2020 has been a well-chronicled crappy year! Family and friends all over are dealing with challenges to this day. Despite it all, we still need to look for and find joy, and that will keep you moving forward through the mayhem, as we all look forward to 2021 being better…MUCH better!
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.
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 metaphor 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 just under the center: around eighty-five 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.
I am a professional videographer. I am also a consumer. And when I contemplate making a purchase – especially a big one – I often browse reviews to get a good sense of what is thought about the company (companies) that offer that product or service I intend to buy. And rather than trudge through a lot of printed content, I find video testimonials to be more compelling. Let’s unpack the reasons why.
First, while it would be relatively easy to put your CEO or other key exec in front of a camera (which I do regularly, by the way) this kind of video – while valuable – can sometimes come across as biased. However, by augmenting the business “talking head” videos with customer testimonials, viewers will have a chance to see two perspectives. This goes a long way in helping consumers make informed decisions.
So how do you develop the testimonial video? There is little doubt that if you run a credible company, you likely already have them in writing. So, let’s make contact with a few of these folks and ask if they’d be willing to share their thoughts in front of a camera. “Whoa now…you want me to talk on camera?!?” That will be the response you’ll get quite often, but you will find some willing to do it. I know from experience that being in front of a camera is not natural, but one of my gifts is getting interview subjects comfortable to the point that they actually liked the experience – at least once it was over!
Now that you’ve found a few folks willing to do it, you will want to ascertain in advance what they will say. You will want subjects that convey an easy-going manner that will help make what they say sincere and credible. And while coaching is OK, we don’t want to put words in the subject’s mouth. The last thing you want to do is have the testimonial come off as contrived. You will lose viewers quick, and you only have 4 to 6 seconds to grab their attention in the first place, so don’t screw this up! And…NO TELEPROMPTERS!!!
Why am I watching your video? It’s a good, fair question. Remember what I said about the 4 to 6 seconds. In short order, you need to provide the answer to the “why.”
Asking your interviewee the right questions will help elicit the right responses. These questions might include:
- What prompted your investigation in the first place? What was the solution you needed?
- How did the product/service solve your problem?
- What would you like to share about the positive experience using the product/service?
Stay away from questions that allow “yes” or “no” answers in order for the responses to be useful, detailed and allow the freedom for your interviewee to talk specifics on how your product/service met or exceeded their expectations. If a potential customer watching the testimonial can feel how overwhelmed or frustrated your subject was before they discovered your product or service, seeing how your business has helped them to reach their ideal resolution can be extremely persuasive.
Be sure to use “cutaways,” where “b-roll” of your organization can be integrated into the testimonial. This does two things: It creates natural breaks in the interview where your subject can pause and easily move into another line of thought. And it also allows for a more engaging video by having more than just the subject to watch. Remember our short attention spans!
Finally, these days, it can be very tempting to just whip out a smartphone and start shooting. However, working with an experienced video production company will help you to produce a well-crafted final product that will appeal to your ideal audience and deliver a solid ROI.
First Impressions Video has the creativity, experience and tools to ensure that your testimonial grabs attention for all the right reasons. We use a variety of techniques to do this, including implementing a comfortable shooting environment, selecting an ideal soundtrack, and seamlessly integrating relevant cutaway footage to enhance the overall production quality of your video.
We know how to get the most out of your featured clients or customers, who might not have spoken in front of a camera before. The result is therefore much more likely to appear authentic and believable, which is ultimately the goal of every successful video testimonial.
Competition could never be more fierce! But having a well-designed testimonial video can help punch through the clutter and deliver excellent return for dollar invested…and set you apart from your competitors!
Let us help you with your next testimonial video! Click here and go to “Request A Quote.” Complete the form and we’ll get right back to you…promptly! And remember, great video does NOT have to break the bank!
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!
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!