Discovery HQ – Leaving Silver Spring

The DMV (DC, MD, and VA) Film and Video community was surprised by the recent announcement that Discovery Communications will move their headquarters to New York in 2019. The fate of the One Discovery Place building remains an unknown, as local businesses and developers brace for impact. Discovery transitioned from Bethesda to Silver Spring several years ago, a move which Word Wizards followed shortly thereafter. It always benefited our company to be close in proximity to Discovery HQ, and we can’t help feeling a bit sad to see them leave.

Forward Momentum

Regarding life in downtown Silver Spring, there will be a major impact on the local businesses because of the departure. Word Wizards will be tracking the progress throughout the move, and posting updates and new information on our blog.  As a member of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce (GSSCC) we have inquired as to what the plans for the space and the area may be going forward.  Here is what the chamber can tell us so far about the move.

Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce

GSSCC – Discovery’s Decision a Loss AND an Opportunity

The GSSCC is currently keeping their discussions with MD Governor Hogan’s office close to the vest.  However he didn’t get to be the second most popular governor in the country by sitting on his hands. (According to businessinsider.com)  Look for developments from the Governor and the Chamber of Commerce that will keep the Silver Spring expansion moving forward.

Industry Fallout

Many people will loose their jobs and or have to relocate because of the Discovery Mexit (a term I just coined). However, the local video and film industry is still strong in the DMV.  There are still major documentary and educational media players in the area. DC production is strong at the Smithsonian Channel (in partnership with Showtime) and National Geographic (in partnership with Fox.)  For a fascinating review of the relationship between the 130 year old National Geo. Society and Fox, see this excellent article from 2015 in “The Guardian”https://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/nov/14/how-fox-ate-national-geographic

Smithsonian Channel

Progress and Opportunity

Despite the loss of this major player, the DMV video and film industry is robust and continues to serve the needs of private and public sector entities large and small. Production opportunities continue to exist at large metro area corporations such as Marriott and Lockheed Martin in MD, as well as CACI and SAIC in VA. Each of these companies employs hundreds of local contractors like ourselves, keeping the economy moving and expanding with the nation’s continued recovery. With a wealth of research, PR, marketing, consulting, and lobbying companies in the region, there is always local demand for media professionals. Competition for jobs won’t be easy though, and media teams are soon to be inundated with resumes from top talent leaving Discovery.

Media Moves The Nation

The DMV production community is and always has been supported by the Federal Government, US Military, and countless intermediaries with government relationships. In our current political climate, the need for video production has never been in higher demand, and the firms supporting these agencies and subsidiaries continue to thrive. It was in a similar climate that our small business was founded over 25 years ago. We hope that many new small businesses will open as top talent leave Discovery and set out to make their own futures. Word Wizards will be here to support them all, and we will continue our coverage of this transitional period for our community. Stay Tuned!

P.S. Amazon listed Silver Spring as one of their top 20 cities for HQ2. With the entire One Discovery Place building now up for grabs, maybe they could call Silver Spring home one day. I have made an offer to show Jeff Bezos around town via twitter, he has since not responded.

 

 




Crowd Marketing – TUGG and GATHR

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Thanks so much to Docs In Progress for organizing the Crowdsourcing Theatrical Distribution talk.  They do amazing work helping people from all walks of life to fulfill their desire of creating documentary productions.  Since video transcription is often an essential part of making a documentary, it is only natural that WW is a proud corporate sponsor of DIP.  We were delighted to have the opportunity to cover their lecture in our Blog.

Introducing, Crowd Marketing

The crowd marketing discussion featured Jan Selby, founder of Quiet Island Films. After twenty five years as a successful marketing and advertising executive, she decided to follow her dream of becoming a documentary producer.  She has produced several docs including Beyond the Divide a film  about a Vietnam Veteran and a peace advocate healing wounds while in search
of common ground.  She applied the same organized business principles to film making, and decided to do marketing through crowd sourcing.

While Kickstarter or Indiegogo can help filmmakers get the money to film and produce their movie, Tugg and Gathr focus more on connecting the resulting films to the fans. A filmmaker works with Tugg or Gathr to make their movie available to screen, at which point fans will work to promote a local screening on a particular date, essentially marketing the film themselves. Gathr and Tugg set a specific threshold for each screening, meaning a minimum number of tickets which must be reserved in order to cover costs such as the filmmaker’s fee. If that threshold is reached before the screening request expires, the event will proceed, and filmmakers will receive a percentage of all profits above the threshold.

Tugg logo

Tugg helps market films by funneling traffic to independent websites. Tugg also offers detailed information about earnings and percentages on their website. Although Gathr may require direct contact to find out percentages, they do offer filmmakers a chance to receive funding by purchasing the theatrical rights only.

