Crew Connection Tips and Tricks for Crews

Now more than ever, video crews need someone in their corner

Now more than ever, video crews need someone in their corner 150 150 Alicia East

“If there’s magic in boxing, it’s the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys, and detached retinas. It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream nobody sees but you.”

Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris, Million Dollar Baby

Video crews have to be fighters. There’s no coasting. There’s no relying on someone else to pick up the slack if you have an off day. It’s just you—pounding the pavement with a load of gear on your back, facing off against competitors, keeping up to date on ever-changing technology and now, ensuring everyone’s safety with COVID-era safety measures, too.

It’s not enough to be a pro behind the camera. You also have to be an expert in marketing, finance, and interpersonal communications. Often, you just have to put your dukes up and act as your own advocate. It’s a lot to manage. That’s when it’s nice to have someone in your corner.

The best partner video crews can have

How much time would you free up if you could skip prospecting and fill your pipeline with desirable jobs? High-quality clients who understand the business realities of video production are hard to come by. Those who pay quickly are even harder. Time is money and clients and crews alike save both when they work with Crew Connection.

When you’re busy with work, the last thing you want to do is hound someone over an aging invoice. Crew Connection streamlines communication, cuts the red tape, and sends net 90 packing. Our crews are paid within 30 days—guaranteed.

COVID-19

This pandemic put production on hold for many video crews. Formerly busy production houses have had to adjust to the changing circumstances—by getting creative on existing projects, shifting their offerings, and adding safety measures. Running any business is hard and the pandemic just made it infinitely harder.

In boxing, you may be the one out there in the ring throwing punches, but there’s always someone in your corner. Now more than ever, video crews need partners to advocate for them. With a profile on Crew Connection, you get your very own marketing expert, sales rep, and accountant in your corner. And that’s worth a million dollars, baby!

Choosing the right lenses: What to rent, what to buy, what to avoid

Choosing the right lenses: What to rent, what to buy, what to avoid 2560 2560 Alicia East

Whether it’s framing as a storytelling device, the marvels of the latest gear, or the wonderful world of lenses, video professionals all have our areas we can geek out about. For Patrick O’Donnell of Eye to Eye Video, it’s the latter. His love affair with lenses started as a kid staring at catalogs and has now led him to a successful career as a tourist with better toys.

Here’s the 20-year veteran’s take on what lenses to use for what situations, what to buy versus rent, what mistakes to avoid, and how to be successful in the industry.

Alicia East: How did you get into this industry? 

Patrick O’Donnell: I had always wanted to be a still photographer growing up. I used to stare at photos in magazines with amazement and I knew that that’s what I wanted to do with my life— make amazing images. I also used to stare at photography catalogs and dream of owning all the lenses on the list. Some of them were $10,000 dollars! I wanted to know what it was like to put a lens that cost that much money on the front of my camera. My parents weren’t very supportive at first. They told me “A still Photographer? That’s not a real job!” They had very defined ideas about what jobs were. My mom was a teacher and my dad is a police officer.

“Still photographer” must have sounded really outside the box to them at the time.  But for some reason, they let me study Mass Communications and Radio at Towson University. I guess they listened to the radio and that made sense to them as a good career choice. They must not have realized then that images were everywhere in every medium and they didn’t equate that someone had to take those photos and got paid to do it. So I ended up taking Film 101 in between my radio classes at Towson with Professor Greg Faller and quickly found my passion. I was officially out of radio and into moving imagery. In high school I had taken a lot of photo classes, but it wasn’t until I took Greg’s class in college that I actually understood cameras and lenses and their importance to storytelling. Taking 24 pictures every second to compose a story, I was in love. I had such high regard for the power of a single image and still do, but this just fit, and telling stories with lenses quickly became my life.

AE: What lens do you use for which situations? Why?

PO: Every choice with a lens should be to serve the story. I shoot a lot of interviews and then shoot the subjects doing what they do. I really like wide angle lenses and if the locations are interesting I’ll use wide angle lenses to show them off. To get a close up I’ll move a wide lens in closer to the subject, always being careful not to distort them, and by doing this I can make a shot feel more intimate while also showing off a bit more of the environment behind them. This approach can make the subject’s world feel bigger and the lens is physically closer to them and that helps with the psychology of feeling closer to the subject, because you physically are via the lens. And it’s also important if the environment helps to serve their story.  20mm or 24mm are my favorites for interviews lately.

