Senior Commencement Video

Creating a motivational video from commencement speeches and movie quotes.

I was approached by a parent in my neighborhood this past January about the needing of some help.  I suppose the “Setla Films” sticker on the back of my car gave it away that I was in the video business.  She was a parent of a senior about to graduate from Northville High School and agreed to be on the committee to plan the annual SANP (Senior All Night Party).  She just happened to be selected to manage the SANP reveal video, but didn’t have a clue how she was going to do this.  Waiting about 3-4 months to see what the theme was and since I had already committed to helping out, I was not without a little stress of creating a video that would fall flat and not have impact. I had to find inspiration from somewhere.

Needless to say I am also the Chief Storyteller for The Positivity Project which is a non-profit that teaches character and the importance of relationships in k-12.  I found some inspiration between those teachings, the highly motivational commencement speeches and movie quotes that hit home for me.  This ended up being the result.

The Positivity Project

It was summer 2016 and I was watching the Olympics on TV and just saw that Kerri Walsh had just won a bronze medal.  What Kerri didn’t know was that I have 2 daughters that play volleyball and were inspired by how long she has been able to play the game and play it well.  So I picked up my phone and tweeted to Kerri “Really appreciate all you have done to inspire my girls and for the sport of volleyball”.  Minutes later someone had LIKED and then RE-TWEETED  my post and I thought “that is odd, why would anyone RE-TWEET that comment, so I clicked on his profile and began reading.  His name is Mike Erwin who is a West Point grad, founded Team RWB (RED, White & Blue) whose mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. He toured Iraq 3x and then received his masters at University of Michigan in Positive Psychology.

He tweeted me asking if I would be interested in having a conversation next tuesday, I obliged and the introduction to THE POSITIVITY PROJECT was cemented.  I had the chance to visit Indian Hill Elementary in Grand Blanc, Michigan and learn first hand what THE POSITIVITY PROJECT is doing to build character in today’s youth.  I ended up producing this video for the organization as I learned there is nothing more powerful than a good story that inspires others.  I just needed to witness this first hand to understand that I wish I had this when I was in Elementary school, but to see kids in kindergarten name character traits and define them where adults have problems with this task… I was floored.  Mike Erwin is on a mission to provide K-8 educators with the knowledge, resources, and confidence to teach their students how to identify, appreciate, and articulate the character strengths in themselves and others. There is no doubt that if he rolls this out to enough schools across the US that our world will be a better place.  Thank you Mike for all you continue to do for our kids. Visit the Positivity Project and see just how impactful they are going to be.

Marketing through Storytelling

Story has been around forever and as a matter of fact before written word there was little to do, but to share stories and pass these lessons on to future generations. Our culture is deeply engrossed in story, we are so engrossed in story that sometimes we actually don’t know we are using it to connect with others. Snapchat, facebook, twitter, etc are digital ways our life stories are being told, shared and easier than ever to create story, that is video marketing through storytelling, but why is it effective?

Story is a retelling of events that happened whether it is fiction or non-fiction in truth is mainly from one perspective. When a story is told it is meant to elicit an emotional reaction from the person you are telling. You don’t pick up the phone and catch up with an old friend to tell them something that isn’t exciting or heart breaking do you? No you want them to feel what you are feeling when you tell the story, that is the power of storytelling. Medical Video Services | Setla

While there are scientific reasons why storytelling works, most of us simply understand that if we can connect with the character of the story we tend to feel what they felt, we will want to help, or cry, or join a movement or let’s call a spade a spade… buy that product because we felt the “Why” behind the product. In the words of Simon Sinek, we don’t buy your product, we buy “why” you do what you do. That “why” starts with the telling of a story. We are social creatures and we are all constantly looking for ways to connect. So as you are reading this you are thinking of the many stories you have either told, or have been a part of as a way to connect. It’s natural and that is why it is important to understand the power of storytelling with video. When writing the script and planning the video, to effectively convey the story, using this Explainly template script might be a good starting point to get the project off to a flying start.

While we tell stories daily with work colleagues, friends and family, the hardest part of storytelling when you want to do it through video is “where do I start?” “How do I make sure I am telling an amazing story?” This is all part of the process Setla Films takes you through to make sure you are comfortable with the story well before we shoot a minute of footage. It is this attention to detail, the process and understand the entire structure of story that makes your investment into this medium worth every penny.

Brand Marketing vs Experience Marketing

Speaking to your audience about your brand or offer them an experience, what is your goal?

