Harvard Student Agencies teams up with McElroy Films!

McElroy Films has partnered with Harvard Student Agencies to help create their new Online ACT Prep initiative! Over the course of our 5 day shoot we will be filming 56 videos for H.S.A. in our green screen studio here in Burlington. Harvard Student Agencies is the largest student run company in the world, and employs over 500 undergraduates students annually. They are a multi-million, non-profit organization that provides Harvard students with meaningful employment and hands-on business experience. This Online ACT Prep initiative will bring the knowledge and experience of the H.S.A. tutors to their participants through a series of web based tutorials. These videos will cover all areas of the ACT test, including Math, Reading, Writing, English, and Science. We are very honored to be of help to such a great organization!

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3D Computer Animation Production Process

October 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

You may have noticed or it may have slipped by your perception, but almost all of the video content you see in the movies and on TV has been enhanced by computers. Whether it’s as simple as changing the color of an object on screen, or erasing an unwanted sign or license plate to intense processes such as completely rendering an entire world in 3D computer space, the video content you see is most likely manipulated somehow. You might be surprised to find out that the majority of cars in commercials these days are computer generated. “But they look so real,” you say? Well, the art of computer animation really is THAT good in the right hands.

Now, computer animation is very attainable for smaller projects. McElroy Films now has the means to portray products in 3D or create environments in 3D space and go where traditional video shoots cannot. Want to show a cutaway of your product? 3D animation can make it happen. Want to show very large or microscopic objects easily? Render them in 3D. Want to add pizzaz to your logo or branding? 3D can help that too. The world of 3D is limitless and a project is only limited by your imagination. Here, we want to show you how a 3D project goes from an idea to the screen.

3D Animation Process

An example of a wireframe

1. As in any video project, the first step is to create an idea that concisely and accurately conveys your message. A producer translates your ideas into video terms and may storyboard or script a project so you can see how the video will play out before it is even shot or edited. This preproduction process is critical and helps you save money. The fewer changes late in a process, the less editing and animation time are required.

 

 

 

2. Once a concept is in place for 3D animation, the animator takes over and starts the Modeling process. During this process, the animator creates every 3D object that will be included in the final product starting with a virtual wire frame. The wire frame is like a skeleton for each object and is the basis for the shape. The skeleton may have ‘hinged’ portions that allow for moving parts further on in the process. Modeling is often the longest part of the animation process because it is essential that the wire frame skeleton be accurate for the final product to look as close to a real object as possible. Some clients have been able to save time and money by providing 3D CAD files of products to the animator. The 3D CAD drawings may need to be tweaked a little, but essentially serve as the wire frame.

Texturing a face

Texturing a face

3. The next step is Texturing. In the texturing process, the animator applies a sort of covering over the wire frame created in the modeling phase. This process is similar to paper maché where the texture starts flat and then wrapped around the wireframe. The texturizing process is where an object gains realism. A gold object, for instance, would need to textured with a layer that is both accurate in color and the luster of gold. Skin on a face would need the right hue and detail to seem real. When texturizing 3D objects that actually exist in real life such as products (Fans, cars, etc.), the animator will actually carefully photograph the object and use the resulting photos to texturize the model.

Lighting a scene

Lighting a scene

4. After all the objects are modeled and textured, the animator will place them in 3D space and light them. This Lighting phase is very similar to lighting in the real world in that simulated light is strategically placed in the 3D environment to make sure that the object is visible, but also determining shadows and contrast.

5. The next step is to add particles to an animation. If the idea calls for fire and smoke, the animator will add those ‘particles’ of fire and resulting smoke in this phase. Particles range from fluids, sand, clouds, weather (rain/snow) and other similar phenomenon.

 

6. After all the Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, and Particle Additions are complete, then begins the actual animation process. ‘Animation’ is the actual manipulation of objects in space over time. It is a very mathematical process where the computer is told where an object is moving (Point A to B) and how fast (The period between point A and B). Depending on many factors, this process can take quite a bit of time, but it is where the actual magic of the video happens; when the object is given life.

