Idaho Video Production
We just completed HD video production on this member recruitment video for the Boise State Alumni Association. Enjoy!
All the moisture this spring made for emerald green new aerials of Boise. These were shot with our new Panasonic VariCam 2700 and our Canon 5D Mk II camera packages. What a pretty town we live it!
As digital production moves away from video tape, post production work-flow and backup procedures become more important than ever.
It seems like it happened in the blink of an eye. Tape is gone. Gone with it is a “hold it in your hand” assurance that all the work that went into planning, lighting, directing and shooting your project is safe.
Enter: the completely digital production, from field acquisition to final delivery. Ones and Zeros all the way. While shooting directly to hard drive has many benefits, including a streamlined work flow that cuts down hours (and costs) in the edit suite, it also lays open your project to the potentially devastating loss of all that digital data.
I know someone who recently suffered through one such disaster. The local producer/editor had just finished up a video project for a business client and was kicking back with the satisfied feeling of a job well done when– this is no joke– his DOG jumped up on the table and knocked over his media drive, sending it crashing to the floor. The small, firewire hard drive held the only copies of his digital media. And since his project was shot with a digital HD camera, there were no shoot tapes for backup. His client’s entire project laid there, lifeless on the floor. When he tried to fire up the drive again all he got was a sickening clicking sound, the worst sound ever known to man (at least to that man in that particular situation).
How to prevent this kind of disaster? Redundant media storage. The solution can be as simple as copying all your media onto a second hard drive that sits on the shelf, just in case. Or, you can spend some money and integrate what is widely considered the safest solution: a RAID level 5 system. A RAID (redundant array of independent discs) distributes data across multiple hard drives, but the array is seen by the computer as one single disk. In a RAID5 if any single drive fails, the user simply removes the bad drive, replaces it with a new one and the RAID will rebuild itself, restoring all media that existed on that drive to its original state. Voila. One of the best side benefits: producers and editors can sleep at night knowing their digital footage is safe from loss.
Our friend with the dog found out the hard way how painful it can be to lose digital media. He had to go back to the very beginning and re-shoot footage for his project.
Constantly repeating yourself in social settings may not be cool. But redundancy in digital production is critical (did I say that before?). Redundant storage protects your project from loss. If you’re planning to produce any kind of movie– from a YouTube sizzle reel to a major motion picture– you’ll need to know that your production company has it. Redundant media storage systems like the ones we have in place here at Wide Eye Productions offer peace of mind to our staff and our clients. And our meticulous archiving system ensures the posterity of every completed project.
So next time you gather bids from a variety of production companies, make sure you ask what methods they use to backup and archive their digital media projects. Ask them if they have a redundant media storage system, then ask them again.
Principal and Producer Jennifer Isenhart is a fourth generation entrepreneur. She also happens to be the great grand daughter of one of the first cinematographers in the Pacific Northwest.
Media mogul Ted Turner says an entrepreneur is what you call yourself when you don’t have a job. By that definition, I come from a long line of jobless people. As far back as my great grandfather, my family members have created their own opportunities with fresh ideas and a lot of long, hard work.
My great grandfather moved from Wales to Wyoming in 1898. Lewis Mortimer Lewis was his name. He was just 11 years old when he moved to America, ready to take on a new world. On that long voyage across the ocean, he carefully tended to his first business idea– one large box of live worms. Upon landing in America, he immediately went to work farming Welsh worms and selling them to local fishermen. I don’t know if they worked any better than American worms, but they launched my great grandfather into the world of business.
By the time my great grandfather Lewis was 20 years old he had put himself through college, graduated with a degree in business and purchased a private business college in Washington State. Through his hard work and determination, the college grew and thrived and he became partner in another business college in Chicago. By the time he was 30 years old, my great grandfather was a wealthy man.
But it wasn’t until the great depression hit that he found his true passion. That’s when Lewis M. Lewis picked up a motion picture camera. He was instantly hooked.
