Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Wake Up! This Isn't Hard

My formal position is currently the "Media Relations Specialist" for a company. My job--among other things--is to be on top of the latest in social media and how it pertains to business.

My manager continues to push articles my way and ask my opinion on the latest ideas from marketing "gurus" who pretend to know how to use social media to make oodles of money. Most of the articles reaffirm that I'm on the right track. A couple actually contain a new twist on how to get involved in the "new media" that is rocking the marketing world. So, it's fun to read these articles, smile and nod, and then rant and rave when they get something horribly wrong.

But in all honestly, the concept isn't that hard.

Let me give you a very clear, easy to remember and apply example:

You are a major brand interested in getting your name out there. You spend millions of dollars on market research, hundreds of thousands of dollars on producing a carefully crafted commercial which is then meticulously placed in a time slot that matches your ideal customer's demographics.

Multiple millions of dollars later and you've got a great commercial that speaks directly to your target audience and makes them daydream about your product in the shower. In fact, the commercial is so successful, your target market is dying to share it with their friends.

You have heard about this wildly popular "new social media" thing that some companies are using very well called YouTube. So, you spend tens of thousands of dollars setting it up and making it branded with your fancy logo and other specialty components that some no-name Luke guy can't replicate. This sets your YouTube profile page light years apart from the rest of the crowd.

And then you only upload three commercials to your account... none of them the excellent ones.

Oh, but you do have a clip of Lindsay Lohan saying she's having fun at one of your social gatherings.'ve got to be kidding me.

Of course, I shouldn't be too hard on you. I mean, it's not like your website works either:

Website Fail

So, for the rest of you out there interested in how to use social media, do this: Post every single halfway decent commercial you produce on YouTube, or Vimeo, or your own site even. Just make it possible to embed (or at the very, very least: link to) your commercial.

If you did that, I'd have four to six of your commercials in this blog post right now instead of a posting about how much you've completely failed.


Now I feel like I should offer my services to them as a consultant. They need me.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Tutorial: Isolating Colors in Gimp

You've likely seen those pictures of roses that don't have any color except the red. Here's how you do that:

First, you'll want a picture that has a lot of color so the effect will be noticeable and cool. If there aren't a lot of colors, it will be far less impressive. So, I found a nice patriotic picture I took with reds, greens and blues.


In Gimp, go to Colors->Hue-Saturation...

Select the B (Blue) radio button and drag the Saturation level down to -100:

Blue Radio

Notice how the blue is now gone from the flag, but the sky is still blue. What's going on?

Still Some Blue

Well, the sky is actually more Cyan in color than Blue, so you'll need to select the C (Cyan) radio button and also get rid of the saturation for that color as well.

Desaturating Cyan

Repeat this with all of the colors except the one you want to keep:

Only Red

But wait, there's some red in the tree! That's no good. So duplicate your color isolation layer by dragging it to the "Duplicate Layer" icon:

Duplicate Layer

Go to Colors->Desaturate...

And pick one of those options: Ok

Now your whole image is black and white, so select the Pen tool and draw a path (by clicking on various points) around the flags. You don't need to be too careful here because you only need to keep the red parts of the flag.

Pen Tool

Again: The pen tool doesn't really draw on your picture. It merely creates a "path" that you can use for several cool things. But one of the most useful is creating custom selections. So, once you've made it around your object, right click and choose:

Select->From Path

Right click again to Edit->Cut

Wait... what?

Why is there a big while spot? Shouldn't the selected area have gone away?

Yes, it should have. But if this happens to you, right click on the layer in the layer box on the right you want to cut out and select:

Add Alpha Channel

Now when you cut or delete something the Alpha channel will make that part transparent instead of white.

And you're done!

Flags with Isolated Red

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Why Isn't Sony Winning?

I just got my latest Sony product catalog in the mail today.

Granted, I haven't been a big fan of Sony since that day in film school when I tried to capture a MiniDV tape shot on a Sony camera that wouldn't play on my Canon.

Made me angry.

But I know people who have sworn by their cameras, own their computers, use their software, play their consoles, and I've even watched some of their movies. And as I flipped through the catalog and noticed that they make everything except an operating system, I asked myself: Why isn't Sony winning?

I read part of a book that praised Sony for their business acumen, solid practices and even great products. So why don't we hear about them? Sure, a few of their products are commonly mentioned, but never with the brand.


Do you ever hear someone talk about the Sony Playstation the way people mention the Apple iPhone? Why the brand disconnect? And why isn't Vegas mentioned more often? From everything I hear, the software works great and is dirt cheap.

Curious, especially after Apple's continued rise, I googled "Sony profits" and found article after article that talked about the 90% decrease they had in 2008. I can't imagine this year's going much better.

Just like Apple, Sony makes hardware and software and is proprietary. They have their fingers in much more than Apple producing major gaming consoles, movies as well as cameras, phones, mp3 players and more.

What is Sony missing?

It's not the OS. Windows is on far more computers.

Are they missing a hip brand? A development platform? An "it" gadget?

I thought writing this out would give me some clarity and a guess as to the answer. But it's not. I can't figure out why Sony isn't winning...

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Stuff I'll Never Learn: Modding

Every once in a while I come across something that I think, 'I'd like to be able to do that.' Unfortunately, these are typically pretty technical things that require thousands of hours to master.

And I don't have the patience or the time for that. I have plenty of other things to do. Yet, given eternity, there are things I'd like to do.

Like learn how to build 3D objects and meshes to mod the Sims. So, I poked around for a while today and started reading some meshing tutorials.

I was following along just fine until I got to the part where he started talking about how you can make "65,536 different values into just 16 bits, while the floating point numbers I talked of before take 32 bits [so] we can define each face using 3x16 bits and sharing locations instead of using 9x32 bits each."

Umm... okay. Yeah.

I think this has something to do with what he was saying about using triangles as the base shape for all game polygons, but... <cough> yeah.

Thankfully, this set of tutorials seems a little more hands on. But, again, this would take years of practice before I got to the point where I could do what I want to do right now, so I don't think I'll ever get very far.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor