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, 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, 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, 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, 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

New short YouTube videos on the Japanese tsunami and rebuilding effort

We’re still working on the main piece — a longer video with lots of interviews in Japanese that need to be translated and subtitled in English for the North American viewers. But today (March 11) is the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami in NE Japan, so we rushed to get just a few videos posted to commemorate the horrors and to point towards the hope and vision that many Japanese pastors have for their country in the new reality that is Japan.

First up is a prayer from Mori Sensei, a pastor living 30 minutes away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. His church wants to help rebuild an entire seaside community, hopefully relocating just a half-mile off the beach up into the hills, so that they can still have their livelihood, but be protected from the possibility of another tsunami:

The next video is a set of reflections from Eric Takamoto, an Asian Access missionary from the Kobe area who was one of the first responders up into the destroyed town of Ishinomaki. Eric’s family is going to relocate to Ishinomaki because they feel strongly that the rebuilding work is going to take time and committed effort, and they want to be part of that long-term process. Eric’s passion for the people he ministers to inspires me:

Both of these pieces were filmed in January 2012 as part of my one-week trip to NE Japan for Hearken Creative client Asian Access. I was accompanied on the trip by Asian Access’ VP for Communications Jeff Johnston, good friend and colleague Joshua Clayton, Asian Access’ VP for Strategic Engagement Takeshi Takazawa, as well as translation and hosting and friendship by Asian Access’ Jeffrey Sonnenberg (oh, and new friend Mike McKay from Cypress Church here in California was with us for part of the week).

Video was shot with A2’s Sony HD Handycam and my Canon EOS 7D, with color correction done in Final Cut Pro with additional color work by Red Giant’s Mojo. Audio was recorded through my Zoom H4N using Sennheiser G2 wireless mics and an Audio Technica AT897. All data cards (CF for video, SD for audio) were captured onsite and backed up to multiple G-Raid Mini hard drives for redundant transport back to the U.S.

Blog, business, graphic design, portfolio

Shakedown Mambo photo session

Wow, I had a blast today. We are currently working on a CD packaging design for Shakedown Mambo’s upcoming album, and to support that effort we shot some photos of the duo — Rick and Phil. Some iconic shots here (click on any image to get the larger sized lightbox):

Can’t wait to show you the rest of the CD package, as soon as it’s done. These guys sound as good as they look!

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.