Roy Ash, co-founder of Littleton Industries says, “an entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.”
That was my great grandfather. In the 1930’s, he taught himself how to be a cinematographer and set out around the Northwest selling film productions to businesses and government agencies. He used a Bell & Howell Filmo movie camera and shot films for many of the newly created national parks. He was the first cinematographer to shoot film footage of the recently opened Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. In the 1930’s, visitors to the park had to be lowered down hundreds of feet in a guano mining bucket– about the size of a whiskey barrel– to enter the caves. That must have been an interesting ride down with two arms full of camera equipment.
Lewis M. Lewis excelled at nature photography and went on to sell his footage to the Walt Disney company for a nature series called, The Living Desert. Over the years, my great grandfather started and developed numerous other businesses, but photography always remained a passion throughout his life.
Nolan Bushnell, the founder of the Atari company says about entrepreneurs, “The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
Both of my parents inherited the ‘doer’ gene. One day in the basement of my great-grandfather’s house, my father stumbled upon a small treasure that would point his ambition toward a familiar course. It was the old Bell & Howell Filmo camera. My father didn’t know it yet, but that day in the basement marked the beginning of a 30 year career in film, then television, then video production. Together with my mother (and a lot of hard work), they built a successful documentary and corporate production company in the Puget Sound area.
I grew up in and around television stations, camera equipment and editing bays. I remember getting in trouble when I was a little girl for playing with my dad’s white editing gloves, the ones he wore when handling the film on the flat bed editing table in our basement. I learned to splice and tape a film edit when I was in grade school. So it just made sense when I went to college to chose a major in broadcast journalism.
Now it’s my turn to carry the entrepreneurial family torch. Over the past 13 years, with long hours (and a lot of hard work), my husband and I have built a strong, creative production company that is innovative enough to thrive during these tough economic times. When it comes to examining my own success, I like what the founder of The Body Shop, Anita Roddick has to say, “success… is not about money or status or fame, it’s about finding a livelihood that brings me joy and self-sufficiency and a sense of contributing to the world.”
For me, success is also a sense of contributing to and carrying on my own family legacy. A legacy that appears to be alive and well. This summer my 7 year old daughter Gwendolyn got to work with a business of her own. In a single hour she pulled in more than seven dollars with a small stand selling peach ice tea. That night, she informed me that selling ice tea in the hot sun is a lot of hard work. I just had to smile. I think our family legacy lies in good hands.
What’s cool is when a client, in this case our friend Sue Nass with the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, comes to us with an idea for a great campaign that encourages kids to get outside and play. To put away their Xboxes, turn off the television and shutdown their computers to get out and play in nature. What’s even cooler is when she commissions my wife, Idaho’s Singing Sweetheart, Belinda Bowler, to write a song for the campaign that will hopefully inspire our youth to play in the great outdoors. To go for a hike, or swim in a lake. And as time goes by, listening to music that could inspire the song, and discussing musical styles with Belinda to encourage her songwriting in a positive way makes for some happy listening at home, which is always cool.
And after months of creative gestation and fruitful dialogue about the kind of song Belinda could write, a day comes along when she’s ready to present her offering. Well, it’s incredibly cool when that offering is something completely unexpected, but everything you might have hoped for her in this endeavor. And when I make a scratch track of the song for Sue and her response is tears of joy, then I know that my wife Belinda has hit her mark and the song is going to work in every way Sue might have hoped for, which is always cool. And when I play it for my colleagues here at Wide Eye, and they love it, well of course that’s cool. Click here to play the song
And when Sue sends me a script she’d like me to narrate that promotes and encourages kids to get off the couch and get out to play, well that’s cool too! Cause that’s the kind of encouragement we all need, and I’m happy to put a voice to that message, especially because I know it’ll be accompanied by my wife’s singing. So cool. (Be Outside video news release)
What’s cool is when things come together, and they work. When in the creative process the unexpected happens and it makes everything a little better.
