Category Archives: Info

Job Posting: After Effects Artist/Editor/Shooter

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After Effects Artist/Editor/Shooter

Serendipitous Films Inc, located on the east side of Fort Worth, is looking for an After Effects Artist who can also handle overflow editing and some shooting. While the position doesn’t necessarily require many years of experience, we are looking for someone who is “advanced” in After Effects. This will be a staff position at our Fort Worth offices.

The most important aspect is how well the applicant fits in with us—chemistry is everything here at SFilms. Secondly will be ability. Everything else follows those two things. So if you like to have fun and enjoy working extremely hard, this might be for you. Contact dan@s-films.com by sending resume but more importantly links to your reel. No phone calls please.

Responsibilities:

  • Create 2D animations, motion graphics, logos and other animation support for video projects. 3D not mandatory, but is helpful.
  • Handle overflow editing of projects in Adobe Premiere.
  • Shoot—be able to go out and shoot BRoll, client interviews, etc, as needed.

Requirements

  • Advanced skills in After Effects, Photoshop and other Adobe cloud platforms
  • Intermediate skills in Premiere
  • Takes initiative
  • Great interpersonal/social interaction
  • Works great under deadline pressures
  • Gets satisfaction by over delivering on production value

Serendipitous Films, based in the Dallas Fort Worth Texas area, primarily handles corporate videos, commercials, some TV and occasionally feature work.

shooting run and gun video

Levels of Corporate Video Production Companies in Dallas

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When looking for a company in Dallas to produce that corporate video, you will find several different levels of production companies. And the corporate video production we’re talking about here are marketing videos, training videos, internal communications, sales and product videos, and web videos.  This is for the Director of Sales and Marketing, the head of corporate communications, the public relations team, or the person in charge of corporate training.

We break down the levels into four sizes—the Big Dogs, the medium size, the small company and the one-man band. Let’s start at the bottom and work up. For some reason, the creative services industry can bring out some of the biggest egos in people. And this occurs throughout the following list. When you are looking for a great video production company in Dallas to work with, in addition to sampling their work, make sure you can enjoy working with the people. It’s one of the biggest comments we get from our clients.

The One Man (or Woman) Band

This “production company” is one person, maybe with an office or maybe not. The older, more experienced One Man Band can write, shoot and edit. And maybe he hires freelancers to assist. The younger One Man Band is typically a student or someone just out of school just trying to explore their craft.

This person will be the cheapest estimate out of the three for a corporate video. But they will usually be the lowest in quality as well. And because they’re alone, the project can take some time—especially the larger video projects. The adage “you get what you pay for” is especially true for this layer. But occasionally a corporate client will get lucky and find a gem.  This level is the biggest gamble and some might say the payoff for a win isn’t worth the risk in the corporate video industry.  Jobs and reputations are at stake within the halls of the company, and you don’t want to roll the dice, spending money for an ineffective video.

The Sweet Spot – The Small Companycorporate video production in studio

In corporate video production, the small company (2-4 employees) offers the most flexibility and value. This company is doing medium and sometimes large company production work, and usually hires a team of contractors they work with often to keep the quality high. Contractors are specialists and superb at what they do. Only hiring contractors for specific shoots rather than hiring full-time staff is a savings that is passed on to the client.

They can estimate jobs on the lower side of the range while bringing top production value. But be careful, because many companies can be this size, quality can be all over the map. With a little research, this company can be the answer to top notch corporate videos. Make sure you look at their portfolio and, if possible, talk to some of their clients.

This size company is flexible– they have a small permanent team to keep consistency and dependability through the projects, and they can scale up quickly if needed.  Because of that, they can still estimate towards the lower side while delivering outstanding value.  Many corporations will go with this company, and stick with them if they deliver strongly on that first project.

The Medium Size Company

The production companies at this level usually have 5-10 employees. They can estimate low or high, depending on how busy they are, but typically will fall in the middle of the estimates as far as price. The overhead for a medium size company is greater and thus can reflect in the estimate. Therefore a client may find that they are paying for more that what directly contributes to what is seen on screen.

As far as quality, it can be hit or miss. Maybe they got to be medium sized because of one rain-maker client, but still lack many other skills and/or tools in their tool box to do more than what they specialize in. But maybe they’re really good and offer incredible value—high production quality at a decent price.

Usually there will be a strong creative type (probably running the company). An editor or two, maybe an animator. And a couple of shooters or production types, and a production or office manager to keep everything organized.

The Big Dogs—The Large Video Production Company

Dallas is a center for corporate and commercial video production. National commercial work ends up being a big ticket item. Large video companies, 15+ employees, will specialize in commercial production to help pay the large overhead they carry.corporate video shoot in studio

The Big Dog work will be first class (they can’t survive otherwise), but they will charge significantly more than all the others. And I do mean significantly. It’s possible that the One Man Band, the Small Company, and the Medium Company all come in fairly close with their estimates. The Big Dog’s price will often be a multiple of the others.

Larger corporations will pay this for several reasons—they feel more confident that the company will deliver a high quality corporate video (which makes them look good to their bosses), and the Big Dog can wine and dine them more, treating them a little more “Hollywood.” It’s the comfort level that the client ends up paying for.

