Hayden Panettiere made my day

Hired by People Magazine to shoot a video segment for them about Hayden Panettiere’s home in Nashville, I arrived with a list of scenes to shoot and no idea of what was waiting for me.

The place was abuzz with People Magazine staff and local make up and hair pro’s, all working around the beautiful, delightful and hugely (yes hugely) fun Hayden. Despite having worked on her show, Nashville, til 1:00 in the morning the night before, she was having a great time working with still photographer Paul Costello and crew. I shot him shooting her and her being fun and beautiful for his camera. Then it was my turn.

My camera was to be Hayden’s guest as we toured her home. Room after room, she was bright, engaging, and had something personal to share that was totally authentic. And, did I mention, a pleasure to be with.

Here is the link to the video we shot: http://people.com/home/hayden-panettiere-nashville-house/  and above is a still taken during the interview I shot with her about her home for People. Thanks for a wonderful afternoon, Hayden!

Going the distance — really.

Two years ago, I was hired by Kristina Krug, a very fine Nashville still photographer, as the Director of Photography for a documentary she was making for the United Methodist Women. They would speak to the camera of the work they had been doing around the world for equality and justice for the world’s neediest.

We found and lit a beautiful, bright room where we shot with two cameras for two days. And the stories they told all shared a thread of love, hope, commitment and courage that left me in awe of them all. Working in very dangerous situations, they lived their beliefs and faith to an incredible degree.

I want to thank Kristina for bringing me into contact with these amazing women. And I want to thank them for being who they are.

What’s your look?

I was recently hired to shoot both stills and a video background for an accounting firm’s new website. they wanted warmth and approachability to come through the pictures. After scouting their offices I found several angles and locations that would work together to support that idea with a unified look: bright, backlit, and clean. A look that is modern and airy and implies that the firm is forward-thinking and up-to-date.

IMG_3097_Cathy and Bryan_

And the looks on the faces of Cathy Werthan and Bryan Jones tell the viewer they are approachable and confident.

So what look do you want to convey? Power? Top of the heap? You might want to shoot in your lavish hallways showing depth linked to a power pose like this:

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Is this guy a corporate lawyer, or what? The pose, the setting, the angle all tell that story. And these are all elements I think about when shooting for my clients.

How about a Kirtan band, playing mesmerizing music from India? What should their album picture look like? What picture would instantly tell their story? I hope you said

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because this is what I shot and Photoshopped for them. And they do sound about as strange as this looks!

Finally, what about Dr Heather Dooley, an independent audiologist who wants you to know she cares more about her patients than the chain down the street?

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So what’s your look? it’s kind of important to know, if you want to communicate who you are to others. Especially if your livelihood depends on it. If you don’t know, don’t worry too much. Part of my job is to help you sort that out, and then suggest ways we can communicate it to others with images.

Images that have the right look. For your story.

 

 

Why watch a hospital spot?

I think that to most people’s way of thinking, hospitals are only a peg or two above funeral homes in their mind’s catalog of “things I want to dwell on”. So they’re a little more difficult to advertise than, say, cars or vacations. People turn them off in their heads before they even get started. Not really fair :(.

So what can a provider do? Good advertising works — if it gets watched. And what do people want to watch? Good outcomes. Happy endings.  All the “after” and none of the “before”. With a storyline or a testimonial from a believable source,  these will be watched and remembered.

We have been making award-winning and well-remembered commercials and web videos for providers of all sizes — from Pilates studios to full-sized hospitals. Our best are below. I hope you love them as much as we do. Thanks for watching!

 

Personal introduction videos for business websites

Personal introduction videos are in growing demand now, and we have been asked to create a few of them for our clients. Basically, in the age of social media and “no more secrets”, people want to get a sense of what kind of person is behind the text and stills of the service provider website they are considering.

This is happening a lot in the health care field, where a bit of hand-holding can be required for those considering medical procedures they’d rather not think about. But it’s also spreading to other fields, including law and finance.

And the reasons are plain: we are conditioned to read faces and make judgements. Do we trust this person? Do we like him? Would we feel safe in their care? These are the (unspoken) questions an introduction video is designed to answer. Not “How much do I know” or “What cool whizzbangs I use”. Those can be put across in text and bios.

