Dangers of DYI Video

Here’s a story that might make you think twice about bargain bin video production. You are a business owner. You are excited about your business and want to tell everyone how great it is with a video. You just got finished watching the latest blockbuster film and want to do a comedic rendition using your business as the main attraction. Aliens versus vacuums anyone? Problem is, your video doesn’t have a $5 million budget, and you want to produce a feature length film. Cue nameless actors, first time directors and some guy that your cousin knows editing your film, and you’re left with a great idea and a poor product. Any of this sound familiar?

The financial dangers of DIY video productions are real, and they can very easily turn what would seem a good practice to save money, into a financial disaster. No one wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a video that they don’t want anyone to see. The hard part about making these decisions is that even amateur productions start out exciting and fun, but with poor planning and inexperienced talent, it will quickly turn into a frustrating experience. Fifteen takes later and you will start to realize the kind of trouble you are in.

On the corporate side of things, making a short and concise 2-5 minute video can be very challenging when you take into consideration all the important information you want to impress upon your potential clients. Most DIY videos are too long, ranging from 15 to 30 minutes, and in today’s fast paced world people usually start tuning out after a few minutes. That can hurt what your video is trying to accomplish, especially if you have important information toward the end. With clear and concise planning, storyboarding, and a professionally written script, your 2-5 minute video will entertain, inform, and make your clients eager to give you a call.

Now this is not to say that all professional videos have to cost double or triple what an amateur can do. While the cost will be more, you are paying for the peace of mind that they can make your ideas a reality, and will take the time to plan out the process with you. Storyboarding, production schedules, script writing, and trusted actors, these are only a few of the perks of dealing with companies that have experience and the resources to create a video you can be proud of. Every production is different and working on a budget that fits your needs will make the process a lot easier, and filled with less “surprises.”

As most production companies will tell you, there is a wide range of pricing you can expect for a “finished minute” of video. Anywhere from $1000 to $10,000 depending on how many actors, special effects, or animations you want. While this may seem like a huge difference in price you have to take into account the wide variety of options available to you. The sky really is the limit when you are talking about video production and experienced companies will walk you through the process and explain the cost and demands for each aspect of your project.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that your video will become the centerpiece of your business. Sacrificing professionalism to keep costs down could end up hurting your business’ reputation and discourage potential clients. No one will know that you had tight deadlines, strict budgets, and talent that never show up on time. They only see the video, and base all of their opinions of your business on whether it is interesting and entertaining.

Engaging the Modern Consumer

Whether your audiences are viewing content on air, online or on their mobile, advertising models need to adapt to consumer preferences. With up to 50% of TV ads being skipped and the negative reaction toward pre-roll advertising, brands are rethinking how to connect in a consumer-driven advertising world.

Egghead’s new Viewer Initiated Advertising model puts the viewer in control. They choose which products to engage with, giving them a personalized experience while watching an advertisement. Adding this level of engagement to brand videos increases the amount of views by 86%, a compelling reason to include interactivity rather than forced viewing. Interactive advertising offers many options – virtual stores, games, contests, coupons… the possibilities are endless. Check out our latest samples:
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These samples are just a few of the many potential uses for Viewer Initiated Advertising. Creating brand specific content with interactivity in mind is a powerful combination, and allows for brands to reach consumers in a new way. Contact the folks at Egghead and see how they can put interactivity to work for your brand.

Meaningless Measurements?

There is no denying that video ads are all over the internet. Surf the web for more than ten minutes and you are bound to run across a few video ads telling you about an upcoming product or a new finance option at your local Dodge dealer. It should come as no surprise that over $2 billion was spent on online video advertising last year, making it a viable contender to the once dominant TV advertising model. While many companies have a death grip on their TV advertising budgets, there are some that have begun the slow transition to online video ads.

It would be naïve to say online video ads will make TV obsolete, but one thing that the online market has going for it is the potential for interactivity. Currently, online video ads are measured by views or clicks (when applicable), which is a less than ideal situation. Companies are interested in targeting specific audiences, creating meaningful engagement, and being able to analyze a direct correlation between sales/spending and brand lift. The solution? Interactive entertainment with incentive advertising.

Creating a level of interactivity to an online video ad takes the consumer from being an observer to an active participant. Adding incentives into the interactivity not only motivates the consumer to participate, but will keep them coming back. This process creates an environment where consumers learn about products that pique their interest, and gives them a reward for their actions with exclusive deals. Now companies have a way to directly influence consumer behavior with time sensitive promotions for online or retail sales. More importantly, for each interactive product there is a way to track engagement, increasing the functionality of an online video advertisement. No longer are companies reliant on simple views or clicks. Each individual product can be tracked for level of engagement, how many different aspects of the product were engaged with, and even which parts of a product most consumers gravitate toward.

