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The AVI Top 10 Challenge!

August 2nd, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

Intern: Serena

It’s time for an update on my AFI Top 10 Challenge! See, last week Todd and Jeff at MVP Video Production challenged me to check out 5 of the top 10 movies on the American Film Institute’s Top 100 list. I am a cinema major, after all! :)

Well, thankfully, the Hiwatha Public Library had 3 of the 5 including “Singin in the Rain,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Gone with the Wind.” This weekend I watched the first and last film. I can’t believe what I was missing!

So what did I learn from my experience?

Singin’ in the Rain

A new favorite! This 1952 movie produced by MGM in it’s golden years had everything a great musical should have. Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds dancing was superb! The now-over-60-year-old costumes and sets special effects were still believable! But, above all that, it told a good story. If you’re ever wondering what the transition from the silent film era to the talkies was like, watch this movie.

Favorite Scene: When the producer decided to make the silent film into a talkie, there was a hilarious scene when the director can’t get Lina Lamont to speak into the mic. After watching a short documentary that came with the film, I learned that many actors and actresses lost their job because they couldn’t sing or speak properly, others had to hire diction coaches!

This film is relevant today! Every time technology changes, there is going to have to be transitions. The director in the movie found the talkie to be a nuisance, but the producer knew that if they didn’t change, they would eventually be the only silent studio left. Maybe in a few years we could see this transition in movie theaters with 3-D technology?

Gone With the Wind

At nearly 4-hours-long, I watched this movie in segments. It was so good! Somehow, I thought a four-hour movie made in the 1930′s might be a yawner. But, not Gone With the Wind. The characters were so…alive! Scarlett especially, she was the perfect character to carry the storyline forward. She was unpredictable, passionate, and hot-headed. This movie gave me a picture of what the South may have looked like in the 1860s. There were no dull characters in this film (well, except the Ashley sometimes felt like the cardboard cut-out of a Disney prince!).

My only dislike was the ending. Scarlett had a beautiful life despite the war, and losing family members. But, she always made herself miserable longing for something she couldn’t have.

I experience first-hand that a character doesn’t always have to be likeable to be a good character.

What’s next on my list? Well, “Schindlers List” (with a full box of tissues), “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “The Godfather.”

Stay tuned!


Lights, Camera, and Sound!

August 2nd, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

Intern: Serena

Why, hello there! Today is all about SOUND. I recorded a spec script in the sound booth for one of our ad agencies!

What’s a spec script? A spec script–in a video production company–gives a client a visual or audio reference of what a final product could look like. So, if a client wants a sound recording featuring a woman’s voice, a spec script would have a woman’s voice reading those lines. It’s not the final product, but it gives people a better idea of what a final product could turn into!

Even more fun, I played the part of a flight attendent! This was something I was hoping to do at MVP Video Production (not necessarily play the part of a flight attendent, but to record in the sound studio). It was a dream fulfilled!

I got to thinking, what better topic for an intern vlog? So, Isaac and I set up the camera, monitor, pepper light, and lavalier mic in the sound studio. Next, we wrote down a list of questions to answer…

…in the sound studio

1. What is the puffy foam in the sound studio for?

2. Why are there curtains in the sound studio?

3. Why are the walls painted black?

4. How does sound get from the sound studio to the editing suite?

5. Why record in a sound studio?

…and in the editing suite

1. What is the sound box in the editing suite?

2. How is sound recorded into the computer?

3. How do you control mic levels?

4. What happens if they are too high?

5. What software does MVP Video Production use to edit sound?

6. What are the lines across the screen mean?

Some studios–like MVP Video Production–hire voice talent to use with studio projects like podcast recording, and voice-over for commercials. These actors can manipulate their vocal cords to give a project a unique flare.

In our intern blog, we will feature the many vocal impersonations of MVP Video Production’s own Todd Gutknecht!


AFI’s Top 100

August 1st, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

Intern: Serena

Good morning!

At MVP Video Production on Friday, I joined Kirk and Eric for a shoot in Waverly, Iowa! I’m very glad I chose to go. On this shoot–for Jerry Roling Chevrolet–they brought the jib! A jib (aka jib crane, crane, boom, knuckle-boom crane, articulating crane, etc. etc. etc.) has a camera attachment at the end of a 12 foot pole. By placing weights at the other end, shots with a crane can give the viewer a feeling of being lifted off their feet into the air!

