Nonprofits need a way to send their message to potential donors, and video production is an excellent way to tell your organization’s story and demonstrate why your cause is important. By keeping your mission concise and making a call to action while you have the viewer’s attention, you can make an extremely effective appeal for your cause. With the right combination of storytelling, visual cues, immersive audio, and real-life examples of your organization helping people, a video can be the perfect medium for raising awareness of your cause and getting donations.


In this video for the Boys & Girls Club of Weld County, Rocket House Pictures was asked to incorporate a music video into Club House members Testimonials. We chose to film inside their gym because we could control daylight a little better. We divided the filming in 3 days, having the testimonials on the first day, B-Roll on the second and finally the music video portion on the third.


We believe video is about people for people — as a Colorado based video production company, we fully engage in giving back to our community. Every year we select a nonprofit to donate to, volunteer for, or create video with. Because for us, helping others isn’t something that’s nice to do, it’s something everyone should do. 

Music videos used to be the domain of major labels with the mega budgets and the pull to get them on MTV. Don't get me wrong: it will cost you some money, but it can be done with a relatively small budget, perhaps around $2,500 to $3,500.


The point of having a video is to promote your song, but that doesn't mean the vid should take backseat in the artistic realm. The goal is to create a video that enhances the song and can stand on its own, a video that people are not only going to want to watch again, but want to show someone else. Having a video that stands on its own can bring you new fans — you know, people who might not otherwise be into your music, but really dig the way the video was made.

Dancing Girls is the first video/single from the upcoming album by Estella Dawn, a 20yr old new Zealand born, American based songwriter/singer. and produced and mixed by Shark at the Timeout.  It was written and semi produced by Estella herself and mastered by Steve Smart at 301 Studios in Sydney, Australia.

After we came up with a simple concept based on Estella's ideas, we at Rocket House Pictures started playing around with ideas until the concept started to come to life, changing, and eventually getting better than we ever could have imagined. It took 4 weeks of planning and building.

We used an old farm in Evergreen, CO as the main location for this video. We also utilized the cabin (an old tool shed) as a secondary character in the video.

Estella was great to work with, very talented and a joy to be around. Filming went smoothly through the day and two days later we did some pick-ups downtown Denver.

Yes, you could spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars shooting a music video.  But it can be done on a budget and "Dancing Girls" proves it. Especially when you’re at a place in your music career where every dollar counts.




Each year, Denver film lovers look forward to the annual Film on the Rocks screenings, when the Denver Film Society takes over Red Rocks Amphitheater to show cult classics, indie hits and blockbusters alike.
This year's lineup includes recent mega-hits Black Panther and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (which was directed by Denver's own Rian Johnson), as well as HeathersThe Big LebowskiGoonies, Happy Gilmore and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

"Denver Film Society continues to celebrate not only the best of film, but also the fun of film with this year's Film on the Rocks series," said Denver Film Festival director Britta Erickson in a statement announcing the lineup.  "Kicking off with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, directed by Denver's home-grown talent in Rian Johnson, is the perfect way to take audiences on exciting adventures in the most scenic of places."
The screenings include:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Tuesday, May 15
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Monday, June 11
Heathers: Monday, June 18
The Big Lebowski: Monday, July 9
Happy Gilmore: Monday, July 23
The Goonies: Tuesday, August 7
Black Panther: Monday, August 13

As part of these evenings (which start at 6 p.m.), the Denver Film Society gives up-and-coming local bands the chance to perform before the movies, offering smaller acts one of the few shots they have at playing Red Rocks before blowing up; each evening also spotlights a comedian.
Black Panther

Monday, August 13
The full list of those acts will be available when tickets go on sale.
General admission tickets to each evening are $15 and will be available starting Friday, April 20, at the Denver Film Society website. So get your tickets and who knows, maybe you will see a member of Rocket House Pictures there so we can watch some films together.