Below is a sample of an interactive online video with incentive advertising that showcases product placement in a sitcom. Each individual article of clothing can be interacted with and allows for a consumer to learn more or to purchase from a website. Not only does this form of interaction allow for individual tracking of items, it also will track how many purchases were made from watching the video.

The Essential Crew

As a commercial producer, it’s easy to make mistakes on your production when your forget to manage two elements; the possible fires and the professionalism of your crew. When a crew member is unprofessional, the poison becomes a domino effect. The most effective way you can manage the professionalism on set isn’t in how well you can play moderator or politician, but in how selective you are with your key crew members. It’s much easier to command a team of Captains rather than a whole army. So choosing Key players based on personality (and experience of course) may have a positive effect on the overall chemistry of the production crew.

For a short, small production like a commercial, you need to avoid as many minuscule obstacles, like egos and attitudes, as possible, since the most of your attention will be catering to the Agency representatives and clients that will be one set. If you need to put out a real fire, like dealing with permits, talent delays or location issues, the client will understand and respect you. However, if you are pulled away because your DP and your Key Grip are arguing on set, you will be guilty by association and frowned upon, having to excuse the “artists”.

So in a small way, you are playing match-maker, finding not who’s necessarily the best person for the job, but the best person for the production. The first key roll I lean on is my Production Manager. Once he or she is in place, I work with them on the selection of the Key Crew. A good PM will have a stable of key personnel that they have worked with in the past or comes from a strong referral. The more “like-minded” crew members the better!

Keep in mind, there IS money involved, so be professional, but always remember to enjoy the shoot…and your production will go much smoother!

Timed or item-based interactivity…

Is all interactivity the same? Not exactly. There are two different forms of interactivity. The first is relatively simple, wait X number of seconds and an image or ad pops up for viewers to interact with. This method is easily incorporated into any content, and consumers can watch the content or close the window to resume their video. While this method guarantees views on the ad, most viewers are eager to get back to watching content, rather than reading Why did they item pop up now and why did they interrupt my viewer experience with this unwanted message?

Item-based interactivity on the other hand is more complex to implement, but has numerous benefits over timed interactivity. Item based interactivity focuses on individual objects in the video that users can interact with. Do you like the jacket an actor is wearing? Interact with the item on screen to learn how much, where to get it, and if it is on sale. Interested in the features of a new car? Click on any part of the vehicle for more in-depth coverage of specifications, upgrades, or even dealer discounts. The possibilities are endless. Unlike timed based, item-based interactivity is not a static box, rather it moves and adjusts to fit the referenced content all through the video. Creating such a dynamic level of interaction gives the viewer total control over what they want to know, and allows for brands to see which products get the most attention.

Budgeting Video Production

There’s no question that the Internet has changed the way businesses communicate with their customers. Today, most companies are using a mix of digital media – which includes websites that feature video, YouTube, training videos, Facebook and more – with “traditional media” – that includes direct mail, print ads, brochures, radio and television and other media. If you’re new to producing materials for digital media – especially video, you may be wondering how to effectively budget for video production. Well, “Production 101” is designed to help guide you through the process. So read on!

Because video production can be complicated at times, the best way to approach this topic is to give you an analogy to work with. What seems to work for most people is comparing video production to renovating a house. Here’s why: if you ask how much a home renovation will cost, the answer is, “it depends.” Well, it’s the same with video production.

For the home renovation, the “it depends” goes back to how many square feet you have, what type of materials you want – granite, marble or tile, for example, how many different subcontractors will be involved – painters, tile people, floor refinishers, electricians, – well, the list goes on and on. As you can see, there really is no other answer for home renovation pricing than, “it depends.”

With video production, that “it depends” response relates to how long the finished video will be, what it will be used for – a TV commercial, training video, promotional video, uploaded to YouTube, etc. Pricing also depends on how many different people will be involved – whether or not there will be on-camera talent, makeup artists, hair stylists, set builders, multiple cameras, special effects, plus what types of cameras and equipment you’ll be using, whether or not it will be a studio or location shoot – this list goes on and on as well. So as you can see, there really is no other answer for video production pricing than, “it depends.”

In both cases, the key is quality. You don’t want shoddy craftsmanship when redoing a home, do you? Of course not! You don’t want an inexperienced plumber or electrician working on the infrastructure of your home, do you? Of course not!

With video production, quality is of paramount importance as well. You could just pop a camera on a tripod and hit the record button. But remember, the video is supposed to represent your company, and a camera on a tripod would be a pretty poor representation of your brand.

