“Something of Substance”

When it comes to photography, Toronto-based Jessica Blaine is a jack of all trades, master of all. When not expertly and creatively shooting events and portraits, she runs an online shop where she sells prints she’s made from shots she’s taken with her Holga, operates a studio in one of the creative hearts of the city, and diligently chronicles her work and life on her blog. It would be enough just knowing that there’s cool people like Jessica out there doing great work, but we get the extra perk of being able to help her out of the packaging side, being as she’s long been a Jewelboxing user. She was very kind in dropping us a note about her work, as well as her experiences using our cases. Here’s from Jessica:

“I am a full-time photographer located in Toronto, Canada who has been shooting professionally for eight years. I photograph all things people, whether it be weddings, babies, families, corporate events or editorial for magazines. I love photographing people and cannot imagine doing anything else in my life. Nothing beats seeing the expression on my clients’ faces when they receive their images knowing that I captured all of the special little moments for them. As photographers we have an important job as we document all of the milestones in others’ lives.”

“One of my favourite vendors that I have worked with throughout my career is Jewelboxing. Often the only product that my clients receive from me is a disc with images and I wanted to make sure that when I give it to them that it is something of substance. I looked everywhere for the perfect product before I found Jewelboxing. I love the customization that I am able to do with every disc case that I print. I also love that as I photograph the same family over time they begin to have a collection of my matching discs on their shelf.”

Thanks a million to Jessica for being a customer and for sharing her story with us. And here’s to hoping there’s lots more great work going on in Vancouver, Bedford, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Roseville, Portland, New York, Oceanside, Alameda, Crownsville, Bethel, Appleton, Fayetteville, Kerhonkson, West Hollywood, Washington DC, Miami, South Pasadena, Bude, Kilkeel, Bryan, the Bronx, St. Paul, Toronto, and Grand Rapids.

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It’s All the Talk in Delray Beach

When Jewelboxing user, Jess Kadar, sent in what she’d recently put together using our cases, it made us feel all warm and happy inside. That’s not to say we’re not always tingling with delight when we see Jewelboxing put to good use, but this was fine design plus it was as sweet as all get out. Here’s the whole scoop, directly from Jess:

“I just have to say how much I love Jewelboxing and how well it’s been working out for me. I bought the jb kit to make DVDs of my wedding pics, which worked out nicely. But what *really* impressed people was when I used Jewelboxing to package my grandma Ethel’s 90th birthday video. (I had transferred 90 years of film and photos to DV and edited it into a tearjerking 20 minute film.) Now all the retirees in Delray Beach want to know where they can get a video like Ethel’s.

I know it’s not hard for a grandchild to impress her Jewish grandmother…but it IS hard to impress her friends who insist that their grandchildren are the best, smartest, most creative, etc. With Jewelboxing, it is indeed possible to silence them. I’d even say it’s the next best thing to being (or marrying) a Jewish doctor.”

We’re positive there are friends of grandmothers being impressed like crazy in Pittsburgh, Arlington Heights, Toronto, Cincinnati, Eugene, Los Angeles, Villa Ridge, Cresskill, Chester, Houston, Valencia, Pasadena, Mountain View, Napa, Westborough, New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Providence, Portland, Monument, Mississauga, Rutland, Dunfermline, Minneapolis, and Bristol.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog, Film

A Walk Through Wedding Season

Over the years, we’ve highlighted a ton of great wedding projects people have used Jewelboxing for, either as a part of their big day or after the fact, like when a photographer or videographer delivers all their material in a well-designed package. So popular have our cases become within the industry, we even created a special sample case to send out to anyone curious about how Jewelboxing might work for their projects. And since the summer is upon us and now we find ourselves in the thick of wedding season, we thought we’d take a quick look around at some of the recent projects we’ve run across.

First up comes Edward Underwood, a photographer in the Washington D.C. area, who recently showed off some of the beautiful cases he’d put together for his clients, along with some words about the process:

“As all couples don’t readily want a hard copy of their wedding day memories, I figured there had to be an equally wonderful way to show those moments. These cases were created to allow individuals to produce a short-run of high-end packages and to give them the freedom to concentrate on the most important part of the job, the creative.”

Next we head south, to North Carolina, and check in with Heather Garland who also has started using Jewelboxing to package her clients’ photos and was kind enough to post a batch of great photos and a little something about her experiences:

“I have to say I am more than happy with them! My favorite part is they just send the templates and the cases and then I get to customize it for each bride & groom. I made this DVD to match the gorgeous blue tie of the groom and the blue sky at the beach. These DVD cases are the same size as a normal DVD case, but they have gorgeous rounded corners.”

Finally, we head even further south to Alabama to check in with Michael Andrew, a photographer who runs a terrific blog that’s largely about photography but also swerves off in a slew of other interesting directions as well. We ran across a post of his from last year, explaining his decision to start using Jewelboxing to hand out to his clients once he’d carefully processed all their photos:

“I’ve tried several things in presenting my digital negatives to my clients. Ive used regular CD trays, Art Leather folios and recently I was introduced to Jewelboxing. It’s taken some serious time to figure out how to design and make, but now that I have them the way I like, I am so glad I did. They come complete with my written copyright release on the inside of the tray, and the outside cover can be switched to three different outside pictures. [Jewelboxing cases] are also very durable and made of some type of smudge resistant material.”

Thanks to Michael, Heather, and Edward for their generosity in publicly extolling our virtues on their sites and here’s to hoping it’s finally feeling like summer in Boca Raton, New York City, Tulsa, Santa Monica, Cerritos, Middletown, Solana Beach, Idaho Springs, Denver, Dacula, Playa del Ray, Huntsville, Los Angeles, Franklin, Torrance, Lawndale, Hollywood, Encinitas, Little Rock, Martinsburg, Brewster, and Dallas.

