The End of an Era

Heller Studios has been many things over the years I’ve run it. It was a blog, a portfolio, even a site I was hoping you would come to for inspiration. But over these last few years, I’ve let the site slowly decay away.

I’ve gotten busier, gone from freelance to full time, and with that my time is all but gone to update the blog here.

Of course, I think there’s still a benefit of keeping the site alive for the purpose of looking back at old blog posts, etc. The blog will still be around, and will maintain the same URL, but at this point it will no longer be updated.

Thank you for being part of the site, and of course I will continue to grow my skills as a motion designer, and I hope the same for you.

On to the next big thing…!

Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

10 Reasons Why You Should Attend NAB

1. Networking

NAB is one of the biggest events for people in Film, broadcast, radio and post production. Each year 100,000 attendees make their way down to Las Vegas, NV for NAB show. It’s a great opportunity to meet with others who may do similar work and to network with them!

2. Cool Gadgets

NAB Show always has the latest and greatest. At NAB you’ll see some of the amazing products in action!

3. Vegas

Las Vegas, in and of itself, has it’s own attraction, as there really isn’t any place like it in the world. Go gamble!

4. Supermeet

NAB and Las Vegas would be lost without Supermeet. Supermeet is a great opportunity to network with peers and to win some amazing prizes. This year they gave away over $100,000 in prizes.

5. Chat with the people who make the shit you like

Meet the people who make the things you use and love! Have a feature request? Chat with the people directly responsible for making both the software and hardware.

6. New Toys

NAB is all about the new toys. Most people don’t realize just how many companies wait til NAB show to reveal all their new toys!

7. See live product demos

Watch people demo software, and see it in action!


Sessions are a large part of NAB. Go and enroll yourself in Post Production World or Creative Masters Series. NAB Sessions are a great way to get more involved with the content you work with in a more structured manner.

9. Watch the pro’s (film editors presentations)

Come and see famous people in the industry, meet the pro’s and chat with them about their work!

10. See the trends (future tech 8k TVs)

At NAB you can often see where companies are planning on going, if it’s the idea is just a prototype, it can be cool to see an upclose view of the future.


Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Comparing the DJI Inspire and the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4k

Comparing DJI Inspire and the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4k

(Sponsored Article)

Considering purchasing a new drone, and just can’t decide which option is the best? The right drone for you simply comes down to what you’re looking for in regards to features, such as a high-quality gimbal or a quadcopter that already comes with a camera. The DJI Inspire 1 and the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K are two good examples of high quality drones, however one may appeal to you way more than the other.

Let’s compare a few features to help you make a decision:


The Typhoon Q500 was designed to take away the hassle in drone video. It produces stunning video in both 4k and 1080p, but we’ll get into the details of the camera further down. Similar to the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, the quadcopter’s build makes it perfect for aerial photography and videography. Its gimbal keeps the camera perfectly steady, while the drone holds up quite well despite being made of plastic. The Q500 also has many limiting features. To keep it legal with current FAA guidelines for non-commercial drone use, this drone will not fly nearby airports, and it won’t go more than 400 feet up. These features are handy in that they keep the pilot out of potentially large fines, but do limit pilots who may have FAA exemptions.

The Inspire 1 features a carbon fiber frame, which allows it to carry it’s larger payload and stays in the air for longer. Its legs fold up without compromising the design or adding too much additional weight. Its “transforming” arms allow the quadcopter to keep the camera high and protected when landing. They also drop down so you have a perfect line of sight when flying and allow you to rotate the camera around 360 degrees without seeing the body of the Inspire 1.


The cameras for both drones offer 1080HD & 4K video capabilities, and 12 megapixel images. The Inspire 1 has a field of view of 94 degrees which gives it a nice wide angle look with compromising the image and giving you a fish eye style look, that other cameras and drones may have. The drone also looks professional, with it’s sleek and minimalistic design.

Here are some sample videos from DJI’s YouTube page:

As for the Q500 it also produces 1080p and 4k images, with a 12 megapixel camera for stills. The Q500 has an amazing flight time of 25 minutes, which blows a lot of other drones away. The Q500 has a 115 degree lens which is a pretty wide lens. However, it does have built in software that automatically corrects for any distortion to the image.

Here are some sample videos of the Q500 from Yunecc’s YouTube page.



