Are you producing a podcast?

Are you producing a podcast?

It’s redundant at this point to say that podcasts are the new big trending piece of content that you can create. Podcasts have been gaining relevance and popularity for the past 5 to 6 years, and I’m sure at this point just about everyone has listened to one in some capacity. Of course, listening is just one aspect of podcasting but have you ever considered creating one? Now is literally the best time to start one if you’re interested, and even more so if you own a small business or brand. 

“They offer one remarkable aspect that few mediums of content can really offer”

When it comes to content marketing for brands in the modern age, the first thought is to typically gravitate towards video and social media platforms. A large portion of the population is becoming more and more attracted to visual content, so it completely makes sense. As stated though, podcasts are HUGE right now, and arguably could overtake video someday. They offer one remarkable aspect that few mediums of content can really offer. Freedom.

Without the visual element attached to them, or often having the visual element be an afterthought, this frees listeners up to be able to multitask while listening. Got a 30 minute commute to work in the morning? Put on a podcast. Editing some new photos of your products? Put on a podcast. Cleaning the house? Put on a podcast. You see where I’m going with this, right? Podcasts allow us as consumers to do more, while still getting the same fix of juicy content that we oh-so-crave. This is why as business owners trying to reach these same consumers, we have no excuse to not start our own podcasts! 

“I can take my eyes off the screen, and be productive on my own time”

The ability to reach your audience in a new and exciting way is often enticing enough, but it also removes a lot of the initial barriers that often limit consumers from viewing your content in the first place. It’s much less of a commitment for me to throw on a new podcast that I’m curious about, than it is for me to take the time to watch through a commercial or video. I can take my eyes off the screen, and be productive on my own time while still soaking in whatever the podcaster is feeding my ears. I know this whole attention-span, ease of access aspect is probably sounding very Gen-Z of me, but this is the age we live in. 

“…why not join the ranks?”

In summary, if you want to access an additional portion of your audience, then making yourself available via podcasts is highly invaluable. No matter what your business may be, I truly believe you can find a way to make your podcast into something that your audience will love. Own an ice cream shop? Talk about your flavor of the week, or drone on and on about your favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavors. Own a thrift store? Talk about retro fashion through the years, and review products that you sell. Honestly, the possibilities are pretty endless. At this point there’s probably already a podcast out there for just about anything, so why not join the ranks? All it takes is a phone that can record audio (literally every single smartphone), and somewhere to upload the audio, and BAM. You’re a podcaster. 

If you haven’t already, we’d love if you took a minute to check out our newly rebranded podcast, Raisin’ Brand. We are sitting sown with some amazing peers and professionals to discuss marketing and creativity and how the two can come together to create a brand.

Our Experience Documenting a Demonstration

Our Experience Documenting a Demonstration

*I just wanted to give a quick disclaimer before you read this post. Because the purpose of our latest trip to Madison, Wisconsin was to record video for a client, we were not able to physically take part in the protests that took place downtown. We were, however, witness to many of the demonstrations, both peaceful and less so, that took place near the Capitol Building and on State Street. This blog post is a first-hand account of the events we saw, and in some cases documented via photograph. Keeping the safety of all demonstrators in mind, we will do our best to shield the identities of those involved.

We were well aware of the atrocity that happened in Minnesota as we embarked on our trip to Madison.

The murder of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin was already weighing hard on our hearts, and we had been following the news closely during the aftermath. The protests taking place in Minneapolis, the police retaliating with force, and the subsequent looting. What we hadn’t realized was how far and wide this movement was spreading.

 On Friday, May 29th, we arrived in Madison. We did a bit of photo-exploring and saw that there had been some light, peaceful protests that had taken place earlier in the evening. Handmade signs in honor of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement were placed all over the steps of the Wisconsin Capitol building. In particular, there was one very powerful sign placed at the feet of the “Miss Forward” statue that resides just outside the capitol building. The sign said the now haunting final words of George Floyd. “I can’t breathe.” This was even more moving to me after the fact when I learned the meaning behind the statue, according to its sculptor Jean Pond Miner. It was described as an “allegory of the devotion and progress she believed her state embodied.” And here we are. On the precipice of yet another social revolution, in which hundreds of thousands of black lives and those who support them hope that the world can one day actually be representative of Pond Miner’s words. We took in the moment and made our way back to our hotel. What would happen the next day, to my surprise, would astronomically surpass the power of the moment I felt on that Friday night. 

“A small group, and I’ll reiterate, a small group of the protestors broke off from the back and looted a store called Goodman’s Jewelers”

After we wrapped up our shooting the next day, Saturday, May 30th, we headed over to a local coffee shop, Michelangelo’s, for a much-needed pick-me-up. Little did we know that the exact street we were on would become the epicenter of the demonstrations taking place in Madison that day. About an hour into our time at the coffee shop, the owners came and relayed to us that the local police department had instructed them to close up shop, as a demonstration was planning to come through the area. They asked us to leave, and we packed up. As we began to make our way back to the hotel, we encountered the demonstrators we were forewarned about.

