FROZEN - Solving Seven Common Problems Still Photographers have Shooting video

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by Fletch Murray

It's hard for a still photographer to step into the world of motion pictures. Aside from the new menu settings (hundreds of choices), there are new creative and mechanical aspects.  

For three years, we've been training still photographers at the Palm Springs Photo Festival, Brooks, the California Photo Festival, and the CineBootCamps to shoot great video with their Canon DSLRs. 

The differences between the still world and motion picture world are much more than still photographers yelling "Hold it", and filmmakers yell, "Action".

Here are the top seven:

1) Resolution - For a still photographer, telling them they'll now be shooting at 2 megapixel resolution is like going back the Model T Ford.  But it's true.  Video shoots at a disappointing 2k (for a 1920 by 1080 sized picture. That's all TV does at the moment.) Of course, there are exceptions. You can achieve higher resolutions with the Canon 1D X or if you install the Magic Lantern software add-on.

  Jib shot from on high

2) Creating a Flood of images - The motion picture audience will not be studying a single photograph for five minutes at a time.  (If they did they'd see how bad video's resolution is.)  Luckily, the single frames fly past the viewer's eye 24 frames per second (or higher) and their attention is hurried along from measuring resolution to following the story the pictures are telling. If the story's great, the audience won't care what the resolution is.  (We have hands-on drills to expand the story from a single image to a flow of three-act image scenarios.)

3) Camera Movement - Unfreeze your camera.  The upside here is that by moving the camera (on a dolly, or a slider, or a jib) one can bring the third dimension (depth) to the image. This brings the audience into the picture, establishing three-dimensional space. Something stills can't do (unless you're shooting 3D).  Often our still photographers will video our model from just one spot, as if they are still shooting stills.  

(We invite them to unfreeze and move to different angles).

 

4) Actor/Model Movement - You get to "unfreeze" your model in video....expand "the Pose" into a flow.  Still models tend to freeze in a pose.  Now they have to flow.  You have to determine where a sequence begins and ends. Then, you have to build sequences to blend together to move a story along. (We also have drills to help you unfreeze your creative mind.)

5) Time - In still photography you're freezing time. In motion pictures you're capturing a flow of still moments to be reborn later when played back. You could say you're capturing the 4th dimension - time. And again, you have to determine what happens over this timespan...in each scene as well as the whole movie.  Before you just wanted an instant. Now you're creating a communication that captures days. (We have drills to expand from a moment to a flow that captures the passage of time.)

6) Light - Still photographers set the light for one angle, one frame, one millisecond.  Canon HDSLR motion picture photographers set the light according to the opening position camera will be in. Then, set the light for the ending position the camera will be in. Then, check that the middle of the camera move doesn't get any flare from light sources (which is one of the reasons you see those matte boxes on the camera lens).  And again, these are different lights...continual illumination, not flash.

7) Group Create - The camera operator moves from the still world (where they and the model are in a one on one situation), to a world of creative filming as a group, which can add a dolly grip (someone to push the dolly), a focus puller, a gaffer to handle the lights, a person capturing audio, and a clapboard person.  It's like moving from playing golf to playing basketball.  Of course for smaller video shoots the camera person may have to wear most of those hats.

There are many more nuances in the transition from stills to video.  At the Palm Springs Photo Festival we offer two workshops - Basic Video and Advanced Video techniques.   It's fun to watch still photographers melt from the frozen world of stills to the swarthy, lo-res, 24 frames per second fluid world of motion pictures.

(Click Here to register for the Palm Springs Photo Festival, April 28 0 May 2.

Click Here for more info about Fletch's CineBootCamps.)

 

 

 

Learn Digital Filmmaking in two days at the Palm Springs Photo Festival: Quickly and Easily

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by Fletch Murray

Learn digital filmmaking in two days in beautiful Palm Springs. Bring your Canon DSLR and get ready for a fun learning experience in aesthetic, relaxing Palm Springs, California.  

Setting up the Jib Arm shot    Still frame from the video "ESCAPE", shot by Palm Springs Photo Festival students

Fletch Murray's world-renowned CineBootCamps guide you through hands-on drills to quickly familiarize you with the powerful Canon DSLR's video-making capabilities.  Fletch and his team have trained over 400 students worldwide.  99% of the students rate the bootcamp as "More than I expected" or "Couldn't ask for better".

Stats from student surveys

This is why the Palm Springs Photo Festival brought Fletch in as the video instructor. Fletch designed unique, hands-on workshops to escort still photographers over to the video side of the Canon DSLRs. (Fletch presented workshops for Brooks Institute and private training packages for the John Deere Corporation, Boeing and others.)

One film student commented that he learned more in two days at the CineBootCamps than he did in two months of film school.   Fletch moves through all the menu setups and key procedures to make your films look as cinematic as the episode of "House, M.D." that Gayle Tattersall shot with the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.

 

  Fletch shows student the DVtec rig

The key difference between Fletch's CineBootCamps and other film training is that your questions come first and the curriculum is tailored to your needs and interests.  Fletch finds what's holding back your filmmaking and frees your creativity that's been stumbled by manuals that are hard-to-read, out-of-date or written by ivory tower bookworms.  And though Fletch has filmed in over 20 countries and won two Emmy awards he rarely talks about himself or his work unless it applies to a student's question.

 Gloria Baker

The CineBootCamps are about producing films. Not "talking about" production but producing something.  So, you have to shoot a short film to make sure you duplicate and can apply the key skills needed to make a professional-looking video.  

Here is a behind the scenes link to the filming at last years 2013 Palm Springs Photo Festival.  

The Palm Springs Photo Festival offers a BASIC VIDEO WORKSHOP and an ADVANCED VIDEO WORKSHOP.

 

 

CLICK HERE to register for the Palm Springs Photo Festival

Stills to Motion: Secrets of DSLR filmmaking

Friday, March 28, 2014 by Fletch Murray

Palm Springs Photo Festival

GRADUATES COMMENT on our workshops

Serena Lissy  Charles Kay, Pro Photographer

              (Click HERE to see Serena's site)                                           (Click HERE to see Charles' site)    

Gloria Baker Ray Carns     

               (Click HERE to see Gloria's site)                                            (Click HERE to see Ray's site)

 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE PALM SPRINGS PHOTO FESTIVAL

Professional still photographers and filmmakers gather at the Palm Springs Photo Festival each year to enjoy the refreshing aesthetic recharge in balmy Palm Springs at the elegant Korakia Penzione.  We teach beginner and pro video workshops and simply must say that Jeff Dunas and his team organize top drawer workshops, seminars, portfolio reviews and see the work of world-class leaders in the field of aesthetic imagery.    I think I learn as much as my students each year.

Touched by a Princess...thrice

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 by Fletch Murray

The first time I was first touched by a princess, like many young kids, was by one of Walt Disney's animated features.