What’s cool is when the company I work for gets me the tools I need to bring our audio booth firmly into the 21st century, providing me with a digital I/O box that delivers high fidelity recording to the work flow. And what’s cool is when all that gadgetry works as it did when it came time to do a polished recording of Belinda’s cool song.
Now I’ve had the opportunity to develop a skill set that allows me to be a pretty good audio engineer in the field. I know how to get a good recording. But I have to admit that something I’m lacking is the knowledge and experience of how best to manage a live 2 track musical recording through the post production work flow. It’s just the sort of thing we don’t do a whole lot of around here.
But what’s cool is when I have a cousin, in this case Rich Brotherton who plays for Robert Earl Keen and produces albums for Robert and many other folks out of Nashville and Austin, that I can call upon for a tip or two. And when he generously offers up his advice, that is also cool. But what I love, and this is way cool, is when his love for Belinda and his enthusiasm for her song takes over and he asks that I send him the raw recordings so he can play with them. What’s even cooler is the simple way in which he tweaks the recording making them even livelier than they sounded originally. And what is most cool is that he couldn’t resist doing a bit of decorating himself by offering up an additional mix where he accompanies Belinda on the mandola. Exactly just the sort of light hearted playfulness the song Be Outside needed. That’s over the top way cool! It works, and it was completely unexpected.
What else is cool is watching how all of these elements are coming together for Sue. She sent me a link to a cool looking website recently (Be Outside website) and there was my voice narrating along with Belinda’s song. Too cool! Can’t wait to see what the video is going to look like. I’m guessing that will also be cool!
I’m not a military man, but I got to drive my first tank in 1980. I crashed it. The only bruise was to my ego, and the only loss was 100 feet of film. Had they survived, the images would have been beautiful. I took it pretty hard. I don’t like losing beautiful images.
30 years have passed and I just drove a new, high-tech tank across Idaho last week. This time the images survived. And they are beautiful beyond description.
Tank number one was World War II era. I was taking my first college photography course. My professor handed me a Bell and Howell “Filmo” wind-up 16mm film camera and told me to go play with it.
It really was a tank. Made of solid cast aluminum (or iron, for all I know), it was indestructible. It was a 1940’s Army workhorse that had captured newsreels in European or Pacific Island trenches. It had the amazing feature of undercranking or overcranking depending on the tension of the key-wound spring that drove the clock-like motor. The downside, of course, was that the speed would change as the tension relaxed. So it was part of the surprise to find out which of your footage was slo-mo or fast-mo! Wind ‘er up like a little toy soldier and let her rip off 4 minutes per 100-foot load. I was in love.
And it was the perfect size. Palm-size if you had a big palm. For me, it was hang-glider size. First chance I got, I gaff taped that solid little tank to the wing of a friend’s prop-powered hang-glider. It had a wide little lens and I knew I was finally going to share what it was to be a bird. I wound the key and he took off. Though watching from below, feet firmly on airport tarmac, I was on-air knowing that I was capturing 4 minutes of freedom.
I had thought about the design of bird wings for most of my life. But I had never considered bird legs. Turns out that they are engineered to absorb the shock of landing. Gaff tape is strong, but part of its beauty is that it can also tear. I don’t need to say much more. Just picture glider wheels slamming runway and a little tank of a camera cart-wheeling forever down the tarmac. And cart-wheeling with the camera was an unraveling spool of sun-exposed film. A 100-foot ribbon of dreams twisting and swirling into a rat’s nest of nightmare. The Filmo’s only weak spot was the lock on its magazine door.
Fast forward 30 years. I was a little more careful with tank number two. In fact, this time four of us babied it like a newborn. This new tank is tough, but it’s also ultra-state-of-the-art, ultra-sophisticated, and ultra-high tech. It doesn’t have a wind-up key. It doesn’t have a magazine door. It doesn’t even shoot film! But the digital images it produces look incredibly like 35mm film. That’s a good thing after passing through the age of video.
