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Surviving the Slump: How to Manage Your Finances Between Big Projects

This is a guest post by Brittany Fisher of  Financially WellFor more content/info like this, head on over to her website!

Person at computer holding nature photo

Surviving the Slump: How to Manage Your Finances Between Big Projects

As an artist, it can be tough to break into the mainstream and earn a living doing what you love. But since you still have to eat, you’ll need an income stream and that means work. Fortunately, you live in the 21st century and don’t have to be nailed down to a job you hate for 40 hours per week. Let’s take a look at how to make it in the gig economy until you achieve artistic autonomy.

Identify Your Skills

Consider looking for side gigs that play off your strengths. Are you adept at keeping things organized? You might make a great virtual assistant. Do you love animals? People pay big bucks to put their pet in in-home accommodations while they’re away on vacation. Have a knack for breaking down difficult concepts? Tutors make up to $40 an hour without a degree. If you’re having trouble pinpointing things you’re good at, American Express recommends the obvious course of action: ask someone you know for advice.

Pursue Your First Gig

Finding that first freelance opportunity will help you break a mental barrier, give you confidence, and help you identify if it’s the right kind of side job for you. It’s hard work and, at times, you may feel as though you’re chasing a perpetually moving dream. It’s not impossible, however. There are opportunities everywhere: on the internet, through your friends and family, and even via chance encounters. Don’t be afraid to beat the streets and pop into a few small businesses in your area. You never know who needs a helping hand but simply can’t devote the financial resources to hiring a full-time employee.

You can also find freelance/gig opportunities by joining networking groups or attending events where your potential customers are likely to be. For instance, volunteering at an animal rescue will put you in close proximity to pet parents that may need help with training. You can also find jobs through sites like UpWork, Craigslist, and TaskRabbit.

Set a Schedule

When you work a traditional 40-hour-per-week job, you have a set schedule and typically know your start and stop times. You’ll also have a scheduled lunch break, days off, and vacation time. As a freelancer, you don’t have any of this unless you define your schedule. As an artist, there may be certain times of the day where you’re at your most creative; leave these time slots open and incorporate your work schedule into the rest. Fortune explains that you can increase your productivity by making small decisions the day before. This could be as simple as getting your coffee cup laid out on the counter so you aren’t fumbling around first thing in the morning

Organize Your Workspace

There’s a good chance that your freelance endeavors will take place mostly at home. While this may sound like a good thing, working from the sofa may not be in your best interest. Redfin suggests keeping your personal and professional spaces separate so your home life doesn’t distract you from your work and vice versa. Your work area should be free from clutter. You can keep yourself on track by investing in plenty of notebooks, calendars, and whiteboards where you can brainstorm as well as make list of your projects. You will also need a comfortable and supportive chair and any equipment necessary to get each job done efficiently and effectively.

Be Aware of the Good and the Bad

Perhaps the most important task as a freelancer is to understand the benefits and drawbacks of cobbling many short-term jobs together. The most alluring benefit is flexibility, but it comes at a price. Inconsistent employment, lack of benefits, and confusing tax regulations are all negatives to consider. Barclay Simpson, a UK-based recruitment consultancy, further addresses the pros and cons of working in the gig economy.

With a little patience, planning, and persistence, you can keep food on the table and still give yourself the freedom to pursue your passion. And if you still need a little encouragement, check out these 25 artists and their pre-fame jobs.

Image via Pixabay

Dr. Songy portrait

Striking a Work-Life Balance with Dr. Songy

Striking a Work-Life Balance with Dr. Songy

Dr. Songy is, quite literally, the reason inDEPTH exists! He has been a dear friend of mine for over a decade. Dr. Songy introduced me to his brother-in-law, Mickey, who is inDEPTH’s other co-founder. We asked him to wield his impressive background in counseling to discuss the freelance lifestyle, burnout, mental health, and work-life balance, something we can all benefit to better understand.

1. Please introduce yourself! Who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.

My name is Donny Songy, I’m from New Orleans, and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor currently in private practice.

2. Tell us about your work. What does your day to day look like? What is your overall “mission” as a licensed therapist?

I see couples, families, and individuals (ages 14 and up) about five days a week. I usually get up, make coffee and breakfast for me and my beautiful wife before she heads to work, then head to the office around 10 AM. Once I get there, I try to do some deep breathing meditation and mindfulness exercises for about 30-45 minutes. I also like to give some additional time to finish case notes from the previous day and also prepare for my clients scheduled for that current day.  It allows me the opportunity to orientate myself mentally and emotionally so I can meet the different needs of each client. The work can be taxing at times, so it’s important to implement self-care with each day. My first set of clients show up around 12:30 – 1 PM and I provide psychotherapy until about 8 to 9 PM at night. On some days, there’s a slight break (30 minutes to an hour) so I use that to refresh, take down some critical notes from previous sessions, and prepare for the next set of clients that come in.I would say my “mission” is to provide an experiential and enriching therapeutic experience for my clients as they engage in their unique mental health challenges. Some of my clients have been receiving mental health services for many years and understand its place in their livelihood; however, others have never sought any sort of support like this. Because of this, I feel it’s essential to hold the counseling services I provide to a high standard so that I may encourage others to take priority with their own wellness.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 9.23.09 PM3. Why did you choose to operate out of New Orleans? What do you enjoy most about working here? What are some challenges?

