Digital Production Buzz
April 9, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Craig Ratcliffe, Photographer, Craig Ratcliffe Photography
Dan Berube, President, Boston Creative Pro User Group
Colin Brown, Filmmaker
Voiceover: The Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by shutterstock.com, a global marketplace for royalty free images and videos. With over two million royalty free HD and 4K video clips, Shutterstock helps you take your creative projects to the next level; and by Other World Computing, providing quality hardware solutions and extensive technical support to the worldwide computer industry since 1988.
Voiceover: Rolling. Action!
Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital film making…
Voiceover: …one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals…
Voiceover: …uniting industry experts…
Voiceover: …film makers…
Voiceover: Post production.
Voiceover: …and content creators around the planet.
Voiceover: From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for creative content producers covering media production, post production, marketing and distribution around the world. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan and joining us is our co-host, Mr. Michael Horton.
Mike Horton: Michael Horton.
Larry Jordan: It’s amazing.
Mike Horton: H-O-R-T-O-N. Just sent in my new contract today. I re-signed for three years.
Larry Jordan: Is that what we were doing today?
Mike Horton: Yes, mmm.
Larry Jordan: And you said it was just an autograph that you needed.
Mike Horton: No, I re-signed for three years, Larry. You’ve got me for three more years.
Larry Jordan: Oh, that’s good news, by the way.
Mike Horton: You’re speechless, aren’t you? I don’t know what to say.
Larry Jordan: We’ve got an Australian theme to our show this week…
Mike Horton: It is, it’s all Aussies.
Larry Jordan: You can be quiet now.
Mike Horton: Ok.
Larry Jordan: Craig Ratcliffe of Craig Ratcliffe Photography is based in Brisbane, Australia. His work includes advertising, classic portraiture and lifestyles. Tonight, he shares his thoughts on current trends in photography; and then a gentleman who is well known to Mr. Horton, Dan Berube, along with mike Horton, is the co-founder of the world famous Supermeets. He’s also a film producer in his own right based in Boston. This evening, he takes us behind the scenes of the Supermeet, because Mike doesn’t talk about that show at all.
Mike Horton: Ever.
Larry Jordan: Colin Brown is a filmmaker. He’s also from Brisbane, Australia and talks about filmmaking for non-profits. He has a lot of experience in both filmmaking and non-profit charities and I’m very much interested in his thoughts.
Larry Jordan: Remember, you can read text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take 1 Transcription. Transcripts are located on each show page. You can learn more at take1.tv and thanks, Take 1, for making it possible
Larry Jordan: Next week is the annual NAB show and The Buzz is covering it in depth. More than 90 interviews spanning 12 hours of production starting Monday 13th April at 10.30. For all the details, visit nabshowbuzz.com. Mike, or should I say…
Mike Horton: How many people are you bringing?
Larry Jordan: 17.
Mike Horton: 17 people.
Larry Jordan: We’re taking 17 people. We’re setting up a broadcast radio station and a broadcast television station in a 20 by 20 foot booth.
Mike Horton: And you are live streaming, so…
Larry Jordan: Live streaming three shows a day.
Mike Horton: …while I’m in my hotel room tearing tickets for the Supermeet, I can watch this.
Larry Jordan: You can, on your cell phone and on nabshowbuzz.com, any mobile device, any computer, yes.
Mike Horton: That’s exciting.
Larry Jordan: It is. It’s a huge amount of work.
Mike Horton: And you don’t have Dan or I on the show.
Larry Jordan: We prefer to think of it as having industry leaders on the show.
Mike Horton: Why did I re-sign?
Larry Jordan: Are you going to be at NAB?
Mike Horton: Yes I will. I’m driving Saturday. You know what’s fun? I wish we had a rolling camera, because your offices are just jam filled with cables and…
Larry Jordan: There is so much gear.
Mike Horton: …boxes and giant televisions.
Larry Jordan: It’s impossible to tell you how many people worked on this.
Mike Horton: How do you put that together?
Larry Jordan: Debbie Price has produced it, Megan Paulos is responsible for putting all the gear together and they’re both…
Mike Horton: They’re worth their weight in gold.
Larry Jordan: …they are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, except Megan’s actually helping us with this show so she’s glued to her seat in the control room. But, oh, what an effort that is.
Mike Horton: Good luck, Larry.
Larry Jordan: We love it. It’s an incredible amount of work but it’s just so much fun. I want you to watch nabshowbuzz.com. You can also visit with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and as always subscribe to our free newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Mike and I will be back with Craig Ratcliffe right after this.
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Larry Jordan: Craig Ratcliffe is a commercial and advertising photographer shooting subjects as diverse as food and jewelry to landscape and industrial locations. Based in Brisbane, Australia, he has more than 40 years’ experience in the competitive world of photography. He’s experienced, then, transition from film to digital during his career, as well as a vast sea change in how photographs are taken and consumed. Hello, Craig, good to have you with us.
Craig Ratcliffe: Hello Larry, lovely to be here.
Larry Jordan: It’s good to have you with us. We’ve got…
Craig Ratcliffe: We’ve got a bit of echo here.
Larry Jordan: Well, at this point you’re bouncing off the walls of our studio. Craig, what got you started in photography?
Craig Ratcliffe: My father was actually a very successful commercial and advertising photographer in Sydney, Australia and I grew up in and around photographic studios, the smell of photographic studios. I was even a child model on many occasions.
Larry Jordan: Well, fathers do that to their kids on a regular basis.
Craig Ratcliffe: They certainly did. Well, I had every intention of being a rock and roll star when I was 15, but my father had other ideas for me.
