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9 Jun 2017

How to Hire a Videographer

In my 20-plus years of creating video content for corporate America, I’ve learned how to hire a videographer in a way that will give you the quality footage you’re after, but won’t kill your budget. I will outline some key questions and identify the avatars of the most typical videographers out there.

“Nothing is more expensive than hiring an amateur.”

I believe there are three different types of videographers; here’s how to spot them.

#1 The Novice

This is the new person who just bought a camera and a little bit of equipment. This person has a burning desire to be the best videographer and practice their craft, but doesn’t have the knowledge or the skills. He or she would be new to the business and may not have a show reel or other work they can show you. Although some of these people are stars in the making, you may not have the time to shoot your footage twice or be able to deal with the mistakes. To make sure you’re not dealing with a novice, ask this key question: “Can I see your work?” If you don’t see at least 20 videos, this may be a Novice.

#2 The Videographer

This person has been around a while, and has made some mistakes. You can feel lucky that the mistakes have been made on other people’s projects, and the chances of this person making a mistake on your project is pretty remote. This person has been in the business for at least five years, has seen many different scenarios, and isn’t afraid to speak up when they see something wrong. Videographers are comfortable talking about their work and are not afraid to show it. Their key skills in composition, depth of field, and location selection are second nature to them. The key to hiring this individual is finding the one who may not know his or her value yet. There are many of these folks out there—you just have to do some hunting to find them.

#3 The Cinematographer/Director

The Cinematographer has all of the skills listed above. The Cinematographer is the type of person who isn’t afraid to engage you about your message or story and really dig into your product and audience. This person wants to give you direction and will pay attention to details including what you are wearing, background, foreground, and anything that may mess up the shot. The Cinematographer is worried that you may make the final product look bad based on poor customer choices. This person will have a portfolio that will take you days to get through, and you should see at least two different genres of work. The Cinematographer/Director is worth the price if you have the budget. This is the person who may save you money by creating a video that converts pedestrians into customers.

 

Here is a list of questions you can ask.

  1. Do you have a portfolio of work that I can see?
  2. Did you shoot and edit all of the video in your portfolio?
  3. What kind of video work do you normally do?
  4. What kind of a camera do you use?
  5. Do you use prime lenses? (If they say no, they are probably in the Novice category.)
  6. Do you have wireless mics?
  7. Do you record audio to the camera or an external device?
  8. Do you bring an assistant? (This is usually a differentiator between a Novice and a Videographer. The Videographer has been around long enough to know he/she needs help.)
  9. Do you have a basic three-point lighting kit?
  10. Do you record video to an external video recorder?

Here is a list of key gear and skills you can talk about before you make your decision.

Key Skills

  • Knowledge of composition
  • Knowledge of audio
  • Knowledge of lighting (basic)
  • Knowledge of depth of field

Key Gear

  • Camera
  • Lenses (prime—at least three)
  • Wireless mics
  • On-camera shotgun mic
  • Headphones
  • On-camera light
  • Basic lighting kit
  • Tripod
  • Off-camera recording device (advanced)

Advanced Skills

  • Basic director skills
  • Legal knowledge
  • Story flow
  • Basic marketing knowledge (problem, solution, CTA, etc.)
  • Camera movement
  • Drones
  • 3 Axis Gimbal operations

I believe the key is to spot the person who has the right gear and the burning desire to get the best footage possible. Sometimes it’s worth taking a chance and hiring the videographer for a small job to see if you click with them. The world of shooting video in 2016 has gotten easier and more complex, all at the same time. Understanding how the footage will be used and the level of shooter you need will determine your budget.

It’s also important to discuss budget. Professionals in the video world are typically not hired by the hour, but by the half day and full day. The day starts from the time they leave their facility and ends when they get back, and is based on a 10-hour day. You may think this doesn’t seem fair, but you have to take into consideration most video shoots don’t happen at the videographer’s studio. This means a videographer will often drive two hours each way to the shoot, which should be compensated. What should be included in the rate is five or ten hours of their time, the camera gear, basic lighting gear, basic audio gear, and, of course, the operator.

