Color Profile

Nikon DSLR cameras can be fantastic cameras for HD video shooting, especially when you are on the go and want to take photos in addition to video. However, most of Nikon’s DSLRs lack the brightness, contrast and saturation detail and precision control of cinema cameras.

By learning how to effectively use the Nikon camera’s Picture Control settings you can manipulate the look and feel of your Nikon DSLR video, similar to the detail, chroma level and color temperature controls found on most cinema cameras.

I performed the following test of three settings on the Nikon D5100: Standard, Neutral and Vivid. See my Picture Control settings below the video.

Picture Control Standard Picture Control Neutral Picture Control Vivid


Depending the shooting conditions, I found standard and neutral to be the best picture control settings. The neutral setting provided the most detail. Blacks were not lost and whites weren’t blown out. Neutral also gave me options to work with in Final Cut Pro X when it came to adjustments to hue, saturation, brightness and contrast. Let me know if the comments what settings you find best for shooting HD video.



TrustVets is a network of American Military Veterans (like myself) in businesses ranging from banking to painting to photography to general contracting. is the online directory where you can learn about them, find the services they offer and learn how to do business with them. Check out the promotional video I created for TrustVets and start spending your dollars with veteran-owned or veteran-operated businesses all over the state.


LinkedIn’s video integration tool is one of the most overlooked tools on the professional networking site. Yet, it’s surprisingly easy to add video to your summary section or under a specific job in your employment history section.

I’m sure you’ve all heard or read statistics about the efficacy of online video in sales, fundraising and business. (If not, check out this post or this one.) But, video can be just as effective in promoting your “personal brand.”

Video is memorable.
Video is immersive.
Video is entertaining.
Video shows, not just tells.

All of this is important to building your own reputation, finding that next job, becoming a go-to source of information or services, or helping others understand just how damn good you are.

Who should have a video?

Sure, video is a no brainer for producers and animators. But beyond video portfolios, there is a wide range of reasons many other professional should include video in their LinkedIn profile.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I ever been featured on a broadcast news program, or has a news video featured my company?
  • Have I done a presentation that has been recorded that would compliment my summary or one of my job descriptions?
  • Do I have a video resume or video bio? (Should/could I create one?)
  • Does my company have a product or service video that would compliment my summary or one of my job descriptions?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to add that video to your profile.

How to add video on LinkedIn


Supported Media Providers or Hosting Sites

LinkedIn has partnered with a long list of video providers and hosting sites from YouTube to CBS News. You can copy and paste the URL for videos on these sites directly into your LinkedIn profile. Here’s the full list:

ABC News
big think
CBS News
Clip Syndicate
CNN Edition
CNN Money
Colbert Nation
Comedy Central
funny or die
Khan Academy
KoldCast TV
Logo FierceTV
Washington Post
Zero Inch
The Daily Show
The Escapist
New York Magazine
NZ On Screen
PBS Video
Washington Post

The iPad is a photographer and videographer’s best friend. Not only is it an amazing digital and interactive portfolio device, but the applications for video producers are constantly expanding. Here are nine that have saved me money while serving a production need.

1. ProPrompter ($9.99)

This app turns your iPad (or iPhone) into a teleprompter. Just be sure to use it properly. You have to place the iPad directly under the camera lens, then position the person reading the teleprompter far enough away from the camera that it doesn’t look like they’re looking below the lens. If they’re too close to the camera, it will be very evident they’re staring below the lens. Find the app here.

2. iMovie ($4.99)

iMovie was engineered to work well on the iPad for basic home movie making. You’ll be able to add transitions, cut clips down and add text. However, adding layers of video is not possible with this app. If you’re making a simple video such as an interview or demo video or home movie of your kids, it’s a great app. Find the app here.

3. Cinemek Storyboard Composer ($14.99)

Cinemek offers a pricy, but very effective storyboarding app. Good video production planning is essential to having a quality final video. This app will help you lay out the scenes, dialog and camera angles and much more. Find the app here.

4. Voice memos (free)

This app is pre-loaded on iPads and iPhones and has been one of my go-to apps for voice recording on the go. I’ve always been impressed with the sound quality and have used the iPad app on several professional projects for voice over work. Just be sure to record with the mic close to your mouth and in a perfectly quiet space.

5. Pinnacle Studio ($12.99)

Editing more complicated videos on your iPad is now possible with the amazing little app. I won’t go into all the features, but you can watch Luma Touch’s video tutorials. Prepare to be amazed! Find the app here.

