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Category: Staff Stories

Picture of Jenny Cadwell.

Senior Producer Jenny Cadwell Joins VOLT Studios

Full service content company VOLT Studios is excited to electrify the new year with the addition of Senior Producer Jenny Cadwell. Cadwell brings agency insight, deep expertise, and genuine enthusiasm to VOLT where she will work closely with producer Jennie Ekstrand.

“We’re as excited to see Jenn bring her bright-eyed energy to VOLT as we are to see her team up with Producer Jennie Ekstrand, who has been killing it for us the past few months by holding down the fort on her own,” notes VOLT Founder Steve Medin. “I am stoked to see how the two of them grow as a team and run this joint!”

“Jennifer is a welcome addition to our already stellar team, her agency experience will be a great asset. I look forward to partnering with her to continue to deliver for our clients,” adds Ekstrand.

Cadwell is a Minneapolis native who discovered her passion for the industry after graduating from Winona State University with a broadcast production focus. She pursued news production before finding her true calling in advertising at creative agency Carmichael Lynch. Cadwell also worked as an independent rep, before joining the award-winning agency Fallon as a post producer. This was followed by a successful tenure at Martin Williams where she was a Senior Producer working with national brands as Payless ShoeSource, Airwalk, Time Warner and more. From the complex details of production to delivering projects that shine, Cadwell is driven to make magic happen and loves being surrounded by creative people.

“I love the responsibility and problem-solving of producing, including building teams that make creativity come to life,” shares Cadwell. “Connecting people has always been a big part of what I love about the industry, and this role allows me to combine these passions with a dream team.”

As an agency producer, Cadwell explains, VOLT was her go-to as trusted creative partners on any project. “To join the company is to become part of a beloved team with whom I have become very close over many years. It’s both a welcome home and a new adventure.”

VOLT is a full-service content company that provides creative content, production, color, editing, post production, motion graphics and visual effects for notable and longtime clients including Arby’s, Subaru, and Target, among many others.

Volt Studios:

At VOLT Studios, we specialize in creating and nurturing great ideas. Our full-service content company provides creative, commercial and corporate video production services. We’ve worked with a diverse range of agencies and brands and would love to collaborate with you on your next project.

Volt Studios logo with a post-it note that says "Thank You"

Sharing Hope & Gratitude During Hard Times

The last two pandemic years have been challenging. We’re not alone, many businesses have had to change the way they do business and some haven’t made it. Fortunately, we see a luminous future.

Thanksgiving is over and the Holiday season is in high gear. It’s that time of year to reflect and appreciate what we do have.

The Positive Forces at VOLT Studios

We all have to learn an important life lesson as we grow: Some things, like the pandemic, are simply out of our control. But instead of dwelling on the negative, we’re focused on the positive forces that have kept us moving forward.

Two big ones in our business come to mind—The employees and clients who have stuck it out and kept the wheel turning during a situation that, at times, felt overwhelming. So, we’d like to give a big shoutout to our employees and a big thank you to our clients! Their dedication and perseverance are what drive VOLT Studios.

An article written in 2020 by Conscious Company dives into how appreciation and gratitude in the workplace can transform your business. Take the time and read this article to find more positives in life!

About Us

At VOLT Studios, we specialize in creating and nurturing great ideas. Our full-service content company provides creative, commercial and corporate video production services. We’ve worked with a diverse range of agencies and brands and would love to collaborate with you on your next project. Call 612-455-6161 or contact us online and we’ll chat about your options.

Sarah Thomas

Staff Stories: Sarah Thomas

“Why don’t you go work on movies?”

That’s what Sarah’s aunt asked her when she was in high school. Surely it can’t be that simple. A person from the Midwest doesn’t just go work in movies and television, right? Wrong!

This sweet suggestion was the spark that gave Sarah Thomas the idea to pursue a career in TV and film. She enrolled in The Art Institute and began studying and training to make her dream career a reality.

After graduation, she had two options—Move to the east or west coast and do freelance work, or stay local and see what she could find. The notion of freelancing didn’t appeal to her, so she opted to stick around Minnesota.