The new tank is called the RED ONE. It’s a digital cinema camera…not a film or video camera…and it’s helping to spark a revolution in the industry. I’ll let you go to www.red.com/cameras/ for details straight from the maker.
I call it a tank because it’s a serious camera. There is nothing plastic or prosumer about it. With professional add-ons like rails, matt boxes, lenses, and monitors, it’s heavy. You won’t “run and gun” with a fully loaded RED. But it’s solid, and it seems to have all the engineering of an M1 Abrams.
Wide Eye Productions had the fortune of securing a contract with the State of Idaho to update Idaho tourism promotion assets to meet the mix of marketing opportunities that have exploded with the digital age. The state wanted the best quality pictures possible to carry into the future, and the RED ONE camera fit the bill. In rough terms, the RED doubles the resolution of high definition, so these new assets are meant to be viable through the next revolution of the digital age.
Enough technical, let’s get to the fun stuff. Idaho is a gorgeous and diverse state, and it’s a pretty sweet gig to be chosen to document that beauty. Tom, Andy, intern Will, and I were all pretty stoked when we set out for the central Sawtooth Mountains and their wealth of surrounding lakes. A glowing mountain sunset was followed by a misty mountain morning, and we were off to the eastern edge of the state to capture the famous Henry’s Fork of the Snake River for some spectacular evening fly-fishing with a Grand Tetons backdrop. Add in breathtaking Upper and Lower Mesa Falls and a variety of additional eastern Idaho stops, and you find that you just can’t stop shooting! And because the RED ONE accepts prime lenses, we could achieve unbelievably shallow depths of field while buried in fields of wildflowers.
It’s a dreamy look that can’t be matched by anything other than expensive film. It was shallow focus, golden light footage for a week, capping the trip with Shoshone Falls and Bruneau Dunes. But we couldn’t stop ourselves. With the RED ONE, we had to swing by Thousand Springs even though it wasn’t on our travel list. We knew that a canoe in the crystal water that flows past a multitude of shoreline falls would be killer, and we weren’t going to let the chance slip by. Lucky me! I got to paddle the canoe while Andy, Will, and Tom manned the RED.
It was a great trip and we achieved great results. And the good news is, we’re only half done! Soon we’ll take the modern RED tank to northern Idaho to capture all if its beauty in ultra high definition. And don’t forget Idaho’s beautiful winters. I’m praying we get to make the loop when the snow flies too.
In 1980, when I saw that film come spiraling out of the old Bell and Howell “Filmo” tank, I felt a blow in the pit in my stomach that I thought would always linger. Now I can let it go. A more modern tank has provided the power to share dramatic images of a state I love. And I didn’t lose a frame. It doesn’t get any better than that.
April 20th, 2009 The Idaho Advertising Federation held its annual Rocky Awards this weekend and Wide Eye Productions popped up several times. In the Complete Campaign category our productions for the Avimor 2008 campaign, executed by Stoltz Marketing Group, contributed to a Silver Rocky. Wide Eye Productions produced, shot and edited two long-form pieces for the Avimor campaign: the Avimor sales video, and a three panel, high definition digital signage production for the Avimor sales office. Thanks to Stoltz for giving us the opportunity to contribute to your success!
Also, in the Intereactive/Multimedia category, www.wideeye.tv was awarded a Silver Rocky. Yes, this very website you are now perusing is precious metal caliber!! Balihoo Creative produced the site. We, too, want to recognize and thank all the talented folks at Balihoo for their outstanding work:
Wide Eye Productions, Website
Concept: Nicolet Laursen
Copy: Jennifer Isenhart
Art Director: Mel Mansfield
Photographer: Wide Eye Productions
Production: Nicolet Laursen
Visit the Idaho Ad Federation website for a complete list of 2009 Rocky Awards.
Principal and Director of Photography Tom Hadzor gets a little misty on this nostalgic step back in time to the beginnings of Wide Eye Productions.
