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"The Whiskey Film" launches crowdfunding campaign

The filmmakers behind brewing documentary Crafting A Nation are now turning their lens on craft distilling in their new project, The Whiskey Film.

The project follows the story of the craft distilling revolution that's taken hold in Colorado in the recent years. "The whiskey industry in the United States is over 200 years old and when a Congressional resolution declared bourbon whiskey as America's native spirit in 1964, it gained a legitimacy in heritage. No other country can call their spirit bourbon whiskey. Since then, state laws have loosened to allow more distilleries to open and thrive," says Thomas Kolicko, the film's director. "What we're seeing now is a lot of very creative and driven entrepreneurs build upon the tradition. The Whiskey Film features the new generation of whiskey craftsmen and women and dives deep into the agriculture ties behind the end result."

The documentary, which will feature craft distillers from across the country, has focused on three Colorado companies: Colorado Springs-based Distillery 291, Deerhammer in Buena Vista and Colorado Malting Company in Alamosa. The documentary crew is currently looking for up to nine more distillers and whiskey-related agricultural operations to capture their stories, according to Stacey Fronek, a producer with Traverse Image, the production company behind the documentary. 

"This is a story about American craft whiskey and to tell that story well, we want to include distilleries from across the country who are innovating and demonstrate a strong connection to agriculture," Fronek explains. 

While Bourbon County and Kentucky Bourbon are often considered the home of bourbon and the heart of US whiskey manufacturing, Fronek says:  "To us, Colorado is the symbolic epicenter of the movement that is defining craft whiskey." Still, she adds, "We love Bourbon County and Kentucky bourbon, and have high hopes for filming there because of the rich history and tradition."

Traverse Image launched an Indiegogo campaign to support The Whiskey Film on March 15. It hopes to raise at least $100,000 to support the production of the project as each minute of the documentary costs roughly $1,000 to complete. "As we continue to fund the campaign, new filming locations will be 'unlocked' on the Indiegogo page," Fronek says. "Until then, the site of our next shoot will remain a mystery!"

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Elevation Digital Media points Arrow the way to the future with Super Bowl spot

The Broncos aren't the only Denver team in the Super Bowl this weekend. Arrow Electronics and Elevation Digital Media are airing a national commercial during the third quarter in the Super Bowl touting the company's "Five Years Out" campaign for aerospace and defense.

The Super Bowl isn't just the most highly watched game in the U.S. -- it's also the Super Bowl for advertising the world over. After all, ads during the event are the most costly in the world. In August 2015, Fortune reported that a national 30-second spot during the event will cost as much as $5 million. But the cost of getting a company's message to consumers or other businesses during the event can be well worth it.

Arrow Electronics is a Colorado-headquartered multi-national company that specializes in distributing electronic components. It provides services and products to everything from defense and aerospace to enterprise-level computing services and electronics recycling.

The innovative ad features a features a 3D folder -- not printer -- made out of Legos that folds a piece of paper into a paper plane and launches it, like the campaign for the company.

"This is a team of five guys who work out of their small studio in the Taxi Building in RiNo -- not a multi-million-dollar ad agency -- producing a spot for a Fortune 100 company," says Edward Macsalka, a Denver-based communications manager with Comcast.

"Just five years ago, Elevation Digital Media was focused on sports recruiting videos for high school athletes," he adds. "Over the past few years, that has evolved into corporate communication videos/commercials for the likes of Comcast, Arrow and Western Union, as well as many other national brands. . . . This is a huge achievement for any large firm, but even more special for a company that can barely call their studio a studio."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

DAM seeks input from local creatives for 2016 programming

On Nov. 20, the the Denver Art Museum (DAM) will host Meet Here: An Evening of Idea Brewing and Creative Criss-Cross." The meeting is intended to bring together creatives from various disciplines to help develop ideas for DAM's programs in 2016. The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. The museum is welcoming all sorts of people in the creative community from chefs to dancers, crafters, musicians and artists.

