Apple Computer Presents "A Small Business Success Story"
Video Art Works Productions Produces BlockBuster DVDs

By Bija Gutoff
The Video Art Works studio is lodged in a picturesque converted 1880 water-powered mill in Sandy Hook, CT (population: 700). But there’s nothing old fashioned about the productions of owners Bill and Marleen Cafarelli. They use DVD Studio Pro and other software and hardware to craft DVDs that keep them booked for 60 weddings and other events year.

Clients are lining up because of their DVD artistry and because, as Bill puts it, "VHS is dead. Two years ago, we had three clients who asked about DVD. This year, it was every single person who came through the door, and we’re including DVDs in all our packages."

"For a television show like Dateline," adds Bill,
"it may take 40 people two months to produce a 15-minute piece. In two weeks Marleen and I make a
2 hour DVD movie that we shoot, edit and author all by ourselves. Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro has leapfrogged us way ahead of our competition. These are very powerful applications that let us produce work as good as what you rent at Blockbuster. That’s why people come to us."

VHS is dead. Two years ago, we had three clients who asked about DVD. This year, it was every single person who came in the door.

They come to Bill and Marleen for award-winning wedding DVDs that do more than preserve the memorable day of bride and groom. These seasoned pros create elegant movies that their clients treasure as family 'time capsules' and that their industry recognizes as harbingers of what the medium, with the right tools in the right hands, can accomplish.

In Love With Video
Bill and Marleen have stayed in the front of the field for 19 years. But they slipped in, you could say, through the back door. As a commercial Airline pilot for 22 years, Bill was comfortable with technology. But it was Marleen, a 22 year flight attendant and professional photographer, who discovered video. I had a huge interest in fine art photography, she says. I traveled all over the world taking pictures and did all my own developing. After a single two-hour class in videography, it was instant love. Soon she was videotaping houses for realtors. And when her sister’s request for a wedding video led to a rush of new jobs, Bill grabbed a camera and began shooting, too.

A Video Art Works DVD usually opens with a one-minute trailer edited to fast music. It then covers the day itself, from the chaos of preparations to the ceremony, photo sessions, reception and dancing. To these poignant moments, Bill and Marleen add photo montages, music and many artistic touches.
Bill Cafarelli at work
Photo by GillesRousseauStudio.com

Mixing Stills, Video & Motion Menus
"What makes DVD Studio Pro such a cool program", says Bill, "is that it lets us combine multiple still images, video and menus that incorporate motion in one very easy-to-compose system." When they do a two-camera event, they edit to achieve a true movie effect that intercuts actions and reactions. "While the bride and groom are dancing to 'their song,'" says Bill, "we cut to people full of emotion as they watch."

You could, of course, just play their richly layered DVD movie straight through. But, as Bill says, with DVD Studio Pro, we can do so much more. I import all the video and still frames and music, then, using Photoshop, I build a menu structure that’s unique to each wedding. The program lets us create chapters, so you can jump to the bride getting ready, the vows or the honeymoon."

Each chapter has normal, mouse-over and activated states, so you see when its status changes. Bill likes to match chapter titles to the color of the bride’s flowers. And he’ll insert action, like a 10-second movie of the groom placing the ring on the bride’s finger, to show that a chapter is launched.

Wearing Lots of Hats
These features take Video Art Works Productions to a sophisticated level. "We’re just a two person videography and photography business in this little Connecticut town", says Marleen. "In a small business, you wear a lot of hats. Of course we shoot and edit and author our DVDs, but we also do commercial imaging, write and design our web sites and brochures, answer the phone, email and take out the trash."

Adds Bill, "If these tools like Apple's Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro and Adobe's Photoshop were not so easy to use and so well integrated, it would be almost impossible for two people exploding with creativity out here in video-photo land to do all these things. That’s the biggest reason we use the products: we don’t need a staff, or expensive technical support, we can dream it, visualize it, and then do it all ourselves."

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