My wife, Jennifer and I started Wide Eye Productions in 1996. The worldwide headquarters were housed in our small, handmade office in the middle of our goat pasture in Northwest Boise. Before that we both were happily employed at the NBC affiliate, KTVB working on our own separate travel shows. Jennifer wrote and produced a travel series called “Exploring Idaho” and I shot and edited a wildlife series called “Incredible Idaho”. We even shared the same time slot each and every Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. I worked with a producer from the Department of Fish and Game, Sue Nass and our host was Jack Hemingway. We sure had interesting jobs, to say the least.
Sue and I spent days and days driving around Idaho, swapping stories and looking for wildlife, both of the animal kind and of the human kind. Jennifer worked with several different photographer/editors from KTVB (too many to list here, but one I will mention later in this blog). We both traveled the state, mostly in different directions, shooting interesting stories for television broadcast. We would spend one week traveling and shooting stories, the next week writing, the week after that editing and then one week ramping up to do it all over again. I think I shot and edited almost 100 hundred shows in my run and Jennifer just a few less than that. We both loved what we did and felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to grow as television program producers.
After a good, long run of eight years for my show and six for hers, management called us in one day and informed us both our shows had run their course and would be canceled, immediately. After receiving the news on the same day and suddenly both now unemployed, we decided to start our own business and Wide Eye Productions was born.
Our first endeavor was a wild game cooking series called, “Cooking on the Wild Side.” In that office in the goat pasture we produced 26 half-hour shows that aired nationally on The Outdoor Channel– good credits for the resume, but we didn’t make a dime! However, in the process, we learned a lot. All the while, we continued to build up a corporate clientele (many of whom we continue to work for today). And while the goat pasture had a certain nostalgia, we soon tired of escorting clients into our house because we didn’t have a potty in the office (we did actually have a functioning outhouse behind the garage, but didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask our clients to use it!). I will always have fond memories of those goats and the 60 yard golf pitching green, which was immaculately mowed and maintained by the goats. It was a great distraction for the hours of waiting for video to render in our first of many non-linear editing systems (remember the IMix Videocube? In 1998 ours was smokin’ with render times of an hour for a simple graphic).
I get asked quite a lot why we decided on the name, Wide Eye Productions. I always say, “I guess we both just liked the sound of it.” Plus, we wanted to do world-wide television programming. So Wide Eye Productions just seemed to fit. Around that same time, our longtime friend, Andy Lawless returned back to Boise from working in the movie business in California and inquired about our name too. I told him we called ourselves Wide Eye Productions and he said, “that’s weird, I started a film company and the name of it is Wide Eye Films!” Since Andy was on a cosmic collision with both Jennifer and me, we all decided at that very moment to work together and keep the name Wide Eye. It’s been 13 years and we haven’t looked back… full steam ahead!
I couldn’t think of a better way to make a living than doing what we do. Everyday brings us different challenges, learning opportunities and the chance to meet the most amazing people. Just to give you an example of what we do, last week alone we shot an episode (our sixth total now) for the NBC hit show, “The Biggest Loser.” Two days later we were hired as a camera crew for ABC’s news magazine, “Nightline.” That same week we were editing a long form piece for a corporate client– a hospital in San Francisco, one of many medical clients we service across the West. Whether it’s segments for the Dr. Phil show, NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN, History Channel, Discovery Channel, we cover the full range of television production and corporate video production and love every minute of it!
Wide Eye has five full time people in our Boise, Idaho office and another two in Seattle. Those people are what make Wide Eye Productions what it is and it wouldn’t exist without them. Along with Andy Lawless, who works as a producer/editor/audio tech/shooter, a man of many talents, we have Bill Krumm. Bill came to work with us about three and a half years ago after a very long and colorful career in the local television market, doing everything from shooting, to editing, to even running a newsroom as the assignment editor, or as I like to say, “babysitting the reporters.” Bill is an exceptionally talented individual with numerous skills. He has an incredible work ethic, one that often has to be monitored so he can get some sleep. He has to be told to go home on occasion and get away from that Final Cut Pro HD editing computer. Bill is also one of the very finest videographers I’ve ever seen. He can shoot our Panasonic Varicam or Sony D-600 Betacam as good or better than the best shooters anywhere in the world. Bill is a perfectionist, which is a good thing in our business and we are honored to have him on our team. He is also the videographer that worked with Jennifer on Exploring Idaho.