Important News for the Home Brewer and the Thirsty: Our Disc Labels Find a Valuable New Use

So let’s say you’ve packaged up your project, but you find you have a few extra disc labels left over. Do you hold onto them for future discs? Sure, you could, and that’s maybe the most practical thing to do, but your other option is to follow Christopher Roeleveld, of the food blog Food Crypt, and turn those spare pieces into clever bottle covers for home brewed beer. Much more attractive than just a plain bottle or a piece of masking tape thrown on there, while also quicker than designing some sort of fancy stick-on, regulation-size wrap. We can’t guarantee the labels will stay on once condensation and/or refrigeration gets involved, but as Christopher has proved, they’re sure to stay on long enough for you to snap a quick photo.

 

A big thanks to Christopher for letting us share his photo and here’s to hoping there’s lots more creative re-purposing (and purposing, of course) going on in Long Island City, San Diego, Little Falls, San Jose, Coatesville, San Francisco, Broomfield, Bloomington, Indianapolis, Keller, Fall River, Palm Harbor, Austin, Hagerstown, New York, Venice, Keene, Van Nuys, Conroe, and Santa Monica.

Coming Soon: An Exciting New Pack and Ship Experience

For the past couple of years, we’ve been using the office next door to the studio as a storage space (an occasionally turning it into a photo/sound stage when there’s room). It was a fairly typical small office space, with gray laminate desks and walls separating the five or so large rooms. Presumably those had cubicles, big copy machine, water coolers and the like in them at one time (most everything but the smaller offices had been gutted before we moved in). It’s been a great space to have over the years, but as we’ve grown, all the boxes of Jewelboxing, Field Notes, etc. have spilled into our main space. What’s more, because they were separate areas, it was becoming more of a burden to go out our door, walk down the hall, unlock the other office’s door, grab what you needed, then reverse the process. There had to be a better way.

So over the past couple of months, we laid out a plan for how we could turn the space into an ideal pack and ship area. Liking what we’d come up with, we spent the first part of last week moving everything out and then construction began last Friday and into the weekend, with all those walls being torn down. It’s now being painted and the new flooring should be in next week. After that, we can’t wait to start putting the whole thing together, hopefully resulting in a much more efficient, much more pleasant to look at pack and ship space.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog

Picture Perfect

Bay Area-based Alison Yin is not just a spectacular photographer, but she’s also a stellar blogger. For the past two years, she’s been writing about her experiences shooting fine art, documentary subjects, engagements, weddings, and anything else she can point a camera at and make look lovely. And lovely the accompanying photos are, often making great use of the wide, expansive space provided by the wilds of California or incorporating the immediate surroundings in clever and interesting ways. As we’re an office filled with a handful of aspiring, amateur photographers, Alison takes the sort of photos we aspire to one day capture ourselves (she’s maddeningly good with an external flash, whereas we’re still getting the hang of it). All that praise now dished out, we were thrilled to find that she had recently posted some images of the Jewelboxing cases she designed for an engagement she’d photographed. Like the rest of her work, it’s terrific. And we’re very happy to have been involved in her process.

Thanks very much to Alison for letting us use the photo of her case and here’s to hoping that people and things are being as nicely lit and captured in Berryton, Sunland, New York, Hidalgo, Los Angeles, Holladay, Turlock, Sherman Oaks, Oceanside, West Monroe, Venice, Hollywood, Pittsburgh, Appleton, Hebron, Manor, Savannah, San Diego, Rochester, Bedford, Waco, Knoxville, Van Nuys, Portland, Saint Martinville, South Pasadena, Camas, Columbia, and Port Washington.

Now Available in Belarusian

Every now and again, you get an email that comes completely out of the blue. But when, in this random email, someone asks you, “I would like to translate your homepage into the Belarusian language, which is my mother tongue. Is it ok with you, do you mind?” as Martha Ruszkowski recently did, you of course answer, “Yes, please!” And so Martha, in an effort to practice her translating skills, has done just that, turning the main landing page of this very site into the very attractive, Cyrillic-filed Belarusian. While it’s not likely that any of us here will be able to read the translation, it was a great, unexpected treat. And hey, maybe it’ll mean a big uptick in business from Eastern Europe! Here’s the translated opening paragraph:

“Мы прафесійныя дызайнеры, якія былі незадаволены матэрыялаў для пакавання DVD-дыскаў і нашых кампакт-дыскаў. Мы стварылі Jewelboxing каб дазволіць тварам для атрымання кароткатэрміновай высокага класа пакеты і даць ім волю, каб засяродзіцца на найболей важнай часткай працы, творчы. Мы абралі Super Jewel Box ™ Кароль і Стандартныя выпадкі, створаных дадатковых кампанентаў найвысокай якасці і зрабіў дакладныя шаблоны дызайну для практычна ўсіх асноўных дызайну і праграм публікацыі праграмнага забеспячэння.”

A big thanks to Martha for sharing it with us and here’s to hoping the cases themselves are being used for interesting projects, in any language, in Raleigh, New Windsor, Los Angeles, Venice, San Diego, Erdenheim, Wakarusa, Woodbury, Fort Wayne, Louisville, Salt Lake City, Blaine, Mankato, St. Louis, Chesterfield, Scappoose, Seattle, Toluca Lake, Eden Prairie, Rogersville, Everett, Brownstown, and Culver City.

The Power of a Good Valentine’s Mix Disc

A couple of years ago around this time, we checked in with one of our favorite semi-annual Valentine’s Day projects, Dan LaMee’s “Red Roses Mix.” Dan had been making them for a few years now, giving all the single women in his life very well-designed mix discs of all his favorite songs. Thinking he might have done it again for 2011, we just now took a look at his Flickr page, where he’d regularly been posting photos of his King cases. First thing we see: shots of pre- and post-wedding. So congrats all around to Dan and his lovely wife! We probably don’t deserve full credit, but we think his annual mix discs certainly must have upped his standing.

A big congrats once more to Dan and his wife and here’s to hoping Kings and Standards are being put to romantic use in the lovely places like Santa Monica, Jacksonville, Littlestown, Winter Park, Broomfield, New York, Bryan, Portland, Los Angeles, Rogersville, Anaheim, Beaverton, Boonville, Savannah, Venic, Pacific Palisades, Encino, Butler, Buena Park, Durham, and Weatherford.