The second time I was touched by a princess was much later when we started filming for Princess Cruises, our company's first client. I heard how the Brits pronounce the word, "prin-CESS",  in the most regal way and I found myself wanting to bow slightly. It's very human to yearn for moments where we rise above the humdrum life for a brief taste of the best of life - the life enjoyed by royalty.

The closest I came to royalty was filming the J. Paul Getty documentary. Mr. Getty, at that time the richest American private citizen, had chosen Sutton Place for his home.  Sutton Place is the Tudor mansion built in 1525 in Surrey by Sir Richard Weston, courtier to Henry VIII. Fletch with J. Paul GettyNice digs. Obviously, Mr. Getty, our gracious host, had access to the finest things of life.  But Mr. Getty told us happiness had eluded him.  He told us he'd give all his wealth for one successful marriage. With that my definition of "the best" changed. "The best" of life is being in love and loving those in our lives.  

(Fletch with J. Paul Getty)

In February of this year, I was touched a third time. This time by Princess Cruises, again. Princess is redefining "the best" cruise in a way that parallels Mr. Getty's view of what really is "the best" in life.  Princess' "come back new" campaign defines "the best" cruise as the one that brings the rich satisfaction of reconnecting with loved ones...exploring exotic places...connecting to rich historical textures...embracing cultures...in short, living life in love with our significant other, our families, and with the peoples and places Princess visits.

The "come back new" campaign is beautifully produced by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Princess Cruises' ad agency, capturing moments of reconnection on a Princess cruise. Ms. Jan Swartz, the new President of Princess Cruises, redefines cruising in the video below.

Princess Cruise Ship

Steering the marketing launch is Mr. Gordon Ho, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Princess, formerly with Disney. His marketing course is based on survey data that a growing segment of cruise passengers want a transformative experience - "to enrich their lives, explore and visit new places, experience culture, and use vacations to reconnect with family."

"Memories" Princess Cruises TV commercial

We applaud Princess for such a bold departure from their earlier branding, "escape completely". The "come back new" campaign focuses not on escape but coming home to the core values that really matter to all of us in the family of man.  

WIth this campaign Princess elevates its tier of caring service, already considered by most to be excellent.  My wife and I cruised on the Diamond Princess last  to Alaska. As always, the Princess crew took that extra step to make us feel well cared for. 

With this new re-branding Princess returns to its core values that she had when we first started filming on the "Love Boat" as it was then known. More importantly, Princess expands her role to not only help one fall in love again with one's significant other, but to fall in love with the world and the wonderful people and places Princess visits.

A touching corporate mission, in our view.  Bon Voyage, Princess. Bon Voyage, Ms. Swartz. Bon Voyage, Mr. Ho.

____________________________________________________

Sadie - Editor - in - ChiefThis blog was approved by Sadie Murray, Editor in Chief, on condition that "reconnecting with one's dog" be added to the agenda of a "best life".

FILMMAKERS DREAM COMES TRUE - Tack Sharp Focus with a Tap of the Screen

Friday, February 14, 2014 by Fletch Murray
I'll admit it.  I didn't think the Canon 70D would live up to the hype.
 
So Canon Pro Marketing Specialist, Genaro Arroyo, challenged me to try out the 70D HDSLR.   I rolled my eyes expecting the auto focus to work haltingly...second-guessing itself...sliding back and forth at the wrong times etc..
 
Now I'm so sold you'll think I'm on the Canon payroll.  
 
This baby focused through some venetian blinds to the marquee of the famous Car Wash sign next to Warner Brothers Studios outside my office which I couldn't even see. It's at 2:02 into the video.
Canon 70D grabs focus through venetian blinds
Don't get me wrong.  I've worked with ace Assistant Cameramen, Dave Gasperik, who can pull focus on a Lambourghini speeding at us at night at f/2.8, 
lambo far  lambo close
 
I'm just saying the Canon engineers are shutting down the focusing problem just like they shut down 35mm film.    I don't think they'll stop until they get it done.  But decide for yourself.  Here are the tests I ran.
 
Test #1 - FOCUS TRACKING - DIM LIGHT
Anna Walk
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Anna's @ 0:05 
 
(above) The tests begin with tracking focus on our gorgeous actress, Anna Easteden, the star of 80% of our CineBootCamps films. She walks toward camera in a dimly lit restaurant using the EF-S 24-135mm STM lens the 70D comes with. PASS.
 
Test #2 - RESOLUTION compared 70D to 60D and Canon 5D MIII
   @ 00:32
(above) I ran some resolution tests and grain tests.
 
First, I compared the 70D to the 5D Mark III just to see how close the 70D was to the 5D Mark III.   I used the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens on the 5D Mark III.  I had to see the two side by side because the 18-135 EF-S STM lens on the 70D has some of the most impressive MTF specs of any Canon lens.  Both histograms were virtually identical even though the 70D looks darker.
 
MTF chart for EF-S 18-135mm f/.5-5.6 STM lens
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(above) - MTF charts for EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
70-200mm IS II lens MTF chart
(above)- MTF charts for EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM
 
I thought with that good a lens I might see 70D actually get close to the 5DM3.    Decide for yourself.  
 
70D vs 60D with the same lens
Then, I had to see if the 60D would deliver even better results with the 70D's STM lens.  The lens the 60D shipped with was a EF-S 18-135mm lens but has no step motor so I'm assuming it's different glass.  The MTF chart on that lens seem to indicate it's a different lens.
MTF charts on 60D lens
(above) - MTF charts for EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
 
So, I tested the 70D to the 60D, each using the EF-S 18-135mm STM lens (@ 1:13) .  
The 60D's "special sauce" eliminated more "dancing grain in the blacks" at 300% enlargement. (1:25)
 
 
Test #3 - FIND and FOCUS using a 70-200mm
focus tests
I performed a more challenging "find and focus" test using the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens on the 70D shooting hand-held, and not the EF-S 24-135mm STM lens. I didn't know if 70-200 would focus smoothly when controlled by the 70D body.  Did it ever.  Fast; Crisp. Silent. 
 
it was like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. (or to the younger filmmakers, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke or whoever that guy was in the BeetleJuice suit.)
 
I panned to objects near and far. Kept it on Auto ISO (which reacted pretty fast as well.)  
 
The 70D passed with flying colors...nailing focus in less than a second and often instantly.  It only got confused once by the reflection in a piece of glass. It even grabbed focus on something I couldn't even see.  The Car Wash sign behind the half-closed venetian blinds at my office.
 
You've gotta see this video.
 
When you think of all the money people have spent on rigs and monitors to help them find focus you begin to appreciate the 70D more and more. Fact is, it will nail focus in three ways - by itself, or wait for you to tap the part of the screen you want in focus or find a smiley face or recognizable pattern to track.
 
It passed all tests to my satisfaction so I took it on a real world test.
 
