When we were asked to create an incredible video to kick off a conference for 800 clients with a bang, we knew it was time to create an amazing energy packed piece to get the room excited. After some creative design and brainstorming, we landed on the concept of having the CEO wield a flame thrower, playing to the theme of the conference, “Ignite”. Without further introduction, enjoy the piece we created for Denver based, internationally backed, Mortgage Cadence –
The crowd received this video with surprise and applause, they knew from the first deep subwoofer hit that this video was going to take them on a journey.. we were told many times after the intro keynote that people loved the video and really loved the way it kicked off the conference.
Truth be told, there was a ton of energy that went into the production on the planning side as well. Determining a way to safely create a big fire effect was a journey of paperwork, logistics, and placing elements together. We are so grateful to
Needless to say, we were proud of the production, we always strive to create immense value for our clients.
We could not have pulled this shoot together without the wonderful efforts of Dean from the fire department, Sarah with Mortgage Cadence, Hannah Drake, Nathan Rich, Adam Bradley, Frank Lopez, and of course the star CEO Trevor. Enjoy some fantastic behind the scenes photos from Frank down below!
We’re excited! After successfully completing our commercial license (aptly named 14 CFR Part 107 by the FAA) we are proud to announce our ability to offer exceptional aerial services to our clients. We’ve been working on aerial productions around Denver and the US for years, but we’ve taken it a step further with insurance and the bringing the FAA certification in house. We can work on anything from commercials, to documentaries, to landscapes, to narrative films!
We’re in the process of putting the aerial production reel together, but in the meantime, check out a few of our pieces from the sky below!
Chasing Horses at Sunset from the sky
Point Dume Aerial
Orbit of our Grip Truck in a remote location
Shots from the sky are a new level of freedom and we love what it can add to a production. When used tactfully, aerials can enhance a story, create excitement, give perspective, or capture movements that were never possible before! For instance in the first video on this page, chasing horses at sunset aerial, we were in an area that would be tough for a helicopter to get to because of terrain, so with the drone video we unlocked the ability to demonstrate the immensity of the location in a way we had never been able to capture from the ground. The perspective achieved by continuing to pull back from the horses as they get smaller and smaller in frame while revealing more and more landscape is just fantastic. This is what aerial production is about for us… can we take something to the next level for your production.
Contact us today if you’re looking for Denver based aerial video production, we’d be thrilled to talk to you!
When a funny idea strikes, and a team of great people come together… effective TV commercials are produced! In this case, we had the opportunity to work with Mile High Flea Market We had a great time working with Honest Films on the creation of two witty and intelligent novelty items, a nutcracker and buddha figure.
It was a cold winter morning at the flea market before the doors opened, but we had the objective to make a fun, bright and cheery feel. With a large outdoor location and scattered clouds above, evening out light was going to be huge in creating a consistent look and feel across shifting ambient light. Right away, we decided on an overhead silk and a few HMI’s on standby to control our shifting ambient light levels.
We had a great time with it, and the pieces turned out great! They’re running constantly on Denver channels, be sure to watch out for them!
Red Epic at the table on the set
Wide shot of the set
The infamous Jerry Voigt rigging the Red Epic to a carousel, safely!
Nate, the Director, hamming it with our “grip cart” of the day on site
We had a blast producing this spot for the Durango Colorado based Skyhawks for Fort Lewis College. The Skyhawks basketball teams have been doing very well this year and it was time to highlight their talent in a powerful way.
Vision for the video
They were looking to create something for both mens and women’s basketball teams that incorporated game excitement along with a lot of energy. We chose to land on a day just before the semester started on campus so we could have a long block of uninterrupted hours in the Skyhawks’ main basketball facility. With complete control of the massive gym, we took out the main overheads (having to track down the security light breaker) and got to work creating a low key high contrast look that would enhance the drama and add a visceral component to the aesthetics. We also brought in our fog machine to give some dimension through backlights to the otherwise darkened space.
Working with the teams was a real treat, they were receptive to direction and were very willing to run the same plays countless times. We were quick and agile, but we still needed 3 or 4 runs of each play to capture the perfect motion.
