Happy Birthday Windy!

4th-Birthday

Four Years Later: What We've Learned

Four years ago today, the local newspaper in Concord, Mass published the following report from their police record:

JAN 18, 2009. 5:30 PM. Two twenty-three year olds (1) wearing black skull caps (2) interfered with the inbound commuter train at the Concord Depot by placing a mountain bike on (3) the train tracks. They then proceeded to photograph (4) the approaching train from the parking lot. The conductor warned them to cease and desist before alerting the authorities. Thus, a film production company was born. (5)

1. Actually seventeen years old

2. Clearly thugs

3. Near

4. False

5. True; however, not actually printed in the police report

Four years later, what have we learned? Here's a few lessons, in order of the year we learned it the hard way.

2009. Partnerships only work if we delegate separate responsibilities. Trusting one partner to reinvest in new equipment, another to keep production on schedule, and another to communicate with clients for example, only works if you do just that - trust. So yes, being friends also helps. Ultimately, a healthy partnership of three can produce more than three independent freelancers could alone, so always bet on the power of the collective.

2010. Demand a deposit. If the client doesn't have a third of the cost now, they won't have the rest later. And more importantly, if they don't have any skin in the game now, they won't email us back later. In a broader sense, we learned to price our jobs not based on how much we wanted our clients to pay, but how much we wanted our clients to respect us, relative to what they could pay.

2011. Stay creative, stay relevant. For us, these two are intertwined. For both documentary and commercial work, we find our creative inspiration from real world experiences and social issues. Even if your brand isn't social relevance, using creativity to cause your audience to feel, and relevance to cause your audience to think are two keys we try to remember.

2012. Owning equipment allows you to say "yes, now," instead of "maybe, let me check the rental rates for next week." At the same time, don't feel the need to own everything. Overhead, or NOverhead, is the plague. Before making a one time or recurring investment, we always ask how our audience can see that investment on the screen. Finding ways to invest in the screen without overhead has been our goal, but this doesn't have to literally be the camera/lens/lights. The production trailer, for example, has nothing to do with image making directly, but allows us to become more professional, organized, and efficient storytellers, and is incredibly low maintenance with high function.

Of course, we're leaving a lot out, but we'll leave it here for now to avoid sounding too preachy and hokey.

The point is, we rarely ever have the answer to a complex problem, but we aren't afraid to ask the client or collaborator for advice. We find that the only way to solve a challenge is to remember to always have fun. And that's why, you always leave a note. Our last lesson.

Happy Birthday Windy! It's been an awesome ride.

Homes for Our Troops

Sarasota Hotel Pano Over the next few posts, we'll reflect on our experiences from 2012. Looking back in retrospect allows us to find the common thread that connects all of these stories, sometimes seemingly unrelated at the time.

We may have a vision for our future, but we usually have no idea how we will get there. That's why when asked if we can shoot in a way far beyond our experience or technicality suggests, we always answer 'yes' and then figure out how.

Last February, a close friend and marketing consultant to Endless Abilities recommended our commercial work to Homes For Our Troops. The Massachusetts based organization builds accessible homes for disabled veterans and their families, and came to us to develop media for their new website.

At our first meeting with them, we quickly realized that 'media' meant not video, but an interactive virtual tour of one of their new homes. With no idea how to create a virtual tour, we immediately agreed to the job and spent the next month figuring out exactly how we could create the product we so easily promised.

Meanwhile, the client decided to send us to Sarasota. They booked flights and a hotel room, and budgeted for taxi fare to the model home (somehow they seemed okay with the fact that we were too young to rent a car).

Whether we were ready or not, we soon found ourselves shooting a virtual tour of a brand new home for a wounded veteran. The home was bare except for his photo and American flag waiting on the counter. Here's the link to the tour: http://windpoweredproductions.com/build/virtualtour.html

When we returned we proudly assembled the tour without glitches. It felt pretty good to live up to a new technical challenge. And in retrospect, the job fit into our mission of telling stories with a greater social responsibility. But at the time, the only thing on our minds was not messing up the virtual tour. Here's us practicing in the hotel room before the shoot.

