the blog

Rock Creek’s Studio Capabilities

In response to several requests for information on our new video production studio, we’ve put together a comp sheet of several of the different “looks” we’ve created. With our main space at 45’x30’ with 16′ ceilings, we can do much more, but we’ve only been operating for a fairly short time, and so almost everything is still out there in front of us. But we can build set walls and props or make use of existing office-type spaces, shoot in front of seamless or green screen backgrounds. The possibilities are fairly endless, so why don’t you try us out, see what we can do for you and your clients?

rock creek studio

NDU Studio Shoot

We just wrapped on two shoots for National Defense University (NDU) security exercises. In support of each exercise, Rock Creek created a couple of mock news and briefing videos combining green screen chromakey sets and live sets where reporters and experts described elements of the ’emergencies.’ For each exercise, we created a national news-style anchor desk (green screen), and three live sets, all in a single day in our spacious studio. Combined we heard from anchors from two national news organizations, field reporters in representations of NATO Headquarters in Brussels and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, we interviewed experts at a think-tank and in an engineering office, and we received intelligence briefings from military and civilian spokesmen.

Studio shoot

Talent: Alex Suarez

Our large main space (45’x30′) enables us to set and shoot in several areas and directions, which makes changing over from set to set easy and efficient. Here’s a simple National Security Council briefing set. Apple boxes and fishing line included.

Another RCP Studio Shoot

For another shoot for CTEC Corp. and the Defense Acquisition University, we used existing elements within our studio to create an office set with depth beyond the walls. This program provided advanced instruction on quality assurance graphical charts and featured a whiteboard that we later populated in post with text and graphics. Employing a doorway dolly on tracks we added visual interest to the scenes through motion.

Rock Creek Studios

This shot has Jake Mosholder and actor Alex Suarez behind and in front of the camera, respectively. Seems like Jake was abandoned by the rest of the crew.

Passing through History

In this project, shot in our Herndon, VA, video production studio over a white limbo backdrop, make-up artist Michele Mundell performed her magic on actor Mark August, who started the day with a head of wild hair and a full beard and, after passing through the middle ages, the industrial revolution, and World War II, ended up looking quite presentable in the modern day.

makeup artist

This project was also for CTEC Corp. and the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and discussed the evolution of Quality Assurance in manufacturing and what it means to be a Quality Assurance Specialist. We shot over the course of three days in our studio on our Panasonic HPX-3700 Varicam. Mark performed well with a heavy load of teleprompted copy. Early client reviews included, “absolutely awesome” and “those videos captivate and make you want to listen to what is being said” and “great job!”

Inaugural Studio Shoot for CTEC and DAU

Rock Creek’s inaugural production in our new studio space was for CTEC Corporation in support of their contract to the Defense Acquisition University or DAU. We designed and built a garage-style workshop and used it as a backdrop for teaching Quality Assurance Specialists about the function of a variety of specialized tools such as micrometers and calipers and gages.

set design

This photo shows Martin Spitznagel of CTEC discussing the next shot with talent Sonia Debreczeni. Jake Mosholder of Rock Creek is standing by on camera.

This shoot required nine days in the studio, lots of education on the proper use of many precision tools, and was judged a success by everyone involved! Also shouldering half the acting load was Brian Ashby.

Rock Creek’s New Video Production Studio

In early April, Rock Creek acquired studio space to support a variety of video production needs of our clients here in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. It’s great space, with a primary “studio” being 45’x30’ with 16’-high ceilings.

panorama shot, studio production

Here’s a panorama from a shoot providing a sense of scale.

It’s a full-service video production studio, with plenty of space for set construction, private offices, make-up, greenrooms, and a kitchen.

You and your clients would look great in here, too!

A Brand New Look!

We talked about it for a long time, threw around ideas, made small changes here and there, but late last year, after a company retreat in Asheville, (and after unintentionally heading backwards down a waterfall on a “bonding” whitewater rafting trip) something clicked (or our brains were jarred into it) and we decided that it was time for a change. Let’s do this. Let’s re-brand Rock Creek.

What began was a journey of self-discovery. Who is Rock Creek? What sets us apart? And what are the core strengths that we bring to our client’s projects?

We focused in on two complimentary attributes: We are filmmakers first and we bring a sense of fun and enjoyment to the process of production.  “Filmmakers First” has been our unofficial motto for some time and it rings true to who we are as a company and as individuals, and it illustrates our commitment to push for the highest quality on every project.  And a sense of fun you ask?  Well it’s really a contagious passion and enthusiasm that infects our cast, crew and clients.

Rock Creek Logo

These attributes express who we are and we wanted to combine both of these sides of Rock Creek’s personality, the playful energy and the creative professional, and showcase it in a simple, effective way that demonstrates our vision and values.

We think you’ll see the true passion we have for cinematic storytelling come alive through our new website and the projects we feature. So take some time and check it out.