While some new camera operators may think a follow focus is an unnecessary gadget, they truly are a crucial part of nearly every camera set-ups. Not only do follow focuses make focusing the lens a million times easier and more ergonomic, but it allows you to accurately mark different focus distances. Solo shooters will benefit by not pushing their DSLR lenses into that useless region “beyond” infinity. Those with a 1st AC make life very difficult for her if they want her to hit complex focus marks without a follow focus. Give your 1st AC a follow focus whip and they can focus for you without bumping your graceful pans and tilts. Throw in a crank and they’ll get you from zero to infinity at the drop of a hat.
You don’t need to spend “a lot” for a follow focus either. There are many on the market for under $1000. “But are they worth their price?” Well, we asked the same think. What resulted was this review of seven follow focuses all under $1000.

Overall Impressions

Edelkrone Focus One Pro – $289.99

Feels solid and will probably last for a very long time. Well built. Not standard design; outside the box approach. Very easy to use as a one person operator. If you are going to have an camera assistant, then this probably isn’t the tool you want to have; your 1st AC will not be able to see their marks.

Shape Clic Follow-Focus Clic – $395

Gets the job done. It is high quality metal. Very light weight, bare-bones design, small, streamlined. Marking disk comes off too easily; this is bad since a bump might make it come off. The rod locks are not screw-in type so the pin holding the lever could potentially bend.

Zacuto Z-Drive – $523; $784 with Tornado Grip Kit

Very different than other follow focuses. Build quality is very solid; seems like it would last a long time. Universal joint eliminates need for a gearbox. Specialty item made for solo use; not practical if you have an AC using it. Only mounts to one rod, which reduces stability. Knob diameter is small making fine-adjusted focusing difficult.

Tilta Follow Focus FF-T03 – $529

Solid, hefty, should last a long time. Well designed, and knob texture and build aids in focus pulls. Stops are very solid and easy to adjust and use. Average backlash. Easy and quick to mount to rods with click-in design that is low profile. Comes with many accessories. Rocket House Pictures uses one of these. ❤

Sachtler Ace Follow Focus – $630

Feels hefty and solid, except it has a lot of plastic parts: gear knob, the gear box, the wheel, rod connector. The only metal piece is the arm. Sachtler is a solid brand, so it should last a while. However the plastic parts give us pause.

Redrock microFollowFocus Black – $795

Feels solid, low profile. Lateral slide for lens adjustment feels rough and chunky. Mixed feelings about being able to adjust backlash because of what this implies. Feels like hard stops and gearbox may wear out and be problematic.

MovCam Mini Follow Focus MF-1 – $995

Feels solid, feels like it will last a long time. Heaviest of the FF we’ve reviewed. Don’t like that all hard stops are always in play; you can loosen them, but then they just slide around. Like the adjustability of everything. Joint in arm is not super tight. Better if the teeth in the joint were deeper.

Letus Follow Focus – $900

Solidly built, quality metal; lens gear is quality plastic. Lateral slider doesn’t slide smoothly. Rod mounting pin can interfere with the horizontal movement. To mount without removing matte box, mounting screw has to be removed. Arm is very strong and solid with no flex. The knob is designed to be held only one way, so some focus pulling techniques may be difficult.


Ever notice that it’s okay to see mics in some video productions, but not others? What’s up with that?
In a scripted sitcom, the audience never sees a mic. Why? The production must sustain the illusion that the audience is watching the characters live out their lives. A visible mic would destroy that illusion in the same way that an accidental wide shot would show that the characters are actually on a set and not in their kitchen. The challenge lies in hiding the mic from the camera’s prying eyes.

In this article, we’ll explore how to capture audio with a mic cleverly placed on the human body, just outside the camera’s view. You’ll learn how to use a special mic that is great for hiding, because it is super small.

Lavalier Basics:


A tiny lavalier mic is unobtrusive and typically attaches to the clothing of the talent. Sometimes spelled “lavaliere,” it is a French word for an ornamental pendant worn on a chain around the neck. Years ago, bulky lavalier mics hung around the neck on a necklace. Nowadays, these mics are extremely small and often called a “lav” or “lapel” mic.