We're Back

So after a few months of silence on our blog, we're back. Our absence comes from not inactivity, just a shift in brand.

At our last post about ten months ago, Wind Powered Productions was editing a short piece on biotech research with the Wyss Institute in Boston, shooting cars for five days with Clint Clemens in San Francisco, and preparing to head to Florida to shoot new homes for wounded warriors with Homes For Our Troops. On top of all of that, we spent much of our free time mini-bus shopping around New England and preparing to shoot our first feature documentary on a cross country road trip in the spring.

Needless to say, we no longer had our long summer days to blog, and the demands of both shooting and school forced us to go radio silent for a while.

Fast forward almost a year, and we've somehow managed to keep both documentary and commercial arms attached to the same torso. We've beefed up our equipment quiver with a twelve foot jib arm, which finds its new home in our production trailer. The mini-bus that we bought from a church in Rhode Island back in January drove us seven thousand miles over seven weeks this spring, leaving us with some of the most amazing experiences of our lives and three hundred hours of footage.

As we approach our fourth birthday, we're proud to announce the launch of our new name: Windy. We go by our nickname now, as Wind Powered Productions felt a bit long. Unintended associations with windmills and potential lawsuit threats from other production companies with similar names motivated us to simplify.

But most importantly, Windy is a new brand that allows us to unite both our commercial and documentary work under a common mission, to tell the stories that matter. From cutting edge science to community service, we believe that financial sustainability and creative expression are not mutually exclusive. More about this later, but in the meantime, we hope you enjoy the next few blog posts, a recap the successes and failures of our third year.

Best,

Windy

A Smoother Workflow

It's now been five happy months since the introduction of three essential pieces to our work flow:  (1) Adobe's After Effects/Premier/Encoder package on the (2) super sexy and powerful iMac, thunderbolted to the (3) Pegasus Promise raid drive system. Premier's live rendering and Encoder's live rendering reverses the computer-editor waiting game. While we used to feel productive when watching the Daily Show and eating burritos, waiting for Final Cut or Compressor to render for hours, Adobe's suite has basically eliminated comfortable waiting times. On top of that, the iMac eliminates comfort from the waiting times. And thunderbolt to the Pegasus eliminates the waiting. The last three finished products have evidenced a dramatically faster post work flow. Each project dramatically different in almost every way imaginable, yet a near flawless workflow on the back end.

The first example, a holiday video for a great cause with Ennis, Inc. we shot with one partner, one camera, one day. The post production may have actually taken as much if not less time than the shoot itself. Any editing platform on any machine could have turned out the rough cut as quickly as we did. Ultimately, the ability to tweak the minor details in the successive revisions mattered to the client. These edits were a fast moving process the freed up communication between us and multiple parties on the client's side. By nature of the short and very specific concept of this piece, the ability to make these detailed changes efficiently was imperative.

The second example, the Wyss Institute's Third Annual Retreat, demanded efficiency in post production in a completely different way. After rolling three cameras almost non-stop for six hours, we needed to deliver a ~three minute product. Luckily, the controlled environment allowed us to sync almost all the footage. Will's great notes about the project allowed Tripp to edit the whole piece in a day and a half, and Harvey to grade just hours before flying back to Nashville on the Monday morning after Thanksgiving. The changes that the client requested account for maybe two percent of the final product, but took many more days to finish. While there isn't much we can do to speed communication with the client (yet) and therefore we don't have much control over the revision process, here we were able to dramatically reduce our overall post time by cranking out the first edit in less than three days.

