Category Archives: News

Oregon Production

If you’ve ever watched IFC, then you’ve seen their signature quirky-cool ad campaign. But did you know that it was designed and created by Oregon-based company Feel Good Anyway? Or that the 40-plus special effects in the NBC movie A Walk in My Shoes were done by Portland’s visual effects company Hive-FX? Or if you’ve been to Canada lately and seen Koodo Mobile’s adorable spokesman El Tabador, that he was produced by Bent Image Labs, based in—you guessed it—Oregon?

Thanks in large part to TV shows such as Leverage and Portlandia shooting in Portland (as well as the recently announced Grimm), Oregon’s profile in the film industry has been rapidly rising over the last few years. Perhaps lesser known, though, is Oregon’s amazing animation and VFX industry. Three of these companies are the subjects of featured Case Studies on the recently launched Oregon Animation blog.
Last year, NBC shot the feel-good family drama  A Walk in My Shoes entirely in and around Portland. Post-production work stayed local, too, as Hive-FX was hired to do all the visual effects for the film. Hive-FX brought top-of-the-line efficiency and professionalism to the project, as well as a Hollywood-level of quality. The film’s director, John Kent Harrison, praised the company’s work and is eager to collaborate with them again. The crew at Hive-FX has also lent their talents to ad campaigns for major companies like Quaker and Intel.
If “IFC” sounds familiar, it’s probably because they’re the people responsible for the hit show Portlandia. But they’ve also brought their business to Oregon in the form of an über-hip and amusing rebranding campaign handled by local company Feel Good Anyway. Feel Good Anyway won two different awards at the Brand New Awards for their work on more than 50 promos and IDs for IFC, in addition to a new logo and other brand amenities. In fact, IFC was so happy with Feel Good Anyway’s work that they’ll be keeping the company on for inspiration and additional creative partnering.
With the theme of Oregon companies winning awards for creative branding, Bent Image Labs helped earn Canada’s Koodo Mobile the 2010 Brand of the Year award from Strategy magazine. Bent designed the four-inch-tall Lucha Libre Mexican wrestler El Tabador to be the company’s spokesman and he’s been a runaway success. Bent used their experience with stop-motion sets and VFX miniatures to save time and money in scouting locations in Mexico for authenticity. Collaborating with Canadian agency Taxi 2, Bent designed El Tabador from initial sketch to final computer render.
Oregon companies pride themselves on creativity and innovation. Nowhere is this better seen than in the animation/VFX industry. With the spotlight on the actual filming process, it’s great to see these homegrown, behind-the-scenes companies doing so much in the industry. It’s not just familiar locations we should be looking for when we turn on our TVs or go to the movies, but for the local companies behind the magic.
To learn more about Oregon’s animation and VFX industry, go to www.oregonanimation.com.

Lindsay Harrop is a summer intern with the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film & Television. She grew up in the Willamette Valley but now attends Ithaca College in New York, where she studies screenwriting. Says Lindsay, “There are so many fresh, exciting things going on in Oregon’s film industry right now that it’s an awesome place to spend the summer. I’m looking forward to writing about more of these cinematic endeavors over the course of the summer!”

Visual Media Group Creates Buzz

Visual Media Group, a creative content provider based in Bellevue, Washington, is an industry-renowned company that boasts a multitude of clients and scads of awards. But the company’s tremendous success belies its modest beginnings.