Something this commercial called for was something I would call flowing kinetic cinematography, meaning the shots needed to possess an intrinsic energy that would flow between edits. This was accomplished through both preproduction, anticipating what types of motion transition would keep the energy, as well as during production when adjusting the plan to each individual talent, and then finally working through post production, marrying the right segments together. All with the purpose of flowing energy. The client loved the video, and it will air, alongside another spot we created for the college, on ESPN the second week of February 2017! Check out a few of the behind the scenes shots below. We’d love to hear what you thought about it, let us know in the comments!
Philmmaking… Phone Filmmaking is making big jumps in progress lately. Log profiles have long (or at least for the past 4-5 years) been a discussion in the digital video community. Every professional cinema camera offers their own version of Log, from Red’s RedLogFilm, to Arri’s Log C, to Canon’s Clog and the list goes on. But the iPhone, seen as the ubiquitous consumer camera device, is now getting the log profile. This, alongside Apple’s continuous pursuit to make an exceptional quality camera for their phones and a group of iOS developers pushing the limits of new processors, has become a very interesting cocktail of technology that it would be wise to pay attention to.
Enter…. the LOG profile with Filmic Pro Grey
After spending a month or so with Filmic Pro‘s new Grey beta, I say whole-heartedly that I’m impressed. I’ve used the iPhone in productions as a C or D camera in a pinch, and it works fairly well depending on what you’re filming, but it always has that iPhone look. The photos are easily manipulated, but the low bitrate video has always been locked into a certain contrast, or a few heavy filters that never felt professional. The log profile from Filmic Grey Beta on the other hand is superb. I don’t know what they’ll ultimately call it… iLog? PhoneLog? Whatever the name, this is big for flexibility on grades, and potential for pro tonality out of a device you always have with you.
I’m Filmic Pro Grey on an iPhone 6 plus, so I’m not seeing the full benefit of 4k, low light or the new iPhone tech, but even on my phone it’s impressive. There are definitely situations where LOG works best, primarily brightly lit and sunny, low light is pretty tough on my phone because the flat profile exposes the noise that the phone hardware traditionally works hard to hide in the shadows. But even in these situations, with a proper grade, the footage can turn out well.
Why Log on a phone
Because you can do more!!! Control, control, control. Below are a selection of different environments comparing the standard iPhone video look to the new log look. Notice tonality and shadows. The log images are pre-grade, so in some cases less appealing, but continue reading after this section to see how LUTS and grading can make the shots look like no iPhone footage before –
LOG format itself is helpful on the iPhone because more information is moved into the shadows, we see a ton of information gain in the shadows, ultimately allowing a lower midpoint of exposure and therefore creating more headroom in the highlights. It also creates a more filmic tonality, where skin tones and midtones are more smoothly represented in the LOG image (which can be destroyed in grading, or preserved!)
Stepping back for a moment, I think it’s important to specify why this is a big deal. While I’m not going to trade my Red in for the iPhone 7 plus, I am beginning to look at the iPhone as a legitimate professional tool. The phone is always with you, and that can be perfect for a left field logistic in which you need to capture that “one angle” you didn’t have a camera for. In conjunction with that, phones are going to get a lot better imagery. Considering how much money is in just the smartphone space, companies will continue to pour R&D money into anything they can to push people to use their technology. A lot of photo technologies are on the roadmap already, things like Lytro technology, better low light, better optical zooms… soon these will be status quo.
Another angle is that the multitude of iOS developers out there want to capitalize on every new feature they can to sell their apps, video and photo included. Today there are a great host of iPhone apps already ready to go, and I can only imagine what new features will be unlocked as phone processors get more powerful and cameras get better.
Using LUTS on iLog.. or Phone Log…
The really fun part of LOG is the flexibility to grade… and of course use LUTS. If you aren’t familiar with LUTS, there’s a lot to know about them, but suffice to say their like adding a Instagram filter to your media. With a LOG profile, the image is much much more moldable than a standard linear look, like the iPhone video has defaulted to up until now. Side note, the new Luma Fusion app developers are working on implementing LUTS in an update to their excellent iOS editing app. Below is a look at a few of the excellent Impulz luts Ultimate package by Color Grading Central applied to the log phone profile.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Let us know in the comments!
