Posted on: Nov
25

2016
DIY If You Dare
Dave Riffel Valu Home Centers Video Production Manager

Have you ever been interested in doing something yourself, but you just didn’t know how?
It was Labor Day 1990, My dad was using his VHC shoulder-mounted camcorder to capture the family around the backyard as he always would. While he circled the “kid’s table” and interviewed each of my cousins, I was following him around pestering him like only a 4-year-old can: “Dad!? Dad!? Can I see what’s in there?”

(the date on the camera is wrong!)

Maybe he couldn’t take the sad, desperate state of his son combing his hair with his dirty fork, but my father finally stopped filming, kneeled down and let me peer into the viewfinder – (cue the heavenly choir).

It was like I entered into a mini-movie theater. No distracting periphery, only the red letters blinking “REC” below the black and white image. It was more than enchanting; it almost felt transcendent. And so it began: my love for the frame.

There was something about the frame that entices me to this day. The way you can take an ordinary object and make it the center of attention. The way foreground and backgrounds interact with each other. The way the focal-range dictates relevance.

But I was only able to fall in love with film because I acted on my interest, and I pestered!

So throughout the rest of my youth, while other kids were playing sports or going to the mall with their friends, I gathered up my cousins, neighbors, siblings, even the cat, and used my dad’s camcorder to create my own episodes of narratives, talk shows, music videos, anything we could dream up!

What I didn’t realize as a kid, is that I was in training. The tricks I learned from shooting those films in the analog days stick with me still:

  • how to light and compose a shot,
    • even when puppets are your subject
  • how to film like an editor – being aware of anticipating the pace and rhythm of the cuts
    • (like when you’re filming a cat hunting a hot wheels car)
  • How to practice camera movements before actually filming them
    • (like a single-shot music video to my dad’s Grand Funk Railroad CD)
  • Why camera angles MATTER!

So fast forward through 8 years of Media Studies at the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts as well as the University at Buffalo, I became a video enthusiast. I kept pursuing opportunities through friends and family and found myself as a Multimedia Designer creating training videos for Valu Home Centers.

When I first became a part of the Valu family, it was Spring of 2013,

and we needed to proof the commercial created by the ad agency. Here’s what we saw:

That kid with the fork in his hair grew up watching the Valu Guy, doing his dance, and wondering, WHO makes these commercials? Now I’m sitting in a room with the executives who are ensuring these commercials are the best they can possibly be. I never made a TV commercial, but I definitely understood the power of good production.

So I took the camera to the store for 20 minutes, and made this:

My boss loved it, and said let’s put that on TV! I learned how to deliver video to the TV stations, and kept asking the right questions to the right people. I felt kind of like that pestering kid again, pursuing the experts to bend down and help me. When I see an opportunity to learn, I chase down the one who can teach me, never allowing my own ignorance to keep me from asking questions (especially questions about the things that interest me!)

They gave me the opportunity to make the 2013 Valu Christmas commercials:

This was the version the ad agency made the year before:

With a great sense of improvement, Valu officially transferred the TV commercial production job to me. With a chance at an entirely new look and feel for our commercials, we wanted to capture an inspired Do It Yourselfer that shopped Valu to help complete her project. With a whole new look and feel, including original music that my wife and I recorded, we produced this new and exciting spot (which is still my favorite to this day!):

Throughout 2016 we’ve focused on highlighting actual Valu employees, showing their passion for providing our customers with the help they need!

I’m excited to continue creating TV Commercials that are inviting and inspiring. Valu Home Centers does a lot more than advertise incredible products to the Do It Yourselfers – Valu Home Centers is a Do It Yourselfer!

It all began with a simple question and a determined follow-up from a 4-year-old: “Can I see what’s in there?”

So the next time you feel curiosity pulling at your heart strings, or even better, a determined 4-year-old, take action. You never know how that tape will play out.


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