Well Taught

Phillip Chee, whose work we’ve featured before on two occasions over the past couple of years, is back at it, impressing us again. Previously, he’d used Jewelboxing to make his own soundtrack album for a film that never saw one released and packaging collections of his photography. Now he’s apparently passing on his well-honed casing skills, as we see in his latest Flickr post of his daughter’s first design, a mix disc of her own, using our King cases. And judging from the song selection, listed on the back cover, it looks as though Phillip is also passing along a great taste in music. Continue reading

The Cutting Edge for Shear Beauty

While we’ve featured lots of great photographers’ projects here on the blog and at least a decade’s worth of hair and styling has been done within all the films and various shoots we’ve profiled over the years, never before have the two met directly. That is until we heard from Jon Horton, who recently put together a stellar series of photos for a professional stylist, packaged beautifully for his client using our Standard cases. Here’s from Jon:

“I’m a passionate web developer, designer and photographer with an eye for detail and a desire to help people. I’m currently freelancing in Raleigh, NC where I have the opportunity to work on a variety of creative projects. I absolutely love taking pictures, and I’m especially fond of candid shots, fashion photography and soft lighting.

“I was recently contacted to do a photo shoot to represent the hair and makeup work of a local stylist, Tara Gardiner. We went with a modern, edgy look, and the photos turned out fabulous. As with all my photo projects, I created a custom Jewelboxing case to deliver the final files. The client absolutely loved the packaging, and all of her friends were wondering how something that professional was printed on a home printer! Jewelboxing is the perfect complement to my business that makes every project a success.

“Delivering photos from a photo session is a must, but who likes a sharpie labeled disc? Insert Jewelboxing here. With every photo session, I am able to design a custom case and label to present photos to a client in a way they won’t forget. Jewelboxing is amazing, and using their products has made it so much simpler to create visually stunning packaging that impresses my clients. Thanks Jewelboxing and lots of love for creating such an incredible product!

Big thanks to Jon for talking with us and here’s to hoping clients, both the nicely styled and the slightly unkempt, are being impressed in Des Plaines, Chicago, Northbrook, Candler, Glendale, Columbus, Santa Clara, Olathe, Culver City, Louisville, Spokane, Lindsay, Toronto, Ottawa, Charlottetown, Calgary, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sarasota, Livonia, Charlotte, Ortonville, and Allen.

Behind the Scenes Look at Shooting a Pixma Spot

A cool behind the scenes look at the filming of a series of spotsfor Canon’s line of Pixma printers. Relevant to Jewelboxing because we chose the Pixma iP4600 to include in our completely-complete Studio kits, after it had been reviewed as the highest rated inkjet for its amazing coverage and fidelity. If you’re in the market for a new printer, it comes highly recommended. But of course you can use any brand of printer for great results when printing on one of our kits (we custom mill the paper to make sure of it). Here’s the cool making-of:

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog, Film

Every Story Has a Case

A nice surprise to run across this post earlier today. Designer, filmmaker and the force behind the always terrific CreativeXpert podcast, Alan Houser, was kind enough to put together this entry on his blog, extolling the virtues of Jewelboxing. In the post, he shows off his work in a project he recently put together for a client (“While I don’t normally ‘do weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs'”, he writes, “I do on occasion produce photo DVDs for family, friends, and a few clients.”)

Along with a great selection of photos, showing all the pieces he created to put into an assembled King case, he throws in some behind-the-scenes comments along the way. In one section, you’ll see that he uses that great trick of lining the disc up with the inside tray image (Bryan here at Jewelboxing HQ made this great tutorial showing how you do just that). He also mentions that having a “stomper” to get the labels to fit onto the discs just-so isn’t included in a standard Jewelboxing kit. While that’s true, you can always add one into your shopping cart at checkout (we refer to it by its more technical name, the “Disc Label Applicator”).

A million thanks to Alan for singing our praises and we’re thrilled to see that his project worked out so well. Here’s to hoping there are more thrills, thanks, and happy clients in Allston, Sterling Heights, Myerstown, Dallas, Paia, Manati, Fujimino-shi, London, Parkersburg, North Vancouver, Bountiful, Norman, Port Richey, Savannah, Los Angeles, Fredericksburg, Stockton, San Marcos, Landover, Boise, Leesburg, Fairfield, Powell, Toronto, Fall River, Paris, Chicago, Lake Zurich and St. Louis.

Jewelboxing Up Close in Sonoma/Napa

If you’re a photographer in the inland-northern California area next week, we just ran across news of the Sonoma/Napa Pictage User Group meeting on Monday the 9th. What caught our attention is that the group’s leader, the talented photographer Megan Clouse, will be hosting a Show and Tell of the items she uses in her business, “Jewelboxing CD Cases” included. Here’s an interview with Megan about the group and its get togethers, and here are the details of the meeting (just make sure to RSVP first):

Monday, August 9th
Jeremiah’s Photo Corner
441 Sebastopol Avenue (@ South A St)
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
4:30pm Mingle
5:00pm Show & Tell
6:00pm Questions and Goodbyes

A Sunny Ray in Raleigh

I’ve never been to Raleigh, North Carolina, but if it’s filled with talented and friendly people like Nancy Ray, maybe it’s high time for a visit. Nancy’s a photographer in the city, shooting weddings and portraits (and working out of her brand new home studio), and has been using our cases to package her photos for her clients. She took a few moments out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her work and why she uses Jewelboxing:

“I am Nancy Ray, a photographer based out of the lovely city of Raleigh, NC. I love all things vintage, timeless, classy and whimsical, and I want to reflect that in my photography. My photographs are based on the belief that they are to be beautiful art, as well as something you can look at in 50 years and fall madly in love with all over again.”

“The beauty of Jewelboxing is the freedom it gives you. I create DVD cases that ‘wow’ my clients, with beautiful images, design and text that fits my branding. They are, to repeat my loves: vintage, timeless, classy and whimsical, because I design them to be that way. My favorite part about Jewelboxing is how professional and sturdy they are, with neither form nor function sacrificed! It is the perfect combination and I get so many compliments on the cases alone. A big internet hug to Jewelboxing for what they’ve added to my business! I’d recommend them any day.”

