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Be so good they can't ignore you!

We recently covered the PMI Global Conference 2016 in San Diego. We had a major task of creating a fast turnaround highlights video to be played at the conclusion of the event, which would include footage from the final keynote that was set to finish just minutes before our video was to be played. We were also picking up interview footage from leaders within the organisation, and covering as much as we could of the various breakout sessions, of which at times there were as many as 8 running simultaneously. Oh and did I mention our flight got cancelled the night before and we spend most of the night stuck in Detroit airport. We arrived in San Diego around 4am and got about an hour sleep before covering the full day event and the evenings award ceremony, and the networking dinner at the conclusion. We then stayed up all that night editing the highlights video, l;having a couple of gaps for the footage we knew we would be grabbing in the morning. 

The next morning we were back stage dumping cards as we captured the footage from the final mornings proceedings, and compiled them in to the edit. We got the final cut out to the AV team backstage with about 8 minutes to spare, they had a quick look on their preview monitor and we were ready to rock.

The video was played to conclude the conference for 2016 and was met with great applause, we also took a little pride in the fact that we drew a tear or two from the host and one of the leaders at PMI who was on stage at the time. We have since been swarmed with conference organisers and company directors who saw what we were able to do and want a similar product. They were studded at the quality of the video we were able to turn around in such a shot time, and the fact that the edit included shots from the keynote they had just finished watching!

I think this is just a little reminder to me that all the marketing dollars in the world can never compare to going above and beyond, creating something fast fresh and exciting, and delivering an exceptional product! We certainly made the most of the opportunity to show our product to the 2,000+ audience there and lived by one of Vinhs favourite mottos, “Be soo good they can’t ignore you!”

 

Craig Gibbons

Co-Founder Luminary Studios

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Filming on the fly

There's definitely something cool about travelling for work, and it brings a whole new meaning to "filming on the fly".. 

Fast setup filming gear is essential, it all needs to be light enough and minimal enough to fit in to my carry on luggage, so it's accessible at all times. We are heading to the Gold Coast and Sydney for 3 days full of conference filming, and we plan on making some awesome social content on the road. The only time we have for filming social content is in transit, airport lounges, planes, ubers and maybe at our hotel if there is time.. I will be keeping my Sony FS7 on me at all times, as well as my Blackmagic pocket cinema camera, and I plan on bringing a new meaning to efficient use of time!

 

- Craig Gibbons

Co- Founder Luminary Studios

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Life Lessons

One thing I love about Calvin is that no matter how bad his point is, he always makes it convincingly.

One thing I love about Calvin is that no matter how bad his point is, he always makes it convincingly.

I remember I was given a collection of Calvin & Hobbes strips ("Revenge of the Babysat") one year as a birthday present.  Bill Watterson wrote & illustrated one strip per day for a decade.  His acidic tone appealed to me immediately but it was his pervasive sense of wonder that kept me coming back.

Even the greats have off days ;)

Even the greats have off days ;)

As I've grown older, what's continued to amaze me about C&H is its ability to convey a complex idea in just a few panels.  There's a ruthless efficiency at play & yet, despite the inevitability of the final-panel punch line it rarely feels like a formula & you never feel short changed.

It's exactly the same with film & video, especially when you're working inside the commercial space.  You start with an idea, allow it to grow organically & then prune it back to just the bare essentials.  The viewer needs to buy into the concept & emotionally connect to the pay off in the shortest time possible.  All without any evidence of the process itself being visible.

This strip is one of my favourites.  I suspect it came about after a particularly harsh conversation with an art critic.

This strip is one of my favourites.  I suspect it came about after a particularly harsh conversation with an art critic.

It's no coincidence that every major production is storyboarded before a single frame is shot.  I regularly get asked who my favourite filmmaker is, or what my favourite movie is.  I'm never able to give people a satisfactory answer.  My single biggest influence though?  It will always be Calvin & Hobbes.

Brecon James

Co-Founder Luminary Studios

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Climbing Social.

One of my social videos.  36,000 views and counting on Facebook.  Video engages my audience, it builds rapport & it provides credibility to my client base in a way that nothing else can.  Direct Link

Companies spend a lot of time and money on "customer engagement" and over the last twelve months the corporate world has started to shift its resources to do this via social media.  Up until now, corporates have been cautiously exploring social, only allocating a small amount of their marketing budgets towards it.  Now, it’s rapidly becoming the dominant form.  

