Who Makes Accent Clothing’s Fashion Videos?

Ever wondered who creates those cool fashion videos that Accent Clothing post on social media?

It’s a guy called Vlad who works there as a videographer and editor. He is also known as VD Productions (@vd.shoots on Instagram), has a diverse video work history and is available for hire!

Here are some of VD Productions’ favourite Accent Clothing videos:

Why you don’t need a car to work as a freelance videographer?

Are you looking to start a video production business or become a self-employed videographer but feel disadvantaged for not having a car? Let me share my thoughts and experience on why although having access to a vehicle may be beneficial, it’s certainly not essential to having a successful job as a videographer.

Working as a videographer will inevitably require you to travel a lot, but a car isn’t the only way to get to places. Here are a few alternative to driving.

Walk

If you live in a small town, why not walk to the filming location? I’d consider anything at up to 35 minutes of walking distance reachable on foot. Walking has many health benefits too. If you aren’t familiar with the location you are required to film at, there’s no need to rely on a taxi. Use your smart phone’s free Google Maps navigation!

Bus & Train

Travelling by bus or train is my most frequent means of getting to jobs. If you live in a developed city, I’d recommend taking advantage of public transport. During rush hours, a bus may be even quicker to take you to your destination than a car. If you need to go to a different city, travel by train or coach. Remember to book cheaper tickets online. For UK residents, I recommend the Trainline’s mobile train app or National Express coaches. If you are a Yorkshire-based videographer, check out Metro’s First Bus m-Tickets app.

Taxi

Getting a taxi to work is my least desired option but sometimes there is no other way to make it to a given location. For instance, if I’m to film very early or late at night and buses aren’t available or the location is simply not accessible by bus or train, I’ll have no choice but to book an Uber taxi. Uber provides a convenient way to travel by taxi, and currently gives me better deals than regular taxi companies in my city.

In my opinion having a car is a luxury that’s not imperative to being able to work as a videographer. Driving to jobs will certainly save you time but incur additional expenses such as petrol as well as insurance and maintenance costs which isn’t ideal if you aren’t getting regular work as a videographer. In fact, you’ve probably invested all your savings into production equipment and now it’s time to get some money back into your bank account until owning a car becomes affordable.

If you are concerned you have too much equipment to carry around on public transport or walk to places, I suggest you always find out in advance what the client expects you to do, and pack the required gear in a wheeled suitcase. Some clients will appreciate you taking little space to do your job, especially if the venue is small.

Cycling or riding a motorbike is another possible way of commuting, but it doesn’t allow you much room for equipment unless you are bringing camera and lenses only. Cycling with heavy gear on your back can be very tiring and unsafe too.

Personally, I’ve being working as a videographer for more than 3 years without having access to a car and relying on the above means of transportation.

Pet and Animal Videographer in Leeds

Looking for creative videographer to capture the beauty of your pet?

I’m a Leeds-based video maker keen on filming positive interactions between pets and their owners to produce sweet animal videos.

Equipped with a sharp quality video camera and eyes highly attentive to detail, I can bring the best out of your relationship with your pet in crisp HD or 4K video.

Show the beauty and awesomeness of your pet with a creative video like this!

See my prices, ask a question or contact me for bookings.

What’s The Point of a Showreel These Days?

A showreel is a short video containing examples of a professional’s work for showing to potential employers. It appears a valuable marketing tool but my personal experience of working as a videographer has made me question its necessity?

Clients who require wedding videography, for example, would ask not for my showreel but for my best wedding film ever.

Video production companies would ask you for both your showreel and complete portfolio of work because a showreel on its own could be misleading. It could contain examples of work that don’t belong to you. In addition, employers will always ask you to clarify your role and exact responsibilities in each project.

So why bother spending hours building or updating your showreel when you could direct potential clients or employers straight to a few of your full-length videos that are most relevant to the skills needed?

There is indeed a good point of having a showreel as an aspiring media professional (videographer, actor, director, cinematographer, voice-over artist or else). A showreel is like a window. It provides a glimpse into your professional abilities. It teases the viewer to come inside and experience your work in its entirety, and eventually hire your services.

 

Just film it! The Conditions Will Never Be Perfect. Act now.

In this post I’d like to remind all aspiring film-makers that there’s no better day and time to make a film or online video than the now, the present moment. I’m aware that film-making, especially film-making on location, requires careful planning but no matter how good that’s done, there will always be challenges on set. Depending on how obstacles are dealt with during production, you can either elevate your project or let it suffer, as it happened in my recent experience of filming an online video outdoors.

At the beginning of February, I met with a friend to get some footage of him walk around Leeds city centre and Leeds Dock, and eventually create a cinematic video for his personal love poem. We were to shoot on a rainy day and I considered a reschedule. Instead, however, I decided to stick to the plan feeling confident in my ability to deal with any issues that arise. Plus, me and my friend have been trying to arrange a shoot date since September 2015. Luckily, the challenging conditions added value to my production.

Since it was raining, for example, the overcast sky provided for soft natural lighting. Atmospheric sound of rain was audible on the location sound recordings of the poem, which added extra emotion to the voice-over (although I ended up using an interior recording of the voice-over obtained in a “studio” environment without any background sounds or noise). Further, I got really excited when my lens got a little wet because of the drizzle (well initially I was scared of the water damaging my equipment!) and I pointed my camera at the actor, who was backlit by lights in the distance, and I noticed a lot of interesting scar-looking reflections (which fit perfectly with the last few lines of the poem from 01:15 to 01:18 seconds):

Have you ever been in a situation when unexpected challenges took your project on a higher level? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Why You Shouldn’t Watch Movie Trailers (If Possible)

Movie trailers are crucial to marketing feature films successfully. They can either get you more excited about watching a film, or totally disinterest you. Below are few things to consider about trailers that will hopefully improve your overall experience of going to the cinema.

Movie trailers often reveal too much information about what happens in the film. Recently, I watched the trailer for The Danish Girl (2015) which revealed so much details about the story that at the end I felt like I had already seen the film and that there wasn’t anything else left to surprise me.

On the other hand, movie trailers are sometimes edited so well that they misrepresent the quality of a film. I know whether a film is good or bad isn’t easy to answer but I’m talking about trailers like the one for Paranormal Activity (2007). It made the movie appear intensely horrifying which mislead me and my friend’s hunt for an interesting scary film to watch that night.

Part of me still wants to go see The Danish Girl because it looked beautifully shot. In fact, it was the first half of the trailer that got me interested in seeing the whole film; initially, I wasn’t attracted by the film biography at all. Therefore, I don’t think hiding from trailers is a good choice. So I came up with a strategy next time I watch new movie trailers. I will switch the sound off and press stop half way through the trailer, before I get teased too much you see. That way I am less likely to spoil the later experience of watching the movie in the theatre because of learning too much information about the story.

So if you are a person who also cares about having good cinema-going experience, I recommend watching trailers halfway through, on silent.

Here are 10 epic trailers for disappointing movies, according to Screenrant. Or Unreality Magazine’s post on 8 awful trailers for good films.

9 Important Things I Learnt Shooting My First Wedding Film

I shot my first wedding film in October and recently edited the footage into a complete video product which was greatly appreciated by the newly married couple. It was a long day of filming which I mostly enjoyed but there were a few challenging situations which I’d like to talk about, and also provide general advice on filming a wedding.

  1. Have an assistant. It’s difficult to shoot a wedding on your own. Not impossible though, I did it all by myself. All you need is really good story telling skills while editing the video in post production and perhaps compact and lightweight equipment to use on the wedding day. I would recommend working with a partner who could provide additional coverage for your wedding film. For example, I didn’t get a chance to film the guests arriving at the ceremony venue, or even get shots of the wedding rings and general views of the ceremony hall itself because I was busy filming the bride and bridesmaids who were late getting ready, and I really wanted to get a shot of the bride putting the wedding dress on as well as the bridesmaids receiving gifts from the bride. Furthermore, an assistant could have filmed from a different angle which would have given me more creative choices when editing the video, for example, regarding the bride walking down the aisle accompanied by her dad.
  2. Record quality sound of the speeches. Try to record the highest quality sound possible by positioning your camera and mic close to the couple yet staying on the side of the audience. Using radio microphones would be ideal for the ceremony and readings but this isn’t always possible.  Unluckily, I ended up in one of the corners of the hall, opposite to where the couple stood and behind two people who gave readings. The sound I got from a shotgun microphone mounted on the GH4 was alright. It was quiet but not too bad presumably because of the acoustics in the hall.
  3. Cooperate with the wedding photographer. Every wedding has a photographer, and wedding photography is often more popular than wedding films I believe. Therefore, it’s the wedding photographer that usually directs the couple’s poses and actions during picture-taking which you can use to your advantage. I also suggest you discuss ideas with the wedding photographer, know each others intentions and stay out of each others way whenever possible.
  4. Avoid showing the wedding photographer in your film. If you intend on telling a magical story about all the amazing moments that occurred during the special wedding day of two people in love, then I would suggest excluding the wedding photographer and your assistants from any shots that you decide to use in your wedding film. External figures may distract viewers of the wedding film from the emotion it’s trying to convey.
  5. Stay around the bride. If you have now idea what’s about to happen in any given moment during the day, stay around the bride. She’s the star of the day and anything that happens away from her is generally not that important.
  6. Carry light-weight and compact equipment. As an advocate of minimalist video production, I advise you to use as little equipment as possible that is light and compact and that you can easily carry around. I also recommend shooting hand-held or with a basic easy-to-set-up camera stabilizer instead of a tripod in order to stay mobile and never miss capturing brief emotive moments.
  7. Don’t film people eat. After the wedding ceremony, everyone will go have a meal of several courses. I don’t think there is any valuable information in shots of people eating so would recommend you go have your break especially if the speeches are over.
  8. Don’t show drunken behaviour. When the bride and the groom have their first dance, the party will begin. Some people on the dance floor may be drunk already, others a little merry. To preserve the message of the film, I advise you to avoid filming any ridiculous drunk behaviour, such as people finding it hard to stay up on their feet or dance with an intoxicated facial expression. Instead, include everyone’s best dance moves, possibly in slow motion.
  9. Identify best parts of speeches. While editing the wedding film in post, listen to the speeches a few times and select the best parts to use as voice-over. The best parts are usually a few sentences that conclude a speaker’s point, and can make sense on their own. The bride is very likely to remember the speeches and expect you to feature her favourite sections.

