WHY WE RENTED THE SONY A7S
As producers of the YouTube channel, “Ministry of Funny”, we pride ourselves in staying inconspicuous when shooting our hidden camera videos. In the past, a camera with an Advanced Photo System type-C (APS-C) sensor works for us best, adding a X1.62 reach to our Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens. For our “Kiss Cam On The Street” video, however, our filming location was a dimly lit bus stop. With limited lighting, our usual Canon 600D with a maximum of ISO 6400 will not be able to give us a bright enough picture. To resolve this, we had to look for an alternative camera for this particular shoot. After doing some research on cameras with super high ISOs, we decided to rent the Sony A7s, a full-frame Mirrorless camera that goes up to ISO 409,600, a staggering 6 stops above our Canon DSLR’s typical maximum ISO.
THE LCD SCREEN
The first thing that stood out to me when handling the Sony A7s was the LCD screen. The Sony A7s has a very unusual sort of LCD screen the pops out of the camera body but cannot be flipped to the side of the camera like other DSLRs. Instead this LCD screen can only be tilted upwards. This is useful for monitoring your image when taking low-angle shots but the functionality ends there.
For hidden camera videos, a flip out LCD screen is extremely important when it comes to staying out of sight. With an articulating screen like the one on our Canon 600D, even if the camera lens is pointing at the subject, the camera operator can be angled away from the subject and still able to monitor the image on the LCD screen.
Due to the lack of articulation of the sony LCD screen, as long as the operator needs to monitor the video, he has to be facing the subject straight on. Due to this limitation, I find myself getting spotted by subjects more often despite being hidden in the darkness.
Weighing in at 507 grams, the sony A7s feels significantly lighter than our Canon DSLR. Besides the weight, the A7s’ 127 x 94 x 48 mm measurements, boasts an even tinier package than our already small Canon 600D. Even though this is a great feature for travellers, for hidden cam productions, the camera feels unbalanced when paired with a telephoto lens. Our hidden camera is usually handheld because a tripod draws attention. By using the Sony A7s, due to the uneven weight distribution when paired with telephoto lenses, using a tripod is a must. On a more positive note, the camera features 2 nifty dials with programmable features, one at the front of the camera and one at the back. These dials grants quicker access to the adjustment of aperture and other variables when compared to a typical DSLR layout.
The ISO performance for the Sony A7s is very impressive. I had the Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM mounted on the A7s using a Sony LA-EA4 A-Mount to E-Mount FF Lens Adapter. I did not want to keep the aperture wide open as our subjects will be moving around a lot while executing their actions. Using a smaller aperture will reduce the chances of subjects going out of focus, a frequent occurrence when using focal lengths more than 100mm. With this in mind I kept the aperture at F8.0 and cranked the ISO up to 80,000, the shots were sharp but slightly noisy. Despite the noise, the footage was of good enough quality to be approved by the TV station we were delivering it to.
One major flaw when it comes to the Sony A7s’ video capabilities, is the shutter roll that happens when you try to pan with this camera. Shutter rolls makes your footage look warped when you are panning horizontally. This flaw is a deal breaker for me. Rolling shutter was a thing of the past and for a modern camera to still have such a quirk other manufacturers fixed almost a decade ago is unacceptable. For hidden camera videos, we do a lot of hunting when tracking our subjects so a rolling shutter issue would really affect the quality of your footage.
The Sony A7s may be a great camera for photographers, tourists and perhaps scripted content with carefully planned shots, but it is not a product for the run and gun video productions we work on.
AIRLINE ADS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GROUNDED
2013 saw some successful viral video campaigns from the likes of Virgin America’s Safety Video and WestJet’s Christmas Miracle, and closer to home, you might have seen some of the innovative stuff that Scoot is doing. But not every marketing campaign from the airline industry worked out as well - check out the article here.
CELEBRITY TWIST ON HIDDEN CAM VIDEOS
With the glut of hidden camera prank videos appearing all over YouTube, sometimes you have to bring in a recognizable name to rise above the noise. In this video, the man we know as The Terminator goes undercover as an overbearing gym manager. The best part? People didn’t care whether the prank was real or not, it was just fun watching Arnold hamming it up.
And more recently, The Terminator featured in another hidden cam video from Bud Light's Super Bowl commercial, but this time with backup from Don Cheadle, One Republic and a llama!
FOCUS ON USP MAKES FOR GREAT CONTENT
We’ve seen such storytelling earlier last year with Volvo’s The Epic Split and Samsung S4’s 60 Minute Staredown contest, and it is back with a bang in 2014 with Asus’ Transformers Trio video. The visual representation of the product transforming between laptop and tablet and the change of environment was the only message that the ad told. Nevermind what other ‘game-changing’ technical specifications it has, it focused on depicting a single, unique feature and portrayed it in the most visually exciting way.
