Built for the toughest job of all; your family. The stylish Valente is equipped for every challenge your family can throw at it. With a 5 Star ANCAP safety rating and up to nine seats, all your urban adventures become simpler, easier and more enjoyable. Test drive today.

 

Something that has been on my radar for a while now is the rise of video content in the field of blogging. Blogging is an ever evolving career that really began as a forum for writers to shine. I entered on a side road via Flickr where those of us skilled in photography started sharing our stories. YouTube and Vimeo etc rose up for the filmmakers to join the arena. By the time Instagram and Facebook came into play all these different storytellers were sharing their tales through words, stills and moving pictures. Today blogs have become a multimedia filled destination for readers to experience. I have become a better writer because of blogging and now I am committed to learning how to be the best filmmaker I can be. Last week I shared the first video I did for a client with my Day in the Life of our family and the new Mercedes-Benz Valente. It was such a learning curve for me, so I am excited to share the mistakes I made and the top tips I have come away with for your own filmmaking journey.

Video tips to get you started adding film to your blog on SesameEllis.com

I knew that to do my best for a client on the first go I would need to practice by making little videos of my daily life as well as investing a bit of money into hiring a professional editor. I found learning how to string everything together well was the hardest part of the process. Thankfully I am now working with Mick Russell and have learned so much from him in the last month of really concentrating on making little films. He was able to push through all of my rookie mistakes and weave together a wonderful little film showing how the Mercedes-Benz Valente is a safe, practical and comfortable vehicle for a busy family.

Mick has added notes to a bit of the video he put together from my footage. He gave me a passing grade for my first try and I have made huge improvements since then. Have a look to learn from my mistakes and his advice as well and read on below for more detailed notes.

I have developed a list of top tips based on my own mistakes that will hopefully get you started making your own films.

Storyboard your ideas first. Even if you are just writing dot points down, having a shot list makes the entire film easier to compile. While I knew what I wanted to show about the Valente, I did not have a list of all my ideas. After I had already returned the car, I remembered a few of the things I had originally wanted to shoot!
Keep your individual clips to about 10 seconds. This was the biggest bit of gold I found out through the learning process. For the 2-3 second clips most of these short videos are made of, you are best to have 10 seconds to cut down.
Do multiple takes with different angles. You can use multiple cameras for this or just make sure that if you are filming on one device only that you get close up, medium distance and wide angle clips of every scene. Having these plus different angles means that you can edit together something a bit more dynamic and interesting that when you just have footage from one view.

One other major consideration to keep in mind when you are moving from shooting still to moving images is how to set up the camera properly. Most of the time, just shooting on Auto settings while you are getting started is an easy idea. If you would like some specific settings to begin with, try setting your shutter speed to 1/50, keep your ISO as low as possible (between 100 and 1250 depending on your lighting) and set the frame rate to 25 fps (frames per second.)

In the next instalment of this two part series, I will share with you the tools I use to shoot, edit and produce my little videos now and how I am learning to tell stories a bit differently. Check back next Monday for that post!

This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.

Built for the toughest job of all; your family. The stylish Valente is equipped for every challenge your family can throw at it. With a 5 Star ANCAP safety rating and up to nine seats, all your urban adventures become simpler, easier and more enjoyable. Test drive today.

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We have decided that going forward we will post the Breakfast For Dinner Project photographs weekly on our Instagram streams and then once a month we will recap the whole thing right here on the blog so that the story unfolds in a less fractured way. You can see the Instagram posts by following the #breakfastfordinnerpjoject hashtag.

Since we started this month late, we will get that monthly catch up post going in June, so for now we can share the second week of this photo story with a look at where we are getting our inspiration.

Rachel:

I find everything I need to inspire me to keep creating in the qualities of light. All light. My mood is predominately decided by how my life is illuminated. Dark winter days will pull my mood into the cold shadows and then a ray of light is all I need to start to see hope. That is what happened this week as the clouds parted and for a few moments before sunset the Japanese Maple tree outside my home studio window simply glowed in the dark that surrounded it. Winter begins down under, but the little bits of autumn are still hanging on.

Breakfast For Dinner Project Inspiration by Rachel for SesameEllis.com

Cat:

Inspiration comes to me at the most random times. Sometimes I feel like I go days or weeks without feeling any self-motivation to take any photograph or some days I feel like everything is worth a snap. Usually I can find something daily to take a photo of and mostly, if you follow me in IG, it my kids. But if I were to really reach down and evaluate what inspires me other than my children and people in general I would have a hard time. People just engage me in photography like nothing else. Beautiful lighting on a porch on my way to meet for lunch always catches my attention. Or the way light hits a mural on a wall and all the colors pop will always motivate me to grab whatever camera I have close by, but its people that got me into photography and its people that keep me here. Strangers, infants, children, my kids, expressions, moments captured. These are all things that made me pick up a camera in the first place and still the reasons that I will always grab my camera (or in the case of these photographs my iPhone) for. People do it for me, what can I say.

