Production Value: Upgraded!

One of the absolute, best ways to upgrade and boost your projects' production value is to have wicked awesome b-roll. When you're here in Sin City, one of the most sought after b-roll subjects is the exciting, colorful, world famous, Las Vegas Strip. It's sometimes difficult logistically to get down to the strip to shoot, especially at night, and it's even more difficult to get time lapses. To remedy this speed bump, we sent a shooter out, and he came back with some awesome stuff. This is available to any client as a great add-on to your next Las Vegas video production.

Here are some samples of some of the footage we have filmed here on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Las Vegas Boulevard Time Lapse

One great way to really enhance the overall value of your Las Vegas video production is to have beautiful b-roll of the Strip. Las Vegas Boulevard is one of the most famous and recognizable places in the country, and probably the world, having even a couple great shots of it in your video will bring it to life. While it can be somewhat of a daunting task when time is short, and crews are small, it is a great value add. We rarely have time to escape outside of the resorts to gather b-roll, and typically we are shooting during the day, when the Strip isn't as epic, so we came up with a solution. We sent our crews out on evenings when we weren't ultra busy, and compiled a very awesome library of great footage and time lapses that we can offer to our clients easily.

Here are some samples of some of the footage we have filmed here on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Abstract Infographic

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Final Cut Pro X

A Renaissance For Final Cut Pro X?

Apple released the latest update to Final Cut Pro X on September 4th- and only time will tell how it will be received. When Apple released the original Final Cut Pro X, moving on from the wildly popular and successful Final Cut Pro, back at NAB in 2011, the initial and long-standing reaction was primarily negative. As Apple and it's world was blazing closer and closer to becoming their own universe, they saw fit to utilize their "all in one" formula for video editing; professionally, this resulted in backlash and jumping-of-ship. Jan Ozer (it wasn't Richard Townhill, Senior Director of Applications Marketing at Apple, our bad) was quoted saying: (source)

Of course, I understand how iTunes is ideal for inexperienced users, and that’s precisely the point. With iTunes and iPhoto, and the iPad and iPhone, Apple wasn’t selling to experienced users. It was opening new markets. In contrast, with Final Cut Pro X, Apple was trying to change the workflows of professionals who knew more about video production than any of the engineers who created the product.

You can only impose structure when a market is new or when the benefits of that structure are incremental. And the more structure you build into a product, the less it’s likely to appeal to experienced users of the product it replaces. That’s why most professional video producers jumped ship when FCPX was launched and why most won’t use it.

What can be surmised is that Apple was catering to the user friendly, even soccer mom and hockey dad can use it, as had and is true with their formula since day one. While the backlash from professionals, and semi-professional film makers is understood to a degree, perhaps you can't solely rely on Apple products for everything in your life.

Enter the latest version of FCPX, 10.2.2. Many of the frustrations from the early versions have since been addressed and changed to appease the professional user. The ability to create 3D titles within Motion 5 and work seamlessly with Pro X has been added, as well as improved motion graphics within. Color grading is also internal, as one can work with four scopes simultaneously during color correction. Expanded acceptance of multiple video formats from Sony and Panasonic is new; as well as advancements with RED. RED RAW footage, even up to 4K can now be done in application due to accelerated GPU support, so playback, rendering, and trans-coding are not so arduous (especially with a more powerful MacPro). RED RAW anamorphic formats are also displayed in their correct aspect ratios, so your widescreens stay nice and wide.

Some other new or improved features of Final Cut Pro X 10.2.2 include custom effect presets, library smart collections, single import window, and audition that allows you to choose multiple shots/clips, and audition them on the timeline all at once. Compressor 4, there are built in presets that allow you to optimize your compression specifically for iTunes, where you may load your trailer, film, closed captions, and more, then begin selling on iTunes immediately.

So, as previously stated, time will tell if FCPX ever finds it's way fully into the Hollywood landscape; but, with films like Will Smith's "Focus" being edited solely on FCPX, there's signs of life. I myself am a Premiere fan, but it's interesting to watch.

Avid Editing

The digital master

As I am sitting here mastering our latest video (again), I can't help but reflect on the days of old. My mind takes me back to a day when we would master all of our videos to tape. 

Now I would never want to turn back the clock. I can shoot 6k footage on a solid state drive with our red dragon. I have a 4k drone that I can fly around the house on weekends. Who wants to go back to the big bulky decks and cameras? Not I.

But in this instance, while mastering version 12-b, a simple little title change has caused us to restart the process. A half hour export, followed by a 10 minute encode, followed by a 10 minute upload. I realized, gone are the days of the insert edit. As we embrace all of this new technology and efficiency I can't help but think this would have been a 30 second edit to my betasp master. 


