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.

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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,

Mac

Image

That Time of Year

Typically, this time of year can be a little slow for us here at Tweedee Productions.  I blame it on vacations.  You know, projects don’t get started, approvals take longer, and you get the dreaded “out of office” email response from the person you need a critical decision from.  I say no more August vacations!  (Except for mine of course, which I just returned from and had a lovely time, thank you.)  For me, my client-related workload has been a little light of late, which has given me some time to work on the business side of my duties.

I am constantly assessing and evaluating our business.  I ask myself tough questions like, are our prices in line with the market?  Are we working efficiently?  How can we improve our service?  Are our clients satisfied with our work?  That last one is the biggie, cuz without clients, we’d be nothing more than a video production drop-in shelter.  This week I observed our team handle a potentially sticky client related issue beautifully.

At the end of last week we received a call from a client we had delivered a project to several weeks ago.  Apparently, there were some “discrepancies” with some of the content.  (I read of this problem in an email on Friday afternoon while I was still on vacation.  Just before I looked at my email I thought, “looks like we had a good week at the office – no major problems”.)  A meeting was arranged with the client first thing Monday morning by Steve Donovan, our senior editor.  He arranged for our business development guy, Mac Chorlton to attend the meeting as well.

The project in question consisted of a series of hour-long Power Point presentations with a presenter on camera in front of a group of people.  We edited in the Power Point slides later in post production.  A DVD master was produced with about nine segments on it and delivered it to the client for approval.  Once approved, they shipped the master off to the duplicator.  But…a funny thing happened to some of the Power Point slides when they were imported into our editing system.  Apparently, since the slides were produced with an older version of Power Point, some of formating changed when they were imported, thus changing their meaning which was not good considering the highly technical nature of the presentations.  Since we have limited knowledge of this client’s industry, we didn’t recognize the discrepancies. This was something that definitely needed to be fixed.

So how did Steve and Mac handle it?  Well, like the pros they are!  They both listened to the client and figured out what went wrong and how to fix it.  Steve surmised that the cause of the problem was the importation of the old Power Point slides.  He requested that the client make PDF files of all the slides.  Mac realized that the client was not in the mood to pay any more for this project so he wisely did not go down that road.  Bottom line?  Nobody’s fault, a few hours to fix, let’s get this done and move on.  The client’s happy and we will do more work for them.  Nice job, guys.

Yes, running a business can be stressful even during slow months.  If I could only stay off the email during vacations!

Gregg reading his email on vacation.

Gregg Schieve

 

“Building” your video

We sometimes have people tell us what budget they’ve established for their video project idea before they tell us about the idea itself.   Although we try to work with any size budget, this situation can be very challenging for us, because the client has already decided what they are willing to pay — before they know how much it might actually cost.

My wife and I are in the process of building a new home.  It’s our first time building and it’s been an eye-opening process.  But what has helped us along has been the plan we developed with our builder.  The initial estimates our builder gathered for us from his subcontractors were based on information we provided to our him about our lot size, floor plan ideas, square footage, etc.  Throughout our building process, those initial budget allowances have provided us with a blueprint for what we can (or cannot) afford in our new house.

I’ve found myself making a lot of recent comparisons between our house plans and the scripts/outlines we create for each of our video productions.  Collaborating with our clients to establish a project outline and develop a budget is an important initial step because many factors (the length of the video, 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.

If we told our builder that we had a budget of $100,000 and we wanted to build a 5,000 square foot home, we would have ended up with a huge house with no drywall, no plumbing, no lighting, etc. because that 100K would only get us so far.  So if you have some video ideas, give some thought to creating your own “building blueprint” so you can establish realistic expectations for what you want to create — before you set the budget.

keep it cool – real cool

its hot. its so hot i can’t think. the air is on in the office, but its still hot. so my mind wanders to cold things. like the coldest town on earth.

i don’t recommend this – but this little guy sure likes it.

if you need, um, ideas, um, on how to get, um, cool – check out this dude.

or this special idea for my redneck friends

personally, i like to hang out in my basement. and watch videos. and remember the days when i wish it was warm.

-sandy

chillin'

winter wonderland

 

“So, how much will that cost?”

We get that question a lot!  Usually it comes after a brief, five-minute phone conversation with a third level office assistant charged with “getting a number” for his or her boss.  The caller typically has very limited information as to what production elements are needed for their video.  Yet, they expect us to spit out a number that we will have to live with moving forward.  At times I’m tempted to say, “Good news!  We have a web video special running today only.  For the low, low-cost of only $1995 you get the web video, a thirty-second TV commercial, and…”  These jobs usually do not go well.

Our business development guy, Mac Chorlton, recently sent me a link to a LinkedIn discussion about production rates for web videos.  It was interesting to read about how other companies deal with the tricky issue of asking someone to pay a fee for what we do.  After reading the string of comments, I concluded that others in our field have similar problems dealing with this issue.  Obviously, there is no easy, one size fits all, answer to this question.  However, it is reassuring that Tweedee Production’s rates and the way we charge for our time are in the “video production ballpark” as compared to other video production companies around the country.

When it comes to giving a client a ballpark number for producing a video, some providers use the “per finished minute” concept in pricing.  This number typically ranges between $1,000 and $1,500.  I don’t like pricing projects this way because there are way too many variables in what we might have to do to produce a successful video.  Jack Trammell of Dallas/Fort Worth contributes this brilliant observation on the LinkedIn discussion, “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…”  A post by Scott Frangos reads, “Rates in Portland, Oregon range from $1500 per finished minute to $4500, depending on size of team, scope of concept, and production values.”  Quite a range!

