Archive for July, 2011

It’s an Aloha Summer at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

This year’s Season Kickoff Show for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was Polynesian themed and aptly called Aloha Summer. This was inspired by Cirque Polynesian, one of the highlights of a jam-packed summer entertainment schedule at the West Coast amusement park. The Boardwalk’s ties to Hawaii go way back to when three Hawaiian princes brought surfing to Santa Cruz.

The half-hour special, which aired on KTVU, Channel 2, is intended to introduce the summer schedule as well as promote the Boardwalk in general. This is the fifth year Tam Communications was tapped for the project and is always one of the highlights of our annual production schedule. As usual, Tam Communications Creative Director/Executive Producer, Susan O’Connor Fraser, wrote the script and she and I collaborated on the production schedule. Lex van den Berghe and Julie Courtney once again, hosted this year’s show. Their on-screen energy and chemistry is infectious and makes for a really fun (albeit hectic) day of production.

We went a little off our normal routine this year as we typically start the day with Lex and Julie on the Hurricane deck doing all of their stand-ups together. The “stand-ups” make up the “story line” of the show including their open and close and any pieces in between. We like to get it out of the way early, before the show opens. But for this year’s show, Julie kicked off production by interviewing Santa Cruz Seaside President, Charles Canfield at the Carousel. His interview focused around the carousel celebrating its 100th birthday at the Boardwalk (a very impressive milestone). Charles talked about the Carousel’s history with and his own passion for the ride. He even pointed out his favorite horse.

While we were shooting his interview the rest of the team was setting up on the Hurricane deck so that we could roll with the interviews and still get them out of the way before the show opens. As usual, the stand-ups were a fun time with Lex and Julie cracking jokes between takes.

Once we wrapped up top, our crew separated into two teams, each with its own schedule for the rest of the day. Team A included Lex, Susan, Director of Photography, John Barrett, and Production Assistant, Jessika Wilson. I headed up Team B, which also included Director of Photography, Victor Valverde and Production Assistant, Jill Combs. Director, Tam O’Connor Fraser, and Andy Olson and Thomas Norres (our super lighting guys) floated between crews as needed.

Team A focused on season passes, interviews with Karley Pope (the Boardwalk’s Director of Promotions & Entertainment), members of the Family Stone (who performed that day and were on the summer’s entertainment schedule), and Cirque Polynesian performers. Team B headed up and down the Boardwalk interviewing the Vice President of the Millions of Memories store, employees at different games and food vendors and as many boardwalk guests as possible.

This year we had such great interviews from everyone and the Boardwalk guests did a wonderful job talking about their favorite ride and food and even played games with Julie. The day wrapped with Surf City Sky Divers landing on the beach and a concert with Family Stone.

After production, it was off to post-production where Tam did his magic to pull all the elements together including a pretty complex sound mix to make sure that all the pertinent audio was clear through the sounds of the lively Boardwalk.

The Kickoff (or what we call “Look Live” because it looks like a live television program) is always one of those events we at Tam Communications enjoy each year. It’s a long but extremely fun day of production. Each year, I look forward to it more and more because we have the process honed to perfection and we know we’re going to have an enjoyable day on the Boardwalk.

24 Years and Counting

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Not only is Julie one of my coworkers, she’s also my aunt and she has been working for Tam as long as I can remember. She started in 1987, just eight years after the company was formed. Her role in the company has changed many times over the years and today she heads up the finance and administration portion of the company. Julie has witnessed how the company has grown over the years and then returned to a small and dedicated group of quality team members. She is someone I can count on when I need questions answered or support in dealing with an unfamiliar customer service situation. Julie is definitely an integral part of the Tam team and I love that our family gets to work together on a daily basis. When asked why she likes working for Tam, she got right to the point, “I understand the job and I like the hours.”

The Magic of Trains

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Teaming up with our friends at Yellow Bus Advertising is always fun and often a little adventurous and this time was no exception. As the new agency of record for Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, the team at YB contacted us to bring “The Magic of Trains” to the screen. The first two spots to roll down the tracks feature the Mountain Steam Train and the Beach Train. In order to capitalize on the busy season, we had but four weeks to go from concept to air.

It was key to bring the magic and mystery of the trains to the spots and to appeal to both a young audience and their parents and grandparents as well. This wasn’t difficult as the trains are so amazing on their own. Add in a great cast of characters, mix in a little mystical music, some aerial shots, and unique angles, and out comes two great spots that our client and their client were ecstatic about.

Casting is always a little bit of a challenge. Getting the right mix of ages and gender, while ensuring ethnic diversity representative of Roaring Camp Railroads’ target audience and park visitors. We set up our desired cast listings on SF Casting, followed by a day of auditions at Peachwood’s Steakhouse in Santa Cruz. But by the end of the day, we had a great group of kids, parents, and grandparents.

With two HDV cameras and two GoPros, we were prepared to capture all angles of our day. We spent the morning shooting with our families in the photo booth area and the general store. Then it was time to head out on the first train ride of our day, the Mountain Train, which would take cast and crew to the summit of Bear Mountain. We shot most of the way up, allowing our cast to just enjoy the ride they were taking. There wasn’t much direction needed for the talent as their experience alone was giving Tam just what he needed. Once we reached the top of Bear Mountain, we departed the train to capture the kids checking out the train engine and taking photos with the conductor.

We enjoyed a leisurely ride back to the Camp and it was time for lunch. After lunch, we were right back in it to obtain shots around the camp with our kids. I remember one of the parents coming up to me and saying, “Is he really getting paid to do this all day?” I thought this was so great that these kids were having a wonderful time while still “working”.

After our last shots at the Camp, it was time to climb aboard the Beach Train down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Another relaxing and enjoyable ride where the kids spent the entire time looking over the side of the train at what was coming by. When we arrived at the Boardwalk it was time for some last few shots of the day, capturing our cast coming off the train and again, more shots with the conductors at the front of the train.

This was such a fun day and I ask myself the same question that parent asked me, “Do I really get paid to do this?”

Mountain Train:

Beach Train:

A new generation of tester…

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Verigy, an Advantest Group company, is at Semicon West this week with its new V93000 Smart Scale Test Platform. The company manufactures advanced semiconductor test systems and solutions used by leading companies around the world. We at Tam Communications were pleased to be tapped by Verigy to help with this exciting product announcement.

The project involved shooting in Cupertino at the corporate headquarters and in Germany at the company’s facility outside Stuttgart. Traveling to Germany, shooting and traveling home in less than a week was exhausting but necessary to meet a rigid schedule to be ready for the launch and product training. In addition, as I travelled east, one of the people we wanted to interview for the project was headed west. That meant, Tam and Regan head to head to cover the Cupertino production along with Grip/Gaffer Thomas Norres.

Back home, we dove into post-production including creating 3D animation and effects by Aaron Dingman and Mike Baxter respectively. Tam spent long hours in the edit suite compiling the program including adding in Alan Varner’s voice over.

Since Verigy’s customer base is international, we needed to take that into account in pacing. It’s always a challenge – to make it fast cut and upbeat but also palatable to an audience where English is a second language. The video is not only playing back in the Verigy booth but is also being used on the company’s website and will be used in one-on-one presentations.

This is the third project we’ve produced for Verigy in the past few years.

Woodies on the Wharf 2011

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

While shooting footage for next years commercial spot, Tam put together a fun video of his day on the wharf with these spectacular mobiles.