Straight From the Horse's Mouth

Mobile Video on the Rise

By | Office
If you’ve heard the saying “less is more” than you understand the most important rule of optimizing video for mobile platforms. With more and more video being consumed on social media (Cisco says 75% of mobile traffic will be video by 2020) it’s more important than ever to hone your message to the most critical elements. That’s why story matters most and you have to work to find the right way to draw viewers into your message without losing their focus. If you do it well, the results pay exponentially. 92% of video viewers on mobile platforms say they “often” share this videos with others according to research from WindStream. So refine your story, make your idea move and reap the rewards.

Employee Spotlight: Corey Kenerly

By | Office

Corey Kenerly’s love of photography, design, music and documentaries all came together when he began his new job in January as a Writer/Producer/Director at Running Pony. It also marked a return home for the Arlington High School graduate.

Corey was born in Atlanta, but spent most of his life in Memphis. He grew up around music; his grandfather and his mother toured with gospel groups, and an uncle is a songwriter and vice-president of a music company. So Corey learned at an early age to play guitar and piano, and to sing. He started college as a music major, but later decided to pursue a different field in which he had also developed an interest—visual design. “My mom enjoyed photography, and my dad had done some design work, so naturally I was interested in both,” says Corey. “As the digital revolution made video cameras and video editing more affordable and accessible, that’s when I realized making videos combined everything I love about photography with everything I love about design and motion graphics.”

After college, Corey accepted a job as Clinical Research Coordinator at a medical clinic whose owner was also the director and executive producer of a Christian film that was beginning production. In addition to helping with the movie-making, Corey found that his job in the clinic helping to run studies for the FDA would also turn out to be a valuable experience for a budding video producer.  “It helped me learn the organizational side of things, and the importance of proper planning and keeping records. Because for the FDA, everything had to be very precise.”

Deciding to pursue a more creative career, Corey left the clinic and began doing freelance design work in the music industry. He soon took a full-time position at Escalade Sports, a global manufacturer and distributor of sports and outdoor recreational equipment, as a multimedia specialist and designer. His skill at photography and video led to his promotion to Marketing Communications Manager for five of the company’s brands.

Corey got married in 2014, and he and his wife Jessica wanted to return to Memphis to be near their families. The couple lives in Bartlett with their two dogs, Timber and Maisy. When not producing and directing videos for Running Pony, Corey enjoys playing music and woodworking. He’s currently making his own guitar–once again combining two interests to create something wonderful.


Running Pony Meets Running Ponies: 48 Hrs at the 143rd Kentucky Derby

By | Office

By Melissa Sweazy, Writer/Producer/Director

You expect the hats. You expect the mint juleps and the fabulous pastel suits, the women of Millionaire’s Row with their sky-high heels and whisper-thin dresses. What you don’t expect on your first time to the Kentucky Derby is the rain: near constant, soul crushing sheets of rain along with bracing 47 degree temps that have turned the hallowed Churchill Downs track into a muddled, mushroomy soup. But this is Kentucky, and this is Christmas in May, and by God, a little weather isn’t gonna get in the way of the 143rd Run for the Roses.

Director of Photography Peter Braswell and I are in Louisville, tasked with covering the Kentucky Derby for TruGreen. The Memphis-based company’s partnership with Churchill Downs enables them to help maintain the lush, green turf that will presently be ripped to shreds by 20 gorgeous thoroughbreds. Our objective: film horses and turf and local color. And not freeze in the process.

It’s Friday of race weekend – Oaks Day – and men in pressed white uniforms holding trays of iced drinks the color of sunsets holler “Lily! Get your lily” to a crowd already happy to be working on the signature Oaks cocktail at 8 AM. Turns out mint juleps are the official Derby cocktail on Saturday. I mean, they’ll sell you a mint julep on Friday, but heaven forbid you be gauche.

We’re ushered into the press room of Churchill Downs for the official photographers’ meeting. Forget the horses. Here are the real rock stars of the Derby: The New York Times. Vogue. The Wall Street Journal. Getty Images. The AP. The AP! I try not to swoon. A large bank of tv screens broadcast various angles of the track, NBC’s The Today Show, and the myriad correspondents struggling to stay chipper in the downpour. We’re given a cubicle sandwiched between a Louisville business paper and a corporate sponsor, and it’s a fantasia of English major bliss. Editors in fancy suits accept CF cards from mud-splattered photojournalists. A chic French correspondent down the row files stories in a fabulous magenta Derby hat. I’m in combat boots and a parka, but I sneak into the bathroom to clamp a lone peacock feather/rhinestone combo onto my baseball hat. No one will notice, but it makes me feel slightly more Derby.

Peter bounds over with the free loaner of a Canon f4 DO 400 mm lens. I’m telling you, it’s magic in that press room. Paired with our rented Angenieux zoom lens, the finished video will look like Peter managed to sneak onto the track and run alongside the horses.

I wouldn’t put anything past Peter.

* * *

I’m standing next to a horse. The magical lanyards around our necks grant us unprecedented access, and we have followed the conga line of horses and jockeys as they make their way from the paddock through the tunnel and out onto the track where, if I dared, I could reach out and touch velvety haunches.

I’m tiny next to these million dollar behemoths, all legs and chestnut coats and watery coal eyes. Thoroughbreds are descended from just three mythical Arabian stallions brought to England in the 1600s. The preciseness of their breeding yields the results that one would expect of any bloodline with very little forks in the trees:  horses that are gorgeous, powerful, and sometimes more than a little crazy. Each thoroughbred is met on the track by a chill stable horse, their own personal stressbuster who leads them on the “walkover,” the official trek to the starting gate. Each hour we will watch this ritual repeat – a bugler in a jaunty pink blazer plays the Call to the Post, summoning the horses to line up at the starting gate, and the jockeys in multicolored silks explode forth, frantically urging on their horse in the chocolate sludge of the track. How do you tell the winning jockey after each race? He’s the clean one.

Derby Day sees the same torrential downpour, the same chill, but by late afternoon, a roar rises up from the crowd. The sun has punched a hole over Churchill Downs, rays hitting the famed twin spires. The Mint Juleps flow in earnest, especially in the flooded infield where hundreds of spectators have given up trying to stay dry and dance to Florida-Georgia Line in saran wrap-like ponchos.  The stands fill up as the magic hour approaches. Harry Connick Jr. sings the national anthem. Everyone in the press room stands and places their hands over their hearts. Then, a mad scramble to the press seats and finally, it’s time.

Horses with names like Irish War Cry, Tapwrit and Gunnevera take to the track in the final walkover. Patch, the one-eyed wonder horse, has 20-1 odds but is a clear Derby favorite.  All twenty thoroughbreds line up at the gate. And they are off.

I can’t see a damn thing. I squint at the Big Board, the world’s largest 4K video screen, where I can barely make out the scrum of horse and jockey. But the crowd virtually lifts us up, screaming, yelling all twenty names as they round that last curve toward the homestretch. In the end, Always Dreaming will cross the finish line first, but what I will remember is that the sun was still shining and that Mint Juleps taste like liquid gold.

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