Larry Jordan: I think that your photography career got you to meet most of the rock and roll people in the world, it would seem to me.
Craig Ratcliffe: I’ve met a lot of people in my career, from Prime Ministers of Australia to the leading actors in Australia. Yes, I’ve certainly photographed quite a few musicians in my time as well.
Larry Jordan: You got started when you were 15, if I remember reading correctly on your blog. Before we talk about the process of photography, what I’m interested in is, as you think back to your mentoring you, what was one of the most important lessons you learned about the business of photography from him?
Craig Ratcliffe: Basically communication. It’s talking to your client. I’ve got to say myself now that the best photographs in the advertising industry are taken with your ears. You must listen to your client, you must see what they see and interpret what they see visually. That’s probably the most important thing I could advise anybody. I never consider myself exactly an artist. I’m an interpreter of other people’s visions.
Larry Jordan: Well, when it comes to interpretation, some of the images on your website are just stunning. Glorious is the only word that I can use to describe them, exposures that I would die to get on my gear. There’s just some amazing stuff. What was your specialty, shooting? You’ve covered so much stuff, what were you starting off shooting when you first began?
Craig Ratcliffe: Look, I learned at a very hard school of photography. It was probably eight years before I started shooting myself. In the first couple of shoots I did with my father as a very young man, as a 15 year old, I sat down in a chair during the shoot. I never sat down again. Never in my life did I sit down again, and I still don’t. It was, “Up, get out of that chair,” probably with words I can’t express here.
Craig Ratcliffe: But I don’t really sit down any more; there’s always something to do in a studio, there’s always more you can do to a photograph. In the end analysis when you’re taking a photography, you’ve got to find that point, particularly in still life with complex images like, say, jewelry, where you must be satisfied with what you’ve created. But then again, you can always go further. In this magic moment you go…
Larry Jordan: Well, the thing I like is that many of the images I’ve looked at look so natural and inartificial that it looks like there’s no special light, it looks like they’re just sitting there, whether it’s a lifestyle photograph of a model or food, which looks edible, or a car which doesn’t have any speculas gleaming off. It looks the way you would expect it to look, which has got to take forever to light.
Craig Ratcliffe: It does, but I’m getting much better at it, having moved into the digital era. I tend to move my subjects around into a position where they work in a lighting aspect. My main focus is to make things look natural so that the human eye interprets – well, there are instances, particularly in modern photo composites, where you might see a view out of a window which there’s far too much detail in.
Craig Ratcliffe: The human eye isn’t going to see that, it’s going to interpret that as looking like a mural if there’s too much detail and then too much detail in the room. It’s just that magic balance, I suppose, that has taken years to perfect, and I do it with my eyes.
Mike Horton: You talk about making your images look natural and when you talk about people looking natural, some of the images that you have on your website of corporate CEOs, office people, these are not necessarily professional models, these are amateurs. How do you get them to behave the way that you want them to behave so it’s natural?
Craig Ratcliffe: There are a number of ways I do that. One is that I totally expose myself, as in…
Mike Horton: That’s good. Nothing more need be said.
Craig Ratcliffe: I have no inhibitions when I speak to people. I tend to make myself, let’s say, the funny guy in the room, the stupidest guy in the room so that the person I’m photographing doesn’t feel inhibited because I’ve made a bit of a goose of myself and then they don’t feel that way, or I might just find out something they’re interested in and I’m not that well read but I know a lot of stuff about a lot of things from sport to politics, so I can actually discuss something with them and completely take them off guard usually. A lot of those shots will be done when people maybe are actually doing their own job.
Mike Horton: Do you actually spend a lot of time with them before you push the shutter button? Or sometimes do you not have the time and you just have to make them feel comfortable?
Craig Ratcliffe: Usually, there’s no time. I’ll walk into an office and I just get them, it’s almost like shock. But I might also get them from a distance, long lens. When they’re not aware of my presence, I might set up the shot, do the shot but then as I’m leaving get the shot, when they think it’s over.
Larry Jordan: We were just waiting for you to finish. That was a pregnant pause as we’re taking notes over here. I was reflecting, your career began in ’74 and in those days the way you would do retouching is you would actually be marking on the transparency itself. What’s it been like over the last 40 years, as we make the transition into digital? Do you miss the days of being able to physically touch film and retouch, the way you used to? Or is it an all Photoshop world and there’s no going back?
Craig Ratcliffe: Certainly there’s a lot I miss about conventional non-digital photography, and that’s probably the reward of picking up your photograph, the latent image. It’s that light. With digital, it’s almost instant gratification and that latent image that you know is sitting there in that roll of film and you don’t know it’s right until it comes out and you put that on a light box and it’s that feeling of, “Wow, it’s great.” That’s what I miss. There’s a display, “Oh, look, I’ve got it”, and I just miss that…
Mike Horton: Back in those old days, did you develop your own film or did you just send it out?
Craig Ratcliffe: Oh, the first darkroom I ever did black and white printing or processed any negatives in, I built myself.
Mike Horton: Ah, cool.
Craig Ratcliffe: Under my father’s instructions, so I had to be a carpenter first, and I’m not a great carpenter, but I managed to get everything level. He had me in the darkroom virtually… for about four years. This is something that doesn’t happen today because we don’t have light sensitive chemical materials and that learning of how to do things in the dark, using a scalpel in the dark – I used to have to do that when you’d cut sheets of film – I miss a lot of that.
Craig Ratcliffe: I miss the smell of the fixer. When you walk into a photographic studio, they always had that odor, that background odor of fixer.