A big internet hug right back to Nancy, with many more to follow for those who just ordered in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Canton, Brooklyn, Lecanto, Portland, Plano, Raleigh, Courtenay, Port Charlotte, Westfield, Westbury, Smyrna, Sault Sainte Marie, Sacramento, Jersey City, San Francisco, Suwanee, Huntersville, Atlanta, Boulder, San Leandra, Wilmington, Seattle, Baton Rouge, New York, and Union Town.

Well-Crafted Accompaniment

Alex Gould, who we profiled for Case Study 11 about his documentary An Interview with James Jarvis has put together what looks like another great film and another terrific case design. The Organist tells the story of cinema organist Dave Nicholas, who has played along with motion pictures at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Cinema for twenty years, as well as church services for an additional ten years. Here’s the trailer for the film: Continue reading

A Can’t Miss Multi-Level Packaging Opportunity

Because we think it’s every person’s destiny to own just as many boats, cars, and tropical isle dream homes as we do, we’ve been thinking here at Jewelboxing HQ about how we can help you maximize your potential and create just enough synergy to explode your current revenue dynamics and live your dreams by earning as much as $70,000 per month with only an hour of work per week, tops. We’re still not entirely finished with this exciting profitability opportunity, so in the interim (and while you save the $299 we’ll be asking for as an initial startup fee), we thought we’d share a note from filmmaker Byword Smith about how he’s putting our King cases to great use with his latest project:

“I’m a stand-up comedian and filmmaker out of Washington, DC. I just produced a comedy short called Hopes and Schemes, which is about a man who gets caught up in a unique “business” opportunity that he hopes will help him reach his dream, but ends up taking him further away.”

Hopes and Schemeswas a two year process for me. Working in multiple areas of the digital film production process was mandatory if I wanted to articulate the vision I had for the story, and also make a great product along the way. I found out about Jewelboxing years ago through a friend and knew that if I ever created a dvd, I’d consider those cases.”

“The reason I chose Jewelboxing over other DVD cases was because I want to stand out as a filmmaker and make a memorable first impression to people when they get my film. I want people to say to themselves, “I want this!” I’ve already received many compliments on the cases. What I also love about Jewelboxing is the all-in-one setup that’s provided; between the templates and the perforated paper, my house is a one-stop shop for DVD creation!”

Thanks a million to Byword for dropping us a line (here’s the Hopes and Schemes trailer) and here’s to hoping hard work is being one-stop shopped in Edmonton, Glendale, Toronto, St. Catharines, Clovis, Minneapolis, Dallas, San Francisco, Virginia Beach, Goleta, Tucson, Santa Rosa, Benbrook, Meriden, Brooklyn, Spokane, Mission Viejo, Janesville, Portland, Huntington Beach, Odessa, Quebec City, Vestal, Honolulu, Phillipsburg, Lomond, Welland, and Panama City.

Picturesque

Given that we make a product that’s at its best when great images are used, it’s fair to say that we’re suckers for well-made photos. All the better when the photographers themselves are great to talk to, like Brenda and Brian Brooks who run Bb & Co. Photography. Taking a few minutes away from their busy schedule shooting portraits and weddings, freelance designing and art directing, and trying to keep up with their two kids, they talked to us a little about themselves and their work:

“Bb&Co.; is a husband and wife photography duo based out of the amazing, and very picturesque, Hood River, Oregon. We love to capture people in their element — the fun, the quirky, the emotional; all of it so beautiful. And you know what? We have so much fun doing what we do. We consider ourselves pretty dern lucky (and blessed).”

“The beauty of our images is magnified by the presentation. We want our clients to be over the moon about Bb&Co; Photography and Jewelboxing is a major contributor to that end. Every wedding and portrait session we photograph receives a copy of their original images on disc. Usually, people tend to expect just to get a CD-R, with their names written in Sharpie, shoved in a paper sleeve. Jewelboxing allows us to give them something extra that makes both us and them look good.”

“It’s always great to receive a gift, but when that gift is wrapped up in a nice little package, it just makes it all the better. Jewelboxing is our nice little package.”

Thanks a million to Brenda and Brian and here’s to hoping there’s some nice little packages being wrapped up in Gordonsville, Rouen, Allston, Wilton, Helensburgh, Manchester, Amherst, Whistler, Akron, Ashland, Calgary, Newport Beach, Anaheim, Hidalgo, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Glendale, Philadelphia, Scottsdale and Roswell.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Band, Blog

Breaking the Chains of Unreleased Soundtracks

Used to be that you were at the mercy of studios, distributors, and big retailers. But now with things like iTunes, inexpensive media, and ahem, Jewelboxing, if you want something that isn’t available or doesn’t exist, there’s no reason not to just make it yourself. We saw that back in June of last year when Raymond Forbes decided he wanted to make his perfect David Cronenberg box set. Now we see it again with Phillip Chee, who wanted the soundtrack for the film One Week, but it had never come out. So he just wrote down the tracks listed in the credits, download the songs (and “added a second set of tracks from the artists on the play list to fill up the disc”) and there you go, instant album. And definitely much more attractive than something you would have bought at the store.

Thanks to Phillip for sharing the photos of his great creation on Flickr (if his name sounds familiar, we’ve also featured him on our blog before) and here’s to all those taking charge of their soundtrack and box set needs in San Francisco, Palm Harbor, Perth, Venice, Villenuve D’Ascq, Biscarrosse, Bilbao, Preston, Southampton, Ashford, Raleigh, Washington D.C., Vail, New York, Singapore, Ben Lomond, Ozone Park, Brooklyn, Santa Monica, and Lewisville.

All Lined Up

From time to time, we get a call or an email from a Jewelboxing user asking how to make an image line up across the cover, the tray and spine, and the discs, making it look like there’s one solid image across all the case’s parts. It’s a cool look and one that’s been popular since we launched the system. But if you’re just a casual user of design software, it can be a little trickier to pull off than it would be for a seasoned pro. Fortunately, if you’re interested in trying it out, Bryan has put together the following video tutorial to guide your way through the process:
(if you’re having trouble seeing sections of the video, we recommend clicking on the “Full Screen” icon — that should help)

As always, if you have any other questions about this or anything else, or happen to get stuck somewhere along the way, feel free to drop us a line.

