3 Things That Will Surprise Americans About Cuba

Havana Antique Car

We recently returned from Havana so I thought I would share a few interesting notes.

Cigars are hard to find

We thought they would be on every corner of every street. A cigar is called a Tobaco in Cuba as well. Very confusing at first. There are sketchy people trying to get you to follow them to who-knows-where to get budget cigars but there are very few actual cigar shops. Maybe they don’t realize what a marketing machine they have going? I don’t know but not that many Cubans seemed to be smoking cigars and shops were scarce. Also, Cuban cigars to my taste weren’t anything to write home about. Again, spectacular marketing: a product that’s just about non-existent made famous by a leader who’s dead but they still hold the undisputed cigar world title. Why? Marketing.

Order the Pina Colada, not the Mojito

My fiancee and I make better mojitos at home. I couldn’t believe it. I’m from Wisconsin, how can I make a better mojito than the Cubans? We narrowed it down to the rum they use. There’s basically only one kind of rum in Cuba because Socialism, so Havana Club is everywhere. Each island in the Caribbean pretty much grows its own sugar which gets distilled into their rum and you would think they’d all be fairly similar but they’re not. I hate rum from the French islands. Well, hate is a strong word. I’m not as fond of French Island rum but I certainly wouldn’t turn it down in a pinch. Or really anytime. No offense intended. So Cuban rum has its own unique flavor that just doesn’t really mix well with mojitos. We couldn’t believe it. We all tried to fake it but everyone came to the same conclusion independently. It was only after we tried the Pina coladas that we really started to appreciate Cuban rum. Oh my god. They’re amazing. I had about $4000 worth at two bucks a piece so you do the math. They’re that good. I’ve never had a better Pina colada.

The old cars really are a thing

This—unlike the cigars—is exactly what we were hoping for. These gorgeous old cars are everywhere. It’s not a novelty, it’s not a fad, it’s a way of life for lack of other automobiles. Most of these cars were passed down from grandparents and are tended to like they are life giving, which in most cases they are because the taxi is the main form of income. Another interesting tidbit is you’ll hear a lot of diesel engines in Cuba, but you don’t see many trucks. The diesel is coming from the antique cars and locals will tell you with more than a hint of pride that they converted the cars over themselves. Since no American products were available, these are a Hyundai diesel that’s apparently very reliable and doesn’t belch clouds of diesel exhaust, which would sort of ruin the moment for tourists, I imagine.

And there you go. I would suggest going to Cuba as soon as possible because there are more and more cruise ships coming in every day and it’s only a matter of time before Havana is crowded with Midwestern tourists and $4000 only gets you 250 Pina coladas. Ay dios mio! Enjoy the rest of the pics!

Apple’s New MacBook Pro Review

New MacBook Pro Crashing
The 2017 MacBook Pro mid-crash. It happens way too often, unfortunately.

I recently upgraded from an early 2011 MacBook Pro to the new Late 2016 MacBook Pro (they were backordered, so I didn’t get it until 2017) and these are my impressions. I’m a professional videographer and editor, so this review is justified toward those uses.

First of all, the reasons I wanted/needed to upgrade my Early 2011 MacBook Pro:

  • The battery lasted about 13 seconds.
  • It was glacially slow. You could notice the earth spin while this poor relic attempted to open Premiere Pro. Paint dried faster. I trimmed my finger nails when I hit the application and had to trim them again by the time it opened. Gross. 
  • I couldn’t properly edit 4K for lack of RAM, even though I had it fully maxed out. It was just too old.

And that’s it. Those are the only reasons I needed to upgrade, but unfortunately those were compelling enough to make it worth dropping $4,000, which brings me to my complaints about the new MacBook Pro:

  • It’s really friggin’ expensive. I bought a working, full-size truck for $2,800 (granted that was a screaming deal) and this stupid computer that I’m typing this review from cost another third more. That’s insane.
  • It crashes. Like way too often for something this shiny and new. I get way more of the dreaded “general errors” with this machine than my trusty, battle-tested early 2011.
  • The Touch Bar blows. It forces you to hit three buttons to turn down the brightness or music volume rather than the single button you used to hit. Don’t be fooled by Apple’s marketing, this thing is just a gimick that you won’t use. The color picker in some applications is sort of cool but there are so few uses for the Touch Bar that you don’t rely on it so it just ends up getting in the way when you accidentally skip a song you like because the thing is so damn sensitive.
  • The keyboard is horrible. I don’t care if it’s 1mm thinner if the shallow keyboard makes me type like a palsy victim. I’m hoping I get used to it but a month in we’re definintely not there yet (yes that was an ironic typo, but I originally made it because of an honest error and just chose not to correct it).
  • USB-C blows. It could be cool and it might be cool in the future because there is no up or down (unlike the old USB that made you look like the monkeys at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey every time you tried to plug it in) but for now, NONE of your devices will work with it so you need a dongle for EVERYTHING. Annoying and expensive.
  • The track pad is almost too big now. The way my yeti hands have to sit on the keyboard I end up engaging the track pad when I don’t intend to.