7. When the animator is happy with the animation, the project is put through a rendering process. Rendering is essentially telling a computer to finalize the animation so that it can be viewed in real time. Because of the complexity and high definition nature of animation, often, the animator can’t even watch his progress until after the animation is rendered. This process has everything to with computer processing power and can take anywhere from a few seconds per video frame to hours depending on the scope and scale of the project. When it comes to budgeting a 3D animation project, a good way to make sure to keep costs low is to make sure the animator only has to render the project once. If there is a great plan in place from the beginning of the project, there will be fewer problems down the line.

Kaz Animation Sample8. The final stage in the animation process is the Editing stage. It is here that components such as sound, music, titles, and voice over are inserted into the video and the final touches made. It’s very tough for us video production folks to escape this fact, but it’s true: Sound is everything and can make or break a video. A video can look gorgeous, but if you put an inappropriate music selection or voice over under the video, it will be unwatchable. The editor in this stage helps make sure that the beautiful animation is given a proper audio treatment.

To see some examples of our 3D animation work check out our portfolio.


Boston Drone UAV Video Production

September 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

IMG_9815The use of remote-controlled aerial systems has been a hot topic recently as a result of the different rules and regulations in place governing their use in the United States. These systems are classified as UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)  and are commonly called drones or UASs (Unmanned Aerial Systems). The Federal Aviation (FAA) maintains that its current regulations ban the use of these systems for any and all commercial purposes while UAV use by hobbyists is approved. Many feel that the current rules and regulations in place by the FAA are not very clear and consistent and need to be solidified as soon as possible so US businesses and individuals can take advantage of this technology that has the ability transform the world videography and impact many industries. The FAA has addressed some of the speculation regarding drone usage here.

 

The case of a drone pilot taking aerial footage for an advertisement for the University of Virginia Medical Center (see story here) brought to light these inconsistencies and generated a lot of discussion on the matter. The FAA fined Raphael Pirker, the businessman flying the drone at the time, $10,00 because he didn’t have FAA authorization to use the UAS for commercial purposes. The judge sided with Pirker saying there were no specific rules prohibiting him from using the drone. This case provoked us to do more serious investigation on the matter.

 

IMG_9793Because we at McElroy Films are eager to offer UAV services to our customers, we have been talking to the FAA to clarify the current regulations and ensure we are as informed as possible. With our lawyers, we discussed with FAA Sources, Aviation Inspector at the FAA, some more details on UAV use. He says events similar to Pirker case are happening all over the country. “Most of them get ‘ratted’ out by a competitor– not really a good situation. Most are not pilots so they don’t approach things with the mindset that a pilot would” FAA Sources explains.

“Using an aircraft – and the FAA considers a UAS as an aircraft – for commercial purposes without a commercial license, airworthiness, or a Part 135 certificate is certainly under the authority of the FAA,” says FAA Sources. He says there are currently two ways for a civil operator to operate a UAS in the National Airspace System (NAS): as a hobbyist or modeler and with an experimental certificate or SAC-EC (Special Airworthiness Certificate- Experimental Category). However, only (non-commercial) categories this can be used for are research and development, crew training and market survey.“The staff at AFS-80 is furiously working to get what is called the ‘Small Rule’, or Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) Rule on the street, which is due out this year,” says FAA Sources. “There is currently no licensing or authorization that is available, which is one intent of this rule.”

McElroy Films CEO Ben McElroy says that he and his team are looking forward to the “Small Rule” to be able to use the drone to further enhance their videos and be the first to market with this service. “As always, we want to ensure that we are following all of the proper protocol of the industry, which sometimes requires a bit of investigation, especially as new technologies come about,” says McElroy. “There is great potential for UAV aerial videography to really transform the industry and we are excited to be one of the leading companies to do so once it is approved.”