A big thanks to Bryan for all his how-to expertise and here’s to hoping that images are going uninterrupted in Conroe, Cape Town, Liverpool, Seattle, Austin, Belfast, Heverlee, San Francisco, Toongabbie, Atlanta, Strum, Telford, Edina, Wyong, El Vendrell, Suwanee, London, Berlin, Bushey, and Pittsburgh.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog

The Holiday Hunt for ‘How Thoughtful!’

Around this time of year, we think it’s helpful to remind you that Jewelboxing isn’t all just serious business, used to win clients’ attention and affection. You can also use the system to make great holiday gifts, moving people like your mother from “It’s special because you made it” to “Wow! You made this?!”

There are lots of ideas in our archives. Taken from just this year alone, you could do something like Phillip Chee and create mix discs for all those on your list. Or gather up all the films of someone’s favorite director and put together the perfect box set, like designer Raymond Forbes did. Give that teenage designer to put their portfolio in so they can get into any college of their choosing (it worked for Mason Sklar). Or create the world’s finest photography set by combining a disc full of snaps and a multi-page accompanying booklet, using our handy tutorial. Finally, for more season-specific reference, here’s the holiday-ideas recap we put together last year.

Whatever you wind up making, if you use Jewelboxing, thanks for letting us play a part in making the holidays bright for you and yours, and impressing the heck out of your mom along the way.

A special nod to all those in Livonia, Los Altos, North Vancouver, Portland, Irvine, Sao Paulo, Lehi, San Juan, Wilton, Olympia, Allston, Nelson, New York, Rivonia, Seattle, Austin, Saint Martinville, Los Angeles, Plano, and Hoboken.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog, Film

Taking a Shot

As a company that has regularly decided to just try and see if we can make a go of something (heck, it’s why Jewelboxing exists), we really appreciate people who do the same. People like Utah-based Opie Janzer, who went to school for photography, but didn’t really get into the nuts and bolts of it until she decided to throw herself into it and see if she could make it her profession. Fortunately for the great state of Utah, her plan worked. Here’s from Opie:

“I decided to become a wedding photographer shortly after my own wedding in October 2006. I was obsessed with all the wedding photos I saw online and in bridal magazines. I would collect “must take” photos in a folder and visualized each shot in my head. I just had to get a camera and start creating my own images. I purchased my first camera in March 2007 and committed to shooting my first wedding before I even owned the camera, so I began shooting professionally almost immediately, with very little time to learn the basics. But since then, my photography style has developed into something that’s fresh, colorful, and fun. I like to bring my clients personality to each photograph as well as my own.”

“I love using Jewelboxing because when I give the DVD of wedding pictures to my clients, they always gasp in excitement. They run their hands all over the case and are eager to open it up to see what’s inside. The cases are the perfect match for my photography and the quality I want to deliver to each client.”

“On the front and back, I like to highlight one large photo for each and a large horizontal photo on the inside jacket. I keep the print release separate, printing it on it’s own piece of paper. And I don’t slap my logo all over the place (in fact, I don’t even put it on the DVDs). I feel like the photos should stand on their own and my clients are purchasing a custom piece of art that should not be bogged down with my name all over the place. All my DVDs are clean, colorful, and sexy.”

Thanks to Opie for sharing with us, and here’s to hoping all forms of case-able media are coming out clean, colorful and sexy in Portland, New York, Chicago, Quezon, Murrysville, Brooklyn, Livonia, O’Fallon, Ulster, Merriam, Benbrook, Columbus, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sacramento, Fort Myer, Tucson, San Juan, Santa Monica, Irvine, and Edmonton.

Better Than an SAT Prep Course?

We know we shouldn’t get big heads and that overt proudness is unbecoming, but sometimes it’s easy to feel pretty pleased with ourselves around here, particularly when we get letters like this one from Mason Sklar:

“I know it’s been way too long, but I really want to thank you guys for inventing Jewelboxing. Unfortunately, I only made one copy of my disk, which a college admissions guy may or may not still have and while the contents of the disk are at my site, I have no documentation of it actually existing.”

“But! The good new is that said college admissions guy was impressed with my portfolio, especially the presentation of it (that’s you guys). I got an acceptance letter from this school (which was my first choice) two weeks later, as well as a scholarship, and I’m sitting in their dorms procrastinating right now. So thanks for being awesome. High fives all around.”

So can we therefor infer that use of Jewelboxing is a sure-fire way of getting into your top pick for college? Well, it’s verifiably worked at least once before, so maybe that’s enough to start including in any promotional materials we print up.

Big thanks and congrats all around to Mason. And here’s to hoping palaces of higher learning are taking a close look at our customers in Minneapolis, New York, Boston, Columbus, Costa Mesa, Petaluma, Santa Monica, Vestal, Birmingham, Fortville, Loveland, Honolulu, Roy, Sunbury, Danbury, Kirtland, Brooklyn, and White Rock.

Case Study 16: Setbuild Project

With our Jewelboxing Case Studies, we like to find a subject that either has an impressive body of work or are putting together something we find really interesting. We’ve been incredibly fortunate thus far to have found both, operating together, with all of our Case Study subjects. And with Alex Kent and the Setbuild Project, we continue that tradition in our sixteenth conversation about impressive and interesting things. Let’s get going.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I’m Alex Kent. I’m 29 and the lead tutor for the 1st Year of the undergraduate course BA(hons) Contemporary Photographic Practice at the University for the Creative Arts in the southeast of England. Outside of this, I work with professional and fine-art photographers on-set and in post-production.

What is the Setbuild Project?

