Jakarta waterfront
Blog, business, film/video, post production for film and video

What are you doing in Jakarta?

One of the “perks” of working with international organizations is that — sometimes — you are needed for filming overseas. Last week, I conducted interviews and filmed b-roll for Asian Access at a conference in Jakarta. I have worked with them for twenty years, and have traveled many times with their people, filming both documentary-style footage of relief work and interviews at conferences.

This event posed a few new challenges. I was not given an area in which to film, so I decided to use my hotel room (keeping it spotless!); it is relatively quiet in a hotel room, and I could control more variables. (Outdoor shoots proved sketchy because South Asia rainstorms kept pouring at the most inopportune times.) The next issue: most hotel rooms don’t have much light. Even though I have never been to Jakarta, I was able to locate a local production company [Amazing Productions] that brought in a pair of 4-bank fluorescent lights for the week:

4-bank fluorescent lights

Like my hotel room? We dressed every corner of the room I could think of to get different setups for different interviews.

I wanted fluorescent because I don’t like doing interviews with hot lights, and KinoFlo’s can be fitted with daylight bulbs so that I can use both the lights and exterior light from windows. We needed the lights because I would be filming interviews at all hours of the day and night, so we needed to be able to blast light into the room at any time. Here are just a few of the looks that I was able to get:

chinzo-setup

Late-night setup with 4-banks flooding entire room with soft light

Midday setup with 4-banks as key and window as backlight

“Magic hour” setup with 4-bank providing key light and shooting directly through the hotel window

I am happy with the setups, although I would have loved to have more time and more room. More room enables me to separate the subject from the background more easily; as you can see from the above photos, though, I was able to create quite a bit of separation even in a small (325sf) room.

While traveling, I try to “go light,” even with photo gear. So I left my camera slider and mini jib at home, as well as my Steadicam Merlin and my large Cartoni tripod. All of these are great tools, but for the footage I would be shooting, I couldn’t justify the extra weight. Here is what I ended up with:

  • Sony PXW-X70 camera. The main camera for all interviews and b-roll
  • Canon EOS 7D. I have shot so many stills — and video — with this camera that it has paid for itself over and over. Sometimes used as a b-camera for this project, but mostly stills on this trip. Took along a 70-200 lens as well as a 24-55.
  • (2) Sennheiser ew100 G3 wireless microphones
  • Two Canon flash units, with CowboyStudio radio-remotes to control the flash off-camera
  • Zoom H4n recorder. I used this for years as the primary audio recorder — when I was shooting with DSLR cameras. Now it serves as backup, and I can also do audio recordings for sessions that I’m not filming (which we did on this trip).
  • Two little lights that I got off of Kickstarter called The Kick that are awesome for an accent light, or even a quick interview using the diffuser.
  • Audio Technica AT897 shotgun microphone.
  • Manfrotto 5001b lightweight “anything” stand. I could put a light on the top of this, my SmallHD monitor, or a flash
  • Additional cables, chargers, two camera tripods, my laptop, a bunch of CF and SD cards, lenscloths, and lots of batteries for the cameras and microphones.

This all fit into three bags: my laptop backpack (carry-on), my Pelican 1510 waterproof case (carry-on), and my suitcase. It didn’t leave much room for clothes, but I managed to fit in enough.

Some videos were produced in real-time and posted immediately to the Asian Access blog. Others will be rolled out over the next few months. Some will even be held for a larger event happening in 2017.

We were really happy, though, with everything that was filmed, and look forward to working on a project like this again in the near future.

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, Pasadena and local, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

New video project trickling out

Kendra Celise - Cold Coffee

We keep pressing forward on many projects simultaneously. The newest video clip is the first of a series that we recorded and filmed in my studio for singer/songwriter Kendra Celise.

Kendra sent a few sample YouTube videos so we could get a feel for what she wanted, and we spent the better part of a day filming her performances. A new camera — the Sony PXW-W70 — was used for this shoot, as well as some of our amazing Michael Joly-modified microphones. The camera was mounted on a mini-jib so that we could move around smoothly throughout the song.

The rest of the videos will drop over the coming weeks. We had fun on this project, and believe the final product will help Kendra market her new EP successfully. Congrats to Kendra!

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, film/video, Pasadena and local, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

Special event film released by the Pasadena Public Library

pritkin

In July Hearken Creative was asked to film a very special event for the Baseball Reliquary at the Pasadena Public Library. Assisted on second camera by Jordan McMahon, we filmed the 2+ hour event, and edited the piece for posting to the Pasadena Public Library’s website.

