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Hi, I'm Dan-O. I am a singer songwriter and I also like making instrumental music which you can use royalty free. Click here for info on licensing my music and songs for your video, photo slideshow, film, app or other media. For questions about my music see the FAQ.

Top 10 Video Production Companies in Los Angeles

I took some time to outline production companies in LA doing commercial work. The top ten picks are based on reel quality, a listing of comprehensive services, stated experience, notable clients and an overall positive impression of their website. If you are looking for a video production company in Los Angeles this is a solid list you can start with.

Seven Pictures
Seven Pictures has been in business for over 20 years. Their main focus is bringing a cinematic hollywood style to commercial video. They deliver extremely high quality videos for the Internet and TV. seven-pictures
Provides promotional, training, live event and commercial video production for corporations. They also have a focus on creating videos specifically for the Internet. notowitz
MRB Productions
MRB places great deal of importance on storytelling in their commercial productions. This is probably due to their impressive feature film experience. mrb
Westside Media Group
Specializes in post production and duplication. Serves all levels of clients from students to major corporate networks. Mainly uses AVID and Final Cut Pro. westside
Cresta Group
Concentrates on video production as a component of marketing strategy. Also provides services like website design and advertising. Their overall marketing communications approach is unique. cresta
Highline Studios
Results-oriented productions created as part of an overall branding, identity and social media strategy. In LA and New York. highline
Advanced Web TV
Produces HD web videos with an eye on increasing sales on your website. Also creates TV commercials for clients world-wide. Comprehensive services from scripting to editing and publishing. advancedweb
The Cavalry Productions
Creates all types of digital content, including videos. Focus is on telling a story using new media and PR. cavalry
Corp Shorts
Nationwide with a crew in LA. Complete solution for online video marketing. Focuses on YouTube and other video sharing platforms. corpshorts
Advanced Media
Helps clients get more traffic to their website by producing videos and using social media. Also a specialist in media restoration and preservation. advanced

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MP3 On Hold Player – What to Look for in an On Hold Music Device

If you are running a small business, then you don’t always have the budget in place to purchase good quality equipment for hold music. However, you do need hold music in place, it is something that customers have come to expect—and of course this makes your company seem much bigger than it actually is. This is going to mean more revenue for your company! So how can you get around this? Well, by using slightly cheaper equipment of course.

On-Hold Plus’ system is a USB drive mp3 player

In the past, many people used CD players which, whilst cheap, were prone to wearing out over time due to prolonged use. Sometimes within a year even with the best quality brands. It also meant that the hold music wasn’t going to be anything special. You were pretty much limited to one CD, which to be honest, will bore the customers if they have to keep on phoning back.

After seeing how many businesses buy my royalty free music package for on their on hold system, I learned that there is a much better way to do this nowadays. That is to use an MP3 player for music on hold! Just imagine the benefits—it is durable, inexpensive, simple to use and the music can easily be changed. However, the problem that many people face is choosing the right model.

In my opinion, there are two things that you need to be on the ‘look out’ for when choosing a player for your music on hold. If it doesn’t have either of these two, then you will need to look elsewhere. To be perfectly honest, there are not many models out there which ‘fit the bill’.

What to look for in an mp3 on hold player

1. You need to be able to loop the music. This is an absolute must. Even if you have filled up the player with music, there will come a time when there is simply ‘no more’ to play, which of course is going to mean that you are going to have no hold music at the end of the line. Talk about confusing for the customer! Therefore you will want to find an device which gets to the end, and then starts all over again. This means that very little ‘maintenance’ of the device is going to be necessary.

2. You will also want it to charge directly from a wall outlet. There are plenty of MP3 on hold players out there which run on standard batteries (Bad!), or charge from a USB Port. This means they aren’t going to be ideal for music on hold as the battery will run out quickly. You also need to ensure that the music will continue to play, even when the unit is charging, something which many  simply cannot do. The charging from the USB is not too much of a problem though, you are able to purchase ‘wall adapters’ to help you out here. You really just need to be concerned about whether it can ‘play and charge’ at the same time’.