And in the third example, CC Productions and Jaguar, we needed to plan our every hour of the first two weeks of the new year to complete the product in time. Our post-production responsibilities were clearly established in a calendar with next to zero room to spare. Six days of two cameras and microphones soon filtered into three minutes. And to go another step, beyond previous work, title work and motion graphics demanded sometimes hours of attention to individual frames. So much of this blog post has been about the importance of an efficient and reliable editing station, but so much can be said, especially after this job, about human capital. While Will sees his family on vacation and Harvey hosts friends at his apartment for New Years, Sam Ewing designs the perfect music and Tripp recreates the sleepless production schedule in the firehouse office. After a week, he can hand off the picture lock for noise reduction to Will and color grading to Harvey, and take a few days off himself.

We are a team of stunt doubles, because there's no way in Hell any one of us could crank out these final edits on our own in the same amount of time. Both the new editing suite and the human collaboration has since become so integrated into the workflow that we now shoot with post-production efficiency in mind. California, here we come.

The Wyss Institute

Wind Powered Productions has just completed work on a series of promotional videos for the Wyss Institute @ Harvard. The caliber of people at the Wyss is hard to articulate and the importance of their scientific discoveries is mind boggling. Every shoot day was full of gasps and dropped jaws.

It was a great opportunity for us and we happy to except the challenge. Every shoot day posed unique challenges. Every lab was different and every set up had to be created from scratch. We also had to bring in a very stripped down set up as we were shooting in labs that were full of passionate working scientists - it turns out that the cancer vaccine people don't like to stop working. In our time at the Wyss we shot over 50 hours which was all edited down into 8 individual platforms and two trailers videos that give an overview of the Wyss. To see the rest of the videos head over to the Wyss Institute website.

Motion Capture LabShooting in the motion capture lab.

The Mighty PriusThe beloved Prius packed to the gills.

 

Clean the Bay

 

Wind Powered got an awesome opportunity to shoot with an amazing organization in Rhode Island, Clean the Bay. Clean the Bay works with two large landing crafts to remove large debris from the shore lines of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Clean the Bay can remove everything from old pier pylons to derelict boats. To see them in action is staggering. They can move single objects weighing up to 3 tons. In the past 2 years they have removed more than 1,400 tones of debris and sadly they have only scratched the surface. The fact that a team of 4 and with only 2 boats can remove 1,400 tons of trash is incredible. As amazing as the Clean the Bay team is they still need your help. If you see debris in your area give them a call. Check out the link below to learn more about Clean the Bay....

 

Apple Store

Wind Powered was lucky enough to be invited to the Apple store on Boylston street in Boston to teach about filmmaking and how we use Apple products in our workflow. Considering out weakness for all things shiny, pretty, and Apple we jumped at the oppurtunity. In preparation for the event we decided to shoot some footage around Boston and cut together a little promo for our fair city of Boston. We scrounged up a few models and proceeded to shoot all the iconic sites that define Boston. The 4th of July fireworks, sailing in the Boston Harbor, an evening at Fenway, and of course stroll down Newbury Street.

The footage looked great and it was a blast for us. Check out the video and be sure to check a few shoots of us in action at the Apple store.

-wpp

The Hump-Cam

We are is pleased to announce that William Winsor Humphrey III is now officially a partner at Wind Powered Productions. Will has been hugely helpful with all things Endless Abilities including skiing backwards, working with sponsors, and organizing a great fundraiser. In addition, Will brings a wide range of talents to the table including his 50 Ton Captains License and an impeccable ear for all things audio. We had an official swearing in ceremony last week. Check out the photos below to see more.

"What was once a wolf pack of two is now a wolf pack of three"

-wpp

 

Our Island

The Wind Powered Productions crew just returned from a week of shooting for Endless Abilities on Martha's Vineyard. We could not have had a better time. We got to see an amazing new film that just won Sundance, BUCK, thanks to the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival. We even got to schmooze with with the director after the film and had a chance to catch up with the festival founder Thomas Bena. Thomas is not only a festival show-runner and father but also an avid surfer. Thomas was kind enough to skip out of the office and hit the surf with us. It was a quiet day at Squibnocket but we got in the water all the same. And it what was undoubtably the highlight of the trip. Thomas gave Zack's wave-ski a try and described the experience as humbling and "a completely different sport". Washing away 15 years of surfing experience. Thanks again to Thomas for up with us all week.

