Video production and the missing tripod

Our latest video productions and the case of the missing tripod

We’re doing a video production and shooting an interview later this week for a local client, but we needed cutaway shots from their Salt Lake City facility. But we had another shoot today and so had to make the SLC turn within one day. The shoot went well, right up until the time that we found out that the airline left our camera tripod in SLC. Airlines… can’t live with ’em; can’t live without ’em!

this video production tripod is missing

Where did this tripod go?

 

 

Web video — why you need it, conclusion

So now that you know that you MUST get a web video on your company website and other sites as well, who should you work with?

Penrose Productions has been in the exclusive business of video production for companies in Northern California since 1981.  We have earned numerous national awards, and have been hired by ocal companies to literally travel around the U.S. and the world to create video productions for them.
But not only do we have over 30 years of expertise to share, first on tape and now on web video.  We have a stellar reputation for being easy to work with, and have even received a perfect rating from an independent business quality auditing service.  In fact, when the service polled our past clients and asked “If you need the services of a video production company in the future, would you call or recommend Penrose Productions?” 100% of our clients surveyed said “YES!”

In addition, Penrose Productions does something that no other video production company does (that we know of, anyway!)  It’s our GUARANTEE.  Simply put, if you’re not happy with the work we do for you, you no NOT pay.  This applies even when the work is custom!  No fine print.  We’re just that confident that we can satisfy you. 

Partnering with Penrose Productions for your web marketing videos will allow you to communicate your important story and bring in business.  By having us create a custom video production for the web, small businesses have an economical way to drive traffic in the door.

Web video never had it so good!

 

Web video — why you need it part 2

Who is putting web video on their site — and why?

The short answer about web video: all savvy marketers with a web presence are putting it on their site because it works!.

Author Mark Robertson comments on a Marketing Sherpa report that marketers that are currently using web video on their sites are quite satisfied with the results and expect to use it in the future.  He further reports that a survey from PermissionTV states that “more than 2/3rds of senior marketing and media executives identified online video as a primary focus of their 2009 digital marketing campaigns and budgets.  More than two-thirds stated that they plan to launch online video projects in the first half of this year.”

web video growth

As the chart above indicates, video has now become the fastest growing website feature for small business.

Recently, Jeffrey Grau, senior analyst for eMarketer authored an in-depth analysis of the use of web videos for business.  He notes that retailers are “quickly adding videos to their sites.  They find that videos boost sales conversion rates.”

And the future looks even bigger for web business videos.  MultiChannel Merchant reports that video is a “must-do” for business websites, insisting that site owners should “Set your site video program in motion. …videos can help your site sell more. Retailers have learned that … (video) clips can boost site conversion.”

In fact, a report using that very title from author Mark R. Robertson cuts to the core of the growing demand for web video.  “Any form of advertising that captures the imagination of cost-conscious local merchants has to be effective.  And by that measure, online video is hot.”

He gets down to specifics.  “It would be tough for the small business to stay in online advertising if they couldn’t see conversions going up as a result.  Small companies rarely have the luxury of throwing money at campaigns for brand awareness.  Which is why these increases in spending are exciting—it shows that online advertising is working for many small businesses.  In my experience, these small business owners rarely make marketing decisions based on gut feelings.  Even when they do, their focus quickly changes away from the novelty of the medium onto measured effectiveness. In the end, it’s usually something quantifiable on the bottom line that informs and guides their spending decisions.

“The conversion stats are pretty impressive, with 35.5% of clicks resulting in conversion actions.”  (emphasis his)

He concludes by saying “more small businesses are spending their ad dollars online, implementing online video and targeting search… which is leading to better click through rates and higher conversion rates.”  (emphasis mine).

In a powerful look at the responsiveness of consumers to web video, Sally Evans tells of a recent study in Marketing Sherpa.  She says ” you’d be crazy not to be getting more involved with online video as a marketer. Why? Their study showed that featuring a video in an ad can increase responsiveness by 49.5%.” (emphasis mine)

Measurement of response rate increases through different mechanisms

In a recent whitepaper, author Justin Foster shares several reports on the increase in conversions from using web video on sites.  Some examples:

“So far, the videos have been a success. Testing them on laptop product pages lifted conversions and increased accessory sales 12% in some cases” said Rich Lesperance, Director of Web Sales and Operations at Circuit City.

“We ran an A/B test across 50,000 product detail page views at eBags and measured the conversion rate in Omniture in order to track the impact of video at the product page level. What we discovered was that the conversion rate increased 50.1% for those users that clicked the “play” button in the video compared to the control group, and 138.9% for those users that watched the entire video compared to the control group.”  David Witzig, Manager of E-Commerce and Video at ShopNBC.com.

“Ice.com, a web-only jewelry retailer, has experienced a 40% rise in conversion rates on products highlighted in online videos, says co-founder and president Mayer Gniwisch.”

