:: Video Production Process ::
Stage One: Pre-Production
One key to producing a good video is planning!
Just like great buildings, movies and videos are all first made on paper. We start off with a concept development session, which leads to scripting ideas. The script will be a complete blueprint for the production and editing / post-production of the video (or radio commercial) project. It describes every visual and audio element just as an architect’s plans specify every detail of a building. As experts, we prefer to write your script with your input and approval. Allow time for us to get the script right and have every aspect of planning and pre-production covered, planning everything well ahead of time and leaving nothing to chance. Solving problems on the set with the clock ticking is not a situation you want to be in, especially since pre-production rates are cheaper than production and post-production rates. We’ll seek your input, constructive criticisms and suggestions on each new script or offline edit master.
Some of the elements in this pre-production stage include: researching information, finding locations or designing and building a set, hiring actors or hosts, locating any props needed, getting the voice over talent lined up, arranging testimonials or interviewees, and anything else we can think of to get prepared for the actual production stage. Also, know that it’s always good to feed the crew working on your video project, or at least have some snacks and water handy depending on how long the production takes. Minds are sharper when tummies are full!
The length of your video is another element that is determined in the script. Most TV commercials are 30 seconds and radio spots are typically 60 seconds long. In marketing videos, always remember that shorter is better. Like an effective TV commercial, your video should be clear, concise, and compelling. Try to keep it between 5 – 8 minutes. Save more detailed information for a printed fact sheet. If you are making an informational video think of breaking it up into sections where your viewers can pause and come back to it when they have time.
Learn from the best. Study the best TV commercials and marketing videos that promote a similar product or service to the one you’re promoting. Adapting the styles and techniques of others is a time-honored tradition in filmmaking. Just don’t infringe copyrights by reproducing any of the content of other videos. One successful technique that is easily adapted to the budget conscious video is a series of short testimonials. Rather than hiring actors, it’s better to ask satisfied customers why they like your company. The scripting process in this case would include questions to prompt the interviewees. The responses will later be logged and arranged in to a script after the video is shot.
If you have attractive publicity photos, consider using them in the video. Some very effective videos have been constructed entirely from still photographs. We also have a high-quality digital still camera and professional photographer that can capture great still photos if desired.
If international distribution is a possibility, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to produce a foreign language version when the English version uses an off-camera narrator and text testimonials rather than people who speak on-camera.
Special effects and cool animations are fun to watch, but they can be expensive and time-consuming to produce. Make sure this “eye candy” contributes to the sales or informational message and is not too cluttered or confusing. Too much information on the screen can be difficult to read because the text must be smaller.
We can also take the graphic elements and/or logo we produce for your video and create your brochures, website, letterhead, business cards, postcards, or any print, publications or promotional items you need to coincide with your marketing efforts. For more information about the graphic design process, see the next chapter.
A professional narrator, sound effects and just-the-right music are essential. We have a royalty free music and sound effects library and a database full of local and national voice over talents to choose from. Voice over talent fees typically start at $100 per finished minute but the price range depends on the talent and length of the script.
How do I identify the audience?
Since the audience is the only reason to make a video, it’s very important to define the target audience including their perceptions, concerns, and aspirations. Some areas to target that you can identify are: genders, age ranges, lifestyles, income levels, geographic areas, cultural backgrounds, homeowners vs. renters, and occupations… just to name a few. Then list a few main benefits – show how your company can solve problems, save money, or improve the lives of this target audience. Every element in the video must build on these benefits rather than merely describing the features of a product or service. Consider a call to action based on your targeted demographic. Make it time sensitive, or offer up something they just can’t refuse! It is very important to identify what motivates your targeted audience and we can study their profiles to match your marketing message. You could reach Mom on Oprah, Dad on ESPN, the teenage son on MTV, and Grandpa on the Weather Channel, just to name a few examples.
How do I get my message out there?