I’ve been developing my own social media profile for a while now and I’ve seen the results that time, effort (and expense) have given me.  Knowing that social works for my business is different from knowing that social works for every business however and it’s fascinating to see such a huge shift taking place in larger businesses and see how they’re choosing to tackle social media. 

As a keynote speaker, I get the opportunity to learn from companies all around the world and I get to see how they react to trends and how they position themselves in the marketplace.  From my experience, I feel that many businesses are over complicating social media when it's actually quite simple:

Business has always been about people. We do business with people that we like - we always have - business hasn’t changed. However, the platform in which we do business has changed significantly. 

Not too long ago, if you ate out at a beautiful restaurant and had an amazing experience you may end up telling 5 of your friends at the next get together.  Now, if you eat somewhere amazing you'll post it on Facebook along with a photo of your meal to your 300+ friends on Facebook.  

If we simplify it - "social media" is still people, it’s still about relationships. We just need to learn how to best use these new platforms (ie. Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to engage people.

 

Relationships used to be built in person, but now relationships can be built online and at scale.

 

When I give a keynote, I’m lucky enough to be able to build relationships at scale.  With social media, our companies are on-stage & we can scale our customer relationships with ease.

In order to form a connection & build our customer relationships we need to be adding value where they are paying attention.  No one pays attention to TV ads anymore, most people either fast forward ads or they immediately go to their phone when ads are on.  If your goal this year is to engage and develop a more meaningful relationship with your customers then social is your answer. 

If you do some due diligence, you'll find that video is the most engaging format to be creating content.  Just think about what you do on Facebook - Are you just looking mainly at photos or are you watching more videos? What engages you more?  What do you react to ?

As a great marketer somewhere once said "If you get to know yourself, you'll understand your customer."

-Vinh Giang

Co-Founder Luminary Studios

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The importance of relationships: Client Spotlight - CDW Studios

Hot off the press.  This trailer is for CDW Studios brand new Masters offering with Flinders University.


CDW Studios is one of the most interesting new companies in South Australia and a very special client of ours.  A design school with a twist, it started out in 2011 as a series of workshops held around Australia, bringing in hard-hitting talent from the west coast of the USA.  The focus was concept art:  rapid-ideation illustrations which establish the look and feel for feature films & videogames. 

Humble Beginnings.  An image from the very first Concept Design Workshop held in 2011 at the Nexus Arts Centre in Adelaide

What made these workshops (and later the school) unique was that there were no academics preaching from the pulpit.  Every teacher was a seasoned professional, earning mid six figure incomes to work their craft.  Each one of these teachers brought their passion for art and the industry to every session & inspired students to reach higher and work harder.  Every one of these teachers had to fight to make it in the industry and loved the opportunity to give something back to students.

12 months later, a much less cobbled-together workshop in Wellington, NZ.

Striking a nerve with local artists, the workshops were a runaway success, expanding to NZ the following year.  After flying around the country for several years, husband & wife team Simon & Shelley had to find a more permanent solution to meet the demand.

The school was officially founded in 2013 at The Myer Centre in Adelaide & has managed to grow year-over-year - despite being a private institution without student eligibility for government support.  This year they’re celebrating a major win by partnering with Flinders University, a move which formalises their qualifications & secures much needed government support to their students.

The kind of photo you regret for the rest of your life.  A glamour shot of Simon Shamelessly poached From Adelaide Now <3

Where CDW's story meets ours is just before their very first event.  Simon was in need of a tech-savvy video team to cover his event & he wanted a full HD live switch between the computer monitor, the audience & stage for 12 hours a day every day for two weeks.  These days that isn’t so much of an ask - but 5 years ago the tech hurdles would have killed most video companies.

A still frame from a video of Ryan with the Pedders Mascot at the ARC way back in 2009.  I was behind the camera :)

Meanwhile, our own Ryan Jones had been playing in the start up space with a bent towards live streaming for several years (his company Pure Motorsport was the first to live broadcast Australian Rally Championship video content online) which had earned him some notoriety.  Ryan and myself go back a long way and I had been his go-to-video-guy whenever he had a project in the works.  

Apparently it's quite hard to find a good shot of Simon & Shelley together, so I took this cute photo straight from facebook :)

As Adelaide tends to go, a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-business-acquaintance introduced Ryan to Simon.  Ryan, having projects coming out his ears (as always) was unable to commit, so he introduced Simon to me.

