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Archive for August, 2011

I Did Know Jack

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

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When I heard that Jack Kevorkian died on June 3, 2011, something happened. A flood of memories came rushing back into my conscious. I had not seen Jack in about 10 years.

I met Jack Kevorkian quite fortuitously.

One Saturday in 1996, I got a call on my cell phone from Geoffery Fieger asking if I rented out my studio for press conferences. After about 3 seconds I said, ‘Yes, I do.’ The studio was located at 17117 West Nine Mile in Southfield, Michigan. My company, Primeau Productions, occupied a space on the 17th floor; 4,200 beautiful square feet of freshly built out carpet, glass and Formica.

Geoffery wanted to have a press conference announcing a song Detroit icon, Mitch Ryder wrote for Dr. Jack; “Mercy.”The song was recorded in Germany by Mitch’s record company, Line Music, and the lyrics told a story about Jack’s passion and purpose. The press conference was that following Monday (remember, it was Saturday). I asked how he would have the press at our offices at 9 AM Monday morning and Geoffery said, “Don’t worry, they’ll come.” I guess I didn’t realize how powerful Geoffery and Dr. Jack’s story really was.

The press showed up right on time, in fact, I got to the studio about 7 AM and dozens of people from the press were lined up down the hall waiting to get in. It was not clear what Geoffery Fieger’s announcement would be from the faxed press release. Fieger, being a very powerful man here in Michigan, had the ability and the know-how to draw such a crowd.
The experience with Dr. Jack, Geoffery Fieger and Mitch Ryder led to Primeau Productions helping to promote the CD that included ‘Mercy,’ ‘Rite of Passage.’ In the wake of all the negative publicity swirling around Dr. Jack Kevorkian, it was next to impossible to get air time for the album on Detroit radio stations, most of which were now controlled by conservative corporate entities.

Nevertheless, Primeau Productions made a gallant effort at promoting ‘Mercy’ on Detroit radio on a handshake by Mr. Ryder. The outcome was interesting; the radio stations would not play the record. I suppose the radio stations just didn’t want to take a chance and risk losing advertising sponsors.

After meeting and spending time with both Mitch and Geoffery, I became a big groupie and found myself invited and attending Metro Detroit events, such as the Metro Music Awards and Dinner on the Town.

Primeau Productions studios, Inc. Circa 1996

Ed Primeau, Mitch Ryder, Geoffery Fieger

Shortly after the press conference, Mr. Fieger called and booked Primeau Productions to record a concert of music that Jack had wrote. Members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performed the pieces with the organ being the main instrument. Here, for the first time, is that concert we recorded in Waterford, Michigan in May of 1996.
Link and player to sample

During this time frame, Mitch Ryder had a 50th birthday. His wife threw him a huge surprise party at Mr. B’s in Troy and everyone was there. Here is an excerpt of the video we created back then; very raw and very last minute. The best part of these videos is the people and the speeches that they made.

Video Mitch Ryder 50th surprise birthday party from http://TheVideoRevolutionOnLine.com .
So what’s the point of this post?
I am proud to say I knew Jack. Jack Kevorkian was a great man. It’s not often we meet men and women who stand up for what they believe in. I personally believe in what Jack Kevorkian accomplished in his life. I was not a close friend of Jack’s, in fact, more so of an acquaintance. The point is, we can all learn from Dr. Kevorkian, even if you don’t believe in his purpose. He was a man who felt strongly about suffering and wanted to put an end to it. He was successful in many regards, but unsuccessful in others. I hope this post pays tribute to a man who had a positive effect on my life and the legal system, including moral values about death and dying.

Video Recording Instructions

Friday, August 26th, 2011

file1241259603377Following are some step-by-step instructions to follow when recording video. Primeau Productions, LLC has recorded hundreds if not thousands of hours of video since 1984. As a result of our experience and successes, we have prepared this blog post for you to help make your video recording experience a success.

As a video recording professional, you have to make sure to tape down wires, keep lighting safe and clean from shadows. If you are recording a live event such as a seminar, remember to keep lighting out of the audience members eyes and not interrupt the presentation.

Rehearsal

Rehearse if at all possible before you begin to record your video.
Checking the lighting for nice even consistent lighting;
Make sure your microphone or wireless audio microphone is working; test record a 2 or 3 minute section and play it back listening to the audio through headphones and viewing from your confidence monitor or viewfinder. Listen carefully for hums or buzzes. Absolutely no hums or buzzes will be acceptable.

Turn off refrigerators, air conditioners or furnaces to avoid all ambient noise.

You will hear room noise and HVAC (heating and cooling) systems regardless, try to mute them as much as possible.

Equipment:

Digital camera tape-less or with mini dv or dv cam format; www.Amazon.com has great digital video cameras on a pro-sumer level for about $400.00-$600.00. B and H Photo and Video in New York has higher level equipment.

Try to use lighting if possible. We recommend (2) 400-600 watt lights minimum.
Back light as a general wash to help create depth of field; Make sure back light is not in the A camera shot.

