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Dani Lyman

4 Exotic Locations to Shoot Your Next Project

4 Exotic Locations to Shoot Your Next Project 6000 4000 Dani Lyman

When it comes to shooting abroad, nothing beats working with a local crew who understands the ins and outs of shooting in their own backyard. From Japan to the Outback, hiring a local Director of Photography not only can provide insight to running a local production, but can provide beautiful and authentic shots that up production quality and set your video apart from the rest.

The below video is an excellent example of cinematic B-Roll shot abroad. Instead of just capturing the typical famous locations, this DP went right to the heart of the city and was able to convey an authentic and impactful version of the culture. Beautiful and stunning, this piece captures what it feels like to be in this city and among its people.

While the DP has the ability to create the texture and tone of your video project, there are some behind the scenes positions that are incredibly important when shooting abroad. A must have crew member is definitely the Fixer. The Fixer is an invaluable local who helps with anything from transportation, hotel accommodations and meals, to acquiring local permits, scheduling and navigating the city. You can call them Production Coordinators and Producers rolled into one.

Additionally, it’s always helpful to hire a translator, a few camera assistants and production assistants to keep your shoot moving as smoothly as possible.

Crew Connection has talented, expert crews across the world who can provide original and gripping content for any type of video project. For your next shoot, consider hiring a local crew in one of these exotic locales:

Hong Kong

 

 

Peru

 

Australia

 

 

India

 

 

Top 3 Thanksgiving Commercials

Top 3 Thanksgiving Commercials 5409 3358 Dani Lyman

The holidays are officially upon us! When the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter, we know it’s time for America’s most gluttonous holiday; Thanksgiving! There is nothing quite like family and friends gathering over delicious food and football to remind us we have so much to be grateful for. Sure, pushy in-laws, awkward family tension, and holiday perfectionism can sometimes dampen the vibe, but a little bit of drama is part of the fun, isn’t it?

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the commercials. Businesses tend to up their game and hit you in the feels a little harder this time of year. It is a great opportunity for companies to demonstrate their heart, personality, and the effectiveness of video marketing.

With DVR and streaming services, you might have missed some of the great holiday content released the last several years. So, here are 3 Thanksgiving themed commercials from around the web that made us laugh, tugged on our heartstrings, and reminded us to be thankful for the little moments.

Spooky Creatures Come To Life With Antonina

Spooky Creatures Come To Life With Antonina 640 414 Dani Lyman

Special Makeup Artist Antonina Henderson is making a name for herself in the industry by creating elaborate creatures and transforming talent for film, TV and live events. The one-time U.S. Army firefighter turned artist found her calling in college and has since turned her passion into a blossoming career.

While Antonina’s resume ranges from weddings to Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No, we really wanted to get in the Halloween spirit and showcase some of her creepier work. Be sure to check out the eerie time-lapse of her ghoulish creation, Fluffy the Demon, for Six Flags’ Frightfest at the end of this interview.

CC: Let’s dive right in to the good stuff. What’s your favorite horror movie?

AH: I have to say, the best horror movie that really gave me the shivers was The Exorcist (1973)!

How about your favorite makeup effect you’ve seen in a movie?

My favorite makeup effects that I have seen in a movie are the transformation scene from An American Werewolf in London (1983), hands down!

What was your first professional makeup project and how did it affect the course of your career?

My first professional makeup project was on the film Cotton in 2012. I was hired to assist the Makeup Department head. I told her that I was a makeup enthusiast who did a lot of theater makeup in high school; and moulage (injury simulation makeup) for the local fire department and EMTs. Under her mentorship, I learned set etiquette, sanitation, and HD makeup. In exchange, I taught her how to make camera-ready vomit and realistic bruises.

What are your career goals?

My career goals are to be a department head on a studio feature with lots of fantasy or alien creatures.

Can you tell us more about your process to create your characters?

A lot of planning and a lot of love goes into creating my characters. It starts with a design concept, finding a model who fits my vision, maybe even a costume designer. Next, I have to determine if I am going to create my pieces or buy them. This decision usually comes down to my time and cost-effectiveness. When it comes to a production, I am usually pressed for time and have to find the quickest and most cost-effective method to match the producer’s/director’s vision.

