October 2011 - S-Films
Dan shooting with DSLR on jib

Review of the SmallHD DP6 Monitor

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When shooting with the DSLR’s, a monitor is probably the first most important accessory you’ll need (other than lenses).  Especially with the Canon 5D and 7D, due to the LCD screen being fixed on the back of the camera body.  I’ve used Ikan, Marshall and Zacuto.  But a friend in the industry recommended SmallHD. What I like is that this monitor is true HD– many of the others are still using a 800x something.  And one telling thing– the client the other day, over my shoulder, looked at the image ais that what my video is going to look like?”  She was amazed at the image. So here’s my video review of the SmallHD monitor.

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Video Production Services Industry

Adapt or Die in the Film & Video Production Services Industry

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Serendipitous is a turn key production company in film and video for corporate, commercial and feature productions.  Check us out by clicking about us and look at our recent work.  If you need a bid, give us a call at 817-371-9222 or fill out our form in the contact section. The film and video industry has been changing dramatically.  From the early 1900’s through to the nineties, film production remained essentially the same.  Video started changing with the advent of VHS and beta in the late seventies and early 80’s.  And it’s amazing to see companies that fail to adapt to the changes of the industry simply die.  Big companies. Take Blockbuster.  They were king.  Unstoppable.  When Netflix started because a savvy computer program didn’t like that he had just gotten slapped with a late fee from Blockbuster, Blockbuster ignored them.  When Netflix grew quickly, Blockbuster and Wal-Mart both decided to enter the industry of mail order rentals– but half-heartily.  I remember reading press about how this was the end of Netflix– there was no…

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Editing in studio

The Corporate Video Interview – Pt. 3

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I’m editing a series of videos for a Fortune 500 global company.  They had crews from around the world shoot these.  I’ve seen some really good stuff, and some not so good.  So in today’s blog, here’s some problems to avoid. Shooting subject against a window might look good to your eye, but is a very tricky lighting situation.  There can be a difference of 5 or more stops between the ambient light on your subject and what’s outside that window.  So if you expose for the subject, the window is blown out.  If you expose for the window, your subject is dark.  With good lighting, you can get the exposure of your subject even with the outside exposure.  With this big editing job, I had about ten interviews sent in against windows.  One was lit nicely.  Half weren’t lit at all. Your eye is drawn to the brightest thing on the screen.  So choose your background and light accordingly. Avoid two person interview.  Two people on camera is problematic.  Do you stay in a…

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Corporate Video Interview

The Corporate Video Interview — Pt. 2 SOUND

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Serendipitous Films, in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, produces corporate video, commercials, music videos and feature films. This is the second part of the series on t corporate video interview. Now let’s talk about sound in the interview. At the non-professional level, sound is simply taken from the mic built into the camera. At almost no level is this sound good and acceptable. So you get into a quiet room. You still contend with air conditioning noise, fluorescent lighting hum, and whatever other ambient sound. I don’t know of a single instance where this sounded good. Next up is to put a decent shotgun on the camera. Still not so great. If it’s all you can do, get close to the interviewee. I was recently sent on a shoot where I was told by the client to simply have a shotgun mic– it was an incredibly tight deadline situation and it was a news-style shoot. What I didn’t realize was the client wanted to do a sit down interview. They wanted it to match other…

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Lighting for the corporate interview

The Corporate Video Interview, Pt. 1

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One of the mainstays of corporate video production is the interview.  Also the mainstay for documentaries– they have a reputation for being on the dull side– unexciting… static.  It’s not always this way.  And some of the most engaging videos are full of interviews. Interviews are used to help tell the story.  Sometimes, they can be used as a substitute for a narrative– the pulling out of soundbites, linked together, tells the story without a script or narrator.  Or sometimes, interviews are used to help accentuate the narrative. First, let’s start with the mechanics of the interview shoot.  Most likely you’re interviewing a person who is not a professional actor.  In the corporate world, people will have different levels of experience with being interviewed.  Often, people are nervous.  They want to make sure they say the right thing.  Jobs have been lost for bad interviews.  There can be much at stake. Set the subject at ease.  Let them sit under the lights and just chat with them.  Let them know that when interviewing, they need…

