We would like to take the opportunity to thank some of the small businesses who have supported us in our recent film projects. It truly takes a village to create a film, and we feel so blessed to have the one we have in the Cowichan Valley and beyond.
a special thanks to all the small businesses who have supported us
Last week we showed you some of our recent video production projects, and how we’ve helped our clients tell their stories. Today, we’ll tell you a bit more about the three main stages of video production process and what you can expect when you work with our team.
This is the critical planning stage, where we consider strategy, budget, scheduling, and create a plan to maximize your investment. Depending on the project, it might also entail anything from a simple treatment and shotlist to a detailed script and full storyboard.
We will need to work with you to figure out key details by asking questions such as:
What are the subject matter, purpose and objective(s) for the video?
Who is the intended audience of the video, and how will we ensure we reach them?
What is the core message of the video, and what are the expected results or “call-to-action”? What do you want viewers to do or know after they watch your video? Let’s consider your unique selling point, and what helps your brand stand apart from the competition.
How long will the video be? There are suggestions for specific platforms, so we will need to think about where and how the video will be distributed.
What will a strategic launch look like? Is there a budget for advertising? Even the most compelling videos sometimes need an extra boost to gain traction.
What resources will we need (presenters, actors, locations, props, etc.) to ensure the video is able to fulfill its purpose? What are you able to provide, and what will we need to source independently?
Are there any brand guidelines we should follow to make sure this video looks and feels like it has been created uniquely for and by your company? This can include set design that embraces brand colours, and elements we add in post-production.
The Project Plan and Brief:
Once we have some preliminary questions answered about the scope of the project, we begin to build a plan. This plan usually includes a simple budget and a timeline for each step, as well as a description of the intended final product. This framework is critical; however, it is likely that the strategy will evolve as the project progresses, and we always expect to make some adjustments as we go.
Your video may or may not require a script, and you might want us to write it for you! It can be very valuable to have an outsider’s view. We usually start with a competitive analysis, to make sure the dialogue and visuals in your video will help you stand out from the crowd. You will have several opportunities to look this over and ensure it reflects your brand.
Even if there are no speaking roles or voice over, we will usually need to write a basic treatment that maps out key participants and messages, locations, actions, and other elements, to make sure that everyone is on the same page on set. This ensures that our shooting schedule is as efficient as possible.
Some projects rely on storyboards to ensure a smooth production process. This usually includes more ambitious, larger-scale projects, or concepts that rely on unique visual transitions or special effects. Storyboards are simple sketches of each intended shot in sequence; like a comic book without speech bubbles. The more details we can plan in advance the better, so that we are not concerned with questions like where actors should be positioned or how to light a set for the intended effect. This also paints a clear picture for post-production, and eliminates any potential confusion between production crew members and editors.
Amazing, we made it to the production day; this is the point in the process that everyone envisions when they think about creating videos. Obviously, we live for this! All the careful planning, writing, drawing, scouting, casting, and scheduling tasks of pre-production culminate into making this day go perfectly, so that we can capture the best footage possible.
Here’s a look at a production day for us at Empress Avenue Media.
Basic Setup: Loading in gear, setting up staging areas for cast, hair and makeup stations, charging areas for electronics, computers for DIT (to back up and review footage), etc.
Blocking: This a physical rehearsal that focuses on the positioning of the cast, and not the lines or context of the script. It’s helpful for envisioning where cameras will go, what set dec(oration) will be seen, and how lighting might be set up.
Preparing set decoration and props: Now that we know where the actors will be, we can start to anticipate what will be captured on camera and build an aesthetically appropriate environment and prepare the elements that the cast might need to interact with.
Lighting: The lighting team works under the direction of the Director of Photography to paint the set in light that reflects the appropriate tone and context for the scene.
Technical Rehearsal: The cast may have been rehearsing during the rest of the setup process, but now the director has a chance to work with the talent or interview subjects on set, and see how everything looks on camera.
Last Looks: Each department reviews the monitors to make sure every detail is just perfect.
Shoot! The Assistant Director makes sure everyone on set is ready to go, sound is speeding and cameras are rolling, before the talent brings the scene to life.