How is CGI currently changing or affecting the makeup effects world?

Overall, I think audiences are tired of straight CGI. We are witnessing a resurgence of practical effects in the film world. Directors are finding that sweet spot between CGI and practical makeup. Too much CGI tends to look fake; not enough CGI limits a director’s creativity. I think Special Makeup Effects Editor and Creature Designer Rick Baker made a good point about CGI when he said, “CGI is an amazing tool, and it’s only as good as the artist behind it… If you have a crappy director and give him good tools, he’ll still make a crappy movie.”

How you do you prepare differently when working on a project with CGI?

The preparation includes meeting with the visual effects artist and the director to collaborate one cohesive look, similar to any other creature design.

Can you speak a little about the projects you work on that don’t require effects makeup?

Other projects that I have worked on that don’t require effects makeup have been what we makeup artists call the “no-makeup” look. Which means I use makeup to blend away any perceived flaws, like uneven skin tone, acne, eye bags, tattoos, etc. to give the illusion of a fresh face or natural beauty.

How would you describe your signature look?

I don’t really think I have a signature look. I do like to see real skin instead of layers of foundation and contouring. I try to stay away from trends and be inspired by nature. I minored in biology, the study of life! I like to study the facial anatomy of the person in my chair. For example, do they have amazing cheekbones, juicy lips, or longer than average eyelashes? What’s unique and special about them that I can enhance?

What is it that sets you apart from other makeup artists?

I believe what sets me apart from other makeup artists is that I am forever a student of the arts, always looking for new opportunities to grow my craft or learn a new skill. I love collaborating with other artists because I get to see what’s in their kits, see how they may use products differently than I do. Or see what out of the box application techniques they are using.

Demon Makeup from Antonina Henderson on Vimeo.

Check out more about Antonina here www.makeupbyantonina.com

What Makes a Great Video Editor

What Makes a Great Video Editor 5736 3328 Dani Lyman

“It’s the editor who orchestrates the rhythm of the images, and that is the rhythm of the dialogue, and of course the rhythm of the music. For me, the editor is like a musician, and often a composer.” – Martin Scorcese

 

In the video industry, everyone knows the edit can make or break a project. You can hire the best production team in the world, but if your editor doesn’t understand both the technology and the art of editing, you’re out of luck. A bad edit can leave a viewer cringing and can cost more in re-edits than it’s worth.

So, what can you do to make sure you’ve hired the best of the best to edit your latest piece? I chatted with professional freelance editor and longtime Crew Connection Crew, Jeff Drake, about his vast career and what he believes makes an excellent editor.

 

The Vision

“When I first saw Avid Media Composer, I knew non-linear editing was what I wanted to be doing.” Drake’s editing journey began when post-production meant using tape machines and a switcher. The introduction to editing software was a complete game-changer for his career. “It allowed me to be faster and more creative and inspired me to constantly learn new technology in order to elevate the level of my work.”

That level of elevated work has allowed Drake to be fortunate enough to edit for major companies like ESPN, Wells Fargo, Toyota and Victoria’s Secret, to name just a few. His experience, accompanied by his humble and professional approach, is what sets him apart from amateur editors who may understand the technology, but not the business of editing. “Most directors and producers have a vision and it’s my job to fulfill that vision first. I always aim to bring something to the table and make the final project better than the client anticipated.”

 

 

The Business

Putting one’s artistic ego aside and focusing on delivering the client’s vision isn’t always easy, but it is a paramount trait in a sought-after editor. Creative personalities can often clash, but Drake believes forcing his perspective on a client is the opposite of what he’s been hired to do. “I will defend my creative decisions, but only once because I want the person paying the bill to be really happy with how the project turns out.” In the end, he’s been hired to make the post-production process easier for the client. It isn’t personal.

