Category Archives: Video Production

Seasons Greetings from DUO!

As 2016 draws to a close, we’re taking a moment to review the past few months and that we’ve been working on.  So, what have we been up to?

Attending the 2016 TIVA-DC Peer Awards for one!  It’s one of the big highlights, both recently, and over the course of the year and it was another resounding success for us; we took home another set of awards, including:

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L-R: Jim Pennington, Robin C. Farrell, Brian Pennington, DL Moody, Dave Garner

A Special Recognition was also awarded to Jim Pennington: the Distinguished Service Award!

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Congratulations, Jim!

Our appreciation goes out to TIVA-DC for another year of recognition.  We’re already looking forward to next year!

We also went back into the studio for our client SOLIDWORKS for a number of videos; some featuring their product, Draftsight, which was the first of many shoots at DC Visionaries in Rockville, MD.  

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For others, we got to work with Kevin Brennan again to announce the approaching event, SOLIDWORKS World 2017…

Continue reading Seasons Greetings from DUO!

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A Winning Team

Vision, execution and reception are all on equal footing here at DUO.  It’s about the journey and the outcome.  As stated on our website:

Our video production services span all phases of a project; from concept development through distribution, and any part thereof…we look for ways to make your project unique, and speak specifically to your needs…We provide high quality results at highly competitive rates.

As a result of our blend of creativity and professionalism, we have accumulated a collection of awards, a large portion of which comes from the Television, Internet and Video Association (TIVA) of DC.  TIVA is a non-profit association of media professionals (companies and individuals) in the National Capital region. The mission of TIVA-DC is to connect the media production community to jobs, resources and educational opportunities. The Peer Awards, sponsored by TIVA, is the largest film/video competition in the Mid-Atlantic region and culminates in a gala at the National Press Club and other prestigious venues with an average of 300 attendees.  As DUO and our independent film channel Star Wipe Films, we have acquired the following awards since as early as 2009:

  • 9 Gold Peer Awards
  • 11 Silver Peer Awards
  • 3 Bronze Peer Awards

Among the winning projects that earned these awards include our 48Hour Film, Welcome to the Neighborhood (which also won us a few awards at Filmapalooza 2013 and a Selection in the Short Film Corner for Festival de Cannes 2013) and our own short film, Apocalypse Rock, which TIVA-DC awarded us specifically for Program/Series Promo Under $10k for the film trailer, Independent Short, Acting, Editing: Fiction, Production Design, and Sound Design.

We’ve also received awards almost every year that we have participated in the 48 Hour Film Project and 29 Days Later competitions.

***Update: as of November 2016, Game of CAD and Once Upon A Bedroom have also earned Peer Awards; Gold and Silver, respectively.

Continue reading A Winning Team

The Biggest Advantages of Event Videos

As we said a while back in What Kind of Videos Do You Do?one of the services we offer is Event Videos.  Not to be confused with an extensive, multi-camera setup to record your event live, but rather produce a video prior to your function and screen it during your event.  This can be applied to any type of gathering; board meetings and conferences, galas, award ceremonies, fundraising events, and so on.  You may ask why this is worth considering; from our experience, here are some of the top reasons:

  1. Captive Audience.

    Any event presents you with an audience, yet a video can come as an unexpected and welcome surprise.  If your audience is one of, say, prospective investors and donors, a video can help encourage them to break out their checkbooks.  If former investors are present, a video can show them how their contribution was utilized and why.


  2. Length.Event videos can be longer than ones specifically made for your website or Vimeo/YouTube channel.  A well-shot, well-edited video may utilize music and photos or footage that would be otherwise difficult to present during a live speech – or at least not as seamlessly.  The words spoken to the crowd are tailored; you no longer run the risk of the speakers being struck with stage fright and captions can easily be added if necessary.  What this ultimately means is that whatever message or information you are trying to convey, it can be done in a more streamlined and engaging fashion, in a way that everyone can understand.

  3. Change of Pace.When it comes to your seminars, board meetings and the like, a video can be a welcome change to the otherwise familiar and monotonous pacing.  This works better than a digital presentation because the message is entirely self-contained.

  4. Self-Contained Message.Your audience no longer has to shift their focus back and forth between you, the speaker, and the visuals you’re showing.

  5. Music.In any type of venue, using music is especially advantageous because it allows you to set and thus control the emotional tone of the room.  Do you want to to tug the heartstrings of your investors?  Do you want your employees to feel enthusiastic and driven?  Or do you want to shake up an otherwise serious event with a bit of laughter and comedy?  Music enhances any such desired mood in a way that little else can, and even though you can play music live, you run the risk of levels being imbalanced, overpowering the speaker, or distracting the audience entirely (especially if it’s a recognizable tune).

