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.
How the Coronavirus is Changing the Film Industry Forever, in Canada and Beyond
Vancouver BC is often referred to as ‘Hollywood North’ for its prolific film production. When California was still struggling with some of the highest COVID-19 rates in North America, BC was being recognized worldwide for its exceptional mitigation of the Coronavirus threat. While film production became possible again in this province at the end of June, it did so with a slew of new restrictions, both political and practical. Earlier this month, the creative filmmakers on the Empress Avenue Media team sat down to discuss how it’s affected their own work, the industry at large, and what they predict for the future of film.
“In terms of writing, my mind has shifted a bit, how we write certain scenes, and how we film certain scenes, and how to film more intimate scenes.” – Mia Golden
Mia Golden is a Development Coordinator and film producer with Empress. This month she’s doing pre-production on a documentary about sex trafficking in BC, as well as her first feature with the company as both writer and producer. Due to COVID-19, the trajectory of these projects are anything but certain. But the biggest impact to Mia’s work is on the core concepts of the projects she’s pursuing.
creative constraints in the age of covid-19
“In terms of writing, my mind has shifted a bit, how we write certain scenes, and how we film certain scenes, and how to film more intimate scenes,” says Golden. “Do we self isolate together?” It’s hard to capture a romantic moment with two people who can’t get within six feet, let alone can’t take off gloves or masks.
Of course, it’s impossible to say how long COVID-19 will continue to hold such a firm grasp on our daily lives. Gavin Andrews – another documentary filmmaker and editor with Empress who is shifting towards narrative storytelling – is already thinking to the future. “If we’re writing scripts now, a year or a year and a half from now, can we expect to be shooting a normal movie?”
“What broadcasters and distributors are going to be accepting now…I think that’s going to change…” – Gavin Andrews
Maybe so. But Joseph Boutilier – a film director, and co-founder of Empress – isn’t betting on it. “If you’re smart enough to write a script so it’s just as compelling, just as good, and you can shoot it with 4 people and 2 locations, instead of 20 people and 50 locations…there’s always going to be…a bigger potential for getting it sold and made, and that never hurts.” But, he acknowledges, small stories also come with their own challenges compared to high-flying fantasy films where the action is largely digital. “It could go the other way,” he ponders, “‘cause everyone is using greenscreens it might be on a grander scale. Less expensive, less actual interaction.”
quality vs. quantity vs. covid-19
Another change the team has noticed is the shift in QC (Quality Control) standards set by broadcasters. With journalists and interview subjects forced to film themselves remotely, there’s a lot more room for blurry visuals, echoey audio and unflattering lighting. Or even unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions, like news anchors appearing in their boxer shorts. “With everything going on, people filming so much on their iPhones, etc… it will shake up what is considered acceptable for broadcast,” Andrews points out. “What broadcasters and distributors are going to be accepting now…I think that’s going to change moving forward for sure.”
…Audience members and Hollywood elite alike are open to reviewing lower-budget streaming content now that many ‘theatrical’ releases are indefinitely on hold…
The lack of aesthetic control over factual content can be a major frustration for filmmakers who take pride in their cinematography. On the flip side, documentarians no you no longer need to travel across the country for interview, nor actors for auditions. In theory, filmmaking is more affordable and accessible than ever. But these new techniques still leave something to be desired. “Obviously it’s always preferable to have someone in front of you,” says Golden, about casting future projects, “because you can see some of the subtle things like eye contact and chemistry.”
“It’s going to be interesting to see how long that sustains basically, and whether or not everyone is digging through their archives for old material.”
COVID-19 hasn’t only forced a kind of ‘democratization’ of video technology, but also of the entertainment industry itself. “It’s a forced pilot project for all of us,” Golden reflects. “In regards to using zoom and other platforms to stay connected…Even my parents [now use it].” And audience members and Hollywood elite alike are open to reviewing lower-budget streaming content now that many ‘theatrical’ releases are indefinitely on hold. The next Academy Awards won’t have any choice but to consider ‘home entertainment’ projects for the first time in Oscar history.
“It’s going to be interesting to see…whether or not everyone is digging through their archives for old material.” – Joseph Boutilier
“As a company we’ve had shoots cancelled, and we’ve been able to pick up the slack in editing.” Boutilier explains. Empress has begun editing two feature films that were stuck in post production-limbo for years. “It’s going to be interesting to see how long that sustains basically, and whether or not everyone is digging through their archives for old material.”
