Avoiding Production Pitfalls!!

Who sees all the stupidest mistakes Directors and Producers make but won't own up to? Why, the Director of Photography and Gaffer, of course! Our panel of experts has seen it all from behind the lens, both good and bad. And they are not afraid to tell you about the worst (and most common) production flubs and how they could have been avoided! All this on November 18th at our monthly meeting.

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Call a Media Professional!! Part 2

In Part One, I talked about why businesses need to take the trouble to find a professional media communications expert. Now, what goes into a successful business video? And where do you find the right producer?

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Professionals are Transparent

I was adding friends on the MCAI-OC Community Page the other day and was struck once again by the number of pros who shoot themselves in the foot with social networking. Are you one of them? Here's a few basic pointers that apply to Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, and others including our MCAI-OC Community...

Like most social networking sites the MCAI-OC Community Page lets you reach, become friends and share with other professionals in a number of ways:

  • Connect and expand your network
  • View profiles and add new friends
  • Share your photos and videos
  • Create your own group or join others

But as a professional whose time is valuable, I am not likely to share any of these functions with someone I can't identify! For starters, why would anyone who wants to connect with other professionals use a screen name or email handles that hides who they are-or worse, creates a non-professional or even negative impression?

If you're networking for business I suggest you use your real name-all of it! It's a good idea not to hide behind an obscure screen name or get too cutsie with your email name. Names like kuteegirl97 or bikedude are an instant red flag to me. Not only are they nonprofessional (remember this isn't high school social for me --it's business) they tell me nothing about you....which, considering the thought you put into picking a name like that, may be a good thing for you.

Worst of all are names that actually convey a negative image. weedtoker100 or whichendisup may be funny to ninth graders but will kill any possible business connections you may hope to make--unless it's at the Medical Marijuana Dispensary website.

What are you hiding? How about using your real name? Ever notice how real businesses--businesses that make real money with real employees who get paid--format their email names? Usually it's some version of: first initial-dot-last name @ our corporate URL. Why do you think they do that? Because they have no imagination or sense of humor? Maybe they desperately want to be boring. Or maybe it's because a plain straightforward ID helps people find you--and in the case of social networking for business, WANT to find you!

The exception to this is a carefully thought out, creative screen name that tells strangers what you do. These handles may not reveal your name but if done well they are memorable marketing devices. A writer friend uses BonMot7. It's also on his license plate. A well respected announcer uses thevo4u. This can actually be helpful in emails where the URL is an ISP like gmail or where your company name is not self-explanatory.

Unless you're Cher I suggest you use both your names. Again, a good exception is someone like comedian and character actor Robert Deioma who markets his act as Bubba DaSkitso, So registering as just Bubba on certain social networking sites may make sense. My friend, voice artist Tina Wilson, uses This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

And finally, why would anyone go to the trouble of signing up for a networking site and NOT fill in some--at the very least basic--contact information? Yes, it happens-much too frequently I find. Fine, put 99 as your age and don't list any personal info, but DO tell me what you do professionally and give me a reason to want to contact you and add you as a "friend."

In short, if you're networking online for business, make yourself transparent: be easy to identify, easy to get to know and post enough information so I will want to know you and possibly work with you!

--John Coleman

Call a Media Professional!! Part 2

In Part One, I talked about why businesses need to take the trouble to find a professional media communications expert. Now, what goes into a successful business video? And where do you find the right producer?

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Call a Media Professional!! Part 1

Most business owners want only the best quality suppliers. But when it comes to video and web communications they don't know where to begin-or all too often are willing to settle for a quick solution. Here's the solution...

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Juggling Two Careers

Have you ever wished there were more than 24 hours in a day so that you could get more accomplished? I think we've all been there. As a voice-over artist as well as a vocalist, I've discovered something that applies to every media professional...

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The Voice of Experience

Acting is Fun--Seriously! I'm a character actor and I really enjoy performing. I've been in more than fifty plays over the years and take my craft very seriously while still having a great deal of fun along the way. I'm an actor, a performer, and when on stage I've been asked to play many roles. Over the last 18 months or so...

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Don't Fake it!

By Rick Sherman

Let's talk about communicating with musicians. Music has indeed been referred to as a language (sometimes, the universal language), and it does obviously have some of its very own proprietary jargon. However, when it comes to being unfamiliar with the language...

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Find Your END Client!

By Rick Sherman

I once experienced a situation that showed me the importance of dealing directly with the end client-the person making final decisions on a project. I had composed an original composition for a 30 second television commercial promoting "the Yellow Pages" directory...

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It's ONLY Audio?

It always amazes me how visually oriented some media industry pros can be. Years ago, I was working very late sweetening a project at my studio, when the owner of the video post-production company located in the same building peered in, and said "Why are you working so late on that? It's only audio!" Unfortunately, he was only half joking.