The Setbuild Project is a studio photography project that I run annually. It was first set up in 2002 by my predecessor, Jonathan Simms, and it has run every year since then (I took over three years ago). The premise of the project is this: Working in groups, students are tasked with choosing a scene from a publicly released feature film, then recreate that scene as a still photographic image in the studio. Practically, this means recreating the set, lighting, costumes, props, and every other element of the original. Conceptually, this requires the students to decipher which elements of the scene create the narrative and emotional tension. Their ability to define and reproduce these is key to making the photographic image hold the drama of the original.

Over the years, the project has evolved and improved, and each year the scale and ambition of the students’ builds take on bigger challenges. The Setbuild Project has elevated from good to amazing by the incredible support that we have. Each year we work with professional set designers and constructors, DRS Construction, who guide the students through the practical elements of designing and building the sets. We also have very generous support from Arri Lighting GB and CirroLite, who loan us industry leading lighting equipment, and Hasselblad, whose phenomenal H-series digital cameras we use.

Can you describe the process for us, what’s involved with each project?

The project begins each year in late February. Students form production teams of four or five members and start to choose a film. We’re always looking for scenes that will give the right balance of challenges and excitement, yet will still be possible for the students to produce.

Once the teams have settled on a scene, they have approximately ten weeks of pre-production time, in which they must plan every element of the shot. This involves making mockups of the set and lighting, finding all props and costumes, casting actors, testing special effects. Then in May, we build and shoot everything. Each team gets one week in a studio to build, light, shoot, and strike (break and tidy) the set.

Last year we had eleven teams total; four teams working at once, spread across three studios for three weeks! The production weeks are pretty intense; our studios aren’t enormous and having twenty people working eight ’til eight for their five production days can get pretty frantic.

The visual translation of the scenes, from moving a cinema-aspect image into a still camera-aspect, is a big challenge for the students. The final images should not simply be a facsimile of a freeze frame from the film, but should be the scene captured and portrayed in a single photographic image. When the project was first run, it was shot on 5″x4″ large format standard cameras, which as anyone who has used one knows, are pretty unforgiving. Film that size retains a huge amount of detail and enforces a level of rigour in the quality of the production. At the University, we have recently established a productive relationship with the Hasselblad camera company, with their support the last two years the students have been able to use the H-series medium format digital cameras for this project. We’re now able to take advantage of the instant-feedback and tethered shooting, remote control capabilities of digital cameras, without loosing any of the rigour that the large-format cameras enforced.

Are the students who enroll in the program interested in becoming filmmakers and photographers, or do they lean more toward the technical, wanting to become set designers or cinematographers?

It’s a spread. This is actually one of the biggest challenges that I and the other tutors face in planning and running the course. We have around 60 students in the each year and whilst the majority come from art foundation courses in the UK, around a quarter of the group are from elsewhere in Europe or the world. The switch to digital in photography has fragmented the process of learning how photography works. Some students will have worked almost entirely with traditional film processing and printing, whereas others may have never picked up a film camera, but will be fluent in Photoshop and digital manipulation. When recruiting, we are interested more in ideas and creative thinking than technical dexterity.

As graduates our students go on to many different professions, mostly in the worlds of professional photography and fine-art, but also in filmmaking and publishing.

Since each group is filled with several students, how is the scene/film they’ll be working on chosen? Seems like it would be difficult to reach a consensus.

This can be a problem! Hopefully students form teams around similar thematic and stylistic tastes, but this doesn’t always happen. The choice comes down to finding a balance between a shot which will work well as a ‘still’ and is challenging enough for everyone to get their teeth into. It’s very important to get the balance of elements right. Scenes that are prop or costume heavy are very hard to do, as finding all the exact props can take a phenomenal amount of work (more than anyone expects). Shots which rely too much on the face of a famous actor in the center of the frame are rather hard as well (we obviously don’t have the budget to call Keanu’s agent).

The students are primarily interested in photography rather than prop gathering or set decoration, so we tend to bias towards images where the atmosphere is created by the lighting and cinematography (Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner), rather than lavish set design (Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette).

Once the teams have come up with a short list of two or three scenes, we test build each of them in the studio to get a better idea of the scale and complexity of the build (at this point we also establish detailed floor plans and elevations, camera position, lens choice, approximate light positions).

The students are not given a budget for the sets, but we provide the technical resources they will need; camera, lighting, grip equipment, and we provide basic building materials; wooden ‘flats’, timber, tools (as much as possible these are reused, set to set). Anything and everything that is specific for the scene the students must source themselves. We encourage students to find creative solutions to problems rather than spending money. This is the focus of the ten week pre-production period, locating and negotiating the loan of props and costumes. Anything that cannot be found will end up being made by the students. Planning and sticking to a budget is part of the project, and most of the sets complete for under $200.

After a group has chosen a scene to recreate, do they ever reach a point where they think they’ve taken on a selection that’s perhaps a bit too complicated (or even too simple)? Or do you help them along the way, making sure it’s a good mix of approachable and challenging?

We have some very enthusiastic students. From the ’09 project, there were points in both the Pan’s Labyrinth and Sweeney Todd sets where I began to doubt that it was possible to make it all happen in time.

Pan’s Labyrinth was uncharted territory. We’d never attempted a naturalistic scene before. Instead of walls to build and props to find, there are roots and mud. It was also very hard to establish any scale or geometry for the set, as the original is a almost a static frame. The pre-production weeks went by and it was very hard to come up with even a plan of the space which everyone agreed with. Even once the set was underway in the studio, it was extremely hard to visualise how the elements came together, it wasn’t until the students started to light it that it began to take shape and come to life.

Sweeney Todd was also an incredible project. The room itself is quite large and tall, with a huge window looking out to a view over Dickensian London. The distance to the camera is quite far, so right at the planning stage there were doubts whether it could be built in our studios. We’ve never attempted painting backdrops before and suddenly we were taking on a shot where the backpainting is in the centre of the frame. To compound both of those, the scene itself is very bright, so there’s nowhere to hide! Every period prop had to be found, the detail of all the wooden mouldings reproduced, and the elaborate dress that Lucy is wearing had to be found. This project was incredibly ambitious in every aspect. The team really rose to the challenge. Their dedication and attention to detail was amazing and it all paid off in a spectacular final image.

