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Taking suggestions for a visual theme on a plain vanilla job

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Mark Suszko
Taking suggestions for a visual theme on a plain vanilla job
on Jun 14, 2009 at 9:27:35 pm

It must be the nice weather, but I'm hitting some creativity blocks thinking up a creative visual approach to an upcoming edit, so I'm inviting suggestions.

What I will have to work with is about seven 3-minute sit-down interviews on blue screen, single camera, and I'll be provided digital 1 or 2 stills each of those people working at their job. The client also wants the organization logo prominent pretty much thruout the piece, they were going with hanging a physical banner in the background of plain office walls, I chose green screen to give me more options and because the banner is awkward to frame in a live shot.

The overall theme is about disabled folks being able to work in an office. The clients are difficult and gave me no creative brief or direction at all. Which is liberating in one sense, but tough in another.

I was thinking of just three different PIP boxes in the 4x3 SD frame, looking like a 3-lens camera turret of the old days a little bit, but with square cropped images, not round, and maybe cycling the live and still elements around the three positions, all against an innocuous motion back. I'm going to shoot the interviews looking into the camera/prompter as well as off to one side for the interviewer effect.

Another thought is that since it's about office workers, maybe I could comp them into calendar squares on a desk-top calendar blotter, but that may be too "cute" to sustain over 15 or so minutes, except as intro pieces for each interview.

I want to inject some "hipness" into this thing but not so much it will scare or upset a conservative client. The look of the two-screen/reflected visual interface for iChat would be kind of advanced for their expectations, to give you an idea.

Maybe something where the three elements are comped with an animated gradient ramp on the alpha channel? I dunno. Like I said, I think I hit a dry spell.

If you have seen some look that fits what I'm describing, can you post a URL or link here, and I'll check it out.
Not to just copy it, but to extrapolate something from it or draw some inspiration. I need to make a decision by Monday night.

Thanks



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John Wilson
Re: Taking suggestions for a visual theme on a plain vanilla job
on Jun 15, 2009 at 3:02:13 am

Mark,

I like the idea of the 3 screens behind, almost like the kind of mirror array that you have when you're in a fancy dressing room in a store. Each of the three frames can include images that tie into the office environment and relate specifically to the person that is sitting. You can use one of the screens to pull full with an appropriate transition to get from bite to bite. I personally am a bit old school in that I am not a fan of a cluttered background and lean towards b-roll, but that is more to my sports background then anything else. My only trap to avoid would be to use the background as an enhancement and not a distraction. I have little experience in corporate but I tend to simpler is better.

Good luck.

Cheers,

JW

http://www.wailerwoolcom

http://www.wailerwoo.com


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Bill Davis
Re: Taking suggestions for a visual theme on a plain vanilla job
on Jun 15, 2009 at 7:07:56 am

Mark,

It's not an approach as such, just a note from someone who chairs the board of directors for a local charitable foundation that raises funds for programs for people with visual disabilities.

From inside those communities, the MOST critical thing is create a program where they're seen as PEOPLE FIRST, disabled second.

So I'd start by thinking how to keep the human faces and their human stories front and center. Whatever method you use, it will fail to the extent it takes attention from the individuals. So think about a visual approach that EMPHASIZES their common humanity.

In other words, particularly when you get to the interview stage, make sure that no matter what OTHER subjects related to their specific issues need to be covered - always start and end with images, quotes, actualities, or scenes where they're doing the SAME things that everyone else does.

I kind of like the visual style that was popular for a while where an interview was shot with two cameras, one wide and one in CU. Then one of those shots was processed by enlarging, desaturating, tinting, or otherwise making it less present than the inset shot.

The point is that you have TWO views of the person. And if done skillfully, the wide shot can emphasize their expressions - signaling pride, joy, engagement, or whatever else is playing on their face - exactly the emphasis on the human beings involved that I'm suggesting.

In my experience, it takes more interview time to do something like this, because you really have to build rapport with each inteerviewee in order to make them feel comfortable showing you their emotions, but if you can do that, the interviews WILL be compelling. And compelling interviews negate the need for too many visual tricks.

For what it's worth.

Good luck.





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Mike Smith
Re: Taking suggestions for a visual theme on a plain vanilla job
on Jun 15, 2009 at 11:43:13 am

15 minutes is a long time to live on 7 interviews. can you cut it shorter?

Will you handle them as individual pieces, or will you intercut them into themes or a storyline, so that people come and go in much shorter bites? Is there a story you can build that goes somewhere - a small selection of things than come out well from your subjects, but with different illustrations, or a range of key points that you are trying to put across?

Personally, I find it more absorbing when people are giving their best stuff, they are saying things that seem important to them and are not totally obvious, and those snippets build up to a more satisfying sense of completeness, of being about something, rather than a compilation of individuals.

Since you've taken the trouble to greenscreen them you do have great flexibility. Can you acquire or use any relevant b roll? Nothing, though, is going to work for 15 minutes continuous ...

It might be nice to have a long enough roll of mixed office activity including your subjects that you could time-lapse this in a background ... taking care not to make it too distracting. Maybe sit it under a low-contrast adjustment layer..? At worst, an attractive street setting with very diverse users, again could be speeded up with the isolated interviewee front and centre, not necessarily in a box ... A day picking up office interiors, shopping, transport, street scenes, leisure and entertainment, with or without your subjects but showing people with disabilities getting along in the general mix. It would pay them to pay you to shoot it ...

With the green screen, there's no real need to sit the subject back in a 4x3 box for framing .... if you feel it has be a box, then it could be any aspect ratio. But there's no point making the visual so cute that it takes attention away from the story line - it has to be serving the points they want to make of course ...

For something to look at, I put this little promo together on a micro budget for a voluntary sector organisation, based on a 1 day shoot - tried to mix up what was briefed as a "just come and cover our awards ceremony" by picking up some local footage and interviewing some of the key people. Scroll down the page at http://www.adept.org.uk/ to see it if you like.



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Andrew Evans
Re: Taking suggestions for a visual theme on a plain vanilla job
on Jun 16, 2009 at 4:32:54 pm

I don't know if this is what you were looking for but i thought it was very cool. http://library.creativecow.net/articles/birnholz_rob/red_giant_3d_montage.p...


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Mike Cohen
Re: Taking suggestions for a visual theme on a plain vanilla job
on Jun 22, 2009 at 1:38:20 am

I would comp in a low-key motion loop or even a static black or white in teh background, and then bring in relevant b-roll only when in jives with what they are taking about, and not the full background image, more of a split screen with a soft edge, so the area behind the subject is plain, and the b-roll is visible in the nose room area of the screen.

Let us know what you came up with.

Mike Cohen


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Mark Suszko
Re: Taking suggestions for a visual theme on a plain vanilla job
on Jun 22, 2009 at 7:02:04 pm

Time is tighter than usual so I'm probably going to punt and borrow from a built-in Apple Motion template, the one that flies in a triptych of glass frames over alpha black, with drop zones to drag and drop a stil or motion clip on them. It's an HD template so I have to open it in Motion and re-save an SD version that matches my timeline. To make it more my own, I'm trying to learn how to add a back layer to that premade comp with some motion-backs or manipulated photoshop files. Still gathering footage, may comment again later after the edit is truly under way.


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Bill Davis
Re: Taking suggestions for a visual theme on a plain vanilla job
on Jun 24, 2009 at 3:36:59 am

Hey Mark,

In some situations, all you need to do to win the game is to punt and rely on your defense to hold.

And in accordance with one of the sub-sections of Murphy's Law, don't be surprised if the damn thing wins some kind of award!

Good luck.



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