Our approach here at Tweedee Productions is to ask a lot of questions.  So, before you pop the question on cost, have a good understanding of what you are trying to accomplish with your video.  Be specific, usually the “one size fits all” approach results in a watered down, ineffective, generic video.  Once we know what the intent is for your video we will prepare a detailed budget based on fairly standard market rates and pricing concepts.  We structure our pricing the same way that Rich Dubek’s company does in Phoenix, “We bill based on set rates for full day or 1/2 day, and hourly rates for logging, script writing, and editing.”

Most of the story-based, interview-driven web videos we produce are in the $5,000-9,000 range on average.  Again, even within this narrowly defined video category, there can be a number variables that will determine the ultimate cost.  So, if someone tells you after a five-minute phone call that they can do your video for $1995, ask yourself if you will be getting a video specific to your needs.  Lauri Oliva of Miami confirms what we all know, “I always refer back to the old adage, you get what you pay for.”

Producing a web video.

Gregg Schieve

Three Dimensions in Video

“This one. 40 inches. 120 hertz. Look at the price,” he turns around and leads me down the aisle and turns back to me and poses while points, “and this one. 40 inches. 120 hertz. Price.” He looks me straight in the eye as if he were gauging my comfort. “Now. This next one is the best deal but everybody turns and runs away when I tell them one thing about this television.

“46 inches. 240 hertz,” His teeth carefully articulate the price, “Twelvvvvve. NineTEE nine.” His eyebrows raise and his eyes fix on me. This television salesman obviously knows that everyone quivers when they hear this last part: ” and it has 3D.”

Everyone, he tells me, turns around after they get told that it has 3D playback capability. I was just as guilty, “I don’t need 3D.”

“Then don’t use it.” He was absolutely right. The best tv’s–at the best prices–are in 3D. It’s almost an add-on to the higher end high def televisions.

After all the hoopla and fanfare behind this new technology, I wondered why 3D had not just become something unpopular but something that is feared–or even hated. Little do those fearful customers know is that, I predict, 3D is sneaking into your house by 2018.

Estimates show that 10 million 3D units will be getting into homes in the United States. My first question to the author of this statistic would be, “Why? Why would the demand be the high?” What I assumed was that the demand would be there. The demand is not there. Nor will it be.

In 2009, bloggers and reviewers alike bawked at the idea of rolling out 3D high def sets. It’s a cumbersome thing to learn and understand. There was no public outcry for such an extravagant thing.

Consider this: Nobody was yelling for it in the movie theaters either. Yet, from 2008 to 2009, 3D production and revenue jumped from $240 million to over $1 billion. So, there is a market.

Still…how would it get into our house? Consider this…

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, 3D set producers were once again trying to push 3D integration. This year’s CES 3D HDTV preview was a little different for a couple reasons. One primary reason–they were excited to show it off was because they’re getting a handle on “passive” 3D. This allows consumers to buy 3D sets and use simple, cheaper 3D glasses that you would use in a movie theater. Over the past three years, 3D set producers could only effectively produce “active” 3D sets. These tout more expensive, clunky glasses that would have a purchase price around $150 a pair. Tough buy for a family…”Honey! I’m getting you guys glasses for Christmas! Happy Holidays!” Passive 3D Technology is cheaper when it comes to accessories.

So, still, why would people run these 3D sets into their homes? Because cheap glasses? No.

Friday Night at My Place

I bought a printer last week and realized it had wifi and Bluetooth capabilities. Wow–surprise! AND my television has internet capabilities via wifi technology. Along with that, I have the opportunity to access YouTube, Hulu Plus and the list goes on for a while. More and more products are gaining access to wireless technology. It’s a feature that being placed into many devices to help it gain flexibility. With wireless technology, you can view more video from more providers in more ways. But, you won’t know it unless you use it. And more people have this than ever before. Was there a demand? Not really. But it found its way into virtually every device produced after 2008.

So, what would this mean to people purchasing sets? Would they want to buy 3D because they have WiFi? No.

It’s a combination of all these things. And more. 3D may become that thing in your tv that your kid knows how to run and the glasses make for good presents. 3D may be that thing that the kids know how to run and you see it in action and it’s pretty damn cool, so you figure it out. It’s there but you just don’t take advantage of it. 3D tv’s aren’t strictly 3D. It’s a feature, like WiFi, that you can use when/if you want to use it. And it can live in your tv and you wouldn’t even know it. You don’t buy the tv for the 3D but the 3D comes with it. And, one night, when your son or daughter orders “Caddyshack 3D” off the iTunes app in your tv, you see how cool it can be, so you want to learn to use it.

I walked out of the store, an owner of 3D tv but I didn’t want the 3D. The salesman told me, “You can sit here and check out Sony’s 3D while we get your set onto the loading dock.” I sat down and put the glasses on but I didn’t really need to see something I didn’t want. The salesman walked away and the panorama of the ocean came out of the television in front of me. The little girl sitting next to me sort of sighed, “Whooooooooa.”

“Yea.” I said. And it was like I was looking into a crystal ball of millions of houses in the future.

But that won’t be for a while. Like 2018. Until then, we will all cringe when we hear, “It’s a 3D tv.”

Steve Donovan, Senior Editor & Appears in over 1080p, 3D

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