MARKETING WITH DISPLAY TECHNOLOGY IN A NON-CREEPY WAY
In Nov 2013, British Airways launched a campaign, “The Magic of Flying”, that was literally the stuff of dreams: when a plane flies over a digital billboard, a video of a curious child pointing to the sky plays, with the pricing details of the flight superimposed over the captivated child. Technology has enabled us to seamlessly integrate the various elements of the brand into a single experience that consumers can take home. Read more about it here.
The following blogpost was written by Heather, the PA who worked on our ChicPeek production with Jade Seah.
My stint at Luff Media was an exciting and eye opening one. Before this, I had no experience or any inclination of how this whole production went about or what was expected. I was roped in to be the production assistant for a fashion related production starring Jade Seah. As filming began, I started learning the ropes of the whole set- the sound, lighting, cameras, wardrobe and even the script. I had always thought that filming was a piece of cake. All I needed was a script and a good video camera. After this fabulous opportunity of working as a part of Luff Media, I have learnt that it is not as easy as it seems. Scouting locations, ensuring that the lights are in the right places, and working with the occasional surrounding noises are just a few lessons I learnt throughout the whole process of shooting the series.
I was very blessed to work with a crew that was professional and yet humble. Despite my occasional slip-ups, they were very patient in teaching me and they even took the time to explain why certain things had to be done in certain ways. It was like working with a group of friends and hence, I looked forward to going to work every day.
It was good that we finished filming in line with the time schedule that was drawn out. However, that also meant that my job was done. It was a bittersweet farewell as I said goodbye to Jade, the crew and even to the set. I had thoroughly enjoyed myself and perhaps, might consider venturing into this industry in the near future.
Subsequently, Heather loved the experience so much that she appeared in another one of our videos. She is now pursuing a higher education down under, in Australia. We wish her lotsa sunshine and kangaroos!
More than a year has passed since Luff Media was first incepted, and we've had the good fortune of working on great projects with the most awesome partners. Besides online content, we've also been on the lookout for great feature film content to bring to Singapore, and we're glad to announce that we've found our very first title!
WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW《明天記得愛上我》is a romantic comedy by Taiwanese director Arvin Chen, who brought us the seminal AU REVOIR TAIPEI a couple of years back. Starring music icons Ritche Jen, Mavis Fan and Stone from the Taiwanese rock band Mayday, this film takes a whimsical but heartwarming look at the trials and tribulations in modern-day relationships. The film asks questions pertinent to our social context: What is love? Do we marry for love? What does "family man" mean in today's context? Filmmaker Lai Weijie describes the film as the "funnest time I've had in the theatres all year". The Straits Times Life! describes it as "whimsical and wise". Opens today (23rd May 2013) in GV cinemas!
The film hits a nerve with regards to today's conversation about marriage and love in Singapore. Catch the movie, join in the conversation! We also spotted this touching and beautiful music video for Pink Dot 2013 that we'd like to share. It features "Home" by Dick Lee, what's not to like?
We are going to bring in more quality films from around the world, so watch this space for more. Thanks for your support!
When we talk to people about online videos, the word "viral" inevitably pops up at some point. Noted. People want viral videos. People want their video, their name, their brand to reach far and wide, to be on the tip of everyone's tongues (and not in a chilli-padi-got-me-bad kinda way, but more of an MSG-I-want-more way). But hey, of most of the viral content out there, let's think about two things they have in common: 1) concept and / or 2) talent. It's not about the wonderful filmography and sweeping shots of rolling hills and crashing waves (is anyone else thinking Tree of Life?), though these are indeed important elements in achieving aesthetics.
In our most recent project with Singapore based low-cost airline, Scoot --
The challenges were laid upfront:
To conceptualise, script, shoot, and complete post-production on 3 videos in 2.5 days for their Korea Launch campaign. Oh yes. 3 videos, 2.5 days.
The boundaries had been set:
Scoot's history of being a brand that likes to do things differently - instead of always having their crew as the face of the company, they like showcasing their corporate staff too. So saying, we would be using their staff as actors i.e. this would be a Concept game.
Check out a Facebook Marketing case study here. Note Haresh's (of MoF) dapper goatee and feel free to leave related comments below.
The goals were made clear:
To engage audiences and induce them to a 'call-to-action' to continuously participate actively in the campaign. Yes, continuous participation. Online.
So here's some other food for thought - as devices continue to revolutionise the way we access our content, there has become an increasing need for further thought on 1) the way we access our content, and 2) the actual content itself, to keep up. The trend is for devices to allow personalised consumption of content so we can watch what we want, when we want, where we want. As content grows on the WWW, it takes more than just banner blitzing to cut through the noise. The great thing about video is that audiences' emotional connections are somewhat correlated to their time commitment to the content e.g. 2 second banner vs. 30 second video - having just a banner might not be engaging enough to warrant continuous participation, and video after video can get pretty snooze too (unless you're trolling for hours on YouTube). So let's change it up, people! Scoot obviously decided to since they employed a mixed-media strategy of banners and videos, mainly through their Facebook page.