For some people the solution also needs to be cheap, after all, you are trying to keep the cost of the telephone system down. I won’t pay too much attention to this point though, as the majority of models out there actually are cheap, so it isn’t necessary to ‘delve’ too far onto this point.

Many people at this point tend to recommend an iPod for the task, as they can fit the bill for most of these. However, you do need to be sure that you steer clear of the cheaper iPods, i.e. the iPod Shuffle. This is because they require the headphone slot to charge and to play music, and obviously, that means you cannot do both at the same time. Once you start heading up to the standard iPod then obviously it becomes a little bit more expensive. However, you should be able to secure a good deal on a ‘second hand’ one from eBay or other similar sites, the prices do come down drastically when a new model is announced anyway!

Of course, there are a few people out there that would never even consider using an iPod for their hold music, they are far too valuable. One of the best devices currently out there for the job is an ‘S1MP3’ player, these are generic devices which are used by a lot of different manufacturers. You can purchase these from eBay. They allow you to ‘loop’ the music, and are supplied with a USB charger (which you can then purchase an adapter for). These can cost around $20, sometimes less, which means that you are not paying a lot. Some people have reported that these are able to keep going for many years, with very few problems. This is probably going to be one of the cheapest phone hold systems that you have ever put in place!

Example of company selling an MP3 player made for on hold

One of the most popular devices for hold systems though is an ‘On-Hold Plus’ system which is a USB drive that can play music constantly. Although you do need to bear in mind you will need a computer handy. However this isn’t going to be too much of a problem if you are running a ‘server room’—as there will be a computer with a soundcard located in there somewhere. These devices also come preloaded with hold messages and music, which means that even less cost is going to have to be paid out for your system.

Hopefully this has been of some use to you in your quest to use an device for music on hold. Just remember the basic points I stated near the start. It needs to be able to loop the music you are playing, and of course, needs to be able to be charged whilst doing it. Find the right MP3 on hold player and you will be well on your way to having a pretty much maintenance free telephone system which didn’t cost you a whole bundle!

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How to Cut Videos in Movie Maker

Movie maker lets you create your own movies without much effort on your part. Now you can make your own movies without the use of complicated software and the headaches that come with it.

Making Videos

Once you import the movie into the program it will segment it for you into clips which make them easy for you to edit into your finished movie. Use the play button to preview each clip you want to work on. Drag them onto your storyboard and then start to work on them in the order you prefer. This is easy to do with a simple drag and drop of the clips into the new location. Click play and you can view how they all look.

How to Cut Videos in Movie Maker

If you need to trim a clip just click the Show Timeline button and scroll to the area of the clip that you need to edit. Right click on the clip and Use the clip menu and select set start trim point. Go to your clip and scroll to where you want to stop and then click set end trim point. Do this for any parts you want to edit in your clips. So that is all you need to do to cut videos in Movie Maker!


Go to capture video on the left and import your music or audio file. Click your audio and move it to your timeline. Drag the audio to make it match the length of your video if it’s longer.


Some advanced features of editing include transitions from one clip to another. You’ll find many transitions available in the program. Click on the task pane and view video transitions to see the ones available to you.

Titles and Credits

Add titles and credits like professional movies. Click “make titles or credits” in the task pane to do this. Just fill out the boxes provided for you with the information you have for the movies. You can also change the animation of your titles for some cool effects too.


In the task pane you have thе option to add effects to the movie as well. Some include blur, aging, film grain, greyscale, and so on. These are easy to add to your clips in your movie.

Saving and Sending Movies

Use the task pain and click “save to my computer” to save your movie to your PC. It will be saved to your My Videos folder. It will also select the compression of the movie for you. You can view the finished movie in Windows Media Player to see how it looks. It’s easy to send the movie as an email to your friends if you want. You may also send your videos to the web from the task pane. It’s also possible to save the movies to a CD so you can show your friends and family. Once you are done you might want to upload your video to YouTube as well.

Movie maker is an easy way to start making movies ion your computer. The program gives you all the tools that you need!

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What is Production Music?

When I tell people I run an open source production music library, I often get asked “What is Production Music?”. Its a bit complicated, but I’ll try to explain it here : )

While popular music publishers hold about 50 percent of the copyright in a typical compositiona production music library usually owns the entire copyright of their music. This means the music can be licensed without the permission of the composer.

