by Katrina Diamond
With clients ranging from Amex Travel to Shark Tank’s recent CATE app CEO, these talented production pros know how to navigate the production waters and take a video from initial concept to trending-on-twitter overnight. (Did anyone else hear Jaws theme music in their head after reading that part?)
While these guys are always busy working, connecting, and helping clients build brands, they are also always hiring, always willing to lend advice and always open to discussing new ideas & pitches from creative go-getters.
Q: What was your goal when producing the CATE Video? What kind of mood were you going for, and what kind of emotion were you trying to evoke?
Jay: In producing the motion graphics video, we wanted to keep the concepts and branding similar to the infamous internet explorer commercial. Has to be cutting-edge, not comfortable with anything less or it doesn’t get my stamp of approval. I want to go above and beyond if it has my name on it. We wanted to capture the android market vs Mac look & feel, and I think we were successful in doing so. It’s seen a total of 100,000 views, with incredibly positive feedback.
We built an algorithm for how many people were watching and buying, we also embedded the video in the Google+ store. A lot of businesses are sneaky about it and the videos don’t accurately replicate look & feel of actual app product. But our conversion rate was significant. But more importantly, the return on investment for video was insane; we already exceeded our ROI.
Q: How long did it take, from concept to completion?
Jay: When I wake up, I usually jot down ideas, call my storyboard guy, “Hey Pablo, dude. Got great idea, can you do it?” Pablo says ‘course, lets nail it.’ Have to give him most of the credit
Pablo (Motion Graphics): Thanks. The video takes about 4-5 days, we can crank out pretty quickly when we know the tone the client wants. We used After FX and Cinema 4D, since they are pretty easy to use and fast. I mixed the music with Soundbooth.
I went to Film School but was self-taught on the post side, constantly picking people’s brains. It’s all about helping people figuring what they want.
Jay: Yeah, we spend time on prep so the back and forth revision thing doesn’t really happen with us. Pablo, tell him how many revisions you have had to do after client approves direction?
Pablo: (thinks for a minute, chuckle.) I guess never, actually.
Q: The behind-the-scenes was pretty cool. Tell us about it.
Hugo (Producer, DP): First of all, always interesting to work with Jay and Shark Branding- they are always after something new and fresh and exploring new ways to bring piece to public but also stay informative. The behind-the-scenes CATE premiere was a cool, creative challenge because we didn’t want to make it look too “corporate looking,” but wanted to drive interest to the app and the team behind the product.
Jay: I think it worked…I got a TV Show out of it! Laughs.
Q: What kind of equipment do you use?
Hugo: RED epic, scarlet, for the high end, super high quality commercials etc. For internet stuff / reality flavor, love the Canon Mark II, Mark III. Panasonic B2, Sony EX1. Use a variety of lighting equipment such as Litepanels, but it mostly depends on the client and desire effect, of course.
Q: What was your background before you got involved with these guys?
Hugo: From Colombia, originally a Journalist. Freelanced as a reporter, and worked the Pan American games in Mexico I wrote / shoot for Spanish media outlets, did live commentary, stuff like that. I like to tell stories visually, on camera. And travel around the world.
Q: Any fun behind-the-scenes stories?
Jay: It’s always fun if we can’t have fun, do things on the fly, then we don’t do it. Seriousness and short tempers kill the mood and when people aren’t as passionate about the job at hand, it shows in the work and lessens the quality.
In regards to the CATE App premiere night tho…watching the movement, monitoring the numbers til it became trending hash tag that night. Helped us build a case study. What’s getting the most hits, clicks. Largest twitter guys Robert “the Twitter Titan” helped us and within 20 mins. #thatwasjuicy and the CATE app was a trending topic.
Q: How did the client react when the project was complete? How did the world react? (e.g. twitter trends, etc.)
Jay: [Neil Desa, the CEO] He was freaking out. He was going to med school, (decided after Obama elected). Dropped out, became entrepreneur, developed CATE app - sold for 17K by police officer and then gave to shark tank. We branded, re-did app, put pretty face on CATE app and said, here’s your new girlfriend. Also we gave the CEO himself a professional makeover, new hair style. He came out looking like a movie star. Calm, cool collected. Funny dude.