While “quality” has many different meanings, when it comes to video production it easy to define: you want a professional, compelling video that people will want to watch, and is a video that represents your business in a positive way. The key is “professional” – people today are used to seeing TV commercials that cost upwards of $200,000; the reality is that they’re not going to watch your video if all you have to show them is a video shot from a camera perched on a tripod with a person talking.

One of the keys to creating a professional quality video is having a basic understanding the production process. If you’ve ever been to a commercial production shoot, you’ve seen lots of people working on the set. They’re all there for a reason: you might see a director, producer, makeup artist, lighting director, camera operator, audio personnel, grips, well – the list goes on and on.

There are three phases to producing a video: pre-production – where you decide on the concept and all the content; production – where you actually bring together all of the elements and people and shoot the video; and post-production, where you edit and enhance the video into a finished product.

Just as there are three phases to producing a video, there are three keys to determining how much a video will end up costing. They are: time, tools and talent. Time – could mean how long the video production will be, or how long it will take to actually shoot and edit the video. Tools include elements like what kind of stage you’ll need; how many and what type of cameras will be used, whether you want a crane shot or a moving dolly shot; what type of editing system will be needed for specific special effects – and so on. Talent relates to all the people involved in the production. This includes the director, an on-camera talent or voiceover, actors, set builders, cameraman, hair stylists and makeup artists – this list can on and on as well! And as you’ve probably guessed by now – the more time, tool and talent you put into a video, the more it will cost.

When it comes to producing a video, the first rule of thumb is: if you’re not an expert in video production – hire one. You’ll end up saving a lot of money over the course of production, because experienced production personnel know how to manage costs. Remember our home renovation analogy? You would hire a general contractor to manage the people and locate and purchase all the materials, right? Well, it’s the same with video production.

A good production company has all the assets you’ll need for almost any type of production, so it’s a good use of your money to hire one. They’re the “general contractor” for your video production. Of course, you need to hire the right one – one that knows its way around corporate videos, commercial productions, training videos – in fact, they should have in-depth experience in whatever type of video that you’re planning to produce.

The production company will determine who to use as a director or cameraperson on your shoot based on your budget. They can also recommend ways to shoot a concept that will reduce your costs. The fact is they have the knowledge and expertise to do it – and do it right. The last thing you want is to find a hobbyist or inexperienced company producing your video. Remember, this video is going to be a representation of your company. Do you really want a novice getting on the job training on your project!

Everything starts with a script and a concept. It’s not simply a matter of taking copy from a brochure and converting it to a video. It has to be conversational and keep viewers’ attention, while flowing from one scene to the next. Your concept could be as simple as “I want a video that shows why we’re better than the competition.” But even with something so basic, you need to produce a video that does a great job of executing that concept. You need to create a video that people will want to watch.

Another key tool is a storyboard. This is where you actually map out the action that will happen on camera; determining camera angles, how sets will look, where the talent will stand, etc. This is one place you can change things around to help lower production costs – before you begin shooting!

Once the script and storyboard are approved, you begin the pre-production planning. You’ll determine talent, where to shoot it, whether or not you need to build a set, if a makeup artist or hairstylist is required, how many support people are needed, what type of music you’ll use, whether or not you need special graphics – and on and on. This is where the production company comes into play – they’ve “been there, done that.” So they’ll help guide you through this maze.

All of those elements are called “production values” – and each one plays a role in the overall quality of your production. Each one also plays a key role in your overall budget as well, so you have to decide which elements are critical to the video and which ones you can do without.

Ok, you’ve done your homework. You’ve gone through script rewrites, picked the talent, approved the storyboards and hired the right production company. You’ve balanced all the time, tools and talent variables into a workable budget.

Now you’re ready to shoot!

After you’ve done all the preparation, all the planning and all the hard work, the shoot went well. But you’re not done yet. Because after you’ve made all the decisions; shot the video and sent your talent packing – it’s time to edit.

Editing is where the magic happens. Editing is where you bring all of your production elements together. Here’s where you add visual effects, tweak the color, add graphics, sweeten the audio, add music and sound effects, create amazing scene transitions – this list goes on and on as well. This is where you turn your raw video into a compelling, unique video that people will want to watch.

Ok, you’re almost ready to graduate from “Production 101.” Just one thing remains – how to best answer the ongoing question of, “how much will it cost? Unfortunately, there’s no secret formula. There are some general guidelines, but as with everything else you buy, you get what you pay for. And the more production values you want in your video, the more it’s going to cost you.

