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, 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, 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.


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.


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, post production for film and video

Recently completed video projects

Q4 of 2009 has seen a number of wonderful projects wrap up and get distributed.

Winnetka Story is a feature-length documentary about the history of Winnetka and the North Shore area, outside of Chicago. Once again I worked with the wonderful John Newcombe, with whom we authored the DVD for Rancho La Cañada: Then and Now a few years ago. Hearken Creative did all of the DVD authoring and DVD menu design, as well as managing the production for the packaging.

Servant Partners launched several new videos prior to the Urbana missions convention that Hearken Creative produced. Most of the interview footage was interviewed and shot by Loren A. Roberts, with video from around the world provided to us by Servant Partners in various formats. HCS brought it all together and turned it into several promotional videos, for use both online as well as looping on plasmas in the organization’s booth at the 20,000-person convention. In addition, HCS authored the DVD, designed DVD menus, and duplicated copies of the DVD for all staff members. Below is one of the four videos produced:

And finally, Dave Schultze of Schultzeworks created a video promoting a computer design that he calls the “Philco PC,” an homage to the Philco Predicta television set from the 1950’s. I was able to work with Dave, consulting on camera movement, editing, and pacing for the video (Dave occupies my old office space, and we have become good friends over the past few years). We were stunned at the response after releasing the video: Vimeo shows that it has close to 100k views of the video, the design has been featured on EnGadget and the NY Times, and Dave has received calls from news outlets and potential clients. This was a great collaboration for us, and HCS looks forward to consulting in the future for other friends and clients! See the video below:

Philco PC from Dave Schultze on Vimeo.

There are many changes coming to Hearken Creative in the new year, but the one thing that will not change is our passion and dedication to making our clients look awesome, bringing creative and powerful solutions to the world of advertising design and corporate video.

Blog, business, post production for film and video

Where do you watch online video?

MediaPost’s Research Brief has an interesting collection of data from Nielsen Online. Note how much video is watched on Facebook versus Myspace:

Top 5 Social Networking and Blog Sites Ranked (April  2009, U.S. Home and Work)

Total  Video Streams

Time Spent Viewing
(Minutes x 000)











Funny or Die



Source: Nielsen VideoCensus, June 2009

So we all thought that Facebook was taking over the world. It turns out that more people are watching video on Myspace, and for a longer period of time (a ratio of 3 to 1!).

What does this mean for us? Not much. I won’t post personal video to either Facebook or MySpace, because I’m scared about the ownership issues involved. Promotional video (movie trailers, band promos) should go up on all of the sites to ensure maximum saturation. And I can’t help but cringe at the quality of video on both MySpace and Facebook; it is for that very reason that I have posted my company’s promotional work on Vimeo instead of any of the top social networking or video sites.

It does have relevance, though, to remind us that the “hot trends” that get reported on often only have a kernel of truth, and the true picture is much more nuanced or complex. While Facebook is having a banner year, MySpace is not losing as much ground as the mainstream media would have you believe; and MySpace actually is “stickier” (people stay on the site longer), something that advertisers are very aware of.

Blog, business, post production for film and video

More fun stuff being produced for commercials

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This Honda Insight commercial takes both in-camera and post/FX effects, and creates a very organic, dynamic spot that mirrors the ethos of the car.

Eric Treml, a cinematographer from Austria, accomplished this wonderful mini-film. In Studio Daily, Treml talks about film, lenses, and 20+ takes to accomplish what he wanted:

“The big challenge was how detailed each shot needed to be,” he continues. “Lining everything up was painstaking and time-consuming. We were chasing the light and there was only so much we could do considering that we often needed 30 takes. But the finished spot unfolds in a witty and delightful way.”

In a 30-second spot, every shot counts. And this little piece did a nice job of communicating the dynamic, communal, and fun aspects of this car. Nicely done!

Blog, business

Learning from our (and others') mistakes

I wish I could just copy this whole article, because I think it is so wise to learn and listen to others who have tried and failed. I once read that the definition of an entrepreneur is someone who tries and fails and keeps trying until something works. But here’s a gem of an excerpt:

9. The key to negotiating is having options. The single most useful piece of advice I got was from Bill Trenchard, founder of LiveOps: “Always have options.”

Almost everything you do as a founder/CEO involves negotiation: closing investors, hiring employees, signing partners, paying vendors, even advocating features internally. The best way to persuade your counter-parties is signaling — implicitly or explicitly — that you have viable options (also called BATNAs). Just two can be enough. Being at the mercy of a lone option is a recipe for getting screwed.

I’m going to have to read this whole list several times, and let it sink in for all of the ventures that I am working on, including film/corporate video, graphic design, web design, and audio for music/film/post-production.

Options. I need to be looking for options…always.

Blog, business, post production for film and video

Sheep get over 7 million hits on YouTube

If you haven’t seen this viral video (that actually is an advertisement for Samsung), take a look at it above. Then, go here and see how director James Rouse swears up and down that there are no virtual sheep on that hill.

Really fun spot. It’s definitely not a “hard-sell,” but I think it is effective, because I remember that Samsung is the one with the cool LED-lit sheep now…

Blog, business, post production for film and video

How to push past viral, or, viral is dead

So, we’re getting our first month sales figures back from the November 18 release of The Fair Trade movie, which is very exciting, especially since the preliminary numbers look really good, at least for a production of our size. But how do you keep the momentum going? I’m spending time checking conversion metrics on Google (absolutely none), Yahoo (none), and Facebook (a few sales that I know of), and trying to think up new ways to make the movie into a truly viral success. And then I read a post by Joe Marchese, where, in the same article, he quote a fellow panelist (Henry Jenkins) who says “When it comes to social media, if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead,” (i.e., viral is good!) but then goes on to say

But before you try to say the word v…v…vi…viral (had trouble spitting that one out), there is a key difference that Jenkins pointed out between viral and social spreading. People spread viruses by accident. It is not intentional to give someone a cold — at least I sure hope not — but when people pass things to each other by way of social interaction, there most certainly is intent. This means that people are rational about spreading something through their social connections.

And he’s right. I realize that I don’t want The Fair Trade to have a “viral” spread. I want people to intentionally tell other people about it, and then spread from person to person to group to group. So how do I do that?

Well, sales help, because the more people that see it, the more people who want to talk about it. But I would love to help that process along, and I’m still brainstorming how to go about encouraging people to “intentionally” spread the word about the movie.

I’ll keep you posted.