Test #4 - REAL WORLD SHOOT
In the real world shoot it did just as well.  We were doing the story of Angel Tree, an organization which offers to deliver presents to children of those in prison.  Mary Trujillo was the organizer.  You know how fast kids move and how easy it is to lose focus on a long lens.  Here's a still from the video that I shot from twelve feet away. Gabriel at the door. 
All it took to focus was a tap on the LCD screen. I never touched the focus ring. I could keep my hand on the zoom ring and just tap the part of the screen I wanted in focus. The 70D found focus positively in one motion...no driving past it and backing up or endlessly searching back and forth. 
 
SUMMARY
Canon has solved the number one problem that ruins filmmakers shots, i.e. out of focus.
 
Canon's offering the upgraded AF sensor for the c100 cinema cameras. I can't wait for the feature to be added to the 5DM3 or perhaps it'll be the step up feature for the 5DM4.
 
Start saving up! This is too good a feature to not have on your camera when you're shooting video.
 
__________________________________
 
 
(Fletch's CineBootCamps now include the 70D in all their training materials and drills. Next boot camp is Feb. 22 & 23. We'll be shooting the first episode of Season Two of 'KILLER'.  Anna just killed her police detective husband with a tarantula when he wouldn't stop risking her life with vigilante missions.  You see Anna loves to bring justice to the guilty. But her husband started sending her on missions to kill the innocent. And that was grounds for divorce.  But Anna's Catholic and she doesn't believe in divorce. So what's a girl to do but let her pet tarantula do the job.)

 

The secret of getting a cash settlement for a LEMON !

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 by Fletch Murray
Cars are very sophisticated these days. But when your car dies on the freeway it doesn't matter how sophisticated it is.  You're in a life and death situation. And if you car's a lemon, you better handle it.
 
women trapped on freeway
Defective cars are called lemons.  Back in the day, when they found a car that with a defect, the dealer could sometimes replace the part with a new one. But today’s cars have flaws deep inside the sophisticated computer systems that are hard if not impossible to diagnose.  Worse still, some of these flaws are unfixable.
 
So, even though the dealer may smilingly offer to fix the car there’s nothing he can do.  Why?  Because there is no way to fix these sophisticated vehicles. They are lemons. And the dealer is giving you the run around because they don’t want to refund you the purchase price of the car. So they're just going to keep "trying" until you give up. 
 
 
If you think you might have a lemon, call Norm Taylor. Norm’s the attorney who wrote the book on Lemon Law.  He’s honest, ethical and most of all, he's beaten the big manufacturers and recovered zillions of dollars for his clients.  His number is (818) 244-3905.  Tell him Fletch sent you.  I can personally vouch for Norm. His website is
 
 
Here are some of the TV spots about the “Lemon Law” ripoffs going on today.
 
 
 
 

What is the secret to great film lighting?

Monday, January 13, 2014 by Fletch Murray

People often think great lighting is difficult. But when we look at the work of Roger Deakins, BSC, ASC, we see how a master achieves powerful effects with the simplest of lighting. Actually, Deakins "UN-lights" his scenes and this give the image greater impact.

In the Cohen Brothers' film 'The Man Who Wasn't There', you see scenes of incredible lighting impact achieved with simple set ups.  Again and again Deakins shows he totally understands great lighting, composition and an interesting subject.

Roger Deakins work on 'The Man Who Wasn't There'

 

We strive to emulate Deakins' work in our  'Lighting Like the Masters' cinebootcamps.  The scene below is the especially pleasing set up we discovered while trying out the Alzo PAN-L lights.  It is soft, direct and just the right intensity. We copied the master. Looks nice.

Julie at our Lighting Like the Masters cinebootcamps

We plan more 'Lighting Like the Masters' workshops.  Email me for the dates.

 

fletch@theassociation.tv

 

The Creative Freedom of the 70D for filmmakers

Monday, January 13, 2014 by Fletch Murray

If you've even been in a movie theater and heard the screaming that erupts with an out of focus picture on the screen you'll know that being out of focus is the most objectionable thing to the audience. And it's something that is the nemesis of the filmmaker. You've got a great performance and you look at the monitor and it's out of focus and you just want to KILL. Well, those days are over for those who are okay shooting on Canon's Super 35-sized 70D.

Being out of focus is the big career-ending flaw for a cinematographer.  Canon has taken a huge leap forward by enabling the 70D to find and track focus for you.  For my tests it was spot on 9 out of ten times.  Not only are there three main focusing choices. Canon also allows you to fine-tune these Auto Focus functions with three Custom Function AF settings - Tracking Sensitivity, Acceleration/declaration tracking, and how much you want the Autofocus to continue to try to find focus or would you rather it stop searching in tricky settings. 

Also, the Autofocus during filming opens the door to something the DSLRs haven't been able to do since Canon quit making most of their lenses capable of holding focus (ParFocal) throughout the zoom.   Now you can actually zoom on a shot and hold focus all the way in. Coincidentally, there is a product from Alzo "Smoothy Zoom-Focus Assist" which you can apply to the zoom ring of your Canon lens and achieve a pretty acceptable zoom if you're steady on a tripod.  Or if you're going to dissolve out before the zoom stumbles to a stop (you have to be REALLY good to smoothly come to a stop) you can shoot it handheld.   For $14. you can order two Smoothies.  If you have a decent lens you can pull off a nice zoom with it.  Here's the link.

http://www.alzovideo.com/alzo-dslr-rig-accessory-smoothy-zoom-focus-assist.htm

Alzo's Smoothy Zoom/Focus assist

I did test the AutoFocusing, using both Canon's STM (step motor) EFS 28 -135mm lens, and my own EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. I'm happy to report that focusing took just under a second. Only twice did it rack focus back and forth to "find focus".  That was in situations of a white bowl in front of a white wall with no definite edge.  But if there was anything in the shot that had an edge and a little contrast Canon's AutoFocus would nail it without rolling back and forth and back and forth.

I also did tests in the heat of battle on a location shoot at Christmas filming a woman delivering presents to children whose parents wouldn't be with them at Christmas.  You know how fast kids move around.  Hard to find focus.  But all I had to do was tap where the child came to a stop, then tap again when he moved, then tap when his mom spoke and tap when the spokesperson spoke.  It was a dream. (This video will soon be posted). 

This ease and accuracy of focus was only a half second slower than the best focus puller I've worked with.  It was certainly better than when I pull focus when I'm handheld and I'm rolling film. In those situations, I find myself passing through the focus spot at least once before I come back to find the best focus spot. 

So, all I need now is the 5D Mark IV to have this Auto Focus feature (and the fold out display) and it will be the best Christmas gift a filmmaker could ask for.