Seattle Art Institute alum Kelly Sparks, who opted to create her own video production company after graduating with a degree in Television and Video Production, founded VMG in her garage in 2004. A few years later her husband Mark Sparks, a former journalist and professional writer with 40 years’ experience as a commercial and stage actor, quit his job and joined the business venture as president.
“We worked hard to keep the company going those first six months,” said Kelly, VMG CEO and self-described Queen Bee. “Four years later, those six months easily turned out to be the best investment of our lifetime.”
Since the company’s inception, VMG has blossomed from a one-woman endeavor into an award-winning team of employees whose services not only include video, but also animation and motion design production, audio production, Web sites, presentations and event services. During this time, Kelly and Mark moved the company out of their garage and relocated to a 2,600-square-foot facility in Bellevue.
But growing the business from scratch—and maintaining its growth over the years—wasn’t the company’s toughest challenge. That was yet to come.
In October of 2010, VMG was hit by a robbery that tested their personal and professional fortitude—and set the stage for a new chapter in the company’s history.
“The burglars got away with all our camera equipment and computers and servers,” said Mark, “but they couldn’t touch our drive and determination. While it was almost like starting the business over again, we had a solid foundation from which to rebuild.”
After making a few phone calls and shaking away the shock, the team quickly rallied and got back to work.

Kelly and Mark

“It was a tough time,” said Kelly. “But everyone came together and supported each other through it.”
Added Mark, “We had people working 16-hour days to get us back on track. It took about eight months to replace everything and get back to business as usual. During that time we kept producing quality work for our clients on time and on budget—and we never missed a payroll. Looking back, that’s something we’re really proud about.”
Plus, the company was blessed with a silver lining: VMG’s insurance coverage allowed Kelly and Mark to replace their stolen merchandise with new state-of-the-art equipment. But the Sparks agree that it was their employees that really helped get the company going again—and they attribute VMG’s success to them.
“Our team understands each other and it shows in our work,” said Mark. “Every time we go on a shoot, we hear, ‘my gosh, your team is amazing.’”
VMG prides itself on hiring talented people, letting them develop, and then “getting out of their way,” he continued. “Sometimes Kelly or I provide input, sometimes we don’t. Our overriding concept is to establish clear guardrails and then give our people the freedom to show us what they can do.”
Added Kelly, “We allow them to develop and grow their skills, both in and outside of their job.”
For instance, when VMG was in the midst of rallying from the burglary, Kelly and Mark came up with a “passion project” concept that permitted their employees to hone their skills while the business recovered. They gave their team several paid days off and a production budget to focus on a cause they were passionate about outside of work, and then produce a video on it.
“We call ourselves the VMG family,” said Kelly. “We’re still a business, but we’re also a family. Sometimes everyone is in sync, sometimes we have our challenges, but—when it comes right down to it—we’re there for each other no matter what.”
Having such a tight-knit team of DPs, editors, producers, and designers—not to mention owning their equipment and studio at VMG headquarters—allows the company to produce 95 percent of their projects completely in-house, from concept to completion. Also, with everyone and everything on-site, VMG is able to increase its speed to market.
All of this adds up to a large and ever-expanding stable of happy clients. And as a result, VMG is gearing up for another move—this time to a 7,100-square-foot facility—to better service this growing client base.
After all, it is all about the client.
Though the company has won an exceptional number of awards—most recently five Tellys and an ADDY—the Sparks’ most gratifying accomplishments are when the team finishes a rewarding project and receives laudatory feedback.
“When we get an e-mail from a client that says ‘you guys rock’ or ‘you’re amazing,’ we forward it to the entire office,” said Kelly. “It’s rewarding when our clients are as passionate about our work as we are.
“At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”

 

Importance of Production Insurance

Damage Control – By Bob Baker, Owner & Senior Vice President, Gales Creek Insurance