Which drone flies better is currently up for debate as both have the tendency to crash given the right circumstance or some bugs in the software. The abilities of the operator must be taken into consideration, so if you’re new to drone technology, it’s best to start with a smaller, less expensive option as opposed to either of these!

For more on drones, please contact DroneFly today.

Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Success In Crowdfunding: Part Two

Last week, I published the first article of Success in Crowdfunding which covers how to have successful campaigns prior to launching. You can find that article and it’s wealth of knowledge here. This week, we will focus on success for the project once it goes live, as it not quite as easy as just clicking the button.

Most kickstarter projects get most of their funding in the first 48 hours after they are launched and 48 hours before they are over. You can use these funding times to your advantage by pushing a lot of marketing and other content to help your campaign meet its goals.

In fact, if you can get people who will connect with the project and want to share it with their friends, this can be one of the best strategies for getting the people to do the marketing for you. People will want to see the campaign go through and influence the people in their networks to donate to your project. Not only do you want them to influence their own networks, but ideally you want your campaign spread through to their networks, so they’re friends and family are sharing your content.

Although the first and last 48 hours are typically the biggest funding times, you can always be pushing your campaign during the rest of the time. In fact, for  successful campaigns asking for $10,000 or more, on average you spend 9.9 hours per day on the campaign (source). Unsuccessful campaigns asking for $10k or more spent on average 5.2 hours per day. Your campaign will take all your time, everyday, throughout the length of the campaign.

Having a team of people to share the work with can be extremely helpful during the length of the campaign. You’ll want to take advantage of any avenues that people share content on. Everyday, have something planned to post for your campaign to keep people talking about it. Using Twitter and Facebook to share your content is pretty obvious, but what about starting a Tumblr blog, where you post content related to your campaign everyday? What about a YouTube series that in which you interview cast and crew, or do daily check ins with them? These techniques are just the start and will keep your campaign in the front of backer’s brains. During the middle of the campaigns, people are usually, less willing to donate or check out your project, so it will be great to have content while pushing and marketing your campaign during the slower days.

It’s a great idea to thank backers during your campaign. You’d be surprised at both how much it matters and how easy it is to do. You could send a nice email, or even a tweet, but people do notice. Best of all it’s a free way to show your thanks to someone who actually paid their hard earned cash to see your project go through. Having progress reports as you both get close and surpass your goal will be vital to keeping backers interested.

During your campaign, invite friends to share your campaign to their networks. Send our personal phone calls and emails. Don’t be afraid to talk to people, as word of mouth will be a large part of getting the information out to potential backers.

Once your campaign has ended it is also great to keep the updates coming. This keeps your backers feeling good about the state of the project. Doing a successful campaign and keeping updates coming as your project moves along will help you with any future campaigns.

Good luck and happy crowdfunding!

Dorian Heller is a Motion Designer working out of Seattle, WA. You can see some of his work here, and follow him on Twitter.


Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Success in Crowdfunding: Part One

So you’ve got a great idea for a short film, web series or music video, but you soon realize the budget necessary is bigger than what you can do out of pocket. Many creative projects get their funding through crowdfunding platforms. Within the last six years or so, Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding platforms have allowed for tons of creative projects to be seen through to completion.

Let’s look at the best practices to see your project get the funding it needs.

Before you even launch your Kickstarter there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to insure a successful campaign.

The first step to any creative process, should be to craft/draft your idea. Come up with a pitch that you can tell someone in one to two sentences (this is known as a logline). If you can’t do this, your idea may be too complicated and may not receive funding if you can’t properly explain it.

Before you launch your campaign you’ll want to create a video to help sell your campaign to backers. This is your forte – the video must look good. People will be expecting to see similar quality in your pitch video as in your final piece. In the video you should mention the following:

  1. Who you are
  2. The logline for the project, and what you have to offer (perks)
  3. Showcase (show off some video work you’ve done)
  4. Call to action – what you need to make your video project come to life

A video will be key in the success of your project. 43.5% of all projects on Kickstarter since it’s inception have achieved funding. While 50% of projects with videos are funded, only 30% of campaigns without a video reach their goal. Your video should not be too long, people are more likely to watch a three minute video to completion rather than a six minute video.

