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Video Production and Burning Man

May 17th, 2010 by Shannon Newton

More in common than just faux-fur and dusty desert beats

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2010 Starts Next Mile Of This Marathon

December 31st, 2009 by Seth Kenvin

Pace Well, Gain Ground

The CEO of my last company told me that despite the common claim, building a start-up’s not so much like running a marathon as it’s like running a short sprint and realizing that crossing the finish marks start of the next sprint. It’s very clever and I was compelled, but now that Market7 nears two-and-a-half years old, I’m back to embracing the established marathon metaphor.

It’s news to few that the 2009 business environment has been challenging. Market7 finishes the year stronger than it started, with additional, expanded, more integrated, faster & more reliable functionality across all of our modules; a larger customer base; entry into some new market spaces; and even a growing team with multiple valuable contractors who’ve joined our core team during the year. We’ve gotten a lot done and have done so, moving challenge-to-challenge, by distributing steady efforts among multiple initiatives and progressing incrementally in each. Our record of 2009 accomplishment, like the fact that you’re now reading our one-hundredth blog post of the year, would surely have been more volatile if we were constantly re-directing all resources and efforts towards whatever single opportunity promised most at any moment.

The photo above is me running, and under-pronating, in the year that will become 14-ago starting at midnight. It’s from the one literal marathon that I’ve run. Recalling that experience, the metaphor is very apt for building a start-up. Market7 goes into 2010 confident we’re pacing ourselves well and ready to gain some serious ground, and we look forward to sharing such a year with our community. HNY!

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Script to Production, the missing link

March 7th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

Back in the caveman days when we wanted a mate, we just beat them over the head with a large club. I know because I have seen countless reenactments on television. Occasionally, there was a ‘numbskull’ who, despite being struck with repeated blows, had no idea that the mating ritual had begun.

How would we reach these numbskulls? Not by beating harder. For these folks, we needed to guide them through the process with iterative, easy-to understand steps. (“ok, walk over to this rock. Good! Now just a little bit further to that bed of mammoth fur over there”)

Caveman {I hope this level of degradation pays well}

Many times in script development, the helicopter stunt sounds like a good idea until someone takes the club and hits everyone over the head with the price tag. Unfortunately, this usually happens at the end of the script development. After weeks or months of head nodding, a flurry of expense-induced head shaking breaks out. The result: wasted time and last minute rewriting.

What would be useful is a way to wed the story development and production planning/budget together. Some iterative steps that show everyone where the production is headed opposed to a heavy club at the end.

Does Market7 have such a thing? Well, no, not yet. I know you all saw some sort of self-serving marketing pitch coming on but this is a blog. It is composed of observations gleaned from talking to hundreds of producers. Occasionally, these things just hit ME over the head.

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A Treatment by Any Other Name…

February 25th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

A treatment (sometimes called an approach, concept proposal, or conceptualization) is simply telling the story of the film/video in prose. It covers the core idea around how the video will look and sound.
Typically, the writer and/or director will create a few treatments for the client from which to decide upon. Once a treatment is chosen, the transformation of treatment to script begins.

Short and Sweet

The treatment is of limited length, not more than a paragraph. It’s much like a movie synopsis description you might read in the paper or on-line. It doesn’t contain every important detail and might even finish in an open question of how the story ends.

A change in treatment = starting from scratch

If a client changes his/her mind in the middle of a production and decides to go with a different treatment than agreed upon, it means basically starting over. Some clients don’t understand that changing the core idea affects production so profoundly. Producers, often worried about seeming inflexible, won’t explain this impact. As a result. Clients end up unhappy about late delivery or cost overruns and producers are frustrated by a stressful production.

Script FlowDiagram of treatment to script flow

The treatment is the foundation of your video. Everyone should understand that, though sometimes necessary, ripping apart the foundation affects the entire structure. In understanding this, you understand that giving extra care up front on the approach in the treatment will pay big dividends throughout production.

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Every Day Is Money Day

February 8th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

What do do around the Market7 office when we aren’t building our tools and services?

We do what every startup does…work to keep the lights on!