Weddings ceremonies vary in different cultures and religions. I basically spend the day following the bride and capturing the nearby occurring moments. I brought a suitcase with me containing Panasonic GH4 with Samyang 12mm F/2.0 lens and Lumix 42.5mm F/1.7 lens, basic glide camera stabiliser, and a tripod (which I didn’t use a single time). I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Here’s a link to my cinematic wedding film – https://vimeo.com/149617469

7 Main Reasons Why I Shoot With Panasonic GH4

I’ve been shooting with the Panasonic Lumix 4K camera for 7 months now and I thought to share my opinion on why it’s a great tool for quality video production, basing my arguments on my personal experience as a videographer and simple research I’ve done.

  1. High-quality video. The Panasonic GH4 produces significantly sharper video compared to the Canon 5D Mark III. Side-to-side comparison may even make the latter appear out-of-focus.
  2. In-camera 4K Video. The Panasonic GH4 records 4K-resolution video internally. 4K video allows me to crop into the video without reducing its quality which is particularly useful in recording interviews.
  3. Variable Frame Rates. The GH4 can shoot slow motion video at variable frame rates such as 50fps and 96fps. This is a very useful feature especially for music video production and other artistic videos that most Canon DSLRs lack.
  4. Focus Peaking. A greatly useful feature of the Panasonic GH4 that allows users to monitor the focus and fine-tune it with precision.
  5. Long Battery Life. The battery of the GH4 lasts a long time. A single battery appears to last between 1.5 and 2.5 hours of continuous shooting. The camera doesn’t overheat either. 
  6. Compact & Lightweight. The Panasonic GH4 is smaller than Canon DSLRs but Panasonic lenses are even smaller and lighter than its Canon counterparts. This is particularly useful when traveling.
  7. Affordability. The GH4 sells at a very good price considering the many other useful features it offers.

The Panasonic GH4 isn’t the perfect camera undoubtedly. As you may know the camera isn’t good enough at filming in low-light at above ISO 800. As a micro-four-thirds camera, the GH4 is also criticized for not producing enough shallow depth of field. Nevertheless, beware that no camera is perfect and it’s always best if you evaluate your needs, decide which features will help you realize your creative goals and take advantage of them.

Video

Motion Graphics Design for Deuce & Charger’s Lyrics Music Video

The Making of “We Can Beat The Night” lyrics music video for Deuce & Charger

Deuce & Charger Lyrics Music Video Motion Graphics Design
Deuce & Charger – We Can Beat The Night (Cover Image)

I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on a lyrics music video for Deuce & Charger who released their single We Can Beat The Night on 4th December 2015.

Deuce & Charger Lyrics Music Video Motion Graphics Design
Deuce & Charger – We Can Beat The Night (Cover Image)

Deuce & Charger are a London-based drum & base, breaks and grime music producers that met in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Deuce & Charger Logo Animation Lyrics Video
Deuce & Charger (Logo Animation)

The idea behind the lyrics music video is the constant battle between day and night, and the desire of people to stay out and enjoy life through dance and party.

I saw a lot of potential for animations in the single’s cover.

Deuce & Charger Cover Lyrics Music Video

My main intention was to depict the transition between day and night and vice versa as a conflict because the music and the fun stop when the sun rises and people have to go home. I created that transition drawing on the parallax effect featured in most contemporary website designs.

Lyrics Music Video Motion Graphics Design

My intentions behind the lyrics, written in Deuce & Charger’s cool grungy font, were to show them in a clear visible way that accentuates the actual lyrics in the track, and also create a bit of hierarchy as the song goes from verses to bridge and then to chorus.

Deuce & Charger Lyrics Music Video Motion Graphics Design

Lyrics Music Video Motion Graphics Design

As a whole, I wanted to create a repeating cycle of day-to-night transitions that build up creating expectations in listeners as the tune goes on.

Music by http://www.deuceandcharger.com

Motion Graphics Design by http://www.vladdimov.com

 

Video

Using Shaky Footage in Video Production – Leeds at Night in 4K

I went to Leeds city centre on Halloween night to experiment filming with my basic glidecam stabilizer and Panasonic GH4 4K camera.

I mainly took shots of buildings, cars on the roads and general views from the top level on the bus.

Upon reviewing the 4K footage a few days later, I noticed a lot of my takes were shaky and not levelled.

Queens Hotel Leeds Train Station Bus Night GH4 4K Panasonic
The Queens Hotel at Leeds Train Station

I wanted to delete all the video material and move onto another project but instead, I realized this was a great opportunity for me to challenge my video editing skills. You’ve probably heard that in order to become better, one must try to turn their weaknesses into strengths, so I decided to embrace my mistakes and attempt to integrate the shaky footage into this cool characteristic video about my city:

Filmed on Panasonic Lumix GH4 4K-resolution camera with Samyang 12mm F/2.0.

TIPS TO REMEMBER

Shaky footage is always usable. It may not be as versatile and acceptable as stable footage from a levelled tripod but shaky footage can still be part of your production provided you are willing to alter the style of your video.

Shaky, handheld and even jerky shots bring completely different emotions to the screen than stable smooth shots do. Handheld filming is heavily used in music videos and can, for example, create a feeling of freedom and easiness to the events on screen. Depending on the intensity of their shakiness, jerky handheld shots can also express excitement or fear.

In my case the jerky shots add a bit of chaos and disorder to the video which I really began to enjoy as the edit progressed.

Use music that unifies your shaky footage. Find a track that can make your clips dance in unity. Analyse the selected song and distribute your footage in such a way that the shakiness just fits the rhythm. I chose Need You by WHTKD.

Consider time remapping shaky footage. Depending on the rhythm of the music and the message you wish to convey, you may also consider slowing down or speeding up a shaky clip.

VD Vlad Dimov Cinematic Video Production
Vlad Dimov Cinematic Video Production

Why I Sometimes Love Making Videos That Don’t Sell?

My current situation allows me to work on self-initiated projects and personal experimental videos. I do contracted work as videographer and editor for two days (16 hours) a week, and in the other time I freelance for various clients provided they need my services. I don’t have a busy work life yet so I am lucky enough to have some spare time for personal film-making and photography projects.

I really enjoy capturing life, both as videographer and photographer, and showing it through my creative eye in the form of a picture or sequence of pictures that tell a story. I get especially thrilled when my vision starts to take shape, for example when I’ve been keyframing motion graphics and play the result for the first time and it all comes to life.

I’ve been having doubts about investing my time into these self-initiated videos and photography ventures however. They do make me happy and improve my creativity but are they really worth the time? Whom would they benefit? Can they inspire at least one person?

I’ve been pondering over such questions until I asked myself whether I’d make films and take pictures if the whole world was blind and could never see my work. The answer was yes because of the amazing feelings I get when doing creative work. It is also worth doing it for life’s own beautiful sake. I feel I could transmit positive energy out of my creations even if no one is watching. Through film-making, I also believe I can show appreciation and gratitude to God for being alive and having the fortune to experience the beauty my senses encounter every day.

Last few books I’ve been reading have given me new perspectives on my creative hobbies. In particular, those books spoke about the connection between creation, God and human awakening, and the origins of true creativity. I now believe that my passion for film-making is not only a rewarding hobby and job but also a spiritual process that brings me closer to God and helps me evolve into a better ego-less person.