Here are some rules of thumb to help you when budgeting for quality video production: if you’re planning a training or corporate video, costs can range from $1500 – $4500 per minute. So if you were planning to put together a 5-minute video – that video would cost you anywhere form $7500 to $22,500. Sure, there is probably a local videographer who can throw a video together for $2500, but nobody will want to watch it. And it won’t reflect positively on your company. So don’t waste your money!

Television commercials can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 and up. And on national commercials, the “and up” can run up to several hundred thousand dollars. But everything is relative, and often a variety of compromises can be made to produce videos that meet your budget parameters.

Remember, the best thing you can do to keep your costs down is to bring in an experienced production company. They know their way around production, and will be able to provide you with money-saving advice along the way.

Video Drives Down Cost for IT

It’s happening all over corporate America, and it’s changing the way IT departments are helping and training company employees. That’s because IT departments are now using video as an integral part of doing business. And with the overwhelming success of video, it’s anything but business as usual.

Each and ever IT department has it’s own network, computer setup and firewall protocols, and it can be overwhelming for new employees to become indoctrinated to a new way of using IT. It can also be overwhelming for the company to train new hires and update existing employees each and every time system upgrades are made and new procedures are introduced. Enter video training!

Video training for IT departments can save a company a huge amount of money. Employees no longer have to attend training meetings; IT managers no longer have to travel to outlying offices for training, and the new information is made immediately available to all employees of a company. To make it easier to consider how to use videos for training, we’ve put together a list of the “top ten uses for training videos for IT departments and management.’

1. Security procedures can be easily taught using video training. The video can show how to prevent unauthorized access, protect data from being removed from the computer and other cyber security protocols.
2. Solving problems – a call to the IT department to fix a computer issues costs money and prevents work from being completed – often for long periods of time. A training video on how to troubleshoot minor problems will eliminate the need for many “routine” calls for help from the IT department.
3. “How to” training videos are basically unlimited; “how to remotely log in, how to print from remote computers, how to use a LAN while protecting company data” are just a few examples of the types of training videos you can add to your training library. Once produced, these can be delivered via DVD, CD or on the Intranet.
4. Introducing an upgrade or new operating system to the company? Training videos are the most economical way to showcase the system’s new features and ways to maximize productivity using the new software.
5. Certifications and IT designation study programs are perfect uses for video training and supplemental teaching, without having to disrupt an employee’s regular work schedule. Each employee can learn at his or her own pace and set their own schedule for using the videos to earn new certifications. Microsoft, Cisco and CompTIA training are just several examples of this type of training.
6. Software upgrades are another opportunity to use video training modules. Rather than trying to coordinate company-wide training groups each time a software update is issued, training modules can be inexpensively produced and disseminated to showcase the software upgrade’s main features. This is another key area of cost-savings for companies, as software training videos help eliminate many calls to the help desk.
7. Now that mobile devices like smart phones and iPads are in wide use, training videos on how to incorporate those devices into the overall IT workflow are being used. Some companies are also doing training videos on specific apps that relate to workflow in specific departments.
8. Wireless networking and server training can be taught by video training modules, eliminating the need for many classroom hours of employees’ and instructors’ time.
9. As more and more companies are implement a “work from home” environment for many employees, virtual computing is becoming more important. Training videos for Citrix and other virtual computing protocols help employees and IT professionals harness the power of this emerging industry trend.
10. Legal compliance with computer usage is one of the industry “hot buttons” right now, and companies are conducting training on what is permissible and what is now with respect to email, web use and other aspects of computer use. Training videos that focus on your company’s policies can help prevent problems while protecting the company from improper use down the road.

There are many other uses for video training by the IT department. Obviously, the most available training mechanism for IT departments is the Intranet. Nothing needs to be installed on employee computers, and the training can be managed to be available at the individual employee’s convenience.

It’s also easy to set up and record who has gone through which training module, how long they took and perhaps record the results of a test. Obviously this helps you maintain individuals’ training records and can be very useful where there is a legal obligation to provide certain training – safety or regulated financial products, for example.

With a little thought, you’ll probably come up with more ideas of your own.

Compelling Promo Scripting

Congratulations! You’ve decided to create a marketing video, and you’re the one who is in charge of getting it done. You’re pumped up and ready to go. Just one thing – do you know how to actually go about “getting it done?”

Relax. It’s not as hard as it sounds. There are some basic things to remember and several key steps to take when putting together a video. First, keep in mind that you’re telling a story with your video. People will be willing to invest their time watching your video – and in return all they ask is that they be entertained. Don’t bore them to death with a bunch of facts that drone on and on. Give people a bit of the “what”- just do it in small doses. It’s far more important to tell people that your product or service is designed to solve a problem than how long it is or what color it is. People want to know about solutions!