Only it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, given the warning we were given. The demonstrators were completely peaceful. Marching down the street, chanting phrases such as “No justice, no peace”, “Black Lives Matter”, and “I can’t breathe.” The demonstrators stopped in the middle of the intersection where we were standing and began a sit-in. They lowered themselves to the ground, either kneeling or sitting in the street, and kept spreading their message. After this sit-in, the demonstrators pushed on down the street when a surprising incident occurred. A small group, and I’ll reiterate, a small group of the protestors broke off from the back and looted a store called Goodman’s Jewelers. Two or Three people broke in through the front door, rushed in, and rushed out. 

Eventually, word got around that the police would be showing up, and like clockwork they did. As the demonstrators pushed on further down State Street, a group of police officers lined up in a strange, but intimidating formation. The two groups eventually clashed head-on, as the officers stopped only a few feet away from the group. It was then that the infamous tear gas was sprayed. Zach and I were standing a good 100 feet away from everything that was taking place, and even still we could feel the mild effects of the chemical agent. After getting sprayed, the group pushed further on down State Street. It was at this moment that I knew I had to document what was going on. A largely peaceful demonstration was marred by a small few who had caused some minimal collateral damage, yet the entire group was heavily sprayed and told to move. It was terrifying.

We returned to our hotel briefly to gather some camera equipment, and then we made our way back to the downtown area. At this point, the number of demonstrators seemed to have grown immensely. Additionally, so did the number of onlookers, and police officers. Again, the protest was peaceful. Just tired, and angry people standing in the streets and trying to raise awareness. To bring about change. At this point, police officers began trying to disperse the crowds again. Tear gas. Smoke bombs. Large groups of officers assailing demonstrators with their hands up. It was chaos.

“I too felt like crying at times”

As the tear gas sprayed, and smoke bombs exploded with loud pops, I witnessed a girl who was probably out shopping with her family. She began crying, fearful at what she was witnessing. I don’t blame her though. I too felt like crying at times. Crying for the state of our country. Crying because rights were being infringed upon. Crying because the police were being used in a militarized force against people who just wanted to speak up and have their voices heard. Instead, I just kept documenting. Trying to capture the haunting moments of what I was witnessing. 

I captured many intense moments. Large puffs of smoke billowing in the middle of a shopping district. Demonstrators running in fear away from the potent tear gas. Friends pouring gallons of milk into each other’s eyes to help the agony of the tear gas subside. Demonstrators with their hands up, on their knees, as the police pushed towards them. It’s important to note that it was not my intent to try and capitalize on what I was seeing in order to “build my portfolio” or “get good content”. No. Not my intent at all. I’m of the mindset that when history happens, it needs to be documented. When atrocities occur in front of your eyes, they need to be captured. Because if enough people just like me see what happens, things might actually change. The tide might actually shift, and we can bring about a calm. 

After I was around the demonstration a bit longer, things came to an impasse. People began dispersing in small amounts, and the police kept pushing in further. The streets were being cleared, and we decided it was time to go back to our hotel. When we returned, I began editing the photos I had captured from the day. A few hours passed and we began watching the news in the hotel lobby. Things had unfortunately escalated quite a bit. When we turned on the news, there was a man literally driving a flaming cop car down the street. Bullets were exploding in the back of the car from the heat. It was shocking, awe-inspiring, and confusing. On one hand, it was a literal burning cop car…  but on the other hand, it was an important symbol.

For many years, the black community has been burning, and our society has been neglecting to help put out that fire. That fire came in the form of discrimination, innocent lives lost, disproportionate arrests, and pain in so many ways I will never be able to understand. Now, the police officers of Madison, Wisconsin experienced a bit of that fire, quite literally. But the main point I and so many others have made is that this damage caused (although inherently bad) is nowhere near worth the value of another human life such as George Floyd. The police force will be able to purchase a new police car, but we can not replace the many lives we have lost in the black community. In conclusion, I leave you with this. Black. Lives. Matter. Simple as that. The rest of the team and I fervently believe this and do what we can to help support this cause. If you would like to join and help out as well, please visit any of the links below.

https://blacklivesmatter.com/resources/

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

https://action.aclu.org/give/now

https://naacpldf.org/

https://www.change.org/p/mayor-jacob-frey-justice-for-george-floyd

SONY RELEASES BRAND NEW CAMERA FEATURES!

SONY RELEASES BRAND NEW CAMERA FEATURES!

At long last! Sony has finally released its previously announced firmware updates for the a7r III and a7 III alpha series cameras! The new updates, titled version 3.0, include real-time eye autofocus, real-time animal eye autofocus, and much to our delight… BUILT-IN INTERVAL SHOOTING! You know what that means right? 43-megapixel time-lapses! Exciting right?