Of course it’s not always possible or appropriate to put a camera closer to the subject, and 50mm and 85mm are the standard portrait lenses for a reason. They are always the most flattering photographically to faces and they offer a greater separation from the background and can really help to isolate someone in their environment and give them enough room to let their story unfold.

AE: What are your go-to lens? Why? 

PO: My main lenses right now the Sigma 18-35mm and the 50-100mm, both are T2 cine versions. I treat them like variable primes. The flexibility to zoom in or out a little and still have a nice wide aperture has made for a perfect combination for me. Clients and subjects don’t always want to wait for a lens change, and more and more speed is required on set and it’s dictating lens choices. I find the Sigmas to be very sharp and fast, yet still economical.

I also use the Canon C-NE 18-80mm with a cine servo a lot. It’s slower at a T4, but offers great affordability and flexibility. When there isn’t time for a lens change and capturing coverage is more important than shot creation, it can cover just about anything quickly while still having great color rendition and sharpness. And for when the camera is on my shoulder all day, it’s light and fatigue is less of an issue. The Canon 17-120mm is a superior choice and I love it, but fatigue is a real factor during long days with it. Even with an Easy Rig, it’s a lot of weight. It weighs more than twice as much as the 18-80mm—not to mention that it’s four times the cost. After 20 years of holding a camera on my shoulder, my back now gets a say in the lens choice.

AE: What lenses are must haves even if you don’t use them often? Why? 

PO: As a documentary cinematographer, you need to be able to capture whatever is necessary to tell the story at any given time. This means a little bit of everything needs to be in your lens kit. No one can afford to have every special lens on hand at any time, but you’ve got to have enough to get by for when the surprise shot pops up from a producer or client, and they will all the time. Must-have focal lengths are everything from 16mm up to at least 200mm, and I believe in zooms. And then there are some specialties that can really help. A macro isn’t must have, but can really bring a lot to the table. Another is a super long telephoto. The Sigma 60-600mm has saved the day for me here and there when in need of a shot of a subject 200” away at a podium. You can’t always just move in for a close up.

AE: When do you rent and when do you buy? Why?

PO: Anything you use daily you should own, and you should buy the best you can afford and make money with while not sending yourself into debt. I learned early on when I was looking at the lenses in those photo catalogs as a kid that they are an addiction.  They are all so different and necessary that you’ll quickly want them all. It’s funny that those still photography lenses I was looking at back then are now available for and widely used on modern video cameras, but they lack some of the finer cine accommodations like a smooth iris or accurate focus markings. Even without those things, they can look great. Cine lenses usually are lot more expensive than still lenses and some cine lenses can cost over 100K! So I rent when a project calls for something special or when there is room in the budget. My Sigmas are great and I truly love them, but when the client is expecting more and is willing to put more budget into a project, I’ll go for it. I often consult with the production and show them why the story would be better with a certain rental choice. Sometimes the lenses need to be bigger, smaller, faster, longer, wider, or match a look that was previously shot. You can’t own them all… at least that’s what my bank tells me!

I recommend renting any lens before a major purchase and this will assure that you get exactly what you’re looking for and exactly what you need to get your stories completed.

AE: Have you ever regretted a lens purchase? Why? 

PO: I did have a regretful purchase. It was a used lens I had previously tried and I bought it from a guy on a web forum. It seemed to check out initially, but after some real world use I noticed that it was not 100% and it had a back focus/alignment problem. The seller denied any problems and also denied a refund. I had to send the lens in for a repair and it ended up costing just as much as it would have if I had bought it new at the end of the day.  Buying used is a great way to save some money, but you have to be careful. Be thorough and always buy from a reputable dealer or seller. Too good to be true is usually too good to be true. The bum lens is fine now, but the level of trouble was not worth the negligible savings and hassle.

AE: What is tops on your wish list? Why? 

PO: I want them all! But realistically I’ve got my eye on the new Angenieux EZ lenses. My primary camera has been and still is a super 35mm Sony PMW-F5, but I see the Sony PXW-FX9 in my near future and the main feature for me is its full frame sensor. Full frame hadn’t been a consideration when I first bought the Sigmas, which only cover super 35, but the world is changing to a bigger sensor and bigger is better, right?