I’ve known Daymand John of Shark Tank 16 years we are close, I’m kinda his right-hand guy at Shark Branding. When he invests in someone, he gives it all he’s got. His model is give connections to his clients, to build them a successful brand.
Q: What advice would you give old-school production companies trying to create videos that are powerfully viral online?
Jay: once your video is complete, you call someone like who’s big. Don’t let it sit. I want to get it out there, no guarantees, but if you want results, there are certain measures you have to take. Many ways, strategies, hire the people who know. I sit back and watch a lot people make mistakes. Then I calmly say, ‘You ready to fix it? Let’s fix it.’
One of the biggest mistakes I see is people using crappy equipment and pirating free online programs. Make an investment. If you want to be in production, invest in yourself. Don’t go hacking, stealing software - just buy it and learn it the right way. There will be a reward. Use the right camera & technology, don’t go half-ass. Don’t rob people, do the right thing.
Q: How do you break into the biz?
Investor: what kind of money did you spend on this? They won’t invest into something bootleg. They want to see clean, organized, straight-up legitimate work.
When pitching ideas, TV shows, etc.all I need is a min. and half of a good concept I don’t care if you use stock footage / collage for the spec work. Spell out storyboard in video format. Saves time on front end for the resources you’ll need once the project is greenlight. Be creative.
Pablo: Anything’s possible; there are no limits. You are only person who can set yourself back. “Sure, I can do it” should be your answer to everything. With so much information out there, you are just a tutorial away from learning how to do it.
Have to keep learning the new technologies and exploring new techniques. Don’t be close-minded of new projects and new equipment. Don’t be afraid to take on, improve talent, stay current with the tech trends. I’m not married to any brand. I embrace different equipment because I love all flavors of production, across many diverse cultural backgrounds English, French, Spanish, you name it.
Q: I know you could elaborate forever on this one, but what is the most important pieces of advice you would you give video production companies on creating exposure for themselves, in general?
Pablo: I worked at Advertising Agency but always asked everybody I knew if they needed freelance. Don’t be afraid to ask. Always, always, always. You never know who will remember you said that and connect you with the right people on the next project. Make sure you have a presence online of course, like on ProductionHUB, Vimeo, CraigsList.
Jay: work with people allow you to maintain your own creativity. It takes a dick to dictate. Take risk and don’t rob creativity. Align yourself with those who allow you to have your own business / freelance. I’ve found that you lose really good people when you try and control them. Plug them, let them have full creativity. Make sure their companies are known for themselves and they will always have your back. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
Q: Are you all hiring any video people?
Hugo: Always interested in DPs, Motion Graphics and Producers. Besides being talented, they must be open-minded and passionate.
Q: What exciting project are you working on for Shark Branding right now? Has there been any challenges or interesting stories regarding that project?
Jay: Working on new TV show hosting called “Common Denominator”
Not out yet but really funny TV Show called Fobar, kinda like SNL meets jackass meets Jimmy Fallon - more to come on that.
About Jay Leopardi:
Currently a visionary marketer, branding expert, and one of “The Shark” Daymond John’s right hand men at Shark Branding, Jay works closely with celebrities and companies in delivering brand management support. Jay has been dubbed “The Bad Boy of Branding & technology guru”. Jay reinvented himself and brought his strategic marketing expertise online. He began signing clients and securing product placement. Jay now works closely with big names including Cedric the Entertainer, Kel Mitchell, and Miguel Nunez Junior, to name a few.
Hugo’s Digital Brain Studios is a creative collective of young, highly talented, experienced artists and production professionals.
Our ultimate goal is to deliver to our clients eye-catching, thought-provoking music videos and commercials, corporate video presentations, TV content and beyond. Digital Brain Studios also focuses on motion graphics, web design, audio production… even bilingual script conceptualization/writing and voice-over talent services. at Digital Brain Studios, we never “think outside the box,” because there is no “box”—just your ideas, our imagination and a whole world of possibilities.