Explore Media Wins FIVE Telly Awards
SOUTH BEND, IN Explore Media has been honored with five awards in the 35th annual Telly Awards competition. The Telly Awards honor the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions in the world.
Explore Media is a full-service video production company with offices in South Bend and Elkhart, Indiana. This year Explore Media won five awards in the competition, which annually showcases the top video and television productions out of over 11,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries.
“A Message from the Students of Notre Dame” won two Telly Awards in the competition. The :30 national television commercial aired during the broadcast of Notre Dame’s BCS National Championship Football game to an audience estimated at over 30 million viewers on January 7th, 2013. The spot was contracted and produced by Explore Media for the University of Notre Dame. The University Institutional Message was overseen by Director Jeremy Pinckert and won awards in the Regional TV & Multi-Market Cable category for both Schools/Colleges/Universities and Visual Effects.
“The Dream Lives” a :30 Collegiate TV Ad produced for LaGrange College in Georgia, won in the Regional TV & Multi-Market Cable category for Schools/Colleges/Universities. Directed by Jeremy Pinckert, the university athletic ad features two student-athletes training for their respective sports in an upbeat, stylistic advertisement.
“Your Hometown” a television commercial campaign produced by Explore Media for Interra Credit Union, features a montage of actual business owners standing in front of their businesses and holding props which symbolize the nature of their work. Directed by Jeremy Pinckert, this credit union TV ad won in the Local TV – Bank category.
“Professors”, also produced for LaGrange College in Georgia, won in the Regional TV & Multi-Market Cable category for Schools/Colleges/Universities. This higher-education television ad features professors & instructors in a sweeping montage touching on the various degrees offered at LaGrange.
To view the winning ads, visit this YouTube Playlist
“The Telly Awards honors are so gratifying for our clients and all the hardworking creative professionals within our organization. Being rewarded for creating something is the ultimate honor and provides our associates with the utmost satisfaction.” said Jeremy Pinckert, executive producer and Director at Explore Media. “We really are fortunate to partner with such trusting, loyal clients who always let us look for new ways to tell their stories. A Telly Award recognition also truly validates the quality, style and creativity of our productions amongst our worthy peers.”
About Explore Media
Explore Media is a full-service digital video production company working with advertising agencies and successful brands to create, write, direct, produce & edit television commercials and online web campaigns. They have offices in South Bend and Elkhart, and also serve advertising agencies & video production companies in Chicago as well as recognizable brands from across the United States. www.explore-media.com.
About the Competition
The Telly Awards was founded in 1979 and is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, and online commercials, video and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world.
You’ve collaborated on the storyboards, you’ve charmed on the conference call, you’ve nailed the pitch, and now you’ve won the job! It’s Monday morning, and for once you’re actually looking forward to making the harrowing commute…Starbucks is pulsing through your veins and you’re ready – no you’re stoked – to embark on that big-brand TV shoot.
And then your phone interrupts your pump-up music on the BPM channel.
Your apologetic producer is on the line and gently breaks the news: you don’t have the money in the budget for that gorgeous steadicam shot you built into the boards. The steadicam shot that left you so inspired to direct this project in the first place. The buttery smooth eye-pleasing delicacy you were going to build your reel around.
Options quickly flood into your brain: You could cash in the 401k, or even worse, call in favors from those famously curmudgeonly, hard-working steadicam operators just to get a shot like the famously long, intricate, and beautiful steadicam shot in Martin Scorcese’s “Hugo” below:
Or you could try MōVI.
For a recent television commercial campaign I directed for a liberal arts college in Georgia, this is the exact scenario that crashed my world, minus a few of the dramatic embellishments of course. Well maybe not of course, I’m a director, we’re dramatic gall darn it. But back to first person – you (we) may have a flair for the dramatic, but when you’re experienced, you’re also pragmatic.
And if the MōVI is anything, it’s pragmatic.
Here are some snippets of MōVI shots from our shoot, these shots have not yet been steadied in post, which we found can help make your steadicam shots even smoother.