It’s been a perfect day of shooting in remote Eastern Oregon. The weather, the location, and the way everything gelled couldn’t have been better. Now the light is starting to fade and it’s time to pack up and make the long drive back to town.
It’s at this peaceful moment that you’re blindsided by your assistant’s announcement that today’s film was accidentally exposed and the whole day was wasted: $5,000 an hour in production costs down the drain—plus the nightmare of rescheduling and the frustration of trying to capture the same magic again suddenly lands in your lap.
But fear not. Film production insurers have policies available for this and the other unique exposures of the film business. Though insurance can’t eliminate the hassles of rescheduling or recreating the magic, it can still pay for the out-of-pocket expenses needed to re-shoot. Even with modern video and digital technology this type of accident can still occur before a protection print or backup copy can be made. The policy form used to recoup the costs of a re-shoot because of the accident above is Faulty Stock, Camera and Processing Protection.
Many of the claims that we see are for equipment loss or damage. Whether you own your equipment or you rented that $80,000 camera pack, it needs to be replaced when it falls off the tripod or gets dropped in the ocean after you’re hit by a sneaker wave. A Miscellaneous Equipment form insures this type of exposure so that you can turn on a dime, get a replacement, and get back to work.
The claims manager of St. Paul/Travelers Specialty Film Department says that a majority of losses that they see fall under Third Party Property Damage coverage. This is another Property/Inland Marine form that pays for damage to premises that you do not own and that are in your “care, custody, and control.” If you’re shooting at a mansion that was made available to you for the day, and at the end of the shoot realize that your crew has managed to trash a very expensive looking oriental rug, hopefully you have this coverage in force.
There is a myriad of other insurance coverages essential to a production company, and these will be discussed in the following sections.

Protecting Your Assets – By Dave Peterson, President, Midlakes Insurance

There are many aspects to consider when purchasing insurance for your production. Here are a few questions (and answers) to keep in mind when planning your next production project.

HOW DO WE HANDLE INTERNS AND
VOLUNTEERS FOR WORKERS’ COMP
COVERAGE?
In the state of Washington, the Department of Labor and industries does not have any classifications for interns or volunteers. These very important members of a production staff will not be covered under your Workers’ Comp account, for any on the job injury or illness. So what to do?
1. Do not allow any volunteers or interns on the
production.
2. Put them on payroll.
3. Have an airtight release for them to sign.

HOW SHOULD WE COVER OUR CAST MEMBERS?
When using indispensible cast members, it is imperative to cover those persons with a Cast Protection Endorsement on your Production Policy. This type of coverage will provide extra expense reimbursement for costs incurred by the production company due to postponement, interruption or cancellation of the production resulting from an accident, illness or death of a declared artist, or director, during the filming of principal photography.
High impact animals also can qualify for this type of coverage, and when you are planning your production, please consult your agent about the advisability of Cast Coverage. It can save a bunch of headaches.

WHY DO WE NEED NEGATIVE FILM AND VIDEOTAPE COVERAGE?
What the heck, we only use digital cameras and there is no film involved in any process of filming, so why cover negatives and videotape? Negative Film & Videotape Insurance provides coverage as a result of direct physical loss, damage or destruction of materials—such as raw film or tape stock, exposed film (developed or undeveloped), videotape, matrices, lavenders, inter-positives, positives, working prints, cuffing copies, fine grain prints, color transparencies, cells, art work and drawing, software and related material used to generate computer images, soundtracks and tapes used in connection with a production—that occurred during a policy period. The key words in the case of digital imaging are “software and related material used to generate computer images.”

Additional Available Coverage – By Dave Tucker, McDonald Insurance

The other sections in this article touch on film stock, equipment, property damage, and cast coverage—but there are many more coverages available for your production. Following is a listing and description of some of these:

Props, Sets, and Wardrobes: Covers against the loss, damage or destruction of props, sets and wardrobes during the course of a production.

Extra Expense: Covers the extra expense an insured would incur due to a delay or cancellation of a shoot because property (including props, sets, wardrobe and equipment) or a location is stolen, damaged or destroyed.

Agency Reshoot: Covers increased costs associated with production deals involving advertising and other related agencies when a covered loss causes a reshoot.

Talent Costs: Includes increased cost to secure the talent used in the original shoot.

Office Contents: Covers business personal property for insureds that do not have enough property to need a separate property policy.

Money & Securities and Blanket Employee Dishonesty: Are the same coverages found in standard property policies, once again designed for insureds who are small enough not to need a separate policy.

In Conclusion
If this seems like an awful lot of information to process, don’t fret! This is where an experienced production insurance broker can step in and save the day. Before you get started on a production, it behooves you to contact one such broker.
Says Gales Creek’s  Bob Baker, “They may not be able to help you capture the magic, but they may end up giving you a chance to do it again when everything that can go wrong does.”

