Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What is a Leica reel?

A Leica reel is a type of storyboard. A storyboard is a series of drawings that directors use as an inexpensive, quick way to visualize the scenes in a potential movie.

Here's an example of a Leica reel:

Monday, December 22, 2008

What is marketing?

Humanity makes sense of the world through stories.

Marketing is the process of creating and telling stories.

The successful marketer must:
1. tell an authentic story
2. identify the people who want to hear the story
3. get permission from these people to tell them the story
4. and finally deliver the story.

As a result of hearing the story, people will tell other people the story, and perhaps do something the marketer wants them to do.

At least that's my (very rough) understanding of Seth Godin's book, All Marketers Are Liars.

Movie Geek Guest List

A link to all 207 guests of MovieGeeks. Including yours truly.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

John Klysinski Photographer

While having coffee in Napa California this morning, I met John Klysinsiki, photographer. John's work was hanging on the walls of the coffee shop. It is powerful work. It's so good that it reminds me of the greats, people like Edward Weston and Imogene Cunningham. His web site shows the photos, but the images I see on my laptop screen lack the powerful impact of the actual prints. This guy is good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What can you do for the medium?

Seth Godin on the nature of social networks like Twitter.

"Traditional advertising is inherently selfish. It interrupts in order to generate money (part of which pays for more interruptions). That approach doesn't work at a cocktail party, or at a funeral or in a social network.

"This is the meatball sundae. Asking what the medium can do for you instead of what you can do for the medium."

Best chair for bad backs

I sat in a SwingChair at the mall last week. The inventor's wife was demonstrating the chair to holiday shoppers. Probably the best chair I've ever found for a bad back.

It's hard to tell you how good these chairs are. They are great.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday videos

In our house, we have a shoebox in the top shelf of the closet with 8mm film from my wife's childhood. This small reel is the only film remaining from that period of my wife's life. This holiday season, your video and camera may capture the only memories that your family or friends will have of your group 20 or 30 years from now. Although I talk a lot about shooting video in my book Digital Video Secrets, I wanted to add a few specific tips about the holidays.

A few quick thoughts...
- Get images of everyone: young and old. (If someone doesn't want their picture taken, respect their wishes, just smile and move on.)
- Don't worry if you feel you are being 'pressed into service' as the photographer. Just smile and go along with it. Often, if you don't take photos or videos, no one else will.
- Get a few wide angle shots of the location--house, yard, cars, rooms.
- Do a few video interviews. Ask people to tell their stories on camera.
- At some gatherings I hand the camera to another person, someone I trust, perhaps a friend or child, and ask them to shoot pictures for a while. They get different images, often very good ones, because they see people differently than I do.
- Print the best stills immediately and give a set to everyone. (WalMart and Costco do inexpensive prints.)
- Edit a few of the videos quickly, perhaps on your laptop, and post them online someplace like YouTube. Flag them as private and send the movie links to everyone. The YouTube site has simple instructions on how to upload your movies and flag them as private.
- Oh, and don't forget to bring the battery charger.

Last of all, relax and enjoy yourself. Have a great holiday season.

Seth Godin sells ideas

According to Seth Godin, books are basically ideas. Selling a book is selling an idea. Seth Godin talks about how he goes about selling an idea.

Holiday Reading

Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson.
"Robert Bresson is French cinema, as Dostoevsky is the Russian novel and Mozart is the German music" — Jean-Luc Godard, French film director.

It's All Right!

It's All Right. Really. :-)

PS: Thanks, Carol.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Microfilmmaker reviews Digital Video Secrets

Microfilmmaker Magazine reviews Digital Video Secrets:

The review begins:

"Producing with Passion’s co-author, Tony Levelle, brings his filmmaking expertise to his first solo book, Digital Video Secrets. This book takes an introductory look at digital video production that makes it easy for anyone to jump into the technical aspect of filmmaking. Unlike some digital video production books, which are more about filmmaking on a digital medium, this slim volume is specifically aimed at the nuts and bolts of creating a film on digital video. As such, there are no chapters about scriptwriting or fundraising or distribution. Instead, there is an intuitive path through the basics of digital film creation, with a strong emphasis on cinematography and camera familiarity, as well as a decent look at audio."

I'm delighted. The reviewer, Jeremy Hanke, really understands what I was trying to do with the book, and he gives the book a fair review. 8.9 out of 10! Hey, I can live with that, any day. :-)

Buy Books For Christmas Presents!

From Roy Blount, president of the Author's Guild:

"I've been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren't known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don't lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn't in the cards.

"We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that's just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!

"There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they're easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking raggedy on your shelves. Stockpile children's books as gifts for friends who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV and the GPS (they'll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books. Then tell the grateful booksellers, who by this time will be hanging onto your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom: "Got to move on, folks. Got some books to write now. You see...we're the Authors Guild."

"Enjoy the holidays."

Roy Blount Jr.
Authors Guild

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Steady Camera tip #1

In a very nice review of Digital Video Secrets, an Amazon reviewer pointed out that I "don't talk about Steadicams" in DVS. Good catch! My bad!

Steadicam is a trademarked name for a marvelous series of devices that professional cameramen often use to support their cameras as they walk or move about. The name is often used among amateurs (like me) as a generic way to refer to any device of this sort.

So, here's the first of a few inexpensive, clever camera-steadying options that I've found on the web.

Jan Van Der Meer puts a little Sanyo HD1000 on a boom and gets some cool 'cranes', 'pans', and tilts with his "JanCam".

Jancam in action with Sanyo Xacti HD1000 from Jan van der Meer on Vimeo.