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Telly Awards & Upcity Excellence Award!

Bottle Rocket Media Wins Telly and UpCity Awards

Season 40 Telly Award Winners were announced this week, and we’re super excited to announce that we took home SIX! Clients include Dyson, Kenmore, Centro, The Peninsula, and The Chicago Cubs! View the winning videos below.

We also received UpCity’s 2019 Excellence Award and were named Top 20 Marketing Service Providers in Chicago – Thanks Upcity! Check out our listing here.

Thank you to all of our stellar clients for allowing us to do what we do all day long. Thanks also needs to go out to our incredible team – the BRM gang and every crew member, cast member or freelancer that continues to support these endeavors.

Though we cannot share the Cubs 360 Gameday experience at the time, check out the response to the 360 video experience:

https://www.facebook.com/Cubs/videos/524138164762495/

Client Spotlight | American Girl

Encouraging thousands of kids each day to let their individuality shine through play, no brand is more focused on empowerment than American Girl. After collaborating with their creative team to develop a series of traditional promotional videos, the perfect opportunity to incorporate cutting-edge 360 Video sprouted when they reached out to Bottle Rocket media to create guided tours of its New York and Chicago locations.

Since its start in 1986, American Girl has developed into one of the most popular doll purveyors in the country, with roughly 20 major retail stores that also serve as restaurants, party hosts, and play centers. With so much going on at each spot – including stations where kids AND their dolls can receive makeovers and ear piercings –it was the perfect opportunity to utilize 360 video to create a fully immersive experience for viewers.

According to Bottle Rocket Media co-founder, Brett Singer, a successful run with American Girl on past productions was enough to set the stage for the use of 360 video: “We had worked with [American Girl] on many other promo videos, and fortified a wonderful working relationship,” he says. “As a result, the brand’s creative team approached us to produce 360 VR store tours with accompanying motion graphics to help guide the viewer throughout the experience.”

Not every client Bottle Rocket Media comes across can expertly dialogue about the latest in media techniques – however, as Singer implies, it certainly helps. “It should come as no surprise that American Girl is a very forward-thinking company, and early to embrace new technologies – including both 360 video and AR (augmented reality). Loaded with creative talent, including an in-house design team, we were seamlessly provided with brand-specific graphics, and new ones created just for the videos. Working with them is always a pleasure, as they come to each project as a partner. No one knows the subject matter better, so it’s a no-brainer for us to welcome them into the process.”

In the Cutting Room | Meet Editor, Dave Sarno

Meet Bottle Rocket Media Editor, Dave Sarno

Dave Sarno knows about visual storytelling—as far as he is concerned, it is not just the writing or directing that guides the viewer. With a love of film that began at age 10, he has fully embraced the painstaking, yet vital “discovery process” that is post-production. Learn how his approach helps push each Bottle Rocket Media project forward.

Framed: An Improvised Series – “The Clown” from Bottle Rocket Media on Vimeo.

What got you into editing?

I’ve been into movies and storytelling since I was 10. My first foray into the filmmaking process was making Super 8 movies with my childhood friends (Yep, I date myself). Much later, after I graduated from film school, I co-directed a feature documentary film. While working on that project, I saw the story come together in the editing room and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.

What about the craft moves you?

I can’t explain the reason why a cut works—I just know it when I see it. It’s trial and error until something clicks. I like that discovery process.

How does your style/technique tie into creating successful brand videos?

A lot of stories are reimagined in the editing room. Sometimes, the intended middle scene becomes the opening scene. Other times, a voice over is added to give depth to the visuals. The cut at the end of the day can be much different than at the start. There is a lot of improvising required in editing in order to get the best result. For me, it is always exciting to try something new in the editing room that hasn’t yet been considered.

What video technology/storytelling technique are you most excited about right now?

Moving to Bottle Rocket Media from the freelance world has allowed me to edit many 360 video projects. It’s a different kind of storytelling, and I’m eager to see where we can go with it.

What has been your proudest accomplishment at Bottle Rocket Media?

