Visual Storytelling for Maximum Impact

Visual Storytelling for Maximum Impact

Visual Storytelling for Maximum Impact

Elliott Moore: Hi. This is Elliott Moore and you’re listening to Cosmic Soup.


Mike Peacock: Welcome back, Cosmonauts to the return of Cosmic Soup. Yes, we are back from our trip around the cosmos with some exciting news to share with y’all.

Joining us today is new team member Elliott Moore. In addition to her epic background in visual communications, she’s going to be bringing a little extra something-something to the soup. More on that later.

Of course, we’ve also got with us today the woman, the myth, the legend Cynthia Thurlow-Cruver. Hey, Elliott. Hey, Cynthia. Welcome to the show. Thanks for joining me today.

Elliott: Hello. Thanks for having us.

Cynthia Thurlow-Cruver: Hello. It’s great to be here.

Mike: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, Elliott, I want to welcome you to the team, and I want to say that we are very excited to talk to you today about what you are going to bring to the Soup. That being said, why don’t you give the listeners a nice little background on yourself? Tell us about who you are, where you came from, and what your background is.

Elliott: Yeah. Well, hi, everybody. Like Mike said, I’m Elliott. I’m new to 3rdThird. I’m new to Cosmic Soup but excited to be here.

I grew up in Seattle. I went to Roosevelt High School and then recently graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles. There I studied media arts and culture, and I minored in theater.

My background is primarily in visual communication, and that’s what I’m really bringing to the table for 3rdThird. I really do have a passion for storytelling on top of that, so I want to go in and I want to make sure everybody’s story gets told and do it in a very esthetically pleasing manner.

Mike: Yeah.

Elliott: That’s a little bit about me.

Mike: That sounds amazing. That was probably the best edition of podcast cliff notes on somebody’s background I’ve ever heard.

Elliott: It’s my whole life right there.

Mike: [Laughter]

Elliott: In 20 seconds – clean.

Cynthia: [Laughter]

Mike: Pretty epic. Well, we’re excited to have you, and we’re excited to explore this avenue of you telling stories and all of your cool stylistic things that you’re going to bring to the table are going to be awesome. Of course, Cynthia, it’s always awesome to have you on the show as well.

Cynthia: It’s always awesome to be here. I’m very excited about Elliott joining the 3rdThird team and Culinary Coach team.

I think what really stands out about Elliott is – we’re going to talk a little bit about age later, but right now – she is an old soul, is incredibly mature. I love that she comes from a theater, arts, and visual communication background, but also out of the LA market, which is the hotbed of digital communications and entertainment, which is something that we are weaving into the 3rdThird offering.

Mike: Yeah, and so I guess that being said, visual entertainment, visual arts, and all that kind of stuff, how does that tie into our industry, Elliott?

Elliott: Well, the more and more I’m noticing is that communities want to have accurate photography and videography up on their websites and they want a fresh website that represents the best of what their community has to offer. Video is kind of the new way of doing that. It’s so easy to produce a great video nowadays that if you don’t have a stunning picture or video up on your website, you’re falling behind. The good news is it’s so easy to do.

Cynthia: Yeah. In contrast, in the absence of that, what some organizations will do is just use stock photography. We actually do a funny bit in one of our speaking engagements about that where we show the same image, and it’s selling pharmaceuticals, then it’s selling Viagra, then it’s cruise lines, then it’s finance, and then it’s senior living. It’s all the same image, so it’s much better to have some custom video and architectural photography.

Mike: Yep.

Elliott: Video isn’t new. Blending together something you can see and something you can hear is really, really old. But the thing about the aging services industry is that many of these places don’t have a great video to showcase their amenities, their features, and what makes them special – yet.

The beauty with that is that you can go in and find exactly what makes that community unique, what makes it special, and you can tell a story in 30 seconds. That story is on your video or is on your website. People can click on it and watch it.

Mike: Can you give us an example about what that looks like when we talk about how do they use video? What would that pathway entail?

Elliott: Well, videos are everywhere online. They’re on social media. They’re on your website. They’re in your pocket on your phone.

The way you would view is that it could come up as a paid advertisement on your Facebook page. You can scroll past and see somebody advertising for their community. You can click on their video and, in ten seconds or less, get a great idea of what that community is all about. Or you can actually click on the webpage and be brought to the webpage and see it there, too.

