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Tip #1050: 7 Tips to Spice Up a Demo Reel

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Demo reels need to evolve with your career. Here’s how to keep them fresh.

(Image courtesy of MotionArray.com)

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in MotionArray.com. This is a summary.

Chances are, most people reading this will have some experience in throwing together a demo reel. But as your body of work continues to evolve, so too should the 90-second video compilation you use to represent it.

Here are seven tips to add impact to your demo:

  1. Cut the Fat
  2. Brevity is Key
  3. Play Up Your Niche
  4. Don’t Be Afraid To Show Your Process
  5. Reconsider Your Music
  6. Chase Those Views!
  7. Get a Second Opinion

EXTRA CREDIT

This article has more details and lots of links. And, for additional help, check out these tips which cover the basics of creating a demo reel.


Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

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Tip #1026: Creating Video in Lockdown

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Four webinars presenting how to create video during a pandemic.

Image courtesy of IPV.com.

Topic $TipTopic

The team at IPV, which makes media asset management software, just published four free webinars on “Creating Video Remotely in Lockdown.”

Featuring conversations with Sky, Sesame Workshop, Warner Media and Biola University, these discussions focus on how each company navigated lockdown to create “amazing content under extraordinary conditions.”

  • Sky. How one of the largest broadcasters in Europe kept on creating through the pandemic
  • Sesame Street. How one of the world’s most beloved brands continued to create content through Covid
  • Warner Media. How WarnerMedia became one of the world’s largest remote video production teams.
  • Biola University. How Lockdown affected video production workflows in Higher Education

Here’s the link.


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Tip #1027: Writing Tag Lines that Work

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Tag lines sell your films to audiences.

Minions tag line: “Uh oh.” (Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.)

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Darrin Bradley, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

A tagline is a short phrase marketers use to sell a product experience to a customer. They’re usually pithy or clever, often employing puns or other turns of phrase that can grab your attention and get you to start asking questions, like “What’s this . . . ?”

Some of the most famous include Nike’s short-and-sweet “Just do it” or Apple’s “Think different.” They condense the entire consumer experience with these two brands into a grand total of five words. It’s marketing witchcraft, and it works.

In this post, we differentiated the logline from the tagline — the two often get confused, but they’re doing very different jobs. The load-bearing logline works in isolation, usually according to a formula, to quickly summarize your script for potential producers. It’s the elevator pitch that identifies exactly what your movie is about and why it will be interesting — if done correctly.

The tagline, on the other hand, is one element of an overall marketing strategy to attract viewers for your movie. Loglines sell your film to producers; taglines sell it to audiences. They often capture one-liners from trailers in a joint effort to keep your movie front-and-center in a viewer’s mind. You’ll also see them on promotional posters, and they can appear in programming guides for film festivals. Now that marketing a movie is largely a digital affair, the tagline has taken on new roles, appearing as a social media post, as ad copy, or as a headline on a promotional website.

There’s no magic answer for how to write a tagline that accomplishes everything you want it to, but you can position yourself for success by following a couple of tips. First, write a lot of them. Bad ideas can yield good ones, so don’t be afraid to record every stupid thing that comes to mind until you nail it. Second, bring other brains into the process. You may have only your director’s or cinematographer’s view of the movie. Bring in other members from the crew — bring in outsiders you trust. Develop a hive-mind, and don’t be precious about your ideas. You never know who’s going to come up with the winner.

The article continues with examples and analysis from ten different popular films.


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Tip #1028: 4 Tips to Better Natural Lighting

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Natural lighting does not mean “hands-off.” It just means “unplugged.”

(Image courtesy of pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in MotionArray.com. This is a summary.

The capabilities of digital cameras today make this style of shooting easier than ever because of their high sensitivity. ISO 800 has become a standard rating for most cinema cameras, and some are pushing even further, like the Panasonic Varicam which has dual native ISO’s of 800 and 5000. At 5000 ISO, you can likely get a proper exposure with simple street lamps.

But just because you can get a proper exposure doesn’t make it good lighting. Here are some things to keep in mind as you set up for your next scene using the sun as your primary light source.