Rounding out the Boise Wide Eye team is Lana Tidwell. Lana applied for an office job with us about a year and a half ago. We were so busy with projects that we needed someone around to answer phones and do the typical office duties. It quickly became apparent to us that Lana had other talents up her sleeve. Not only can she type a zillion words a second but she has the uncanny ability to get things done before they actually need to be done. I’ll say, “we need to…” and Lana will say “already done that” That’s the kind of person you want around. And that’s why she’s been promoted, already to full-fledged producer. But if you call Wide Eye, chances are, she’ll be the one answering the phone because she’s the nicest one out of the whole bunch!
We do have one more person at Wide Eye HQ who deserves a mention. Cheryl Reed comes in one day a week to take care of our books. She is a delight to be around and we feel so lucky to have her. So, everyone here at the office has their own special set of talents, and we wouldn’t exist without them.
How lucky are we to do what we do!
Prime Time Live, The Sarah Johnson Story
When director/photographer Tom Hadzor got the call from ABC producer Jeff Diamond to shoot a series of four-camera interviews for an upcoming Prime Time Live special, he knew he’d have to bring along the entire equipment locker. Wide Eye was to provide a third BetaSP unit to a pair of staff ABC New York crews. The NY team was bringing along two BetaSP units and a fun toy, the fourth camera was a glide cam that would gather smooth tracking shots to cut into the solid interview segments. The width of the glide cam’s track required flying all the lights up and over the interviews and talent. A slightly tricky setup, but not a problem.
The night before the shoot, the ABC producer called Tom from Denver, their flight had been delayed. The ABC crew was renting a car and would drive all night from Denver to the location in Sun Valley, Idaho for the next morning crew call. The good news was they could make it in time for the first interview. The bad news was their equipment would not.
Tom immediately got on the phone to Wide Eye photographer Bill Krumm. Bill was back in Boise and could drive the next morning to Sun Valley with our Panasonic VariCam HD package. Bill arrived in SV early the morning of the shoot and jumped in to help Tom and audio/lighting technician Andy Lawless with the setup. By 8am, they had two cameras in place, using the VariCam as the reversal camera focused on ABC news talent, Deborah Roberts.
Tom says, “We had to dumb down the VariCam a bit to get it to match the standard definition Sony D-600, but after tweaking some of the gamma and black levels, we matched it up very well.”
Over the phone, the producer described how he wanted the scene to look. The piece, about a young girl who killed both of her parents, required moody lighting, but not too dark. Tom, Bill and Andy broke out the entire arsenal of lights and set the scene with the right mood.
The New York crew arrived shortly before the first scheduled interview, with just enough time to check the setup and give the Wide Eye crew a big thumbs up. The producer was especially pleased to sit down at our Panasonic 17″ pro HD monitor, setup just for him to switch between cameras. Later that morning, the equipment from New York arrived. The producer chose to keep the VariCam in place, so the entire crew worked together, staging one more Betacam and the glide cam. A switcher was added between the run from the four cameras to our HD monitor. The producer could sit back and watch any of the four cameras with the touch of a button.
“The Wide Eye crew was outstanding. We had one opportunity to gather these interviews. When our flight was delayed, we thought we were doomed. But Tom and his crew came to the rescue with top notch gear and the skills to match,” said producer Jeff Diamond.
After completing the indoor interviews, the Wide Eye and ABC teams moved outside for walk-and-talk interviews and talent standups. The VariCam had easily won its place as 1st Unit and Tom was recruited to shoot key outdoor interviews and the talent standups as well.
In the end, the Wide Eye team served as principal crew on the entire hour long Prime Time Live special that aired nationally on ABC.
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