 

Transitioning from stills to motion: Part Three "We Think in "IS-nesses"

Monday, January 13, 2014 by Fletch Murray

Still photographers are the fine artists of stopping time. Cinematographers capture the flow of the dramatic dance of life.  Still photographers wait for that most powerful instant as it flows past...like a gold nugget in a roaring stream, while cinematographers jump in the stream

These two worlds couldn't be further apart, but they collide in the most delightful way at the Palm Springs Photo Festival each Spring.  The part we play is trying to lure these fine artists of the frozen moment into the unpredictable, messy, out of control motion pictures.  The still photographer's work captures the audience's eye and holds it like a dancer's frozen pose that is mesmerizing.  The cinematographer chases the tumbling of time, chasing it with shirt untucked, stumbling forward hoping to find focus. 

So, what have I been smokin'?  

Actually the above thoughts come from the remarkable bliss I get when teaching still photographers to film motion pictures.  The worlds couldn't be further apart. Everything in the still world is about holding things still, even the vocabulary.  The still photographer yells, "Hold it!". The cinematographer yells, "Action!"

The still photographer has a tripod with three knobs to hold the camera absolutely motionless. The motion picture photographer has a fluid head tripod, capable of panning and tilting during the shot.  Egads! You're letting time do what it wants. You need to freeze that instant, not chase it. 

And there's more bliss.  My still photographer/filmmakers bring the beautiful fine art of lighting to the motion world. In motion pictures, because everything is moving, arranging lighting for subtle nuances is difficult. Still photographers bring a worship of high resolution, and texture, and "wrap" and all the fine elements of great still photography to the sloppy world of motion pictures.  I tell my filmmakers that they are the Rembrandts of imagery and cinematographers are like the drywall crew you hire to get it done in a day.

Yet the art of each world blends in a marvelous hybrid sauce that is surprisingly refreshing to all who attend.  We loosen still photographers up with the jib arm. 

jib arm


Blue Dream

 

Then, with blue gels on the window, we create chilly illusions amidst the warm reality of Jeff Dunas' Palm Springs Photo Festival - a day for night shot....

blizzard

Or put up a green screen to fake that in a blizzard in Russia, even though it's 102 outside.

underwater

or take still camera housings into Korakia's pools for this bubbly blue epiphany.

So for five days, we escort still photographers from the world of "holding it" into the world of sloppy motion and blurry images that smear into each other in a chase that recreates the livingness of life.  We get them moving around like that delightful scene in 'Forrest Gump' where he dances for Elvis. We get them into the world of motion...not freezing it, but riding it. We get their hips swaying. We get their shoulders down and relaxed. We loosen their grip on their camera. We let them exhale as they shoot.  

It's the most delightful party because we separate the boundaries of two distinct worlds and let them flow together.  It's like we're cooking up hybrid images that are like blending two cuisines to create a third....crepes with bits of kale, shredded lemon peel and cinammon sugar...or chocolate crusted with rock salt.  For the underwater shot we used a housing designed for still photographers, but usable for video on the Canon 5D Mk III because you can reassign the buttons on the camera.

The drills we do (to lift the still photographer into motion) move them out of their comfort zone (the world of isnesses) into the world of fluid motion. One drill asks them to take a still photograph and then storyboard out in the mind what happened just before that moment and what happened after that moment. Then, we have them take that storyboarded sequence and change it so it ends tragically, then have it end humorously.  Slowly they crack loose from the "plaster paris' world of stillness to the roller coaster of sequence.

It is so charming to witness.  Imagine bringing together great chefs and asking them to blend something they've never tried before.  That's what it's like.  I hope you join Jeff and I for the fun.   And if you drift off to the "How to Light Nudes" class*, je comprends.  

 

*At the 2012 Palm Springs Photo Festival, Fletch found a number of students who'd signed up for his class sliding next door to brush up on the skill of how to light a 5' 11" nude model. The 2014 Palm Springs Photo Festival is April 27 - May 2.  Here is the link

http://2014.palmspringsphotofestival.com/

Calvary Horses

Monday, January 13, 2014 by Fletch Murray

My grandfather raised horses. He was a cowboy. Gentle but focused. Pragmatic but passionate. My grandmother fell in love with him the first time she saw him ride in on his big white horse to the town dance in Chandler, Oklahoma.

On the other side of my family tree is Elizabeth Eaton, formerly a Murray. Though prim and proper from the well-to-do Murray's of St. Louis, she married Frank Eaton, the famous Pistol Pete of Oklahoma State fame. 

Frank wrote a book about his life in the "Old West" before Oklahoma became a state.   In one episode, Frank and his friends had been captured by indians. One snuck out at night and lit out for Fort Reno to get help.

On the morning of the third day help arrived. Frank describes it this way.

"We saw a cloud of dust rising way up on the trail to the north of us....the calvary was coming."

Then, Frank describes the the horses.

"The horses were beautiful, mostly bays but some chestnuts and sorrels, and a few blacks, but no paints or other fancy horses. A cavalry horse weighed somewhere around eleven hundred pounds while a cow pony weighed only about nine hundred."

"When the lead soldiers got within about three to four hundred yards of them the Indians started shooting.  The soldiers stopped then and the main column came on up and formed two columns with about four feet between."

"A Medicine Man was leading the Indians to attack. He had on a war bonnet and was telling them the white man's bullets couldn't kill an Indian with a war bonnet on. He was going through all sorts of contortions while he told them he was making the white man's gunpowder turn to dirt so it would not kill the Indians."

"An officer with a straight sword, not a calvary saber, in his hand came riding down the line of soldiers. He stopped in front of one of them and pointed with his sword to the Medicine Man. The soldier raised his carbine and sighted, for just a second, then fired; and the Medicine Man pitched head-first off his pony, war bonnet and all, with a bullet clear through him."

"The soldiers started their horses. They rode at a slow trot at first, then a faster trot, then a run. When they got within about fifty yards of the Indians they raised their guns and fired."

"The smoke from the guns covered the line of soldiers but when they came out of that smoke and dust every man had his saber in his hand and was riding like the wind."

"We could see their sabers glitter in the sun...they were making a saber charge."

Breaking Through the Line - Charles Schreyvogel

"When a calvary horse makes a charge he goes in with his nose and tail straight out and his ears back. He goes straight ahead and nothing stops him unless he is killed. If another horse gets in his way, he just runs over him."

(left - Charles Schrevogel's 'Breaking Through The Line')

"An Indian in the back broke and ran, then two or three, then fifteen or twenty. After a few minutes of fighting they all broke and ran."

So what's all this got to do with thee and me? 

Well, today people face problems not Cheyenne Indians. But the problems can be just as life-threatening, certainly job-threatening.

Our team is like the calvary.  We keep going until we find the real why that is causing the business problem. It goes like this:

  1. You tell us the problem situation.
  2. We gather all the facts we can.
  3. We dig deeper and deeper until we find the REAL why that is at the root of the problems.
  4. We design a solution.
  5. Test it.
  6. Improve it.
  7. Implement it.
  8. Track results.
  9. Improve it.
  10. Then fully deploy it. 
  11. Your problems are on the run.

