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:

IMG_0853

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

IMG_1202-color

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:

IMG_4278-shakedown-cover-art

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

swine-king

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

echo-park-album-art-13-02-25

avery-cd-covers-2015-08-31a

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, 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, 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, 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.