“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…

Thanks,

Mac

Mac Chorlton

“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

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

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

The Value of Online Video

I read a recent study that showed 0% of internet users would be willing to pay to use Twitter.  I don’t use Twitter myself, but with all the talk out there about Twitter these days, I was quite surprised to see that even those who use it don’t really see any value in it.

Establishing value is an important tenet in any business so here are some simple valuation points for our business:  Website video and professional video production services

1)    Video combines sight, sound, motion, and emotion to provide the most optimum format of communication.

2)    Video is a great way to introduce yourself or explain a complex issue in understandable terms.  Given the choice, most folks would prefer to watch a two-minute video instead of slogging through pages of text on a website or PDF.

3)    Video provides  a great avenue to engage your prospective clients and stay on your website longer.  People search the web for information on products and services they want to buy.  Video allows you to present information about those products and services in a more accessible format.

4)    Better communication with your customers and clients leads to other benefits.  Product videos can help increase sales and online video has also been shown to reduce return rates for retailers by 60%.  If a customer can see the development of a product, its features, how it works, etc. before they buy it, then that decreases the potential for wanting to return the product once they actually purchase it.

5)    On-line video can be repurposed to use in sales presentations, trade shows & conferences, events, investor relations, television commercials, website pre-roll ads, in-store video, etc.

6)    Three out of four respondents reported watching some type of short, professionally produced videos online regularly (Online Media Daily, June 2010)

7)    You can share videos.  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.

8)    You can drive people to your website by sharing links to your video in your company newsletter, your press releases, and your Social Networking sites (including Twitter!!!).  The more places you post your video the more people you expose to your message.

9)    Mobile video continues to grow and will only get more popular as more and more people begin to use SmartPhones and other mobile devices like the iPad.

10)  Video is awesome!!!

Mac

How’s Bidness?

Business has slowed down a bit for us in the last few weeks.  After a fairly robust spring for Tweedee Productions, I fear that the lazy days of summer are upon us.  You know how it goes.  The client who says they’re moving forward with a project doesn’t get back to you for weeks because they’ve been on vacation and their boss has been on vacation and the guy making the ultimate decision has been on a remote island in the Pacific “finding” himself. 

When business is slow I unfortunately and unfairly tend to blame myself.  I start to think about unrealistic things like we should be “doing something” about business being slow.  We should react…how?  We need to…what?   

In reality there’s not much I can do.  Business usually happens on its own schedule regardless of when we need it to happen.  Obviously, all businesses need to react and adapt to a changing economy.  If they don’t they won’t be around for long.  But, some experts will tell you that it’s easy to over-react for the sake of “doing something”.  In our last economic downturn many well-known corporations slashed their workforce in response to a bad quarter, laying off talented and experienced people, only to find business improve a few quarters later. 

Believe me, we have felt the effects of the great recession of 2009 here at Tweedee Productions.  I’m not minimizing the economic events of the last couple of years nor our response to them.  But it’s easy to over-react when business “gets a little slow” given the backdrop of the financial world in 2009.  I have to remind myself that we’re in this for the long haul – keep a steady hand on the rudder. 

We’re fairly lean at Tweedee to begin with.  We’ve got the “right people on the bus”, to quote business guru Jim Collins.  The talented team of individuals we have in place is essential for providing our clients with the high degree of service they’ve come to expect.  We need to be confident that our approach is the correct one, that there will always be economic storms, and we will be able to ride them out. 

I just need to relax and enjoy the summer.  Besides, business will pick up.  Right? 

Oscar knows how to relax.

Gregg Schieve, CEO and Founder Tweedee Media Inc. 

Telling the Story

My husband is a big fan of the Discovery Channel’s show MythBusters.  We don’t have cable, but he recently discovered he can watch some episodes instantly through Netflix.  So he’s been watching MythBusters.  And on occasion, I watch along with him.

I, too, like the show, though not quite as much as he does.  If you’ve never watched it, allow me to bring you up to speed.  MythBusters sets out to either bust or confirm various myths or urban legends.  According to the website: “Hosted by Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage — and co-hosted by Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara — the MYTHBUSTERS mix scientific method with gleeful curiosity and plain old-fashioned ingenuity to create their own signature style of explosive experimentation.”  I like the show because they investigate some pretty interesting topics, but even more than that, they tell a great story.  Each episode starts with an explanation of the myth or myths that will be explored and ends with a summary of what conclusions can be drawn from their experimentation.  Often, as they are investigating a myth, they will get sidetracked, and on rare occasions, someone will fully investigate the tangent, leaving the rest of the team to explore the original myth.

I came across an interview with the two main MythBusters, Adam and Jamie, this morning, and I was surprised when they referred to telling a good story.  After all, these guys are just trying to prove or disprove some urban legends, right?  Here’s the excerpt:

Sometimes, it seems like what you wind up investigating isn’t the same thing you were originally testing. For instance, testing skunk-smell removal methods wound up being as much about trying to get skunks to spray you in the first place as it was about how to rid yourself of skunk smells. How much do you veer off onto different paths when they come up?