Whew. I’ve been saving that up for the last two months and it felt good to vent to someone other than Apple customer service (they don’t give a damn). Now for what I like about the new MacBook Pro:

  • It’s faster than my 2011 MacBook Pro. The solid state drive opens apps extremely quickly, even if they crash shortly after opening. It exports video a lot faster than my old computer so I can up my productivity a bit.
  • The fingerprint scan is AMAZING. It’s super reliable and quick. Works every time, unlike my phone, which has to have a case and the film over the touch sensor gets stuff stuck in it and has to be cleaned pretty often. It’s so nice to be able to walk away from your computer and know it’s safe but still easily access it.
  • Siri is pretty cool. I haven’t used her for a lot yet but just asking her to open applications you don’t have mapped saves a lot of time.
  • It’s lighter, which is kind of nice but I still would rather have my old keyboard back.

And that’s it. I’ll update this post as I think of more things but those are the main pain points and high points. As you can see, I don’t think it’s even close to worth the money to upgrade to the new MacBook Pro unless you absolutely have to but that’s life. RIP Steve Jobs, Apple had a good run while you were alive and now it’s probably time to sell their stock because their products are going downhill.

VirTra V300 Customer Testimonial Videos

CSK Creative got a call from the good people at VirTra simulators to shoot some customer testimonial videos at the Orange County Convention Center for  the ground-breaking new V300 simulator. We shot inside the simulator itself with a static screen behind us on the five-screen, 300-degree field of view, $200,000 exhibit install. The simulator uses real guns (Glock 9MM and AR15) with a simulated recoil with C02 cartridges. They design it so you’re going to get shot now and then, which means a taser on your hip “stimulates” (shocks) you when you screw up, or really whenever the person running the simulator feels like you need to get out of your comfort zone. I can tell you from personal experience that the stimulation doesn’t exactly tickle.

The final simulator install is mainly used in law enforcement and military applications and includes a vibrating floor for added realism.

VirTra trusted CSK Creative to capture the customer testimonials and everything worked out flawlessly. Anticipating the client’s needs, we brought lighting to open up the dark room and separated the talent from the background so there were no tell tale shadows and no highlights on the screen. We shot with two cameras so the interview could be seamlessly spliced together when the talent said content that needed to be trimmed. We also provided an additional service at no extra charge when the client asked us to capture an on-the-spot demo with actual law enforcement personnel who were being introduced to the technology.

The raw footage turned out fantastic and it was another successful shoot for CSK Creative. If you have need of an event video, conference video, marketing video or corporate video of any type, please don’t hesitate to contact CSK Creative.

Andrew Tosh GameSim Tech Marketing and Sales Video

Andrew-Tosh-2_1 (1)Check out the video below.

We at CSK Creative recently had the pleasure of working with GameSim, one of the tech industry’s fastest-growing companies. GameSim is a modeling and simulation company that focuses on the video game, military and GSI industries. Andrew Tosh (the Orlando-based brother of television star Daniel Tosh) started the company as a one-man-band and has grown to over 35 employees.

Andrew and I sat down to consult about preproduction strategy first—which is imperative in any high-end production to gauge the client’s needs and objectives—and we decided that the video needed a tech-forward feel with a soft, approachable side that wouldn’t intimidate potential clients.

The video was to be the company’s flagship marketing tool that would take pride of place at gamesim.com. Being a graphics-based company, they handled the motion graphics in-house, and we at CSK Creative collaborated closely via email and instant messenger during the post production to tweak the video and produce exactly the sales/marketing tool they needed.

Working with a forward-reaching tech company was a fun new challenge. The video covers the company’s inception, core competencies, work with high-end companies like EA Sports, and future goals. We put special emphasis on communicating to potential clients that GameSim was a fully capable, one-stop-shop equipped to handle huge projects from start to finish, and not just subcontracted parts of bigger projects.

We made the script and final video as evergreen as possible so the team at GameSim could make tweaks to stats and figures within the graphics whenever necessary so they had an up-to-date, polished marketing piece that the company would be proud of for years to come.

Check out the video below and let us know if we can help you reach your video marketing goals by contacting us.

Andrew Tosh, President of GameSim
Andrew Tosh hard at work on the next big project for GameSim, an Orlando-based modeling and simulation company