Blog, Pasadena and local, post production for film and video, sound, Uncategorized

Kari Davis covers Johnny Cash’s "It Ain’t Me, Babe"

Kari Davis, one of the fabulous students from the Pasadena Musical Theatre Program, sat down with me and recorded a few covers (as well as a few of her own original tunes). This is her take on an old Johnny (and June) Cash song, It Ain’t Me, Babe.


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

Panasonic P2 cards to come down in price

StudioDaily reports today that Panasonic is releasing a new, cheaper line of P2 memory cards for their video cameras. The P2 is a card, kinda like an SD or CompactFlash, but bigger. It does away with tapes in the production workflow, and, more importantly, can completely eliminate the “capture” process (where you have to play the tape back off of a deck to ingest the footage into the computer) — instead, you just dump the video files over from the P2 card onto the computer!

P2 cards originally were as expensive or more expensive than the cameras, making them prohibitively expensive. But with this new announcement, it looks like Panasonic is truly trying to carve out a niche for this technology. One of the cameras I am interested in is an HVX200, and the price-cut in P2 cards makes this option even more lucrative.

I wonder what will happen with Panasonic and Sony and Canon when Red releases its incredible Red Scarlet camera? It completely bypasses tapes or cards, and works direct to hard drive (I believe), and has a higher resolution than most of the current offerings.

So maybe there is a silver lining to not being able to buy a new camera just yet: there will be several new offerings by the time we are ready to acquire some new equipment…

Blog, business, graphic design, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound, Uncategorized

Auto-Tune & Photoshop: embrace the march of progress

So I’m doing a lot more music recording these days. And one of my favorite tools is a wonderful little program called Auto-Tune, which, if used correctly, does exactly what its name implies: automatically pull a note that is out-of-tune back to perfect pitch. Let’s say there’s one note out of a whole phrase that’s a bit off-pitch: why re-record the whole verse for that one note? I just punch-in the plug for that one note, and we’re back in business. [TIME did an article on Auto-Tune, and the company has its own podcast mp3 so you can hear how the program works.]

I do the same thing with Photoshop a lot right now because I am now selling stock on iStockphoto. They need every photo submitted to be as close to perfect as possible, so I go in and “airbrush” all the little imperfections out, creating (hopefully) a more marketable/usable photo.

But I’m also conflicted. Overuse of Auto-Tune turns out lifeless vocals. And I love to “grunge” up my graphic design work, when the project calls for it. Imperfections are what make things human, and removing all of the human element isn’t always a good thing.

That said, I will never throw the tool out [like these people want to, or here’s Neko Case complaining about Auto-Tune towards the end of the interview, or these studio engineers who are as conflicted about using it as I am). If I can use it when needed but make it practically invisible, and then not use it when we have the time to get it right, then I think everything will be okay.

But taking the time to get things right is another concept that is dying right now — budgets are way too tight to actually try to do something right. So I work overtime even when the client isn’t paying for it, just so that I can be happy with the final result. Unfortunately, that cuts into the time that I’m supposed to be recording…

Blog, business, portfolio, Uncategorized

Google thinking out of the box, maybe out of the mainland

container_shipSEO by the Sea has a nifty little post about a patent approval Google just received for a data-center that could be located offshore, and maybe even powered by waves, or wind, or solar. Pretty cool, no?

Now bandwidth issues are sure to be the immediate issue that comes up: how to get data to and from an offshore center? But knowing Google they are already working on that. And it’s nice to see that they are thinking way ahead of most companies.

I heard an NPR story this morning on power companies nationwide, and the struggle internally between “simply keeping the lights on” and innovation. They are charged with keeping everything running, but must try and look forward to when their grids will be more distributed and, possibly, less dependent on coal and oil.

Similarly, Google runs a good portion of the internet. What would life be without Google, YouTube, etc., even for one day? So they have to keep the lights on. But if they don’t innovate — on many fronts simultaneously — their prominence in the marketplace will be quickly dwarfed by those who can seize the opportunity.

I wonder what lessons my company can take from these musings on innovation?

Blog, business, graphic design, portfolio, Uncategorized

Stuff that didn’t fit into the portfolio

Over the years, we have done literally thousands of projects for lots and lots of clients. And most of those didn’t make it into the portfolio. That loss is your gain, because now I can pull some of them out and show them off one at a time here on the blog.

Army of Stars postcard - Salvation Army

This first one is a postcard that I did for Salvation Army Southern California. They needed a hip, active look for their “Army of Stars” campaign. I designed a style and look, and then built postcards, newsletters, letterheads, and all matter of materials that the could use to communicate with the Hollywood community (here’s the front cover of the newsletter).

What I remember about this project is how quick the turnaround was, and how important it was to establish an identity for the Army of Stars program. We were successful beyond our wildest dreams, and were able to introduce a whole new generation of Hollywood stars to the joy of serving in the Salvation Army.

Blog, Uncategorized

Watch what photos you post on Facebook…

Have you read the Terms and Conditions for Facebook? Before you start posting all of your photos, know that within the T&Cs, Facebook makes it clear that they reserve the right to use anything uploaded to Facebook on their pages, in their advertising, or anywhere else they think would be fun to use it. Carolyn Wright, an attorney who works with photographers, flagged this issue one on her blog.

Just be careful, people. I don’t post any personal photos to any service, because I want some amount of ownership and privacy.

Blog, graphic design, portfolio, Uncategorized

Awesome new project complete

Wildwood School in West Los Angeles asked us to come up with some cool spirit merchandise for the parents to 1) use as a fundraiser, and 2) make everybody look cool. The fundraiser was such a great success that they had to re-order the apparel within a month of taking delivery of the first batch. Here are some photos:

Wildwood School apparel by Hearken Creative Services, all three pieces

Wildwood School apparel by Hearken Creative Services, slate t-shirt 2

Wildwood School apparel by Hearken Creative Services, hoodie 2

Wildwood School apparel by Hearken Creative Services, hoodie 1

Wildwood School apparel by Hearken Creative Services, gray shirt 1

We’re really proud of our collaboration with Jennifer Rowland and the entire team at Wildwood School. And we can’t wait to get these new photos up on the website!

Blog, Uncategorized

Why spend time on marketing?

It seems I am spending more time than ever before on marketing myself. Getting the website up and running, printing new postcards, making phone calls, networking — am I spending more time marketing than actually doing work right now? Well, in an economic downturn, that’s just what you are supposed to do, according to this wonderful article entitled “The Dumbells Cut Back…The Smart People Don’t”: The Upside of Recession from the Wellesley Hills Group:

Whether there will be or won’t be a recession, maintaining a healthy marketing program will only build on what you have already developed. And maintaining and growing what you have toiled long and hard over requires careful planning, decisive execution, and plain old guts. Now more than ever the money you spend now on marketing matters. Not because dark times loom, but because there is real opportunity out there right now.

So, I will spend the time and energy on making sure to put my best foot forward. To that end, we will be launching several new websites over the next month or so:,, and, among others, will highlight specific focus areas of our business: weddings, sound, film production and post-production, and graphic design.

And we’re continuing to service our current client base with some pretty exciting projects. I will post a few as soon as I get photos taken of these really recent design projects!