Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best Picture of 2008

In a never-ending quest to find thought-provoking content for my blog I searched for "The Best of 2008" and came up with...nada. I would have put Jib-Jab's 2-minute video of 2008 Year in Review here, but, it's well, a little gross. So, let me leave you with one of the most extraordinary images ever taken. Here is an erupting volcano which generated an explosive electrical storm 800 miles south of Santiago, Chile. Here are some other photos of the same volcano which are strangely beautiful.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Memorable New Year's Eve

What are you doing New Year's Eve?  How about catching a limo from your home to Michael Mina's restaurant for a five-course dinner with complimentary wines and a magnum of Schramsberg '99 Reserve.  Then, be driven to the hangar where your private Airship awaits for a two-hour flight over the Bay Area. Enjoy the fireworks from the ultimate skybox.  Just you and 11 friends for $25,000.

Chuck and I wish everyone a very healthy, lucky and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Part III: Reactions

Have you ever wondered what a movie would be like without reactions? It would feel more sterile, less real. In this roundtable discussion with the moviemakers and actors who made 'Benjamin Button', the talented actress Taraji Henson (who played Queenie) describes a scene in which she explains to a young Benjamin that he was born under special cicumstances and people will react in different ways to him.

It made me reflect for a minute. We are all the product of our experiences AND we are the product of how people have reacted to us throughout our lives. The popular kids in high school experienced positive reactions. The kids in high school who were on the fringe may have experienced much less positive reactions, which reinforced their status and their view of themselves. Reactions matter a great deal. And they are ubiquitous. You experience them in every conversation you have every day, even if it is just an "uh huh" of a friend acknowledging that they are listening.

Cate Blanchett says "The hardest thing in the world to do as an actor is to react." She goes on to say that Benjamin's reactions to the events that sweep him along give a lot of insight into his character.

We try to capture as many reactions of guests at a wedding as possible. This requires a third cameraman whose main task is to catch the fleeting reactions. Not only does it seem more realistic, not only does it feel more like a movie with a story, but it allows you to see many of the guests behaving in a natural way, rather than being stood up before a wall and shot as though they were in front of a firing squad.

So, the next time you watch a feature film or a personal wedding movie, observe how often you see reactions and how much they enhance your movie-going experience.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button III: Polishing

In a recent interview Kirk Baxter, the editor of 'Benjamin Button', mentioned it took almost a year to polish the film. "We revisited every scene to see how we could make it better. In some cases we might adjust a take for timing or add a bird flying in the sky from a different take, just to add that little something special."

We do the same.

"The script worked in a linear fashion so we didn’t have to rearrange scenes in post to make the story work. In fact, we removed one scene that foreshadowed an event the audience hadn’t seen yet. It was better to let the story reveal itself in a logical fashion. David is very protective of the story, so our trimming involved losing unnecessary lines.”

Once again, we do the same. We pare scenes down to their essence so there is an understandable flow of great images, great conversations, and great feelings. We strive to have no "filler" that dilutes the quality of a fine movie. This, of course, takes a lot of time. So, we are grateful that our brides and grooms feel it is worth the wait.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Part II: Special Effects

The story of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was written by F Scott Fitzgerald a long time ago. Many directors considered making the movie, but it wasn't until recently that the technology was available to produce the story convincingly. Extensive special effects were used, but they were virtually invisible because they were used in the service of the story and not just to announce that the FX guys had a big budget and the smarts to do it!

Did you wonder how they accomplished the remarkable aging effect of taking Brad Pitt from a shrunken old man to a robust 20-something hunk? Well, from a technical standpoint, the Benjamin Button character is a composite of a body actor and a computer-generated (CGI) face. First the body actor delivered temporary dialogue in the scene with other actors. Then, Brad Pitt recorded temporary dialogue that was used for pacing in the rough cut. Once the scenes were edited and were close to the final version, they shot scenes of Brad’s face performing. His performance was then mapped onto a CGI head which was then mapped onto the body actor’s torso.

The only mis-step in the film was in a scene in which Cate Blanchett was telling a fable which was given a movie-within-a-movie look. It was overdone and distracting to the point of interfering with the story. At times, we feel wedding videography filmed in super 8 mm suffers from the same malady. At its best, super 8 mm can convey a sweet, nostalgic timelessness. But too often super 8 mm just looks like shaky, out-of-focus, poorly exposed home movies.

Whether it's in a dramatic feature film or a personal wedding movie, special effects should be used to further the story and not just for their own sake.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button I: Short Review

Let's just start by saying this is a fantasy that feels real. You buy into the premise right away that Benjamin Button is born an old man and youthens, dying as an infant. But that is just the window dressing.

What matters more is that this is a love story. The story suggests that the soul of a person is more important than their appearance. That forgiveness is the path to being able to put your past behind you and fully enjoy today. That only when life is in balance can you truly appreciate it. As Benjamin (Brad Pitt) was growing younger and Daisy (Cate Blanchett) was growing up, it was only when they met in the middle that their relationship could fully flower.