It’s really everywhere.

Cynthia: Yeah. We’re using it – gosh – for our social media marketing, both organic and paid. We’re using videos, and we’re doing a lot of A/B testing with that.

We know that videos perform at a higher rate. Then also, in Google, AdWords campaigns, video is preferred over non-video content.

Elliott: It’s dynamic. It draws the eye.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. We’re talking about integrating this now into our daily lives at communities. What does that look like? People are going to ask you, “What about equipment? How do I get this set up? How do I get started doing this?” What’s your advice on that?

Elliott: Well, the beauty about all tech right now is that it’s just becoming more and more accessible. When I say accessible, I mean less expensive.

Moreover, you could rent something that would usually cost $2,000. A nice new camera, you can rent it for way less than that (for a week), get a really great team in, and produce a great video for a really reasonable price.

When you’re talking about going into a community, this could be a week-long project rather than (a few years ago or five years ago) it could be a few months of process and development to get something that you can get within a week now, which is great.

Mike: Yeah. What about kinds of technology, things like drones and the new phones and all kinds of things that are really kind of an outside-of-the-box way to think of getting this stuff produced?

Elliott: Right. I’m glad that you brought up drones because they sound kind of spooky when you’re talking about them.

Mike: [Laughter]

Elliott: But they’re actually such a cool new tool for video. I don’t know if you’ve been checking out websites recently, but a lot of places who specialize in real estate or colleges that are trying to get an updated view of their campus. Something that (especially in COVID) people are looking for is a virtual tour.

The beauty of the drone shot is that you can have, in ten seconds, this beautiful sweeping shot of your entire campus on a beautiful, sunny day where the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and it’s gorgeous. A drone, you can rent, again, for a week and it’s cheap, very cheap. It’s great. Easy to use.

The other thing that is great is these new 360-degree video cameras, which is back to the virtual tour idea. Great because you can sit in your comfy armchair at your house looking at your computer and click through an entire campus, an entire building, walk through a model apartment, and really get a feel of what the space looks like rather than a series of photos. That’s even an advancement past photography, which is really exciting.

Mike: Well, yeah. That’s really cool, Elliott. Really, what I’m hearing out of this is that you can have videos produced efficiently and affordably and not even really have to have a ton of your own equipment.

Elliott: No, you really don’t.

Mike: If you were going to buy equipment, just as a thing to have around, what would you suggest would be just a super basic setup for somebody to have in case something pops up on the fly and they want to put together a quick promo or something like that?

Elliott: Well, before you go and purchase some very new, expensive, mirrorless Sony camera, a Nikon camera, I would check out the specs of your iPhone that you have in your pocket. If it really is on the fly, you can get a 4K video—which essentially just means extremely high def and is the standard nowadays—by shooting something with your iPhone.

There are entire movies shot on iPhone, and they’re brilliant. Android too. I don’t want to leave them out.

In terms of a camera and some sound equipment, if I were to make a recommendation, like I said, Sony has a really great, pretty basic level camera, the Alpha series 37 I really, really like. I think it’s kind of the bread and butter camera. The Nikon 7Z is also great for that same price range. It runs at about $2500. The Sony is a little bit cheaper than that, I believe, and you can get it even cheaper used.

In terms of sound equipment and what we’re recording on today, the Zoom Recorders are great. You can get a cheap camera or a cheap microphone like the Heil or a little lavaliere microphone, which are great when you go into communities and you’re doing interviews. They’re those little, cute, teeny-tiny microphones that you clip onto someone’s lapel or their lavaliere.

Mike: [Laughter]

Elliott: You pick up great audio. Mike and I were talking before we started recording. They have new Bluetooth options for that as well.

There are plenty of options in the market, and the search can be overwhelming at first because there are so many options. But if you talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about – I wouldn’t say myself necessarily – another expert like Mike or somebody else who is friendly on the Internet, they could help you narrow down your choices.

Mike: Awesome. Getting back to the iPhone thing real quick, so let’s just say that I did want to shoot a video on my iPhone, which we all know that the video capabilities, especially on the 12s, for instance, are epic. What would you recommend as far as getting the audio recorded for that as well? Do you recommend Outboard Gear or just do the whole thing (audio and video) straight from the phone?

