Always Create. An Article from ProductionHub, by Me

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This article first appeared in ProductionHub:

When a big part of your job is creating art for commerce, it’s really easy to get busy with the commerce side of things and forget to feed your artist side. Ten years ago, a friend of mine got a tattoo that said: “All Ways Create”. The spelling was intentional, he’s a versatile artist of many mediums. The point is, I’ve never known him not to be working on his own projects alongside his corporate and commercial work.

But it’s been harder for me to create for myself, especially as I’ve grown up. My business takes a lot of time and attention. It seems like I’m always flying off to direct and shoot for clients, working on proposals, writing scripts, or in post-production with often brutal deadlines. It’s been really hard to find the time to do something not “on the clock”. And hey, I’m grateful: it’s wonderful to be able to create for a living.

Then this November I had a big setback at work. A job I’d committed to got frozen for a month. I was out a lot of money and scrambling to reschedule and move other things around to accommodate. I knew this “dead time” was really bad for me and for my small team, who were expecting to get paid right before Christmas. Things felt pretty bleak.

So I wrote. Quickly and from the heart. A few hours later, I had a concept and a script for a very short, very heartfelt holiday film about family and being apart for the holidays. I sent it to my LA producer Jessica, who loved it and had great ideas on how to make it better- even on the non-existent budget we had. That night, we finished the script together and we put out casting notices for New York (where I was) and Los Angeles (where I would be in a week). 

The only way to make this project happen was to keep things small and agile. That meant a New York crew of me, my DP friend Eric, and a PA. In LA we added a makeup artist and Jessica produced while she and I also filled in all the gaps with things like wardrobe, props, and art direction. Eric caught a free flight to LA thanks to an understanding friend who works as a flight attendant. It was total guerrilla operation, but we’re all working professionals who know how to be scrappy. It helped that we did like Robert Rodriguez says to do in his book “Rebel Without a Crew” and wrote to locations and resources I knew we could get. And we used the camera and lighting I had on hand thanks to the job that fell through, while Eric brought his anamorphic lens along for the fun.

We filmed on the streets of New York, guerilla-style in Central Park, at Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue, even outside Tiffany’s. It was magical. A week later, we were in LA filming at a condo, on Hollywood Blvd., and at Runyon Canyon overlooking downtown LA. Also magical, in a completely different way.

About a week later, I finished editing and post-production and we put “A Cup of Kindness” out into the world. Just in time for the holidays. 

It’s been amazing getting messages from friends old and new, telling us how much the film touched them. I love that people are enjoying it and sharing it online. It’s become the perfect “Thank You” card from us to everyone who’s made an impact in our lives this year. My soul feels truly fed, my creative batteries are recharged. I’m grateful for the once terrible setback that has turned into a chance to create.

And I’m sure that’s not the end of the story. See, another thing my friend with the tattoo taught me is when you are creating stuff that matters to you it often leads to opportunities you’d never expected. This has proven true for me in the past. About 3 years ago I did another project for love that has unexpectedly helped my company land work with large Fortune 500 companies and a few prominent ad agencies. It seems like when you put your creative energy out into the world, it usually comes back multiplied.

So downtime? Setbacks? Yeah, they suck. But I urge you to be resilient and use them to work on your own projects. To always create. You’ll definitely hone your voice and satisfy your soul. Maybe you’ll create something that resonates with an audience. You might even create something that helps you in ways you cannot yet imagine.

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Patrick Ortman Interview by New Filmmakers LA

I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time. Here’s Danny De Lillo interviewing me about my short film “A New York Love Story”:

Wipster Says We Rock

Five years ago I gave a short, squinty-eyed video interview to a startup called Wipster that not only makes cool tools for video agencies, they actually care about the industry.

Now, all these years later Wipster’s bigger than ever. And this week, Wipster says we’re one of six cool video agencies producing boundary-pushing content. Thanks, Wipster!

Here’s what I said about the future of video five years ago, in Austin, Texas at SXSW:

 

NoFilmSchool: Article about “Cup of Kindness” and the Fuji X-T3

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Patrick wrote an article for famous filmmaking website NoFilmSchool about the Fuji X-T3 and how it was used on the short holiday film “Cup of Kindness”. It’s at: https://nofilmschool.com/Fujifilm-XT3-Film-Review, so enjoy!

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New Short Film: “Cup of Kindness” Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

We made this micr0-short film to thank everyone we’ve worked with in 2018, and to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

“Cup of Kindness” is about family and the holidays. Sometimes we can’t be with our loved ones for the holidays, but family is always together in spirit.

Filmed in New York and Los Angeles for an insanely tiny budget and with a very small crew. Shot on a Fujifilm XT3 camera in 4K DCI (uploaded in UHD).

Starring Patrick Stoffer and Rebecca Noble
Directed, Edited, and Post-Production by Patrick Ortman
Written by Patrick Ortman and Jessica Rothert
Story by Jessica Rothert and Patrick Ortman
Produced by Jessica Rothert & Patrick Ortman
Director of Photography Eric Richardson
Makeup Artist Gabriela Banda
NY Super Production Assistant Matt P. Jones
Music by Dexter Britain

© 2018 Plucky Films, LLC For more visit http://patrickortman.com

Commercials and Brand Films Showreel: Winter 2018/9 Los Angeles & New York

We’ve been quite busy over here this year. And now, just two days after completing filming for a secret project, is our winter 2018-2019 commercials and brand films showreel:

Another New York City Corporate Video Project- Fortune 100

Coverpath Onboarding Corporate Film for Financial Advisors from PatrickOrtman, Inc. on Vimeo.

Here’s our latest work for MassMutual. It’s aimed at their 10,000 or so financial advisors and is meant to help give them a more in-depth introduction to their new Coverpath insurance platform. It’s more educational than the other videos we’ve created for this series. But we worked hard to make it as entertaining as possible.

We shot this over a few days in September in New York, including some shooting at Roosevelt Island. It was a blast!

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.

Today We Are Featured on the Homepage of Veer.tv! (VR, Virtual Reality)

Our first virtual reality clip of 2018-  New York Times Square walking test of the Insta360 Pro camera platform- is being featured on the Veer.tv platform today. Veer’s one of the world’s largest and most-respected virtual reality communities. Yay us!

Please watch in 4K, 1080p isn’t quite enough resolution to get the full effect. We originally filmed in 360 degree VR in 6K in 3D, which means stereo visuals if you got ’em. This looks best on your trusty virtual reality goggles like Google Daydream, or whatever flavor of face screen you’ve purchased. It also looks great on mobile phones, with the right app.

And, if you’re doing the YouTube thing, here’s the same clip there.

More Behind-The-Scenes Shots, these from a Los Angeles Commercial shoot

Hi, Patrick here. The frequent flying back and forth between New York and Los Angeles has its perks and its pitfalls, but I know I’m super lucky to have two amazing crew families between these two fine cities. Jessica (bicoastal producer) and I really love so much about each coast, and I think being bicoastal helps our work continue to improve in interesting ways. So here’s our LA family doing what we do best- making moving pictures!

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.