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Script Formats And You

February 6th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

Which format? Once we decided to add a script editor to our services we had to determine which format it should be in. The entire purpose of the script editor was to allow collaboration between the enterprise-client and the video producer. If we chose the wrong format and one or both parties didn’t want to use it, our efforts would be wasted.

There are basically two formats video scriptwriters employ, single-column and dual-column format. The dual column format evolved from the single-column format specifically for video productions into the current audio-visual (AV) format.

The major difference is that in a single-column script, the visual elements and audio elements (such as spoken dialogue) follow one another. The dual-column script separates these so all visual elements are on one side and all audio elements on the other.

The dual column is the standard for commercial video production because of the ability to communicate the story very quickly as well as the convenience of converting the script into a storyboard-like tool for shooting. This is necessary on video productions because of both the compressed time frame of video productions as well as the need to communicate the idea very quickly to a wide variety of people.

For me, I use A/V when I am doing commercial work. It helps me get the idea across easily (even if it takes the client’s eyes a minute to adjust to the format. Once they do, I find it very useful for them). When I am writing a screenplay for a movie idea, I stay with single column as it helps my linear storytelling intuition.

Bottom line: AV format is better for collaboration, Single column is better for yourself.

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The Write Stuff

January 30th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

The script drives everything that relates to the story. With the WGA strike persisting and the corresponding lack of entertaining content (I have taken to watching reruns of Seinfeld‘…George is sadly more like me than i care to admit), it’s plain to see the importance of a good script. A solid script leads to a solid production. Most unhappy customers and frustrated producers can point to the script where the problems began. It is the roadmap behind which all wagons follow.

With something so important, why is it so hard to lock a good script?

First, we tried to identify what makes up a good script. We found that for enterprise customer video, a good script must be three things:

  • Accurate (reflects the Client’s message)
  • Clearly understandable
  • Compelling

What keeps a script from becoming good?

Accuracy suffers when there is not effective communication between the client and the producer. Many times our producers think everything is fine until the day of production when the client complains that the message is off point. This often leads to a breakneck patch job to save the day.

Clarity suffers when the script isn’t reviewed by the right people who should have a say in the story. The dreaded ‘Huh?’ from those responsible for translated the script onto screen (such as the Director or the Marketing Communication Manager) is a death sentence for the production.

Compelling Interest is lost when the script becomes too long, difficult to follow, unfocused or offensive. This happens when too much information is shoved into the script for the audience to digest. Soon, the script is bulging at the seams with extraneous information. On the other hand, a story that starts uninteresting will stay that way when too few of the people who care about it (and who would say the story is not good) don’t read the script.

As a result of what we learned, we next started building a script editor that would break down and eliminate some of these problems by helping the right people review the right story at the right time to produce the best possible script.

Check out how we are trying to solve this problem…

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Enjoy The Ride

January 21st, 2008 by Shannon Newton

This is not actually our first week but let’s start here and call it Week1. More importantly, it is the start of the public face of Market7.

Enterprise Customers and Video Producers don’t work well together.

Why? And how can we help fix this? These are the core questions we are looking to answer. Producing video is a struggle for most enterprise organizations that don’t have a full-time staff. Dealing with enterprise customers is a struggle for most producers. There must be a better way.

As we talk to Producers and Enterprise Customers, we are going to journal our adventure. Hopefully, if we do our job well, there just might be something of value in there for you.
You can’t be the only one facing your problem…

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First Post To A Vital Interactive Forum For Our Company

January 15th, 2008 by Seth Kenvin

hw It’s been just over a year since I was last a blogger, and I’m glad to be back to it. This time I’m not alone, with teammates who will join me sharing our perspectives on what we’re doing at Market7. As a company dedicated to rich media development by enterprises, you can surely expect to see various types of content. I’m most looking forward to the comments we get back. That sort of engagement is a foundation of the company we’re building.

Market7 started as a few notions of some cool features that could help specific aspects of video production projects for enterprises. A broader, bolder vision emerged through sharing those thoughts with both producers and other providers of video development services, as well as the corporate customers who hire them. We have benefited from their generosity with ideas of how we can round out our offering to construct a strategic platform for the entire lifecycle of rich media projects.

There is much to share on this blog and elsewhere about our work at Market7. We are thrilled by what we’re building and we encourage you help us make it even better. So please comment here.

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