Mike Horton: I actually did this in college as part of a way to pay my tuition. I was in a darkroom and I worked hours and hours and hours and, yes, the smell, I can still remember the smell, which has…
Craig Ratcliffe: Do you remember it?
Mike Horton: …which has affected my brain, which is why I can’t speak more than about 60 minutes before I start to slur.
Craig Ratcliffe: Don’t worry. When my father occasionally would underexpose a black and white image, he taught me how to produce – a lot of people don’t understand but you can actually intensify negatives and that’s the process of sepia toning, your potassium bromide and sodium sulfide, my fingernails were black.
Mike Horton: There’s your smell.
Craig Ratcliffe: That’s one hell of an odor, I can tell you.
Mike Horton: That’s why you and I would do really well in a bar.
Larry Jordan: Craig, do you find yourself planning shoots differently? Back when you were shooting film, even though you really had too many people and unlimited film budget, you still didn’t shoot anywhere near the number of images you shoot now digitally. Do you plan shoots differently now that they’re digital?
Craig Ratcliffe: I try to think of it that I’m still using film, but the habit with many photographers is that you do overshoot. Of course, there were budgets with the amount of film you could shoot. A 120 roll of film wasn’t all that cheap and especially… processing it. Although I did have an E6 processor towards the end and a photo composite service. We would sometimes do 18 element photo composites.
Craig Ratcliffe: I had an in-house re-toucher and a compositor. So when it came to the shift to digital and now these days when you can work in layers, I kind of understand it very well because you’re essentially doing the same thing. I myself don’t work in layers, I do use Photoshop as a darkroom.
Larry Jordan: I want to take you back to the days of film, because when I was reading this on your website, it was just too good not to talk about. How would you build a composite image when you were working with film? There’s no digital layers and Photoshop, you’re looking at different pieces of film. How would you build a composite?
Craig Ratcliffe: Very good planning. You required a very good rendering by the art director or designer, which they often didn’t understand that they had to do and you’d say, “Well, this has to fit here and this has to fit there.” They have to essentially give you a blueprint, if you like, that you can work around. You can’t just magically put everything together. You can get very good effects, it can work very well. You only have to go back 20, 25 years and it was all traditional photo composition, there was no Photoshop.
Larry Jordan: But how would you build a composite? What was the technical process?
Craig Ratcliffe: Oh, right. I didn’t do it myself, we had a compositor and a re-toucher. Basically, what you would do is create to scale duplicate Ektachromes, so… might say we’d do our composites at about a 1411 Ektachrome. You would create each Ektachrome with two sides and then the re-toucher would get some what was known as… film and he’d have to cut with a scalpel around each… so you create the mask.
Craig Ratcliffe: The… mask would be taken away and then in our case we’d get the compositor to then create a soft edged mask out of lithographic black and white film and you could grow or shrink the edge and soften or harden the edge purely by time, temperature… process. Then you took all those masks that were in black and white, put them under an enlarger and, with a pin registration board, that would be exposed under the timer, so you had a positive and a negative mask on each layer.
Mike Horton: This was back when? 1940 something?
Craig Ratcliffe: We were still doing this in 1990.
Mike Horton: And now you can do it digitally. We do the same thing but we only do it digitally.
Craig Ratcliffe: Well, exactly. You are doing exactly the same thing. There’s not much difference.
Mike Horton: Yes, except there’s no smell.
Craig Ratcliffe: Exactly right.
Larry Jordan: What cameras are you shooting with now?
Craig Ratcliffe: I use a Hasselblad.
Mike Horton: Oh my goodness.
Craig Ratcliffe: I generally don’t take that on location and she’s getting a bit old. They’re very expensive cameras. I’m sort of running on a DH2, which is the… which is adequate. I’ve usually… and I use that for my… and my food photography generally. I also use Nikon, they’re my field cameras. I miss the days of, and I really wish that someone would do something about this, I really miss my bellows. I miss my view cameras. I don’t think people realize exactly what you can do with objects, quite simply, if you know how to use a view camera.
Larry Jordan: Like the ground glass plate on a Hasselblad, you mean?
Craig Ratcliffe: No, I meant when you’re using a five by four camera or a ten by eight camera, where you can shift… tilt, swing and, with all those movements, it becomes unnecessary to… You can do it optically or… and since… basically went out of business, to my knowledge, there hasn’t been anyone producing a bellows view camera with a digital… I’ve attempted it. I tried to build one but…
Mike Horton: Keep practicing.
Craig Ratcliffe: I will, I will.
Larry Jordan: There are a lot of kids who are starting out in school who would love, at the end of 40 years, to look back on a career similar to yours and feel as good about it as you do. What advice do you have for them?
Craig Ratcliffe: It’s a tough world out there. Look, I was lucky, I had an amazing photographer father. It wasn’t ever easy, but these days, my goodness, there are so many photographers out there competing against most young photographers. My own son is now a videographer, it’s gone to a third generation, and I think I taught him pretty well. I’ve got the philosophy of it. It’s hard work. In my game, I have to forget everything for what I do. I miss parties, I miss holidays, work Christmas Day. You can’t say no.
Craig Ratcliffe: You have to be there… constantly and if you’ve got to understand that. Also, I don’t know whether you really necessarily have to take that many photographs. I think you look at the world as a photographer. I remember my dad used to say, “Give me a pair of…,” and he’d go out and look at things like… and shape and compose your images, visually remember that. Do those exercises, look at things…
Mike Horton: That’s a great tip.
Larry Jordan: I teach that to all of my college kids and they all get embarrassed, saying, “How can you do this? This just makes me feel weird,” and I say, “Yes, but now you’re a camera.” No, no, no, finger to thumb and thumb to finger. Just getting their fingers in the right spot is a challenge.