We’ve been running this project for a few years now and we’ve completed a total of ninety sets. Each year the students want to up the ante, challenge the limits and do something that’s never done before. Last year, a new undergraduate course entitled Creative Arts for Theatre & Film began at the same campus as the photography school. Given the remit of that course, it seemed a natural fit that we’d work together on the Setbuild Project. The skills and focus of the two courses really complimented each other and opened a lot of new possibilities. One of these was bringing the skills for large scale painted backdrops. The Batmanset was a product of this, a relatively simple set in front of a stretched canvas backplate. As it turned out, I rather underestimated the scale of the backplate. Our original estimate of 3m x 3.5m became 4m by 4.5m. Then we eventually built a 4.5m x 5m wooden frame, stretched a canvas over it, and found it was the absolute minimum size we could possibly get away with.

Do the students themselves appear as the actors in the scenes? Or do they have to also hunt around for someone who looks similar to the original performer from the film they’re recreating? And along with that, who handles all of the wardrobe and prop design? It’s all remarkably accurate.

The teams’ members are not allowed to be in their own shots, as there is quite enough for them to do without trying do to the acting as well! The teams have to do their own casting. This is a really big challenge when choosing a shot in the first place. Many scenes are made iconic or emotionally powerful by the performances they contain.

Many of the actors in our shots are ‘street cast’; our students simply approach people they find and try to talk them into it. Other times, actors are found through online and offline stage and model communities. Casting can be incredibly tough and there are plenty of times when the planned models drop out at the last minute. As we can’t pay we’re always at the mercy of people’s availability from work and so on. A couple of times we have approached a few of the original actors, but sadly haven’t yet managed to convince any to come along (we made a concerted effort to get Simon Pegg for the Hot Fuzz shot last year, but unfortunately it didn’t suit his schedule, as I understand he was shooting the forthcoming Paul at the time). This remains a stretch goal of the project for me.

A few times students have actors cast from the outset and choose a scene around their actor. One of the early shots from The Crow was a case in point, the students knew someone who did an excellent Brandon Lee impersonation, they chose a shot which played to that, and the result is fantastic.

Wardrobe and props, we find or make! Finding accurate props takes a lot of work. eBay can be immensely useful, but as we’re trying not to spend money, it can be easier to negotiate a loan or trade if the item can be found in real life. If items can’t be found, or are unreasonably expensive, the students will build it. We have support each year from professional set and prop makers who work with the students showing them how to carve polystyrene, cast paster, vacuum form plastic, and create paint and surface effects. It’s all made slightly easier that anything we make only has to look good from one point of view!

Why did you require the teams to keep production diaries and offer live studio cameras of the sets as they’re being constructed?

Since the inception of the project we’ve required students to keep a ‘log’ of their progress, so tutors are able to get insight into the students understanding of their own progress.

Five years ago, we decided to make the project exist online as well as in the studio. We setup the website and it seemed like a natural progression to run online production blogs for each team. They serve several purposes, but primarily they become a communication tool between the teams’ internal workings and the outside world. As much of the project naturally takes place outside of the photography school, the blogs become an informal way that all the tutors and staff that are involved can contribute to each team’s development. Also, many students from the 2nd and 3rd years of the BA (and even graduates) are very excited about the project and want to be involved; the blog becomes an public communication channel with the teams.

We run the webcams in the studio because they make exciting viewing! The builds can look amazing and the students are all to eager to tell everyone they know “look what we’re doing!”

Do you get a sense, once the projects are all finished, at how the students feel about the process? Surprised at how much work goes into it or all the more energized to enter the industry?

I think (and hope) for most students that there’s a sense of elation. Eleven weeks might seem like a long time, but once it gets going, the project passes really fast, and the final production week is intense and exhausting for everyone. We make a big show out of the end of project reviews, cutting together clips of the original films, stop-frame animation from the studio webcams so everyone gets to see the story that the other teams have been working through. This is a celebration of the work that the students have put into the project, culminating in the unveiling of large scale photographic prints of the shots.

One of my favourite aspects of this project is that it shows students that they can make incredible images which look as good or better than the Hollywood original. And they’ve done it on no budget, with a crew of five. I think it’s a really empowering project.

Any trick of the trade that’s always surprising to the students? Something that makes everyone stop and say “I didn’t know that’s how that was done?”

Everyone is always amazed at the versatility of polystyrene. Last year we were donated a lorry load of pre-used polystyrene rocks, which were entirely convincing to until you realised you could lift them with one hand.

Any particular favorites from over the years? Projects that blew you away?

Both the shots we’ve done from Sin City have been outstanding and both for very different reasons.

The Sin City shot from 2008 season was a technical tour de force. They chose to make a shot which takes place in a cavernous warehouse space, yet create it in a single story photo studio. The entire top half of the frame, the roof of the warehouse, was made as a ‘foreground miniature’; a 2m wide cardboard model. To make the illusion work in the final shot, the aperture of the camera has to be set so that there is sufficient depth of field to get the roof in focus. Once this aperture is set, it then defines the level of lighting required in every other part of the frame. It was an incredible technical challenge which was realized amazingly well.

The 2006 Sin City also had some excellent creative problem solving. This project was shot on 5″x4″ large format sheet film cameras and students had to present the negative as it came out of the camera alongside the final retouched image (now they are required to submit the camera RAW file direct from the camera along with the retouched final). There is always a challenge of how perfect you can colour and tonality of the shot in the studio before you take it into Photoshop. For this particular shot, as is the style of Sin City, the contrast is extremely high. Even with all the lighting in the correct places it is very hard to create the correct contrast (notably the contrast is much lower on Bruce Willis’s face than the rest of the frame). In the end the students hit on a solution, they reversed the photographers adage of “painting with light” and simply painted with paint. Where they needed shadow on the cell bars, they painted the bars black, where they needed light, they painted white! It was a gloriously simple solution to a complex problem, and since the scene only needs to look perfect with one set of lights from one camera position, it worked flawlessly.