GATHR logo

Worldwide Appeal

The global possibilities of this type of crowd marketing is staggering.  Jan reported that one documentary, “Awake – The Life of Yogananda” has gone viral through crowd marketing on Gathr.  It’s about the life of Paramhansa Yogananda, born Mukunda Lal Ghosh, who was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.  To date 35,000 tickets have been reserved in 68 screenings in the US for the “Awake” doc.  Many more have been purchased worldwide.  The popularity of yoga and the Gathr platform rewarded the two filmmakers by allowing yoga enthusiasts worldwide to do the marketing for them. So if you have a topic for a documentary with wide popular appeal, this might be the way forward to distribute your film to the world.




The Science of Good Story Telling

Women in Film & Video, Washington DC, Producing Change Since 1979

Producers and reporters of science programs for film and television are always looking for engaging, compelling stories to teach and motivate and to open our minds to infinite possibilities. Scott Gordon, C.E.O. of Word Wizard, is addicted to scientific programming and watches very little else except the News.  That’s why he joined me as we both attended the recent WIFV (Women in Film and Video) event which focused on Scientific Productions.

Main Speakers

Some of the brightest minds in science programming met at the WIFV panel discussion held at Interface Media Group. Panelists included: Karen Heineman, executive producer of Inside Science at the American Institute of Physics; Michael Rosenfeld, head of television and film at Tangled Bank Studios; Jennifer Shoemaker, director of Missions Media at National Geographic Society; Rebecca Howland, producer for Screenscope, Inc; Miles O’Brien, science reporter and producer; and Wade Sisler, executive producer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Katrina Jackson—new WIFV member and PA at Goddard—served as moderator.

The Power Of Social Media

Using social media to promote science programming. (flavor image)

One of the first issues discussed was social media and how to attract viewers to science programming. Attracting and retaining viewer’s takes a sustained social media outreach which, when updated regularly, can prolong the lifespan of a documentary over a made-for-television presentation. Larger shows offer games and interactive media on their websites like Your Inner Fish airing on PBS which allows you to view a 3D body and click on the different body parts to understand how they evolved from other animals.

With the help of the Internet, some science websites and blogs have become so popular that they make it to television. For example, I F$#$king Love science website—beginning as a popular science blog—now boasts a following of 10 million, and is being picked up by the Science Channel.

Dealing with the Skeptics

Mars Rover Curiosity exploring the rocky surface of Mars.

Whether you believe in modern science or not, it is undeniable that the Martian Rover Curiosity, which is as large as a VW Bug, is traveling around on another planet at this very moment; and uncovering evidence of water and perhaps even life itself.  By faithfully and accurately reporting on this modern marvel, the science producers at NASA Goddard, confound the skeptics every day. Therefore Science Producers can deal with the Nay Sayers and sceptics by being certain that science programming can clearly show by what means their conclusions were reached. How an audience perceives a scientist directly affects how or even if they listen. Scientists must be perceived as down to earth, likeable and exciting. National Geographic’s International Fame Lab encourages young scientists to compete in a live panel-judged competition to become potentially a new voice of science.

Producers need to reach out to educators and school systems to assure their products are accepted into school systems. National Geographic also adapts some of its programming to the classroom. Their Engineers in the Classroom program—developed in conjunction with Lockheed Martin—offers specialty lesson plans for grades K-12. Others like Rebecca Howland offer their one program Extreme Realities on PBS as well as on YouTube.

Today, Nat Geo sometimes skips the heavy camera setups and sends explorers to distant locations with only an I-phone to record a story but with the quickly evolving technology, the little guy and the smaller company may find it difficult to keep up in science programming.

Diagram showing the design of the James Web deep space telescope.

And talk about distant locations, NASA Goddard is currently assembling the James Web deep space telescope which will dwarf the Hubble in size and power.  It will travel in an orbit way beyond our Moon, and be as big as a one story house.  Who knows what it will be able to see, perhaps all the way back to the “Big Bang” itself.  You can be sure that it will be ably covered to the scientific community and to the public by the science documentary production team at NASA Goddard.  Thanks to WIFV for the first rate programming.

 




TIVA Talk: Pitching To The Networks Workshop

Pitching Workshop

Since we here at Word Wizards Inc. go through hours of transcription each day we know that while making film and video is hard, the toughest part is actually getting someone to green light your pitch so you can actually get the chance to make it. We all know that making that pitch can be difficult, awkward and just plain nerve racking. Recently TIVA and The National Press Club Studios presented a packed workshop to give people valuable pointers on how to go about making a pitch guaranteed to be a winner. The panelist on this panel included Jane Latman, Senior Vice-President for Development at Investigation Discovery, Amy Savitsky, Vice President of Development at TLC, Genevieve Crouteau, Vice President of Development at Story House Productions and Kip Prestholdt the owner and Executive Producer at Lucky Dog Films.

Pitch Building 101

One of the most important tips to consider when you’re putting a pitch together is to make sure you have an interesting character that will hook people into the show. Setting and content don’t matter quite as much as having characters a viewer would want to keep watching. You also need to make sure you have a decent presentation that gives you plenty to discuss with a network person. Like I said characters are important but you do want to have the most complete package to present and it’s a good idea to have a rough estimate of the budget need. While you don’t need to know the exact numbers, you should have a general estimate so the person you’re pitching to gets a good idea of just how costly the work you’re presenting would be. This should go without saying but it never hurts to practice the pitch with a friend so you’ve gone over it and know it forwards and backwards.

