It’s another holiday season, so please permit me to wish you all the very best…customers, family and friends!
It’s another holiday season, so please permit me to wish you all the very best…customers, family and friends!
On many of my earlier blog posts, I’ve talked about the importance of video for any business, service or non-profit. Video continues to grow in importance and as represented by the second frame of the following infographic, by next year, EIGHTY PERCENT of online content will be video! If you’re not doing video, you are missing opportunities on an unimaginable level, if you’re doing videos and want to tap into a professional with decades in the genre, give me a call.
With thanks to WebpageFX for the creation of a terrific infographic!
How much is a college scholarship worth to your family? If you’re reading this article, you’re probably thinking about that question. A highlight video may be the essential vehicle to secure an athletic scholarship, and for many, this may be the only way an athlete could ever aspire to attend college.
Coaches, scouts and recruiters don’t have the time or budget to visit with every potential recruit, so why not take the recruit to them – through a professionally produced highlight video. Coaches want to see the athlete’s skill, hear his or her speaking abilities, and observe his or her work ethic in the gym or practice field. One key factor is how to bundle those highlights to make the athlete stand out from all the others vying for scholarships. But the best packages require cost considerations that are—far too often—overlooked or ignored. This is NOT about whipping out your smartphone and shooting away…there is purpose and process to the capture of a compelling sports video.
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I get several requests a year from parents looking for video for their aspiring young athletes. I shoot high-school sports for Fox Sports PrepZone, plus I played a game or two in my youth, so I have a bit of an understanding how to do it. That being said, when it comes to capturing the kind of video that would make a compelling “recruiting reel,” there are several things to consider.
Let’s start with equipment. You need good quality cameras capable of adjusting to wide ranges of light (from very bright sunlight, to dark, with the field illuminated). All the major camera manufacturers have gear that will get the job done. Personally, I favor Sony. Audio capture should be a shotgun mic capable of picking up the field announcer.
Next, you need access to the field. This may require permission from the home school’s athletic director, who will also authorize credentials for the stands (and sidelines, if that’s part of the arrangement). Also, check with the AD to see if releases are required. And don’t even think about showing up for a professional (paid) assignment without business insurance. If a parent trips over a tripod or cable and falls, and you’re NOT insured…..well, you just don’t even want to go there!!
So you’ve made it into the stadium! Now you need a vantage point. Depending on the arrangement, you will want to be as high as possible to capture the action. Back to equipment, the camera must have a good zoom range to be able to move in on the action as the play develops—and keep in focus! You need to get to the stadium early…repeat, EARLY, to get that spot. Parents, family and boosters will be there, and they have NO obligation to give you space to shoot. If you’re lucky enough to get in or on top of the press box, consider yourself fortunate…that’s usually where you’ll find me, with my Fox Sports camera!
High school football games typically last 2 – 3 hours, plus halftime, plus the aforementioned early arrival, and strike (tear down) time. So, the total time on property can be 5 to 7 hours. And then, there’s post-production. This entails reviewing ALL the game footage, looking for those “gems” to go into the finished product. Then time has to be allotted for editing, including game “isolations” (called “ISOS”), graphics, personal statistics and any other desired elements.
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So, taking all of this into consideration, what does a recruiting video cost? Prices, complete with stats panels, isolations of the athlete, slow-motion “snippets” of plays and contact information can range from $500 to $1,500 and higher, often per game. There are several national companies that do this and some use networks of videographers to capture the video footage, with post production done at a headquarters location.
These videos, done at the professional level, aren’t cheap. But go back to the first question in this essay and ask it again. A four-year scholarship to UCLA, Alabama, or Ohio State could save a family a six-figure investment, so even at the high end for a recruiting video, that’s a pretty solid return on investment!
I would be happy to speak with you regarding your sports video needs and the initial consultation is free. Call or email me for more information!
This alert is for the benefit of my fellow videographers and photographers. Scammers have discovered several of the well known lead generation sites, like Bideo, SmartShoot, Craigslist, Thumbtack, Wedding.com and TheKnot.com, among others, and are using these sites to lure pros in under the guise of having a “great opportunity” of a video project. In my case, the lead actually came from my own website.
Over the last month or so, I’ve been in an email exchange with “Carletta Esparza” seeking a videographer for her wedding on June 29th. It seemed a little dubious from the onset, but I went along, figuring I’d play it out and see where it went…making sure that it didn’t take time away from my business activity. The first red flag came from their willingness to pay a rate I deliberately pegged high, as there was something in her correspondence that just didn’t seem quite right: poor grammar, and a strange formality to the tone of the email.
