Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

This is the fourth blog in a series that will help you start or rethink your video strategy: Video Is Expensive! Or Is It? 

Video production is expensive—I hear that a lot, often from those who are paying too much. There’s this perception that paying more is the only way to get better quality, but that simply isn’t the case. So, how do you know what is reasonable?  

There was a time when video cost a predictable $1,000 per minute to produce, but the traditional formula simply doesn’t apply anymore. Instead, the price will depend on what kind of video project you want. The important thing to remember is that the low-cost approach can be just as high-quality, if it is the right approach for that project.

For example, if you want a production company to concept a video, then you should expect to pay a producer’s fee. The producer will use the information you provide (or interview experts) to develop messaging and content for you. Then they will give you different approaches or treatments. If you are not prepared to act as your own producer, hiring the right one will be the key to getting your project off the ground. Fees vary, so you can shop around before hiring someone. You can also head into the process with a rough budget that can help inform your choice of treatments. Don’t let an excited producer talk you into something you don’t need and can’t afford!

How much is too much? Again, that depends on your needs. For interviews and office/retail locations, a site survey is usually wasted money. However, a site survey for manufacturing sites, customer case studies, or unique settings can actually lower your costs. The survey helps the location prepare for the visit and helps the producer find the most efficient way to schedule the shoot. I have seen crews sit for hours because they arrived at a break time or when a facility was not busy enough to show well. Time is money.

When it comes to the actual production, there are some easy ways to figure costs. How many locations? How many people will be interviewed? How much additional b-roll will you need, and how easy is it to maneuver through a facility? Will you need actors onsite or use real employees or customers?  One camera or two?

The size of the crew should be determined by the complexity of the shoot. If it is a simple interview with additional b-roll, you do not need “Hollywood.”  More people can simply mean more disruption and unnecessary cost. I’ve seen people pay $25,000 day for productions with a crew of more than ten. A typical video case study can be accomplished with just two to three experienced production people. You can imagine the difference in cost.

Once the shoot is complete, you move to post-production, including editing and graphics. Lots of special effects will add a lot of sizzle—but do you need that sizzle? Maybe you do, and we can do it for you! But if the added cost isn’t going to bring you extra sales, go for a cleaner, simpler look.

The important point is there is no one right budget number that works for all projects. More money doesn’t lead to better results if you’re paying for things you don’t need. I like to say that I can give you the Mercedes of video production—but if what you need is a Kia, I’d rather give you a Kia, on a Kia budget. I’ll help you determine what you need for your project, and I’ll give you a very well-made Kia, if that’s what you want!

Need help with video production? I run a video production company. Let’s chat.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

This is the third blog in a series that will help you start or rethink your video strategy: Lights. Camera. Action. Is Your Media Production Company the Right Fit?

When it comes to trusted resources, you might think about your attorney, accountant or financial planner. You probably don’t think about your media production company–but perhaps you should. After all, when you create different types of digital communications, they represent you and your organization. You should not trust just anyone with a valuable asset and that is what your brand is–an asset!

What should you look for in a media production company? How do you know if there is a good fit? Can the company produce something that gets your message across creatively and with great quality?

No production company will have a sample that is exactly what you are looking to create. However, it should have a body of work that you can review. Watch the samples. Do you like what you see? I believe it’s important that there is variety. Sometimes every video or graphic sample has the same treatment, the same look and feel, the same overused content. You want a company that understands what is unique about your organization and captures it. You do not want to look like everyone else.

While media production is creative, you want a source that has a very clearly defined production process. The company should be able to explain the various steps for discovery and content development, specific milestones, and signoffs. They also should ask you how and when you want to be involved. Some clients prefer to set direction and let go. Others want to be present for shoots and during editing.

Ask about the team who will be assigned to your project? Are they on-staff or freelance talent? Can you meet them in advance?

Budgeting can be tricky. At my company, creative projects are budgeted by the project and we provide ranges for the product to be delivered. These take into account the complexity of the project, the number of shoot days, need for professional talent, editing, graphics, etc. Remember, you are in charge. I like to say, “I can make you a Kia or a Mercedes–you get to choose what you need.” Still, many have trouble understanding how the budget translates to the level of production. Don’t expect Hollywood blockbuster effects on a home movie budget. Have the production company show you projects in different budget ranges, so you understand what you are getting.

Ask if you will be able to see the progress of the video. Does the video company have an online system that allows you to see and comment right on the video? This can make the process much easier and communication more accurate.

Finally, how will the video company archive your raw video and finished project? This is an important point. Video is an asset and once you collect it, you need to make sure it is properly archived. Then you can use it in the future. It will also make changes easier and new projects less expensive. We often leverage video that we have shot for clients for years.