Presenting The Pitch

If you’re trying to get in touch with a network and don’t have an agent, then the ideal person to look for would be the development manager at the network or someone with the word “development” in their title. It can also pay off to try and reach a network through their general contact e-mail address since most of the time, pitching e-mails will be forwarded to the appropriate individual. If you’re e-mailing a sizzle reel or presenting one, make sure it’s less than 6 minutes long, has a link to the rest of your work and that it showcases your characters. When you do try to contact networks, it’s often good to lead with the reel so they get a sense of your project. When you do land that coveted appointment to present your ideas to someone, make sure you go in with a few back up pitches in your pocket. If you present your pitch and the executive immediately says no, you need to have another idea on deck or else the meeting can get awkward quickly with nothing to talk about. It also doesn’t hurt to ask why they said no so you can know what to work on for future pitches. Also learning to take no for an answer is important skill to have as well.

You also want to make sure your pitches are tailored to fit which ever network you’re making that pitch to. If you’re presenting to some place like Investigation Discovery, make sure your show seems appropriate on a network that spotlights crime dramas and true stores with twists and turns. Don’t take a gritty criminal show to a place like TLC which caters mainly to women, targets the heartland states and is toned towards fare with heart, authenticity and the OMG factor. You must research the network beforehand so you can get a feel for it and be sure that your idea won’t seem like an odd duck to them. It may sound like common sense, but many producers have taken ideas that they thought were sure fire hits and got shot down because it didn’t fit the network image. If you do make your pitch and then don’t hear anything back for a while don’t get too discouraged, as getting key decision makers together and deciding on someone’s idea can take a while.

After Making Your Pitch

After you make your pitch, the executive you pitched to may take your idea and decide whether it passes for having some promise or potential. The next step is for them to meet with other department heads. They will discuss your pitch and ultimately decide whether it’s good enough to go forward for green light and production. If they do decide to go forward, most likely the network will choose the partner or production company that you will be working with. If you have lots of producing experience then you may be given an executive producer position on the project and if you’re still relatively new to the business, you may be given an associate producers credit with someone more seasoned helping guide you. While some networks such as Investigation Discovery do both commissions and co-productions with producers, many networks tend to do more commissions and pay a one-time amount.

General Insights

During the workshop, the conversation went into the realm of scripted versus reality with the consensus that even though scripted is not the priority at many networks, it’s becoming a big buzz word. Comedy was also agreed to be another big buzz word as its becoming popular too. If you’re just one person, then it can be incredibly difficult to reach anyone so it pays to find someone who has the right connections and can form a partnership with you. Another key point made was that if you have some unique character that you want to base your show around, get them to sign an agreement as soon as possible and try to do the same with locations. All the panelists had great cautionary tales about how much of a rat race it is to get characters and places secured before you lose them for good. It also gives your pitch a nice added bonus if you have exclusive access to characters and places that others don’t.

 




TIVA Talks: Program Finishing

TIVA_FirstThursdays_Mktg

 TIVA recently presented an incredibly informative panel at Henninger Media Services  that was all about program finishing, a vital part of any film or video production. While a plethora of topics were discussed, they mainly centered around the areas of color correction, conversions, captioning, audio, delivery formats and disc authoring. The panel, consisting of Henninger employees, included Senior Editor Joe Bridgers, Colorist Loren Masheter, Audio Engineer Bob Bass, Core and Standard Conversions team member Chuck Adams, and Ari Zagnit, who talked about compression. It was a successful event that attracted members from all aspects of the video production community who packed the space and asked some great questions.

Editing And Frame Rates

One of the major topics that came up was frame rates, specifically 30 fps vs. 23.98 fps and which one was ultimately better depending on the project and how it’s going to be exhibited or shown to the public. Joe Bridgers  shared his thoughts that 23.98 was better for projects that will be shown at festivals or places out of the country and out of the main stream light. 30 fps, on the other hand, is much more ideal for mainstream distribution and the panel highly advised filmmakers to give Henninger a call at the beginning of a project to help them get started. One of the best pieces of advice that came from the panel was when planning a project to start at the very end and proceed to work your way backwards. This will help you plan out which frame rates to use and what details your project needs so you can know what resources to have on hand.  A great question came when someone asked what they should do if they have a mixed timeline (a timeline that has both types of frame rates in it). The answer was to figure out what your final frame rate version should be and use spot conversion to make sure your time line has one single frame rate.