What was interesting was that “Carletta” never signed my wedding agreement, but was sending me a check for the unusually high rate. At first, she asked for all the typical information as one would request in order to deposit the money directly into my account. My mama didn’t raise no fools, so I made it clear that I would NOT be providing any such information and to send a regular check to me, via my business mail box. They complied quickly, because sending a check is actually part of their “plan B.” Now it gets good…”Carletta” admitted to me that her fiancee “David” had inadvertently sent my full payment, in addition to payment that was supposed to go to the “Band Boys!” Kind of a lame name for a musical group, don’t you think? Now, my “spidey senses” are going off full blast as this is highly irregular!
The check arrived today! I didn’t open it as my skepticism blocked me from doing so. What if it’s a letter bomb, or has ricin in it?!? The return address was bizarre, too! Someone named “Donna Jean Brindley” sent the letter from Brooklyn IOWA (NOT New York) so I did a Google Maps “flyover” over the address, and IT IS A VACANT LOT!! Oh, by the way, there is NO “Donna Jean Brindley” IN Brooklyn, Iowa, either. Surprised?
I sent “Carletta” a final note last Friday, indicating that there was NO WAY IN HELL that I was going through with this arrangement! I am returning the check to its point of origin, with the comfort that despite their clever attempts to scam me, THEY FAILED!! I then Googled “wedding videographer scams” and all sorts of similar reports came up–including a great blog from a New York based video production company, 2Bridges Productions; first position, to boot! If you want to read their account, click here. One can only wonder how many gullible types have fallen for this fraud, but I know TWO that didn’t!!! And by the way, I haven’t heard back from “Carletta” since. Wonder why?
These scammers are shameless and relentless, and it reinforces the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t risk your business–and your bank account–by falling for one of these frauds. And for the record, these characters violated at least a dozen local, state and federal laws, especially when they put postage on an envelope and sent it via US Postal Service. The bad guys won’t care, though, because nearly all of this is being orchestrated offshore.
Finding a great video setting is one of the most important parts of the video production process. There are a lot of different elements that go into finding just the right spot.
As you prepare to produce a video, one of the details that probably should not be left until the end is the actual shoot location. Where should you shoot your video? Indoors? Outdoors? Conference rooms? Or rooms with a view? There are several things to you should be sure to consider before making this decision and choosing an interview location for your video shoot.
Get permission first
Before thinking about the creative approach to your interview location, make sure you have permission to shoot there! If you’re hoping to shoot in a public place, you should check with your local government to get a permit. If you’re shooting in an office or the courtyard of your attractive local shopping plaza, you’ll need a release from the owner(s) of the property. Nothing will be more embarrassing than getting set up at a location, only to be chased away by security—or the police—because you didn’t get the go-ahead in advance. Many municipalities and companies in Orange County have gotten very strict about this.
Be careful about distractions
When choosing a location, it’s important that your viewers stay engaged with your video content. Lots of distracting visuals or people moving in and out of your shot can draw the attention away from your primary message. And watch out for those camera-hungry photobombers!
Consider being flexible with your shoot time. Think about scheduling, if in a space such as a manufacturing area, when machines can be powered down, and there may not be as many people talking or moving in the background. Unless, of course, you want a busy, noisy background. Sometimes this is the look/sound you’re going for!
Make it relevant
What background do you want behind your interview subject? Make sure it’s relevant to the style and subject matter of your video. Choosing an appropriate background can really transport viewers to your location and help them connect the dots with what the user is saying. But remember, you can also use supporting visuals (B-roll) to showcase more specifics about the style and culture of your company.
Find a spacious location
Choose a big location with some architectural features for added texture. More spacious locations allow for setting up the shot with a shallower depth of field, giving your video that blurred background effect and minimizing background details and focusing more clearly on your subject, putting the viewer’s attention on their face.
Don’t forget that you are looking for a location that can fit more than just your interview subject. You’ll also need room for your video production team and any equipment as well. While you don’t want an airplane hangar, it’s important to make sure you have enough room for everyone—and everything—involved!
They may be quiet and available, but there is nothing more boring than a flat wall behind your interview subject. Full disclosure: I use them frequently and if that’s my working space for the project, I shoot at an angle against the wall and try splashing some color in the background by adding a plant or art piece, etc. Another tactic is to get as much distance as possible between the subject and the wall so the background can be blurred.
A “heads up” about conference rooms: In many cases they have big conference tables that can be difficult to move. This can limit options when trying to create an interesting or unique look.
Watch the weather
It’s not always best to shoot on a sunny day, despite how tempting it may be. Typically, bright days can mean harsh shadows on the faces of interview subjects. Unless you’re going to blast your subject with expensive lights, or use reflector kits, you may want to avoid shooting on those picture-perfect days. Believe it or not, an overcast day is typically a better day to shoot video outdoors.
