Pete’s Picks – Top 5 Football Movies

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1. Remember the Titans
Though it’s a bit more ‘story’ than ‘true,’ this tale of integration in a small town calls all the right plays when it comes to inspiring drama. While we’ve seen all of ‘Titans’ elements before (tough-love teacher whips teens into shape, a small town learns to let go of prejudice), Denzel Washington’s command presence holds everything together and lends gravitas to the unabashed idealism on display.

Film Title: Friday Night Lights

2. Friday Night Lights
As we all know, everything is bigger in Texas and apparently that goes for existential despair as well as stadiums. Digging beneath the spectacle and adrenaline rushes of gridiron action, this 2004 film – and the TV series it inspired – dares to look beyond the championship game and ask ‘what will become of them?,’ with the answers ranging from troubling to downright disheartening. Extra points go to Tim McGraw for his moving role as an abusive father consumed with disillusion over his post-graduation life.

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3. North Dallas Forty
This oft-overlooked ‘70s flick follows the debauched misadventures of Phil Elliott, a devil-may-care Wide Receiver for a fictional Texas pro team. Where most sports films treat their subjects with suffocating reverence, ‘North Dallas Forty’ dares to smirk at all those involved with America’s second-most-favorite pastime and provides a much-needed counterbalance to the endless stream of ‘underdog gets a shot at playing pro’ sports flicks that Hollywood continues to crank out.

4. Brian’s Song
This made-for-TV movie (which pulled of the still-unbelievable feat of getting a theatrical premiere after its TV broadcast) follows the true story of running back Brian Piccolo’s battle with cancer and his friendship with Hall of Famer and fellow running back Gale Sayers. ‘70s stalwarts James Caan and Billy Dee Williams star as Piccolo and Sayers respectively and help illustrate how the most gripping drama sometimes happens off the field.

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5. Varsity Blues
A proto-‘Friday Night Lights’ from the ‘90s, this coming-of-age film follows restless teens in a small Texas town caught between escaping their tiny worlds and surviving the merciless and ultimately dangerous leadership of their hardnosed coach. Like many recent sports films, the message isn’t so much ‘let’s get inspired’ as ‘how far is too far?,’ though the climactic locker room showdown provides a much-needed sense of hope in the face of corrupt authority.

What is ‘Machinima’ and how is it conquering the world?

by
Peter Ferguson Swarr

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It’s no big secret that streaming content has gained significant ground in recent years, especially within the coveted ‘young, single and cash-happy male’ demographic. But while Netflix, YouTube and Hulu get all of the media coverage, another platform with equally impressive numbers has taken root over the past decade and shows no signs of fading away anytime soon. You may not recognize the name ‘Machinima.com,’ but its website boasts that it provides content to 1 in 6 U.S. internet users who stream videos online and racks up 2 billion video views every month. A profile in Wired magazine claimed that the site’s coverage of the 2012 E3 convention – the Sundance Film Festival of the videogame world – earned them 455 million views over the course of a single week, including 14.4 million views for one day alone.

What’s earned Machinima such a following? Unlike Netflix and Hulu, they specialize in user-created content and unlike YouTube, they have honed in on a single, highly-lucrative market: videogames. Essentially, gamers tape themselves playing videogames and providing commentary, often with picture-in-picture videos to show their reactions. These videos get posted on one of Machinima’s YouTube channels, other gamers watch them and the most successful series get picked up for contracts. This simple, yet potent formula has worked so well that Machinima has even started producing original dramatic content, most notably their Microsoft-assisted ‘Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn’ web series and the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ prequel ‘Blood and Chrome.’

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‘Halo 4:Forward Unto Dawn’ production still.

While labeling anything ‘the way of the future’ can be risky at best, Machinima’s user-driven approach to creating content does provide an interesting alternative to the traditional top-down methods employed by TV networks and movie studios. One can’t help but wonder what innovations might be achieved if those same industries took note and let the fans take the controls for a change.

The Benefits of Training Videos

by
Derek Lau

Are you sick of having to personally train every new employee at your business? Do you want to make sure that every employee receives the same level of training and prevent protocol problems down the road? Then consider investing in a training video for your business. Training videos are easy to produce, can be used for years and ensure that every employee receives a uniform training regimen.

Before creating a training video, ask yourself which procedures and policies you’d like to cover. As with any lesson, the basics should be covered first. Safety procedures, health protocol and company rules regarding conduct are good places to start, as they’re the least likely to change
sporadically and will ensure that all employees are aware of what’s expected of them. Once these areas are covered, you can move on to more specific tasks and procedures, though it’s important to keep the video’s running time and the permanence of said tasks and procedures in mind when drawing up an outline. Will you be purchasing new equipment in a few years? Best save that lesson for an in-person tutorial.