Kirk brought the truck–which his girls endearingly termed the “Tank.” I followed Kirk and Eric in my car. We ran into some strong rain, but thankfully, it didn’t rain when it was time to gather B-roll outside. We even set up the jib outdoors for a cool angle! Not that I don’t mind Singing in the Rain, but the wind died down so none of our equipment was Gone with the Wind, though it was not quite Sunset Blvd.

Why have I become so punny all-of-a-sudden? Well, these are just some of the names of the top 100 films recommended by the American Film Institute! See, at MVP Video Production, I’m surrounded by movie buffs. So when Todd and Jeff found out I hadn’t seen some of the greatest American films of all time, I was given an assignment–and a fun one at that! I’ve been challenged to watch five of the top 10 films that are on AFI’s Top 100. What made the top 10?

9 VERTIGO 1958

Source: http://www.afi.com/100Years/movies10.aspx

I stopped by the Hiawatha Public Library and struck gold with Gone with the Wind, Singin’ in the Rain, and Lawrence of Arabia.

I mentioned that I do not usually choose to watch movies that get me out of my comfort zone. Or movies that I don’t think sound interesting. But, this assignment will really challenge me to see what makes a great story. I am a cinema major, after all. These movies weren’t chosen by random draw. They all do something extremely well. Well enough to make an impression on thousands (maybe millions) of people. And that’s something to look at!

I’ll report my progress here on the intern blog! Until then!

What’s Your Story?

August 1st, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

The storyboard gives Kirk a "visual" picture of what a shot should look like.

Intern: Serena

What’s your story? I went on a film shoot with Kirk and Jeff to get footage of the workers installing Metal Design Systems carefully made steel at Prairie Point.

It was quite the shoot–just think 90+ degree weather surrounded by cement and steel siding!

After taking a look at this picture, I began to think of one thing. Water. The second thing I thought about is how powerful an idea is. Do you ever think that most shots that a cinematographer captures was first an idea in someone’s mind? Maybe it was an organization that had the vision, or maybe it was the camera operator, the director, or the man on the street. But someone had the idea.

Think about the movies. You’re watching the compilation of someone’s (or some ones) idea! One man named Napoleon Hill understood this concept, too. He often said, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

If you can dream it, you can achieve it!

Storyboards help cinematographers “see” the idea that producers and directors and organizations have for film project.

-The End


Lost in Cyberspace

July 27th, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

Intern: Serena

Media is changing…fast. Fifteen years ago, I was scrambling to get the latest album, on cassette tape. Fifteen years ago, I was begging my parents to buy the latest theatrical release…on VHS. Before the i-POD, there was the walk-man. Before the Nook, there was the library. Okay, so we’re not that far removed from the tangible media, yet.

In fact, I clearly remember getting my first cell-phone…at age 16! I loved the simple  Nokia ringtone and the pixelated ‘Snake’ game. Now, I catch myself fuming over my first generation Blackberry because the internet isn’t up-to-date.

The media industry is changing while I’m in college. I’m studying for a cinema and journalism degree, and the print industry is experiencing a dramatic shift with tablets like the Nook, Kindle, i-Pad, and smart phone. It’s a new era.

Just as the beginning of the industrial revolution allowed people to become more specialized, the same change is taking place. Instead of the frontier, we’re now entering cyber-space! Thousands of new websites are popping up every day. People are inventing like never before. It’s both exciting and confusing.

Businesses also have the opportunity to market in ways they could never have dreamed just ten years ago. Before,  the options of marketing were limited to print, radio, and television. Now businesses can choose to set up a QR code on their TV ad or print ad that takes customers to their website, which is connected to their Facebook fan page that also posts their tweets, which has a link to their Flickr site! This tangled web is just made up of new ways of networking with people.  Add to that there’s a company in Europe that is working on a QR type of code (think a ringtone) for radio.

In some ways, this intangible, shapeless trasition to a new media era helps us get back to the basics. Everything starts with an idea. Ideas are not tangible, but they are the building blocks of everything we see. In fact, Brian Solis wrote in his article “Why Brands are Becoming Media” that it’s not enough for a brand to just engage, but to create. He explains that the brand creates a sort of hub, and social objects (i.e. Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Delicious, and FourSquare) are constantly inputting into this social hub.

So, what are some tips for not getting lost in space?