But perhaps nothing will have a bigger impact on any studio’s success or failure than where they’re based. Gavin contemplates: “With B.C. opening up the film industry…Is it going to be a boom for us in this immediate 2 – 3 months where it seems like we are okay compared to the rest of the filming world? Or whether it’s going to throw cold water on the whole industry, will that reflect here as well?” Adds Boutilier, “Its not just Hollywood vs. Hollywood north…It’s like, can you film in China right now, or India?”
a new frontier
All of this begs the question, if Empress – or any other studio – knew what COVID-19 would look like when it was first confirmed in December, what would they do?
“If I knew COVID was coming…I would set up sets in people’s houses. Give them a couple lights and a good camera.” – Peter Olivastri
Boutilier would have pivoted to more animated content. “Obviously there’s hurdles as well, to bring animation teams together, but it’s something you can do remotely,” he says. “I think over the next 6 months we’re probably going to see a massive spike in animated content for older audiences and adults. Using tools like Adobe Character Animator that automates a lot of that process to do animated talk shows, or…opinion pieces, current affairs shows, things that we haven’t really seen in the animated form before.”
Peter Olivastri is a cinematographer at Empress, and leads their technical operations on-set. He’s all too familiar with how brands and celebrities are struggling present themselves professionally without access to professional videographers. “If I knew COVID was coming,” he says, “I think I would set up a business where I would set up sets in people’s houses. Give them a couple lights and a good camera, so when they’re on whatever call on the platform they choose, it looks a lot better than their back-lit webcam.”
the creative antidote for pandemic overload
Throughout history, challenging times have been reflected in the on-screen stories that resonate and prosper. During the Great Depression, the Marx Brothers became comedic allies for the populist movement, giving cash-strapped audiences some much-needed laughs at the expense of high society. In the aftermath of WWII, Godzilla gave a giant, reptilian face to the destructive power of atomic weapons. So what stories and themes will define the ‘COVID Era’?
“Personally, when things feel stressful…I want a romantic comedy,” reflects Golden. “And what I’ve realized, [is] there’s not a lot, not like in the 1990’s and early 2000’s where there were tons of rom-coms.” She’s working on one now, although she admits that “COVID-wise that would be a challenge to film, you know because of the kissing scenes.”
Studios like Empress are built on big dreams, perseverance, and relentless creativity.
But the impacts of a the pandemic on narrative inspiration will likely outlive the threat itself. “In 20 year of 30-40 years,” muses Olivastri, “I’d really like to see a zombie thriller, about COVID, where its just blown way out of proportion…all these kids would be like, ‘aww look how bad COVID was!’”
If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that even a global pandemic won’t be able to crush the film industry in BC. After all, studios like Empress are built on big dreams, perseverance and relentless creativity. “If we were in it just for the money,” says Boutilier, “we wouldn’t be in it at all.”
“The really enterprising, entrepreneurial filmmakers will still find a way to make content…and reach markets one way or another. That agility is paramount right now, and anyone who can figure that out will thrive.”
A few years ago, vlogs began to boom! Now, there’s a wide variety of YouTubers covering a wide variety of niches. That said, we wanted to share a few of our favourite vlog channels with you.
As digital creators ourselves, we’re inspired by the vlogger who’s voice and style helps them transcend their genre. We think these channels have something to teach everyone in video production about the art of engaging, through the power of personality and raw, authentic storytelling.
Whether it’s clear, thoughtful narration or stand-out editing techniques, we think these creators are worth a subscribe!
For the entrepreneurs and business-minded, do we have something for you!
Chris Conrady is a YouTuber, who over the past couple years, has enticed a following through his e-commerce and trend-focused video topics.
Mixing what one of our teammates likes to call, a “spunky” editing style, with strong storytelling and pop culture references, Chris’ videos keep you entertained and genuinely curious. On top of that, he has put himself on the YouTube map as a reliable and thorough source, often deep-diving into topics such as purchasing influencer shoutouts and creating a profitable online sock store.
Everybody loves a few stunning visuals – mix that with trending topics like travel and fashion…Steve’s channel has got you covered.
Whether you’re watching his travel vlog to Iceland or one of his fashion tips/tour videos, Steve loves to incorporate thoughtful b-roll and incredibly concise narration.
Both through his own content and through his various appearances in other YouTubers’ videos (those of Louis Cole, akaFunForLouis,andDave Erasmus), Steve has established his own brand as an in-touch and active digital influencer.
Walking people viewers through the gardening task at hand, Jeb tends to shoot quick bits of footage and incorporate a ton of witty narration. Despite being a gardening channel, the content is hilarious and actually, completely universal. Humor and – believe it or not – classical music, are also widely thrown into the mix and what can we say? It all works with an admirable level of originality!