We shot and edited a web series last year called Framed, featuring the amazing talents of Chicago’s funniest improvisors asking a “shop owner” to frame bizarre objects. Since the actors were so funny, there were actually few moments that weren’t usable. We sculpted the 4-5 min episodes in the edit and my job was keeping the pace up while staying out of their way.

Comedy operates completely on what feels good and what makes you laugh in the cut. It was a great learning experience and so much fun. I wear headphones in the office, and everyone knew when I was cutting Framed because I laughed out loud a lot.

ON THE SET OF FRAMED

Favorite movie of all time and why…

Good Fellas. The camera movement, the editing, the acting… It’s uncomfortable. It’s terrifying—funny and manic. I think I’ve softened a little over the years as a movie watcher, but each time I see it, I can’t take my eyes off it.

Client Spotlight | Byline Bank 

When it comes to sending the right message through video, a down-to-earth brand requires the vision of a down-to-earth production company. It was a match made in marketing heaven, therefore, when Bottle Rocket Media and Byline Bank seamlessly came together to produce a series of effective promotional shorts – featuring a signature human touch both are known for.

With over 40 years of serving local businesses and entrepreneurs under its money belt, Chicago-based institution, Byline Bank, sought to share the tale of its evolving enterprise through a select group of real people – customers who have benefitted from its community-focused programs and services. Enter Bottle Rocket Media producer, Siobhan Summers, who pitched the idea of a team-up and brokered the first meeting of the minds. From the start, it was clear that both companies held a strong passion for positive, Windy City narratives and a HUGE love of documentary-style video.

From there, Byline began banking on Bottle Rocket Media to help bring its customers’ inspiring stories to life: “This was a project right up our alley,” says Fisher. “There is not a single director on our team who doesn’t embrace the importance of genuine emotion in video storytelling. Ultimately, we created three pieces revolving around thriving, local businesses that use Byline [see video below]. The project was unique in that it focused on the people, rather than the client itself, yet still showcased how Byline Bank was an integral part of their financial stability.”

Entitled Written By…, Byline’s campaign series from Bottle Rocket Media puts front and center the owners of Chicago’s Trader Todd’s, Village Fresh Market and Euro Collision in order to demonstrate the bank’s direct impact on the community it serves. Check out the videos to see how its customers are able to truly “write” their own futures:

This is what Byline Bank had to say about working with Bottle Rocket Media: “At Byline, we loved working with Bottle Rocket. They put together inspiring videos telling the Byline Bank customer story. We loved how they made the video process seamless and painless. With little direction, they were able to hear our needs, create the vision and carry it through to reality. We’re excited to continue working on more videos and continue to grow our relationship and our testimonial library.”

Summers concludes: “The entire Byline team was very easy to work with. They were open to our ideas and willing to collaborate on creative – a vital tool we always try to encourage among our clients. Bottom line? Byline gave us some awesome, compelling stories to tell – and that made our job a breeze. We look forward to much more down the line.”

The Bullhorn| Meet Director Kristina Perreault

Meet Bottle Rocket Media Director Kristina Perreault

Kristina Perreault has been everywhere, man. This world-traveling lens master brings both a breathtaking portfolio and endless vision to Bottle Rocket Media’s growing roster of creative talent. Discover the inspiration behind her work!

What got you into directing?

I have always had visions—even from a young age, I was able to make them happen. When I was 14, I began making up random stories and I would enroll my friends to act them out. It was a blast! I guess I naturally fell into that role. It was never a goal of mine—it’s just who I am.

How/why did travel become such a big part of your work?

The world is magical, and I want to share that with people. Travel opens our eyes to different ways of life and takes us out of our little bubble of reality—it expands consciousness. That’s what I’m here for.

How does your style/technique tie into creating successful brand videos?

My work is an extension of the way I see things: full of wonder, excitement, sensuality and grace. I want people to feel how I feel about the subject through my work. With every project, I am focused on connecting viewers to a real emotion that brings them further into the message—one that hopefully stays with them long after.

https://vimeo.com/236951722

What unique element(s) will you bring to BRM’s portfolio?

With all the dudes around here, my style definitely brings a much-needed feminine touch. That said, I feel my contributions nicely complement their existing slate.

What types of projects are you looking forward to in 2019?

More festivals and more travel!

