The ARRI Amira

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I have been reading and listening to podcasts, talks and all the buzz around NAB and all the new releases being predicted and one thing is certain among our industry… You will never be ahead of the curve, you can only hope to give your clients more than they expected and they call you back for more work down the line.  It has been a crazy year for us here at Setla Films as I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to the suburbs of Detroit.  What amazed me was the fact that the work didn’t change as it never seemed to be in the Bay Area or very rarely and now I am working more than ever on corporate shoots.  This told me something about what I was willing to invest in.  I have been using the Sony F55 for over 2 years now and have felt pretty comfortable in the image I was getting both HD and 4k, but sometimes your gut tells you it is time to diversify your experience.

Most of my clients wouldn’t care if I showed up with a DSLR or ARRI Alexa, all they care about is if I can put together a cohesive story and based on the videos that were done before me I can safely say that it truly doesn’t matter what camera I use as I know I can light better and tell a better story than my clients are used to.  So the question here is why did I invest over $50,000 on a new camera system?

Well the big question when you own your own business is why buy vs renting for gigs?  About 5 years ago when I was on a shoot with a DP who had over 20+ years experience he was getting ready for the first part of the gig and the client asked him “Can I get timecode on the monitor?” and since the camera the main DP was using was mine he came over to me and asked “Hey, can you figure this out?”.  I knew right then that if I was ever in a position with a client and there was a need for me to know the camera enough to get through any troubleshooting I had better own it to get to know it. From there I couldn’t bring myself to rent a camera for a client.Arri Amira Camera On Rent | Setla

Most DP’s I talk to spend a good deal of time comparing cameras before they buy.  While price starts the analysis i.e. $5000 – $10,000 range etc then they have narrowed their search to around 3-4 cameras max.  I went into this with the idea if I had all the money in the world what camera matches my shooting style i.e. weight, manual lenses, docustyle, interview, travel a lot, mostly a one man band etc.  While I narrowed the search to RED, Panasonic Varicam, ARRI and Sony I wanted to make a decision based on the 2 factors.  1st if the camera can produce an amazing image given an educated user and 2nd what is the customer service aspect of the company.  I called ARRI to discuss with them the financing package they had going and I got a really rude answer from the receptionist “I’m sorry I was just told to have you email to get more info”.  REALLY?  I am about to spend $50k and this is the response I get?  I was floored and immediately went on twitter to show my disappointment.  it wasn’t 1 week before I received some shwag from ARRI apologizing for the experience and calling me directly to give me all the info I needed.  I couldn’t have been more surprised by the effort they showed even a small company like mine.

Once I realized that this is what I was going to get when I needed help I was convinced that the ARRI Amira was going to be my camera.  The funny thing is when you extend yourself like this to buy equipment it becomes a motivator to make sure you find the clients and projects needed to pay the bills.  If you ever have any questions about my experience with ARRI don’t hesitate to contact me and I only wish happy shooting for all you that know how important camera choice is!



I knew that I wanted bigger and more diverse clients since most of my initial clients were in the healthcare space,

Why video production is worth paying for

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Just like that time when you needed an attorney because you got into some heat over that thing.  When it came to finding an attorney with the right skills to put your mind at ease it took some time didn’t it?  The first several attorneys you talked to were pretty expensive, had relevant experience, but just were out of what you could afford.  Some others were more interested in backing you into a contract and get a deposit immediately, but didn’t necessarily show they had the exact experience. Finally you landed the right one, it wasn’t too expensive, they worked with you on payment, but it took time.  Here is the lesson of the day.Fast Good Cheap

This isn’t new NEWS or anything, but more of a reminder for people looking to get a video produced.  You can’t get all three and let me explain.  Some companies will ask for a cheap youtube video done without all the bells and whistles and have it up by tomorrow.  Well this video will not be any good, but maybe that didn’t matter them.  Other companies know that they are on a deadline, but have a client or boss to impress, but they are willing to pay, so in this case they have a realistic expectation that it won’t be cheap.  Then there is the client that has no budget worth mentioning, they want it good, but in the end it will not be able to be done fast AT ALL.  These projects fit in between actual paying gigs and require a bit of time to complete.

