Start SLC

Last week I was asked to document the Start SLC event for a Grow Utah. Grow Utah is a group that supports entrepreneurs in number of fields by sponsoring cash prize awards at fun events like this one. The Start SLC event had pitch competition where 10 start up businesses competed for $250,000 in prizes. The grand prize went to two guys who have developed a consumer version of the GoPro Camera called ViDi. While the image quality may not match up, the camera retails for a third of the price and its had over 10,000 orders placed since launching the idea 18 months ago. Here is a short video from the event.

Finance 101

The last few months I've had a fun opportunity to produce a series of ten short videos for LDS Business College. The videos will begin to be used this semester in the college's Finance 101 course. Each segment features a husband and wife who act out scenarios based on information from the course textbook. They include topics like investments, risk, purchasing a home and making financial goals. However, instead of showing students good examples of financial decisions, we decided to take a comedy route, and show just the opposite.  

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The Bishop's Dinner

Tonight was the 11th Annual Bishop's Dinner, a benefit for the Cathedral of the Madeleine. It has been a great experience to produce a video each year for the event. This year's video was a tribute to Bernice Mooney who passed away last December. Bernice began the Salt Lake Diocese's Archives in the 1980's and wrote several books documenting the history of the Cathedral of the Madeleine and the Catholic Church in Utah. In the video we interviewed her daughter, husband and two grand children. It was a neat experience to get to know Bernice's wonderful family and learn about her inspiring life.

Van Summerill

The last two months I have had the opportunity to create several short stories on individuals being honored at Weber State University's 2014 Spring Commencement. One of those individuals was Van Summerill, whom the University awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree.

Van worked at the University for forty years, but is better known for his involvement in the restoration of Peery's Egyptian Theater, one of Ogden Utah's architectural treasures.

Here is Van's award video, plus a few photos of his years working at the Egyptian.

Spring Mobile

At the beginning of this year I was contacted by Spring Mobile to create a documentary on their company. Spring is an authorized AT&T retailer with close to 200 stores in the United States. They also own Simply Mac, an Apple speciality retailer.

Both companies recently sold to GameStop and Spring's leadership asked me to document their company's story as a gift for their founder, Vern Dickman.

It was a neat experience to learn about the cell phone industry and it's explosive growth in the last two decades. The distribution model that carriers like AT&T have used over the years has made dramatic shifts and Spring has had to change their business model and take risks to be successful. 

Here is the first couple minutes of the film. It shares Vern Dickman’s business background prior to starting Spring.

The Air We Breathe

While I was wrapping up my film on Brigham Street last spring, I was asked by PBS Station KUED to create a documentary on air quality in Utah.

In recent years Salt Lake City has been in the national spotlight for having, at times, the worst air quality in the United States. White most of the year Salt Lake City, and its surrounding communities, experience good air, the winter season brings a tempurature inversion that traps colder air and pollution in the valley. The result is PM2.5 levels that can exceed EPA standards.

The Air We Breathe looks at the causes of these high levels of pollution, the inversion, and the impacts they have on Utah's citizens, businessess and government. The film is narrated by Mark Eubank, a long time television meteorologist in the Salt Lake area.

utah winter inversion

The Ken Burns Effect

One of the documentary filmmakers I have learned much from is Ken Burns. His films cover many different aspects of American History including the Civil War, Jazz, Baseball, the National Parks, and the biographies of many prominent American figures.

Because of their historic subject matter, Burns' films are composed primarily of black and white archival photographs. Early in his career, Burns was known for his ability to bring to life these archival images through the use of camera movement and natural sound effects. 

Watching an older Burns documentary you will notice that the image shakes slightly. That is because Burns filmed actual black and white photographs. It is estimated in his Civil War series alone, Burns filmed some 16,000 photographs, paintings and newspaper clippings.

Today, computer software has made this panning and zooming of images incredibly easy. Even Apple's iMovie software has a movement filter called "The Ken Burns Effect." While these advancements may have made moving images on the screen very simple, I do not believe they are the essence of what the true "Ken Burns Effect" is. 

When Ken Burns filmed a photograph, he was not simply moving an image on the screen, he was stepping inside it. Looking through his camera viewfinder at these old images, he in a sense stepped into the past. He saw these photographs not as a single frame of time, but as a living glimpse of history.

Here is a challenge for all documentary filmmakers. Gather a series of photographs, either ones you have taken yourself or historic images you can find online. Make 8x10 prints, lay them on a flat surface, light them with a light source on either side, and film them using your video camera.

As you look at the images through your camera, try to imagine yourself filming an actual scene. What sounds would you hear? What environmental elements would you feel? What is the mood of the scene? What are the people in the scene thinking? Where are they traveling? Let these thoughts influence your camera techniques. Doing this, you can experience the true "Ken Burns Effect."

Here are two samples of videos I created doing this exercise.

The World of Hutchison Whampoa

This past year I have been working with Policy Impact Communications in Washinton D.C. to produce a video for one of their clients, Hutichson Whampoa Limited. Hutchison Whampoa is a Global 500 company based in Hong Kong that has investments in a variety of industries including energy, telecommunications, ports, retail and real estate.

We spent three weeks filming and capturing motion time lapse photography of HWL properties in Hong Kong and the UK. It was a fascinating experience to see the footprint of global company. I was able to visit everything from cell phone retail stores to the top of massive cargo cranes that move containers off of freight ships at the Port of Felixstowe.

Brigham Street: Salt Lake City's Grand Boulevard

This past year I've had the great experience to produce a film for PBS Station KUED7 that documents the history of a street.

Brigham Street, or South Temple as it is known today, is a street unlike any in the American West. It's been called "Salt Lake City's Grand Boulevard" and has been the home of governors, senators, mining magnates and religious leaders. From 1880 to the 1930's the vast majority of Utah's wealth resided here in the most opulant neighborhood the region had ever seen.

The documentary will air on PBS Station KUED 7 on May 14th at 7 PM and May 16th at 8 PM. The film will also be viewable that week online at kued.org.

Image Courtesy Utah State Historical Society

Image Courtesy Utah State Historical Society

Postcards of Brigham Street

One of my favorite parts of creating a historical documentary is to imagine what it would have been like to live in a past era. This week I received these postcards with fabulous views of "Brigham Street", the topic of my current documentary. One in particular even had a letter written on the back dated 1914.

I've learned that someone willing to take the time to explore old photograhs and postcards like these can discover a window to the past. When I examine old pictures I love to think what did it sound like at the time this photo was taken? Where are those people walking to? What was the weather like that day? Who lived in that home or who worked in that building? What time is it? Old photographs can be a time machine to the past if you are willing to take a step inside and explore their story.

Brigham Street Postcards South Temple