What video technology/storytelling technique are you most excited about right now?

360 VR is finally on the rise in the travel industry. It’s the closest you can get to experiencing something new, somewhere else, without leaving your seat.

Favorite movie of all time and why…

Avatar really knocked my socks off when it came out. I love the story, the vibrancy, the world the characters live in, what they value and all the messaging throughout. It also looks a lot like my dreams – which is fun to see on film.

The Bullhorn | Meet Director Joel Kapity

Meet Bottle Rocket Media Director Joel Kapity

There is no shortage of creative talent at Bottle Rocket Media these days – emphasized by the onboarding of longtime Chicago-based director, Joel Kapity, who has been telling stories through the lens since childhood. A love for the human experience guides his creative sensibilities, while his fearless outlook helps him accomplish what others deem “impossible.” 

Here’s what Joel had to say about his rise as a successful storyteller:

What got you into directing? 

As a kid, I was always the guy with a camera. While others were hanging out, doing what kids do, I would be shooting little shorts with whomever I could wrangle on any given night.  

What about the craft moves you?

I think I’m terrible at a lot of things—directing is not one of them. There is no other job that comes more naturally or brings me more joy. One of my favorite aspects is working with professional actors to bring a story to life. As a director, I have a very specific task of pulling emotions out of others, and I love playing with framing, lighting and camera moves to help draw the audience further into the worlds of the characters.

How did you hook up with Bottle Rocket Media? What drew you to the company?

At my last studio, I was given the opportunity to direct a commercial with Bottle Rocket Media staff as my crew. It was a great experience. During the shoot, I had some solid conversations with Dan and Brett, and felt very in tune with their passion to produce great video content. It was a genuine connection. Bottle Rocket Media and I shared the same creative thoughts and direction—very refreshing. My gut feeling was that I could produce some truly incredible content with this studio.

What unique elements do you bring to the portfolio?

My most unique slash powerful element as a director is my love for people, and how that translates to my commercial work – whether it’s a tv spot, a feature film or social media content. The material I am most proud of almost always involves storylines driven by human relationships.

Also, big ideas with small budgets don’t scare me. I honestly believe I can accomplish what others deem “impossible.” 

How does your style lend itself to brand videos?

Shock and awe. I am obsessed with creating cinematic visuals to support brand awareness in new and exciting ways. For every project, I try to think about that one extra visual effect, shot or action that creates a video people will remember—one that stands out in a flooded market.

What can we look forward to from you in 2019?

So far, 2019 has been jam-packed with creating content for different brands every week and there are no signs of slowing down. I’m currently finishing my third film, I AM YOUR KEEPER, while working on several big client videos for Bottle Rocket Media.  

What industry techniques/technology/methods are you most excited about right now?

I am really excited about all the cameras and lighting tools we didn’t have 20 years ago – when I was still cutting my teeth as a director. A couple of months ago, I directed a Phantom high-speed camera commercial shoot with two of the best hockey players in the world—I was blown away by what we were able to capture. High-speed cameras can bring such an incredible value to a project that no other piece of equipment can. I’m also obsessed with the use of robotic arms in production, which is becoming extremely popular for capturing food and sports commercial imagery.   

What is one of your proudest accomplishments? Why? What obstacles did you have to overcome?

Directing and producing my second film, Dreams. It consumed my life for three years, three to six days a week, and roughly 15-20 hours a day. The movie involved a huge cast, with thousands of extras, and a limited budget. It’s a film I’d wanted to make for about 10 years and it ultimately involved flying in actors from all over the country. Considering the huge job at hand every day on set, it was definitely the most complex thing I have directed to date. 

Any words of wisdom?

Don’t listen to others who tell you what to be or what to do.

The best decisions I have made in my life were the ones that didn’t make sense to others. When you feel like being a part of something, just do it. Don’t think about the money or what you think you deserve. When you are a part of a project you love, you will perfect your craft. And that always leads to something bigger and better. Don’t wait to have what you think you need. If you are truly meant to do something, take a leap of faith and people will follow you.

Favorite movie and why:

One of my favorite movies is Crash. As far as films that tell multiple stories go, this was one of the best.  

What Is Your Brand Tone of Voice?