This is a supply and demand profession, and rates for these professionals vary greatly all over the world. If you go to a big city like Los Angeles, for example, you will find plenty of video professionals at very reasonable rates. Yet when you travel to remote cities, you may not find anyone at all, and you will end up paying for travel expenses to bring a videographer to your location.

There’s also a big difference between capturing video and editing video. Capturing video is what we have discussed so far. One of the biggest components to the video creation process is the editing, where the final product is made; this should be treated as a separate job from the shoot. Make sure the person you hire has the skills to edit your video—and don’t be afraid to discuss this with your videographer. Sometimes the editing process is simple and can be done by the videographer. Make sure to discuss the deadlines you have for your final product to be completed, and put it writing.

“I could give an iPhone to an advanced Cinematographer/Director and get great footage because it is more about the skills than the gear.”

If you have the time and the stomach, then maybe you should try a few people out before you make a final decision. If this is the shoot that really matters, you’d better find a great Cinematographer/Director from the beginning; it will be worth every penny. I have hired people from all three levels in my past. Sometimes I’m hunting for a diamond in the rough that I can train for long-term use, and sometimes I’m looking for that perfectionist who gives me a sense of peace and keeps me from worrying about the video component.

Have fun on this journey and remember, you are hiring a creative soul. Share your vision and see if you find a connection. Good luck.
If you need some help finding the right person in your area, please give us a call or email us.  We would love to help.

30 Sep 2016

Closed Captioning CC gets the views

When I thought about writing this blog, I started to wonder if it was true: can you get more views when you add closed captioning to your video? Not only did I find it to be true, but I found many other things that astonished me.

  • There are over 8 billion video views on Facebook DAILY.
  • 90 percent of all videos viewed on Facebook are not clicked on or listened to.
  • 75 percent of Facebook views are done from a mobile device.
  • Video has a 135 percent better organic reach than image posts.
  • The average video completion rate is only 10 percent.
  • 41 percent of all Facebook videos are incomprehensible without closed captioning.

The battle for the eyeballs in the social media space is very complex, and anything you can do to give yourself a competitive edge is worth doing. I’ve recently written about several current video marketing trends, such as square video, animated typography, and black bars, and I believe closed captioning is one of those trends as well.

Why do I believe this? Well, it’s all in the numbers. Take a look at your Facebook video view statistics and see if you see the same thing I see.

(From a recent video that was posted)

Yep, you guessed it. The Facebook audience is not clicking the video, and this means they aren’t hearing the audio — they’re just seeing the video. So if this is the case, it stands to reason that anything you can do visually will help get more eyes on your content, and for a longer period of time.

Have you ever looked at your Facebook feed and seen a video post that interested you but you didn’t click because you weren’t sure that the video was going to good enough? Closed captioning allows the viewer to interact with the video without having to click on it. Many people want to see what the video is about before they commit to watching and listening. I have done this myself many times, and I have also engaged with videos from beginning to end without ever clicking the play button. Here are some of the reasons I believe this is happening:

  • People prefer to watch and read before clicking to engage with a video.
  • People are in places where it will not be convenient to play audio.
  • People don’t want to annoy others with the audio from the video.
  • Most Facebook views are happening from a smartphone or mobile device.
  • Let’s not forget about the hearing-impaired population either. This is a huge benefit to this community.

A recent study about video views on Facebook found you can expect a 12 percent increase in video engagement if you add closed captioning. Twelve percent may not sound like much, but that is a significant number when you are paying for ads.

Another advantage to adding closed captioning is this: when you are done and have the file in hand, this file becomes the basis for adding subtitles in other languages. This can help you reach an entirely new audience that you’ve never reached in the past.

