Tag : storytelling

A Day in the Life

DILStill

We’ve produced Day in the Life films over the years primarily as evidence in major personal injury cases. Why is this done? It documents the typical activities of daily living and relationships for an injured individual dealing with physical, cognitive, emotional and psychological deficits and disabilities.

Why is that important? Someone who is pursuing a damage claim must prove the losses in their functional lives as they relate to employability, independent living and enjoyment of life.

It is important that the producer who crafts this video, usually for a client who is an attorney, understands what is necessary to prove and what video production techniques are allowed by the courts.

What must be kept in mind is that all raw footage is normally discoverable by the opposing side. To maintain credibility, we pay careful attention to what is recorded and how the program is edited.

It’s vital that the sound track is permitted to be played, so only typical conversation without commentary should be recorded. Hearing the interaction that occurs on camera is essential in communicating what is happening.

A narrative for the program can be included, but that’s normally when the video is being shown at mediation or in advance of trial in efforts to settle the case out of court. Day in the Life films are commonly done in conjunction with a life care plan.

Thinking of a video like this, it is easy to assume that the program is really just a play for sympathy. In reality, a successful Day in the Life film is a testament to courage – someone who tries their best to do what they can on their own.

In court, a jury rallies behind a person whose effort and attitude is recognized and respected.

Sub 5 Solutions (Part 2)

This series of blog posts focuses on what we call “Sub 5 Solutions”, which are approaches to creating fresh content with a budget of under $5 thousand dollars. In this post, we are investigating how to create a 5-minute promotional video for business or non-profit.

I call it a “blast”. It is a short video that tells a compelling story. It provides an overview. It showcases key people. It captures passion and emotion. It is typically a program that can re-purposed over a variety of platforms or outlets.

Examples include a video to present a product, describes a business or service, or raises support. The video can appear on a web site, be embedded in a PDF eFolio brochure, or be attached to a news release.

People charged with making “live” presentations can utilize that brief video for education and inspiration.

Creating a highly impactful video demands certain features. The script needs to follow classic storytelling techniques. It must contain imagery that is visually stimulating. The narrative should be tightly woven. Sound bites with interview subjects must capture conviction and emotion.

A budget of $5000 or less on a short video can be broken down as follows:

-Script/Creative $600
-Location Production:  Interviews and B-Roll $1200
-Pre-Production: Archive Retrieval $300
-Graphics $800
-Edit/Post Production $1500
-Talent Fees/Music Licenses $600

Two of the most important keys to creating a compelling video are the quality of the script and the interviews. The script follows the proven three-act story structure. It provides an attention grabbing set up. It produces story lines carry viewers through an stimulating ebb and flow. And it comes to a satisfying conclusion, often with a call to action. Secondly, the video presents people whose commentary is concise, sincere and strikes the right emotional chord.

When done well, a video “blast” delivers a return on investment that can be quite significant and ongoing, especially when the content is kept revised and up-to-date, often in the form of a series.

Sub 5 Solutions

This series of blog posts focuses on what we call “Sub 5 Solutions”, which are approaches to creating fresh content with a budget of under $5 thousand dollars. First, we will discuss the :30 TV commercial and public service announcement.

The old advertising adage is get their attention, create an interest, convert the interest to desire and close. Remember too that people are moved by memorable stories that compel them into action.

Yes, storytelling can take place in a half minute.

Commercial messages always begin with a concept. Ideas to convey that should be varied. They are tested before a market sampling. The creative process proceeds with these guidelines and this research intelligence to craft the final product.

A Sub 5 solution breaks out into this typical budget.

 

TV Ad/PSA Budget

Scripting/Storyboarding $600

A competent and creative copywriter tightens and enlivens the words that are used. Storyboarding a spot is nothing beyond just simple sketching to visualize the flow of the imagery and sound.

Producer/Director Fee $800

This role is critical. Look at the potential hire’s portfolio to find the right match.

Locations $800

This involves shooting original footage either on location or in a studio. Travel costs could bust the budget. Come organized and rehearsed. And, spend less than half a day, getting what you need.

Graphics $600

Spots typically contain graphics. It adds impact to put motion into those graphics.

Licensing/ Talent Fees $700

Music is not free. Neither are stock images. Licensing is required to avoid copyright violations. Professional on-camera and/or voice talent charge a fee (which varies).

Editing/Post Production $1500

Fortunately, shorter length content often requires less time in editing if the producer/director is clear and focused on what the final product should be.

Successful spots don’t necessarily contain all of the bells and whistles, but always the perfect tone and emotion.

Timelines (Part 1)

Timelines have proven to be an instrumental tool in conveying complex information formatted to be easily digestible and understandable. In this series, we look at how timelines are designed and developed for use in the courtroom, in mediation, and/or during the discovery process.

 

timelineZoneAltered2

 

One or More?

A timeline tells a story, whether it relates to liability, causation or damages. It captures the key evidence in this case, including documents, testimony, graphics, graphs, photos or embedded videos.