Brand Voice and Nailing the Right Tone With Video

Can you imagine any of your favorite movies, tv shows, or web series with a totally different soundtrack-like, what if The Sopranos’ theme song was switched with the one from Friends? Or, what if all the ROCKYs were suddenly stripped of music and replaced with canned laughter? Think about it. Sound can be just as impactful as visuals when it comes to almost any video production. While SFX and complex scores have been traditionally reserved for the most prominent in entertainment, marketing teams now use the same tools & techniques in setting the right tone for their own brands.

At Bottle Rocket Media, we have great admiration for the maestros that have given us so many audio-visual experiences to remember; John Williams rocked us in Star Wars, Hans Zimmer took us into a dream world in Inception, and Danny Elfman creeped us out in Beetlejuice. And wanna talk amazing SFX? How about every Pixar Toy Story installment – featuring crack teams of specialists just to ensure Woody’s spurs sound ‘authentic.’

Well, here’s the good news.

Thanks to the digital age, the same intense aural impact can now be made without the need for an orchestra, a recording studio, or a team of Foley artists with horns and blocks in tow. Modern technology has gone light years beyond what we imagined only 10 years ago. With small-footprint crews manning 360-video, VR, and drone technology, brands in almost every industry are dropping cost-effective music video-style presentations that move fast and send the right messaging; carefully selected sound solutions are more accessible than ever before, helping to bring tons of new products & services out of the shadows and into the light.

Here are a few examples to illustrate the power of sound in video:

  1. Dexter Gives Us the Chills

Have you heard of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response)? It’s a lot more interesting than it sounds. AND it’s a technique that won’t break the bank. In this example, featuring the talented Zoë Kravitz and an ice-cold bottle of Michelob Ultra: Pure Gold, we can almost feel the whisper of her voice, her fingertips against the glass, and the sounds of the pour – awakening our tactile senses and creating a spinetingling experience that’s both captivating and memorable. Never underestimate the power of giving your audience real goosebumps!

  1. Tom Cruise Terrifies Us in SFX-less Trailer

We’re not quite sure if this almost soundless trailer for 2016’s The Mummy was a major league screw up or a brilliant publicity stunt. Without traditional SFX to back up the action, audiences are left to fill the void with their own imaginations. For some of us at Bottle Rocket Media, it made the video more profound – especially when hearing Tom Cruise scream for his life, unaided and unenhanced. No SFX, just pure human terror!

For others, the unorthodox style detracted from the weight of the scenes – creating more of a ridiculous or unintended comedic feel. What do you think?

  1. Sounds of Space Give Theme to Promo Video

At Bottle Rocket Media, we are committed to ensuring our own brand familiarity through consistent themes that help hit target audiences, yet remain in line with our unique voice and mission. So, it stands to reason we would attempt a promo piece incorporating the sounds of satellites, NASA dispatchers, and of course, the earthshaking feel of a blast-off at Cape Canaveral – all while prominently displaying some of the valued clients that have helped us reach the stratosphere of 360-degree video production and soar beyond it.

Ready to Sound Off to the World?

Getting your brand to sound just right is not necessarily a quick process, and it can lead to a lengthy, frustrating wild goose chase across the endless chasms of the Internet before anything promising sticks out. So, for those of you eager to dive in, we highly recommend taking a gander at KillerTracks.com, one of our main sources of music. Also, for decent SFX, check out MotionArray.com. Finally, there is always YouTube, with many amazingly FREE options to explore.

Still stuck? Click here to find out how Bottle Rocket Media can help your brand get heard.

This Is Bottle Rocket Media | Meet Producer Siobhan Summers

Bottle Rocket Media’s own Siobhan Summers’ love of producing dates back to a fateful experience at 12-years-old at the Oprah Winfrey Show (where she would later work). From coordinating massive shoots in mere hours to hunting for a  ‘missing’ Stevie Wonder, there is nothing this multi-talented producer/editor/writer has ever shied away from.

Here’s what Siobhan had to say about her 20-year, professional journey:

What first got you into producing?

