“Danger Will Robinson – I see low quality video”

“As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.” – John Glenn

Although things worked out for astronaut John Glenn, I was reminded of his famous quote when I saw this posted the other day:

Poor Quality

As consumers, all of us try to find the best value for the lowest price. But at what point does the price become so low that the quality suffers? Having a nicely produced video on your website is vital in today’s marketplace and that video is a crucial portal to introduce your business/school/group/organization to prospective clients/students/members/donors.  So of course, the goal should be to make a good first impression with a video that portrays you in the best light.  You may offer high quality products or services but a low quality video will be a poor representation of who you are and may not provide an accurate reflection of what you offer.

When it comes to initiating a video project, it’s not that hard to find good value for a fair price.  However, simply going with the lowest price may lead to this sort of outcome:

Always someone who will do it cheaper

So when considering a video production professional, be sure to ask to see samples of work from their portfolio.  Also, be sure to ask about the experience and background of the producers, crew, editors, and other team members that will be working on your project.  In addition, an experienced video professional should be knowledgeable enough to offer insight about the resources needed to produce a cost effective video that accomplishes your goals and stays within your budget.

Wishing you a safe landing with all of your video project ideas…



Mac Chorlton

Good Fortune

I’ve never been one who believes in reading my horoscope. It always seems kind of like a “something for everybody” read. I mean how many times can “an unexpected but welcome financial windfall  lead to some long-desired changes in my living situation?” In the words of my long-since-passed grandma,  “Sounds like a bunch of hooey!” But, go ahead and call me a hypocrite… Why? Because, I’ve always been a sucker for a good fortune cookie message.

There’s one taped to the base of my desk light right now. Ironically, its text encompasses the very reason I like fortune cookies (other than the fact they combine two of my favorite activities, eating and reading.) It says, “Four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity and humanity.” Obviously, based on this blog post, those words are a lifelong quest.

Words to Write By

Isn’t that the beauty of the fortune cookie, though? They’re a thoughtful and concise message to live by. They’re a nice little surprise inside a simple but tasty cookie container. And, finally, they’re a great reminder of how we like to approach telling a story with video: Keep it clear and simple, don’t bog it down with too much jargon, and leave them with a surprising little nugget of humanity.

This video by Writer/Director Marko Slavnic is a great example.

That’s one loaded cookie!

Now, in the words of another fortune cookie message I saved, “Go ahead with confidence.”

Some cookies are better than others…


A Decade in the Life of Technology

Something interested occurred to me this week.

I have been preparing to host a seminar in which I will be interviewing Northwestern MFA graduate Amy Thorstenson about how to write a better screenplay, and then turn that screenplay into a better film. In the course of my preparation, I was reviewing the questions I will be asking Amy about her childhood, her education and her past work, which naturally got me thinking through my own past experiences and how I’ve managed to get myself to this point in my life and career. As I stumbled backward through college and into high school, I was taken aback by a fun fact.

Like Amy, I graduated high school in 2003 and attended a four-year university from 2003-2007. After that I messed around in the software industry for a couple years, and finally came to filmmaking in 2009.

Then and only then did I come face-to-face with a fully digital, non-linear editing system for the first time.

Sometimes it is so easy to forget how far we’ve come in the past decade. In high school I filmed little projects for class on VHS tapes and used an incredibly slow, incredibly error-prone editing system to piece together moment after painstaking moment of footage. College was even worse. There was no film studies major at my school, and therefore no editing equipment at all. Not that it mattered—at that time in my life I was lucky I could make Outlook do what I wanted, let alone tackle anything as scary as “codecs” or “frame rates.” And as far as cameras were concerned…well, let’s just say my parents were not shy about letting me know that the Sony MiniDV standard definition Handycam I wanted for my 19th birthday cost them somewhere in the neighborhood of $600.

And now, ten years, two jobs in the tech sector and an Associates degree later…we have cameras on our CELL PHONES (which everyone also now has, by the way). People have made entire films using nothing but an iPhone and iMovie, Apple’s consumer-grade editing system.

Also, consumer-grade editing systems…exist.

As a professional, I have access to not one, but TWO non-linear editing systems on my work computer, and a completely different third one on my home computer. I have programs in which I can build entire rooms out of NOTHING! I CAN FLY THROUGH SPACE! And if there’s something I don’t know how to do, instead of doing research by physically going to library (that’s a building where they keep books, by the way), I can just type a few words on a screen and the magical Google elves will find it FOR me!