Timelines can be static or interactive graphics, blown up on large boards, or electronically displayed.

Liability, Causation and Damages

Timelines come to life when sequencing your stories. The liability timeline lays out the facts of an event, based on physical evidence, witness testimony or investigatory findings. Both plaintiffs and defendants are attempting to emphasize how the evidence leads to rational conclusions about the case. A causation timeline can be a visually compelling display of a critical chain of events, revealing what happened and when, who knew what, and what was done or not. And when summarizing damages, particularly relating to medical care, a timeline provides a detailed and comprehensive overview of what transpired from the time of injury through rehabilitation and a return home.

Finally, timelines can prove to be quite effective in capturing key evidence related to punitive damages. Often the evidence concentrates on what was known by the defendants, when they knew it, and how that critical knowledge or experience may have been either ignored or covered up.

Annual Via Colori Street Painting Festival

Annual Via Colori Street Painting Festival
Benefitting the Center for Hearing and Speech

We got called to produce a 30 second spot for this great annual event that’s held on the streets around City Hall in Houston. We were glad to be involved. Fortunately, we connected with Jim Bratton to be our narrator. He donated his time to this worthy cause. All proceeds from the event go to the support the center, its clinics and school. Jim is a highly recognized professional voice talent known as the “voice that explains things.” We also edited a 15 second version of the spot that was posted to a local TV station’s web site.

You can see the 30 PSA here.

In this spot, we featured two young students from the school. It can be a real challenge working with children, but viewers love seeing kids just being themselves. People really tune into animals, as well.

At this year’s event, we shot HD video that will be edited into a short 5 minute program for the Center’s web site. Additionally, the footage can be archived for re-purposing which includes content for next year’s public service announcement and other marketing efforts.

Creating Interactive Content for ePublishing: PDF Design/Layout and Production

In this series of blog posts, we share insights into how we produce interactive fresh content for ePublishing. It is a dynamic process requiring creativity, technical competency and adequate resources. The series will discuss step-by-step each phase in the process.

Creating Interactive Content with Video for ePublishing

- Outline
- Budget
- Scripting
- Storyboards
- Principal Videography/Photography
- Graphics/Animation
- Editing/Post Production
- PDF Design/Layout and Production
- Review/Revisions
- Publishing


 

Here is step five – PDF Design/Layout and Production

The PDF format is a creative and flexible platform to deliver content, either electronically and/or in print. Typically, PDF is thought of as a format for documents. But a PDF can also be interactive, rich with graphics, photographs and videos. It is a common format that is easily shared and can be opened with freely downloadable software.

PDFs can be downloaded, emailed, copied to a thumb drive or disc, and/or printed.

Developing an interactive PDF is a multi-step process that involves creating an outline and then fleshing it out with the titles, subtitles and the body of text. We take this content and design infographics that represent visually the textual information. We place links to videos that are relevant to what is being said. And we also pull out quotes or bullet points that will further clarify the meaning of the text. To produce our PDFs, we use the Adobe Creative Suite, including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Once the script is finalized, then we create mood boards and mock-ups to better visualize how the content will look once completed. This kicks off the production process, which winds through several iterations, each pending approval.

Videos can be directly embedded in the PDF, although this adds greatly to its file size and therefore reduces its ease of distribution. Video links are a better way to have video content accessible from the PDF without overloading the file. The videos can be hosted on a server or on a video hosting service like YouTube or Vimeo.

Creating Interactive Content for ePublishing: Graphics/Animation

In this series of blog posts, we share insights into how we produce interactive fresh content for ePublishing. It is a dynamic process requiring creativity, technical competency and adequate resources. The series will discuss step-by-step each phase in the process.

Creating Interactive Content with Video for ePublishing

- Outline
- Budget
- Scripting
- Storyboards
- Principal Videography/Photography
- Graphics/Animation
- Editing/Post Production
- PDF Design/Layout and Production
- Review/Revisions
- Publishing


 

Here is step four – Graphics/Animation.

Catchy graphics and 3D animations deliver an amazing attention-grabbing impact on viewers. Graphic and animation design involves the use of multimedia assets like video footage, still images, computer models, or motion graphics. Designers can work in several dimensions which include 2D, 3D and something called 2.5D which gives the appearance of being three dimensional, but is less expensive to produce. Designs can be created from scratch or stock graphics like 3D models and animated sequences can be customized. Finding these existing assets is often a cost saving approach to enhancing overall production value.

Creating Interactive Content for ePublishing: Principal Videography

In this series of blog posts, we share insights into how we produce interactive fresh content for ePublishing. It is a dynamic process requiring creativity, technical competency and adequate resources. The series will discuss step-by-step each phase in the process.

Creating Interactive Content with Video for ePublishing

- Outline
- Budget
- Scripting
- Storyboards
- Principal Videography/Photography
- Graphics/Animation
- Editing/Post Production
- PDF Design/Layout and Production
- Review/Revisions
- Publishing


 

Here is step three – principal videography.

Interactive PDFs contain links where viewers can access videos through their Internet connection.