At the time I was working as the production manager at a TV station that was in the process of being steered off the edge of a cliff.  Luckily, and in part due to this, I had an arrangement with the management that I could take on freelance work from time to time so when Ryan gave me a call, I arranged two weeks leave to put a team together to cover Simon’s workshop.

Little did we know that that workshop would be the genesis for our company in its current form.  It was working with CDW & the positive feedback we received that gave us the confidence to leave our jobs & create our own company - not just act as freelancers on the side.  We put in our notice to the station shortly after. 

Since then, we have had the privilege of covering every CDW event & have created all of their top tier promotional content.  The school has been a big believer in video - and in our capability to deliver - & we have completed dozens of projects together.  When CDW opened their doors at the Myer Centre in 2013, Simon & Shelley offered us office space for our edit suites.

There's a lot of love in the team.  Craig & Vinh share a romantic moment at TGI Fridays in the Dallas Airport.

Simon also introduced us to Vinh - in a similar friend-of-a-friend-of-a-business-acquaintance kind of a way - when he was first exploring the online video space with Encyclopaedia of Magic.  Together, Craig & Myself pumped out hundreds of videos for EoM (no exaggeration - we were doing 25 per week at one point).  The strength of that relationship ultimately led to us merging our company with Vinh to create Luminary together.

CDW are more than just a client to us; they're friends, they're supporters & kindred spirits.  Their company is the exact same age as ours -- pretty much to the day.  Building a dream isn't an easy process & you need every piece of help you can get along the way.  One of the things I'm most proud of in my working life is to see not only the team that came together more than five years ago still working together today but also to still be working closely with the client that started it all.

-Brecon James

Co-Founder Luminary Studios

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Keep on Firing.

I am so lucky to be working in a job with flexibility, and have an amazing team that always has my back.

I recently tore my ACL (Anterior cruciate ligament) and have had to stay off my feet for the last week. I am in the very convenient position where I can work from my laptop at home, and use tools like Skype to keep up with any meetings and communication, Dropbox to send and receive the required video to get my work done, and Asana to keep an eye over all developments!

Today's technology lends itself to situations like my current one, so it's just up to me to keep the right attitude and make use of it!

What also helps situations like this is having a great team who have my back. I don't mean to brag but I believe we have the best video team going around, we are always looking out for each other and supporting each other, and picking up the slack when someone has to drop off. We set such high standards for ourselves and we feed off of each other's motivation and successes, so when somebody is down, everyone else somehow finds another level to step up to and we are able to maintain our high level of quality and progress. It's a very comforting thing to know that you have a solid net waiting there of ever you fall.

You always hear people talk about how in war, it is so crucial to know the person next to you has your back, that they know what they are doing and have the skills to execute their task, and most importantly that they have the heart and loyalty to stick in there when the going gets tough. So when you get shot (or tear an ACL) your brothers and sisters will throw your arm over their shoulder and carry you forward with them, the least I can do is keep shooting with my other arm.

-Craig Gibbons

Co-Founder Luminary Studios

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All Chips In.

At least one video per week - every week.  I vary the style and content of my videos to keep people checking my page & clicking to the next video.  I also keep a close eye on the view count and comments to see what resonates with my audience and what doesn't.

At least one video per week - every week.  I vary the style and content of my videos to keep people checking my page & clicking to the next video.  I also keep a close eye on the view count and comments to see what resonates with my audience and what doesn't.

Coming from a strong business and entrepreneurial background I wanted to share my thoughts on how I've used video to build my speaking career.

You may not know this but as well as being a director here with Luminary I also have an international speaking business. You can find find out more about what I do as a speaker at www.facebook.com/askvinh

There you will see that I am going "all in" with video content - I am investing in social videos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even linkedin. My speaking business has exploded over the last 12 months since I've started to invest more heavily into video marketing.

No matter how many different social platforms pop up, remember that ultimately human behaviour remains pretty much the same:  We all want to feel connected with the people that we do business with, we want to feel a sense of rapport with them.

Back in the early 2000s the opportunity for the customer to build this rapport with you would have only been possible when they first set foot in your office.  However, the world has changed.  People are now able to engage with you and your business online in multiple ways.  No matter what business we are in we need to become more aware that rapport with our customers is built before they even come into the office. The first place of meeting is almost always online now.

What better way to create an amazing first impression on your customers with a well made video?  I believe in this so much that I create videos on a weekly basis to not only build a good first impression with my new customers but also to stay connected with my existing customers and continually add value to them so that I stay top of mind for referrals.