As you can see above, we were able to map out moves impossible without a super-fit steadicam professional or cable systems for the stairs. Watch below to see the muddy, slippery terrain DP Jamieson Mulholland was still able to smoothly shoot through in this creek bed scene featuring a team of field biologists:
Another maneuver MōVI allows you to perform: changing directions or doing a “handoff” where two operators complete a complex move, such as through an opening. Here’s an example of a change in direction below:
WHAT MōVI IS:
Basically a gimbal and a set of gyros used on aerial camera mounts, but formulated with carbon fiber handles, bringing stabilized moves of a full-fledged steadicam into the hands of your favorite partner DP.
WHAT MōVI is NOT:
Ready to use out of the box!
When we rented the gear from Chicago’s Magnanimous Media Rental House, the MōVI had only been out for a few weeks, and the reluctant rep wanted to make sure we had time to prep. We used the MōVI M10, which maxes out at 10lbs for the camera. Luckily we flew into Atlanta and had the rest of the day and night to set the rig up with the Canon EOS C300 camera, which tipped the scales right at the top-end of the acceptable weight for the M10. You’ll want to have plenty of time to balance your camera of choice with the MōVI, and make sure you check the weight of your camera with the appropriate model.
If you’re not a DP or an AC, one thing you’ll need to be prepared for: While the MōVI is lightweight and allows you to map out moves you’d otherwise never even dream about, it will need a separate operator to pull focus, and though “Majestic Mode” allows the system to intelligently convert operator movement into smooth pan/tilts, we found for most precise control, you’ll need another operator to perform tilt functions on the provided RC controls. See pics below to see how you might look as a Director also playing with the RC tilt controls:
The MōVI may not be the right system for your needs if you’ve got a big-time sequence to nail and you need rock-solid, experienced steadicam operators to make sure your AD isn’t in your ear about keeping the schedule moving. Or maybe just the spelling of the MōVI, with it’s cute little spelling flourish, turns you off. But for many producers, directors, and DPs, the MōVI can put an entirely new realm of possiblity into your creative trick bag.
Here are the finished :30 Spots I Directed for the collegiate television campaign, enjoy and scroll down below to see some additional behind-scenes pics.
“The Dream Lives”
As the Velvet Underground famously sang, “I’m Beginning to See the Light.” Or at least a recent project I was slated to direct forced me to turn my eyes even more towards a light to which I’ve already been headed. Irregardless, now that I’ve had a look? I ain’t ever going back.
Our client, Go RVing, needed a wide-range of marketing video content for Broadcast and Web use, and they brought me in to direct a 4-day shoot on Michigan’s West Coast. The first day was all interviews with actual users telling their unscripted stories to camera. The second and third days involved shooting 8 different scenic broll situations with 20+ talent members in various camping situations. The fourth day was a practice in planning, logistics, and highway patrol as we shot 7 vehicles on a large stretch of a US highway, through rolling vineyards and driving on wooded country roads.
On paper, this seemed like a pretty involved shoot when we first got the specs. This 4-day shoot for Go RVing would need a symphony of coordination, with more than 40 crew & talent plus 10 vehicles and their drivers spread out over 2 campgrounds and 120 miles of beautiful Michigan scenery. I can’t believe I actually toyed with the idea of directing this with only our producing team for support! But you have to understand the production background I come from. Previous to directing branded content & campaigns, I had cut my teeth producing television entertainment segments and specials where I was required to plan the shoots; also direct & produce during the shoot, and then in post-production I’d be responsible for writing the scripts and producing the edit all the way to output.
Multi-tasking is inherent in my background, but relying on true professionals to focus on specific roles has been an acquired (and thoroughly embraced) taste in my career. In moving to directing ad campaigns, I have embraced the idea of hiring bigger crews with a DP, an AC, a Gaffer, Grips, PAs, Stylists and Prop Directors to make the image and talent look great. But on the Directing side I still stubboringly had held on to both scheduling/talent details AND the directing roles.
With the amount of locations, vehicles, talent & crew in this shoot, after a few reality checks, I finally admitted I had a problem. Thankfully, my therapy came the way of a few DP and AC contacts in Chicago who work on films in addition to the branded content TV spots we collaborate on, and I was able to pick their brains to find a solution: an Assistant Director or AD!