Around that time, Steve Medin was just starting VOLT Studios and was in need of an employee to handle photoshop work. Sarah’s name was suggested by a colleague, and she went on to be Steve’s assistant for seven years.

But eventually, Sarah felt like she’d done everything she could at her position and decided she wanted to move on. So, she took a break to travel to Peru and came back to work in VFX and Post-Production (Finishing) using Flame software.

Six years later, she’s still happily filling this role at VOLT and has been recognized as one of the 32 Under 32 by AdFed. She’s also one of the few females in the industry working as a Flame artist, and VOLT is proud to have her on the team.

“In a field that’s been predominantly filled by men, it’s really cool to see a talented female like Sarah breaking into the industry,” says Jim Martin, Director of Marketing for VOLT. “We’re lucky enough to have Sarah on the team when she could easily be out in L.A. or New York.”

Now that you’ve got some of Sarah’s background, let’s jump into some questions!

How would you describe your job to an outsider?

I make video productions look pretty! Once a project comes to us, we can fix patchy grass, add more leaves to trees, remove logos.

We clean up the videos and make them as attractive as possible because whether you’re shooting inside or outside, there are always factors you can’t control.

For example, if a client was filming outside and the weather wasn’t cooperating, we have to make it look like it was sunny that day instead of cloudy (or vice versa).

What’s been your favorite project so far?

There was a span of two months where our Subaru and Cadillac commercials used songs by The Black Keys from the Brothers album.

The Black Keys happened to be one of my favorite bands, and I got to work with their songs before they blew up and their talent rights got too expensive. That was really cool.

What would you work on if you could pick any project?

A feature-length television show. Like an 8-12 episode series.

Where do you see Flame and other Finishing software going in the future?

I was doing research to see what other companies use. Flame, Nuke, and Houdini are the top three, and I don’t see them going anywhere.

They each do different things and there are features of the others I’d like Flame engineers to implement, but overall I like it a lot. We use Flame for VFX and everything else in the process.

Word has it you have a fantastic shoe collection. Care to tell us about that?

In high school, I fell in love with Kangaroo tennis shoes. When I started driving, I would wear one pink and one green shoe. Eventually, this interest transitioned into heels, which I think are fun.

What are your thoughts on the video production industry in Minneapolis?

The one thing about Minneapolis is there aren’t a lot of new Flame artists or Post-Production Finishers in general.

I’m in the younger generation, but a lot of people younger than me are going into the creative agency side of things. The talent specific to Minneapolis is good, but the market isn’t saturated.

You love to travel. Where have you been and where are you headed?

I’ve been to Bali, Greece, Turkey, Peru, and Costa Rica within the last 10 years. Southwest Asia would be a top choice for my next place to visit.

You’re a huge Harry Potter fan. Which house would you be sorted into?

Ravenclaw.

Got any advice for those who want to make it in Post-Production?

Check your feelings at the door, unfortunately. Sometimes your artistic ability and vision aren’t going to get seen and you have to be able to let that go and follow what your clients want. You have to be able to let people tear your work into shreds without getting hurt over it.

Finally, sometimes the simplest things are the worst to do and the technical things are the best. Things don’t always go as planned, so be ready for any challenge!

Staff Stories: Kurtis Benson

Kurtis knew he loved art early on. When you grow up on Cartoon Network programs like Toonami and Adult Swim, it’s easy to fall in love with animation!

He took every art class in high school and got solid grades, but once he learned he could make a career out of it, he knew he had to pursue it. After enrolling at The Art Institute, he trained in a spirited environment with a healthy dose of competition. 

“One of my best friends from the class was competitive. Each time we’d get an assignment, we’d turn to each other and say, ‘I’m going to do better than you,’ and that was the most important aspect of going to school. The competition helped shape us.”

Kurtis landed an internship with VOLT Studios and was eventually hired to handle Motion Graphics, Design, and Animation. But even when he’s not working, he still uses his creativity and talent in his free time.

“I do a lot of work outside of VOLT, including music videos. Even if I was a plumber next week, I’d still be making videos on the side. I truly love my craft, and I like coming to work every day knowing I’ll have a new challenge.”