Another way he manages to keep such a professional rapport with his clients is by working as a contractor, instead of an in-house editor. Drake reveals that working with various clients away from the office is one of the biggest benefits to his work. By staying out of office politics and avoiding distractions Drake says he can focus all his energy on delivering an excellent product. As a contractor, he can also bring a fresh perspective that sometimes in-house editors can’t provide.

 

The Final Product

Working behind the scenes can make it difficult for people to understand the artistry that goes into editing a project.  “Editing is creative control of the structure, pacing, and tone of any piece, no matter how complicated or simple.” Additionally,  a solid editor can work with powerful tools to manipulate mediocre images, improve audio or design motion graphics from a simple idea.

“I think editing is the single most important contribution to the overall feel and success of a project but, of course, I’m biased.” Drake may be joking, but this is the level of commitment and skill you want your editor to have. You want to trust your editor is giving 100% percent to seeing your vision succeed. That’s what separates an excellent editor from the rest.

Coolest Camera Gear Must Haves

Coolest Camera Gear Must Haves 3976 2753 Dani Lyman

There are a grip ton of companies out there creating so many camera and grip accessories that it can get a little overwhelming to sort through them all. From pocket jibs to flywheels to app controlled motorized skaters, the market is flooded with nifty gadgets you want to add to your equipment cage. But, some products and companies are definitely better than others! Check out 3 companies creating some of the coolest toys in the industry!

Edelkrone

Edelkrone focuses on pint-sized, portable accessories that simplify the production process. From their PocketRig to the SliderOne, they deliver tiny tools to get smooth shots from interesting angles. Many of their products are app controlled, leaving less room for human error and more time to get that perfect shot. The motorized system is perfect for stunning timelapses and creative stop-motion projects.  While all Edelkrone products are making a splash, people are especially enthusiastic about the Motion BOX and its ability to shoot 360 degrees in one fluid motion.

 

Kessler

Established in 2003, Kessler has become an industry leader, providing some of the most innovative camera and grip gear. For their latest invention, they merged the CineDrive and Shuttle Dolly into one groundbreaking system. The multi-axis motion controlled camera system slides easily along the dolly without missing a beat. The system is designed for users to have full control down to their fingertips by programming keyframes to ensure accurate camera movements at the precise time. To give you even more to nerd out on, the upside down camera movement on the dolly is pretty epic.

Rhino

If you search the internet for “best slider” Rhino undoubtedly has one of the largest and loudest fan bases out there. Rhino Slider EVO has the reputation of being the best in the game. One of the most notable ways this slider stands out among its competition is the flywheel. The flywheel securely sits on top of the slider to create the perfect amount of tension which keeps the camera flowing smoothly, avoiding any little bump in the road. That uninterrupted “sliding” motion is exactly why we use the slider to begin with and Rhino seems to have mastered it!

 

 

The sickest drone videos from around the web

The sickest drone videos from around the web 2668 2000 Dani Lyman

There’s no question that drones revolutionized video and changed our viewing experience. From nature docs to corporate events, drones have captured beautiful footage from interesting angles that weren’t possible to achieve in the past. However, with technology quickly advancing, certified drone operators are pushing boundaries and taking aerial cinematography to a whole new level. Drones are increasingly being utilized across multiple professions to create cinematic and awe-inspiring footage – and even aid in saving lives.

Here are a few sick videos from around the web that highlight the badass tricks and practical capabilities of the modern drone.

Smooth Operator

In this commercial, Ford teamed up with Aerial Edge to capture a stunning shot we don’t usually see. Going beyond the usual “from above” view, the pilot squeezes the drone through the trees to allow the car to drive out of frame in one seamless move. It’s cinematic, perfectly paced and really challenges the status quo. Drone footage like this, which follows the action, is much more stimulating and exciting to watch!

Tricky One Shot

Do not let the easy flow of this video fool you! To accomplish these tricks so precisely, the drone operator has to be wildly talented and must completely understand the technology he’s working with. It’s much harder than it looks! Not only does he fly backward throughout the entire shot (what!?), he also perfectly times his movements to fly through small objects and tight spaces with complete accuracy. This beautifully constructed one-shot leaves no room for mistakes. In just a few minutes the sun will rise and he’ll lose the piercing light creeping up over the city. No wonder this was the 2017 Drone Film Festival Winner.

