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5Jan

Another Video Production Testimonial

We recently had some fun working with Austin, Texas advertising and creative agency The Butler Bros., when they came to us looking for a way to create a corporate video for one of their high-profile New York-based clients. The project was centered around an event in Anaheim, California (just outside of Los Angeles, home of Disneyland and I think The Mighty Ducks). It involved interviews and a bunch of b-roll over a number of days with a variety of teaching professionals, and the deliverable included 6 short corporate documentary-style films.

Originally, the agency had been given the go-ahead to film these interviews in a room away from the action of the event. But when we did our location scout, we saw how sad the little room was. So, we suggested filming these interviews smack in the middle of the event instead, for a much more energetic and cinematic look. The agency wholeheartedly agreed, and we set out to make it happen. The results were excellent, and the client was very happy with all of us for going the extra mile.

We shot in 4K, at times with two cameras, and post-production did involve a fair amount of audio fixes due to the loud nature of the event. But it was so very worth it to capture the energy and dynamic nature of the environment, and filming this way energized our interviewees, giving us much better performances overall.

Here’s what one of our new friends in Austin had to say:

Our client needed to shoot interviews at an event that was out of town for both our agency and for them. Patrick was a huge help on the ground, scoping out the site and making recommendations about how to best capture the footage and ensure the best, most strategic results. Patrick took extra time and care to deliver a finished product that was well-loved by our client, hanging with us through feedback from multiple parties that extended out over time. His work is of the highest quality, the experience seamless, and I would recommend Patrick to other creative agencies looking for a director/production partner.

-Christine Lopez, Client Services Director
The Butler Bros.

That’s pretty cool. We love working with smart, fun agencies like The Butler Bros., and helping them wow their clients.

30Dec

New York Client Testimonial- Waitex Corporate Film

We are often called when a company wants a corporate video that’s really special. Something that stands out, production and story-wise, from the typical corporate video.

So, I was very happy to have been asked to create the 35th Anniversary corporate video for New York’s Waitex Group this fall. We worked with a creative, smart team of people at Waitex, and together we were able to take this mega-successful company’s story and tell it in a way that engaged and excited its audience.

This project spanned two countries: we filmed much of it in New York City and New Jersey, while working with a great team of filmmakers in China for shots of Waitex’s extensive and impressive China projects.

Here’s what Ken Li, President of Waitex Group, had to say about the process of working with us:

“Patrick Ortman and his team is an extremely professional video company. From the script, to the shoot, to the editing, they adhere closely to all our needed deadlines and could grasp quickly the idea of what we wanted and created a wonderfully shot and coherent video that told a story. It incorporated all the many diverse materials that we sent to him and he was always extremely quick to respond and accomodating to all our different request and offices (from all over the world). Patrick has a great personality and was an overall delight to work with, you will always be greeted with transparency and a quick turnaround. We highly recommend Patrick for any corporate video needs.”

As 2017 draws to a close, I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this project happen. Thank you to Waitex, our awesome New York City and New Jersey crew, and our new China friends for everything. I hope 2017 is a great one for us all.

 

26Dec

New TV Commercial Productions for Westside Rentals

I’m really excited about the work we did for this Los Angeles client, the TV commercials turned out great in every way. And what’s best is, they’re being seen and they are working for the client’s business. Yay! They’ll be playing all over Southern California through 2017.

One thing new directors and filmmakers don’t often understand is the amount of work it takes to get something that looks and feels natural and easy. The truth is, “easy” take a lot of work to get right. And I’m super-proud that we got it right.

We shot these on SONY, and colored in DaVinci. For more TV and web commercials, plus our corporate work, check out our website.

22Jul

Finally, a 4K Deliverable


I’ve been shooting in 4K+ since 2007/2008. But the truth is, outside of film festival stuff, it’s been too unwieldy to deliver 4K masters to clients. I’m happy to say, that’s changed. Here’s our latest, a UHD agency cut of a spot we did in New York last month. It’s not 100% UHD- we have to redo the VFX in a couple of shots, and tweak a couple of things before it’s final. But wow, the detail’s awesome! In fact, for trademark reasons we’ll need to now add a couple of other VFX shots to this spot to obscure now-visible-in-4K details.

Over the next few months, I’ll be re-uploading more from our catalog in 4K/UHD.

11Jun

Ours Goes To “11”: On Working With 11 Fortune 500 Companies

This one kind of snuck up on me. For the longest time, my “Fortune 500 Number” was 7. Then it became 8. Then 9, I think, with PepsiCo. Now, we’ve worked with 11 Fortune 500s. I can’t say who the most recent two are, because we’re in post-production on their projects right now. But they’re big companies.

