“Danger Will Robinson – I see low quality video”

“As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.” – John Glenn

Although things worked out for astronaut John Glenn, I was reminded of his famous quote when I saw this posted the other day:

Poor Quality

As consumers, all of us try to find the best value for the lowest price. But at what point does the price become so low that the quality suffers? Having a nicely produced video on your website is vital in today’s marketplace and that video is a crucial portal to introduce your business/school/group/organization to prospective clients/students/members/donors.  So of course, the goal should be to make a good first impression with a video that portrays you in the best light.  You may offer high quality products or services but a low quality video will be a poor representation of who you are and may not provide an accurate reflection of what you offer.

When it comes to initiating a video project, it’s not that hard to find good value for a fair price.  However, simply going with the lowest price may lead to this sort of outcome:

Always someone who will do it cheaper

So when considering a video production professional, be sure to ask to see samples of work from their portfolio.  Also, be sure to ask about the experience and background of the producers, crew, editors, and other team members that will be working on your project.  In addition, an experienced video professional should be knowledgeable enough to offer insight about the resources needed to produce a cost effective video that accomplishes your goals and stays within your budget.

Wishing you a safe landing with all of your video project ideas…



Mac Chorlton

Good Fortune

I’ve never been one who believes in reading my horoscope. It always seems kind of like a “something for everybody” read. I mean how many times can “an unexpected but welcome financial windfall  lead to some long-desired changes in my living situation?” In the words of my long-since-passed grandma,  “Sounds like a bunch of hooey!” But, go ahead and call me a hypocrite… Why? Because, I’ve always been a sucker for a good fortune cookie message.

There’s one taped to the base of my desk light right now. Ironically, its text encompasses the very reason I like fortune cookies (other than the fact they combine two of my favorite activities, eating and reading.) It says, “Four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity and humanity.” Obviously, based on this blog post, those words are a lifelong quest.

Words to Write By

Isn’t that the beauty of the fortune cookie, though? They’re a thoughtful and concise message to live by. They’re a nice little surprise inside a simple but tasty cookie container. And, finally, they’re a great reminder of how we like to approach telling a story with video: Keep it clear and simple, don’t bog it down with too much jargon, and leave them with a surprising little nugget of humanity.

This video by Writer/Director Marko Slavnic is a great example.

That’s one loaded cookie!

Now, in the words of another fortune cookie message I saved, “Go ahead with confidence.”

Some cookies are better than others…


A Decade in the Life of Technology

Something interested occurred to me this week.

I have been preparing to host a seminar in which I will be interviewing Northwestern MFA graduate Amy Thorstenson about how to write a better screenplay, and then turn that screenplay into a better film. In the course of my preparation, I was reviewing the questions I will be asking Amy about her childhood, her education and her past work, which naturally got me thinking through my own past experiences and how I’ve managed to get myself to this point in my life and career. As I stumbled backward through college and into high school, I was taken aback by a fun fact.

Like Amy, I graduated high school in 2003 and attended a four-year university from 2003-2007. After that I messed around in the software industry for a couple years, and finally came to filmmaking in 2009.

Then and only then did I come face-to-face with a fully digital, non-linear editing system for the first time.

Sometimes it is so easy to forget how far we’ve come in the past decade. In high school I filmed little projects for class on VHS tapes and used an incredibly slow, incredibly error-prone editing system to piece together moment after painstaking moment of footage. College was even worse. There was no film studies major at my school, and therefore no editing equipment at all. Not that it mattered—at that time in my life I was lucky I could make Outlook do what I wanted, let alone tackle anything as scary as “codecs” or “frame rates.” And as far as cameras were concerned…well, let’s just say my parents were not shy about letting me know that the Sony MiniDV standard definition Handycam I wanted for my 19th birthday cost them somewhere in the neighborhood of $600.

And now, ten years, two jobs in the tech sector and an Associates degree later…we have cameras on our CELL PHONES (which everyone also now has, by the way). People have made entire films using nothing but an iPhone and iMovie, Apple’s consumer-grade editing system.