Commercial advertising is a careful balance. It is part art, part science. Television is simple, powerful, and everyone watches it. Studies show that the average household has the TV on a remarkable seven to nine hours each day. It’s not an overstatement to say that television is the central most important media in many of your prospects’ lives.
When companies have incredible amounts of money to burn –they don’t need Direct Response TV or radio. They can carpet bomb the stations, spending money like madmen, buying any time slots for any price, reaching anyone, without concern for immediate results. Few companies have that kind of money. If you want to make the most of your budget, you can’t be so hasty. You have to buy smartly, strategically, cheaply, and you need results. You need direct response television and/or radio.
We will plan the distribution of the commercial before we produce it. We can put together a media buying plan with strategic placements on a variety of media channels. After identifying your target market we can get the reach and frequency through conducting a media audit. Based on Nielsen or Arbitron ratings as well as other statistical data, the media audit can provide us with invaluable information. Based on our research we can examine current ratings and programming on specific stations and then match your targeted demo with the local, regional and/or national programs all according to your media buy budget. Without a good media buyer and a smart media strategy, you could blow your entire budget faster than you can say, “How much does it cost to be on during American Idol?” Let’s face it: you are not Coca-Cola (if you are, call us at 208-461-5070). You do not have money to burn. If you did, you would be out on a cruise right now instead of looking for a new ad agency.
Like most companies, you need to be smart with your advertising dollars; but the one area where so many companies go wrong is media buying. They either try saving money by placing commercials themselves (which rarely saves money in the end), or they go with a media buyer that promises an obscenely low commission rate and then doesn’t deliver an effective strategy. It’s important to reach your intended audience and we can help make that a reality through our years of experience in this industry.
A marketing video can be shown at trade shows as an “endless loop” and used in one-on-one meetings. Plus we can place your video on your website using a variety of different formats, such as; Windows Media Player, QuickTime and even high quality Flash Video. We can author a DVD or CD-ROM of your video for presentation to anyone in your target audience. One nice effect is to pass out business card sized CD-ROMs or mini DVDs. We can design a nice label with your contact info, company logo, etc and have it digitally printed on the top of the disc. with all your contact info, your company’s logo, etc.
CD-ROMs do have a video file size restriction. On the smaller CD-ROMS we can effectively fit 2-3 minutes of higher quality video, 3-5 minutes of smaller quality. A DVD can hold up to 2 hours, although we don’t recommend making a two hour video unless it’s for training or information purposes (or a full length movie). We recommend mastering the DVD with a full motion menu and chapters for the convenience of your viewers.
Just remember a widely distributed video helps you get more business. Adding words like “Send for Free Video” to advertisements and other marketing venues will increase the effectiveness of the video.
We can also inform the press about your marketing or informational video. This type of video is typically called a “VNR” or Video News Release. We can send every appropriate local or national journalist a well-written press release with information about your business and a copy of the video. This can help promote your business through public relations. Consider doing something newsworthy for your video.
There are no guarantees that it will land on the 5 o’clock news, but sometimes the efforts can certainly pay off. If they use it great, if not they will have it for future file video usage.
Stage Two: Production
It’s not unusual to shoot a scene or record the audio several times. We do this to capture different angles for cut away shots, and to ensure the best take from the actors or scenarios if necessary. When filming, we’ll always shoot a lot of close-up shots. On TV they are generally more compelling than wide shots; however, we do get Medium Close-Ups (MCUs) and wide shots/establishing shots as well. ECU means Extreme Close-Ups.
It’s always best to shoot in a more controlled environment, allowing you to take the necessary time for proper adjustments to lighting, actor/interviewee positioning, the set and many other esthetics. Sometimes shooting live will not result in the most desired outcome and then you don’t have the chance to re-do the scenario.
Also, know that some scenes may be shot out of sequence. The purpose of this is to be more time efficient while on the set. It’s a lot easier to set up and shoot all lines given from the same position (even from different parts of the script) before switching everything for the next. For example, having to move the lights to the same spot a dozen times takes a lot longer than if you just shoot those dozen scenes in that same setting.