I guess now’d be a good time to reflect on why these companies and their ad agencies chose us, and why we chose to work with them. But the thing is, they’re keeping us really busy right now. It’s a good thing. I’m grateful. And, we’re kicking ass.

Because ours goes to “11”.

 

25Apr

Reflections on Video Production: Los Angeles vs New York

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I just finished a Los Angeles video production for a client. It was a blast, as usual, but I can’t talk about it just yet. Instead, today I’ve been reflecting on the differences and similarities between making a film or commercial in New York versus Los Angeles.

What I love about making videos in Los Angeles:

  • The weather, it’s almost always sunnyish.
  • I like getting in my truck and being able to pick up stuff from the rental house easily. I tend to rent “big stuff” in LA. But then, I have to, because it’s almost always sunny in LA (it’s a pro and a con).
  • The actors and crew are fantastic, in Los Angeles.
  • LA can look like almost anywhere in the world, for locations.

What I love about doing it in New York:

  • You can shoot on the street without being arrested or needing a permit, unless you bring big stuff and stop traffic.
  • New York looks… well, it looks amazing. There is no other place that looks like New York, and it is glorious (that’s a pro and a con).
  • The actors and crew are fantastic, in New York.
  • The subways are really efficient if you can be super-light. This doesn’t work for many jobs, but sometimes- especially for corporate videos- it can.

I work and live in both places. LA is Hollywood, and New York is Madison Avenue and Wall Street. Both are relevant. I think the nature of the industry is such that if you want to be successful you need to be in both places, depending on your craft. Certainly being solidly on both coasts has helped my business.

Yet, I still end up on planes to other places frequently. Because clients come from all over the world, and you must go where the work is. But that’s a story for another day.

23Apr

Storytelling.

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The longer I direct films and videos, the more I see that one factor, above all, helps make or break a project. It’s not the camera (although that matters), It’s not necessarily even the actors or director you hire (although those certainly matter, too). It is story.

If a project has a crappy story, it will fail- no matter how much money you have, no matter how much star power you throw at it, and certainly no matter which state-of-the-art camera you use.

And it’s my job to at least do everything I can to help my clients tell their stories.

It still surprises me when a potential client tells me they don’t want our input on the story they’re telling. I deal with story everyday. It is my lingua franca (that means it’s my trade language, I love Wikipedia).

My job is to learn everything I can about a client and their business, and it’s my job to then take their story and do what’s possible to make it a great story- one that appeals to their audience and incites them to action.

Sometimes a client comes to us with an idea almost-fully realized, and just needs a bit of input. That’s fine. Often, we write the whole thing. That’s fine, too.

But I hate it when a possible client believes they have everything nailed down, and won’t take my input at all. That’s the potential client who will freak out during production or editing, when it’s usually far too late to change direction.

I don’t have time for that silliness.

And so, today… finally… I am drawing a line in the sand. My job is to be your director. And my company’s job is to be your video production company. If a potential client approaches us from now on, and does not want us to help them make their project fantastic- including getting our input on their concept and script to some degree- I will not work with them.


Patrick is the founder of Los Angeles and New York City based PatrickOrtman, Inc., a creative video agency that has won a ton of ADDY and Telly awards, worked with 9 Fortune 500s (and tons of startups), and been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Toronto Star, USA Today, and many other print and online publications in the advertising and other industries.

23Mar

Video Marketing for Startups, Tech-or-Otherwise

Image from the inimitable Robert

Image from the inimitable Robert

My agency has been lucky enough to have created videos for some truly exciting startups- myLanguage, with their Vocre app that won TechCrunch, being one of them. As I’ve worked with startups to tell their stories, I’ve learned a few things. And today I’ll share some of that hard-won knowledge with you.

Production Quality Still Matters

First, your video’s production quality still matters, even if you’re a startup. You cannot expect the public to put your video in context (“Hey! We’re a startup! Cut us some slack!”). People don’t care what your video’s budget was. They don’t care if you had to produce it under tremendous pressure. They’ll just judge the video- and your product/service- like they judge any video marketing. Meaning your competition these days is TV. Does your video look like it could be played on TV?

You Never Know Who Will See It

You never know who’s going to see your video. Yes, it’s important to try and figure out to whom your video should appeal- to figure out your audience. But a lot of the time, despite all the hard work you put in to define your audience, you won’t be able to account for every possibility. It’s in the nature of video marketing that your video will be shared and seen by audiences you may not have expected.

I learned this on our first promo video for Vocre, when the app became so insanely successful that for a few days local news throughout the USA and Canada played clips from our little promo video on the nightly news. Wow! Imagine my surprise, seeing our little video on screens that connected to millions of North Americans. Luckily, we put a lot of love and effort into the video.

