Doobies Inc., with Loren A. Roberts at the far right. Photo by Kat Roberts
Blog, film/video, graphic design, Pasadena and local, photography, portfolio, sound

“Music is my life, man.”

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I love music. My entry into filmmaking came only after an internship at a North Hollywood recording studio brought my recording chops up, and then I used that skillset to start location recording, and then sound editing, picture editing, post production supe duties, and finally producing…but I digress.

I’ve been playing music since I was five years old. First piano and drums (orchestra percussionist for five years), then classical guitar for a while, then cello for a few years, voice lessons in high school, and on-the-job accompanist training in college. So it should come as no surprise that my current business has a soft spot for musicians.

What does that mean? Well, I still need to make money. But I can cut deals that benefit an artist or label because of my varied skillset. I can do your product packaging, but I can also work on your website and advertising. We can work on a music video, brilliant photography, and even do some recording. Later on I’ll show you a few examples.

Matt McCormackBut first: the newest project that I’m working on is with a fantastic San Antonio-based artist, Matt McCormack. Check out this guy’s amazing songwriting. We met through a friend, and I played onstage with him a few months ago when he traveled to L.A. at Genghis Cohen (fantastic venue, and fantastic restaurant too).

So when Matt asked me to add some keyboard parts to his new recording project, we embarked on a long-distance back-and-forth to find the right sounds for these new songs. Here are the first two:

I’m really excited about the collaboration, and I hope to be onstage with Matt again sometime soon.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Check out this amazing 70s-style photo from a recording session with Shakedown Mambo:

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…and the photo that ended up on the back cover of their most recent album:

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PACKAGING

I did a rather long blog post on the creation of the CD packaging for T-Lou, a Zydeco/accordion artist here in L.A., but there are a few other recent additions. These are varied, but fantastic:

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(notice that I started with photography and moved to doing Shakedown Mambo’s packaging?)

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(Buddy Zapata is also the guy who introduced me to Matt McCormack…)

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MUSIC PRODUCTION

  • Avery Roberts (my son!)(see the above CD cover) needed some demos recorded. Those demos turned into a self-published album entitled “Where Nothing Can Hurt Me“.
  • The aforementioned keyboard tracks for Matt McCormack’s new album were recorded in my studio, and then added to the mix by Matt’s amazing production team in San Antonio — an engineer, mixer, and mastering engineer.
  • Check out my “audio” page for more examples of my experience working as a composer, engineer, and producer.

WEBSITES

VIDEO PRODUCTION

All of these videos were shot and produced by Hearken Creative:

LOGOS

I was a founding member (keyboards again) of a Doobie Brothers tribute band, and developed an “homage” logo for that band:

Concert Crowd

 

As you can see, we are a one-stop shop for marketing musical acts. Does this limit us? No! We are still working on communications and marketing for pharmaceutical companies, nonprofits, colleges, museums, and more. But it’s fun to look at one market segment, and see how much incredibly fun material we have produced.

(The blog post title is from 2003’s movie “School of Rock”…)

Blog, business, film/video, graphic design, photography, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

Are you busy or not?

I dislike the question “Are you busy?” — because I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t crave “busy-ness” — being busy just for the sake of being busy. However!…I love filling my life with experiences. Over the past decade, between my wife and I, we have added a teaching credential, several certifications, graduating from Cal State L.A., thousands of miles of travel for both business and pleasure, and — as of a few days ago — not one but two teenagers in the house! (Ooops — I forgot — now I’m directing a church choir too.) And that’s on top of the day-to-day running of a household and business.

The point is this: I love learning. Lately I have been reading Simon Sinek’s Start With Why (unsure if I agree with his premise, but still interesting), a bunch of blogs on HTML5 and e-mail deliverability, someone’s senior thesis comparing the Contemporary Christian worship/music industry to European Communism, and a bunch of online articles on both marketing and studio music production. I also try and read at least one work of fiction per month. Tonight I’ll be a chaperone for a children’s choir while they rehearse with Gustavo Dudamel at Disney Hall. All of this activity keeps my mind constantly seeing new things, new solutions, new issues, new opportunities. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

But would I jump at helping you out with a new project tomorrow? Of course! Give me a call.

Busy-ness aside, here are some new projects that just launched this week:

Matt Frazier/TAIMusic website homepage

Matt Frazier website. Matt and I have been friends for over 20 years, and when it was time for him to get a website makeover, he came to me with very specific hopes: short, easy-to-navigate, boldly individual, and something that he could continue to update on his own. We developed a one-page website out of relatively-simple HTML5, and Matt has already done a bunch of updates himself since it launched a few days ago. Matt has been in the music industry for a long time (and he’s a fantastic musician himself!), and has a deep understanding of music theory, money — as it relates to music, and recording/producing. We wish him all the best with the new website, and a new stage in his career.

Jon Leonoudakis website homepage

Jon Leonoudakis website. Jon and I have worked on several films together — both behind the camera, and in the marketing department. I shot footage for his award-winning documentaries “The Day the World Series Stopped” and “Hano! A Century In the Bleachers“, and then designed the packaging and websites for both films when principal photography was wrapped. So, when Jon needed a new website, he contacted me and we worked out a deal that was win-win for everyone. Like Matt, Jon was interested in having something that he could continue to update himself, so Hearken Creative set up a robust WordPress site where everything is modular, and Jon can continue to grow the site as his production company grows. We’re excited to see where Jon goes next with his unique brand of storytelling, and awesome producing style!

Other projects that have been happening recently:

  • I designed much of the collateral artwork for The Planetary Society’s spacecraft-building Kickstarter campaign, and they have almost completed fulfilling all of the “rewards” for the campaign. They also have recently named the new spacecraft — which will hopefully launch later this year — Lightsail2. You can see many of my photographs in the updates to the campaign.
  • Kendra Celise continues to post music videos from the live studio session we filmed at my studio. Over the course of six weeks, these videos have given her several thousand new views, and helped her launch her upcoming EP and her newest single “Admit It Baby” — we love her music, and hope that the launch is wildly successful!

Finally, I have been going back to revisit the footage that I shot during my two trips to northern Japan after the tsunami. We only publicly released one video from that footage — the wildly-popular “Nozomi Project” mini-documentary — and I’d like to see if I can show more of how local churches in Japan have been assisting with the re-building…both physically and emotionally. The people that I have met on my many trips to Asia are held in a special place in my heart, and it makes me happy when people see what great community-building work is going on there. So I hope to have some new Japan videos out soon — maybe even to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the tsunami in a few weeks.

So yes…we’re busy. But not in a bad way. And do you need a project like one of these for yourself of your company? Give me a call — I’m sure we can get something wonderful going. I’m never too busy to sit down and talk with you.

Blog, business, film/video, graphic design, photography, portfolio, post production for film and video

New indie movie released with HCS support

I did mention that we do movies, right? Hearken Creative supported the release of Hano! A Century In The Bleachers on so many different levels:

  • Loren A. Roberts shot some of the interviews for the film
  • HCS designed the e-commerce website for the film
  • HCS designed the DVD packaging and marketing graphics
  • Loren A. Roberts shot the “hero” studio photography for the film’s key art

HanoDoc-DVD-hero-box-final-733x1000When coming to Hearken Creative, director Jon Leonoudakis knew the breadth of skills that were available from us: Jon has collaborated with us on two previous film projects — Not Exactly Cooperstown (camera) and The Day the World Series Stopped (camera, packaging, website). Jon’s passion for baseball is infectious, and we have found ourselves with a new respect for the game — even hitting up some major and minor league games recently! Jon’s professionalism and passion has paid off: both previous films have been recognized worldwide in film festivals (and Not Exactly Cooperstown has even been screened at the Baseball Hall of Fame).

We love working on projects like this: where quality and passion come together to make something truly unique. We congratulate Jon on his newest release, and look forward to the next project that we get to work on with him!

Blog, business, graphic design, photography

New Photography Portfolio Page!

We’re slow to toot our own horn around here, mostly because we’re so busy with current projects. But I wanted to mention a new portfolio page on the site, even though we have been doing this for years: PHOTOGRAPHY.

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We create iconic shots for our clients all the time. For instance, the image above is from Shakedown Mambo‘s CD packaging, which we designed (we also did their website!). The photo captures the energy of a recording session in progress perfectly, and feels like one of the iconic photos of 1970s jazz or rock bands.

