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Now before you start reaching for the “Off” or other brand of insect repellent, I’m talking about the little logo at the bottom of your video. MTV was arguably the first media outlet to use branded video content, way back in the dark ages of the 1980s, and over the decades, it has now become unusual to not find the little logo (sometimes called a “bug” or a “snipe”) in one of the lower corners of your screen. Next time you’re watching TV, take note of the logo and how/where it’s placed!
Branding is an important component in your marketing and it is fairly simple to apply your logo to your videos. Here are 3 still image examples from videos with “bugs” on them…check out the lower right-hand corner:
Call me for more information on how to brand YOUR next video, and enhance the continuity of your brand. And remember, I won’t break the bank shooting it for you!
2014 was a great year for First Impressions Video and I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to the clients that are also my friends. I value you and welcome the opportunity to serve in 2015.
Got video? Need video?
When you run a small business, you wear a LOT of hats! One of the things that must be done in contemporary business is to ensure that your business can be found when people are searching online for the product or service you offer. So imagine my elation to discover this today, when doing a search for “video production”
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ongoing activity and many business owners use outside agencies to help get these kinds of results. I am fortunate to have spent the last decade in digital marketing before launching First Impressions Video. SEO is also very fluid and tomorrow my rankings can change–good or bad. But after working at this for quite a while, it’s nice to see Google “smiling at my website” today! Full disclosure: there were three listings that preceded First Impressions Video in the search results, but one was a generic Yelp listing with no specific company cited; the second was for Costa Mesa Television, which is not a video production business and the third was a directory page of the “top 15 video production services in Costa Mesa.” None of those was a stand-alone business.
This post is dedicated to people that choose to shoot their own video. On occasion, I have been asked to take on editing assignments where, in order to save cost, a client has provided video footage they’ve captured. Nothing can be more disappointing to any editor than to find hours of footage that is barely usable because of poor camera technique, including pans, tilts, zooms and rack focus, that are caused primarily due to an unstable base from which to shoot. And while I too have watched “Modern Family” and “The Office” which popularized the “mockumentary” style of cinematography, with “whip pans” and “snap zooms,” I would argue that stable videos with smooth movements are far less jarring to the eyes. For the do-it-yourselfer, there is a simple solution: a sturdy tripod!
Tripods have been around since cameras were the weight of a Volkswagen—and almost as big, and you needed a very strong platform to support them. Now, cameras are super small and we’ve all seen them integrated into today’s smartphones and even watches. Are tripods going the way of the dodo as a result? No!
Think about this: Say you’re watching your son or daughter singing in the school choir and you’re in your seat 50 rows away from the stage trying to capture the proud moment when your child steps forward for a solo. You’ve got your Galaxy or iPhone zoomed all the way out and now your body starts to shake from fatigue in the hands and arms. You get home to see what you captured, only to discover a blurry mess because you weren’t able to keep the device steady. Bummer!! And don’t be fooled by the claims of the device’s manufacturer about “image stabilization.” At high zoom settings, any body movement will be amplified, so give yourself the best chance of getting the shot right, and use a tripod.
Tripods come in many shapes, sizes and price points, but to not use one is to invite disappointment. At the very least, get one with strong legs and a “fluid head” so that camera movement is as smooth as possible. Also make sure the tripod’s head can lock. Nothing will cause more panic than being 10 feet away from your camera when it topples over because the head wasn’t locked and the whole rig became unbalanced. The good news is that tripods can accommodate most any camera made today, including the aforementioned smartphones and watches.
The takeaway: Make the investment in a good tripod…your videos will be much better because of it!
Funerals and memorial services are tough. They are full of emotion as the families and loved ones grieve for the one that passed away. I have commented about memorials before, and the absolute need for discretion and sensitivity when shooting them. So I am always deeply gratified when I get comments like the one I just got from a family whose mother passed away last year. And the impact was truly amplified when I got a “heads up” from the officiating pastor that the son of the decedent would be seeing his own son—and his family—from whom he had been estranged for quite a number of years! Here is the testimonial:
“Words cannot express how thankful we were for your availability and to beautifully capture Marie’s memorial service last October. For Jim (Russell), as a pastor it was great to ask you to watch for certain interactions and then to let them develop. For John (and I) and Danny, it began the process of restoring their relationship which has since, been such a blessing.
Thank you again. Many blessings to you!”
Administrative Assistant to
Mike Erre, Lead Pastor
And this is why I love doing what I do!