Some of the equipment we use during the production stage includes:
– 3,000 sq. ft studio – Find Rental Rates
– 20’ x 20’ green cyc wall
– 20′ x 14′ white cyc wall
– Panasonic HPX370 P2 HD Camera
– Canon 5D Mark iii DSLR
– Canon EOS 7D SLR – 18.0 Megapixel Digital Camera
– 2 x Sachtler tripods
– 2x Arri 1k Fresnels with Softboxes
– 2x Kino Flo Lights – 1x 4 bank – 1x 2 bank
– Full Lowel light kit with 5 Omnis (optional softboxes for each), 750w Tota & 250w Pro Light, with gels and diffusers
– 2 x Dynaphos 500 watt lights with softboxes
– Multiple Jib Arms (Cranes)
– Full Size Dolly
– Door-Way Dolly
– 2 x Shotgun Mics w/fish poles
– Shure SM58 Stick Mic
– 4 Wireless microphone systems
– Sony Wired Lavaliere microphone
– 2 Portable green screens
– Portable teleprompter
Stage 3: Post-Production
Be sure to keep involved in the editing process just as you did in the scripting process! The first step in the post-production stage is logging the footage. You can leave it up to us, or review the footage yourself, recording the time code of the sections you’d like used from a DVD copy of the raw footage. This can save you money and you are at liberty to pick out what you consider the best clips of each scene from the script. We then take the raw footage tapes and digitally capture all of those time coded clips that were logged and put them into our non-linear computer editing system. This allows us to arrange the clips in the proper order according to the script.
With the rough cut produced we can then use After-Effects to create the motion graphics and reinforce elements such as your name, logo, address, phone number, and slogan.
Like script writing, good editing makes a major difference in how successful the video is for you. It’s important to keep the show moving and always directed to the most important viewer – your customers. Ruthlessly eliminate anything that’s
weak. Remember, shorter marketing videos are generally better than longer ones.
How much will it cost?
• It is customary to put 50% down of the estimated cost in order to book your shoot and edit dates. Realize it’s an ESTIMATED cost based on our time and services provided. Any additional costs and time spent will be pre-approved by you. Change requests also take extra time and will be assessed accordingly. Also, note that expediting a work order incurs additional fees as well.
• First time media buy clients are also required to put half down on the media buy, otherwise the media buy is generally NET 30 of the airdates. Note, if your company is a bar, restaurant or you haven’t been in business for more than two years, expect to pay for the media buy in full up front for at least the first buy. Also, know that it is advantageous to use an ad agency such as ours for media buying; we are able to get better rates since we buy in bulk. The media audit is unbiased to any station, therefore your commercials will be effectively placed on any number of stations, rather than just one.
• Any duplication and disc printing has to be approved and paid prior to the production run.
• Your video could take 5 to 50 hours or more to shoot & edit depending on the scope of the project. Our goal is to transform the raw footage into an exceptional marketing tool for your business.
We have invested a lot in our equipment, training and experience and continuously expand with the new technologies released yearly. Unlike a Hollywood movie, we generally wear multiple hats while working on your project to cover all of these jobs:
• lighting technician
• sound person
We perform all of these jobs well in order to produce the video that you hope for and deserve.
Pricing varies depending on services offered and time spent, but can easily range from $2,500 to $50,000 or even more depending on your media buy and distribution. We meet with you to discuss what it will take to produce your perfect video and advertising campaign. Our goal is to serve up high quality digital spice…at a reasonable price!
It’s very difficult to estimate a price without knowing the scope of your project. We encourage you to contact us to discuss your video desires and budget.
:: Graphic Design Process ::
Stage One: Pre-Production
What type of graphic design do you need?
Graphic design is a broad service. Simply stated, graphic design is making anything visual beautiful. Still a little vauge? Graphic design covers the following:
• Business Cards
• Annual Reports
• Company Manuals
• Brand Standards
• Book Covers
• CD/DVD Covers
• Website Pages
• Online Newsletters
• Web Banners
• Flash Design