1.) Stick with the basics, the idea. That way, no matter what new terminology may be created to explain the change in online media marketing and branding (i.e. earned, paid or owned media), or whatever new social media sites are launched, remember that is just expanding the idea. No matter how much the field of journalism or media changes, the idea of transferring a message to others to create change is still the same.

2.) Learn to embrace change. By the time I graduate, the industry will look much different. People in my generation will be looking at renewing their skills every four years or else getting rusty on the skills we graduated with.

3.) Change is your friend. Change will always stay the same!

4.) Don’t settle for “okay.” Become a professional. The other day, Kirk was showing us a video project he produced 10 years ago! Get this, the producer was so impressed he commented “Wow, it’s even in stereo sound!” The editing, music and video were professional.

The lesson to be learned is that it’s not what you have, but what you do with the what you have. Just like anyone with a Macbook and Final Cut Pro can edit, and anyone with a blog can be published. Learn to be a professional.


Start of the 7th

July 27th, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

Intern: Serena

It is completely mind boggling to think that this is the start of my seventh week as an intern at MVP Video Production! It’s really been a highlight to my summer…err, my life. I feel like I’ve gained confidence when choosing the equipment for a film shoot. I understand the basic set-up of Final Cut Pro, I know how to work with a green screen, I’ve gotten to sit in and ask questions in production meetings, I have a ton of new terminology (and industry “slang” like knowing what a “stinger” or “jelly-roll,” or “C-47″ is!)

I’ve also gotten experience as a Production Assistant on three film productions (not including the intern vlogs!), and have gotten to sit “behind-the-wheel” in the editing suite. I’ve also gotten to shadow Kirk–who has 20 years of video editing experience–and Eric–who is attending Full-Sail and once decided to spend a summer reading the instruction manuals to Adobe and Final Cut software…just for fun.

Also, I’m not the only intern at MVP Video Production! I’ve gotten to learn a lot from my fellow intern, Isaac, such as what gear to pack for a film shoot, and how to set up the studio!

Getting to see Todd networking with local businesses and leave for sales calls reminds me of the other side of a production company. And Jeff has taught me the things I won’t learn at film school, such as the costs and distribution of a production company, and what role the editors and executive producers play. (One goal I still have is to be the “fly-on-the-wall” in a sales call!). Jeff has also allowed me to update the MVP Video Production social media (aka the Twitter page!), and contribute to the blog!

What are some goals I have before the week is done?

Well, for one, I’d love to shoot another intern vlog…about sound booth and tips and tricks about sound recording! AND, possibly a vlog filmed live during a shoot (or, right after a shoot!)

There’s still time to learn a whole lot. What better place to learn than at the video production company that has just been voted the Best Video Production Company in the corridor by the Corridor Business Journal? :)

Hasta manana!


Green Thumb

July 26th, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

Intern: Serena

So, it’s summertime and I’m definitely getting a green thumb. No, it’s not from gardening. See, at MVP Video Production on Thursday, I got first-hand experience with shooting, acting and editing with the studio green screen! I explain how a green screen works in my latest vlog post, check it out!

In the meantime, I’m learning more and more about how to set up for a video shoot.

1.) When shooting in front of the camera… wear simple patterns or else the fabric you are wearing may appear “live,” meaning the fabric acts like it has a mind of its own, and can appear to move about of its own free will. Solids work best!

2.) Listen to your intuition. In the editing suite I thought “It’s kinda dark. Maybe I should grab the pepper light.” Then, I decided against it. When I began to edit the footage, I noticed the picture was very dark. While some lighting can be corrected in post, it’s always best to fix the problem before shooting. After all, photography is all about light, and filmmaking has everything to do with “moving pictures.”

3.) Use a lavaliere microphone whenever possible. I set up the boon mic right above me…and it picked up every sound in the room, especially the air-conditioner unit.

Today, in the production meeting Kirk mentioned giving a client a “window dub.” “What’s that?” I asked. Jeff and Todd explained that a window dub is a copy of raw footage with a time code on it. When a client is looking for a certain part of the footage, they can identify the shot with the time code. It makes it easier for the editor because a client could say “I really like that shot at 33:06,” instead of “I really like the shot with the tractor.” It also helps with audio too. Instead of writing down word for word what someone has said in a certain scene, with a time code an editor can find the exact place in the script, saving valuable time! :)

It’s my seventh week here at MVP Video Production. That means one more week to go.