6. iSupr8 ($1.99)

Want to record some video clips with that signature Super 8 film look? This handy app gives you vintage looking video with the iPad or iPhone to use in your productions. Find the app here.

7. iFilmSlate ($2.99)

If you’re filming a scene that requires multiple takes, you’ll be grateful for this app. Use iFilmSlate to mark your clips on camera as you are filming so when you get into post-production you have a visual cue for each take. Find the app here.

8. ASMP Releases (free)

If you’re producing your videos for commercial or promotional use, you always need to have release forms for the people in your video. The American Society of Media Photographers has created this handy app for creating release forms. Find the app here.

9. JotNot Signature+ ($4.99)

If you have a .pdf or other document that needs to be signed (photo or video release forms) you can use this app to carry them around with you on your iPad or iPhone on every shoot. Then, just have the person sign the form with their finger and even email them a copy. Find the app here.

It’s no surprise that many big name brands can afford to undertake large-scale video production exclusively for the web. Some call them “webisodes.” Others call them web documentaries. In either case, creating and publishing a web video series showcases a brand’s professed values, mission and purpose. A web video series also usually promotes specific products or services.

Take, for example, Dawn Dish Soap’s web video series “The Big Picture.” This series shows how Dawn is helping wildlife and explains how their dish soap helps clean animals affected by oil.

Though big brands such as Dawn, Target and Ikea rule the web video series world, smaller, local brands can produce a professional web video series on a much smaller budget to boost their brand online. Generally, such web video series can be produced on budgets between $10K-$20K for 5-10 videos.

I’ve been helping to produce a web video series for Minnesota Philanthropy Partners since 2010 called “Nonprofits to KnowTM.” I work with a great team of program officers and marketing folks who identify the nonprofits to feature in the series. I then brief the featured nonprofits on the production process and requirements, and film and produce the videos. Since 2010, I’ve helped MN Partners produce more than 30 Nonprofits to KnowTM videos.

I’ve also produced a web video series for a local food coop, Valley Natural Foods, spotlighting their featured vendors: local farmers and vendors whose products appear in the store. The web video series worked in tandem with the monthly print newsletter the coop published.

A web video series can boost your brand in ways no single promotional video ever could.

Here are five big ways:

1 – Stand out as a Thought Leader

A web video series can help you demonstrate insider knowledge of a process, community or an issue and establish your brand as a “thought leader.” In digital marketing terms, a thought leader is an individual or organization that is seen as an authority in a given subject area by their followers or fans. For many businesses and nonprofits, thought leadership can be equated to influence and awareness. Does your organization aspire to be sought out for its knowledge of the staffing industry or its work on health care? A web video series may help it stand out as a go-to resource for questions on a given topic.

PRO TIP: If you create a web video series, be sure to create a homepage where all the videos in the series can live as a sort of web video library, especially if each episode is topical.

2 – Build brand awareness and affinity

Depending on its popularity and how successfully you present your brand, a web video series can win hearts. Successful videos get shared on social media and viewers return for subsequent episodes. And, if viewers like the web videos, they develop an affinity for your organization and another level of awareness of your work, values and impact. This worked especially well for Old Spice. Their web video series built brand awareness and affinity with a new generation of customers who may have previously thought of Old Spice as the distinct smelling cologne dad or grandpa used to wear. Today, Old Spice is one of the most popular bodywash products in the marketplace.

PRO TIP: Use humor and creativity carefully. If possible, employ a creative agency to come up with the funny stuff.

3 – Validate your product or service

A web video series can provide a powerful form of validation by showing—not just telling—how your products or services work. Dawn Dish Soap is prominently featured in episode 1 of their web series helping clean oil from the feathers of a duckling. The implication? It’s safe enough for a baby animal and works on thick industrial pollutants, so it will work in your kitchen.

PRO TIP: Featuring your product in the video series should not be forced. If viewers feel they’re just watching a TV commercial, they may be turned off … or just turn off your video.

4 – Tell more brand stories, but “bite-sized”

A web video series provides your brand the opportunity to tell multiple, bite-sized stories. Today’s web audience attention span is pretty short. In some cases, only 5 seconds long! As brand evangelists, we often want to talk our audience’s ear off about how great our products and services are and how many others have benefitted from them. But, those stories need to be short, to the point and they must resonate on an emotional level. A web video series allows you to tell many stories that all point to a greater truth: your organization can provide solutions that work.