For more information, visit www.galescreek.com, www.midlakesinsurance.com, and www.mcdonaldins.com.

Dubs, Inc. – Digital Asset Management

 

 

For those of you who don’t know,
it’s called Digital Asset Management.

For those of you who do, you know it’s the digital equivalent of cleaning up production rooms, storage closets, filing cabinets, servers, hard drives, laptops, and basically every other communication an agency or company has ever released—then organizing it in a way so that even the most oblivious employee can find what they’re looking for in a matter of minutes.
For Dubs, Inc., it’s the next logical evolution of service. Dubs has been managing the physical creative assets of their clients for years. As the digital revolution progressed, more and more requests came down from those clients for a safe and secure digital storage solution that was both intuitive and accessible. So after a year and a half of research and development (and some long nights and weekends), they have arrived at an answer.
Dubs, Inc. Proxy is a new Digital Asset Management system that solves the problem of digital storage, but then goes beyond that to provide an über-organized bank of information that can be used as a library, a vault, a conduit, a communication channel, or even as a branding tool for the agency, company or entity that uses it.
Dubs, Inc. Proxy is a Cloud-based DAM that is fully hosted, completely customizable and accessible from anywhere there is an Internet connection. What this means to the agency producer (or their corporate counterpart) is that their company’s entire body of communications can be quickly accessed from basically anywhere in the world. So a new asset can be marked for storage from virtually anywhere, and an old asset can be quickly dug up from the depths in a matter of seconds. It also allows for the creation of dedicated “information vaults” from which certain departments or clients can access assets that only pertain to them. Using the customizable features of Dubs, Inc. Proxy, agencies and companies can brand the system and make it literally and visually their own. And finally by virtue of the fact that Dubs, Inc. Proxy is based in the Cloud, Dubs, Inc. is able to offer it at a price that won’t break the budget.
In the end, with agencies and corporations trying to sort out the hell that can be Digital Asset Management, Dubs, Inc. Proxy just might be the solution that offers them a little bit of heaven.

Washington Filmworks Fights Back

On the night of May 25, the 2011 legislative special session adjourned and it was revealed that a bill to renew the state’s production industry incentive program did not pass.

The bill—which would have extended the expiration date for the Washington Motion Picture Competitiveness Program from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2017, and increased the program’s budget, among other things—died without ever being brought to the floor for a vote.
“This is devastating to our industry,” said Amy Lillard, executive director of Washington Filmworks (WF), shortly after the announcement was made. WF is the non-profit organization that handles film production support and incentives statewide.
“It’s so competitive out there,” she continued. “Forty-four states have incentives, and without an incentive, your state won’t even be considered for film production.”
Since its establishment in 2006, Washington’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program has created over $100 million in economic activity statewide, with more than 70 projects—films, television and commercials—receiving the incentive since 2007. According to a December 2010 report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC), each dollar spent in Washington by the film industry was estimated to yield $1.99 in economic return.
Along with its report, the JLARC recommended to the Legislature that the bill be passed, with the following explanation: “Because the tax credit for contributions to the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program is achieving the objective of maintaining Washington’s position as a competitive location for filming, the Legislature should continue this preference and re-examine the preference at a later date to determine its ongoing effectiveness in encouraging filming in Washington State.”

Though fruitless, the JLARC’s recommendation is a significant feather in the cap of the failed bill, officially named 2SSB 5539, which experienced its share of challenges prior to its death in the House.
After passing through the Senate with a 30 to 17 vote, the bill made its way to the House Ways & Means Committee. There, it was amended by Committee chair Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, who introduced an amendment to reduce the size of the program’s fund to $1.75 million per year from the proposed $3.5 million.
Two days later, when 5539 reached the House of Representatives, House Speaker Frank Chopp linked it to a housing and homelessness bill that needed to be passed in the Senate. The housing bill did not pass the Senate, effectively killing the production incentive bill as a result.
It is not clear why Chopp linked the two bills, and Media Inc.’s attempts to contact him for comment went unanswered. However, in an interview with Jordan Schrader, state government reporter for Tacoma’s News Tribune, Chopp said that the defeat of the tax breaks for film production, as well as newspapers and computer servers, was simple.
“There were a lot of concerns about giving tax breaks to any people,” he said, adding, “These things weren’t necessary for implementing the budget, so we ran out of time.”

