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Developing film, worth knowing?

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Today I set out to experience the seemingly lost art that is Developing Film. 

I wanted to try my hand at developing my own film to see if it is worth knowing. Lucky enough for us we have John, who knows a thing or two about the developing and processing of film. Coming from a background in fine arts photography he was taking the roll of grand master in our activity.

Now this isn’t to say that “film is dead”, certainly there is still a fun and amazing place for shooting on film in the digital age and plenty of people do it, but developing and processing is on the down. There are still photo labs open in some areas but are still steadily declining, and convenience stores may do some, but quality and care is always an issue there, luckily you can always send in your roll to one of many online services, where it can be processed and returned. I thought however “bleh! We’ll do it ourselves this time, how hard can it be?”

Preparation

John took the reigns first preparing the chemicals. The Developer, Stop Bath, and Fixer.

One of the surprisingly important parts was ensuring the temperature of all the liquids and chemicals was at a steady 70 degrees for optimal development. This was a tedious process of stirring and and heating until the temperature was stable.

Once the chemicals were prepped, he rolled his film onto one of the stainless steel reels and into the canister all inside of a changing bag. My initial thoughts here were “wow surely that was a lot harder than he made it out to be” *spoiler alert* this would soon be proven.

 

Now to actually develop!

With the film secured into the canister the developer could now be administered. With the process now happening John had a timer set to 8 minutes (as dictated to him by a piece of paper), gently agitating the container every 30 seconds to ensure full coverage and few air bubbles.

With the developer done, he drains that and adds the stop bath. This is the chemical that, hence the name, stops the developer from over developing the negative. Much of the same process here, agitating and waiting. At this point I was getting restless and wanted to see the end product already.

The Fixer is the last thing to be run through the container which stabilizes the image and removes the rest of the leftovers.

 

 

 

 

The Result!

After what seemed like hours (actually about a 20 min process) we were finally able to see what had been shot. with everything looking good the film can be rinsed off and left to dry for eventual scanning. John’s roll of film had some nice looking shots that were processed quite clearly and should give good results.

Seeing that the process had worked so well here I was quite confident to go in with my roll and perfectly copy what John had done, with my zero experience in developing film.

 

The Rookie

Now it was my turn.

After getting set up with a test roll to put on a reel, I learned very quickly how tedious that process actually was and that was with being able to see. Once I “got the hang” of that I dove into the changing bag and…. well… failed miserably.

So we took a new approach, I did mine in one of our back offices in the pitch black where I at least had room to work. Somehow this worked! I had my roll of film on the reel, and into the canister!

On to developing!

Using the process that John did before, I went through each of the chemicals, growing more impatient to see my photos. As the finals seconds tic’d on the fixer, I drained what was left in the canister and was able to pull the reel out to check on the status of my film.

….and the results were

sub par.

So as you can see there isn’t much of anything going on on that roll of film…

This, I was assured, wasn’t do to the developing process but in the picture taking process… which was still me.

So what is happening with the roll here is that about half of the shots were severely underexposed and a decent chuck at the end had been exposed to too much light at some point. (probably when I opened the back of the camera to see why it wasn’t rewinding) But that is a story for another day.

 

Final Thoughts

So despite being a little bummed that my roll was null and void, the process of developing film was… interesting. I am not going to brag about how great it is, because I wasn’t feeling a lot of that, it was more of “is it done yet?” While I was tad fascinated with the process and I do think it is an important part of photography to at least learn a little about, I will say that it is worth trying at least once. BUT it certainly made me say…

I’m glad we have digital 

 

What are your thoughts on developing your own film? Fun? Tedious? Waste of time?

 

 

7 Tips for Hiring a Video Company

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When looking for a video company to create a video to promote your business, there are a few important tips to consider. Here we have seven pieces of advice to help you in your search.

1. Have a Strategy and a Clear Message

This is something we have touched on before, but branding and brand identity are the most important thing for a company to have. Before you spend money on advertising and especially on video production, it is important to know who you are as a company. What do you stand for? What is your mission? Before these questions are answered clearly, it isn’t worth spending money on creating a video. We need to know what your company wants to achieve and what your strategy is before we can create a video that promotes you. This is information that is critical for us or any video production company to understand before creating a video to promote you. Without a strong identity, any video you produce will not serve you well.

2. Define your Audience and Purpose

In the past, we have made some pretty amazing videos for clients of ours only to find that they have not marketed them well. No one sees the videos and they do not serve their intended purpose.