These short videos are designed to present the provider’s personality in a positive and welcoming way. As someone the viewer can feel comfortable with and trust.

And that’s what we designed for Dr Heather Dooley of Lifetime Hearing. I was hired to shoot stills and a video for her new site through Audiology Designs, in Texas. After a visit to her offices and an interview with her about her practice, I wrote a script that she approved and began to memorize. (We can use a teleprompter if that’s a problem.)

On the day, we shot stills with extras standing in for patients and then set up for the video. Shooting in the waiting room, I broke the shoot into five shots, using a slider to add movement and giving her a cue to turn to the next camera position at the end of each shot. This gave the video more visual interest and gave Dr Dooley less pressure to remember all the lines for each take, since we were only shooting one part at a time.

She did a fantastic job, as you will see if you watch the video above. She came across calmly and authentically, needing only a little direction from me. And all those who will be looking for an audiologist in her area will now have a chance to meet her, not read about her. And get a feeling for not just what, but who she is.

Which puts her waaay ahead of her competition.

Asking your viewers for money

I was approached a few months ago by the AOTF, or American Occupational Therapy Foundation. They would be in Nashville for a huge industry-wide convention and wanted to take the opportunity to create a “donor video” by shooting interviews with past recipients of their grants.

So far so good. But I prefer to shoot testimonial videos with people in the middle of their lives. It makes for more interest and veracity. These folks would be sitting and talking to me off camera. How to make it as interesting as possible?

We had, ultimately, four stories to tell — one from each person. But one overarching story had to run through them all — the value of the AOTF funding to their research in occupational therapy. So the structure would be one story told by the four of them as we intercut between their personal stories.

We had about an hour with each of eight subjects over two days. Fortunately, most were staying at the Omni Hotel, and the staff there knows me (by now) and was very helpful (anyway). I found great locations to set up and shoot all around the hotel, including their gorgeous breakfast cafe (thank you, Lauren!). And for even more variety, we went to the Sole Mio Restaurant near the hotel for one of the interviews. Most with bright or windowed backgrounds that would complement the upbeat narrative. So, yes they all sat in a chair. But each was in a new location so as we cut between them, there was something new for the audience.

These kinds of shoots are all in the planning. First, participant demographics are decided, based on the target audience. We develop questions that will guide the interviews. Then, the client reaches out to appropriate membership, patients, customers, etc., with an email explaining what we are doing and asking for anyone who’d like to be part of it on camera to respond. When we have 12 to 15 responses, I call the finalists to assess personality. This is basically a casting call to judge how they might be on camera. From there the actual participants are chosen and schedules are locked for the crew and and this case, eight interviewees.

Then we can shoot.

We shot the footage in two days with two cameras running: the main angle and a side angle for cutaways. That second camera allows me lots of freedom in the edit to cut within sentences without jumpcuts. Maren Voss from the AOTF was a huge help in coordinating it all, and Anthony Guerrero was my camera op for the shoot. Many thanks to you both!

The final cut is below. Please LMK how you like it!

Pilates studio still photo shoot

In a previous post I described a web video and still shoot at the Marathon Pilates Studio with Anissa Pollard, the client, and Karen Cronin of Cronin Creative, who is creating the new website for Anissa.

Anissa was thrilled with the video and the still photography, so last week we returned to the studio to shoot a few more stills. My Scottish blood made me keep the 1000H diffusion paper for the front doors from the last shoot, so rehanging it was a snap. Tests had shown me that diffusion was needed to unify the graphic look of the background, since the sun didn’t quite make it to that set of glass doors, and toward the end of the afternoon, I had to put a light outside them to burn out any detail from creeping shadows.

Since I shoot almost everything with speedlights now, it was quick and simple to set up three lights for the main angle: two edge lights and a key into an umbrella. I use a powerpack from Pixel (Amazon) for each flash that runs eight Eneloop rechargeable AA batteries in addition to the four already in the flash head. I’ve gotten hundreds of flashes from a single set of batteries with no variation in output.