When it comes to building awareness for your business, there are many ways that people can do this. How do you raise that awareness successfully though? This isn’t something which you can cut corners on, you need to make sure that you spend plenty of time thinking about what would work well for your business. For example, some businesses look to raising awareness through things like a Custom Water bottle. Others might raise awareness via having a heavy social media influence, creating a company ‘personality’ as part of the brand. Other businesses may put a lot of emphasis on advertising methods, like pay per click (PPC), to increase the number of people who are seeing their brand. PPC is an advertising model where advertisers pay every time someone clicks on one of their ads. These ads often appear when people search for things using a search engine like Google – especially if they’re looking for something to buy. This is a good method to take, but you do need to take time to audit your PPC campaigns (see How to ppc audit london on Whitehat for help with that) amongst other things.

So how do some businesses manage to do it better than others? The idea that you are selling the product vs selling the experience is not new to the marketing world, but it is new to the healthcare or medical device industry. They both have a place in producing video content but which one is more effective at establishing lasting memories for the audience?

When you compare these marketing techniques a few brands come to mind. Pepsi Cola vs Coca Cola or Apple in the mid eighties vs IBM. Pepsi started the campaign “Pepi Generation” which focused on the lifestyles of the Baby Boomers who were interested in high energy activities like riding dirt bikes, surfing, hiking etc. Because this campaign focused on the lifestyle of the generation at the time instead of the product it became in instant hit with this generation.

“Do you want them to remember the feeling your content gave them?”

Steve Jobs also was a big proponent of selling the experience of the product other than the computers themselves. He understood that if the audience could see themselves using the product that way it would connect the audience to the “WHY” instead of the technology being developed.

In healthcare, medical device or Emergency Medical Services there is no difference in the audience reaction only the mindset of the marketing managers developing the brand awareness. Sure it is always good to have a product demo video to share as the purchasing decision gets closer, but to grab the attention of the audience the same principle applies. Experience Marketing changes the focus of the product back to the consumers and/or patients experience.

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    What a Promo Video must have

    Telling a story is fundamental in our DNA.  This doesn’t change if we are talking to family at a reunion or learning in elementary school, our interest in stories about others whether it is a person, company or product it comes down to being able to relate to it. The best possible way to do this with promotional video content is to tell a story, that being said here are a few more factors to think of while producing a promo video.

    • Explain what the video is about – they still do need to know what the video IS.
    • Make sure they know we’re active on social media talking about the show – viewers want to interact with the video and the cast & crew creating that content.
    • Be sure to display the URL of website or hashtag you are creating – Also important to include BTS, interviews, photo galleries, etc to show what went into the creation of it.
    • Make sure it feels different or unique – there are a lot of promo videos about a “Cardiac Monitors”, so how is THIS one different?
    • Make sure it looks visually memorable – it’s a brand hallmark, and needs to look high quality.
    • Make sure visuals and color palate are on brand – allowing viewers to know exactly who you are early is important .
    • Make sure it’s worthy of your audience’s time – you want to stand out and make sure you aren’t just creating a video to create a video, why is this video worth their time?
    • Make sure it emotionally connects – people want to feel emotionally connected, it’s what will make them remember you and think about you in the future.
    • Make sure it tells a story.

    And you need to do all of that in just thirty seconds. I say thirty seconds, but if you can do this in thirty seconds and you want it to be more like 90 seconds we have just allowed us to improve upon the story and character building with sixty more seconds.  But that’s the reality of promo storytelling – it’s got to be a balance of story and message, if the message isn’t clear, the story won’t help.  It’s got to be easy on the viewer meaning that they shouldn’t have to work too hard to understand what we want.

    It’s also key that we understand the parameters of how a promo is structured. Every word counts and every beat matters.  It’s not a formula, as some promos shift things around – or we find ways within this structure to keep the viewer intrigued, to push them out of their own comfort zone a bit to take more notice. But this is the basic outline:

    :00-:03 – At this point we want this to introduce branding to a degree. It’s not unlike movie trailers when you see that studio logo.

    :04-:08 The Setup – time to get their attention! This is where you get them excited and draw them in.

    :09-:23 Excitement – it’s time to deliver on the setup and give them some drama, laughs, or excitement.

    :24-:27 The Reveal – at this point, we need to be making sure we show the product, the service, the connection between the story and your company.

    :28-:30 Your Logo – this tells them who is responsible for this content, call to action and contact information. You don’t want them to get confused with one of your competitors!

    As you can see there is a lot that goes into the developing of a promo video.  You need to start at the 60,000 foot level and understand the big picture as this may be not clearly stated when you first go into the pre-production meetings because being on point and on message will be how you are remembered when it is all said and done.

