Tag Archives: Documentary

Documentary Production at its best

First of all, it’s great to hear that you are looking for Documentary Production services. It’s a great way to tell your story – to the people you need t to tell it to. Video Artisan are a specialist provider of business video services throughout the UK and overseas. Documentary Production is probably what we are best at!

Furthermore, we are especially focused creating well-structured and engaging website video that will add to your SEO efforts. But maybe you also want to develop a series of public information docs – or create a one-off company history doc? Therefore you need to look no further as Video Artisan has the skills and resources to make this happen. Because we understand your needs, we are your obvious first choice!

Documentary Location

Our location is perfect for servicing London, Essex, Harlow and South Eastern England with London tube station, the M25 and Stansted Airport very close to our studio edit facilities on the edge of Epping Forest.

In addition, we offer freelance camera operator and video editing services to client producers, agencies and other video production companies. With various cameras, lenses, camera mount systems, rails, sliders, dollies, lighting and sound kit we can cater for most video assignments.

Copyright-Free Music Review – AK164 & AK165

AK164 and AK165
Two new copyright-free albums from AKM Music

AKM Music – New Releases

AK164 – Media Toolkit & AK165 – Smile Be Happy

AKM Music has recently released two new albums that caught my eye as a business film producer – AK164 Media Toolkit and AK165 Smile Be Happy. I’m always interested in extending my copyright-free music archive as you can’t have too much of it when trying to find the right music score for your films. These two albums fall into two very different camps.

Before I move on to talk about these albums, I need to quickly mention a special ‘End of Tax Year’ offer from AKM Music which runs out on 4th April. If you buy 3 or more CDs or CD downloads you can get an amazing 35% off! All you have to do is use this promo code at the checkout CDOFF14.

Get a great deal on AKM Music - offer ends VERY SOON!
Get a great deal on AKM Music – offer ends VERY SOON!

To give you inspiration you might want to check out some of my other reviews of their music – Here, herehere and here!

AKM 164 – Media Toolkit

This album is a collection of sound effects to help you emphasise movement, edits and graphical on-screen action within your films. But their use goes beyond this and can help tell your story and create tension or generally add depth to your soundtrack. It’s important for me to say that this is not a collection of Foley effects (sound effects which are used to synchronise on screen action – such as doors closing or windows breaking) but rather evocative synthesised effects. There’s a great Wiki page on the full scope and use of Sound Effects, but needless to say this album is still a worthy addition to your collection.

AK164 Media Toolkit
AK164 Media Toolkit

The album is grouped into nine types of effects ranging from Hits, Whooshes, Stabs and Explosions to Transitions, Underscores and Soundbeds. The Underscores and Soundbeds sections seem a little out of place to me as they’re basically musical arrangements for use as underscores for live action sound or voiceovers. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still useful and produced to the same high standard that we are used to from AKM Music – but they’re not, in my mind, true sound effects.

In the past I’ve had to mess about creating these kind of synthetic sound effects from scratch and, whilst very satisfying, can take an incredible amount of time which you rarely get paid for and more often than not go unnoticed (if they are done right!). It’s also worth saying that I don’t get the opportunity (or desire) to use sound effects on every film I produce – but when you do need them they’re very useful indeed.

I can see AKM 164 being my go-to album whenever this need arises. It’s going to be particularly useful on opening/closing title sequences and graphics where I want to emphasise an animation. There are also some very handy transitional sounds that will help link scenes together.

AK165 – Smile Be Happy

This one was quite a surprise to me – and a pleasant one at that. I was expecting to hear the usual collection of bright, upbeat and jovial scores to help you add a sense of fun or even comedy to a film. What you actually get is a collection of music that’s got a very wide programme-type appeal – and will no doubt suit as the main theme on wedding films and documentaries as well as corporate films that need a gentle sense of fun about them.

AK165 Smile Be Happy
AK165 Smile Be Happy

Each track has a full version plus at least two shorter versions (60-second and 30-second). Some of the tracks also come with alternative edits too. I really appreciate having these shorter and alternate edits to hand and will often mix between them in post when I’m cutting a track to a specific length.

