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

Case Study: Lloyd Ogilivie Institute for Preaching announcement

Back before Fuller Theological Seminary had even hired any staff for this new venture, the Lloyd Ogilivie Institute of Preaching needed a multichannel piece that would bring in relevant candidates for the new chair of the program. So it needed to be high-end, concise, fast, and under-budget. We designed three pieces: a magazine ad, a direct-mail piece, and a (mini) website. In addition, we filmed several people on campus, all talking about what the Institute was going to do.

All design and filming (and subsequent printing and DVD replication) was turned around within one month, and perfectly on budget. The campaign was successful: Mark Labberton is now the chair of the academic program, and has successfully moved it from infancy to relevancy across the campus.

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

New video projects

Two quick video projects that I had the pleasure of working on over the last week.

ASIAN ACCESS

First up was a quick web video post for the president of Asian Access. He wanted to say “thank you” to the many people who have already donated money to the relief efforts going on in northern Japan after the Sendai earthquake in March 2011. So I raced out to his office and filmed him:

TECHNICAL DETAILS: This was filmed with the Canon EOS 7D, using the “kit lens” — an 28-135mm. Sound was handled using a Zoom H4n with an Audio Technica AT897 microphone. Footage was transcoded to ProRes LT using the wonderful 5DtoRGB app with a command-line batch processor provided by French video production company NoSide. The whole thing was sync’d and edited in Final Cut Pro, and exported to H.264 via Compressor.

NIMBUS ENSEMBLE

I did a 12-part videolog series with Nimbus and this same composer back in 2008, and they are back with a new composition that Nimbus will premiere. We’re in a rush, so there’s only one video, and I shot a rehearsal for a few hours this week, followed by a very brief interview. But the piece will be instrumental in advertising the concert:

TECHNICAL DETAILS: Much the same as the previous piece, except I used a host of lenses: a 50mm f1.4 prime (I used this a lot because the room was pretty dark, but I didn’t want to raise my ISO too much and get grainy footage), a Canon EF-S 18-55mm, and a Canon EF-S 55-250mm. Sound was captured 4-channel using the Zoom’s onboard mics plus the AT897 and a Sennheiser lav (but the interview was done with the AT897 — I love the sound of that mic compared to a lav).

All-in-all, a pretty busy but fun week of budget-conscious filmmaking. Every project that we do gets easier, more fun, and give us invaluable experience for the next one.

Today I’ll be taking my equipment and doing an outdoor photoshoot for a band I’m in (stills, not video). Can’t wait to share those…

Blog, business, graphic design, portfolio

How we get from point A to point B, or, how a CD package design comes into being

Well, I’m finishing up another CD this week, but the T-Lou CD is out and people liked the art, so I’m going to talk through how we came to the final art. Oh, and by the way, if you want to buy the album on iTunes, you can do it here. Unsure when the CD is going to show up on Amazon…

Initial Design Brief

First, we’ll talk about what the client brought to the table. They wanted something that said “party” and “Zydeco” and “fun” with the artist front and center, since it’s been a really long time since his last record. We needed to position the talent front and center. The producer sent me a few dozen images as reference, which included:

Essentially, focus on bright colors that conjure a Louisiana feel and the outsized personality of T-Lou.

Photography

My first recommendation was to schedule a photo shoot with T-Lou. The images from the studio (taken with a good camera by the producer) were still not good enough to make beautiful key art, so we needed new photography. Fortunately, I’ve been doing quite a bit of work with my new Canon 7D, so we scheduled the shoot and went to work. Several hundred shots later, here are some of the highlights:

So we now have great key art: the artist and the producer were both really happy with the proofs from the shoot.

First Design Presentation

Now it was my turn to interpret what feel they were looking for. Let’s look at some of the different concept pieces that I presented to the artist and the producer at our first design presentation:

Interestingly, the first proof is the one that is closest to the final. I went for a big and bold typeface, an image of T-Lou loving’ life and playin’ music, and some “dancing” crabs to tie into the album’s title. I was unsure about the crabs, because they kinda looked like the tripod aliens from Wells’ “War of the Worlds,” but this was first proof territory, so everything is fair game.

Now I got even bolder and funkier. There were these pictures where T-Lou just looks badass, so I married that up with some distressed type and some pretty heavy color correction (lots of desaturation, but adding contrast), and we get this beautiful bold look. But then why can’t I take it one step further?…

I think this might be my favorite design from the first round. I made the T-Lou art bigger and happier, and pulled all the color out of his photo. All of a sudden he pops off the CD cover. Still using distressed type on the artist name, but really clean on the album title. Simple and bold…perfect.