According to Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth, 2009) for example, I could connect with the Universe on a deeper level through any activity provided I stay present and do it in the awakened manner he writes about on page 294:

 “Awakened doing is the alignment of your outer purpose – what you do – with your inner purpose – awakening and staying awake. Through awakened doing, you become one with the outgoing purpose of the universe. Consciousness flows through you into this world. It flows into your thoughts and inspires them. It flows into what you do and guides and empowers it.” (p.294)

Film-making and photography aren’t the only activities I love but they’ve heavily influenced on the way I live my life and the way I perceive things such as movement, light, colour and texture. I’ve become more observant. I have increasingly been finding joy in the little things in life such as cooking at home, walking around the neighbourhood, or sitting in the bus to work and looking through the window. According to Eckhart, it might be that the more I connect with the universe through awakened doing, the more the universe breathes life into me, suffocating my ego and bringing beauty and joy forward to my attention:

“It isn’t the action you perform that you really enjoy, but the deep sense of aliveness that flows into it.” (p. 298)

On the following pages, Eckhart explains that there is a lot of fun in simply being alive and being aware of the current of life in you and everywhere around you:

“To be more precise, what you are enjoying is not really the outward action but the inner dimension of consciousness that flows into the action. This is finding the joy of Being in what you are doing.” (p. 299)

Eventually, Eckhart reminds us all that whatever we do as a job or hobby or else, especially if creativity is involved, it has the power to bring other people closer to awakening and closer to God, who religiously speaking could be equated with the “unmanifested Source” in the excerpt:

“Feel how that activity enriches and deepens not only your life but that of countless others. Feel yourself being an opening through which energy flows from the unmanifested Source of all life though you for the benefit of all.” (p. 305)

The other book which I am still reading is called Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within (1999) by Osho who writes that artists “absorb the universe in deep receptivity and then they pour whatsoever they have absorbed into their imagination.” (p. 66)

Shortly afterwards, Osho makes a good definition of what a true artist is, something I‘m striving for myself:

“… those who are the greatest are absolutely certain that they have been nothing but hollow bamboos and existence has been singing through them. They have been flutes but the song is not theirs. It has flowed through them, but it comes from some unknown source.” (p. 73)

And also that:

“A song is beautiful, a dance is beautiful because something of the divine is present in it.” (p. 83)

The last few excerpts above indicate that according to Osho true artists do not create their work. It comes from an “unknown source” which I believe is the same as what Eckhart refers to as the “unmanifested Source of all life”, and what religion would term God.

To summarize, Osho writes that creativity is living and creating in a deep connection with the universe (or God):

 “That’s what creativity is: to pulsate in absolute harmony with the total. Things will start happening on their own. Your heart will start pouring songs of joy, your hands will start transforming things.” (p. 87)

And that:

“When your creativity comes to a climax, when your whole life becomes creative, you live in God. So he must be the creator because people who have been creative have been closest to him.” (p. 92)

To finalize this post, I’d like to quote Osho once more for realizing that God doesn’t just use us humans as tools for his creations for the sake of enjoyment but that God generously leaves part of himself in me and you as well:

 “You become more divine as you become more creative.” (p. 92)

Vlad Dimov
Videographer and Editor
http://www.vladdimov.com

Previous videos of mine relevant to this article include Read With Me, Audio Reactions with Gina, Audio React with Namara and Bedquilts Fields. View my photography works by clicking here.

References:

Tolle, E. (2009) A New Earth. Penguin Books, UK.
Osho (1999) Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within. St. Martin’s Press, New York.

The Moral Responsibility of Paying Invoices On Time

I’ve worked with a few employers so far who didn’t pay my invoice until I began pestering them with messages every single day, and payment was eventually made. Initially, I assumed this happened because of the challenging type of employers I worked with but later realized overdue invoices are a common occurrence. I don’t understand why that’s case. Below is my opinion on why prompt invoice payment should be an employer’s moral duty.

Consider the fact that a customer must first pay the full price of a product before having the right to own it. In the case of paying for a freelance service, and the worker does a satisfactory job, it is then the obligation of the employer / client to fulfil the required payment as soon as possible, theoretically speaking right?

On one side, I guess you don’t have to pay invoices at all provided you are willing to deal with any adverse consequences that may arise, such as losing people’s trust or instigating a physical fight. Some people even take out big loans, live and die without repaying them completely. Most countries are in debt to others too.

On the other side, I believe it is every employer’s moral obligation to pay invoices on time. If an employer is fully capable of fulfilling an invoice but for whatever reason doesn’t commit to the payment period promised, the employer is simply being disrespectful to the service provider. I’m unsure whether delayed payment is a money-saving strategy or an indication of an employer’s busy ego-driven work life, but if a freelancer has provided a service that has benefited you then why don’t thank them on time, financially speaking? When freelancers are chasing you for overdue payment, isn’t it high time you showed gratitude and respect for their work and not make them wait any longer?

Freelancers will really appreciate prompt payment. It promotes trust and strengthens work relationships. I personally feel my time and work have been of value when I get paid on time, and won’t hesitate to serve respectful employers again.

How social media is killing your attention span and making content creators more creative

You’ve probably heard that social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are reducing your attention span but do you know that social media has also inspired a new level of creativity in web video content production?

There are commonalities between human thinking and social media news feed. A Facebook news feed of updates and statuses resembles the constant train of thoughts in your head. You like some, dislike others, scroll past third and hold onto fourth until you’ve caught up with the newest posts or something else around you draws your attention; later on, everything repeats all over again.

Social media can greatly affect the way you think and your ability to focus in particular. Your mind may adopt the addictive news feed scrolling habit and you may at some point feel a strong unconscious urge to “move forward” and scroll down in real life, for instance when having a conversation, listening to a lecture or reading a book. Inevitably, you will get frustrated because you can’t fast forward life, and impatiently begin to look for something else to provide a brief distraction which often is the social media app on your mobile phone. Further, due to the reduction in focus and increased general laziness of the brain of most highly active social media users, Facebook and Instagram now automatically play videos when you encounter them in your news feed. It is a different question whether you’d watch the entire video after seeing a few seconds of it. This is when unique and engaging content stand out.

The fleetingness of social media has fortunately influenced a new level of creativity in web video content production. Shorter attention span in users has posed a restriction on the length of videos being produced for social media. The shorter and snappier is generally the better. That has in turn encouraged another level of creativity in storytelling. Conflict and story are laid out quickly and effectively in viral comedy videos, such as 7-second vines and 15-second Instagram videos, in order to grab the viewers attention and sustain it. Presenters in web videos often speak as fast as understandably possible. Engaging web commercials on YouTube are usually between 15 and 30 seconds long. Good promotional videos on YouTube last between 60 seconds and 2 minutes. Content creators therefore aim to use the most informative images or video shots that convey emotion within the least amount of time possible in order to keep the audience interested and entertained. Thus, content creators develop better perception skills that allow them to easily recognize what makes a great emotive image or take during the creation process.

Bands, musicians, singers and other performers WANTED for Music Video Production!

Calling all bands, musicians, singers and other independent artists in West Yorkshire!

Do you have a music video?

I’m an experienced Leeds-based camera operator, editor and most importantly independent film-maker and story-teller looking to collaborate with you. I have a degree in BA Film & Moving Image Production and come from a dancing background. Music plays a big part of my life, and editing motion pictures with music is a craft I’ve increasingly been drawn to. There is just something powerful in making moving images dance to music.

The music video production services I can offer include filming, editing, motion graphics and visual effects design as well as storyboarding, treatment writing, directing and producing.

I invite you to see all my video productions on http://www.vladdimov.com and will be eager to hear from you!

All the best,
Vlad

Hiring the Right Production Company for Your Media Project in Leeds, West Yorkshire

Are you in need of media services such as corporate video, event coverage or explainer motion graphics? Is there too much to choose from and how would you really know which production company is right for your project? Would your choice be influenced by the production company’s size, experience, prices, equipment or maybe website design?

I’ve done some research and I would like to give you some tips and ideas on finding the right video producer for the job.

There are currently more than sixty production companies in and around Leeds. I used Google to search for a “production company is Leeds” and looked through over 30 pages of results containing the search word. Below is a list of all Leeds production companies I came across:

  1. The Production Company http://www.theproductioncompany.co.uk/
  2. True North http://www.truenorth.tv/
  3. Talking Lens http://talkinglens.co.uk/
  4. Rattle Media https://www.rattlemedia.co.uk/
  5. Motiv Productions http://www.motivproductions.co.uk/
  6. Stada Media http://www.stadamedia.co.uk/
  7. Bradley Media http://www.bradley.tv/
  8. Manto http://manto.tv/
  9. Left Eye Blind http://lefteyeblind.com/
  10. The Production Zone http://www.theproductionzone.co.uk/
  11. Feature Media http://www.featuremedia.co.uk/
  12. Medusa http://medusadigital.co.uk/
  13. Net Construct http://www.netconstruct.co.uk/
  14. Rejuvenate Productions https://www.rejuvenateproductions.com/
  15. Elastic Films http://www.elasticfilms.co.uk/
  16. Shiver http://www.shiver.tv/
  17. Wall Fly Media http://wallflymedia.co.uk/
  18. Bizniz TV http://www.bizniztv.com/
  19. Active Pictures http://www.activepictures.co.uk/
  20. White Rhino Productions http://www.whiterhinoproductions.com/
  21. Shot Blast Media http://www.shotblastmedia.co.uk/
  22. Pixel Definition (PXL DEF) http://www.pxldef.co.uk/
  23. Dark Horse Media http://www.darkhorsemedia.co.uk/
  24. Giant Leap Productions http://www.giantleapproductions.co.uk/
  25. Takagari http://www.takagari.co.uk/
  26. Daisybeck Studios http://www.daisybeckstudios.com/
  27. Quickfoot http://www.quickfoot.co.uk/
  28. Barksy Media http://www.barksy.tv/
  29. Pixel Factory http://pixelfactory.tv/
  30. Limehouse http://www.limehouse.tv/
  31. NFD Productions http://www.nfdproductions.com/
  32. StudioLax http://studiolax.co.uk/
  33. VTR North http://vtrnorth.co.uk/
  34. Rollem Productions http://www.rollemproductions.co.uk/
  35. Mothership http://www.mothershipuk.com/
  36. Lucas.Media http://www.lucas.media/
  37. Leeds Media Services http://www.leedsmediaservices.co.uk/
  38. The Other Planet http://theotherplanet.co.uk/
  39. TDF Media http://www.tdfmedia.co.uk/
  40. Make It Happen Agency http://mihagency.com/
  41. Bedlam TV http://www.bedlamtv.com/
  42. In The Can Productions http://inthecanproductions.co.uk/
  43. AFP Images http://www.afpimages.com/
  44. Motionix Video Production Agency http://www.motionix.co.uk/
  45. Fresh Cut Creative http://freshcutcreative.co.uk/
  46. Addictive Media http://www.addictive.media/
  47. Kinesomania http://www.kinesomania.com/
  48. Digifish http://www.digifish.tv/
  49. Kino Studios http://www.kino-studios.com/
  50. Business Web TV http://businessweb.tv/
  51. Blooming Branded http://www.bloomingbranded.co.uk/
  52. ADBS http://adbs.tv/
  53. The Mill Group http://www.themillgroup.co.uk/
  54. Reel Film http://www.reel-film.co.uk/
  55. Motus Media http://www.motus.tv/
  56. Total Video Productions http://www.totalvideoproductions.co.uk/
  57. Yellow Video Production http://www.yellowvideoproduction.com/
  58. Pixelwave Creative http://www.pixelwavecreative.co.uk/
  59. Impact Films http://www.impactfilms.co.uk/
  60. New Mill Productions http://www.newmillproductions.co.uk/
  61. Screen House http://www.screenhouse.co.uk/
  62. Revolution Viewing https://www.revolutionviewing.co.uk/
  63. Twenty Twenty Films http://www.twentytwentyfilms.com/
  64. Phoenix Multimedia http://phoenixmultimedia.co.uk/
  65. Sira Studio http://sirastudio.com/

I’m unsure whether these results are surprising. Leeds seems like an average-sized city to me but Wikipedia says it’s the third-largest city in the UK with an estimated population of nearly 760 000 as of 2011.

Anyway, there are currently 65 production companies in and around Leeds only. Not to mention the list isn’t definitive because new ones are joining the creative scene as we speak, take First Frame Productions (www.firstframeproductions.com) as an example. Box Media (www.boxmedia.tv), founded in 2001 and based in Leeds Roundhay area, didn’t even appear in my search.

The production companies on top of the list appeared on the first page of my search but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be the best ones to work with. So how do you choose the right company for your media needs? From the start I would recommend you to ignore factors such as company size, equipment and website design in selecting the right candidate.

First, a production company’s size isn’t an accurate indicator of how successful or creative the company is. There are companies who employ multiple people of the same role (2x Video Editors, 3x Camera Operators, etc), and there are ones that are run by a single managing director who hires skilled professionals per project. Yet, both types of media companies produce great work.

Second, a production company’s equipment list (the technology used to produce video, such as cameras and accessories) has little to do with how good the company is. A simple explanation for this is that although high quality equipment is very expensive to buy, everyone (including independent media professionals and freelancers) can afford to hire the latest camcorder or Digital SLR for the shoot. So, don’t get excited when a production company claims to own the latest state-of-the-art camera gear. Technology has developed so quickly over the years that even £300-pound Canon 600D can produce amazing footage in a properly lit environment. Quality is no longer an issue for web video in my opinion. It’s certainly an asset but what really makes a difference in the long run is the creative person behind the camera or the editor cutting the footage and how well they can capture and tell your story even if they are to use a mobile phone.

Thirdly, I would like you to think about web design in a different way. A modern-looking, simplistic and well-organized web design is a tremendous pleasure to click on and navigate around. If the eyes are a window to the human soul, then a website must be a doorway to a company’s heart, right? Not necessarily. Good web design is crucial and expensive and not all production companies can afford to freshen their online appearance. Innovative web design, regardless of how much creativity flows out of it, remains generally a marketing tool and clients must be aware not to falsely attribute that creativity to a company’s media services. I speculate that great websites are usually designed by talented web developers and web designers rather than talented film-makers and media businesses who could only brief their ideas on. Web design is crucial for how you perceive the company but it’s only the surface.

To an extent, we can legitimately link a company’s capabilities and creativity to its experience. I must clarify though that not all media companies state how many years of experience they’ve got. This may be because a company is either two young to say, or it employs professionals with varied experience. Below is a categorization of all Leeds production based on their level of experience.

1+ YEAR: Rattle Media
5+ YEARS: Business Web TV, Impact Films, Sira Studio, Crowns and Owls, Bradley TV, PXL DEF
10+ YEARS: VTR North, Rollem, Mothership, Barksy, Daisybeck Studios
20+ YEARS: ADBS, The Mill Group, Screenhouse
30+ YEARS: Bedlam, Leeds Media Services, NFD Productions

UNKNOWN: Kino Studios, Blooming Branded, Reel Film, Motus, Total Video Productions, pixelwave Creative, New Mill Productions, Revolution Viewing, Twenty Twenty Films, Kinesomania, Addictive Media, AFP Images, Motionix, Fresh Cut Creative, The Other Planet, TDF Media, Make It Happen Agency, In The Can Productions, Studio LAX, Lucas Media, Pixel Factory, Limehouse, The Production Company, True North, Talking Lens, Motiv, Stada Media, Manto, Feature Media, Medusa, Net Construct, Elastic Films, Shiver, Wall Fly Media, White Rhino Productions, Shot Blast Media, Dark Horse Media, Giant Leap Productions, Takagari, Quickfoot

It will clearly be an error to hire solely based on years of experience because experience associates with practice not creativity and innovation. Technology is developing, and so is design. Hence, many emerging media businesses stand out for their fresh ideas and insights over the more experienced companies rooted in old-fashioned methods.

A great place to get a glimpse into capabilities of a production company is its portfolio work. By portfolio work I’m not referring to a company’s showreel (a short and engaging video collecting the best moving images from previously completed projects) but the individual videos featured on a web page usually called “WORK”. Showreel is another essential marketing tool and though a creative one it often allows for cheating by omitting the whole picture. I suggest clients view as much portfolio works as possible.

Next step is to consider the company’s specialization based on its portfolio work. What kind of work has the company produced the most and is it relevant to the services you need? Again, this isn’t a decisive factor because most nowadays production companies are multi-skilled and they can produce great videos even if it isn’t their speciality. Below is a subjective categorization of Leeds production companies based on their specialization and portfolio work.

Corporate videos – Kino Studios, Reel Film, Pixelwave Creative, Impact Films, New Mill Productions, Screenhouse, TDF Media, Limehouse, NFD Productions, The Production Company, Bradley TV, The Production Zone, Feature Media, Rejuvenate Productions, Bizniz TV, Shot Blast Media, PXL DEF, Giant Leap Productions, Quickfoot

Web Videos – Business Web TV, Blooming Branded, Reel Film, Motus, Total Video Productions, Impact Films, Twenty Twenty Films, Sira Studio, DigiFish, Addictive Media, AFP Images, Motionix, Fresh Cut Creative, Make It Happen Agency, Bedlam, In The Can Productions, Mothership, Leeds Media Services, Barksy, Pixel Factory, Limehouse, NFD Productions, The Production Company, Rattle Media, Motiv Productions, Stada Media, Bradley TV, Manto, The Production Zone, Feature Media, Medusa, Rejuvenate Productions, Elastic Films, Wall Fly Media, Bizniz TV, White Rhino Productions, Shot Blast Media, PXL DEF, Giant Leap Productions, Takagari, Quickfoot

Broadcast and TV Commercials – Motus, Sreenhouse, DigiFish, Mothership, Lucas Media, Barksy, The Production Company, True North, Left Eye Blind, Elastic Films, Active Pictures, Dark Horse Media, Giant Leap Productions, Daisybeck Studios, Quickfoot.