  1. Maximize the Natural Light with Tools. There are lots of tools that can help you harness or shape the light you have. Bounce boards, reflectors, and diffusion frames can all help soften a source or redirect it.
  2. Location, Location, Location. A DP friend once said that 90% of his job is a good location. An interesting location can make simple, straightforward lighting look amazing, while the most interesting lighting in the world won’t save you from a drab or blasé set. When it comes to natural or available light, you should have three concerns: exposure, depth, and quality.
  3. Time. Available light is ruled by the time of day. If you’re shooting outdoors, midday can be very difficult; the light is generally softer and more even in the “golden” hour after sunrise or before sunset. On the other hand, shooting indoors with window light can be a lot better in the middle of the day simply because the light coming through the window will be stronger, giving you a better exposure inside. This all means that shooting with available light is an exercise in patience and scheduling.
  4. Use LED Fixtures. Okay, so this one is a bit of a cheat. But thanks to LED technology, it’s getting easier and easier to sneak relatively bright sources into a scene with just a small LED panel/strip and a battery. Even if you can’t set up a “regular” light, it might be a good idea to rig up a couple of battery-powered LED fixtures and use them to accent your available light.

EXTRA CREDIT

The article, linked above, has more details, examples and links.


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Tip #1006: NewBlue FX: Live-Streaming Software

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

NewBlue Stream is software designed to simplify live streaming with advanced graphics.

(Screen shot courtesy of NewBlueFX.com)

Topic $TipTopic

The folks at NewBlueFX announced a new program specifically designed for live streaming, with graphics integration: NewBlue Stream.

Here’s how NewBlue describes it: “Our philosophy with NewBlue Stream is simple – make it as easy as possible to produce live broadcasts, give you tools to make them engaging and interactive, and do it in one elegant solution that’s priced right. The result is a lightweight streaming and broadcast solution paired with dynamic, data-driven graphics that you won’t find anywhere else.”

NewBlue is a long-time effects developer – especially on Windows – with strong credentials for effects and titles.

“Cast stunning and technically sophisticated live video productions with multiple audio and video inputs, switching, and an unlimited number of programmable, data-driven, 3-D animated graphics, including lower thirds, crawls, motion bugs, transitions, titling, and more.”

The system provides image capture, content creation, and streaming; supporting Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Twitch, and any RTMP end point.

The software supports Windows and Mac. Pricing starts at $13.99 per month and a 14-day free trial is available.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s the link to learn more.


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Tip #1010: BMD: ISO Recording for Live Streams

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

ATEM Mini: Live, 4-camera switching with ISO, for less than $900 (US).

(Image courtesy of BlackmagicDesign.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

Blackmagic Design recently released the ATEM Mini switcher. While designed for live streaming using up to four cameras, there’s a significant hidden feature in the high-end system.

With ATEM Mini, you can switch live between four high-quality video camera inputs, or connect a computer for PowerPoint slides or gaming consoles. The built in DVE allows picture-in-picture effects, as well as a variety of other visual effects.

The USB webcam output of the ATEM Mini connects to any computer and looks just like a built-in webcam so you can use any streaming software while the ATEM Mini Pro model adds live streaming and recording to USB disks.

There are three different models, with the ATEM Mini Pro ISO adding recording of up to 5 separate H.264 video streams in real time! That’s a clean feed of all inputs and plus the live program! A DaVinci Resolve project file is also saved so you can open your live production to adjust edits, change shots, remix audio and add color correction.

Pricing starts at $295 (US).

Here’s the link to learn more.


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Tip #1000: Are Your Skills a Craft – or a Commodity?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The future is coming, whether we like it or not. Today, we need to prepare for it.

(Production image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Simon Wyndham, first appeared in RedSharkNews.com. This is a summary.

In recent months there has been a talk about the types of jobs that are under threat from automation. Whether or not a computer could ever become artistic is one question, but for many of us, the market saturation of video producers has had quite an effect on rates.

Technology has made it simpler to become involved in production. It is virtually impossible to buy a camera now that, with the right use, can’t produce a picture good enough to use for at least basic company videos and promos.

The other side of this coin is that as more people are enabled to create great imagery, the more crowded the marketplace becomes. With all the technical articles and videos available online, lighting diagrams from famous DP’s and the like, the latest breed of filmmakers is more knowledgeable than ever.

Every year there are thousands of students released into the wider world of work, fresh from studying video and film production. They all want a piece of the pie. In days gone by, I could usually pick apart most student productions like a child pulling legs off an insect. Not so much now. And these are the people who are now entering the job market.

This will only get worse. It isn’t a matter of “if” you will be replaced or made surplus to requirement, it is a question of “when.”