In addition to being born and raised in New Orleans, I also practice here because this city is in dire need of counseling. We could never really have “too many mental health services” here. We’re a vibrant city with its own history and culture as well as its own set of challenges – including poverty, lack of psychoeducational resources for parents, unresolved trauma from Hurricane Katrina, familial iatrogenic strife, domestic violence, addiction, mental health related stigmas, etc. The diversity is very clear, though. I do a lot of family-systems-based counseling and love the different dynamics, philosophies, values, and characteristics of my clients. From a narrative standpoint, everyone has a story – and much of our own suffering can be understood and overcome if it’s part of a story.

4. Let’s talk about work-life balance, especially for freelancers (though you can certainly go beyond that). What are some of the challenges you see people face when it comes to balancing their professional and social/personal lives? Why do you think these problems arise? Do you think they impact certain industries or work styles more?

I’m going to go off with a few generalizations here, but I think we work too much and don’t sleep enough. Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who worked full time, did private practice, and wrote a dissertation at the same time. It’s just not sustainable. It’s been embedded into our culture that a successful person doesn’t need much rest and can work until they drop, but research shows that’s simply not the case. We consider it as a sacrifice for the greater good of ourselves and our family, but there’s a law of diminishing returns in there and I believe it chips away at us in ways we don’t realize. Lack of quality sleep has been correlated with depression, anxiety, marital and familial turmoil, work performance, physiological illness and distress, etc.

smart phones

img source: https://arynews.tv/en/smartphone-market-to-stay-cool-this-year/

We’re also incredibly stimulated, which can also be taxing for the mind. We live in a very interconnected world and, at the same time, I’ve found many people to feel lonelier than ever. Our phones, though a convenience for countless reasons, have also made it very difficult for us to establish an “off switch” to work life. I know these ideas aren’t new, but I also don’t necessarily see a shift in behavior to make me feel as though this workaholic culture is changing.

Certainly, some industries suffer from this culture more than others, but it’s found everywhere – even counselors and mental health professionals. Three industries I’ve seen this especially present in is medicine, parts of the service industry, and people who work offshore. There is no such thing as a schedule or regimen to their work life; and because of that, there are dire consequences.

5. What are some solutions you’ve seen or recommended? What can people do to determine if they are prioritizing their work and life properly? What methods can people use to correct it?

One of the things I preach often to young and up-and-coming freelancers or professionals is, if possible, to establish clear work boundaries and to stand by them. Set certain times that you don’t answer your phone or even check it. Identify your own personal limits and protect them. Once you begin to open the door and step on those limits, you also allow it to become the expectation for future opportunities. It may limit your financial outlook in the short term, but it will serve you ten-fold in the long run mentally, emotionally, and financially. Also – self-medicating only exacerbates.

6. Do you have any advice for people who maybe feel burned out or that they are spinning their wheels professionally?

The first thing is to not give up on the profession just yet. Sometimes a toxic environment can do great damage to career fulfillment and, even if it’s for lesser pay or growth opportunities, a change in scenery can do wonders. Assess your own self-talk and check if you’re implementing self-compassion into your daily life. Breaking away from “auto-pilot” is a big deal too. If you feel that you’re in a rut, switch it up a bit. Also take note of who you surround yourself with and evaluate if they’re contributing to the echo chamber of negativity. Go back and reflect on what were some of the major parts of why you got into this venture in the first place and see if you can still generate those experiences, either in your current job or elsewhere. Take a look at your goals and assess if they’re attainable or even realistic. Breaking down larger goals into smaller, more tangible ones, can also help build motivation and drive.

7. Do you have any great success stories you’ve experienced or seen with people trying to find their work/life balance?

Though I have to protect confidentiality, I’d say it happens all the time in my office. Counseling allows the world to stop spinning so the person or family can sit back and process what they’re thinking and feeling non-judgmentally. Most of my clients coming in for their intake session report, at the very least, a heightened level of work-related-stress. One of the most enjoyable experiences as a professional counselor is watching my clients begin to practice healthy coping strategies and mindfulness so that they get a better hold of their stress. That change, alone, really makes such a difference.

8. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for these questions and for giving me the opportunity to ramble.

You can find more thoughtful posts and content, as well as counseling services, on Dr. Songy’s website.

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Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland

Traveling with Andrew Bui

Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland
It is always a pleasure chatting with Andrew. He is a great friend, a top-notch shooter and editor, and just an overall amazing artist. We are thrilled to have him back on the blog to discuss his work traveling the world and making stellar video content out of those journeys. Join us as he discusses best practices, gives helpful tips and tricks, and more!
1. Please introduce yourself! Who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.

Hello there, I’m Andrew Bui but some people may know me as Dru or @drubui from Instagram. I’m from Marrero, LA which is located on the Westbank of New Orleans. Currently I’m in the “video” field and do a little bit of everything from directing to shooting, but overall, I am a content creator.

2. Tell us a bit about “Andrew Bui Films.” Where you’re based, how long you’ve been around, what your mission is, etc.

So Andrew Bui Films is actually my “official” business side of things, (somewhat separate from me as a brand) where we produce primarily wedding videos and event videography. We’re based out of New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and our mission is to produce cinematic stylistic event coverage. When I’m not freelancing, traveling for work or creating content for social media, I’m probably out filming a wedding.

Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland

3. So last time we talked, we talked a lot about “sloppy/dangerous” filmmaking vs. “guerrilla” filmmaking. You have clearly continued down the path of strong, powerful guerrilla-like content. In particular, you have been busy over the last few years traveling and showcasing/highlighting the unique cities, cultures, and people you’ve met along the way. Tell us a bit about how you got into doing these projects and how’d you’d describe them.