I’m a skeptic when it comes to using mobile devices for anything professional. Having used the Adobe creative products for years, my standard for using professional software is very high and continues to get higher as post software continues to evolve. So when I was contacted about checking out a new iPad video editing app calling itself a solution for professionals, I was skeptical. After using iMovie on the iPad and iPhone, I knew editing anything more than a family weekend vacation video wasn’t going to look or feel pro. The detail tools to make small and important adjustments were missing and the flow of editing just always feels… clunky.
Enter Luma Fusion. For the first time, literally, I’m excited about editing on the iPad. Why? 5 big reasons this is a major step forward in video editing on iOS below –
Input and Output of Video
Just getting footage into an iPad seems like a challenge with a general lack of normal computer inputs. The great bonus for Luma Fusion is their compatibility with services like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive One Drive, and of course the default iOS photos app. I’m a big Dropbox user, so as soon as I connected Luma Fusion, I was able to access my media quickly and easily. You simply import a file, it downloads it locally to the iPad, and you’re off! Love that flow. Feels similar to ingesting media to a standard NLE.
Getting footage out of the iPad, or more commonly exporting, is also limited in most iOS applications. I love the audio and video bitrate selection, as well as frame rate and destination selection. Feels much more flexible creating a much more valuable tool.
Fast and Reliable
I did the app testing on an iPad Air v1 (not pro!), which isn’t by any means fast as far as tablets are concerned in 2016. I had my doubts about how the performance would work with multitrack and effects… after all 3 years in technology is an eternity! (*cough* Mac Pro). Luma Fusion blew me away with performance. I was editing 1920×1080 files with no problem, adding layers, adding effects from their selection that are processing intensive… all in real-time. The developers mentioned that if you have newer hardware, like the 12.9″ iPad Pro or iPhone 7, you’ll be able to edit in 4k.
I also never had one issue with the app crashing or slowing down. It’s great to have the original Pinnacle Studios team working on an app because they understand app development, and that’s clearly playing here.
Other editing apps have pseudo second track functions, but Luma Fusion offers 3 true video and audio tracks. This makes me feel at home in their editing interface and allows for a much more professional flexibility at the tap of a finger. Shifting audio and video tracks around, zooming in and out with ease and seeing the timeline, it all feels right.
Titles, Transitions, The Little Things
There’s a whole host of professional transitions for most situations. I also love the title app, it’s as flexible as Adobe’s Titling system in Premiere Pro. You can import images, and it supports transparency, which is awesome if you need to add a logo or speciality image on your footage. I added my logo with ease and was able to modify and move it around with ease!
color effect editing on ipad
I also love the screenshot function, an easy tool to send out reference images. Just one tap and you’ve got a quality still of your sequence in the photos app!
Undo and Redo buttons are on the right hand side and beautiful. These functions make trying things a breeze, really like these buttons.
Excellent Features Ahead
Aside from the excellent functionality the app already offers, the developers are looking ahead at how to really turn your iPad into an editing suite. They’ve got wonderful features planned such as:
Bluetooth keyboard support (for shortcuts)
Export to NLE
Metatagging 360 video
Advanced Color Correction
Curve Keyframe Editing
There’s a lot of features I didn’t get into, but go check out Luma Fusion on iTunes. This is pro editing on the iPad as it should be! Oh, and did I mention the app is only 121 mb? Vs iMovie’s not so tiny 697 mb!
Stay tuned for more updates and new blogs! Subscribe to our newsletter and social channels to stay up to date!!
How many apps are there for iPhone now? We’ve lost count. But there are some absolutely great iPhone Filmmaking apps and we wanted to round up the best of them! These are all must have apps for different reasons, spanning a spectrum of high quality video recorder to scouting to preproduction. Check out the list below and let us know if there are apps you can’t go without in the comments!
This excellent tool allows you to increase the bit rate, change the resolution, have a realtime histogram, easily lock exposure and focus, shoot time-lapse, slowmo, and much more. It is a true swiss army knife of video features and we dig this app. As a back pocket option (or maybe soon as a primary option?) this is the app to have to record high quality video on your iPhone! Richard Lackey (@RichLackey) has a great post about how to use this app to its fullest extent!
It’s been out for quite some time, but Artemis is our go to director’s viewfinder app. We love the fact that you can choose your camera, which adjusts your cameras crop factor, and choose your kit of lenses, providing a digital preview of your camera and lens. Perfect. On site we’ve compared the actual shot to the Artemis preview and it is darn close.