 

 

 


McElroy Films Prepares for Drone Videography in Boston

September 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

We are incredibly excited to announce the newest member of the McElroy Films team: our very own UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). Commonly referred to as a “drone,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) refers to this remote-controlled aerial system as a UAS (unmanned aircraft system). Although our UAV is currently on the sidelines awaiting the FAA’s small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) rule, we’re enjoying the opportunity to keep it warmed up to make sure we’re fully ready for game time.IMG_9772

 

“We will be ready to start offering UAV videography as a service at McElroy Films as soon as the new rules and regulations come out regarding UAS use, specifically for commercial purposes,” says Ben McElroy who has been adamantly following and investigating the latest news on this topic. “While I enjoy playing with the UAV in my backyard with my children, all of us at McElroy Films are really looking forward to be able to use this equipment to improve and enhance the quality and awe factor of our commercial videos, particularly corporate videos and wedding videos. As a leader in our industry, we want to make sure we always have the latest technology to stay on the cutting edge, and UAV videography will allow us to do so. We intend on being the first company in Boston to offer this professional service in the Boston area,” McElroy says.

 

In anticipation of the SUAS rule, we have not only been practicing with the UAV (which is fully legal as we are only currently using it as hobbyists), but we have also been talking to officials, lawyers and pilots to make sure we have all of the latest information on the topic. The rule is expected to be released in November of this year, which gives us plenty of time to master the UAV and make sure we are taking all of the proper steps to ensure that this new member of our team proves to be nothing short of a McElroy All-Star.
IMG_9750UAV videography is a game changer in the videography industry and is highly beneficial to those interested in incorporating it into their videos. Currently to get aerial footage, you would need to hire an airplane or helicopter, which are options that aren’t feasible to most companies and individuals due to cost. Therefore, the use of UAVs will make quality aerial videography more readily accessible. Aerial footage adds a whole new perspective and dimension to a wide array of projects that span across many industries and sectors. Real estate companies, resorts, construction sites, wedding videos, marketing and branding are only examples of industries that can take advantage of aerial videography.

 

The possibilities UAVs and aerial videography can bring to an organization are endless. The opportunity to incorporate aerial videography into our already award-winning videos accompanied by our ability to flawlessly maneuver this cutting-edge technology will allow us to go above and beyond, taking McElroy Films to new heights.

 

Stay tuned for more information on our blog regarding FAA updates and UAS usage for commercial purposes. If interested in UAV videography once it has been regulated or if you have any general questions or comments, please contact info@mcelroyfilms.com.

 


Helpful Hints for Location Scouting

May 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

Boston based video production company, McElroy Films is enjoying the success of their growing corporate video division. The recent influx of clients looking to film their commercials on-location around Massachusetts is the inspiration behind our newest blog post.  This necessary step in pre-production planning is easier said than done, which is why this blog works to provide people with a few helpful tips for scouting the perfect shooting location.

1. Understand The Overall Concept: Understanding the video concept is essential to meeting the needs of your client. The location plays a supporting role to the script so if you understand the message of the video then you are already on your way to finding the perfect filming environment-one that is relevant to the concept. Be sure to ask your client who the target audience is before starting any pre-production work.

2. Timing is Everything: Visit the location on the day and time that you intend to film at so that you can preview the natural lighting as well as the pedestrian and automobile related noises and traffic.

3. Follow the Light: Be aware of where the sun rises and sets when you are filming both indoors and outdoors.  If the interior location does not have blinds then be prepared to bring portable blinds or sun blocking blankets. Lighting outdoor locations is tricky because the lighting changes throughout the day so  be sure to note where the sunrises and sun sets.

4. Get Permission to Film: Before sending the client a visual of a location make sure that you know if permits and legal permission  is required and if so, find out how long approval process takes. Ask a realtor for assistance if you need help finding locations and permits. Always be sure to bring release forms for all the people who appear on camera to sign otherwise you may not even be able to use the footage!

5. Take Photos and Notes: Take photos from as many angles and locations as possible and be sure to note the sounds, sunlight, cell service, proximity to parking and power sources, food, and bathrooms while you are scouting. These may seem like obvious things to remember but often times it is such a relief to find the perfect location that the small details get overlooked!

Good luck!


The Key to Successful Inbound Marketing

May 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Press Room

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A successful inbound marketing strategy should include targeted web videos that show rather than tell a targeted audience about the features and benefits of a product or service. Videos are effective marketing tools because visual content is proven to be more effective than text alone. Inbound marketing videos are focused on attracting the ideal consumer by providing them with content that appeals to their wants and needs, and answers questions. Quality content will attract audiences to a website and create a personalized brand experience that can be appreciated by new and existing consumers, especially if the content is consistently updated.