Throughout the video, you want to make an emotional appeal to your backers. Why does the project mean so much to you? Why are you asking for their money to help make it happen? You’ll need to tell a story in the video and not just present facts. Although your video may be short, people enjoy lots of data like facts, long descriptions, and even photos can help a potential backer become an actual backer.

You’ll also want to complete all your pre production work either after or before the campaign. This will give you adequate time to work on your campaign, and it will be just that – work. For  successful campaigns asking for $10,000 or more, on average you spend 9.9 hours per day on the campaign (source). Unsuccessful campaigns asking for $10k or more spent on average 5.2 hours per day. Your campaign will take all your time, everyday, throughout the length of the campaign. This means you’ll need to come prepared. It can also be extremely helpful to have a team of people working with you to help your kickstarter come to life.  Running a crowdfunding campaign by yourself would be near impossible.

Also prior to launching you’ll want to think about marketing your campaign. You’ll want to connect with anyone who you think will be interested in the project you are pitching. Is your project about a soccer team? Try and connect with local people who play soccer. Getting the word out about your project will accomplish much more in the long run, than a few donations from friends. Successfully marketing your project means that you’re getting strangers talking about it. Typically for video project you have three types of backers:

  1. People close to you (family, friends, etc)
  2. People who are fans of your past work, or fans of the actors, etc
  3. Strangers who like the idea you are pitching

You should aim to have the strangers as your biggest market. If you can get these people to spread the word through their own communities, you can have a successful campaign. Also think about contacting various blogs, and communities, that relate to your film.

You’ll want to setup perks that your backers can identify with, and that they will want. You want to make these incentives as personal as possible. Crowdfunding is all about this – you give me money and I’ll give you something in return.

For perks let’s break them into three categories:

  1. These are the perks you have to have for video projects: digital downloads, physical copies of the media, and social media shout outs.
  2. These are the perks for someone who’s looking to donate a bit more to the project: producer credits, special thanks, dinner with cast and crew, skype calls, personalized videos, invitations to the premiere, etc
  3. These are the most expensive perks, but also the most personalized. You want these to bring backers deeper into your film, what can you do to get them to donate more? Is your film about fishing? Take them on a fishing trip. Be creative here.

Note: People won’t actually spend any more than what they are comfortable with. With the exception of hardware, people will only spend what they can, regardless of each perks level.

The most common donation level on Kickstarter is $25. This is something to keep in mind, as you come up with your own perks for your own project. Your first perk or reward should be the primary one. This will mean most people will want it, and you’ll be marketing them towards that. Also, make your rewards manageable, only promise what you can actually deliver.

Physical rewards often take more time to hand out, and are usually more expensive than digital perks. This is something to keep in mind when coming up with rewards for your projects.

Also international shipping is actually really pricy. If you think you’ll be shipping any physical items internationally, you should keep that in mind for the cost of the reward.

Prior to launching your own Kickstarter, look into other successful projects you like, and see what information you can gather to help make yours a success. Also look at campaigns you know you would never donate to. Ask yourself why not? This research is quite important and can be the difference between a successful campaign and one that fails.

Campaigns can fail for a number of reasons, but the most common are:

  1. You have no online presence or network
  2. Your goal is unrealistic
  3. You have no clue who your audience is
  4. Your campaign length is too long
  5. Your perks are not meaningful

Campaign length is something I’ve done a lot of research on. I’ve found that for video projects, typically a thirty day run time is the sweet spot. It’s also a good idea to start your project on a Monday and end on a Friday. On Monday, people are getting back to work, checking up on the news, their emails, etc. They are on their computers and using the Internet. Ending your campaign on a Friday is a good idea for two reasons. One is because Friday is payday and people who are invested in your project will wait until payday to back it. The other is because Friday is the day before the weekend. Typically, people use their computers more during the week than on the weekend. You’ll want to match this process as well to get the most out of your campaign.

As for the price you’re asking for, be realistic. Come up with an actual budget for the project and figure out how much you need. Skim this down as much as you can, by begging, borrowing or stealing.

Plan on an extra 8.5-10% buffer because that’s what Kickstarter will take. If you need $5k and get $5k, you actually be getting less than what you actually need, so you’ll want to account for this in your budget. You’ll also want to account for any rewards you may have to purchase after the campaign. Typically 1-2% of funds just don’t go through. This is something to think about and plan for as well. If you are in the US, the money you raise for the project is actually taxable. You’ll want to talk to accountant so you can do your taxes correctly and get the most back.

