What Lenses Do You Use?

If you’re a Producer planning that next great brand video or TV commercial, or like me you’re a Director mulling camera options for an upcoming shoot, there’s one choice that can make a major difference, but yet doesn’t ever seem to have the clearest of answers: What Lens Package to Rent?

You don’t have to know your F/stops from your T/stops, that’s why you trust your DP.  You just need to know what kind of story you want to tell, and what each lens choices mean for the sharpness, depth of field, color & mood, and linear scaling of focus. On recent productions in the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot on everything from Angenieux Optimo Zooms, Cooke mini S4s and Zeiss Ultra Primes to Canon Cine and L Series Lenses.  We’ve combined these lenses with ARRI Alexa, Sony F55, Sony F5, Canon EOS C300, 5D, and RED Camera Systems.  Maybe we’ve shot with too many combinations and systems, but even after shooting and seeing the final product for all of these videos, I still find myself asking, “What lens is going to help me get the best looking image for this story?”

This is an interactive discussion, and I’d love to get some input from Cinematographers and Directors out there.  To help foster discussion, here are some links that helped clarify the lens marketplace right now for me, hopefully they can help you as well:

Shane Hurlbut’s Lens Guide

Take a look at this list of each recent Oscar Best Picture Nominees’ Lens Choices.

Here is a list of what lenses are available (which means popular) at a couple of rental houses in my neck of the woods in Chicago Daufenbach Camera Lenses //  Magnanimous Media Lenses

We’re shooting with the Canon C300 and Canon Cine Primes tomorrow, will post some feedback after we’re through.

 

Explore Media Adds Two More TELLY Awards 2014

UPDATE: Explore Media wins two more Telly Awards, bringing their total for 2014 to seven awards.

 

Explore Media Wins Seven Telly Awards

SOUTH BEND, IN  Explore Media has been honored with seven 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.

Help us win a People’s Choice Telly for “A Message from the Student’s of Notre Dame” by clicking on the thumbs up here!

 


“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.

“Educating the Heart” won a coveted Silver Telly Award for the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Student Affairs.  Directed by Jeremy Pinckert and shot using real students, the video tells the story of Notre Dame’s focus on educating more than just the mind.

“Glam Girl” won a Telly for Beacon Health System and the Elkhart Bariatric and Metabolic Health Institute. The documentary-style video is based on one idea, “It’s not how much you lose, but how much you gain”.  As the last video in a four-part series, this video follows bariatric patient Heather as she is rewarded with a shopping spree and a magazine photo shoot.  Directed and produced by Adam Derstine.


“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.

Explore Media Wins 5 Telly Awards 2014

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.

Our Director Muses on First “Funny” TV Ad

Directing comedy in TV spots can be a funny thing.

If you thought that joke fell flat, welcome to why most people who think they can produce “Funny”, at best usually only make “Kinda Cute”.  Or at worst, make “My Friends Think It’s Hilarious.”  This means you and your friends are the only ones laughing. The even worse version of the last option, “My Mom Thinks It’s Hilarious”, needs no explanation.

Just look at the recent Super Bowl advertisements…for every person who loved Audi’s “Doberhuahua” or Stephen Colbert’s Wonderful Pistachio gag, there’s another person who comments, “This is the dumbest commercial ever…” (actual YouTube comment)

The reasons outlined above are why, previously, I’ve never tried to direct comedic TV commercials or Web Ads.

Until now…

I’ll confess, I had help.  And I’ll also confess, I’m still not sure if the spot, “Last Cup”, will be amusing to viewers. But if you’ve never produced humor, and have the desire to craft the next Wonderful Pistachios ad, the tips I learned during my process may help you:

HAVE A FUNNY IDEA
Everything starts with the script. Before casting, before set design, before the budget, there’s a funny concept.  And if the idea is truly funny on paper, your chances of ensuing hilarity are much, much higher. Test the idea with collaborators, shop it blind to colleagues, if you get good feedback, you’re well on your way.

USE FUNNY TALENT
Unless you’re making fun of their lack of humour, using professional, talented, and funny actors is essential to your success.  It isn’t that your Uncle Charlie’s crazy eye tricks or your buddy’s knack for one-liners aren’t funny in real life, but funny on screen is a completely different animal.  Every chance of success goes back to your casting choices. Need a nearly foolproof method? Use improv actors.  Getting on set with people who can actually add their own twerks and shticks to help augment what’s already a great concept will ensure you nail each funny scene, and working with professionals means they can hit their marks and deliver the same line the same way multiple times. The bonus: with improv actors you’re guaranteed to get a waggle of gag reel shots!

ADD SOUND DESIGN
If you really think about funny television commercials, so much depends on the timing of the cuts, and a great sound design is absolutely necessary to accentuate the funny. For “Last Cup” in particular, we shot MOS capturing no sound, and the folks at Chicago’s Noise Floor were able to add layers of ambient sound, effects, and dramatic music to make the comedic timing really work.

“Last Cup”  Directed by Jeremy Pinckert for the greater Chicago region’s Sunburst Race.

If you’re interested in creating longer-form comedy, Director David Dobke, of Wedding Crashers and The Change-Up fame, has written about the “Ten Commandments of Directing Comedy”. Here are a few of his tips:

  • “KINDA FUNNY” MEANS IT’S NOT WORKING
  • IT ONLY LOOKS EASY WHEN IT WORKS
  • IF IT’S NOT FUNNY, YOU HAVEN’T GONE FAR ENOUGH
  • IF IT’S NOT FUNNY, YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR
  • GREAT COMEDY HAS GREAT DRAMA AT ITS CORE
  • IF YOU’RE LAUGHING ON SET, BE WORRIED
  • YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE UNTIL YOU PUT IT IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE
  • For the full list and explanations, click on DGA’s “The Church of Comedy.”

You may find if you’re not brought up professionally in the pipeline of comedy, it’s hard to find opportunities in this niche or genre.  If you’re like me, despite repeated attempts to the contrary, I’m just not that funny.  And like most creatives, I’m also incredibly insecure about my work.  So if you hate my first professional comedic TV spot, or you don’t like my writing, or you think my picture looks like I’m trying way too hard, or you see I’m losing my hair…at least help keep my self-esteem intact by keeping your trap shut and going out and making your own “Funny”.  When you hit it big and are passing a couple Cannes Lions from your talented paws to the adoring arms of your entourage, look back on this article and remember who passed along the helpful tips, and whose work made you think, “I can do better!”

jeremy_39_225x225Jeremy Pinckert is a Chicago Commercial Director of TV Ads, Campaigns, Web Videos and Branded Content. His work for Explore Media has won Tellys, Best in Show ADDYs, and an Emmy Award. You can follow him on Twitter @videocompany, see him on LinkedIN, and check out his video portfolio reel.

 

Using MōVI Steadicam in TV Commercial Application

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:

MOVI_3

Director Jeremy Pinckert and AC Mark Barry operate the Tilt and Focus functions from a remote monitor.

MOVI_2

DP Jamieson Mulholland slogs through mud with the MōVI steadicam rig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

“Professors”

“The Dream Lives”

MOVI_4

The Movi M10 rigged out with a Canon C300 box captures a training sequence for “The Dream Lives”

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Copyright 2014 Explore Media Digital Video and Television Advertising Production · 113 1/2 E. Lexington Ave Elkhart, IN 46516 · (574) 875-5565 · info@explore-media.com

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