Wonderful for us since we're the video guys and zhende zhende like the online medium for its power to start conversations, and the ability for quick turnaround to keep them convos going. Our role in Scoot's campaign was thus to provide that excitement, to change up their audience interactivity through video, thereby creating a new dynamic for their community. We sat down with Scoot to conceptualise and script the videos on Wednesday night; given that we knew the power of this video would come from its concept, we decided to come up with a 3-part K-drama spoof (their destination was, after all, Seoul), the effect of which we later pushed with some super hunting for Korean music and subtitles. We delivered the videos to them on Saturday morning after a late Friday night vetting, and over the course of the weekend, our videos helped supplement a real-time feel of the content that was released.
And of course this story has a happy ending - our videos garnered thousands of views (and counting) on Facebook and YouTube, contributing to a weekend long of pillow talk between Scoot and their community, and we managed to tie everything in with Scoot's goals, including their wacky-WTF styled videos. Not too shabby.
by Samantha Lim
Ministry Of Funny, a Luff Media partner, recently launched a new series on their YouTube channel, "Dramatic Readings of Restaurant Reviews". It was inspired by the hilarious series "Real Actors Read Yelp" by Gottakidtofeed Productions, which features professional actors from US television tackling some of the most outlandish Yelp reviews. The MOF series will put a more localised spin on a similar idea, and will cover the gamut of restaurant review sites, such as TripAdvisor and HungryGoWhere. After all, Singaporeans' favourite pasttime is eating, and you will be amazed how seriously some people take their foodie escapades!
This is a post by Josephine (photo left, in center), who worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the Sweet & Sour Pop concert on Friday, 22 June 2012.
Yes! We made it. With the minimal resources we had, we managed to hold a wonderful concert at The Arts House last Friday, 22 June. More than 100 fans and eager concertgoers joined in the fun with the 4 performers, Ben Hum, Chen Yiyuan, Sammmydee and Toh Yifan AKA Tzire. This was my first time producing a music concert, so there were a *super* lot of things to do and to learn in the preparation phase of the concert. But most importantly, it was fun! I knew Ben and Yiyuan from 6 years ago because of the Campus Superstar series and was only able to see them on TV. But this time round, I was able to meet the stars behind-the-scenes!! Took a few pictures with them to show off to my friend. Hah! Although I discovered Sammmydee and Yifan only recently through their YouTube videos, I really enjoyed their live performance!
Through this process, I came to the realisation that it is not easy to organize a concert. We had to deal with a lot of people - performers, sponsors, venue owners, etc. We faced a lot of difficulties along the way, and of course while we all feel we could have done so much more to market and promote the concert, we are still happy with the great turnout! There were also technical difficulties with regards to the venue and the sound equipment, but I believe that everyone who bought a ticket still enjoyed the performance.
We hope to improve and get stronger after each event. Looking forward to the next one!
Luff Media presents the SWEET & SOUR POP concert, happening at 7pm on 22 June 2012, at Chamber @ The Arts House.
Over the last few years, Sammmydee, Chen Yi Yuan, Toh Yifan AKA Tzire, and Benjamin Hum have amassed over 2.5 million views for their online videos, which feature covers of popular English and Mandarin songs. Combined, they have about close to 30,000 YouTube subscribers who actively follow their every move on social media platforms. But dispel the notion that they are viral sensations or overnight success stories - they have been plugging away at this for years. While their peers are typically hanging out, shopping, or watching movies, these 4 talents have been honing their craft through whatever means available to them - home recordings, video collaborations, and small gigs at charity concerts. They have built a loyal fanbase, one Like at a time, and are now ready to show the world what they can do.
The SWEET & SOUR POP concert was conceived as a showcase for these local YouTube musicians, the first of its kind in Singapore. The music industry has changed fundamentally in the last decade, with YouTube superseding the local record store as the way to discover and share new music. Geographic boundaries for music talents have been torn down by those who doggedly chase their dreams. This concert is a celebration of this new landscape, with 4 young talents, who independently built their portfolios online, now collaborating together, taking the plunge to becoming full-fledged performers. In line with the historic nature of this evening, the concert will be held at the awe-inspiring Old Parliament House, which is home to some of the most monumental events in Singapore's history.
Luff Media is extremely proud to be part of the history and the future of the music scene in Singapore. We hope you will join us for this amazing ride.
Find S&SP on Facebook
© 2015 Luff Media. All Rights Reserved.