Stretch goals are a great thing to think about prior to launch as well. In case your project goes beyond it’s initial goal, these will incentivize people to continue to back your project even after it’s reached its full funding.

You’ll also want to think about the time of year you launch your project. If you launch on Christmas you won’t do as well as someone who launches in mid April. This should be pretty obvious, but you should also think about your prizes and when they will go out. For example, do you want your rewards to be out to backers by Christmas? Think ahead and plan for both when your project will end, and when your rewards will deliver.

You want your backers to feel like they are supporting a person and not a project. People give to people, so be real with your backers.

Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to back other projects. While not 100% necessary, crowdfunding is as much about funding as it is about the community that helps make creative projects come to life. If you help support other projects then those people can help support you.

Here’s a great video that has some more great information about crowdfunding.

Back when I was was in school for video production, we worked on a kickstarter and discovered our own pitfalls and also our own successes. It was an eye opening experience to say the least.

Take a look at our kickstarter project here.

I was in charge of conceptualization and direction of the skit video. Our goal was to produce a short a film and we utilized humour in our pitch video to showcase our skills. This was our “proof”- if you will – that we could achieve our end goal.

In part two, I’ll talk about success for your kickstarter campaign while it’s live. Stay tuned!

Dorian Heller is a Motion Designer working out of Seattle, WA. You can see some of his work here, and follow him on Twitter.


Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

NAB 2015

This year was my second year at NAB and I was not disappointed. Starting off the show we chatted with Blackmagic Design (BMD) and discussed some of their amazing new products, and even got a chance to play with them on the show floor!

This year BMD had an amazing amount of new product announcements!

The URSA Mini 4.6

This year, the URSA Mini was announced at NAB from BMD. It features a 4.6k sensor, a smaller form factor (from the that of the larger URSA). It records to 2 CF Fast cards for quick switching, so the camera will keep recording onto the new card without any action from the user. It has 15 stops of dynamic range, so you’re never blowing out your highlights again! The URSA Mini can capture 4.6k images at 60 FPS or 120 FPS at 1080p. The BMD URSA Mini will ship in 4 models:

4k EF Mount

4k PL Mount

4.6k EF Mount

4.6k PL Mount

To find out more about the new URSA Mini from BMD, check out their website, and preorder it today!

Micro Cinema Camera

BMD saw a need for people shooting with very small camera’s with small form factors for things like drones, and decided to come out with their own solution. Coming in at $995, the Micro Cinema Camera does not have a screen, so you’ll have to attach something like the BMD Video Assist to it to see what you are shooting. You’ll get the nice form factor with a MFT mount to get things small and easy manageable. It also has a port for a drone, so you can control all camera functions from a single controller, separate from the camera.

To find out more about the new Micro Cinema Camera from BMD, check out their website, and preorder it today!

Micro Studio Camera

The Micro Studio camera was the next big release from BMD. It shares the same form factor of the Micro Cinema Camera, and has the same MFT mount. That all being said, the actual sensor on the inside, is actually quite bigger than the Micro Cinema Camera, so it can record a 4k image instead of the 1080p one coming out of other camera. It doesn’t contain any kind of recorder, as it’s meant for more live studio production work. If you want to record the footage, you can use lots of the BMD recorders.

To find out more about the new Micro Studio Camera from BMD, check out their website, and preorder it today!

Video Assist

The BMD Video Assist is a product I myself am very happy about. It doubles as a monitor and a recorder, much like the Shogun, but at about a 3rd the price. The Video Assist only does 1080p at 60FPS at most right now in a ProRes or DNxHD encoder, although, talking to one of the BMD reps, he said they would probably come out with 4k raw support, in something like a firmware update. That being said, Atomos’s Shogun records 4k natively right now, and unlike the SD card limitation in the Video Assist, the Shogun is using standard SSDs.

To find out more about the new Video Assist from BMD, check out their website, and preorder it today!

In addition to all the new hardware they released, BMD also released some new software, which includes a new version of Davinci Resolve 12 and they announced that Fusion will be coming out for both Linux and Mac.

Resolve 12 has a slew of new features which now makes it much more of a color grading software and expands on the editing capabilities of Resolve 11.

