What's in a Name?

Hi guys! One of our goals around here is to to regularly give you a super honest look behind the scenes of what it has been like for us to do what we're doing. Today, Erin's chatting about what it was like choosing our name!

Today, we are so in love with the name we chose for our company. Gradient. Gradient Media, Inc. We like the feel it has. The meaning behind it. 

But rewind several months. February-ish. We were fairly certain we would never be able to start our business. This conversation we'd been having, this dream we'd been thinking about for so long, was missing one major thing.

A name.

We talked about it ALL THE TIME. Constantly. And, like naming our babies, literally ALL of the names we came up with had a valid excuse for not being able to use it.

Too silly. Too serious. Too long. Too confusing. Too corporate.

Made us sound like something we're not. (Ahem. Apple Cake Media.) 

Perhaps a little too honest. (Straight-Laced Media. Bless us.)

Or the ever-popular, "well, I guess that will work." We wanted to feel a little more enthusiastic about whatever name we chose!

Not to mention the fact that every single thing we genuinely liked was already taken. EVERY. TIME. It became the running joke. "I like ____, but I'm sure it's already taken."

I knew it had gotten really bad, when my two-year-old climbed up to the breakfast table and said, seriously and out of the blue, "How about Milk Media?" 

Really, really bad.

Also, we definitely considered that name.

After literally months of meeting each week, coming up with a to-do list, and then saying, "okay, we can get started as soon as we pick a name," we finally narrowed it down to two.

(I'm not even going to tell you the other one, because then you're going to tell me you liked it better than Gradient, and our poor, elevated blood pressures can't handle that.)

We talked about it. And talked about it.

We Googled. We read. We talked some more.

We texted a short list of friends and family members to get their opinions. Gradient won, by one vote.

Ultimately, we (obviously) chose Gradient. We liked the subtle reference to movement. Lifting. Raising. We liked that it was a creative/design term. We liked the possibilities it offered for our branding. We liked just the general way it sounded. The hard G. The way it went with the word "media." 

And frankly, we were just glad to be done. A name! We did it! Woohoo!

And then we realized. No more excuses. We had to launch this thing. 

Gulp. Here goes nothing!

Below the Surface: Sesame Street

One of our goals for this blog is to regularly go Below the Surface, where we analyze the ins and outs of a video that means something to us. Our goal is to help you see how every little detail is a careful decision that affects the mood and the message. LB kicks things off with a classic...

Watching Sesame Street should be easy, right? I mean letter of the day, number of the day, and Elmo’s world. That’s pretty simple. However, after just a few minutes of watching it with my one-year-old the other day, I suddenly realized it too is no longer something simple to watch. Why you may ask? Well, let me explain.

It’s the same philosophy behind why engineers can’t just drive a car; they have to know how it works. So they take it apart and put it back together. And why chefs can’t just eat a meal prepared for them; they have to figure out how it was made and recreate it. It’s the same for video producers and editors. Watching TV is no longer a way to relax and give your brain a break. When we watch something we have to know: how did they do that? And then we seek out the skills to figure it out ourselves. 

Yes, even Sesame Street is now something to analyze. While I watch, I’ll think, "I wonder what size green screen they are using to fit all of this action in one scene?" I find myself looking to see someone’s hand accidentally operating one of the puppets (spoiler alert…sorry if you didn’t know). How did they time that animation with those kids jumping around? There are so many intricate things you don’t realize it takes to create an episode of Sesame Street.  Have you ever stopped and counted how many different video clips there are in Sesame Street? Live action, animation, both mixed together. Then there are puppets for goodness sakes and all these voices that have to be matched up… good grief, I’m getting worked up just thinking about it more! It’s really an amazing, intricate show.

Do you see what I mean!? Ok, maybe not completely… but it’s true. I’ll see a cool commercial and instead of getting what the product was about, it will end and I’ll tell my husband, “Hey, I could have made that commercial.” I know how to make that! To which his reply is usually, “Good for you….,” and he changes the channel. 