Lifesaving Technology

Drone technology company Aerones provides a great example of the diverse use of drones outside of the video industry.  In 2017, Aerones launched a drone that is able to carry a human being! Despite the sheer joy on the face of the jumper in the video, this beast isn’t just for adrenaline junkies and extreme sports enthusiasts. The massive drone was designed, in part, to aid rescue teams by dropping a person into the action or pulling someone out of a dangerous situation. Afraid of heights? You might want to look away. But, I wouldn’t recommend it. This is epic.

 

‘Night Comes On’ producer talks indie film and being a soldier for art

‘Night Comes On’ producer talks indie film and being a soldier for art 2450 1536 Dani Lyman

There’s something unique about sitting across the table from an indie film producer. The energy of a fighter exists, quiet and understated, resting beneath the surface. For Danielle Renfrew Behrens, that energy reflects a 20 year career, multiple Sundance premieres and successes in both the documentary and indie feature genres. This experience has led her to become a champion for indie filmmakers, founding Superlative Films in 2015 as a “one stop shop” to fund low-budget films.

As a self-proclaimed “treasure hunter” Behrens’ job is to dig deep to find diamonds in the rough, screenplays waiting to be discovered, films needing to be made. Once the project has been chosen, a different side to the producer emerges. In this phase, she calls herself a “soldier,” someone who goes to battle to make sure these films find a screen and an audience. And, for Behrens, it is all about the story.

“Indie film is a grind. People are in it for something other than the money.” Behrens explains, there tends “to be a sense of collaboration on an indie set,” because the crew is there for more than a job. Due to the lack of a financial safety net, everyone involved matters and has to work together to contribute to a piece of art that matters too. A story that has to be told.

Eight minutes into Superlative’s latest film, Night Comes On, it becomes clear why this story had to be told. Dominique Fishback and Tatum Marilyn Hall give piercing performances as sisters who embark on a journey of revenge after suffering a great tragedy. The movie is unapologetically unsettling and raw, laced with moments of such tenderness and heartache you can’t turn away, even when you’d like to. It’s hard to watch, but you need to.

Those urges, the ability to move a human being, is likely what drew Behrens to the script to begin with. As Founder of Superlative Films, Behrens is the sole decision maker. She selects her projects by journeying through her virtual stack of scripts to find the one. But how do you know when you’ve found a stand-out, has to be made story?

“It’s all subjective. It comes down to my taste… something I read and can’t put down.” No surprise, her taste seems to resonate with viewers and critics alike. In May, Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired distribution rights to Night Comes On and critics from the LA Times to the NY Times call the movie “touching,” “stirring,” “authentic,” and “impressive.” Not bad for first time director, Jordana Spiro, who also co-wrote the script with Angelica Nwandu.

“It’s not by design” that Behrens finds herself continually working with first time directors. However, that tends to be what she gravitates towards. All five Superlative films to date have been directorial debuts. Perhaps that is because Behrens views herself as a person who “identifies talent, supports that talent and helps them get out of their own way.”

In this way, her adjective, “Mother Hen” also suits her perfectly. There is a maternal tone of affection when she speaks of how “proud” she is of Fishback’s and Halls’ “phenomenal” performances and how Spiro will move forward into new and interesting projects.

There is no doubt the indie film world is a hustle, tough and often lacking in financial reward. But, if Behrens and Night Comes On prove anything, it is also a heart-filled community committed to artistic growth and telling stories that mean something.

Night Comes On is now available to stream online.

Make yourself and your crew known online

Make yourself and your crew known online 6000 4000 Dani Lyman

When you work in video production it is paramount that you have an online presence.  Vimeo and YouTube are excellent avenues to highlight your work and attract new clients, but nothing like a strong and modern website confidently says, “I’m a professional and you can trust me.”

So, here are a few tips to help you up your online presence !

