Posts Tagged ‘Good Video’

Visual Candy

I finally watched The Social Network last night, just in time to appreciate its winning 4 Golden Globes.  What took me so long, you ask? I’m not entirely sure, but it had a lot to do with my personal opinions about Facebook, the knowledge that the film was not exactly a true story, and of course my own experience building a social network.

But all my misgivings about the film were completely transformed by one scene:

My heart just about exploded when I saw the tilt-shift. I love the effect in photography,  but there’s just something mesmerizing about seeing it in video.  It’s also sped up just a little bit, which gives the whole scene a model-like effect. There are a few tutorials out there about achieving the tilt-shift effect in post if one can’t afford the $2,000 price tag for a TS lens, but it’s definitely not beginner stuff. Also, I’m relatively certain that at least part of the film was shot on DSLRs, but I can’t find any source to confirm this suspicion just yet.

I’m also a sucker for changes in depth of field.  I agree it can be overdone, and it seems to be the effect du jour of late, but I think it’s totally appropriate in this scene.  I think the difficulty of the sport is emphasized when we see the rowers moving in and out of focus, and we get a feel for the importance of the race when we see the focus placed exactly on the row boats in an extreme wide shot.

The color of this scene is like visual candy.  When going for a dramatic effect like tilt-shift, it’s extremely important that your colors are consistent throughout the frame.  The greens and yellows are appropriately vivid against the muted, dramatic blues and grays of the sky and water.  In this case, the color matched the mood of the scene very well, and no one looked orange! Finally, I loved how the Peer Gynt remix added to the excitement of the race.

This scene changed my overall opinion about the movie. Utimately, I think the story is just okay; but the photography and attention to detail and getting things right technically made me really appreciate the film.

Did you see it? What did you think about the movie and/or its accolades?


01 2011

“People will give you things, but you have to ask for them.”

About two months ago, I stumbled across a video that I just fell head-over-heels for.  It’s the music video for Kid Cudi’s new song, “Pursuit of Happiness,” and it’s fantastic.

Regardless of whether you like the song, you have to admit that there are so many elements that make this video really work.  In my opinion, this video is a superbly subtle criticism of modern hip-hop music videos.  My interest was so piqued by this video that I just had to know more about how it was made.  So I tracked down the editor, Joseph Krings, and did the unthinkable.

I asked him personally.

I emailed Joseph and told him that I really admired his work on the video and asked him questions about his technique.  Joseph is currently working in my dream career, and he’s doing some great work that is well above my current skill level.  To be honest, I didn’t think he’d reply. It seems that a lot of creative people in filmmaking/editing are protective of what they’ve learned.  Well, it took almost a month, but I finally received a thoughtful reply from Mr. Krings and lots of encouragement.  He’s given me some great advice about techniques and education, and it turns out that we have a few things in common.  Despite being a busy professional, Joseph took time out of his day to mentor me, and it’s hard to articulate how much that means.  We’ve since exchanged more emails, and I look forward to learning more from Joseph in the future.

The point of all this is to say that the experience of reaching out to someone has been so rewarding.  It really gives me hope that there are good people in this industry who want you to succeed.  Mentorship of young, future professionals is so important in every industry, but I think it can be a scary thing to ask for.  In his last email to me, Joseph told me his life and career motto: “People will give you things, but you have to ask for them.” He is absolutely right.  After all, the worst that can happen is someone says ‘No’ – and then all you have to do is keep asking until someone says ‘Yes’!


04 2010

Worst, Better & Best 2010 Super Bowl Ads

This Super Bowl season proved interesting for companies looking for heavy exposure with their ads. Ad sales started off slow in 2009, but last week CBS said that it had sold all available slots. However, several news outlets also reported later that week that CBS’s Standards and Practices Department had turned down an ad from, a gay dating site. Given the number of promos CBS aired for its primetime line-up, I personally wonder if the decision was made to sell less airtime than previous years in order to capture a new audience for its flailing television shows.

Despite the drama (and there’s always drama!) leading up to Super Bowl Commercial Sunday, there are some great stories in this year’s class of ads.  I’ve created lists of the worst, better, and best 2010 Super Bowl ads, and I’m curious to know who agrees with me and who has an entirely different list!