Craig Ratcliffe: What format? Are you using Cinemascope? Yes, Larry, that’s very good of you, that you do that, because we can go and create thousands and thousands of images but with often not getting a look at but you know what? If you do this in how to look at the world, that’s just necessary.
Larry Jordan: Craig, where can people go on the web to study your work and learn more about you, and hire you, for that matter?
Mike Horton: And hire you, yes.
Craig Ratcliffe: And hire me. Well, I’m available. I have a website at the moment, it will be redeveloped. At the moment it’s www.ratcliffephotography.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s ratcliffephotography.com and Craig Ratcliffe himself is the gentleman we’ve been talking with and, Craig, thanks for joining us today, it was fun.
Craig Ratcliffe: Thank you very much.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
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Larry Jordan: Dan Berube is the founder of the Boston Creative Pro User Group. He’s also the co-producer, with our own Mike Horton, of the world famous Supermeets and a long time recurring guest on The Buzz. Hello, Dan, it’s good to have you back.
Dan Berube: Hey, Larry, how are you?
Mike Horton: Hello, Dan.
Dan Berube: …Mike. I have one question for you.
Mike Horton: Yes?
Larry Jordan: We are listening.
Dan Berube: Where’s my contract?
Mike Horton: Yes, I’ve already signed the three year contract.
Larry Jordan: Mike signed on your behalf, so I’m sure that he’ll deal with all the business details for you a little bit later. Dan, how would you describe the Supermeet?
Dan Berube: I describe the Supermeet as almost there. We are so excited. We are on the eve of one of the baddest, greatest Supermeets that we have put on in our history and we’re in our 14th year, next year we have our 15th year and, God, I wish it was at the Riviera, but that’s another story.
Mike Horton: Yes, so do I. Yes, for those people who don’t know, the Riviera’s going to be blown up here in August.
Larry Jordan: I did not know that.
Mike Horton: You did not know that?
Larry Jordan: I did not know that, so I’m glad to find out.
Mike Horton: No, the Supermeet is the last event the Riviera’s going to have.
Larry Jordan: This April?
Mike Horton: They’re closing in May…
Larry Jordan: Are you serious?
Mike Horton: …and then they’re blowing it up in August…
Larry Jordan: After the Supermeet, there’s nothing…
Mike Horton: After the Supermeet.
Dan Berube: Well, trust me, we’re not going to blow it up, we’re going to put on a good show. We’re going to bring down the house.
Mike Horton: We’re going to bring down the house, right.
Larry Jordan: Dan, 14 years is a heck of a long time. What was it that encouraged you to start this with Mike all those years ago?
Dan Berube: Oh my God, well, it goes back to, well, again, I was doing Final Cut Pro consultations, I was working at the Apple Faneuil Hall market center and I just basically decided to start doing another group. I was working with the Media 100 group and then this thing called Final Cut just came out at NAB that was software based and could use the Firewire DV port on your computer and that was it for me. I was working for a public television series, I moved and started my own company and here I am today.
Larry Jordan: Michael, you’re in LA and Dan is in Boston. How did the two of you ever connect?
Mike Horton: A lot of Skyping.
Larry Jordan: Well, not just now but what was it…
Mike Horton: No, Dan and I first met at DV Expo in 1959 or something like that.
Dan Berube: 1959, yes.
Mike Horton: It was, yes, it was something like that, and Dan had come out, he was working for Canon and we were having a user group meeting there with Apple and Brandy … was there and Brian Meaney was there. This was back in the days when Apple would actually send people down and actually do stuff.
Larry Jordan: I do remember those days.
Mike Horton: Yes, they were doing it then, and that’s where we met and Dan said that’s when he was going to start the Boston Final Cut Pro User Group and I said, “Yes, good luck.”
Dan Berube: Exactly. It was a handshake and, “Good luck,” and here we are today. I think Milton Berle was at that event too back in ’59.
Mike Horton: Who was?
Dan Berube: Milton Berle, right?
Mike Horton: Yes he was, and he was a very young guy at that time.
Dan Berube: …
Mike Horton: In fact, he was the MC that night, he and Bing Crosby.
Larry Jordan: Dan, you and Mike both run user groups in addition to the Supermeet and one of the things that Mike has remarked on many times is how hard it is to get people to come out to events like user groups. Are you seeing the same issue? Are people reluctant to show up for user group meetings or Supermeets and, if so, how do you encourage them?
Dan Berube: I tell you, it’s all about learning from PT Barnum – leave them wanting more, and I do and they come back every single month. I’m at a wonderful facility at Emerson College in Boston, at the Paramount Theater, in the Kevin Bright screening room. Kevin Bright launched it, he was the executive producer of Friends and is now the director of the Emerson LA campus Sunset Boulevard. We’ve got a 2K theater; over the summer, it’s being retrofitted to a 4K theater…
Mike Horton: Oh wow.
Dan Berube: …and I just have wonderful, wonderful instances of people gathering together and talking to each other, screening their work, having some great speakers and having a damn good time while we’re doing it.
Larry Jordan: Well, let’s keep going with that because the Supermeet’s coming up and you’re carrying that same theme over to the Supermeet. Have you and Mike ever announced the agenda, or are you still keeping it secret?
Mike Horton: Yes, you have to pay attention. It was announced three months ago.
Dan Berube: We don’t have an agenda, no.
Mike Horton: Yes, we don’t have an agenda, but we do have food.
Dan Berube: We do. We have, what was it? Pickled…
Mike Horton: Yes, pickled corn. Those little tiny pickled corn.
