Straight From the Horse's Mouth

Mini-Documentary Wins National Award

By | Office

The Association for Women in Communications today announced that Running Pony has won a national Clarion Award. The award is for a short documentary we produced for Neighborhood Preservation Inc., titled “Rundown: The Fight Against Blight in Memphis.” This marks the 12th Clarion Award we’ve won in the past 10 years.

“I play this video regularly for audiences around the country to communicate our work in a brief but impactful visual format, and the impact is always powerful,” said Steve Barlow, President of Neighborhood Preservation, Inc.  “Running Pony was so much more than a vendor – they became, and remain, our strong partners in making Memphis great by collaboratively overcoming serious challenges.”

The Association for Women in Communications, founded in 1909, has nearly 1,200 members worldwide. For more than 40 years, the AWC Clarion Awards have recognized media and communications companies who demonstrate excellence in clear and concise communications. As one of the most prestigious competitions of its kind in the country, the 2017 competition attracted winners from 19 states and two countries. Winners included Bloomberg Businessweek, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, TBWA/Chiat/Day, BBC, and WETA/Ken Burns.

New Role for Mitch Martin

By | Office

We’ve promoted Mitch Martin to a new role, as Post-Production Supervisor. His duties will include helping to plan and execute best practices for workflow, quality control and process improvement in all aspects of editing and post-production. And for those clients who enjoy working directly with Mitch, don’t worry…he’ll still be in Edit Suite #1 every day, taking great care of your project!

Fun at the Addy Awards

By | Office

Running Pony team at the Addys

The Running Pony crew picked up three Gold Addys and a “Best of Television” award at the recent AAF-Memphis awards ceremony. In addition to the Gold awards in the Television, Animation and Event categories, we also snagged two Silver awards, for Cinematography and Public Service, and were proud to be part of productions that helped our agency friends at inferno bring home two Gold and two Silver Addys as well. Thanks to the great clients who allowed us to do this award-winning work: ServiceMaster, the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Caissa Public Strategy, City Auto and inferno.

New Faces

By | Office

We’ve added several new faces to our team.  Ellen Phillips joins the staff as Project Coordinator. Ellen previously worked as a Broadcast Communications Specialist at the University of Mississippi. Brian Manis was an executive with several feature film companies in Hollywood before returning to his hometown of Memphis. He joins Running Pony as a Writer/Producer/Director. Corey Kenerly also joins the staff as a Writer/Producer/Director. He previously worked as Marketing Communications Manager for a major sporting goods manufacturer, where he developed marketing campaigns and strategies for multiple brands.

More Emmy Awards

By | Office

Running Pony recently added 2 more Emmy awards to the trophy shelf. The winning entries were for the video that introduces the University of Memphis Tigers football team during their home games, and for the video editing skills of our Mitch Martin. The 31st MidSouth Emmy awards were presented by the Mid-South Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences during a regionally televised gala at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville.

Storytelling with Sound Design

By | Office, Technology

Does your video have sizzle, pop, je ne sais quois?
Without sound design, some videos may seem bland…like eating a filet mignon without any seasoning.  “But my video has a music track,” you say. Great…just realize that you don’t have to stop there.

Here’s how you can tell if you have a good video:
Mute the music
—Before you add sound design, mute the music track. Is the video still engaging? If not, sound design can add the emotional punch that words and images sometimes lack.

It won’t take much to sell you on this idea.
Let’s go through some examples of why sound design can give your video the adrenaline it needs to fire up your audience.

Running Pony’s audio engineer, Nate Riesman, stripped away the sound design from a video we produced for the National Hardwood Lumber Association. What do you think? Did sound design make a difference?

Find the right sound

Sometimes, the best sound design isn’t the sound that comes from the actual object/action on the screen. For example, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is dodging a runaway boulder. That noise was actually the sound editor’s Honda Civic rolling down his driveway.
Indiana Jone Raiders of the lost ark sound design

In Terminator 2, T-1000 flows through steel bars. That sound is actually dog food being slowly sucked out of a can.

Terminator 2 liquid metal sound design

Too much of a good thing? – After you sound design, does your video sound like a bad video game? If yes, your sound designer over did it. It’s easy to go overboard with sound design. You have to strike the right balance. In fact, sometimes the more subtle the sound, the more impactful it becomes.

