The Good and the Bad: What We Learned In 2016

Somebody famous once wrote, "Those who refuse to learn from history are destined to flunk it." (Brynden insists this is not correct, but was voted down.)

The point is, at the New Year we should all be looking back as much as looking forward. Otherwise, twelve months from now we'll find ourselves with that depressing version of deja vu. 

So here we go.

The Technology That Lived Up To The Hype

Early last year we decided to replace our array of big sky pan lights. These twelve monsters could light up the stage like it was high noon. But they also radiated enough heat to cook the talent like a convenience store taquito. And at the same time they sucked enough power to cause rolling brown-outs all the way up to St. Johns.

But you can't shoot in the dark. So we invested in six LED SkyPanels.

"These babies are going to blow you away," our lighting rep said with a German accent. He was right. This was one case where the technology exceeded the hype.

After some careful testing, we invited the first brave producers to try the SkyPanels on some real shoots. It was a yuge success. Not only did these lights take less time to set (everything, including gel color is configured through a control board). But the light quality was outstanding. 

We were achieving that bright, shadow-free look that you normally only get outside on an overcast day. And the power savings were unreal. Electricity for a 10 hour day went from nearly $300 to less than $10. Enough savings to take the entire crew on a dinner cruise. (Ha! Good one.)

But the SkyPanels had one more trick up their sleeve. Their light is so bright and their color so accurate, it turns out we can use them to "paint" the cyc for green screen shots. Again, hats off to the brave producers who first tried this on a real shoot. It looked great and the client appreciated the savings.

We recommend this technique for medium and close shots where the talent can be a minimum of 15 feet from the cyc wall.

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Now for the down side of 2016. More than ever, it was the year of the "nimble" production. Don't you just love euphemisms?

To put it bluntly, clients who saw digital technology and the collaborative economy driving down prices while increasing productivity in other sectors, assumed that the same would be true for production.

A number of times this year we were sorry to see producers and creative agencies caught under the pressure of unrealistic client expectations. 

There is something magical about a finished piece that touches your heart and changes your mind. But the process of creating it is not magic. It takes talented people, adequate equipment, and lots and lots of pre-planning.

Our New Year's resolution for 2017 is to do a better job helping you plan for your clients' success. Please call us early in the creative process and we can be your logistics experts.

"Yes, you can recreate the chariot race in Ben-Hur. But you probably won't be wrapped by lunch."

¡Si, Se Puede! (Yes, You Can!)

The flip-side of the technology coin is that huge improvements in things like cameras and lighting mean that you CAN do great looking work on a modest budget. Over the past year we've been proud to assist local producers who have been doing national-calibre work without breaking the bank.

The key has been thorough pre-production planning. For example, when you need to shoot multiple locations in a single day, you must think through every detail and then ask, "What could possibly go wrong?" And then have a backup plan.

Directors and producers are great at thinking creatively. We want to be more help in thinking logistically, i.e., "Here's what could go wrong."
It's ironic that the more experienced you get as a producer, the more you're willing to listen to the advice of other veterans. It's the new guys who always think everything is going to automatically happen according to plan.

So help us fulfill our New Year's resolution of being a better planning resource for you. Give us a call before everything is set in stone.

Our goal for 2017 is to make you look like a total creative genius to your clients. We want them to think they'd be nuts to go with anybody else.