The Tempo of Your Edit

As all good editors know, the pace and tempo of the any project your dealing with is crucial. The pacing of cuts, the use/frequency and type of transitions, duration of clips, and especially the tempo of any music utilized, all play a critical role in the feel and basic watch-ability of the final piece. Here at FiveSix Productions, our senior edit team is working on a project that involves several people telling one story. The overall story is broken down into approximately half a dozen subjects that are woven in with b-roll, each subject playing over it's own music. We've utilized different types of music to allow for the subjects to be easily disseminated, however, the music has similar tempo and rhythm so as to make it coherent. As societies' attention span lessens, it is crucial to keep even an eight to ten minute piece, (such as the aforementioned) flowing smooth with a good pace that isn't slow nor rushed, and accomplishes the overall goal of the project. APM Music is a great resource we utilize to find music for video.

Happy editing, and rock on (or, corporate-style elevator music on).

dirty lens

Dusty Sensors!

While shooting with our Sony A7S in Chicago recently, we ran into a bit of bad luck that was in fact, also a bit of negligence on our part. We shot all day with the A7 on and off the Ronin, using an external HD monitor as much as possible, and still managed to miss some dust that was living on the sensor. With a camera like the Sony A7S, which is mirrorless, the chances for alien objects to make contact with and stick to the sensor are much greater than that of say a Canon 5DMark ii.Unfortunately for us, we didn't notice the issue until that evening while reviewing footage. Luckily we were able to acquire the correct cleaning materials for that sensor and now include it with all our camera packages. So, lesson learned, and we were able to rebound with a great day two!dust

Film Reel

The Hunt for Free Footage

In a hunt for royalty free, historical footage, I found quite a few road blocks. Most free footage is water stamped, or too poor of quality. Licensing footage can cost a fortune that is just not available. How have we worked around those roadblocks? is a great resource for awesome, archival footage and audio material (as well as hosting some dope 90's video games (Oregon Trail!!!)), they also have a Youtube channel. Getty hosts images and video, though it is rarely free. One last site I found was which had quite a bit of license/royalty-free material and only charged a one time handling cost- which wasn't bad.

So, best of luck in your search for free stuff- 'cause only suckers pay for stuff (Right Sean Parker?).


Time Constraints #HurryUp #TimeConstraints

Working with time constraints can be very frustrating and difficult; the chances for mistakes multiply exponentially the faster the crew has to work, which adds stress and concern to all involved. One of the worst feelings on set is falling so far behind that you don't think you can catch up, and thus, you feel like you're making a lot of errors along the way.

Typically, shoots are scheduled on a pretty tight timetable as time is money; however, sometimes poor execution and/or unforeseen circumstances can take what was a well planned and scheduled shoot, and turn it into a problem-filled mess. The best advice which seems to go hand in hand with common sense is pre-production! Plan, plan, plan, and take it seriously. If you feel like you're beating a dead horse, you're doing it right. You can never be too prepared for anything, especially with video production in Las Vegas; also take into consideration everything you think could go wrong.

Unfortunately, you'll never be fully prepared for everything, and we're not all as amazing as Captain Hindsight; but the more you plan and try, the better you'll be. Also, keep a cool head on set, panicking only makes things worse, and spooks those dead horses.


Get Your Head in the Cloud #Adobe #Creative Cloud #PremiereProCC

In recent years, the accessibility and approachability of cinema quality recording devices has allowed film making to find it's way into our everyday life. From cinema quality images created by DSLRs like the Canon 5D Mark III (only $2,800.00) and even the 6D or 7D Mark II (both of which come in under $2,o00.00), and even the awesome images created by the Apple iPhone, film making has become something that anyone can do for a reasonable price. It's not just the ability to create video for the common person, it's now that you, your buddy, your mom, anyone, can not only create video with their smart phone, but the images are beautiful, cinema quality. (Good lighting, angles, and story are sold separately.)

Along with the influx of cameras is the recent accessibility and affordability of editing software that is not only user friendly and simple to learn, but it's also Hollywood quality. While Avid has been the industry standard, and is still used by many an editing house and on many a feature film, Adobe's Premiere Pro and even for a while Apple's Final Cut Pro have (had) been used increasingly more on television, feature films (such as Gone Girl) and on your mom's documentary of Christmas morning and your first date - you didn't see her in the bushes filming you with her iPhone 6 did you? While there are many "seasoned" editors who swear that there is no way you can produce a quality edited product on Premiere, more and more pieces are coming out that prove just the opposite. Again though, it's not just the ability to create professional products, it's the fact that, like with a DSLR, you don't have to be a seasoned, long time film/television professional to even understand and utilize the equipment/software.

With the advent of "the cloud", Adobe has made their long and generous line of software products available at an incredibly affordable rate per month. For around $50 a month, one could get their "holy-crap" package that comes with literally everything they have to offer; you could edit a film, color correct it, do professional audio editing, after effects, and more for a fraction of what Avid costs.

So, there you go... if you love Avid, which there is nothing wrong with, have a ball; but, if you're like most people on Earth, I say go with the budget friendly option that will work just as well. You can take that extra cash and buy a sweet shirt or... some tacos for your friends.