Parkland Fuel Corporation :: Access

We recently completed a web commercial for our friends at Parkland Fuel Corporation. It is always a treat working with the wonderful people at Parkland. This commercial is intended to introduce their newly launched online customer account access site, where customers can manage their accounts online, whenever or wherever they choose. This project is entirely comprised of motion graphics, and stock footage from our friends over at Dissolve.

Eye Contact with your Audience :: It can be Simple & Effective

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Looking into a camera naturally is a difficult thing to do. Looking into a lens and articulating a message and maintaining the eye line with the viewer on the other end of the communication is virtually impossible for most people. I came across a product some time ago after watching the PBS Documentary Series, ‘America in Primetime‘. To say I was enthralled with the aesthetic and impact of the series would be an understatement. Not only was I a fan of the background used and the lighting, I was also taken with how well the interviewees made eye contact with me, the viewer; and did what Steve McWilliams calls, punctuating with the eyes, where the subject returns eye contact at key moments of delivering their message, something people do in everyday life when having conversations with each other and aren’t generally aware of.

So what does this preamble mean? Well, I found out how that production was able to get the interviewees to looking directly through the lens and into the eyes of the viewer and it’s deceptively simple. We recently used a device called the Eyedirect, invented, made and sold by Steve McWilliams down in Texas. This thing is basically a teleprompter that puts the interviewer’s face in front of the lens, similar to how a teleprompter works, all live, in real time so your subject has someone to look at; just like having a real face to face conversation. And let me tell you after using it with dozens subjects, people whose primary job function is not being in front of a camera, the results are amazing.

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It is a very natural and instinctive way to conduct interviews and get an emotional or personal connection across to the viewer. For communications such as investor relations, health and safety or any number of other uses where the executive is seeking to make a connection with the viewer in the process of articulating the message, my opinion is that this tool is invaluable when considering the result. We have done dozens of shoots now and all subjects were able to sit down and immediately make eye contact and maintain it!

Recently we used it on the Western Hockey League :: Raise Your Play project.

We also used it on: Influencer | Ivey Alumni Leadership Award

We originally brought this device into our studio’s kit bag in 2013, after more than two years of use for video productions in Calgary, Edmonton and elsewhere in Alberta; I can say without hesitation this is one of the best decisions regarding kit that I have ever made. For business and corporate communications in our home market of Calgary, this device has been helping executives deliver important video messages to business audiences for more than two years now with excellent results.

The Western Hockey League :: Raise Your Play

We were approached by our friends at the Western Hockey League to produce a new recruitment video for the league. The WHL is one of the premiere providers of NHL talent in the world and showcases some of the best junior hockey anywhere. This project took almost 18 months to complete, spanning approximately a season and a half. Logistically it was difficult to get access to WHL Alumni who are now playing in the NHL as well as the current roster of players in the Western Hockey League. Everyone involved has incredibly busy schedules so we had to move rapidly once we had confirmation of a player being in Calgary and that they were available to shoot an interview.

Interviews were shot primarily in Calgary, but also in Red Deer, Edmonton and Seattle.
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I’ll post some more about this project soon, the workflow and final product on this is closely related to my previous post about what is good enough. When you might only have five minutes with an interview subject there isn’t time to adjust lighting, tweak the background or make lots of changes to camera settings. When hard time constraints are placed on the interview shoot there simply isn’t time for anything other than getting the shot. But I believe we came up with some innovative ways to raise the production value given those challenges…. Stay tuned.

Is ‘Good Enough’ Acceptable in Creative Video Work?

Good Enough… isn’t necessarily a cop out… everyone does ‘good enough’ whether to meet deadlines or to meet budgetary limitations. That doesn’t mean that something was sacrificed, it simply means that we reach an acceptable level of quality for ourselves and for the project. Whether we admit it or not, when we work on something creative we reach a point where we are satisfied, and that is good enough. If we were more perfectionist, or anal or whatever the noun or adjective may be, we’d continue tweaking and toiling away forever, which for paid work is never possible. Good enough is entirely subjective but it is always there regardless.

So when it comes to new technology and new camera’s and new codecs and all that noise, there will always be those who will argue for a camera or standard that is of higher quality but really if we are all realistic about it, there most certainly is a good enough for everything. Today we are in a place where a sub-thousand dollar camera can produce not only good enough results for a lot of corporate and commercial work but it honestly exceeds good enough, often by a broad margin.

There is nothing wrong with good enough when it comes to creative work. For a person starting out and learning, there will certainly be a lot of good enough moments and later, with the benefit of hindsight there may be some consternation about whether the good enough at that time was indeed… good enough. I once asked a very successful and extremely well respected businessman how he ever became comfortable with making a decision, especially when those decisions tended to have jobs or the welfare of others on the line. His response was, to paraphrase “do the best you can with the information available in the time you have” that notion applies to so many things we do in life and in business. Does it mean that we fail over and over again and fail to deliver value? Not in my opinion.

The reality is that good enough, means doing everything you can in the time available. With the budget available and the equipment you have and the application of the knowledge you have at the time and, there will be a good enough. Your perception of how good it was later is entirely subjective, and our own assessment of our work tends to be negatively biased anyhow.

I think that if you learn from every project that was completed where good enough was applied. Then it’s more than good enough, it was a learning opportunity, and you moved on to be better on the next project. If we don’t learn from our experiences, then perhaps indeed good enough, is not good enough.

It drives me nuts to read some of the self aggrandized drivel, so laced with envy and hate on most industry news sites, blogs, and on the comments section of videos posted by people in our connected world that it engenders equal amounts of anger and sadness in me because it stifles creativity and ambition. Once we become comfortable with the discomfort of ‘good enough’ and keep learning, growing and becoming better. None of that noise matters, we can focus on reaching the goals we have for ourselves.

I’ll provide some examples of what I consider to be good enough in a future post to provide some context for my perspective.