Get in the game

First things first, you need a website. Everyone has one. Maybe a lot of your work comes from word of mouth and you’ve been doing just fine. But, if you want to attract newer clients and stay ahead of your  competition then you need a website. A slick site helps to gain credibility and prove you have the talent and equipment. It also showcases who you are and what you specialize in all in one place.

Looks are Everything

Now, how you execute your website is extremely important. The most crucial element is your gallery of work. Many video production professionals make the mistake of throwing all their work, from film school to present, on their site. In this case, however, there’s no question that we always want quality over quantity. Keep the newest, trendiest, cleanest work on your site and remove anything else that brings the standard down.

Keep your gallery clean and organized by categories that are easy to view. Add an aerial reel, a commercial reel, a short film reel and keep the layout simple. There are many approaches to this, but after searching across multiple websites, this is one of the sharpest and most effective galleries I found.

Out with the Old

Remember to remove old videos across all social media platforms, as well. When people google you be sure they only find top notch examples of your work! Potential clients are going to judge you off that first viewing, so don’t let any old and out of date videos drag you down.

Post it, Tweet it, Share it

Link your website to every other social media platform and stay current! If you link to Twitter –  tweet! Have fresh and exciting content that lets the client peer into the experience they will have with you on location. If you link to Insta then post BTS photos, sunsets, quirky crew shots, new equipment – etc. Link to Vimeo and make sure it showcases your most current stand out pieces.

Brag a Little

Have you won an award? Were you featured in a magazine? Have brand name clients given you shout outs and accolades? Share it! If others have trusted you then new clients will be more inclined to do so as well. This is a great example from Motion Source in Chicago. I don’t even know half of these awards, but I’m immediately impressed.

Get Cheeky with it

Lastly, and the most endearing part of your social presence, is getting creative and adding some personality! The “About Us” section of your site is a great place to add some silliness and character.  You can personalize the experience by adding fun team photos, like this unique selfie example from Miami based crew Maxime.

 

 

 

 

Push iPhone’s video potential to the max

Push iPhone’s video potential to the max 6720 4480 Dani Lyman

With internet articles like “How to Film A Hollywood Worthy Movie on Your iPhone” and “How to Shoot iPhone Video Like a Pro” you may get the impression that cinematic brilliance is in the palm of your hand with the purchase of the iPhone X.

You say to yourself, “Why do I need to hire a crew for my social media campaign, my promotional video, or my company’s internal projects when I can do everything on my phone?”

Then you see incredibly beautiful images produced with the iPhone like this gorgeous short film by Amnesia Art and you think, “I can do that.” But, it’s not as easy as it looks.

When you see such a well crafted film like this it is easy to get swept away into the notion that you, yourself, or at the very least, your neighbor’s teenager because he’s better with technology than you are, can create something similar for your video project. Until you give it a try. Then, sadly, passed your deadline with half your budget wasted, you find yourself with unusable footage ruined by terrible lighting, unbearable sound and choppy editing.

Just like wearing Nikes doesn’t make you Jordan, the iPhone doesn’t make you a talented DP. The device is only as good as the person operating it. Ryan Earl and Nick Arcivos, the talent behind this film, have years of experience as filmmakers and photographers. In their dedicated and very capable hands a phone becomes another tool in their arsenal to create a successful piece of art.

Another thing to consider is the extensive amount of equipment needed to create a piece that looks this professional. The Amnesia Art team posted the list of equipment they used which totals over $2,000. Half of that was spent on sound equipment alone! BECAUSE THAT’S HOW IMPORTANT SOUND IS! No one will watch your video if the sound is bad! That is why a professional Audio Tech is so crucial to the success of your project and worth every penny. Not to mention the smooth flow of the edit is not something that can be accomplished by just anybody, even with easy to use editing apps.

There is a laundry list of details that go into making a film like this. The kind of details that those of us who work in Video Production are completely passionate about, obsess over and educate ourselves on daily.

The iPhone definitely has a place in the DIY video world. You can make awesome videos for your podcast, Instagram or YouTube channel, but when it comes to larger endeavors and really higher-end projects – nothing beats experience. Or dedication. Or knowledge. Or passion. A crew of experts who understand how to use the equipment and deliver a solid project is always worth the investment.

 

 

 

 

The Woman Behind the Invisible Lens

The Woman Behind the Invisible Lens 700 466 Dani Lyman

 

Susu Hauser as a photographic volunteer with WildLife Act tracking the endangered African Wild Dog.

“I feel empowered when I’m holding a camera,” Susu Hauser, adventurer, world-traveler, filmmaker, TV industry veteran, wife and cinematographer says with a gleam of pride in her eye. And she should feel proud. As one of the few female camera operators in the docu-reality TV world she’s a groundbreaking trailblazer paving the way for more women to emerge in this extremely male dominated field.

Despite her long list of credits and her massive accomplishments around the world (working Deadliest Catch in Alaska to trekking Ethiopia with a camera) she is often still treated as the sidekick or “little woman” next to men in her industry. Susu doesn’t complain about it. She doesn’t play the victim or pout, instead she straps on her hiking boots, slings a camera over her shoulder and proceeds to her next adventure, proving with every impressive credit that the camera knows no gender. If you’re good, you’re good. And she’s good.

These are her thoughts in her own words about her journey as a woman behind the camera.

Empowerment through Cinematography

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – a wise person once said, and it couldn’t be more true of my craft. As a female cinematographer, I feel an adrenaline rush with every new environment I delve into, every walk of life I engage with, and every new adventure I embark on. The camera has been my tool to live life to the fullest  – whether I am coasting down 10,000 ft in a Piper cub with the engine cut out, or trouncing through the “emerald triangle” of Northern California in full camo, I have challenged my physical and mental body to greet the unknown. There is fear, freedom and empowerment that comes with all this.

 

Life Behind the Camera

I wrote an essay in highschool about my desire to be a National Geographic photographer “when I grew up”. Never did I think that 10 years later, I would be doing just that…

I have since been fortunate enough to have kissed the Blarney stone, visited the lost city of Pompeii, enjoyed the thermal baths of Budapest, swam from island to island in the Adriatic sea, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, sky dove over Fox Glacier in New Zealand, polished my Thai cooking in Chiang Mai, watched the sun rise over the temples of Angkor Wat, kayaked the Mekong… (and the list goes on…). With every new excursion and adventure, I have honed my photography skills. So you can see, travel, adventure, and photography are my lifeblood. I have a thirst for diverse cultures and exotic lands. Cinematography has enabled me to marry all these passions, and I am beyond grateful for that.

A Woman’s Rise up a Male Ladder

Truthfully, my rise up the ladder in this industry was slow, steady and incremental. On the one hand, it was a bummer seeing my male counterparts wiz by me in the job positions and titles when I knew we had the same work ethic, talent and drive… It seemed as though there was a tendency to shy away from putting females in the field unless they were fulfilling positions as coordinators, managers, and associate producers.

On the other hand, I gained experience in every job title leading me to eventually running my own production company with my husband, The Invisible Lens. These rungs on the ladder included – Post and production PA, Field and Post Coordinator, Production Manager, Associate Producer, Assistant Camera, Producer, and Camera Operator.

Advice for Women Up and Comers

Be persistent. I ventured out with countless male camera operators before getting my hands on the camera. Observe them, soak them for knowledge, be indispensable, and if they are confident enough within their own craft they will help you learn the ropes.  It’s one thing to get an education from a film school, it’s an entirely other thing to be gaining practical knowledge in the field.

Know your thresholds, be safe, and speak up when things don’t feel right.

A Message to the Industry

My message to the industry on behalf of us few female camera operators is – do not underestimate us. I may be only 5’5’’(on a good day!), but I can trounce through the woods with a Sony F800 on my shoulder just like the rest of them. – And I may even be smiling while I do it.

 

Filming on National Geographic’s Wild Justice in northern California

 

To experience Susu’s work and learn about her upcoming documentary to empower women through the Fair Trade Market please visit susuhauser.com