“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

Screaming with Video

“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”

– Mark Twain

Maybe “scream” is too strong of a word to use for my purposes, but are you using on-line video to “loudly proclaim” the story of your business, organization, or message?  Video combines sight, sound, motion, and emotion to create a message that helps you connect with your potential clients and customers.  Video allows you to tell a deeper story and has a more powerful impact.

Consider this:

–      75% of C-Level Executives say they watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week (Forbes/Google Survey)

–      YouTube is now the #2 search engine trailing only Google (comScore Internet Survey)

–      Videos that are run through a simple search engine optimization program are 53 times more likely to end up on “Page One” of a search engine result than just a text-only webpage (Forrester Research Study)

A short video (up to three minutes is an accepted norm for website videos) can help you tell your story in a direct, concise, and powerful way.  In keeping with that theme, I’ll keep this blog post short because Twain also said:

“The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”

Mac

Things keep changing.

The new year has brought us a new video camera here at Tweedee Productions.  And with a new camera, of course, new technology.  Well, kinda.  We’ve already been using Panasonic’s P2 technology for a couple of years.  Our new camera, Panasonic’s HPX500EFP is actually a compliment to our well used and reliable Panasonic HVX200.  Both shoot amazingly good, eye popping, high-definition 1080i video.  The 500 has a few more bells and whistles, and comes in a more traditional shoulder-mount, Betacam-style configuration.  So far, I love it!  In addition to shooting great looking video in several HD and SD formats, there are also loads of other menu settings that allow the user to customize the “look” of the camera.

The most amazing thing to me is the recording media.  Both the 200 and 500 record video and audio onto a P2 memory card.  We can record about 2 hours of high-definition video onto a 64gb card about the size of your average smart phone.  This technology is a far cry from when I started in the business.  (OK, I don’t want to sound like an old guy here – so no stories about how I used to lug my 25 pound video camera and 25 pound 3/4 inch record deck 5 miles through the snow.  Uphill.)

When I started working my first job as a video photographer, videotape field recording had just started reaching markets like Madison, Wisconsin.  Three-quarter-inch tape was the industry standard back then, employing a two-piece camera/record deck setup, and recording standard-definition video onto a 3/4 inch videotape cassette.  We were able to record a whopping 30 minutes of two-channel audio and SD video (yes, in color!) onto a tape about the size of a small Gideon’s Bible.  Years later one-piece Betacams came along with a smaller 1/2 inch tape cassette, then even smaller DVCPro and mini-DV tape formats with smaller cameras.  Today you can record fairly decent HD video on a cell phone.

So now that we are digital and tapeless, what’s next?  My colleague Dan Presser and I where just discussing the “next big thing” in video production technology while getting coffee last week.  You see, the weak link in the whole video aquisition-input-edit-output chain has always been the time it takes to transfer recorded media into an editing system.  In most cases videotape has to transfer in real-time.  With digital, large HD files may take several minutes to copy onto a hard drive.  Sure, there are some costly solutions now available that will speed up the process.  But what about this – a field camera/recording system that moves recorded images live, wirelessly, and as they are being recorded right into an edit system!  Sound far-fetched?  Yeah, well so did recording HD video onto a playing card sized device way back in 1980.

A 3/4 inch videotape is much bigger than a P2 memory card.

Gregg Schieve, CEO and Founder

the flu sucks.

not just because you can’t eat, you’re puking and your fever is so high you can’t get comfortable. the flu sucks because it gives you too much time to think.

maybe it’s just me.  but whenever i’m sick or unable to sleep i obsess about stuff. trying to figure out how to do a project differently, maybe more creatively, maybe more efficiently.

some of my best thinking happens when i’m sick or sleepless. not that i’m encouraging people to get ill. but i do encourage, mostly myself, to just take a moment of quiet time. a moment to just let my body rest and my mind work.

might be easier if i just meditated.
i’ll have to think about that.

sandy just needs a minute to think about it.

sandy just needs a minute to think about it.

show it to me

Sandy shedding some light on the internets.

a friend pointed some research out to me… The Nielsen Norman Group, a consulting firm whose founder was deemed by the New York Times to be “the guru of Web page ‘usability,’” has done extensive research into what makes websites successful:  1)nothing higher than a sixth-grade reading level on the home page;  2)more “scannability” — highlighting, color-coding, bullet points; and  3)one idea per paragraph.

but maybe the most interesting bit was if you’re trying to reach young people – they don’t have the reading ability, patience or research skills to successfully complete what they set out to do online. kids now-a-days have a very different learning style. they don’t read, they watch – tv, youtube, web video.