If you do not know your target demographic or audience you are trying to reach and don’t have a strategy on how to reach them, paying for a video is a waste of time and money. Before hiring a video production company it is essential that businesses have identified their target demographic and have developed a strategy on how to reach them the best. Posting a video on a Facebook page that has only 100 followers will not serve a business well. Knowing how to push content to reach the target demographic is extremely important and must be done prior to selecting a video production company. The information you provide to the video company will influence how they approach creating your video, writing the script and a variety of other factors.

3. Get Several Quotes

In this particular industry, prices vary greatly from one company to the next. This is due to many factors. Some companies have more staff and overhead than others and can produce higher quality or more technical videos. Other companies are lean and operate on a modest budget. Quality, price and reputation can all vary from one company to the next.

It is recommended that anyone interested in hiring a production company get several quotes and talk to as many companies as they can. Not only is price important, but quality must be considered as well. Get prices, but also compare quality of videos within each company’s portfolio. If you can find a company that has an affordable price and quality videos that match your style, you have found a good one.

4. Find Most Recent Projects

When looking for samples from companies, look for the most recent bed of work. If you are looking at videos several years old, it is not reflective of their current capabilities. Social Media is a good place to look for recent posts and you can always ask to see something more recent when contacting them. Each company grows in talent and skill as time passes. Make sure you are looking at recent work to get a better idea of a video production company’s abilities.

5. Know What the Company you are Hiring Can Do

Consider what you need from a video and also what the company you are considering can do. Do they need to outsource because they don’t have the talent, or do they have a full range of capabilities? A full service video production company can take your unpolished idea and turn it into a fully professional video. The more information you provide, the easier this task is, however here are some of the services a full service company can provide:

-Script Writing/Storyboarding

-Casting

-Voice Over

-Editing

-Filming

-Animation

-Lighting and Studio

-Audio

-Directing/Producing

-Licensing and Permits

These are some of the services a professional company can offer. Note that each of these services does cost money. The more that is required of the video production company to create your video, the more costly it becomes.

6. Meet in Person

We always recommend that potential clients meet with the production company in advance of beginning the project. Communication is key. Having a sit down with the people you are considering hiring for a job will give you a clear idea of their capabilities and offerings. They can show you samples specific to your project and brainstorm ideas. This is also a time when you can get professional feedback and input on the possibilities of your specific video. To make sure both you and the production company are on the same page, face-to-face communication is important.

7. You Get What You Pay For

Having a budget is an important part of creating a video. There is nothing wrong with having a small budget. If you only have $800 to spend on a video, you may need to find someone fresh out of college or someone who wants to build their portfolio. Be advised though, that professional companies command a higher price and it shows in the work. These companies have the knowledge, equipment and talent to make your video sizzle. If you would like a video to impress potential customers, know that the ones with the higher price tag will likely achieve that.

How to Write a Wedding Speech

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How to Write a Wedding Speech

If you have been asked to be the Best Man or Maid of Honor for someone’s wedding, it is most certainly an honor. In most circumstances it also requires you to deliver some type of speech or toast. You may be asking yourself “How do I write a Best Man speech?” or “How do I write a Maid of Honor speech?”. This is a common question. Believe it or not, the number one fear of most people is public speaking. Don’t worry though. In this blog post we will give you the best tips and pointers for and help show you how to write a wedding speech.

Tip #1: Begin with a Strong, Funny, or Thought Provoking Statement

The way you begin your speech is the most important. You only have one chance to make a good impression and keep people engaged. Make it count. DO NOT begin your speech with “For those of you who don’t know me…” That is the single most boring way you can begin a speech. There are far more creative ways to introduce yourself. The first thing that you say should be funny, or thought provoking and catch everyone’s attention. This could be a short anecdote, joke or something to ponder.

Tip #2: Have a Plan

Don’t go into the speech blind or think you are going to wing it. The best speeches have outlines or structure. Think about this as an essay. You should have an introduction, body and conclusion. Don’t forget your purpose, which is to honor the Bride and Groom. Everything you say should be heading in that direction.

The Best Speeches will make the audience laugh, make them cry, and make them think. If you can achieve that in your speech, you are in good shape. Plan to tell something whimsical or funny to begin, then move toward the sentimental. Know what you are going to say before stepping in front of the audience and have this mapped out ahead of time.