Dan Berube: I know.
Larry Jordan: Boy, I tell you, that certainly makes me want to show up.
Dan Berube: …and a pole stuck in the floor and people just go up to it and nosh at it while they’re talking to each other.
Mike Horton: Yes, exactly. It’s going to be awesome. No, we do have the agenda. All you have to do is go to supermeet.com and check it out. It was announced just about five days ago, something like that.
Dan Berube: Yes, we have Blackmagic Design, we have HP and Nvidia, we have Isotope, Ripple Training, Adobe, GenArt, Other World Computing. This is probably the best show that we’ve had in years.
Mike Horton: This is jam packed show.
Dan Berube: We have a little bit of everything for people to be able to sit there, watch and then go back outside and talk to each other. The biggest thing about the Supermeet is for people to get together and talk to each other.
Larry Jordan: Now, why is that so important to you, Dan? Because Mike says the same thing, but why is that so important?
Dan Berube: Because no-one talks to me. No, because I enjoy being with people. It’s part of me, it’s my inner being, it’s a passion that comes from within me. There’s passion, humility and I love building these events that bring people together and I hear…
Larry Jordan: We’re trying not to pick up on the humility.
Mike Horton: Yes, that’s it, that would be my answer – I do this because nobody talks to me.
Dan Berube: I spend a lot of money doing it, but you know what? With every Supermeet, people talk to me.
Mike Horton: At least I get to talk to people. That’s pretty good.
Dan Berube: It’s all about relationships in this industry. It’s the corniest phrase in the world, but it’s so true. You have to get out, you have to talk to people and you have to sell yourself and then listen to people. It’s equal parts selling and listening and when you reach that, magic happens.
Mike Horton: Every time that Dan and I are asked that question, you know, why do we do this kind of stuff, the answers are corny but honestly it’s really from the heart. It’s what we hope to achieve at every Supermeet or every user group meeting, that people meet each other and talk to each other, learn from each other, help each other and then hopefully collaborate with each other, and that’s the biggest reward we get out of these things and that’s what keeps us going, and so we hope to do it again this year and then the year after and we’ll continue going.
Larry Jordan: Just don’t blow up another hotel next year.
Mike Horton: Well, we’ve already blown up the Stardust, now we’re blowing up the Riviera.
Larry Jordan: Dan, do you have a raffle?
Dan Berube: Yes, we have a history.
Larry Jordan: Dan, do you have a raffle?
Dan Berube: Do I have a raffle?
Mike Horton: Does the Supermeet have a raffle?
Dan Berube: Yes, we do have a raffle at the Supermeet. It is one billion dollars in prizes and…
Mike Horton: Exactly. We’re giving away lynda.com.
Dan Berube: We’re giving away cameras, human beings, switchers, software, hardware. We’re giving away a big DaVinci Resolve panel that’s bigger than what I’m doing. There are just a lot of things we’re giving away, plus there’s a big door prize for the first 500 people through the door. One lucky person gets a $10,000 HP workstation.
Mike Horton: That’s the workstation and the Dream Color monitor.
Larry Jordan: Wow. Wow.
Dan Berube: Right, and then everybody who registers and goes to the Supermeet is going to get a prize… and Jeff Greenberg is going to rock the house with GenArts and is going to talk about that, so just show up and you may win something in the raffle, but you’re definitely going to win something from GenArts and all the loving that’s in the room.
Mike Horton: Yes, everybody’s going to go home with something, so that’s going to be fun.
Larry Jordan: Dan, I know we’ve only got a few seconds left, but you’ve also got a film and competition called ‘The Chain.’ Tell me where people can go to learn more about that, because that’s such a cool film and I really want people to be able to see what’s going on with that.
Dan Berube: Yes, we’re screening April 18th at the Monadnock International Film Festival, so go to moniff.org and you’ll see a listing for Saturday April 18th under short films.
Larry Jordan: And how about Supermeet? Where can people go?
Dan Berube: Supermeet.com.
Larry Jordan: And how about with Boston Creative Pro User Group? Where can they go for that?
Dan Berube: It’s the acronym – boscpug.org.
Larry Jordan: All right, so let’s hit them all. That’s moniff.org for Dan’s film; supermeet.com for the Supermeet; and boscpug.org for BOSFCPUG. Dan, thanks for joining us today.
Mike Horton: See you, Dan, in two days. Bye bye.
Dan Berube: See you soon.
Larry Jordan: Colin Brown has over 18 years’ experience in the film industry, holding senior positions in post production companies in both Australia and New Zealand. Colin has won several awards and been instrumental in luring major productions to his native state of Queensland. Colin now helps non-profit charities in Australia, including producing a series of videos for other non-profits. Hello, Colin, welcome.
Colin Brown: Hi, how you doing?
Larry Jordan: Well, we’re talking to you, I think that’s a great way to start.
Mike Horton: Colin is wearing the same thing that Craig was wearing.
Larry Jordan: He was.
Mike Horton: Is this an Australian thing?
Colin Brown: Am I wearing the same? Really?
Mike Horton: Really, you are. You are wearing the same kind of ear buds kind of thing with microphone dealy…
Larry Jordan: A very cool look.
Mike Horton: …that Craig was wearing, and you also have the same background as Craig.
Larry Jordan: Don’t break his heart. He looks cool, by the way.
Mike Horton: But you do look cool.
Colin Brown: That’s all right, I can move it a bit. There you are, how about that?
Mike Horton: Yes, it is an Australian thing. You look awesome and you sound good.
Colin Brown: Excellent. Well, that’s the main thing.
Larry Jordan: Colin, you ran a post production business in Brisbane for a long time. What kind of clients were you working with way back then?