A simple premise to never forget:

Human beings are powered by emotion and not by reason. The difference between emotions and reason is that emotions lead to action and reasons lead to conclusions. 

Marketing is no longer only about what products or services we offer - it's about marketing our values and beliefs as a business. This is far more powerful - by sharing with people we believe in and visa versa we create a rapport that's incredibly powerful.

Videos are an amazing vehicle to move people emotionally, which leads to more business

I will be heavily investing my time and money into this area in 2016, I will definitely keep everyone posted on how it goes!

-Vinh Giang

Co Founder Luminary Studios

Case Study

This video immediately gained traction when I released it and if you look in the comments below:

In the spirit of research, I looked her up on linkedin and she was a conference organiser in the U.S -- and now, in 2016 I'm flying over there to do multiple conferences. What I took away from this is that we don't need 1 million views on our content we just need one meaningful view by the right person! 

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Age-Old Composition Rules Have Room For Make Over (A love note to Mr Robot)

This guy knew how to look at things in a different way.

This guy knew how to look at things in a different way.

 

Today I really want to talk about some new compositional opportunities that have opened up with digital TV & internet delivery.  Before I dive in to the topic, if you need a kick-starter or a refresher course, this article provides an excellent overview of composition rules. 

In many ways, composition in cinema is a language of convenience.  Not convenient for the D.O.P - but convenient for the audience.  It could be (successfully) argued that cinema's visual flow is built entirely on viewer comfort and immersion.  A general rule of thumb is that cinematography shouldn't draw attention to itself & it shouldn't disconnect the audience from the film.  It's always there to enhance the action - to keep up the subterfuge that what you're watching is real.

Leading the eye is the central tenet of composition - whether through Depth of Field, Leading Lines, or Points of Contrast.  Examples taken from The Third Man.

For TV, there was an entirely different set of problems.  Resolution was low and tube sets cropped up to 20% off the borders of the image.  Older sets were the worst culprits, but as long as the 4:3 box remained the standard, composition had to adhere to the requirements of the oldest sets out in the wild.

For TV, there was an entirely different set of problems.  Resolution was low and tube sets cropped up to 20% off the borders of the image.  Older sets were the worst culprits, but as long as the 4:3 box remained the standard, composition had to adhere to the requirements of the oldest sets out in the wild.

For that reason, I disagree that "every frame is a painting"* as much as "every frame is a well thought out compromise".   Shots aren't conceived in isolation & the point of focus is held in the same area of the frame throughout a shot sequence.  Not only is this visually attractive but it keeps the audience's eyes from having to constantly seek across the screen, which creates fatigue, immersion loss and irritability. 

This reliance on fixed eye position is even more critical for modern cinema which preferences rapid-cutting over long-takes.  An onslaught of cuts is incoherent unless the eye is able to rest.

More over,  cinema had been being increasingly shot with broadcast & home video in mind, which meant that films needed to be viewable with the top and bottom 20% of the image cropped.  The forever maligned Pan & Scan could compensate for the extreme Left-to-Right cropping of widescreen releases (kinda…), but the overscan loss was an unavoidable limitation of the medium itself.  

 

The Sting was shot open matte in order to evoke the feeling of 1930s cinema, which had a 4:3 or "Academy standard" Aspect Ratio.  Knowing that the film would be cropped by less-aware projectionists, it was shot to work in both the original Academy and standard 35mm ratios as well as respecting the cropping margins for broadcast.  The final film is perhaps a perfect compromise; it manages to work in every one of it’s aspect ratios yet it isn’t visually stunning in any of them.  Relying far more on its star power and dense plotting you don't notice the visual compromises unless you're looking out for them..

This is where the phrase “… as it was meant to be seen!” originated when plastered on billboards for film revivals.  It’s not just about the picture being bigger and the smell of popcorn; it’s about how your eyes follow the action.  When you’re sitting at home viewing the image on a 40” screen (and previously, on a badly cropped release), there’s no seek-time for your eyes so you end up pre-empting the action rather than following it.

And this brings me to the point.  As long as we were tethered to huge cinema screens & low resolution TVs that required compromise on all fronts there was little room for exploration outside of the well established rules.

Youtube has been a fascinating breeding ground of ghetto-composition-techniques (both good and bad) for years now -- kind of an "outsider art" for the film world.  But now, with exploration in TV being actively encouraged, it finally seems to be gaining traction at a wider level:

Even five years ago this would have been a physical impossibility on network TV since the actor would have been standing outside the viewable space. Now, with the final switch to digital broadcasting (and the increasing acknowledgment of TV as an artistic medium in its own right) expect more and more shows to start exploring the edges of the frame.