5 – It’s content marketing gold

We all know that social media requires constant feeding. Your brand presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the rest will fade after just a few days or weeks of inactivity. A web video series presents your social media managers with a treasure trove of quality content to share. And, if tied appropriately into your larger organizational goals and marketing plan, a web series can be a critical component to your content marketing strategy.

PRO TIP: Start by reviewing your organization’s strategic goals, refer to your brand guidelines and then develop a content marketing plan that includes all forms of content that you have at your disposal (print, web, social, etc.). Then, develop the web video series within that context. The web video series should ultimately help you in meeting your organization’s strategic goals.



I’m proud to announce the launch of CallSign51 (, a creative services company specializing in photography, video production and website design. This is an exciting chapter in the story of my entrepreneurial adventures, which began in 2006.

Back then, I was working at a community newspaper as a multimedia reporter when my wife suggested I take on some weekend work by photographing and producing wedding videos. I started Jeff Achen Videography & Photography with nothing more than a handycam we had received as a wedding gift, an old Nikon D50 and my college PC. Over the past 8 years, my freelancing work has evolved into an increasing significant share of income for our family. When I went to work in the philanthropic sector at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners and GiveMN, my employers were gracious enough to support and encourage me in running my small business on the side. And it’s because of that support; and the support and encouragement of so many othr friends, family members and colleagues; that in April 2014 I was able to leave a salaried job and become a full-time small business owner

iPhone 5 templateSo, over the past month I have been developing CallSign51 and the new website. Jeff Achen Videography & Photography, LLC isn’t a bad name, but it is a bit long and, if felt, a bit limiting. My thinking is that this new name will provide me the freedom to promote new services that go beyond video and photography, such as website design and social media consulting. Eventually I hope to add staff and talent within my company.

CallSign51’s name and branding was inspired by some of the more prominent creative agencies in the Twin Cities such as Space150, Fast Horse and Periscope. They embody sophistication, creativity and they set trends–something I strive for in my work and something to which I personally aspire daily.

CallSign51 is also the result of brainstorming around my personal interests. Those who know me personally know that I’ve been a sci-fi geek and grew up on movies like Top Gun, Star Wars and cartoon shows like G.I. Joe. Code names and call signs like “Maverick” and “Goose,” “Red Five” or “Snake Eyes” were very cool and captured the personality and qualities of the characters who carried those names. It wasn’t a stretch for me to see that call signs, defined as unique designations to identify the broadcaster or transmitter, were a natural analogy for the kind of communication and marketing work I do best: helping my clients communicate their unique identity on the Web through photography, video and website design.

As for 51? That number was emblazoned on the bow of the USS Thomas S. Gates, the Navy guided missile cruiser on which I served from 1993-1997. I am proud to be an American military veteran, as well as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. As Americans, we enjoy so many privileges and I’m happy to have served our country as both sailor and peace ambassador. I also believe all veterans deserve our respect and active support in civilian life. I hope you’ll join me in doing business with other veteran-owned businesses in Minnesota and beyond.

Thank you all for your support of this new adventure. If you know of anyone who may be in the market for photography, video production or a new website, please send them the link to my new website along with a note about why you recommend doing business with me. You won’t believe the power of a solid referral.

Here are some other ways to support my work:

Follow CallSign51 on LinkedIn

Follow CallSign51 on Twitter

Share with your friends on Facebook

My Little Pony — Adobe Voice

Adobe just launched a new iPad app – Adobe Voice. It allows users to create short, animated videos to tell stories, share ideas or a variety of other things. Check out the short video my kindergarten daughter and I made over the weekend in about 10 minutes.

This is just another sign of the times in which we live. This FREE app will enable small business owners, nonprofits and entrepreneurs to easily create promotional or explainer videos for their work.

I found the app very easy to use. They have over 25,000 icons in the app’s library to choose from, as well as a handful of themes and songs to use free of charge.

The down side? Well, the video can only be uploaded to Adobe’s servers and shared via links or embed code. You can’t produce a Quicktime or other file to use on your own video hosting sites like YouTube or Vimeo.

That being said, links to the video and the available embed code still make it easy to use this tool for web video on your website. (Unfortunately, wasn’t savvy enough to figure out how to embed this video on WordPress. Anyone know how?)

If you need a quick, engaging explainer video for your website, definitely check out this app for iPad.

Adobe Voice is available via the iTunes store.