Once you’ve finished your training video, a good next step would be to create a short test for new employees to take after watching it. This will ensure that they’ve retained the lessons in the video and serve to re-enforce key points. Make sure that employees know that this test doesn’t count for or against their employment, but rather serves simply to help them review and remember what they learned from the video.

If you’re interested in creating a training video for your business, contact us here at aideM Media and let us help you get started today.

Pete’s Picks – Top Five Movie Teachers


1. Severus Snape in the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise
Sure he’s sour and strict, but boosting students’ self-esteem only goes so far when the fate of the magical world hangs in the balance. Without Snape’s cunning and encyclopedic knowledge of all things dark and dangerous, the Boy Who Lived would have surely ended up as a dementor fodder long before the Battle of Hogwarts.

2. Yoda in the ‘Star Wars’ franchise
Despite being the size of a lawn gnome and having trouble with pre-school grammar, no one holds more sway over the ‘Star Wars’ saga than Yoda. In a world of moon-sized space stations, desert planets and hyperspace, Yoda provides a Zen-like center, free from anxiety and brimming with wisdom. Where others do battle, he instructs and challenges, with nothing but centuries of experience to defend himself.

3. Dewey Finn in “School of Rock”
A lot of the times, the teachers we remember the most were the ones who acted a little like kids. In this goofball spin on the ‘inspirational teacher’ trope, Jack Black upends the traditional ‘master-pupil’ relationship and uses his child-like joie de vivre to get his prep school students to loosen up and rock out for a change. With the winking over-the-topness that he honed with Tenacious D, Jack Black manages to serve up the age-old ‘rock is liberation’ battle-cry and make it look both fresh and even a little convincing.

4. Elizabeth Halsey in “Bad Teacher”
While inspirational movies about no-nonsense teachers winning over troubled students with potential are all well and good, anyone who’s set foot in a classroom knows that some teachers are just, well, bad. Cameron Diaz sharply milks this awkward truth for laughs in this not-for-kids comedy. As an added jab at the idea that all teachers are upstanding individuals, her character uses up most of her class time by showing inspirational movies about teachers like ‘Stand and Deliver’ while she sleeps off a hangover.

5. John Keating in “Dead Poets Society”
A good teacher knows that not all lessons require textbooks and exams and that finding out who you are can often be as important as expressing what you know. Where “Freedom Writers” celebrates inspiring the underprivileged to acquire knowledge, “Dead Poets Society” celebrates one oddball teacher’s attempts to inspire the knowledgeable to acquire experience or “suck the marrow out of life,” as Williams’ John Keating might say.

Snowpiercer: Has VOD’s train finally come in?

As the summer blockbuster season lumbers on towards Labor Day, something truly out-of-the-ordinary blipped to life on the cultural radar, defying all conventional wisdom and possibly even signaling a sea change in an industry grown fat on sequels, remakes and comic book franchises. ‘Snowpiercer,’ a science-fiction thriller starring ‘Captain America’ lead Chris Evans and directed by Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho, debuted on video-on-demand a mere two weeks after it received its theatrical premier in major cities and raked in a respectable $1.1 million from the service, nearly doubling its box office numbers despite a limited ad campaign. In comparison to the fourth ‘Transformers’ movie, which took the top spot over the weekend with over $100 million, the numbers may look like a drop in the bucket, but they’re solid enough to get industry insiders talking and raise questions about how films will be released in the years to come. If you can make money just from putting a movie on VOD, is paying for a theatrical release even worth it anymore?

Tilda Swinton (far left) and Chris Evans (center) bring a level of star power rarely seen on VOD.

In many ways, it’s hard to see why ‘Snowpiercer’ didn’t get a wide release. All of the ingredients for a profitable summer blockbuster – solid performances, visceral action scenes, eye-popping FX – are in place and the fact that it’s being talked about at all after premiering on only eight screens proves that it has a wide, if not quite universal, appeal. Yet Bong Joon-ho’s idiosyncratic directing, which makes use of sudden changes in mood and a careful balance of the satirical and the serious, pushes the film away from blockbuster territory and into the ‘creativity before commerciality’ lair of the arthouse flick. Throw in the fact that a major character needs subtitles and it’s easy to see why its corporate handlers were reluctant to put it up against ‘Transformers’ and ‘Planet of the Apes.’