Apart from one track (‘Summer in New York’ – which doesn’t quite fit in for me), they all follow a similar theme which conjures up visions of New England or Shaker-style buildings on warm summer days. Quite a few contain voice or whistle effects, so give a very happy, carefree feeling. I’ve seen quite a few really great wedding films lately and they’ve all used similar music to this. The title track, ‘Smile Be Happy’ is probably the best example of this.

The tracks are all mid-tempo with either ukulele/banjo, acoustic guitar or piano as lead instrument. The music is simple, without masses of instruments mixed together but rather something that two or three people could perform live. The ones containing voice effects are very non-descriptive and contain the occasional, “whoo hoo”, “dum dum” or “la la la” type voice sounds – so are completely language-agnostic.

As I said earlier, this album is going to appeal to a very wide range of programme types. In fact I can’t say for sure that I’ve not already heard it being used on a wedding film – or maybe even a TV commercial or two (the latest Lloyds Bank animated one uses something very similar). I have a project in mind for it right now. For the past couple of years I’ve been thinking of making a documentary about beekeepers (being one myself) and one of the tracks on this album would be perfect for it – giving the film a happy, gentle, earth-friendly feel about it.

Conclusion

Whilst you’d probably not find these two albums appearing on the same film, they are both worthy of shelf space in your copyright-free music archive. ‘AK165 – The Media Tool Kit’ might be a something that you buy and only very occasionally need – but when you do need it there’s nothing else that’s going to hit the spot.

‘AK165 – Smile Be Happy’ on the other hand is going to appeal to a much wider audience and, I dare say, will be one of AKM best sellers over time.

Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon.)

Additional Info – AKM Music at BVE

I recently caught up with Anthony McTiffen, the man behind AKM Music at the BVE exhibition at Excel. I was there to interview those exhibitors who had products and services aimed specifically at the professional videographer and it gave me the opportunity to quiz Anthony about the benefits of using copyright-free / royalty-free music within your productions. Click here to see the full collection of short interviews filmed at BVE.

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Event Documentary

Documentary on the Same-Sex Dance Festival

Why make a documentary?

This was the second time Video Artisan has been commissioned by dance shoe manufacturer, Supadance, to make a film about this same-sex dance competition held in Blackpool. Last year’s film was a relatively straight-forward record of the event. It was well received, and has had thousands of plays online, but it did nothing to explain what same-sex dancing is all about or who it is aimed at. We were therefore really looking forward to making a more in-depth documentary and help tell the world why same-sex dance deserves much wider recognition.

Lady's Same-Sex dance
Lady’s Same-Sex dance

Before I move on to the making of the documentary itself, I have to admit that even after filming last year’s event I wasn’t totally convinced of the argument for same-sex dancing. I’m not the only one to feel this way though. We have made several films for Supadance about their shoes as well as other short films about mainstream dance events which they sponsor. During the making of these films it’s become obvious that certain sectors of the mainstream dance community would rather not see same-sex dancing at all – and would certainly be opposed to seeing it integrated into mainstream competitions.

Hopefully this new documentary will help change some of these opinions. It has certainly changed my point of view and made me appreciate the subtle but important differences of same-sex dance.

Like any documentary you’ve got to tell a story and at least present one side of an argument. This documentary is certainly presenting the argument from the same-sex dancer’s side but, in all honesty, I don’t believe there is a logical argument for continuing to exclude same-sex dance from mainstream dance competitions.

Whilst Supadance sponsored the production of this documentary I was very much under the guidance of the event organisers, Bradley and Soren Stauffer-Kruse (AKA The Sugar Dandies). You might be familiar with these guys from their appearance on Britain’s Got Talent. Prior to the event I got Bradley and Soren to list out the questions they get asked most often about same-sex dancing in general and the festival itself. This was like gold dust and gave me the main thread of the story and formed the basis for all the interviews we carried out over the two days.

Getting the answers to these questions then became the main focus of our documentary filming. To ensure we had all the points covered our first day of filming started with Bradley and Soren giving their answers to these questions. This day was actually just a practice day for the competitors so there wasn’t much real action taking place on the dance floor but it did give us a relevant background for their interview where dancers can be seen on the floor behind them.

The second day we set about gathering general scenes from the dance festival itself, but at the same time we worked out with Bradley and Soren which competitors would be good subjects for interviews. These were all recorded later on in the afternoon whilst the competition was still running which often meant grabbing couples as they left the dance floor. You will normally experience some resistance from people in these situations but thankfully the same-sex dance community all seem to be anything but camera shy. Still, part of the skill of the documentary maker is getting your subjects to relax in front of camera and I hope the film shows them as being that way. We certainly ended up with more content than we could fit in the film.

Men's same-sex dance
Men’s same-sex dance

The general shots of dancing were simply b-roll images to help tell the stories told within the interviews. We didn’t therefore film any dance in its entirety but were instead looking for fleeting moments within the dances that would look good on film and covered all the dance-types, costumes and characters taking part in the competition.

The final filming sequence was carried out at around 11pm once the competition was over and most of the contestants had left (a long day after a 9am start). This was with Bradley and Soren in all their finery doing a very professional job of opening and closing the documentary. It’s just so nice to work with people who shine on camera.

Documentary tools

All filming was carried out by two videographers (Martin Baker and myself) using two DSLRs – namely a Canon 5D MkII and a 550D. All the interviews were filmed on the 5D using a Canon 24-105mm f.4 lens. For much of the day Martin was using the 550D with a vintage Fujinon 55mm f1.8 lens to gather the shallow depth of field shots. There’s also one or two shots in there where the 550D was mounted on my iFootage Mini Crane and using a Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 super wide zoom – plus there’s also a slide using the Varavon Slidecam 900. Lighting was provided by two Lishuai LED lighting panels.

Shooting the same-sex event documentary
Shooting the same-sex

The majority of interview sound was recorded in-camera via the Tascam DR-60D recorder/mixer using a Sony ECM674 directional mic on phantom power. This was the first real field test for the Tascam and I have to say it was fantastic. There was however two interviews where we used our Sony tie-clip mic connected directly to the camera – namely the interview with Supadance Chairman, Barry Free and the vox-pop with Strictly Come Dancing’s Erin Boag. These came out OK – but I think you can tell the difference.

The editing took three days to complete and was all carried out on our Edius 6.5 edit suite. The only exception to this was the opening graphics and caption lower 3rds which were all created in PhotoShop and then imported into Edius as separate layers and animated.

Music is always a challenge with Supadance films as you have to avoid tracks which are obviously either ballroom or Latin. It simply doesn’t look right if there’s Latin music over the top of a couple ballroom dancing. It might not get spotted by the uninitiated but for anyone involved in the world of dance it’s going to look very odd indeed. Thankfully AKM Music came to my rescue again with the track ‘Celebration’ from the album AK157 ‘Positivity’.

Making a documentary go viral

There’s a lot of talk about videos going viral and how best to achieve it. The fact is that “viral” is a relative term and a documentary on what is a special interest subject is unlikely to ever reach the heady heights of films about cats and dogs doing funny things. Going viral is therefore really about getting your content shared by as many people within the target audience as possible. It’s never a one-man job and has to be a collaborative effort by all those with a vested interest in the film.

As the producer I’ve obviously got an interest in spreading the documentary about as much as I can and have tweeted, added to Facebook, blogged about it, added to my YouTube and Vimeo channels and took various Instagram pictures during the event and after. Bradley and Soren have since shared the video in various ways throughout the same-sex dance community whilst Supadance will be using the film as part of the media library on their website and will also be screening it at mainstream dance events they are involved in. It’s very early days as I write this blog but the documentary was watched over 700 times in the first day of going live. In my mind that’s gone viral!

Commissioning a documentary

Whether you are into same-sex dance or not doesn’t really matter, the point is that any organisation can commission a documentary that will engage with your target audience and help augment your brand. There must of course be a reason or aim of the video in commercial terms (this one was, “Buy more Supadance shoes”), but the art is making something that your audience will want to watch and share with others with a similar interest.

If you think you have a story to tell contact us today for a free consultation and we’ll go through the process and costs of getting your documentary out there.