Use a microphone connected directly to the camera. If you use a wireless microphone, good idea to have a back up wired microphone available.

If your camera allows, use a second microphone and send it to the second audio track on your video camera.

If you are using three or more microphones, you will need an audio mixing board with 2-XLR -10db outputs to connect to your camera. If your camera has 1/8” input (like the Sanyo Xacti) get an adapter to connect from your mixer.

You may need extra microphone cabling in order to gain distance from your camera and talent source.
Its good to have some AC extension cords and fully charged batteries just in case.

You should use a tripod most of the time. It’s nice to shoulder mount some of the time if you have a steady hand. Have a tripod to get solid steady shots.

Remember if you plan well, record your video well, your edit will be quicker and easier.

It would be great if you could use a high quality professional camera tripod with fluid head but tripods are available in all types of shapes and sizes.

The Room:

Create a nice setting in the room where you will be recording. Set up of the room the way it looks good on video not the way it looks good to your eye. The camera sees differently than the naked eye.

Do what you can to make sure your subject looks good on video. Make sure there are no brand recognizable products in your shot. You don’t want copyright issues.

In a live recording like a seminar, recommend a stage direction (if kitchen doors and exit signs, windows and mirrors could ruin a look) that will look best on tape. If possible, recommend that they build the room set from the rear forward. Give as much distance from the wall behind the stage if possible. It will then be out of focus. If there is a drape, please make sure client does not blend in with the color.

In the back of the room, try to set up two risers for the main camera. One riser is for the A camera and one for the camera operator. (Avoid footage that is shaky) double this for two cameras.

What does the shot look like in your viewfinder or monitor?

When shooting a live meeting, it looks best NOT have a center aisle. It adds energy and value to see backs of heads in shots. If this is not possible, place the camera to one side or the other in the rear of the room instead of shooting straight up the middle, center aisle.

Take into consideration what the camera will see from each back corner location. If you choose the back right corner because there is AC easily available, turn the camera on using your battery to take a quick look at the shot before setting up to stay at that location. What do you see in the viewfinder? If there are undesirable exit signs, thermostats or kitchen doors in the shot, move the camera so they are NOT in the shot. PLEASE, recommend pipe and drape if you are not happy with the back ground look. Black drape sucks out light but looks better than royal blue and maroon.

When shooting outside, make sure the light source (sun) is behind you not in front of you.

Dress your set to look professional and don’t feel like you have to add a plant to your shot. Take a look at some videos you like and emulate them.

Audio

Do you own an audio mixer and a wireless lavaliere? Bring them as back up just in case. Use the mixer, to get your main audio feed of all microphones used especially if you have more than three.

If recording a presentation and your presenter has a laptop audio, you may need to filter the laptop audio to remove buzzes. A direct box will help lift the ground and filter out any noises. You can purchase a direct box from just about any professional studio store like Guitar Center and Sweetwater.

Use a direct box to filter buzzes. If you are not familiar with a direct box, it has several different audio inputs and outputs and allows you to convert jacks and plugs, select your input and output levels and lift grounds. Most all buzzes that will be incurred have grounding origins. This could be a bad cable or inconsistent AC grounding.

Also, when incurring audio buzzes, you can use a three prong AC ground lift to help remove the buzz. In other words, lift your ac ground on all your equipment so the third prong on your AC plug is not connected to the house AC ground. Often times light dimmers, coffee services and other hotel service instruments cause buzzes in your delicate audio components.

Having an audio mixer (Mackie or something with balanced XLR outs) if you can for back up. This gives you patching flexibility. It is not absolutely necessary to have the mixer, let’s consider our options.

A possible scenario using the direct box is to use a ¼’ mono auxiliary out to the ¼” direct box input. Send an XLR out audio feed using AUX and direct box to your XLR (separate from the audience microphone) audio track on the video tape.

You can also use the camera microphone to capture a secondary back up of your subject if your camera allows for this function.

Bottom line, you need good sound. Record ambient sound (with nobody talking) in case you need to patch up a audio edit during the video editing process.

Make sure all audio is digital safe and not distorted or too low. Please ask if you have any questions or call Primeau Productions at 800-647-4281.

Lighting

Lighting should be done from as far away as possible to avoid shadows. Lighting is tricky but if you play around with it, you will learn what works and does not work.

When lighting for a presentation, put your lights in the room left and right as close to the front as possible. Back of the room lighting will cause shadows.

In any case, place your lights extremely wide so that the shadows are out of the shot. By placing your lights close, the shadows will be far left and right behind the performer. When you are shooting, these shadows will be out of your shot unless you are not shooting extreme wide shots.

If necessary use back lighting to help accent the performer and remove any shadows.

Use back light a bit for depth near the back extreme side points of the subject so the lights do not get in the shot.

Make sure the talent looks good and has no stray or fly away hair strands before performing. If female, how does our lipstick look?
If male, is our tie straight or shirt tucked in? Is their shirt unbuttoned or spinach in their teeth?

Contact Primeau Productions LLC with any questions 800-647-4281

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