Color Correction

One of the last and most vital steps in the editing process is color correction, which ensures that your work has the best look and colors possible. One thing that Loren Masheter stressed during the panel was to be very careful with your color lookup table. It’s a great tool for taking an image on a camera monitor and adding color correction elements so you and the client can get an idea of what the final image will look like. However, when you send it to a place like Henninger to be color corrected, you may want to make sure the table is not on as many color correctors use bandwidth to make adjustments. If the table is on, the bandwidth will have some trouble making adjustments since the original colors have been changed. So when you send in work to be color corrected, make sure it’s stripped down with the table off. As far as equipment goes, a series of monitors that the crew at Henninger really likes working with are the ones made by Flanders Scientific. While these can be fairly pricey, they are very much beloved for their quality and  incredibly sharp displays. A stand-out piece of software that was praised for its ease of use and value was Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Software. 

Converting and Sound

One of Chuck Adams’ favorite series of converters that is extremely capable and efficient at converting frame rates are those made by Snell and Wilcox with one of his favorites being the Alchemist.  One of the converting issues to look out for when working on video is when you try to up convert a 23.98 frame rate and the image becomes softer looking. Additionally, two frames can become blended together, creating a dissolve look in your film which would appear instead of the cut you’re trying to achieve. The Alchemist is incredibly capable of separating the two cuts so you don’t get that annoying blending effect.

The conversation then turned to Bob Bass who discussed audio mixing and the most ideal conditions for it. While you obviously want to have either a lavaliere or boom mic for audio, boom mics tend to be a bit better because they won’t pick up sounds such as clothing rustling the same way a lavaliere does. If you do end up with multiple audio sources on a track, leave them both on the track for the mixer. However, try to have the “talking heads” audio closer to the video tracks and the music further down. As far some good mics to use, one that came up was the Sennheiser MKH 416 Boom Mike, which was touted for its adaptability.

Disc Authoring

The evening ended on the subject of Disc Authoring and the best delivery practices to ensure a problem free ending to your project. The biggest tip was to have your work be as clean as possible before final compression so you don’t encounter any trouble. As far as formats go, Blu-ray was more adapt at handling compression but can be a bit more demanding since it’s made for higher quality work. DVDs on the other hand are considered a universal format and can handle a much greater variety of work. While 1080p will look fantastic on a DVD, you don’t have that high a resolution on DVD formats as it handles most of them quite well. A useful and simple tip is at the very beginning of the project, decide what format you’re going to be utilizing so you can plan everything accordingly. If you’re going to be sending out work online, the best way to send it is via an H264 Codec MP file since its a versatile codec that can be easily embedded.

While I’ve tried to cover as much of the panel as possible, there was just so much covered that I couldn’t get every little detail. But hopefully you were able to get a good tip or two from this recap.

 

 

 

 

 




Importance of the Peers

Peer Awards

Honors in the DC video production community don’t get much bigger than the annual TIVA Peer Awards. These awards, which have been around since 1997, pay tribute to excellence in local media and are one of the most sought-after awards in the area. Every November the TIVA community comes together at the National Press Club to give out this honor in a variety of different categories. Some of the categories include best independent short, best music video, best documentary and best children’s program. This year brings the addition of a few new categories, such as government production, foreign language  and for one year only, a special Docs in Progress category, proudly sponsored by Word Wizards Inc. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize.

The Peer Promise Competition

Since TIVA recognizes that it’s important to help pave the way for the next generation of great film and media makers, it created the Peer Promise Competition. This special category is the high school component of the Peer Awards, where students are invited to enter their individual or class media projects in film and video. These projects are then judged on the basis of their creativity while being compared to other schools in the DC, Virginia and Maryland region. These students may be awarded a certificate of merit for their work, or even be chosen as one of three regional finalists who are invited to the awards with the winner receiving a gold award while the other receive a silver and a bronze. The best thing about the Peer Promise competition is that its absolutely free to enter, so there is absolutely no reason for future filmmakers not to put their best work forward.
Peer Awards2

Backstory and Details

The awards were started by the former Washington Film and Video Council way back in 1997 before merging with the ITVA-DC Video Festival. The three levels of awards for each category are silver, bronze and gold. The gold winner receives a trophy to take home while silver and bronze winners receive a foil-embossed certificate and the option to order a trophy if they wish. While the early-bird deadline for submission just ended, there’s still plenty of time for film and video makers to get their work in by the regular deadline of June 30th. Entries will still be accepted up to July 31, but a late fee will apply. The full list of entrance prices and fees can be found on the awards Q&A page. Video professionals can register on the online portal. There is a two-year eligibility window for entries: this year the window is between June 30, 2011 and June 30, 2013.

 A Community Comes Together

As someone who has volunteered to help at the past two peer award ceremonies, I can honestly say it is a truly memorable evening. It is one of the few times a year that the DC Metro Area production community comes together to really celebrate one another. Everyone is there supporting the impressive body of work on display, and to win of course, in a very sympathetic and celebratory atmosphere. Its a time for people to reconnect with each other and catch up about their lives, as well as past and future projects. Of course the awards themselves are special since its the DC film-and-video community congratulating their best and brightest. The fact that peers and fellow media/production professionals are the ones voting makes these awards incredibly unique and personal.