Ultimately, the success of those two films ensures that we won’t see the end of traditional theaters anytime soon, but the success of ‘Snowpiercer’ still shows that there’s money to be made in VOD and that it could be used as an avenue to reach a special breed of moviegoer who’s fed up with the shock-and-awe digitalism of summer blockbuster. Harvey Weinstein, who guided the film’s release as head of The Weinstein Company, claimed in an interview with Indiewire that “…when I saw the final movie with the very artistic flourishes that we all love, I thought, ‘it’s not for a wide audience, it’s a smart movie for a smarter audience,’” which lead him to entrust the film’s distribution to his subsidiary Radius-TWC, whose two presidents, Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, had pioneered theatrical-to-VOD release models while working at Magnolia Pictures. Far from keeping it away from interested cinephiles, Quinn believed that releasing ‘Snowpiercer’ on VOD would ensure that it found its most receptive audience. As he explained to the L.A. Times: “85 million-plus consumers will have access to ‘Snowpiercer’ on VOD. The film will be more widely available than every other film on screen this weekend.”

VOD may not rival traditional theaters anytime soon, but ‘Snowpiercer’ proves that it will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

Don’t Strike Out with Video Storage by Derek Lau

Just like in baseball, poor management oftentimes kills a winning team before it can even take the field. When it comes to video production, properly managing your media is essential, especially when it comes to video storage. Let’s examine three common mistakes – or strikes – that can turn your video campaign into the Chicago Cubs even when you’re spending more than the New York Yankees.

Strike 1 – Sloppy Organization

Is the first take the best or did you only really hit the right rhythm around the fourth or fifth? As producers, we strive to separate the wheat from the chaff so that not only does the best product get made, but it will be easier to re-use footage in the future. Clear labels and stratified folders are an editor’s best friend and will save you hours of migraines.

Strike 2 – Shrinking Space

Despite being digital, media takes up space like any other product. If you’re committed to developing an online presence through video, make sure you have invest in hard drives that can hold all of your data. Splitting your data between hard drives will also lead to trouble, so be sure that you have enough data left before you start a project.

Strike 3 – No back up

As we all know, accidents happen. With video storage though, an accident involving a hard drive can mean losing months – or possibly even years – of work in the blink of an eye. Always store back-ups of your videos in a separate hard drive and keep the back-up hard drive in a safe place.

Avoid these three pitfalls and you’ll be batting a thousand!

Pete’s Picks – Top 5 Baseball Movies

1. Field of Dreams: From ‘Damn Yankees’ to the Curse of the Bambino, Americans love to make believe that unseen forces lie just below the astro turf of their favorite pastime. Kevin Costner’s 1989 popcorn-fantasy flick takes this belief to dizzying extremes, with unexplained time travel, disembodied voices, possessed scoreboards and trash-talking ghosts all popping up as Costner builds a baseball diamond in his backyard and seeks out a morose and world-weary writer clearly inspired by J.D. Salinger. Yet as absurd as the story elements may sound by themselves, the allure of baseball – its history, its dynamics, its ageless appeal – holds the story together as if by magic.

2. Bull Durham: Kevin Costner stars again as jaded minor leaguer Crash tasked with reining in wild card pitcher Nuke, played by Tim Robbins. As both men become involved with Susan Sarandon’s groupie Annie and Nuke slowly begins to take Crash’s advice to heart, bittersweet life lessons creep in through the laughs and make this film one for the ages.

3. The Rookie: Zero-to-hero success stories and baseball go hand in hand, yet few can compare to the real-life tale of Jim Morris. After a minor league career floundered, Morris became a high school teacher and baseball coach in rural Texas. At age 35, he attended a tryout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after promising to do so if his team won the district championship and clocked a 98 mph fastball, which eventually led to him pitching in the majors. Disney’s biopic of Morris, starring Dennis Quaid in an effectively understated performance, perfectly captures both the ecstasy of re-discovery and the agony of taking a risk on a young man’s dream while married with children.

4. Angels in the Outfield: In a sort of reverse-‘Damn Yankees,’ the Almighty sends his feathered minions to help a beleaguered team win their pennant after a young boy, played by an already-intense Joseph Gordon-Levitt, makes a wish that he believes will bring his self-serving father back to him. As outlandish and comical as the onscreen antics get however, Gordon-Levitt provides a palpable emotional center and perfectly captures the push and pull between doubt and faith that marks not only the spiritual seeker, but also the sports fan whose team would need an Act of God to come in first.

5. Moneyball: As steroids scandals and contract wars constantly remind us, what happens behind closed doors often has just as big of an impact on our national pastime as the nine men on the field. Thanks to Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill’s performances and the inspiring true story behind this critically-lauded flick though, the backroom wheeling-and-dealing proves just as exciting as a walk-off grand slam.