Also, consumer-grade editing systems…exist.

As a professional, I have access to not one, but TWO non-linear editing systems on my work computer, and a completely different third one on my home computer. I have programs in which I can build entire rooms out of NOTHING! I CAN FLY THROUGH SPACE! And if there’s something I don’t know how to do, instead of doing research by physically going to library (that’s a building where they keep books, by the way), I can just type a few words on a screen and the magical Google elves will find it FOR me!

Now, I will admit that I’m as impatient as the next technophile. I am constantly spurring my computer to go faster and wishing that the powers that be would hurry up and create a <insert name of gadget here> that runs better and costs less. But to look back and track the progress of technology just in my own small and relatively short existence…I have to say, I’m floored by how much better things have gotten as a whole.

And yet the struggle to write a decent screenplay continues. So come to the seminar, and make sure all this crazy-amazing technology isn’t going to waste🙂 Click here for more information, and I hope to see you there!



I <3 The Internet

Before I start my first post ever here on the elite Tweedee Productions blog, I feel like I need to introduce myself.


Hi. I’m Sarah. I’ve been an associate producer at Tweedee for about nine months now. My desk is in the back of the studio, so if you come to visit our offices, that’s probably where you’ve seen me. And if you’ve filmed in our studio, I was probably the one running your prompter (assuming you were using it). When I’m not at work I enjoy writing (fiction and screenplays), cooking (with mixed results) and playing with my cats.

Okay, now that we are acquainted, I can jump right in.

I love the Internet. It represents what Wyoming and California meant to the cowboys and 49ers in centuries past: ultimate freedom. If you’re looking for something, odds are you’ll find it on the Internet, and if you have something to share, you can probably find someone who will distribute it for you—or you can even do it yourself! For people like me who conduct business on the Internet while simultaneously organizing a social agenda in the same location, it is practically a second life.

This level of freedom and involvement does present a problem for content creators though. With so many options and stimuli, how do you break through all of it and get YOUR stuff to the people you are trying to reach? It’s something marketing executives and advertisers have been struggling with since the Internet became a breeding ground for many “Next Big Things,” and so far there doesn’t seem to be any magical solution for guaranteed Internet success. However, there are a few things that you can do to ensure your project won’t be a total Internet fail:

1) Develop an interesting concept. Whether it’s a picture of a surly cat with a snarky tagline or a web series with a budget of thousands of dollars, it’s got to be interesting. If we know anything for sure, the Internet does NOT suffer boredom.

2) Only employ people who will get the job done. The end product is only as good as the people who work on it…and do you have ANY idea how long it takes to put together a decent 60 second animation? Because the Internet provides no real deadline, people can all too easily fall victim to laziness or frustration. So whether it’s a six person team of professionals, your college roommate, or just you and a laptop, you’ve got to be sure they are people who will see the project through to the end.

3) Maintain quality throughout the process. To answer a previously posed question: a 60 second animation can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks to complete, depending on the skill level needed, the resources available, and so on. When you’re dealing with that kind of time frame and attention to detail, it’s all too easy to start taking short cuts. DON’T GIVE IN! If you do, the Internet will know…because the Internet knows everything….and you will end up paying for it in the end.

4) Spread the word! A common misconception is that getting a product on the Internet is the most difficult part of the process, and that once it is out there for all to see, the money and fame will start to roll in of their own volition. This is WRONG! Once you have your product out there, you need to take it upon yourself to make sure that everyone knows about it! Share, Tweet, Pin, Skype, Link…do whatever you have to so people know what you’ve got and get excited enough to tell everyone they know about it too. Because if you don’t care enough to get it out there, no one else will either.

If you follow all of these steps…okay, yes, your project might still fall into Internet oblivion. But at least you’ll give yourself a fighting chance. With high standards of commitment and with a little bit of luck, you could have the next LOLCats, Justin Bieber, Gangnam Style or Harlem Shake.

Now go forth and CREATE!