When I was in seventh grade, I attended a live taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show. I loved watching the women work behind the scenes. They had headsets, they seemed super busy and important—buzzing around the studio and backstage. I was very drawn to what was happening during the commercial breaks. Producers would come out with blue cards and talk to Oprah and her guests. I was in awe! These people pulled this show together. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a producer.

When I was a senior in college, I opened the yellow pages (remember those?) and called Harpo Studios to ask about their internship program, they didn’t have one at the time but said “can you come in tomorrow for a meeting?”  And I was there for the next 13 years.

Why do you love producing?

Collaboration. It is one of my favorite words—it is one of my favorite things. While I love the logistics and the organizational side of my job, the best part is when we all come together on set. We combine our individual roles, responsibilities and perspectives to produce something great. And, If I’ve done my job well, I don’t have much to do on set, the shoot should be running smoothly. I’m there to troubleshoot and graze craft services.

How do you approach each of your projects?

Always look ahead and work the process backward. When producing any project, it’s important to think of the end-game first. As Oprah taught me, it’s important to ask the question: “What is the intention?” So I think about – what does the client want to see/feel/communicate? Once the end is clear, you map out the road to get there. That’s what a producer does—we coordinate all aspects of the production from start to finish.  

What are some of the challenges you face as a producer creating short form material?

I love short form—it’s small and packs a punch. Considering that today’s consumers eat up a massive amount of content on their devices, bitesize is the way to go. The challenge is getting the message across in a brief, succinct and impactful video. This is a challenge I embrace. The editing process, for example, is an opportunity to deep dive into the material we’ve shot and be super selective and picky about what ends up on screen. This is when my Type A personality shines!

Talk to the creative side of producing.

While budgets, logistics and deadlines are a huge part of a producer’s job, a really good producer has to be a storyteller with a creative eye. It’s essential when doing quality control of the messaging and offering constructive direction during pre and post processes.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the field/why?

There are so many! I really love my job because every project is different.

I was part of the team who booked, produced and arranged for 176 olympians from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games to come to Chicago’s Millennium Park – and we had 12 days to do this. I’ve taken a seeing eye-horse for a walk in the west loop while his handler was in hair and makeup. The horse was named Cuddles. I’ve run around United Center with Patti LaBelle to get her to rehearsal on time when my colleague, Amy,  says over the headset “We’ve lost Stevie Wonder!” it was a rough twenty or so minutes until she came back on radio to say “Mr. Wonder has been located. He is at the Radio Shack on Michigan Avenue.”  So great.

But my honest to goodness favorite moments in producing is connecting with regular people who have the courage to open up to me in an interview. It may not always be glamorous or super exciting, but it is always humbling when someone trusts me to tell their story.

Favorite movie of all time and why:

Say Anything. Originally, I loved it for the obvious reasons: John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler, the unapologetic hopeless romantic, and of course, the iconic In Your Eyes boombox scene. However, my favorite moment is when Lloyd is in a phone booth, in the rain, talking to his sister and he says: “I gave her my heart. She gave me a…pen.”  For your viewing pleasure, click here. You’re welcome.

Years later though, watching it for the millionth time, I came to appreciate the shy brainiac, Diane Court (Ione Skye), realizing that she is just as complex and interesting as Lloyd. She is a strong and resilient female lead, and I don’t think that was celebrated when the movie came out.

Cheers to Diane Court!

 

On Set with Bottle Rocket Media

From two-day shoots featuring free ice cream for the cast & crew to a series of really cool 3D models being designed in-house for a client, spring has officially sprung for the team at Bottle Rocket Media.

Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to the past few weeks!

We shot a series of videos for Dyson at two Chicago salons over the course of two days. Each location provided its challenges (hellooo mirrors), but the team overcame each one gracefully – making for a fun, rewarding shoot.

Director: Dan Fisher | Producer: Siobhan Summers | DP: Andy Stegmeyer | Assistant Camera: Nick Silva | Audio: Tyler  Lang | HMU: Jayciee Ganek | Set Design: Jim Lichon | Stylist: Becca Nino | Script PA: Jack Cronin | Camera PA: Corey Henderson | PA & BTS Photos: Amy Davila | Editors: Dave Sarno & Tre Manchester 

We also did a two-day shoot in Gurnee, Illinois, for Second City Works. It happened to line up perfectly with Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day, which some of the cast and crew have dubbed “the best day ever.”