Be Realistic With Your Budget

I get approached all the time by startups who tell me they want to shoot in midtown Manhattan or Beverly Hills, and they want 10 actors and 5 locations in their videos. And their budget is $3,000. Seriously, I get these calls and emails almost every day from well-intentioned CMOs and Marketing Managers.

You have to be realistic with your video. If you don’t have $50,000+ to make your promo, you need your video agency to find ways to creatively tell your story, within financial constraints. That’s OK, we do it ALL THE TIME. But… ditch the Cecil B. DeMille, Old-Hollywood ideas. You cannot have a cast of thousands and locations around the world, if you’re on a budget.

Remember, Story Trumps Everything

Here’s the biggest secret of all: even if you’re a well-funded startup willing to spend $100K+ on your video (we love you guys), if your story sucks the video will fail. I always get leery when a company approaches us with a fully-realized script, and “just” wants us to execute their vision. Those projects invariably fail.

No matter your budget, your video’s story is paramount: it has to grab your audience, and get them to take time from their busy day to learn more about you, and possibly even purchase your app/product/service. That’s a tall order.

Even if you’re a super-awesome marketing whiz,  you need a creative agency that truly understands video storytelling. Not merely a video production company. You need a partner who can work with your concepts and ideas, and make them better. Before the cameras start rolling. A partner who can make the most of what you have, budget and resource-wise, and help you come up with a story that truly engages your audience and incites them to take action.


Me-BlogPatrick is the founder of Los Angeles and New York City based PatrickOrtman, Inc., a creative video agency that has won a ton of ADDY and Telly awards, worked with 9 Fortune 500s (and tons of startups), and been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Toronto Star, USA Today, and many other print and online publications in the advertising and other industries.

14Mar

The Skinny on Camera Formats: Raw, ProRes, H264, and Why It Matters for Your Commercial or Video

Why should you, as a business owner, chief marketing officer, or advertising agency creative care about what format your TV commercial, promotional video, or company/corporate video is shot on? I mean, video’s video, right?

Nope.

You’ll find a few flavors of video formats out there that video production companies and video agencies use to capture the footage for your videos. From highest to lowest quality, they are:

  • Raw
  • ProRes with a log or flat profile
  • H264 (what most DSLRs use)

Among these three types of footage, there’s a lot of sub-types. But that’s for another day. Let’s talk about when and why you’d choose any of these options, starting with the worst choice.

The worst choice of video format is H264, which is used by most DSLRs.

H264 is a very heavily-compressed format. This means you cannot push the image in post-production very much, without the image falling apart. Why is this bad? Because a vital part of making a commercial or video look like it’s a huge-budgeted national-quality spot is the magic we add in post-production.  The color-grading. The finishing. When you try to really dive in with H264 video and polish it, you can only do so much. And that sucks.

A step up is ProRes with a log profile. ProRes is a higher-quality video format that a lot of professional cameras and recording devices can capture in, today. It’s a professional-level format. You can do a lot with this footage, because it’s not so heavily compressed like H264. And if it’s captured in log format (an article for another day), you get reasonable flexibility in post-production. A lot of your local news, and some national spots are done in ProRes.

The best quality is Raw. There’s lots of types of Raw, but for today we’ll talk about the kind of Raw that the RED Digital Cinema cameras and Arri Alexa cameras can deliver. These are the platinum standard in the production world, and these two cameras are responsible for most of the national TV commercials, TV shows, and feature films that you see. Professionals choose these cameras and Raw format when they can, because it means you get tremendous flexibility in post-production to polish the look of your video.

There’s a time and place for every tool in the toolbox. Wanna guess which one we use the most? Raw, of course.

 

6Feb

Getting In Early

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(This picture has nothing to do with this post, it’s just a frame from my NYC RED Dragon, and I like it)

I’ve always been the guy who gets in early. I had a real paper route when I was in grade school. I’d get up at 4:30am, get the papers delivered, feed the animals, and go to school. I enjoyed getting in early, because it meant by the time everyone else was moving around, I had a pretty good handle on what I’d have to do for the day, and I felt accomplished and prepared.

I’m the same way today, both personally and with client projects. Even for the most pedestrian-seeming corporate video, I like to get in early. I like to learn about the client, and what makes them tick. I like to learn about their business sector, and competition. I love learning about context and the world in which this video project will live or die.

After I’ve learned as much as I can, I can’t help but start thinking about ways I can help these clients tell their stories in the best way possible- that is, in ways that get results.

I encourage everyone on my team to think and act like this. Yes, it demands a lot more effort to get involved so early. But the rewards are tremendous for our clients, and, usually, for us.

 

 

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