Rinse and Repeat: These steps are repeated for every new scene and location.
Once the cast or interviewees are released, we usually want to focus on capturing B-roll (for factual shoots) and inserts (for narrative projects). B-roll is basically silent footage to be intercut with interviews or narration to help visualise the concepts that are introduced through dialogue; it often includes candid shots of the interview subjects working or interacting, shots of other people or locations that they’ve talked about, or abstract shots that reflect the emotions they’ve shared.
Inserts are simple shots that can be captured without a full cast crew and usually without audio, but are critical to the storytelling process. For example, in a wide shot we might see our actor pick up a book and read a passage. Once the actor is on break, we can capture a close-up of the text in the book as an insert.
We usually want to take the time to capture various general shots that could be used to help smooth out the editing process, even if we don’t know exactly how they might fit into the final product. The same goes for behind-the-scenes footage that might be useful in future promotion, like posts on social media.
So it turned out to be a beautiful day and we’ve captured all this wonderful footage. What now? We’re proud of our unique ability to take projects through the entire post-production pipeline to final delivery for on-demand web content, broadcast and theatrical releases. This includes editing, conforming, motion graphics, colour correction, ADR, foley, audio mixing, closed captioning, and visual effects.
This part of the process requires careful review of the best takes and shots, cutting and stitching everything together into a smooth and coherent story. Finally, we will add sound effects, music, and any visual effects or motion graphics we require.
Usually, when the clips are ingested, they don’t follow the story’s natural order, because it may be more efficient to film things out of sequence. Before they begin, the video editor has to label and organise all the footage. Then, they synchronise the different cameras and audio sources, and sort the different takes for each scene. After this, they can begin going into each individual scene and selecting the best shots, labelling anything that is unusable, and generally becoming familiar with the recorded content. Finally, they will begin their first edit of each scene, the rough assemblies.
Once the picture is locked using rough sound, the audio mixing can start, along with special effects and motion graphics.
The sound connected to the video footage is often not the sound used in the edit or the final film. The clean audio is recorded externally by the sound mixer on set, using a combination of shotgun (‘boom’) and lavalier (‘lav’) microphones to minimise background noise. These are later synchronised with the footage in post-production. Depending on the project, we might also need to record a voice over, or have actors re-record their lines (ADR). Sound effects are often recorded during the post production process by a dedicated foley artist; these folks are masters at creating common sounds and unusual, exaggerated effects alike, using a wide variety of everyday objects. If the project has a dedicated music composer, they will also start working as soon as the picture is locked.
Good music that matches the vibe of your story, company, and/or product, is more important than you might think! Music completely changes the tone of the scene, and is crucial for setting the right mood and keeping your viewers engaged. And it can give the viewer information about the emotions the actor(s) may be experiencing.
In the final steps, an audio engineer will combine all the new sound elements, while a colour artist will grade the footage to make sure the colour and lighting looks as consistent as possible between all the shots in each scene, and to enhance the overall look and feel of the finished product.
after all’s said and done
After all the work that was done to create this masterpiece, here are some ways to ensure that the video reaches success out in the real world: Measuring watch times and click through rates, and budgeting for some ads can help ensure the video gets the audience it deserves.
We can render the video in appropriate formats for distribution on as many platforms as desired – the bigger the audience, the better the potential return on investment! It definitely pays to utilise all the social platforms you can: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and wherever else you have an audience for your brand (don’t forget about your email subscribers!). Also consider reaching out to online news platforms to embed the video in new articles, or ask followers, bloggers and influencers to share about it. All of these strategies will go a long way in optimising the success of your video.
tell your story
We hope you’ve found this series of posts helpful in terms of what you can expect when working with us, and what goes on behind the scenes when we produce a video. Have a video project in mind? Get in touch, we can help you tell your story.
There’s no better time to talk about film and video production. We’re proud to offer a huge range of services, but film is the medium that originally brought our team together so it holds a special place in our company’s heart. Our origin story is that of working on the set of television programs here in the Cowichan Valley. That experience is how we became experts at video production. And now, we are honoured to use this expertise to help you tell your story.