I encourage you to call the calvary, if the "indians" have you surrounded.

We don't stop until we've got solutions implemented and your problems on the run.  We've solved problems in marketing, training, slow sales, lead generation, non-interruptive marketing...whatever is plaguing a company.

Email me at fletch@theassociation.tv. Better yet, call me. My cell is 818 606-3538. 

Protecting Your Momma

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 by Fletch Murray

10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. We at The Association made a TV commercial for Norman Taylor and Associates to make sure these elder Americans, your moms and dads and our moms and dads, receive proper health care and are not abused by unethical health care providers.  

rachelvideo

Click here to see our latest anti Elder Abuse TV spot.

Too often it is easy to forget about our elders' needs. The fact is we'll all be old some day and we need to take action while we're young so that abuse of elders becomes a thing of the past.

To make this point in the video we morphed from an old person to a young person restrained in her nursing home bed.  It is up to us to fight for the rights of those older Americans who fought to give us everything we needed to survive when we were defenseless babies.  

If you'd like to receive the booklet "How to Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse" call or email Norman Taylor and Associates, an experienced law firm dedicated to stopping elder abuse. Their contact info is below.

law firm website

www.losangeleselderabuselawfirm.com

or call Norm or John at 818 244-3905

Join us to stop Elder Abuse.

9 Game-Losing traits that keep companies from winning

Sunday, November 24, 2013 by Fletch Murray

Watching football is great. And I actually had an epiphany just the other day.

EPIPHANY 

If athletes took as long as businesses to detect the "REAL WHY", to devise a handling and to implement it, they would lose every game. Let me say that again.

Let me say it another way.

If athletes took as long as businesses

to detect the reason they're losing,

and to come up with a successful game plan

and to put that plan into action,

they'd lose every game.

After helping businesses solve their problems for 26 years, I know that most of the time people are working very, very hard for a solution.  In fact, they're exhausted from trying to find a solution.  Some even sink into the thinking that, "Nothing really works."
 
But solutions can be found and implemented.   Using football as an analogy may help us spot things lacking from a struggling business. In fact, if we removed the traits of a successful football team you might begin to spot some basic outpoints we run into when helping a business.  See if this experiment rings true for you.

Caution: you may recognise things preventing your company from winning.

football field
 
 
 
 
1. There's no goal line. (Most employees don't know what they do that is vital and valuable to the company.)
 
2. There are no yard markers. (Quantifiable metrics to monitor the success or lack of success are either non-existent or are mis-identified. Imagine a football field with no yard markers.) 
 
3. The players aren't on the field. (Employees trying to identify the problem often aren't in touch with the "trenches" where the root cause lies.  They aren't on the field. All they get are self-serving reports of others in the company. This gives them a false picture. Thus since they don't know the real situation, what we call the REAL WHY, the solution eludes them.)
 
4. The players are blindfolded. (The people of the company can see the problem but they can't see the cause. In effect, they are blindfolded).  
 
5. The players don't know what to do to be successful. Their plays aren't based on a careful study of the opponent. (Often the problems have been in the company for a long time. The employees don't know what a "win" is or how to make a win happen. They're like a football team has no idea what to do.)
 
6. The players' efforts are not coordinated.  Everyone's blocking but their energy is dispersed and not focused, for on opening a hole for the back to run through. (Budgets are dispersed on many different solutions instead of focusing on one thing that will win.)
 
7. Players aren't team oriented. (Employees don't trust companies to take care of them. So they're in CYA (cover your ass) mode.)
 
8. The front office wants to call the plays. (Upper Management has no idea what happening in the trenches. Nevertheless, they devise broad initiatives based on "good ideas" that "should" work because they worked somewhere else they used to work.)
 
9. There's no coach.  The players just run around the field, showing off their talents, getting in fights with their teammates. (Can you imagine a team of the highly qualified personnel without a coach?  With everybody in a company working on their own game plan, you just need somebody to come in from the outside to organise these efforts into a winning strategy.)
 
CONCLUSION: If 1 through 9 is going on at your company, you might need a coach to come in and find the real why and then devise a solution based on the real why.  
 
That's what we do. That's what we've done for hundreds of customers.  If you'd like to hear more, send me your email.  
 
If you'd like to read some examples of solutions we've provided, email me, or better call me at 818 841-9660. If you don't get through my cell is 818 606-3538.
 
 
 

 

 

The Association launches "The New Entrepreneurs.TV" series

Friday, September 13, 2013 by Fletch Murray

While there are those who are throwing in the towel, there also those who are turning things around.  The Association is going to spotlight these stories in their new series, 'The New Entrepreneurs'.  In each webisode the forward-thinking movers and shakers will share their business strategy and personal philosophy which has resulted in a successful company that's expanding at a rapid rate. These visionaries recognize a need and deliver the goods.  

the idea

"Let's face it. We've got to turn this thing around," says Fletcher Murray, President of The Association. "Night after night we hear how the world is heading for disaster.  If we don't do something about it, who will?  Our little part of it, as creative media producers, is to get stories out about those entrepreneurs experiencing exceptional growth.  

So, we're collecting stories of successful entrepreneurs in America and worldwide. We're picking the best thirteen to produce. It's a co-venture to get these entrepreneurs' stories out.  We'll use the stories in our series to inspire the audience and the entrepreneurs will use them on their website - to attract investors, customers and employees to their companies. These companies deserve to succeed and prosper. Why? The Small Business Administration reports that 90% of companies in the U.S. have 20 people or less, and these companies create 97% of all new jobs. So we're going to strengthen the spine of our society by focusing on the upstats who are expanding jobs."

 

Murray is revisiting an award-winning documentary series he produced and directed about successful businessmen for Leake Industries with Bob Gregory as the host. Two of the documentaries featured J. Paul Getty - the first about the businessman, the second about Getty's purpose in providing billions to turn our civilization around through art." 

"Mr. Getty was all business, but people who think he was all about money got him wrong," says Murray. "Mr. Getty had a great sense of humor and found it amusing that he got letters from people all over the world asking for all kinds of money."

"They seemed to think," said Mr. Getty, "that my money is a huge burden, and it's in my pocket and I want to get rid of it."

Getty also understood the priorities of life. While Fletch was changing film during Mr. Getty's interviews, Mr. Getty volunteered, "But I'd give all my millions for one successful marriage."

Fletch films Mr. Getty with Bob Gregory.

 

"I want to tell more stories like Mr. Getty's, because people need this right now," Murray says.  "People think Getty got his money from his father.  He did get a stake to start with, but Mr. Getty was shrewd.  For example, he was bidding on oil leases under the big tree at the Osage Indian Reservation in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.  There were well-healed businessmen outbidding Getty, even as rich as he was. So Mr. Getty asked one of his friends from the bank to bid on a lease in his stead.  Mr. Getty explained that he knew most of the big moneymen under the tree owed the bank money so they wouldn't bid against the bank. He was right. Getty got his lease. The rest is history."

"What we hope the stories will reawaken that spirit of the pioneers. Just imagine how the pilgrims felt getting off the boat with winter coming on, no cabins and no grocery stores."  

 

Dreams come true"We want to inspire young people that their dreams CAN come true. The cards aren't stacked against them."

"Everybody knows the world economy is in trouble. It's time we do something about it.  We want to help wake people up and show them the survival strategies others are finding successful." 

 

 

HoverCamera makes "dream aerial shots" come true...

Thursday, September 5, 2013 by Fletch Murray

HoverCamera

As you know exciting aerial shots have long been an Association mainstay. From Apache Helicopters, to Kawasaki Jet Ski's in St. Thomas, to cruiseships transiting the Panama Canal, the glaciers of Alaska and passing historic Istanbul we've shot with 35mm Cinemascope lenses on big, Bell Long Ranger helicopters at hand-held shots aboard the tiny Robinson choppers.

Jetski in St. Thomas

 

But here's the big news.  Unlike most mini-chopper platforms, which are still shaky and require post processing to "smooth out" the shot, our buddy Robert Hogg's technology breakthroughs allow us to get vibration down to below a sub-pixel level.  That means SMOOTH, Hi Def shots. 

 

So, the HoverCamera opens a whole new range of dynamic shots because the small, 4' square mini-chopper can orbit close to people (real helicopters must be 300 feet above populated areas) and then rise up to astounding heights. 

 

Courtney in Park

And because the HoverCamera is so small, we can now shoot aerials inside as well as outside.

Here's a montage of Robert's work

 

ships

Exciting times ahead.  We can now shoot the shots we dreamed about.  

More and more, it's a great time to be alive. So many dreams are coming true. 

(If you'd like to subscribe to our Filmmakers' Newsletter, email fletch@theassociation.tv)

5 danger signs you're in a Creative Rut

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 by Fletch Murray

depressed

Loss of creativity happens to us all. We often can't see we're in a rut because we're in it and all we see are walls, which are what forms a rut. Filmmakers are no different.  

Sir Ken Robinson says that if you ask second graders "Who is creative?" , all the hands go up.  But if you ask the same question when they finish school, less than 10% raise their hand.

Here are some red flags to look for to determine if you're creative work is in a rut.

  1. Do your ideas only appeal to your mom?
  2. Do your scenes always happen in the same locations? In a car? In a cafe? In the living room? In the park?
  3. Do your images look the same as what you've done it in the past?
  4. Do you shake your head at movies and say to yourself, "This piece of junk got funding?"
  5. Have you thought about taking that job at Walmart? or the Postal Service?

Maybe it's time to shake your creative tree and see if some fresh ideas fall out.

We're offering a special Cine Boot Camp "Breaking Out of Creative Ruts" on Saturday, September 7th at our studios, a block from Warner Brothers front gate in Burbank, Ca.

We don't have all the answers. Far from it.  We have twenty-two proven methods to break out of creative ruts. The boot camp is for

  • filmmakers
  • directors of photography
  • still photographers
  • creative image makers 

We'll use "Active Learning" techniques just like in our other highly acclaimed boot camps.  That means there won't be much talking.  There will be drills and exercises in a 30-page workbook to get the creative juices flowing again. You will walk away with new ideas.  In fact, you may find yourself on the Academy Awards stage thanking Fletch and that Cine Boot Camp you took back in 2013.

 

Ray Bradbury said, "Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things.

 

So don't THINK about it.  Just SIGN UP.  This boot camp will pay for itself in no time at all.  Don't stand by while your creativity flickers. Sign up.  As George Washington told his men when they were crossing the icy Delaware River to attack the British on Christmas, 

"GET IN THE BOAT"

 

 

Power is in Simplicity

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 by Fletch Murray

Simple lighting for digital cameras can be powerful.  

And with the high ISO prowess of the Canon 5D Mark III (noise free blacks at ISO 2500) you are liberated to explore lower wattage fixtures.  WIth older (low ISO) cameras you have to bring in much more light.  With these new fixtures you're not throwing light everywhere.  You can still achieve powerful imagery.  Of course, having a great actress is essential. 

Picture of ex-con

The above still is from the video we shot on the last "How to Light Like the Masters" workshop, one of our new Cine Boot Camps. Shot on Canon 5D Mark III with Zeiss CP.2 85mm, 24fps All-i. 

(BTW, We're expanding our boot camps to include other filmmaking skills in addition to learning the Canon HDSLRs. CLICK HERE for more info on our new Cine Boot Camps)

Anyway, we were emulating the lighting of Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC in 'The Man Who Wasn't There'.  We used an ALZO PAN - L light with the directional diffuser.  You wouldn't expect that quality of light from a flourescent light but as you can see it is achievable.  

I asked the actress, Julie Brett, to assume the beingness of a woman who killed three people and gotten away with it.  We named the shot "Three arrests. No convictions."  

Thanks to Drew and Alzo for their efforts to empower (rather than cash in on) digital filmmakers.

Space is limited so be sure to sign up for our Sept. 28 & 29th "Lighting Like the Masters" workshop (CLICK HERE).  

Fletch is the President of The Association of Film and Video Producers and Founder of the Cine Boot Camps.

5 Days of HDSLR Filmmaking Training and Fun at the Oct 2013 California Photo Festival

Monday, August 5, 2013 by Fletch Murray

Victoria, of the California Photo Festival, is planning filmmaking fun for you in beautiful San Luis Obispo Oct. 7 - 11, and she invited us to be a part of it.  Plus, we've been able to lower the price to one-fifth what it would be at our normal $998 price for a two-day Cine Boot Camp.  So sign up now to get the early bird pricing.

 

California Photo Festival type-shots we'll be shooting in Oct 2013

 

Actually it is quite an honor to be invited to be one of the 21 instructors at the Festival and we're going to do everything to make Victoria's first training in HDSLR motion picture cinematography a huge success.  (When she mentioned we'll be filming horses running down the beach at sunset, I imagined how great those slo mo shots are going to look.

 

 

 

 

 

Students Rate the Knowledge and Skill of Instructors at the Cine Boot Camps

   

 First, a little about us....

Our CineBootCamps are the highest-rated training in HDSLR filmmaking. We utilize "Active Learning" hands-on methods endorsed by UC Berkeley and Columbia University.

 

 

 

 

 

Second, here's the deal

Victoria and I have packaged a 5-day, "best of" series of workshops culled from our highly rated Cine Boot Camps for $499....with additional discounts if two of you sign up together.

If you enter the coupon code "fletch2013" you'll get the gold pass for all five days for $424. AND if you do a 1 + 1 it comes down to $399.  

