And the Winner is…

If this blog were one of those fancy award shows and Tweedee Productions won a statue,  two things would be true.  Number one: our staff would look swell standing around the podium. Especially Gregg.  He’d be wearing black leather high-top Chuck Taylor’s with his Pierre Cardin formal wear. Number two: I would thank the internet for performing CPR (or, CCR as we recently learned) on concise video storytelling.

Sure, there’s a lot of goofy (and fun) short videos on the web – pet tricks galore, humans getting attacked by pets, and an abundance of automobiles getting crashed by humans whose pets do tricks. But, I digress. My point is – with the boom in video on the web and, increasingly, mobile platforms – more of the people we work with value a well-crafted two- to three-minute visual story. That’s perfect because it’s one of the things we do best here at Tweedee.

I’m talking about unscripted, true-to-life storytelling. At the core of the story, one, or a few people, talking about their company, their organization, or their latest adventure –  in their own words. Interwoven with those words: real life action and engaging graphics produced in a compelling and thought-provoking manner. Internet and mobile viewers expect a video

Dan Presser basks in the glow of internet video

Dan Presser basks in the glow of internet video

to get to the point and show them something REAL. They don’t want another marketing pitch.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s planning before the shoot. Locations, ideas and themes are discussed. But, when it all comes down to it – the internet has given the people we work with the right to share their story like no one else can. And, they can tell it with an economy of words and money. (That’s another blog altogether)

So, the winner is…your story.  We’re just thankful to be at the podium to help you share it.

Slumdog Millionaire

I watched Slumdog Millionaire this past weekend.  I thought it was a great film – beautifully shot with some truly heartbreaking moments.  I was struck by the relationships between the children of the slums.  Despite living in squalor – mile after mile of improvised huts surrounded by garbage and raw sewage – these kids played.  And laughed.  And idolized movie stars.  Just like I did, minus the squalor part.  Amazing how resilient the human spirit is.

Since the film was released, the filmmakers have been coming under fire for not doing enough to raise the child actors – real Indian kids from the slums – and their families out of poverty.  They have also been criticized, by some Indians, for misrepresenting India.  But “[s]creenwriter Simon Beaufoy wrote Slumdog Millionaire based on the Boeke Prize-winning and Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-nominated novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. To hone the script, Beaufoy made three research trips to India and interviewed street children, finding himself impressed with their attitudes. The screenwriter said of his goal for the script: ‘I wanted to get (across) the sense of this huge amount of fun, laughter, chat, and sense of community that is in these slums. What you pick up on is this mass of energy.'” (source)

Beaufoy could have easily adapted the novel for the screen without his research trips to India.  Did these research trips make him an expert on India or Indian culture?  No.  But those trips did provide him with firsthand experiences.  Experiences and knowledge that can only be gained when you go and do something yourself.

When you undertake a video project, you can read and gather information from other people.  You can research a product, a company, a market, or a medium.  But sometimes there is no substitute for going out and learning about something firsthand.  At Tweedee, we use what our clients tell us to create a script for their video project.  However, we don’t hesitate to do our own research trips when necessary.  Our lack of knowledge when we start our research allows us to bring fresh eyes and a sense of curiosity and objectivity to our projects which in turn helps us to create clear, engaging, effective videos.

Gaining life experience.

Gaining life experience.

Know the Messenger Before You Shoot Him

We ask a lot of questions at the beginning of a project. In my opinion, the best question to ask is “Who is going to see it?” I’m not just asking that to find out the demographics of the viewer. It’s important to find out how the project is being delivered. Will it be viewed on broadcast television? Will it be shown at a dinner via DVD? Maybe Blu Ray? More importantly, if it’s being delivered online, will it be Quicktime, Windows Media, Flash, etc…?

A reliable, clean delivery is very important to your project. It’s just as important as the message that you’re delivering in your piece. If a viewer looks at a project and it’s choppy, distorted or difficult to load, they will invariably walk away from the viewing. It’s true that nobody ever says things like, “Man, your video looks so nice and clean online! The guy who encoded it must have known what he was doing!” or “That video played with no problems! Great!” But when it doesn’t play well, you will hear about it. It’s one of those things that contribute to the impression you make to the viewer.

Last March, Austin hosted their famous South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival. This is fairly comparable to indie music’s Sundance Film Festival. During that weekend, the AT&T 3G Network (host to Apple iPhone subscribers) went kablooey. Now, AT&T’s scrambling to beef up the Austin network after a flurry of angry indie music fans metaphorically threw their 2% Starbucks Lattes at their provider AT&T. I’m curious how many of their subscribers changed phones after that weekend. Or bad mouthed the company. Or advised somebody not to use AT&T until they got their delivery management cleaned up. Delivery can make or break an impression.

At Tweedee Productions, we like to work hand-in-hand with whatever way you will broadcast your new, creative, effective message to the masses. We are willing to author your DVD or Blu Ray to make sure they’re broadcasting a beautiful, brilliant presentation. We work directly with corporate IT departments to insure online videos are in a workable format that is easy to load and looks good.

Let your delivery be part of the plan. Find an opportunity for growth. Have a concept that will help capitalize on the growth. Create storyboard and script. Realize who is watching and how they will be viewing it. Working together, your project will look awesome and deliver the results you want!

Steve Donovan 02
Steve Donovan
tips the delivery guy
every time.


I’m thinking that about 130 years ago, in 1876, a bunch of guys (yes, “guys” since women probably weren’t allowed to think about these things back then) were sitting around a coffee house talking about this new fangeled device called the “tel-lee-fone”.  They were most likely complaining, “Why would I ever need one of those things?”  Or better yet, “If I feel like talkin’ to someone, I’ll just go over to their house and TALK TO THEM!” 

My how things have changed.  Now, using a cheap, disposable cell phone, we can call from almost anywhere in the world to almost anywhere in the world.  We can “twitter” our most personal thoughts to our “followers”.  With a single mouse click, we can post photos or videos of our birthday party to an Internet web site that the entire world can view.  Within minutes, we can upload a video that is watchable on a hand-held electronic device the size of deck of cards.

Today we have a myriad of ways to communicate.  But, are we communicating any more effectively than we did person-to-person 130 years ago?  As video professionals do we get caught up in the technology and forget about producing a compelling message?  Do the messages we produce get lost in the blizzard of communications?

My point is, messages that aren’t relevant to the viewer or that don’t communicate a feeling or an emotion will be ineffective no mater how they are delivered.  How many of us have suffered through long, boring videos on YouTube wondering “what’s the point of this?” because there is no point.  Likewise, there are commercials on TV everyday that leave us scratching or heads.  We can communicate in hundreds of new and exciting ways but if there’s no story, viewers will be turned off and miss the intended message.  The key is obviously to produce a compelling message.  The delivery mechanism should be secondary.


Technology is great if used effectively to deliver a compelling message.  Just look at the positive changes the tel-lee-fone has made in our lives.

If You Could Read My Mind, What a Tale My Thoughts Would Tell…

sandy kowal

sandy kowal - always thinking...

as a small child i was captivated by gordon lightfoot’s lyrics… what a great idea – if you could read my mind. as a small child i assumed everyone would, of course, want to read my mind – filled with wild dreams and hopes and recipes for disaster (seemed like a good idea at the time).

my whole life i’ve been wondering why no one could read my mind… how hard could it be? why must i spell out the details of every thought – every concept? then came social networking, like this blog , twitter and facebook… social networking does make it easier for all my friends and followers to know my every thought and feeling, sometimes ad nauseum.  it’s a good start, but just so much darn work and so much darn time.

but now the future is here:

you may not be able to read my mind but a computer can! the university of wisconsin has developed a mind reading computer that can twitter for me!!! now my every thought, dream and hope can instantly be broadcast to all my friends and followers! oh joy! AND I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO LIFT A FINGER.

thank you university of wisconsin, you truly have read my mind. now if there was just a way to broadcast the images trapped up there swilling around…. hmmm.  maybe next week.