The brainstorming session will help the museum plan out its Untitled Final Fridays, a series of events that the museum offers on the final Friday of every month except November and December. "This program offers a unique museum experience with unconventional art encounters, new insight into the DAM collections, artmaking activities and more," DAM explained in a release. "At each Untitled event, the museum highlights a specific theme with exhibition-related activities and community collaborations."

In addition to the Untitled series, attendees will also be able to give input and insight into museum residencies and outdoor installations. This year, museum officials are particularly focused on dance and it wants to have outdoor dance programs in summer 2016.

While the Nov. 20 session is designed to help the museum create relevant events tailored to its community, it already has some broad themes planned for each date. ere's a list of the date and proposed themes for each event:

  • Jan. 29: Family Matters  
  • Feb. 26: Homegrown
  • March 25: Risky Business
  • April 29: Show Down
  • May 27: Rising Sun
  • June 24: Power House
  • July 29: In-Sync
  • Aug. 26: Center Stage
  • Sep. 30: Stop Motion
  • Oct. 28: Glory Days

RSVP here.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Digital Media Academy brings world-class tech training for teens to Denver

This summer, teens and youth are getting their first chance to enroll in a summer camp that could help them become masters of the digital world through the Digital Media Academy (DMA) at Regis University. The camps are part of a program that was created at Stanford University in 2002 and are quickly reaching capacity here in Denver.

"We're about finding kids that want to be the next Steve Spielberg, the next Steve Jobs," says Vince Matthews, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for DMA. "Technology today has turned them into kind of a maker generation where kids can take apps and bring them into a computer program and modify them and do something unique or different with them. We're about empowering people of all ages to create the future."

That's where the DMA steps in. "We teach anything related to digital media primarily creating things with media creation tools," says Matthews, citing C++, Java, iOS and Android as well as app and game development. The company also teaches filmmaking, photography, and "anything related to those creative arts and related to those creative arts and creating something with technology including…robotics," he says.

The program differentiates itself, Matthews says, with experienced educators. "Our instructors are industry professionals or technology educators that have been doing this for years," he says. "They are leaders in their space from a standpoint of working in the space for years and are teaching real world skill sets using the same tools and technologies that professionals use."

The camps are quickly selling out with only two starting on June 23 having availability. The camps for kids from 6 to 17 run through July 11. "We're expecting to sell out at all of our classes at all locations this summer," says Matthews.

The company also offers adult training and certification but that's currently only available at Stanford, according to Matthews.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

CU Denver students complete 'monster' of a short film

CU Denver students pursuing their BFA with the Digital Animation Center are showing their recently completed short film, I Need My Monster, based on the children's book of the same name. The film is showing at RedLine through May 8 as part of its BFA showcase and will culminate in a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on the final night of the exhibition. 

The film is capstone project for the three-year curriculum, explains Area Head Howard Cook. "The job is to create a high-production value short film in about 22 months," he says. This year, that's culminating in the eight-minute film, which has about 12,000 frames in all, at a rate of 24 per second.

"Each year it changes," says Instructor Stephen Baker. "We've done more historical things, we've done fantasy stuff, space. We kind of change it up each year so we don’t look like the same cartoon characters."

The university launched the fast-paced concentration core in 2000, and it's been garnering awards and attracting interest, drawing students from as far away as Egypt, Italy and Africa, Cook says. "The last four films have been in over 100 national and international film festivals and they’ve won 25 of those…for animated shorts," he says.

The department has developed a lot of resources that are helping the students learn the business, including two motion capture studios and software and hardware that’s the same or similar to what pros are using in studios like Sony and Pixar, in fact one of the students, Jeremy Kuehn, recently became the third student from the program to win an internship at Pixar.

Cook says the department invites professional animators to the school. "When they come in they're usually pretty impressed with the level and quality of equipment we have," he adds.

“The studios recognize the three-semester capstone,” Cook says. "They recognize that as being as close to real work as you can do and when these guys sit down in an interview and start talking, the guy or the woman on the other side of the table is going to know right away that they've been through a production."