  6. Audience Reaction.A video allows you to see their reaction, rather than posting the video elsewhere and receiving an email a few days later, if at all.  Additionally, while the video actually plays, you, as the speaker, can observe the audience.  Are they captivated?  Is the message being conveyed enough?  You can use the video’s running time to review the audience and adjust your wrap-up if necessary, or know that your original address will be as fitting as you expected and can step forward to deliver that wrap-up more confidently.  

 

If this sounds like a service you’d like to apply to your next function, we would be happy to work with you to produce an event video that suits your needs.  Contact us via email, sales@duomediaproductions.com, or give us a call at 301 – 221 – 7874.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Client Spotlight: SOLIDWORKS

It all started in 2009 with a sequence of four whimsical videos for SOLIDWORKS’ Now That’s Premium! campaign.  Through humor, these videos tout the benefits of upgrading to a premium product (coffee, gasoline, car service and wash), encouraging users to upgrade to SOLIDWORKS’ Premium design product.

Not only did each of these videos rack up a Telly Award (plus a Peer Award for “Cup o’ Mojo”), but it was the beginning of a working relationship that continues, brilliantly, to this day.

In 2011, we introduced a little guy named Seymour in a flash-animation video for Enterprise Data Management, which became the first in a series of over a dozen videos featuring Seymour as the star.  Seymour has since inspired even some of our most recent projects.

Since the SOLIDWORKS Premium project, DUO Media has produced over forty videos SOLIDWORKS, including marketing and promotion, Training Videos, eLearning Modules and Recruiting Videos, ranging in topic, length and style.  SOLIDWORKS has given us creative freedom from the start, but over the years, that trust in our vision and ability has expanded and allowed us to explore and grow ourselves in our stylistic approach. Some of the most elaborate videos of our portfolio have been for SOLIDWORKS, especially when it comes to promotions for SOLIDWORKS World, the company’s annual convention.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 5.17.56 PM Continue reading Client Spotlight: SOLIDWORKS

Into The Nexus!

From elaborate, sophisticated studio production and hurdling across the full breadth of downtown Frederick, to fundraisers and Blu-Ray menus, June 2016 was one of our busiest – and most productive! – yet.

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As we mentioned last month, the “Floyd Series” has become one of our biggest and most expansive projects.  Our client, SOLIDWORKS, has continued to give us a great deal of creative freedom to explore unconventional approaches to their video marketing.  The Floyd Series started at the end of 2015 with It’s No Secret, in which Floyd (played by Kevin Brennan) is introduced.  Since then, he has appeared in A Game of CAD: A Song of Design and EngineeringFloyd Prepares for Dallas and SOLIDWORKS World Wrap-Up video (coming soon).  We’ve been developing a series of additional videos, which were far more ambitious than any that have come before; but we like a creative challenge!  We brought Jason Krznarich onto the team to lend his expertise to creating the vastly complex system needed to pull off our vision. We rented the space at BlueRock Productions & Studio (Baltimore, Maryland) to shoot two of the three videos.

Later that same week, we went on location to downtown Frederick, Maryland, starting and ending in Baker Park, but traipsing just about everywhere in between.  This video was shot entirely on a GoPro, with additional help from Jason and Brian himself.

Though difficult, all these shoots were big successes and we’ve been in post production since, delighted to see how the efforts are paying off.  We can’t wait to share the finished product.

SOLIDWORKS was not the only project we were working on this month.  The Foundation to Fight H-ABC hosted a fundraising event this month, for which the Manor Country Club hosted rounds of tennis and golf, a silent auction, great food and live music.  The proceeds are all going to research for a cure to H-ABC and the benefit of other rare diseases as well.  Check out the video below:

 

Lastly, DUO is now on Instagram:  @duomediaproductions.
Check us out and give us a follow!

How Much Does A Video Cost? (pt.2)

Written by Jim Pennington.

So, your video is “in the can” and all that remains is post-production. Not much to consider in terms of cost as it is all the same from video to video, right?  Wrong!  Let’s look at some typical cost considerations for post-production that can vary significantly from project to project (check our services page for a description of these activities).

Length.  How long is the video?  Will it be a one-minute “talking head” video or a feature film? Were the best takes logged so the producer and editor don’t need to review all of the bad footage to get to the good?

Number of cameras and complexity of the shots.  How many cameras were used during the shoot? Was there just one camera that captured the whole piece in a few shots?  Was there just one camera, but many shots were taken from different angles that need to be integrated? Were multiple cameras used and footage from each needs to be integrated?

Voiceover.  Will a voiceover or narration be required? What level of talent is needed?  How long is the VO/narration?

ADR.  Additional Dialog Recording (also referred to as Automated Dialog Replacement) is required when the originally captured dialog is in some way unusable. Perhaps there was construction noise in the background or some pesky summer insects were chirping loudly.

Continue reading How Much Does A Video Cost? (pt.2)

How Much Does A Video Cost? (pt.1)

written by Jim Pennington

“How much does a video cost?”