 

Third, Here's What You'll be Learning

You'll be learning HDSLR filmmaking (basic and advanced), plus cinema lighting, audio, and various camera platforms.  We'll have special workshops with tips for still photographers transitioning to video.  PLUS, we'll have DRILLS so you can learn by doing as you shoot short films - practicing your skills with Pros by your side to answer your questions.  (The price is about 75% less than our Cine Boot Camp prices.)  

California Photo Festival October 2013 and DSLR Cine Boot Camps

Fourth, Here's the Day by Day Workshops

MONDAY - Three Filmmaking Workshops for Still Photographers

We'll be delivering three filmmaking workshops, culminating with shooting slow motion of the horses running on the beach at sunset. 

The 10:30 workshop focuses on answering questions for still photographers who are transitioning to shooting motion pictures - with an emphasis on the 27 boo-boo's that'll kill your shoot; plus choosing camera mounts, how to prep for a shoot and how to set up for run and gun filming.

The 1 p.m. workshop focuses on the menu setup to shoot film, what are the limitations 4.2.0 color space, what picture style to use and why, how to avoid overheating, what CF cards are best. 

The 4 p.m. workshop will be devoted to shooting horses on the beach - slow motion, high shutter speed and low shutter speed. 

 

TUESDAY - Shoot Day with Pro's to Help you Light Inside and Out

SHOOT DAY. In these three workshops ( 8 a.m., 10:30 and 1:30) we'll drill in workflow as we break into shoot teams, each filming scenes from a short "murder mystery." First, we'll shoot in the studio with studio lighting, then we'll go on location using location lighting techniques.  Our pro instructors will answer your questions as you film your scenes.

Lighting Workshop at the California Photo Festival

WEDNESDAY - Motion Picture Techniques & Breaking out of Creative Ruts

The 8 a.m. workshop is to answer questions of advanced still photographers who've run into trouble transitioning to filmmaking, including:

  • How do I block out motion picture scenes?
  • Which shutter speeds to pick for different "feels"?
  • What software can make my film look as close to RAW as possible?
  • What are my audio options?

The 10 a.m. workshop gives you a checklist of steps to take to break out of the creative rut you may find yourself in.  There'll be fun drills in which you'll create more interesting setups and scenes for your films. 

The afternoon workshop will apply what we learned in the morning as we break into teams and practice shooting cinematic scenes with the Pro Instructors to help you review production techniques and answer your questions.

 

THURSDAY - Camera Platforms & New Lighting Setups

The morning session (8 - 12) will focus on different camera platforms you can use - handheld, jib, slider, micro dolly, dolly, car to car, air to air.

           Jib Arm @ Palm Springs Photo Festival

 

The afternoon session challenges you to expand your lighting skills for motion picture looks. Another "break out of the box" session focusing on lighting setups you've never tried so you can bring unique looks to your next film.

Learn Lighting Setups you've Never Tried

FRIDAY - Graduation, Final Questions and Special Strategies of How to Get Film Work

The Graduation Session will be devoted to tying up any loose ends of the week and presenting you with your Cine Boot Camps Certificates of Competency. We'll answer questions on things you had trouble with during the week, give you our best advice on things you'd like to try, and most importantly share ways we've found successful to close jobs with paying clients.  It's the perfect wrap up to send you on your way with new skills, a certificate and some tips to get work.

 

We hope you'll take advantage of this great package offer.   Check out the schedule here. You'll get the best of our Cine Boot Camps at a 75% discount AND be learning in one of the most picturesque spots around.   Register today. Remember, if you enter the coupon code "fletch2013" you'll get the gold pass for $424. AND if you do a 1 + 1 it comes down to $399.  

We'll look for you at sunset on the beach.

 

Fletcher Murray is President of The Association, and one of the instructors at the Cine Boot Camps for the last four years. You can reach him at fletch@theassociation.tv

6 ways to film a Princess

Friday, July 26, 2013 by Fletch Murray

I've had the good fortune to film many princesses in my career...usually from the air.

There are a number of camera rigs to remove the bumps and wiggles from aerial camera shots. The Cineflex gyro-stabilized camera mount is awesome but it takes all the thrill out of hanging out the doorway over Istanbul to shoot handheld of the Grand Princess' Inaugural Voyage.

istanbul

(left) Yours truly enjoying the view of the Seven Hills of Istanbul. Do I look worried? Invigorated, yes. Worried? 

What's to worry about? Stepping out on to the rails with nothing holding you but a climbing strap from taking a nice long dive into the Mediterranean. Hah! I spit in the face of fear !

Anyway, once you fly through the air getting great shots, it's hard to go back to earth. You go a little insane.  The shots looks so pretty, you just can't stop.

 

 

water skier aerial

(above) That's me in the Bell Long Ranger shooting in St. Thomas.  Rod Tinney, who could fly (and did) fly his helicopter between two buildings with a foot on either side) was my precision pilot. Best in the world.  He could push the envelope...but ALWAYS safely.

Or (below) hanging out the door to shoot a cruise liner. (Yes, we're on a collision course.)

freewinds approachRod's again the pilot. We are approaching the bow of the ship four feet off the water at 90 knots closing speed, then at the last second we'll rise up and over the bow to see the crew on the flying bridge and over we'll go looking down the smokestacks.

Then, we all throw up and try it again.  

We only hit the antenna once. I was glad after take 14 we had the shot, because I kept imagining the dent we'd make in the bow of the newly-painted ship and I wondered would they put a plaque up in our honor or just buff it out and paint it over.   I think the latter.

Much more preferable is the Tyler Major Mount which enabled me to get rock solid shots of the Kawasaki Jet Ski dashing across Meghan's Bay at 50 mph (below).  With the Major Mount you can stay mostly inside the chopper which keeps the wind stream from buffeting the camera.

JETSKI

 

The camera was so well-balanced and steady I could almost take my hands off the hand grips and watch it float with the action, so I could keep the Jetski in almost perfect framing.  Nelson Tyler also makes nose mounts for high speed tracking shots or Middle Mounts for out the door shooting with lighter cameras. And Mini Gyro mounts for Canon 5D sized cameras for shooting off the back of motorcycles and boats and such.

The Cineflex mount is probably the most stable and most expensive.  But you are unhampered by wind (which pushes the tail boom around and makes aerials difficult). It's great but can get confused with sudden chopper maneuvers. 

pea bank

 

So, if you're going for flat and smooth and level, this is the choice. Here's a link to a sample of Cineflex work. It's after the opening interviews with young pilots talking about their first solo flight.

 

HOVERCAM - And now walks on the stage the humble HoverCam, which takes just the camera up in the air while the flyer and camera person stay down below.  It's all controlled remotely and can film not only outside but inside.  And these are the shots we're planning for the Princess ships today, i.e. flights down the beautiful public spaces and soaring shots ascending through the Atrium on the new Royal Princess.j

HoverCam Tunnel(left)- the Robert Hogg's HoverCam flying through the L.A. tunnel. That's a shot you can't get with a chopper-mounted camera.

