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2019 was a great ride, and now it’s time to “drive” right into 2020! Need a Videographer, Director of Photography, Director/TD, Cinematographer, or just a good ol’ Camera Operator? Give me a call!
To all of my clients, freelance colleagues and friends, my sincere thanks and a tip of the hat you you all!
So the last few months have been a blur, but I’ve been crazy busy. And that’s a good thing! Questions that do continually come up have to do with how to go about hiring a video production company (now we’re being called “content creators”!). So I am sending this out again as it’s never a bad idea to have these questions answered. And if these comments are of any help, please give me a call. Remember: Great video doesn’t have to break the bank!
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So you wanna make a video… but where do you start? Well, one of the first things you’ll likely do is hire a video production company or videographer, and that can be a mind-bending task. How do you know who to hire? What can you expect to pay? To get you started, here are a few things to consider.
1. When preparing your job description, please be specific.
The sky is the limit when it comes to producing a video. There are so many variables that the possibilities are endless. Understanding your vision and what you’re trying to achieve will be critical in requesting a quote. Provide as much detail as you can about the services you need. Some of those questions would include:
- How long should the video be?
- Do I need more than one cut? (60 second, 30 second, 15 second)
- Do I need more than one video? (i.e. Think “episodic” TV)
- Where will the video(s) be used? (website, on-air, social, etc.)
- Is there a specific date this needs to be shot? What is the final deadline?
- Other than shooting, what production elements need to be considered? (editing, scripting, voice-over, location, casting, etc.)?
Answering these questions will help me to fully understand what you want and can, therefore, provide a more accurate quote. When possible, it’s a good idea to provide a few reference videos that illustrate the type of video you’re looking for. This is an easy way to set expectations and provide a target result. Explain what you like about them and why.
2. When reviewing portfolios, find someone who has produced work at the level you want for your own video.
A person’s portfolio and work samples will give you the best indication of what your video will look like. If you want something you don’t see, refer to point #1 and be specific what you want. First Impressions Video has shot a wide array of projects, so there should be no problem meeting and exceeding your objectives.
3. In general, you’ll get what you pay for.
As you start to get quotes back for your project, you may be tempted to go with the cheapest option. After all, everybody likes to save money, right? My advice is to take an honest assessment of the project and ask yourself what is the result you want for your video. If you’re happy with the look and feel of the cheapest option, great! But what you’ll generally see, is that the more money you’re willing to spend, the better the end result. Pick an option that satisfies both your budget constraints and your expectation for quality. The last thing you want, is to pay for the cheapest option, then not be satisfied with the result and have to do the whole thing over again with someone who can produce at a higher level.
Unfortunately, too many times—especially with first-timers, I’ve observed something like this:
What the client has in mind…
but what the budget says is this…
As I have shared, there is a lot more that goes in to making a quality video than meets the eye. What First Impressions Video will do is offer options so that you can determine which are best for you, given your budget and time constraints.
Whether it’s your first venture into video or you’ve done a few, the process of finding and hiring the right video pro can be a bit tricky. The goal of this essay is to provide solid insights, so that businesses small and big can feel like video is for everyone—not just those with big budgets and lots of experience! And if you have a question, First Impressions Video is but a phone call or email away!
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If you’ve read my blog, you know how important I believe video is as part of any business’ marketing mix. Video continues to command greater percentages of marketers’ collective attention and this trend will not slow down for the foreseeable future, as noted below. Sources for each—when provided—are captioned in parentheses.
