22Aug

Why The BlackMagic Cinema Camera Matters

We’re excited about getting the BlackMagic Cinema Camera, even though most of what we shoot uses RED digital 35mm 4K+ cameras. RED rocks, so why would we be interested in a “lesser” camera? Easy. RED has spoiled us in post-production: since RED shoots in Raw format, I’m able to fix shots and make things look much better after the shoot. But the problems with RED are the media cost is insane, and frankly many jobs don’t require 4 or 5k imagery. Many jobs work just fine at HD resolution. And the RED is notorious for taking a huge amount of post production resources to support.

I’ve been avoiding adding a HD camera to my toolset, though, because most HD cameras don’t look that great, or hold up like the RED’s footage does in post. Enter the BlackMagic Cinema Camera.

The BlackMagic shoots a respectable 2.5K image in Raw format. Even better, it can shoot in log ProRes format. And it uses cheap media! Finally, the Blackmagic won’t require the post resources my REDs do.

This is just the ticket for a lot of corporate clients, and even some film projects. I’m excited, and so’s my crew.

7Aug

Are You Authentic?

A competitor digital agency, a large one in Los Angeles, has been found out. Their website design is a template they purchased in Asia. Word on the street is, so are almost all the “custom made” websites they’ve built for their customers over the years.

This is an agency that’s been in magazines and has been highly regarded by the Los Angeles business community. Will this revelation hurt that agency’s business? I don’t know. But I think it should, because what they were doing was lying to their customers.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with templates. Some businesses need to really cut costs to get started, and sometimes a clean template is the way to go for them, if they cannot afford a professional website design company.

But if you’re selling yourself as a web design shop, it seems strange that you’d not actually design websites. Especially when you’re charging as if you’re creating custom website designs. To not have a hand in designing websites, when designing websites is in fact your actual business, is lying to your clients, and it is less than authentic.

That’s where I have issues with our competitor. To me, being real is a big deal. Authenticity matters. It’s why I am involved in every project we do. Yes, it means we do fewer projects per year, but it also means that every project we do, from a website redesign to a client video, is as good as it can be.

This has proven to not only be a solid way to run our agency, it’s also allowed me to sleep soundly at night. I highly recommend it.

1Aug

PLUSdoc- Ready to launch!

We’re thrilled to announce that our newest interactive venture, PLUSdoc, is ready to launch. PLUSdoc is a way for doctors to share authentic, verified patient reviews on their websites or social media sites. Check it out at www.plusdoc.com.

20Jul

Sparkle and Boom (Web Design Company Thoughts)

Sometimes I get calls and emails from other web design studios, asking if we’re interested in partnering with them. It’s polite to respond, so I usually do- but the first thing I do is go to the other company’s own website to see if they know their stuff. Too often, they’re utterly clueless.

What especially grates are those companies who have exported their Adobe Flash website design sensibility to HTML5/Web Standards designs. What I mean is, everyone knows Flash is mainly dead. But to continue to design the same poorly-thought-out kinds of websites you built using Flash, but now using Web Standards as the underlying technology doesn’t show any sort of intelligence or respect for your craft. I almost feel like it’s arrogant. And that kind of design mindset certainly doesn’t ever suit clients’ needs.

Today a new web design company in Los Angeles sent me a link to their site, and as I feared, it was one of those “formerly Flash” situations. Their homepage was absolutely pretty at first glance (if a tad busy, with all the animation). But the UI/UX was just terrible. As far as site architecture, they had none.

I spoke with the site’s owner, and he admitted that they’d spent all their money on the nifty HTML5 animation on the homepage. I tried to help him, asking if he’d thought about reworking the site to be more user-friendly.

He didn’t get it. He kept repeating “our homepage animation’s awesome!”. I kept saying “Yes, it is, but you lose me after the first click, and what good is that?”. The guy just didn’t get it.

Unfortunately, their client websites are all like that, too. A big show of sparkle and boom upfront, then the dull thud of crapville. I don’t know of any client who’d accept that, once they started seeing their Google Analytics and conversion information.

No wonder that new web design company is looking for work, despite the sparkle and boom.