Essentially all modern lavalier mics use a condenser transducer to convert acoustic energy into electrical energy. This is the type of mic that permits your cellphone’s speakerphone to work its magic. Most lavaliers have an omni-directional polar pattern that picks up sound coming from virtually all directions.
These minuscule mics work best when attached to clothing at a person’s sternum. This placement allows the mic to pick up some of the resonant sounds from the chest. If placed elsewhere on the body, some EQ adjustments may be required in post-production to fill out the tonal quality of the audio.

Concealing in a Shirt or Blouse:


The most common garment worn on the upper body is undoubtedly a shirt or blouse. This wardrobe choice offers several opportunities for hiding mics. Let’s look at some of them:

1. On a dark-colored, buttoned, dress shirt you might be able to pop the tip of a black lavalier mic out of a button hole. On the inside of the shirt, use gaffer’s tape to secure the mic and cable. With appropriate lighting and favorable camera angles, the audience will likely never notice the mic.

2. On that same dress shirt, you might be able to hide the mic in the cloth flap between two buttons. Put a loop of self-adhesive moleskin around the body of the mic to minimize contact noise with the shirt’s material. Most pharmacy stores sell moleskin.

3. A necktie offers additional hiding places. Most lavalier mics include a clip for attaching to a tie. Hide the mic by simply clipping it to the back of the tie. Use moleskin to protect the mic from contact noise. The audience will see the backside of the mic clip and assume it is a standard tie clip.

4. Another necktie hiding place is at the knot. Loosen the knot and feed the mic through so that it barely hangs out the bottom. Using a omni-directional mic is critical here, because it will be pointed away from the talent’s mouth.

5. What about a traditional 2 or 3 button polo shirt? In this scenario you can place the lavalier in the ‘V’ below the buttons. Use gaffer’s tape to secure the mic and cable inside the shirt.
Try to determine if the talent will be turning their head to one side or the other, then place the mic on the side the talent will turn towards most often.
6. Another option is to hide the lavalier under the collar of a shirt. Use gaffer’s tape to run the wire around the back. Try to determine if the talent will be turning their head to one side or the other, then place the mic on the side the talent will turn towards most often.
7. A t-shirt affords a challenge, but one that can be overcome. In this situation, attaching the mic directly to the chest of the talent is a good option. Use first aid tape to attach the mic to the sternum. Just like in the dress shirt example, use moleskin to create a small buffer between the mic and the shirt.

Other places to hide a lavalier include under the brim of a baseball cap, or along the brim of a fedora-style hat. You can even hollow out a plastic writing pen, feed a tiny mic through to the top, and run the cable through a small hole on the inside of a dress shirt pocket.

The best advice is to hide a lavalier only if there are no other possibilities — like the use of a shotgun mic. Also, be aware of personal privacy issues when placing microphones on talent. Finally, be sure to use headphones to monitor the audio and listen specifically for noise generated by clothing coming into contact with the mic.