my take-way (from reading all those words): the best way to reach your online audience? VIDEO.

no one, if you’re 8 or 80, wants to spend tons of time wading through a boatload of verbiage.  get my attention, get to the point and don’t waste my time.

we tried this experiment with the tweedee productions website. instead of a bunch of words, we did videos, lots of videos. we kept them short, interesting (in my opinion) and entertaining. we tried to eliminate as many written words as possible.

some of our clients have seen the light. they’ve started doing video newsletters instead of emailing newsletters full of words, articles and clip art. the vnl allows them to highlight their important industry news and map out articles of interest that drive clients to their website for all the details.

with the holiday season upon us…. instead of bogging up your snail mail with cards you’ll toss in the trash, we’re sending out this video greeting. no natural resources wasted. its short, sweet and filled with the spirit of the season.  happy holidays.

now if you’ll excuse me, i have to get back to my youtube.

It’s the people, stupid!

We just had an excellent initial meeting with a potential client here at Tweedee Productions.  As our meeting went on, I began to realize what a great team of people I work with.  I also realized that I didn’t have to do much during the meeting.  I was free to relax, listen to our new friends, react when I needed to, and not think that I had to “make” the sale in the end.  As many small business owners know, this is not always the case.  Usually the owner has to make the sale, perform the work, and then take out the trash at the end of the day.

When I first started out in business 12 years ago, I often thought that being a product driven business would be preferable to a service based one.  I thought that by selling a product I would see immediate results.  How many widgets did we sell today?  How full is the cash drawer?  How many customers came in today?  Immediate results.  Buy product – resell – buy more – repeat.  But, as we all know, selling a product is not always a guaranteed success.  Remember Circuit City anyone?

Tweedee Productions is a service based business.  As such, I’ve finally come to realize that what we sell (or what our customers buy) is “us”.  They buy “us” because we provide a unique service that’s not widely available for one thing.  They also buy “us” because of our unique talents and abilities.  But most importantly, I would suggest that they buy “us” for who we are as people.

It’s interesting to note that our potential client never asked about our technical capabilities – apparently not an issue for them.  I believe that first and foremost, they liked us as people.  Sure, we can provide whatever technology they need, that’s the easy part.  But the most important thing to them was working with a company that can tell their story.  That’s what we do best.  We are a company of individuals with strong storytelling skills and decades of combined video production experience – things that you can’t learn from a book or acquire from a software program.  We are also good people.  A big “thank you” to all of my co-workers for being as talented as you are.  Now it’s time to take out the trash.

The Tweedee Team

Gregg Schieve, Founder, CEO and guitarist, Tweedee Media Inc.

Viral Videos, Thanksgiving, & Turkey Testicles

Anyone who tells you that you need to make a “viral video” is not giving you good advice.  We’ve produced hundreds of videos here at Tweedee Productions and the only one that has truly gone “viral” did so by sheer luck.  A few years ago, we produced a short video feature about the annual Turkey Testicle Festival in Huntley, Illinois.  We posted the video to YouTube and it got about 200 hits in the two years it was up.  Then last November, some national blogger looking for something to write about leading up to Thanksgiving stumbled across our video and posted a link on their blog.  From there, the video started getting passed on, forwarded on, re-posted, etc.  Suddenly, I was receiving e-mails from people in Florida, California, and Colorado with links to our video.  The video has now been viewed more than 1.2 million times (truly a viral video with those kind of #’s).

But aside from posting it to YouTube, we’d done very little to promote this particular video.  In fact, most videos that go viral do so under similar circumstances to ours.  So basically, there is no guaranteed method to create a video that will go viral, and anyone who tells you they can help you make your video go viral is probably not leading you down the right path.

A true “viral video” is a rare phenomenon, but a video doesn’t have to go viral to be effective.  A recent video we produced about a new medical device is being distributed to a targeted audience of physicians and health care administrators.  Going viral would not necessarily benefit this particular company but showing the video to specific people with the means, the authority, and the need to purchase the device does provide a huge benefit.  The company just received FDA approval to officially sell their product.  However, they’ve been out showing the video to potential clients for almost two years so they’ve already laid the groundwork for a successful product launch.

However, if you still have your heart set on trying to create a viral video, just follow our successful blueprint:

1)      Tie your video into a National Holiday

2)      Feature people eating some sort of fried avian testicles

3)      Find a four-leaf clover

Mac