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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!
Back in the “old days” which, for today’s post I’m defining as pre-2004, people seldom worried about using music in conjunction with videos which they knew would receive limited viewing. Whether a wedding video distributed among family members or one produced for a company that would only be viewed internally, little thought was given to the consequence of using music without paying royalties to the artists or producers of that music. That has all changed. With the popularity of social networking, the emergence of YouTube, Vimeo and other media hosting/sharing sites, Instagram and other web portals created to present videos, everyone should be aware of the potential consequences arising from the use of copyrighted music without permission from the artist(s).
Music labels and producers (and the lawyers that represent them) are no longer taking this lightly and are suing the pants off folks who use their intellectual property without proper attribution AND royalties paid. Aside from the expense of a lawsuit—which could easily put a videographer out of business (epic fail!), finding the right person to pay the royalties to can be quite the hassle, in and of itself! YouTube and Vimeo are blocking the audio from any posted videos with suspect music playing in the background, and they have comprehensive recognition algorithms to detect the misuse of music on their sites.
Rather than engage in a time consuming and expensive battle with artists, producers and attorneys, I have chosen to use legally licensed music. And although I don’t have that latest tune, I can get very close to most contemporary songs and still have a clear conscience.
Ron Dawson is a friend and an incredible filmmaker who has been doing this for two decades. Ron knows many of the top indy content creators across the country and he recently shared a story about another filmmaker, Joe Simon, in his blog post, “The Music Licensing Chickens Have Come Home to Roost in Wedding and Event Videography.” Ron gave me permission to link to his story; I encourage you to take a peek as it unpacks this subject in far greater detail. Joe’s story was published in 2011, but it’s just as relevant today — if not more so — than when it was released.
First Impressions Video has a library of royalty-free or royalty-paid music that we use which—we believe—fits our clients’ tastes, their story and the emotion of the event, and it often can mimic current music. Notwithstanding music considered to be in the public domain or picked up in the course of recording a reception or other activity, we will endeavor to use only music and recorded special effects for which proper licensing has been obtained. It is our desire and intent to stay on the right side of this legal issue; we trust you’ll respect this decision.
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!
714-979-3850 – Office
714-608-4495 – Mobile
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!
Yesterday was August 1st. On that day in 1981, Music Television, or MTV, was launched. It was a somewhat shaky start with cable television still trying to catch traction. Fast forward to today and there are hundreds of cable outlets, with dozens of other streaming and online options for viewing content. But along with music videos, MTV also launched something else: the creation of the “logo bug” that now appears (usually) in the lower right corner of most of the programming we see today! Even video producers like this writer “bug” their videos, which I chronicled in a post back in 2015! http://wp.me/p2YaU5-8Y
If you want to place a lasting impression on your productions, be sure to “bug” them! Thanks, MTV, for an iconic idea!
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.
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!