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We have also created one-of-a-kind architectural shots, like this one of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. Multiple photographs from all hours of the day and night were composited to create this other-worldly image of their building. It’s a stunning image.

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Event photography? Yes. Production shots for shows? Yes. Portraiture? Yes. Product photography? Of course. Check it all out on the photography portfolio pages. We will continue adding more photos to keep it fresh!

Blog, business, photography, portfolio, sound

Event Support for Successful Fundraiser

Hearken Creative provided lights, sound, and video support for the Children’s Advocacy Center’s first ever (and hopefully annual) fundraising gala on the gorgeous grounds of the Masonic Home in Covina, California on October 12, 2014.

We worked with the organization, as well as rental companies, the featured band, and on-site personnel to make sure that everything ran smoothly — from power concerns, to the ability to hobnob over the live music, to making every word intelligible — from honorees and speakers. We received numerous accolades from event planners and the 200+ attendees, stating that this was the smoothest and best-sounding event they had attended.

Photos from the event are below. The young (but very good) band “Them Kool Kats” [ http://www.themkoolkats.com/ ] was the featured entertainment. Hearken Creative provided them with onstage monitors so they could hear everything, and they had a great time working the crowd.

CAC Event 2014 - crowd and silent auction items

CAC Event 2014 - Them Kool Kats performing

CAC Event 2014 - Them Kool Kats performing

CAC Event 2014 - Them Kool Kats performing

CAC Event 2014 - Them Kool Kats performing

CAC Event 2014 - Them Kool Kats performing

CAC Event 2014 - crowd seated for dinner

CAC Event 2014 - Them Kool Kats performing

It’s remarkable what Hearken Creative can accomplish — from branding, to websites, to video, to event support (sound and lighting). Why don’t you give us a call for your next project and see how Hearken Creative can help you?

Blog, business, film/video, graphic design, photography, post production for film and video, sound

Welcome to 2014.

Well, we’re legal. Or, of legal age. Or will be really soon…my business will be drinking age in the state of California this year!

Hearken Creative Services turns 21 this year. I don’t know what significance that holds, except that we’ve been working with some truly wonderful vendors and clients for a very long time.

Let me tell you a few things that I have observed over the years.

First, whether it be print or web or video or skywriting, story is essential. And not just any story, but a story that invites you in to partake in the story. Here’s an example:

Cecilia has been working to learn English and support her family at the same time. She now has a good enough grasp of the English language — through the help of “Charity X” — that she has enrolled in college to get her law degree. But she needs your help to finish this wonderful task: Cecilia will spend an hour volunteering in your community for every dollar raised towards her college education — giving back through her education in response to your giving.

Or here’s another one, for a pharmaceutical company:

Phil has spent his entire adult life researching Type Two Diabetes, because it has claimed so many lives in his extended family. Finally, after years of dead ends, Phil’s partnership with “ABC Pharmaceutical” has paid off, and they have received approval for a revolutionary treatment that will change the lives of millions of people living with Type Two Diabetes. There is nothing so rewarding as finding a solution to a problem that plagues so many people — and Phil wants to share it with you.

Story changes everything. It makes you — the reader — interact with the product/service/philanthropic cause in a way you never would if it weren’t for story. Remember the Axe deodorant commercials from a few years ago? Whether or not you liked them, you can’t argue with the power or the “stickiness” of the story: put Axe on, and the girls go wild over you. You remember that meme, and therefore remember the brand.

Second: you get what you pay for. Nothing worthwhile is ever free.

I remember a tradeshow that one of my clients went to — this was some time ago — and they wanted to cut corners significantly. So, instead of printing up brochures, catalogs, posters, and ads, they asked me to create “masters” of a few flyers that they could print up themselves on colored copy paper, using the company copy machine. I understand that there is a time and place for cheap flyers, but this was not the time or place. The event tanked for them, and they lost money and credibility within that community.

You want video? It will cost. But why would you not pay for good quality video? At this point, YouTube ensures that any well-produced video you create could potentially still be working for you in 3, 4, 5 or more years. What brochure could do that for you?

You want to send an e-mail blast? Like those tradeshow flyers, you could throw together a cheap, poorly-designed e-mail, but why? This could potentially be the sales tool that convinces someone to buy, so why try to cut corners? And here’s something more: YouTube was going to give you returns beyond the initial cost over time; a well-designed e-mail could be sent to double or triple the number of people on your list — you just have to find those people!