Translation: your customers are watching web videos prior to making their marketing decisions.  And they are buying based on those videos.

But this is still a vast untapped area that your competition is likely not taking advantage of.  By incorporating web videos into your site, you will set yourself apart from your competitors.

But the benefits of web video don’t end there.

First, your web video can be a permanent part of your sales effort.  While a direct mail piece or even a TV ad may generate business for a limited time, a web video remains on your site, selling for you as long as you’d like it to.

And web Videos not only do a better job selling to your customers, but they also help bring them to your site in the first place.  Placing a video on your site can improve your website’s search engine ranking significantly.

Internet marketing guru James Burchill states “Web video marketing is big business now that Google’s new Universal Search strategy includes video in the search results. According to recent research data there is 53 times as much chance that your video will show up on Page 1 of Google (for your select phrase) than just using a corresponding text-only entry.”

Did you see that?  53 times better results from web videos!

In another article Burchill states what we’ve known all along. “Video is not going anywhere. It’s online and it’s here to stay. It’s only going to get better, in fact. So every marketing strategy, no matter its goals, will have to incorporate video in some way.”

 

Web video — why you need it

Web video is where your customers go to when they want to find you these days.

In the year 2012, more than ever, you need to be where your potential customers are looking for your product or service.  But where to put your limited marketing dollars?  It’s not print, it’s not direct mail, it’s not the Yellow Pages and it’s certainly not telemarketing.  You are savvy enough to know that the web is where your potential customers are searching.

Your company website is the hub of your marketing in this day and age. 

It is the most accessible way for prospects to learn about your company and what you have to offer them.  And when they get to your site, they need to see the benefits of choosing your company – and they need to see them in a way that appeals to them.

After all, we now live in a world where people want what they are looking for right now, and if we do not find it within a few seconds we will simply look elsewhere.

So your message needs to be clear, concise and compelling.  Within a matter of seconds your website visitors will determine if you can help them. And just how do people get the fastest, most complete picture of what you have to meet their needs?  The answer: web video.

So why put web video on your site?

If you don’t know about the revolution in web video, you just have not been paying attention.

Just over 5 years ago, YouTube was launched to host web videos for free, and in that short time, people now watch OVER 2 BILLION VIDEOS PER DAY – on YouTube alone!  That is almost twice the prime time audience of the three major television networks put together.

YouTube videosHundreds of thousands of web videos are uploaded to YouTube daily.  In fact, every minute, an incredible 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. While these statistics are staggering, you might ask “How does that impact my business?”

In these difficult economic times, most companies find that competition for buyers is fiercer than ever. Today staying ahead of the competition is vital in setting your business apart and attracting customers. Today’s internet savvy buyers see one website after another, day after day. The sites that “break through” to the viewers present their message in an engaging way.

Web videos are a powerful internet marketing medium because of the unique way they engage your visitor, transforming your site into an interactive and entertaining alternative to a standard text-based site. 

In fact, one-dimensional, text-based websites are becoming relics.  After all, text requires action and energy on the part of the visitor.

In contrast, web videos allow your viewer to sit back and absorb YOUR message, just as you present it to them.  What could take many paragraphs or even pages of text to communicate can be presented in just a few engaging moments.  Web videos captivate and entertain site visitors, who receive YOUR message.

But don’t take our word for it.

Author Jason Prescott, in a May 2010 report says, “Video marketing has become one of the best promotional tools on the web.  Well-executed videos can grab attention faster than any other advertising medium (emphasis mine) as videos continue to draw internet users in droves.  Research by eMarketer shows 66.7 percent of the 147.5 million U.S. internet users watch video online monthly.  By 2014, eMarketer estimates that number will rise to 77 percent of internet users (193.1 million people).

 web video viewers

“Online video has surged in popularity due to the rapid proliferation of broadband and video technology advances. This has resulted in the production of cost-effective, premium videos, a dramatic increase in traffic to video-sharing sites, and online video’s acceptance into the mainstream.

“Consumers are receptive to video on websites, landing pages, search results pages, emails, and video-sharing sites because it is so engaging and self-explanatory. Video conveys information quickly and accurately, making it an excellent tool for marketers because consumers want to know more about the companies they deal with and the products/services they buy. “Video is a very memorable medium. A study by The Wharton School of Business revealed that video improves comprehension and retention by 50 percent over a live presentation. Other studies have indicated that video speeds up buying decisions by 72 percent when compared to print.” (emphasis mine)

Next time, I’ll explore “Who is putting web video on their site — and why?”

 

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Conclusion

Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Video Production – Conclusion

With video production as with all things, the motto is “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” And this applies to your video productions.  But there are times when a large full scale production is not warranted.  Fortunately, it is no longer a matter of all or nothing when it comes to bringing professional production values to your work. 