Why video in the first place?

  • Videos Increase a Viewer’s Understanding Of Your Product Or Service by 74%
  • An Introductory Company Email That Includes A Video Receives An Increased Click-Through Rate of 96%
  • 50% Of Users Watch Business-Related Videos On YouTube Once A Week
  • 80% Of Your Online Visitors Will Watch A Video, While Only 20% Will Actually Read Content In Its Entirety
  • 45% Of Viewers Will Stop Watching A Video After 1 Minute & 60% Will Have Stopped By the 2 Minute Mark

This again isn’t new to most people, but learning this before you contact a video producer about your project will improve the communication immediately and get your project to cross the finish line without near as many bumps in the road. Remember: You get what you pay for. Let your competition shoot their videos on their iPhone. It’s time to make better content. It’s worth the investment.

The content marketing checklist

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Let’s get one thing straight… if you are new or not to marketing getting down to the basics makes for a strong case to the people you report to.  Let me help you hit 5 key points to consider.

1. What are the Business Goals

Keep the corporate business goals close at hand when being delegated a content marketing strategy is important.  Too often I hear people say “I want to go viral” or “I need to make a video” but I too need to make sure I understand your business goals.  Once I have a grasp of this our collaboration becomes more on point.  Content can serve different purposes within a company, and the best content marketing programs define the role of content beforehand, not after the fact.

2. Considering Strategy

Let’s talk focus.  Why is this content to be created?  Who is this content for?  What call to action are we shooting for?  Are we doing this for hard or soft ROI?  These are the next meeting we will have as we consider the next steps.  Ultimately when we go to create this visually we want to make sure this is all laid out.  The architecture of your story telling eco-system is another key element here and we want to make sure your content is wrapped appropriately so your audience is engaged and make them want to share your content.

3. Time for Production

While this is the fun part for people like me, there are a lot of logistics involved.  How many days do we have at any one location.  Don’t forget to allocate time for b-roll.  I repeat… don’t forget to allocate time for b-roll.  If you want people to get tired of talking heads then schedule back to back interviews without b-roll.  Nothing kills a video faster than not being able to cement the talking points with visual representation.

4. Amplification & Exposure

You must market your marketing. Let’s get serious just because you create amazing content doesn’t mean people will find you.  More than likely your company isn’t able to go out on a limb and create content that shocks, so let’s get back to the basics… what is the amplification strategy.  This is a multi-pronged approach including internal employee distribution to reaching out to influential bloggers to press releases.  Know where your audience is online and focus on driving conversation with your content, as a matter of fact in the strategy part of the design it is great to know what pain points your customers have and address them in some way with the content without sounding like a propaganda piece of course.

5. Measurement

Content isn’t inexpensive. It’s just different expensive. I always get asked about cost or “I have a budget of this” but let’s be honest good content is well thought out, well produced and measured. Measurement is the key to make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice, hone your content to address the shortcomings and keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.  ROI comes in a lot of flavors, so be sure you know exactly what you are being measured on and get those analytics.  Anything above and beyond that is the cream that might just surprise your supervisors on how well your content is performing.

Being a brand ambassador

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You can be brand loyal or brand agnostic, not care about the job or be the OT king.  We all at some point will represent a company, a sports team, an area of the world and this could be a positive or negative impression we put off. When was the last time someone praised a product or service and actually researched it?  Or how about learning about a brand because of their steadfast commitment to giving you a different experience?  In terms of consumers we are creatures of our relationships and the feelings we get when connected to certain brands.  When we begin to develop a relationship with someone of an organization we start to feel loyalty, devotion, willingness to look beyond the little things they don’t do for us.