The Subaru Park Project

VOLT Studios has a great relationship with Carmichael Lynch. Usually, we work with them on live-action commercials but a unique situation arose where the client needed motion graphics.

Subaru of America, Inc. is the official sponsor of the Philadelphia Union’s soccer stadium, Subaru Park. They wanted a series of fun, easily digestible videos to play on the jumbotrons during matches that would instruct guests on the proper ways to use the trash and recycling receptacles located around the arena.

The good folks at Subaru were aware of Kurtis’ talents with motion graphics and decided he was the best person for the job! After a few days of brainstorming, blocking, and determining a timeframe, Kurtis jumped into the nitty-gritty and got the job done.

He created all of the segments using Adobe Creative Suite, specifically Illustrator and After Effects. While there are 3D elements in the graphics, Kurtis also used a few tricks to give the illusion of 3D.

Overall, the process took about three weeks to complete, and the final result was fantastic. Kurtis created a fun, engaging piece of content that entertains and educates. Take a look for yourself!

“Kids and adults don’t always know how to recycle properly. I hope these graphics help encourage good habits.”

So do we, Kurtis! Thank you for helping Subaru make a positive impact. We’re proud of your work and appreciate everything you do at VOLT Studios and beyond.

Staff Stories: Amber Navarrete

Amber is a cool, outgoing lady who loves a good Scorsese movie. She’s also a fantastic video editor at VOLT Studios. But more importantly, she’s a caring soul who deserves credit for helping people.

A Little Background… 

Amber and her husband, Josh, found out about ten weeks into their pregnancy that their newest addition would have Down syndrome. Naturally, Amber’s first instinct was to do research on the condition. But she didn’t start with traditional sources of information.

“I went straight to YouTube. I didn’t want to just read about Down syndrome — I’m a very visual person and I wanted to see it and really understand what it was about.”

In the months and years that followed, Amber and Josh experienced the unique joys and hardships found in many families touched by Down syndrome. They also joined the MN North Metro Down Syndrome Parent Group, where they were embraced with a whole new level of support.

“When you meet another family with a child with Down Syndrome, it’s like you grew up together. We’ve all spent so many times in hospitals and going through different circumstances. It’s just a different type of living, so when you meet somebody else in the same situation, it’s like seeing an old friend.”

Partnering with Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota (DSAMN)

DSAMN holds the annual Step Up for Down Syndrome, which is their biggest fundraising event of the year. Normally, they have a huge party, but COVID threw a wrench into that plan.

Due to safety protocol, Step Up had to be online for the 2020 gathering. To help make the event enjoyable and engaging, DSAMN decided to create a compelling video series. Enter Amber.

Through a mutual acquaintance, DSAMN asked Amber if she’d be interested in leading the video campaign. Amber jumped at the opportunity to volunteer for a project with a deep meaning to her.

The Down Syndrome Video Project

DSAMN’s goal was to show families experiencing Down syndrome at various stages. The focus of the videos included:

  • Pre-Diagnosis (during pregnancy)
  • Teenage years
  • Adulthood
  • Who We Are at the Down Syndrome Association of MN 

Highlighting people with Down syndrome at different ages ensured the videos would cover a good cross-section of life with the condition. Beyond this starting point, the organization gave Amber the freedom to shape the videos in her own vision.

“They let me do what I wanted. I inserted myself into the project and made something that I would have loved to see when I found out my child had Down syndrome.”

With the help of Creative Director Tom Jacobsen, Motion Graphics Artist Kurtis Benson, and Producer Jennie Ekstrand, along with gracious supporters like Dave Keepper (a copywriter who donated his time to assist Amber through the project) and Black Label (who donated all of the music), Amber created a gripping, relatable series. A collection of videos that she would have loved to see when she was doing research on YouTube years ago.

Usually, in the video production world, everything has to be short and to the point. But this project let her make segments that were long and thorough because that’s what the audience needed. 

“Coming from a world of 60-second videos, it was great to dive deeper and do more impactful work.”

Well done, Amber. Scorsese would be proud, and so are we! VOLT Studios is lucky to have you on our team.