Producing Telly Award Winning Videos

Testimonial: Real Pinnacle Users Loretto and Lou Gubernatis.

Last year, Telly Award judges waded through more than 14,000 local, regional and cable television commercials, programs and segments, film and video productions, web commercials, videos and films from all 50 states, as well as five countries to recognize the year’s best content. So how can a Baltimore-based couple with a budget of less than $200 per film/show not only compete with the industry giants, but win as many as half of the awards in their divisions? According to Loretto and Lou Gubernatis, it takes a lot of creativity, some great teamwork, and the right tools for the job.

Big-name consumer products, all the news weather men, anybody in the video content industry; they're all dying to win Tellys,” explained Loretto. The top 10 percent win silver, the next 30 percent win bronze, and against all that competition, we’ve come in at the top 30 percent ten times and the top 10 percent four times. We're a mom and pop little thing, continued Loretto, competing with some major networks here! But we couldn’t have done any of this without all the people that work with us, and Pinnacle Studio editing software. None of it would exist without Pinnacle. We've had many cameras before, but we always use Pinnacle to get the editing done.

While Loretto is certainly the creative driving force behind the team (having written 35 screenplays and published 3 books on Amazon.com), the couple is quick to agree that Lou is equally talented on the technical side. From selecting the best camera for their budget, to keeping their computers healthy and up-to-date, Lou has the final say on all things electronic. The duo share responsibility behind the camera shooting, where a blend of creativity and technical know-how provide the essential building blocks to the couple's award-winning final content.

Loretto first co-produced a film back in 1988 with a man named Brad Mays using 16mm film and a professional editing house. In 1991 they produced The Loneliest Journey written by Sylvia Schildt. We had to pay $2500 to get into an editing suite. We did win a bronze Telly for that docudrama. It wasn't until 1996 that Loretto and Lou had their first hands-on experience editing and fully producing their own video with the modest request from a friend from New York, Miki Tatum to shoot a birthday party.

She had some money, explained Loretto, so she bought a camera for me that day and it came with the Pinnacle Studio editing system. So, I shot the party, went back down to Baltimore, and started editing. That’s when we really got involved in doing it ourselves, because we saw how things could be. Before we had Pinnacle Studio, we had to pay an editing house to do all the editing. With Pinnacle Studio, we had complete creative control, saved money and could produduce our final edited video in less time.

Working together, Loretto and Lou spent an hour editing and producing that first birthday video. In the end, their friend liked it so well that she not only paid them for their time, but she gave them the camera and editing software as well.

From that experience, we thought maybe we could start doing video again, said Loretto.

We bought another Panasonic camera, which brought us to three, including a cheap High 8 Video camera” said Lou. “That gave us the ability to do a three-camera shoot for a more professional-looking final piece.

The couple's next project was considerably larger. Following the events of 9/11, Loretto had the idea of creating a new television program, Top of the Morning, shot at The Top of the World on the 27th floor of the Baltimore World Trade Center.

At 27 floors, it wasn't taller than the NY World Trade Center, but it made the statement that we are not a nation that is measured by the height of our building, but the strength of our people when a crises comes, because everybody comes together, said Loretto. “We were the first show to air internationally from the top of the World tallest Pentagonal building and since then, we have shot 600 episodes.

When we shot the first Top of the Morning, we used a professional crew to help us shoot and edit, explained Lou. We spent $5,000 or $6,000 of our own money, but after using Pinnacle Studio to edit the birthday party, we realized we could do a very professional-looking job on our own shooting it ourselves and editing with Pinnacle.

As a result of their early efforts, Lou and Loretto entered their first Telly Awards with three self-produced episodes of Top of the Morning and won three Tellys. The next time, they entered 10 and won 10.

We couldn't do anything without Pinnacle, said Loretto.

Lorretto likens the move from using an editing house to Pinnacle Studio's software editing suite to the same as shifting from room-size super computer, directly to a notebook PC.

We have all this music and special effects right at our fingertips by just using this software and our laptop, but Pinnacle keeps upgrading and we can't learn it fast enough, Loretto joked. There's still so much that we don't know about it. We just learn and use what we need as we go along. I wish we had a Pinnacle expert to come here and teach us everything, we know that we’re just using the tip of the iceberg.

The couple recently upgraded to Pinnacle Studio 12, after the software passed Lou’s thorough inspection.

I installed it on the laptop and it worked fine right out of the box, said Lou. “The best thing to happen to Pinnacle was when Avid took it over. Studio is so much improved. The special effects in version 12 are fantastic.

