State of California Certified


The State of California has granted us official small business status. This should help us in doing business with the state, so we’re happy about that. We’ve done web design work for government organizations in the past, and this new certification gives us certain advantages in the future when bidding for work.

We have similar status with the county of Los Angeles and the city of Los Angeles, and we’re in process with the city of Austin and the State of Texas.

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Ten Reasons Your Website Still Sucks


We know you don’t want your website to suck, and we know you don’t have a lot of time on your hands. Consider this list a starting point of things to avoid in your own online adventures, and enjoy:

Ten Reasons Your Website Still Sucks

10. You don’t understand that what’s under the hood matters even more than the pretty outside everyone sees. The words “semantic markup” and “web standards” never came up when your digital agency talked about your website. Think of a web presence as architecture, because it is. A house built on a weak foundation cannot stand.

9. Despite all warnings, you insisted on going “full Flash”.

8. You still haven’t played with blogs, Twitter, and other social networking tools.

7. You hired your cousin Benny to build your website for $200 and a case of beer. Because really, anyone can build websites, right? Meanwhile crickets chirp and your company looks like a joke online.

6. Conversely, you hired SuperMegaTraditionalMarketingInc to do your website, and ended up with a $400K invoice. Meanwhile, crickets chirp and your company still looks like a joke online, although at broadband speeds.

5. You still think the web is TV. It is not. It is a conversation, and it’s your job to facilitate conversations about your brand online. Not to blast us with spam and one-way missives.

4. Speaking of those one-way missives, we’re tired of listening to your boring corporate non-speak on your website. Speak like a person, and we’ll like you better.

3.  Every company in your space looks the same online. Why is that? Lack of vision, and lack of leadership.

2. Why haven’t you updated anything on your website for 9 months? Are you still in business? Because it sure looks to us as if you’re dead and buried. And slapping a RSS feed onto your homepage really doesn’t count as updating your website.

1. You still refuse to work with your digital agency to help you craft a coherent, visionary, results-oriented web strategy. If you want to succeed online, you must forge a partnership with your digital agency and stop looking at them as some sort of commodity vendor.

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New Web Design, More Flash Strategy


We’ve landed a new web design client for our company, and we’re very excited about the project. In particular, we’re looking forward to creating a site for this client that blows away the competition with regards to usability, design, ease of maintenance, and search engine friendliness.

That last one won’t be too hard to pull off, since in this space every single competitor’s site is Flash-based.

Now, we love Flash. And this client’s website will have some Flash on it. But even as search engines start to index some of the text in a Flash file, they miss a lot of important stuff. Agencies that deploy all-Flash websites for their clients without any sort of thought about accessibility are really doing their clients a disservice. No matter how beautiful the websites are, search engines pass them by as if they don’t exist.

So of course we’re building this new client website using web standards as much as possible. And anytime Continue reading

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How To Choose A Digital Agency


First, What Is A Digital Agency?

“A digital agency is a business that delivers services for the creative and technical development of internet based products. These services range from the more generalist such as web design, e-mail marketing and microsites etc. to the more specialist such as viral campaigns, banner advertising, search engine optimisation, podcasting or widget development etc.” -Wikipedia

We think they left a few major things out, such as video production services, social media marketing, and mobile app development. But it’s a good start.

[This article has been updated and expanded here]

Not An Advertising Agency

A digital agency isn’t an advertising agency. Advertising agencies primarily deal with traditional mass media. Digital agencies mostly deal with Internet and digital campaigns. Also, advertising agencies often make their money off ad placement. Digital agencies generally make their money through their creative services you’ve hired them to complete.

That said, there’s been a move lately by Sapient, a large digital agency, to buy ad agencies. And a lot of advertising agencies are buying digital agencies. Time will tell if organizations with such different cultures will be good for their business or a bust.

Not Just A Web Design Company

The main differentiator between a web design company and a digital agency is a digital agency has broad and deep expertise in areas a web designer just doesn’t. A truly great digital agency understands the big picture for a client’s needs, and has all the tools and expertise to fill a client’s needs and turn out successful multi-platform online campaigns. If it  Continue reading

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RED One Diary: Greenscreen and Tungsten

Greenscreen RED shoot, Burbank

It’s no secret that the chips that power video cameras are balanced more towards blue light (daylight) than orange light (tungsten, inside lighting). The RED One is no exception, and it’s not usually a problem. Unless you’re dealing with footage that is underexposed and shot indoors, and shot using tungsten lighting.

