Crew of One: Matteus Clement

Most of us work in creative fields because we like being creative, not because we wanted to become accountants or salespeople. Unfortunately, most of us wind up wearing those hats as well. The following is a post by Matteus Clement, an independent video pro located in Vancouver Island, Canada. Matteus has taken an innovative, flat-rate approach to budgeting his videos, and has generously agreed to share his insights, as well as a sample of one of the production agreements he and his small-business clients sign off on.

If you struggle with the “business” side of the photo/video business, you’ll find Matteus’ approach very interesting. Whether you agree or disagree with his approach and his pricing (keep in mind, his prices are in Canadian dollars), it’s terrific food for thought.

Enter Matteus:

I’ve been producing videos ever since I went overseas in 2003 with my Canon Z60 DV tape camcorder. It was only three years ago that I decided to take the plunge into my own business, Mazo Media. Since then, I have learned a lot of new video techniques because of necessity and learned a lot of business practice from mistakes.

I have found that a flat rate quote system works much better than an hourly/daily rate (at least in my region). I believe that most owners/managers find peace of mind in a fixed cost as opposed to a project that can balloon out of control.

How I Made An App

screengrab5 How many times have you heard someone say – or said yourself – “I’ve got a great idea for an app …” A few months ago, I posted an interview with Dean Head, a DP who developed an app for film crews working in China. Ever since then, my own “great ideas for apps” have been nagging at me.

After talking to a couple of programmer friends, I quickly realized two things:

1) Nobody had time to help me.

2) I couldn’t afford to hire somebody.

This was disappointing, but not unexpected. In fact, it’s much the way I expect people feel when they look into video production and discover how much it costs to product a quality project.

But, I don’t give up that easily. When I was in high school and college in the mid-to-late ’90s, the internet and 3D graphics were just starting. At that time, I was a computer nerd, cutting my teeth on the GW-BASIC programming language (as a middle-schooler, I tried to program a searchable Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), and moving on to PASCAL and C+. Once I discovered filmmaking in college, I turned my back on “a life spent in front of a computer in a dark room,” and – aside from learning enough HTML and CSS to do my own websites and eBooks – I abandoned programming.

But, times change. These days, video production puts me in front of a computer a lot more than it puts me on a set or location. To a great extent, the photo/video/web/programming industries have all sort of converged into a nebulous cloud of “creative work.” So, I figured, what the heck, I’ll learn to do apps myself.

FX From Red Giant Are Free (For Now)

I have been a fan of Red Giant’s third-party editing plugins for many years now. I’ve used Looks quite a bit, and Colorista II is by far my favorite color-grading app. Today, Red Giant announced that it is creating its own online community: “Universe.” Membership in Universe if free (for now), and gets you several free plugins. More importantly, Universe members will be able to contribute directly to the release and development of future products!

Here’s the Red Giant promo video.

Here’s the page where you can go to sign up. http://www.redgiant.com/store/universe

Red Giant Universe will quickly become a paid service, and the free beta won’t last long, so – impressive as it is – I’m going to delve in and figure out whether there’s enough on here to justify the not-inconsiderable licensing fees:

– Premium Monthly: $10
– Premium Yearly: $99
– Premium Lifetime: $399

Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Q&A With “Thanks, Dan!” Creators

It is a rare lawyer commercial that makes me want to commit a crime, just so that I can be represented by the lawyer in question. That was exactly the response I had when I saw this spot for Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney Daniel Muessig.

When I first saw the video, it had been updated a few hours previously, and had 400 views. Later that afternoon, it was well over 18,000. Clearly, I was not the only viewer who was impressed!. Curious about the team behind this viral video, I reached out to the man himself, Dan Muessig, Esq., who was kind enough to reply to my nosy questions.

Dan, your promo video had 400 views when I watched it earlier today. Now it’s over 18,000. What kind of response are you getting from people?
Response has been overwhelmingly positive thus far. Some people are mad but you’ll have that.

Your video has a lot of humor, but you’re making a serious point, which is that everyone should have the right to decent legal representation. Kidding aside, what’s your opinion of the current state of the criminal justice system?
The system is completely broken. Its a conveyor belt to prison. In my mind to be effective you have to have your client’s backs to the extent that you are willing to do anything within the law to help them.

Recent Work – Ginny Deerin Campaign Announcement

Benjamin Franklin famously stated that, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Only slightly less certain is the preponderance of political media that is produced for every election cycle. As with too much of our political system, money is the primary factor in determining outcome: candidates backed by wealthy donors or powerful lobbies can pay for high quality production and plenty of TV airtime. Independent candidates struggle to get enough publicity to make potential voters even vaguely aware of their existence.