Haha, yes I’ve definitely held on to those same principals of guerilla filmmaking. I got into doing these kinds of projects through a good friend of mines “David Jones” who brought me into his brand (The Pioneer Collective), we did a ton of projects which involved us traveling all over the country as well as internationally and this is essentially where I would say I was able to hone in on creating content which revolved around travel/day2day stuff. I would definitely consider those videos to be more along the lines of travel vlogs/cultural pieces. However I would love to dive more into being able to really showcase a locations cultural aspects, I feel like that’s an area that I’m currently gearing towards.

4. How do you choose where to go? What is one of your favorite places you’ve traveled to? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced or are constantly keeping tabs on when doing this kind work?

The culture, the landscape, costs & time of year. Those are some of the things that I factor in when choosing a place to visit, I have a few places in mind that I’d like to travel to this year but definitely would prefer to wait for the right time to visit to make the best out of my trip. Iceland, hands-down has been my favorite place to visit, I really did feel like I was on another planet at times, there’s just so much to see, vast & scenic views for miles, with endless possibilities to capture the beauty of it all. Some challenges I’ve faced with this kind of work is, trying to stay consistent in putting out quality work that exceeds the last thing I made in some way, and not falling into the hype or current trendy thing to do.

Andrew Bui flying drones in Iceland

5. How do you decide what to pack? How do you get such high quality content while staying mobile?

If I’m traveling for a client shoot, it really just depends on the job & location. I usually start with the essentials that I know for sure I’ll be using, my primary camera, lens, and my gimbal. From there, everything else I pack is just an additional add-on that may or may not be used. I like to keep things somewhat minimal, with the technology being crammed into these smaller form factors, it just makes sense to want to keep things lightweight without sacrificing on the quality.

6. Do you generally go in with a concept in mind, or do you see where the trip takes you and put it together after?

I do usually try and brainstorm a concept the week leading up to my trips but rarely do I have a flushed out idea until I have all the footage in front of me and start piecing things together.

7. What are some tips you’d give to people considering doing this sort of “travel video” work? How can they keep costs down, best utilize their time, make contacts in new places, etc.?

Some tips I’d give, if you’re already going somewhere new & exciting, document it, don’t be afraid to get away from the touristy places everyone else goes to, show your unique perspective/outlook on the place you’re in (wherever that may be) and than piece it together and share it with the world. I’m not the best at budgeting but I do try to save money in areas where I can, a good example, when we were in Iceland, food was pretty expensive so to keep costs down we would just go to these Gas Stations which sold affordable sandwiches and hotdogs, which we lived off of for a week, you could also keep an eye out on sales throughout the year for flights, my friend was able to snag a round-trip flight to Iceland for around 400 bucks.

Andrew Bui traveling by rapids in Iceland

It’s definitely a good idea to come up with an itinerary for the place you’re traveling to, to make the best out of your time. Definitely have a few places in mind that you know for sure you’d like to visit but that aren’t too far apart from each other, driving to these locations will eat up the bulk of your time. I think a good way to try to make contacts in new places you’ve never been before is to maybe reach out to some local FB groups or see if that place has an Instagram Community, for example here in New Orleans/Baton Rouge there’s this new and growing community of photographers & videographers (LocalNomadsLA) that have meet-ups almost every weekend where they hang-out, take pictures and network with each other. Their completely open to newcomers and anyone who’s generally interested in learning and connecting with other like-minded individuals.

8. Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Get out there and make stuff, seriously! I appreciate you guys reaching out again and having me apart of this awesome blog, excited to see what else you guys have in store!

Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland

You can contact Andrew and find more of his awesome work at his website, vimeo, instagram, facebook, and beyond! 

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An Interview with 3D Motion Designer, David Ariew

David Ari

David Ariew (left)

I am super excited to introduce the blog this week. It is hard to emphasize how integral David was in my professional development. After years of hanging out and teaching me swing dancing (you read that right), I asked David about film because I had caught the bug in my last year of college. He sat down with me, walked me through what indie filmmaking looked like in 2011-2012, and pushed me to give it a shot. A few weeks later, he sent me a link to a Canon Rebel t3i on sale. I bought it, fumbled my way through the basics, and I imagine I will always have that camera sitting on my shelf. Thank you David.

So without further ado, get ready to have your senses blown away by the way the extremely talented and accomplished David Ariew!

1. Please introduce yourself. Who you are, where you’re from, and what you do. 

My name’s David Ariew, and I’m a 3D motion designer based in San Diego, CA. I started as an ubergeneralist and cut my teeth doing concert visuals for Dave Matthews Band in Charlottesville, VA, where I trained up on DIT work, editing, color grading, VFX, motion design, and even dabbled in being a (clumsy) DP. I’ve since honed in on 3D design as my passion, gravitating towards surrealistic imagery, often space themed or celestial, and I enjoy being a one man band that can take a project from concept to completion solo, using my three beefy PCs stuffed with nine total graphics cards in them to render my work, and heat the house as a biproduct, which is awesome in the winter and terrible in the summer.

2. Tell us a bit about “Ariev Visuals” [Ariewisuals? I’m assuming it’s Ariev Visuals haha please correct me if wrong]. Where you’re based, how long you’ve been around, what your mission is, etc. 

