Awwww.... Geek Out.

When one of our clients came to us needing a product comparison shot we loaded up, went to their lab and shot it...

... and while the shot looked great, the message failed. Miserably. We needed to dump out 3 different powders (by hand) to show how each of them might spread if they spilled on a factory floor. The problem was: The manner in which you dumped out the powder so completely changed the results that it completely distorted the message they were creating.

However, we had a way to fix that. If you've ever stopped by the Productive Media offices, Seth's edit suite. . . often looks like a lab. Hard drives stacked, servers taken apart (sometimes still running), circuit boards in a pile to one side and often a bread board or two waiting to go under the soldering iron strewn about the console. 

So one trip to Microcenter, a trip to You-Do-It Electronics,  a bread board, a computer power supply, 2 open source libraries and some custom code later, Seth had removed the variable human element from the drop without changing the parameters of the shot. We can tell you that each of the beakers follows the same path over the same 2000 milliseconds of time.... Seriously. 

2012 Harvard Signet Society Dinner

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The Harvard Signet Society has been promoting the intellectual, literally and artistic life at Harvard for quite a while (since 1870). We've been supporting their dinner for a somewhat shorter period (not yet a decade) but every year we enjoy the poetry, music, and speakers that make up a Signet dinner.

We are less tempted by the two champagne bowls from which 170 very smart people drink.

This year we provided a small pa system, wireless microphones, a piano and a camera to record the event for posterity, and the staff to run it all. (The staff didn't play the piano, though, that would have been very bad.)

Cry Havoc, and Let Slip Our Inner 15 Year Old!

Every year our senior digital media specialist, Seth Wereska, endeavors to do the impossible. He tries to produce a marginally professional promotional video of a charity fund raiser gala.

We know. You're thinking: "Really, that's not so hard."

And we'd agree, except this gala takes place over the course of about 14 hours and travels over 3 miles on foot . .  Oh, and it stops at 15 or so bars. 

The Hancock Street Pub Crawl was started ten years ago by a group of friends after one of their children was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Initially it was held to raise awareness, but now it benefits Little Hearts an organization that offers community, support, advice and advocacy for children with congenital heart defects and their families. 

Seth got involved 7 years ago, first as a crawler, and now as their resident videographer. Each year we put together a video that explains what the crawl is, while commerating the event for vetern crawlers and recruiting new ones. 

Crawl videos have helped to swell the event to having over two hundred fund-raising participents.

It's Easy; All they want it perfection.

We go back a long way with Christine Lee Halbig who now hails from the Boston University Health Policy Research Institute and is working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  She is helping to revamp a website and wanted to incorporate much more video content,  and to include more extemporaneous answers that were excised from video interviews. So she's been criss-crossing the country setting up video crews at the locations where her interviewees were already meeting. 

In Boston we were happy to be her crew. 

The nice thing about knowing somene for the better part of a decade is that you can speak your expectations plainly. Christine made her expectations clear with one simple statement: "I was promised perfection."

I suppose that might seem like a tough standard, but we've been doing almost this exact shoot for the last fifteen years. These days most of the projects we work on are multicamera, live streamed, or part of a show with multiple video roll-ins, a live audience and several video projectors. There are a lot of moving peices (and a lot of last minute changes). While we generally get it right, those gigs can really keep you on your toes.

Christine's statement reminded us that we were back in the the comfort zone of a single camera interview in a mostly controlled setting, with a director/interviewer and plenty of time to slow down and approach things in a more craftsman-like manner. It was really quite nice. 

Did we acheive perfection? Well the audio guy stopped the interview a couple of times due to sirens in the back ground, and he did complain about the air conditioning system; and the Director of Photography would have liked it if there was more available power for lights. But the important thing is that only our staff was complaining.  The footage looks and sounds great.  Darned near perfect!

Asperger's Association of New England's first live webcast.

AANE is a leader both regionally and nationally in fostering awareness, respect, acceptance, and support for individuals on the Aspergers and Autism spectrum, and on a recent weekend a part of that fostering of  involved a live web presentation given by Professor Liane Holliday Willey.  Productive Media was glad to be able to enable the AANE's first ever live web event. We brought our custom encoding rig, a wireless microphone setup and an HD camera to their offices, and with a minimum of disruption we were able to capture and share Mrs. Willey' story for the paying attendees who could not arrive in person.  We also were able to archive the recording so that the AANE can post it to their website in the future.

We're always happy when we can help another good organization get started in the live internet event space. 