This shot is all wrong.  Which is what makes it so right.

Who let the work experience kid frame the shot ?

These still were all taken from Mr Robot, a new show from 2015.  It isn't the best 'new' show from the last twelve months but the uniqueness of its aesthetic makes it one of the most interesting.  While there are a few noticeably bad shots, they are few and far between & the dedication to the style makes it a very impressive visual achievement.  I'm very interested to see where we go from here & looking forward to further exploring the boundaries inside my own space.

-Brecon James

Co Founder Luminary Studios

 

 

That is an absolutely killer youtube channel though.  Highly recommended :)

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No Second Takes.

Shots like this require some prep beforehand and are risky to pull off but that's exactly why the payoff works.

Being the on-stage camo at a live event requires steady hands and a cool head.  Keeping out of the way of band members, avoiding thrown beverages, staying out of view of the other cameras but still recording A-Shots is no easy task.

Being the on-stage camo at a live event requires steady hands and a cool head.  Keeping out of the way of band members, avoiding thrown beverages, staying out of view of the other cameras but still recording A-Shots is no easy task.

Pre-Production is essential and client budgets only go so far.  For my own personal peace of mind, it's always worth doing that little bit of extra preparation to make sure the shoot goes smoothly and my work is at its best.  

When shooting a live event, As much confidence I have in myself on camera, I always take any chance to get in before rehearsals and sound check to look around the empty space where I will be filming. When I'm doing a roving camera op it's important to familiarise myself with the location/venue, check for vantage points, practice any camera movements, and generally give myself every chance of being ready, because in live performances you only get one take.

The logging window of Adobe Prelude.

When I used to work as an in-house editor, this was on the wall of the edit suite.  Harsh, but true.  There's never been a greater lie than "fix it in post!" 

At the end of a shoot, I love going through my own footage and knowing I nailed it.  Logging footage is a time consuming task but for larger projects it's an essential part of the workflow.  Keeping on top of it & always being keen to check over your footage prevents it from ever feeling like a chore.

Its always good to critique your own footage so you are constantly improving, and it's always a good feeling when you come across those key moments in a performance and knowing you smashed the money shot..

Having pride in your work and going that extra mile is important in any job -- keep sight of that and people will keep coming back to you!

-Craig Gibbons

Co-Founder Luminary Studios

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How to become a better director?

I had an extremely interesting chat with a good friend of mine who's an artist. I asked him, "How did you become so good at drawing??", He told me that most people seem to think that to become an amazing artist, you need to spend all your time drawing and sketching.  He says to me: 

"To become an amazing artist it's not only about learning how to draw better, it's also about learning how to see better."

This gave me a lot of insight into how I could improve as a director. Directors create an experience for their audience, and if I want to create a better experience, it means that I don't only focus on directing techniques. I need to improve my ability to be able to experience things in my life, in improving my ability to experience life, I will be able to recreate more vivid and powerful videos for my audiences to enjoy. This is a simple lesson but powerful one, I've taken it on board as a director, speaker, magician and entrepreneur. I have seen an immense sense of growth in all areas since I've adopted this mindset.

Vinh Giang

Co-Founder

Luminary Studios

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Nice Camera - But What Can You Do With it ?

The camera inside this phone is infinitely more capable than the camera I started with.  The resolution is sixteen times greater, it performs better in low light and third party software makes it far more than just a point-and-shoot camera..  It has its own limitations -- but limitations can be your best friend :)

When I think of breakthrough independent cinema, I think of films like Night of the Living Dead, Clerks or Eraserhead or to a lesser extent Cube, El Mariachi or Bad Taste.  These films have many things in common: a micro budget, a first time director, immense sacrifice & finally huge international success.

Fun Fact:  Clerks (1994) was shot in Black and White because there was no budget for a proper lighting rig.  The mixed colour temperatures onset would have been prohibitively expensive to correct, so they decided to solve the problem in the easiest way possible:  shoot on black and white film stock

All of these films were also made well before the DSLR revolution & the much heralded Democratisation of Filmmaking that came with it.  Half of that list were shot in Black and White (and I could add Following and Pi to tip the scale further in B&Ws favour..) & were shot with limited availability of equipment, actors, locations, glass & perhaps most importantly:  Film Stock.

