Monthly Archives: September 2012

Maderize Me!

We’ve been Maderized! Maderization is going to be the next big thing in Hollywood. What exactly is Maderization? It’s hard to describe, yet so simple. In one word, Maderization is magic. Magic is intangible, and so is the essence of Maderization. You can’t point at it and say: “there it is” because it isn’t one thing. Allow me to rewind and explain how I first encountered Maderization and The Maderizer himself, Mr. Ken Mader (an award-winning Director, Editor and Cinematographer).

I was editing one of our Canon Boot Camp shorts, The Sonnet, and had grown tired of sifting through hours upon hours of footage. Everything was pieced together on the timeline according to the storyboard but I was left uninspired. I just knew something was missing that could propel this piece to what it should and could be. The story we were aiming to tell is beautiful, so I wanted to do it justice. However, the clips that were layed on my timeline were just that, clips, not a story. Something about it almost seemed lifeless. My work with the piece was done, and I didn't know what else to do with it, so I sent it to Ken to finesse (at that point, I had not yet created the term "Maderize"). I was definitely worried that what we had on paper was not going to be reflected on screen, but all I could do was give it to Ken and wish him luck. 

A few days later, I went to Ken's edit bay to see what he had done. The opening credits scrolled past, and I thought it looked good. The next thing I knew, I was entranced in the very story I helped to develop, not sure what was coming next, as if I was watching it for the first time. The same clips I had layed on the timeline were still there, but they seemed new and alive. It was the strangest thing to see something I had stared at for weeks seem new and different, and of course better. The very first words that came out of my mouth were "Thank you Ken! You saved it!!". To this day, I still don't know what he did to Maderize it. He turned the short from "blah" to gold. I don't know what it is, but I won't lose sleep over figuring it out because I know that when I'm stuck, I'm sending my video to The Maderizer for an intense Maderizing session. 

Here is the final Maderized product, The Sonnet

Now you see why the term "Maderize" had to be invented. There isn't a word in the dictionary (yet) that describes what Ken can do, which is to bring a project to its best and set a higher standard of production.

Sometimes (or always), you just need a true professional storyteller who will guide you out of the apocalyptic production jungle. Luckily, The Maderizer is training me to be his first Maderite and someday this HDSLR Ninja will become a Maderization Ninja, aka a magician. 

Here is another video Maderized for The Association:

Get Maderized! Contact The Maderizer to increase your production value and check out his work at and I've been Maderized!

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The Association’s Stat – 4 to 8 times the industry average.
The Association’s Pay Per Click campaigns perform 4 to 8 times better than the industry average?


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The proof – 8.48% conversion rate
How do we do it?  We use proven, scientific marketing methods that WORK.

Wouldn’t you like your email stuffed with leads in the morning? Clients have literally asked us to turn off the marketing campaigns because they were so backlogged following up on the leads we generated.

How does this apply to your marketing?

Let’s say you spend $100. on your promo marketing. Let’s say you make a $100. on each close. Well, if  you only get one reach out of the hundred (a 1% return), that reach cost you $100. If you close that one lead, you make $100. So, you break even. If you don’t close that reach, you just lost $100. This is why people stop marketing. THEY’RE LOSING MONEY. DUH!

There’s NO WAY you can EVER, EVER, EVER make money with anemic marketing. Period. But we still see people throwing money away on marketing that only gets a 1% response.

POWER MARKETING – But with The Association’s scientific methods,  you can get four to eight leads.

Applying this to the example above, instead of a lead costing  you $100,  you know get 8 leads which cost you $12.50 per lead.  If you close a $12.50 lead, you make $100 (you pay back your marketing investment of $100). But here’s the good news. If you close two $12.50 leads you pay back your marketing expense and you make another $100. If you close three you made $200. profit. This is the secret to paying for your marketing and making a lot of money. This is “power marketing”!

Be smart. Let us put our scientific methods work for you.

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This is the time to grab market share, when everybody else has cut back. Power Marketing will give a better return on your marketing dollar and increase your profits. Break out of anemic* marketing. Call us.

*(def. anemic – lacking force, vitality or spirit.)

(def. anemia – Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues. If you have anemia, you probably feel tired a lot. Etymology – anemia – 1824, from French medical term (1761), Mod.L., from Gk. anaimia “lack of blood,” from anaimos “bloodless,” from an- “without” + haima “blood”)

Adventure Filmmaker Ventures into the Canon Boot Camp

Dominic Gill’s experience at the Canon Boot Camp

Dominic Gil is definitely an adventurer. Already very experienced with the Canon DSLR 5D before he came, there were some knowledge gaps and questions to resolve. Here’s what he had to say about his training experience:

 Dominic Gil Adventure FilmmakerI took the Canon Boot Camp because i don’t know everything about the 5D Mark II. Or, I didn’t! Well, having used the 5D quite a lot, I had a few queries, and they were answered pretty successfully, and I certainly felt like I’m walking away with a better feel for the menu system in the camera.

