses a small crew approach. Corporate video production isn’t about the cameras, it’s about you and your story. For example, the video that is on your home page and introduces your concept, product, or service to your web visitors deserves to be professionally produced for maximum impact. But that doesn’t mean it will cost a fortune. It’s about content as well as presentation. In fact, if it’s a little raw, it feels more authentic and personal.

I Don’t Have Anything of Interest or Value to Put on Video
In many cases, good online video is a snack-sized sample of what you do every day. Odds are you have plenty of content already created that could be converted into some valuable videos. Think of the top five questions you get asked by clients. Each one of them (with your corresponding answer) could be a :30-:45 second video.

Have you put together a presentation lately? Break it down into 3 or 4 bullet points that could be combined into a video. Or make those points stand alone in several 15-30 second Facebook shorts.
How about case studies? Those make excellent videos. Or interview your best clients on how you helped their business. Or do a product demo or some customer testimonials (remember, there are ways to shoot those so they don’t have to be on camera either!)

Bottom line. You don’t have any excuse to avoid creating videos. With video being such a prevailing and influential tool on the web, you can’t really afford not to be out there. It’s time to give us a call!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL

RASM Spring Fling 2016

Video Production Sarasota - SpringFling-2016

We are a business partner member of the Realtors Association of Sarasota and Manatee counties in Florida. Last Wednesday they held their annual Spring Fling parking lot picnic. As usual I found myself more comfortable behind the cameras than grilling burgers or dishing out baked beans. So I threw together this 90 seconds of smiles and giggles. In addition to our normal video production in Sarasota & Manatee counties we have occasionally done corporate videos of events like this. It’s perfect for a Christmas party or a golf outing. Our fees are based on the time it take to shoot and edit it together. I try to get everybody in attendance included in a scene sometime during the event. Of course as the burgers disappear and the beer keg gets lighter the smiles get bigger and my job task of capturing everyone having fun gets easier. Give me a call if you want to talk about having me produce a corporate event video.

 

Thank you for reading our 2 Minute Films Blog!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL

 

Peter Salefsky, Realtor

Check out this recent “Video Business Card” we did for Peter Salefsky. He is a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Company in Sarasota, Florida. We featured his recent award from the Realtor’s Association of Sarasota and Manatee Counties. And also his years of experience in the Gulf Coast Florida marketplace, which may have hidden concerns for first time buyers of tropical properties. Peter is always entertaining to be around and he was a joy to work with on this short project.

Peter-2-Blog Thumbnail

Thank you for reading our 2 Minute Films Blog!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL

 

Valven Painting Inc.

We recently enjoyed working with Valven Painting, a family run company in Sarasota. Starting with an interview of Victor & Katie we mixed in a little b-roll plus some illustrations to  produce a 30 second business introduction and a couple of quick “How To” videos about choosing a painter and picking colors for your own home painting project.

HT-Pick Colors.Play

Thank you for reading our 2 Minute Films Blog!

Written by: Bill Sallaz, Owner
Specializing in Web Video Production Services
Sarasota Video Production | Video Production Bradenton FL