7 Tips to Make a Hot Video by Derek Lau

1.Start off with eye-candy
Action movies have title sequences. MLB sluggers have entrance songs. What will you use to kick your video off in an interesting and attention-grabbing way? Classic techniques like animated titles or well-composed tracking shots still work well, but don’t be afraid to get creative.

2.Work on your message
If you’re going for simplicity, the point of your video should be clear and concise, easy to remember and informative without an ounce of flab. However, to truly stick in your viewer’s minds, sometimes a little extra something can go a long way. Throwing a joke or two into the mix or coming up with a catchphrase can win you some extra points in the ‘memorable and enjoyable’ department if done right.

3.Fill up the frame
Today’s viewers are so used to watching screens that it’s safe to assume that ‘more’ is usually ‘better’ when you’re trying to get their attention. From split-screen sequences to FX shots to titles, adding some icing to your cinematic cake will give you that little edge that you need to hold the audience’s gaze through to the end of your video.

4.Play with the viewer
By the time we become teenagers, chances are we’ve all seen thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of commercials and chances are even better that we’ve grown sick of their predictable formats and never-ending parade of clichés. With this in mind, consider creatively toying with the viewer’s expectations. Break the ‘fourth wall’ and address the audience directly and out-of-character. Use clichés in a sarcastic context. Think outside the box.

5.Embrace the Gimmick
You know that one commercial that always gets on your nerves? The one with the wisecracking animal/catchphrase-spouting kid/hilariously over-the-top pitch man? Admit it. You’ve got a few examples floating around in your head, which only goes to show the power of a well-executed gimmick. Staight-laced-and-upfront may get your point across, but a gimmick can spread it like wildfire.

6.Play the Viewer
Once you’ve got a first cut of your video, sit back and imagine that you’ve never seen it before. Be honest with yourself and try to see what works and what doesn’t. Is the pitch a bit wordy? Do your testimonials reinforce the main thrust or do they get tangential? What can you take away? What might you add? Pulling no punches will always benefit you in the long wrong because after all, the viewers’ aren’t going to let you down easy.

7.Leave the party early
In videos, as in everyday life, it’s best to cut things off while you’re ahead. Find a high point to go out on and the viewer will feel rewarded for giving you a moment of their time, but stretch things out too far in pursuit of just one more big moment and they’ll start to think you look a little desperate. A good video should play out like a good party: initial excitement gives way to anticipation which culminates in some special moments and dissipates at just the right moment.

Pete’s Picks – Top 5 Beach Movies

1. The Beach: Hot off his the globe-shaking success of ‘Titanic,’ Leo opted to continue with the ‘seafaring drifter’ theme and starred in Danny Boyle’s South Seas thriller as an American ex-pat who happens upon a map to a mythical beach that turns out to hold some deadly secrets. Ironically, the films theme of corrupted paradise crossed the line from fiction to reality when stories broke about 20th Century Fox bulldozing huge swaths of the location where the film was shot in an effort to make it look more “paradise-like.”

2. Beach Blanket Bingo: Recognizing that ‘bikinis’ plus ‘teenybopper idols’ plus ‘frothy melodrama’ plus ‘bikinis’ could translate into ‘box office goldmine,’ the deceptively straight-sounding American International Pictures singlehandedly created the ‘beach party’ genre in the early ‘60s and paved the way for everything from ‘Baywatch’ to literally every single Disney Channel series in the past five years. This entry, arguably their best, features everything from a mermaid to a biker gang to the heroine escaping from an oncoming buzzsaw to random appearances by Buster Keaton. No, really.

3. The Blue Lagoon: Long before ‘Lost’ made a killing by confusing its viewers about…well, everything, this steamy Brooke Shields vehicle broke the bank by focusing on a different brand of confusion, namely the sort involving which part goes where and where babies come from. As cheesy and pseudo-exploitive as it may appear today, you’ve got to admit that having everyone embrace nudism and discover primal love would’ve been an infinitely better way to end ‘Lost.’

4. Point Break: “So anyway boss, it’s…well, it’s got Keanu Reeves in the lead and…that’s right, the guy from ‘Bill and Ted.’ And he’s an FBI agent, see?…Yes. An FBI agent who surfs…well, he’s trying to catch this bank robber-slash-surfer played by Patrick Swayze and…That’s right, the pottery guy, but…Well half the time he’ll be wearing a Ronald Reagan mask…Because that’s how they all hide their faces…Can Gary Busey play Keanu’s partner? Sure, I don’t see why not…”

5. Jaws: Admit it. You still imagine everyone rushing headlong for the shore once in a while when you’re out floating in the surf.

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Thank you very much for the opportunity to help with your video production needs – we greatly appreciate you and your business !

Derek Lau

aideM Media Solutions Inc