THE VIDEO WAR ROOM — HOW TO MAKE A “SMASH” VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 3.11.33 AMWe’ve gotten a ton of emails, and interest, after the release of our most recent “Next Day Video” about Oscar Night. The majority of the emails asked the simple question : How did you turn that video around so quickly?

The Oscars ended after midnight, and the video, which included original music, and a bunch of Oscar moments. went live on youtube at 4:30 AM, or a couple hours before people started logging on the next morning.

We did this to make a point to prospective clients – a good video does not always need a storyboard, a DP, three rounds of edits and a month of post production work.  In fact, in this new social media-driven world, a lot of times ads, and campaigns can grow stale if they take too much time to post them.

Oreo set an amazing example at last year’s Super Bowl.  They put a “marketing war room” together the night of the Super Bowl. When a “water-cooler event” happened, they got to work.  The power went out, and they put the now-famous “you can still dunk in the dark” pic on social media.  It blew up.  In fact, it became the biggest advertising success of the night, at an infinitesimal fraction of the cost to run a TV ad.

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That motivated us to try the first-ever “Video War Room” the night of the Oscars.  Here were the rules:

1. Come into it with the framework of something good.  For us, it was the theme that as parents we didn’t see any of these movies.  We had already written the “hook” (the chorus), and several verses as well, knowing many of them would get cut for the sake of more current events.

2. Be patient.  This is something you learn as a news reporter.  Don’t take the first good thing you hear and skedaddle to the editing room.  Sit back, and digest what is going on.  Ellen had a great opening monologue (especially the Liza Minelli bit), but if we had taken that and gotten to work, we would’ve missed the water-cooler event of the night (Paging Mr. Travolta…)

3. Listen to your friends. If possible, watch the event with buddies, people who don’t have a vested interest in creating the video. They will give you an honest reaction to everything that is going on.

4. Scour Twitter.  That is honestly 99% of what my wife did that night.  We were actually downstairs making some changes when Adele Dazeem happened.  Twitter blew up, we went upstairs and hit rewind, and we knew we had the water-cooler event.

5. Don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen.  For a War Room, you need the smartest people you know, but one clear voice that will make the final decisions.  If that voice can also be the writer and editor, that is ideal.

6. S.M.A.S.H.  This is a strategy Greenroom adopted on its first day, and it is still working well.  make sure your production includes each of the following:

Speed : explained above – quick turnaround keeps it fresh

Music : Whether its at the forefront, a bed or and open/close, it’s pretty standard for anything that isn’t a vine or gif.

Asymmetry : Look for, or create, moments that are out of balance, things that you don’t normally see.

Spontaneity : in the course of the writing, editing, and shooting, don’t be afraid to take any additional great moments and fit them into the piece.  They may not have been part of your original plan, but they are often the best, and most memorable, moments.

Humor : Not for every video, but unless it’s an incredibly serious subject, you need to find a way to make the viewer smile.  How? That’s worth an entirely different blog post.

Thanks for reading… Agree? Disagree? By all means, let me know.

The Oscars for Families Who Only Get to Watch Kids Movies

This is off the top of my head, no help from Google or IMDB… which is terrifying.  I’ve watched these way too many times.  Please, comment, share, agree and disagree. and check out our “Next Day Video”

Best Actor – Flint Lockwood, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Honorable Mention : Gru, Despicable Me 2; Mike Wazowski, Monsters University, Christoph, Frozen

Flint is freaking hilarious, and a singular unique character.  My daughter rewound his oscar moment about 27 times. And he showed incredible range moping after not getting the Orange Vest. Sometimes I feel like walking like this…

Best Actress : Eep, The Croods

Honorable Mention : Elsa, Frozen; Anna, Frozen; Lucy, Despicable Me 2

The upset of the night! Elsa was the clear front-runner with the strong voice and dramatic moments… but it reminded the voters a little too much of “Wicked”… even the signature song felt a lot like “Defying Gravity”.  Anna was also great, but we all know Oscars, even fake ones, go to characters that are mentally challenged.  A cave woman who understands neither fire nor basic geography is Oscar Gold.

Best Supporting Actor (tie): Carl, Kevin, Phil, Jerry, Stuart, Tom, Dave, Tim, Jorge, Lance, Paul, Donny, Mark, Bob, John, and Steve, Despicable Me 2

Honorable Mention : Chet, Turbo; Olaf, Frozen, Barry, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

I lied.  I did Google the names of The Minions. The Minions of DM2 are simply spectacular.  They do so much with nothing but sounds and motions… their only audible words?  Banana… And Underwear.  If you ever wanted to see their masterful All4One cover with the lyrics subtitled, here you go . Olaf was great and so was Barry… this was the most stacked category, by far.