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100 Best Blogs for Film and Theater Student

By Laura Milligan

Film and theater students aren’t limited to their school labs, studios or stages anymore. Online resources including performance and audition tips, production and editing tools, monologue databases and film festival entry guidelines are available to anyone interested in the industry. Following is a list of 100 of the best blogs to find these resources and tips.

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Adding Telephone Conversations to your Recording

By Fred Ginsburg C.A.S. Ph.D. MBKS

For our BKSTS Moving Image Society trans-Atlantic live event, we had our Burbank
host connected to the system via a wireless mic system and wireless earphone
(aka IFB). The ENG-44 mixer fed audio to the VES/Delta 3000 deskbook, which
connected to London via Skype.

It is not unusual for a videographer to need to record a telephone conversation
or telephone interview on location.

In the old days of broadcast, this required some specialized pieces of
equipment, known as phone patches or hybrids. This equipment can get expensive;
although if you are in the telephone talk-show business, the advanced features
and high quality make them worth the investment.

Less demanding and less permanent situations may not warrant that kind of budget
outlay. Thankfully, there is a simple alternative: Skype.

For those of you unaware, Skype is an internet application that can be freely
downloaded and installed onto your laptop or desktop computer. It allows you to
connect to one or more other computers anywhere in the world, and talk. If you
are webcam equipped, you can even video conference. All you need is a built-in
or external microphone and a headset or speaker system connected to your
computer. The person, or persons, that you are connecting to also needs to be
similarly connected to their computer(s) at the other end.

For example, I routinely participate in monthly board meetings of the British
Kinematograph Sound and Television Society (aka The Moving Image Society). I am
in California, but the meetings are held in London. Using the magic of Skype,
those of us outside of London are able to conference call and "attend" via
long-distance internet. Meetings often last 2 or 3 hours, yet the cost of the
"call" remains free!

Back to the original premise of this article: How to Record a Phone Conversation.

Rather than being limited by the quality (or lack thereof) in your laptop
built-in mic, I recommend employing a portable mixing panel to serve as the
microphone interface.

The ENG-44 Mixing Panel (manufactured by Sign Video and sold by pro audio
dealers such as Equipment Emporium) is extremely affordable and fully portable.
The ENG-44 can accept up to four XLR inputs (mic or line level) and has true
48vPhantom mic powering. Because the outputs, in addition to XLR line/mic,
include 3.5mm stereo mini mic and line, it is easy to plug into your computer.

On my own VES/Delta 3000 laptop, I just plug in a short cable from the 3.5mm
stereo mini mic out to the laptop mic in. I connect regular XLR mics for the
"host" and "guest" at my end into the mixer. In addition, I can use either the
mixer's built-in slate mic or an additional XLR mic to enable either the sound
mixer or production staffer to be able to converse with the telephone caller
"off the air".

For the highest quality "host" audio, you could take the XLR output from the
ENG44 and send that directly to the recorder.

For recording the "phone-in" portion, just send the headphone output (or line
output, if you have one) from the computer to an empty soundtrack on your
recorder. I use a "Y" cable stereo to stereo headphone splitter on the output of
the computer, so that one leg of the Y goes to the recorder and the other leg of
the Y can feed either headphones, wireless ear-wigs, or speakers. On the ENG44,
you could even take advantage of the audio return feature that allows you to
switch the mixer headphones from direct (the ENG44 mixer inputs) to return (the
audio output from the computer).

Skype allows you to connect either to a single computer at the other end, or
create a "multiple party" conference call. If you demand the highest audio
quality, you should arrange for a good microphone at the remote caller's
location. The XLR-Pro adapter box from Sign Video works very well at adapting
XLR mics to stereo mini mic out for connecting to computers.

If your "caller" does not have access to a computer setup, you can also use
Skype to connect to a regular phone line (there is a slight fee for that, but it
is really insignificant).

So there you have it. Professional grade "phone-in" audio at an amateur's

Side Notes: For the "roaming host", the author uses an Audio Technica UHF
diversity wireless mic system with handheld dynamic mic, and a Listen
Technologies LT-700/LR-400 assisted listening transmitter/receiver for IFB. The
line-input to the Listen Tech transmitter accepts both an RCA line level input
and simultaneously a mono-mini mic input. The output of the computer is split
with a Y cable, and one leg is sent to the RCA line input of the Listen Tech. An
inexpensive Listen Tech lavalier mic is also connected to the input cable.
Speaking into this lavalier enables the production staff to communicate ONLY to
the host, aka private line, without going out to Skype or program. Using the
slate mic of the mixer enables the staff to converse not only with the host, but
also to the caller.


One of the most important reasons media and production professionals join MCA-I is to find new business through the networking opportunities we provide at meetings and special events.  But there are other ways MCA-I helps you grow your business.  Here are three - actually four - great opportunities to publicize yourself and your business through your membership in MCA-I.

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