The American Institute of Physics and Skystorm Productions recently celebrated two years of working together in production of AIP’s Inside Science TV - a twice-weekly video segment covering a range of science topics. Whether you are a wine drinker (Electrical Pulses Could Make Better Wine) or a golfer (Optical Illusion Can Improve Your Golf Game) or you just love learning, Inside Science TV is there with broadcast-ready content that is interesting, diverse, and relevant.
The 90-second videos are published on AIP's website and syndicated to approximately 40 local news stations in markets nationwide, along with a growing presence in international markets. Skystorm has the privilege of producing the final product from video clips and interviews gathered by AIPs own production team interviewing physicists, chemists, and other scientists across the USA. Motion graphics, 2D and 3D models, lower thirds, sound effects and voice-over are all added to help viewers understand some of the complex topics covered.
Skystorm’s relationship with AIP has grown close over the past two years. “We are a family here at Skystorm and we like to extend that relationship to our clients,” says John Haslam, CEO of Skystorm. “We love that we have such open communication and are able to accommodate any special requests they may have.”
To celebrate the close working relationship, Ben Stein, Emilie Lorditch, and Karin Heineman of Inside Science TV paid Skystorm’s production facilities a visit in mid-November to see first hand how their videos are produced.
“Having worked with Skystorm remotely for a long time in a very successful fashion, today we saw firsthand the steps of post-production for our segments, including proofing, editing, visualization, animation, and color correction. A wonderful, informative, and inspiring day,” said Ben Stein, director of Inside Science at the American Institute of Physics.
Warren Williams, Skystorm’s Post Production Supervisor, started the walkthrough in Edit 1 and ended in Edit 5, showing step by step how episodes are handled from start to finish by way of an entire dedicated team of editors and graphic designers. “Our team follows a specific work-flow on a daily basis and it allows us to stay on track and be efficient in a high-volume production environment,” continued Warren.
“Skystorm gives equal credit to AIP’s production team for working so hard at all hours to ensure only the best stories are captured” says John Haslam. “It truly is a team effort and I think the results speak for themselves; almost 200 syndicated video segments and counting!”
Efficiency and good communication are two things businesses are always seeking to improve. Wasted time is a killer in today’s fast-paced world and misunderstood or late messages can really create a mess.
The approval process in video production has always been a slow step on the road to a completed project, but Skystorm has integrated an incredibly effective tool that makes getting the green light go-ahead a simple task.
Skystorm offers a cloud-based video approval software program that bridges the gap between the video production company and client. The simple process includes uploading an edited video to the online software and sending an invitation to the client via email. The Client follows the link provided and is instantly able to watch, comment, and even draw on individual frames of the video and give feedback.
From there, the editorial staff at Skystorm can instantly respond to the client’s comments and suggestions, make any requested changes, and re-upload the revised video.
“This software has absolutely streamlined the entire client approval process for us,” says Warren Williams, Post Production Supervisor at Skystorm. “It’s allowed us to cut our turn-around time down to minutes verses the days or even weeks to get approval.”
Perhaps the brightest example of the software’s value is with a recent project Skystorm completed for a healthcare company. This client was developing a multi-platform application needing over 2,000 videos, shot, edited, approved, and delivered within a two-month window. “We were shooting, editing, and uploading 40 videos per day for the client to approve,” recalls Warren. “They were able to give us approval on each one the same day we uploaded it. Without such a great communication system, we never could have committed to such a challenging production workflow.”
Skystorm has been using the software since the spring of 2012 with outstanding results. The software is extremely easy for clients to use and doesn’t require them to set up accounts or remember passwords – all that’s handled by Skystorm’s editors. And because it’s cloud-based, clients are able to view it anywhere in the world, on any device, at any time.
“So many clients tell us how much they love using the system and how involved they feel. They know exactly what the finished product looks like because they help design it,” Warren says. “We think its one of our greatest assets as a video production company.”
Staying current in this industry is like hitting a moving target. The bar is constantly being raised and standards are evermore improving. That’s why Skystorm sent one of its best to learn straight from the source.
In September, Wally Argueta, Skystorm’s Video & Motion Graphics Editor, attended the After Effects World Conference hosted by Adobe in their hometown of Seattle, Washington. The four-day event immersed attendees in insiders’ techniques and ground breaking new technologies within the motion graphics industry.
“I was able to speak and interact with world class educators and creatives whose work has been in TV, commercials, and movies,” Wally says. “These are the people making the blockbuster hits actually happen. It was just amazing to network with them.”