But my concern with the previous art was that it was getting way too non-traditional for a genre that has lots of tradition in it. So I tried a few looks that sit more comfortably within the established “look” of Zydeco artists. This first one has some issues, because T-Lou feels a little too low, and the ratio/balance between him, his name, and the album title just seems off. But still a good exercise, and if the client had liked it, we could have worked all of those issues out…

And then I went completely traditional. We added a sepia look to a non-retouched photo, did the “type on a curve” thing that lots of oldies/traditional albums do, and still added a crab — more now as just a graphic element — to keep it fun and tied-in with the album title.

Still loving the “badass T-Lou” look, I couldn’t resist doing something completely different. This keeps my mind fresh, and shows the client that there are options out there. If they don’t like something here, we can go a completely different direction. I had downloaded the curly background art from iStockphoto a few weeks previous for another project (that didn’t end up getting made) — it was originally blue — repurposed it for this proof by making it gold/brown and framing the artist. The type glows; the whole thing says “me and my accordion are not to be messed with.” Cool.

So wait, I had pretty much ignored the “let’s make it colorful” request from the client, so I did one with everything but the kitchen sink. The mardi gras feathers, some New Orleans brick in the background, a wood sign from a beach somewhere — making it bold and messy and colorful.

You will notice that I didn’t just present the artwork in a square on a piece of paper. I snagged a CD I had photographed from another project, and superimposed the T-Lou artwork onto that photograph. I believe that one extra step — making the art look like the final packaging — gives the client a much better idea of what his CD will look like once everything is done and shipping.

Client Reactions + Second Round of Proofs

Well, the clients flipped — they loved that first round of proofs. The energy, the photography, even lots of the typefaces chosen, were really making T-Lou excited.

They loved the crabs, but didn’t think they were “fun” enough, so I suggested maybe adding some cartoon eyes that I had found but discarded while working on the first set of design ideas. They liked that. So we decided to work on revising the first proof to everyone’s liking.

T-Lou comes from Louisiana, and really wanted the Louisiana coast to play a large role in the art. While almost all of the backgrounds are of Gulf Coast beaches, I had bleached out the colors of the backgrounds to focus attention on the artist. T-Lou said no, we want to see the blue of the ocean and the sky; adding back more colors would get us to that “make it colorful” initial request, too.

T-Lou also doesn’t like sans serif typefaces that much; he likes the refinement and formality of serif type better. So I needed to give him some options with different typefaces, since that first proof had the really big, thick, sans serif type for the “T-LOU” at the top.

So here is what we delivered for a second round:

Blue ocean, crabs with cartoon eyes, curved serif type across the top. Nice.

Maybe using the beach/weathered wood signpost plus the cartoon-y crabs? And we have a really bold typeface for “T-LOU,” but it still has serifs on it. Tricky, aren’t I?

Now here I have used the same design as above, but changed the colors up to see what happens. The light green allows the crabs to move to the forefront (the yellow was pretty strong), but I’m still not sure if the balance is right.

Ah, so the honkin’ big type was the problem. Pull that out, and replace it with a very refined slab serif, and the balance between all of the elements on the cover works out. So what did we accomplish? A few things:

  • lots of color,
  • T-Lou looking awesome and havin’ a great time,
  • a proper balance between his name, his photo, the crabs, and the album title,
  • a Louisiana coastal feel
  • the crabs with the cartoon eyes ensure that you know this album isn’t taking itself too seriously; in fact, you know that this guy likes to have fun.

The finished product! If I get around to it, I’ll take pictures of the traycard and CD face, which look awesome too. But for now, we see how I got from the client’s initial design brief to the final product. Everyone is very pleased with the outcome.

Blog, business, graphic design, portfolio

What Hearken Creative did this summer, part 4

T-Lou Zydeco makes some crazy-cool Zydeco music. See for yourself:

This guy knows how to make a party hop. And I got to create a cool look for his new CD.

The client is really happy (“Thanks, Loren; it was a pleasure working with you…job well done. Good job!”), the producer is happy, and we have another winner. Just listen to this wonderful music:

[audio:http://www.hearkencreative.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/06-Zydeco-LA-LA.mp3|titles=06 Zydeco LA LA]

Tomorrow, I think I might upload some of the original proofs that were presented to the client, so that you can see some of the thought that went into creating this cover.

But overall, this was a wonderfully successful project. I have another CD design that is going to press this week, so I’ll post that one in a few weeks when it comes off press.

Forgot to mention: I did the photoshoot for the artist, in the studio while they were mixing the album down. This is another benefit of hiring Hearken Creative — we work across disciplines to make the best possible product for the client. It also is a benefit of purchasing the new Canon EOS 7D a few months ago.

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

What Hearken Creative did this summer, Part 2

Did I mention we were busy this summer? (By the way, my son is the one in the yellow cap above…playing the nerd. Perfect casting.)(Oh, and the fantastic photos of this summer’s shows were taken by New York-based pro photographer Matthew Murphy. He got some incredible shots.)