 

 

 




Returning Marines Find New Careers In Media

Marine Shooter

With Memorial Day soon upon us, our thoughts go to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty to defend our country. I’ve also been thinking about those other brave individuals who fight in combat and are wounded but are able to make it home back to the U.S. What are they supposed to do when they get back after seeing all the chaos of war and how are they supposed to get used to a regular life again? Fortunately, there are some truly great organizations that are more than happy to help train these individuals in new lines of work so they can start to rebuild their lives. One of these groups is the Wounded Careers Marine Foundation whose media boot camp trains returning and wounded marines for new careers in video and media production.

Learning To Shoot Video

Documentary filmmaker Kev Lombard first had the idea to start the program when he was asked to film the stories of wounded veterans at military hospitals in 2006. He wanted to teach them how to tell their stories and decided to partner with his wife Judith Paixao to create the program. The couple uses a mix of corporate and private donations to fund the media course which is composed of two weekly sessions that both last ten weeks. The Wounded Careers Marine Foundation Media Program is headquartered in a camouflage-painted building on a San Diego production lot. While the expectation isn’t to turn out the next great film visionary like Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg, the aim is to give these heroic veterans the proper skills to become a camera or boom operator and earn a well-paying job.

Expert Advice

Students learn all about the production and video business from 30 film professionals who are happy to pass on their knowledge. Some of the teachers include Amy Lemisch of the California Film Commission, Barry Green, an Emmy award-winning producer and Levie Issaaks, a Vietnam war veteran who is now an Emmy award-winning director of photography with work that includes Malcom in the Middle. These instructors have the veterans use equipment such as Panasonic HD Camcorders and MacBook Pros to learn skills such as editing, cinematography, lighting and sound design. The students learn nuts-and-bolts coursework that leaves them with solid skills not found in many college film schools, almost like an apprenticeship. Word Wizards Inc. thinks these kinds of programs are great since they really give back to those who have sacrificed a lot to fight for our country.

 




48 Hour Film Project

48 Hour Logo

Just A Weekend

As most of us know creating a film, even a short film, weather it’s a documentary or something more fictional, takes a lot of time. First you have come up with a concept, get funding somehow, get a crew, shoot the production and then edit and do the rest of post-production. This whole process usually takes a minimum of several months, if not years, for some of the most basic films. Now, imagine trying to do an entire short film, from conception to post-production all in one 48-hour span of time. That is the challenge of the 48 Hour Film Project, where teams have just two days to create an entire story using just a prop, theme and line of dialogue. DC’s annual 48-hour film project was the weekend of May 5th and with other 48-hour film projects taking place across the globe on various other dates.

Mark Ruppert

A Humble Beginning

The Project got its start in May, 2001 when local filmmaker Mark Ruppert came up with the idea to have an experimental competition where teams would have to make a complete short film in 48 hours. He enlisted his film-making partner Liz Langston and several small teams who thought  the idea sounded fun and challenging. Today the project takes place in more than 120 cities around the world, such as Las VegasChicago, Rome and Beijing, and involves many teams, who altogether make up more than 60,000 thousand people. The smallest team was one man who set up a camera and then was in the film, and the largest group was a team from Albuquerque with 116 people and 30 horses.

It’s All About Action

The mission of the Project is refreshingly simple: don’t think, just do!!! The very short time limit encourages creativity and teamwork skills and spurs people to give it their all. It’s through this intense process that the creators of the project hope to promote filmmakers and advance filmmaking. Personally, as someone who worked on a team for DC 48 hour film project on May 5th, I can attest just how challenging and chaotic the process can be. It takes a lot of patience and nerve to make it through one of these films—and a true passion for film—to consistently come back to the project year after year.

48 Hour Trophy

The Process and Prizes

There are a few guidelines that filmmakers have to follow when making their short film. At the Friday party that kicks off the project, each team is randomly assigned a theme, a line and prop that must appear in their short film. Apart from those specifications, they make whatever type of piece they want. The finished pieces need to be complete two days later, that Sunday by 7 pm at a drop off party. The following weekend, the films are screened at AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring over the course of four nights. There are prizes for films that are voted the best and these prizes include best writing, best director and best editing among others. There’s a also an international grand prize which nets the winner $5,000. Ten of the best films of the 2013 tour are going to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner in 2014.

 

 

 




TIVA’s Tapeless Workflow Panel

Web_Tapelss_Sol_TIVA

Recently TIVA, the television, internet and video association, held an incredibly informative panel at Henninger Media Services that was all about tapeless workflow and the pros/cons of going into the tapeless world. Henninger moderated the event and supplied the speakers for panelists Sam Crawford and Sue O’Hora. The areas covered included the three main stages of production and some of the best ways to handle footage and data in a tapeless, and most importantly safe manner.

Pre-Production and Production Stages

As Sue pointed out,  one of the most important decisions to make during pre-production is how you are going to do the transfer after you’re done shooting and what type of environment you’ll be in. It’s always a good idea to equip you or your camera people with two drives and have them download the data to both so there is a safety net in case something happens to one of the drives. Some of the options include a next box which is known for its rugged durability, can handle multiple types of cards, shows previews and verification, and you can data dump after the shoot. Another option is a Mac program called ShotPut Pro that costs $99 and is capable of handling multiple codecs as well as downloading and verifying footage.

