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7 Steps to a Great Video Script

  • July 23, 2018
Video Script Example

In the late '90s I interned at a production company that made a half-hour program for PBS each week on various foreign policy and national security issues. The other intern and I lobbied hard to have a crack at creating an episode on our own. Our superiors eventually relented and we were assigned a story on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Pretty dry stuff, which is probably why they gave it to us. Be careful what you wish for. We did this assignment just before the dawn of non-linear editing, so when we got into post-production it meant working with videotape decks. The way it worked in those days is once you had a completed script you popped a blank videotape in one deck and…

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Choosing a Nonprofit Video Subject: 6 Important Criteria

  • June 14, 2018
International Development Video Subject

By now you know that videos are a highly effective method for promoting your nonprofit organization or international development agency's message. But not any old video will do that. We have seen that audiences engage only when the quality of the video is high. The foundation of a quality nonprofit video is built upon the people the video focuses on, especially your primary subject. Choose wisely and you've got a big asset for your fundraising efforts. Choose poorly and you've got a video that is dead on arrival. When it comes to the latter, no matter how stellar the other elements of the video might be — graphics, cinematography, music — nothing is going to help overcome a weak subject. We recently completed a international…

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Koyaanisqatsi: A Documentary Film to Blow Your Mind

  • June 6, 2018
Koyaanisqatsi Documentary Film

Wow, 35 years! That’s how long it’s been since Godfrey Reggio’s seminal film, Koyaanisqatsi came out, challenging our beliefs about what a documentary could be. I watched it again last week while gearing up to make a new documentary here in LA. The story I’m trying to tell is more of an essay film, which demands more of viewers than a traditional narrative documentary with a conventional plot. That’s why I turned to Koyaanisqatsi for a little inspiration. How did it manage to blow our minds without a word of dialogue?   Time-lapse, how I love you so During the first half of the film, I could only assume that the time-lapse shot was a true innovation back in 1982, because the long takes…

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Aerial Drone Video for Story (Part 3/3): 13 Shots Toward More Artistry in Aerial Cinematography

  • May 31, 2018
Drone Videography

If you haven’t read them yet, check out part 1 and part 2 of this series. I left you at sunset in Haiti, maneuvering toward the mountainside shanties of the Petionville neighbhorhood. My trusty cheat sheet is taped to my Phantom 4 controller to help me optimize: (1) initial settings, (2) big-picture creative approaches; and (3) specific shot techniques. This post covers part 3: the 13 shots that have helped me try to be more artistic with my aerial cinematography. 1. Neverending Crane. This shot helps link an object or a location to a wider context. Check out this Bjork video, directed by Spike Jonze. The final crane shot is surprising, majestic, and visually conclusive. You can do similar things with your drone shots. Check…

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Aerial Drone Video for Story (Part 2/3): Where’s WALLDO?

  • May 23, 2018
Drone Videography

So, I’m at my hotel in the Petionville neighbhorhood in Haiti, with the Phantom 4 in the air and the controller in my hands. [If you haven’t read part 1, you can check it out here.] My trusty cheat sheet is taped to my Phantom 4 controller. It’s been a lifesaver to help me keep my shots story-oriented and diverse. After all, my brain is fairly occupied just operating the drone, so it’s awesome to have a checklist for: (1) initial settings, (2) big-picture creative approaches to shooting; and (3) specific shot techniques. This post concerns part 2: WALLDO, which stands for Wide, Angled, Low, Linking, Depth, and Opposite. It’s a Cliff’s Notes for video production in the field, but I use it for aerials as…

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Aerial Drone Video for Story (Part 1/3): How a Cheat Sheet Can Free Your Mind!

  • May 16, 2018

A client from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) asked me last month to produce a video in Haiti. While we were developing story, we got on the subject of aerial cinematography. “It’s not special anymore,” he grumbled. “When I see aerial, I want it to have a purpose, to be linked to the story.” I agreed whole-heartedly. When I arrived in Port-au-Prince, I had half a day to kill, so I got my Phantom 4 out to scout the area. I've done a lot of drone video in Los Angeles, but this was my first time in Haiti. I introduced myself to the security guards in the hotel, then launched safely at the edge of the property away from people. (If you’re still…

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