…and let us know if you need any help🙂

Things Are Getting Better

This past year Tweedee Productions has done work at several manufacturing companies throughout Wisconsin.  We’ve crisscrossed our great state from Fennimore to Green Bay, Milwaukee to Rice Lake for various clients.  Most recently we shot at a plastics manufacturing plant in Baldwin.  The news that we’ve been hearing is that “things are getting better.”  Companies are hiring, working multiple shifts and cranking out products.  The owner of the plastics company told us that they have been working 24/7.  In some cases, employers cannot find enough qualified workers to fill the jobs they have.  Not a bad thing in the short-term.  Nationally, recent economic reports have been encouraging.

It’s been interesting commiserating with other business owners over the tough times we’ve all gone through.  Many have told us that 2008-09 were the bad years which was also true for us.  In some cases business virtually ground to a halt and many of us wondered if it was wise to keep the doors open.  In our case, I’m glad we did.

During what has been called the “great recession” the thought occurred to me that the companies that are able to weather the storm will be stronger in the end.  When operating in a bad economy, you learn real fast what works and what doesn’t.  You learn that all major decisions are critical and that there’s not much room for error.  Ultimately, you learn to have faith in your skills and that things will get better.

Fortunately for us, our business survived.  The lessons learned over the past few years have paid off.  The last two years have brought us great success as we’ve experienced sustained growth for the past 30 months.  We’re now able to do the things that I love to do like rewarding our employees and giving back to the community.  I realize that many folks have suffered, careers were lost and companies closed.  I’m grateful we have been able to continue on.  I feel the best is yet to come!

CEO/Founder, Tweedee Media Inc.

do words rule?

i’ve been noticing a trend happening.Image

we’ve been getting more requests for what i refer to as “motion graphics mixed with power point”.

but, come to find out, it has a fancy name: infographics.

now, i like moving video, but apparently some folks really want to avoid video completely & use words and images instead. what a crazy idea!

but, you know what – it can work.

images & words can be very entertaining beyond just being informative… check out this Local Punched piece we did. it’s very active – entertaining, yet gets the message across.

here is another popular concept one of our clients, McGraw Hill, likes to use. i must admit this is WAY better than just reading a dry web article or watching wallpaper video that doesn’t really match the narrative.  and infographics can be WAY less of a financial investment. just imagine the cost of using real actors in the McGraw Hill piece. that would be crazy expensive.

obviously video will always be better to tell an emotional, personal story… but it looks like infographics are here to stay.

and for good reason.


The cost of producing a website video

There is a very good article in the most recent issue of InBusiness Magazine about “The Online Video Phenomenon.”  The article does a nice job presenting the emergence of online video as a powerful marketing tool as well as providing businesses with some things to consider if they are thinking about creating video content for their website.

In this blog posting, I wanted to touch on one of the topics in the article where they discuss the cost of producing an on-line video:

“Overall, the cost of producing videos in high definition can range from $500 per finished minute to $3,000 and up per finished minute, depending on variables like talent, length of the shoot, and complexity of the editing.”

Obviously, that’s quite a broad range, and there are some production companies that provide a “one-size-fits-all” approach with fixed rates for production.  However, here at Tweedee productions, we estimate each project on an individual basis, because as we’ve quoted in previous blog postings:

“Paying for a produced video by the minute is like paying for a car by the pound.  There are just too many variables that make that equation unrealistic for most productions…”

So when we initiate a project with a client, we like to have a conversation with them to get a better idea about the scope of the project.  This allows us to figure out the time and resources we need to commit to that project and provide an accurate estimate.

Usually, a client will have a fairly good idea of how long they want their video to be.  But collaborating with our clients to establish a project outline and develop a budget is an important initial step because many factors aside from the length of the video (i.e. the need for music, graphics, voice over, etc.) can influence the cost of video production.  So getting these variables worked out in the planning and scripting phase will help ensure that everything runs smoothly as the production process moves forward.

We believe it benefits both parties to stay within the scope of any video project.  Our client gets the video they want and we stay within the scope of the project budget.

I hope you find the InBusiness article helpful too if you are considering online video for your company.

Thanks again,



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