Elliott: I think it depends on what you’re trying to shoot. I would say if you have a nice, quiet room and you’re trying to walk around an apartment and you’re hearing whoever is touring you talk about the amenities of said apartment, I would say you can record it right to your phone. The audio does a pretty good job by itself. But if you’re outside at a park or you’re outside at a community which has a lovely gazebo somebody has their grandkids screaming in the background, maybe that’s when you might want to rent something like the Zoom Recorder and get a teeny-tiny little mic onboard and do some dual recording.

Syncing those up is as easy as putting them on your computer. That’s when you want – maybe Cynthia can jump in on this – to make sure you have a really good team on hand. If you can’t do it, maybe hire somebody for a week who really knows what they’re doing. The level of talent can make a huge difference in the outcome of the product.

Cynthia: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, I’m not saying this because we sell video—


Cynthia: –but, as an organization, I think back to the 1980s when they were advertising agencies. In the late ’80s, we were going to see Nirvana. Anyway—

Mike: [Laughter]

Cynthia: When Adobe came out with PageMaker, Illustrator, Photoshop, and now all of a sudden everybody is using PageMaker to design communications. It’s the tool. The tool is awesome. The tool is affordable. But you still need the creative talent using the tool. I think that that is a key point.

It’s funny because this also happens with social media. Well, gosh, the receptionist can handle our social media presence and advertise for us. Well, again, Facebook is a tool, but you need to have marketing and creative chops to use it effectively. I think, for sure, video is probably even more critical because it can communicate so many things in such a short timeframe that you have to be so selective and critical about what is it that we’re showing, and does this fulfill our net impression? When somebody is finished watching this video, what do we want them to believe or think?

As creative professionals, we’re always focused on that one piece. What is the net impression? Who is our target audience? How will they perceive this? And will they act upon the information?

Mike: Yeah. Absolutely fantastic insight into that. Thank you both for going down that rabbit hole.

I kind of want to switch gears a little bit and get back to something, Cynthia, that you touched on right at the beginning, which is how this ties into ageism and how do we combat that with these tools.

Cynthia: Yes. We talk about ageism on a daily basis here at 3rdThird and Culinary Coach. Everything we do is around that and promoting a positive aging experience or perception of positive aging.

I’ll be honest. I’m 57.

Mike: [Gasp]

Cynthia: Elliott, you’re 20…

Elliott: Twenty-three.

Cynthia: Twenty-three.

Something else that I love is mixing ages in the company. Elliott, I’m interested to know. How do you perceive ageism? Has ageism affected you? What do you think about it?

Elliott: Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say ageism works both ways. I don’t think that’s true at all, necessarily. I would say, like the rest of the -isms, ageism to me is just – you have to honor the differences between you and your neighbor. If they look different than you, if they’re a different age than you, you have to honor the differences.

You have to see them. Stop pretending that they don’t exist. But also, stop pretending that those same differences would prevent you from making a connection with someone. Realizing that there’s true strength in a diverse company and a diverse world because the more that we learn about each other’s stories and appreciate how they were raised or brought up differently than us, the experiences that they had make them different than us.

The more that we appreciate that, I think the better off we are and the greater world view that we have. That absolutely applies to age. It’s seeing someone for exactly who they are and appreciating them for that.

In terms of ageism in the senior living industry, I mean the entertainment industry, coming from there, ageism is hugely prevalent. In Los Angeles, coming from the film industry, you see it every day. People age out of certain roles, age out of certain jobs all the time.

It’s really cool to me that with 3rdThird, we have people of all ages that are using the same new-age technology and are approaching it at the same level and teaching each other what they can. I think that’s just really important when you’re breaking down those barriers.

Cynthia: Yeah.

Mike: Cynthia, you and I talked about this a while ago on a prior episode. But now that we’ve got Elliott, it might be worth revisiting this kind of unplanned rabbit hole here. When we’re talking about visual storytelling, Cynthia, one of the things that is very prevalent in this industry is using, for instance, images of the stereotypical old person with gray hair engaging in a very old-school style things like playing bingo. People are using these kinds of images on their sites, in their advertising, and in their media.

What do we do about that now as technology has gotten better, as storytelling is kind of coming to the forefront? Where do we go with that?

Cynthia: Oh, thank you for bringing that up. Yeah, well, the fact is that the majority of people over 60 color their hair, so they’re not gray, number one. But also, we’re also dealing with internalized ageism. We talk about that a lot. We can’t prevent that. Hopefully, this will be gone in another 20 years.