Breakfast For Dinner Project Inspiration by Cat for SesameEllis.com

These are the things I know I am going to love about this project… We have no idea what the images are going to look like, but sometimes they will just be so similar. You can see the fall/winter in mine and the spring/summer in Cat’s so clearly. We really are in such different worlds.

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Brought to you by Tip Top Bakery and Nuffnang

As a family, our shift towards a plant based diet began three years ago. We are mostly vegetarian with fish thrown in on occasion because mama loves her sushi. Technically that makes us pescetarian, but I just call us “sushitarians” to be completely honest and to make up a ridiculous new term.

I don’t find dinner a problem and breakfast is really easy, but I am stuck for lunch options. It used to be ham or turkey sandwiches all the time, but lunch meat is no longer an option. We don’t do tuna either because no one wants to be the kid with the smelly lunch. While I am ok with having salads a few times a week for my midday meal, the kids want a sandwich every day. Since nuts are a no go at school, we are down to plain cheese, sunbutter (our homemade sunflower seed spread) and vegemite for fillings. Gemma won’t eat vegemite, but the twins absolutely crave it. Maybe it is something about being actually born in Australia? It is such a staple in a childhood down under.

Now, being vegetarian means that we are always concerned with the family’s protein intake. The kids do eat a lot of pasta for dinner so there is some protein from wheat (did you know wheat had protein?), but they avoid beans and lentils lately. They even balk at our choice of wholegrain and wholemeal loaves for sandwiches and toast as those contain just enough visible stuff that is good for you to put them off. So protein is an issue. Also in this house, we deal with a lot of problems with food texture alongside the sensory processing disorder that Kieran has. Rough and bumpy bread is not as awesome as the soft white bread they want. I have to admit, I am a sensitive eater as well and quite prefer the softer feel too.

Tip Top bread has been enjoyed by Australians since 1958 and they have just introduced a white bread with increased protein! In fact, Tip Top Extra Protein has 75% more protein than their other white bread*. This helps provide 20% of your daily protein needs** and is high in fibre despite being as soft as my sensory kids could possibly ask for. There is no added sugar, artificial colours, flavours nor preservatives! It ticks all the boxes for our family so I put the twins to work making their own lunches on the weekend. It was a practice run to get them packing their own lunchboxes every morning! Maybe the extra protein will give them the energy to clean up after themselves.

extra protein bread for sesameellis.com

Now the twins don’t get to have all the good stuff, I have taken to making my own smashed avocado on toast with the Tip Top Extra Protein bread for lunch at home. I just smash avocado with garlic salt, diced cherry tomatoes and coriander with a tiny bit of lemon juice and if I have it, crumbled feta. Absolutely delicious and I can count on the extra protein for myself!

*Compared to Tip Top Sunblest White Bread ** Based on an average adult diet of 8700kj

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maternal genetic cholesterol disease on SesameEllis.com

I remember being seventeen and calling home to hopefully sweet talk my mother into giving me an extension on my curfew. My eldest brother answered the phone. He is twenty years older than I am and had his own family. There was no reason for him to be there at that hour answering that phone. Upon hearing his voice, I knew my world had completely changed. My beloved mother was in the hospital having suffered a heart attack. There was a quadruple heart bypass surgery underway and I would no longer be a naive teenager with no sense of mortality from that evening on.

on love and maternal legacy of heart disease on sesameellis.com

I adore my mother. Being her surprise late-in-life baby, I grew up with her almost all to myself. I got my long and lean legs from her as well as my green eyes and penchant for optimism. On Sunday evening, I found out that I also got her genetic predisposition to high cholesterol.

For awhile now I have not been feeling my best, but I just figured that had most if not all to do with middle age, parenting three kids and running my own business. Spinning plates in every room of my house is exhausting. I finally found myself in the GP’s office when Clover developed a double ear infection. We always make time for the kids’ health, huh?

I had complete blood work done and a few other tests and some things came up. The most worrying issue is the cholesterol level. Despite taking up running and going pescetarian three years ago, my cholesterol has nearly doubled since 2011. The doctor was very concerned and there was no talk of “try a few lifestyle changes and see you again in a few months.” Instead it was a very serious directive to fill the prescription that evening and begin statins immediately. Of course there are things I must do along with medication, but at that moment, my risk of having a stroke or heart attack in the next five years was over 75%. If there were those type of odds of me winning the lottery, I’d buy a ticket and start planning how we would be getting internet on the private island we’d be buying. Those are not statistics one should hear and then shrug off as inconsequential.

family love, long legs and heart disease on SesameEllis.com

I need to be here for my kids. I don’t want Gemma, Clover or Kieran to call home one day and have their life change in a moment because of something I ignored or avoided because of fear.