Industry leaders and professionals came from literally around the globe to attend the conference. Australia, Denmark, France, and of course Orlando, were represented. More importantly, both the freelance and full-time sides of the industry were well represented. “This gave people the opportunity to speak on challenges they encountered and how different people solved those challenges with what resources they had access to,” continued Wally.
Program managers Rich Harrington and Eran Stern of Adobe led the conference with Adobe senior professionals Steve Forde, Todd Kopriva, and David Simons by their sides. Speakers and special guests included (but were not limited to) Angie Taylor, Brian Maffitt, Mark Christiansen, Matt Silverman, and Tim Rice – all who are widely known in the After Effects and motion graphics business as outstanding industry leaders.
The conference was broken down into four basic categories: After Effects Essentials, Motion Graphics, 3D in After Effects with C4D integration, and Visual Effects. All presentations were grouped into one of these categories for organization and more efficient absorption by attendees.
Everything from personal workflow maximization to overcoming time and budget constraints – along with the current industry trends like 3D – were heavily covered. “One thing that really stuck out to me were these amazing breakdowns of some commercial spots and how their creators built the graphics to suit the product,” Wally says. “Proper design is so critical to this industry.”
Even after the daily meetings were over, the attendees found themselves still highly engaged in discussions over dinner and drinks – even planning collaborative projects with those they had just met.
"Overall it was an incredibly inspirational event with all the users, educators, and creators being in the same room discussing what they love - motion graphics and design," Wally says.
Skystorm Productions recently spent a day shooting with the legendary personal trainer Tony Little and came away with some great video for Tony’s upcoming product launch of the Easy Shaper Pro. Rob Allen with Red Lizard Films came to Skystorm to help capture a high-energy workout session video with Tony which will be sent to consumers in DVD format as an added-bonus item when purchasing the Easy Shaper Pro.
Robert Miller, Engineer In Charge for Skystorm, brought the Mobile HD Video Truck to the set in Clearwater, Florida. “It was a very fast-paced shoot and the new HXC 100 cameras looked great,” says Robert. "Everyone involved did an amazing job."
Photos copyright Skystorm Productions
Rocky Mackey is one of those people who defining their specific job is almost impossible. Her tasks often changing more times per day than others’ do in a week, Rocky finds herself wearing a multitude of hats around the Skystorm headquarters.
Rocky’s journey with Skystorm Productions began with an internship in August 2012 through the University of Central Florida. “I started in the post productions department, but they quickly figured out my organizational skills were more needed than my editing skills, so I jumped right in helping coordinate projects and people for shoots,” she says.
It didn’t take Rocky (short for Raquel) long to impress her managers. She was hired only two short months into her internship as one of Skystorm’s full-time Production Coordinators. She has since completed her degree in Radio and Television Production from UCF in the spring of 2013 and finds herself doing even more for the Orlando, Florida-based production company.
Seeing projects evolve from concept to finished product is where her motivation originates at work. “I really enjoy making things happen. Taking things that could potentially be really chaotic and turning them into an organized system really makes me happy,” she says.
Outside of work, her passions lie in the arts – particularly dance and photography. A photography class in high school began her winding path into a life of video production. “I still love getting out and taking pictures for fun, but dancing is what makes me really happy.”
When back in the office, Rocky says she loves seeing the company grow while still staying true to the original core values. “We’re such a close family here at Skystorm and it’s great to have such an amazing group of people to be with everyday. We’re more of a family than coworkers and I think it shows in our work.”
For most of us, we remember the TV resolution hype starting with 720p when flat panels first came out. Then 1080p was the resolution to have. Save for 3DTV, 1080p has been the standard for the last few years. But all that may change.
Many companies have been developing televisions and cameras that capture and display pictures at an amazing 4K resolution – 3840 pixels × 2160 lines.
This new technology promises great things for large 100+ inch televisions, but it’s met with a cloud of negative comments from some techno buffs. The argument being, do we really need Ultra HD TVs in our homes?
The arguments are based in the average distance the typical user sits from the TV, roughly 9 to 10 feet away. At that distance, the extra resolution is almost indiscernible to the eye. If audiences sat closer to their new 4K TV, the difference would be noticeable over that of a standard 1080p TV. But how much closer? Researchers are saying in order to discern the difference, viewers would need to position their couch 3 feet away from the TV!
Ultra high resolution TVs may very well have a place in our living rooms in the future, but currently – and especially with most TV broadcasting still happening in standard definition – the need for such high resolution equipment in our homes doesn’t seem to be present.