If there is one positive takeaway from the session, it is the strengthening of the state’s film community. Leading up to the session, the bill received unprecedented support from local production folks who participated in letter-writing campaigns and face-to-face meetings with legislators.
“Traditionally the industry hasn’t been politically active,” explained Lillard. “And while the outcome of this legislative session isn’t what we wanted, we are pleased with the great support we received from our production community. Every time we were in Olympia, we talked to legislators who said, ‘I’ve heard so much about your bill,’ which means our community really stepped up and vocally supported us. There’s a real sense of community here.”
Added Don Jensen, WF boardmember and president of Alpha Cine in Seattle, “We had a lot of support in both the House and the Senate, from legislators such as Senate majority leader Lisa Brown and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, among many others.
“A lot of people told us we had the votes. We just ran out of time.”

The bill’s demise has dealt a major blow to the local production community, which over the past five years has come to rely on the incentive program.
“As a community, the film incentive has helped create a thriving hub for film production,” said Jeanna Hofmeister, vice president and director of destination marketing at Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. “(Spokane production company) North By Northwest has produced several movies each year, providing jobs and economic development in the process. In fact, North by Northwest’s most recent production, River Sorrow, debuted at Cannes. That kind of recognition, both for an industry and for our community, is invaluable.”
Hofmeister noted that the bill’s defeat was especially difficult considering that it came on the heels of the demise of the state’s tourism office, which was also cut in the legislative session.
“It felt like a double whammy,” she said. “The tourism and film industries create billions of dollars in spending, and millions of dollars in tax relief for Washington’s residents.  It seems foolhardy to cut programs that generate thousands of jobs and that kind of revenue for our state.”
Though many in the local community remain confident that the industry will survive with or without an incentive program in place, it will be difficult to assuage the impact of the loss and also maintain the increase in business many have become accustomed to since the incentive’s initial passing in 2006.
“The incentive has given us access to an increased volume of high-profile national work, which has been good for my business,” said Peter Barnes, principal of local audio company Clatter&Din. “This additional national work has helped spread the word about Seattle’s talent pool, which, in turn, helps us all.”
Added Dave Peterson, president of Seattle’s Midlakes Insurance, “Over the last few years (the incentive) has helped us compete with big brokers in SoCal for insuring projects in Washington. I have been very satisfied to be a part of the program…
“Hopefully some day it will be resurrected.”

Lillard is optimistic that “some day” will be next year, when Washington Filmworks takes the bill back to the 2012 legislative session. The WF board is meeting periodically to strategize how to best do so, and plans thus far include a grassroots lobbying campaign.
“We’re seeing this as a delay, rather than a defeat,” said Lillard. “Our industry is so interesting in general. It takes time to explain how our industry works, and we’re going to spend time helping legislators understand. We aren’t an industry that fits in a nice box.”
“We need to work to build strong political support,” agreed Jensen. “We already have key supporters, but we just have to keep working to build that base. We have a good shot when we go next year.”
Lindsey Johnson, former production services manager at Washington Filmworks and current managing director at National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), said she hopes that the coming year will be used to “re-evaluate what is needed as far as an incentive and film office by working with the film community, legislators and business community to find what would be the most helpful to grow and support a sustainable industry.”
She added, “Maybe even create a new model that is innovative, competitive, and uniquely Washington State.”
In the meantime, it is business as usual at WF.
“We’re in no different shape financially than we would’ve been if it had passed,” said Jensen. “We raised funds in the first six months to keep us going just in case.”
Added Lillard, “From January to June of this year we raised $3.5 million, so we will continue to honor the commitments we’ve made to productions, and we will continue to service the community in a film office capacity—permitting, locations, infrastructure questions.”
With the money raised, WF recently awarded incentive packages to four separate productions coming to Washington.
“We are committed to Washington’s production industry,” Lillard continued. “And we are not going down without a fight.”