Tip #3: Keep it Short

Even the best speeches don’t drag on. People are hungry and are waiting for dinner to start. Don’t go on a tirade 15 minutes long. A good length is 4-6 minutes for a speech. Anything longer is going to push peoples’ patience.

Tip #4: Use Simple Language

Make sure your language is conversational. The best way to create a disconnect with your audience is by using language that feels un-natural or forced. Talk to the audience as if they are having a casual conversation with you. Avoid any jargon or inside jokes you might have with the Bride or Groom. No one else will understand your inside story or language that isn’t a part of their everyday life.

Make the audience hear what you hear, see what you see and feel what you feel. Draw upon your senses to put the audience in your shoes. Use descriptive language to transport them into your story.

Tip #5: Don’t Read

PRACTICE, PRACTICE PRACTICE! Don’t read your speech from a phone or paper. Have the main points that you’d like to talk about or the stories you want to tell already mapped out. Speeches read from paper or a phone are contrived and seem insincere. Spend plenty of time preparing your speech. Please do not wait until the day of the wedding to think about this and definitely don’t wing it. Not many people can pull that off and we have seen our fair share of train wrecks at wedding receptions. Practice your speech and be prepared before the wedding day.

Tip #6: Use Clean Humor

One of the best ways to make a connection with your audience is by using humor. Especially if the object of the joke is you, or if you are roasting the Bride or Groom.

Nothing is more off-putting or awkward than crude humor or crass language at a formal event. There are many sources for clean jokes you can insert into your speech if you don’t have any ideas of your own. If you want to win the audience over, make them laugh at an unexpected CLEAN joke about yourself or the Bride or Groom.

Tip #7: Leave a Lasting Impression

End your speech with something memorable. Let the audience know that it is time to honor the Bride and Groom, but leave them with a bit of wisdom or a story that puts the Bride and Groom in a shining light. Make the audience proud to be there and that they were invited to such a magnificent event. Leave them with a smile on their face. Thank them for the honor of being a part of the wedding and for including everyone there.

These are a few tips for writing a successful speech at a wedding. Hopefully we will see you at the next one and you will be able to bring the house down.

The Importance of Branding

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A solid brand for a company can help drive a business into success by increasing customer base and instilling confidence in a company.  It is more than just a logo.  A brand goes beyond being just an image and provides a company with an identity.  Good brands are memorable, but great brands are iconic.  Without strategic brand recognition, businesses cannot reach their full potential.  This is why it is so important.

Branding has a lot to do with reputation.  A solid brand from a reputable company goes a long way in instilling confidence with consumers.  It also gives its employees confidence in the company.  How a company handles situations and puts itself out in the world says a lot about the entity and also peoples’ perceptions of it.  Brands can be wonderful tools for a company, but if not handled well, can also lead to their demise.  A company with a poor reputation or one that handles a situation poorly, will reflect upon its business and consumers will react unfavorably.

Black Horse Videography has helped several companies develop their brand and created their business logos.  This is the first step in creating a solid brand.  The logo should be something iconic and easy to remember.  If you take a close look at our center chess piece above, you will notice that the bottom of it is actually a camera lens.  The mane is also supposed to give the impression of a film reel.  These subtle nuances leave an impression on consumers and have meaning.

So why is branding so important and what can it do for your company?

BRANDING CREATES RECOGNITION

If people don’t know your company exists, it doesn’t matter how well you do what you do.  Having a solid logo and marketing that logo so that your name and business are in the forefront of peoples’ minds is extremely important.  Think about companies whose logos you don’t need to see the name to know them: McDonalds golden arches, Nike’s swoosh, Facebook’s “F”.  They have done a great job branding everything with their logo and making sure it is recognizable.  Get a solid logo, and get it out there.

BRANDING CREATES TRUST

People are much more likely to visit a store or business whose logo they have seen over and over again.  These companies develop brand authority.  They become seen as the best, even if they aren’t necessarily.  The more people who recognize the brand, the more potential customers will emerge.  Consumers want to have trust in the companies they spend their money with.  Having a solid brand everywhere provides confidence that the business isn’t going anywhere, and trust that they will do a good job.  The message is that the company with the massive brand can be trusted and is the best at what they do.

BRANDING INSPIRES EMPLOYEES

Employees want to know that the company they work for has a mission.  They want to believe in that mission and know that the company is growing and becoming better.  If they truly believe that they can make a difference and help the company reach new heights and that they can play a part in the company’s success, they too will share it and strive for it.