Most important for this event was capturing perfect audio or each of the speakers. Some of them are elderly, and we needed to be able to understand every word that was said. A combination of HCS’s own microphones on the podium ensured that we would get perfect audio from every distinguished speaker, including members of the Jackie and Mack Robinson family (who were there to accept on behalf of Rachel Robinson for her induction into the Reliquary’s “Shrine of the Eternals”).

We had a great time, met some fun people, and turned this into a living document that will be used by the Reliquary for years to come.

Blog, business, film/video, Pasadena and local, post production for film and video, sound

Fantastic Gala film produced by Hearken Creative

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 4.24.00 PMBACKSTORY

A while back, Christopher Min and I were asked to create a 10-year anniversary film for The Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary. The film was to be shown at a gala reception honoring the founding donors for the Center, Bill & Dee Brehm. We wanted to show the rich diversity of graduates the program was raising over the course of the first decade.

Chris directed, and Loren Roberts/Hearken Creative provided all the equipment, shooting expertise, and editing for the final video.

SUCCESS STORY

The result was a smashing success at the event — one attendee said it was a “moving tribute” to the Brehms and the Center. The only issue we had was cutting down the incredible footage we got with the graduates. I think our first edit clocked in at almost 16 minutes; the final edit is a still-long (but beautiful) nine minutes.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

We have done this kind of work for non-profit and for-profit companies time and again. How can we help your organization?

Blog, film/video, Pasadena and local, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

Six (yes, six) new videos released today

The Los Angeles Children’s Chorus asked me to create some short introductory videos on each of their choirs. Previously I had produced one for their First Experiences in Singing class [see my eailer post]. These new videos required many hours of filming rehearsals and concerts for all six choirs, as well as music theory classes. Then we interviewed all the different directors to get their take on each chorus. Finally, we edited each piece together, trying to give new parents and members of the ensemble a sense of each chorus’ identity. And we attempted to keep them all under four minutes.

chamber-screen

I’m excited about how these will be used to further the educational and artistic mission of the L.A. Children’s Chorus.

Preparatory Choir

Apprentice Choir

 Intermediate Choir

Concert Choir

Chamber Singers

Young Men’s Ensemble

 

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

FASGI event complete success

Do you want an event that is amazing? Hearken Creative can help, much like we did last night. Loren A. Roberts/HearkenCreative worked with the board of FASGI (Filipino American Service Group Inc.) to stage an incredibly fun event at SPIN L.A. (in the Standard Hotel) on May 6, 2014.

First (months ago), Hearken Creative worked with FASGI on social media, creating “save-the-date” images that got people interested in the event.

Next, we extended the same branding through invitations, flyers, and additional social media pushes.

At the event, HCS handled the printed programs, which continued to extend the exciting “party” brand that we had created.

Finally — through our partnership with Visions Lighting and our own expertise in event A/V — Hearken Creative handled sound, lights and video for three separate rooms in the venue, including providing sound reinforcement for hired musicians throughout the evening. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was honored along with Lou Diamond Phillips and several other community leaders, with Filipina community star Yong Chavez as the emcee for the evening. The party was hopping all night, FASGI had standing-room-only attendance, and the event was a complete success — both as a fundraiser and as an opportunity to extend the FASGI name throughout the community.

2014-05-06 18.24.46

2014-05-06 19.45.37

2014-05-07 07.51.52

2014-05-06 20.37.40

2014-05-06 21.49.04

Blog, business, film/video, Pasadena and local, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

New Client, New Video, Incredible Story

Villa Esperanza is a ground-breaking school here in Pasadena, CA that serves kids and adults with developmental disabilities. The staff is amazing, the results are astounding, and we got to tell one small story recently. Take a look:

The school has launched a capital campaign that will build a new school facility for the numerous programs that they run, and this video was produced in concert with the campaign launch. We hope that the video will help them raise the money needed to build the new school.

As always, we were able to assemble a team of incredible people to bring this video to completion. HCS principal Loren A. Roberts produced, directed, and filmed (a little) and did sound. Greg King filmed/directed and edited. Roberto San Luis brought HCS and Villa together, and provided the concept and script for the video. On The Mark Rentals provided some gear that HCS didn’t already have. Vanessa Voors and Michelle Cox at Villa Esperanza were instrumental in making the production run smoothly. Most importantly, Jamie and his father were patient, enthusiastic cheerleaders for Villa — we couldn’t have made this video without them and the wonderful faculty at Villa.

Can we do this for you? Get in touch with Hearken Creative if you have a story you need told on film — or through e-mail, or on paper, on a website — whatever the project, we have a solution that will make you look great.

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.