For now, there is internalized ageism. So, no matter how hard we try to show people who are 80, an 80-year-old will look at that and say, “I’m not that old. I’m never going to be that old. I don’t belong with these people.”

To combat that we focus on telling the story of a lifestyle, of a setting, of the potential, of what I could do when I live in a community. There are so many ways to tell that story without putting a person just upfront and center in the video or the image. We really try to tell a story, weave the story about a setting, and we focus a lot on beauty, art, aesthetics, and kind of ethereal ideas that you can capture with video. It’s a very cool way to do it.

Mike: Yeah. Elliott, I know one of the things that I have learned over the years in terms of video production is, one of the ways that you kind of can illustrate that kind of a feel is, how is the video edited? Is there a lot of fast motion with the camera or slower motion to emphasize certain things to make it seem like this is a very active frame? What are your thoughts on all that?

Elliott: Well, I think everything about a video, not just the script, is telling the story of a place. You can (exactly what you said) inform your editing, inform your shots with the same information that you’re informing the script. Just because you have someone in the background saying, “This is very peaceful and wonderful, tranquil community,” if you have a really fast cut [laughter] or a really fast whip across the room with the camera, it’s going to make no sense at all.


Elliott: Back to the talent thing. You want someone who is going to actually be able to walk onto the campus, feel the vibe, and then produce a video that reflects that vibe accurately. I think that’s absolutely really important to pay attention to.

Mike: Yeah. Focusing on the activity, the feeling, and the vibe rather than just on what the person may or may not look like in whatever stage of life they’re at, I think is critical.

Elliott: Absolutely. Just like a regular film director. You want to show what you want to show. Like Cynthia said earlier, at the end of day our goal is to have someone feel something and feel what they want them to feel at the end of the video. You do that through all of those choices that you make along the way – if you’re directing the video or if you’re working on the video.

Cynthia: And music.

Elliott: Mm-hmm.

Cynthia: You wouldn’t want dunt-dunt-dunt-dunt-dunt-dunt.

Mike: [Laughter] Jaws theme in the background.


Mike: But also, it’s funny you mention music – another rabbit hole here. One of the things that I see quite a bit when I have seen videos that have music included in it, they’ll play things like – I don’t know – Lawrence Welk.

Cynthia: [Laughter]

Mike: Or polkas or waltzes or things that are very stereotypical “old people music.” The reality is, when you walk into a community, a lot of these people that are hanging out like rock n’ roll or they like something a little bit more upbeat or something radio-friendly. They’re not all listening to pre-war jazz or something.

Again, there’s that ageism component where we think just because somebody is of a certain age that they only like the music from their childhood or whatever they were exposed to. Quite conversely, they probably like a lot more modern stuff. And so, as we see music being integrated into videos now, we are seeing a lot more modern interpretations, which I think is awesome because, man, that music – oof. [Laughter] Some of that stuff is just hard to listen to for anybody, I think, at this stage.

Elliott: Well, it’s all about diversity. You can play your swing music, but then maybe you want to throw in some Rolling Stones in the middle of it. You can curate a playlist.

Mike: Yeah.

Elliott: Absolutely. That’s a whole other job, a whole other podcast.

Mike: [Laughter] Right. All of that being said, Elliott, now that we have let everybody know what you’re all about, we want to make the official announcement that Elliott is going to be actually joining us as another host here at Cosmic Soup so that I can also focus on my other job duties that sometimes call me elsewhere, which is why sometimes it’s hard for us to get some of these episodes out in a timely manner.

Elliott, what do you want to say to the world about your contributions coming forth to the Cosmic Soup?

Elliott: I am so excited to talk to some really cool folks and hear what everybody else has to say. It’s going to be a great learning experience.

Mike: [Laughter] It’s a great learning experience, but it’s just a great experience all around.

Elliott: Absolutely.

Mike: From what I understand, you’ve got a couple of episodes already lined up for us here in the very not-so-distant future. Do you want to tell us about those?

Elliott: For sure. Well, first, I’m going to interview a fun, special mystery guest who is a fellow female business leader in the industry. We’re going to interview her about how we repositioned her community and what went well, what we would do differently a second time, all that jazz.