BRANDING IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE TOOL IN ADVERTISING

If you print marketing material, post it online, develop your website or have a video produced for you, branding is crucial.  The first thing we tell any of our commercial clients is to have a solid logo animation to brand their videos.  This provides a polished and professional look.  It creates an authority that the videos consumers are watching are legitimate and worth watching.  They look expensive and make whatever product you sell look official.  Having everything branded with your logo also provides multiple ways for potential customers to see your logo.  The more times they see your logo, the more it is on their mind.

The most successful companies have solid brands.  If you need a brand developed or a logo designed, give us a call and we will be happy to help.

How Much Does Video Production Cost?

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If you’ve ever considered hiring a professional video production company to create your next promotional video or advertisement, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself the most important question…how much will this cost me? The answer to this is not a straight forward one. It depends on a variety of variables. Hopefully we can provide you with some insight in this article.

What are you producing?

Good production companies will ask you a variety of questions before even agreeing to produce your video. It is extremely important to know all about the company and the purpose of the video before producing it. There are companies out there who will take any pay day and produce a video the client might not even be able to use. Many of our clients come to us with this problem. They paid a good chunk of money to have a video produced, and they cannot use the video or do not like it. The goal for us, is to not only create a quality video that suits our clients’ needs, but to create a relationship with our clients so that they come back to us whenever they need video production. Before understanding what it is we are producing and why we are producing it, we cannot offer a price quote. If a video production company isn’t asking questions such as: What is this video for? Who is your target demographic? Where will this be seen? What is your long term goal for this video? etc. we cannot pinpoint what type of video is needed or how to approach the project. Understanding the project goals and objectives is the first step in providing an accurate quote.

Why are some companies much more expensive than others?

When you call various video production companies, you may find that the price fluctuates and some businesses are more expensive than others.  This is due to several reasons but they all boil down to one…QUALITY.  Make sure you look at sample work from video companies before you decide to hire one.  You will be able to see a distinct difference between a company that produces sub-par work and one that is exceptional.  All videos are not created equal.  You may be able to find someone to produce a video for a small amount of money, but will the end product meet your needs?  When hiring a company, be sure to review the work and that the company can produce what you are imagining or asking for.  Professional companies will have a deep knowledge of how to produce quality videos and will also be able to show you samples.  If you don’t like the samples, chances are, you won’t like your end product.

How is the price determined?

Pricing a video is determined by several factors, but it can be boiled down mostly to the amount of time and man power required to create the video.  The cost is generally determined by factoring in Pre-production, Production, Post-production and licensing.  Pre-production refers to the planning stages of the video creation.  It is most often required for the producers of the video to meet with clients, draft story boards or plans, write scripts, prepare the studio space, or any other type pf pre-planning.  During the production period, the company has to have cinematographers film the event or commercial.  This refers to the time spent actually working with actors, talent or filming.  Post-production is the time required to edit the video.  This is many times the most time consuming aspect of production and if animation is required, it can take a long time.  Licensing is also something to consider.  Professional companies will require licensing for certain projects.  This provides the client with permissions to legally use the video in all of its content to advertise and make money.  All of these things combined is how a production company will determine the price of a project.

How complicated is your project?

There are simple projects, and there are much more robust ones.  To paint this picture, I will describe two examples.  The first is a simple project.  Imagine a self-made, popular, local car salesman who produces hundreds of short commercials.  This may just be him (or her) talking about how great the dealership is in front of a car.  These commercials are cheap, and they look just that…cheap.  There is no production value to them.  They can be produced with a camera and a tripod.  There is relatively no editing involved.  The contrast to this would be a Superbowl commercial.  These take time to produce, may take multiple days to film and take many hours to edit and produce.  These commercials take much more time to create, therefore they are more expensive.  We produce many commercials for clients and one thing that sets them apart from other videos is that we take great care in our productions.  One of the things we do to separate ourselves is we do a great deal of graphic design and animation in our videos (as appropriate).  The animation process is extremely time consuming and can become expensive.  The complexity of the project also has an affect on price.

Licensing?

