CMU Showcase 2014

On March 21, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama is one of the nation’s finest dramatic schools. You can’t watch an evening of network TV without seeing CMU alumni. The CMU School of Drama is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

My friend and CMU Drama professor, Don Wadsworth asked if I would volunteer to film their Showcase 2014 video. Each year, the school creates a music driven video to introduce the graduating seniors to America’s top producers, directors and casting agents. CMU then flies these seniors to L.A. and NYC to personally meet and perform for entertainment industry leaders.

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Working with CMU professor & director, Randy Kovitz, John Przyborski and I filmed the video on the day students returned from Christmas break. As a two camera shoot, it was my first opportunity to film a project with my son. I’m proud to say that half the scenes in the video were shot by him.

Bob Chamberlain, Chad Calcagno, Tom Gregg, and Ben Perkins all volunteered their Sunday to crew the shoot. Pittsburgh’s LightSpeed generously supplied the crab dolly, lighting and grip equipment .

Check out CMU’s “Showcase 2014″ and remember the names and faces. The next time you see them, they might be in a movie, TV series, or Broadway play!

WVUH “Patient Voices” Campaign

On December 3, 2013, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski


West Virginia University Healthcare is the largest hospital complex in the State of West Virginia. The facility treats many of the region’s most complicated medical cases.

Heidi Specht, WVUH’s Director of Marketing, wanted a series of TV commercials whereby former patients would share their experiences directly with the home viewer. The commercials were to be completely unscripted, allowing patients to tell their stories in their own words.

This concept sounds deceptively easy, but it’s far from it. “Real people” who have never been on TV, can’t comfortably look into a cold, black camera lens and “pretend” they’re talking to a friend.

We decided to use a technique that I pioneered back in ’87. It uses a thru-the-lens teleprompter on the camera. However, instead of seeing the words of a script, the talent sees live video of an interviewer’s face. The on-camera talent talks directly with the interviewer, creating almost perfect eye contact with the home viewer. (In ’87, I first used this production technique to help small children talk on camera. We then used it on a major promotion for Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV. Today network news interviews are often conducted this way.)

The 5 spot commercial campaign airs in HD throughout West Virginia.

Paul Hartwick 1946 – 2013

On September 24, 2013, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

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My former business partner and TV commercial director, Paul Hartwick passed away at UPMC Hospital Sunday afternoon 9-22-13.

Paul and I met while working at Television Production Center (TPC) in Pittsburgh. He had previously worked as an ad agency producer at Ketchum and W.B. Doner which gave him the ability to relate to art directors and writers. In 1975, Hartwick convinced me that we could make a living by starting a commercial production company.

We founded Hartwick/Przyborski Productions in 1975 and operated the company through 1987. During that period “H/P” produced literally hundreds of broadcast advertising commercials for clients and ad agencies across the U.S. We worked separately on most projects and as a team on major productions, especially those from our New York office. Many Pittsburgh crew people got their first film production experience with Hartwick/Przyborski and/or TPC.

Back in the mid-70′s most film projects were actually edited on film. Then a print from the lab was transferred to videotape for TV station distribution. Kodak credited Paul and me as pioneers for shooting 35mm film specifically for editorial on videotape.

Paul Hartwick was an instrument rated, multi-engine pilot and an avid outdoorsman. He loved the woods, hunting, guns, and civil war re-enactments. Years ago, he dropped out of the commercial production business and moved to the Allegheny Forrest near Bradford, PA. Unfortunately, My last contact with Paul was over 10 years ago.

Paul Hartwick is survived by His wife, Mary and daughters, Jennifer & Justi.

New Healthcare Awards

On May 17, 2013, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

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A Przyborski Productions’ TV campaign, produced for Boca Raton Regional Hospital, has won Gold in the 2012 Cancer Awareness Advertising Awards.  This prestigious advertising competition included thousands of entries from hospitals and healthcare facilities located throughout the United States and Canada. Here’s a link to the winning multi-spot campaign:
http://www.przyborski.com/award_videos/Award-Boca-960×540.mov

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Our Children’s Hospital spot for West Virginia University Healthcare is an award winner in the 2012 Healthcare Marketing Report’s national contest. There were over 4,000 entries in the 2012 competition. Here’s a link to the winning spot that features “Aaron’s story”: http://www.przyborski.com/award_videos/Award-WVUH-960×540.mov

Przyborski Shoots Gateway Health Plan’s TV Spots

On December 11, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Gateway Health Plan “No One Asks & Can’t Stop Me” :30 TV spots from Glenn Przyborski on Vimeo.

Gateway Health Plan offers “Medicare Assured” coverage to qualified residents of Pennsylvania. The multi-spot campaign featured people who have overcome their health problems and disabilities.

I’m confident in sharing that extensive pre-production is the primary difference between a successful project and hours of overtime and uncontrolled expenses. I elected to photograph the commercials with a Canon 5Dmk3. This camera’s 36mm x 24mm imager yields very shallow depth-of-field images. This keeps visual separation between the on-camera talent and the background. The 5Dmk3 also has great looking color, especially with flesh tones.
For the location spot, generator powered, HMI lighting supplemented natural daylight for the outdoor footage. For the garage scenes, the primary light source was a 1200 watt HMI through a 3′ x 3′ Chimara diffuser. Talent back-lights were LED lighting panels.

The white limbo studio spot was shot using incandescent lighting. 1K & 2K Arri fixtures were used combined with 3×3 & 3×4 Chimera soft diffusers. The BG white limbo rear wall was lit with 5K Arri fresnels. It’s very important when you shoot this type of commercial that the color balance of the light fixtures that illuminate your BG be exactly the same. Otherwise you’ll end up with a color shift from left-to-right or top-to-bottom.