You do not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a video production.

inexpensive video production

It surprises many people that are considering a video production that there is an efficient middle ground that can be used.  This can be a tremendous cost saver.  This includes hiring one or more professionals to assist.  This could be:

  • ·        a producer/director to oversee your production,
  • ·        a lighting director with equipment,
  • ·        a teleprompter operator with equipment,
  • ·        a make-up artist to make your executive look “just right”
  • ·        an editor to bring together the footage you’ve shot into a crisp, effective program,
  • ·        a graphic artist or animator to punch up your graphics,
  • ·        a duplication facility to make mass quantities of your videotape, DVD or CD

Through the use of experienced professionals in some or all areas of your next production, you can ensure that you create a program that meets your objectives in an efficient and effective way.

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 8

MISTAKE 8.  LETTING YOUR IN-HOUSE “TALENT” JUST WING IT

Let’s face it, your co-workers are not professional actors, and they need some help to remember all the things they need to say and do on camera.  I discussed this recently with another producer friend of mine, and he commented, “If I had a nickel for every time I shot an exec who said he could just talk off the top of his head…  What disasters!”

I agree.  Use a teleprompter.  This corporate HR manager standing in front of the green screen will be looking up at the camera and delivering his script.

video production prompter

In this shoot with Steve Young, he’ll be addressing the camera using the prompter that our crew member is adjusting.

prompter for Steve Young

As you can see, the prompter mounts in front of the camera.  Your executive or employee can look right at the camera and read the words as if he were looking into the lens.  After a couple of practice runs, amateurs are almost always comfortable enough to blast right through the script.  It’s money well spent as it means faster shooting, less errors, and fewer frayed nerves.

And if your executive looks stiff or really doesn’t like the feel of “reading” the words, we can put up bullet points or PowerPoint slides on the prompter so that he or she can still appear to be looking at the audience.  This avoids the problem of the presenter looking away to notes or cue cards and looking “shifty eyed” as a result.

 

 

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 7

VIDEO PRODUCTION MISTAKE 7. USE THE CAMERA MICROPHONE TO RECORD THE AUDIO

You can see in video production that the rapid improvement and compactness of video is also manifested in the audio that accompanies it. Camcorders today record excellent sound. But there is a problem.

The problem is that the sound source closest to the camcorder microphone will be recorded best. And this may not be what you want recorded.

Have you ever set up a camcorder in the back of the room to record a live seminar for your corporate video production and listened to the result? Isn’t it amazing how the comments, coughs and collisions in the back of the room sound so clear – and the speaker is unintelligible at those points?

I simply can’t count the number of times people have come to us to ask if we can enhance the audio from just such presentations, and other live events as well. In short, the answer is unfortunately “No.” We can not bring out audio that essentially is not there.

What is the solution? First, you must have a camcorder that will take an external microphone input. If yours doesn’t, get another one.

After that, it’s all just a matter of microphone placement. If you have just one speaker in your video production, you should invest in a lavaliere microphone for the presenter to wear. The mic is then in place less than a foot from the presenter’s mouth and will record clear audio.

Here I am placing a lavaliere mic on blues guitarist B.B. King prior to shooting a TV commercial. In this case, the microphone will be hidden from view. I’m tucking it under his collar, out of sight.

microphone for BB king

Another option would have been to use a mic on a boom pole just out of frame as we did for football Hall of Famer Steve Young. Here a boom operator holds the mic on a boom pole becuase Steve is walking and talking, so the mic has to move with him.

boom microphone for Steve Young

Here’s another example of a boom operator holding the mic above the talent in this corporate training video production with actors.

boom microphone for actors

If the speaker in your video production is stationary, the boom mic can be anchored just above and out of camera view. In addition to giving a consistent level of audio, it eliminates the need for another person to operate the boom.

boom microphone over child actor

If possible when buying or renting a lavaliere, get a good wireless microphone. Don’t defeat the purpose by getting a cheap microphone that feeds buzzes and hisses to your recording system. A pair of decent, yet inexpensive headphones will let you listen to the audio that you are getting. If you don’t get a clean signal, take the microphone back to the store and get one that works for you.

Prices for good quality mics have come down dramatically over the years, so if you are going to do much of this type of “talking head” recording, it’s worth the small investment.

Microphones are obviously not just for amplification. You need a good mic close to the subject to get good clear audio.

 

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 6

CORPORATE VIDEO PRODUCTION MISTAKE 6.  DON’T USE A TRIPOD OR OTHER CAMERA SUPPORT

Video production pros know that a steady camera is critical to getting a good, interesting image.  If the camera is bouncing around, the viewer gets distracted and often, annoyed.  If the viewer’s mind is busy following the subject around the screen, it won’t be concentrating on your message.