Any legitimate video production company should have a conversation with their clients about licensing.  This is important because it protects the company and the client from any legal issues that may arise.  There have been many documented instances of people being sued for use of music that has not been licensed.  This can cause unwanted legal trouble or even fines of great magnitude.  Beware of any company that doesn’t provide licensing to music and provide that documentation.  You should also be provided a license to use the video you are contracting for monetary gain.  Understand that the person or company who records an image OWNS that image.  Just because you hired the company to create your video does not mean that you own the images.  The images must be licensed for use by the creator of those images.  If you don’t have a license to use the video, you technically have no rights to it.  Be sure to obtain the proper licensing to any video you will be publishing so you can avoid any legal troubles that may arise.

How much does video production cost?

In returning to the original question of “how much does video production cost”, the answer is…it depends.  What you want to produce will determine the cost.  The more detailed or complicated a project is, the more it will cost.  The reason why you might want to spend more, is because an expensive and elegant commercial will reflect on the company it represents.  When you see cheap advertisements, it reflects upon the company as being cheap.  The tendency is to believe that the company’s products are cheap and/or the services are lesser quality.  Think about what it is you want, and then find a company who can produce it for you in a way that meets your needs.

Wedding Photography Buffalo

Should I Hire a Videographer for My Wedding?

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This is a question we hear all the time “Should I hire a videographer for my wedding?” If you are on the fence about hiring a videographer for your wedding day, this article is a must-read. We won’t tell you that you should or shouldn’t but we will rather give you some insight that will help you drive your decision. When it boils down to it, you have to do what’s right for you. So the big question becomes “is wedding videography right for me?” Let’s look at a few insights.

Video production is a relatively new phenomenon in the grand scheme of history. It wasn’t until this past decade that video equipment reached a point in technology where it is portable and produced quality images. Today’s equipment is light-years beyond what it was when your parents or grandparents got married. The videos are much different. They are cinematic and tell a story as opposed to Uncle Bob putting a tape recording camera on a tripod in the back of the church. Now you can get very high quality videos. Photography used to rule the day as well. Before video, it was all about photography. The paradigm is now changing and people haven’t quite caught up to it yet. We are embedded in the custom of hiring a photographer without video, but that’s because video wasn’t a good product in the past. Videos are much better QUALITY than they were in the past.

One of the biggest regrets that we hear over and over again from people who watch our videos is that they regret not getting a videographer. You can read all about this on the Knot or Weddingwire from numerous people who have written about this but the fact remains, it is the number one regret from modern brides. In most cases we find that brides decide much too late in the game that they do want a video, but they have already spent their budget on flowers, chair covers and other items for their wedding. We also find that the only reason most people who do not get a video for their wedding is that they didn’t want to spend the money. Let’s be honest though; if I told you our services were free, would you hire us? The answer is always a resounding YES, but we understand that a budget is set and people cannot always live outside their means. There is VALUE in having a wedding video. If it were FREE, everyone would do it.

Before I got into the wedding video business, I hired a guy I know to film our wedding. I paid him $800 for this video and needless to say we got what we paid for. The video is not very good quality and the audio is far from professional. This video is actually what spring-loaded me into starting Black Horse Videography. The funny thing is, however, that I am extremely grateful I have this $800 video. My Grandfather gave a speech at my wedding. My Grandmother danced with me and told me that she loved me. My wife’s uncle got to share a dance with her. All of these people have passed away (shortly after our wedding) and are no longer with us. Their memory will always live on in that video. Having A video is much better than having NO video.

On your wedding day there will be a lot of people in attendance. There will be many things happening all around you. The day will go by in a blink. There are many things you will not see or experience. Without a video, you will never see your bride’s maids walk down the aisle before you. You won’t see the tears roll down your Husband-to-be’s face as he waits for you in anticipation. You will not see what he is doing before your ceremony or he – you. You won’t remember what was said during the speeches or any other sentimental things that happen. This is why we feel it is important to have a video. Without a videographer, you are left to stress about remembering everything and soak in as much as you can, because the day will fly by. Videographers can offer PEACE OF MIND on your wedding day.

In the end, you will only have two things left after your wedding. You will not have the chair covers, ice sculptures or flowers. You will not remember what was said or how the food you paid for tasted. You will not remember what songs the DJ played on the dance floor. The only two things you will have left after your wedding day are PHOTOS and VIDEO. If you don’t think video is right for you, there is nothing wrong with that. Hopefully this post will help you make an educated decision and help you weigh the value of a wedding video. The paradigm, however, has shifted and where video was once an added extra that people paid for only if they had extra money in their budget, is now becoming the first priority for many modern brides.