Even if the full edit process retained the use of humans for fine-tuning, if the main bulk of an edit can be created in seconds, where does that leave our hourly rates? Would there even be a demand for enough quantities of video from each individual producer to make it worthwhile given the speeds now involved? When we take into account that an AI could respond to requests for video to look like a specific film, or have a specific pace or look, then things do not look very rosy for the future of human editors.

EXTRA CREDIT

The full article, depressing though it is, is worth reading. We each need to spend time planning how to cope with the impact of technology.


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Tip #976: 11 Practical Tips to Film Yourself

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

It doesn’t take a lot of gear, but planning helps.

(Image courtesy of pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Joe Frederick, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

As production equipment has become more accessible, the amount of people looking to regularly film themselves is on the rise. However, there’s a real art to filming yourself successfully. Here are some tips from Jonty Egginton (“The Video Creators”) and Sarah Outen (Filmmaker).

  1. Use the Right Camera
  2. Stabilize the Camera
  3. Get Quality Audio
  4. Control Your Lighting
  5. Film in 4K
  6. Go with Multiple Cameras
  7. Be Creative
  8. Be Natural
  9. Re-Watch Your Previous Videos
  10. Edit Your Videos Yourself
  11. Know How and Where to Distribute Videos

The article has more details and example videos to illustrate these points.


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Tip #983: What Are ND Filters?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

ND filters provide more control over the image by limiting the light hitting the lens.

A variable ND filter from K&F Concept.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Alejandro Medellin, first appeared in Shutterstock.com. This is an excerpt.

ND (neutral-density) filters reduce the amount of light passing through a lens, making it easier to shoot in brightly-lit conditions. These are a lot like a pair of sunglasses in that it blocks out or darkens the image to negate the effects of harsh light.

Optical density on an ND filter measures the f-stop reduction of a particular filter, with higher-level filters blocking more light. Most manufacturers measure optical density by applying a number next to “ND,” such as ND2.

Starting from ND2, which is equivalent to one f-stop reduction and the lowest-level ND filter manufactured, each subsequent ND rating produces one more f-stop reduction. Using an ND2 filter with the aperture set to f/2.8 creates an image that appears as if it was shot with an aperture of f/4. Using an ND4 filter would be equivalent to two f-stop reductions. An ND8 filter would be comparable to three f-stop reductions, and so forth.

As a rule of thumb, each level lets in half as much as light as the one before — e.g., an ND64 filter lets in half as much light as an ND32 filter.

ND filters are useful for capturing images that require long exposure times. When photographing a body of water, for example, setting a long exposure time creates a smoothing effect that makes the water appear serene and glass-like.

Shooting video in broad daylight is challenging. You either have to adjust your aperture or shutter speed to get the shot you want, but that’s not always the best idea. Decreasing the aperture may let in less light, which is perfect when shooting in bright conditions, but it also eliminates the shallow depth of field, bringing everything into focus. If you need shallow depth of field in a shot, changing the aperture isn’t viable. That leaves changing the ISO or shutter speed instead.

You need to know three things before purchasing an ND filter:

  • The difference between fixed and variable ND filters,
  • what’s a combo ND and CPL filter,
  • and ND filter sizing.

The article goes to to describe different filters and has an excellent discussion of shutter speed vs. frame rate. The author also has suggestions on which ND filters to buy, depending upon your budget.

Click the link at the top to learn more.


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Tip #984: Tips to Fix Creative Burnout

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Here are some ideas to help you recharge your creative batteries.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in RitualMusic.com. This is an excerpt.

There are few things more frustrating in an artist’s life than creative burnout. Symptoms include the conviction your career is over because you can’t come up with the perfect opening sequence, or that you’ll never work again if you don’t finish that one song. Truth be told, even the most productive creatives need a break sometimes.

Here are our top tips on how to fix creative burnout.

  • Disconnect from your screen. Unplug. It will help.
  • Take yourself on an artist date.
  • Pep talks. Here are 11 podcasts designed to renew your creative inspiration.
  • Meditate. If your mind is full, give it time to be still.
  • Journal your inner monologue.

The creative process can be one of interminable blank space punctuated by moments of pure inspiration. Harnessing those moments is critical, but learning to ride out and manage the the blank space is perhaps even more critical to maintain creative output.

EXTRA CREDIT

This article has more ideas and links to help you recharge your creative batteries.