Colin Brown: We had different clients, from major film productions right down to corporates.
Larry Jordan: When was that? When were you working in post? Because you worked post in two countries – you were in Australia for a while and in New Zealand. Which one did you do first and what made you switch?
Colin Brown: I went to New Zealand after I’d finished high school in Australia and was offered a job there to work on a cigarette commercial, actually, and from there I sort of moved through the ranks to be the general manager of a film production company and then from there I missed home, actually, so I went back. Wellington in New Zealand is very cold…
Larry Jordan: Yes, it is.
Colin Brown: …so I moved back to Brisbane, where it’s warmer.
Mike Horton: That’s why everybody moves to LA.
Colin Brown: Yes.
Larry Jordan: How long were you working in post and when did you shift gears into working with non-profits?
Colin Brown: I worked in post for the best part of 17 odd years and then I made a move, actually. I was the head of an advertising agency and I did that for about three years and in doing that I met some people who worked in the non-profit sector and realized that they needed help, so that’s where it came from.
Larry Jordan: Now, when you say they needed help, what did they need?
Colin Brown: I’ll go back one step. Initially, I lost a brother to cancer when I was young, so I found a small not-for-profit in Brisbane that helped the families of children with cancer. They provide free accommodation for families who come from remote areas and I saw that they needed help in terms of their branding and marketing and I actually sit on the board of that organization now. So I moved into making videos to help them get sponsorship and that sort of thing.
Mike Horton: Wouldn’t you love to do that? Gosh, I would love to do that. Can you make a career out of doing that? Can you pay the rent doing that?
Colin Brown: No.
Mike Horton: Yes, that’s what I was going to…
Larry Jordan: It helps your heart but doesn’t help the pocketbook.
Colin Brown: No, no. I do it for the love, actually. I don’t do it for money. Some of the other videos I’ve made, you charge a nominal fee, but it really is for the cause, so to speak.
Larry Jordan: Well, let’s stay with non-profits for just a bit. They needed help with branding, they needed help with marketing. Basically, their heart’s in the right spot but it sounds like they just need direction. Is that a true statement?
Colin Brown: Pretty much.
Larry Jordan: And then, if so, what advice do you give them? How can you enable a non-profit to communicate their message to people who don’t yet understand it?
Colin Brown: I guess the thing with non-profits is they get into a space where it’s really competitive in terms of trying to get money. Everybody from Ronald McDonald House to World Vision to Save The Children, everybody’s trying to get the general punter, the moms and dads and the companies’ money, so first of all they have to realize that it’s a competitive space, and then they have to realize that they need to get things in order in terms of approaching these companies, corporates, if you like, to get sponsorship. My advice would be to get things in order to make sure that you can present a case that is saleable and also buyable, if that makes sense.
Mike Horton: It always bothers me that we use that word competitive when we come to non-profits, because there are so many people in institutions trying to do the same thing. Why do we need to start another one, even though you think you have a better idea or be smaller or be less, I don’t know, it just bothers me that we use the word competitive a lot when it comes to non-profit organizations, but it’s true.
Colin Brown: Yes, I would agree with that. It is true, it is very true, but the ones that I’m involved with have a specific role in the area that they are. The childhood cancer society that I’m involved with help people from remote locations to come and stay and they offer that service for free, so they obviously need funding to do that. They don’t get any government funding, so it’s a tragedy but it’s real, there is competition in that space.
Mike Horton: Yes, sure.
Larry Jordan: You’re working with a non-profit now creating a series of videos. Tell me about that project, what you’re doing and let’s walk through the production process.
Colin Brown: Yes, sure. There’s another local charity, if you like, in Brisbane which offers therapeutic horse riding for disabled people, so what that means is that they get everybody from people who can’t walk, in wheelchairs, right through to limited disability in terms of even hearing.
Colin Brown: What horse riding does for those people is amazing, actually, when you see it. It provides them with a confidence and the role which it plays with wheelchair bound people is quite profound in as much as it helps their core and I’ve seen kids who, when they get on a horse, they’re literally hunched over and after a year of riding they’re able to sit up by themselves.
Mike Horton: Yes, I live in a community here in Los Angeles called Chatsworth and there’s a horse riding therapy organization in that community which is one of the best in the country and it’s only a couple of blocks from where I live and I’ve gone over there a number of times and just watched the progress of wheelchair bound people from one week to the other. It’s extraordinary. It’s just really extraordinary.
Colin Brown: It really is.
Mike Horton: The rewards are almost instant when they put somebody who’s never been on a horse before on a horse and, boy, does it make you smile. It really does.
Colin Brown: Yes, it does. So what I’m doing with them is, again, they needed help with their brand presence and they’re also trying to do a major upgrade on the facilities they have, so in the process of producing a brand video, if you like, I approached a prominent Australian musician, got the rights to a song for them and I’m just going to do a little music clip for them to take to corporates and other organizations in the local Brisbane area to get funding for them to do that major upgrade.
Colin Brown: The other ones that I do for that, I also interviewed some of their staff to, again, try and expand on their donation base, just basically to get public awareness of what they do.
Larry Jordan: And how are those being distributed?
Colin Brown: Via the internet.
Mike Horton: Is there any other way?
Colin Brown: And through some other newsletter based stuff as well.
Larry Jordan: So let’s just talk tech for a minute. What kind of cameras are you shooting with and how are you getting it edited? Please get as specific as you want.
Colin Brown: Sure. It’s a two camera process. There was a studio base where I did the interviews, shot on a Blackmagic camera, actually, the 2K cinema camera; and the second camera is a Canon 5D and the same on location when I shoot the horses and the kids riding the horses, it’s a two camera shoot with the same cameras.