The most important aspect of a relationship with a media company is trust. Choose someone you trust with your brand and who will work for you whether it is a simple short social media video or a highly-produced, important campaign.

Need help with video production? I run a video production company. Let’s chat.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

This is the second blog in a series that will help you start or rethink your video strategy: Do It Yourself Video… Good Idea or Not?

I know what you are thinking.

“I can create my own video. I have my smartphone and the camera is great. I can download free software for the edit. There are graphics and images on Google. How hard can it be? After all, I saw that video on YouTube where they made that cool expensive car commercial with just an iPhone.”

Yes. Your phone camera is pretty good. You can download free software and find graphics.

Now the reality about do it yourself video…

That cool car commercial? They built a whole lot of custom mounts and accessories to get that video. The iPhone was simply the recording device. And the editors–they were experts. Chances are you can’t make something that cool. No offense.

If you think I am discouraging you from making your own video, you are wrong. I actually think there are many instances where you can produce video.

For example, if the production is relatively simple–one location, one person at a time with minimal graphics then it is worth a try. Make sure you have a good camera- usually a digital SLR that shoots stills and video. Please use a tripod, unless you want people to get motion sickness watching your shaky video. The biggest issues are framing, lighting, and audio.

Framing the perfect shot is an art–enough said. Without professional lights, you will need to take advantage of available light. Audio is an issue with smartphones. You must be very close to the speaker or invest in an external microphone. Room noise or wild sound from a location can also be an issue, so you need to find a quiet place. A great resource for creating digital content is Wiley Publishing’s Digital Video for Dummies.

But professional videographer work is expensive…

Sometimes it is not practical or cost-effective to send a professional videographer around the country to capture short soundbites or location shots. When that is the case, we often coach our clients about how to shoot the video and have them send it to us to edit. This can be a nice compromise if the raw video is acceptable. Then we can dress it up in post-production.

When the project is important, highly visible, and it must capture attention, you need to call in the experts.

What can video production professionals do for you?

On simple projects, professionals know how to get the best interviews and coach on-camera interviewees.

On more complicated ones, video professionals understand how to capture movement and get a variety of shots in a short period of time.

In the edit room, professionals can take hours of video interviews and pull the best bites–get rid of all the stumbles and montage clips to tell a compelling story. They color correct scenes and add the sizzle of motion graphics. In short, video pros make everything look much better than it did in real life.

There are lots of decisions to make when it comes to production. In the next blog, I will tackle the question about how to vet a production company, questions to ask and how to create a relationship that can last.

Need help with video production? I run a video production company. Let’s chat.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

This is the first blog in a series that will help you start or rethink your video strategy: Think You Need a Video? 

According to a Cisco Visual Networking Index Forecast for 2016-2021, “It would take an individual more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2021. Every second, a million minutes of video content will cross the network by 2021.”

That’s a lot of video and people are watching. On their desktops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. But, getting people to watch your video depends on a number of things; the content, the quality, the wow!

With over 35 years of experience and lots of awards for my work (yes, I am bragging a bit), I believe my guidance can get you to start or rethink your video strategy. This is the first in a series of blogs that I hope will bring some clarity.  

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your content suited to video?
  • Should you do it yourself?
  • Should you hire a professional … and at what cost?
  • What kind of shelf-life can I expect … and how do I leverage video assets for future projects?

There is a lot to think about so… 

let’s start with content.

STOP thinking that everything should be a video. (I own a media production company and I did say that.) There is nothing worse than a boring video. For example, lists of healthcare options, calendars of employee events, financial reports. You get the idea. This is content that can easily be read and understood. You don’t need a video.

Great video content is visual and compelling. It’s a story about someone that struggled with a problem or a team that achieved something amazing. It’s a demonstration that captures your attention- why do you think those infomercials get such good results? It’s watching people, or robots make something. It’s the story beyond the financials, how the results were achieved or what went wrong. It can be “talking heads” but only if the people are really interesting, the message is supported by cool graphics, and the camera work draws you into the story.

Look for topics that evoke emotion- a sense of pride about an employee’s work, a feature about a customer that used your product and gushes about it, a video case study that shows how you solved a problem. And, don’t forget to find “wow” stats. These are numbers that impress- you saved a customer X number of dollars, improved productivity by x, helped them serve X more customers.

Do you need a video?

Of course, the reality is that not all the critical information you need to convey appears to be video-worthy. You can take “dry” content and make it interesting. I actually made a video about pallets that was pretty fun and entertaining. But, it takes creativity to make some topics come alive.

I always ask customers why they think they need a video. Sometimes, they do. Other times we discern that there are better ways to get the information to the intended audience. Video is an important tool but it only works if it is well produced and perfectly suited to the audience.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will share ideas about when to create your own video and when to hire it out.

Need help with video production? I run a video production company. Let’s chat.