(We'll be woking with the HoverCam at our August 24 & 25 Cine Boot Camp, for any who are interested.)

 

So, pop quiz.  

Q. What are the six ways to film a Princess?  

1) Out the door, hand-held (cheapest and most dangerous)

2) Nose Mount (rock steady, high speed, no wind buffeting but you can still get a bug on the lens)

3) Middle Mount (Lighter cameras, operate out of wind stream.)

4) Major Mount (Heavier cameras, operate out of wind stream.

5) Cineflex gyro stabilized ball (Have a beer while watching the Cineflex operator does all the work.)

6) HoverCam (flies lower than 300 feet over populated areas AND it can fly right through a hallway.)

 

Fletcher Murray is president of The Association and an overall great guy.  I know him personally.  He's been spending his weekends training other camera people at the Cine Boot Camps for the last four years. He asked me to ask you if you'd like to read more of his self-serving, boring stories of his career, as long as he promises to keep them short and with lots of pictures.  So email info@theassociation.tv and cast your vote.

 

 

Bad Voice Files Cause Accidents

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 by Fletch Murray

Recent accidents blamed on bad voice files in the GPS system, have made car manufacturers and their vendors realize that these defective files can cost them millions of dollars in lawsuits, recalls, and worst of all, driver fatalities.  Here are some recent accidents 's due to bad GPS systems.

Bad GPS voice files are dangerous

“New Jersey Driver Follows GPS, Causes Four-Car Pileup,”

“Woman Follows GPS, Drives Straight Into Swamp,”

“Japanese Tourists Follow GPS Directions, Wind Up in Bay,”

“UK Woman Follows GPS, Drives Mercedes Into River,”

“Trucker Follows GPS Directions, Winds Up in Tree.”

 

What's a Voice File? A GPS navigation system has thousands of them.  For example, a GPS computer may playback three voice files in the following command, "In a 500 yards, exit left, onto 405 North."

And what makes that voice file "bad"?  Well, when the voice file that should have said, "Exit Right..." was mislabelled and the computer says, "Exit left" instead of "Exit Right," things can get dangerous for a woman trying to exit the freeway on the left on a rainy night and there's no exit ramp there.

Or let's say the navigation system takes her into a very rough part of town.  

That's why we put such emphasis on delivering zero defect voice files to all of our clients.  We've been providing error-free, zero-defect voice files for 14 years, virtually since the beginning of the industry, for Clarion, Microsoft, Alpine, Johnson Controls, IBM and deCarta in multiple languages.

As we approach 100,000 error-free voice files we are proud of the fact that none of the voice files we've produced have been involved in an accident, nor cost our clients a penny in damages or product recalls.  But most important, as I am a grandfather now,  I know that the voice files we produce help millions travel safely on their way to their destinations.

_____________________
 
 

Fletcher Murray is the President of The Association, which has been providing voice files for in-vehicle navigation systems the longest of any vendor, beginning with the Clarion/Microsoft Auto PC project in 1999, The Association has the most successful production workflow which has provided over 64,000 error-free voice files to Alpine, Johnson Controls, IBM, deCarta, Boeing, Raytheon and others.  In June, we completed a 22,400 voice file project recording "ordinary people" reading lines in eight languages to train computers to improve voice recognition scores.

Please call us at 818 841-9660 or 818 606-3538 to discuss how we can provide solutions for your voice file projects.

 

Never Lost a Battle (in Voice Technologies)

Monday, July 8, 2013 by Fletch Murray

On a recent visit to Prague I was haunted by an immense statue on Vitkov Hill which overlooks the city.

 

General ZizkaIt is of Jan Zizka, a Czech general and Hussite leader, who fought in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, with a Polish-Lithuanian army in defeating the Teutonic Order. 

General Zizka is one of six commanders in history who were never defeated. The others, according to Wikipedia, were Alexander the Great, Scipio Africanus, Genghis Khan, Alexander Suvorov, and Khalid ibn al-Walid (although they are not counting arguments they had with their wives).

Today, the battles we fight are not on such a grand scale.  We don't get a chance to fight the Teutonic Order but we're still in a fight for our lives in the corporate world.  They're not big battles against massed troops. Today our enemies are the little mistakes that slip through the cracks.  These errors that accumulate in our personnel folder and eventually determine our fate.

We at The Association prefer to believe that we are your strong ally as you wage your corporate battles by providing solutions to your challenges.  We take full responsibility for projects and implement quality control measures to make sure the project's a success over time.  

It all adds up to quality and sustainability.

 

OUR ATTITUDE - We take the attitude of General Žižka into every project.  

When we're recording voice files, we don't have to pull out the battleaxe to ward of the Teutonic Order.  The enemies of today are much smaller but just as lethal. We have to guard against errors creeping into the voice file set  like:

Czech general

  • incorrect vocabulary tree syntax
  • disjointed phrase lists
  • improper parsing of english phrases causing difficulty in other languages
  • incorrect grammar
  • scripts not localized
  • words skipped by voice talent
  • excessive mouth clicks etc.
  • inconsistent volume, tonality, cadence, diction, warmth, inflection
  • deviations from the script
  • mislabelled voice files
  • missing voice files

 

 

OUR WORKFLOW

When we began this work fourteen years ago as GPS systems were introduced to vehicles, we studied where errors creep in.  We derived a checklist and workflow to detect and correct these errors.  Richard Robinson, who produced voice files used in Great Britain's mass transit systems, was the primary architect of our production line.  To augment his efforts, we introduced Quality Control checkpoints before, during and after the recording process.  

And the last step on the checklist is for three of our QC people listen to all the voice files independently to make sure all files are recorded correctly, labelled as scripted and that they fit seamlessly with the files we've already produced.  

 

OUR RESULTS

As a result, we have maintained a 100% error free record since the beginning. We have never had to re-record a single voice file. Our clients have won the J.D. Power award for Excellence.   

 

AN EXAMPLE

Here's an example of the seamless voice files we produce (short files combining to make a smooth sentence) versus disjointed files others produce.

Click HERE for DISJOINTED voice files.

Click HERE for SEAMLESS*, natural sounding voice files.


*Seamless Voice Files. The phrases we record combine seamlessly into a coherent pleasant sentence that sounds like it was recorded all at once.

 

The Association has been providing voice files for in-vehicle navigation systems the longest of any vendor, beginning with the Clarion/Microsoft Auto PC project in 1999, The Association has the most successful production workflow which has provided over 64,000 error-free voice files to Alpine, Johnson Controls, IBM, deCarta, Boeing, Raytheon and others.  In June, we completed a 22,400 voice file project recording "ordinary people" reading lines in eight languages to train computers to improve voice recognition scores.

Please call us at 818 841-9660 or 818 606-3538 to discuss how we can provide solutions for your voice file projects.