If you still don’t believe me, watch what happens when Star Wars, the movie that set the bar on sound design, gets sound designed by a complete idiot.

“If I do my job right, I can use words and sounds that are like words, or somewhere between words and music, to create images in your head. They’re so immediate and undeniable that literally those images will just pop into your head. But, those images don’t exist. You have to paint them, so I’m starting that process and you’re finishing it. It’s like I hand you the paintbrush and you finish the painting.”
-Jad Abumrad, creator and co-host of WNYC’s Radiolab

Telling a Six Second Story

By | Office

And I thought producing a :15 second ad was tough.

We had some fun when Hunter Fans asked us to make a few Vine videos for them. Vine is Twitter’s video format, and allows users from around the globe to upload videos with one catch: they have to be less than six seconds long.

We realized we had a few challenges to overcome.

First: how do you tell a story in six seconds? Just like we would on a long-form documentary, we figured out what story elements needed to be included to get the point across. Luckily, Hunter only needed to promote their “Five Minute Fan,” or at least that you can put a fan up quickly. The rest was an open book. We bounced ideas around and then gathered up our best 6-second stories to present to the client. Of course, it’s hard to know what will work once the spots are done, so we decided to make four in the hope that two would work for the client.

Second: how do you shoot it? Because vine is a platform for mobile phone cameras, we heard all types of scary warnings about Vine editors deleting videos that didn’t look like they were shot on a phone. Hunter also wanted a :15 second version of one of the ads for a “pre-roll” (the ad you see at the beginning of an online video). We chose our best idea for it and then shot it on a broadcast quality HD cam with a traditional lighting and audio setup. At the same time, we shot it with an actual iPhone, too. That way, we would match the quality level of other videos on Vine and not risk being booted off.

Third: how do you get it on Vine? Being a mobile-based platform, Vine doesn’t take submissions from a computer… only a phone. There were all types of possible solutions. We could shoot it “in-app” like most Vines are, but decided against that because of the lack of control and inability for the client to approve it. We needed to edit it in our traditional form. You can’t upload it to a phone and then port it to the VIne app…it won’t do that. You could play it on a computer and shoot it off a screen, but that would look crappy. The solution, from our crack tech team, was simple: an app for uploading to Vine from a computer.

“Well SURE: if you want to do it the EASY way.”

The shoot went well. Gabe DeCarlo, Greg Massey and Savannah Bearden knocked the production out of the park. And while we originally hoped two would work, we ended up with three 6-second stories that the client loved.

Check them out on Hunter’s Vine page.

Got a question about it or need help making your own? Email me at

Charities Win In Pony Food Fight

By | Office

For our annual holiday e-card this year, we staged a “food fight”. In slow motion. It went viral. “Dude Gets Hit In the Face With Holiday Ham” is how they titled it on More than 11,000 people viewed the e-card. It was all for a good cause, as each of us chose a charity to represent, and we asked the public to vote for their favorites. We’re making a donation in honor of our employees and clients to the top 3 vote-getters….Go Lucy Go Foundation, Camp Good Grief, and the Jason Motte Foundation. We also made a donation to the Mid-South Food Bank equal to the amount of money we blew on ammunition ( i.e. food). A big thanks to everyone who voted, and for all the nice comments we received about the videos. And a big thank-you to all our clients for a great 2013. We’re looking forward to another crazy, fun year!

Chamber Video Produces Grizzults

By | Office | No Comments

We produced several videos for the Memphis Chamber Luncheon last week, but I was lucky enough to be the producer/director featuring none-other than The Grizzlies’ Quincy Pondexter.  I don’t want to give anything away, so watch the video first.

Quincy was a great sport, and the most humble guy you’ll ever meet. Sorry, Tony Allen: he just took your spot as my favorite Grizzly. I want to follow him around with a camera and document his awesomeness. Hey Q-Pon: hit me up.

Also: big thanks to Leigh Shockley for having fun with us, my homeboy Geoff Calkins for his reporting and Undefeated’s Bill Courtney for not taking himself too seriously. And, of course, John Pickle  for perfecting his Buster Keaton prat fall. It was the Cannonball Run of shoots, but thanks to Matt Fremstad, Ryan Goble and Jonathan Epstein, it went off without a hitch.