A Photographers Journey To Internet Video Production

If you follow this daily blog you would have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in the last week – like everything it takes time and in the digital marketing world there’s the constant debate of quality versus quantity – yes Google loves updated content but content must be good enough and interesting so that it is read and or shared by you.

FYI – your social sharing of content and your online reputation is increasing impacting search engine results.

Anyway, last week I was at a Digital Sports Marketing Conference in Sydney – one of the presenters was Caroline Booth, Sponsorship Manager, Telecom NZ & Nick Brown-Haysom, Managing Director, NZ Sponsorship Agency and the All Black Rugby BackingBlack campaign.  A couple of key take away items from this presentation was that video is increasingly the media of choice and immediacy (now) is often more important than quality production – that is viewers prefer NOW versus perfect production – it’s Maccas fast versus Fine Dining.

There’s no question that quality makes a difference – for example nearly all of us can talk but that doesn’t make us public speakers; everyone can write but that doesn’t mean we’re journalists; everyone can take a photo or shoot a video but we’re not Spielberg!

From a photographers point of view I’d stayed away from the video side of things leaving production to my experienced video production partners – video is another skill that requires a whole lot of knowledge and expertise BUT, as we know, the future of marketing communications is increasingly video and there are many photography skills which are also relevant to video production, plus I’ve also got access to some great new Internet video technology which I’m very keen to commercialise (through my main Maxys corporate marketing and CLIVEvideo businesses)

So, over the last week I began the next stage of my photography journey – incorporating video.

In the first instance it’s all technical – there are a few initial basic elements to consider.

  1. Equipment – camera (Canon 7D & Iphone 4), lens, lighting and something new for the photographers – sound and audio.
  2. Location – everything will need to eventually be portable – in the short term a temporary studio set up at the office
  3. Scripts and Talent – only testing so nothing planned at this stage but very important to productivity and effectiveness
  4. Post Production – I’m a PC and not a MAC man so I’m into Adobe Premier Pro CS5 for video editing.  From an audio point of view then I’ve been using Cakewalk and Sonar (with the Maxys Band) for over 15 years but at this stage just focusing on the video

Day 1 – is our first experiment on Green Screen/ chroma key lighting.  I work out there only needs to be a +2 fstop difference between subject and background to be able to get a nice key.  This is the same for shooting photography and a white background.  My lights are some PAR 64’s and 56’s used for the band but color corrected using 201 Lee Filters.  Using the Premier Ultra Key (Chroma) plugin we get a pretty good result for a first effort.

Day 2 – I start to look at optimum video camera settings for the 7D – what ISO; aperture; shutter and other settings – unlike photography you don’t have the options that RAW file formats give.  We adjusting the camera for very flat subject shooting (maximise tonal range) and adjust in post production.  This is the first real concentrated time spent in Premier – like all newbies we experiment with too many video effects and transitions.

Day 3 (Monday) – The footy is on tonight so I convince my older brother to be my test subject.  In about 45 minutes (and a few takes) we shoot a one minute clip pre game teaser.  I also test a new Beachtek DXA-SLR adapter which allows me to plug a standard XLR microphones (just one of the band Shure 58’s) and record audio on the 7D.  I also shoot a second camera view with my iphone 4.

A quick edit and encode and we upload the rough version to Facebook.

Day 4 – Post production with Adobe Premier CS5. I easily import the Iphone clips and with some learning around syncing markers I get the clips in sync – the next few hours experimenting with multi-camera editing and transitions.

Day 5 – (Today/ Wednesday) – a couple of hours looking at how to remove the annoying background noise from the audio clip and then a final encode ready for uploading to the new video player we’ve been looking at.  From a business owners or marketing managers perspective most Youtube like video campaigns are limited to basic branding or awareness objectives because the video player has limited capabilities to promote and track viewer actions such click thrus….until now.

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WOW and Wicked “Big” Wednesday

There are many things that are “wicked” – it’s the very cool and maybe a little bit dangerous – it’s the little wink or the jaw drop of fan acknowledged “WOW” – but, you can’t promote your brand as being “wicked” unless it consistently is – your bullshit-a-meter iphone app never lies. BS meter 

Yesterday I was at a Sports Conference so this Wicked Wednesday Blog post is late (for Australian readers).

Anyway, while we sat freezing in one of the conference rooms at the SCG talking about digital media, fan passion and brand engagement Sydney surfers were relishing some massive clean swells.

Testimount is today’s front page of the Daily Telegraph – Wild ride … surfer Ben Macartney at Bronte / Pic: www.frothers.com.au Source: The Daily Telegraph is awesome, or dare I say “wicked”

A picture tells a thousand words!

Wild ride ... surfer Ben Macartney at Bronte / Pic: www.frothers.com.au Source: The Daily Telegraph

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Immediately versus excellence – Iphone vs Desktop Apps

9/10 of the latest shots on my Flickr photostream have been taken with my Iphone then quickly edited, enhanced in an app such as Instagram then shared immediately through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare.


