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Week 4: The End, and the Beginning

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My final week at Visual Aid Inc. was a great way to cap off my 4-week internship. Ordinarily, I would write a sentimental post about how much I am going to miss everyone, but instead I’m happy to announce that Visual Aid has hired me to work for them this summer! So in a way, this week was really the beginning of the next phase of my work with Visual Aid. I’m excited to have had the opportunity to work for such a great company during my senior project, and I’m sure that this summer will be even better. During my first week, Joelle posted a picture of me on Visual Aid’s Facebook page, and someone commented “Congrats to Casey on getting to work at one of the coolest places ever.” I can now say that Visual Aid has undoubtedly lived up to this reputation.
Since this is my last post, however, I need to be sentimental about something: Susan left on Friday to move to New York (where her girlfriend is going to graduate school). She will still be working for Visual Aid by contacting potential clients, editing various projects, and shooting for local clients, but I’m sure the office will not be the same without her. However, she is going to New York, so chances are she’ll have a good time even without the rest of us.
Since the video that I spent much of this week working on will soon be published online, I can finally share some details about it. For much of my internship, I have been working on products for… drum roll please… Autodesk! They hired Visual Aid to create commercials and promotional videos for their new 3D design software, Fusion 360. As part of this, Visual Aid conducted interviews with two small businesses that had been given access to the Fusion 360 beta: Redpoint Studios in Manchester, New Hampshire and Fuse Industrial Design in Portland, OR. Redpoint is using Fusion 360 to create customizable guitar bodies under the company name “Orphanage Guitars,” while Fuse used the software to design ORP, a bicycle horn and headlight combination device. Earlier this month, I accompanied James on a shoot in which he interviewed a variety of professionals about their experiences with Fusion 360. I later worked with these interviews, helping to create some short commercials for Fusion. However, this week I spent time working on a more ambitious project. Autodesk hired Visual Aid to create a series of “episodes” detailing the experiences of Redpoint and Fuse with Fusion 360, and earlier this week I worked on a preliminary edit of the first episode. Unlike my previous editing projects, which were composed entirely of interviews cut together, this episode involved lots of “B-Roll” shots of the companies’ offices, employees, and surrounding cities. This made the editing more interesting and less one-dimensional. James is currently finishing up the final version of this video, and it should be available to watch online fairly soon.
One particularly interesting aspect of this process for me is that many the small businesses that we have been featuring in videos for Autodesk are very similar to Visual Aid. They are all trying to make it in competitive industries, and their employees are enthusiastic about what they are doing. However, as James and I were discussing on Friday, the businesses in the videos have found a great solution to their problems: Fusion 360. Hopefully there will soon be an amazing new program to allow collaborative video editing from anywhere, the same way that Fusion allows collaborative 3D design from anywhere. In the meantime, though, Visual Aid is still able to do a great job of producing great-looking, professional-quality videos for a variety of companies, and I’m excited to continue my own contributions to their success.

Finally, here is a picture of me with Joelle (left), Susan (right), Ben (behind), and James (whose shoulder is visible in the lower left corner), walking back from lunch on Susan’s last day at the office. If you look close you can see that I am wearing an I♥NY t-shirt. This was not on purpose. Oh the irony.



Thrilled that you'll be able to continue working for Visual Aid. It was so much fun to visit such a cool place!

Congrats on the job!

I look forward to seeing the autodesk video. Post a link when it is out.

Week 3: Editing, logging, thinking about advertising, and some bowling as well!

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 My third week at Visual Aid Inc. was very similar to my first and second weeks, and that is a good thing. Overall, I’m having a great time working on various editing-related tasks, which I’m sorry to say that I still cannot discuss in detail to avoid revealing the secrets of various corporate marketing campaigns.

James and Joelle arrived back from Vegas on Monday, meaning that the workplace environment went back to normal after a relatively quiet few days with just Ben and Susan. I spent much of Monday and Tuesday going through footage shot by various small businesses involved in the advertising campaign for the company I’m currently making promotional videos for. This approach turned out to have advantages and disadvantages. Some of the footage was great, and provided real insight into how these companies work. However, since it was filmed by people who are not professional filmmakers, I had to throw out some of the clips because they were out of focus, had poor sound quality (sometimes due to the microphone being unplugged), or both of the subjects were leaning out of the frame. Despite this, the candid shots of people working or describing the operation of their companies proved very interesting and insightful.
A few days ago I had a conversation about reality TV shows with someone who assumed that if people were happy on the show, they had to be happy with what they were doing in real life. This made me think about how many people interpret much of what they see on TV as the literal truth, including commercials. Because much of my work in the past few weeks has consisted of watching interviews and picking out the best sound bytes to use in commercials or promotional videos, I have been creating videos that many people might interpret as an unbiased view about a product, or at least they wouldn’t immediately think of it as a carefully constructed advertisement designed to make the product appeal to them. Some people might feel guilty about having this effect on people while working in the advertising industry. However, I feel fine about it for several reasons. For one, I genuinely like and believe in many of the products that Visual Aid has created commercials for, including the one I am currently working on. Even if I did not, I love Visual Aid as a company, and the reality of being a small business working in the advertising industry is that you have to take whatever offers you’re given in order to stay in business. As Visual Aid becomes more well-known and successful, they will probably be able to be more selective about their clients, but for now they need all the work they can get, and I want to do everything I can to help them succeed. Finally, a commercial, like any other film, is an art form, and it is both creatively satisfying and artistically significant to create an effective video that can convince someone to like a product or company in a very short time. Anyone who looks at the examples of Visual Aid’s work on their website will be struck by the artistic brilliance of many of their videos.
Ben’s birthday was this week and Susan’s is next week, so on Wednesday we all went bowling as a double birthday celebration. I never quite managed to get my shot dialed in, but Joelle out-scored everyone and ended up scoring several successive strikes. It was pretty impressive to watch, and it was fun to get a chance to hang out with everyone from the office in a context other than work. The next day, I realized that the office is walking distance from Mississippi Avenue. This means I can look forward to some great lunches next week.
Here is a picture of me working from a couple weeks ago, which I just discovered on Visual Aid’s Facebook page.