That’s makes the program successful for students. "We're somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of our students getting hired out of school within nine months," Cook says. "That's in a wide range of fields. We have kids working in forensics animation, medical animation, all the way to working Disney or Pixar or places like that."

Still Hollywood or that nexus between it and Silicon Valley is where they want to end up. After all, one student remarked: "A lot of us want to work on feature films. Pretty much everything here we’re learning is geared toward that."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Cameras rolling for One Day in Denver on April 26

What do you want to say about Denver? What do you want people to know about Denver and what’s great or not so great here? That’s the focus of One Day in Denver, the local version of One Day on Earth's latest project, encouraging people to go out and film their cities and focus on the issues they think are important.

The project, which is taking place in 11 U.S. cities from New York to Los Angeles, will ultimately result in a three-part television series that will air on CPT 12 PBS locally, explains Kristin Nolan, the local producer for project. Nolan also produces the Starz Denver Film Festival and other projects in the city.

Nolan anticipates that roughly 200 films will be submitted locally. Some of them will be raw footage while others will be edited. Ultimately, they’ll become part of the larger project. "They'll be culled through and pieces to help highlight storylines will be pulled out and really speak to the overarching themes behind the event, which are: Where are we now? What do we appreciate? Why do we live in cities? What are some of the issues that we face living in cities? What are some resolutions to those issues that we’re looking at? All of those items will be highlighted in that series across the three parts."

"All of the participants, filmmakers, organizations, individuals are creating pages within our website and it's very much a social website, an interactive geotagged website where everyone can say:, 'Hey, here's who I am, here's what I do. Here's how you can engage with my work and here's what I’m bringing to the table for One Day in Denver." The site also features an interactive map with links to the other participating cities.

It's been a changing experience for Nolan. "I've sensed Denver in a way that I never have before and learned so very much about organizations and the passions and individuals," she says. "Other people can have that experience as they move through the map."

Videos must be filmed on April 26 and submitted by May 26. "If someone wants to do an edited piece I’d recommend one to four minutes," Nolan says. "Something dynamic that's digestible." Those uploading raw footage can upload more than one piece, but each is limited to 500 megabytes.

You can register to participate in the project here. Nolan is hosting an event April 17 at SPACE Gallery at 400 Santa Fe Dr. from 5:30-7:30 p.m. to discuss the project and answer questions.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Andrew Hudson's Career Bootcamps help job seekers and career changers

Looking for a job in Denver? Looking to change careers or returning to the workforce after a hiatus? Check out one of Andrew Hudson’s upcoming Career Bootcamps. Hudson, who runs the eponymous site, Andrew Hudson's Jobs List, and the career bootcamps, is holding four three-hour sessions throughout March, starting on March 18. Hudson is no stranger to the bootcamps or the career list. He's been running a jobs website in Denver (originally www.prjobslist.com) since 2005. Today the jobs list sends a newsletter and updated list of positions -- over 1,000 professional positions in Colorado a month -- to subscribers every Monday.

While Hudson isn’t a corporate headhunter or jobs placement agent, he's dedicated a lot of time to helping others find jobs, including holding between 40 and 50 career bootcamps annually. "I've done this for a seven years. I've had about 600 or 700 go through the bootcamps," he says.

The career bootcamps, which cost $175, are often attended by mid-or senior level professionals, according to Hudson. "They come for a variety of reasons, they may hate their boss, or are looking to reinvent themselves." He adds that some may be returning to the workforce after an absence as a stay-at-home parent or because of the recession.

"The common thread, no matter why people are looking for a job…is they haven’t had to do it for a while and the rules have changed dramatically," he contends. He attributes at least part of that the uprise of online job search giants like Monster.com.

Hudson limits the bootcamps to 10 people. "The reason I do it the small-group dynamic is easier to manage and more people are willing to engage more," he explains.

