Shooting with your Smartphone

Let me start by saying that we don't usually recommend shooting with a smartphone. If it's something that your clients and customers will see, we recommend you hire a production company like us to create your videos (that discussion will appear in a different blog post). But on occasion, you may be the only person in a position to get the footage you need, and the only video camera you have is your phone.

One of our clients was in that position recently (they had people in Central America, and there was no budget to send us down to capture the b-roll or interviews for that part of the video). They also had no access to additional equipment (such as lights and microphones), making the situation even more problematic.  They asked us to provide some tips to help make the footage as usable as possible, so we created a short primer on the subject.

And since you might find yourself in that position, we've provided a PDF file of the primer here. "How to shoot video (and photos for video) with your smartphone - with no additional accessories".

Let us know if you find it helpful.

WaveGuide Studios Streamlines WIC

WIC – short for Women, Infants, and Children – is a Federal program that provides nutritious food, nutrition education, and health services to pregnant and post-partum women and their children up to age five.  The program is administered by the states, and each state runs its own version of WIC.

A few years ago, we produced a video for Tennessee WIC to introduce its program to new participants and underscore the value of WIC to grocery store vendors who participate in the program.  We took a very different approach to that taken by other states, and the video was a huge success (winning a few awards along the way).  So much so, that our Tennessee WIC clients said, “You should show this to every other WIC agency in the country.  They should all have one of these.”

So, we did.  Now there are five custom versions out there – for Louisiana, Delaware, Washington DC, and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (tribes also have WIC agencies, along with territories like Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa).

But now big changes are coming to WIC, because a Federal mandate requires that by 2020 the voucher system used to purchase foods under the WIC Program must be replaced by an EBT, or eWIC, card.  And we’re helping with the transition by updating and refreshing the video to include a strong overview of how to use eWIC cards, and how to keep up with benefits available under the program.  Our first version is for Delaware WIC, an agency rolling out the eWIC cards this fall, and according to our client, Maria Shroyer, “You and your staff have done an excellent job!  It looks great.”

We’ll take that.  We’re looking forward to producing updates for Tennessee and ITCA (already on the books), and hopefully new custom versions for the remaining 78 states, territorial and tribal WIC agencies.

Have a look!

New Website (take 2)

Welcome, once again, to the all-new WaveGuide Studios mega website!  In the immortal words of Bullwinkle J. Moose, "This time for sure!"

And to celebrate, we’re beginning a whole new series of blog posts to help you take advantage of the power of video in your organization.  Some of them will even be on video.  How meta is that?

We’ll talk about how to use video on your website:

Where’s the video on YOUR web site?

How to decide which videos to produce internally, and which to hire out to professionals (and the answer will not be “Call WaveGuide Studios to create every last video project you even think of doing.” Just mostly.):

In-house vs. Out-of-house Production

When you do produce video in-house, you’ll need some stuff… and a little guidance:

Equipment for in-house video

The magic of b-roll

Sound on video

And when you decide to hire out, we’ll show you how to choose a production company and how to work with them:

How to find a production company

Don’t be afraid of professionals

Interviews and on-camera work play a big role, so we’ll have several posts on working either side of the camera:

Where to shoot an interview

Lighting an interview

How to conduct an interview

How to give good interview

What to wear on camera

We’ll have a series of posts on how video can help with every aspect of your organization:

The power of video: marketing

The power of video: sales

The power of video: training

The power of video: education

The power of video: PR

And we’ll doubtless come up with more.  And, as always, we’ll be posting on what we’ve been up to, new gear and awards we’ve collected, and other stories that we find, fun, interesting and useful.

Welcome aboard!  And keep in touch.  If there’s a subject you’d like us to include, let us know!  Or if you have a question, we’ll answer it.  And if you want us to work with you on a project, bring it on!

Especially that last one.  See you soon.

Spivey Hall Organ Video Wins Big

We wanted to let everyone know that "The King of Instruments: History, Science and Music of the Pipe Organ", our award-winning video for Spivey Hall, is now a multi-award winning video!  We've won recognition from four different festivals and competitions: two Telly awards, for Children's Audience and Graphics; a Summit Creative award for Educational Programming; an award from the MCA-I Media Festival for Educational Videos; and two Communicator Awards from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts for Children’s Audience and Graphics.  The awards season in our industry is just about over (just the Daveys to go, and we're entered in two categories), and I want to take this opportunity to thank our entire team for their terrific, beyond-the-call-of-duty work on this project.  And a special thanks to Melanie Darby at Spivey Hall for always bringing us the best projects to produce!

And we'll let you know how it goes at the Daveys...