I’ll share an example of someone I met from Sony. I connected with @SonyProUSA on twitter which was run by a guy named Jason Eng. Once Jason Eng was hired as their Social Media Manager I was skeptical.  How could a huge company like Sony do well with connecting with their customers?  Will this only be a 1 way conversation? After multiple conversations it felt more like a personal relationship was forming.  I didn’t believe that even hiring someone that understood social media could break the barriers of old corporate mentality and the connection that needed to be made with the consumers, but he has allowed me to feel connected to an organization in a way no other organization their size has done.  I am now a Sony Ambassador as I own a Sony F55 and blow up twitter and facebook with my productions and images of their product.  Is my being a Sony Ambassador important to Sony? Did Jason Eng change my perception of Sony?  Hell yeah he did and I hope Sony continues to appreciate how he has changed perceptions around the world about their company.

My wife and I are die hard Michigan fans.  Good, bad indifferent we are who we are and the price that comes with loyalty isn’t always easy, but as a brand ambassador you understand what you stand for and don’t have a problem when times get tough.  Does this matter to the University of Michigan how I represent their college?

Where am I going with this you may ask?  I want nothing more than an opportunity to change the world, it may be small, it could be huge, but I have never felt so motivated to change the world in my own way through filmmaking… Being a brand ambassador requires commitment to the cause and for you to understand that when you hire a company like Setla Films we become your Brand Ambassador…. When we take on a project we will scream your name from the roof tops because that is what brand ambassadors do!

What is the budget for video?

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“I know I want to do a video, but I don’t need a huge production out of it, just something I can throw on youtube. How much will it cost?”

This is one of the most common question I hear from people when they first approach me about doing a video, “How much will this video cost?”.  As much as I hate to talk money it always comes up in the beginning of the conversation even before knowing what the heck we are about to produce.  So you ask for a budget and I have to ask “What’s the idea?”.  This conversation while important should come after you have a sense of what style and type of video you want.  If you are new to video this is a good starting point to give me a call so I can walk through the process and help with an understanding of time, costs and the process.

Answer this question: Find a video similar to what you are thinking about and ask video production companies ‘what would a video like this cost to make?’ You will find that one of two things will happen.  They will either try and get to know who you are and help guide you through the process of the production or they are solely focused on making a buck and will guide you through the “send us a deposit” phase and there will be nothing other than a transactional relationship.  What is your preference? 

#ContentMarketing #VideoMarketing

Documentary filmmaking on the rise for companies

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Telling a story is an amazing way to identify and connect with people.  I remember as a paramedic after a call we would site in the back of an ambulance and share stories of a crazy call or how we wouldn’t believe it if we didn’t see it.  More and more companies are realizing the importance of these stories and taking part of that process.  As a Paramedic I have a unique skill set of knowing what it is like to work the streets and that view point has afforded me the opportunity to help craft messages that companies in this space need.  Most of the people in the marketing departments of healthcare or EMS based organizations don’t come from the field rather they use skills and techniques taught to them through their education and/or experience from other companies.  In the social age of collaboration and connectiveness there is a transparency that we (meaning EMS or healthcare professionals) understand about our jobs and when an organization doesn’t identify with that through their efforts in media we as an industry don’t support it.

If your next marketing solution is to identify with the healthcare audience and you are seeking ways to do that with authenticity and credibility give me a call – 510.8598.3456

So you want to viral?

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I just had to write this post after reading an article of which just made so much sense.  Over the last few years I have been asked about creating viral videos and what does it take. What makes a viral video?  It is that you just uploaded a video to youtube and it gets 5000 views?  The answer is simple, I can’t make it go viral, you can’t make it go viral, If you have a following (Let’s say my 17k followers on twitter) and I post a video and it gets 5000 views in a day it doesn’t really count as viral.  Although that would be a very high view rate it still isn’t viral.  What makes a viral video is that it has to have the the ability to get beyond your following and reach people completely disconnected to you feel as if it has worth to them.