Film is the medium that continues to combine all our creative team’s diverse talents, from camera operation to music production to graphic design and animation. Creating stories that engage and inspire is our calling, whether on computer screens (such as the recent looping video for the Khowutzun Development Corporation’s new website), TVs (like our 2019 documentary Penny Girl on Telus Optik), or projected in movie theatres around the world (like our work on the feature documentary Tzouhalem that’s currently touring global festivals).
Creating diverse media projects throughout the rural communities of Vancouver Island has taught us to be resourceful and creative in our approach. Our humble headquarters in Cobble Hill boasts a full-service audio suite, green screen, an extensive wardrobe and prop collection, 4K cinema cameras, an LED lighting package and a RAW-capable drone.
Whether commercials, shorts or entire feature films, the filmmaking process is roughly broken up into four or five key stages: development, pre-production, production, post-production, and finally distribution and marketing. We’ve supported full-scale film productions through every stage of this process. That diverse experience is carried into every project, whether it’s a short YouTube video for a small business or a feature-length documentary.
The process may seem long and laborious in the beginning, but we promise that the payoff is more than worth it. Video is the most engaging and influential type of content that people consume today, and it’s everywhere. Taking the proper amount of time for each stage in the process ensures your video will stand out!
We’re here to make things go as smoothly as possible. It’s our team that really sets us apart, with decades of experience working on everything from viral internet videos to the latest TV movies. Our speciality is using innovation and creativity to overcome budget and timeline limitations. You might be surprised at just how much we can help you accomplish.
We don’t underestimate the importance of the planning stage. Having the entire process mapped out reduces any overwhelm you may experience, so you can rest assured that your project is in good hands. Video production is a huge project to undertake, and our passion for the process is what drives us to create the best end product.
All the steps to this process are in place to ensure that the best possible video is produced in the end. Stay tuned for next week’s blog for a bit more about what you can expect when working with us on a video project. Have a video project in mind? Get in touch, we can help you tell your story.
From PSA-style videos that help foster awareness and educate the public, to full-length college courses for credit, no project is too big or too small for our team! We have created all sorts of comprehensive online programs to suit each of our client’s unique needs.
Accessibility, collaboration, flexibility – what positive attributes come to mind when you think about online learning? Online learning has seen a lot of growth over the last decade, even without the global health crisis accelerating our need for it. Since the very beginning, the internet has been a tool for learning. There have been websites where we can ask questions (Ask Jeeves, anyone?) and learn by observing others. The internet and education have always been combining and evolving to gift us all the opportunity to learn and gain skills. And now it is more elegant than ever, with HD videos, new conference platforms such as Zoom, and of course, responsive websites and apps for learning. We’re excited and looking forward to what the future holds for online learning.
Do you have an idea for an online program to boost engagement and elevate the learning experience for your clients, but are unsure how to bring that vision to life? From branded graphics to engaging video, cohesive copy and effective marketing strategies, let us develop and launch your online program.
We’re here to help you stand apart from the crowd.
Together, they’re a great representation of just how varied our output is, and the ever-expanding skillset of our diverse team. But, like all our work, they share one important thing in common: the potential to challenge you, provide joy, and foster transformation. So no matter what your New Years resolutions are for 2022, we have a project for you!
To transform your home and garden
Veridis Plumbing & Heating
Our friends at Veridis Plumbing & Heating have not only revamped their sprawling showroom of beautiful home heating, bathroom and outdoor living options, but they’ve also started selling their vast lineup of quality products online. We’re happy to have helped by creating their online storefront, and supplying some of the photos and videos for their entirely new website that will be launching in the New Year! If you have any big renovations planned for 2022, you’ll want to check it out.
You would never know from her modest introductions, but Jen Segger is a big deal in the world of competitive trail running and adventure racing. Besides a number of high-profile podium finishes – not to mention participating in the Amazon Prime exclusive series World’s Toughest Race: Eco Challenge Fiji – Jen is a well known coach for up-and-coming athletes at all stages of competition. Through a growing offering of web courses, we’ve helped Jen bring her years of experience to an online audience, allowing anyone in the world to benefit from her insights as they learn and train at their own pace. And in 2022, we couldn’t be more excited to help Jen launch her first online adventure racing program, creating guidebooks, video content, and interactive web materials. This innovative sprint program will cover strength building, nutrition, injury prevention, mental preparation, gear acquisition, lifestyle tips, and of course a complete, in-depth training calendar. It will also be Jen’s first online course to feature professional training videos to cover key trail running techniques. Sign up for email updates and get started here JenSegger.com. Early sign-ups will get a huge discount, but hurry, that’s only until February 28, 2022!