Well Planned Support for "The Improvised Concerto"

Image courtsey of Michael LutchThis Sunday, Productive Media teamed up with Susie Dangel and Pix Mix Video Services to record "The Improvised Concerto" as performed by the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras and featuring composer Mark O'Connor on violin. It is Mr. O'Connor's ninth concerto.

Since 1958 the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras have been committed to musical excellence among Americas youth. They strive to offer professional coaching, rehearsal space and instruments and have consistantly produced some of the best young musicians in the nation.

Productive Media is no less committed to providing an excellent program, so we brought back the professional crew that produced "An Evening with the Pops". We know that we can rely on our staff and our vendor-partners to produce the best quality product each and every time, and we're proud to say that it doesn't go unnoticed around Boston's Symphony Hall, where excellence has always been the expectation. We had four cameras and all of the trimmings set up in a short time, and were able to record both the dress rehearsal and performance.  The performance and rehearsal were amazing! 

The Farmers and the Funk

Seth Wereska check audio levels before shooting an interview with tap dancer Lee Payne.Geoff Briggs and Seth Wereska trekked on up to the painfully bucolic town of Dublin, NH to video tape a loft (barn?) party played by the newly formed Groove Heroes. The project is anchored by Vinx, a master percussionist and long time friend of Productive Media. The band rounds out their sound with an amazing German jazz drummer, a young New York hip-hop vocalist, a German cellist who doubles on electric bass, and a tap dancer. Yes.  Tap dancer.  From London. It's very cool.

Productive Media got involved to help boot strap GH's promotional Seth Wereska, Vinx, Geoff Briggsmaterial for an upcoming European tour. It turns out that with a lineup like that, a person really needs to see and hear the music to start to understand it. We lit Vinx's performance space and ran a three camera shoot of their first-ever live performance while also conducting up some quick interviews with the band. We're looking forward to turning out a unique electronic press kit for their label Dreamsicle, and maybe catching a show some time when we aren't glued to a viewfinder. (It's tough to nod your head to the music when there's a camera in the way)

It's a Wrap!

The Someday Melissa Post-Production TeamWe've finished up post-production on the Someday Melissa project.  We partnered with Tripp Street Soundworks for the audio sweetening, and National Boston Studios for the color correction.  We're sending them on their way with a master tape, a stack of DVDs, the full project archived on a hardrive, and our warmest wishes. We hear that the New Jersey premier was great!

Send in the Experts

Danna MarksonSo we were back in New Jersey working on the Someday Melissa documentary with Ken and Jerry. We needed to get some expert insight on what Melissa and her family were going through, so we interviewed Dr. Leslie Sanders and Danna Markson, both of whom are leading experts on eating disorders. We also got a chance to speak with Andrew, Melissa's Brother.

These are some pretty tough interviews, but we are getting some very powerful content.

Back into Production

A stil from our interview with Steve, Melissa's FriendNormally when we take on a post production job we focus on "editing." Specifically editng with a lower case "e". Most of the jobs that pay the bills arrive with a script and footage, or a script and we create the footage. The Someday Melissa project is a little different. This time we're "Editing." Specifically editing with a capital "E". Our first step was to totally deconstruct the existing cut of the film, and then to offer notes on issues ranging from sound signal and footage quality to the number of interviews, the style of questioning and the structure and focus of the film.

Once we were sure that we and the producing team were on the same page, we suggested a new structure and made some very rough suggestions on style. We also suggested that we reshoot the core interviews and bring them to High Defination as well as mitigating some varriation in the shooting style and sound quality.

To their credit the producers of Someday Melissa were willing to trust us and go back into production. So now were starting to roll tape (Er flip bits?) again and we are building the project from the core on up.

Seth Wereska and Geoff Briggs headed down to New Jersey to supervise the shoot and conduct the interview. We pulled in Ken Kelsch to act as our Director of Photography, and Jerry Stein to record sound.

So far we've interviewed Judy--Melissa's Mom, Emma and Steve--Both Melissa's Friends. We'll be back in New Jersey at least once more to talk to some experts and see if we can talk to Melissa's brother.

Providing a Memory (enhancer)

Students streach before their recitalIt's that time of the year again, and we just video taped, edited, and delivered DVDs of the FLS Boston Commons “end-of-session” dance performances for summer exchange students. We provided this service last year for the students as well. These DVDs serve as a great tangable reminder of the student's time spent in Boston, and as out reach for FLS in the students home countries. Tara Neves provided the editing and DVD delivery.