TV Drama – Rollem, True North, Talking Lens, Left Eye Blind, Shiver, Daisybeck Studios

Films – Studio LAX, True North, Talking Lens, Left Eye Blind, Elastic Films, Shiver, Giant Leap Productions, Takagari, Daisybeck Studios

Motion Graphics – Motus, Kinesomania, Pixel Factory, Motiv Productions, Stada Media, Bradley TV, Feature Media, Net Construct, Wall Fly Media, Bizniz TV, Shot Blast Media, PXL DEF

3D Animation – Revolution Viewing, Kinesomania, Pixel Factory

Aerial Videography – Blooming Branded, Motionix, Bradley TV

Post Production / Editing House – ADBS, The Other Planet, VTR North

To reiterate, this isn’t a definitive services list and should be used for reference only. I simply evaluated how much of the same type of work (corporate video, motion graphics, etc.) as seen showcased in its portfolio a given production company has produced the most.

What if there are more than one company that match your media needs based on their portfolio work and services specification? The next step would be to learn more about the people behind the trade. The “Meet Our Team” page would contain valuable information, images and possibly videos revealing the personality of skilled team members and managers. Social media and blogging can also help potential clients feel a production company on a more personal level.

Lastly, I believe that one of the most decisive factors in choosing your media services provider is something that applies to every single successful professional in the world. Passion. A positive enthusiastic attitude is a the best sign that a media content creator will truly enjoy doing what they do. Passion leads to continuous self-development and tendency for hard work. Passion cannot be measured but it can be felt emanating from a production company’s website, especially meet-the-team or about-us page, portfolio work, social media and blogs, and eventually in the attitudes of the professionals working on set.

Good luck!

Vlad Dimov
Videographer // Editor // Motion Designer
www.vladdimov.com

Creative Freelance Motion Graphics Designer in Leeds, West Yorkshire

My name is Vlad and I’m a talented Leeds-based independent media professional passionate about motion design work, from the very first keyframe to the final completed piece.

www.keyframes.net
My Motion Graphics Advert

I offer affordable creative services in the production of compelling visual stories for your business such as motion graphicsmoving infographicsmotion typographykinetic text, infomercials, 2D logo animation, basic 3D animation and video editing.

craft interestingly informative videos that educate, inspire and entertain. My videos feature sleek motion, sweet graphics and kinetic typography – all painted in fresh colours, radiating joy and expressing a clear message. Above all, I don’t just animate graphics and text, I bring them to life!

After Effects
Trapcode Mir Personal Project

I am based in Leeds, West Yorkshire but operate on an international scale. I’ve worked with clients from the USA and Australia, for example. Please view some of my work here.

What really makes me stand out from the crowd of similar creative services is my work ethic. As most others perhaps, I can brainstorm, design graphics and animate them with joy, creating compelling visual content for your company. But I do it with a unique attitude in mind. I always listen and try to understand your business and idea, and form a style that fits. I constantly push my creative abilities to the next level, come up with breakthrough ideas and create what’s never been done before. I aim to bring my graphics to life through sweet animations and to eventually conceive a unique work of art. I simply love what I do, and I would love to work with you!

Infographic Riddle

If you are interested in working with me, please email vlad.r.dimov@gmail.com with your idea, brief or query, and I will get back to you shortly.

Can’t wait to embark on a creative journey with you!

Vlad Dimov
Motion Graphics Designer
www.vladdimov.com

Logo Animation

Low Poly Mountains

Creative Freelance Event Videographer in Leeds, West Yorkshire

My name is Vlad and I’m a creative event videographer from Leeds, West Yorkshire aspiring to create memorable and engaging event videos that you can use for promotion or just watch over and over again.

I am interested in filming any type of event such as corporate, fashion, music, dance, wedding, sports, birthdays, family and personal events, ceremonies, stage performances, public talks, lectures, opening days and more!

I consider myself a creative event videographer because I don’t just try to show a sequence of random clips from your event, but tell a meaningful story of carefully chosen emotive moving images and key sound bites that all contain the best moments of your event.

Below is some of my recent event videography work, and if you think I am the right person to capture your special occasion, please email me on vlad.r.dimov@gmail.com

Promotional Event Video for a Mobile Pizza Company
Promotional Event Video for a Mobile Pizza Company
Boxer Josh Warrington Weigh In
Boxer Josh Warrington Weigh In at The Light in Leeds
Forum
Fashion Ethics Event Videography

More of my event videography work is available here.

Vlad Dimov
Videographer // Editor // Motion Designer
http://www.vladdimov.com

Creative Sports and Fitness Videographer in Leeds, West Yorkshire

Vlad Dimov Sports and Fitness VideographerMy name is Vlad Dimov and I’m an aspiring sports and fitness videographer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom.

I am interested in producing an engaging video for anyone wishing to showcase and promote their services, talent or interest in sports, fitness, health and nutrition and any other related activity.

As of 11th July 2015, I’ve made several boxing promos and outdoor workout videos, but I’m looking to create more captivating video content for runners, bikers, cyclists, gymnasts and acrobats, footballers, hockey and rugby players, golfers, car drivers and racers, climbers, pilots, horse riders, free runners, skateboarders and roller-bladers, dancers, tennis and badminton players, street fitness and callisthenics athletes, personal trainers, weightlifters, wrestlers and more!

I look forward to hearing from anyone interested in working with me. Please email me on vlad.r.dimov@gmail.com

Vlad Dimov
Videographer // Editor // Motion Designer
www.vladdimov.com

GB Podium Boxer Interview
Jack Bateson Training
HKC Ambassador Interview and Training
HKC Ambassador Interview and Training
Boxer Josh Warrington Weigh In
Boxing Event Promotional Video
Dynamic Outdoor Workout Promotional Video by Vlad Dimov
Dynamic Outdoor Workout Promo
Street Fitness | Alternative to Gym
Street Fitness | Alternative to Gym

What you don’t know about small video production companies and freelancers

If you are someone finding it difficult to choose whether to hire a video production company or freelancer (independent media professional) to create a video for you, I would like to help you with your decision.

I’ve spent the last two years looking for work opportunities at local production companies in Leeds as well as doing freelance projects in the meantime, and I’ve observed some interesting things.

The first thing I noticed about small video production businesses is that they exaggerate their size and abilities. They have a nice-looking website and showreel but I saw some inconsistencies in their “About” page. Small media businesses often present themselves as full production companies owning all the latest high-quality recording equipment and having a team of talented specialists. In reality, however, these businesses are often run by one or two clever people and all the top-notch equipment gets hired per project and so does the talent. Depending on the size, location and particularities of the job required, additional freelance specialists may be called in or have work (such as voice-over, motion graphics and 3D animation) outsourced to them in post production.

The second thing I realized is that there is a halo of superiority and aptitude falsely associated with a company, and that a single professional freelancer is viewed as limited in a way because they are in on their own. A company name implies teamwork and knowledge whereas a name of an individual freelancer contains a degree of risk and fragility. Still, wouldn’t it be riskier for your project to be in the hands of the small production company’s people who may have never met each other before and must work together for the first time? Would that create an atmosphere of teamwork at all?

Thirdly, you are much more likely to come across the services of a company than those of an freelancer. I think it is because companies have more money to put into marketing and Google ranking strategies than self-employed individuals. Nevertheless, the greater visibility of companies shouldn’t blind you from recognizing the talent of independent freelance artists; after all they are the ones that often complete a company’s project which the company stamps its name onto!

I must clarify again that the above points does not apply to truly full production companies such as the BBC who can actually afford to own their equipment and to employ all sorts of talented people who get paid a generous salary. If you have the budget, go with the best! Just remember to spot a dishonest sales talk from a small entrepreneur.

There are certainly advantages of working with freelancers. The cost of production may be more affordable. You will get to meet and brief the very creator of your video and provide him with first-hand information which won’t be lost in translation as it may happen when work gets outsourced within a small company. Most independent media artists have their own gear that they’re deeply connected to, and a creative style which is continuously refined. They’ve got passion and fresh ideas too! From a client’s perspective, you may feel like you are having a bespoke job hand-crafted for you.

There are things about the qualities of self-employed creatives I’d like to bring your attention to as well. Sole media professionals are usually multi-skilled; they built their own websites, run their social media apps, carry out small promotional campaigns and acquire social and marketing skills all on their own. Self-employed professional may also be selective in the jobs they agree to do, which is a good thing as due to their time constraints they frequently have to postpone or even reject opportunities. I’d say consider it a privilege when a creative individual agrees to work with you!

If you’re a media professional that have had a similar or completely different experience, please share your story below.

Vlad Dimov
Videographer // Editor // Motion Designer
http://www.vladdimov.com

Do you get personal satisfaction from happy clients or customers? I do.

There is a feeling of immensely deep satisfaction that I get when a client is happy with the final result of my work. I love it.

Completing a video project for a client isn’t just a job done for me. I get personal satisfaction when a client is happy with my work, because I love what I do and always try to produce something that both me and my client could be proud of. I am also thankful I have the opportunity to help someone or contribute to a business by doing something I enjoy, and when my efforts get recognized, it’s just such a positive and motivating feeling!

How do you feel when you fail to meet a client’s expectations?

Personally, I always feel anxious before submitting a first draft of the work to a client if it doesn’t meet their expectations. It’s fine if they wish to make small changes but I am nervous in case I’ve completely misunderstood the brief and the client requires a complete make-over of the work I’ve already produced. I wish no media professional is ever confronted with such a scenario.