Finally (at least for today): Experience counts. Twenty years ago, I was a good designer. Today I am a fantastic art director, brand consultant, and project manager. Fifteen years ago I was a good audio mixer. Today, I have the experience to produce, direct, and monetize corporate audio and video for my clients. That doesn’t mean I don’t like working with younger talent, but it does mean that I understand the value of experience. It also means I love partnering with people who are even more experienced than I am. Right now I’m working on a video project and, because of my schedule and experience, I felt that it would be a good idea to bring another director/editor to work with me. He brings a set of skills that are a little different from mine, and I value the opportunity to learn from him. And, the client gets an even better product!

I truly don’t know everything; (hopefully) I’m learning new things every day. But it is gratifying to see this little freelance company that I started — after getting laid off from the entertainment industry in 1993 — chugging along 21 years later, helping people through design, marketing, brand management, and video marketing.

Happy New Year. May your story be told, spend your money wisely, and may you have ever-greater experiences to bank on in the new year.

Blog, business, film/video, photography, portfolio, post production for film and video

New music video released

We are incredibly excited to be showing you a new music video from Shakedown Mambo, a musical duo comprised of Rick Solem and Phil Bloch. Loren A. Roberts produced and directed the video with assistance from Lilly Wild, based on a concept devised by the band along with Loren and Lilly (and Lilly’s wind-up nose). A fun shoot, and gratifying to have a product up on YouTube that can help the band sell more records (hopefully)!

Blog, film/video, photography, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

Corporate Video piece

In April 2012, Hearken Creative was brought in to produce a video piece that would thank some major donors at Fuller Theological Seminary. Chris Min directed, and Loren A. Roberts produced, filmed, edited, and managed post-production.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYlk3UT7rvM

Hearken Creative equipment used on the shoot and in post includes

  • Canon EOS7d camera
  • Zoom H4n field recorder
  • Sennheiser G2 100-series wireless microphones
  • Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly
  • KinoFlo Diva fluorescent lighting
  • Final Cut Pro system on multiple computers, with client preview on large-screen plasma monitors

One thing to note is that Hearken Creative has multiple back-up systems in place, so that no footage was lost, corrupted, or destroyed on this project (or any other recent projects). We use a dedicated NAS, directly-connected swappable hard drives, and cloud storage to ensure that no data is ever lost in our facility.

The client was very happy with the final product, telling us that there were “quite a few misty eyes” in the banquet hall as the piece ended. We are proud of the work we did on this video project.

Blog, business, photography, post production for film and video

Painting with light, architectural photography style

This is a fantastic example of what you can do with a limited budget, but lots of time and ingenuity.

The photographer knows his way around the following things:

  • permits, and dealing with multiple building owners/city departments
  • small (but powerful) light kits and generators
  • a good working team of assistants
  • Photoshop, to stitch them all together

What is wonderful about this is that everything he did could have been accomplished in one single shot, but it would have been much more expensive to pull off. This way, you get the money shot, but with much less money.

Blog, film/video, Pasadena and local, photography, post production for film and video

The Transit of Venus, June 5, 2012

I created this timelapse over the course of the transit of Venus that occurred on June 5 and 6, 2012. I used my Canon EOS 7D with a 55-250 lens, zoomed all the way in. The resulting images were 4096×3456 pixels, so I was able to reduce the size of some frames, and leave other sequences at full resolution. I popped three different neutral density filters on as well as a polarizer filter. Because of all that, I cannot honestly say how many stops I was able to pull down, but I felt that I was well within the range of safety for the camera.

Funny thing was that I was confronted by not one but two different security guards who, at first, didn’t want me photographing from long periods of time from the top of their parking garage (something about loitering). As soon as I explained what I was doing, and showed them the cool photos, they were excited — and more amenable to my presence on the roof of the structure. Still, I moved a few times so that the security guards wouldn’t have to deal with me for too long.

I wish that I either had a) a longer lens — in the 600-1000mm range, or b) a good small telescope with proper attachments for viewing solar activity. This was a lot of fun, and made me even more interested in earth-bound space phototgraphy.

For even better images of the transit, here are some good links: