My new jib

An exciting new piece of equipment arrived a couple of days ago, that I got to use in action straight away. Below is a few shots from the shoot which is a short documentary about diabetes, commissioned by NHS Nottingham City. It was easy to use and should add a lot of potential to future projects.

My New Jib from Ben Jacobson on Vimeo.

Making our 8in8 music video

The story of how and why we made our music video for Because the Origami by 8in8 (in far too many words)

Because the Origami – 8in8 from Ben Jacobson on Vimeo.

In the past few months I have been actively on the look out for opportunities for “spare time” projects in order to experiment with both creative and technical ideas. I determined that such projects would have to have the possibility of

  1. attracting a large audience (more than just our friends and family)
  2. being compact enough that they would take a few days to make
  3. using this incredibly talented young actress – who happens to be my daughter
  4. using a new piece of kit or experiment with a new technique.

We have been mulling over a few possibilities, but one night I saw a post by Neil Gaiman (one of our favourite authors) on Facebook (I hadn’t logged on in days) and it intrigued me.

Our 8in8 Album, available to listen or for download. We’ve put this one up under creative commons, too, mostly to see whether people will make videos. Nighty Night, by 8 In 8 music.amandapalmer.net

I clicked through to the link and started listening. I skipped the first one after 10 secs – it wasn’t for me – and then the second track started and had me mesmerised. I didn’t listen to any of the four remaining tracks until a week or more later.

Because the Origami is a ode to a child from its parents. I listened to it five times in a row and each time a different set of images appeared in my mind. For a song that has so many very specific descriptions in it – there are actually a very wide range of interpretations.

I did a little digging and discovered that Neil has over 1.5m followers on Twitter, and his wife Amanda, and Ben Folds, who co-wrote the song with Neil and performed it, have a whole bunch too – if I could make something they liked, then a couple of Tweets could probably bring us 20,000 plus views in a couple of days – and why not – it would be promoting their music.

In the past few weeks, Technicolor have released a new picture profile specifically for video on Canon SLRs – I really needed to test this in anger before using it for a client project.

The four criteria were fulfilled – as even though I saw the song as actually being about the parents, the visuals could easily focus (maybe exclusively) on the child.

Well, there is actually a fifth criterion – but once my wife had heard the track, and had tears streaming down her face by the end of it, that one was sorted too.

We were certain that we wanted to portray all of the specific physical things mentioned in the lyrics, as accurately as possible but try really hard to leave the rest as open to interpretation as the song itself is. The only stumbling block was the use of “Tommy” in the lyrics – so we decided to explicitly state that the girl was called Tomasina (unfortunately the best female version of Tommy we could find – and one that has lead to a couple of funny comments online about a transgender subtext).

There are a lot of specifics mentioned, so we went about buying, borrowing or making them. The list was pretty lengthy – TOMASINA letters, pony, riding helmet, children’s guitar, children’s drums, drum sticks, blueberries, fish tank and 2 goldfish, dancing shoes, new oven gloves & children’s apron, retro radio. At the same time, we wanted to show that this child had a lot of material possessions, so we cleared out our bedroom and redressed it with Holly’s furniture etc so as to give it as much space as possible – even so if still doesn’t look that big on camera. Somehow she has since talked us into leaving it that way for a couple of months!

The two days shooting were ace – it’s so much fun being creative as a family – especially as Holly is a natural who gives for every take. We have such a close understanding that directing her is easy. I truly believe that her being home educated helps her to be such great actor, as she can be herself and has not been forced into a mould from an early age. She is not an extrovert – unlike most child actors she’s not always trying to perform – but give her something genuine to think about and express and she just gets it.

We also sprinkled in a few references to Neil Gaiman – his children’s books in particular. At various points Wolves in the Walls and Blueberry Girl have been Holly’s distinct favourite book, so much in fact that we have also given many, many copies of both as presents over the years.

The highlight of the shoot was Harry the pony – Holly enjoyed that (maybe she’ll end up with all of Tommy’s hobbies after all). The lowlight was digging a hole in a ridiculously hard corner of a farmer’s field in the half hour before we would have lost the light.

I edited the video, and after a couple of viewings to the family followed by a couple of tweaks, it was ready to upload for others to see.

As I was uploading on the Saturday evening, I discovered that Amanda had blogged that afternoon about the videos that had already been made, and I had a sinking feeling that we had missed the boat. Whilst reading that post, I also became aware of that the challenge for videos had been one of matching the dynamics of the recording of the album itself (the six songs were written and recorded in a single night), and that the original call had been for them to be completed in a week (two had passed by this time) – and then got paranoid that maybe our pretty professional approach would be snubbed.

After the video was converted by vimeo, I tweeted its existence to Neil, Amanda and Ben. I hoped I had used the correct syntax as I’m very new and pretty scared of Twitter. Amazingly less than an hour later, Neil tweeted:

I love this #8in8 video for Because the Origami. Love love love. http://bit.ly/jo7rln (via @BenJJacobson) @BenFolds @amandapalmer

Bingo!

I spent the next few hours refreshing the stats on the crazy views that flooded in, and reading / replying to the post Neil made on Facebook:

An astonishingly beautiful BECAUSE THE ORIGAMI video that almost had me sniffling at the end.

I was surprised at how many comments there were about “spoiled child” etc etc, as to us the song was clearly all from the parent’s point of view. I am tempted to explain what the song means to me, but it’s best left open to personal interpretation (although I will say that the white dress was carefully chosen). By now I have possibly listened to this song more than anyone else on the planet, and on further listening, it touches upon so many universal elements – parenting, childhood, education, freedom, individuality, independence – remarkable for a song written in such a short time.

5k views in the first 5 hours.

And that was not all. A few hours later Neil posted this wonderful blog post. We also had a major slice of luck in that next next day happened to be Mother’s Day in the US and elsewhere (in the UK it was a couple of months ago) – and it really seemed to strike a chord with those thinking about their estranged children and/or parents, quite possibly leading to more social media sharing as well.

20k views in a day and a bit.

The next day Amanda dedicated a blog post to this video and song

new blog, “because the origami” – about a particularly amazing #8in8 video made by @BenJJacobson – read it at http://bit.ly/OrigamiBlog

…in which she intriguingly revealed that she and Neil even have different interpretations of the song themselves.

It then got added to the 8in8 website and featured as the video of the week.

30k views in 6 days

I am a huge Science Fiction fan, so seeing our film on the TOR website, was both awesome and a little weird (seeing as it has no SFF elements).

I entered it into the monthly Shooting People competitionif you are a member then please vote for it.

31k views in 7 days

Thanks to Neil, Amanda, Ben and Damian for an amazing song. Thanks to our friends for lending us the props we needed (we were very careful when we were “burying” them). Thanks for showing me the power of Twitter. And especially many thanks to all the people who have taken the time to watch it and comment on it.

32k and counting

We’ve got the bug now – who else wants a music video?

UPDATE

42k and counting.
It has also been shown in New York at an outdoor festival

Medical Filmmaking

Ben in scrubs filming an operation

Ben in scrubs filming an operation

Over the past two years I have made a huge number of videos for various healthcare organisations – from elective plastic surgery, to weight loss surgery, to a wide range of NHS services, including mental health and commissioning.

Filming in hospitals and medical settings, is tricky for the uninitiated, as there are many more factors to consider than normal. Privacy, confidentiality and hygiene are all essential factors to deal with, as are the technical challenges of shooting in operating theatres in particular, where the harsh lights create tricky shooting conditions that need to be handled carefully.

Leicester Video Production

I provide a video production service in Leicester, and across the East Midlands and UK.
Using up-to-date HD cameras, and the latest post production software, I produce videos for a wide range of public and private sector clients. Videos are used for a wide range of ways:

  • Promotional videos – playing on websites, reception areas, trade shows, youtube, vimeo
  • Sales videos – available directly on your website, or played by sales people on their laptop or smart phone
  • Training videos – for either self-directed study, or for use with a trainer
  • Conference videos – from a CEO’s address to the exciting artisitc opener, or even fun coverage of the event itself
  • Event coverage – got an awards ceremony, or a corporate golf day or similar that you want to keep a record of?
  • TV adverts / commercials – with the multitude of smaller digital channels now available, advertising airtime is much more affordable than ever before, and accessible to many more businesses. Whilst many top adverts for household brands cost £100k+, there are many much more affordable ways of producing a slick advert
  • Showreels – for actors, presenters etc – I can not only edit your existing clips together, but can film new material in ensure that you have a range of styles and looks on your reel.