This is a beautifully filmed movie with a story that is beautifully told. Two of the major ingredients in a piece of art that will touch you every time you see it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Light Show

It's so hard to balance good taste with over-the-top synchronized lights. This Christmas light show seems to have achieved it.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Chuck and I are sitting on the sofa, watching the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree, sipping hot apple cider and counting our blessings.  

We are grateful to have met and been befriended by an unbroken chain of wonderful brides and grooms and their families.

We are humble in the shadow of the prodigious talents of our wedding industry colleagues who inspire us.

And we are indebted to our family and friends who love and support us all year long.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Yule Log III

For a humorous take on how to ever-so-pompously direct a movie, take a look at this 2-minute video:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Santacon 2008, San Francisco Style

The Cacophony Society began SantaCon in San Francisco way back in 1994.  It has spread to the the farthest reaches of the world since then.  During the month of December, you can see hundreds of Santas running amuck in Beijing, Belfast, Honolulu, London, Melbourne, Montreal, Munich,  New York, Paris, and 50 other cities.  

There were 70,000 Santas at the Moscow Santacon this year.  There's no holding back the Red Tide! 

As my good friend Viola Sutanto (the super-talented graphic designer of invitations) at Chewing the Cud said, "You can never have too many Santas!"

Here is a taste of what a portion of the San Francisco SantaCon 2008 looked like.

Santa Is On His Way 
(running time: 3:03)
To see this l'il movie in better resolution, click on Quicktime orWindows Media.  Enjoy!

My good friend Duncan Reyes of f. duncan reyes events by design sent me this photo of SantaCon 2006 taken by Bradford Shepherd.  As the bride and groom emerged from St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, they were indeed surprised to see Santas everywhere!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You Be the Judge

Chuck and I have been tapped to join the Silver Telly Council.  As winners of multiple Telly Awards for excellence in filming and editing creativity, we were among a small pool of people being considered to be judges of this prestigious 30-year old award.  We were selected and we are honored!  So, within the next year, we will judge video entries submitted by ad agencies, corporations, TV stations,  production companies to see if their work meets the exacting criteria of the Telly Awards.  Last year they received over 14,000 entries. Past winners include the Oprah Winfrey Show, Universal Studios, and the Discovery Channel.

When it rains it pours.  We were also asked to judge the new EMPixx awards, newly established by David Carter, a multiple Emmy and Clio winner who has a long history of innovation in the creative world.  I was curious as to why he picked us to be a judge.  So I asked.  He said that over the last 3 years he had viewed over 6000 websites.  From the ones he saw that he liked, he made serious inquiries about the people and their businesses from their colleagues.  He said our colleagues had many fine things to say about us.  There's nothing like attaining the respect of your colleagues - since they know exactly what it takes to do an outstanding job.  Again, we are thrilled and honored.

Let the games begin!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wedding University Coming Soon!

Learning is a lifelong here's your chance to learn much more about how to choose wisely when engaging wedding professionals.  

We are honored to have been selected to represent the category of videography and cinematography at the First Annual Wedding University of the Bay Area.  And, we were the first professional Jubilee Lau, the organizer blogged about in The Wedding University blog.

This is by no means a wedding fair.  It is an all-day seminar filling with practical, useful, HONEST information on how to stretch your wedding dollars regardless of budget.  You have direct access to great wedding professionals from 19 different companies.  We've worked with most and can recommend them to you on a professional and personal level. Plus, you will get to sample great Four Seasons Hotel food, drink and cakes; see examples of excellent wedding design, learn how to dance, and see a runway show of men's and women's fashions.

Here are the details:

Sunday, February 8, 11 AM - 5 PM
Four Seasons Hotel, Silicon Valley
2050 University Avenue, East Palo Alto
$25 for 1 person | $40 for 2 people
Free Self-Parking
Please RSVP to Cassie Conching, 650.470.2894 or 
     Jubilee Lau, 408.235.8889
Space is limited, so please call early to avoid disappointment.

The assembled experts are:

Event PlanningJubilee Lau | Jubilee Lau Events and
Catering, Cakes and Venues: Julie Kiendra | Four Seasons Hotel

Tabletop and Furniture Rentals: Heidi Bianchi | Hartmann Studios
Linens and Chair Covers: Lily Yeung |Wildflower Linens

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Publicity for Silicon Valley Wedding Professionals

A local lifestyle magazine is featuring a wedding issue in Summer, 2009.  Not just any wedding, but a vow renewal ceremony. They are looking for San Francisco Bay Area (specifically Silicon Valley), event planners, florists, set designers, wedding apparel specialists, venues, and anything else related to weddings for a photo spread and article.  If you would like to contribute to this actual ceremony (not a staged shoot), contact the Features Editor, Erin Robison, at

Monday, December 15, 2008

Favorite Wedding Blogs

Winter has arrived in San Francisco!  It was raining yesterday so I decided to make the most of such a dreary day.  I gathered up the lists of blogs I had been wanting to peek at.  So I looked at over 300 wedding- and design-related blogs!  At the end of the day I found many which I enjoyed and which have a well-deserved reputation for their fresh content, pleasant voice, and good ideas. I've listed my so-far favorites in the side bar and will keep adding to it. Have fun!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Who's In the Doghouse Now?