- By 2019, video will account for 80% of global internet traffic, and 85% in the US (Cisco)
- Two-thirds of marketers and agency executives see video as the next trend in content marketing (iab)
- 52% of marketers believe that video is effective for brand awareness
- 82% of of B2C businesses report that video has become their most popular content marketing tactic (Content Marketing Institute)
- 43% of marketers said they’d create more video content if there were no obstacles like time, resources, and budget (Buffer)
- 48% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content strategy in the next year (HubSpot)
- Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users (VidYard)
- 44% of SMB owners and marketers plan to spend money to promote their video content on Facebook in 2017 (Animoto)
- Companies which use videos in their marketing grow revenue 49% fasteryear-on-year than those which don’t (Aberdeen Group)
- 73% of B2B marketers say that video positively impacts marketing ROI
- Companies which use videos in their marketing enjoy 27% higher CTR and 34% higher web conversion ratesthan those which don’t
Moral of the story
The biggest roadblock for marketers to add video marketing is getting started. This is particularly relevant for small business owners. Granted, many have made the move, but just as many have not. It doesn’t take thousands of dollars to produce a video anymore—even when using a professional, so don’t be dissuaded into reaching for a smartphone, with all its inherent shortcomings. Are there times when this might be a good option? Most certainly! If it’s a once-in-a-lifetime live event, go for it! But with that said, if you’re telling the story of your business, you will be much better served with pro level cameras, microphones and lighting.
So, if you want to get started, why not give me a call? Consultations are free and even if you don’t select First Impressions Video to do the work, you’ll have a much better understanding of the task, coupled with expectations that will match the finished product.
This past December, I posted an article titled, “Independent Contractor vs Employee,” actually a re-release from August, in which I pointed out the advantages of hiring a contractor to do your video instead of using employees to do it. This continues to be an excellent strategy, as pointed out by a number of clients that have become repeat customers. You can see the article here.
Angela Wolf Quaintance wrote an outstanding article in May that appeared on LinkedIn and offers 5 reasons why hiring a professional is better than doing it yourself. You can read her full story here. It is very well outlined, and I would only add a couple of my own thoughts:
Regarding equipment, just as important as having invested five-figures’ worth on professional cameras, microphones, lights, audio and related gear (I have!), is having the skills necessary to use it properly. I’ve studied both still photography and video production, and asking a marketing person to take on this task (video production often falls under a marketing department/budget) may be beyond their skill set.
And before you ask that colleague’s spouse, son or daughter (or any family member, for that matter) to let the camera roll, you might consider whether (or not) that person has business insurance. AFTER an unfortunate incident is the WRONG TIME to be thinking about that. When I arrive at your location, you can feel confident that I am fully insured for any eventuality!
I like Angela’s take on ‘unbiased perspective.’ I believe that despite the passion that you have for your product or service, an independent set of eyes, ears and perceptions can likely see things that you may be too close to see, which can result in a finished product that hits all objectives!
Good luck on your next video project–whoever you select to do it!
If you’ve been around a shooting location or in a studio—or if you’re the subject of a video shoot, you may have heard terms flying around that you didn’t recognize. So here is my attempt to “decode” some of these terms for you. This list is by no means complete, but provides some basic insight for the next time you’re around—or in front of—a camera! If you’re a nerd and want to know more, just Google “video (or film) glossary” and have a ball!
Aperture is the size of the opening within your lens that allows light onto the image sensor. Aperture is measured by f-number or f-stops.
Bokeh describes the character of the blur in an image, often used to specifically refer to points of light rendered as fuzzy circles. Bokeh also refers to a more romantic form of imagery, often used in wedding videography.
Boom microphones (“Shotgun” mic) are long, highly directional microphones. They are normally attached to boom poles to capture dialogue in a scene. They also can be mounted directly on cameras to capture long distance sound.
Closeup (CU) A tightly framed camera shot in which the principal subject is viewed at close range, appearing large and dominant on screen. Pulled back slightly is a “medium closeup” while zoomed in very close is an “extreme closeup (ECU or XCU).
Composition Visual make-up of a video picture, including such variables as balance, framing, field of view and texture all aesthetic considerations. Combined qualities form an image that’s pleasing to view.
Depth of field Range in front of a camera’s lens in which objects appear in focus. Depth of field varies with subject-to-camera distance, focal length of a camera lens and a camera’s aperture setting. See “Bokeh.”