This was the situation from a recent shoot we did in Burbank. And using our 80D filter on the camera didn’t really help a lot because the lighting was already so low.

Now, if this happened today we’d have been using the new RED firmware build that gives much better results in these situations. But we couldn’t afford to go back and reshoot, so we were stuck.

Luckily, the RED community (special thanks to the 4K Ninjas for their constant experimentation and helpfulness) is on the case- there’s a plugin for After Effects called NeatVideo Pro that can seriously reduce the blue channel noise that happens in these situations.

We bought a copy. It’s magic. Suddenly, unusable footage is looking very, very good. Greenscreen keys that took a nodetree that looked insane in Shake are now easily keyed with one click inside Keylight. And I’m talking wispy hair and all. Amazing.

So we’re getting the word out- if you shoot or edit RED, get this plugin. Now! It’s only $100, and can save you tens of thousands of dollars while making it possible for you to deliver shots that your clients will utterly love.

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From the Interactive Archives- The Cluetrain Manifesto

Sometimes clients still ask us about why the internet is so important, and how to get up to speed about how the business environment’s changed and guidance with the opportunities and pitfalls that this brave new world brings.

Even though it’s about nine years old (which is forever in Internet time), I still like to point clients towards The Cluetrain Manifesto. Sure, it’s getting a bit long in the tooth, but what was once thought revolutionary and provocative has now become commonplace. Any company that wants to make it online needs to read and understand- and implement- the basic tenets of this book.

I just found out that there’s a new 10 year anniversary edition of the book coming out shortly, and in the meantime the text of the original book is at the link above, for free. Enjoy!

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Business Marketing In This Economy


There’s no doubt that these are interesting times. And while the government may bail out or take control of certain businesses deemed “too large to fail”, it’s doubtful that small or medium-sized business owners can expect any help from Uncle Sam. You’re on your own. As an interactive agency, we’ve been in the interesting position of watching how companies deal with these stormy times. We’ve learned some things, and I’d like to pass them on to you.

Don’t Be RoadKill

What’s a business to do, when companies are failing left and right and you’re being squeezed from above and below? What you don’t do is stay on the ground, frightened and helpless. If you do that, you’ll soon be roadkill. Inaction = death. We’ve seen a few former clients and an awful lot of competitors fall into this paralysis, and they’re all either bankrupt or on the edge. You’re smarter than that, so strap yourself in and Continue reading

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Microsoft SQL Server -> MySQL

It seems like we spent much of the first half of this year moving clients from Microsoft SQL Server database web applications to open source MySQL database applications. We’re still working with one of our larger clients on an enterprise level web initiative that heavily uses Microsoft SQL Server, but it’s fair to say that at least two thirds of our client base is now running MySQL, including several online store locators and other web applications.

Continue reading

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Nikon D5000 Tests- Monterey Aquarium

Here’s some more photos taken on our Nikon D5000 dslr camera at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California last week. The aquarium’s a pretty tough subject in some ways, and it provided an opportunity to get a little better with “on the fly” shooting, and to get more familiar with the D5000’s menu systems and shooting modes.

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Nikon D5000: Virtual Reality Rig Setup

Virtual Reality Rig: Nikon D5000, Sigma Fisheye, Nodal Ninja 3 II  

Here’s our proposed new virtual reality rig- our brand new Nikon D5000 camera, our trusty Sigma fisheye lens, and the Nodal Ninja 3 Mark II pano rig. We’d been using a Nikon D80 for our virtual reality rig for about a year, and while it’s amazing in its own right the new D5000 has the ability to crank up to ISO 3200, which is insane!

We’ve been shooting VR longer than almost anyone- ever since Apple’s QuickTime supported VR (with QuickTimeVR), and we’ve done virtual reality projects for clients ranging from Major League Baseball (a cool World Series project of baseball stadiums) to the Olympics (including a lot of venues), and corporate clients such as Sprite and Accenture. Continue reading

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About PatrickOrtman, Inc.

PatrickOrtman, Inc. is one of the top-rated video production companies in Los Angeles and New York City. We make high-end corporate videos, and commercials for TV and digital for clients that include 11 Fortune 500s.