This unique, vlog-styled shoot allowed us to shoot around 20 pages of script per day! Yep, the crew killed it every step of the way – even burning off calories from all the free ice cream while chasing after kids and running across the resort for gear (at least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves).

Director: Brett Singer | Producer: Siobhan Summers | Assistant Director/BTS Photos: Dan Fisher | DP: Josh Tallo | Audio: Tyler  Lang | AC: Jordan Kantola | Grip: Adrian DiGiovanni | Set Design: Jim Lichon | Stylist: Becca Nino | HMU: Jayciee Ganek | Production Assistant/BTS Photos: Amy Davila | 

 

Last year, we were fortunate enough to work on a campaign for a very popular appliance brand. Guess we did a good job, as they recently contacted us to shoot some pickups! In no time, we got the team back together, rolled into Oakbrook Center in Chicago, set up the jib and did our thing.

Director: Joel Kapity | Assistant Director: Dan Fisher | DP: Josh Tallo | AC: Erik Bjella | Producer: Siobhan Summers | Art Director: Jim Lichon | HMU: Jaycie Ganek | Production Assistant: Jordan Kantola | BTS Photos by: Dan Fisher | Editor: Dave Sarno 

Can You Imagine a World without Movie Trailers? We Can’t

With the holidays and 2018 awards season ramping up, Hollywood is releasing its annual explosion of highly anticipated movie trailers, and we cannot seem to get enough!

One thing we all have in common at the Chicago studio is that we LOVE watching movie trailers; who the hell doesn’t? When we were kids, trailers led us to beg our parents to take us to see classics, like “Goodfellas,” “Star Wars,” “Dances with Wolves” or “Dude, Where’s My Car?” (there is one in every group). And when we finally got to the theatre—even more trailers!

One after another, these eye-widening cinematic previews were the delicious bait that lured our young minds into a  world of fantasy, and stamped our memories with fun and imagination.

We were hooked for life.

Now, as adults working in the industry, we enjoy trailers even more, and try to take in each one with a professional appreciation/understanding of storyline and video production.

To us, trailer-creation is an art form, and the reason why there is an entire multi-million dollar industry focused on helping studios and production houses attract the right audiences in four minutes or less. From laboring over music, graphics or text fonts, to selecting the most effective scenes (without giving too much away), building the “perfect” trailer is no simple task, and can take days, weeks or months.

The best part for us viewers is – thanks to the Internet – we no longer have to wait for a TV commercial or radio spot to show us what we’re missing. When a new trailer drops, we rush right to our computers, smart phones or tablets to pull up YouTube or any one of the many trailer-focused sites, like Trailer Addict, to get our fix, and then some. When it comes to watching trailers, there’s no such thing as one and done.

As 2019 approaches, it seems like new trailers are being released by the minute. So, here are a few we give props to:

Captain Marvel:

Yes, the entertainment industry is saturated with caped crusaders and villains battling for the survival of Earth and the human race. But, that’s just because comic books come-to-life are incredible to watch on the big screen, and often visually groundbreaking. The trailer for “Captain Marvel” is no exception:

Mary Poppins Returns:

Talk about stepping back into childhood. It’s clear from the trailer that this film is exceptionally well shot, well acted, and we can’t believe we are seeing Dick Van Dyke dance again! Many of us who have kids can’t wait to share this legendary tale, certain to garner audiences of ALL ages:

Welcome to Marwen:

This trailer is effective because it instantly taps into an emotion we all can relate to; we all know what it is like to feel bullied, and we all dream of overcoming our hang-ups. In this geo-political climate of tension and fear, the trailer’s compelling animation offer a timely, smile-inducing take on how to empower ourselves through imagination:

No doubt, trailers are the calling cards of our films, often dictating success or failure at the box office. Show too much and the story is ruined. Show too little and the audience is alienated. However, when done right, trailers can lead to effective messaging, record sales, and sequels and prequels. In the meantime, they are just plain fun to watch!

Are you looking to attract the right audience for your video? Click to see how we can help.