I am fearful. I am also determined. That is not how I saw my life in five years.

Now there is so much information to process with advice and articles coming from all sides. If I took them all at face value, so many things would cancel each other out and I’d be left with carrots and good intentions. I can’t thrive on just that. I might be brand new to this cholesterol kerfuffle, but I do know it is not a great thing to grab a slice of homemade cheesecake to wash down your nightly statin. So, I will endeavour to eat less of the sugar and dairy that I love and make time for my health.

I am scheduled for my next round of blood work in August, so I will keep you posted as I go along. Heart disease kills too many women. Just like my mother, who is still going strong at eighty nine, I don’t plan on being one of them.

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  • Bree at Clarity Defined - What a scary thing to hear – but, it sounds like you also got your mom’s strong will and fight to thrive. Hope your blood work in August shows just what you need it to!ReplyCancel

Mercedes Benz Valente video road test with Sesame Ellis and family

Brought to you by Nuffnang and Mercedes Benz

Earlier in the year, Mercedes Benz added a bit of luxury to my mum-taxi duties by lending us the new Valente to drive for two weeks. Now that we own a seven seater as our family car, I was wondering how I would feel about the Valente. We had driven (and loved) an earlier model a few years ago when we regularly drove a five seater sedan. Would the Valente still hold the same charm now that we had an extra two seats on a regular basis?

From the moment I sat in the driver’s seat, I knew I would not want to give the Valente back to the dealer. My iPhone easily paired up with the Valente’s in-car system and within minutes I was driving home to the happy sounds of my favourite playlist!

The Valente is fun and comfortable to drive, but the top item on my list of vehicle requirements is safety. With Valente receiving ANCAP’s highest rating of five stars, I could rest easy knowing that Mercedes-Benz had taken care of the safety aspects. Mercedes-Benz has even ensured that the Valente is safe to park with a reverse camera and Parktronic as standard issue features. I was able to manoeuvre that van into a parallel parking spot right in front of my kids’ school without any trouble at all. I usually avoid those situations for fear of having to do a 47 point move to get in the space or just driving off in shame.

The kids are older now and they have more stuff. They have more friends, more school bags and more out of school activities. These days they seemingly need to go more places and they want to do more things. I need more time and coffee. Luckily there is a cup holder right on the dashboard… There is also plenty of room in the Valente. You can even move the seats around to configure it for more space or more people depending on what you need. We could fit all of our boogie boards, towels, beach chairs and even a cooler of drinks and snacks without having to give-up any seats. The amount of interior space available would easily allow us to take a road trip with all of our gear and family members comfortably.

Since the kids are up for adventures I decided we would really give the Valente a family workout. We would not just do our coffee and school runs, but we would take her to the beach before the weather turned too cold. And this time, we would not be afraid to bring the dog. The Valente might be a Mercedes Benz, but she (we named her Valerie… mostly so we could yell out Valerie Loves Me!, that awesome 90’s song from Material Issue, but also because it went well with Valente) is designed to take the family and all the required gear wherever the family needs to go. This time, that meant getting sandy.

We took the opportunity to film our adventure and put together our first little Sesame Ellis Movie for you. Thanks to our time filming our life with the Valente, in the next few weeks, I will be able to share with you some top tips for going from still photography to cinematography for your visual storytelling. You will hear my top three mistakes, as well as learn about how to make the best little video you can with the equipment you have.

 

What we loved about the Valente that we don’t currently have with our family car?

The 2016 new Valente by Mercedes Benz on SesameEllis.com

The automatic back doors: The kids were crazy for the wide doors that slid open and closed at the push of a button on both sides of the van. They could all get in with their school bags and all the beach equipment without having to worry about space or banging the car door on another car!

Valente navigation system by Sesame Ellis

The navigation system: Going places now often means heading to games in parks or at courts that I have never heard of before. I loved having the ease of a built in navigation system that not only showed the directions on the giant screen in the middle console, but also shared details like upcoming turns and even which lane to choose right on the dash display in front of the driver. The information being right next to the speed made it feel safer and less of a distraction.

The feel: Once I got used to the gear shift being up where my turn signal normally is, I was good to go. The Valente might be big, but she drives just like a car. With the automatic engine idle cut off, the Valente gets the fuel mileage of a car as well! I must admit that the first time the car did the auto off I thought I had stalled out, but it was merely the latest technology to save fuel.

The rear camera: The generous interior space means that you get a gigantic screen for the reversing camera and that made parking the Valente a breeze.

Life was easy to navigate during our two weeks with the Valente and we have missed it a few times since returning it. I think it would be great to take it on an actual road trip. Maybe next time…it would make a great movie!

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