The most important thing is to be sure to have a “hook.” This is critical! People like to be engaged in what they’re watching. It doesn’t matter if your video is about a production process or a new computer system technology; you still have to engage your audience. Think about television commercials – something has to grab your attention and get you engaged, or you’re going to start pushing buttons on your remote faster than you can say, “boring.”

Next, remember that the people watching your video are going to ask themselves, “what’s in it for me?’ It’s human nature. So be preemptive. Tell them why they should care! Use quantifiable numbers like, “This will help reduce your sales cost by 50%.” Or, “By using our new software, you’ll only have to reorder every three months instead of every two.” Whatever benefit you have to sell, tell it directly and whenever possible use numbers to support your statements.

Think about exciting visuals to go with your story. Remember, video is a visual medium – sights and sounds. So you have to think visually as well. Show viewers how to solve problems as well as tell them. Retention of important points will be much higher, and they’ll remember your video long after they’ve watched it.

Finally, think about the call to action you desire. Do you want people to visit your website? Do you want them to call for more information? Tell them! And don’t be shy about asking for the order. As much as you’re hoping to solve a problem and tell a story, you’re there for one reason: to sell. Never lose sight of that fact.

Producing an effective video that engages your audience and actually does what you’d like it to do takes time and a good deal of effort. If it all sounds too complicated, don’t despair. Just bring in a good video production company to work with you and let them guide you every step of the way. After all, that’s what they do best!

Live action or animited video?

While the lines are blurring between animation and live action in the movies, when it comes to corporate videos there’s a clear distinction between the two types of video. Live action involves actors, a studio, lighting experts and a crew. Animation can be done simply or as part of a complex process and requires a voice talent. Both are effective, but which one is better for your company or organization?

The answer is, “it depends.”

Live action using a spokesperson helps to build a relationship with customers and potential customers. The spokesperson becomes part of the company’s “brand,” and over time will be recognizable as being associated with the company. Spokespeople are being used on training videos, web videos, sales and educational videos. By using a consistent style of animation, it too can become part of the company’s brand over time.

Animation can be as basic as a stick figure or as complex as computer generated animation. It all depends on available budget. Basic animation videos are now being used as “explainer videos,” where complex concepts are shown using visuals as a voice over explains the action on screen.

Budgets for both live action and animation can run the gamut from inexpensive to expensive. Both require concept development, script writing, and experience professionals to bring the finished product to conclusion. The use of a spokesperson is indicated when you’re trying to develop a rapport with your audience, using the warmth, humor or acting ability of the presenter.

Animation is often used when to explain a complex process or concept to an audience, where visuals can support the explanation. The visuals can be anything from basic pencil drawings to layered computer graphics. Most web and explainer videos are usually two minutes in length or less, but education or training videos can be whatever length is required to accurately convey the information.

Whether you’re planning on using a live action or animated video to disseminate your information, the first step is to bring in a company with the expertise to handle your needs. Unless you have experience, or have someone on staff who knows how to concept, script and produce either a video or animation, bringing in outside expertise is the best thing you can do to ensure your project will be a success.

Use of Animated Explainer Videos

Have a complicated subject or a product that requires demonstration? As the famous Ricky Ricardo used to say to Lucille Ball, “you’ve got some explaining to do.” And nothing does it better than an animated explainer video.

Whether you’re trying to explain a concept to a diverse audience or you have a service or product that you’re trying to sell, animated explainer videos provide a fun, unique and powerful way to explain things on a very cost effective basis. They offer you a compelling way to explain things using a step-by-step approach, and engage viewers, which means that you’re more likely to keep the viewers’ attention.

Explainer videos are extremely effective on websites getting people to move to action (like sign up for something) or request additional information. Some studies show that using an explainer video results in a 50 to 70 percent increase in customer conversions – a remarkable increase. And another study has shown that 24% of people who watch explainer videos on a website make a purchase after watching them.

As the attention span of audiences shrink thanks to the Internet and YouTube mentality, explainer videos fill a niche by providing a short, fast explanation to target audiences and help to raise the online visibility of a company. Explainer videos are usually one- to two-minutes long and use text, graphics sounds and moving images to provide a movie-like effect for viewers.

The process of producing an animated explainer video starts with a concept, followed by a script and storyboard. A voice-over is recorded and then video production is completed. The cost depends on the amount of production values and the complexity of the animation.

Considering the wide acceptance, low cost and excellent results using animated explainer videos, there’s no reason not to incorporate them into almost every marketing strategy.