Glazer’s Camera Hosts PhotoFest

Glazer’s second annual PhotoFest was held June 11 and 12 in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
The annual festival featured 35 vendors and community partners, free classes and workshops, food trucks, and a once-yearly sale.
Vendors, including Nikon, Canon, Sony, Epson and Panasonic, were also joined by community partners Youth in Focus, Blue Earth Alliance, Reel Grrls, and Photo Center Northwest.
Saturday Night Live director of photography Alex Buono was Saturday’s keynote speaker. Buono spoke to a packed crowd of more than 250 people on the topic of Canon DSLR Filmmaking.
On Sunday, famed underwater photographer and Nikon enthusiast Scott Frier presented “Within the Coral Lace,” a collection of his photography.
“PhotoFest is a rewarding event to put together; we are able to bring together so many vendors to talk with customers and to support our annual sale,” said Glazer’s third-generation owner Rebecca Kaplan. “By offering free classes and lectures throughout the weekend, we were able to help our customers grow their skills and create an opportunity for the photo community to come together.”
The festival initially started as a celebration for Glazer’s 75th anniversary in 2009, but will continue every June.
For more information, visit www.glazerscamera.com.


Behind the Scenes at Cine Rent West

Portland’s Cine Rent West has hosted an exciting mix of shoots and events so far this year. Familiar agencies combined with visits from new brands, different production companies and private events have filled the calendar with a nice blend of business, continuing to make 2011 a banner year for the studio.
In April, R2C Group visited the studio, shooting a direct response campaign for Dancing with the Stars’ new line of hair extensions. Kym Johnson, Australian ballroom dancer, model and celebrity, was on hand as the brand’s spokes-celebrity.
Shawn Johnson, who signed an endorsement deal with Nike this year, along with other Nike athletes, visited the studio in April. They were working on an internal piece promoting the Nike Training Club, a full body-training app designed by a trainer and inspired by world-class athletes.
In May, Opus Creative held a two-day shoot at the studio, shooting a very complex video for a local high-tech company. With over 20 pages of dialogue and a host of set and costume changes, the shoot went off without a hitch.
In early June, Jacob Pander and his company (Radius Films) shot a short film to be shown at the opening of “Allure of the Automobile,” the Portland Art Museum’s newest exhibit. The theme was similar to a James Bond film with fast cars, machine guns and good-looking actors.
Cine Rent West has become a popular event venue for both creative groups and non-profit organizations. Pro Photo Supply hosted two events with Vincent Versace at CRW last month. The first was titled “Almost Every Black & White Conversion Technique” and the second was “Controlling the Unconscious Eye: An Exploration of ExDR.” The events were well attended and received!
In June, the “Just a Field” campaign held a movie night—complete with hot dogs, popcorn and a screening of E.T.—at CRW to raise money to build a new soccer field at the nearby elementary school. The field is a memorial to a teacher who lost his battle with cancer in December. Community involvement is an integral part of the Cine Rent West philosophy.
Although CRW is primarily used as a production studio, the venue is also available for fundraising events, art showings, corporate seminars and private parties.
For more information, visit www.CineRentWest.com or www.facebook.com/CineRentWest.

Seattle Film Institute Holds Free Informational Meeting For Full Time Programs – Saturday, July 16, at 11 AM

The Seattle Film Institute offers professional certificates, undergraduate degree options and graduate degrees in all aspects of filmmaking. All SFI programs feature a hands-on education and practical experience that provide the groundwork for professional careers. Students receive a real world education from a faculty anchored by film industry professionals.