Establishing shot Opening image of a program or scene. Usually, it’s a wide and/or distant perspective that orients viewers to the overall setting and surroundings.
Gaff tape (or gaffers tape) is a type of non-damaging, super durable tape used on film sets, most often by the gaffer and grip department. NOT duct tape!!
Headroom Space between the top of a subject’s head and a monitor’s upper-screen edge. Too much headroom makes the subject appear to fall out of the frame.
Lavalier (or “lav”) microphone is a small clip-on microphone that attaches to the subjects clothing. Normally used on TV newscasts or variety shows that require sound to be captured from the subject without it being obvious that there is a microphone attached. Lavs and shotguns are the two most-used microphones in my audio kit.
Long shot (LS) Camera view of a subject or scene from a distance, showing a broad perspective.
Medium shot (MS) Defines any camera perspective between long shot and closeup, viewing the subjects from a medium distance.
Nose room The distance between the subject and the edge of the frame in the direction the subject is looking. Also called “look room.”
Over-the-shoulder shot View of the primary subject with the back of another person’s shoulder and head in the foreground. Routinely used in interview situations.
Pan Horizontal camera pivot, right to left or left to right, from a stationary position.
Pedestal A camera move vertically lowering or raising the camcorder, approaching either the floor or the ceiling, while keeping the camera level. NOT a tilt.
Point-of-view shot (POV) Shot perspective whereby the video camera assumes a subject’s view and thus viewers see what the subject sees.
Rack focus Shifting focus between subjects in the background and foreground so a viewer’s attention moves from subject to subject as the focus shifts. Watch for this move the next time you’re watching a TV show or movie!
Two-shot A camera view including two subjects, most generally applicable to interview situations. Add one person and you have a Three-shot!
Tilt Vertical camera rotation (up and down) from a single axis, as on a tripod.
Tracking Lateral camera movement that travels with a moving subject. The camcorder should maintain a regulated distance from the subject. NOT a pan.
Whip pan (swish pan) Extremely rapid camera movement from left to right or right to left, appearing as an image blur. Two such pans in the same direction, edited together one moving from, the other moving to a stationary shot can effectively convey the passage of time or a change of location.
Zoom shot makes the subject larger or smaller within the frame simply by shifting the lens elements inside to change focal lengths. This magnifies the view of the subject while the camera itself remains stationary. A Snap Zoom is a very rapid zoom move, intended to convey energy.
I came across this neat little GIF that I’ve nicknamed “The Production Proposal Assist Device.” In most cases when I’m asked to bid on a job, these three elements come into play. The client gets to choose two of them…I get one. The truth is that everything is negotiable these days, but this made me smile, so I thought I’d share.
**AUTHOR’S NOTE** I first wrote this article in September, 2014. Having now done hundreds of interview videos since then, the 6 points I detailed in 2014 take on even greater meaning, so I thought I’d “rebroadcast” the post. I would also add a seventh point: When speaking in front of a camera, it isn’t necessary to try to remember a long passage or thought! When you get to a point where you’re not sure what you want to say next, just pause–while still looking at the same spot–collect your thoughts, and continue. Seasoned pros know this neat little trick and now, you do too! Your editor will love you because editing your session will be much simpler when there are pauses that can be easily put together, creating a nice, cohesive interview!
About a year ago, I wrote on my blog about giving a great interview, in which I tapped into my friend Steve Cooper’s article (hitchedmag.com) for some terrific insights. Recently, I shot interview-type videos for a number of corporate and non-profit clients and it sparked a few new thoughts that are worth sharing, for the next time you are asked to be interviewed on camera.
- Get comfortable! Make sure that—while attractive to the camera (viewing audience)—your clothing is comfortable. If it’s too tight or binding, it can contribute to your voice sounding constrained. If you’re nervous in front of a camera, an overly snug outfit will only compound the nervousness.