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Christmas cheer from Video Artisan

This is just a final Christmas message and thank you to all my fantastic clients who have made my first year back behind camera so amazing.  If I had a crystal ball back in February when I launched Video Artisan – and could see where I am today – I’d be astonished at how well I’ve done.

I’m particularly grateful to Supadance for being my first corporate video customer (and having commissioned me to produce 4 more films since).  Another person to show faith in me was my good friend Paul Jaffe at Eiger Safety whose rope access film (nay Epic) is still in production. He just keeps on winning new and exciting projects which just simply have to be filmed – but we really are going to push towards completing this in the New Year (aren’t we Paul? : ))

There’s been many more clients since then – some of which you’ll be hearing about in the New Year.

Needless to say that winning the Open Category at the IOV Awards was a very special achievement for me this year and gave me the kind of boost that’s hard to quantify.  Getting a 2nd place in the Documentary Category was just icing on the cake.

Like I said, an amazing year that has completely blown away my expectations. And if the bookings and enquiries for early 2013 are anything to go by then this is just the start of something really special.

Last but not least – and maaaaaaaaaaaassive thanks to my wife, Tiff, for never doubting that I was doing the right thing.  You are always right dear! ; )

So have a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year everyone. I’m off to crack open the sherry!

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corporate video production

Corporate Video production for All

Get your next corporate video on-line, on-cue and on-budget!

Thank you for your interest in our corporate video and business-based media production services.  We specialise in the creation and delivery of effective company video communications to businesses and organisations of all sizes.  Our aim is to help our clients to benefit from incorporating video content into their day-to-day business communications. Video Artisan has a wealth of experience and the creative talents to match any business film requirement.

Why commission a corporate video?

A well produced video is the best way to engage with your audience.  It delivers a consistent message in an easy to consume and adaptable format.  You only have to look at the rising prevalence of YouTube and Vimeo to see just how important online video has become in SEO.  Today, a website without a properly indexed and relevant video will rank lower than one that does – full stop!

There are probably many more reasons to commission a video but the most common goals are that you want to:

  • create wealth for your business
  • offer a more cost effective means of achieving a goal
  • and/or augment your brand and raise its profile.

Why Video Artisan?

Above everything else, we understand that your video is a business tool that has one of the above objectives to meet.

With our in-depth understanding of the technology, coupled with our creative approach to developing innovative ways of engaging your audience, Video Artisan can offer a complete script-to-screen service at very competitive prices.

Want to know how much a corporate video production will cost? Click here to read our useful article.

Are you ready to find out more?

For a no-obligation consultation please feel free to contact us today.  We would be more than happy to discuss your ideas and requirements and come up with a proposal which fits your needs, desires and budget.

Please call 020 3602 3356 or 0777 153 5692  – or Email: kevin@video-artisan.com

A bit more about Kevin Cook and Video Artisan

Kevin Cook first started in corporate video in 1985 and has helped many companies and organisations develop their video content for training, promotional, online and branding purposes. Kevin has also written many articles and papers on the subject, as well as giving presentations throughout the UK and Ireland on corporate video.

With contacts throughout the film, tv and creative-freelance community, Kevin is able to pool together and manage large creative teams on more demanding projects.

One of the few cameramen with NATO Secret Clearance.

Corporate video montage copy
Choose the right partner to produce your next corporate video

Services include
Concept Development, Script Writing and Storyboard Design
Freelance Producer/Director, Videographer, Editor
Web encoding and video SEO
File format conversions and duplication

Client & Production Credit List include
Air Products, Cimar, CAT Publications, Robertson & Co., JVC Professional, AKM Music, Crown Media, The MOD, NATO, Galliard Homes, Stylfile, Hyper Recruitment Solutions, Supadance International, Beaver84Eiger Safety, Sony Broadcast & Professional, N2 Visual Communications, Robert Dyas, Hanover Foundation, Picco Dolly, Hills Pet Foods, Maspalomas Princes Hotel, Marley, LaRoche, Olympus HiSpeed Tests, Distillers MG, Fernaux Avionics, Tolmink, Waltham Forest Social Services, SelClene, Europa Logistics, Ultimate Animates