Facebook Video/Web Teaser for a New York Fortune 100 Company

Wabi-Sabi

Wikipedia: In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.

This is a story about how we made a cutdown for a client, and how imperfection is actually pretty great.

We recently made a Facebook teaser video for MassMutual and their new Coverpath insurance product. It’s part of a longer-form financial services video production we did last month in New York. I’m posting it because this is a perfect example of a situation where a client hires us for a project and then asks us if it’s possible to create more than one deliverable for them.

In this case, the request came in after we’d already filmed. So, I sat down with Jessica (not really, I think she was on one coast and I was on the other) and we figured out a story that hits all the important points of Coverpath.

Visual Effects

We’d already shot the running stuff, and the client approved the story. But I realized to tell this story best we needed to have a slow-motion shot that did not exist. So, into VFX-land I went. Simply slowing the footage looked terrible! After much experimentation, I decided to use Twixtor Pro and its ability to separate elements with alpha mattes. I went into a high-end rotoscoping program called Silhouette to create the rotoscoped matte, then spent a lot of time playing with the results in After Effects to create a pretty realistic slow motion shot.

Enter Wabi-Sabi

The other part of the visual effects for this teaser was the MassMutual logo in 3D, sitting on the grassy knoll. For that, the workflow was After Effects- Cinema4D- After Effects, using 3D camera tracking and HDRI lighting for the logo plus some manual tweaks. It looked great! But after living with it for a day, I realized that the tripod panning shot I’d used was too sterile. Coverpath is all about people. So instead of our pristine tripod shot, I found a gimbal shot that had a lot of “mistakes” in it. It wasn’t totally smooth. It jumped around a bit. It didn’t “settle in”. It was profoundly “human”.

And it was glorious. That’s the shot we ended up using, and of course that meant redoing much of the work. But it was worth it.

Delivering Value

When you’re investing money in a high-quality video or film, it just makes sense to also be able to provide (for a reasonable cost) additional versions and cutdowns to help create buzz for the product/service. Production is expensive. We like helping our clients get the most out of the investment.

MassMutual Coverpath Web Teaser from PatrickOrtman, Inc. on Vimeo.

Video Agency in Action! New York City Financial Services Corporate Film

Here we are in New York, working on the second MassMutual film. Photography by J. Webster Smith II.

Meet Prepdeck! Brand Film Video Production

EDIT: Now that Prepdeck has exceeded its funding goals by about 10,000%, here’s the brand film we put together for them:

photo by Andrew JohnstonCrowdfunding is huge. Companies you know- for instance, Bose- use it to test new products before committing to manufacturing and marketing via traditional channels. And savvy entrepreneurs and companies have learned that having a killer crowdfunding video is the #1 most important tool in their social marketing arsenal. So they’re coming to video production companies and agencies like us to help them create commercial-quality videos for their products.

We helped write, produced, and did the post work on the Prepdeck crowdfunding video. Our Los Angeles studio worked with LaunchBoom! out of San Diego and the CEO of Prepdeck to show off what makes Prepdeck special. And it turned out great!

What’s Prepdeck? It’s a complete meal preparation system, with over 45 features and accessories to help you prepare, measure, and store ingredients. It’s really awesome (we only work on awesome crowdfunding projects, of course). I like it so much that I just bought one, not a giveaway mind you- using my own money. Here’s the link to learn more about Prepdeck and to back it on Indiegogo!

And of course, here’s the video we created plus a couple of promo shots taken by Andrew Johnston:

pdeck2 pdeck1

We’ve Been Selected: Top 5 Video Production Companies in New York!

New Clutch Tagline logo

Clutch, a leading online tool to help businesses find the best creative and technical partners, has chosen PatrickOrtman, Inc. as a leading video production company in New York City for 2018. We’re listed in the Top Five Video Production Companies in the tristate area. This is a big deal for us, because we’re not like a lot of the larger video firms in New York. We’re different because we don’t try to be everything to everybody. We’re focused  on providing high-end corporate videos and commercials. So, thank you Clutch. And happy 2018!

Keeping Busy

We’ve been busy over here. This morning at 1am we delivered the first cuts of 5 new web videos for a major technology company based in Seattle.We shot on Canon C-series (we’re starting to really love the look those cameras give us), through Zeiss primes, and recorded to an external Atomos Ninja2 to give us a thick, massively gradable image to push around in DaVinci Resolve. Other post tools included the usual Adobe suite of products.

Behind-the-scenes photos and the videos themselves to come later, once the new product is launched.

Non-Profit Video Production with Oscar-Winning SFX Makeup Artists

We recently created a video for a Los Angeles-based nonprofit called MPAC. MPAC is an organization that’s dedicated to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of American Muslims. They needed a low-budget, yet interesting video- and didn’t want the same old rah-rah corporate video thing.

So they came to me.