Back in the office hours later I’ve access to my desktop applications and much greater control – same camera (low resolution) with same desired effect (selectional blurring/ small aperture) but more than double the editing time – it’s about creating the best image.

Flowering Jasmine tea infusionPhoto by Scott Maxworthymaxymedia

If I was to use my pro camera or shoot then there would be a lot more time setting the picture – lighting, composition, etc.  The resolution so big you could create a 10m billboard (or at least a very sharp A1 poster)

Immediately versus excellence.  

It’s People and Stories That Sell

You’re trying to sell something and customer attention is scarce. 

Dragons Ladies Jersey - Pink V

A photo is better than not having a photo – the potential buyer can see what they are getting.

A professional photo is better than a non professional photo


Dragons Ladies T-Shirt Core

For fashion – a catalogue shot (mannequin) is better than a just a basic product shot.  White background makes a difference.


A studio fashion shot with a live professional model raises the level again.

You can look at basic catalogue studio shots but it’s outdoors that brings the shots to life.  The view puts themselves in the picture.

Winter FashionPhoto by Scott Maxworthymaxymedia



Miranda Kerr Fashion Model

Add a celebrity (someone who resonates with your potential customers) or supermodel (eg Miranda Kerr and Victoria’s Secret) to your shots – you create aspiration, desire, want, media and online attention.

It’s people and the tribes stories that resonate – create desire to act – that sell.

Iphoneography – Power to the People

Today anyone with a decent smart phone (ie has a good camera) can take photos anytime, anywhere.  

With some apps such as Instagram you can then create add effects.  

With some basic photography skills you can take great photos.

Within minutes it can be published and share via social media. 

Power to the people.

Not An Instant Photo

Tuesday Tech Tips – we take a look at a not so instant photography experience.

Instant Technology

We rely so much on technology to take the potential problems out of our lives – from flying aircraft, to reminding us of anniversaries, to taking photos but it’s still the people using the technology that matters.

In this world of I-phones and Instragram it’s easy to think everything to do with photography (and video) is just point, shoot and share but that’s like buying a cake mix from the supermarket – it’s the risky variables, some of the things that can possibly wrong are removed.  The opportunities for creativity (the things that can go wrong) and the controls of the details are limited.  

It’s how you view of the world with your camera that is unique.  

That’s not to say more creative options always provides better results – more often it doesn’t.  A non builder with a power saw and nail gun is still a non builder but the more we understand what we are doing the more flexible and skilled we hopefully become.  A young child with her mums makeup is going to get messy.  Ten kids all using the same cake mix are going to get similar (but not the same) results.

When things are not so instant 

Your client has a Winter Fashion Sale – you’ve got the job, you’ve searched, shortlisted and selected your model, you’ve scheduled the shoot, selected your location and the day has arrived – just in that process alone there’s been many hours.

Shoot day – clothes/ wardrobe, weather, confirmations, equipment checklist  (batteries charged, lens cleaned, cards formatted, lights, lens). The shoot is scheduled for three hours to cover it.  It’s hard not to shake your head when you look at the thousands of dollars of equipment between camera, lens, lights etc.  

The shoot flowed well – pretty girl with about 15 shoots experience, the weather great (sunny and no wind), model takes direction well. The focus is on the clothes – (in particular images that will help sell the clothes).  There’s about dozen outfits to shoot meaning a change every 15 minutes.  Lighting consists of a glorious Sydney Winter afternoon sunshine, two flash units through umbrellas and a full body length gold reflector.  

photoshop editing

We wrap once it get too dark and cold.  There’s 363 shots taken.

Back in the Office (Post Production)

The photos are transferred to computer – the images in RAW format which gives greater control in post production but the files are big (over 20mb each).  My photo hard drive is several terrabytes (that need a culling).  

Photoshop is the professional tool of choice – from a cost point of view there’s another $1K invested.  Such a powerful piece of software that after three years have only scratched the surface of it’s capabilities.

You preview and short list the better shots giving stars (2-5), ending up with 150 images.  Anything that’s technically not great – focus, lighting, pose, wardrobe malfunction, someone in the background streaking.  In the same instance you’re looking for images that stand out and capture attention.

From there you ruthlessley review again and cut down to a dozen.

Photo editing

Retouching skin, colour balance and boost, vignetting, blurring, sharpening, cropping, frames and so on.

There’s roughly 30 minutes to an hour per image editing and sometimes you just don’t like the edit, throw it away and start again.

The images are shared with the client via http://www.box.net and discussed.

Final Result

Publishing & Marketing

The Naked Buddha Winter Fashion Sale



It’s a growing thing.

The more shoots, the better your skills and knowledge will attract someone who likes your work.

The better your reputation and network the easier to make things happen – clients, models, locations etc.

The better the original photo – the model, the light, the pose there’s less work in post production.

In today’s instant digital age that means professional, fast results for your clients – a bit like an instant photo on your i-phone.