Many media producers like to use music libraries as it’s a convenient solution for them. They can license a piece of music quickly at a good rate and they don’t have to spend the thousands required to license more popular works.

These libraries contain all styles of music and various genres so the producer or editors can find the types of music they want to use. Libraries can have several hundred tracks or many thousands of tracks. In 1927 De Wolfe Music created the first production library for use in silent films.

Examples Of Production Music

In radio, television, and film, the background music often comes from a production library. British T.V. shows like BBC’s Grandstand, the Benny Hill Show, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus all used production music as a background during the shows. American T.V. has used production music too such as in Monday Night Football, The People’s Court as well as The Ren and Stimpy Show.

The performers who work in production music are usually anonymous and they aren’t known outside of their professional circle. Some composers have achieved cult status such as Keith Mansfield, John Cameron, and Alan Hawkshaw. There’s a bigger interest in their production music from the 1970s, and 1960s. Some of these production composers have given performances under the name KPM Allstars in recent years.

The Business Model

There are two income streams in production music which are:

License or synchronization fees—these are paid to the library upfront to synchronize the music to video, audio, or film. The fees for this vary greatly from country to country.

Performance Royalty or Performance Income—When the music is publicly performed this type of royalty is generated. The broadcasters give these fees to performing rights organizations who distribute the income to their members. A library can receive about 50 percent of this income and the performer the other 50 percent.


Some libraries are affiliated with large publishing and recording companies like EMI, or Universal Music Publishing Group. However, there are both large and small music production companies in the UK, US, Canada and other locations.

Some smaller libraries don’t charge customers for licensing music upfront. The customer will purchase a CD where the content is licensed to them to synchronize when they wish. These libraries get royalties from performances for the bulk of their income.

Some libraries are non-exclusive which means the library gets the composer to sign a non-exclusive agreement which allows the artist to license the piece of music to other clients and libraries. The composer can’t have exclusive contracts with other companies, however.

So to sum up, when people ask me “What is Production Music?” I explain that the main difference between what I do on DanoSongs and what a record label does, is that I sell music to people to actually use and not just to listen to.

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How to Make Your Own YouTube Video

There are 4 ways to make your own YouTube video which include doing it yourself, hiring professionals, hiring film students, and outsourcing the process overseas. There are a number of reasons individuals don’t opt for web video production and those are:

• It seems too difficult
• It’s probably expensive
• It’s too time intensive

These methods are solutions to all of these obstacles:

Do-it-yourself Web Video Production

First off, a person can get started with this form of production by simply having an HD camera that can record videos in an MP4 or MOV format. In addition, they’ll need to have video imaging software that will allow them to manipulate their videos and perform edits. If you have a PC, you may be interested in choosing Movie Studio HD by Sony Vega. If you own a Mac OS, you may think about utilizing software called Screen Flow. Each of these pieces of software will help you with do-it-yourself videos in terms of editing, capturing video, and providing that professional look.

Professional Web Video Production

If you simply don’t have the time to learn how to make your own YouTube video and you have a larger budget to work with, you can always hire out a professional that specializes in web video production. The truth is – many small business owners and companies understand the power of this form of video marketing. Because of this, they will hire out this type of work to local professionals within their area. If this is something that interests you, you can look in your local yellow pages to find a professional Web video production service that can handle all of your needs.

Hiring Film Students

If you’re still concerned with your budget and you would like to keep your costs to a minimum, you may think about hiring film students. Although these individuals are not professionals, a lot of times you can get some excellent work completed by them. If this is something that interests you, you can go to film schools or advertise in your local Craigslist for students interested in making web videos. Quite frankly, if you choose this option, you can end up with some good quality videos at some very affordable rates.

Outsourcing Overseas

Lastly, if you are truly looking for another inexpensive option, you can always outsource this work to different countries such as India, Ukraine, or Thailand. It’s important to understand that you are not limited to these particular areas but there are some things you’ll need to consider. Video files tend to be extremely large. Because of this, it can be quite difficult uploading 6 or 7 GB files to the Internet. Some videos can be much larger. But you can send the videos in the mail on DVD or upload them to a server.