However, the situation is far from hopeless. On the contrary, social media and low-cost production equipment has made it more feasible than ever for grassroots campaigns to get attention and build up steam. As an example, here is a video I recently did for Ginny Deerin, who is running for Secretary of State for South Carolina.

As you can see, the presentation is very simple, but highly effective. The location was Ginny’s living room. The scene was lit with a Genaray LED light kit. I filmed wide, medium and closeup shots of Ginny delivering her statement on a Canon 5D Mark II. In post, I cut between the different shots to add visual variety, and added photos that she provided. Finally, I added some simple text to the screen to emphasize her key points. Total crew: 2 people (myself and a hair/makeup stylist). Total production time, including editing: less than 7 hours.

The response has been outstanding. One of Ginny’s supporters told her, “If you can get enough people to watch that video, you will win.” Another simply stated, “EXCEPTIONALLY good video!!!!!!”

You don’t need a RED, a full crew, and a giant budget to help a regular person establish themselves as a viable candidate for elected office. If somebody has something powerful to say, keep the production clean and simple, and let them talk.

RIP Sarah Elizabeth Jones

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Normally, I try to keep things fairly positive on this blog. Not today. The tragic death of Sarah Jones on the set of “Midnight Rider,” represents everything I have grown to despise about the entertainment industry.

Here’s the short version of the story (which you can read here): a 27-year-old camera assistant is dead, and seven other people are injured, because the producers of the film she was working on decided it would be okay to shoot on a railroad trestle, at night, without permission.

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Behind The Screens With Twisted Media

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No, that’s not a typo in the headline. Normally, we look behind the scenes, but today we’re going to look behind the screens.

Did you ever notice that computers in movies and TV shows look WAY cooler than in real life? Now only is the hardware often impossibly sleek and futuristic, but the software is incredibly fast, powerful, and awesome-looking.

I’ve been mildly obsessed with movie and TV computer interfaces for a long time, so I was very interested to talk to Derek Frederickson, one of the principals of Twisted Media, a company that specializes in on-screen graphics.

Bob Dylan, Chrysler, And Unintended Consequences

Advertisers and celebrities really need to be careful when they get in bed together. Consider the starring role of anti-establishment hero Bob Dylan in Chrysler’s 2013 Superbowl commercial. By associating itself with the once-iconoclastic Dylan, the Chrysler corporation was trying to be seen as rebellious. Unfortunately, the reverse was equally true: by “selling out” to a completely mainstream manufacturer, Bob Dylan torpedoed a lifetime’s worth of artistic credibility.

 

Behind the Scenes of “Set Yourself Free”

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the 13+ million people who have already seen “Set Yourself Free.” In this gorgeously filmed PSA, a cadre of nubile youngsters (of the type most often seen in Pepsi or Honda commercials) escapes the drudgery of school and sets off for a carefree day at the beach, with – ahem – unexpected results.

This video is extraordinary, both because of its outstanding production quality and the incredible viewership it has achieved in just its first week. The wizards behind the curtain of this pièce de résistance are the Australian production company of Henry & Aaron: Henry Inglis, Aaron McCann and Lauren Elliott.

Aaron, Henry and Lauren

Behind the Scenes of “Casino Law”

One of the most talked-about commercials from this year’s’ Superbowl didn’t even play nationally. It was a 2-minute epic advertising a personal injury lawyer from Savannah, GA. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

Since I’m an alumnus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, I took a personal interest in this Savannah action, and reached out to Eric Darling, president of eThree Media, the production company that brought Jamie Casino’s singular vision to life. Here’s what Eric told me.

Headphones Review: Senal SMH-1000

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Headphones are a critical tool for video production. If you’ve ever forgotten to bring headphones to an interview or dialogue shoot, you know what I mean. Yes, you can look at the db meter to make sure the level you’re recording is loud enough, but without being able to actually listen to the signal, you have to wonder whether the audio you’re getting is noisy, full of echo, picking up RF interference or 60-cycle hum from power lines … The list of possible issues goes on and on.

I’m a gear minimalist and a cheapskate, but for anything that’s worth recording, you need real headphones. A set of iPod earbuds aren’t going to cut it. Not only do earbuds and cheap headphones attenuate portions of the audio signal, they don’t block out enough of the surrounding ambient noise to really isolate the sound you’re listening to.