Every foot of stock was precious; every frame cost money up front and on the back end in Lab costs.  Nothing was wasted.  The price for failure was also much higher:  If your film failed to secure a distributor, you had little to no hope of a second opportunity.  I suspect this is why when we think of break out indy flicks, they’re almost all first-timers.  There must be a huge sea of one-time film makers that spent the rest of their lives paying off a debt (The Wizard of Speed and Time), or taking the long way around to getting a second opportunity at success (Monte Hellman).

Fun Fact: Peter Weir's  feature debut The Cars That Ate Paris was not a commercial success but he is one of the lucky few to have been given a second opportunity.  Picnic at Hanging Rock was released the following year (1975) to great acclaim.  Weir is better known these days as the director of The Truman Show and Dead Poets Society 

The Cars That Ate Paris remains a curiosity:  released 5 years before the era-defining Mad Max,  it together with Stone shaped the Australian Film Landscape far beyond their limited box office receipts.

Having grown up in the digital age, I missed having any direct experience in these developments.  My first exposure was using Betacam SP and MiniDV with Final Cut Pro for real-time capture.  A far cry from waiting on a lab, splicing film or even the relative-ease of tape driven Linear Machines for news gathering.

These freedoms allowed me to learn my craft much faster than any generation before me.  Theory was available in text books, online and equipment was readily accessible.  Mistakes weren’t costly to correct & iteration was fast.  It’s a gift all film makers today benefit from.

However I also believe this newfound flexibility is double edged - Having crawled through the video trenches I have seen much of the good and the bad that digital brings.  The wheat to chaff ratio is exponentially lower than it used to be (Ever tried to randomly find something good on youtube..?) & independent film makers are frequently lazy or insist on biting off more than they can chew.

The movies I listed at the beginning of this post were successful because in spite of their ambitions they had the steady hand of a filmmaker who could work effectively within hard-walled limitations.

Limitations fuel creativity & an empty canvas is the enemy.  Make a few marks, force your hand, then invent a way out.

-Brecon James

Co Founder Luminary Studios

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Make the most of your time!

Just because you're on a plane doesn't mean it's downtime :)

Just because you're on a plane doesn't mean it's downtime :)

We recently had some filming to do in Mumbai, India. The trip was always going to be crazy as we had jobs in Australia a day either side of the India job, and that left no time for any problems, everything was on a very tight schedule that had to be followed to precision for this to come off. Our initial job was in Hobart, and following that we were to fly to India, and be there for less than 12 hours before frantically flying back to make a job in Brisbane on the way home.  We would usually plan with plenty of margin for error, but sometimes the job does not allow such luxuries. The trip was successful, there were plenty of hurdles, but with a good combination of being as prepared as possible, and unstoppable forward motion, we managed to complete what would usually be a few weeks worth of work, in less than 5 days. I got some amazing footage that I couldn't wait to start editing, so I didn't. I made the most of the 14 hour flight back to Australia by putting out a few edits on the plane. When you enjoy your work and are motivated by success, its easy to smash work out day and night, and make the most of the 24 hours you're given each day. 

Tips for roving videographers:

Get a good laptop that can edit, your work back at home doesn't need to come to a screaming halt while you're away, you can edit from a hotel room just as easy as editing from an office. Make use of hotel rooms, green rooms, cab rides, plane flights to put your computer to work.Log and capture your footage as you go, and make sure you carry a couple of portable hard drives, its important to always back up your content, especially when in transit.  disguise expensive equipment. When you are in a foreign country you may need to take extra precautions against theft of your equipment. Video equipment can be hard to hide, but it is easy to make it look old or inexpensive. Try wrapping some brown tape around your lens, or keeping your gear in tacky looking bags, anything you can do to deter somebody from wanting to steal your expensive looking shiny things. Lastly, pack as light as you can, your mobility depends on it, and the more mobile you are the more locations and action you are likely to capture. Try using suitcases and backpacks instead of large hard cases and camera bags. I was able to take the foam inserts from my DJI Ronin hard case and fit them in to a suitcase, which also had room for a small tripod and all of my clothes, and with my Sony FS7 in my backpack (With a little extra padding), I was able to carry all my gear at once, and have one hand free.

- Craig Gibbons

Co-Founder Luminary Studios

 

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Meeting one of the worlds biggest producers!

You may not know the name Brian Grazer but you will definitely know the names of the movies that he's produced! 