Best Supporting Actress : Dean Hardscrabble, Monsters University

Honorable Mention : Vexy, Smurfs 2, Agnes, Despicable Me 2

I don’t have to justify my decades-long crush on Helen Mirren.  It’s part of who I am.  My wife is a aware of it and knows there is nothing she can do to change it.

Best Picture : Frozen

Honorable Mention : Cloudy 2, Despicable Me 2

Shockingly left off the podium for all the individual awards, Frozen wins the big one.  The real Oscars got it right…My personal favorite was Cloudy 2, but anything that gets your son and daughter singing, on average, for 2 hours a day needs some hardware.  Kind of shocking that this is the FIRST ever Animated Oscar going to Disney.  They didn’t have an animated category back in the day, but still surprising.

OK, here is the part where you disagree violently, or rightfully question why I bothered to write this.  Comment Below.

OSCAR NIGHT WITH THE HOLDERNESS FAMILY

I remember the last time Ellen hosted the Oscars. It was seven years ago, and we had just had our first child… which means that during Oscar season, Kim was in her third trimester and there was NO better place to take her than a dark, climate controlled room. So we saw every single best picture nomination, even a few foreign films and documentaries. We were movie buffs, and we were better for it. MOVIES ARE AWESOME.

Seven years later, well, just watch the video. We have an incredibly active family (thankfully) but not so much with the movie watching….

EASY ON THE AUTOTUNE

Thanks to all of you who watched, and commented on, our snow day video. One thing we heard a lot… “EASY ON THE AUTOTUNE!!”
I totally agree. For some reason when I put it together in Garage Band, it didn’t sound nearly so robotic… didn’t even notice it in edit (probably because I was focusing on the video). But yeah, we sound like T-Pain. Awful. That’s what happens when an amateur mixes a song. By the way, without Autotune I sound pretty bad these days – i don’t know if its an Acid Reflux thing or an Asthma thing, but it’s a train wreck.
Next time I record I’ll either leave it out or I’m going to try and enlist professional help, like I did with the guys from Sound Pure a couple years ago. they taught me about just how ubiquitous Pitch Correction is these days, and even used me as a guinea pig – enjoy…. and yes I used way too much gel back then.

SNOW DAY!

Families, how do you REALLY feel about snow days with your kids? We had a snow day yesterday (Wednesday February 12), and decided to use the day putting this together…

Thanks to our neighbor Donnie, who drove our car through the cul de sac during the biggest snowstorm we’ve had in maybe a decade, and our neighbor Ella, who was the only cameraperson outside our family (and she’s 13!). Also thanks to that really nice woman from Twitter who made me a floating Bob Costas head. It takes a village to make a moderately amusing music video.

Oh and school is closed again today. and I’m sure tomorrow.

Greenroom’s First National Ad

A lot of you may be following this blog because you want to see what happens when a perfectly secure family jumps off a cliff and trades in that security to do what they love.
Well, here ya go. Our first ad together. Written, shot, and edited from scratch.
When I left a long term contract, steady money, health benefits and a reliable schedule on the table to try my own production company, it was (and still is) terrifying. But my wife kept saying, “Imagine how much better it will feel to create. That’s what you love and that’s what you do best.”
This is the start of a national Ad Campaign for Shari’s Berries (dipped strawberries). But really, it’s just a really cool story about a 13 year old kid named Garrett. I can’t tell you how intimately I can relate to this guy. When I was 13 i was also braced and bespectacled, and spent countless hours in my room on my Synthesizer writing music. I liked girls, but had no clue what to do with that. I NEVER would have had the bravery to do what he did. I bet if i’d tried, I would have grown out of a super awkward phase a lot earlier. Garrett is seriously my hero.
One thing I’ve always believed : the best videos make a connection. That’s why we picked Garrett. Here’s hoping you feel the connection too, either as a former Garrett, a current Garrett, a parent of a Garrett or someone who wishes they could be more like Garrett. Enjoy. And share! And order your own at www.berries.com.

XMAS JAMMIES PART 2 : Shopping Advice from Your Husbands

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Ahh, the magic of the holidays.  The happiness (and insanity) that happens when families get together… the look on a child’s face while tearing apart wrapping paper.

And, one of my favorite parts, the fake reaction you give your spouse when you open a clothing box and it’s something that you would NEVER wear.

“Oh, um, honey, I, uh, love it!”

Granted, this goes both ways.  10 years ago I bought my wife a pair of shoes that she has worn TWICE.  She won’t give them away or chuck them because of their “sentimental” value, but what was I thinking? Clothing is so incredibly personal.  What’s more, most of us would rather grin and wear it than disappoint our loved ones.

So, lets get it all out on the table.  Ladies, here is some shopping advice from the husbands who absolutely adore you, but haven’t had the courage to say, “you really want me to wear THAT?”

Enjoy.