Best blog yet

Great paragraph about what it means to create an advertisement. We seems to be getting better and better at making the televise world seems like the real world. I think this will be an important discussion for some time to come.

So great!

I'm so pleased to see you at the editing bay, workin' it like a pro. Are you using Final Cut? Are you ready to make the leap to apple?

Nope, I'm using Premiere Pro

Nope, I'm using Premiere Pro and After Effects. Visual Aid used to use Final Cut but they switched because the latest version sucks, and Premiere seems to be becoming the industry standard. Thankfully, unlike final cut, it runs just fine on Windows...
Does putting an apple sticker on the back of my lenovo laptop count as making the leap to apple? If it does, then the answer to your second question is yes.

Week 2: Lots of Editing and Learning After Effects

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My second week at Visual Aid Inc. was good, although very different from my first week. The main difference was that James and Joelle were in Las Vegas from Wednesday through Friday, so I spent those three days working with Ben and Susan instead. Their absence made the office much quieter, and possibly even more laid back than usual. However, it was still a productive environment for everyone, and James sent me emails keeping me up to date on my current duties.
In addition, after spending so much of last week logging footage from previous shoots, I spent most of this week organizing and editing footage from the shoot we did the previous Friday. Unfortunately I still cannot give details on the exact content of the footage or the client that we’re  working for, but I can say that it consisted of a variety of interviews, and at this point I feel like I’m getting to know the people we interviewed pretty well (simply by watching their interview clips over and over again).  I also got to try some editing myself, which was probably the most interesting job I’ve had so far besides the shoot last Friday. Last summer I made some promotional videos for the Friends of Tryon Creek State Park, but this was my first time working on editing actual commercials for a for-profit company. The stakes are also considerably higher with this job since Visual Aid runs primarily through one-off deals with clients, and they usually need to produce something really impressive in order to get to work with the company again. Thankfully, James, Ben and Susan are there to look over my edited footage before the company sees any of it.
Over the course of the week, I made two different rough cuts of potential commercials. It is doubtful that either of them will actually be used or posted online, because the company decided that they no longer want the first one and they would prefer some shorter versions of the second one, but it was good to be able to work on some actual projects and not have to worry about negatively affecting Visual Aid if the company doesn’t like them. Near the end of the week, I helped Ben with some ideas for the shorter promos based on my second rough cut, and they seem to be turning out well so far.
On Thursday, I had no major projects to work on, so I spent much of the day learning Adobe After Effects, a program I had never used before. After watching tutorial videos for several hours, I spent some time playing around with the software, and I now feel much more comfortable with post-production effects work, something that will help me greatly in future projects of my own even if I am not able to apply it to a project at Visual Aid.
On Friday the transcripts from the previous Friday’s shoot arrived. Visual Aid orders transcripts of unscripted interviews that they shoot in order to simplify the editing process by creating a “paper edit.” This means that they put a “script” together by condensing the transcripts of the interviews that they have already shot into an outline for the commercial that they plan to edit. This makes it much easier to see the big picture than by individually watching and logging each interview clip. They order the transcripts by exporting an audio file of each interview and sending them to a woman whose job it is to listen to each of the interviews and transcribe them exactly (this would be incredibly difficult for me, but somehow she is able to do it quickly). On Friday I began the process of matching the best quotes that James identified in the transcripts to the actual clips containing them. This should make future editing projects with this footage much easier.
Finally, I have attached two photos. The first depicts the interior of Visual Aid's office, and the second shows the entrance to the Gotham Building, where it is located.


Great Project

This senior project sounds amazing and it teach you so many skills you will be able to take with you in the future. It's so great you were able to find a great small company like this who will show you the ropes and give you the chance to practice your skills. Great work!


Keeping trucking Casey, sounds good

Senior Project at Visual Aid Inc.

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 For my senior project I will be working at Visual Aid Inc., a small production company located in SE Portland. My mentor is Joelle Allen, who runs the company with her husband James. The company produces commercials and promotional videos for companies and organizations including Nike, Microsoft and HP. In their own words, Visual Aid is "a premiere post-production agency specializing in high-end corporate and commercial film." I plan on helping out with production and editing in whatever way I can, and hopefully completing my own commercial or other project. I have a fair amount of experience with film, but I hope to gain more exprience with film in the professional world and to learn how a firm like this one operates and communicates with its corporate clients.


The race has begun

I have read this, it is clear, it sounds like a solidly good time.