Listen for room tone and ambient noise
Once you have found a location that is free from distractions, take a moment to carefully listen. Pay attention to the room tone and ambient noise. It’s important to avoid shooting in overly noisy areas, unless the background sound fits the message of the piece. In other words, if you’re shooting a piece on manufacturing, you probably won’t mind hearing the natural sound from that environment in the story.
However, if your space has a buzz, hum, or echo, the microphone will pick it up also. There are a few remedies to a loud room tone: First, identify the source of the hum. If the hum comes from a refrigerator, air conditioner, or another device that can be turned off temporarily, do that. If not, pro’s tackle these issues by using directional microphones, recording room tone for post-production, or using equalizers, but all those require a level of expertise.
Consider the lighting
What many people may not realize is the strength of sunlight that you see out windows can overpower the light used on the face of an interview subject. Your video production team can help you get great front lighting, but it’s not always possible to make the subject look great AND see scenery out a window. In addition to lighting challenges, many people overlook the fact that wonderful views usually look better while standing at the window peering out than they do as a background for an interview. In many cases, what is actually seen is the sky or some buildings in the distance.
If you are planning an outdoor shoot, try to shoot dawn and dusk, especially in the summer months. The light is more mellow which creates less harsh shadows, plus it can be much more dramatic! If you can, consider a “Golden Hour” timeframe for your shoot. Golden hour is the hour after sunrise or before sunset where the sunlight is more golden and soft and makes memorable and dramatic lighting for video shoots.
Remember, preparation is KEY
You can never be too prepared. If you do all the hard work before the shoot, you can focus on your subjects on production day. Selecting the proper locations for your shoot can make a huge difference in the final product, so give a call and ask about doing a site check — even if it means spending a little money, you’ll be glad you did!
Monday (3/12/18), I drove my cat, Dexter, to the vet. He had been lethargic for a few days and the last 24 hours saw him throwing up seven times. He couldn’t hold food down and barely drank water. As I sat on the floor in our guest bedroom, trying to get as close as I could, he looked at me with eyes that told me that he wasn’t well. My wife Laurie asked me to get a vet appointment, which I did.
I took Dex to see “Dr. Heidi,” one of the most talented and emotionally sensitive veterinarians I’ve ever met—and I’ve known a few. She did a brief “touch and feel” diagnostic and suggested some things she should do to get a better handle on Dexter’s distress. I sent a text message to Laurie and we agreed to proceed. I ran a few errands and returned to the vet’s office. Dr. Heidi entered the exam room, but this time, she had a grim expression on her face—and I recognized that look immediately. She showed me x-rays that revealed a tumor, and a rather aggressive one. This would explain the speed of Dexter’s health decline. As a vet is required to do, Dr. Heidi explained that the next courses of action would border on the heroic, with no assurances that it could extend Dexter’s life. I knew exactly what she was telling me. Already on the brink of tears, I told her that I wanted to take Dexter home while Laurie and I discussed the obvious. As I was leaving the vet’s office I sent a simple text message to Laurie, “Please call Dr. Heidi.” As a sidebar, Laurie worked for a veterinarian for 5 years, so she—more than I perhaps—understands these things.
Laurie came home. Mercifully, she was at the end of work as this news was unfolding, so she was able to escape before the emotion overtook her. We were back in our guest bedroom, talking to and petting Dexter, trying to rationally deal with the flood of emotions racing through our heads.
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We were not ready for this. Dexter came to us by happenstance. Laurie first found him sleeping in a patio swing we had covered. Later, he actually found his way to our bedroom window—on the second floor of our home—and he would sit outside and holler until we let him in the house. He was very friendly even then—he picked us—and we were immediately hooked! When he needed to go outside to do “his business,” we obligingly let him out. You see, Dexter was always an indoor/outdoor cat, and his litter box was the great outdoors. He wouldn’t allow himself to use something as pedestrian as a real litter box! That’s how it started. By the way, we created an entrance—including a pet door—to the house so Dex could come and go without us having to let him in or out!
Over the years, our affection for this little guy grew—even tolerating him being skunked seven times!! He loved to show off and when we were in the back yard, he would meow to get our attention and once he knew he had it, he would race to and up one of our trees to show us just how fast and agile he was! He had us wrapped around his paw and he knew it.
Dexter’s “extended” family included the people who fostered him from birth, the McDaniels family, their neighbors across the street, affectionately known as “Grandma Rita” and “Grandpa Harold,” and, of course, Laurie’s mom, Marge. Marge lived with us and Dexter was her protector, right up to her passing in September of 2017.
Dexter had permanent wanderlust and despite our desires, he was always going to be an indoor/outdoor guy. As a result, he had a number of dust ups with neighbor cats. His ears were pristine when we adopted him permanently, but over the years, his battle scars included the aforementioned ears that now looked like they had been hit with pinking shears. But we loved him dearly and he loved us.