I think one of the nicest things about it is it’s very relaxed, not intimidating at all. Kind of like learning [the]  “good old fashioned home style cooking” way, you know, it’s very informative but never intimidating – always a helpful hand when you need it. If you’re interested in this camera, it’s a really quick, easy digestible way to get very comfortable with it.

Dominic Gil
Adventure Filmmaker

Notes from the Manual: Histograms Part II

Understanding Histograms: Part II

Excerpt from the Canon Boot Camp Manual


Histograms in cameras total how many sensors are reporting a certain value of light and then build a graph to visualize that.

The picture below is of a grey scale. It shows values of light from black to white. The values of light go from 0 (black) to 255 (white). The line along the bottom is marked by the values of 0 (darkest) on the left and 255 (brightest) on the right. 18% grey is right in the middle.

Histogram of a Gray Scale2
0%                                             177                                                 255                                                                            18% Gray

The spikes show the amount of pixels reporting that tonal value. In the above picture, the sensors are picking up nearly identical quantities in a range of tones from black to white. The grey scale isn’t perfect. You can notice the left edge of each column of grey is slightly lighter that the other edge. This is why some of the spikes are slightly taller than others.

You can see there are stacks for each of the shades of grey until it reaches complete white. The white spike (and the black spike are hard to see because they are up against the sides of the histogram.

Draw a histogram of what tone the pixels are sensing.

Let’s say you have a camera with only 15 pixels on the sensor. Below each circle represents a pixel on your camera’s sensor. Pixels measure light. The histogram uses these “reports” from each pixel to build the columns of the histogram.

How pixels build the columns in a histogram

DRAW : The column the histogram would build if all 15 sensors were reporting absolute white.

Practice your understanding of histograms by printing off the picture below and drawing in the column.

Draw your own histogram columns


Pixels “seeing” different values of light.

Now here’s the same sensor but it is “seeing” different values or tones of black, grey and white.

Pixels and how they see different values of light

Draw in the number of pixels reporting each of the tones. Assume the greys are exactly the value in the middle of the histogram, i.e. 18% grey.

Draw a histogram of your own

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New Director Christopher Smith Takes on DSLR Filmmaking

Chris Smith at the Canon Boot Camp


Chris Smith is a reality show editor moving into directing. Canon DSLRs being the excellent choice they are for new directors and producers, he took the Canon Boot Camp to learn the art of filmmaking – in just two days.

Only two days, you ask? How could anyone get up to a professional level as a filmmaker in just two days? It’s true, you may not arrive as an ordinary run-of-the-mill human and leave as James Cameron, but you WILL leave knowing how to properly shoot digital video on a Canon DSLR. Including best practices on proper digital capture and post-production workflow.

Check out what Chris had to say about his experience at the boot camp by clicking on the video above.


Christopher Smith lines up a shot at the Canon Boto Camp“Literally everything that I learned was brand new, so everything was pretty eye opening to me. And l literally I took about 60 still pictures with that camera before I came to this boot camp. I mean, everything from f-stop to ISO, to all of the lighting and framing and composition was all brand new to me really.

Yeah, I was a bit intimidated when i first came in because I didn’t know the skill level of everyone else in the class. And a lot of the people here that were taking the boot camp were a lot more experienced than I was. And they were very helpful in showing me all the tips that they knew.

The instructor Fletch made it really, like a cool laid back class, and it wasn’t like reading a manual. Definitely liked the boot camp, especially for someone that has no experience, it taught me more than I could have expected.

Christopher Smith
Reality Show Editor
Future Director




Still Photographer Serena Lissy Comments on her Canon Boot Camp Experience

Serena Lissy at the Palm Springs Photo Festival

Serena Lissy - Commercial Photographer


Serena Lissy is a Commercial Photographer who attended the Canon Boot Camp at the Palm Springs Photo Festival on April 2012. Although she specializes in “advertising and editorial photography for product, food, spaces and places” she is broadening her skills by delving into the video components available in Canon DSLRs.

Here’s what Serena had to say about her experience at the Canon Boot Camp:

“Your staff is awesome, you guys all work well together. Everyone was friendly, they were knowledgeable, and they were just fun to work with.”

Serena Lissy
Commercial Photographer



Notes from the Manual: Histograms Part I

Understanding Histrograms: Part I

Excerpt from the Canon Boot Camp Manual

Histogram Introduction

Histogram comes from the Greek word “histos” “mast” and English word “gram”. You could call it a type of graph.

The Canon can display a histogram over the picture you are taking and it eliminates, to a great extent, the need for a light meter. It helps you see if your shot is too bright or too dark.