Here’s how the pictures turned out:

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it was important to all of us that we show the studio being popular and full, so stacking up the main subjects with foreground and background action was how I choose to set it up. The room was long and narrow, too, limiting choices. But it was the fact that the doors and glass block entrance were the only the only elements the room had that could be leveraged to create visual interest that pushed the decision. A light, airy mood could be created with that background and high-key lighting — very different from the room unlit:

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Shot with my Canon 6D and 70-200 t/4 lens at around 100-124mm, Anissa, Stephanie, and Claire were great, unflagging models. Along with two headshots and two more action shots, we wrapped the photography shoot in 3.5 hours, plenty of time left to enjoy the rest of the first Spring day. Thanks, Anissa!

 

Shooting a 2 hour DVD in under 12 hours

The above clip is only the open for the teaser. The full teaser is at the bottom of the post.

 

Last year I produced a DVD for cheese-making master Paula Butler. Paula’s workshops are attended by people from around the globe, and she has won so many awards for her cheeses she decided a DVD would be the be the best way to share her knowledge.

We decided to shoot the two hour (!) DVD in the kitchen on her farm (Standing Stone Farms, in Hendersonville, TN) where she lives with her husband and about twenty goats she raises for milk. This not only saved her money, but more important, it kept her in a location that was comfortable for her, since this is where she holds her workshops as well.

This had to be a one day shoot. That’s all the budget could handle. So I had worked up a schedule for the day that got us in and out in twelve hours. How do you shoot a two hour video in under twelve hours (deducting set-up and wrap time of two and a half hours)? Lots of cameras!

We had four cameras running on Paula at all times. Camera one — straight on, wide, covering her and the workspace. She would be talking to this one. Camera two — a medium shot from the left of camera one for cutaways. Camera three — to the left of cam two, and moving almost all the time on a slider, shifting from any important business on the work surface to Paula’s face. And of course — the overhead of the work area, a view which also shot into the large pots Paula often worked with — camera four. We rigged it on the overhead pot rack:

Yes that pot rack became the built-in grid on which we hung cam 4, our key lite    ( 2×4 kino with diffusion and 1/8 minus green, and a little bounce lite to bring up the BG and light Paula when she went back to the sink once or twice. Thank you, pot rack.

For the pot rack nerds here ( stand proud) here’s a CU:

After a slow start, we got rolling and Paula got into her groove and just got better. She talked about cheese for up to 45 minutes straight without a hitch. And if she had stumbled, we would simply pick it up and get rolling again, using one of the cutaway shots to bridge the stumble. We caught up with the schedule by lunch.

_MG_9346Derek, Sarah, Paula, John

There were six recipes and a few short interstitials about presentation and condiments. Besides me, the crew consisted of Derek, DP, John, 2nd cam operator, and Sarah, who kept a very detailed shooting log for me and the editor’s use later. When shooting something of this complexity, a shooting log is indispensible in the edit room. We used a simple form I made in Word years ago:

   Rob Lindsay Pictures     Date:                                       Script Notes Page #:

Production Title:                                        Format:

Scene #            Take #                       TC in               TC out                             Remarks

There are vertical lines below this in which information about each take is entered. A thick red horizontal line marks the start of each new scene, or in this case, recipe or interstitial. The remarks can be from the director (best, good start, etc.) or the script person re: anything special or important about that take the editor should know. Script notes: don’t leave the shoot without ’em!

While Derek and John ran two of the cameras, I watched the monitor and Paula:

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The shoot was strictly scheduled and we got outside on time to shoot the open with Paula and a few of her favorite goats, which seemed to want to eat most of our gear.

The edit was spread across two months with frequent gaps but a looming deadline to get 5000 DVD’s made and delivered for December’s sales season. I would estimate the editor spent about 30 hours on it, including color correction. I was there to get it going, and came back at critical times. He also Dropboxed scenes to me and Paula for notes.

Did I mention she has sold over 3200 DVD’s so far?

Go, Paula!

Cheese Plate_edited_master

http://www.roblindsaypictures.com

 

Interview Reel

This is a short montage of interviews I’ve DP’d for various clients. they include CMT (90 minute special: Charlie Pride, Behind The Music), 2 interviews for CBS Local with Jason Aldean and Joe Nichols, an EPK for Raul Malo, and other examples of my shooting and lighting style.

Interviews are always opportunities to try something new, to look for ways to make something dry more exciting. Part of my job is to keep people watching, and I’m always looking for techniques and styles that will help do that.

Caneras include: Sony 700, Canon 5D, Canon 100, Canon 6D.