At certain times, a moving camera becomes an art form, such as is seen in music videos.  But corporate videos are typically not music videos. Keep the camera on the tripod and keep the camera movements smooth.

When the video production pros shoot, there are a wide variety of camera mounts available for image stabilization.  These include various sizes of tripods, jib arms, cranes, dollies and a Steadicam®. 

video production in ChinaThe most common camera mount is the tripod. It’s portable, easily transported, and functions well at getting most of the basic shots. It provides a stable mount for lockdown shots, zooms, pans and tilts. Here you see one in use in a video production we did outdoors in China.

 

 
 

 

 

video production prompter and tripod

You always want your video production tripod to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the camera and anything else that might be added to it. A good example is this prompter which goes in front of the camera so that the speaker can be looking at the words while appearing to look right at the lens.

 
 
 

 

 

video production dollyHere’s a look at a video production dolly, with the camera operator on board, and the dolly grip pushing it on tracks.  The dolly gives great smooth shots, but due to the expense of rental and the two people needed to operate it, it can be a pricey addition to the program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

video production jib armHere we are using a jib arm in preparation to making swooping and climbing shots of a store facade.  The jib can be rented in various sizes and can create an almost 3D look, as it can be made to travel in three axes above and around the subject.  It needs a trained operator.
 

 
 

 

video production steadicamWhile the jib can move extensively around a subject, for true 3D views, a Steadicam® is called for.  This is a specialized harness that needs to be used by an experienced camera operator.  It can give dramatic looks at the subject, including moving smoothly around them for 360 degrees or more. Unless you have a Steadicam® and trained operator, don’t follow your subject around with the camera – leave it to the pros.

 

 

 

The bottom line? Be sure to use a camera support to get a professional look for your corporate videos.

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 5

MISTAKE 5.  SKIP THE LIGHTING AND OTHER EQUIPMENT THAT WILL REALLY MAKE THE IMAGE “POP” IN A CORPORATE VIDEO PRODUCTION

When it comes to corporate video production, the current level of electronic technology is truly extraordinary.  Home camcorders are easy to use and affordable, and everyone fancies himself or herself a TV director.  But as good as these cameras have become, a professional, high-impact look will only come when additional lighting and other equipment are applied.  Even current reality shows are supplemented by lots of lighting instruments and other gear specially designed to make the shots look good. 

Knowing how to light is a complete art and science unto itself.  If you were to review the movie credits at the end of a major motion picture (without animation or special effects) over half the people would be involved in lighting and related areas to make the image look just right.

Of course, we’re talking corporate video production; we’re not trying to duplicate “Gone with the Wind. But remember that the image that you show, is the image that represents YOU.

corporate video production using a steadicumIn addition to lighting instruments, some of the gear that might be called into play includes soft lights, gels, reflectors, bounce cards, cookies, scrims and light diffusion.  You can see a couple of these here: 

In the above shoot we did, starring Steve Young of 49er fame, you can see 2 big soft lights as the primary lighting source.  We have also have other “harder” (e.g. not soft) lights out of frame – including fill and back lights.

The light cutter at the top center is used to keep too much light from flooding the background.

corporate video production using a video reflectorIn the picture, note the large reflector to the right that one man is adjusting.  This is used to redirect sunlight for an outdoor shoot. Another man runs the fog machine for a dream-like effect. Finally,  

While this array of lighting and grip equipment is typically not available for shooting corporate video on your own, it can enhance the image dramatically.  And if your budget does not allow a complete video production crew to shoot the video, freelance lighting directors with rental equipment are available, and that could give a corporate video production a look that will set it apart from other more amateurish efforts.

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 4

MISTAKE 4.  TAKE THE ATTITUDE THAT “IT’S JUST A CORPORATE VIDEO”

Let’s face facts: your audience is comprised of sophisticated television and media viewers.  According to Nielsen Research, as of 2006, the average American watched 4 hours and 35 minutes of TV each day.

corporate video

 

With your viewers constantly bombarded with video images, they are quite jaded to “ordinary” video.  They are sophisticated consumers of the media, so do not think that they will excuse shoddy production values if you want to deliver an effective message.

The obvious implication is that THE MORE IMPORTANT THE IDEA YOU WISH TO COMMUNICATE, THE GREATER THE REASON TO HAVE YOUR CORPORATE VIDEO PROFESSIONALLY PRODUCED.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

I will be the first to admit that there are projects that are exceptions to the “it’s only corporate video” rule.  For example, if you are just recording a technical seminar or other “mind dump” for future new hires or people that are out of town, then by all means set up the camcorder in the back of the room and let it run.  But even if that is the case, please be sure that you use a good microphone located close to the speaker(s). Cameras microphones do not cut it even for a low-budget corporate video if accurate recording of information is important.

More on that in a future blog post.