Everything I produce is to a high technical and creative standard – but as a freelance video producer much more of your budget ends up on the screen.
I have experience working in many industry sectors too:

  • Healthcare – from videos about mental health services via SHA awards video documentaries to operating theatre surgery including plastic surgery, I am highly experienced in this sector
  • Financial services – the domain of call centres and back room operations – whether for insurance or public sector customer services
  • Golf – I have made five TV series about all aspects of the game of golf – equipment, courses, holidays, instruction, players; as well as many promotional videos for golf products including the leading brands
  • New technology – it is very important that your inventions are easy to understand for potential investors as well as customers – video is the perfect medium for this – and my scientific / engineering degree background helps me quickly understand your product and therefore be able to present it most effectively to your audience

iStock Stocky Awards

Two of our favourite stock video files have been shortlisted for iStock’s end of year “best of” awards.

Help us try to win $2000 – and get entered into a draw for $2000 yourself

  • Go to http://thestockys.com/
  • Click on “VOTE NOW”
  • Click on “View Entries” on right hand side.
  • There are 10 categories – our files are in “Most Emotionally Evocative” and “WTH (H*ck)” – the categories can be selected from the drop down menu.
  • Vote for your favourite file (hopefully our “Little girl crying” and “Animated Christmas Cookies” 😉 ) by clicking on the Vote button , and then confirming it in the popover that appears. (Note: The shortlist entries are sorted randomly, so they will be in a different order each time you return to a page.)
  • Finally in order to enter the prize draw, choose ‘Contest Entry’ from the category drop-down menu and complete the form.

Thank you!

More Berlin VideoLypse

Ben Jacobson filming in Berlin

Here are some more rough edits of the Berlin stock shoots (as before essentially ungraded camera raw):

Restaurant / young carer

Having such a talented young actress at my disposal, I wanted to challenge her.
[hana-flv-player video=”http://benjacobson.co.uk/RESTAURANT.flv”
width=”509″
height=”280″
description=”benjikat Berlin VideoLypse 2010 Second shoot rough edit”
player=”4″
autoload=”true” autoplay=”false”
loop=”false” autorewind=”false”
/]

Femme fight

Last shoot of the weekend – thought I’d take some risks and have a bit of fun! Watch out for the alternative ending I have tacked on.
[hana-flv-player video=”http://benjacobson.co.uk/FEMME.flv”
width=”509″
height=”280″
description=”benjikat Berlin VideoLypse 2010 Fourth shoot rough edit”
player=”4″
autoload=”true” autoplay=”false”
loop=”false” autorewind=”false”
/]

Artist gallery

I got filthy shooting this!
[hana-flv-player video=”http://benjacobson.co.uk/ART.flv”
width=”509″
height=”280″
description=”benjikat Berlin VideoLypse 2010 Second shoot rough edit”
player=”4″
autoload=”true” autoplay=”false”
loop=”false” autorewind=”false”
/]

Music courtesy of Audio Indigo and iStockaudio
Above photo courtesy of Jasmin Cobalt

How much will my video cost?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions, but one of the trickiest to answer.

Some production companies give a per minute price, but I have no idea how they can ever do this – as that one minute could be a simple unedited interview, or it could be a Nike TV commercial. The costs of video production are more about the costs and time required rather than directly about the end result. Time is often expresssed in terms of days – but even here it is hard to compare, as more experienced video producers can create far superior end results in a shorter time.

Videos can be made up of a large number of elements, including:

  • Pre-production
    • Production Management (client liaison, logistics etc)
    • Script writing
    • Casting etc
  • Production
    • Filming – from one man crew (director/cameraman) – to many more including producer, director, camera, sound recordists etc
    • Actors / Presenters / Voiceover artist
    • Studio hire
    • Travel etc
  • Post Production
    • Editing
    • Graphics (2D or 3D)
    • Music
    • DVD Authoring
    • Web video conversion

Full fixed price quotes will always be provided, but a guide price can usually be given after even a brief conversation. However, one thing is sure – as a freelancer, my overheads are much lower than any production company, and so your budget will end up in the final product.

Berlin VideoLypse

Ben Jacobson filming a chase scene on a rooftop car park, Berlin IStock VideoLypseEvery year iStockvideo invite a number of contributors to gather together to share experience and expertise, and to shoot some stock video clips.

We were honoured to be one of just eight contributors chosen to visit Berlin, the chosen venue this year. A key reason Berlin was picked is that it is the site of iStock’s European office.

The whole event was inspirational to us on many levels Continue reading