I’ve been working as a freelancer for about four years now (and three before that at the DMB-related company I mentioned), and it’s great because all my work is remote at this point, so moving across the country from Virginia where I spent all my life until I was 31 to San Diego was a surprisingly easy transition. My company name is Arievvisuals, but that’s mostly just for fun to help people pronounce my name, which ends in a W, but is pronounced like a V, so then with Arievvisuals, the two Vs make a W… it’s not that clever.

Anyway, I’ve had a few big moments in my career so far that have helped me gain visibility in my community, the first of which was an opportunity to create a four minute long, full-CG, space-themed music video by myself: https://vimeo.com/201978693The budget was surprisingly decent, and I had a full four months to do it! That was extremely lucky because those three factors almost never line up, where you’ve got full creative control, an extended timeline, and a budget that will sustain you. I took the opportunity to make it as cool as possible, and it paid off in an ambitious portfolio piece that I could really point to with a very high level of polish, as well as getting my name out there as “that guy who makes cool space stuff.”

Then, my friend who’s widely known for his Cinema 4D tutorials and has a huge following online, EJ Hassenfratz (eyedesyn.com), asked me to create a tutorial for his channel on Octane Render, which is the GPU rendering engine I use religiously to make my work happen, and that made a big splash too. Since then, I’ve made another twelve Octane tutorials for his channel, each doing really well, and that has resulted in tons of jobs as well as an official sponsorship from Otoy, the company that makes Octane. I’ve also recently created the intro to Katy Perry’s show, as well as worked with Deadmau5 in person at his house in Toronto a couple times, and created the opening titles to the iHeartRadio Music Awards, so things are getting really exciting and I’m pumped for all the potential projects and collaborations coming through the door!

Ship graphic

3. Digital VFX, CGI, graphic works, animation, that entire world is such a mystery for many filmmakers no matter their background. Can you give us a primer in what you do, how you wound up doing it, and your background? In particular, I’d love to hear how you wound up migrating from doing neuroscience work to becoming a graphic artist! 

In undergrad at William and Mary, I was on the science track, and that seemed to be the rational thing to do at the time. I was great at jumping through the hoops to get the grades. I was genuinely interested in science, and at some point I found that Neuroscience was the field that interested me the most, because you know, brains are cool and stuff. In my free time though, I was swing dancing, goofing around with my friends, and for whatever reason, making Zelda parodies and Pokemon 300 mashups in iMovie ’06, which I thought was the most fun piece of software known to man. You got transitions and those preset credit sequences with the reflective floors, and when you posted things to YouTube, which was new at the time, everyone was like “HOW DID YOU DO THE REFLECTIVE FLOOR THING!?” so that was gratifying. But then I got whisked away to grad school at UVA to do the thing that was gonna make the money and not the art, because I believed that to be unsafe and unrealistic, and that was basically three years of pulling teeth and almost quitting, then switching from the Ph.D. program down into the Masters, to get the Masters in Neuroscience and finally free myself. After that, it was just a matter of taking myself seriously, interning with people in Charlottesville, and sponging as much knowledge as possible from my peers and the internet. I found that immersing myself in filmmaking, I could learn things really quickly because it was actually fun, and I already had a knack for software.

Because of that knack, I quickly got hired at Filament Productions, the company I did concert visuals for, and I obsessively watched tutorials on the job when things were slow, which interestingly rubbed many people at the company the wrong way, but paid off in the long run in ways they didn’t understand. For my first several years, I also never said no to opportunities like 48 hour film contests (I did like nine of those), and I reinvested in myself by dropping all my savings one day on a 7D and a bunch of lenses. That continued into an obsessive buying spree of a slider, steadicam, car rig, jib, and more, and while it never paid me back financially, it allowed me to learn how to compose an image, the photographic properties of lenses, and what good camera movement looks like. That knowledge has been invaluable in my career as a 3D artist, to the point where I’m now acting as a digital DP and have plans to release an in-depth course on lighting and camera movement in Cinema 4D and Octane.

4. How does one get started? Say I have little to no experience, but I want to try my hand at 3D graphics, CGI, animations, really just diving into the work of digital-rendering (if you’ll excuse the most likely inaccurate parlance). What are some programs people should start learning? What are good “foundations” people should start working on? 

I began with After Effects, and it’s a great place to start, especially with videocopilot.net. I’m sure lots of people know of Andrew Kramer and his tutorials and plugins, but he was basically my first tutorial hero because you’d end up with a very cool result by the end of the video, with room to experiment on your own. Not to mention he’s extremely entertaining, so that’s just the best entry to the world of VFX I can think of. Though recently, I’ve been seeing a lot more people jumping straight into Cinema 4D, just skipping the 2D or VFX realm entirely because 3D is becoming so easy to learn. Cinema 4D is a 3D package that appeals to solo motion designers and small teams because it’s flexible and user friendly, whereas other apps like Maya and Max are bloated pipeline tools that work great for the VFX industry when you’re a specialist, but less so when you’re a generalist looking to make something fast. Also, if you look at instagram, the community of people rendering amazing images is blowing up, and that’s largely due to Cinema 4D and Octane’s ease of use. That pairing is especially popular because of the similar mindsets and just how easy it is to jump in.