Post-Production and Media Formats

Sam Crawford then took over the conversation and discussed how he and Henninger handle things in the post-production area. One of the things he stressed was to make sure all your data is on a solid state system, not some thing like DVDs that need to be spinned up. Saving footage in solid state systems means they’re less likely to get destroyed and you’ll be able to archive in case you need that footage for later use. He also stressed that some of the key things to think about in the post production phase are media formats, editing software options, color correction, audio mix, final finishing and then the very last step, which is delivery.

What Editing System Will You be Using?

Obviously you need to be considerate of what media type you’re using, since the people you’re sending it to need to know in advance so they have something set up to handle it and can be prepared to deal with it. The next best thing is to be mindful of what type of NLE  (Non Linear Editing) system on which the footage will be edited. Since the client usually knows this information in advance, you should be able to prep the footage to best work with whatever editing system will be used in post production. Nothing is more frustrating than getting an angry call or email from a client saying what you sent them is completely incompatible with his or her systems.

Making Sure The Product is Delivered

The final, but most important, step is delivery and how you plan on getting the footage or finished product to your client. One of the most secure is to have a FTP or file transfer point that’s housed in a secure database. Word Wizards Inc. has had one for years and we can happily say it works very well and we’ve had very few issues with it. Since we get so many files for transcription, this is the easiest way to have them all in one central place. While we do sometimes get DVDs via delivery, that can be a little more worrisome since important footage is kind of just floating out there. Some other options include the popular Cloud-based dropbox and a more traditional file conveyance site, weTransfer.




3 Big Standouts from NAB 2013

NAB 2013 Digital Media Industry Event

While the National Association of Broadcasters early event in Las Vegas may not have quite the same buzz as the Consumer Electronics Show, its still a big deal in the production industry and a regular trek for many members of the local community. While Word Wizards, Inc  primarily focuses on transcription work, light post-production, web and print design, we still love to learn all about the latest and greatest film tech. We love to see what enterprising filmmakers and production professionals can create with the latest and greatest gear. Although nothing at the NAB event was mind blowing, there were 3 products that seemed to garner a lot of attention.

Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic impressed many people with the unveiling of its Pocket Cinema Camera that retails for $995 and has plenty to offer. Some of the features on it include SD card storage, CinemaDNG RAW recording, Micro HDMI monitoring and a Super-16 cinema 1080 HD recorder. At under a thousand dollars, that’s a whole lot of powerful tech for the price, especially when considering the model’s built-in LCD that can be used to watch some of that great talking heads footage. While calling it a “pocket camera” might be a bit of stretch, the size is still relativity compact compared to other models in this range. The camera should be available towards the end of July.

The Lynx A 3D point and shoot Camera/Tablet

Another very impressive and unique product was a point-and-shoot camera capable of 3D modeling and motion capture. This is a unique device, which was funded via kickstarter, and  is being developed by a group of students from the University of Texas. The Lynx A 3D point-and-shoot camera employs sensor hardware to obtain depth mapping and imaging info from your surroundings and then turns that same data into a 3D scene and object models or motion capture that it displays on its screen. This means that a savvy filmmaker will be able to record those important interviews in perfect detail and sound for easy transcription later. The price tag on this bad boy should be about $1,799 and should start shipping soon.

Sony’s Anycast Touch Studio in a Box

Finally Sony showed off its brand new Anycast Touch studio in a box, which is simply too impressive looking not to mention. The basic premise of the Anycast Touch is the ability to have a mobile production studio in a box that delivers network quality broadcasting anywhere. Some of the bells and whistles include sliding dual touch displays, the ability to split audio and video editing between the panels as well as a video switcher, audio mixer, an encoder and even a special effects generator. Even though pricing hasn’t been discussed yet, the Anycast Touch is apparently going to be shipping in September.

For more in depth coverage

While those are three of the impressive standout from NAB 2013, there were plenty of other noteworthy displays from Sony, Intel and Red Epic. For a much more comprehensive round up, check out engadget’s coverage.

 

 




Word Wizards Salutes Richard Harrington, A Wizard of Digital Video

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Every once in a while Word Wizards likes to shine the spotlight on some of our fellow video professionals in the DC media community to showcase some of the truly talented individuals we have around us. Today we’re going to be taking a look at Richard Harrington, CEO of RHED Pixel, editing expert, producer, prolific writer and podcast master. His personal philosophy to communicate, motivate, create is a great indicator of Richard’s strong desire to create media with the power to truly inspire and impact others.

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Richard’s first experience in the realm of media occurred when he used magnets to rearrange the picture tube on his family’s tv at the age of seven. After graduating from college with a dual degree in production and reporting  Richard starting out working in the newsroom but after a few years grew tired of the grind. He and his soon to be wife moved to the Washington D.C area where he received his masters in project management. Richard decided to strike out on his own in 1999 and opened Richard Harrington Video which later became RHED Pixel as it grew.