This is the proverbial question asked of me by virtually every potential client.  My typical retort is, “How much does it cost to build a home?”  The comment is usually something like, “Well, I need to know how many rooms, how many floors, what type of construction….”

Precisely!  I can’t say how much a video will cost unless the parameters that go into producing a video are fully described.  This is rarely something that can be done “on the fly” unless I am using a similar project as a comparison.

So what are the factors that go into the cost of a video?  I begin here a two-part blog as we look at the three phases of producing a video: pre-production; production; and post-production.  Let’s examine some typical cost considerations for pre-production and production.

Concept.  Are we producing a simple testimonial, a training video, or a dramatic video? How long is the video?  What is the subject of the video?  Are there complex scenes?  Are there car chases?

Treatment and script. As we prepare the treatment and subsequent script, it’s once again important to know the complexity and length of the video.  More complex and longer videos mean higher writing costs.  Is significant creative writing needed or will we be working from existing marketing materials?  How many review/revision cycles will there be?

Location. Location planning is critical to cost.  How many locations are needed? Is travel required? Is a location fee required?  Is special licensing required?  Are accommodations needed for cast and crew?  What transportation requirements are there at each location?

Continue reading How Much Does A Video Cost? (pt.1)

Recap: May 2016

In spite of fourteen straight days of rain last month, we kept busy and motivated by staying on the move.  We went on location to the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, one of our long-standing clients for a video shoot in honor of Vivian Bass, current CEO set to retire this year.  We shot and edited two videos for the Church of Christ at Manor Woods, both of which were used for a big successes at t in the words of senior pastor Dyke McCord, “the event was a huge success and the videos went over great – having the desired effect!”

We recorded a second round of testimonial videos at Arachnid Works, which happened to be on one of the few bright and sunny days of the month, which gave us a few challenges for lighting.  Towards the end of the month, we attended the Best Of the Washington, DC 48 Hour Film Project at the AFI Silver Theatre (where we also screened Apocalypse Rock last March).  Check out our film, Once Upon A Bedroom below!

We were in great company this year; many congratulations to Crash of Rhinos for multiple wins on their film, Rabbit Hole!

Regarding Apocalypse Rock, Brian attended the End of Days Film Festival, where the film picked up another award for Best Comedy!  Watch the video of Brian winning and answering audience questions.

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Even better, Apocalypse Rock DVD and Blu-Rays are nearly ready!  Final audio finishes have been sent to and returned from Studio Unknown and menus are being finessed.

We’re so looking forward to finishing the project and finally being able to share it with everyone.  Stay tuned!

DSLR vs. Mirrorless Cameras

In the ever-changing world of cameras and media production, how do you know what cameras to use?  There is still a general buzz around DSLRs and why they are effective, many of those reasons still being valid.  However, the mirrorless camera models are actually turning the tide and in many areas its still not clear as to why.  There are many similarities between the two, but the differences make quite an impact.  In this recent article, writer Caleb Ward breaks down why DSLRs are not the best way to go for your next video project.  His reasons include:

Overpriced.

DSLRs used to be the top of the line and their prices are expensive, but those prices made sense.  Now, they’ve become “incredibly overpriced.”  In fact, mirrorless cameras are about half the cost, according to Ward.  The reason for this can be explained by nothing more than brand name recognition; Canon and Nikon bring significantly more impressive face value than the mirrorless cameras, which are being manufactured by companies like Panasonic and Sony, which are “not quite as accepted in the pro photography community.”  The advantages of the Canon cameras and hacks, however, short-change production, but lead to a great deal more work in post, which creates a much longer delay in getting the final product finished and available to clients.

DSLRs are bulky.

The camera size doesn’t typically matter, but a highly portable camera, especially at weddings and other live events, can make a BIG difference.  One of the biggest selling points of DSLRs in their initial release was their compact size; but why?  What were some of those original selling points?

  • Allows for more coverage; to move more quickly between cuts.
  • Less attention is drawn to the camera operator, which is especially advantageous for guerrilla style narrative filmmaking, documentary shooting and, most of all, commercial video.
  • Comfort.  As Ward points out, “if you’re going to be shooting all day on a shoulder rig, Glidecam, or Steadicam, you probably don’t want to be using a gigantic camera like the URSA mini or even a larger DSLR.”  Comfort, too, is not strictly a matter of personal endurance.  If the camera operator does not tire as fast, he or she will be able to keep the camera rolling longer and capture more footage under less strain and, as a result, the footage itself will maintain the same level of quality from the start of the day.

So what separates the Mirrorless cameras from the DSLRs?  They’re not THAT different in size are they?  Actually, yes: because mirrorless cameras don’t have a mirror-box mechanism, they’re smaller and lighter than their DSLR counterparts.  This, again, brings us back to comfort, which, in turn, means overall quality of the work.

Mirrorless Cameras Are More Revolutionary.

There was a time when DSLR cameras were at the cutting edge of camera technology — but that’s no longer the case. Mirrorless camera manufacturers are capable of updating their cameras much quicker than DSLR camera manufacturers.  Just look at the Sony a7S series of cameras. In a little over a year, Sony was able to create the a7S, a truly revolutionary low-light camera, and create a second version that added 4k recording and increased frame rates. Canon and Nikon, on the other hand, have been very slow to update their cameras. For example, the Canon 5D Mark III hasn’t been updated in over four years.

Mirrorless Cameras Are Faster.

The interface and start up, especially.  Mostly comes into play for guerrilla style shooting; the difference between getting that perfect shot or missing it completely.  Lenses are a big part of the shot as well, and usually the lenses you’d prefer for DSLRs can be used for the Mirrorless cameras too.

Continue reading DSLR vs. Mirrorless Cameras

Why We Do The 48 Hour Film Project

Among our many specialities and adventures, the DUO Team produces short films by participating in 48 Hour Film Festivals on a very regular basis; in particular, the Washington DC and Baltimore 48 Hour Film Projects under Star Wipe Films,our subsidiary company.  We have been doing so since 2003 in Atlanta, GA and, as such, have accumulated quite the collection of films, with a reputable stack of awards under our belt, including Best Film for Welcome to the Neighborhood, three for Best Cinematography, two for Best Editing, two for Best Special Effects, and two for Audience Favorite.  When Welcome to the Neighborhood won best film in the 2012 Baltimore 48, the team went on to screen at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.

The way DUO sees it, a 48 Hour Project is a great exercise in active filmmaking participation, by being forced to create in a specific, condensed time frame, with elements shared by all participants (namely a genre, drawn at random, a character, prop and line of dialogue).  At first glance, such an endeavor seems all too limiting and an unnecessary increase to one’s stress level.  Why do it?

Because it inevitably leaves you with a finished product.  In the filmmaking, completing a film can be more than half the battle.   It is all too easy to get swamped and smothered by editing or throw in the towel before getting out of pre-production, but a 48 Hour Film Project, you are forced to finish what you start and you learn a great deal about how to doing so.  Furthermore, such an exercise demands resourcefulness and improvisation, as well as the implicitness of thinking ahead.  Despite having the specific elements to work into your story, you are left with a great deal of work to do to make the film whole and cohesive around those elements.  It can often bring out skills you didn’t even know you have; skills that are vital to filmmaking on a larger scale.

There is a built-in showcase for your completed film, through which there is always audience feedback and the opportunity for prizes and awards to the networking before and after the screenings.   When the Baltimore 48 instated a “Best Of The Fest” Screening as part of their award-giving ceremony, Star Wipe’s films have never failed to make the cut.  In 2013, however, Brian announced that we would not be returning to the Baltimore 48 the following year due to the upcoming production of Apocalypse Rock, for which we needed to devote all our time and resources.

That said, after a swift production phase of “ARock,” a successful IndieGogo “Finishing Funds” Campaign and premiere, the film has been making the rounds at multiple festivals and competitions, winning several awards and garnering lots of positive feedback.  In the interim and new phase of waiting for results, however, it happened to be time, once again, for the Baltimore 48 and the team realized that they did miss participating.  There is a draw to produce a project on your own terms, without any forced framework—to just “get out there and do it”—but there is also a uniqueness to the 48 that facilitates content to be generated in such a way that doesn’t happen under any other circumstances.  So, in a last-minute decision, we rallied a team together—though a much smaller team than in previous years—and tossed our hat back into the ring.

Last year, we were given a roll of tape, the character Q. Treller, a secret society member,  and the line, “sometimes the best answer is no answer.”  We drew Thriller/Suspense as our genre and we were off.  This was also the first project we took on with Robin Farrell as part of our team; she has since become DUO Media’s first full-time employee.

And thus lies another benefit of the 48 Hour Project; networking.  It’s a cliche, but an honest one.  The 48 is a great opportunity for meeting other local filmmakers and creative people, as well as making new connections that can grow beyond that initial forum.

The resulting film of 2015, simply titled “Q,” earned us two more awards for our collection: Best Sound Design and Best Directing.  As in previous years, the experience was a good one.  As Karen says, whether you can participate each year “depends on…life,” but the desire to make films in this way was definitely reinstated.  So much so that we participated in the Washington, DC 48 at the end of April 2016 and it was just as much fun as the last.  Even more so, as we were able to choose between two categories and we challenged ourselves by going with the less-familiar option of COMEDY.  We learned a lot and that, too, is one of the most significant parts of why we do this at all; to learn, grow and allow ourselves the chance to become better filmmakers.  It only takes one weekend and a few willing volunteers.

What have you got to lose?