When Will Troutman, one of the pastors of Harvest Church of Calhoun, was hosting live streams for his church during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, it sparked another idea.
Troutman, 29, and his wife Niki Troutman, 27, a licensed cosmetologist and hairstylist, decided to start their own business, Troutman Creative, a Calhoun-based media and video company.
“Niki and I are creative people,” said Will Troutman. “I always played with cameras, video – we did that as a hobby for a long time.”
Since the church was discouraged from meeting in person during the height of COVID, Will Troutman continued to improve the quality of live streams that eventually “bled into other businesses” asking him and his wife, to help them with their respective content.
“The demand for this stuff was much greater than I expected,” said Will Troutman.
The Troutmans spent much of 2020 doing image magnification (IMAG) for drive-in gigs around the area, followed by recording corporate interviews for a variety of different hospitals and municipalities.
Since then, the company has grown to work with local and state entities such as the Beaver Dam Tourism Commission, Ohio County, Tony Clark Realtors and beyond Commonwealth borders, such as the second annual music event “Sounds on the Grounds” from the Dickson County Chamber in Dickson. , Tennessee.
And just recently, the company just finished some ads in Morocco.
Troutman Creative also offers portraiture, concert and event photography, and drone video.
“Anything to do with pointing a lens at something, we kind of dip our toes into it,” said Will Troutman.
Will Troutman said the business has seen growth and success over the past two years, to the point where Niki Troutman has focused on the business full-time.
“It worked well because we really like working together,” said Niki Troutman. “It made perfect sense to stretch my creative muscles with video instead of hair.”
Will Troutman recalls fond memories of making home movies with friends growing up and said he loved “the intersection between…creative expression and the technical side of things.”
“I love technology, and I love expressing myself and trying to create something that evokes something from someone; and the cameras are kind of right there at that intersection,” Will Troutman said. “It scratches both sides of the brain, so to speak. … It’s very technical, very precise, very logical and also there are no rules.
Although Niki Troutman was not as familiar with video as her husband, she was still interested in being creative in other ways.
“I was more of an artistic kid; I never tried out for my T-ball team growing up (or) anything like that, but I was always interested in visual arts in high school,” she said. “I’ve done a few photography projects that I’ve really enjoyed and never imagined I could do full time.”
Will Troutman said much of the business clientele viewed the company’s work online and by word of mouth.
A primary focus of any product produced by the Troutmans is to focus on storytelling through color and lighting choices, sound design, music, audio, light and shadow relationships , etc.
“I love being able to tell a compelling story,” said Will Troutman. “Video is a really good medium for that more than just about anything else, especially in our time. If you want to tell a story, you’ll probably get the biggest audience with a video.”
Niki Troutman is eager to learn new skills and marry her own observations.
“It’s so very technical in so many ways that I’m not a technical person,” she said. “There’s a lot of things that come naturally to me, so I can take our footage and I can see what’s going to evoke the emotion I’m most interested in and the graphics to grab your attention – it’s not hard for me.”
The scope of each project is different, Will Troutman said, with larger, “more narrative” projects being split between pre-production (25%), production (25%) and post-production (50%).
In pre-production, the Troutmans meet with clients about the story they want to tell, who the audience is, what do they want to communicate, and what is the intended platform the project can be found on, such as YouTube. or another space.
This stage also includes writing storyboards and mood boards before moving into production with camera, lighting and sound, all of which are of equal importance.
“If you get one of them wrong, the whole project is shot,” said Will Troutman. “…Production days are all about making sure it all looks and sounds exactly the way it should.”
The “hard work,” according to Will Troutman, takes place in post-production, which Niki Troutman said they keep in mind when they’re in production.
“…I’m maybe behind the camera filming and I’m thinking how it’s going to look every time (I’m editing) and what the colors will look like every time we do it and how are we going to cut the angles to tell the story,” she said. “That’s my favorite part. I think that’s where you can be particularly creative….”
Although the Troutmans have no intention of making it a full-time business, they are happy to do something that brings happiness to themselves and others.
“It’s just fun,” Will Troutman said. “I really enjoy the work. We’ve perfected our craft to the point where people are willing to look to pay us to do it…. (It’s) something I’m just so grateful for.
“I am so grateful to be in McLean County doing this job,” said Niki Troutman. “It’s really nice to be able to work from home, and McLean County is the perfect place. My goal has always been to benefit my community in some way, so I hope we can do that and the community will benefit.
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