For beginner C4D stuff, greyscalegorilla.com has a vast array of content, and that’s where most of us started to learn, but my buddy EJ has some insanely fun and accessible tutorials on his site eyedesyn.com. His vibe has a more handcrafted, cel-shaded look, and that works very well with people coming over from After Effects who want to continue with flat shaded or vector designs, or just incorporate some 3D scenes into their 2D designs without people realizing it’s actually 3D. If you’re interested in learning how to create 3D environments that are a bit more photorealistic or sci-fi though, definitely check out the tutorials I’ve put out there on arievvisuals.com/tutorials, or if you want a gigantic master list of how to learn Octane, then check out arievvisuals.com/resources because I’ve collected every Octane tutorial I’ve ever seen on the internets and placed it there with helpful descriptions. It used to be hard to find that info, and one day I realized I had this encyclopedic list in my head of these, so I took the effort to drop it into my site.

As for foundations, like I said, the more filmmaking knowledge you can cram into your brain, the better you’re gonna be at animation and 3D. It’s all the same storytelling stuff — camera movement, editing, color theory, lighting, and tons of problem solving, except you get to sit behind your computer and stare at a screen till your eyes bleed. It’s great for us lazy folks, but you have to also battle that by moving your self about once in a while.

Deadmau5

5. What is one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on and why? What is one of the more challenging aspects of your work? 

My favorite project in recent memory is one where I collaborated with Spanish composer Ivan Torrent. He emailed me out of the blue and asked if I could create a full CG trailer to intro his latest album. His music is epic and the track was amazing to animate to. He also brought tons of beautiful album art to the table that gave me a great starting point of ethereal whales and cities floating above the clouds. It was also awesome because we completed the project in three weeks, which normally sounds like a nightmare deadline for a couple minutes of 3D animation, but it was also an excuse to reel him in on certain things that would derail my process, and he was extremely respectful of that, and when I really nailed something he’d get insanely excited and tell me how he’d just showed his family and how the room ended up in tears. It’s really weird and awesome when you get to the point in your work when you can elicit an emotion from someone, especially with 3D because it’s so technical and it’s easy to get caught up and feel like it’s great if you’ve just made something that’s pretty, but to really get someone to react with laughter, awe, sadness, etc, you’re going above and beyond the call. I’m not saying I did that, because I don’t really think I did yet, but I feel like I’m getting closer, and I’m proud of the piece: http://arievvisuals.com/work#/immortalys/

The most challenging thing about 3D work is just how much there is to learn. You could go down the rabbit hole on any task and do that for the rest of your life, such as modeling, rigging, lighting, texturing, layout, camera animation, character animation, simulation, rendering, compositing… the list goes on. By that same token though, it’s also exciting because you can build these entire beautiful worlds in your computer at home from scratch. Personally, I have a habit of getting myself way in over my head on a project and gradually unburying myself, and those projects that seem overwhelming at first but I conquer anyway through persistence are ultimately the ones that take my career a giant step forward. Something that used to be more difficult is rendering, and with CPU-based renderers like the Standard and Physical render engines that come default in Cinema 4D, you could easily find yourself waiting an hour to see a finished frame, and the art direction process was so slow that tasks like lighting felt less like creativity and more like watching paint dry. That’s why I use Octane, because as a GPU renderer it’s orders of magnitude faster, and there’s a live view into the final quality image that you’re seeing in real time, so the process becomes much more playful and spontaneous. Even so, rendering is still the biggest bottleneck, which is why I’ve custom built my three machines, each better than the last and packed with more 1080tis, but with the latest upcoming release of Octane 4, which includes an AI-denoiser (literally an AI that’s trained on people’s scenes to denoise renders), it looks like we’ll get another game-changing speed increase.

Star Wars

6. Are there any tips or any pieces of advices you’d like to give newcomers? 

This is kind of specific to the motion design industry, but if you find yourself stuck at a company and stagnating, or feeling like you want to do work that’s more fun and make the jump to freelance but don’t know how, then read this book: https://www.amazon.com/Freelance-Manifesto-Modern-Motion-Designer-ebook/dp/B071JRYMSG. It’s brimming with better advice than I could ever give you on running a business and being a freelancer and will absolutely help you earn jobs and make more money. On a more general note to all filmmakers, work with people you love and do passion projects. If you don’t feel like you have the time to do passion projects, then prioritize fun projects or ones that will push you to learn something new over ones that will make you slightly more money. Now, if a job is gonna make you crazy money, take that job and use it to fund a passion project afterwards, or use it to go on a work retreat and learn something you’ve had kicking around in the back of your head for a long time. Recently, I’ve been getting more “high end” jobs, but each time I take one on it ends up being more stressful and less fun, and often my indie clients are willing to pay high rates, and in those cases it’s an easy decision because the job will be more relaxed and I’ll get more creative control

I used to think I was unfortunate getting my start in Charlottesville, VA, which let’s be honest, is not anywhere big for filmmaking or 3D work, but actually it was a great training ground, and because you can teach yourself almost anything via the internet, your surroundings don’t matter as much as you think. In my case, it was a blessing in disguise, because I got used to a blank slate, or bumbling clients telling me they had no clue what I should do, but to “make it cool… like in your style” and so that actually helped me find my taste and my style. Those indie projects allowed me to get comfortable bringing my own direction and vision to a project, and while yes it’s important to learn how to work in a team and best practices and all that for “real production scenarios,” you end up using less of your creative brain in those times because your role is so limited. I’m quickly finding that my happy place is to work solo or in small teams with other artists I look up to, vs having a smaller part in a bigger production, which may actually look more impressive because of the sheer number of people who contributed, but that I feel doesn’t represent me or my work.

Want to see/learn more? Got a project that needs David’s expertise? Check out his site!