Attendees might be surprised to find that the sessions aren’t just resume building sessions. "To me it’s more about having a really good conversation with yourself about what you value in a job," Hudson says. "The strategy of successful job seekers is…they research what it is they want to do and know how their backgrounds talents and skills are aligned with what they want to do." As such the resume building part of the sessions are last.

Hudson is holding the bootcamps at Fluid Coffee Bar's Fluid Meeting Spaces March 18, 20, 22 and 26. He plans on hosting additional bootcamps in the summer.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com. 

Idolum expanding staff at animation-oriented postproduction boutique

Founded in 2007 by Robin Schmachtenberger and Bob Maple, Idolum is growing in the Golden Triangle.

"We're up to five employees now and we'll probably add a couple more this year," says Schmachtenberger. "We've grown very methodically and very carefully." He anticipates adding another video editor and a sales/development person by the end of 2014.

The two Principals saw a sea change happening in postproduction when they started Idolum, with cheaper technology and a "wider cast of players" in terms of competition, says Schmachtenberger.

"Both of us came from a company in Lakewood called Crosspoint, a large postproduction company," he explains. "When you have a really large facility, you have to work to fill those rooms. At Idolum we wanted to be much more of a boutique and focus on the work we wanted to do."

That work usually entails 2D or 3D animation for clients like Curves, Dish Network and Waterpik. "We do 70 percent commercial and 30 percent corporate work," says Schmachtenberger. "Most everything we do has a heavy graphic component."

The work has migrated from a mix of analog digital to exclusively digital, says Schmachtenberger. "We used to send tapes by FedEx. Now everything is delivered electronically."

As much as things change, some things stay the same, he adds. "Companies change, companies absorb each other -- you always need to be making new contacts."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

After "Breathless," Air Ball Creative looks to future projects

Air Ball Creative Co-Founders Woody Roseland and Thaddeus Anderson met at the 2012 edition of TEDxMileHigh.

Roseland, a seven-time cancer survivor, spoke at the event, and Anderson saw him as a kindred spirit.

"He has a unique perspective on life," says Anderson. The duo teamed up to eamed to launch Air Ball Creative in March 2013.

For this year's TEDxMileHigh, the pair produced Breathless, dubbed "Denver's highlight reel" by event organizers. Featuring a poem by Denver poet Ken Arkind and stunning videography that captures the city's spirit, the four-minute video went viral, and now has nearly 150,000 views on YouTube.

"We thought there were a lot of people who took pride in Denver, but didn't have a way to articulate it," says Anderson. "It was a shared feeling."

After the smash hit, Air Ball Creative is looking for new projects and working on several "passion projects," says Anderson. "We're in the process of talking to different potential clients and working on a few other things. We want to focus on good causes."

Roseland and Anderson are Air Ball's only full-time employees, and they work with a network of freelancers during productions.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Chipper Booth moving into custom photobooth market

Vince Dressel was working for Chipotle's corporate office in LoDo when he launched Chipper Booth Photo Booth Company as a side project in Oct. 2011.

"For seven years, I'd been doing an analytical office job and I was tired of it," Dressel explains. "I like old things and photography is a hobby." The intersection of these two interests: building a vintage-looking photobooth in the garage.

That initial Chipper Booth debuted at the Huge Comedy Show at the Oriental Theater in 2011. Then Dressel started going to bridal shows to market the Chipper Booth to wedding planners and the like.

Dressel left Chipotle in May 2012 to concentrate on the Chipper Booth full-time. Today he has two employees, Loveland-based Erica Leigh and Jeff van Geete, an MBA student at CU Denver, plus three contract employees that work events.

Chipper Booth did 66 events in 2012 and Dressel expects to double that number in 2013. Four hours runs $999.

The vintage look harks back to the glory days of the photobooth, says Dressel. "Whenever a 70-year-old man gets in it, he says, 'This reminds me of the ones I used to get in on the boardwalks.'"

While Chipper Booths look old, they are full of the latest digital technology. "Everything's local," says Dressel, from the wood to the screws. "It's important to me to support local businesses because I am one of those businesses."