It's been a dream of ours for years to meet this man and we never gave up on the dream. Being persistent for years we finally got to interview Brian Grazer on stage in front of 3,000 people in Los Angeles. Who would have thought that a small time Adelaide guy with his production team were able to meet one of the worlds top producers!! 

We firmly believe that "you are the direct reflection of the top 5 people you spend time with". By having such an amazing producer in our lives we are able to take what we do to the next level. 

Vinh and Brian Grazer on stage in L.A

Time to take things to the next level. 

-Vinh Giang

Co Founder Luminary Studios

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Taking massive imperfect action.

I only came across this phrase recently but it’s one I’ve learned to adopt.

When I’m behind the lens, I’m a perfectionist.  When I work, I need everything to be “just so”.  If it isn’t perfect, it isn’t right & if it isn’t right, it isn’t used.

To some extent that obsessive perfectionism has always been ameliorated by working in production environments - things had to be finished, they had to turn over, the next project had to come online and we had to keep moving.  But I still maintained as much perfectionism as time would allow.

I always considered that to be one of my core strengths; that my output would be the closest reflection of my peak capabilities.  But over the last few years I’ve come to realise I couldn’t be more wrong.  

The insistence on perfection; the time spent on set ups and iteration, on revision, was counterproductive to the project as a whole.  It was keeping me rigid; unable to roll with a punch.  I would be slow to respond to unforeseen difficulties on set, clear solutions wouldn’t be apparent because I would still be hung up on "the way it needed to be done”.

The last few weeks showed me just how far I’ve come since the early days when I first moved away from TV and into running my own business.  Our team has spent 15 days on the road, including a number of long haul plane flights.  We’ve been divided between two continents for the last week and yet we’ve completed two major projects (and 8 minor ones) all in the last 35 days.

All of these plates spinning at once, having to react to great upheaval and change, yet our output quality is as high as it’s ever been.  The last month has been intense — a challenge Vinh gave us as preparation for things to come — and not only did we all survive it but we’re looking forward to every new challenge that gets thrown our way.

I’m still proud of my perfectionism.  On the ground It’s critical to keep a sharp eye, to have spatial awareness,  to know if a take is ruined or if a shot won’t work.  To know exactly how all the pieces are going to translate from camera to editing.   But knowing where to draw the line, to maintain a birds eye view, to become an effective project manager has been a long road for me to travel.  I finally feel like I'm achieving a balance between the two warring sides.

This is a small behind the scenes clip from a particularly crazy social video we made for Vinh’s facebook page.  Last day of the USA trip, all of us sleep deprived.  Shot in a hotel room at 11pm, Cut from 1am-4am, uploaded by 7am.  Doesn’t get more massively imperfect than that:

 

Definitely one of the weirder things I’ve shot this month.  Check out the full video on Vinh’s facebook page www.facebook.com/askvinh

-Brecon James
Co-founder Luminary Studios

 

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Having the right gear for the job.

Looking Fancy.

Looking Fancy.

In the video world, to be the best is not just about being the most skilled with a camera or in the edit suite, don’t get me wrong, you do need that solid foundation, but having the right gear for a job can make a night and day difference in the final edit. Being able to pick up twice the amount of footage or fitting an extra location in to a shoot day can save a heap of time and clients $$

We try to pick up at least one bit of new equipment with every job we complete, this keeps our gear up to date and most importantly tailored to the type of work we are doing.

Knowing the right gear for camera movement can take footage to the next level. Wether it’s a slider, tracks, crane, steadycam.. there is always a way to get the perfect shot you’re looking for. 

Audio is something that is often overlooked, but can be a make or break for a professional production. We are always conscious of the type of mic that we are using, the best way to choose the right mic is to know the surroundings that your mic works best, where will it get the least amount of interference and what is likely to cause audio problems. 

Using a reflector is a much faster and more powerful way to light a subject outdoors.. Using a sun gun and making use of the natural light is another fast and effective way to set up controlled lighting on location. 

Having a small secondary camera is a great way to make sure we can get footage anywhere we go. I often use a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera for filming in those tricky places where large cameras are too obtrusive. Combine that with a wireless lapel hidden with a Rode invisiLav mounting system, and some Bose noise cancelling ear buds, I am a ninja ready to capture good video and audio, anywhere I go.

Investing in the right equipment and putting the hours in to be the best at using it, and having the knowledge to choose the right equipment for each job, not only increases the quality of video and audio we pick up, but it allows us to capture more footage in a shorter amount of time. 