Ready Player One is a beautifully, expensively realized vision of hell. The year is 2045, and the world is an overpopulated wasteland; in Columbus, Ohio, the fastest-growing city on Earth, people live in shipping containers stacked on top of each other. The American dream is a rotting corpse, and instead of hoping for a better life, people while away their days in the OASIS: a virtual-reality realm filled with cartoon avatars of logged-on gamers, where you can do whatever you want as long as you have enough coins (a currency, it seems, that’s largely earned by blowing up other gamers).
Steven Spielberg’s new film is set in two different dystopias, but it’s only intermittently interested in acknowledging that. The first is our real world, which has become far more polluted and overcrowded—both a typical and believable near-future prediction. The second is the OASIS, a dazzling land bound only by the limits of one’s imagination that has somehow ossified around late 20th-century pop-culture artifacts as if they’re religious icons. This is a film that treats an Atari 2600 like it’s the Ark of the Covenant, that turns The Shining’s Overlook Hotel into an inviolate temple, and where lines like “a fanboy can always tell a hater” are barked with sincere zeal.
In Ready Player One, nostalgia has been transmuted from an easy crutch into a codified way of existence, where people talk about decades-old video games and movies like they’re the building blocks of contemporary life. And within the game, they are, since the OASIS was built by James Halliday (Mark Rylance), a bushy-haired, extra-dimensionally awkward coder who designed the VR world around his own interests and obsessions. The allure of this plot setup (based on a novel by Ernest Cline) for Spielberg seems obvious: Here’s a universe inspired by the kind of pop-culture legendaria he had a hand in creating, so why not have fun examining how his legacy has been perverted over the generations?
Though the director occasionally explores this idea, Spielberg too often swerves into the easier territory of serving up genre references and lobbing them into centerfield for a cheering crowd. Godzilla! Akira! The Iron Giant! It’s all part of the phantasmagorical CGI gumbo that Ready Player One throws its heroes Parzival (Tye Sheridan), Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), and Aech (Lena Waithe) into. Those are the characters’ virtual identities within the game, but I might as well use them since 90 percent of the movie is spent in the OASIS, which is rendered in gloriously absurd anime-style graphics.
Like many a video game, at the heart of Ready Player One is a heroic quest, a series of mysteries programmed by Halliday to pop up on the occasion of his death (the film opens five years after he dies, though his virtual self lives on). The first to solve the cryptic puzzles and find the “Easter Egg” gets to inherit the company, which is worth about a half-trillion dollars: a totally logical succession plan for a program that seems to dominate most of public life on Earth. Competing against hardcore fans like Parzival and Art3mis is an evil corporation called IOI, which is run by a fun-hating capitalist stooge named Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn, doing his usual sneering-villain thing). His aim is to turn the OASIS into a malware-ridden netherworld of popup ads and tiered memberships.
It’s clear, from the glimpses of the America that Spielberg offers the audience, that the country is beyond saving. So Ready Player One’s heroes instead concentrate on fixing their virtual home, battling IOI to keep it from inheriting the game. The horrible company’s business strategy is utterly Dickensian: IOI forces people into indentured servitude by buying up their cyber-debt and imprisoning them in VR booths until they can work it off. Viewers see these faceless avatars doing grunt work around the OASIS, keeping the cartoon trains running on time for their corporate masters. In one shot, during an action-packed online battle, Spielberg turns his camera onto a real-world sidewalk filled with people running around with their headsets and battling imaginary foes.
I could have used more of that winking, absurd visual humor (a specialty of Spielberg’s since time immemorial). But most of Ready Player One’s roomy running time is devoted to its heroes’ progress: There are mysteries to be solved, references to be racked up, and life lessons to be learned in the OASIS. Sheridan is an inescapably dull hero no matter how tricked-out his simulated DeLorean is; a Campbellian journey cannot be accomplished through trivia knowledge alone. Parzival’s sidekicks Art3mis and Aech are far more appealing, but often seem to exist to nudge their pal toward the finish line while he spouts Buckaroo Banzai facts at them.
As the enigmatic Halliday, Rylance is a scream, playing an adored CEO with all the charisma of a stoned supermarket bagger, answering every question with a sigh and a thousand-yard stare. If Spielberg is offering commentary on the perils of idol worship, he’s being pretty acerbic. But Rylance’s spaced-out portrayal of the character feels more like a knowing joke about the minds of artists often being simpler than the grandiose ideas their fans might attribute to them. Halliday created the OASIS, sure, but he’s also prone to musings like, “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”
That’s what Ready Player One ends up feeling like: a decent meal with tantalizing hints of something more complex, a Big Mac with Roquefort sprinkled on top. Rather than dig into the mind-boggling, byzantine inner workings of the OASIS, Spielberg spends time with the flashier stuff. He is, even in this later, moodier phase of his career, still an entertainer first and foremost. So log on, tune in, and drop out—after all, there are far worse worlds one could get lost in, and far worse filmmakers to get stuck on a quest with.