Shooting video involves having the right equipment along with a creative and competent videographer. The process of capturing the video starts with the set up. In many locations, it is necessary to get permission to shoot with a camera crew and talent. Quality of the footage that is shot depends on several key factors including camera(s), camera lenses, framing, use of a steadycam, sequencing, backgrounds, lighting, audio and off-camera direction.

Exceptional results are insured by well-captured HD video and studio quality sound. Use of a green screen is common and helpful because it gives producers a lot of flexibility in terms of backgrounds. Use of multiple cameras is helpful as editors are then able to intercut from several angles, which improves the program’s pace.

Creating Interactive Content for ePublishing: Outlines

In this series of blog posts, we share insights into how we produce interactive fresh content for ePublishing. It is a dynamic process requiring creativity, technical competency and adequate resources. The series will discuss step-by-step each phase in the process.

Creating Interactive Content with Video for ePublishing

- Outline
- Budget
- Scripting/Copyrighting
- Storyboards
- Principal Videography/Photography
- Graphics/Animation
- Editing/Post Production
- PDF Design/Layout and Production
- Review/Revisions
- Publishing


 

The first post in this series covers outlining.

 

What is an outline? An outline is the big sweep across the landscape of your message, covering point-by-point how the story develops. It should answer questions like: what is the subject? What are the key themes? Who are the people involved? What happened and what is the conclusion?

Before we begin our outline, we create a title and/or subtitle that describes the piece.

The first step in the outlining process is the writing of a logline. This is a short, three-sentence description that should grab the attention of potential viewers. Following this, each scene is described in detail. This will indicate what needs to be developed both before and after the production process. Taken together, the scenes form the basic structure. The outline provides the roadmap for successfully creating the content that you desire.

 

Honor Flight Houston Case Study: Outlines

In a recent eight minute film short we produced for Honor Flight Houston, we entitled the program, “A Dream of Lifetime”. Our logline read:
“A group of World War II veterans experience a transformative journey of a lifetime. These true American heroes from the ‘Greatest Generation’ visit the memorial built in their honor in Washington D.C. The elderly vets are overwhelmed by the warm and enthusiastic reception of a grateful nation.”

Open
The program opens with archival WWII footage and audio from a speech by President Roosevelt. The narrative begins with sound bites from vet interviews about their war experiences. Transition to Honor Flight arrival at Washington airport with narrative describing this trip of a lifetime, leading into the title graphic.

Houston Airport Departure
On location scenes include the send off ceremony at the Houston airport and reactions from the crowds and individuals who were there. Capture “ready to go?” actualities from vets and the loading of the plane, including the welcome by the airline personnel. On the airport tarmac, a second camera crew records the water cannon salute by the fire department and the aircraft taking off into the sky.

Reagan National Airport Arrival
Capture vets exiting off the aircraft and their reactions to the jubilant crowd that awaits them. Record actualities from vets talking about what just happened and their feelings about the reception. Shoot bus loading and bus interiors as vets depart airport for the hotel.

Memorial Visits
Capture early morning scenes as vets and their guardians prepare to depart the hotel on the bus. Shoot the vets visiting the memorials including Arlington National Cemetery, World War II Memorial, Korean Memorial and Vietnam Memorial. At each location, film a complete series of the memorial’s environs for use in music sequences (wide shots, medium shots and tight shots). During each visit, record the welcoming, the vets interaction with the public, and their personal comments.

“Mail Call”
On the return plane trip home, capture vets receiving and reading mail from loved ones and others. Gather actualities of vets reading from the letters and solicit their reaction to what was being said to them.

Arrival Home
Record scenes of the arrival at the Houston airport where a boisterous crowd greets the tired vets. Capture welcome home ceremony and vets comments about the journey.

 

With this outline, we created a blueprint of the elements that we desired for the programming. It describes how the story would flow and be paced. Going into this project, we knew that we were going to produce a collection of programs, including a 30-second public service announcement, an eight minute overview and 53 minute documentary.

Dream of a Lifetime

Honor Flight HoustonI was given the privilege of producing the Honor Flight Houston documentary.

What a fantastic experience I shared with two groups of true American heroes, with a total of about 50 veterans. These folks were members of what is known as the greatest generation: our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents who survived the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, fought victoriously in World War II, and then built the world’s strongest economy.

After reviewing all of my materials, I began the process of finishing the script for the documentary. A vast majority of scripts produced for television or film will follow a basic story structure. These are most often divided into three acts. You set up the story and there is a catalyst that gets it going. That’s the first act. Then, your story is told with all of the twists and turns. That is the second act. Finally in the third act you wrap up the story with a powerful, emotional, dramatic or funny ending.

 

fcblog_3_threeActStory

 

The 53-minute Honor Flight Houston Documentary provides a journey through the entire Honor Flight experience, told through eyes of the veterans. It will prove to be a lasting memento for those who participated in the program to share with family and friends. But, it will also give audiences and viewers a deep and lasting impression of how Honor Flight is truly the trip of a lifetime.