As stated in earlier blogs, adding video content to a website can increase its Google ranking by 50% according to Google Analytics, which is indicative of the effectiveness of inbound marketing and visuals. Web videos are optimal because the content is shared across multi-media platforms that consumers frequent like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. Furthermore, videos provide clients with real-time service that can be accessed at their convenience, which also allows a business to track and research the success of existing content. SEO is created in part to the process of people searching for specific video content using keywords then a video with related keywords is more li that relate to a business orThe process of inbound marketing like other strategies, works to attract, convert, and close a prospective client.

Stay tuned for more McElroy Films blog posts that break down the keys to successful inbound marketing.

mcelroy films reviews trusted us


6 Tips & Techniques For Filming Interviews

April 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Press Room

McElroy_Films_2009McElroy Films is a video production company that films interviews for a variety of their clients, including non-profits, schools, corporations, and organizations. Each client has a story to tell and a message relay to an audience so taking the time to understand whom you are filming and who your client is talking to should be first and foremost. Engaging an intended audience through video requires planning. McElroy Films has compiled a list of tips and techniques that may seem obvious but both the client and vendor often overlook. Go the extra mile and try out a few of these tips and techniques that will leave a lasting impression with your client.

1.Location: Scouting the filming location is key, especially if the client is working with a limited budget or number of interview subjects. Access to multiple filming locations or backdrops will make the subtle difference between your client’s videos looking manufactured instead of interesting and professional.

2. Lighting: Lighting a set can be tricky because of the various factors that need to be considered, especially when filming on-location instead of in-studio. The time of day/duration of filming, location, and lighting setup should be selected and scouted before the shoot.  Depending on the budget, hiring an experienced gaffer that understands all facets of lighting will save time and money, particularly during post-production.  For corporate interviews, a three-point lighting scheme should work…just don’t forget to bring extra bulbs and a pair of gloves!F-squared shoot

3. Camera Setup: Interviews are typically framed for medium shots (MS), medium close-ups (MCU), or a wide-shot, (WS) depending on the style of the interview. For stylistic shots, try framing close-up shots of the subject. A traditional interview setup places the interviewee and interviewer diagonally from each other so that the interviewee does not speak directly too the camera, which can make the client’s interview message feel contrived and or forceful to the audience. Have the producer or interviewer sit to the side of the camera’s and at eye-level with the subject.

4. Audio:  Audio can make or break a video. Bring a variety of mics, batteries, sound blankets, and cords because when it comes to audio, you can never be to prepared…wardrobe incompatibilities, weather, and location can throw audio curve balls. For interviews, the lavaliere mics are ideal because the mic has a short pickup and is omnidirectional, which means the mic picks up noises from every direction. A shot gun mic should be setup to record room tone and is suitable for recording audience questions or commentary.

5. Wardrobe: Provide your client with a list of suggested attire in advance so that they have time to find the right outfits. Your client should bring AT LEAST 4 to 5 different outfits to set. Need more specifics? Come to set with at least 2 different suiting blazers and several dress shirts. Avoid wearing whites, greens (especially for green screen shoots), stripes, fluorescent colors, bold patterns, graphic prints, and clothing that shakes, rattles, or rocks because the lav mic will pick up the sound and compromise the sound clarity.

6. Makeup: Command the set. Show you’re confident and capable. Satisfy the client by coming prepared with a basic makeup kit that contains a roll of paper towel, makeup remover wipes, hairspray, combs, a mirror, disposable makeup applicators, and various shades of translucent pressed powder. Understandably, applying makeup to a stranger’s face can be awkward but powdering your client’s t-zone before rolling is a standard practice that should not be avoided. For quality content, your interview subject should feel comfortable and confident enough to speak open and honestly. These subtle touches will relax whoever is in the hot seat… sitting under the lights can make can anyone sweat and feel self-conscious so powder the forehead, temple, nose, chin, and any other shiny spots ahead of time.

fenway health interview webinar

For more information contact us at info@mcelroyfilms.com or call 718 229 5900.