Up until now users of both cameras would have to purchase an intervalometer in order to capture true time-lapses (or if you’re lazy like me you’d have to film twenty minutes of footage and speed it up in post). Now we’ll be able to use our a7r III and capture those sweet, sweet time-lapses we always love, without the use of additional gear. Of course, that feature is what we are most looking forward to, but we shouldn’t overlook the real-time eye autofocus at all.

Using machine learning, these cameras should be able to (as the features name says) track the eyes of your subject and keep them in focus! This can be especially helpful for those like me who struggle with manual focus settings. Sony’s autofocus has already been getting ridiculous in terms of its power, but this just adds a whole new dimension. In addition, the animal eye auto-focus? Finally, now all those squirrel and deer pics I’ve been taking lately might actually be in focus!

Sony Cameras

Now that we’ve got our firmware updated (as of 3:59 p.m. today) we’re excited to put these features to the test! With upcoming trips to Pennsylvania, and Atlanta, we think we have some good test subjects. Who doesn’t love a good bussling city time-lapse? So now that it’s out, what do you wanna see us shoot with these new features? If you’re a an Alpha user yourself, what do you plan on shooting? Let us know in the comments, and lets get some ideas generating 😎

Check out our last post, A Fight Broke Out On Set!

Or, head over to our LinkTree to see more of what we do here at Pixel Labs!

A Fight Broke Out On Set…

A Fight Broke Out On Set…

The Lead Up…

Back inside the lab (our affectionate name for the office), it’s a bit redundant to say that these past few months have been quite busy. We kicked house tour season into gear, we continued creating our regular monthly content, we put some more miles on the ol’ Durango, but arguably our biggest chunk of time was taken up by our recent commercial work.

You may have already seen based on our countless shares and shameless plugs all over social media, but we recently shot a seven-part commercial series! Now calling it a seven-part series may be overselling it just a bit, with each commercial ranging from about 15 to 60 seconds in length, but it was certainly one of the most intricate and ambitious projects I personally have undertaken.

We wanted every step of the process to be motivated and necessary, and with that came some extra steps that we haven’t always needed to take into account. We put out a casting call, held auditions for actors, and did rehearsals. In our typical line of work, a large portion of what we do is either capturing footage run and gun style or certain elements such as actors and locations are often provided by the client we happen to be collaborating with. In this instance though, we had free reign creatively, and let me tell you… it was exhilarating. We found an amazing set of actors, we pinned down the perfect location, we purchased all the necessary props, and by the time we were set to get the camera’s rolling, we were feeling pretty confident.

“… It was exhilarating.”

The Set

The Day Of…

As is typical, the day of a big shoot can be a bit nerve-wracking. Little details keep flashing through your minds as you try to remember everything required for a successful day of filming. And inevitably, you end up forgetting something anyways. I’ve learned it’s better to just breathe and let all things be as they should. Through the process of video production over the years, I’ve discovered it’s better not to get too worked up because it can definitely have a negative effect on your production, and the morale of the group.

In the case of this specific shoot, I happened to forget to print a few extra scrips… but hey, lucky us! There was a printer on site! Sure it slowed us down slightly, but the energy was still high and things were looking up. Finally, the time came. Our scene was set, the spotlights flickered on, and the actors were blocked into positions. We were ready to hit that record button. Then we were off, things began swimmingly. In about an hour, we completed all the necessary shots for our first three spots. There was a creative buzz in the air as things were clicking on all fronts. Then, the incident happened.

The Incident…

A fight broke out in the middle of the shooting. I remember the incident pretty vividly… Scene four, page two of the script…

INT. DAY. STAN’S HOUSE. – Stan and Bethany begin to aggressively yet playfully bicker about Stan’s bracket choices –

Thankfully, this fight was merely contained within the creative confines of our auteurs acting our their scene amazingly! I’m not sure what we would have done if a real fight happened to break out…

I remember the incident pretty vividly…”

Stan is getting into character, while Zach provides some direction, and Noah Lucy captures some behind the scenes

The Aftermath…

Finally, at about 7:10 P.M. we were wrapped! After a long day, all the fights, arguments, and “madness” (again solely confined to our scripted scenes) had been completed, and our team was packing things up. While looking out at the sprawling scene of our crew members and actors packing their things up, I felt a great sense of pride. This project was a true team effort on all ends, and because of our collaborative efforts, it made the production run all the more smoothly. Due to this day, I learned plenty of things which I think I can summarize them down into five simple lessons.

The Lessons…

1. Collaborate Collaborate Collaborate

2. Expect the unexpected

3. When the unexpected comes, breathe, and don’t let it get to you

4. Make sure your team feels appreciated and valued during the production

5. Learn the correct protocol incase an ACTUAL fight (not a scripted one) did happen to break out on set

Our rig for this one got pretty complex.

If you liked this post, you’ll love our post about Why You Need To Create

Or, head over to our LinkTree to see more of what we do here at Pixel Labs