To edit and colour the film, we had to completely overhaul our post studio to handle the magnificent 6K raw digital footage. Beyond the technical challenges, the film underwent some major creative shifts and revisions under C.R.’s careful direction, and we ended up creating entirely new sequences from scratch using found footage and original motion graphics and animation. We also created all the stylistic chapter headings and title sequences in the film, including its iconic title card.
Through a series of biting, bizarre, hilarious and heartfelt musical vignettes, Victory on East Hastings reflects the changing landscape of Vancouver’s eastside and the alternative communities crushed by gentrification. Check out the official trailer over on our YouTube channel, and book tickets at the Rio while you still can!
To learn more about where you live…
Mount Tzouhalem might just be the single most iconic mountain on Vancouver Island, and it’s certainly a defining landmark of the Cowichan Valley. But how much do you actually know about its namesake, Chief Tzouhalem? For the first time, the fascinating history of this larger-than-life figure has been captured on film, in a feature length documentary from Orca Cove Media. The film weaves together oral history from local Elders with academic reflections and creative re-enactments, as directors Harold C. Joe and Leslie D. Bland dive deep into the many interpretations of Tzouhalem’s legacy.
We had the profound honour of directing cinematography for the reenactments, and working on the visual effects needed to bring them to life. By combining original Green Screen footage with manipulated shots of present-day locations, we were able to bring to life various vignettes of Chief Tzouhalem’s life on the actual landscapes where they occurred. We also had the pleasure of creating the original poster art for the movie, featuring Harold Joe as Chief Tzouhalem. (As a fun aside, you can also catch Harold Joe in his other capacity as an Archaeological Monitor in our short documentaries on Cowichan Tribes’ remediation work). Tzouhalem has already played at a number of prestigious film festivals including Whistler. Keep watching Orca Cove’s website and social media for future screenings.
…And the challenges in your community
Tug of War
We’re also still hard at work on two upcoming documentaries exploring the issue of youth exploitation in BC. From gang recruitment, the opioid crisis, sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, our films demonstrate that this issue is tragically alive and thriving in Island communities and across the Lower Mainland. We wrapped principal photography in 2021 that will support both projects: a youth-friendly short film called Tied to a Lie, which will tour middle and secondary schools across the province; and Tug of War, a challenging feature documentary for broadcast. Despite delays due to COVID-19, we’re excited for both films to make their respective debuts in 2022.
Follow our social media channels for the latest information on both releases, as well as insightful clips and comments from counselors, resource providers, police officers, experts and youth who are fighting to break – or break free from – the cycle of exploitation and violence.
From gang recruitment, the opioid crisis, sexual exploitation and sex trafficking our film highlights that this issue is very much alive and thriving in our communities.
This is just the beginning
These are just a handful of the projects that are helping us kick off 2022.
We asked our team what their priorities were for the upcoming year, and identified some favourite ‘focus words’. Amongst them: Story, Energy, Alignment, Relationship and Growth. (Also Mantis, because bugs are cool). We’re excited to see these qualities weave into our upcoming films and videos, interactive courses and multimedia art projects as we slowly regroup and regain capacity in the wake of COVID-19.
Thank you again to our amazing team, our clients and all our supporters, without whom we wouldn’t exist. And thanks to you for reading, connecting and following our journey!
We’re looking forward to another amazing year at our little studio in Cobble Hill. But before we ring in the New Year, here are some of our favourite projects we had the pleasure of working on in 2021. Stay tuned for next week when we review even more accomplishments from the past twelve months that we’re excited to finally share in 2022!