Conclusion

Now there are exceptions up and down this list. You might find a small company that consistently delivers Big Dog quality (and maybe they even charge Big Dog prices). Or maybe a Big Dog will low ball an estimate for some reason. So it’s important that you do your research when picking a corporate video production company in Dallas. Comparing apples to apples is a difficult process in the video industry for the director of marketing, or the head of corporate training.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Where does SFilms fit in this chart? Call us and we’ll tell you. 😉

Drone UAV Preflight Checklist 3DR Solo

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3DR Solo Flight Checklists

What follows is our UAV checklist specifically for the 3DR Solo drone (or UAV).  We require all operators to follow the checklist to insure safe and proper operation of the aerial platform.

Before Leaving

  • Charge drone batteries
  • Charge controller
  • Charge ipad mini
  • Ensure GoPro Hero 4 has card

 

Arriving Exterior Location

PREFLIGHT

  • Visually inspect area of operation, noting poles, antennas and other physical hazards
  • Observe wind direction and approximate wind speeds
  • Place props on motors (make sure they are tight)
  • Put fully charged battery on drone
  • Remove Gimbal foam, protecting gimbal during shipping
  • Choose launch site—make sure it is a safe place for an emergency “return home” command
  • Place drone on launch site (must be away from metal and be level)
  • Power up drone
  • Discuss with Spotter the flight path and flight plan
  • Power up controller
  • Place ipad on hold and power up
  • Make sure ipad connects to Solo wifi and start app
  • If App requires orientation, then follow steps on the screen
  • For non-manual operation, make sure enough GPS satellites have locked with drone (on screen of controller)
  • Make sure Spotter is ready.
  • Clear the area around drone for take-off
  • Hold button for engine start

 

AFTER FLIGHT

  • Wait until props have completely stopped
  • Power off drone
  • Power off controller
  • Power off ipad
  • Place gimbal foam protector in place
  • Remove props and put in case
  • Place ipad mini into lid
  • Place controller into spot
  • Pull microSD card out of GoPro and download
  • Return card to GoPro
  • Charge drone batteries
  • Charge controller if needed
  • Charge ipad mini if needed

 

It’s important to leave the drone ready to go for the next operator.

corporate video dallas with DJI Osmo

DJI Osmo Review – Great for Corporate Video

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Handheld gimbals are not new anymore, and the release of the DJI Osmo moves the handheld gimbal into the next generation.  Ever since we grabbed our small phantom drone, turned it on, and held on to it, moving around the location to get that “steadicam” effect, it was clear a new market (or call it a new tool for the videographer) was opening up.

Several years ago, we here at SFilms in Dallas purchased a relatively cheap powered gimbal (sold by a US distributor, but clearly made in China).  It required a GoPro, but we used the device constantly in our corporate videos.  It was taken on road tours for a corporate retail client of ours, for internal communications, and we used it on construction sites and other places as well.  And it fell apart.  We had to take screws from one side, to fill in ones lost on the other.  But using the GoPro gave us some flexibility.

Now DJI, maker of the phantom line of drones, has taken the gimbal and camera used on their Inspire drone, and stuck it on a stick.  Although I’ve had a history of disappointment with DJI (five times, their drones have simply fallen from the sky), there’s no where for this handheld gimbal to fall.  So here’s my rundown:

Receiving the DJO OsmoDJI Osmo in packaging

First, I ordered it, and it came with a few senseless accessories.  A selfie stick?  You can’t use that with the gimbal.  A cool pouch… but the gimbal already comes with a form fitting “miniature guitar” case.  So the pouch was unnecessary.  What I quickly learned is that a battery or two would have been an ideal accessory.

After unboxing, I connected it up.  For someone new to DJI’s app, it will be fairly confusing at first.  But I’ve had some experience, so I was able to get it working quickly.  The construction of the gimbal is pretty solid and well made.  The holder for the iphone or whatever you want to use as a monitor is very well designed and thought out.  I use a lot of ipads and iphones etc and I drop them a bunch so I use hard core cases.  That makes it difficult to mount onto things, but this holder is flexible enough to hold the iphone with the Lifeproof case.

The First Gig– Corporate Video Event in Ballroom

 

Then came the first big gig to use it on.  Here’s where I learned a lot.  The gimbal’s battery is a pretty quick burn.  Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to charge, but I jumped online and ordered some backup batteriesDJI Osmo at a corporate video event.  I also ordered an ipod touch.  Using my phone works well, but I was in the middle of text conversations with clients on my phone and using it for the gimbal became problematic.  A cheap ipod will fix that.

The gig was a corporate event inside a ballroom.  I quickly changed settings via my iphone.  The image was slightly better than my GoPro Hero 4.  But, as expected, not as good as the Canon C100 Mark II we were using as well.  I experimented with the slow motion settings as well as the 2.7k and 4k resolutions.