However, 4K resolution cameras offer great creative freedoms to video production studios like Orlando based Skystorm Productions. Shooting in an ultra high resolution format allows for more extensive editing in post production. For example, a static video clip can be edited to include pushes or crops. Much like cropping a still picture taken with a digital camera - the higher the resolution, the clearer the cropped photo.
Shooting interviews in 4K also holds great promise. Rather than shooting the subject with two cameras set for a wide and tight angle, one 4K camera can capture a wide angle that can be cropped tight for effect in post production.
Skystorm Productions is excited to embrace the new 4K technology and will be integrating it into our equipment inventory within the next six months. We have experienced the benefits of 4K first hand at 2013 National Association of Broadcasters exhibition in Las Vegas and feel our clients can benefit from the technology. We strive to bring the best possible product to our clients and we feel shooting in ultra high resolution will aid in that endeavor.
Photo credit: jvc.com
Orlando based production company, Skystorm Productions, helped "Christ for All Nations" (CfaN) pull-off a successful event this past weekend at the Amway Arena. Internationally known evangelist and founder of CfaN, Reinhard Bonnke drew a crowd of more the 7000 people per night. Skystorm was able to bring in the the all new HD mobile production truck to live switch the event.
Skystorm is pleased to highlight their role alongside Charisma Media in the production of the documentary “Sanford, The Untold Story” and it's use in a recent PBS episode of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.
This particular episode, hosted by Kim Lawton, outlines a peace movement of some 70 pastors in the Central Florida area after the infamous shooting of Trayvon Martin and how the event has created an opportunity for conversation on the topic of racism.
In October 2012, Charisma Media contracted Skystorm to produce a documentary about this pastoral movement to bring peace and religious understanding to not only a racially divided area, but around the country. The documentary “Sanford, The Untold Story” did just that and went on to win a Silver Telly Award.
Following the trial of George Zimmerman, the pastors had another reconciliation in Sanford on July 30th, 2013. Skystorm was there with their HD mobile truck capturing the event live.
PBS used many clips from the documentary and this recent reconciliation in their nationally televised broadcast that aired just days before 50th anniversary of the historical civil rights 'March on Washington D.C. for Jobs and Freedom' headed by Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963.
The video below is a portion of the episode that originally aired.
Talk about a crazy weekend! Skystorm Truck Engineer Robert Miller, and team had a busy weekend traveling the state of Florida for two different shoots.
Robert working his magic inside the truck
On Saturday, Skystorm went down to Miami to shoot college football. Whether you are a Gators fan or Canes fan, you cannot deny that tensions were high in the SunLife Stadium. Caught all on camera, Skystorm shot the game for FOX’s Master Control in Houston, Texas. They used the footage to replay the game the next day on “Breakfast with the Gators”, which plays a fast paced version of the game without all the downtime.
The trucked parked outside of the Sunlife Stadium
Setting up the day before the game in 100 degree weather!
On Sunday, Skystorm went to the TV55’s Studio to shoot a Live Satellite Uplink for GodTV. Based in Jerusalem, Israel, GodTV’s Master Control was connecting directly with Skystorm’s Mobile Truck in Orlando, FL to capture conversations between GodTV Jerusalem owners Rory and Wendy Alec and TV55’s owner Claude Bowers with pastor Mark Chirona. Following the conversation, Mark gave a 40-minute sermon.
Setting up for the shoot on TV55's Set
Mark Chirona conducting his sermon on the Satellite Uplink
David in the satellite truck.
Now it’s Monday and we are already prepping the truck for the big Reinhard Bonnke show at the Amway Arena. More crazy schedules yet to come!
The truck parked outside of TV55's studio next to the satellite truck.
Skystorm Productions is heading down to Miami to shoot the long time rivalry of the Florida Gators vs the Miami Hurricanes on Septermber 7th. Football season won't be over for Skystorm after that. Next on the list is the infamous Florida vs Georgia game on November 2nd.
Fox Sports isn't unfamiliar territory to Skystorm. Around this time last year, Skystorm shot 2012's Florida vs Georgia game.
Skystorm is thankful to be a part of this for their third consecutive year and look forward to these next few games.
If you are at the game, come find us and don't forget to tune into FOX!
- Skystorm & American Institute of Physics Celebrate Two-Year Collaboration
- Skystorm's Online Proofing Software Saves Time, Builds Client Involvement
- Skystorm Attends After Effects World Conference
- On The Set: Working Out With Tony Little
- Employee Spotlight: Rocky Mackey
- Ultra HD 4K – Resolution Goes Big