To get started using an AD, I had to find someone I could trust to make decisions on set. I got an explanation from Quinn Wilson, a Chicago-based AD, as to what services he could provide. Here’s the best explanation I’ve seen for what an AD does:
- Time efficiency – once I really learn exactly what it is we are going after, my main focus is getting as much done as possible in the amount of time we have. On a macro scale, finding better ways to schedule the day and find ways for all units to be staying productive simultaneously, on a micro scale, making sure we are moving efficiently in terms of getting talent through MU/War, rigging shots, calling the roll and prepping scenarios and overseeing people doing everything they need to get done for the shot to be ready and you to get what you need while we are rolling.
- Centralized info – I would be the go-to person on set for the crew to get marching orders from, be it info for the next day or what shot is up next and how best to prep for it. This allows you to focus more clearly on directing, crafting the story and relaxing in your down time as opposed to managing the team.
- Client relations – While on set, I can also disseminate info to the clients, keep them comfy and happy, and relieve you of the elbow rubbing that may take you away from directing.
- Misc – My job as an AD is to make sure we get everything we need to cut the project as seamlessly and efficiently as possible while keeping everyone happy (not always a possible job), but if we needs hands to help move logs or there is a chirping bug in the BG that we need to find a way to make quiet I’m usually the first one to step in and deal with it, so we can get back to shooting. My approach to the job is to get all of this done, while maintaining a low stress, enjoyable, and fun environment.
- Pre-pro – As an AD when we step onto set I need to know everything we’d like to do that day and how/when/where/with who we’d like to do it, so I can make sure the crew is doing what needs to be done to knock it all out. I can come up a half day early and do tech location scouts with you to get a solid idea of what you’d like done, or we can talk each night before the next days work starts to get on the same page.
Does it get any better than that for a Director looking to maximize his workflow? After getting this explanation from Quinn on what an AD could provide me on the shoot, I got a little greedy and hired not just one, but two ADs for this shoot! Stephanie Clemons with SEC Visuals was our 1st AD and Quinn Wilson became our 2nd AD.
The interview day was a great day to settle in with the new Directing crew and get used to the workflow. But the next two days balancing talent, locations, vehicles and a photo crew who needed to use everything either right before or right after we shot, I really got to see the value of ADs. And the last day shooting, where we had Police Detail, Highway Closures, and two cameras shooting seven vehicles from a Camera Car, it really showed me not only how much better Stephanie our 1st AD was with a Walkie Talkie than me (mine was taken away several times due to losing it and not speaking in crew code), but also how much better I was when I could focus on capturing the best shots.
The shoot was pulled off without a hitch, working with two ADs helped me see some areas where I didn’t need to worry about being perfect, and reinforced the idea that I can excel by focusing on what I most love to do: direct! Our client also made several comments about how great the ADs were, and couldn’t believe this was the first time the Directing team had worked together. If you’re a multi-tasker like me and are waffling over the value an AD can add to your video productions, I hope this article has given you some insight into how an AD can help make your life easier. Happy shooting!
The DP, Pete Biagi, and I settled on the ARRI Alexa with a 25-250mm Optimo Zoom to shoot all the primary scenes and interviews. With the limited timeframe with talent, we immediately moved towards adding a 2nd camera to capture more angles during interviews, and also to give us an option to grab scenic broll moments which might be more “off the cuff” and need less lighting setup than our Alexa. For Camera B we shot with the Canon C300 and used Jamieson Mulholland as our 2nd Camera Unit DP.
In working as a director and also as an owner of a video production company for 10 years, there are many different categories of relationships I have experienced. There is the all-crucial client relationship. Then there’s the relationship between collaborating colleagues. There is a certain dynamic between myself and staff employees. And finally, there is the relationship I develop with vendors and freelance video production crew. This last relationship with freelancers is one I want to look at from the perspective of my experiences from both sides of the coin. To read this entire article, visit my guest blogpost Here on Production Hub