The Artist Series: Robert Rodriguez #RobertRodriguez #TroublemakerStudios #IndyFilm #RebelWithoutACrew

My second subject in The Artist Series is Robert Rodriguez. Robert Rodriguez runs his Troublemaker Studios and his El Ray cable television network from Austin, Texas, where he acts as a producer, writer, director, musician, editor, and actor... So- he's a man of many sombreros.

Rodriguez started his film making career with the critically acclaimed Indy short Bedhead, which then led him to the critically acclaimed Indy feature El Mariachi which he acted as a one-man crew. Rodriguez documents the process of making this film, from his time as a medical test-subject to get the funds, through the distribution and release process in his diary formatted book "Rebel Without A Crew".

Rodriguez has gone on to work with his close-contemporary Quentin Tarantino on a number of films, as well as with graphic Novelist Frank Miller, just to name a couple.

Check out the book, it's a cool look inside the foundations of an impressive film career.

Adios muchachos.


The Artist Series: Edward Burns #EdBurns #ActorDirector #LowBudgetFilmMaking

I recently read a book by director/actor Edward Burns that was pretty interesting and also, a bit inspiring. "Independent Ed" is an autobiographical account of Edwards' film making career from college till today; the central theme being the twelve days of filming of his first feature.

Ed Burns found his passion in the low budget, "close-to-home" Woody Allen films, as well as the great French and American film makers of the 40's, 50's, and 60's. The autobiography chronicles Burns' struggles with financing, production, and distribution of his films, as well as his battle to stay out of big-budget Hollywood. The book also looks at his surprisingly successful acting career, both in his own films (like Allen) and opposite huge names like Hanks, Hoffman, and Di Niro.

Throughout this artist series, I am going to present just a bit about a wide range of film and television folk who I find interesting, inspiring, or just, plain amazing. So, start off with Mr. Burns here, and more will follow. Happy filming!

FiveSix Video Production

Now That The Dust Has Settled #FinishedProduct #TeamEffort #TimeToRelax

Whew. That was exhausting. FiveSix Productions has completed one of the biggest projects of the season, and probably of the whole year. A six-week project that took every available team member and resource (not necessarily all at once) to almost a dozen cities, and through hundreds of combined work hours is now completed and the file can be closed. The culmination of all this work came last night here in Vegas where an awards ceremony was held to celebrate some pretty amazing people. These people were rightly awarded and celebrated through stories and on our part, videos, while they were treated to some of the finest that Las Vegas has to offer.

I think I can speak for the whole team, when I say that our tireless efforts were all worth it, as we delivered a great product to commemorate and praise outstanding individuals who selflessly give of themselves year after year. So, until next year when we get to meet more amazing folks, happy shooting.


All Hands On Deck #TheHomeStretch #MountainsToClimb #TeamEffort

It's been a long month. The FiveSix team has been full steam on a huge entertainment project that has spanned the entire country. Our team members have been working tirelessly here in Vegas, out in California, in the mid-west, and out on the Atlantic Seaboard.

Our senior editor has all but stopped speaking to anyone, we're not sure if it's sleep deprivation, the stressful deadlines, or if he's simply taken his vows of silence. Rob and David have been working long hours, burning the midnight oil with our amazing production coordinator to make sure that all the travel and videos are made by deadline.

Along with all of this, we have a tried and true, senior team member who has carried the bulk of the additional jobs and projects we have taken on without breaking his stride. While the majority of our team cracks away at the 600 lb gorilla, Kevin has been on point keeping the rest of our awesome clients satisfied with top-notch work.

Only thirty hours left in this marathon, and we can all deflate just a bit before we get ourselves to the next Everest to climb.

las vegas video production

Storytelling through Post Production #storytelling #postproduction #editing

One of the most challenging, if not the most challenging aspect of editing/post production is telling a story. Story telling doesn't start and stop with the writer and his or her screenplay, it is an integral facet of every department, from camera, to audio, wardrobe, makeup, direction, etc. From beginning to end, no matter the scale or scope of a project, whether it's a film, television show, commercial, instructional video, etc., storytelling is the core element. This fact resonates especially true in the world of post production. The order of shots can be reorganized many ways to achieve very subtle or very drastic outcomes. The choice of music and sound effects, along with the placement of these elements has an equally dramatic effect (ask Dog&PonyShow). The pace of the edit, the placement of music, the order of shots, the type of shots, and a plethora of other factors go into determining the final product, and telling the specific story.

Editors and instructors Larry Jordan and Norman Hollyn give a very interesting and informative guide through the world of post production and how important story telling is. One of the cool notes from Larry Jordan is the "rule of thirds" as it relates to editing. The rule states that every shot effects the shot before it, after, and of course, the shot itself is a factor. Pretty simple, but a great philosophy to keep in mind. He has two books that his partner Larry Jordan said were worth checking out: "The Film Editing Room Handbook" for beginning/novice editors (such as myself), and "The Lean Forward Moment".