Then I also have an interview coming up with our very own Dr. Kelly who is our resident audiologist, scientific and STEM educator for our company. we’re going to be talking about how May is Better Hearing Month. She’s going to give her tips and tricks on how to prevent hearing loss and all that jazz.

Two jazz.

Mike: [Laughter] Two jazz. Speaking of jazz that we were just talking about, right?

Elliott: Mm-hmm.

Mike: Awesome. Well, that sounds really, really, really exciting. I know that Cynthia and I are very excited to have you as part of this production team as well. That being said, I think it’s time for the famous – or is it infamous – questions that we refer to as “the Cynthia questions.” We call them that because this was her idea to kind of get a baseline.

We ask every guest that comes on the show these two important questions. We would love to get your feedback on this. Are you ready to do this?

Elliott: Super-duper.

Mike: All right. Question number one: If you could build a perfect community for yourself, one that you would actually live in for the rest of your life, what would it look like? What would it feature? How would you go about designing this perfect community?

Elliott: Well, it would be gorgeous, glamorous, and very expensive. No, I’m kidding.


Elliott: I think it would be comfy with some upscale amenities. But overall, I think my biggest dealbreaker would be that I would really like it to be arts-based. Specifically, if we could work a lot of theater into the community, I think that would be fantastic.

One of my ideas would be to have a full theater stage within the community that touring companies could put up plays and musicals at. I think it would be great if residents could be involved with that process, if they could be ushers, if they could sell tickets, that sort of thing, or even perform, perform stage crew responsibilities. I think involvement of any kind would be great.

I’ve already seen that in a lot of communities, too, resident involvement in art activities. I would really need some of that at age 80, I’d hope.

Mike: Yeah, that would be fun. Just a whole theater community would be absolutely epic.

Question number two is, if you could change one thing about senior living or provide a singular tip to improve the quality of life, what would it be?

Elliott: I think I’m going to stick with the theme of my previous answer and the theme of this episode, overall, and just say that I’d like to see it represented more in media, the senior living industry at all, and then also senior living communities. I think there could be such interesting movies, plays, TV shows set there, written by/for residents.

I just think that the more that we tell stories and let people tell their own stories, the better off we are. Those places, they’re just so culturally rich. There’s never enough written about them. I think that would be the one thing I’d change.

Mike: Cynthia, do you want to add to that?

Cynthia: Yeah. Well, our mystery guest, who we’re going to interview shortly, her community actually writes scripts, and then they film it, they cut it, and then they have a red carpet rollout of their movies. They’re super cool. I’ll send you some links and you can check those out.

Elliott: For sure. Let them be the example leading the way.

Cynthia: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah. Elliott, you can maybe dive down that rabbit hole with said mystery guest when that comes to be, so we’ll be looking forward to hearing and seeing more of that.

Ladies, anything else that we want to throw out there to the Cosmic Soup today?

Cynthia: Well, we have an exciting announcement that’s coming up in September, but people have to wait for that. We’re all full of mystery today.

Elliott: Very mysterious.

Cynthia: We have an exciting announcement launching in September that we’ve been working on for a year, but I can’t tell you what it is.

Elliott: So many question marks.

Mike: I know what it is. You’re going to have to wait.


Elliott: I don’t know if I do. I’m going to have to wait, too. [Laughter]

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I don’t know.

Elliott: We’ll see.

Mike: Maybe you’ll get the insider’s tip. But there you have it, folks. Something to kind of keep you enticed and keep you guessing and keep you wanting more.

Elliott: Coming back to the Soup.

Mike: [Laughter] Come back to the Soup. Absolutely. Elliott, Cynthia, thank you so much for joining me on the show here today. It’s been absolutely awesome to get back behind the mic and have this conversation. I’m looking forward to having Elliott’s contributions come to the forefront in the very near future.

Elliott: Yeah. Thanks for having me.


Cynthia: Thank you for joining us. We’re so glad you’re here. Everybody, enjoy your cosmos.

Mike: Well, I for one plan on fully enjoying my cosmos, which includes a heavenly single malt in the very near future.

Don’t forget. Feel free to send us your questions, comments, ideas, and otherworldly inspirational juju to Make sure you subscribe to the show on your favorite streaming platform. Thanks again for hanging out with us today and we’ll see you next time on Cosmic Soup.

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