There are a number of different locations online that offer this work in the form of video production crowdsourcing. These sites will allow you to present ideas for your video and work with others to get the job completed.

Although there is a lot more to learning how to make your own YouTube video than meets the eye, these are some affordable and time-saving solutions that will help you get started.

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How to Get Hold Music

More and more businesses are using my music for music on hold so I have learned allot about the industry : ) Let me know if you need any help or if you have questions!

Why Use Music on Hold?

“Music on hold” is the music that is played while you are placed on hold during a call to a customer service department of large, medium and small companies around the world.

The main purpose of music on hold is to provide a pleasant listening experience while the customer waits for his or her customer service rep—instead of leaving the customer in complete silence. So music on hold is an effective way of letting the customer know that the call is still active and that a customer service representative is available!

Music Sources for Phone Systems

Most music on hold systems are integrated into an automated telephone system where very little actual human control is needed. The majority of music on hold tunes are already pre-recorded.

Newer forms of technology and more modern systems use MP3 digital music files (see below video) or music streamed from the internet. These can be updated daily in order to provide a diverse mix.

If you want to know how to get hold music, there are many sources such as radio, CDs, custom-designed music on hold files and voice overs that provide information about the company.

In terms of radio, most music on hold systems play mainstream tracks or previous hits. Radio stations can be directly connected to some music on hold systems as well. A better source of hold music is individual CDs which provide a long continuous source of tracks and more control over what is being played.

Voice overs that are integrated into music on hold systems usually have motivational phrases so that the customer does not feel the need to hang up. Typical messages include  “Please stay on the line, your call is very important to us” or any other similar phrase that may keep the customer’s attention. Voice overs usually interrupt the music that is being played in order to remind the person on hold that his or her call will be assisted by a customer service representative.

Another important aspect of music on hold is the style of music that is played, which mainly depends on the type of business you have. In the majority of cases, the style of music that is played is alternative rock, ambient, jazz or traditional music. Companies want their customers to feel relaxed and motivated to wait until their call gets assisted—so take that into consideration when choosing a style.

Legal Copyright and Customer Issues

There are many common legal and customer-oriented issues with music on hold as well. For instance, in many countries where copyright law is practiced, music on hold often infringes on copyright. That is why music on hold has to be unique and properly licensed by the business that will use it.

Another common issue with music on hold is the complaints of customers who do not like the music that is played. Companies can even lose customers due to the quality of music. Conversely, there are many customers who like to hear the music on hold—so put some thought into your choices!

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flickr.com/photos/jamescridland and flickr.com/photos/smoo/

Film Budget Breakdown

When people refer to film budgeting it means the process by which a unit production manager, filmmaker or a line producer prepares a budget for a motion picture production. Documents could be as much as 150 pages long and it’s used to get financing for the film so the pre-production can begin and eventually the final production.

A draft is usually made of film budget breakdown and many drafts may have to be made before a final one is agreed upon. A budget has four main parts:

Above the line – The creative talent
Below the line – production costs
Post-production – visual effects and editing
Other  Insurance, bonds etc.

Financing for the film is usually secured from a sponsor, investor, film studio, product placement, entertainment company, or from other funds out of pocket.

Deke Simon – author of Film and Video Budgets describes the budgeting process with great insight and humor. His book is the industry “bible’ on budgeting:

Film Budget Breakdown

Story Rights – This is the right to produce a film that is based upon something such as a video game, novel play or other work. It can be a remake of another film or a sequel as well. Screenplays can be as little as fifty thousand up to 10 million or even more.

Screenplay – This is the film on paper. A screenwriter is used to write the film and they can make tons of money to create the screenplay. The script can be worked on afterwards by a script doctor to get the final draft together.

Producer – This person or persons makes and develops the film and they can make bonuses as well as a share of the overall profits of the film. Producers can make multiple millions for a film. Film makers also like to use vacuum sealers to provide healthy fresh food for the actors, click here to find more information on food sealers.

Director – The director directs the action of the stars and makes the story come alive with the talent that is used to make the picture. Good directors can make as much as 10 million for a single film.

Cast – these are the actors and actresses that are a part of the movie. These people can be paid multiple millions per film. The cast also includes extras that have minor roles in the background. They can make about $130.00 per day. On low budget films extras often get nothing for participating in the film.

Production Costs – This includes wages of the crew making the film, the sets, the costumes, food, accommodations, transportation and other costs.

Visual Effects – these are done by computer and happen in post-production. These costs are largely determined by the work that needs to be done. Big budget films with tons of effects can cost up to a hundred million to get the effects onto the screen.

Music – Film composers are needed for the music and sometimes this includes big ticket music stars who command high salaries. An original song from a star could cost one million or more.

Budget Reduction

Many films need budget reduction. One way they do this is to cut out the night scenes which require far too much expensive lighting. Other ways include eliminating filming in famous locations or commercial areas as this costs money to shut down these areas for filming. Sometimes car chase scenes are done on Sunday when traffic is light. To cut costs some films use lesser known actors who need the work and take reduced salaries.

Some films are made in other locations but in the movie the city is different. For example the film might be set in Los Angeles, but the film is actually shot in Vancouver B.C. Some films use non-union crews to reduce the costs of film budgeting as well.

cc photo credits: flickr.com/photos/vancouverfilmschool

Pitching Movie Ideas to Studios

I’m preparing to pitch some film ideas and I am making notes from tips I find online:

• A pitch is a short summary of situation and plot points that convey a strong unique idea called a “high concept”.

• The pitch should be no more than 15 minutes long and cover the main concept, story and the characters.

• Don’t talk too much about dramatic details like character feelings and interactions.

• Pitch the main concept, major plot points, primary characters and any twists, just like a movie trailer would.

• Movie structure in Hollywood generally has three acts within a film, so learn the format and present your pitch accordingly.

• Write the pitch out and then learn it by memory. Make sure you know the complete story behind each of your characters and plot ideas – be prepared to answer in-depth questions!

• Use an industry directory like IMDB to locate production company and film studio contacts. Send them an inquiry letter with a request to pitch them.

• You can also try to register at sites like Moviepitch.com and TVfilmrights.com to pitch written ideas online.

What Does an Executive Producer Do in The Film Industry?

Today I am jotting down some notes I took while researching the role of an “Executive Producer” of movies:

• Overall responsibility for a film but does not actually make it.

• Typically raises the funds to pay for making the film.

• Usually develops or buys the story and screenplay.

• Hires and supervises the Producer and sometimes the Line Producer who actually create the film.

• Representative and liaison to the investors, studio or distributor.

• Ensure the projects stays on budget, on schedule and is being executed as planned.

Hollywood Movie Plot Ideas (and Clichés to Avoid) for Scripts

English: The Hollywood Sign, shot from an airc...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m brainstorming ideas for sub plots in a feature script I am co-writing for my sci fi film Zedic and the Crimson Born. So I am going through some blogs and articles about movie plots and I will make notes of interest.

Of course I know some people are incredibly opposed to writing films based on previously proven plots, so I apologize for that. However, this is my first full length film and I need to learn the basics of what works.

This article The Top Ten Standard Hollywood Movie Plots is funny but true! I realized that for my film I like the plot the author calls “The Twist”. One of the best twist movies I have seen recently is “Salt” starring Angelina Jolie, and this had a huge impact on my vision for my Zedic film. In fact, I would like to have at least 3 twists along the way, like Salt.

The other plots I like in the articles are  the “Epic War” and “Underdog” theme— both of which interestingly enough are present in the Harry Potter series. 5 Movie Plots That Hollywood Has Officially Done To Death also has a some great examples of underdog plots and is just really funny to read! In Guide to Hollywood’s Mainstream Movie Formulas I like the plot idea “Edgy Supernatural Thrillers” which also fits in with the paranormal themes of Zedic.

So those are the three best (or perhaps worst) basic plot lists I found online. Hopefully that might help you with ideas and or show you what may be some common clichés.

If you like this you might be interested in my other posts:

Funding Your Film! Using Film Finance Basics

High Concept Story Plots: How to for Hollywood Screenplays

7 Indie Film Digital Distribution Companies You Can Submit to Online

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