    The ARRI Amira

    I have been reading and listening to podcasts, talks and all the buzz around NAB and all the new releases being predicted and one thing is certain among our industry… You will never be ahead of the curve, you can only hope to give your clients more than they expected and they call you back for more work down the line.  It has been a crazy year for us here at Setla Films as I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to the suburbs of Detroit.  What amazed me was the fact that the work didn’t change as it never seemed to be in the Bay Area or very rarely and now I am working more than ever on corporate shoots.  This told me something about what I was willing to invest in.  I have been using the Sony F55 for over 2 years now and have felt pretty comfortable in the image I was getting both HD and 4k, but sometimes your gut tells you it is time to diversify your experience.

    Most of my clients wouldn’t care if I showed up with a DSLR or ARRI Alexa, all they care about is if I can put together a cohesive story and based on the videos that were done before me I can safely say that it truly doesn’t matter what camera I use as I know I can light better and tell a better story than my clients are used to.  So the question here is why did I invest over $50,000 on a new camera system?

    Well the big question when you own your own business is why buy vs renting for gigs?  About 5 years ago when I was on a shoot with a DP who had over 20+ years experience he was getting ready for the first part of the gig and the client asked him “Can I get timecode on the monitor?” and since the camera the main DP was using was mine he came over to me and asked “Hey, can you figure this out?”.  I knew right then that if I was ever in a position with a client and there was a need for me to know the camera enough to get through any troubleshooting I had better own it to get to know it. From there I couldn’t bring myself to rent a camera for a client.Arri Amira Camera On Rent | Setla

    Most DP’s I talk to spend a good deal of time comparing cameras before they buy.  While price starts the analysis i.e. $5000 – $10,000 range etc then they have narrowed their search to around 3-4 cameras max.  I went into this with the idea if I had all the money in the world what camera matches my shooting style i.e. weight, manual lenses, docustyle, interview, travel a lot, mostly a one man band etc.  While I narrowed the search to RED, Panasonic Varicam, ARRI and Sony I wanted to make a decision based on the 2 factors.  1st if the camera can produce an amazing image given an educated user and 2nd what is the customer service aspect of the company.  I called ARRI to discuss with them the financing package they had going and I got a really rude answer from the receptionist “I’m sorry I was just told to have you email to get more info”.  REALLY?  I am about to spend $50k and this is the response I get?  I was floored and immediately went on twitter to show my disappointment.  it wasn’t 1 week before I received some shwag from ARRI apologizing for the experience and calling me directly to give me all the info I needed.  I couldn’t have been more surprised by the effort they showed even a small company like mine.

    Once I realized that this is what I was going to get when I needed help I was convinced that the ARRI Amira was going to be my camera.  The funny thing is when you extend yourself like this to buy equipment it becomes a motivator to make sure you find the clients and projects needed to pay the bills.  If you ever have any questions about my experience with ARRI don’t hesitate to contact me and I only wish happy shooting for all you that know how important camera choice is!



    I knew that I wanted bigger and more diverse clients since most of my initial clients were in the healthcare space,

    Raising the TXT Generation

    It was new years eve 2012 and we were having a few people over for the celebration. As always kids headed upstairs to play in their bedroom and parents hung downstairs enjoying a drink or two before midnight. 8 Months later I found out that a young boy had texted my daughter a picture of his penis on that night and changed my life forever. As a father I couldn’t imagine that the talk about boys would begin when an inappropriate text is sent at the age of 11. Malicious or not this careless act of sending a picture like this at such a young age shocked me as I thought I was monitoring everything my kids were doing. I felt I was technology-savvy enough to know if anything like this was happening. Turns out I much like many parents had not been watching close enough and had not had the conversation with my kids early enough.


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    This event had been eating away at me for many months. I felt the meeting with the the boy’s parents was a good first step, but the knowing that I am not the only parent going through this or needs to have a tough conversation about this with their kids my first instinct was to create a film about the incident.

    It is my goal with this film to bring awareness to parents about how much can happen to our children even when we are doing our very best to protect them. While my incident happened to my daughter it is clear that this can happen to boys and there is no clear cut answer to help protect our children other than have the conversation with your kids about acceptable behavior online and the potential consequences of sharing too much.