There is one thing I am sure of when doing work for clients. I always strive to give my best and regardless of the client’s opinion, I know for myself that I’ve at least tried to provide the best of my abilities. This positive attitude helps me bear a peaceful mind after a failure.

What motivates you to continue doing your job if you were unsuccessful at your task?

This post was inspired by the many projects I’ve completed successfully including my last one which is a short documentary-style promotional video about one of the best pole dancing instructors in West Yorkshire, and her unique method of exercise – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8wdpSfd_f8

Vlad Dimov
Videographer // Editor // Motion Designer
http://www.vfilmsblog.wordpress.com

Spiritual Meaning Behind Video Making

I’ve been creating promotional videos over the last few weeks and I’ve been really enjoying the process. Recently, I tried to analyse where that pleasure stems from, and I realized some important things about myself and my work.

Before exploring my thinking, I need to clarify that the promotional videos I’ve been making are subject-based, featuring shots of a person in action overlaid with relevant key sound bites from an interview with the same person.

So my first impression is that I like telling stories with moving images. It’s me who interviews the subject and asks questions that reveal key knowledge about the subject’s personality, feelings, services, talent, etc. In post-production, I have the privilege and responsibility to use image and sound to edit an informatively concise story about the subject that presents him or her in the best light possible.

Making videos however isn’t only about telling a story about someone; I get to experience and be part of the subject’s story, indirectly I guess. The fact that I get the opportunity to spend time with my subjects, to talk to them and see them in action simply opens a door for me to step into their world and to experience their life.

Eventually, I connect with my subjects, both when I am around them and when I am away editing the footage, and the more videos I make, the deeper my connection with the world and humanity becomes, spiritually speaking.

Have you ever felt in a similar way? What kind of videos do you like making and why?

Vlad Dimov
Videographer // Editor // Motion Designer
www.vfilmsblog.wordpress.com

Is Spectacle More Important Than Narrative in Contemporary American Film-making?

Is spectacle more important than narrative in contemporary american film-making?

The essay evaluates the importance of spectacle and narrative in contemporary American film-making. Taking into account various perspectives, I argue there isn’t a one-sided answer to the question and that there are cases when spectacle assumes greater importance than narrative and vice versa. Before I state my personal opinion on the issue, I question the power of spectacle and present evidence about the importance of narrative. I then go seek answers from the world of professional film criticism as well as that of Hollywood and its way of operating.

At the very beginning of my essay, I’d like to make a clear distinction between film narrative and film narration. Narrative relates to what happens in a movie. Whereas, narration refers to the way what happens in a movie is shown to the film spectator (Buckland, 2008). Buckland identifies two types of narration – restricted and omniscient. In restricted narration, as in Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976), the camera is linked to a character and the viewer knows as much as the character does. This type of narration is most easily explained through detective movies in which an investigator drives the narrative while he tries to solve a crime and the film spectator knows as much as the detective leading to mystery. Omniscient narration isn’t attached to any particular character. Instead, it moves from one character to another and thus the film spectator obtains more narrative information than any of the characters. Omniscient narration results in dramatic tension. There are times of course in which the camera, controlled by the director outside the narrative, disengages from all characters. No film has only one type of narration; one may prevail, but it can never eliminate the other.

As for spectacle, the term doesn’t have a straightforward definition. It varies from country to country and has to be explained with reference to certain periods of the development of cinema because spectacle has evolved generation after generation. For instance, Lumiere Brothers – the people who designed the first camera – fascinated and even startled spectators while projecting images in motion for the first time. A shot of a train arriving at a station or workers leaving the Lumiere factory seemed magical in the past. The introduction of sound and colour were milestones in the development of cinema, but no one would enjoy a movie nowadays only because the pictures have more than two colours and he can hear dialogue between characters. In regard to contemporary American films, spectacle consists of dynamic, aesthetically-pleasing, greatly entertaining and attention-nurturing images. The following paragraph is concerned with the most common things that constitute spectacle in contemporary cinema.

Spectacle in the genre of action movies like Die Hard (McTiernan, 1988) inevitably consist of fights, chases, shoot-outs, stunts and explosions. What’s common in horror films in terms of spectacle is bloodshed, meaning not only the killing of people but also the way they are murdered and the way the murder is presented to the viewer. Cars, especially vintage and modern sports models with more than 300 horse powers under the hood and stunning design like the ones in The Fast and The Furious (Cohen, 2001) and Redline (Cheng, 2007) are inanimate objects always invited to take part of the spectacular in cinema. In sci-fi movies it’s monsters, robots, alien creatures, forms of transportation, weapons and even the costumes of superheroes like Spider-man (Raimi, 2002) and Batman (Burton, 1989) that entertain and fascinate. A built male body (Cameron, 1991 & Cosmatos, 1985) and a fit attractive female one (Bay, 2011) are undoubtedly two more forms of spectacle. Not coincidentally, Hoberman (Arroyo, 2000, p.31) terms Arnold Schwarzenegger “… a blockbuster given human – or at least, humanoid – form.” Sexual intercourse is, to my eye, the highest form of non-CGI spectacle (Kasdan, 1981 & Verhoever, 1992). Sound is inextricably linked to all of the above forms of spectacle as well. Sound effects, be it the sound of a passing arrow or a punch in someone’s face, make movement appear more pronounced. Music adds to the mood and impact of a scene significantly, especially in musicals like Step Up (Chu, 2010). Voice can be said to belong to the spectacular too since the hero as well as the villain’s voice are quite often altered in post-production in order to make the characters fitter for their role.

A mutual strength of all the elements of spectacle discussed above is that they draw the viewers’ attention and preserve it by providing pleasure in return. That single big strength, however, is limited in two ways. Firstly, it doesn’t affect every spectator. Due to differences in psychic development, what one considers the most impressive scene ever made could be total boredom for another. There are viewers who look for and get swept away by other aspects of cinema unrelated to spectacle in its popular meaning like character complexity, aesthetics, dialogue or underlying themes. Secondly, an excess of spectacle comes at a high price as I reveal in the following paragraphs.

The first disadvantage of spectacle I begin with is the slowdown of narrative (Arroyo, 2000). In many action films there are scenes containing elements of the spectacular that halt the development of the story as they give way to sheer entertainment. For example, the plot of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Marshall, 2011) is so over-stuffed with scenes involving spectacular action and computer-generated imagery that I would fast forward at the onset of a fight or chase in order to get to a point where the story actually made progress. Sucker Punch (Snyder, 2011) is another movie that includes too much spectacle occurring at the expense of narrative development. The movie is about a group of girls who resort to an alternative reality as means of breaking free from a hostile mental hospital. Each time the prisoners have to obtain a certain item as part of their escape plan they venture in an imaginative reality of their own characterized by excessive CGI and other unnecessary material enough to get you out of the theatre no later than the middle of the second act.

In contemporary American spectacle cinema there is a reduction in narrative complexity (Arroyo, 2000). Narrative complexity (also called depth) relates to the amount of narrative information a spectator is supplied with as the film goes. Narrative depth is important because it turns the spectator from an observer into a participant who identifies with characters. The narrative of a Hollywood movie focused on spectacle consists of no or too little revelatory events and turning points to provide further knowledge about the life and personalities of characters. Clash of the Titans (Leterrier, 2010) is one of the many action-adventure movies that favour spectacle over depth and fail to depict any changes the characters undergo as the story progresses. It tells the simplistic story about demi-god Perseus who embarks on a mission to stop evil Hades from destroying mankind. Perseus and his band of warriors have to battle against demons, beasts and other unholy creatures, including a giant scorpion and the gorgon Medusa before they confront and eventually defeat their most fierce enemy – the Kraken. Furthermore, many horror films like Final Destination (Wong, 2000), in which group of teenagers die one by one hunted by Death, are composed of murder scenes occurring shortly one after another for the sake of bloodshed and entertainment. If truth be known, a shallow narrative, despite sophisticated visual effects, fails to satisfy many spectators longing to get deeply involved in the story.

Although bodybuilder personages like Schwarzenegger and Stallone appeal to most spectators, they disgust and even amuse others (Tasker, 1993). Some people do not find a half naked bodybuilder flexing muscles admirable, because his body is so to say artificial, steroid-based and defying nature. Others are amused to find the camera lingering on a hero’s muscles as it happens to Stallone in Rambo: First Blood Part II (Cosmatos, 1985). Further, I have come across characters (not necessarily bodybuilders) who as if intentionally pose by flexing their muscles and that has always disrupted the seamless dream the movie drew me in. In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Slade, 2010), for example, when Bella accompanied by Edward goes to speak with werewolf Jacob, Jacob stands by a car with his upper body naked and abdominal muscles tightened. The problem with Jacob’s posing is that it crosses the borders of the narrative world of the movie and tries to communicate visual pleasure to me, the viewer, in a direct way. It could have worked for a 16-year-old girl, but not for me. I considered the behaviour of Jacob’s body unnatural and silly and hence detached myself from what was happening in the scene.