An Interview with Nate Houghteling of Portal A

nate houghteling

Nate Houghteling runs one of the best content creation operations we’ve seen (and is an incredibly generous host and guest!). If you are on youtube, you most likely have seen Portal A’s handiwork. We are excited about their original series, One Shot, and all the great content they have in store. Check it out! 

1. Please introduce yourself. Who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.

My name’s Nate Houghteling and I’m the Executive Producer at Portal A. We’re a digital studio in San Francisco and Los Angeles (I live in SF). As the Executive Producer, I oversee our slate of branded and original projects at a high level, connecting the various elements that make our projects successful (ideas, talent, writers/directors, production approach, etc).

2. Tell us a bit about Portal A. Where you’re based, how long you’ve been around, what your mission is, etc.

Portal A was founded in 2009 and we have about 40 people in SF and LA. Our mission is pretty simple: to create breakthrough content.

3. Give us a bit of a feel for what it’s like doing work in San Francisco. How is the local film scene and community? How does San Francisco’s videography/film world differ from other cities’?

San Francisco is a great film city with deep roots in both narrative and documentary. In terms of digital video production, the hub of tech means that there’s always plenty of work to go around and dozens of small production outfits have popped up just to service the tech sector. There’s still a scrappy/indie attitude to the film community in SF that differs slightly from LA.

One Shot

4. So you recently launched a series, One Shot, on YouTube Red. Can you tell us a bit about the show? Main plot, the look and feel of the show, the core message(s) and themes, etc.

One Shot was a series we developed with YouTube Red, YouTub’e new SVOD service. It’s an unscripted show about a breakout choreographer, Willdabeast Adams, traveling this country to find undiscovered dance talent and give them their shot at stardom. The series is shot in a cinematic, fluid style to reflect the language of dance.

5. How did One Shot come about? Where did the concept/script(s) come from, what made you decide to produce that show specifically, etc.

With so many “shiny floor” dance shows out there (Dancing with the Stars, SYTYCD, etc.), we wanted to do something that took dance out of the studio and into the streets. That eventually led us to Will, someone we’ve had a relationship with for a while but have never worked with in this way.

6. What’s it like working with YouTube Red? Why did you choose to work with YouTube, specifically? Were there other distribution avenues you considered?

YouTube was a natural fit for us because we do so much work with them and Will himself is a native YouTube creator. We considered other paths in streaming or cable, but ultimately this made the most sense.

7. What are some tips you can give for people considering self-distribution, working with indie distributors, going with “traditional” distribution methods, etc.?

Put something out into the world. We live in a time where creating a show or a feature is easier than ever. Networks and distributors are still important, but there’s no better way to establish your creative voice and build your own audience than putting something out yourself.

Check out One Shot on YouTube Red today and keep an eye out for the awesome work by Nate and the whole Portal A team!

An Interview with Antoinette Savoie of Pigéon Caterers

An Interview with Antoinette Savoie of Pigéon Caterers

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We conducted an interview with Antoinette Savoie, who is the current Wedding Sales Manager with Pigéon Caterers here in New Orleans. Antoinette is an incredibly skilled, driven professional who was kind enough to share her knowledge of the wedding industry with us.  Enjoy!

1. Please introduce yourself: Who you are, where you’re from, what you do, and how long you’ve been in New Orleans.

Hey there, my name is Antoinette Savoie and I am originally from Mobile, Alabama. Currently I am the Wedding Sales Manager at Pigéon Caterers in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to returning to the Gulf Coast, I was a chef in San Francisco. I came back to get my MBA at Tulane and have been in Nola for two years and some change!

2. Tell us a bit about the world of wedding planning. How did you get in to it? How much time goes into each one? What do you love about it? What is difficult about it?

Wedding planning has been such a rewarding career path! I have always been an attention to detail person and a chronic planner so it truly is a perfect fit for my persona. After attending culinary school I knew I wanted to work events, being able to plan for things in advance takes some of the stress out of the kitchen atmosphere. However, the best part is getting to be an integral part of one of the most memorable days of a couple’s life. Love really is a powerful thing and being able to be surrounded by it constantly makes this such an uplifting profession.

monastery3. What do you find distinct about the job in New Orleans? Are there any unique challenges/benefits to doing wedding planning here? On a side note: do you have a favorite venue? (feel free to ignore this last bit if you don’t want anger anyone haha)

New Orleans is such an exhilarating market! We are actually the 2nd most popular destination for weddings behind Las Vegas, so you never know what type of couple you are going to get. I love being able to expose clients to our culture – my favorite part might actually be explaining what a second line is!

My favorite venue, I am most certainly biased here, is our new venue – The Monastery. It is located on the new streetcar line on N. Rampart and is an old renovated monastery. The original chapel is surrounded by numerous courtyards and a very modern remodel of the interior spaces. The venue almost encompasses an entire French Quarter block and can accommodate up to 2000 guests!

4. Vendors! This is always a big question for people outside of the planning community, as wedding vendors and venues are often seen as the “gateway” into the world of weddings. How do you meet vendors? What are some criteria you have when deciding who to work with and recommend? How often are you helping brides find various vendors?

My strictest criteria for vendors is that they are team players. I work with a plethora of different people and it truly takes us all for an event to come together. If I ever see a vendor helping outside their realm of expertise (i.e. a lighting guy helping put a cake on a stand or a DJ straightening a flower arrangement), that vendor gets placed on my permanent list of recommended vendors!

