**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!
**AUTHOR’S NOTE** Originally posted on August 22, 2016. As we approach the new year, this article is particularly relevant to companies looking for excellent quality video. Hiring employees is expensive and I submit First Impressions Video for your consideration as an effective alternative.
Companies in Orange County (CA): If you are looking for an in-house video producer, give me a call! Why incur the expense of salaries and benefits associated with hiring production employees, when for less investment, you can have access to a video professional with thousands of hours of experience shooting corporate “talking heads,” conferences and seminars, training sessions and countless others.
Think about it: If you hire employees to do video production, you have to keep them constantly busy. Now for some companies, that may not be a problem, but for many that just want to shoot an occasional project, that can be more of a financial outlay than is necessary. In instances like that, a quality independent videographer can fit the bill quite nicely. By the way I can also take on assignments in LA, “Inland Empire” (including Palm Springs area) and San Diego County.
And non-profits, this applies to you, as well.
Is your project a destination shoot or out of the Southern California area? With travel expenses covered, this isn’t a problem either!
Great video doesn’t have to break the bank…call 714-979-3850 to set up your next video project!
First, my sincere thanks to all my clients who entrusted their video work to First Impressions Video! Whether a direct production or as a freelance contributor, 2016 was a very special year, and I am truly grateful! And as we head into 2017, just remember this important axiom: Rule #1…don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule #2…it’s ALL small stuff!
May we all be wildly successful in our respective endeavors in the coming year!
This summer has been crazy busy for me between shooting, editing and free-lancing. As a result, I haven’t been as active writing original pieces for my blog. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a treasure trove of production-based content out there, so I thought I’d curate (compile) a few articles here that, hopefully, will be of interest to you!
As you peruse these articles, just remember a line I’ve used since starting the business: Great video doesn’t have to break the bank! Feel free to give a call to discuss your next project…consultations are free!
I hear that question a lot. Unfortunately, there are a number of elements that affect the price of a video. No, that’s not a dodge, it’s the truth. What would you say if someone asked you this question:
How much does an airplane cost?
In thinking about the variables in play to answer this question, you begin to get the idea there are a lot of things to consider! I know my way around aircraft and there are easily thousands of questions, like are we talking about fixed wing or rotary wing (helicopter)? So let’s dump the airplane example and get back to video. Let’s start by posing a few questions that should be addressed before we answer “that other question.”
- Rate. Often described as hourly, half-day and day rate. Many videographers don’t price by the hour and some only price on a full day-rate basis. Hourly averages range between $25 an hour from that film school grad you know to $250 an hour for a top-flight video veteran. My hourly average hits right about the center: around a hundred bucks an hour. Which lends me to…
- Equipment. Sure you could whip out your smartphone and shoot away, but is that really the look you’re going for? If so, stop reading! Otherwise, continue. There are $20,000 cameras out there (don’t forget lenses!), $2,000 microphones, and lights that weigh as much as a Volkswagen, but is that really necessary? Is there a line item charge in the project budget for equipment? I have professional level gear that you may not see Spielberg using, but it will produce corporate video that will resonate with your audience and you won’t need stockholder approval to shoot! Oh, and my rate includes the aforementioned pro-level gear! Cameras, mics, lights, sliders, tripods, gimbals…oh my! Only if I have to create a specific effect might extra equipment fees enter the equation. I don’t have a drone, though I have access to one through an industry colleague, and this is considered specialized equipment.
- Personnel. I started my business as a single person crew (“SPC”) to be able to deliver quality work at an affordable rate. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be multiple cameras, mics and lights…it does mean that I know how to be efficient in the deployment of this hardware (including setup and take down) by myself. And in those instances where it just makes sense to have a grip, 2nd camera op or sound person along, I have a rolodex full of these folks that can be called in. Also in the category of personnel: talent. Does the project require professional acting talent or will we be shooting personnel from the company being filmed?
- Time. How comprehensive is the project? Can we do it in a day? A few hours? What will be required to edit the acquired footage? When is the project due? And by the way, just because the finished deliverable is “only” 5 minutes long doesn’t mean that hours, and sometimes days of production didn’t go into what is ultimately seen on screen.
- Post-production. Because this is a future article all by itself, I’ll be brief here. Post-production includes the components that help make the video “pop.” Editing, music selection, titles, graphics, animations, voice-overs, special effects. A word of caution here: less is often more.
So there you have just a few of the key elements of a video. Truthfully, anyone who would just throw out a “ballpark” quote without reasonable consideration of the variables I’ve shared here is asking for trouble. I would much rather take a modest amount of time to talk about those elements so I could provide a quote that would be meaningful for all parties involved. I may miss out on a few jobs taking this approach but I’m as professional in my business methodology as I presume you are in yours. Consultations are free, and the result will be a production that achieves its desired results at a rate everyone finds acceptable.
**UPDATE** As of yesterday, 5/24/16, LinkedIn has added videographers to the categories on their ProFinder site. BRAVO!!
This morning, I received an email from LinkedIn “inviting” me to participate in a pilot program with LinkedIn ProFinder. This is LinkedIn’s venture into “lead-gen,” presumably to compete with Thumbtack, Angie’s List and so many other portals used by SMBs to help grow their respective businesses. I was pleased to see LinkedIn have a go at this, but was immediately repulsed by what I saw as I attempted to set up my business to possibly get leads: THERE WAS NO CATEGORY FOR VIDEOGRAPHERS!! The closest thing I could find was ‘video editing,’ which is only one element of what video professionals do! Now comes the stake in every video person’s heart: Photography! There were all manner of categories for photographers, but only one for video! This is NOT a slam at photographers! I started in still photography over 40 years ago, so I have no beef with my still shooter counterparts. It’s just that video people have gotten short shrift long enough, and it’s time to take a stand.
I am sick and tired of videographers not getting their proper due–or respect! It seems that most lead-gen portals recognize photography, but rarely–on the first blush–list videographers autonomously. This is a colossal blunder and all you have to do is read the hundreds of articles that espouse the importance of video for businesses–small and large. I would expect better of LinkedIn and remember: YOU INVITED ME for the ‘beta test.’
The title of this Pulse says LinkedIn ‘misses’ an opportunity. It can still be fixed…I suggest that someone jump on this promptly. It shouldn’t be that hard to correct.
That is all. A final point: If LinkedIn makes this change and includes more video-oriented categories, I will make note of it here.
Borrell Associates recently conducted its Local Online Advertising Conference in New York City. CEO Gordon Borrell typically kicks off his conferences with predictions for the next 2 to 5 years. One of his overarching themes pertained to video and to amplify Gordon’s point, Brian Russell, Chief Operating Officer of Media Distribution Solutions—and a company I do work for, shared some stunning research about the power of video in marketing for local businesses:
- Having video on your website makes it 53 times more likely to show up on Google
- Video causes people to stay longer on your site by an average of 2 minutes
- Video is shared 1,200% more than photos and texts combined
- Emails with videos get 50% more clicks compared to emails without video
The takeaway is that video is clearly the new frontier in capturing attention in your marketing. I agree with Gordon and Brian!
I just received my second recognition from Thumbtack, as one of its “Best Of” videographers across the nation for 2016. I work hard to get excellent reviews from my clients, including re-shoots, in the rare instances where they may be necessary. Doing “whatever it takes” helps define my business and I am grateful for the customers who voice their positive thoughts.