12Jul

Working on ‘Unlaced’

My new film is called ‘Unlaced’, and is the story of a man whose life has become undone. I wrote, directed, edited, did the vfx, and a ton of other stuff. I also had a great team, the same guys who help me with our tv and web commercials. I shot ‘Unlaced’ on RED MX, with Zeiss lenses. So it looks spectacular. Now, it’s time to make it sound spectacular. My friends Travis and Martin are making that happen, while I compose the score.

Here’s a few photos from our most recent audio post production session @ ToddAO in Burbank:

9Jul

Minor Website Refresh

We just finished adding a few new things to our website, and we’re in-process on a few more. Most spectacularly, we’ve changed how the homepage works. Instead of a Flash video player taking center stage, we’ve finally moved to a web-standards friendly carousel which, when clicked, launches a standards-friendly video player.

This change lets us highlight projects we’re working on, which I think is pretty cool- especially if you visit our site more than once. It helps keep things fresh, and it’s also more SEO-friendly. And mobile device friendly.

The projects we’re highlighting right now are the Barbecues Galore tv commercial I directed, the Vocre iPhone app web video, and a recent new website and promo video for healthcare startup PLUSdoc.

28Jun

Convergence

Think about it. Television and the web are slowly becoming one. Any video production company would be foolish not to have at least a foot in the online world. And creative agencies, businesses who have traditionally been interactive and online, have watched as their clients embraced video as a powerful and expected part of their online marketing.

This world is constantly changing, and I’ve never wanted to specialize in a narrowly defined genre. We’re specialists in creating cool stuff that turns prospects into customers, and customers into evangelists. It’s fun, and it’s cool to straddle two worlds. And we do it well.

22Jun

Morals and Ethics Matter, Especially In Business

The New York Times had an article last weekend that talked about how our society’s sense of morals and ethics have been severely challenged since the economy tanked. Students are cheating in school more, business people are cheating each other more, people are cutting corners, and so on. I’ve seen this in my industry, too- there’s a lot of desperate, unhappy people out there, anxious to come out on top, no matter the cost.

That’s no way to work, and it’s no way to live.

My company will only work with honest, respectful clients and partners. Accordingly, we will continue to be honest, transparent, and respectful towards those with whom we work. Yes, this has been my company’s internal policy since we started, but now it’s time to make it public.

Truthfulness, honesty, respect, transparency- these are things one used to take for granted. Sure, there were always unethical businessmen out there. But they weren’t the norm. I don’t want them to become the norm, and I demand to live in a world where people treat each other right. If you don’t fit into that, if your morals and ethics are “on hold” during business hours, you’re not someone we’ll do business with, at any level.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying tight partnerships with a strong roster of clients who not only treat us well, but who appreciate our strong code of ethics and morals. They know that when you treat people well, they treat you well. And it’s true. Our work tends to stand head-and-shoulders above the rest because we take pride in delivering projects to clients that exceed expectations. You can’t have pride in your work if you have no respect for others or yourself, and you can’t have that respect unless you have moral and ethical standards to which you adhere.

Maybe having morals and ethics is good for business, after all.

19Jun

Why TV Commercial Post Production Matters

This is a short video I made, showing the difference that quality video post production makes for every project- even local and regional tv commercial productions. You’ll see several examples of how I improved what was shot for each scene, resulting in a much more dynamic and interesting shot for the client.

Pretty much every quality tv commercial, television show, and film uses a ton of post production work. Sometimes this means changing a drab, overcast day into something more sunny and vibrant. Sometimes it means taking a dirty river and making it look like a place you’d want to swim in. And sometimes it means inserting or removing items in a shot. Quality post production services can absolutely help tell a client’s story, and in the competitive world of tv commercials, it’s an absolute necessity.

Most people don’t realize how much each image they see, online or on television, has been altered. So it’s totally understandable that a lot of clients wouldn’t understand that you really need a decent post production budget when you’re doing a local or regional tv commercial.

I hope this video sheds some light on the kinds of things professionals can do to make your business look amazing.

Patrick Ortman is a tv commercial director, and his Los Angeles based, world-traveling production company creates award-winning, successful video marketing for clients across the USA and abroad. You can contact him here.

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