How to find the best voice for your VUI (voice user interface) application

Finding a pleasant-sounding voice is key to a successful VUI interface. But it’s not always easy to get it right the first time, as proven by Apple’s move away from Siri’s first voice to a broader spectrum of voices people may like better. Many other auto manufacturers are facing the same task of replacing voices that fail to connect with the customer. Some are so aggravating that drivers turn off their system.  This reflects negatively on the manufacturer.

We think the voice should BE the voice you’d expect to hear if your car or device could talk.

An example is the voice we placed in Cadillac. Listen to her recording our world-famous    Seamless Voice Files  - six files combined to sound as smooth as if she’d recorded one sentence.

Here's how a beautiful voice looks...

(above – A beautiful voice we cast for Cadillac looked like this, but listen to how her seamless voice files sound.

How can you improve the odds of getting a voice right the first time?

In a current project for a new client, we cast 43 females from our cadre of professional Hollywood voices to find the “perfect” one. We narrowed the selections to twelve to present to the client. To help sensitize the client to the variables to listen for, we provided them with a Voice Evaluation Grid template. This helps the client listen for the qualities in the voice that will be a sustainable solution for them. Too often clients just don’t know what to listen for.

If you’d like a Voice Evaluation Grid, please email me at fletch@theassociation.tv

My next installment will go into more specifics of choosing and recording a voice for zero defect voice file sets.

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

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    584ea854e5e1fbd97df770eb30d6ea98_w480

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.

 

- See more at: http://blog.theassociation.tv/#sthash.pO8ZJd6I.dpuf

FROZEN – Solving Seven Common Problems Still Photographers have Shooting video

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.)

 

 

- See more at: http://blog.theassociation.tv/#sthash.pO8ZJd6I.dpuf

DP Polly Morgan Joins the Prague Boot Camp Team!

Polly Morgan, Director of Photography Extrodinaire

The ASC’s Rising Star, Polly Morgan, will be on the Canon Boot Camp team during our March stint in Prague. Polly’s years of HDSLR experience are a welcome addition! She has worked many, many productions across the globe, and has been mentored and taught by some of the best pros in the industry.

Polly’s career started with Ridley Scott Productions in London, working on commercial productions and feature films with cinematographers such as Haris Zambarloukos, BSC; Caleb Deshanel, ASC; Bojan Bazell, ASC and Dan Mindel. She also trained at the American Film Institute Conservatory, receiving invaluable training from some of the world’s best:

Roger Deakins, ASC/BSC (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN)
Tom Stern, ASC (FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, CHANGELING)
Harris Savides, (AMERICAN GANGSTER, THE GAME, ZODIAC)Vincent Leforet's Mobius with Polly Morgan

More recently, Polly worked with Wally Pfister, ASC on Inception as well as other well known projects. Feature films she has contributed to include V for Vendetta, Hairspray and National Treasure. 

But what really interests us from the Canon perspective, is the work she has done using the Canon C300, such as the narrative short “Mobius” directed by Vincent Leforet, and numerous DSLR commercial productions shot with the Canon DSLR 5D, such as “Sonova Surfboards” and “Pepsi Lost Dog.” Then there’s the music videos. So it’s with great enthusiasm that we receive her in Prague for the boot camp!

Those interested in joining us can get an application online but best to hurry, as there is a limited number of students allowed for each class. We’ll be delivering 2 Pro Level I Classes (the basics), each followed the next day by Pro Level II (hands on filming). For more information about the Prague Boot Camp, click HERE.

 

Stills to Motion: Secrets of DSLR filmmaking

Palm Springs Photo Festival

GRADUATES COMMENT on our workshops

Charles Kay, Pro Photographer
(Click HERE to see Charles’ site)

(Click HERE to see Serena’s site)                                           

Gloria Baker 

(Click HERE to see Gloria’s site)

Ray Carns

(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.

- See more at: http://blog.theassociation.tv/#sthash.pO8ZJd6I.dpuf

Secret to a Clean Slate

After all these years we've got a clean slate.

In filmmaking they hold this slate (clapboard) up in front of the camera to identify the scene. They "clap" the board of the clapboard after identifying the scene.

For years we had dirty slates.  They never seemed to clean off the last scene's information. It was smudgy.

 

Re: Canon 5D Mark III ISO Preview #1 of 2

From: trevor@theassociation.tv
Did you complete the video for this one?

On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 4:02 PM, Trevor Eisenman <trevor@theassociation.tv> wrote:

(Make sure to get video from Jeff Bauer)

Over the past few years, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II has been a run-away hit with independent filmmakers. It was one of the first DSLRs to offer 1080p High Definition video, allowing it to compete alongside more expensive, traditional camcorders. 
Now, four years later, the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III has arrived and thankfully it hosts some upgrades to the video mode. With the more powerful DIGIC 5+ processor, moiré is reduced and the rolling shutter problems minimized. On the software side, encoding is more advanced, giving you options to record in a new, higher quality ‘All-i’ compression. 
  • Moiré: When shooting a video that contains areas of repetitive detail , if it exceeds the resolution of the camera it will create a wavy moiré pattern or haze like artifacts.
  • Rolling Shutter: When shooting video on a DSLR, different portions of the frame are exposed at different times in relation to the than other portions. When the subject or the camera moves during exposure, the result is reflected in the frame as either skew, wobble, or partial exposure. This distorts your image and hurts the quality.
The 5D Mark III’s 35mm full frame sensor allows for shallow depth of field and relatively sharp picture quality. You also have full manual control over the way your video looks, controlling shutter speed, ISO, and more.
  • ISO: The measure of a digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. This effects the amount of noise and grain present in your video.
To determine the amount of noise present in each ISO setting, we created a series of tests on 5D Mark III’s sensitivity. For those of you who haven’t seen the results watch the video above.
1. First Impressions: After reviewing the footage for the first time, we had a near impossible time seeing any noise below 20000 ISO. 
2. Results: Once we bumped up our levels and zoomed in 200%, we started to see that there is was at least some grain present in each ISO setting.
3. Conclusions: Native ISO numbers faired the best with 160, 320, 640, and 1250 showing the least amount of noise. Not that the other settings are bad, but I recommend avoiding them. ISO up to 6400 is usable but again stick with the native ISO numbers. 
More Canon 5D Mark II ISO video tests are coming soon, this time showing the noise levels with the Noise Reduction feature turned on (Normal & High). 
Stay tuned for more video previews here at CanonBootCamp.com




Best,

  Click this button to Connect
 
Trevor Eisenman
Social Media Strategist
The Association
818.841.9660 Office
626.975.6726 Cell

Touched by a Princess…thrice

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”.

- See more at: http://blog.theassociation.tv/#sthash.pO8ZJd6I.dpuf

Custom Video Production

There’s a huge difference between a video and a video that works.

A video that works actually helps the marketing and sales effort.  Many videos fall far short of helping.  Mos ha

A good video engages the viewer by showing pictures they find appealing. This can be a picture about something they like, and/or a picture shot in a way to be aesthetically pleasing.

The test of a good video is:  "Does it hold your interest if you turn the sound off?" If your video doesn’t, you’ve got some work to do.