 


Horrorscope Book Trailer to Screen Nationwide

April 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Animation, Blog, Corporate, Portfolio

With last year’s success of the “At Fenway” music video staring William Shatner, ‘croonerman’ Brian Evans has turned his focus to a different facet of the entertainment industry: Writing. Together with his mother, Helen Marie Bousquet and friend, Mark Andrew Biltz, Brian wrote a thriller, ‘Horrorscope’, featuring a psychic that is forced to work for the mafia. Things don’t go too well for the mafia when their entrapped psychic’s death brings forth a violent manifestation of the Zodiac to avenge her mistreatment. The book was officially released the beginning of April to great reviews and is available in stores and online.

To promote the novel, Brian reached out to McElroy Films to create a concept and execute a basic 30 second trailer that will be shown in AMC theaters in the United States and beyond for several months. McElroy Films previously created a trailer for Brian’s ‘At Fenway’ music video that also aired before movies before the start of the Red Sox 2013 championship season with great success.

The Horrorscope trailer features a ‘star chart’ design complete with the Zodiac signs. The music was customized and composed by Chris Bezold, a frequent partner of McElroy Films over the last year, composing work for such videos as the ‘WWPass’ overview and others.

 


What is an FTP Transfer?

April 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Burlington

What is an FTP Transfer? McElroy_Films_2009

An FTP transfer or File Transfer Protocol is what we, in the video production world, use to transfer files from one host to another host through the Internet.  Clients of McElroy Films often ask us what our preferred method of delivery is for files and completed videos.  Often times, there is no singular answer to this question because the method is  dependent on the client’s time frame and technical capabilities, not to mention the size of the files. As a video production company with a far reaching list of clientele, we are accustomed to sending files and products quickly and effectively throughout the country and overseas. This blog works to translate a hardy technological term into a comprehensible explanation of the FTP Transfer process.

FTP transfers occur when the client and the server connect through the Internet to share files.  Unlike a tangible hard drive, the FTP transfer is an ideal method of delivery if the client is not interested in paying for the storage drive, sales tax, and the shipping fees. Despite the shipping cost of hard drives, they are still the best and fastest way to send a large quantity of files, not to mention, they provide timeless data storage. FTP transfers are ideal for sending files remotely, however the process is timely as it takes equal loading and uploading time, from client to the server, therefore a strong and safe Internet connection is recommended for a successful transfer.

Screen Shot of FTP Transfer

FTP transfers can require a login and username in order to allow access whereas other FTP transfers require no login or username.  Be sure to ask your client or vendor if they have a login or username for FTP transfers.  Once the client or vendor has access to the login or files then the files are ready to be transferred. Be sure to monitor the transfer throughout the process. Trust us, we enjoy helping our clients to understand the entire production process, including the delivery process.

If you have any questions regarding various methods of delivery or other facets of the production process then submit your questions to info@mcelroyfilms.com and we will dedicate our next blog post to answering your question.


Victory Programs Works with Boston Video Production Firm

April 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

Victory-programs-boston-2McElroy Films teamed up with one of Boston’s largest non-profits, Victory Programs. From concept to completion, the video production company created the organizations latest overview video that profiles the various institutions that are apart of the organization.

Filming on the C300, Ben McElroy and his crew captured footage and interviewed clients at Victory Programs’ Boston Living Center (BLC), which is a nonprofit community and resource center that promotes the wellness of all HIV positive people and responds to the changing needs of the HIV/AIDS community through education, treatment information and support services.

The video also features footage of the original Victory House facility that was created in 1985. Victory House is a 4-6 month residential treatment program in Boston’s South End. The house holds up to 24 people and caters to men with substance use disorders who may also be dealing with mental health issues and chronic illnesses.

Like Fenway Health and other non-profit clients, Victor Programs turned to McElroy Films to create their agency video that would speak to people about the work that the agency does. Victory’s video will be hosted on their website and will also act as a engaging and informative promotional material at galas and events.

Stay tuned for more of McElroy Films non-profit work!Victory-programs-boston

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