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The goal that Richard founded the company with and still continues to do today is utilizing the latest digital video tools to bring the best quality media production to the largest possible audience. RHED Pixel does an amazingly varied portfolio of work which includes graphic design, video production for all types of projects, interactive multimedia, quick time virtual reality and 3D Motion work. Always on the forefront of technology, RHED Pixel has made podcasting the latest addition to their arsenal of products. Podcasting is the art of making a form of video, usually episodic content, that people subscribe to and download often through web syndication or stream via the web to a computer or mobile device. A prime example would be the program Mommycast which began life as an audio only series in 2005 and soon was getting over one million downloads a week.  Seeing a great opportunity, RHED Pixel stepped “in to” help make it a fully video podcast.

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Aside from founding and running RHED Pixel, Richard has a number of other impressive feats under his belt. He is an accomplished author, having written a number of guides and training books for  photoshop, aftereffects, final cut pro, producing video podcasts and apple training. His friendly attitude, passion for multi media and video work as well as his renowned expertise have also made him a popular speaker on the digital video circuit. As an avid tech, gadget and sci-fi fan Richard loves to know about the next big thing and firmly believes these technologies are the key to bringing important messages to the masses. In his spare time, he loves to travel, share his love of comic books with his kids and volunteer with different media production organizations such as the Television, Internet and Video Association or TIVA.

 

Be sure to check out his blog at: http://www.richardharringtonblog.com/ 

Also check out RHED Pixel at: http://www.rhedpixel.com/

 

 

 

 




A Festival Orson Welles Would Be Proud Of

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Most people have seen the film Citizen Kane and know of the famous director Orson Welles who was known for both his talent and his sometimes erratic behavior. He is however still regarded as one of the greatest film directors, one who had an absolute vision of what he wanted and was usually not open to suggestions.

Rosebud

I think the Rosebud Film and Video Festival in some ways carries on his spirit in that it has a very specific goal in mind. The festival, which celebrated its 22nd year this past January, only takes submissions from local DC, Virginia and Maryland filmmakers and producers. Their aim is to honor the truly creative, innovative and unusual works made entirely with in the local video production community and seek to promote all aspects of this business from writing, directing, transcribing, audio engineering, producing and everything in between.
Natasha

The festival’s founder Natasha Reatig founded the festival way back in 1991. Natasha, who worked for the dept. of Health and Human Services for much of her career, sought to  create an event that put the focus on local work and talent. Today Arlington Independent Media runs the festival but their goal is till the same.  They are a nonprofit public access membership organization who’s mission is to provide the community with training workshops and professional facilities.

Arlington Indepndent Media

To check out the festival’s website visit: http://www.arlingtonmedia.org/rosebud 

To read up more on Natasha Reatig, go to her site at: http://www.natashareatig.com/about_me.php 

To see some of Arlington Independent Media’s work, visit them here: http://www.arlingtonmedia.org/ 




How Not To Promote Your Work in the Digital and Social Media Realm

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In making any kind of media, there are two main stages. The first is actually making the thing which involves pre-producton, shooting it and then having it transcribed and put into post production. That’s where Word Wizards comes in, we’re happy to work with you on the transcription and conversion side. We want to make sure your work is the best it can be but the part that comes after is one that people just don’t think about as much as they should. That would be marketing and getting your work out there. This process has changed drastically thanks to facebook, youtube, twitter and the fast moving realm of social media. In the old days, you could just send it a few websites, put up a posting or two, send it to a few boards and you would not have to work on maintaining as much of an online persona. Boy howdy, has that gone the way of the dinosaurs, today you need to be constantly staying in touch with your audience and always reaching out or else just get left behind. Follow these steps to ensure that your audience stays small and your work unknown.

 

1. Not utilizing your social links: If you have twitter or facebook accounts, etc.. Do Not Let Them Lie Dormant. If you do this, not only is there no point in having, it also makes you like you just don’t care about communicating with your audience and are just too lazy to give a darn. You should be constantly putting new things on these sites at all times.

2. Never updating your site or blog: One of my biggest pet peeves is going to companies site and seeing that they haven’t updated it in several months or even, gasp, a year. Automatically this makes me think the company just is not paying attention or is very slow. Even if  you don’t have any big projects going on, put something up there almost daily even if it’s something as trivial as some new photo’s related to your work or blogging about news related to your industry.

3. Unwilling to take feedback: Don’t put you video’s or any of your work online if your not willing to take feedback or comments from visitors, even if its criticism. The entire point of a good website and social media in general is that you can actually get instantaneous communication and can interact with people in a way that no other mediums allow. So pay attention to that comment section since people are often giving constructive advice that may just improve the project your working on. In fact you should be asking for feedback when you publish anything online so you can get a good idea of what the industry thinks.