Christmas is approaching.  It's a season fraught with pitfalls - particularly for the man in your life.  He 's searching, searching for just the right gift for you.  Every now and again he takes a misstep.  For anyone who recognizes this scenario only too clearly, you have just got to see this terrific little video!  It's called Beware of the Doghouse and it is hilarious!  You can put people "in the doghouse" and announce to the world how they done you wrong.  Although it's an ad for buying jewelry, it will touch a chord with any woman who's ever been given the wrong gift by the man in her life.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

San Francisco Brides Magazine Coming Soon...

Just four more days until the debut issue of San Francisco Brides hits the newsstands on December 15.  It is rumored that this highly anticipated sleek magazine published  by Modern Luxury (same folks that publish San Francisco Magazine) contains some over-the-top weddings by the Bay Area's best wedding designers as well as ideas for brides of all budgets.  Mary Jo Bowling, Editor is on top of all things stylish and luxurious.

I can't wait!  I'm planning to scarf up my copy and relax in the hot tub while  savoring every page.

It's high time San Francisco had a great brides magazine.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Name the Bride Contest

You've heard me talk about my good friend Stacie at The Flirty Guide before.  She's always so full of great ideas. Now she's done it again. She's running a contest through December 15 and all you have to do is name this bride.  Click here to enter the contest.  

The winner walks away with an amazingly life-like sculpture of a flower arrangement by DK Designs.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Smell the Roses

Life isn't all work.  The other night I went to the Preston Wynne Open House where my friend Stacie Tamaki, founder of The Flirty Guide, and I received some much needed mini-treatments - neck and shoulder massage, hand massage, and so forth.  I was waiting in line to get a Flower Essence Energy reading by Rev. Maggie Smith. Have you ever felt a compulsion - you just have to have it? That's how I felt about this. So, I waited. My (im)patience was rewarded. I was the last client she took before the end of the event.

So what goes on at a session?  It's quite relaxing.  Maggie calms and soothes with her silky voice. Then, you are presented a deck of 88 cards, each with the picture of a flower.  You select the six you like best.  Each card represents an aspect of your life which either is going well or needs repair.  Maggie interpreted each one I chose.  She was 100% correct.  I have already started to restore balance and wholeness to a life that was tilted too much toward work.  And, Maggie will be sending a small spray of heavenly scented flower essences created just for me based upon the reading that will help me achieve my goal of balance.  Thank you Maggie!  

If you are interested in some gentle introspection, contact Maggie.  You can either visit her in Santa Cruz, contact her via phone or contact her via the internet.  Oh, and she also performs life ceremonies such as weddings, baptisms and funerals.  

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Life Is a Jubilee

It is often difficult to brag about accomplishments of which you are justifiably proud.  But then, along comes a colleague who, over the years, has become a true friend.  And, she so eloquently speaks out on your behalf.  We are lucky enough to have such a friend, Jubilee Lau of Jubilee Lau Events.  

Jubilee is, hands down, the most beloved event planner in the Bay Area.  She is the complete package.  She...

o  Listens carefully, really understands the couple's style and priorities and interprets their vision.
o  Advises couples honestly.
o  Pampers her couples but never attempts to control them. 
o  Is highly creative in her designs.
o  Is thorough in planning and implementing the wedding day.
o  Reads the mood of the crowd, is flexible and readjusts the schedule on the fly rather than having a slavish and foolish consistency to the schedule.
o  Is thoughtful and caring in her relationships with not just the bride and groom. but with their families and guests.
o  Treats professionals with respect and courtesy and can convince a "fully engaged" professional to be available for her clients.  Why?  Because she creates an atmosphere of mutual cooperation and support and gives each professional what they need to do their best.

Here is what she said about us in her December 3, 2008 blog entry.  

Discovering talent is a part of my job, but discovering Savadelis Films was one of the best treasures of my career. There is a reason why the owner's name is JEWEL! She is definitely a jewel to me, and to many, many brides and grooms out there.

If you visit my website, you will see many different trailers from Savadelis Films. I have had the pleasure of working with them on many special weddings and events through the years. Each time they send me a completed wedding movie of our mutual client, I can be sure that I will be both laughing and crying as I watch it. They are really THAT good!

If you want a wedding video that looks like everyone else's, they are not the right ones for you. With each couple that they work with, they go to great lengths to discover everything about them and their families, their wedding visions, and their wedding details. From that, they will capture your unique story, like no others.....and you will get to pass this beautiful memory on for generations to come! It's the ultimate way to preserve all the special moments of your wedding day!

We recently finished another 
spectacular wedding together at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, and here is the amazing trailer that they put together. It completely captured the tempo of that day, and is a true reflection of the couple's fun personality. Enjoy!!