While weddings, festivals and other events are the lion's share of Chipper Booth's business, Dressel and van Geete see custom photobooths for bars as the main route to growth.

"People keep saying we should franchise or expand to other cities," says Dressel. "I believe we can make a healthy living right here in Denver."

To this end, the first custom Chipper Booth went into operation at the Squire Lounge in July and the second will be at the Park House by mid-September. "We can build a little piece of art," says van Geete. Prices start at $12,000.

Because of the digital bells and whistles, the custom booths are integrated with Facebook and Twitter. "It essentially manages their online presence for them," says van Geete, highlighting automatic hashtagging and tweeting. "It's going to handle a lot of what they do anyway" -- with their patrons' help.

"If you're not tweeting a couple times a day, it's like not being in the yellow pages in the '90s," says Dressel.

Echoes van Geete: "There's always going to be a line, there's always going to be a big party and it's shooting out tagged messages all night."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Cyclops Gear releasing new 1080p HD sunglass cameras

Serial entrepreneur Mark Krause has moved from cleaning carpets in college to Internet startups in the 2000s to Cyclops Gear, where he's  making action-sports cameras mounted in snowsports and motorsports goggles and sunglasses.
"The lightbulb for Cyclops was seeing the GoPro," says Krause. "The technology for GoPro was great three and a half years ago, but today we can do better. Technology has caught up."
The Cyclops Gear way of doing better embeds the camera into sunglasses and goggles and not a box that's mounted on top of a helmet. "When you use our goggles for skiing and snowboarding, you press a button to record video and forget about it," says Krause. The USB-compatible products record on flash memory cards and feature three video settings and a wide angle lens.
Krause launched the company in late 2012 and now the catalog is entering a second generation of products.
New for July 2013 is the CGLIFE2 sunglasses ($149.99), featuring 1080p HD with a 15-megapixel still camera. "They're for everything," says Krause of the target market. "They're for everyday use."
Next Cyclops Gear will release new 1080p HD snowsports goggles in September.
Cyclops Gear sponsors Indycar driver Pippa Mann and recently inked a deal with Canadian Tire. "Sales are great," says Krause. 
Krause just moved the company out of Creative Density in Uptown and consolidated distribution in Long Beach, California. Manufacturing takes place in China. Now working with a network of about five contractors amd consultants, Krause says he anticipates hiring as many as three people in Denver in the near term.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

RiNo-based Levels Beyond ramps up hiring as Reach Engine product nabs big clients

CEO and Founder Art Raymond launched Levels Beyond in 2007 after consulting for major movie studios and cable networks.
"The systems that were out there weren't built for handling large libraries of video very well," say Raymond. So he founded the company to build that system: Reach Engine.
Now 30 employees strong, the RiNo-based company is profitable and growing. "We're not really a startup," says Raymond. He expects to make five to 10 hires in 2013.
Reach Engine "is a hybrid cloud solution," says Raymond. "The reason it's hybrid is because video is so big. You could never have it only in the cloud." For example, one event from Levels Beyond customer Ultimate Fighting Championship can amass six terabytes of data.
Raymond says $5 billion to $7 billion has been invested in "third base to home" infrastructure like Netflix and other video streaming services. Reach Engine allows content providers to more effectively get from the metaphorical first to third base. "It's all about end-to-end video production," he says. "We built the factory to prepare video for different deliveries and different markets."
One of Levels Beyond's clients is using Reach Engine launching a non-linear, mobile-oriented news delivery system without a cable network. "They're one of the few brands that could challenge CNN," says Raymond, declining to name the client. "They're going to use Reach Engine to invert the concept of a channel."
The company closed on a $4.5 million investment from San Diego-based TVC Capital in December 2012. "It's our first round and it should be our last round," says Raymond. "We've been profitable forever."
Raymond touts TVC's approach. "They're amazing -- they don't look for home runs," he says. "In Silicon Valley, there were all these firms that wanted to put $30 million in. I don't need $30 million."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.
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