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Greenscreen in studio

General Rules and Guidelines for Corporate Video Productions

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Caveat– all rules are made to be broken from time to time.  But to break a rule in art, I believe you need to know what the rule is, versus it being an accident.  So here are some random thoughts about corporate video: Easiest way to price a corporate video is by the “finished minute.”  This means that if you want a five minute marketing piece for the web, the simplest way to quote it is $x times 5 minutes.  Standards for simple video might be in the $1K range.  I’ve had some videos in the $7K and $8K range.  Usually the shorter the video is, the higher the price per finished minute will creep up.  For example, if you price a video out at $2K per finished minute for a 5 minute video, and then decide to just cut it down to 1 minute, the price will likely be higher than $2K. Biggest costs are Talent, Number of Shooting Days, and Length. Rule of Three’s apply.  If you get an interview, you really need…

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Importance of Depth of Field

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A quick way to make immediate impact on the quality of your picture taking or video making is to narrow your depth of field.  In this part 1 we talk about what DOF is and why it’s important.  In part two, we’ll discuss how to implement it. Depth of Field is the difference many times between something that looks cinematic and something that looks amateur.  There are times to have a large depth of field, but better production value often means a narrower depth of field.

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Dallas Video Production

Dallas Video Production

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Serendipitous Films is a full service film and video production company, specializing in corporate video, commercials, music videos and other production services like shooting and editing. There was a time when Dallas claimed the moniker of “the third coast.”  Obviously, LA and NYC are first two, and in the 80’s, movies and tv shows were coming to Dallas. The allure is clear– Dallas has a strong national commercial production industry, which provides top quality crew and equipment.  So bringing the entertainment work in is a great compliment to the corporate and commercial video and film work.  Since the 80’s, Dallas has been on a  roller coaster of a ride– seeing the heights of Walker, Texas Ranger shoot week to week providing much in the way of jobs and rentals.  And seeing the lows, like when the SAG Commercial actor strike diminished the commercial market and it took years to recover.  Or the lows when neighboring states New Mexico and Louisiana started offering huge incentives for movies and tv shows, and nodoby would shoot anything serious…

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DP Ron Gonzalez and Director Dan Millican

Cost of Video Productions

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“How long is a piece of string?”  One of the most common question we get from potential clients is “how much would a video cost?”  As you can imagine, there are so many variables that go into this answer.  So what we do is ask a series of questions to figure out the elements, time frame, use, etc., that can help us give an accurate estimate. Here are some factors that greatly impact cost of a corporate/commercial video: Talent — Using a professional spokesperson, or a handful of actors, or even a voice talent can be expensive.  We use both union and non-union talent and have relationships built with the talent agencies. Days of Shooting — A big cost for us is a day of shooting.  So if the video requires two days of shooting, that line in the budget can double.  Occasionally, someone might see what it would cost for an hour, but the lowest we break it down is the half-day.  This is usually 4 to 5 hours. Length — the longer the…

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Slow Motion

Slow Motion (Slomo, Slo-mo, overcranked or whatever you call it)

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Most of us know what Slow motion is– it’s the slowing down of the movement in a video or film shot. There’s several ways to accomplish this– by just slowing down the shot in editing, or “over cranking” the shot when you are shooting. Shooting takes place at 24 frames a second, or 30 frames (or 25 for you PAL users) and some other variations as well. We won’t even get into fields. If I take 24 frames that were meant to display all in one second and I tell the clip to display those 24 frames in 2 seconds, what you’ll basically get is slo-mo that doubles up every frame. It will appear jittery or jerky. Not really ideal. I watched a movie recently and this is the slo-mo they had– it meant they didn’t shoot it for slo-mo and decided in post to do it. I’m not a big fan. But if you want slo-mo and you didn’t shoot it that way, you’ll have to do it. If I tell the camera to…

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