As a professional videographer, much of my work involves editing. Dexter, feeling that I didn’t have the best grip on the task at hand, insisted on helping me. First, he sat in a guest chair next to my work area, but then he took up residence on my desk, so I had to look over him to see what I was doing! The many hours I spent in my office were always better when Dex was keeping me company, hence his designation as my “official associate editor!”
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We returned to the vet’s office Monday afternoon and were met by Dr. Heidi’s vet tech assistant, Debby. Debby has the same sensitivities as does Dr. Heidi and they are a perfectly matched pair. They explained the procedure (which we knew as we’ve had to say goodbye to other four-legged family members before). I knelt down on the floor and held Dexter as close to me as I could as I whispered to him, “I love you…I’ll miss you.” Laurie was right next to me. As Dexter left us (we believe to go be with Marge), I started sobbing as hard as I have in years. In a separate story, Laurie talks about the three or four times she’s seen me cry. I can assure you it’s been more than that—more often than she might imagine. Those moments after the procedure are agonizing because you don’t want to leave, but there’s no reason to stay, and you just don’t want to interact with anyone else. Thankfully no other clients were in the clinic when we left, and the staff couldn’t have been kinder.
Monday, we drove our cat to the vet. And then we drove home alone. Good bye, Dexter…we love you.
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Post Script: Among the many gracious comments on our social media posts about our loss came this one, “It is incredible how you get so attached to a furry, arrogant, demanding, narcissistic and yet wonderfully sweet, loving and enjoyable feline.” Couldn’t have said it better.
Cats have always had a bad rap…they aren’t affectionate, they are too aloof, and others. And then there are the less-than-sensitive types that would say, “it’s just a cat…get over it.” Here’s a news flash: Cats ARE affectionate and loving and Dexter was a clear example of both, and only a fool would dare say that to my face.
Writer’s note: This story presents my perspective of my relationship with Dexter and is nowhere near the full story. To read another take on our wonderful friend, I invite you to read Laurie’s blog here: https://theferalcatblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/dexter-buddy
I also want to send a note of thanks to Jeff Haden, who wrote a moving LinkedIn article in 2015 about “His Best Coworker” that inspired my story. I started and ended my piece in a similar manner as Jeff did.
Click the link to learn more! I can help you with all three of these…contact me for details and I promise not to “break the bank!”
2017 was the celebration of the 5th anniversary of First Impressions Video, as a full-time venture. Each year was more gratifying than the one it followed and 2018 is already looking to be the best yet! There are many to thank for this prosperity as it is my wonderful clients that made it happen! And in no particular order, shout-outs and sincere thanks to the following:
And as we begin 2018, there are several trends worth noting, for those thinking about video in your business plans.
There are so many trends to address that it would take three times the size of this blog to share them all, but it’s December 22nd and I’ve got things to do before Christmas! Plus, I’ll be in my normal place behind Camera 1 at Mariners Church for the Christmas services! Perhaps I’ll see you there, but in the event I don’t, please allow me to wish you and yours the most wonderful Christmas and Holiday season, and a very prosperous 2018!
Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays and a prosperous 2018!
I’ve shot a lot of weddings since starting First Impressions Video. They are gratifying, for sure, but a challenge because of the emotion associated with them–and the desire to get it right. As it is in most event videography, there are no “second takes.” Between bride and groom prep, through the ceremony and reception, there are many aspects to capture and as a result, several places where things can go sideways–especially during the ceremony.
The still photographer has a pivotal role in a wedding and I’ve worked with many outstanding ones. A crucial element that constitutes an “outstanding” photographer is an inherent sense to “share the space” with videographers. This is extremely vital as both photographer and videographer have key “money shots” that are essential components of the photographer’s album and the videographer’s DVD (or other delivery medium). In a wedding I recently recorded for a very special family, I found myself working with one of the most difficult and selfish photographers I’ve ever encountered. Not only that, he brought his son as a 2nd camera, and together, they seemed to go out of their way to crowd me out of all the aforementioned “money shots.” I was able to get them, despite their obliviousness to my presence, as if I wasn’t entitled to the same space they occupied. As we reached the “I now pronounce you” moment, I actually had to physically move one of them so that I could capture “you may now kiss your bride!” The guy seemed stunned that I pulled him out of the way and I can assure you that as a 240-pound former Marine, I was no longer in the mood for these antics, as this had gone on throughout the ceremony.
This behavior wasn’t missed by the family who were equally displeased, and said so to me. The disappointing part is that I go out of my way to befriend not only the photographers assigned to a wedding, but all of the vendors. I’m also pleased to say, that this is a rare occurrence. We all have important jobs to do to make the day super special for the bride and groom, and their families and friends. In order for that to happen and for us to do our jobs in ways that exceed expectations, we have to…wait for it…share the space!