The campaign currently airs in high-definition throughout the State of Pennsylvania USA.

WPAHS Regional Hospitals

On August 2, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Forbes Regional & Allegheny Valley Hospitals from Glenn Przyborski on Vimeo.

Over the years, I’ve directed and photographed literally hundreds of TV spots for medical centers across the country. This multi-hospital campaign featured similar commercials for Forbes Regional, Allegheny Valley & Canonsburg General Hospital.

Rather than using professional actors and voice-over talent, the campaign’s concept required a real doctor at each facility to talk one-on-one about the services his hospital offers to the community it serves.

Our challenge was a very tight, one day production schedule at each hospital with a limited time to shoot the on-camera doctors. Fortunately, I’ve had years of experience shooting, directing and working with non-professional on-camera talent.

We broke the scripts down to minimize each doctor’s on-camera segments. You can overwhelm “talent” if you ask them to memorize a long, complicated script. The doctors were told that they never had to deliver more than 2 on-camera sentences in each sequence. We didn’t waste time shooting copy that was intended to be covered with “B-Roll”.

Most of each production day was spent shooting the necessary, non-sync footage in and around the hospitals. Everything from intense operating rooms to patient-staff interactions were shot with a combination of HD digital cameras, including the Panasonic AF-100, GH2 and the tiny GoPro Hero2. To achieve an extremely shallow depth-of-field, the on-camera sync scenes were filmed with Canon’s new 5D Mk3. (A few of the cutaways were footage that I had photographed from previous campaigns.)

Actor Tom Atkins… Just for Fun

On April 7, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Tom Atkins is an amazingly talented actor who’s appeared in dozens of major motion pictures and TV series. He often plays a tough guy on the wrong side of the law. Most recently, Atkins played Pittsburgh Steelers founder, Art Rooney in the one man stage play and movie titled, “The Chief”. Tom Atkins has a great sense of humor and is excellent at improvisation.

A few years ago, Atkins was the TV spokesman for Blue Cross of Western PA. I directed and photographed about a dozen spots with Tom, including an Addy winner that featured fishing on the Allegheny River.

On several occasions, after we finished shooting the actual on-air TV commercial, Tom would do his own unique version of the copy.

Just for fun, here’s a couple of Tom Atkins’ “interpretations” of the Blue Cross scripts. They’re pretty much identical to the original scripts, but I can assure you, they’re far more memorable…

A “Knock-Out” Shoot for Przyborski & BrabenderCox

On September 14, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski


It’s like the story of David vs Goliath… only this time Goliath wins. It’s all from the crazy mind of political media superstar, John Brabender. The spot’s a visual metaphor for the unfair tax advantage a big internet business has over small local shops.

I shot the commercial using a RED One camera at Pittsburgh’s 31st Street Studios. At the rear of the 31st facility is the interior of an old industrial warehouse. A crew erected a full-sized, professional boxing ring as our set. We used 4 “space lights” over the ring as a primary light source. Numerous other HMI’s and other lights were used to highlight portions of the old steel warehouse.

I used the RED for most of the camera setups outside the boxing ring. The fighter’s “punches” were shot at 96fps. Inside the ring, I used a Panasonic AF100 for POV shots from both fighter’s perspectives. All the POV scenes were recorded at 40fps to add a “bigger than life” feel to the action. For several intense fight shots, I wore the primary boxer’s glove on my right hand and punched past the lens to the actor’s face for action cutaways. In case you’re wondering, it’s hard (and very unusual) to shoot a scene while you’re punching your actor.

Senior editor, Thad Christian of Pittsburgh’s, Phenomenon Post edited the high energy spot and created the original title graphics.

Letters from Patients

On October 13, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski


For the past several years, I’ve directed and photographed the HDTV commercials for Boca Raton Regional Hospital. BRRH is one of Florida’s finest hospitals. They’re ranked #1 in Florida for overall cardiac services and stroke treatment. They also have one of Florida’s largest cancer programs.

This video was an opportunity to salute one of Boca Raton’s most important assets: its nurses.

I photographed these candid scenes using Panasonic GH1 & GH2 cameras. These small DSLR’s were equipped with Olympus 14-35mm F2 zooms and Canon FD series 50mm F1.4 & 85mm F1.2 lenses. For several days, we maintained a very low profile working in and around active operating rooms and patient areas. Small, 12″ x 12″ LED plexiglas panels were used as fill light on certain scenes.

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to direct and photograph Steelers’ coach, Mike Tomlin in the new TV spots for “The Extra Mile Foundation.” This worthwhile, non-profit organization gives urban kids the chance to attend a school where they learn in an atmosphere that’s free from drugs and violence.

When you’re the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, every hour of your day is blocked out with meetings, interviews and other activities. Mike Tomlin was kind enough to give us 3 hours of his time. Producer and production coordinator, Judy Gurchak and I worked our entire shoot day around Tomlin’s schedule.

Stan Muschwek wrote and produced the new ad campaign. Stan thinks in visual terms, so he wrote scripts that didn’t require our featured talent to rush through his on-camera and voice-over copy. Stan and I have worked together on numerous projects for the past 25 years.

I shot all the 1080P “B-Roll” footage in actual working classrooms. For these scenes, I used Panasonic’s new GH2 camera. It makes great images and it’s small enough that kids don’t feel intimidated having it close to their face. Gaffer, Ted Weigand used small LED soft panels, bounce cards and battery powered LED fill lights to minimize classroom disruptions.

I shot Mike Tomlin’s on-camera segments with Panasonic’s new AF100, HDTV camera. I also photographed the still images for The Extra Mile Foundation’s 2011 print campaign. It feels great to give your time to such a worthwhile cause.

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