Technically a histogram came from the field of statistics. Most people call it a “graph”. There’s an X axis (horizontal line) and a Y axis (the vertical line). So the histogram (graph) shows the values plotted along the axes.

For example, the stock exchange report is a histogram. It shows quantity of money at a given time.

A Histogram could be compared to a stock market graph
It plots how the cost of a stock over a span of time.


This budget histogram (graph) shows the quantity of money spent in different categories.

A Histogram could be compared to a graph displaying budget categories

This histogram (below) might be something a dog breeder keeps. It shows the quantity of dogs they have grouped by black and white values.

A Histrogram could be compared to any graph, even one used by a dog breeder to track dogs











DRILL: Add a column that shows 3 grey dogs.

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Charles Kay Jr., Still Photographer and his Canon Boot Camp Experience

What can a Still Photographer learn from the Canon Boot Camp? 


I graduated from Brooks in 1992, and I found out about the boot camp because I wanted to hone in some video skills with my Canon 5D, and I've bloomed quite a bit today! I'm excited to shoot tomorrow. I was surprised realistically at the amount of equipment needed to produce something. And really the limited amount you really could use also, and produce some decent quality video. I liked that part.

I'd absolutely recommend the boot camp, especially to professional still photographers that want to get into the video market. I think that you need to learn with a hands-on classroom. This is definitely one of those.  I think that is huge. You don't have rows of people listening to a dry speaker with a bunch of great slides or boring slides. I think the fact that Fletch shoots and is working today is a nice factor also. But the size of the class, definitely, but the hands-on portion as well, really blend together well…

You know, what I think I learned was a beginning recipe and the rest, which I liked as well, I leave up to Pablo Naruda and think about exploring my life through film.

Charles Kay Jr.
Still Photographer


* A reference to the poet Pablo Naruda, a poem of whom was featured in the short film "The Sonnet" produced by Canon Boot Camp students.

Meet Michael Brewer and get the “secret recipe” to his custom rig

Michael Brewer is an award winning DP, Director, and Producer, as well as one of the instructors at the Canon Boot Camp. His diverse projects have taken him to over 30 countries. His work consists of narrative films, music videos, and commercials/PSAs which can be seen on PBS, the History Channel, 20/20, ABC Nightline and more. He has used a variety of film, HD Video and HDSLR cameras including Panasonic P-2, RED ONE, Canon 5D, Arriflex, and more. Michael brings indispensable knowledge and insight to every Canon Boot Camp.

michael brewer

Although Michael is an accomplished DP, he came to the Canon Boot Camp first as a student. Here is what he had to say about his experience:

“I took the Pro Level 1 class covering everything – from all the technical/aesthetic settings, picture styles, histograms, sound recording, HDSLR for green screen, demystifying the DSLR workflow and more. I shot my son’s music video the very next week.”

Here, Michael answers two of my most pressing questions:

1.     What do you like about the Canon Boot Camp?

One thing that I really like about the Canon Boot Camp is the incorporation of a short narrative screenplay that the students shoot as part of Pro Level 2. The shots are designed so that the Canon 5D is pushed to its limits in terms of dynamic range, mixed light situations, and shooting in low light – candle light, practicals, etc. We also put the students and cameras through their paces using various support rigs such as which add professional production value. It feels great watching everyone’s confidence grow, using the camera to the point where it’s almost second nature. There is time pressure and many of the other production challenges of real-life situations.

Like a seasoned director once told me, “make demands and people will grow.”

2.     What is your favorite HDSLR gear/equipment?

My favorite piece of HDSLR gear has to be my Red Rock Captain Stubing camera rig with follow focus. I cannibalized an older DVTec shoulder rig, using its’ waist belt and telescoping rod, giving the desired three points of contact for a more stable shot  (left handle, right handle, rod…and four points of contact if you are also using a Zacuto Z-finder). The spring-loaded telescoping rod acts as a shock absorber – whether just standing still or walking, sort of a poor man’s Steadicam. To me, this setup makes my camera feel more organic and  fluid.

I can also easily adjust the distance between the LCD viewfinder and my eyes for maximum clarity. I’m used to pulling my own focus, so the follow focus operation is second nature. You can adjust the left microhandle and hold it while using the same hand to operate the follow focus.  A matte box is easily attached to the base plate rods.I also keep a Manfrotto quick release plate attached to the cheese plate to get it on and off of the tripod quickly.

brewer rig

Michael used this rig in Namibia to shoot the short film African Cowboy. Click here to view the trailer.

Michael notes that, “The emerging Namibian filmmakers that I met had never actually seen or had the camera in their hands before. To my knowledge, that was the first time they were able to see the Canon 5D up close and personal. That was May 2011.”