Join SFI for an informational meeting about their Professional Certificate programs, Undergraduate Degree options and Graduate Degree programs on Saturday, July 16, at 11 AM.

This is a great opportunity to see the school, meet faculty members and other prospective students and get all your questions about SFI’s programs – including financial aid and scholarship information – answered. SFI is located at 1709 23rd Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122. To reserve your spot, RSVP by phone (206-568-4387) or e-mail (Chris Blanchett,
Communications Director
). For more information visit: www.seattlefilminstitute.com.

Changes in Physical Media Generate a “Paragon” of Success

I find it interesting that when someone asks me what I do for a living and I tell them that I’m in the media manufacturing business, they seem to be sad for me, and some, I think, even feel sorry for me. The prevailing attitude about physical media is that the technology is all but dead, gone the way of the 8-track tape, killed by downloads and streaming media. Heck, if I was on the outside looking in, I would feel sorry for me, too. I’m not suggesting that the media business has not changed. On the contrary, it’s actually changed quite dramatically in a very short period of time, but that is good news—the changes have actually benefited Paragon. Let me explain.

When I started in the disc business in 1994 our initial focus was on creating CD masters for replication. The process for creating a “Gold” master was complicated and expensive and not a lot of companies had the skill set or resources to do it in-house, so we were able to carve out a nice little niche. When the price of recordable media and drives dropped, we started duplicating small quantity orders for our clients. Then came the big time—we received our first order for 50 CD-Rs from a software company called Wall Data. That’s when we knew we had a new business direction.
That was essentially the beginning of what would become our core business model for the next 17 years—short run, quick turn media duplication runs. As time progressed we added new capabilities to match the growing demand for short runs. In 1998 we added DVD duplication, and in 2000 we added digital printing for short run custom printed disc packaging. (Since the installation of our first digital press we’ve added or upgraded an additional five digital presses. I like to tell people we are the best, award-winning digital printer you’ve never heard of.) In 2006 we added one of the first digital disc presses installed in the world for decorating short run discs, and just this last year we installed a new 6 color off-set disc press to provide the best quality disc printing in the Northwest.
I know you are asking what all this has to do with the changes in the disc industry and how these changes are “benefiting” Paragon, so I’ll jump right into that. All of our investments and experience over the last 17 years has made us an industry leader in short run media production, and the dramatic changes we are experiencing in the media industry are feeding right into our core competency. Gone are the 100,000-piece orders, replaced with 500-disc runs. The size of orders is shrinking but the number of orders is actually on the rise. Since these industry changes are trending toward short runs with quicker turns, Paragon is actually seeing an uptick in business.
In 2010 we produced over 3 million duplicated discs, 100 discs at a time. Actually, that is not true—I mention that for dramatic sake—our average order is 800 units. But that brings up the point that I want to make next: The future and what it holds for Paragon.
As we have seen over the last few years, the size of the orders have fallen but the volume of orders has actually increased—our clients are ordering less discs at a time but more frequently, and we expect this trend to continue.  To meet this continuing trend, Paragon has aggressively been investing in innovative new technologies to fully automate our production workflow. This enables our clients to order one-off packaged CDs and DVDs for Web fulfillment, Web-enabled pay-per-use video download and streaming services, and customized, on-demand DVD authoring. Our one-off packaged media services are truly a zero inventory model in which the manufacturing process is triggered once an order has been received. When the order is placed for the product, the disc is produced and decorated and the packaging printed in a fully automated workflow. In bringing to bear the latest in digital workflow technology we are able to effectively produce one packaged disc at a time, saving our clients the expense of inventory.
Our most innovative solution is our customized, on-demand DVD authoring tool. Our clients’ customers can now pick and choose episodic video segments online via a Web portal. Once the end user has selected the video segments they are interested in, their personalized DVD content is authored on the fly. The tool incorporates the end user’s personalized and targeted information into the menu assets, the disc decoration and the disc packaging. It’s a fantastic evolution of the DVD experience.
The key to the success and the longevity of physical media comes down to return on investment, and in the case of content distribution, physical media is king. The studios protect their DVD and BD release dates because it generates their largest return, and independent producers rely on physical media to drive a majority of their revenue stream. The physical media business is here to stay for a long time, albeit in smaller run sizes.