The EZ line is made up of fast cine zoom lenses that cover a full-frame sensor and can also be outfitted with a zoom controller. The full frame combo of the two lenses cover 22-60mm and 45-135mm, which is a very similar focal length to my Sigma’s in S35.  It’s also a combo of focal lengths that I’m used to and comfortable with. Full frame means new lenses, and everyone likes new lenses, right? Well, everyone except my financial planner.

AE: Lenses have come a long way through the years. What do you think is next? 

PO: Autofocus could be a real game changer. I shoot a lot of very long interviews and most of the time I’m at a very large aperture to create a very shallow depth of field. This can sometimes make the task of keeping a mellow subject in focus very tedious, but a subject that moves a lot or is very animated can force you to stop down and change the bokeh of the shot to ensure that they remain in focus. For as long as I’ve been shooting, my advice to anyone about cameras was to turn off all the automatic controls. This may be over, because both Sony and Canon now have very professional and usable autofocus systems. Sony’s new system in the FX9 is called dual hybrid and utilizes both phase and contrast detection with stunning results. I’ll be following closely to learn which lenses have the best compatibility and dependability. I think autofocus could even bump the Angenieux EZs off the top of my wish list. I sense some lens testing coming.

AE: What advice do you have for people just getting into the business?  

PO: I have three pieces of advice to anyone just entering this industry:

Make yourself available if someone calls. The key to getting your foot in the door is entering the door when it opens.

Be on time. This is the most basic and best thing you can do. Production shouldn’t have to wait for you ever and not showing up on time is highly disrespectful and shows a lack of professionalism. In this industry you will need to build a good reputation and reliability and dependability should be your top priorities.

Listen to your instincts and be passionate about your work. I knew early on that I wanted to make images and I stuck with the path even though it seemed crazy to my folks. I made it work and even turned it into a great career. They can now see that I made a good choice for myself and that I have found this career path to be highly rewarding, engaging, and enlightening. I basically get to be a tourist, just with a much bigger camera, and I find myself getting access to people, events, and places that few get to see and experience firsthand. If you go down this path, throw yourself into it and enjoy the moments you get to capture and It’ll show on the screen. The gear is important, but the most important part of it all is a clear vision and a good dose of passion.

Once you build your arsenal of lenses, put them to good use with Crew Connection’s high-quality clients.

Note: Conversation edited for clarity and brevity. This article first appeared on ProductionHub here

About Patrick O’Donnell:

O’Donnell is Director of Photography at Eye to Eye Video based in the Washington DC area specializing in corporate, broadcast, and documentary video. O’Donnell has 20 years experience and is still learning new things every day. He works mainly in small crews of 2-4 people with him, audio, grip, and gaffer. He focuses mainly on feature stories and high-end interviews for Fortune 500 companies, major networks, and documentaries. Check out his demo reel for what all those awesome lenses can do.

How video is more important than ever (and why you don’t have to scrap your projects in progress!)

How video is more important than ever (and why you don’t have to scrap your projects in progress!) 2560 1707 Alicia East

Millions of people have found their lives turned upside down by the sudden and dramatic appearance of COVID-19. While leaders and experts rush to control a pandemic, Americans are altering their schedules and staying home in order to remain healthy and feel secure. 

Video Pros Don’t Stop, Won’t Stop

You may not be able to get toilet paper, but you absolutely can get video production services. Despite setbacks, this industry is filled with innovative talent who love a good challenge. There’s a reason we’re called “creatives!” 

With new limitations in place, many video production teams are offering simple solutions to keep employees working and businesses running. 

Tools to keep communication humming  

Many are turning to the following right now to keep connections active and information flowing: 

  • Live-streaming content
  • Editing old footage into a new message
  • Remotely recording audio and creating animations
  • Recording podcasts to get an important message out to a large team quickly

Live-streaming

Live streaming is one of the best resources available to keep your business running smoothly. It is an incredibly valuable tool for those who cannot attend your event or meeting. Not only does it enable you to share necessary information, but it accomplishes the more important goal of bringing people together during a time of isolation. 