Craig Gibbons

Co-Founder

Luminary Studios

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The new paradigm

Video marketing was far easier when TV was the dominant force; thirty seconds of eye candy, aural overload and unattainable ideals all blended together until the commercial took on a similar syrupy consistency to the soft drink it was pushing.

And for soft drink (or certain brands of sneakers), the paradigm really hasn’t shifted that much - people still like to be wowed with images of a lifestyle they will never possess.  They feel like they get to own a small part of that lifestyle every time they put on a pair of Nikes or crack open a bottle of Coke:

But when it comes to any product or service that hasn’t achieved this iconic status, people are far more discerning about where and how they spend their money. 

We are no longer a captive TV audience, held to ransom by commercial breaks.  Instead we are a mercurial and nomadic group that research what we buy before we buy it.  We feel a certain “wallet responsibility” and although we’re spending more than we ever have before, we don’t want to share our income with a business or individual that we feel is unworthy of our hard earned money.

There is an upshot to all of this though - viewer commitment.  When a viewer watches a video on your website, it’s no longer a passive television impression - where their senses must be inundated a number of times in order to parse the message.  There is the expectation of mutual respect -The viewer is active, they’re engaged, they’re switched on.  Their attention is squarely focused on your business — you have a product or service they already want — all that’s left is to win them over.  To give them permission to choose you over any other competitor. 

We’ve found that online video content is most successful when it achieves these four simple points:

• Informing the viewer

    (details about your product or service)

• Adding value to the viewer 

    (increase their knowledge base)

• Affirming your values and beliefs as a business     

    (breaking down the corporate-face & humanising the company)

• Creating a strong emotional connection with the viewer     

    (taking it a step further and help the viewer embrace the company as a collection of individuals.  Personal relationship)

The last point is what creates the strongest connection but it’s very difficult to access without also informing and adding value.  By showing a willingness to share information in your field of expertise, viewers are engaged, interested and ready to be emotionally drawn in.  I was somewhat disappointed (and vindicated at the same time ;)) to see Bunnings finally jump on the wagon not too long ago when they started a Bunnings TV youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/bunningswarehouse

And I have to say that as the wheel keeps turning for online media, I couldn’t be happier.  This dovetails neatly with my own beliefs and those of most businesses I’ve worked with.  The constraints of 30 second advertising had always forced them to oversimplify their message or to sell by-analogy rather than being able to share the strengths of the product or the core values of the business itself.  Now, as an industry, we can finally get our hands dirty & sink our teeth into creating genuinely excellent productions that create massive value for businesses and customers alike.  Not just a candy coated shell.

There’s never been a better time to be working in video.

- Brecon James
Co-founder Luminary Studios

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Amplifying the best parts of you and your business.

 

One of the biggest privileges in my life is that I am able to work with companies from all over the world and what I've learnt is that the businesses that do the best are the ones who understand how to amplify the best parts of themselves. 

Video is such a powerful medium right now that allows us to build our brand in a way like we've never been able to do before. We need to capitalise on this! We simply can not market like it's 2005 we are in 2015. Being able to work with such a wide variety of clients has given us so much insight into how you can use video to your advantage. 

-Vinh Giang

Co-founder Luminary Studios

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The connection between a; Magician, Director & a Keynote speaker.

Being a keynote speaker, director and also a magician I've started to discover the common thread that connect these 3 different worlds together. Story telling

You see as a magician if I just perform slight of hand it's not magic, the 'magic' component comes from the magicians ability to story tell and engage in the audiences emotions. 

Now as a speaker if I just go on stage and talk about my accomplishments people won't say it to my face but they will talk about how self-centred I am after I leave. But if I go on stage and tell my story, people feel inspired and motivated! 

As a director if direct a movie that has lots of VFX and jam packed full of action with no story, what happens? People watch the movie but immediately after they forget what happened and the movie has no real impact on the person. 

Through my journey I've started to understand the power behind story, the reason it's so powerful is because it makes people emotional, it makes them feel more alive. A good story is more powerful than you think. Now here is where it all comes together... 

At Luminary we understand a simple premise. Human beings are powered by emotion and not by reason. The essential difference between emotions and reason is that emotions lead to action and reasons lead to conclusions. This is so powerful once you fully understand it. 

As a video production company we aim to create pieces of art that will tell your story, that will lead people to take action. 

-Vinh Giang

Co-founder Luminary Studios

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