Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cameras and Online Crowdsourcing Pitches:
Coulda Woulda Shoulda Book

The second notable (non-film) video pitch from the current crop on Indiegogo comes from the Books / Writing section of the site.

In this case, the writer uses the medium of video to good effect by, like Michael Hubbs, appearing in the video, as well as using video as a way of expressing some of what the book in question likely has to offer.

What makes this instance particularly stand out is that few of the aspiring writers pitching their novels, comics or other forms of literature took the opportunity to make a pitch video at all, much less one that employs any production values.

The video appears to be shot with a consumer HD camera, with infinite focus and a minimalist indoor set. But a library of fairly simply composed shots (all on the same set) are given some variety through effective transitions (like simulated rewinds).

Standing out in particular are the opening credits for the writing brand, with "Wordsmith & Wesson" in an attractive font, on top of a pattern that has been subjected to a simple but effective vignette effect.

As well, there is also some effective animation, as the protagonist of the pitch is progressively hidden behind a growing stack of digitally overlaid (but sufficiently realistic for these purposes) books.

The pitch video follows below:

And the site for the pitch itself on Indiegogo is here:

Coulda Woulda Shoulda on Indiegogo

Again, feel free to compare it to the pitch videos (where they have even been attempted) and consider how effectively the option of adding video - to the task of selling the written word - has been employed in each case.

Hit me back if you think anyone else out there is using video and the accompanying techniques to good effect in this arena.

Cameras and Online Crowdsourcing Pitches:
Michael Hubbs: Deaf, Olympic Hopeful

In the first example of consumer / prosumer cameras being put to good use by everyday people in online crowdsourcing pitches, we have the online campaign for Michael Hubbs, a hearing-impaired speed skater working to drum up funds to make his way to the Olympics.

The camera work reveals him to unquestionably be dedicated to his training, but what makes this pitch noteworthy is that there is thought put into the composition of the shots, and the editing / post-production is used to pretty good effect.

Setting aside for a moment that half of the athletic crowdsourcing pitches seemed to be geared toward sending college teams to the World Quidditch Championships (a worthy goal for any Harry Potter fan, no doubt) became apparent to me pretty early on in the pitch-surfing process that many hopeful recipients of your money didn't even put together a video pitch, opting instead for a single photograph in the space where a video could have gone.

Don't get me wrong. That wouldn't automatically prevent me from considering a contribution. But it is a lost opportunity to communicate with the audience you are trying to reach.

That said, if you do make a video, you had better do it right, or else you will face the wrath of the Cabbage.

In the case of the Michael Hubbs video, it seems to be shot on something along the lines of prosumer HD, give or take a point or two on the price scale. But there are a number of focus pulls (while shooting indoors), which makes me think that maybe they have something a few notches up that allows for some fast 50mm lens to be attached. Then again, most of the focus shifts were on near-stable shots, so it could have been the old "back up and zoom in" trick, often used with small-chip cameras to get a shallow depth of field.

The colors are pretty rich, so I'm inclined to think they did some sort of grading or saturation in the editing room. Also, they used the good old font from "24" which always adds a little drama.

The music is pretty simple and generic, but effective. All in all, it's a video that shows Michael Hubbs to be serious about his goals. The shot composition and snappy editing, with a bit of post-production value added, contributes significantly to this effect.

And if you want to check out the campaign for Hubbs' Olympic aspirations, visit the following link:

Michael Hubbs at Indiegogo.

To experience what I experienced, check out some of the other pitches under the "Sports" category and see which ones you thought used filmmaking techniques to their best advantage.

It should be noted that the opening of the video identifies GreySkale Multimedia as the filmmaking entity.

Also, my apologies to anyone for whom this video "autoplays." What a terrible feature, and if I hear any more about it, I am going to stop making use of Vimeo embeds, which would be a shame, because they were once at the forefront in terms of both video quality and respect for site users.

New Uses for Consumer and Prosumer Cameras:
Online Crowdsourcing Pitches

After a little time away from updating everyone on the latest techniques and settings for prosumer cameras, I've decided to take a little time to look at some of the things regular people are now achieving with consumer cameras.

The gear has come along in the last couple of years, though nothing has been revolutionized. Chips are still small. Depths of field are still infinite. But high resolution has gotten cheaper and more affordable.

As much as ever, it's not so much the tools at hand as what you do with them.

In this case, individuals (aspiring filmmakers and otherwise) are turning to crowdfunding for their projects at sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Since we would naturally expect the filmmakers to (hopefully) have some degree of training and at least semi-pro equipment, I thought it would be most interesting to look at what non-filmmakers are putting together for their "pitches" in order to draw funds from the public for their projects.

Especially since they aren't pro filmmakers themselves and (since they are crowdfunding) probably don't have access to a RED and the DreamWorks editing studio, it should be useful to look at what clever shortcuts and techniques they might be using, in order to utilize the required "video pitch" to its maximum potential.

I will look at a couple examples from various non-film categories fundraising projects, with the accompanying pitch included.

Stay tuned.


Also, my apologies to any people with camera questions that may have gone unanswered in recent months.