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ViDoc: Inn Marin and Redwood Credit Union

Redwood Credit Union is quickly becoming one of my favorite businesses to work with because of how they interact with not only their vendors (like myself) or with one another, but especially with how they treat their customers. Redwood is a pretty big business with an uncharacteristically small-business mindset. I've done a few video documentaries (ViDocs) for them in recent months, and there is a pattern that I have noticed each of their clients touch at least once: they don't feel like just a number. 

On set for their most recent ViDoc in Novato, CA (just north of my home base of San Francisco) I got to meet John and Robert Marshall, owners and operators of Inn Marin and Ricky's Restaurant. Like Redwood, Inn Marin is not a "typical" hotel experience. In Robert's words, they "hire smiles, not skills." That was pretty evident, as the folks I met while on their property were all incredibly friendly and courteous. The grounds were gorgeous, which made capturing b-roll not only easy, but enjoyable. 

As you might have noticed, this particular job required both brothers be on camera at the same time, meaning capturing audio was more complicated than usual. I am a big fan of lav mics, specifically RODE and Sennheiser mics. Here I had to use both, one on each brother, and each audio line was recorded through a different camera. 

The other way you could do this, which I opted not to and often do not do, is to split the stereo line and record a different audio line through each side of the stereo recording, in mono. It requires a stereo splitter, which isn't very expensive at all, and dealing with splitting and then re-enabling stereo across the two split audio lines in post. Since I have two mics available, I opted for option one. It's a matter of preference though, and either works just fine. 

I used two cameras for this setup: a Panasonic GH4 and a Canon XC-10. I let the GH4 record in standard picture, but the Canon I had record in Canon LOG profile, so that matching footage later would be far easier. I do this a lot, and have found that the Canon LOG profile is pretty good at remaining flexible to match with what is a lot "bluer" footage out of the GH4. 

I like to keep my productions small, compact and mobile. You'll notice I don't have fancy rigs or matteboxes on my cameras, because I have found them to be pretty unnecessary in most circumstances. For larger productions that require sets and lighting, sure they would be helpful. But for doing interviews and documentaries with real people, I have found that keeping as low a profile as possible helps the on-camera talent relax. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm them with a lot of production. They'll freeze up and have a hard time saying what you need them to say. 

Ideally I'm not on a project alone, and I'm really glad that my contact for this project (and creative director on set) was there for me. Priscilla is an awesome person to work with and makes producing content for Redwood fun and engaging.

Priscilla, my creative director on this project, using my Lowepro Echelon bag as her director's chair.

Priscilla, my creative director on this project, using my Lowepro Echelon bag as her director's chair.

In the end we were able to produce a commercial for Redwood that was truthful, honest and most importantly, real. Doing these kinds of video testimonial projects are always my favorite because I enjoy hearing stories from real people recounting actual experiences. It's what I'm all about, and I'm happy to say that's also what Redwood Credit Union is all about.