5. With specific regards to wedding videos, do you find yourself often recommending videographers and videography companies? If so, what do you look for in these companies? Are there any common issues/pitfalls you have seen that make you hesitant to recommend some?

Surprisingly I almost never recommend videographers. Typically the people looking to video their wedding have already looked into and found the videographer that fits their style. Even when I was planning in San Francisco, couples would almost always handle the videographer themselves.

If I am looking on my own, Instagram is my first stop. Social Media is such a big part of weddings now and how a vendor represents themselves on social media is very important to me. Music is also near and dear to my heart. So it never hurts if the videographer has a good ear too.

6. Anything else you’d like to add?

Just a thank you for InDepth media for allowing me to share my story and expertise! Best of luck with any future ventures and please keep Pigéon Caterers in mind for any of your upcoming events.

You can find Pigéon Caterers online! Contact them for your next event – wedding or otherwise!

Check out our latest wedding films here and a recent podcast discussion about a wedding film!

Hit us up on twitter, facebook, instagram, and on our website

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Light Talk – Ep. 1

Light Talk – A Film Podcast

Episode 1: Introductions, New Gear, Lighting Tests, and more

This week Greg (inDEPTH Media) and Ben explore Sony’s A7sII, Panasonic’s recently announced GH5, LED lights by Savage, and more.

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inDEPTH Wedding Films are Here

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inDEPTH Wedding Films are Here

We are incredibly excited to officially announce the launch of inDEPTH Weddings. As a film production company that emphasizes a cinematic approach to our work, combined with years of experience in the world of wedding videography, we bring our own unique style and flair to your special day. Come take a look at some of the work we have already done and contact us for a free consultation today.

Simply put: We are not a wedding video company, but we are team that shoots weddings with the care, professionalism, and style that we put into all our productions. We are confident you will love what you see.

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Contact us today for a free wedding consultation

An Interview with Sound Mixer Eric Rice

An Interview with Sound Mixer Eric Rice

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We conducted an interview with sound mixer Eric Rice, an incredibly talented mixer here in New Orleans. Eric brings immense skill, positivity, and just the right level of humor to our sets. We are very excited to have him on the inDEPTH blog and hope you learn as much as we did from our great friend and colleague. If you want to learn a bit more about to get started, check out our blog post on the basics of field recording. 

 

1. Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and what you do currently.

Hello! My name is Eric Rice. I’m a born-and-raised New Orleans local sound mixer with an affinity for both gourmet and gas station hot dogs and clean room tone.

2. How did you end up doing sound? Did you start at an early age? Study it in school? How did you land those first jobs?

I’ve always been fascinated by sound. Much like on set, our brains interpret images with highest sensory priority, but we often do not realize how important sound and our ears are to everyday life. Sound is a visceral experience that affects many aspects of our life whether we realize it or not. Sound can affect our moods, provide warnings or comfort, it allows us to communicate with each other through a man-made system of sounds our brains have been trained to recognize as language, our auditory system keeps us balanced and walking upright. If you were to spend time in some of the best designed anechoic chambers (highly reinforced, specially designed sound absorbing rooms) you can hear your heartbeat and the blood flowing through your head. You can hear your joints move. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

I appreciate sound for the same reason I can look through a microscope at a droplet of pond water and see hundreds of things going on that we never think about. There are nuances in sound that are beautiful if you stop and listen. That’s why I love doing sound; I can shape someone’s mood with different sounds and techniques, and I’m constantly observing and learning. I get to do that for a living.

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Truly the attire of a gentleman Sound Mixer

My first sound job came completely by accident. I was in school at the University of New Orleans for film and found a Facebook post looking for non-paying PA’s. I went out just to meet people and get my feet wet. I spent my first two nights in the extra’s trailer on a no-budget web series. About 4 hours in, I got a call to send the extras to set… and that was pretty much my whole day. I then helped out breaking down set and cabling stingers for 2 hours at dawn in the swamp (got my feet wet). AND I WAS ECSTATIC FOR THE OPPORTUNITY. Same for day 2. On day 3, I went to the 2nd AD (who was also the sound recordist) and told her, “I’m going to be YOUR PA.” She had a lot on her plate so I knew I could help, but more selfishly, I knew sound was going to be a part of every shot. “If I follow the sound person, I’ll hear every conversation between director and crew,” I thought. The sound person is like the catcher in baseball (which I played growing up) in that the sound person is at least in the know on every shot. I figured that would put me in a perfect position to learn from all departments.

The next day, the sound person and production parted ways. I show up and immediately asked, “What’s your name again? Okay, cool. You’re running sound.” I was thrilled and terrified at the same time. This was a simple shoot for sound. “Boom into a Zoom.” No real mixing, just swingin’ the boom and making sure nothing clips, but to me, that was my big break. I was with them for a few months and got my first sound mixer credit (technically). From there, I got on a couple other free shoots working as a boom operator or just as hands on deck and it just kept snowballing.

I did a lot of “fake it ‘til you make it” in my first year or two. Eventually, after being fascinated with this new area of information I had to learn every day, I stopped having to fake it. That was that. I still research new techniques and gear every day and try to find new ways to convey the beautiful information that sound has to offer.

3. How would you describe the sound scene and general film scene here in New Orleans? What are some of the opportunities and challenges that come with working in video production here in New Orleans? What sort of improvements/changes would you like to see in the industry, whether local or beyond?

New Orleans film scene is f’in awesome! Every day I wake up, I’m thankful for ending up in the career I have with the people I work with. Think about it, we get to wake up and make art every day. Even if the current project isn’t all that artistic like covering a convention or filming a political ad, we’re still utilizing these long-honed skills to put our artistic touch on whatever it is that comes across the desk that day.