A few other highlights from the show:

3DR announced the latest and greatest from the world of drones with the 3DR Solo Drone. It has a number of handy features that make getting the shots you want easier without having to have years of professional drone flying experience. The main sale here is the software, which allows for flybys, or pivoting around a point automatically, so you can focus on getting the shot. The 3DR Solo uses a Go Pro camera and can be purchased from their website.

Avid released a free version of their editing software, Media Composer. The move to the free software is to try to convince editors using other software to make the switch. Although the software isn’t fully featured, it comes with a bunch of basic editing essentials to get you started. You can find out more info from Avid here.

Veydra Primes announced 2x anamorphic lenses with the MFT mount. With the new firmware just announced on the GH4, you’ll now be able to shoot in an anamorphic mode and get the full quality off of this amazing lineup of lenses.

The Ronin M gimbal was announced, and it’s similar to it’s predecessor, but coming in at half the weight. The payload of 8lbs means you won’t be throwing up a fully rigged Red or Alexa, but a decent rig of a DSLR would work just fine. The Ronin M will have an app that syncs through Bluetooth, and has both USB and PTap Power Outputs. You can find out more info on the Ronin M over at DJI’s website.

Freefly systems did not disappoint this year either. Coming out with the inspiring Mimic, a device built to control their famous MoVi and a massive drone as well! The Mimic is kind of like magic. You can just swing it around and the MoVi (or MoVi’s) will follow. It’s starting out at the beta price of $499, and may increase or decrease based on demand. Currently, it only works with the MoVi system, and it sounds like there are no plans to make the Mimic work with any other gimbal.

And of course NAB would not be complete without I checked in with the CEO of, Rollo Wenlock and got to play with the new mobile app up close and personal. Wipster is a great video review site and offers a lot of flexibility for my clients during the video review process. You can sign up for their free account now, over at

And that’ll do it folks! Until next year at NAB, we’ll see you next time.

To see a recap of last year at NAB check here.


Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

AE Seattle – May 2015

This month, we have the Adobe Team showing off some of the crazy new features of AE! Come chat and meet the people who make the software you love! Meeting starts at 7pm and we will be going till 9pm. The party doesn’t end there though, come hang out afterwards at the Fremont Dock for drinks and food!

See you there!

RSVP here. Also don’t forget to join our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter.


Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

AE Seattle March

Our March meeting is on! Having trouble tracking a tough shot? This month we have Pavel Ushakov presenting some amazing Mocha tips to make hard tracks way easier! We will also, have Chad Perkins showing off the value of the Red Giant Color Suite we’ll be giving away at the end of the meeting! And Topher Welsh will be going over some amazing After Effects tips and tricks.

As always, we will be meeting after the event at the local pub, The Fremont Dock. See you all at the event! In addition we thank our sponsors for all of their support, we’ll be giving away a ton of prizes from them.

See you at the meeting!

Please RSVP here.

Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

A New Year

This last year at Heller Studios has been crazy! We’ve added three members onto the Heller Studios team and 2015 looks better than ever.

2015 will be a huge year for us at Heller Studios. We’ve got a number of exciting projects we’re working on behind the scenes. I can’t say much for now, but once announced it should be exciting for all who do production in Seattle.

AE Seattle – My goal for AE Seattle for the 2015 year is to keep increasing members to have it be the best year for us! We’ve got a number of awesome presenters lined up and we are very excited for what 2015 brings to both the After Effects community and our local Seattle community. It should be a great year full to the brink with awesome.

Timeline – Although currently on hiatus I’d love to get some free time to work on this project. I think it’s potential is huge, just finding the time this year will be hard.

Tutorials – Yes! From the beginning it was always something I wanted to do. In total I produced about 4 with decent success. Ideally this year, I would like to not only double that number, but also update some older tutorials with newer ideas, or better ways of going about doing something.

Heller Studios – This year will hopefully be a large change for Heller Studios. I’ll still be running my personal site but Heller Studios will also see a shift. The idea being that the blog aspect of Heller Studios still remains, but the we publish more production services and rentals in the Seattle area. (Again more on this at a later point).

It was a great 2014, and I look forward to sharing 2015 with an awesome new group of producers, writers, animators, DP’s, etc.

Here’s to an even better 2015!

Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

4 Color Gif

Just spent about 20 minutes making this one. A bit of animated fun.AE-Colors

Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone