“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

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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…

Dan

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!

-Sarah

Sarah_Hesch_Photo

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

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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