- Know your subject material. Create a list of talking points. Notes (as opposed to a script) will allow the conversation to flow smoothly and sound more “normal.” Unless you have expertise working with a teleprompter, I recommend not using one. Also, this is NOT a “gotcha” interview, so I want my subject to be well informed.
- I typically recommend the “off camera” style, as if you were talking with someone you know. You’re just “having a conversation.” Plus, off camera interviews pull the subject’s attention away from the camera equipment.
- Practice starting your responses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to coach subjects to NOT start every response with ‘um,’ ‘uh,’ ‘like,’ and the dreaded ‘so.’
- Shoot with multiple angles and perspectives. Often, I shoot with two cameras to accomplish this. A single medium close-up shot can be a bit monotonous, unless you are going for a very specific look! Even if you only have one camera, you can (should) vary the angles and perspectives of the interview. It will be far more interesting. “60 Minutes” set the standard for this approach.
- Shoot “cutaways” (sometimes called “b-roll”) of other interesting areas that support the interview that can be edited into the final product. Again, this helps keep the interest level up and boredom to a minimum.
And finally, start with the end in mind. Even a short interview has a “story arc,” and by knowing where you want the interview to finish, it will simplify the presentation from beginning to end!
In my May 21st blog, last year (“Can you give me a ‘ballpark’ quote?”), I broke down the elements of a video production to illustrate what goes into a bid for a project. In that article, I mentioned that post-production is a subject that should have its own story, so here it comes today!
To review, the components that play into how a job is priced includes:
So let’s unpack that last one: Post production. A simplistic definition would describe it as everything that happens after production wraps, leading up to the delivery of the finished video product. It’s only when we drill down further that we find out what that really means…
- Editing. The art of taking the raw footage—with its audio—and turning it into something useful. I believe too many on the “client side” have limited understanding of what goes into good editing, especially the time it takes to do it right. And there is NO correlation between the aggregate time of the source footage and a finished sequence. Even if the desired time for a video is one minute, it could take hours (or even days) to whittle a lot of raw footage into that really special promo/talking head/commercial piece! A good shooter will capture footage with editing in mind (especially if it’s the same person doing both tasks), but editing is still the process that can take the most time*.
- Audio. This subject actually has two definitions. The first pertains to adjustments that are often necessary to “sweeten” the audio captured with the source footage. Depending on the quality of that sound, it may not require much work—but it can! A good editor typically has an audio application just as robust as the editing program and I’m pleased to have the Adobe suite that includes Audition, in my workflow arsenal. Nothing can undermine a video like bad audio, so major attention needs to be paid to this crucial element. The second context pertains to the music bed that sometimes rides under the video. This sound track should complement the tone of the visuals and NEVER compete with it. We’ve all seen videos with the audio track WAY TOO LOUD (yes, I’m yelling!), and even with volume controls, an audio track should never overwhelm any spoken word in the video.
- Titles, Graphics & Effects. Call this the “glue” that brings everything together, “TG&E” make for a nice opening and closing to your video. Effects should never be so dramatic that they become a distraction; they should be an enhancement to your presentation.
I hope this addresses the point that creating a video is comprised of many moving parts. Make sure your video production company understands them all and can pull the “pieces of the puzzle” together into a cohesive, compelling video!
Happy New Year!
* I am often asked how long it takes to edit a project. And while there is no specific answer (no dodge here!), reputable sources (plural) say that it can take from 1 to 5 hours to produce 1 minute of finished video. The range represents the complexity of the edit; the more elements (footage, graphics, titles, music, effects, rendering, color correction and others) the longer it will take. In the context of the “ballpark quote” article, post production can easily be equal to—or even higher than—the cost of production itself.
As we close out the crazy year known as 2016, I would be remiss if I didn’t say a sincere THANK YOU to all the clients I served. And as we head into 2017, there is only one question: GOT VIDEO?
Let’s do something together in this next year and you can see what other clients have learned: Great video does NOT have to break the bank!