Brian Abe

In the world of video marketing communication and video story telling I spend a lot of time studying facial and body language. In my previous life as a leader and mentor of teams I used this ability to screen and hire our producers, editors and video communications teams. After making hundreds of phone calls and pouring over hundred’s of resume’s and demo reels to fill critical roles nothing was more fulfilling than putting a potential team member in a room with 4-5 of their peers and watch the non-verbal communication. Sometimes I would delay the meeting just to ‘watch’ was what going on. It was really valuable (and worth it) to treat the final round candidates to lunch with their spouse and watch the interaction with their potential future team mates. Priceless! The main purpose for this meeting is to watch current team members and how they accept the new incoming hire. Little glances and checking with others will give you most of what you need to know. I would always followup individually to hear what concerns each of our team members had with the potential employee. It’s a valuable tool for hiring and building trust in your team. I truly valued their input!

It’s not cruel, as some have said, considering that the senior producer I’m hiring will be sitting in a screening room or edit suite with the CEO or directing other C-suite level leaders. They better know how to interact with their peers comfortably. I expect them to know how to defend their video creation and without sweating.

Leaders would do well to cultivate this special gift to build teams. If I’m speaking to someone face to face I can normally tell what they think of the people surrounding them by their body language. Are their eyes focused, do they position themselves toward the one they’re addressing or someone more important. Of course we use all the typical body language signals that we’ve all learned in leadership roles. It sounds a bit arrogant, however I’ve used ‘the gift’ in private life and to lead others. If you’ve been in a leadership role for more than 10 years, great news, you probably have the gift too!

The plot thickens. . .

With regard to video storytelling the smallest tilt of the head, blink of the eyes or movement of the hands sends a message or change in direction of the discussion. Combined with voice inflection and sentence structure I have everything I need to make a sound decision. I ask my team members to watch and listen to content and body language changes as well. In the video communication world our job is to tell the story using the best camera angles, lighting, audio and graphics at the right time. It works for all sorts of everyday life, especially as you do everything you can to influence others and do things that matter. Video communication teams, ask your people to pay attention to what is NOT being said and craft an even better story! Non-profit organizations would do well to pay special attention to their volunteer teams. Take your people watching skills to a new level.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Brian Abe

As a video production person I get to work with all kinds of production folks from all walks of production life. Some are highly-skilled contractors or employees and most come from very different Television production backgrounds. I’ve decided to make a list of a few best practices I’d like our partners to know. It’s all about the story when it’s all said and done so let’s move past the weeds and get to the meat of the story no matter what we’re shooting. I consider these weeds and wasting time, however you wouldn’t believe how much time I spend in the weeds. These are the nuts and bolts of the multi-camera production world.  This is just the beginning!

I would really love to hear your best practices too!

For Camera operators:

  1. Lock or ‘pin’ your pan and tilt head before you walk away from your camera.
  2. By contrast, please unlock the camera head before panning and tilting during the show.
  3. Please balance your camera based on its position and role in the show.
  4. Ask your person in charge (EIC, etc.) how they want to handle the set-up and strike.
  5. Please don’t drag connectors (fiber, video,) while wrapping cable.
  6. Handheld operators please strain-relief your cable.
  7. Please pull extra cable in case you’re asked to move your camera position.
  8. Be early for your call time.

For directors/technical directors responsible for content:

  1. Based on what you know right now, please discuss the specific shots you’ll want in person with each camera operator before the shoot. Even go to the camera and demonstrate your expectations and ability if necessary. Consider naming each shot so you can request it quickly during the ‘live’ show. Each camera should play a different role, right? Explain the story you want to tell before the show. (Hint: it might be a bit different for rock and roll concerts and church services)
  2. Explain your basic philosophy to each position before you ‘Go Live.’ For camera ops make sure they understand your ‘cutting and shot change style’, zoom styles, etc.
  3. Help your audio guy be ready for tight shots of drums so they can bump those shots in the mix. There’s nothing more frustrating than not hearing what’s being shown. Also discuss timing and verbiage with your camera positions.
  4. If you miss a shot, move on and don’t look in the rearview mirror. It’s gone and doesn’t help to chide yourself or your crew.

I’m assuming most people know how to wrap cables and care for connectors, cameras, tripods, controls, lenses, etc.

These are the nuts and bolts of what we do. I call them weeds, however these take the most time explaining and costs the most money to repair.

I invite your kind comments!

Let’s get out of the weeds and move to the Story!

Brian Abe

Two Roads Video captures all kinds of multi-camera HD productions with live streaming and customized media portals. One of the common areas for improvement is lighting the talent and specifically using back light. Typically the lighting is done by an A/V/L company. (Audio/Video/Lighting) In addition to providing all the microphones, sound reinforcement and video screens. They are well-versed at aiming the base light at the stage, however unless asked they don’t always use back light or light from the rear. Just the right amount of back light can separate the foreground from the background and visually set the speaker out in front from a “dark curtain.” Back light is fundamental and needs to be considered in every shot. If you hire an AV company who is also providing the lighting ask them to include enough back light to cover each position individually. With today’s LED lighting the flexibility is wonderful. You can adjust the color temperature and brightness. That’s important when the presenters are not all tall, dark and young. Speakers with gray hair and no hair need less back light than those with dark hair. Just one more thought. . . if you’re using any kind of subtle colored backlight in the lightning plan be sure to turn off all the colored lighting before you white balance the cameras. Something to consider as you continue to improve your game. I can count on one hand the number of LD’s I’ve worked with in my lifetime who actually understand and can execute great television and video lighting. Combine those skill sets, with single camera, film-style and warm color temperatures! You get really nice looking video! You’ll know it when you see it.

Good luck!

Brian Abe

For many years I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in many video production environments from production units built on folding tables in trailers to 56 foot mobile trucks, multi-million dollar HD/SDI facilities and most everything in between.  From top fuel car racing sitting near the finish line (a bit dangerous) to corporate communications, sporting and entertainment events, single camera to 20 camera events. I’ve come to the conclusion that a multi-camera fly pack is the best of all those world’s.  Here’s why!

With our fly pack you don’t need an expensive semi-truck to tow a large trailer with expensive over-the-road taxes and DOT restrictions in which the costs are passed onto the customer. At the other extreme you don’t want to spend valuable time building the production room wiring the cameras, tally’s, intercom, reference and record machines every time you set up and then hope every cable is in the right place.

Our Two Roads fly pack is well-integrated with a 40 x 40 router that can send signals in any direction and with video aux bus sends on the switcher you can route video at the touch of a button.  We can up/down and cross-convert HD and analog signals to accommodate most formats.  Our audio is embedded in the sdi signal and is also available as an analog signal too! Please check with us! Our fly pack has IFB (in ear communications) and wireless audio capabilities.

We offer live character generated graphics and live webcasting services. We can even take it a step beyond to customize your website through our content distribution system.

We been in the industry for several decades and have evolved through linear and non-linear desktop technology. If we don’t have the answer for you, we’ll find it whether you hire us or not!

We love what we do! We love the fly pack world!