Attractive female stars frequently generate large audiences mainly because of their physical appearance rather than talent for acting. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is an example. She has been modelling since 2003 and does not hold any qualifications in acting. Rosie’s first film role as Carly Spencer in Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Bay, 2011) jump-starts her career in the movie industry. In regard to Rosie’s début performance, however, I must agree with Josh Tyler (2011) saying Rosie offers more sex appeal than acting savvy.

How come beauty surpasses talent? To put it simply, the masses are much more concerned about the visuals of a movie than its content when they go to the cinema. And Hollywood is concerned with what the masses want to see.

Female stars, to my eye, also play a big role in the marketing of the movie they take part in because as I mention above, the average film viewer is much more likely to get drawn by something that pleases his eye than something that challenges his mind. That’s why in order to raise public awareness and desire to see the movie the poster and trailer of most Hollywood blockbusters depict the participating attractive female figure in her full glory. I am not saying I’m against attractive women taking part in films. I’m saying that when a woman gets casted in a movie because of her visual appearance instead of her ability to act, the movie loses part of its artistic property and could possibly degenerate into a low-class commodity.

Movies often feature a sex scene as part of their arsenal of spectacle. I don’t object to people expressing their love through sex in real life and on screen but a problem arises when movies depict simulated sexual intercourse that is unmotivated in narrative terms. For example, the sex scene in My Bloody Valentine (Luissier, 2009) (and many other horror movies) is unmotivated because it does not provide any narrative information to drive the story forward; it’s only purpose is to entertain young audiences by stirring libidos and holding gazes on screen. Also, to be more spectacular, sex scenes like the one in My Bloody Valentine seem to be enacted by characters behaving more like porn stars than passionate lovers which I think is silly as well.

Spectacle undoubtedly has the capacity to entertain viewers and draw their attention but it works only to a degree. Once we realize the excessive use of visual effects actually results in narrative stagnation and other problems as discussed above, we gradually disengage from the story. Identification, however, is an aspect of narrative which, when established well, sustains the viewer’s interest and involvement throughout (Egri, 1993). Lajos Egri, the author of The Art of Creative Writing, writes that whilst characters struggle to deal with various issues emotions arise as a result and a viewer is bound to identify with a character through emotion because emotions are universally known. Once a viewer begins to identify with a character he’ll maintain the emotional bond up to the end of the movie when the character’s problems get resolved. Rocky (Avildsen, 1976) is an example of a film that’s very successful in getting the audience to form a deep connection with the title character. Rocky tells the story of a small-time boxer who’s given a once in a lifetime opportunity to fight with a heavyweight champion. Rocky is portrayed as a 30-year-old fighter who barely scratches a living by participating in low-paid boxing matches. The character lives in a dingy one-room brick apartment located in a bleak neighbourhood along with two pet turtles and a goldfish. Rocky has the physical make-up to be a great boxer, but unaware of his own potential, he trains poorly and nurtures no ambition to develop it. During the first act of the film we establish our relationship with the character feeling pity for him; but when Rocky accepts entry to a heavyweight boxing match and decides to put his mind into maximum preparation, our connection with the character deepens and we begin to share his recently formed dream. The scenes of Rocky and his love interest further strengthen our bond with the title character as we learn more about his personality and life. At the end of the second act of the film Rocky realizes he won’t be able to beat the heavyweight champ but instead of giving up he assumes a different goal – to prove himself a worthy opponent.  Although the main character undergoes a change of heart that doesn’t sever our emotional connection with him; we actually begin to nurture even greater sympathy for the hero.

To further strengthen my point that proper character creation (as part of narrative) is more important than spectacle, I refer to Lagos Egri again who writes that movies which go down in history do it not because of the spectacle they feature but for the powerful characters they portray (p. 193). Rocky is one such character. He is powerful because the narrative establishes him as such. Other instances of powerful characters are Frodo and Sam (Jackson 2001, 2002 and 2003) – two hobbits whose friendship endures despite the ordeals they go through to save mankind and William Wallace (Gibson, 1995) – a Scottish rebel fighting to see his country free from English rule who chooses death over giving up his sense of freedom.

I am now going to refer to the job of the professional film critic to find out whether spectacle or narrative should have greater expression in movies.

Film reviewing relates to analysing films and finding their faults. Components of film reviewing (Buckland, 2008) include brief plot summary, background information, arguments about faults and evaluation of the movie in question. It is the movie’s value that is of particular interest to us. A film can have entertaining value if it places great emphasis on special effects with stereo and surround sound like almost every American blockbuster; narrative and narration are considered unimportant. If a film has social value, it depicts an important social issue. Examples are Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner (Kramer, 1967) – racism, and Hunger (McQueen, 2008) – the Iris Hunger Strikes of 1981.

So, is it spectacle or narrative that makes a good movie according to critics? Unfortunately, the question cannot be answered since critics are not unanimous in what constitutes a good movie (Buckland, 2008). Conservative critics, for example, think that a good film must be greatly entertaining and appealing to a wide audience. In contrast, radical critics, praise films that show a world from a new perspective and challenge our everyday views. Liberal critics fall in between.

Before I express my opinion on the topic, I’m going to look through the eyes of the Hollywood system in search for answers.

Firstly, what is Hollywood exactly? Hollywood is not just a place in California where around 200 movies are made annually. Lewis (1998) writes that Hollywood is a large-scale enterprise with a well-developed financial, marketing and advertising system that deals with the production of films and takes great care of their publicity, national and international distribution and exhibition and that Hollywood also branches into broadcast, cable, video cassette and DVD (sales and rental) markets.

Contemporary Hollywood has a specific way of operating called high-concept film-making (Lewis, 1998, pp.314-317). A high-concept movie is one whose narrative can be summarized in a sentence and, if possible, marketed in one image, like Batman and Spider-man. High-concept movies are based on pop culture (comics, TV shows, etc.) and feature impressive audiovisual content, including well-known stars in the main roles.

High-concept film-making is the dominant mode of film-making in Hollywood today, because it is tremendously lucrative. Although a high-concept movie constitutes an overly simple narrative, it manages to attract a lot of spectators because of the jaw-dropping spectacle it offers. In addition, well publicized before its release date, a high-concept movie inevitably becomes a blockbuster as mass audiences flood the local multiplex to see it.

It can now be inferred that a good movie for Hollywood is the one attracting an audience as big as possible. The goal is currently been achieved via high-concept movies because they feature a lot of spectacle which the targeted audience – young people aged 16 to 30 – finds irresistible. Hollywood has no intention, to my eye, of satisfying the needs of cinephiles – the people who consider films as a form of art – because cinephiles make an audience too small to generate a substantial profit; whereas, young people constitute the largest audience of active cinemagoers and hence provide for the greatest exchange of cash.

After all, Hollywood isn’t run by artists, but by aspiring businessmen driven by the capitalistic idea that “money is made on hits” (Lewis, 1998, p. 314). Industry executives prefer to invest in a prospective mega hit which would return enormous profits instead of investing in a few beautifully written small productions carrying powerful messages for a handful of adults to see.

I am not a proponent of high-concept film-making, but I cannot blame Hollywood for its current mode of production because I’m aware that in reality, film-making is as much art as it is business. Payment for the services of the many people participating in a production is only a small part of the money spend on a film project. In order a film to successfully open nationwide, a great deal of expensive prints must be made and distributed to theatres. Advertising, another costly undertaking, is essential for building mass anticipation and is not limited to hyping a movie intended to be a blog-buster.

In addition, film-making is a risky business and major studios know that very well. Studios, like Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros, are in essence large production companies that make money in the entertainment industry. If a studio happens to lose millions by investing in a feature film production that turns out unsuccessful, it could mean the end of the studio. There have been many cases in the history of Hollywood when a company has bought or joined another one in financial crisis (Lewis, 1988). For example, Turner Broadcasting System, Warner Bros and Time Inc are few of the subsidiaries of Time Warner. Hollywood majors are currently producing high-concept movies because this mode results in financial security. Major CEOs know that as long as money goes in, their companies will live and no one will lose his job. Hence, studios search for bigger and bigger hits that would ultimately return (first at theatres and then on DVD and television) more than enough money to cover all of the corporation taxes as well as the yearly distribution and advertising expenses as Lewis (1998, p.83) writes. Such a practice inevitably gives rise to the production of popular movies rampant in spectacle and tie-ins because they can generate the largest possible audience for Hollywood to exploit.

I will now discuss two cases when spectacle has beaten narrative in importance and at the same time provide evidence of Hollywood’s capitalistic nature.

The first case deals with computer-generated imagery as spectacle in blockbuster movies like Transformers (Bay, 2007), which attracted a great deal of viewers because of the entertainment it offered through visual effects. When Transformers was released in 2007 it became a summer hit despite a script heavily criticized to consist of infantile dialogue and overall style (Tyler, 2007). A second flaw of the movie is that it is a lengthy piece (2 hours and 20 minutes) according to many critics due to the show of unnecessary material, like too much fighting and slow-motion shots that impede the development of the story. It appears to me that if a spectator does not go to see Transformers specifically to enjoy nothing but the spectacular he’ll remain unsatisfied or betrayed. After all, the single “strong” point which made the 150-million-dollar movie a summer blockbuster with a worldwide gross of approximately $ 709m (according to IMDB) is exactly the ever-engaging spectacle of intergalactic heavy machinery fighting for a magic cube that can create new worlds. Director Michael Bay has excessively focused on gripping visual effects with the obvious intent to attract young audiences craving entertainment.