Kicking off a Merger

For the first corporate meeting after the merger of Qualcomm Life and Capsule Technology, two leaders in the medical data field, we were called upon to create an epic video to kick off the opening session and set the tone for the meeting and the relationship between the two merged companies.

These initial meetings are an incredibly important part of the process of creating an energized corporate culture, and reminding all participants of the value that each company (and its employees) bring to the new venture.  Our video did this, and combined graphics and imagery from both entities to create a unified face to both the public and every employee of the merged company.

Studio Update

Lots going on here at Weems Road! Our edit suite is poised to take delivery of one of the new, screaming-fast Mac Pro computers, which will allow us to make full use of the new 4K UHD digital cinematography camera that we'll be acquiring soon. We’re still figuring out whether it will be the Blackmagic Production camera 4K, the Sony a7s or the Lumix GH4.  Each has pros and cons – right now we’re leaning towards acquiring the Sony camera, but we’re waiting until we can get our hands on all three in July.  The audio studio is also getting an upgrade with a faster computer, the latest ProTools software and new mix-to-picture monitors.

"1984" Re-release

The gang here at WaveGuide Studios did a spectacular job restoring Techne Films' award-winning short, "Four Episodes from 1984," and bringing it to 1080p Blu-ray. The film, shot in 35mm but produced for around $5,000 in the early 1980s, had never been released in HD.

The picture, when the original print was transferred to HD, revealed the age of the Arriflex 35 IIB camera used to photograph the film, and showed a lot of registration jitter. There were also a lot of scratches and embedded dust particles.  The WaveGuide team painstakingly addressed the problems, partly with automated tools, but mostly by painstakingly working with each of the 41,600 individual frames in the film.

The original monaural sound mix suffered from both technological and budgetary limitations.  Todd Watson, our audio producer/engineer, scrapped the audio track and created an all-new 96kHz stereo mix, going all the way back to the original field tapes and cleaning up dialog and sound effects, recording additional foleys and sound effects and creating an all-new, immersive sound design.

The team also produced a director's commentary track and two bonus featurettes - an interview with Watson about the audio restoration, and a slide show about the production, using production stills and memorabilia from the producers' archives.

Finally, the Blu-ray mastering was performed in-house at WaveGuide Studios by our digital media team.

bluray-case.jpg

Polishing "Faded Glory"

We’ve just finished post-production work on "Faded Glory," a feature documentary by director Richard Cohen.  "Faded Glory" tells the story of Cohen’s quest to recapture his youth by gathering together National Network, his long-separated amateur baseball team, and making a run for the 2007 National Amateur Baseball Association World Series.

Rick brought us a two-hour rough cut which included a lot of tangential material that was interesting but clouded the line of the main story.  In addition to streamlining the edit, we amplified the stories of the unusual characters that made up the National Network team. We also helped viewers to keep up with the seven baseball games that made up most of the final third of the film by devising a system that expanded and contracted to include only key information about scores, plays, strikes, balls and outs.

Rick was really happy with the work we did for him, so I asked him for a quote, which he kindly supplied: “The post production team from WaveGuide Studios was able to bring this film down to tight, crisp 92 minutes and create a wonderfully touching, unforgiving piece of work. After watching the film, director David Anspaugh and screenwriter Angelo Pizzo ("Hoosiers," "Rudy") officially attached themselves to producing a ‘based on true events’ feature version of the story.  And Sports Illustrated senior writer Phil Taylor screened 'Faded Glory' and decided to do a feature article on the movie and the team.”

faded glory.jpg

Finally, we performed shot-to-shot color correction and audio cleanup for the entire film. Like most documentaries covering live events, there were lots of audio issues, which were compounded by a very short lead-time leading up to the submission deadline for the Sundance Film Festival.  We only had about three weeks to complete the entire project, and with all the edits, we didn’t have picture lock until about three days before the deadline.  But we got through it in time and radically improved the film’s listenability and intelligibility.

"Amplified" Games for iPhone

We’ve designed and produced the audio components of Amplified Games’ latest title, Fat-Free Poker. Amplified Games has developed several popular games for the iPhone, including Spongebob Squarepants, Trophy Fishing, School of Rock and Corvette Racing USA.

Creating soundscapes for the iPhone is actually a bit of a challenge, because the listening conditions are at two extremes. We built the headphone experience first, then evaluated each segment using small speakers, making adjustments as needed, which allowed us to deliver finished files that do a really good job at both ends of the spectrum. We’ve done sound designs for films, television shows and national TV spots, but our work for games is satisfying in a different way. It’s very much a ‘more with less’ exercise.