My goals are:

  • Learn After Effects
  • Learn to operate and set up the teleprompter
  • Go on a sales call
  • Write two more articles for the blog
  • Create 2 more intern vlogs
  • Assist the production crew with a large outdoor shoot!


What You Won’t Learn At Most Film Schools…

July 25th, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

!ereht iH .ereh anereS ?kniht uoy t’nod ,sdrawkcab secnetnes daer ot drah s’ti semitemoS

What? You say you’re confused? What jibberish am I typing now? It’s not jibberish. It’s just backwards. Why is it backwards? I don’t know, but it’s a lot harder to understand.

But what seems more ironic and backwards is what I’m not learning more of at film school. It’s a simple word, but the idea is more complex. What is it? Business.

There is a creative side of film that I am learning all about, and I love that! To me, film is all about telling a story, whether it is a fiction tale, or a non-fiction biography. But after all the creative brainstorming is complete, and a film goes into post-production, there’s another point in the process. How are people going to see your story? If they don’t see it on their TV screens, how will they see it in the theaters?

In a commercial video production company, there must be a joining of the creative and business aspect. In a commmercial business, a creative mind has to remember that the executive producer (Often the ones who are paying the production costs), an executive producer must think “How much time will this take, what equipment is involved?” When production costs run high, it can eat away at the budget a production company has to work with.

There is also a hierarchy of accountibility in a business or non-profit organization. The executive producer reports to a board of directors. A for-profit organization also reports to the bank. Staying within budget increases the profit of an organization, which in turn allows that organization to be profitable which has many benefits such as gaining a better reputation with a bank when it comes to borrowing.

While, as a creative mind, I want freedom to make a product look excellent and pull out all the stops, I also have to keep in mind how much money a client has to work within, so I don’t exceed their costs, but keep the product looking great.

Even if I do not go into business at college, I think it is still important for all artists to learn some aspect of business, just like a producer knows about the different departments on a film set and how they work together. Creating more business-savvy artists would generate greater understanding on many film productions between the director and producer (and vice-versa).

This is not to say that creative thinkers should limit their thought, but having a basic understanding of how business works, gives everyone a greater peace of mind.

Could it be because most artists resist the business side of art because they feel there is no art in business? Or that people assume that artists can’t consider logical proccesses in a creative way? If that’s the case, it doesn’t make sense because the logical processes of business can be presented creatively. We all are artists, and everyone has the potential to be creative. Even if that’s with numbers. Even writing involves logical processes (like sentence structure), but once I understand the logical process, I can write creatively. Commercial filmmaking is a logical process produced in a creative (and fun!) way. So, maybe it is backwards that film schools don’t teach more business, but then, it’s never to late to go back to the basics. What do you think?

The great thing about MVP Video Production, is that clients will always know up front about the cost of a project. There are no hidden fees when all is said and done. And these guys do all they can to make sure the client is more than pleased with the end result! Talk about taking care of business!



Serena’s Intern Vlog 2 – “What is green screening?”

July 25th, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

Intern: Serena

Hi there MVP Video Production blog readers! Check out my latest vlog and you’ll be able to answer the question, “What is green screening?


A Brand New Lesson

July 21st, 2011 | Categories: Intern Blog

Hi reader, it’s your faithful journalist Serena!

It was a half day in the studio today. Okay, more like a half-half, or 1/8 day. Even in that amount of time I learned a brand new lesson, about branding.

I learned that marketing and branding are two different concepts. Branding has to do with a company’s logo, or image. For example, if you drove through a McDonald’s, you don’t have to question those golden arches. You know you’re at the right place. You know what to expect.

Advertising fits into the category of marketing. Having an ad on TV or in City Revealed Magazine is just one form of marketing. There are also concepts such as earned media and paid media. I’ll explain more about it in my next blog post.

Jeff suggested that I contribute to the blog on a weekly basis. It will be fun to get back to my writing roots. The best part? I get to research and write about tech news. (i.e. What are the hottest trends in the video production industry?)

One trend Jeff mentioned is that Google is incorporating videos into their search feed. So, when you’re looking for, homemade ice cream recipes to fight off the 109* heat index, you might just see a video of someone making homemade ice cream. Nifty, huh?

Until then, stay tuned. I’ll be back after these messages.