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.

18Jun

Lawyer TV Commercial Production

I’ve been noticing a lot more terrible lawyer tv commercials, lately. I won’t advertise (or embarrass) the law firms putting them out, directly. After all, some of them aren’t being terrible on purpose- they just don’t know any better. It’s painful, though, knowing what these law firms are paying to broadcast their commercials. If you’re going to do tv commercials, you really should do them right.

I directed and produced a few award-winning lawyer television spots for my client and good friend Michael Leizerman about 18 months ago, which started airing regionally about 11 months back, and which have won awards as well as new clients for us both. So I got to learn a lot about law firm tv spots, what works and what doesn’t. Law firm tv commercials are, in a lot of ways, a unique animal. And they’re very easy to get wrong.

The first thing I’d tell a law firm interested in diving into television commercials is, think about your image and spend some time developing your story in a way that’s flattering to your firm. Too many lawyer tv commercials are thrown together haphazardly, and make your firm look foolish. Since our award-winning lawyer tv spots started airing, I’ve spoken with several potential clients who’ve called us up, offered us a pile of money, and told me that they wanted me to shoot them tomorrow, without a script and with no planning whatsoever. That doesn’t work. Find someone who understands story, and let them work with you to create a script that makes your firm look amazing.

Second, it’s important to spend the money on quality video production services. Don’t skimp and buy the internet special $399 commercial. Be smart- what you’re interested in doing here is telling your story and rising above the competition. A lowball production company will put out garbage that absolutely makes you look as foolish or as mediocre as the 30 other law firms they’re promoting. Go with someone with taste and chops. Like my firm, of course. And it helps to work with an actual director like me, as opposed to a videographer. Why? I know how to get great performances from you. The videographer knows how to hit ‘record’.

Third, don’t skimp on post production. If you have a great story, and got some great performances during production, then some effort in post production will make your commercial shine far brighter than the competition.

In a nutshell, mediocrity is a huge waste of money and makes you look stupid. The whole point of doing tv commercials for your law firm is to rise above the competition. To blow them out of the water. To get your unique story out there in a way that attracts new clients for your firm. To do these things, you need to put your best foot forward. Create something that works for you, not against you.


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.

11Jun

New Apple Stuff

Apple released some new stuff, today. Some good, some bad.

The good: the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. I can see this as the new hub of a video editing/creative suite- but only if you get a thunderbolt display, and the new Magma PCI expansion box. Why the Magma box? Because professionals use lots of very expensive PCI cards to do their jobs. For me, that means (at minimum) a RED Rocket, a BlackMagic Design video card, and an NVIDIA GPU expander. That’s the minimum for me to run things like DaVinci Resolve and work with RED footage. Of course, I’d want a couple other cards, too, but Magma will only take 3 cards. And set you back another $1K.

So, OK, a laptop could theoretically do for editing. Theoretically. But you’ll need max out this MacBook Pro, too. And that’s not cheap.

But the retina display’s wicked cool.

What I’m really disappointed with Apple about: the Mac Pro tower. The tool of pros everywhere. Today, Apple basically gave us a collective “f you”, and refused to put reasonable connections on it (no USB3, no thunderbolt), still only 3 PCI slots, and the same useless ATI graphics brand.

I think we’ll hold on to our lovely maxed out previous generation Mac Pro towers, thank you.

8Jun

New Client Web Promo Video

Here’s a web promo video I created for a new online company called PLUSdoc. PLUSdoc is the world’s first verified patient review system, and the video is meant for a very specific audience: skeptical doctors who need to learn about how to harness social media and review systems to help build their practices. It’s definitely not a TV commercial, but web promos can be a lot of fun.

What’s more, the client let me bring in some live action scenes to relate better to the audience, which we shot at a real medical center in Encino, California. I think, and he agreed, that the live action work really added to the project’s appeal to doctors.

I directed, Aaron Champion AD’d, and we shot a mix of greenscreen and on-location RED 4K footage for the promo.

3Jun

Food Truck Documentary

grillemall

We’ve been shooting video footage for a documentary produced by our client in the UK, and it’s been a blast. The documentary’s on Food Trucks in Los Angeles, and it’s been quite an interesting jump into a thriving culture for me. Best of all, almost everyone we’ve spoken with or shot has been incredibly friendly. And, of course, finding a good lunch or dinner’s pretty easy on these sets.

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