Now enough about going viral, what about stories?  As I dive more and more into filmmaking as a business the one true focus has to be on story lines. The more I see this in the First Responder Industry I see a niche that still has so much room to grow!   I have been working with a few people on the future of First Responders Network and what Setla Film Productions is all about.  It is clear to me that if you want to bring the most value to a client you not only have to have a clear way of producing great content both visually and sound, but understand distribution and ROI for the client.  It is clear that all this has value for a client, but so many times I am asked “So what did we really get out of this?”  While I can show all the analytics in the world, create a following, engage with that following on all social platforms, in the end…  what is ROI mean?  Is it different for everyone?  Is there a standard to adhere to?

So my question to video producers out there is how do you present the ROI for your client’s out there when the videos have not been see 5,000,000,000 times?


Grant funding starts with 250 Votes

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I received an email about this opportunity. One thing about owning a small business is that there are a lot of road blocks you face every day. Funding is always an issue, but more importantly I created the First Responders Network as a way to change the conversation about the first responder industry. Teach the public more about what we do by using entertainment as the medium I knew I would be facing some stiff objections, but it is clear that it is catching on.

As a Paramedic and Filmmaker I saw an opportunity to improve the programming in and around the healthcare industry. The goal was to create original programming that improved awareness about what it is we do and how we can improve healthcare worldwide. Over the last 5 years we have started a network of passionate bloggers, podcasters and video content producers that our mission is to improve awareness about what we do in the field and bring us into an EMS 2.0 world. EMS 2.0 is our chance from the ground up to change what is known about us as paramedics and EMT’s and how we can improve healthcare around the world. What CSI did for the forensic science industry is about to happen for the first responder industry here, just bigger!

We are embarking on a brand of social television where the audience drives the content about how and what they want to learn. We have already begun traveling to different cities sharing how heart attacks are handled and how where you live shouldn’t determine if you live, but it does! It has been embraced by hospital and first responder agencies around the world and by partnering with organizations including The American Heart Association we see our chance for impacting change improving daily.
Chase is offering a chance for us here at FRN to infuse the much needed cash into our platform to deliver the most amazing audience experience ever and we need your help, this is how you can help!

1. Go to and on the bottom right side of the site you click on “Log In & Support“. You can use your facebook credentials to make it easy.

2. type “First Responders Network” as the business

3. click on “California” as the city

4. click on “Benicia” as the City

5. click on VOTE

After we have 250 votes we will be in consideration and business professionals will look at our business model and determine if we have what it takes which I know we do! Thank you very much for taking the time to view this and I really appreciate your support!

2012 NAB Wrap Up: Products that stuck out for me

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I wanted to first state that as a NAB virgin I was impressed that I was able to get a hotel that was across the street from the convention center.  We didn’t waste any time while there having to worry about transportation.  I knew going in that this was going to be a big year especially for cameras, 4k resolution and lenses, but my focus was to do just a couple of things at this point.   I do a lot of docustyle work, so what that means is that I am on the road a lot and most of the time I am a smaller crew trying to pull off a lot in a short amount of time.

As a filmmaker and editor I fins that I wanted to speed up my production times which includes setup, workflow, getting the images done right in camera instead of a heavy post production time and ultimately offering services that is not readily available for my clients.  So without further ado here are the products that I have to recognize that are going to make my life easier!


Lite Panel came out with a kit that blew me away.  the problem isn’t that there isn’t enough good lights out there, but they managed to understand that when you are traveling and you need a small but powerful kit to do interviews on the fly they put it all together in a nice compact kit. This kit has 3 Fresnels LED lights, 3 sets of gells, 3 d-tap cables, 3 AC cables, 3 stands, 1 softbox and all comes in a pelican case.  I have ordered this through California Media Solutions and will be available for my 6 LED Light kit when I travel.