    Why video production is worth paying for

    Just like that time when you needed an attorney because you got into some heat over that thing.  When it came to finding an attorney with the right skills to put your mind at ease it took some time didn’t it?  The first several attorneys you talked to were pretty expensive, had relevant experience, but just were out of what you could afford.  Some others were more interested in backing you into a contract and get a deposit immediately, but didn’t necessarily show they had the exact experience. Finally you landed the right one, it wasn’t too expensive, they worked with you on payment, but it took time.  Here is the lesson of the day.Fast Good Cheap

    This isn’t new NEWS or anything, but more of a reminder for people looking to get a video produced.  You can’t get all three and let me explain.  Some companies will ask for a cheap youtube video done without all the bells and whistles and have it up by tomorrow.  Well this video will not be any good, but maybe that didn’t matter them.  Other companies know that they are on a deadline, but have a client or boss to impress, but they are willing to pay, so in this case they have a realistic expectation that it won’t be cheap.  Then there is the client that has no budget worth mentioning, they want it good, but in the end it will not be able to be done fast AT ALL.  These projects fit in between actual paying gigs and require a bit of time to complete.

    Why video in the first place?

    • Videos Increase a Viewer’s Understanding Of Your Product Or Service by 74%
    • An Introductory Company Email That Includes A Video Receives An Increased Click-Through Rate of 96%
    • 50% Of Users Watch Business-Related Videos On YouTube Once A Week
    • 80% Of Your Online Visitors Will Watch A Video, While Only 20% Will Actually Read Content In Its Entirety
    • 45% Of Viewers Will Stop Watching A Video After 1 Minute & 60% Will Have Stopped By the 2 Minute Mark

    This again isn’t new to most people, but learning this before you contact a video producer about your project will improve the communication immediately and get your project to cross the finish line without near as many bumps in the road. Remember: You get what you pay for. Let your competition shoot their videos on their iPhone. It’s time to make better content. It’s worth the investment.

    Experience Marketing with video

    Kit & Gary Erickson
    Kit & Gary Erickson (Photo: Bart Nagel)

    When it comes to staying ahead of the competition I have been writing a lot about experiential marketing and visually helping your customers and audience identify with your brand or products.  This is the cornerstone of today’s marketing as people don’t want to be sold, they don’t want to be told your product is better than another, they simply want to understand how you are going to make their lives easier, better and more fulfilled.  Kevin Cleary (CEO of Clifbar) laid out his future for the company today with an ending note that sticks with me.  When asked how he planned on executing on the new (but always part of ) slogan for the company “We Feed and inspire the Adventure in all of us” he simply said “We have a lot of stories to share…”.

    Video Shoot Employee Experience | Setla
    Kevin Clear – CEO Clifbar

    What this meant for me and in my business is that it is obvious that there are companies out there that get it, get that stories are a huge part of a companies culture and how they can relate to the customer and are committed to sharing those stories online including the employees’ stories. How is your company preparing to tell those stories?

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      Why Camera Motion Matters

      There are very few times in my career when things just clicked.  Those times when someone you met shares a golden nugget of information or something you find changes your complete philosophy about something, but that just happened to me yesterday.  A few weeks ago I get an email from about 5 different manufacturers that I am subscribed to including Kessler Crane, Zacuto, and Canon about a class that was being offered by Vincent Laforet called Directing Motion.  After you get a few of these you start to almost think of them as spam, but I decided to take a look.  I admit I was skeptical about the class as I have been to a number of these classes where someone with way more experience than me was teaching something I knew I wanted to learn more about, but most times the ego of the person just repels me and I just have no interest in learning from them.  Admittedly I have met Vincent on a number of occasions and I have never felt he was a very approachable person.  You can’t just buddy up with everyone I suppose, but I digress.

      Vincent Laforet ~ “I had 2 months to sit around after fracturing my arm in a dune buggy accident so I decided to watch over 600 of my favorite movies and take copious notes about how the motion of the camera was used…”

      Now these weren’t just notes on what he liked, but what he didn’t like and why each director used camera motion to create emotion.  This had to be paired down to about 50 real world examples of directors who used camera motion in one of two ways.  Motivated and un-Motivated motion. To define this Motivated motion is that someone or something in the scene has motivated the camera to move.  Consider the camera a piece of metal and the actors the magnet.  If the camera motion is done Unmotivated this means one of two things, the director was taking you through the scene for a purpose, or it was a useless camera motion.  Pan Left, Tilt Up, Boom Down, Parallax, Push in, Follow, Lead, Zolly (Zoom and Dolly combined), One Shot Wonders were not just terms, but dedicated camera moves with a purpose.   Many of his examples naturally revolved around Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg who in their own rights have done amazing cinematography feats, so why not understand their decisions to use camera motion and why?

      There were way more lessons I learned in this 12 hours course than what I can share on this post, but rest assured that camera motion will be applied and used to create the emotional connection I have dedicated my services to my clients for.

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