So the next time you get to watch Sesame Street, or any show for that matter, stop to think for a minute about how much time it takes to create that show, that commercial, that YouTube video. There are a lot of talented and skilled individuals who work to create that instant entertainment for you to enjoy. And speaking as a video producer, we sure do love creating it!

Oh, and in case you were wondering. The letter of the day was “J” and the number was “16.” See, I didn’t miss the entire show's message.

What We Watched, April Edition

We cannot believe it is May already. Here are all the things that caught our eye last month. Because there is just some amazing stuff out there. Enjoy!

Hands down, the best April Fools Day joke we saw.

Love how this video from Harry's exposes the edges of the production and lets you see the process instead of just trying to make it all appear perfectly staged. 

Oliver Jeffers is an amazing illustrator and children's book author. And apparently, can make a genius video, too.

Blown away by this stunning Forms in Nature video. Not too mention the long, detailed interview with it's creators that provides a remarkably good look into their process and all that went into making it. 

We love Cookie's outtakes just as much as the final cut

400 Gigabytes Per Second?! 300 frames per second?!?!

Why Video? Everyday Learning

This post is part of a series called Why Video? You can read the first post about personal video here. Today Erin is continuing the series with a post about using video to learn in everyday life.

I sometimes feel like I get more credit than I deserve. I can't count how many times I've been asked for help on something in my career and in my personal life, and I say, "Oh, yeah, I can take care of that." 

When...the real answer is, "I can definitely Google that."

In this connected world we live in, we can find answers with speed like never before. 

And the amazing number of videos available for learning things for your daily life is a real game-changer.

LB was telling us about just last week she wanted to try out a new recipe. She didn’t quite understand one part of the written instructions so off she went to Google to find a demonstration of how to make it. The dish was a hit, even with her four-year-old! Perfect example of a video solution.

There are videos on how to fix your broken toilet. How to fix your hair.  How to fix whatever new confusing thing is happening with whatever electronic thing is not working right now.

How to solve a Rubik's cube. How to tie your shoe. How to write a resume.

This is all exciting for a lot of reasons.

We can save hiring a professional in some situations, if the solution is simple enough, thus saving money and time. 

We can teach our kids things (and frankly, learn it ourselves at the same time) with speed and accuracy that we might not have been able to do as clearly otherwise.

And it opens up an absolutely enormous market for creatives like us here at Gradient. Think of the possibility of things that could be explained through video. Via traditional videography or whiteboard animation or whatever.

I don't know about you, but we find that all pretty exciting. 

Stay tuned for our next post from Nick, who will be sharing all the details of how he became a self-taught creative and what role video played in that!

Why Video? Push Record to Play

We’re going to get our Gradient Media blog started with a series called Why Video? LB is kicking off the series with a post about where most of us start with video: preserving personal memories.

Videos are running rampant. And screens are everywhere. At home. At work. In waiting rooms. In restaurants. In our pockets.

It’s no secret. The production and use of video is booming. YouTube continues to grow and so does its daily audience.

How often does your spouse or coworker or friend say, “Hey, have you seen this video?”

Sometimes it’s a commercial. Sometimes it’s something random that’s gone viral on the Internet. But sometimes it’s something cute of their own kid they recorded themselves.

The digital age has put movie making right in our hands. Why do we love to record something in our life and make a video?

Just yesterday I found myself outside playing with my kids and they started doing something cute so, of course, I quickly whipped out my phone and was recording within seconds. But why?

For me, it’s my go-to when I have to travel away from them. My pick-me-up when I’m down. I think about showing one of them at their graduation or wedding one day. I record them because, with just that few seconds it took me to record it, I’ve captured that moment. Instead of hearing about it, or reading about it, or just remembering it, I can SEE it. I can push play to watch it as many times as I want… forever.

I push record to play.

We’ll be sharing more posts in the coming weeks about the power of video in our lives and our work. Stay tuned, or better yet, subscribe using our RSS link in the site footer!