So, watch the awesome video, check out Larry and Norman's website:, which is an amazing resource for filmmakers (such as nofilmschool), and, keep on learning and growing!


There's a P in Pterodactyl

I often wonder what goes through the mind of an editor or graphic designer when they see the word Pterodactyl. It's a fairly common word really, most people learn it when they're children; and though it's an odd, almost Greek-looking word, I feel it's recognizable enough. Still, there is something almost mystifying about an editor and graphic designer's ability, or, should I say, lack there of, to spell even the most common words. Before I appear morose or offensive, I would like to say that I believe these folks are intelligent, creative, and capable of wonderful on-screen-text, if only they just believe. I spent many an elementary year struggling with the subject of spelling, the laughter and pointing fingers only drove me to be more diligent in my studies, as well as utilize the resources of "spell check" and of course, a dictionary.

This inquisition into the unknown finds it's genesis in an instance when I was beseeched by a superior of mine to email any written material to editors and graphic artists to minimize grammar or spelling errors that so oft find their way onto our screens. I, in the most gallant fashion, shot an inquisitive and most likely, befuddled look, to which the response was: "Editors and graphic artists can't spell, that's why there is copy and paste." Shakespeare himself couldn't pen a more beautiful explanation; I felt as if I was listening to a concerto by Mozart, or gazing upon a Monet or the statue of David itself. I vowed from that moment to not only follow through with the advice, but also, to explore the origins and reasons behind the phenomenon of editor's inability to spell well. I would encourage everyone to do the same, as well as offer their help to anyone in distress.

My best recommendation for a place to start is, Mr. Merriam and Mr. Webster- masters of their craft. Also, keep in mind friends, even our once great and prudent leader, President George Bush Sr.'s Vice President, Mr. Dan Quayle, had trouble spelling at one time or another.


Audio Odyssey pt.2: Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth? #audiodepartment #lasvegasvideoproduction

Do you remember that scene in the film The Godfather when Don Corleone is granting requests "... on this, the day of my daughter's wedding..."? Right off the bat, the film has you on the edge of your seat, and you are engulfed by the drama, they mystery, the characters. Or how about the scene in A Few Good Men when Lt. Kaffee has Col. Jessup on the witness stand and they have their famous exchange. "I want the truth!" "You can't handle the truth!" This difficult scene incorporates soft speaking, yelling, fast talking and multiple characters speaking at once- not a walk in the park. Or, what about in Saving Private Ryan when Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) is inching his way up Omaha Beach in Normandy with thousands of bullets screaming by, mortars exploding just feet away, the screams and sounds of war overwhelming everything. The audio starts off muted and dull, but is still definitive. Did you notice the audio in any of those instances? Did you stop and say, what did he say? No, no you didn't. Do you know why? Because it was done perfectly, and you don't notice it, which is the goal of every experienced, quality audio team.

All jokes and over-dramatization aside, the audio department is the most under-appreciated and over-looked department, despite being one of the most important and difficult. In October of 1927, the film The Jazz Singer was released as the first ever talkie, using Vitaphone's sound-on-disk technology to run concurrent with the motion picture. Floods of eager movie-goers flocked in droves to local theaters to witness one of the coolest and most fascinating achievements in motion arts to date; yet, nearly ninety years later, audio is the shunned sibling of the film/video world. So, as a friendly and professional recommendation, take a moment to study the art, and appreciate all the difficulties, subtle nuances, and awesome achievements of this necessary craft. Ninety-nine percent of the greatest and most memorable moments in cinematic history, include audio- I think that alone merits some serious respect.

FiveSix Productions employs the services of multiple brands of audio gear, from Wendt mixers to Sennheiser microphones. We have a phenomenal shotgun mic in the Schoeps CMIT 5 U that is tremendously effective at eliminating even the most annoying and unwanted ambient noise. We had it on a windy golf course here in Vegas shooting an instructional video and with a simple windscreen that looked like a furry Chipotle burrito, we were able to capture crisp, clear audio that needed minimal help in post.

FiveSix is hired frequently to capture interviews, especially in the corporate setting; for these situations, we rely not only on our awesome Scheops shotgun mic, but also our very awesome, durable, and versatile Sennheiser EK/SK 100 G3 receivers/transmitters and lavalier microphones. These situations can prove tricky however, as placement of the lavalier microphone comes with challenges. Properly placing the microphone in the most effective spot means avoiding the rustle of clothing (especially, freshly pressed and starched suits), being as inconspicuous as possible, and occasionally, hiding the microphone from view behind a tie, under a collar, or on the inside of a blouse.

Another hurdle of the audio world is mixing. Most subjects we encounter are not professional actors, so the volume and clarity of the dialogue generally isn't optimal; balancing levels and tending to fluctuating circumstances is a never ending task.

There is so much more to audio, please take time to learn about it so you too can appreciate the science and art behind it. And, of course, please go easy on those poor audio folk- even if they are sometimes weird, creepy, and just a bit south of sanity.

LiveU Live Shot

Episodic Social Media - #videoproduction

Brand identity is crucial to most businesses.  In recent times, social media has been the outlet that has given a 'voice' to the business and a sense of community with its customers or clients.  This is often done with relevant tweets, one off videos, personalized responses or hashtagging.  This is great and all but when everybody is doing it and doing it alike, you're just one of the crowd.  Just like the explainer video has become normal and not creative anymore, so is social media blabbering.  It's tuned out most of the time... unless something goes terribly wrong and a poorly worded post brings ruin to a company.  But that's why responsible teenagers are often put into this position, right?

Well, something needs to shake things up and the next evolution of social media will be to drive consumers and clients to products, services and experiences by creating a continuous story that they want to follow and seek out.  For this, brands will find it beneficial to create episodic social media.  This would almost be like a narrative television program, featuring characters and situations that end up drawing people to them.  These videos can't be commercials in the traditional sense, but rather comical or dramatic storytelling that has just a hint to do with the product or service being offered.   The show brings them back to the site, which allows them to interact with the business.  Nobody is doing this all that well at the moment, for lack of idea, budget or perhaps its too scary to be the first few adapters.  Either way, if episodic social media is done well, I believe the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs.  This is just another way video could transform how brands interact with their customers and clients.  Perhaps in a decade, the next big hit shows will be created by specific brands to be shown only on their site.  If so, those seeds will be sown today by the bold few.   Think about it, millions of dollars are spent on television ads that are losing effectiveness with each year as there are more shows and more channels competing for the same audience.  Rather than chase the mass audience, more ad dollars should be shifted and spent on luring a targeted demographic to original brand programming.  The technology is there and many young talented graduates are looking for an outlet for their creativity.  You won't see this shift tomorrow, but perhaps sometime soon.






Explainer Videos

Explainer Videos - Getting Lost in the Shuffle, #explainervideo

Explainer videos, when they first popped up in popularity a few years ago they were inventive, new, fun, edgy.  They filled the important and specific role of telling an audience what a company was all about in a fun way rather than in a 'read this page' kind of way.  They worked.  They engaged people because they were a new way of presenting information.  But here we are, a few years down the line and explainer videos have gone from inventive and fun to 'I've seen this type of animation before, I don't care to watch it again.'  Click away, I'd rather read a page and move on with my life.  The formulaic explainer video has become old news and as such, has lost some impact.

The problem is that explainer videos became so popular that a cookie cutter approach was developed to creating them and they were churned out as fast as possible.  Throw up some stick figures, or a white board with drawings or some graphics/text whipping in and out, use a voice over, add a logo and kick it out.  It's no longer cute and new, its just another video to watch.

Now, we can't just abandon the explainer video.  The purpose for creating such a video isn't going away.  We know that video is the preferred method of digesting information for a large percentage of the population and no company wants to miss out on communicating effectively.  The goal of these videos in the future is to standout and not to get lost in the shuffle. This means to steer clear of the cookie cutter animations and do something that is unexpected or do something that is live action.  Clever, thought out, pre-produced explainer videos will not only garner more attention and shares and likes and thumbs ups, but they will deliver a better message in the end.  Effective explainer videos can't be done in an afternoon, like most things, they need to be done well, not just done.

Put on your creative beanies and try to stop regurgitating what the last guy did because each time the same video is created with a different logo, it becomes less effective and less desirable to watch.

There are only a few around but production houses like us here at FiveSix will help develop a concept from the very beginning and be sure to follow through so that the end product reflects the company in a unique and effective way.  We'll also have some fun.

Las Vegas Video Production

Video Production Budgeting, #corporatevideo

We send out an incredible amount of estimates for video production here at FiveSix, ranging from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand.  But when it comes to requests for corporate videos that will end up playing on the web, the question we get the most is, how are these prices decided upon?  How much should my video cost?  Now I was going to lay out the reasoning and prices behind the industry but I remembered a post I read awhile ago that was comprehensive and right on the money.  So why retype what was already done well.  It tackled this subject and even gave dollar amount ranges for specific jobs in the industry.  The guys over at OMM listed the 25 factors that affect video production costs, and they did a good job.

Of course things involving camera technology and equipment have changed a bit since 2010, but the main message of experience and professionalism has remained a constant.  Budget is often times the driving factor in the creation of a video when it should truly be what is the video supposed to accomplish, and then let's go ahead and see how that fits into a budget.