4. Having a negative attitude: While this one may sound silly, it’s quite vital to your site becoming popular and a place people want to visit. While  it’s fine to discuss serious issues people face, don’t dwell or focus on these issues. Yes, people may not agree with what you put on you’re site and can be vocal about it but do not let that drag you down. Not only is engaging them a waste of your time it, also makes you look bad, unprofessional and not some place people would want to visit. Try to maintain a more up beat tone or voice to your site and not get drawn into trivial arguments with trollish followers.

5. Not caring about relationships: Do not abuse or ignore your followers, if you want to get comments and feedback from those who visit your site. You need to respond to the messages or comments you get and try to do it fairly promptly. One of the highlights about social media in general is the fact you get to build these great relationships and can really give your company that human touch. If you can get a regular repertoire going with online visitors, that means repeat traffic to your site and more business as well!!! Do not just let those comments or questions pile you up, it makes people feel like they being ignored and will not want to come back to your site.

 

 

 

 




Docs In Progress – Documentary Experts Check Out CloudScript

Last night I had the pleasure of joining Docs In Progress for their Alumni Open House. It was an intimate gathering of some graduates of Docs In Progress courses. Docs In Progress teaches aspiring documentary producers and enthusiasts how to make documentaries the right way, offering a wide variety of courses related to documentary and general film production throughout the year.

Word Wizards CEO with the DOcs In Progress Team

Docs Are King

Docs In Progress is located in downtown Silver Spring, right around the corner from Word Wizards HQ. Word Wizards first connected with DIP through our efforts supporting TIVA-DC, and we have since become a proud sponsor of DIP as well. Docs In Progress invited us last night to meet some of their brightest graduates and to present our new service CloudScript to an audience of accomplished and aspiring producers.

Now Presenting: CloudScript – Time Code Media Player

The presentation was very well received, and I was happy to get some great feedback about our new service. CloudScript is really a powerful tool for documentary production. Not only does it provide a simple and functional asset management system, but it is priced in a way that everyone can afford it, which is critical in these days of super tight budgets and economic uncertainty.

Ben Presenting CloudScript at Docs In Progress

Watch the presentation video below to see CloudScript in action at Docs in Progress! * Note change the player settings to HD for a better viewing experience.




Final Cut X vs. Adobe Premier: What is the future?

Here at Word Wizards, some of us are passionately involved in a silent love affair with Apple products and software. The mac users among us have grown to rely on the unparalleled speed and incorruptibility of Apple based desktops and cinematic size monitors. I personally prefer to do my work on my MacBook Pro, which is synced and linked to all of my professional agendas, activities, contacts and projects. For streamlined, cross-platform integration, Apple is clearly the champ for pros and average Joes alike.

Apple has a unique way of providing software products that are easy to use for the novice and yet loaded with powerful tools for the professional user. Here at Word Wizards, we have been utilizing the advanced features of the Final Cut Pro video editing software for a long time. Using the previous version, Final Cut Pro 7, we even pioneered a completely new service for our customers called Video Logging Interactive (VLI). Using our proprietary VLI method, we log b-roll, add metadata, and sync our transcripts to the video; then we create a compressed QuickTime file of the media, which can be easily shared between members of the production team for instant access, anywhere, anytime. We once relied on Final Cut Pro 7 for this and other professional services, but then came Final Cut Pro X

The software engineers at Apple made a game changing decision when they developed the new version of Final Cut Pro that was released earlier this year. We here hold no criticism of the choice they made. However, it has impacted a significant number of small and large video production firms who were looking to FCP X as the future. The choice was to aim the new version of FCP to be more consumer oriented, abandoning some key features like Final Cut Server, and failing to upgrade the supported file types to reflect formats professionals are using (like P2 and proxy files). The bottom line is that the future of Final Cut looks to be more focused on consumers, as reflected by a recent TIVA meeting Word Wizards attended, at which the topic of FCP X for professional use was discussed at length. Our old copy of Final Cut Pro 7 still works like a dream, but soon it will no longer be “supported” by Apple as they gear up FCP X.

So what is a small transcription, logging, design, and 508 compliance company to do in the face of such ground-shaking industry changes?

Enter Adobe Premier! Already, our design team relies heavily on Adobe CS products for creative design projects. We have over 20 years of experience working with Adobe products, from Acrobat to Dreamweaver and beyond. The latest version of Adobe’s masterpiece of software tools, Creative Suite 5.5, does not disappoint. The Software engineers at Adobe are fully aware of the shortcomings of FCP X, so much so that they are offering a 50% discount for a limited time on Adobe Premier for those who switch from FCP. They even have a page dedicated to highlighting the benefits of choosing the newly upgraded Adobe Premier over the downgraded FCP X (Click here to visit that page).

Word Wizards, Inc will continue to provide our industry leading services using our tried and true methods. However, as the world grows and changes to reflect new innovation and technology, so must the business that want to stay relevant look towards the future. The future looks bright with Adobe Premier, and at half the normal price, it doesn’t hurt to gain a whole new set of tools to do our trade.

So who wins the FCP X vs. Adobe Premier 5.5 battle? I guess it depends on your point of view. Here at Word Wizards, Inc. we’re staying ahead of the curve and not taking any chances!