Larry Jordan: And then editing?
Colin Brown: I actually do the editing. I started in the industry as a film editor, so that’s a little passion for me, so I cut them and grade them in Resolve, cut them into Adobe Premiere Pro and then output as one would normally do.
Larry Jordan: Now, you’re shooting with a Canon among others. Are you transcoding the footage or are you just editing the H.264 natively?
Colin Brown: Editing it natively.
Larry Jordan: And then you go to Resolve for a color grade?
Colin Brown: Correct.
Mike Horton: And are you writing the script?
Colin Brown: Yes.
Mike Horton: See, he does everything.
Larry Jordan: That’s it, lights, cameras, action, editing. Wow.
Mike Horton: Jibs and crane shots and ‘copter shots.
Colin Brown: I wish, yes. When you’re working with not-for-profits, it’s hard to get…
Mike Horton: Well, now you can do it so cheap, you’ve got all these quadcopters, you could put your little GoPro cameras on them and scare the horses.
Larry Jordan: As I think about it, once you’re a really well established non-profit and you’ve been in business for 40, 50 years and established the brand and people understand what that is, the biggest challenge is having people understand why they should contribute to you. In other words, with the limited charity dollars that they’ve got, why that particular charity? It seems to me that the biggest challenge you’ve got is answering that ‘why?’ question. What techniques are you using to help people be reassured that the non-profit is worth contributing to and the corollary that falls out of this is what advice do you have for other young non-profits to answer that ‘why?’ question?
Colin Brown: That’s a great question and it’s quite difficult to answer, but for me it comes down to exposure. There are a lot of charities out there and a lot of not-for-profit organizations that are rubbish, where the dollar doesn’t actually get to what they’re trying to do. So firstly you have to establish what the organization does and make people aware of that and that’s kind of what I’m trying to do with the horse riding thing, because not many people know about therapeutic things that offer these people horse riding.
Colin Brown: But I think firstly you have to identify exactly what you’re doing and exactly what you’re offering to whatever sector you’re in. Secondly, when you’re asking for money, you have to, in my opinion, offer where exactly that dollar’s going to go. For example, in the horse riding, it might be that you’re sponsoring a horse and in doing that it enables the horse to be fed etcetera. With the childhood cancer society that I’m involved with, you can sponsor a unit where the families stay or you can help with buying.
Colin Brown: For example, we did a donation drive not long back because each of the rooms needed a medical fridge to store the drugs that the kids needed for their treatment. I guess that’s a long answer to a very complex question. In short, I think you need to identify the need and focus on where the dollar’s going to go.
Larry Jordan: Continuing that same theme, what mistakes do non-profits make, aside from not having enough money, in creating their videos that they need to think about avoiding?
Colin Brown: Quality. I think one of the main things that happens with not-for-profits is that they get people who don’t know what they’re doing or sell them an idea that isn’t the right message. I guess that’s what I didn’t mention in the last question you asked, it’s the messaging. The messaging has to be correct and on the money.
Colin Brown: Often, not-for-profit videos are quite low quality, they look terrible, they’re filmed on substandard equipment and they just look terrible, which then reflects on the organization themselves to make the organization look terrible, so the one piece of advice I would give is to get somebody who can do it to make it look professional.
Mike Horton: Yes, you’re absolutely right. Going back to that horse riding therapy place in Chatsworth, one nice thing about living in Los Angeles, you’re surrounded by a lot of talent and a lot of talent is doing some very good things for this place and they’re using a lot of very professional equipment with a lot of talented people and their video, to get people to actually give money, is so good that you cannot help but give money after you see the video. It’s excellent. It’s a beautiful story, it’s beautifully done and that’s so important because if you’re going to spend five or six minutes watching this thing, it means a lot to your donations.
Colin Brown: Exactly, and the other thing I would add to that is that if you’re approaching CEOs or decision makers in big major corporates, they don’t have a lot of time so you have to pull their heartstrings, so to speak, quickly.
Mike Horton: Yes, music’s really important…
Colin Brown: It is.
Larry Jordan: What projects are you working on in the future? What’s coming up?
Colin Brown: I don’t really know, to be honest. I will continue to work with the McIntyre Center, which is the horse riding center, and the childhood cancer society that I work with. I’m on the Board there, so that keeps me fairly busy as well. I do these things on the side and I’ll continue to do that, I guess.
Mike Horton: Yes, please do, we need people like you.
Larry Jordan: So what are you going to be doing to pay the rent?
Colin Brown: I’ve got a day job, so I’ll continue to do my day job.
Larry Jordan: Well, we appreciate you staying in late from work today to be able to visit with us, that’s very kind of you.
Colin Brown: My absolute pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Oh, I almost forgot, do we have a website that people can learn more about the McIntyre Center that they can go to?
Colin Brown: We do, yes.
Larry Jordan: You want to share it with us so that we can have a place for people to check it out?
Colin Brown: Sure. It’s rda.com.au.
Larry Jordan: That’s rda.com.au.
Mike Horton: And can we see some of your work on that site?
Colin Brown: No, not that site. Actually, I told a lie, it’s rda.asn.au.
Mike Horton: Can we see some of your work on that site?
Larry Jordan: Let’s talk communication and getting the message drilled home, shall we?
Mike Horton: That’s the one thing you forgot to put in the video – go to this site and get more…
Colin Brown: I do know what I’m doing, yes.
Mike Horton: It was that lower third that you got wrong.
Larry Jordan: Give us the website one more time.