In a jam, having a light meter on your iPhone is a great option. CineMeter II is the best we’ve found, providing a real time histogram with YRGB and also a neat false color option and it can be calibrated specifically to your phone. They also offer CineMeter I, which offers a few less features but costs less at $4.99. The author of the app recommends using the Luxi light meter attachment for iPhone if you really want to get great light readings.
Anytime you’re outside, you have to consider your primary light source, the sun. Sun scout is a simple but highly accurate tool to measure the trail of the sun and provides a lot of needed information so you can scout locations with confidence!
A free, excellent digital slate. It offers the ability to show TOD timecode as well as title slots for everything you could want. Additionally we love that you can use the volume button to “clap” the slate. We’ve used it a few times when the real clapper was MIA.
Always on our list, Shot Lister is an incredible tool that continues to grow in abilities and functionality. If you need to organize your shots and schedule your day, this is our go to app. You can break down scenes by shot and then schedule each shot. You can sync that project with multiple crew (using their paid crew sync functionality) and they now even offer an Apple watch app! It keeps you on time and on point.
Price: $13.99, with a pro option at $13.99 Check it out at Shotlister.com
Shot Designer for iPhone
Shot designer has a lot of depth for creating overheads quickly and helping plan your scenes. We use it all the time to communicate light and set placement. It has functionality for layers and various scenes, and even an animation tool to demonstrate movement in the scene!
That’s our list! While not conclusive (there are many excellent specialty apps like GoPro Capture or FoolColor for Red, or DJI Go for their drones) we do feel like with these you can cover some tremendous ground as a filmmaker. If you have other apps you love to use on your iPhone, please detail them below in the comments! We always appreciate your feedback!
My Radar. Weather is so key for any outdoor shoot, we love MyRadar because of the quick reliable map overlay that shows weather movement. The view of wind movement is a huge benefit. We’ve used it many times it to see where weather is heading to help plan our day!
Metrics around the internet cite various adoption rates of video content being used in B2B and B2C situations, but suffice to say that everyone it agrees it has been on the meteoric rise for quite some time, and continuing to increase in adoption rate. With most marketing teams using video, it results in a lot of noise and competition. We’ve found that there are some key areas to focus on that will help your video stand out and accomplish your goals.
Set Goals. Keep them.
The first step, though it seems obvious, is to clearly set goals for the project. We like to think of the word trajectory. Not only charting the destination, but understanding the path needed to hit that target. A goal for your project can be specific like increasing awareness of a new product, driving sales for a particular event, or informing your customers of new functionalities. It can also be less tangible, like increasing brand quality perception or heightening awareness. Whatever the goal, it’s important to set it clearly at the beginning to guide and shape the project appropriately.
Video Process, not just end result is Big
Secondly, to that end, it’s important to consider the whole process of creating the video, not just the project itself. The planning phase is critical to crafting something exceptional, and within that phase there can be a whole gamut of opportunities. In some meetings we’ve had, clients have had “a-ha” moments on their own strategy simply by talking through multiple approaches for direction. Through this process we can affirm the goal and begin to put legs on the plan. This process is equally important to the video project overall.
Exact your Vision
Next, or rather concurrently, vision execution. Don’t let up for a moment on dreaming. Some of our greatest moments are a result of many hours of just pondering the project. Sometimes concepts can be developed that may match a later series or successive video. We suggest a few directions when dreaming:
Visualize instead of verbalize. Video is primarily a visual medium, what kind of concepts can you “show instead of tell”?
Write it down. Whether it’s related or not, keeping a catalog of ideas is not only a better way to remember them, but an excellent resource when consulting your team on overall direction
Play it out. Go through the work of putting the whole project down together on paper. We’ve done this through storyboards, outlines, scripts, or even making a low quality concept video. This can help identify gaps or transitions that need work, and is a largely popular technique in Hollywood filmmaking
What if. Two huge words that can change the trajectory of the creativity of your project. Instead of presenting the idea sitting straight in front of the camera, what if your concept was fleshed out in a mock-real world concept? What if your project could be shot in slow-motion and in reverse to convey an idea? What if we had sparks falling from the sky onto your killer truck product? This is a great tool that we use all the time.
What if there were sparks falling from the sky?
What if we filmed this scene at sunrise instead of daytime?