We worked through some meetings, and I came up with an idea: what if instead of trumpeting historical events, we took a look into a possible future? A future in which American Muslims participated more in politics, media, and Hollywood (areas in which the American Muslim community has lagged behind other groups).

The problem became, how do you do this and not look cheesy? From the start, I wanted a Hollywood special effects makeup company on the job. I knew I’d do some digital makeup work, but I needed a great base to start with. I made a few calls, and found the gang at Barney Burman’s B2FX (Barney recently won an Oscar for his work on Star Trek) was willing to work with our tiny budgeted, yet interesting storyline.

The video turned out very well, and is currently part of the client’s marketing as they raise funds to support their ongoing programs in Media, Hollywood, and Politics for 20somethings who want to get involved.

Check out the video on our homepage.

Here’s some pictures we took at B2FX during prep:

 

Local TV Commercial Directed by Patrick Ortman

Here’s a fun local TV commercial I directed and produced through my video production company, check out more at patrickortman.com:

 

Do Cameras Matter in Filmmaking?

When the RED first came out, it changed everything. The picture was stunning for the price. Yeah, it was buggy, but they eventually ironed most of that out. And today, we have a plethora of amazing choices when it comes time to choose a camera for our films. Even on the lower-budget end of things.

These days, most professional camera systems are capable of fantastic pictures. There’s a particular few cameras that I personally like for filmmaking, though. And they are these: Canon’s C-series, Blackmagic’s cameras, Sony’s recent 35mm sensor cams, and (under certain circumstances) the RED. If you’re renting, throw in Alexa, of course.

Any of these cameras can give you a startlingly fantastic image. And it’s been like this for a couple of years, now.

The difference between the images you get and the images the pros get, though, isn’t the camera itself. What really sets the work apart is your choice of lenses, and lighting. These days, assuming you’re using a good camera system, the camera you’re using matters far less than your talent and your lens collection.

I know a bunch of camera fanboys just shit themselves, and are rising up to argue. That’s fine- you guys keep on arguing stupid things like specs and resolution. We’re set on making beautiful images. The fact is, once you reach a certain threshold in camera technology, what starts to hold you back is the optics. Great optics are not cheap, by the way! And your ability as a filmmaker to sculpt the light and create a look matters a lot, obviously.

So do cameras matter in filmmaking? Yes, and no. But certainly, rather than obsessing over camera specs, I think one would be wise to spend that effort on learning how to light and getting some good lenses. Bonus: lenses are a fantastic long-term investment, unlike cameras.

 

2012 in Review

2013

Happy 2013! We hope this year brings you peace, happiness, and success. And yes, you guessed it- this is another “Year in Review” post.  Here’s some of our 2012 highlights:

  • We were pleased to add a Fortune 50 client (PepsiCo) to our already stellar Fortune 500 client list, with our well-received short film about PepsiCo’s amazing CEO Indra Nooyi.
  • Our client UCLA worked with us to create the first college promotional film shot entirely on an iPad. It turned out surprisingly well.
  • UCLA also partnered with us to create another well-received short film about legendary basketball coach and leader John Wooden.
  • Oxford University Press continued to work with us, and we shot video interviews and other material for a documentary on Los Angeles food truck culture.
  • We got to interview and video a number of other interesting and often high-profile people in 2012, including Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed (he’s an excellent interview, by the way). And we’re proud of the web promos, TV commercials, and corporate video production work we created for our technology, legal, and other clients this past year. Thank you all for your patronage.
  • On a more personal note, we finished production and post production on Patrick’s short drama “Unlaced”. It’s about a man whose life has come undone, and was shot in glorious widescreen on RED digital cinema cameras. It looks amazing, and begins showing at film festivals this fall.

2012 was a year of growth and tons of great video production projects for cool clients. Cheers to an even better 2013!

On Camera Technology & Filmmaking

patrickErnest

This is how we got beautiful, cinema-quality 720p HD, 35mm-sized sensor imagery only a few years ago. This was state-of-the-art, a Panasonic HVX-200 with a 35mm lens adapter and external monitor. Unless you were shooting a project in the very-high-end, you had to deal with Frankenstein-like contraptions like this to get a beautiful, filmic look to your HD footage.

Our new Canon EOS C-100 gets a massively better image and can almost fit in the palm of your hand. Our RED MX is bigger, but gives an arguably even better image than the c-100 (I say arguably, because the RED gets its butt kicked in low-light and skin tones by the Canon C-Series).

The thing is, these days we all have an embarrassment of great camera choices. If you’re making a movie, a high-end corporate film, a tv commercial: the tools are there. Now it’s up to you to make your tools sing.

That’s why I don’t hang out on camera message boards so much, anymore. It doesn’t matter to me if we’re shooting RED, Arri Alexa, Canon… whatever. They’re all good, they all have their uses. And I think that’s a healthy attitude. In the end, when I make a film it’s not about worshipping camera specs. It’s about telling a story.

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.