Chris Lamb is president of Paragon Media in Seattle. Visit www.paragongroup.com for more information.

The Post Revolution

I have been working with film and video production in one way or another since 1974. Two partners (Gerry Cook and Chris Venne) and I spent many years making documentaries and television commercials in Spokane in the mid- to late-‘70s. We would work in small format (1/2” open reel) video and 35mm film (for the television commercials).

Around 1981 we started making Corporate Information programs, as the market for documentary projects significantly diminished with the election of Ronald Reagan! It was at that same time that video tools started to become more and more useful, and complicated. Where we used to edit video by putting two video tape recorders on a table and rolling each one back five seconds from the “in point” of an edit—and then very adeptly starting both of them at the same time, while running a stop watch, and being sure to push the “edit” button at exactly the right spot—we started to see computers that would do all of that for us. (In the early days, the computers worked about as well as our error-prone manual approach to editing.)
Around this time, a fellow named Rich Woltjer showed up in Spokane wanting to know what we were up to, and how production could be going on “over here.” He was developing a way to catalogue and categorize all media production going on in the State of Washington. We gave him our information and looked forward to being involved in a very early version of networking. And having contact with the “West Side.”
By the early ‘80s we had become “Pinnacle Productions” and started to draw significant clients from the west side of the state, including Boeing, banks, insurance companies, even Rainier Beer for a “down market” remake of the “Running of the Rainiers.”
A talented and growing group of artists and production people joined Pinnacle in our corporate production and special effects group. Our reach was national (we created opens for Monday Night Football and NBC Nightly News) and the content was wonderfully creative. We mostly had great fun, and got a lot of satisfaction out of creating high quality work.
This level of production required increasingly sophisticated equipment, and our own production couldn’t keep it busy enough, so it was finally decided to move this very talented group of people and skills to Seattle (the company was owned by Cowles Publishing Company in Spokane), and open a brand new production and post production facility in the Belltown area. The idea was to service other clients as well as our own efforts. Seattle and Los Angeles people joined the team from Spokane, and a very capable post production facility was created. The effects and corporate production group were also part of the mix.
By the time we opened in Seattle, Rich Woltjer’s project was now called Media Inc. and was a monthly newspaper that featured a big story about the opening of Pinnacle Productions’ new facility in the early fall of 1990. (See Cover to Cover, page 80). The facility was carefully designed to provide the very best equipment and people in a perfect environment for film transfer, complex editing, and special effects creation. Clients came from around the region and the U.S.
Pinnacle provided all kinds of technical and creative services over the next 10 years, providing production and post production services for many Seattle projects. We hosted the infamous Frugal Gourmet production on our stages for two years, and were involved in editing and developing special effects for Bill Nye the Science Guy. Nike came to town almost weekly from Portland to transfer and color correct film. Most of the local bands going national in the mid-‘90s music videos were worked on in various parts of the facility. And about 50 very talented and dedicated people worked there.
I left Pinnacle in 1997, 23 years after I helped start it. I moved on to work for a few years in the dot com industry, developing ways to stream video on demand and participating in Seattle’s version of the “Dutch Tulip Bubble.” I then moved to Alpha Cine, Seattle’s highly regarded motion picture lab, where I am approaching my 10th year working with independent filmmakers from all over the U.S., and another wonderfully talented group of people.
And during this time, Media Inc., now under the leadership of Jim Baker, has played a significant role in reporting on and developing the industry in the State of Washington. Without Jim and Media Inc.’s support and leadership, the effort to develop film incentives and promote production in the State of Washington would certainly have been more difficult.

Don Jensen is president of Alpha Cine in Seattle. Visit www.alphacine.com for more information.