Limitations

Although the Osmo is a great tool for BRoll, it does have some limitations– not great for a quick cold start.  Connecting the app can take crucial seconds when you rea

Osmo tilting

Image from the Osmo with the tilting going on making the image off level.

lly want to grab that handshake the CEO is giving the top sales writer.  You can just start shooting in the blind.  About one out of every five startups, my iphone does not recognize the Osmo’s wifi and I have to restart it.  And the camera lists to port.  I’m guessing this is because the iphone sits on the left side of the stick and so I think I start tilting left.  But reversing it sometimes doesn’t work.  So some of the footage is not level.  And double-clicking the trigger (which centers it) doesn’t have any effect on the level.

It was easy to get used to it because it operates similar to the cheap chinese one I’ve been using.  You rotate one way and the camera follows.  That’s how you drive it.  The thumb switch for manually moving the camera is not a great feature while shooting.  Factory setting is way to fast, so I slowed it down in the settings and use my wrist to turn the stick which will pan the camera smoother than the thumb switch.

Overall

In spite of the limitations, overall I really like it.  It will be a great tool in our arsenal for corporate video production here in Dallas.  If anyone has comments, I’d love to hear them.

corporate video teleprompter

The Corporate Video Soundbite

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You’ve been asked to be in the company video.  You’ve read our blog on what to expect and what to wear here.  There are a couple of different ways you will be shot and included in the company video.  In this article, we will discuss these different methods and how you can best represent yourself and your company.

Most company videos are shot documentary style, the subject being interviewed by someone off camera.  Another method is to do a “stand up” looking straight at camera, like a news reporter.  There isn’t a best way, because all these are “tools” and sometimes you need a hammer, and other times you need a screwdriver.  So it all depends on what job you need the video to do.  So let’s discuss.

Documentary Corporate Video ShootDocumentary Style

You will usually sit down (occasionally you might stand), and someone sitting right next to the camera will ask you questions.  This person might be your corporate communications specialist for your company, or it might be one of us.  The video is not going to use the interviewer– so the audience will never see or hear them.  When you answer, try to incorporate the question into your answer.

Don’t worry about messing up.  Just take a pause and pick up just before you fumbled.  Try not to get self-conscious.  Slow down.  Avoid saying “as I said before,” because we probably won’t use the other take.  You can say the same thing over and over, just using different words.  It’s okay.

There are two schools of thought on having the questions prepped before you begin.  Yes it’s good to be prepared, but coming across rehearsed might be counter productive to the corporate video goals.  But being totally cold might not work either.  I recommend for most to have bullet or outline points.  You can write them down, but don’t read anything when answering (and don’t look down at cards or a note pad).

And for this style, I strongly advise against teleprompter unless you are a professional actor.  I had a client insist on doing documentary style interviews with all the corporate leadership.  Then we ended up redoing it later– it came across very poorly.

The Stand Up

This is where the teleprompter actually works really well, and where I advise using it.  The corporate spokesperson looks right at the lens and tells us what he or she wants us to know.  Scripted truly is the best way for this.  It’s hard to keep looking right at that lens and it feels very uncomfortable for the people not used to doing it.  You don’t want to be searching for words.

Relax, and enjoy.  Most people will do just fine in the corporate video and the production team wants you to look good.  We’re going to make you look as good as possible.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Shooting Greenscreen with Prompter

Corporate Video Productions

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Video Production for training, sales, marketing and more!.

Serendipitous Films has an award-winning track record for producing high quality videos.  We’ve produced national commercials, training programs, marketing videos, viral videos for web SEO, sales training, recruiting, and many others.  Whatever your corporate communication need is, we deliver results.

We’re deadline oriented and know how to work fast.  Usually, companies will ask you if you want it good, cheap or fast, because you can pick two.  Here at Serendipitous Films, we pride ourselves on our ability to deliver all three.

Seminars/Workshops

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Reel road lessons for actors and filmmakers.  We have offered the following seminars and workshops:

Acting: A Director’s POV — Not actor to actor, but director to actor– real information about what the director is thinking from audition, through shooting to the edit room.  Give yourself a better shot at landing the role and not being left ont he cutting room floor.

Greenlight Yourself — The 6 Phases of Filmmaking.  Perfect for the writer or director looking for information on how to do it yourself.  In addition to the seminar, a 3+ hour DVD is available.

Screenfighting and SFX for Actors — learn to give and take punches, like falls, handle weapons like a pro and learn to take a squib.

How To Direct Features — for the director in training.  We go through the skillsets necessary to pull off directing a feature film.

How To Edit Dramatic — a practical experience in editing dramatic scenes.  We take actual footage from Serendipitous movies and cut together scenes.

Feature Writing — The big factors that can instantly impact your story and make your script more producable and sellable.

Actor Demos — This has been an extremely popular tool.  When you sign up, we consult with you to write a short original scene, then we shoot it in conjuncture with others to make it look like it was ripped from an indie film.

A Pleasant Discovery…

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Welcome to Serendipitous Films.  We specialize in both corporate communications and entertainment projects.  We take pride in our productions, whether a commercial, music video, training video or feature film.  It’s all about story-telling, and we help you tell your story.

With studios in North Texas, we work all over the state, especially Dallas and Fort Worth.  But we also do a fair amount of business in Austin and Lubbock.