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

living tribute

i’m honored to be taking part in 11.11.11, A Day in the Life of American’s Veterans. this project’s goal is to

sandy just needs a minute to think about it.

everyone has a story to tell.

“produce a ‘day in the life’ exploration of Veterans Day 2011, finding and incorporating the most compelling stories about veterans into a unique presentation about the experience of men and women who have devoted a portion of their lives to serve their country in times of both war and peace.” a lot of really great storytellers i’ve worked with are taking part. the piece will have both video and still photography. to learn more check out their web site.

so this is where you come in… calling all ideas – do you know of a vet or a group of verterans doing their own memorial – their own thing? someone remembering this day in their own way? i know there are “official” events happening – but i’m hoping for something out of the ordinary, personal or unique.
why do i care?
this year’s veterans day has a special meaning for me. this year i have a chance not only to remember those who have proudly served our country, but to also, in a small way, pay a tribute to my dad.

that's my dad on the right... in boot camp with a couple of friends.

dad served in the “big” war, World War II. After the attack on Pearl Habor he joined the army. he was stationed overseas in the Philippines & was a scout for his platoon. one early morning, right before his discharge, his life (and my family’s) changed forever… my dad was scouting in the jungle and was pinned down by a couple of japanese machine gun nests. the soldiers continued to shoot him until he was able to roll into a small ditch. dad almost died. he lost his leg that day – spent weeks in a coma.

my dad trying to return to a "normal" life after the war. he loved to fish.

dad lived out the rest of his life as a proud disabled veteran, husband & father of 3.

on 11.11.11 i’m hoping to bring a special story to the project. if you have a special veteran in your life, let me know. i’d love to create something we can all be proud of.

Your Audience is Changing Seats

Best Buy reported a 14% slip in their shares during the 4th quarter of 2010. This is the difficult side effect to slumping sales. Primarily, their sales were paltry in television sets, movies and games, according to Forbes Magazine.

This trend may be indicative how the market is shifting among all retailers. In 2010, television growth was at 18% while this year’s numbers are trending towards a 4% growth (according to research firm DisplaySearch). A major cool down from hi def television enthusiasm has entered our culture.

Last night, I couldn’t find a show on television to save my life. Instead, I flipped over to see what choices I had on Netflix and Hulu Plus. My cable bill is typically $50/month while Netflix & Hulu combined are $20. It’s no wonder that people are now watching online video that comes with on-demand capabilities. It’s less expensive with a huge array of options at your disposal. But, as television sets place these applications in their software, more accounts are being produced through on-demand services like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu.

Roger Kay, EndPoint Technologies wrote about television culture shifting. “All of our lives are more closely time sliced.  We have to execute more tasks, and these task [sic] are shorter.” As an audience, does shorter tasks mean more mobile devices? Yes. It’s a bit of chicken or egg scenario: Did we grow impatient naturally and build mobile devices or did we build mobile devices and make ourselves impatient? Either way, we have become more instantly gratified.

Meanwhile, the somewhat surprising piece of this puzzle is the fact that laptop sales have dramatically decreased. Doesn’t this online subscription world with shorter tasks need more laptops? Aren’t they turning from televisions to computers, thereby needing something mobile and easy to move?

The answer is yes. They are. Double digit growth of laptops have dropped down 1% AFTER the introduction of the iPad (PCWorld, April 2011) . The one product that basically brought the laptop market to its knees and it doesn’t play Macromedia Flash Video. It plays MPEG-4. It provides applications that play all those videos living on a cloud. It has the capability to provide your video content–no matter which format–via iPad apps.

The incarnation of laptops working as a second television has evolved into iPads working as a second television, too. The evolving audience is parsing their time in tasks including television viewing.

No more than ever, the opportunities for marketing depend on two departments: the IT professionals and the video professionals.

As formats change and evolve with the viewer, depend on your video production company to provide understanding where your video is going and it will effectively run in a high quality format with streaming video.

Ask us how to best utilize different video formats for your audience.

Steve Donovan Senior Editor

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