Post-production for the win! 

Editors are coming to the rescue to salvage projects. If you are in the middle of a video project and are unable to complete it as originally planned,  you don’t need to scrap all your hard work (even if you weren’t able to capture every shot you planned for). An editor can creatively manipulate footage to provide a cohesive final piece or provide options to rework what you do have. Plus, files and footage can easily be shared online, meaning most work can be done remotely. You don’t even have to come out of quarantine. 

See the opportunity 

This pandemic has been likened to war and every battle is an opportunity to unite and help one another. At its heart, video is a medium that inspires people. It connects people around the world, influences changes, and creates a sense of community and hope. Now more than ever, we can rely on technology and the internet to bring us together. If you have a message to share, we have a crew who can create it for you. 

The bottom line 

We can vouch for several Live Streaming Production Companies around the country who are committed to quality and safety. We also have amazing editors, audio technicians, and production specialists in your area continuing to serve your community.

Please reach out to a Crew Connection Coordinator if you have questions about securing your video production needs. We have decades of experience and creative solutions. 

And of course: Be safe and wash your hands! 

 

Post production ideas to keep your business profitable

Post production ideas to keep your business profitable 2560 1707 Alicia East

No matter what industry you are in, COVID-19 has created a new normal. It’s up to us as creatives to continue to earn that moniker in a whole new way! 

How do we adjust our habits to adapt to this new reality? 

One of our biggest advantages as video professionals is that we are on the forefront of technology.

Many of your clients are asking themselves how to do a video conference, a live Zoom feed, or quality video production fed to Facebook. Chances are, you have that expertise as a media professional already. Still, the recent shift has us all on our heels, wondering how we will make up for cancelled shoots, lost content, and rescheduled events.

Enter post-production services 

Many editors have been living a “Shelter In Place” lifestyle since Grey’s Anatomy premiered. These types of editors and artists work from home, work efficiently, and can execute your vision in the same way a DP might light an interview. They are more than ready to handle anything we can give them as we get creative with new content, post production, animation, graphic design, and motion graphics. 

Changing times call for a shift in creative vision. 

A canceled shoot doesnt mean the content can’t be created, it means it must be created in a different way. It’s time to turn your in-person testimonial into an infographic, and your instructor tutorial into a walk-through animation. Ask your editor: “How can this project be visually represented in a different way?” Motion graphics editors, graphic designers, and animators build their careers on solving such challenges. 

In short, you don’t have to default to halting all jobs in process. Consider creative solutions to offer your clients and salvage your contracts (and income!). 

Rethink old projects 

While you’re spending extra time at home, dig up old projects that never hit the edit. Remaster an old, successful piece of content that could use a refresh. The world of post-production is what brings your vision to life and is a way you can continue projects regardless of community lockdowns. 

Bottom line 

You’re creative. You’re scrappy. And you can continue to provide content to the masses by reaching out to those artists who can execute your vision right from their sheltered-in-place offices. There’s a reason necessity is the mother of invention. You may surprise yourself with the creative solutions you come up with.  

Whether you’re looking to hire someone or get hired for post production, we can help. Book services or sign up to be a part of our online database. If you’re already one of our crews, now is a great time to update your profile to highlight your post production services.

 

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Resources to get you through

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Resources to get you through 2560 1707 Alicia East

Whether your at-home reality is more demanding than usual because you’re caring for kids while trying to keep up with work or you’re on the other end of the spectrum with little to do and only Netflix to keep you company, reality has changed for everyone.

Below is a list of resources for everything from medical guidelines to financial information to help you navigate the new landscape.

MEDICAL RESOURCES:

The CDC is the definitive source of information on the medical side of this thing. The website offers tips for how to protect yourself and what to do if you’re sick. It also includes a video on proper hand washing. On the other 👋, this one, from the Ellen show, goes through the same 7 steps for proper hand washing, while also providing some much-needed levity.

While there’s much research yet to be done, we do know that this is an incredibly contagious virus, so the best thing you can do is to avoid it by limiting exposure to anyone and anywhere you might encounter it. Social distancing guidelines advise that you do your best to stay at home if your work isn’t essential, follow the CDC guidelines to reduce your chances of becoming infected, and follow the guidelines for social distancing.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES

Check out this CARES Act summary from the New York Times or these highlights from Forbes. You may qualify for some relief.