As a videographer, I have watched changes in equipment happening at a dizzyingly rapid rate over the years. SD to HD to 3D to 4K…DSLRs, GoPros, drones and other pieces of equipment and these transitions have taken place just in the last few years!! What’s a person to do?!? One thing’s for sure: You could go (and stay) broke trying to keep up! Besides, you might have the latest and greatest “gizmatchit” but in the end, it still comes down to the creative skill you possess when you look through the viewfinder. And regardless of the gear I use (I do confess to having all HD equipment nowadays!) my clients hire me because I am able to interpret their requests and deliver a finished product that we are both happy with.
One of the things that has occurred in all this change is the type of delivery medium being used. For years—if not decades, the delivery medium of choice has been the ubiquitous DVD. Now even that little plastic platter is facing potential extinction as consumers are asking for their deliverables in formats other than DVD. Even Adobe with their incredible “Creative Cloud” series of applications is unbundling and discontinuing Encore—their DVD authoring program—from their editing app, Premiere Pro.
The fact is that there are a number of options available and since it is my job to deliver in a manner and medium desired by the client, I am very open to these alternatives. As the cost of storage media continues to drop and with the advent of “cloud-based” storage, I can get your finished product to you pretty much any way you want. Here are just a few examples, keeping in mind that you still must have an application that will play the video file (with the exception of sharing or streaming services that have playing capability built-in):
- DVD (let’s start with the obvious)
- CD (yes, you can use a CD, so long as the file is small and will fit the 700MB limitation!)
- USB flash drive
- SD or CF cards (or their variations)
- Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, Copy and others
- Sharing services like YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram and others
- Live Streaming
According to industry website Doddle, wedding and event videographers, and even attorneys (for depositions and other types of legal videography) still desire—and sometimes require—DVDs. That said, I have used every one of the alternatives listed in the bullet points, except live streaming. As the price of that technology continues to come down, I can see adding it to my repertoire.
So here’s the question: How would you like your video delivered? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org,
All is well…the shoot is perfectly planned. The set is positioned. The script or interview questions are prepped and ready. The cameras are loaded, white balanced, and in focus. Audio is double-checked, and there are batteries in the wireless mics! The on-camera subject comes through the door right on time. Everything is ‘good to go’… but then…OH-OH…I see it. The outfit. It is a disaster. The wardrobe breaks almost every rule in the book and the entire shoot is about to go down the drain–or at least get delayed–because the subject hadn’t been told what to wear, or what NOT to wear. All the best planning efforts just took a nosedive, or as is now said in contemporary lingo…epic fail!
Does it actually matter what subjects wear on camera? YES, it matters! An otherwise perfectly planned shoot can be adversely affected by a malfunctioning clothing ensemble. So before you jump in front of that camera and start waxing poetic about your product or service, please take heed of these five naughty no-no’s…heck, you might even want to write them on the palms of your hands! If you want your online video to look its best, avoid these 5 “oops’es:”
Oops #1 – Black and White
Video technology has made great strides over the last few years, but nothing wreaks havoc for video much more than wide swings in contrast. That clean, crisp white shirt becomes a great big reflector when the main light is turned on! Combine that with a black suit (that drinks that same light up, by the way) and I will be trying to balance polar opposites. Trying to find middle ground so that faces render nicely will be a challenge, and a good compromise can be realized through the use of more subdued tones, say, blues, grays, medium browns and off-whites. Because I shoot weddings, I see these challenges often (white bridal gown; black groom’s tux), and I work with what I have, but when possible, it’s better to opt for colors that help the production; not hinder it.
Oops #2 – Tight Patterns and Textures
Moire. Artifacting. If these terms don’t mean anything to you, it’s OK, but to the video producer, they’re just as challenging as the wide contrasts between black and white. I would recommend against patterns like houndstooth, or glen plaids if you want the image of your video to look its best. Especially since most shoots today are in high-def!
Oops #3 – Reflective Accessories
While a little jewelry can be fashionable, too much does not play well with lights. There is an axiom in production that says anything that distracts the viewer from the message is an error. Big, shiny, reflective buttons, rings, watches, necklaces, earrings, brooches and bracelets will catch lights and trigger flares and flashes that will draw everyone’s attention to the bling, and that’s not a good thing. Reflective accessories of all kinds are particularly horrific on green screen shoots. I know a story in which a director worked a “green screen” shoot on a soundstage in Burbank, CA where the talent showed up on the set with a giant gold anchor stitched to the front of her sailor dress. It reflected the green set around her and, if not caught, the effect would have caused a gigantic anchor-shaped hole right through her mid-section! With a few snips from a handy pair of scissors, the director had the offending object eliminated before the shoot and saved everyone a whole lot of post-production heartache. Of course, the dress had to be replaced!