The Pasadena Musical Theatre Program is a decades-old training program for kids in Pasadena, CA. But I would call this a kid’s program on steroids, or, better, a pro theatre program that just happens to have kids as its focus. But this summer we held a master class with Megan Hilty of Wicked fame, held a class entitled Pursuing a Career in Musical Theatre, and did a American Idol-style solo competition, in addition to the two main shows that are produced every summer. Ryan Scott Oliver (award-winning musical composer), Cindy Abbott (wonderfully dedicated Pasadena music teacher), and Emily Clark (fabulous musical theatre performer and teacher) have transformed this program into a powerhouse that trains over 125 students every summer.

So what did Hearken Creative do? Well, for starters, I joined the board of the program last summer, because funding for arts has dried up with local school districts and I feel strongly about arts education. So, on our own, we have raised somewhere in the range of $50,000 every summer to make the program happen. In addition, Hearken Creative

  • provided all design services for print media, programs, and press releases,
  • photographed the Megan Hilty master class,
  • filmed the Promise Competition,
  • ran sound for all events, including the master class, meetings and competitions, and
  • sound designed both major shows — the Juniors (4th-6th graders) and the Seniors (7th-12th grade) shows.

Essentially, this was two weeks of wrangling a high school auditorium (that a friend aptly called an “airplane hangar”) into submission, using Hearken Creative-provided equipment, rented equipment, and the high school’s 40-year-old 24-channel mixer, as well as my own 16-channel digital mixer. Twenty wireless body mics, plus choir mics and band sound reinforcement.

And boy, did it sound good! We don’t have the professionally-produced video from KLRN yet, but several people have posted their home videos already. Here’s one:

and my son singing a solo at the Promise Competition:

Gimme Gimme, performed on July 8, 2010 from Loren A. Roberts on Vimeo.

The purpose of the program is twofold: first, arts education is vital to a well-rounded education, and music/dance hits so many of the other disciplines — math, reasoning, spatial relationships — that it seems stupid the schools are cutting performing arts. Secondly, there is an erroneous meme out there that there are no viable career options in performing arts. We aim to change that perception.

By using Hearken Creative’s graphic design skills, our production and sound design skills, as well as our music background and fundraising acumen, we were able to help make this summer’s Pasadena Musical Theatre Program a complete success.

Blog, business, graphic design, post production for film and video

Case Study: The Fair Trade movie online branding, part 4

MySpace

The Fair Trade movie at myspace.com screenshotA re-branding of the MySpace page was completed on October 17, 2008. The look of the page now closely resembles other pieces of the online presence for the movie, as well as directs people much more quickly to the official TFT site.

The TFT trailer has been viewed over 300 times on MySpace; we have a network of over 500 “friends” that we can push information out to through the MySpace network.

Tamara Johnston and Rayne Roberts have been consistently intrumental in adding friends, sending bulletins, and responding to messages on the MySpace account.

In the future, it would be interesting to see how much larger we could make the MySpace network of “friends” and how that could be monetized with the upcoming DVD release.

Facebook

The Fair Trade movie on Facebook screenshotThe Facebook presence is in its infancy. We have almost 50 “fans” — those who sign up as a fan. These people can be communicated with directly from Facebook, and can recommend the movie to others on Facebook.

Challenges to overcome: Facebook does not allow visual branding in the same way that MySpace does, so we cannot differentiate ourselves with visuals; additionally, we need to see how to increase our numbers and referrals here in addition to MySpace.

The Future

Opportunities for online growth come from a few areas:

  • New online content. HCS will edit and upload video of Lauralee and Tamara from the premiere, as well as possible “webisodes” that can update fans on where Tamara, Anti-Body, and the filmmakers are now.
  • New online marketing tools. Providing downloadable flyer and poster blanks for those sponsoring screenings would be a perfect way for sponsors to get the word out, and would extend our “brand” further into the online sphere.
  • New online targeted social networking. Finding social networks built around fair trade, etc. would be much more targeted than Facebook or MySpace.
  • Exploiting the retail channel. Ensuring that positive user ratings and reviews are constantly submitted to many online retailers.
  • Targeting new online efforts to a smaller audience. We should, in the future, target new online efforts to smaller, more lucrative audiences: film critics, fair trade afficionados, Christian groups, etc., in an attempt to maximize time spent online. As this article says, “there is a process of self-selection online” that means we can be much more targeted and take for granted that they already want to see something like we are offering.
  • Finally, social networking is like trying to get momentum while rolling a ball slightly uphill: it doesn’t work until gravity changes. And gravity only changes when the size of your target audience keeps growing because more and more people start intentionally spreading the word about your product. A wonderful blog post about this can be found here. Our job will be to continue to expand the audience of people who know about and advocate for The Fair Trade movie.

In part five: Updates, search ads, retail rollout recap.