My second case deals with the issue of sex as spectacle. There was a period when adult films were being shown in theatres.  In 1968, however, the Motion Picture Association of America introduced a rating system which brought an end to the practice. Movies including strong or pornographic content were rated X and as a result almost half of the theatres in America ceased to show X-rated as well as non-rated movies; television, newspaper and radio companies became reluctant to promoting X-rated movies. The change led to substantial losses for the major studios, but it did not stop them from using the element of sex to attract viewers. To overcome the obstacles created by the rating system, Hollywood began to censor its babies, including foreign imports.

I am Curious (Yellow) (Sjoman, 1967) is a Swedish film very strong in sexual content built on a rather weak narrative. The film was banned in some countries and censored in others. Its release in the US was hotly debated (Lewis, 1998, pp.71-81) and when the film was approved for exhibition in 1968, Lewis writes it grossed roughly $ 90 000 at two small New York theatres in the opening week and almost $ 4m within 6 months of release at less than twenty-five theatres. I am Curious (Yellow) is an example of a boring and ill-written movie which performs phenomenally at the box office only due to the fact that it depicts simulated sexual intercourse which viewers obviously find irresistible (Lewis, 1998 & Kanfer, 1968).

I am of the opinion that neither spectacle nor narrative is more important than the other for I consider film viewing a personal experience. I mean that everyone has his unique expectations from the process of watching a film because we are different – we come from different societies, lead completely different lifestyles and possess uniquely different values, goals and beliefs of the way life works. When our expectations are met we like the film. There are viewers, for instance, who love films that challenge thinking; others – comprising the greatest number of people on Earth – enjoy watching high-concept movies that offer overwhelming spectacle based on a simplistic narrative.

Further, I consider it true that contemporary Hollywood blockbusters are inferior to the movies involving complex narratives because the former are much easier to write. In regard to the importance of one type of movie over the other, however, I cannot provide an objective answer. I don’t think there should be a dominant or one and only mode of production. I prefer to see balance in the production of high-concept movies and the ones with complex narratives simply because I want to see everyone happy watching their preferred type of cinema.

If one mode of production were to be established throughout the world, I’d like to see films that feature the best of both worlds – a powerful message or idea contained in a strong narrative characterized by depth and three-dimensional characters and seasoned with bits of overwhelming spectacle. I care about spectacle as much as narrative because it’s spectacle that makes us stand in owe of what’s on the screen as Susan Sontag (1996) puts it in her article. Two of the movies that exemplify my desired mode of production are The Matrix (Andy and Larry Wachovski, 1999) and Inception (Nolan, 2010). It’s worth mentioning that it’s absolutely possible to tell a story that impacts without the use of much or any CGI simply because the story can perfectly work without it – The Adjustment Bureau (Nolfi, 2011), Rocky (Avildsen,1976).

In conclusion, I restate my thesis that an objective one-sided answer to the question whether spectacle is more important than narrative or vice versa in contemporary American cinema cannot be provided because film viewing is a personal experience which differs from spectator to spectator, critic to critic and business person to business person.

Vlad Dimov
Independent Film-maker & Web Video Creator
Northern Film School | Class 2014
BA Film & Moving Image Production
http://www.vladdimov.com

Bibliography

Arroyo, J. ed. (2000) Action/Spectacle Cinema. Suffolk, St. Edmundsbury Press.

Buckland, W. (2008) Film Studies.  3rd ed. Reading, Hodder Education.

Collins, J. & Radner, H. & Collins, A. eds. (1993) Film Theory Goes to the Movies. London, Routledge.

Egri, L. (1993) The Art of Creative Writing. New York, Kensington Publishing Corp.

Kanfer, S. (1969) Dubious Yellow. Time, 14 March, p. 98.

Lewis, J. (1998) The New American Cinema. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Sontag, S. (1996) The Decay of Cinema. The New York Times [Internet], 25 February. Available from: <http://www.nytimes.com/1996/02/25/magazine/the-decay-of-cinema.html?scp=3&sq=Susan+Sontag&st=nyt> [Accessed March 18, 2011]

Tasker, Y. (1993) Spectacular Bodies: Gender, Genre and Action Cinema. London, Routledge.

Tyler, J. (2007) Transformers [Internet]. Available from: <http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Transformers-2362.html > [Accessed March 19, 2011]

Filmography

Basic Instinct. (1992) Directed by Paul Verhoeven. USA, Tristar [box set video: DVD]

Batman. (1989) Directed by Tim Burton. USA, Warner Bros [box set video: DVD]

Body Heat. (1981) Directed by Lawrence Kasdan . USA, Ladd Company [box set video: DVD]

Braveheart. (1995) Directed by Mel Gibson. USA, Paramount [box set video: DVD]

Clash of the Titans. (2010) Directed by Louis Leterrier. USA, Warner Bros [box set video: DVD]

Die Hard. (1988) Directed by John McTiernan, USA, Twentieth Century Fox [box set video: DVD]

Final Destination. (2000) Directed by James Wong. USA, New Line Cinema [box set video: DVD]

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. (1967) Directed by Stanley Kramer. USA, Columbia Pictures [box set video: DVD]

Hunger. (2008) Directed by Steve McQueen. UK, Film4 [box set video: DVD]

I am Curious (Yellow). (1967) Directed by Vilgot Sjoman. Sweden, Grove Press [box set video: DVD]

Inception. (2010) Directed by Christopher Nolan. USA, Warner Bros

My Bloody Valentine. (2009) Directed by Patrick Lussier. USA, Lionsgate [box set video: DVD]

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. (2011) Directed by Rob Marshall. USA, Walt Disney Pictures [box set video: DVD]

Rambo: First Blood Part II. (1985) Directed by George Cosmatos. USA, Carolco [box set video: DVD]

Redline. (2007) Directed by Andy Cheng. USA, Chicago Pictures [box set video: DVD]

Rocky. (1976) Directed by John Avildsen. USA, United Artists [box set video: DVD]

Spider-man. (2002) Directed by Sam Raimi. USA, Columbia Pictures [box set video: DVD]

Step Up III. (2010) Directed by Jon Chu. USA, Summit Entertainment [box set video: DVD]

Taxi Driver. (1976) Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA, Columbia Pictures [box set video: DVD]

Terminator 2. (1991) Directed by James Cameron. USA, Tristar [box set video: DVD]

The Adjustment Bureau. (2010) Directed by George Nolfi. USA, Universal [box set video: DVD]

The Fast and The Furious. (2001) Directed by Rob Cohen. USA, Universal [box set video: DVD]

The Fellowship of the Ring. (2001) Directed by Peter Jackson. New Zealand, New Line Cinema [box set video: DVD]

The Matrix. (1999) Directed by Andy and Larry Wachovski. USA, Warner Bros [box set video: DVD]

The Return of the King. (2003) Directed by Peter Jackson. New Zealand, New Line Cinema [box set video: DVD]

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. (2010) Directed by David Slade. USA, Summit Entertainment [box set video: DVD]

The Two Towers. (2002) Directed by Peter Jackson. New Zealand, New Line Cinema [box set video: DVD]

Transformers: Dark of the Moon. (2011) Directed by Michael Bay. USA, Paramount Pictures [box set video: DVD]

The Purpose of Films and Why We Watch Films

What is the purpose of films?

Films can have many different purposes depending on what we define a film as. Generally, most feature films tend to do one or more of the following via storytelling:

  1. Convey emotions to the viewer.
  2. Raise awareness about an issue.
  3. Educate about a subject.
  4. Entertain.
  5. Make money.

Why do we watch films?

I believe the main reasons we watch movies are to get entertained and involved into a story. Other reasons depend on the genre of film we’re watching. For example:

We watch comedies because we want to be amused and laugh.

We watch thrillers or horror movies because we want to experience tension and cliffhangers.

We watch action movies because we want to see spectacle.

We watch science fiction movies because we want to see a world and creatures we’ve never imagined.

We watch musicals because we want characters that dance and sing to touch our hearts.

We watch mysteries because we want to analyse and interpret debatable events on screen.

Everyone is different however and people may have unique subjective reasons to go see a film. Some may be interested purely in the visual effects, others may want to see their beloved stars acting on screen, third may want to study the storytelling techniques used in their favourite director’s new film.

I personally watch films not only for the above genre-related reasons but also to get inspired by the story and its characters. There is a message in every film and it has the potential to change lives.

Why do people make films?

The reasons people make films are closely related to the purpose of films and why people watch films. First, movie-making is a profitable business and Hollywood knows it. Second, movie-making is a form of art that talented artists use to make a creative difference in the world. Third, there are other film-makers whose films educate us about things we should know.

Vlad Dimov
Independent Film-maker
http://www.vladdimov.com

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