Oops #4 – Jangly Jewelry
See #3. Sometimes, it’s just better to leave the bling in the jewelry box. And there’s another reason: If jewelry is banging, rattling or jingling, it will produce sounds that will likely be picked up by every microphone being used. You don’t want your sound track to be botched because of unwanted noises from wardrobe accessories. Just because your subjects’ watches, necklaces, buttons, earrings and bracelets aren’t shiny, doesn’t necessarily mean they are automatically approved. In addition to reflection, you need to be aware of your audio. A piece of jewelry that rattles or jingles will interfere with your sound. Also be aware of any noises made by the clothing itself. Certain fabrics (corduroy, for one) create their own sounds and can be equally undesirable. For problems #3 and 4, a sound check can catch these things before they become problems—unless you want these sounds in your audio!
Oops #5 – Logos and Messages
If your video is going to be broadcast on television, you will probably not be allowed to wear just any logo or convey any message on your clothing. In TV land, this is mostly because they make their money by selling advertising, so any logo seen on screen is a freebie for the company it represents. And sometimes, use of a trademark without permission can have consequences of its own. In the non-broadcast world this isn’t as crucial, but there is still a line of good taste that will need to be drawn. Unless I am interviewing a NASCAR driver, I probably don’t want the interview subject adorned in logos like, well, a NASCAR driver. The same goes for printed T-shirts with messages. Depending on the type of video being produced, the shirt that says “I’m with stupid” or “Eat at Ace’s BBQ!” may be inappropriate for a number of reasons. If you’ve watched a TV program and logos and messages on clothing have been “pixelated out,” this is why. Now, if your video is intended to market your product/service and your wearing apparel displays these messages, feel free to dismiss this paragraph!
So there you have it…sound advice to heed before the cameras start rolling! If you’re in doubt, bring a couple clothing/accessory options. Here’s a hint: Take a look at the best broadcast talent and TV anchors around, and observe what they are wearing. Follow their lead, and everything will go well in your production. And we’ll all be happy!
When I look back over the first year of First Impressions Video’s “official” existence, perhaps the one area that has surprised me most is memorial videography. Nearly half of all the projects I shot last year were memorials. And for some reason, this seems like an area that should not be tampered with out of respect for the deceased. Yet, it is because of respect for the deceased and concern for the living that video is becoming an increasingly important part of the grieving process. There are two reasons for this.
First of all, there has been significant change taking place in the funeral industry overall. Mostly due to the rise of the Baby Boomer generation, contemporary thinking is to now personalize the funeral or memorial service. Add to that the rise in cremation, which allows for great latitude on the part of those planning services. No longer are you limited to a funeral home or a house of worship. Once cremation has taken place, the cremated remains can be released to the family, and they can do whatever they want without the involvement of a funeral director. Think of scattering ashes in the ocean, for example.
The second factor is technical advances in the video industry. With the marriage of video and the computer, it has become possible to offer high-quality video in a relatively short time and at a reasonable cost. I’m sure this contributed to my sudden surge in memorial videos last year. I could shoot and turn them around relatively quickly, and the families have been profoundly appreciative of the service I provided.
There are two distinct ways video can be used for memorial/funeral services: One way is the memorial tribute video. This is a video usually made up of about 30 to 50 photos—and can include short video clips—and lasts around five minutes. The key elements necessary for a compelling memorial tribute video are time, quality, and movement. Fast turnaround times are crucial; most of the tributes I do have to be completed within 24 to 48 hours. To control my schedule, I like to pick up the photos at the funeral home shortly after the family brings them in. If the funeral home is too far away, I ask the funeral director to scan the photos and send them to me using Google Drive, Dropbox or some other file sharing service. Once I have the photos I may do some modest retouching in my computer. My editing includes use of a “pan and scan” effect (sometimes called the “Ken Burns” effect) to put movement in the photos. This will provide a nice distinction from a more traditional slide show.
The second way video is being used is in the recording of the service itself. With the personalization of services and the stories that are often told about the deceased, it becomes a wonderful way to capture memories of an individual that will be treasured by those left behind. What’s more, with families being scattered, it is often hard to get everyone together for a service. A funeral or memorial service captured on video can easily be shared with loved ones anywhere in the world, which I recently did for a client who had family in Norway! For 2014, I am exploring streaming as yet another way to deliver the service to people at remote locations. Right now, the cost may make streaming prohibitive, but as pricing comes down (and it always does, where technology is involved), I will update this blog accordingly.
This kind of videography requires great sensitivity as I am entering a space typically packed with emotion. Whereas weddings are by nature joyful events, memorials involve grieving family members and friends. I must be able to conduct myself unobtrusively so as not to intrude when people are often at their most vulnerable. I am honored to say that I have this gift, and if I can ever offer such a service to you, a friend or family member, I will take great care to show respect and dignity to the task to which you have entrusted me.