While Aputure is known for having created some of the most powerful LED units currently available, the company first grew to prominence on the back of its small units designed for being mounted on a camera (or hidden on set), providing just a touch of light. In anticipation of NAB this year, Aputure has refreshed its lineup of small, powerful LED units with the new AL-F7 and MX. The MX is an upgrade of the M9, with the "X" resembling X in the Apple style of naming.
The MX boasts more than three times the brightness of the M9, with the ability to push a "boost" mode of up to 60 seconds of 30% brighter intensity. This brightness stresses the LEDs—and presumably generates a ton of heat—which is why it's limited in duration and doesn't find itself needed in many scenarios. However, there will undoubtedly be times in documentary, nature, sports, and action work where an extra punch of super bright light will be just what the doctor ordered, even if it doesn't last.
The F7 is a larger unit designed for working with external battery power, possessing a few features that might make some filmmakers consider it over its little brother.
 Rather than built from plastic like the M9, the MX boasts an aluminum construction that makes the unit more durable and also serves as a heat sink. The unit is also bi-color, with a range from 2800K to 6500K, and, like the M9, has an internal lithium battery charged via USB.


The F7 is a larger unit designed for working with external battery power (it doesn't have its own internal battery), possessing a few features that might make some filmmakers consider it over its little brother.
One of its most alluring features is a consistent brightness throughout the color range; there's brightness change across the spectrum and you get 100% brightness for whichever color you choose. In addition, Aputure has placed a special focus on dimmability and control so that you can dim all the way down to 0% without any change in color fidelity.
In addition, the unit has multiple power inputs, with the option of powering with either the industry standard Sony NP batteries or a D-tap input (or you can power it with 6x AA batteries, which can be a lifesaver when on a distant remote shoot).


The F7 is available now for $98, and the MX is available for $149.

Tech Specs:

F7

  • 198 LEDs with 60° Beam Angle
  • 5500K Daylight Light, 3200K to 9600K LED range
  • 920 Lux Brightness at 3.3'
  • Full 0-100% Dimming
  • 20W Maximum Power Draw
  • Accepts Sony NP-Style or 6xAA Batteries
  • Battery Power Indicator Lights
  • Slots for Connecting Multiple Panels
  • Custom built Swivel Shoe-Mount
  • Diffusion & Orange Filters

MX

  • 2800 to 6500K Stepped Variable Color
  • Metal Chassis Construction
  • Stepped Dimming
  • Included Diffusion Filters 
  • Integrated Li-Po Battery charged by USB
  • On/Off Switch and LED Charging LEDs
  • 1/4"-20 Threaded Mounting Hole
Also known as the "Dutch tilt," "canted" or "oblique" angle, the Dutch Angle is one of the most emotionally impactful camera angles in the cinematic toolkit. Its tilted horizon line creates an immediate disorientation with the natural world, making it a prime tool for creating feelings of unease, disorientation, confusion, and distrust in viewers. And despite misuse and overuse by many contemporary filmmakers, the Dutch Angle has existed almost as long as cinema itself and has been employed by the world's greatest filmmakers to create some of the most iconic moments in cinematic history.
In this video essay, Jack Nugent of Now You See It explores the history of the Dutch Angle, from its use in the films of pioneering Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov to those of Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins.
Despite Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov's famous use of the Dutch Angle in his 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera, the origins of this stylized shot is actually German Expressionism, namely in films like Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). In fact, the term "Dutch Angle" is actually a misnomer—the original term for the shot, "Deutsch," which is the German word for "German," was mistranslated as meaning "Dutch."



The origins of the Dutch Angle may seem like a meaningless piece of trivia that is only useful when trying to impress your fellow cinephiles, but it actually denotes one of the major moments in cinematic history when film was introduced to subjectivity and experimentation. German Expressionism, which lasted from the 1910s through the 1930s, was a film movement characterized by its use of symbolism and style. That may seem commonplace today but, at the time, the most significant films, like D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916), relied more on their innovations in continuity editing than on the stylization of the medium. German Expressionist films, like Karlheinz Martin and Herbert Juttke's From Morn to Midnight (1920), which is considered to be Caligari on steroids, used distorted sets and high-contrast lighting to create an abstract, subjective reality.
The Dutch Angle (can we call it the German Angle now?) produces the essence of German Expressionism: abstraction, subjectivity, mystery, disorientation. Really, this shot is a microcosm of one of the most influential film movements in cinematic history—and that's why knowing its origin is important.
Copyright © 2018 Rocket House Pictures - Blog