LCD Screen:

Here is the problem:  I own a few different cameras and when you are run and gun with either the FS100, F3, EX3 or the DSLR there is a major issue with making sure everything you want is in focus.  SmallHD came out with the DP4, DP6 and soon the DP7.  These LCD monitors have simply made the act of staying in focus so much easier and for that I bought 2 DP4’s.  Show price were $699 and they came with the kit.


One of the biggest time sucks when working with multiple cameras is the codecs.  You would think that Sony would come out with a solutions to make all the codecs to work together nicely, but that just isn’t the case.  After talking with the GM over at AbelCine he explained it like this.  Each of the Sony divisions work in their silos, from the XDCam lineup, the Big Chip line and so one.  They don’t communicate efficiently and so the problem comes when they release a new camera from one line and it directly affects the other division i.e. the FS700 announcement and the current F3 model.  That being said I wanted to find a digital recorder that simply puts all my cameras on the same playing field right out of the box and improves the overall quality of the video.  Since most of my cameras already have the XDCam codec I chose to purchase the Convergent Design Nano Flash.  This digital recorder will allow me to take the current 35Mbps 4:2:0 color space that I currently see out of my F3 and EX3 and convert to XDCam 4:2:2 at 100-280Mbps and record to a CF card costing me $97 per 32GB.  I purchased them again from Josh at California Media Solutions.


What I think I was most excited about was the chance to see what the Sony FS700 was going to look like.  The Chip on it is 4x the image quality of the current FS100, which for all intensive purposes means that when recording at a high shutter you get a better light exposure than before.  I was most fascinated with the fact that this camera will record up to 960 fps.  Now I won’t be using that one too often because it records that at a much reduced resolution, but at 1080p it will record up to 240 fps.  Now that is even better than the RED Scarlet for most applications.  It may not be recording at RAW at this level, but the images I have seen at 240 fps were astonishing and I see this being a great tool for a lot of applications.  The next thing I loved about this camera were the ND filters added.  Now of course I can’t forget about the SDI output that will allow you to record RAW 4k images once they provide you will the firmware upgrade in the near future.  This maybe where Sony hands it to you as the camera is supposed to retail at about $8500, but I am sure the digital recorder that it has to come with will not be cheap.

Aerial Images:

I came across a client a few weeks ago that wanted to get some aerial photography.  I immediately researched what was out there and was surprised that there weren’t more solutions.  At NAB this year I ran across the company Aerial Technology that manufactures helicopter units for photography and videography.  The most amazing part for me was hearing them explain that this helicopter allows you to upload a google map of where you are flying and it will do the flying for you all you have to do is operate the camera.  They even mentioned that they will bring you out to Portland where they manufacture these and train you on their simulator…  Priceless!  They mentioned that fully loaded this was retailing at 18k.  I will be purchasing this year!!  Can’t wait!

The Last Job – my first short film/ 48 hour film festival submission – Update

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It began a few weeks before the competition where we were lining up the locations of possible shoot locations after we had confirmed that we were filming in the city of Alameda.  What was amazing to me was that I worked with people like Thomas Koch, Mike Epple, Sinohui Hinojosa and his son who is an amazing editor Joel Hinojosa.

We learned that we had the genre of spy thriller at 7pm friday night as Sinohui and Thomas Koch began writing for the night.  At 6am on Saturday morning we got together and Mike Epple showed up using his RED ONE Camera.  While there is a lot of things I love about picture and with the appropriate lenses it was nothing short of amazing.  Knowing we only had 48 hours to write, shoot and edit I was initially afraid of using the RED ONE, but we did use the 2k proxy to edit.

Since this production I have used the RED ONE a few more times and my take on it is… Use it if you have the time to take on post or the budget to and time to film because it does time to set up  for each shot.  I do love what the RED ONE can do for many of the productions I have, but it just isn’t practical.