The Endless Abilities team also got to sit down around the bonfire and talk about the future of the film and share our 4 visions of the finished piece. We could not have asked for a better time and we will certianly be back soon. Check out the article in the Vineyard Gazette... Here

Special thanks to Ray Ewing for providing us with these sweet shots!

 

SUP the Coast

SUP the Coast

A long time ago Wind Powered had the pleasure of shooting a short promo for the awesome, rad, talented, ambitious guys from SUP the Coast. If you haven't checked out the video we shot for them or taken a loong at thier shite now is the time. For those not in the know Will and Mike decided to paddle from the southern most pint in Florida to Maine to raise awareness for coastal clean up and the Wounded Warriors Project.

They left Florida on March 1st and as of today they are closing in on the top of Maine and scheduled to finish on July 4th. It is a truly unbelievable feat and we are proud to say that we know Will and Mike. They are doing some great work and now 10 months after starting Endless Abilities I can say that the Wounded Warriors is a worthwhile cause and needs your support. If you are interesting in getting involved head on over to the Wounded Warriors Project website.

Finally to quote SUP the coast "we are standing up for those who stood up for us"...

-wpp

 

 

Final Cut "Pro" XXX

Ways to Piss Me Off We have only just recently picked up a copy of the new final cut and we do not want to rush to judgement but first impressions are worth something. Overall the new Final Cut feels like the awkward step-child in and otherwise Kennedy-esque family. The controls just aren't as fine and the professional features are missing. My beloved friend Color has been given the axe and without XML I cannot use Autodesk Smoke. As follows are my grievances to date... I am sure more will follow:

Grievances:

1. I miss my viewer

2. I need XML

3. I like my audio and video separate

4. Events are just annoying... let me manage my media the way I want

5. I need to import from Final Cut 7... not iMovie

6. I need Apple Color

7. When I mark in and out points leave them alone... Don't erase them

8. Thumbnails are for websites

Weekend at NEDS

Tripp and Will at Loon

Wind Powered Productions spent the weekend at Loon Mountain skiing with the amazing crew at New England Disabled Sports. The conditions were far from perfect. It was unbelievable cold . Tripp, Will, and our new friend Cam all crashed (take a look at the epic spill here) but in spite of it all we had a blast!

It was our last big ski weekend for the season so we decided to pull out all the stops. We loaded up the Jeep with camera gera, clothes, skis and a wheelchair. We even got to pick up some new swag from Patagonia in Boston. Those guys rock.

So much stuff....

Once we finally hit the slopes Will started showing off and before we knew it he was skiing backwards and getting some killer shots. Meanwhile Harvey was camped out in the warm and cozy NEDS lodge prepping a new rig for the mono-ski. We tried two completely different rigs and they were both wicked intimidating but our buddy Cam was brave enough to give them a try. They only lasted one run each but the close intimate footage was totally worth it. One Canon 5D Mark II came back covered in snow and ice but somehow survived. Gotta love those cameras!

Mono-Ski Rig

Sunday Morning rolled around and we decided to pull off one last big shot... So at 5:00am we loaded the gear and headed over to Loon. We hiked our lovely 12ft camera crane up to a nice wide turn on the beginner slope and started rigging. Everything was there and ready to go by 7:00am. After a brief discussion with ski patrol and a lively debate about the pro's and con's of orange cones (for the record we are pro-cones and ski patrol was anti-cones) we were set and rolling.

We managed to get a few quick shots including a great overhead shot of Geoff Krill tearing it up. If you check out the NEDS promo that we cut together you can see Geoff in the very last shot, which takes up all of three seconds. Gotta love making movies... 4 hours = 3 seconds.

Thanks again to everyone at NEDS. You have an amazing group of instructors and we will be sure to see you up there next season.

-wpp