Now, I will admit that I’m as impatient as the next technophile. I am constantly spurring my computer to go faster and wishing that the powers that be would hurry up and create a <insert name of gadget here> that runs better and costs less. But to look back and track the progress of technology just in my own small and relatively short existence…I have to say, I’m floored by how much better things have gotten as a whole.

And yet the struggle to write a decent screenplay continues. So come to the seminar, and make sure all this crazy-amazing technology isn’t going to waste 🙂 Click here for more information, and I hope to see you there!



I <3 The Internet

Before I start my first post ever here on the elite Tweedee Productions blog, I feel like I need to introduce myself.


Hi. I’m Sarah. I’ve been an associate producer at Tweedee for about nine months now. My desk is in the back of the studio, so if you come to visit our offices, that’s probably where you’ve seen me. And if you’ve filmed in our studio, I was probably the one running your prompter (assuming you were using it). When I’m not at work I enjoy writing (fiction and screenplays), cooking (with mixed results) and playing with my cats.

Okay, now that we are acquainted, I can jump right in.

I love the Internet. It represents what Wyoming and California meant to the cowboys and 49ers in centuries past: ultimate freedom. If you’re looking for something, odds are you’ll find it on the Internet, and if you have something to share, you can probably find someone who will distribute it for you—or you can even do it yourself! For people like me who conduct business on the Internet while simultaneously organizing a social agenda in the same location, it is practically a second life.

This level of freedom and involvement does present a problem for content creators though. With so many options and stimuli, how do you break through all of it and get YOUR stuff to the people you are trying to reach? It’s something marketing executives and advertisers have been struggling with since the Internet became a breeding ground for many “Next Big Things,” and so far there doesn’t seem to be any magical solution for guaranteed Internet success. However, there are a few things that you can do to ensure your project won’t be a total Internet fail:

1) Develop an interesting concept. Whether it’s a picture of a surly cat with a snarky tagline or a web series with a budget of thousands of dollars, it’s got to be interesting. If we know anything for sure, the Internet does NOT suffer boredom.

2) Only employ people who will get the job done. The end product is only as good as the people who work on it…and do you have ANY idea how long it takes to put together a decent 60 second animation? Because the Internet provides no real deadline, people can all too easily fall victim to laziness or frustration. So whether it’s a six person team of professionals, your college roommate, or just you and a laptop, you’ve got to be sure they are people who will see the project through to the end.

3) Maintain quality throughout the process. To answer a previously posed question: a 60 second animation can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks to complete, depending on the skill level needed, the resources available, and so on. When you’re dealing with that kind of time frame and attention to detail, it’s all too easy to start taking short cuts. DON’T GIVE IN! If you do, the Internet will know…because the Internet knows everything….and you will end up paying for it in the end.

4) Spread the word! A common misconception is that getting a product on the Internet is the most difficult part of the process, and that once it is out there for all to see, the money and fame will start to roll in of their own volition. This is WRONG! Once you have your product out there, you need to take it upon yourself to make sure that everyone knows about it! Share, Tweet, Pin, Skype, Link…do whatever you have to so people know what you’ve got and get excited enough to tell everyone they know about it too. Because if you don’t care enough to get it out there, no one else will either.

If you follow all of these steps…okay, yes, your project might still fall into Internet oblivion. But at least you’ll give yourself a fighting chance. With high standards of commitment and with a little bit of luck, you could have the next LOLCats, Justin Bieber, Gangnam Style or Harlem Shake.

Now go forth and CREATE!

…and let us know if you need any help 🙂

Things Are Getting Better

This past year Tweedee Productions has done work at several manufacturing companies throughout Wisconsin.  We’ve crisscrossed our great state from Fennimore to Green Bay, Milwaukee to Rice Lake for various clients.  Most recently we shot at a plastics manufacturing plant in Baldwin.  The news that we’ve been hearing is that “things are getting better.”  Companies are hiring, working multiple shifts and cranking out products.  The owner of the plastics company told us that they have been working 24/7.  In some cases, employers cannot find enough qualified workers to fill the jobs they have.  Not a bad thing in the short-term.  Nationally, recent economic reports have been encouraging.

It’s been interesting commiserating with other business owners over the tough times we’ve all gone through.  Many have told us that 2008-09 were the bad years which was also true for us.  In some cases business virtually ground to a halt and many of us wondered if it was wise to keep the doors open.  In our case, I’m glad we did.

During what has been called the “great recession” the thought occurred to me that the companies that are able to weather the storm will be stronger in the end.  When operating in a bad economy, you learn real fast what works and what doesn’t.  You learn that all major decisions are critical and that there’s not much room for error.  Ultimately, you learn to have faith in your skills and that things will get better.

Fortunately for us, our business survived.  The lessons learned over the past few years have paid off.  The last two years have brought us great success as we’ve experienced sustained growth for the past 30 months.  We’re now able to do the things that I love to do like rewarding our employees and giving back to the community.  I realize that many folks have suffered, careers were lost and companies closed.  I’m grateful we have been able to continue on.  I feel the best is yet to come!

CEO/Founder, Tweedee Media Inc.

do words rule?

i’ve been noticing a trend happening.Image

we’ve been getting more requests for what i refer to as “motion graphics mixed with power point”.

but, come to find out, it has a fancy name: infographics.

now, i like moving video, but apparently some folks really want to avoid video completely & use words and images instead. what a crazy idea!

but, you know what – it can work.

images & words can be very entertaining beyond just being informative… check out this Local Punched piece we did. it’s very active – entertaining, yet gets the message across.

here is another popular concept one of our clients, McGraw Hill, likes to use. i must admit this is WAY better than just reading a dry web article or watching wallpaper video that doesn’t really match the narrative.  and infographics can be WAY less of a financial investment. just imagine the cost of using real actors in the McGraw Hill piece. that would be crazy expensive.

obviously video will always be better to tell an emotional, personal story… but it looks like infographics are here to stay.

and for good reason.


living tribute

i’m honored to be taking part in 11.11.11, A Day in the Life of American’s Veterans. this project’s goal is to

sandy just needs a minute to think about it.

everyone has a story to tell.

“produce a ‘day in the life’ exploration of Veterans Day 2011, finding and incorporating the most compelling stories about veterans into a unique presentation about the experience of men and women who have devoted a portion of their lives to serve their country in times of both war and peace.” a lot of really great storytellers i’ve worked with are taking part. the piece will have both video and still photography. to learn more check out their web site.

so this is where you come in… calling all ideas – do you know of a vet or a group of verterans doing their own memorial – their own thing? someone remembering this day in their own way? i know there are “official” events happening – but i’m hoping for something out of the ordinary, personal or unique.
why do i care?
this year’s veterans day has a special meaning for me. this year i have a chance not only to remember those who have proudly served our country, but to also, in a small way, pay a tribute to my dad.

that's my dad on the right... in boot camp with a couple of friends.

dad served in the “big” war, World War II. After the attack on Pearl Habor he joined the army. he was stationed overseas in the Philippines & was a scout for his platoon. one early morning, right before his discharge, his life (and my family’s) changed forever… my dad was scouting in the jungle and was pinned down by a couple of japanese machine gun nests. the soldiers continued to shoot him until he was able to roll into a small ditch. dad almost died. he lost his leg that day – spent weeks in a coma.

my dad trying to return to a "normal" life after the war. he loved to fish.

dad lived out the rest of his life as a proud disabled veteran, husband & father of 3.

on 11.11.11 i’m hoping to bring a special story to the project. if you have a special veteran in your life, let me know. i’d love to create something we can all be proud of.

Your Audience is Changing Seats

Best Buy reported a 14% slip in their shares during the 4th quarter of 2010. This is the difficult side effect to slumping sales. Primarily, their sales were paltry in television sets, movies and games, according to Forbes Magazine.

This trend may be indicative how the market is shifting among all retailers. In 2010, television growth was at 18% while this year’s numbers are trending towards a 4% growth (according to research firm DisplaySearch). A major cool down from hi def television enthusiasm has entered our culture.

Last night, I couldn’t find a show on television to save my life. Instead, I flipped over to see what choices I had on Netflix and Hulu Plus. My cable bill is typically $50/month while Netflix & Hulu combined are $20. It’s no wonder that people are now watching online video that comes with on-demand capabilities. It’s less expensive with a huge array of options at your disposal. But, as television sets place these applications in their software, more accounts are being produced through on-demand services like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu.

Roger Kay, EndPoint Technologies wrote about television culture shifting. “All of our lives are more closely time sliced.  We have to execute more tasks, and these task [sic] are shorter.” As an audience, does shorter tasks mean more mobile devices? Yes. It’s a bit of chicken or egg scenario: Did we grow impatient naturally and build mobile devices or did we build mobile devices and make ourselves impatient? Either way, we have become more instantly gratified.

Meanwhile, the somewhat surprising piece of this puzzle is the fact that laptop sales have dramatically decreased. Doesn’t this online subscription world with shorter tasks need more laptops? Aren’t they turning from televisions to computers, thereby needing something mobile and easy to move?

The answer is yes. They are. Double digit growth of laptops have dropped down 1% AFTER the introduction of the iPad (PCWorld, April 2011) . The one product that basically brought the laptop market to its knees and it doesn’t play Macromedia Flash Video. It plays MPEG-4. It provides applications that play all those videos living on a cloud. It has the capability to provide your video content–no matter which format–via iPad apps.

The incarnation of laptops working as a second television has evolved into iPads working as a second television, too. The evolving audience is parsing their time in tasks including television viewing.

No more than ever, the opportunities for marketing depend on two departments: the IT professionals and the video professionals.

As formats change and evolve with the viewer, depend on your video production company to provide understanding where your video is going and it will effectively run in a high quality format with streaming video.

Ask us how to best utilize different video formats for your audience.

Steve Donovan Senior Editor

Things keep changing.

The new year has brought us a new video camera here at Tweedee Productions.  And with a new camera, of course, new technology.  Well, kinda.  We’ve already been using Panasonic’s P2 technology for a couple of years.  Our new camera, Panasonic’s HPX500EFP is actually a compliment to our well used and reliable Panasonic HVX200.  Both shoot amazingly good, eye popping, high-definition 1080i video.  The 500 has a few more bells and whistles, and comes in a more traditional shoulder-mount, Betacam-style configuration.  So far, I love it!  In addition to shooting great looking video in several HD and SD formats, there are also loads of other menu settings that allow the user to customize the “look” of the camera.

The most amazing thing to me is the recording media.  Both the 200 and 500 record video and audio onto a P2 memory card.  We can record about 2 hours of high-definition video onto a 64gb card about the size of your average smart phone.  This technology is a far cry from when I started in the business.  (OK, I don’t want to sound like an old guy here – so no stories about how I used to lug my 25 pound video camera and 25 pound 3/4 inch record deck 5 miles through the snow.  Uphill.)

When I started working my first job as a video photographer, videotape field recording had just started reaching markets like Madison, Wisconsin.  Three-quarter-inch tape was the industry standard back then, employing a two-piece camera/record deck setup, and recording standard-definition video onto a 3/4 inch videotape cassette.  We were able to record a whopping 30 minutes of two-channel audio and SD video (yes, in color!) onto a tape about the size of a small Gideon’s Bible.  Years later one-piece Betacams came along with a smaller 1/2 inch tape cassette, then even smaller DVCPro and mini-DV tape formats with smaller cameras.  Today you can record fairly decent HD video on a cell phone.

So now that we are digital and tapeless, what’s next?  My colleague Dan Presser and I where just discussing the “next big thing” in video production technology while getting coffee last week.  You see, the weak link in the whole video aquisition-input-edit-output chain has always been the time it takes to transfer recorded media into an editing system.  In most cases videotape has to transfer in real-time.  With digital, large HD files may take several minutes to copy onto a hard drive.  Sure, there are some costly solutions now available that will speed up the process.  But what about this – a field camera/recording system that moves recorded images live, wirelessly, and as they are being recorded right into an edit system!  Sound far-fetched?  Yeah, well so did recording HD video onto a playing card sized device way back in 1980.

A 3/4 inch videotape is much bigger than a P2 memory card.

Gregg Schieve, CEO and Founder

the flu sucks.

not just because you can’t eat, you’re puking and your fever is so high you can’t get comfortable. the flu sucks because it gives you too much time to think.

maybe it’s just me.  but whenever i’m sick or unable to sleep i obsess about stuff. trying to figure out how to do a project differently, maybe more creatively, maybe more efficiently.

some of my best thinking happens when i’m sick or sleepless. not that i’m encouraging people to get ill. but i do encourage, mostly myself, to just take a moment of quiet time. a moment to just let my body rest and my mind work.

might be easier if i just meditated.
i’ll have to think about that.

sandy just needs a minute to think about it.

sandy just needs a minute to think about it.

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