From my experience, everyone I know, love and work with in our independent film scene here in New Orleans feels just about the same. The low budget features aren’t great on the checkbook, but you get 20-30 of us together that have all grown up working on similar project together, and beautiful times are had. We really are a tight-knit community that enjoys spending our days together both on and off set.

We New Orleans soundies have a little different experience than most other crew positions/departments, in my experience. Fortunately, there’s just less of us around for the same amount of jobs that everyone else is vying for. This keeps the sound mixer community very tight. I get more than half of my work from other mixers who are booked on other projects, and I enjoy passing work to them as well. We are always in contact about what jobs are out there, who’s looking for what, what productions may not be the most sound friendly, etc.

We also are unique in that there is only one sound rental shop in New Orleans, Professional Sound Services at 8222 Maple St. in the Riverbend. Justin Ditch and Lukas Gonzales run not only a tip top sound shop but also offer a place where mixers can meet, talk shop, shoot the breeze and nerd out on gear. A lot of time, as a sound mixer, I’m the only mixer on set, so meeting other mixers is sometimes rare unless it’s a bigger production with multiple sound bags running. Pro Sound is like my Cheers. I’ll show up when I’m bored just to hang out and meet whoever walks in the door. The New Orleans sound scene would be severely lacking in many different ways without those guys at Pro Sound.

As far as improvements, I’d like to see producers move away from relying on their “low budget” status to justify paying people less. Yes, some productions are what they are by necessity; I’ll work on any of my friend’s projects regardless of pay if I’m not booked. But I’ve seen too many productions come in from out of state for tax credits, fly in their big wigs, blowing money left and right while offering rates 1/3 of what they should because “they knew kids are hungry for work.” I was actually told that with audible words one time. Pardon my Cajun, but get fucked. It’s a shame some productions see an opportunity to take advantage of locals rather than being thankful for the money they’re saving on tax credits and taking care of the people who made their movie. I did about an hour and a half long podcast with Greg about this that probably won’t see the air because I get pretty heated about this. The whiskey we shared probably didn’t help either.

I’d like to see us independent film makers hold productions to task. I want to see us all making money and having profitable careers rather than taking whatever pops up because rents due soon. It’s tough and everyone’s path is different, but ‘take-advantage-of-locals’ rates really hits my limiters.

4. What are some of your favorite types of projects? Any particularly fun/interesting stories? 

Okay good, a lighter subject. I enjoy different projects for different reasons, mainly just a change of pace is nice. Narratives are great because I can setup a cart or at least a sound world and have some day to day stability in a given location. Narratives give an opportunity to spend a lot of time on a scene and really find interesting sound effects or mic’ing methods; however it does sometimes get pretty boring sitting around recording a conversation at a coffee table for 12 hours which is why I like reality. Every day is something new to shoot and new people to meet, but the hectic-ness can get tiring pretty quickly. It’s a yin and yang situation.

But in the end, as I said before, we’re on set making cool things with (most of the time ) cool people. “A bad day on set is better than a good day in an office.”

5. What’s your favorite thing to do on set? Whether an individual position, a fun practice or tradition you have, whatever. The one thing you always look forward to no matter the production.

First things first, Taco Tuesday.

Secondly, I try to just have fun. I enjoy my job and most others do as well so anything I can do to keep the positive mood. I particularly like the “how many pieces of lav tape can I stick on ______” game. I enjoy shorts or features where we have interns from the local colleges. Those kids are hungry to learn and just want to be a sponge absorbing all they can.

6. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting out here in the film industry, especially if they’re just starting out here in New Orleans, what would be your main piece of advice? 

DON’T BE A JERK. It’s so simple but seriously, just be a cool person and you’ll get work. Be helpful – don’t think it’s beneath you to help setup crafty or anything like that. Yes, we all have our department and our own responsibilities, but at the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. We’re all trying to make a great piece of work. I’ve seen some of the most accredited people replaced because they’re jerks. People on set have to be able to work and live with you for perhaps months at a time. If you disrupt the flow and mentality of the set, you’ll be gone real quick.

Meet people. Meet everyone you can. Go to the parties after screening of festivals and pass out business cards. Starting out, just get on a set, any set. People I’ve met as PAs are now my bosses. They call me because we go way back. Get on set, be positive, be great at what you do and make friends. Everyone has their own projects or get calls for other friend’s projects and you want them to call you. Think of it like a tree, your first set is your first branch and you’re going to meet 10-30 people. Impress them and get on another set, that’s another 10-30 people. And so on and so forth. The growth is exponential. If you make yourself memorable as a positive,hard-working, knowledgeable person, it’ll just be a matter of time before your career starts to grow quickly.

7. What are you working on now?

My pride and joy is a show called Big Easy Motors which comes on the History channel every Tuesday at 9pm central. One of my closest sound friends in the area Raam Brousard got me on that when he had to return home to Israel for his family to meet his beautiful baby daughter. We’re both very proud of the work we’ve done on that show and look forward to a second season.

8. Anything else you’d like to add?

Have fun today. Work can suck; more for some than others, but it doesn’t have to and it doesn’t always. Life’s too short to not do cool things each day. Find a way to make money having fun.

And last but certainly not least, shut up during room tone.

Safety first

Safety first

You can reach Eric for sound mixing services at Ericrice20@gmail.com

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