In 2021, we wrapped up post production on our first ever narrative feature film! It’s been a labour of love, but we couldn’t be happier with the results. The dramatic thriller follows Ryann Temple, a therapist working with sex offenders, who uncovers haunting secrets in her family’s past through the disturbed men she counsels every day. Mia Golden, our development coordinator, played the starring role, and also wrote the script and co-produced the film with Emrey Wright, Joseph Boutilier and Ana-Maria Butcura. The world premiere took place at the Hamilton Film Festival in November, where it sold out in its original venue in less than a day! But if you missed it, make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram for lots of exciting news on additional screenings in 2022. You can also check out the film’s official teaser trailer here.
Pacific Rim College Online
Filming with our friends at Pacific Rim College Online is always such a wonderful experience! It was great to be back in the gardens and kitchen of the beautiful Ravenhill Herb Farm to film an entirely new online program for the acclaimed school of holistic practices (have you heard about this historical Saanichton farm? If not, definitely have a read about their interesting history!) We’re excited to be working on the post-production for over 50 hours of new content through the first half of 2022. We may be a little biased, but if you’re looking at learning something new this year, we highly recommend having a look at the herbal medicine, health, holistic nutrition, and sustainability courses that Pacific Rim College Online has to offer. And if you haven’t already, check out the teaser we previously created for their incredible Community Herbalist Program.
Khowutzun Development Corporation
You might have noticed a special little sign behind the Duncan Village mall in the heart of the Cowichan Valley. That logo was designed by our graphic design team around the incredible work of local artist, Stuart Pagaduan, who illustrated the iconic “O” within the word Khowutzun. It’s been amazing to work on the branding for Khowutzun Development Corporation, along with their freshly revamped website and tons of new photo and video content. We love using our media skills to support local businesses and initiatives, and working with KDC has been a special honour.
Growing Hope Documentary
Another local project, Growing Hope started out as a Storyhive pitch. The documentary centers around Tracy Parow, the executive director of Providence Farm, a therapeutic farm community for people living with diverse mental abilities, age-related illnesses, brain injuries and developmental challenges. With the help of a diverse care team, Tracy has been coping with her own PTSD while preparing Providence Farm for a second wave of COVID-19 with half the usual staff. Every day is a new struggle, but the community is resilient, and hope grows right alongside the farm’s garlic, squash and apples. Our second short documentary with Telus Optik and Storyhive, Growing Hope will be released in the summer of 2022.
North Vancouver Island Aboriginal Training Society
Our web development team has been hard at work this year. With COVID-19 and other community challenges, NVIATS recognized the need to bring its skills training programming online. Now, more people can access these services for free, in more ways, from more communities, while learning at their own pace. With the website and branding redesign, we made sure to honour the existing material, while raising the bar in accessibility, functionality and aesthetic design. Now the website includes interactive, online course content for the first time, and a clean, streamlined new appearance inspired by original First Nations design elements. Its dynamic layout is optimized to support all screen sizes, devices and internet speeds. Welcome to the new NVIATS.com.
A financial advisor with The Hilberry Group on Vancouver Island, Anna has kept us informed on financial matters throughout the pandemic via her growing YouTube channel. We edit Anna’s videos and make sure everything looks consistent with her brand and that of her parent company, National Bank Financial (NBF). In 2021 we had the unique privilege of meeting Jonathan Durocher, President of NBF, and other colleagues of Anna while filming a retrospective of her collaborative work with the company. Subscribe to Anna’s channel today – we promise you’ll learn some valuable insights that will help you grow your own financial security in 2022!
Esquimalt Fire Department
Our film production and editing teams also worked on a smoke alarm safety video for Esquimalt Fire Department this year. We worked closely with the department to develop clear, accurate messaging using a combination of candid interviews with experts, an original script and storyboard. Then we filmed live action video, which was combined with original motion graphics in post-production. The video reaches a broader audience, with a memorable, accessible campaign to address some of the most common issues in preventative safety: smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
And So Much More…
In our next post, we’ll be sharing some emerging details on several new films and interactive projects that have kept us busy throughout 2021 and we’ll finally be able to share in 2022.
In the meantime, we owe a huge thank you to our amazing team, our clients and all our supporters this year. Can’t wait for another year full of exciting opportunities and projects. Happy New Year!