The biggest thing about Pinnacle's editing software is that it's so user friendly, said Loretto. You don't have to learn all these codes. I've tried other systems and you pretty much have to be a genius to figure them out, but I have never read the manual. Lou has read the manual, so sometimes he shows me what to do, but many times, I just figure it out. One time, we had shot in a marble ballroom. It was beautiful, but you should not shoot in a marble room because it’s glaring and hard to edit. But in Studio, I found something called white balance, and when I hit warm I got color that you would not believe. That it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn't learn that from a manual, just by trial and error trying to save this shot.

A few years ago, Lou and Loretto attended an Avid workshop in Washington, DC and saw a demonstration by television’s A&E channel of how they edit their entire show using Avid.

That's where we got the idea that at we had to invest in getting and learning Pinnacle Studio, essentially the consumer version of Avid, because we knew we could get into it and then just do better and better, said Loretto. Now, all we know is that we could not do what we do without Pinnacle.

Oh no, there's no way, Lou protested. I've tried other editing solutions and the only feature that I liked from one of them was the capability of copying directly from a DVD. But now Pinnacle does the same thing, so we don't need anything else. We would never trade Pinnacle, no matter what!

These days the Gubernatis' are hard at work writing, shooting, editing and producing their Children's show the Children's Corner which won two Telly’s and three features. In total, the couple expects to enter at least 10 projects to the Tellys for consideration, and have modest expectation of winning an award for at least half of them.

We've started shooting Straight From the Hip, we're editing Pearly Girl, and I recently put out a casting call for The Calling of Innana, said Loretto.

Lou and Loretto had the opportunity to hold a public screening of Pearly Girl, to assess the impact of the film on an audience. The 90-minute feature tells the story of a lynching that took place in 1941 through the lives of two children who witnessed the lynching and the horrible things that happened to each of their families.

For a more realistic feel, Lou and Loretto were given permission to film Pearly Girl at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, which has numerous replica sets including a 1920's drug store and a 1930's deli. Loretto also used Studio to convert the first part of the film to black and white to give the audience the stronger feeling that the scenes were someone’s memories of an event in 1941.

Everything looked so authentic, said Loretto. We could have had to spend a lot of money on sets, but we didn't, luckily.

For Lou and Loretto, the real test of Pinnacle’s capacity to function well under pressure came the evening of the screening of Pearly Girl when Loretto found an additional scene that she knew just had to be in the screened piece.

I was able to go in and do it in 10 minutes, I’m not joking, said Loretto. That could not have happened without Studio. It’s really cut and paste stuff. I had found this shot of the river and I’m thinking ‘o.k., now all I have to do is cut and paste it all together, and I have Pinnacle so I can do it.’ Adding that scene moved the audience. That’s what I wanted; I wanted my audience to feel it, and when we viewed the screening last night, they cried. To make something like that happen as an artist, a writer, a film maker; to touch my audience, gives me the greatest satisfaction. I could tell that story until I’m blue in the face and it would not touch them the way video does.

Pinnacle Studio, to me, is the ultimate tool, said Lou. “You have the ease of use to do all that you want to do so you can take a piece of yourself and show it on a screen. Anybody who wants to get into video could use Studio 12 and do it for themselves. I think it’s a great thing, even for somebody starting out. You could take a $500 camera and the cheapest version of Pinnacle Studio and make a professional-looking movie or television show. Once you learn a few basics, you can create anything you want. Anyone can become a Spielberg.

About Pinnacle Studio Software version 11
To meet the video authoring and budget needs of consumers, ranging from beginners to experienced users, the award-winning Pinnacle Studio™ version 11 family of products includes Pinnacle Studio, Pinnacle Studio Plus and Pinnacle Studio Ultimate. Equipped with powerful personal video creation and sharing capabilities, Pinnacle Studio can be used to create Hollywood-style DVDs that can be played on any set-top DVD player or PC. Movies can even be enjoyed on a Sony® PSP™, Apple® iPod® and other portable devices. The Pinnacle Studio version 11 family of products is available now through e-tail and retail stores.

About Avid Technology, Inc.
Avid is a worldwide leader in tools for film, video, audio, and broadcast professionals – as well as for home audio and video enthusiasts. The vast majority of primetime television shows, feature films, commercials and chart-topping music hits are made using one or more Avid products. Whether used by seasoned professionals or beginning students, Avid’s products and services enable customers to work more efficiently, productively and creatively. Avid received an Oscar® statuette representing the 1998 Scientific and Technical Award for the concept, design, and engineering of the Avid Film Composer® system for motion picture editing. For more information about the company’s Oscar, Grammy® and Emmy award-winning products and services, visit www.avid.com, del.icio.us, Flickr, twitter and YouTube; connect with Avid on Facebook or subscribe to Avid Industry Buzz.