Nail the Technical
No matter how basic or complex, absolutely own the technical process. Style can be an added bonus to a video, but it should absolutely never stand in the way or take away from the message. Professional well mixed audio, well exposed sharp high quality images, well timed editing, fitting music, these are all things that people expect.
We refer to crafting a project as a process for a reason. There are turns, tricks, and obstacles in almost every project. Sometimes these can lead to really great creative limitations that help the project along, other times it takes energy to rethink what could have been a vital component. But in both cases, be absolutely open and think through obstacles with a successful attitude. The unexpected often comes up, so expect it, flex and adapt.
These are some core concepts we believe creating compelling video content comes from. What do you think? What have you experienced that helps you create strong content?
It’s something that every business should strive to do regardless of industry. In the video world, it’s easy to get caught up with technology and logistics and all of the minutia before considering the ultimate value that the overall project can create for a client. Unfortunately that seems to be the status quo of production, the norm, because video production is not truly as simple as it seems and there are plenty of real obstacles preventing any team from making a perfect production. Crafting brilliant content and images along with audio that flows with pace and style and still fits within a marketing plan can, in and of itself, be an all consuming challenge. Over the years we have spent a lot of energy listening and constantly reevaluating our process of how we interact with our clients and define success. What we’ve found is the ability to quickly understand what clients will see as the greatest value to them, both from what they tell us and also from our large repertoire of experiences.
There’s no one-size-fits-all production model.
…but rather a highly customizable and adaptable process that can stretch and expand or shrink and contract depending on what our client has in mind. In one instance, we worked on a series of videos that was central to a email marketing campaign, and it generated an international lead that ultimately became big business. That resulted from many conversations and careful planning, knowing what kind of content we were going to create and who it was going to reach. The delivery of how the future prospects were going to receive the content was also a vital piece to the planning process. All of these things need to be considered for a successful project that is valuable to a client, and it something at James Drake Films we pride ourselves on because we have been blessed with a long history of successes.
In another case, we were working with a new start up company on a branding anthem piece that would open the door to pitch high level executives for their potential client, an internationally recognized company. The goals of this project were to quickly educate their potential client on a base level of technical information, but also show the value of their concept in a highly compelling way to top executives (meaning ROI, placement and sales) in just five minutes. We were able to design and achieve an incredible video that opened the door for them at a high level to launch their products into 14 locations very quickly, as a proof of concept, and then an option to go national. All of which was a direct result of the planning and execution of our video reaching the right people at the right time time.
The business angle of our work
…is inseparable from the video production side. We tell people all the time that the video is going to look great, we have a formula to make things look awesome in every circumstance. But the real trick is making that video come to life and achieve your business goals. We can help you, and we want nothing less than to exceed your expectations. Let’s chat today about how you can leverage video to it’s fullest potential!
We are always privileged to go on location for our clients. We’ve been able to see incredible things near and far, which is why we decided to make our primary office a Sprinter production van. It’s got everything you need for production – Cameras, Lights, Support, Audio, mobile Post Editing station… in other words we can show up anywhere and rock a cinematic high quality production. We love that, and it’s been working out great!
We recently were shooting on a farm in Kansas for one of the largest corn growers in the country and had a brilliant time filming heavy duty farm equipment gobble up the fields at harvest.
We’ll post more about this shoot later and show you the fantastic video we’re putting together. While on the shoot, we decided to grab a quick video of our van on location, in the middle of the fields, looking to capture the essence of our tag “Production Anywhere”. Check out the video below!
We had a little fun with the video and slapped on some quick motion graphics and sound design for effect. Let us know what you think of the video in the comments below!
As our world continues to become more mobile, we’re vigilant to stay on top of the needs of our clients and what works best for them. We believe our mobility and agility is a gigantic value as a production company and we won’t stop looking for ways to make amazing each and every time.
The Denver Dream Center is an incredible organization that nimbly serves a large number of people in many ways. They have programs like Adopt-a-Block where they’ll bring volunteers, resources, and joy straight into needy neighborhoods to bless and uplift the communities. Another great program they have is called Thrive, that works with men coming back into society after being incarcerated and giving them a great second chance. Our heart is to serve these guys as they bless hundreds and thousands of people in need right here in Colorado. When we have the chance to help them with a video, the answer is YES!! Bryan asked us to create a piece that would illustrate their work at their annual Gala event. The even sold out a few days early, so the video played for a packed house at the Mile High Station. Check it out –
Nonprofit videos like these always inspire us to keep serving and working hard to tell the incredible stories of everyday heroes championing worthy causes in our city. We’ve been privileged to work with the Denver Dream Center for many years and we’re looking forward to many more!
image courtesy of Dave Dugdale at learningvideo.com
Light tests… they’re part of the life of a filmmaker. We wanted to test different types of lights we have on our grip truck, and few that Dave Dugdale at learningvideo.com owns, to observe the nature of each light. There were an incredible number of directions we could take this light test, but I wanted to really try and come away with a practical look at what each light brings to the table unmodified. For the most part. Two of the lights had soft boxes as modifiers, the LED 150 and the HMI 400. The LED 150 is designed to always be used with the softbox, so we kept it, and the HMI 400 PAR featured a small chimera softbox because the talent would be blinded by the output of the bare (and harsh) light output.
Here’s a walkthrough video where I provide some thoughts about the findings we found. You can also scroll down bellow to the images and see for yourself what you prefer, the video adds some additional thoughts looking through the shots.
Special thanks to the many guys that came together to make this happen: Dave Dugdale, Blayne Chastain, Peter Wigand, Allan McLain, Johnathan Nicolas, and Samuel Johnson. Another huge special thanks to an excellent studio space in Denver, skytheory.com
Shot on the Red Epic at 5K HD resolution with a Rokinon 50mm cine DS lens, on a Miller 55 Arrow tripod, if you care about that… at varying apertures, noted below on each frame (this will provide a point of reference for light output, which while not the primary take away, is still a valid piece of information). We kept the color temperature locked at 5600k.
We compared X lights: Kino Diva 400, Kino 4 foot 4 bank, ILED C700S, ILED 150-56 softbox, Tungsten 650w Fresnel, and a Kobold HMI 400w PAR. Each light was placed in two positions – exactly 84 inches from the subject, measured from the light face, and half the distance at 42 inches from the subject.
Figuring out the test
The tricky part of this test was the number of variables we had to clamp down on. Light output, light color temperature, light distance, size of light, position of light, light height to subject, and so on and so on. Even before we rolled the first test, we debated back and forth about how best to come away with something of value from these tests. Indeed, the lights are all different beasts, we’re comparing apples and lions here, a lot of these lights aren’t in the same metaphorical food group. Nonetheless, the lights are on our grip truck, and they were asking to be tested together. And so we pressed on.
Frame grabs from the lights
Scroll down below for a few more thoughts on the tests…
Aside from color temperature and light output, I find if fascinating to evaluate the “nature” of the light, or the way the shadows fall of and how specular the light feels on the subject. There’s some pretty substantial differences in how the lights work their magic. A lot of it has to do with physics, the age old equation of increasing the size of your source directly softening the shadows. So a larger source like the 4 bank is going to offer more wrap and a general push in part because the light is 4 feet wide, versus say the 20.5″ wide C700 LED light. Set at the same angle, both lights offer different characteristics.
A note on hard lights
On the other end of the spectrum, looking at the fresnel, the hard cut of shadows lends itself to a distinct and controllable look (this would be a similar effect small lights like the dedos offer). The beauty of the fresnel is the tremendous level of control you can have on the beam width of your light. In certain situations this is everything. We did a shoot a while back with a 5 piece ensemble that needed to be lit in a room that was only 12-14 feet deep. The director wanted a high contrast look with pools of lights creating the feeling of an Irish-style tavern, but with limited space and a lot of subjects (all of them playing sizable instruments) we had to reign in the light in the room and clamp down on every single fixture. We pulled off a great look with about 10 fresnel lights of various sizes, and it had a really nice feel that any more general light wouldn’t have been able to achieve. I just feel the need to add in my short note on hard lights because so many shoots I’m on these days are looking for bigger softer sources (also related to the decreasing time we have to light, but that’s for another blog post). Which is great, and I’m happy to go with that all day long. But I greatly appreciate the tact and experience it takes to master the hard lights.
Would love to hear your thoughts on how we approached the test, what you’d do different, and what you’d like to see next! If this is well received I imagine we may be back to expand the series into a variety of new directions!