5 Worst Super Bowl Commercials
5) Dr. Pepper
– Audiences expect something new and fresh in Super Bowl ads – especially from powerhouse brands with big advertising budgets.  Adding Mini Kiss to the same Kiss/”Dr. Love” spot is neither.
4) Carmax
- While they probably had the smallest ad budget of any company on my list, it was disappointing to see them resort to using the tired “Dramatic Hamster” meme.  Dramatic hamster is so 2008, and this commercial is so forgetable.
3) All E*Trade Commercials
– E*Trade baby #1 was cute. Baby #2 is not. Also, the original campaign concept worked partly because of the grainy web-cam look, but it’s been traded in for a clearer picture.  They may have changed up the commercials some, but E*Trade needs to give us a new campaign stat before that baby starts to stink.
2) Dockers
- If you remember the Dockers commercial, you’re one step ahead of everyone else.  Men walking and singing in a field about not wearing pants. Still not ringing any bells? That’s not a surprise – the commercial had nothing to say. The pitch at the end (something about free pants) seemed more like an afterthought than a call to action.  $2.5 million is a lot to spend to not say anything!
1) – I don’t think I have to elaborate much here.  Ridiculous looking women who can’t act and apparently strip for no reason? And this sells me SSL certifications how?

Also on the Worst List: Denny’s, IBM, Taco Bell, Coke “Sleepwalking,” Budlight “Lost”, KGB, Bridgestone, Sonic, Michelob Ultra, Motorola, Sonic, CSI promos

5 Better Super Bowl Commercials
5) Emerald Nuts & Pop Secret
- This spot was weird in a good way.  Emerald Nuts’ past campaigns have been a bit out there (like their 2009 Super Bowl ads) so this spot fits with the image the company has already created.  Although it’s not likely that their “awesome + awesome = awesomer” line will take off, it definitely got some laughs at our watch party.
4) – Careerbuilder capitalized on that feeling we’ve all had before at work – the feeling that you’re the only sane one in the place.  Their commercial used a sort of reality-show style in the vein of “The Office” to emphasize that the website would help you find a workplace that fits your personality.  And seeing a grown man ostracized for wearing pants to work is funny.
3) Dave Letterman Promo – Dave is on this list because he got Leno AND Oprah on the couch with him.  I like seeing proof that Leno and Letterman buried the hatchet but can still joke around. He didn’t have to do a spot, but he did and it was funny.
2) – was one of the only companies to use a solid storytelling approach this year.  The story of the boy genius was interesting and made me wonder where the genius would falter.  The moral of the story is that smart people use to research and purchase a new vehicle.  The boy genius’s story may not have anything to do with cars, but at least the commercial shows that car dealerships and the like don’t have to rely on the same tired approaches in advertising.
1) Audi “Green Police” – Simultaneously good and scary, the “Green Police” spot was nonetheless effective.  This spot educated the public about green living before sharing that the Audi A3 TDI was the Green Car of the year.  However, it made some of my Twitter friends uncomfortable with the thought that green lifestyles could be mandated and incandescent lightbulbs outlawed. Either way, the spot was memorable and will no doubt end up on several “favorites” lists.

Also on the Better List: Budlight “Human Bridge” & “Beer House,”,, Vizio, Volkswagon, almost every Hyundai spot

5 Best Super Bowl Commercials
5) Budweiser Clydesdales
– Remember, this is my list, so the Clydesdales get a spot. For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen a Budweiser Clydesdale commercial during the Super Bowl.  I had given up on seeing one this year, thinking that Budweiser had finally ended the Clydesdale campaign.  Bud saved it for the very end though, so I felt relieved when the commercial aired.  Plus, I like the message that “Nothing comes between friends.  Especially fences.”
4) Coke “Simpsons” – Coke doesn’t have to do a lot of heavy, direct advertising because they’re way ahead in the market.  The Simpsons spot was nostalgic and feel-good, which is also reminiscent of the Coke brand.  I personally appreciate a softer advertising approach, and of course seeing my favorite Simpsons characters represented in a positive way.
3) Dodge Charger – This spot was not a typical car commercial.  It was definitely targeted at men, but it was funny to both genders.  I also put this commercial up on the list for the chatter it was creating on Twitter, which is good news for Dodge.
2) Google – I absolutely adored this commercial.  It was executed so well, and really showed how much our Internet searches can say about where we are in life and where we’re going. It was simple, sentimental, and effective. Definitely advertising dollars well spent for Google.
1) Doritos “House Rules” – “Hands off my Momma, and Hands off my Doritos! Now put it back!” – this phrase will be repeated many times over the next couple of weeks.  The situation and the little boy in this ad are so believable, and the kid really sells the line while being absolutely adorable at the same time.  I went searching for more info on this campaign and found out that this commercial (and 3 others in the campaign) were created by consumers as part of a competition.  This particular ad was made by an independent filmmaker in California for a whopping $80.  Doritos hit it out of the park with their Super Bowl ads this year, and it’s all thanks to consumer-created advertising.  Advertisers had better pay attention!

Also on the Best List: Every other Doritos commercial, Budlight “T-Pain,” FloTV, Teleflora, Hyundai w/Brett Favre

*Edited to add commercial links.


02 2010