Let us know what you think by sending us a message on FB, Twitter or email. And please, share it with your friends and colleagues and most importantly let us know how Rock Creek can help you tell your story.

All the best from the Rock Creek Team,

— Steve, Tim, Rachell, Craig, Aimie and Jake

Congratulations Rachell!

Golden Egg FIlm Festival

Our short film From Hell to Here directed by Rachell Shapiro has been accepted into the Golden Egg Film Festival, and it is up for two awards – Best Supporting Actor and Best Soundtrack. It will be screening in Cancun, Mexico in late April.

The Cost of Video Production

“How much does a video cost?”

video production cost

We’re asked this question all the time.  One could just as easily ask:  how much does a house cost, or a car, or a meal?  Are we talking bungalow or mansion?  Econo-box or luxury sedan?  Fast food or five star?  At any given time, one or the other might be fitting, and similar comparisons apply to “how much does a video cost?”  Of course, when asked this question, our approach isn’t to make fun, rather we attempt to determine what it is our clients are trying to accomplish and how to achieve their purpose in a way that best fits their needs.  Figuring that out helps us define what their particular video might cost.

There are always multiple ways to present messages and costs are related to the creative approach, but our goal when we’re first asked that question is to begin quantifying the job.  What’s the message you are trying to convey and what’s the purpose you are trying to achieve?  Who is the audience and how do you envision reaching them?  Here is where we begin to determine what we’re dealing with.  Are you trying to promote a product or an event?  Train your staff on an operation or procedure?  Advocate a position or raise funds?  Document an issue or just have fun?  What’s the story you’re trying to tell and why do you want to tell it?

When talking about cost, context is helpful and for clients that are inexperienced in commissioning a video, we let them know that length is not always the determining factor.  Individual shots lasting only a few seconds might be quite elaborate and consume significant resources to accomplish – large cast and crew, complicated sets, and specialized equipment – while some longer form programs are significantly less expensive to produce when considering a per minute basis.

As we delve deeper, we ask:  When you close your eyes and imagine the program, what do you see?  How much material must be covered and what’s your target length?  Is the program scripted or are interviews required?  If scripted, do you have narration? Is that narration voice-over or on-camera?  If interviews are required, how many and where might they take place?  Is there a need to dramatize aspects of the story?  If so, what’s entailed and how many scenes are envisioned?  What locations might be required?  Will we need to travel?  What’s the production schedule?  Is it a fast turn-around, or is there time to conduct research and proceed more deliberately?  Does all footage need to be new source material, or can stock footage be utilized?  Costumes?  Props?  Make-up?  Graphical animations?  Music?  Special effects?  Languages?  Distribution requirements?  Captions?  Packaging?  Collateral materials?  There’s a lot to consider.

Clients don’t always know the answers right away, but as they contemplate the questions we ask, we begin to define the scope of their project and help them understand what approaches are available within their targeted budget.  It’s our job to educate and to support them through the process, to answer any questions and quiet any apprehensions, to make it easy.

In just a few minutes we can determine if we’re talking about a fast food meal from the drive through in our economy car that we’re planning to take back to our bungalow, or if we’re traveling from our mansion to a five-star restaurant in our luxury sedan.  Either way, whether the budget is lesser or greater, messages can and will be presented with simplicity, with elegance, and with impact.

If you have any questions about what your video might cost, give us a call.  We’ll help.


Tim Phillips and the Rock Creek Team

Why Blog?

social media

Here at Rock Creek Productions we have been talking about starting up a blog for a while. We have slowly but surely over the last few years moved into the social media-sphere via Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Youtube and even Pinterest. But we recognized that where we might really be able to add value to the conversation of video production and digital media is via the blogosphere — especially in a town chock full of businesses, non-profits, and government agencies that need and want to create videos that educate, train, motivate, fundraise, and recruit and might not know where to begin on how to make a video; how to pick a good vendor; what questions to ask; how to figure out a production budget; what “craft services” is, how much gear to expect on a shoot; and the hundreds of other questions that always come up regarding that ambiguous, vast, ever-changing world of “videos.”

Rock Creek is not the new kid on the block as far as media production companies; we’ve been around going on 18-years (in production company world that’s pretty darn old.) We started…(ahem)…back in the good ‘ole days when we were still editing in analogue, shooting on BetaCam, had a huge tape library, and edit systems cost over a hundred thousand dollars.  Needless to say, we’ve been around for a while and have grown, adapted, and advanced with the changing times and technologies. And what we have found in our 18-years as a company is that we have accumulated a lot of experience and knowledge that we think might benefit someone out there. We don’t presume to know everything or be the ultimate experts but what we do have is an incredibly experienced, passionate team of people that have a lot to offer. So instead of keeping that all to our clients, and ourselves, we thought let’s share it with the rest of the world – or at least to those ten’s of people who stumble onto our blog.

So wish us luck on our blogging adventure – and check back here often for our incredibly informative, sometimes witty, always well-intentioned posts.


Rachell Shapiro and the Rock Creek Productions Team