Find a rundown on the Small Business Economic Disaster Loans here as well as a thorough guide and checklist from the Chamber of Commerce here. These loans may help some small businesses keep employees employed and could also be forgiven completely.

This article, from Forbes, highlights the Families First Coronavirus response Act (FFCRA). Find out if you qualify for sick leave here.

More people qualify for unemployment than ever before and many self-employed people are included. See this article for more information on who qualifies and how to apply.  If you do qualify, visit your state’s department of labor and follow instructions for how to apply.

Many mortgage companies are offering loan forbearance in the form of suspended or reduced payments for a period of time. Find out details here and contact your mortgage company to get the process started. Due to high call volumes, some companies have special COVID-19 relief sections on their websites. Many utilities, credit cards, car payments, and other loans are suspending late payment fees or offering loan payment holidays or other forms of forbearance. Get ready to spend some time on the phone. Take heart: It’ll be worth it when you can hit the pause button on some of your most pressing bills.

THE BOTTOM LINE

You know that word you’ve been hearing over and over and over again? Unprecedented. Well it’s true. These are unprecedented times and we are laying the tracks as the train is coming. Hang in there. It will bring out the best and the worst in people: Choose to let it bring out the best in you. We’re all in this together.

Proof of Insurance Means More Bookings

Proof of Insurance Means More Bookings

Proof of Insurance Means More Bookings 760 350 Alicia East

We want your business to be as successful as possible. To that end, Crew Connection requires its independent contractors to carry insurance. We don’t do it because we just love paperwork; we do it because it helps our clients and freelance media professionals pull off the best projects possible. More and more, clients are looking to book a video production crew with all insurance protections. 

Uploading your proof of insurance not only protects you, your crew, and your project—it makes you more desirable to clients. 

Protection for you and your project

More and more often, clients come to us looking for media professionals who have both general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. When a freelance media professional on set doesn’t have coverage, it puts everyone involved at risk of costly audits and potential lawsuits. When you’re tied up in a legal battle or struggling to pay fines, it’s really hard to pull off a flawless shoot. Requiring certificates of insurance protects all parties. 

The Independent Contractor Agreement you accept when you become one of our crews states that contractors must carry “Commercial General Liability Insurance (including, but not limited to, premises-operations, broad form property damage, products/completed operations, contractual liability, independent Suppliers, personal injury)” and “Workers’ Compensation insurance as required by Statute, and Employer’s Liability insurance.”

If you don’t think you’re required to carry worker’s compensation insurance, give us a call anytime at 303-526-4900 or contact us to talk through the details. If you choose not to upload any proof of worker’s compensation, clients won’t be able to contact you without first going through a coordinator.

Clients want to book a video production crew without risk

Every day, clients use Crew Connection’s filters to search for media professionals who carry the general liability and workers’ compensation insurance they require. Don’t let your competitors beat you to the booking just because you lack insurance coverage.

Luckily for you, Crew Connection makes proving your insurance coverage easy. All you have to do is upload your paperwork to the Professional Documents section of your company profile. Now your coverage will show up under Insurance Type in the Our History section of your company profile. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions on uploading your insurance documents on Crew Connection.

Please note that we aren’t able to book Crew Connection crews who have expired insurance. In order to prevent missing out on any projects, please remember to update your certificates of insurance on Crew Connection before they expire.

Here’s how:

1. Sign up as a crew or log in to your existing company profile.

2. You’ll land on your My Account page. Click on Professional Documents in the left sidebar under Crew Profile.

3. Upload your certificates of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance under the Insurance headline in the Professional Documents section. List the certificate holder as “Crew Connection, 211 Violet St. #100, Golden, CO 80401.” Upload multiple documents by selecting using the Choose Files button.

4. Click Save and then OK to save your upload.

5. Click View Profile in the top left corner to see your updated Insurance Type in the Our History section of your company profile!

Not signed up for Crew Connection yet? What are you waiting for—it’s easy! Looking for more tips and trips for getting more bookings on Crew Connection? Check out our full advice series here.

 

comic con | Crew Connection

The most awesome of Comic-Con 2019

The most awesome of Comic-Con 2019 960 359 Dani Lyman

The first time I attended SDCC in 2009 I had no idea what I was getting into. I was hired as a host for a web series sponsored by an online comic book store, and full disclosure, I hadn’t read a graphic novel since I was 7.  I was hired for my charisma, not my knowledge, and I may have even felt a little high and mighty about it. How cute was this small sub-culture of nerds. Little did I know how humbled and awed I would become.

During my four day journey, I was introduced to comic-book legends like Jeff Smith—author of Bone. I interviewed up-and-coming artists and discovered the very dramatic impact the right costume can make on a room. I was blown away to learn the amount of detail, artistry, and obsession that goes into every inch of the Convention Center floor.

Fast forward 10 years and it’s clear SDCC isn’t just for “comic-book nerds” anymore. Perhaps, more on point, Comic-Con has contributed to converting the rest of us into nerds. Cosplay costumes stitched together with magnificent detail aren’t just for our Dungeons and Dragons loving friends anymore. Now, people from around the world travel in droves proudly displaying their love for fantasy, movies, video games, and graphic novel culture during one fantastical weekend.

Though I couldn’t make it this year, I did scour the internet on a quest to discover the best of SDCC 2019, and I found some true treasures.

Here is my List of Comic-Con 2019’s Most Awesome:

DARK KNIGHT EXHIBIT

The Dark Knight is one of my all-time favorite movies (with Batman Forever not far behind), so when I heard a massive pop-up exhibit premiered across from the convention I was filled with a loathsome regret and envy. Folks who were in the vicinity of The Comic-Con Museum were free to roam the halls and take in the glory of The Batman over the decades. Batmobiles, graphic art, suits, and movie prop-filled displays decorated the rooms, making any Batman lover’s dream a reality. You can check out a full rundown of the exhibit and memorabilia here!

CREEPY CRY BABY
comic con - Crew Connection

Meier’s “Walter White” mask

This year also saw the return of noted artist (and Denver local), Landon Meier. His famous Hyperflesh “cry baby” masks (pictured above) are known to both confuse and delight convention attendees. But, they aren’t his only claim to fame.

Meier’s eerily life-like masks have been featured on Jimmy Fallon and famously worn by GOT’s Sophie Turner and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.

“Disturbingly realistic,” and occasionally controversial, Meier’s masks have become a Comic-Con staple and undeniable fan favorite. Check out Hyperflesh’s facebook page for a mask of your own!

STUMPTOWN

I was a little too excited to hear about the upcoming ABC show, Stumptown. Not only does it star my biggest crush, actor Jake Johnson, but it revolves around a strong female lead. You know how much we love our strong women over here!

Stumptown is based on the graphic novel (written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Matthew Southworth) about a female Marine vet/private investigator who suffers from a wide array of issues we usually see in three-dimensional male characters. She has a gambling problem and PTSD along with a brother who is mentally challenged. The physical training for the show was said to be extreme and creators promise a gritty and captivating pilot. With Colbie Smulders as the tough-as-nails lead, we wouldn’t expect anything less.

BEST COSPLAY

Now, on to the really good stuff… Everyone loves Comic-Con for the cosplay and I couldn’t choose just one look, so here is a must-see video of all the most awesome and outrageous costumes of the year. Enjoy!

 

 

 

best sign neon | Crew Connection

How to Make Crew Connection Work For You

How to Make Crew Connection Work For You 500 333 Dani Lyman

You’ve heard all about how Crew Connection is the best of the best, providing top-notch crews around the globe and unmatched customer service. But are you getting the most out of your experience?

If You’re Looking For a Video Crew…

How to Find the Best Video Crew For You

At Crew Connection we pride ourselves on our white glove service and being there for our clients around the clock. That doesn’t just mean being available by phone or email. We created CrewCloud, our online platform, with your busy schedule in mind. Now, when you’re on the go, you can take advantage of several DIY features for a fast and easy booking experience. Easy to use tools include browsing crew profiles, directly messaging crews, accepting estimates and paying your bill online anytime, anywhere.

Landline and Fax Machine Not Required

We try to do as much work as possible through email so we can have a paper trail for everything. Believe me, it limits mistakes and ultimately makes your life so much easier. We know you have a busy schedule too, so if you can send us updates through email it really helps to keep the booking process moving forward effortlessly. We’re always happy to jump on a call, but often dropping a quick note does the trick!

Make Your Next Shoot Even Better Than the Last

Crew Connection is here for you! Your feedback lets us know how we’re doing and how our crews are doing. If something feels off to you about a video crew you’ve just booked, someone was rude on location or you chatted with a DP who doesn’t seem knowledgeable – just drop us a line and let us know. We are more than happy to make new arrangements and apply your feedback moving forward. And, while we definitely live in a world where praise is sparse and no news is usually good news, positive comments actually do go a long way in our business too! We really do appreciate your feedback.

If You Are a Crew…

Snaz Up your Profile

Think of your CrewCloud profile a little like an online dating profile. Say a client comes to us because they need a great crew in Los Angeles. A search for crews in L.A. is going to populate quite a few results. How are you going to stand out from the crowd? Vivid BTS photos, badass demo reels and extensive equipment lists are easy ways to grab attention. Do you have awards? Are you Union? Add it to your profile! A meaty profile reads as experienced and professional. The more information you share, the more likely you are to be contacted for a job.

Insurance May be Boring, But It’s Important

This is a key tip you may not know about Crew Connection: If you don’t have your updated COI attached to your profile, clients can’t even see your profile. You don’t want to miss an opportunity or be invisible to clients just because of one little (but very important) document.

Make Yourself More Hireable by Communicating Better

Whether it’s responding to a direct message to a client through our online portal or replying to emails from your Coordinator, a prompt response can make all the difference in landing the job. Sometimes an email that just reads “I’m available and will send a quote when I’m done with my shoot” can keep a client from looking to another crew to meet their needs. Acknowledging receipt of the request lets the client know you’re on it and you care about their project… and their time.

take one video | Crew Connection

The Number One Thing You Need for a Great Shoot

The Number One Thing You Need for a Great Shoot 5398 3648 Dani Lyman

Whether you’re traveling on location for a big Reality TV show or you’re planning a small corporate video, proper execution comes down to being prepared.

I love the pre-production phase of a shoot! I’m kind of a nerd for it. Breaking down a script? My favorite. Creating the shot list? Nothing makes me happier. Handling contracts and paperwork. All over it. Because I know that a shoot will not be successful and the DP won’t get that killer shot and the director can’t do his creative thing  if we don’t show up prepared. We need to have permits, bring the right equipment and the Audio Tech shouldn’t be on the other side of town because he didn’t get the revised call sheet.

Planning and communicating all the details beforehand allows for the production phase to be filled with creative energy and leads to a successful final project.

An absolute must for your best shoot day, although it is often overlooked:

Imagine showing up to a shoot location and the building security won’t let you in because your name isn’t on his visitor list for the day. You can’t find the name of the location contact because it’s buried in a thread of 50 emails. The CEO you’re supposed to be interviewing has already been waiting an hour because he wasn’t told the proper time to arrive. And your crew is lost trying to find the loading dock and parking.

This is a terrible way to start a shoot. You’re already way behind, crunched for time and everyone is beyond annoyed before you even set up the first shot. However, one little document could have saved the day. Yes, you guessed it. The Call Sheet!

A call sheet should be used for every shoot, no matter the size of the crew. Call sheets help to make sure everyone is on the same page about the most important logistical details. You want to make sure it covers the Who, What, Where, When and Why of the shoot. Who is supposed to be where, at what time and for what purpose.  The sheet should include everything from the shoot location, the weather, the time the crew and talent need to arrive to the breakdown of the schedule, general notes, and contact information for everyone. That includes everyone that could possibly be involved with the shoot or affect the shoot in anyway, if you have their number add it to the sheet!

The call sheet doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be, and you can add as much information as you’d like, but it can also be really simple like this great example:

A smooth shoot also comes down to effective communication. It may sound basic, but little things can get overlooked and cause a lot of confusion without detailed communication. It’s best to send the call sheet as a pdf in a new email thread and ask everyone to reply “Got it.” This way everyone is clear and exactly on the same page.  You also don’t want to have ongoing conversations in the Call Sheet thread. Create separate emails for questions between your team and the crew, so when you’re on site the pertinent information will be easy to pull up.

It’s really important to reply to your crew when they have questions. Sometimes we can get so distracted about information that we find important that we can disregard other peoples’ questions. So, if your crew is asking something about cables or room dimensions, be sure to help find the answers they need before you get to the location. Going over these details on set might wind up being a little too late.

If you’ve just spent the last few weeks nailing down permits, securing talent and planning that perfect sunset shot, don’t blow all that hard work by not properly communicating the specifics to your crew! It also saves you 50 text messages day of about shoot details. You can always just say, “Refer to the call sheet!” And everyone’s on the same page.

sun - Crew Connection

The Art of Good Lighting

The Art of Good Lighting 800 534 Dani Lyman

As every selfie-obsessed Millennial knows, great lighting is keyWhether you’re posting your daily #foodie pic on Instagram or creating a fog-filled scene for a horror movie, it is crucial to find your light. Before going into a production, you want to determine the tone of the project and then discuss with your DP the right lighting to achieve that tone.

Lighting is an art form all on it’s own. DP’s and gaffers are talented artists that paint a scene with light to create the desired tone of a video project. They can cast shadows, manipulate time and take your video from bland to brilliant with the flick of a switch.

Here are three inspired lighting ideas to take your video up a notch:

The Corporate Video

Most corporate videos take place in offices that are not quite as cheery as the picture above. Under fluorescent lights in a room with grey walls, your video can look depressing and bleak. To avoid the “Office Space” vibe, you’re going to want to use light to create an inviting, warm and modern tone.

You also want to consider that your subject is likely not a professional film star and may come across as awkward and unattractive on camera. The right lighting cannot only make your subject look stunning, but also give them the confidence they need to present well on screen.

For a bright and inviting feel that’s perfect for interviews, testimonials & marketing videos try:

  • Thinking beyond 3 point lighting: Bring additional gear to light around the room, bounce off walls, and brighten up the background to make the whole space more inviting
  • Adding faux sunlight: Give the impression natural light is coming from the windows to appear friendly and approachable
  • Using soft light: Like in the photo above, soft light helps subjects look more attractive and polished
  • Tip: China balls, domes, additional background lighting and diffusion are great add-ons to your lighting package

 

Dramatic Flair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Menacing. Brooding. Mysterious. A highly contrasted look, like the example above, is perfect for dramatic re-tellings, serious PSA’s or corporate videos containing heavier material. Deep shadows create a stark contrast which will immediately communicate to the viewer this content is serious. In this example, it looks like the darkness is about to devour that unsuspecting happy man, which might be too intense for your corporate PSA. But, lighting in a lower key, using additional gear to separate the subject from the background and experimenting with color, split lighting and diffusion can help create this sinister tone.

Next Level Talking Head

The go-to video trend of content creators is the Talking Head. We’ve seen it a thousand times. It’s efficient, inexpensive and practical… a.k.a, boring. But, it doesn’t have to be. With great lighting and a few fun extras, your Talking Head can be eye-catching and dynamic.

If you check out the video below, you’ll see the subject is beautifully lit with specific lighting for hair, face & eyes. However, despite the simplicity of the setup, the video looks rich with contrasting shadows, texture and depth. That’s the work of a skilled professional. You’ll also want to note the use of subtle movement here. The camera glides with such control you likely wouldn’t notice if you weren’t looking for it, but it makes the video all the more engaging. The use of two cameras, a slider or additional accessories like a dolly or gimbal, combined with beautiful lighting techniques, can really push production value to the next level.

A video represents who you are to the world, so you want to make sure the style and tone match your brand. It is essential to establish tone and then plan your shoot and budget accordingly. You are definitely going to need to schedule enough time, as creating the right light can be a meticulous process, so a full day shoot is always best.

While lighting is key, it certainly isn’t everything.  To achieve the best results you’re going to want to make sure you hire a complete team. A director will focus on the talent so the DP can focus on the frame. Hair & makeup artists will make sure your subjects look flawless – because lighting can’t fix everything.  Onsite editors are invaluable when it comes to making sure you have enough footage for a seamless edit. And don’t forget a great production assistant can help a shoot flow smoothly, or at least bring you coffee.