Adam: Well, you’ve honed in on what I think is the single most favorite part, for both me and Jamie, about doing the show. Which is that the narrative really is guided by what we’re interested in determining. And that is also informed by our desire to answer the original question we set out to answer, but if there are other things along the road that help to illuminate something for us, we’ll absolutely make sure that gets into the episode. And that’s fantastic, because it’s not like you’re leaving a bunch of stuff along the wayside that you’d like to be tackling; we’re tackling all of that.

Jamie: It does, however, cause a bit of a conflict here from time to time. In particular, I’m notorious among the staff here for being much more interested in the little side trips that we run across than the central story, and we have to be able to tell a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and is relevant. So production’s not about to let us just get halfway through something and then do something else.

So it does highlight the fact that that is, really, often the most interesting part of what we’re doing, is the little tangents on the side.

Both of them say that they’re telling a story in each episode and with each investigation.  In case you missed it, Adam says, “the narrative really is guided by what we’re interested in determining,” and Jamie adds, “we have to be able to tell a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.”  Jamie goes on to say that “production’s not about to let us just get halfway through something and then do something else.”

I think it’s great that they are aware of the story they are telling.  And they allow themselves to get off track without venturing too far.  Or rather, they trust their production team to keep them on track, telling the story they started to tell.  That’s what a good production team does: it lets you tell your own story by helping you figure out what story you want to tell and then making sure you don’t start telling a different one.

Those MythBusters guys are so funny!

OK! I talked me into it!

Well, I took the plunge.  I made the leap.  I threw all common sense to the wind and got a smart phone.  A SMART PHONE!  It makes me feel smart just to say the name – Droid Eris.  “Why yes, I have the Droid Eris.”  

But, will it make me smarter?  Will I work and live smarter?  It’s only A PHONE!  

I don’t need a smart phone.  In renewing our cell phone contract, I could have gotten a new, simple, easy to use cell phone.  But then, I don’t need an electric garage door opener either.  But it is sure nice to have when it’s pouring rain or the temperature is 20 below!  

So I talked myself into it.  Really, once I heard my arguments for getting one, I was convinced.  With more and more ways to watch video either on the internet or on mobile devices, I need to understand video delivery technology.  I need to understand what the buzz is all about.  After all, Tweedee Productions is in the video content production business.  I better know how all this stuff works.  

Mac Chorlton, our business development guy, has had a Blackberry for a couple of years now.  He understood the potential right away.  I remember the day he got it – he was all excited.  He explained how quickly and easily he could show someone one of our videos at a networking or sales event.  Image that you’re at a cocktail party and someone asks you what your company does.  You get that “why, I’m glad you asked me” smile on your face as you whip out your smart phone and play for them a short video that explains your product or service in three minutes or less.  Brilliant!  Instant emotional connection. 

Now, if I could only figure out what this button does…  

Gregg Schieve trying to figure out his new smart phone.

Photo-A-Day

I’ve created a monster.  OK, I knew what I was getting into, sort of.  I did it anyway.  What was I thinking?  It was supposed to be simple.  The good thing is, I’ve managed to keep it that way and to have fun.   

January 12, 2010

 It all started innocently enough.  I wanted a still camera that would take a decent picture, and that I could take with me where ever I went.  I love all the bells and whistles that come with my Nikon D300, but I wanted something simple without all of the complications of a big SLR system.  Simply put, I wanted more shooting, less thinking.  So, shortly after Christmas, I braved the post holiday, big-box store crowds and picked up a Sony Cyber-shot point and shoot camera.  My plan was to be ready to shoot at all times.  Simple= See + Shoot.  However, me being me, I was unable to leave well enough alone.  So I decided to complicate my plan.  On New Years Day 2010, I decided to shoot and post a daily photo on my Facebook page for the entire year.  365 photos.  Photo-A-Day was born.   

January 7, 2010

 As the New Year began I realized that Photo-A-Day would need rules.  None of this shooting-200-images-willy-nilly-until-I-got-the-right-shot approach.  I would be disciplined.  Using my trusty Cyber-shot, I would be limited to shooting a maximum of five images a day.  If I got my shot early, say in the first two images, I was done.  I would strive for an interesting photo, but not hike five miles into the woods to capture a great sunset.  In other words, I would keep my eyes open for a good shot in my day-to-day life.  The image would be posted on my Facebook page on the day it was shot with no explanation of the photo, simply the date it was taken.   

January 17, 2010

 Sounds simple, right?  Well, mostly.  The difficult part has been finding an interesting photo on a daily basis.  Sure, it was easy the last few days when I was vacationing in Florida.  But, on days like today when I’m stuck in the office, it is a bit more challenging.  Sometimes photo opportunities present themselves, other times I have to work at creating them.  Ultimately, I would like Photo-A-Day to help me keep my photographic vision sharp, to be aware of photographic moments, to enjoy photography, and, best of all, to always be ready to experiment and be spontaneous in my approach.  Snap.  As of this writing, only 347 more photos to go.   

Gregg Schieve

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