The ’07 In The Mood For Love is also a shot which I like very much; it’s one where the team struggled against huge problems during their production and whilst the final shot doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny, it manages to capture a lot of the emotion of the original scene. The performances of the actors and the subtly of lighting make the shot excellent, when it could have very well not been completed at all.

After they’re done with this course, what are the students on to next and do they build upon what they’ve learned in Setbuild?

The Setbuild Project is the last tightly defined project we set the students, once they move into the second year of the course they’re much more free to choose the style and form of photographic work they want to pursue. Whilst not everyone wants to return to the studio to build sets straight away, the idea of constructing the photographic frame and paying attention to every element of final image follows through into whatever work they make.

In the third year of the course, the students produce their final project a number of people return to creating worlds in the studio.

We got to talking because you’d mentioned using Jewelboxing for this year’s Setbuild. What were you using the cases for?

The Setbuild Project is made possible by the generous support of a number of companies and as a small token of our appreciation to all of the individuals at each of these companies who work over and above to make the project happen, we produce a project review film and mail it out to all of the. To make this extra special, we distribute it in the excellent Jewelboxing King cases.

Any big plans for next year’s series of projects?

I’m hoping we’ll get to collaborate with the Film and Theatre course again next year. Right now it’s in discussion, as the total number of students involved in the project would be over a hundred.

Whilst I am always eager to push the project, there is a danger that it becomes so big, so all engulfing, that it prevents the students from working on their other projects. The student have two other projects running alongside the Setbuild.

In terms of films and scenes, it’s always hard to get away from the last 15 years of Hollywood, largely due to the demographic of the students, but that’s always something we try to push. Obviously the project suits certain type of films and certain types of scenes, but there appears to me theres a rich seem of science fiction movies which we’ve yet to take on. It’s become a bit of a running joke, each year I suggest people should do; 2001Star WarsAlienPlanet of the Apes, or Close Encounters, but so far no one’s taken me up on it.

Spirited Ridiculousness

With Halloween just around the corner, we were hoping to find a holiday-specific Jewelboxing project to mark what is arguably the best holiday of the year. Fortunately, our hopes were realized as we caught word of creepy goings-ons in the Orlando suburb of Kissimmee, Florida (which, of course, has been regularly renowned for its “Very Spooky” listing in most national rankings). The purveyor of said horrors is one T.C. Durham, who was kind enough to take a break from his telling of ghastly tales to share with us his most recent project, the long-awaited sequel in his Trick No Treat film series. Here’s a description of the film:

“Zack (Tyler Zwick) returns to his home town and discovers the worlds last remaining ghost. Zack soon realizes that he must enlist the help of the old gang (T.C. Durham, Mike Chandler, Jacob Wilder) and kill the ghost before the ghost kills them!”

And here’s from T.C. about the project:

“Trick No Treat 3 is probably the most ridiculous project I’ve ever done. It’s random, offensive and over the top. It’s basically Ghostbusters on crack.

Trick No Treat started out as a short video intended to entertain guests at a Halloween party. For the first movie we had nothing. We had no budget and a low-quality camcorder. Now working on TNT3, we’ve upgraded to a high-definition camcorder and Final Cut Studio.

“We were worried that we would make this great movie and have to distribute it on the crappy CD cases you get at the drug store. Then, I discovered Jewelboxing (intro hallelujah chorus). With Jewelboxing’s sweet King cases, we were able to preserve the quality of the movie from beginning to end.

“We’re not professionals, we’re not art kids. We just wanted to make people laugh! The whole movie is one ridiculous event after another. But what I’ve learned from the few people that have screened our movie is that people are impressed when you take being funny seriously.”

A big spine-chilling thanks to T.C. for sharing the project with us and here’s to hoping hairs are raised and blood is curdled this week in Mt. Pleasant, Santa Monica, Louisville, New York, Singapore, Colorado Springs, Tacoma, Atlanta, Bolingbrook, Idaho Springs, Stevenson Ranch, Hagerstown, Toronto, Lubbock, Springfield, Long Beach, Houston, San Luis Obispo, and Amherstview.

What Tom Has Learned in Sunny California

Here in Chicago, the weather tends not to slowly transition between seasons, but rather decide on a sudden whim that it’s done with summer and now it’s fall, all in the blink of an eye. So now that we’re already in the thick of another grey autumn, with winter sure to follow even quicker, it’s nice to imagine those warmer states far to the west of us. Fortunately, we have California-based photographer Tom Vo to paint a picture for us of these sunny days and memorable moments:

“It was a sunny day on a beach in Aptos, CA where I was first inspired by my wedding photographer. Today, I am a San Jose-based wedding photographer and I’m still inspired every day by the different people I meet at each and every wedding. These weddings take me to beautiful wineries in Napa and the most luxurious hotels in San Francisco to the sandy beaches of Santa Cruz. What’s amazing is how much I’ve learned about life throughout this amazing journey. I’ve learned that a groom has a special look in his eyes as he sees his bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle. I’ve learned that big tough dads usually still tear up when they make a toast to their daughters. And I’ve learned that kids are happiest when they are dancing. So who gets the honor of helping the bride and groom capture these once-in-a-lifetime moments? I do.”

And here’s a bit about how Tom became a Jewelboxing user, for which we’re plenty pleased:

“I was up in S.F. with photographers, Gene High and Jose Villa at a workshop last year. That’s where I first heard about this thing called Jewelboxing. Jose raved about them and how he was using them. After checking them out on the website, I was convinced it was worth a try. After making my first one, I was completely hooked on how cool the final product looked. The templates make it easy to customize each layout and the perforations make it a piece of cake to assemble. I have mostly young, hip clients so the style of Jewelboxing suits them perfectly. They truly give us little guys a big professional look.”

Thanks to Tom for writing in and here’s to hoping all the guys, little, medium, or large, are looking pro in Los Angeles, Greenville, Houston, Idaho Springs, Middletown, Richmond, Chattanooga, Noblesville, Olive Brance, Tulsa, Providence, Ballwin, Fredericktown, New York, Chandler, Dallas, Manistee, Venice, Topanga, Springfield, Toronto, Brooklyn, and Renton.