Colin Brown: It’s rda.asn.au.
Mike Horton: All right.
Colin Brown: That’s the actual organization’s website.
Larry Jordan: So where can we go to see your work?
Colin Brown: I don’t have a lot of stuff up.
Mike Horton: Oh, you’ve got to put something up.
Colin Brown: Yes, I guess.
Mike Horton: Make your own website. Next project, make your own website.
Larry Jordan: Yes, you should feel guilty because otherwise millions of people are missing the quality of your work right now.
Mike Horton: Exactly. We need more people like you here in LA.
Larry Jordan: And Colin, thank you so very much for your time. It’s been a wonderful visit and we wish you great success going forward in the future.
Colin Brown: And to you chaps as well.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Mike Horton: Yes, thanks so much.
Colin Brown: Cheers, thanks. Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: You know, Michael, it is so important to do this kind of work and it’s a tribute to him. He got started when his brother died of cancer.
Mike Horton: Yes. Well, I can’t tell you how important what he said is. The video that you do about that institution that you’re talking about and trying to sell is so important, because you see so much God awful stuff and it really does make a difference when you only have five minutes to pitch. Show that five minute video and if you can get that heartstring going, people will commit.
Larry Jordan: But it’s so hard because you’re a non-profit and you’ve got so little money to work with, you feel that any money that you spend on a video…
Mike Horton: Yes, but guys like Colin and also with tools being so affordable and one man bands and things like that, it can be done so cheaply. It’s just that guy behind the camera, the guy behind the story, that’s all it really needs. It really needs that talented person to take it to that level that you need it and there are so many people out there who can do so many things. But you’re right, we’ve got to pay the rent. There’s no good answer to this whole thing, but quality, quality, quality.
Larry Jordan: And message.
Mike Horton: And message.
Larry Jordan: A strong message.
Mike Horton: Yes. That’s a good topic, non-profits.
Larry Jordan: It’s a good topic. It’s not a huge market but it’s so necessary.
Mike Horton: Well, I think it is a huge market. It’s just do it well.
Larry Jordan: Yes, that’s true. So when are you heading out to Las Vegas?
Mike Horton: I go Saturday. I know you’re going tomorrow, right?
Larry Jordan: No, Saturday.
Mike Horton: Oh, really?
Larry Jordan: Yes, drive Saturday.
Mike Horton: Oh, so you’re spending all day…
Larry Jordan: We’re tearing The Buzz apart to be able to load it into the truck.
Mike Horton: You’re spending all day putting it into the truck and then Saturday you’ll be there. So you’re setting up on Sunday?
Larry Jordan: We’re setting up Saturday afternoon and Sunday. It’s a 20 by 20 foot booth and we’re building a complete radio station and, thanks to One Beyond, a complete television station.
Mike Horton: I’m amazed. Every time I go there and I see this thing, you’ve actually done that in probably, what, eight hours?
Larry Jordan: Mhmm. A little less. Yes, full intercom system, full networks, broadcast, audio broadcast, video.
Mike Horton: And also you do the cable rolling and the video thing.
Larry Jordan: Yes, we specialize in cable rolling. Next time, Michael…
Mike Horton: Please tell me when you’re going to do that.
Larry Jordan: I will tell you when we do it because I know how much…
Mike Horton: I want to be there. It’s, what, Thursday at noon, right?
Larry Jordan: Just after we talk codecs, it’s going to be a great…
Mike Horton: Ok, it’s going to be awesome. Please, everybody, be there, Thursday noon, cable rolling. It’s going to be fun.
Larry Jordan: And you’re welcome to come by the booth and say hi and take a look at what we’re doing. It’s a huge amount of work from a lot of people and we are desperately proud of it and would love to show you how…
Mike Horton: You should be, you’ve got a good crew.
Larry Jordan: …how we squeeze all that into a very, very small space, broadcast radio and broadcast television in a 20 by 20 foot booth and half of it’s stage. It’s amazing.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests for today: Craig Ratcliffe, photographer…
Mike Horton: And I won’t be on the show. Just remember that, folks. I’m not on the show. I’m doing the Supermeet. Can you hear me, Mr. Audio Person? Ok, go ahead Larry, finish.
Larry Jordan: …Dan Berube, who won’t be on the show either…
Mike Horton: It’s not that I’m angry.
Larry Jordan: …who’s the co-producer of the Supermeet; and Colin Brown, a filmmaker, all from Brisbane, Australia, except Dan, who’s from Boston, but it starts with the letter B, what more do you want?
Mike Horton: But Dan’s kind of Australian.
Larry Jordan: Next week, The Buzz is at the 2015 NAB show, creating more than 12 hours of programming directly from the trade show floor. You can get all the details at nabshowbuzz.com. in addition, visit with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
Mike Horton: By the way, you’re going Saturday, do you want to meet in Baker at about 11am…
Larry Jordan: That’d be great.
Mike Horton: …in Bob’s Big Boys and…
Larry Jordan: We could do biscuits in Baker.
Mike Horton: Biscuits in Baker.
Larry Jordan: Mhmm.
Mike Horton: That big thermometer.
Larry Jordan: A little bit of brownies maybe on the side.
Mike Horton: It’s a deal, 11 o’clock.
Larry Jordan: I’m there.
Mike Horton: 11am.
Larry Jordan: Theme music composed by Nathan Doogie Turner; additional music on The Buzz provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription. Our producer is Cirina Catania, our crew Megan Paulos, Alexia Chalida, Ed Goyler, Keegan Guy and Brianna Murphy. His name, Mike Horton; my name, Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Buzz.
Mike Horton: Goodbye, everybody.
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