So now you may be wondering how you can add closed-captioning to your own videos. The answer is pretty simple. There are many services that offer adding closed-captioning to your videos. If you are not budget conscious and you just want the job done, hire one of these services, it will make your life easy and it is getting cheaper by the month.

For the DIY crowd or the budget conscious folks, here is an alternative. Upload your video to YouTube and go into the Video Creator Studio. You’ll find a button at the top of the screen called “Subtitles and CC.” This is YouTube’s automated service that creates the closed-captioning for you based on the dialog in the video, and it will get you about 70 percent of the way there without having to do anything. You may find punctuation and grammar to be incomplete, but it’s easy to fix by clicking on the text and making the needed changes. Here is a link to the YouTube Tutorial.

When you are done you can download an .srt file under the actions button, which you can then use to upload to Facebook. Now, your FaceBook video will have closed captioning.

Facebook also has the option of creating the closed captioning for your video as well. You’ll have to pay for an ad for this option to appear, and it has about the same accuracy rate as YouTube’s tool.

So here’s the deal: if views matter to you in any way, make closed captioning a priority. If you have big ad budgets associated with your videos and you are not providing closed captioning, you are leaving 12 percent of your potential on the table.

And please, let me know if I can help guide you through the world of closed captioning. This is a service that we provide daily at our offices.

23 Sep 2016

Why You Should Use Square Video

It’s no secret that the social media world has become a very crowded space. I’ve been in the video world for over 20 years, and have seen more than a few formats take center stage. With everyone swarming into the video space, we are seeing many new trends in the social media world and video marketing.I believe it’s time to embrace the square video format, and use it to your advantage. I truly never thought I would speak those words. In my world, the wide screen aspect ratio has been a blessing over the old school square TVs we used to create content for. But social media has thrown all video marketers and content developers into a tailspin over what size and shape videos should be. It’s interesting to see that within a few page scrolls through Facebook, you’ll find a bunch of formats: square live feed video, widescreen, widescreen in a square box, and, of course, let’s not forget vertical video. Each of these differently shaped videos has a unique use. But today I want to talk about the square video, and why you should use it.

Here’s what I’m talking about. 

As you can see in the image above, the format for the entire video area is square. This square format lets you add your original widescreen format video to the center of the square without the need to resize or create a new format for your video. What excites me about this square format is that we have been given some creative space for messaging, branding, or even closed captioning. (If you are looking for some examples of this in use, look up Gary Vaynerchuk or Eric Worre on Facebook.)The square video fit seems very natural on Facebook. If you leave the top and bottom space all white, it fits right into the Facebook whitespace, and feels very natural. I am certainly not recommending the space above and below the center video be left blank. But here is what I am recommending:

  • Leave the space white for the first five seconds of the video. This allows the audience enough time to engage with your content before adding a brand or anything else.
  • Use the top space for branding, URL or CTA.
  • Use the bottom space for closed captioning, URL or CTA.
  • Bring in all items separately and subtly.

The ability to deploy this square video to Instagram is an added benefit. The Instagram user is familiar with square video, even though you can now upload wide format video on that platform.

All in all, this has given the video marketing world a new place to play and a new way to deploy more content in the same space that has been used in the past. Give it a shot and see what happens: you may be surprised by how much you like the format and additional space to work within the crowded Facebook visual world.

In the battle for the eyeballs, we need to take advantage of every possible branding and messaging opportunity. We believe this trend will follow us strongly into 2017, with new creative concepts for delivering content.

If you found this to be of value, please let us know.

15 Sep 2016

 

Video Marketing & Black Bars

Our studio has used black bars on our videos for many years now. We did it for several reasons. First, we were trying to give a cinematic look and feel to our video productions. And second, it gave us some freedom and choices when it came to composing our shots in post production. As storytellers, this attribute was a differentiator and gave us a unique look in our space.
The image below shows you what black bars are — the black space above and below the video.

 

 

In today’s age of video production, and in this social media world, we have to look at all possibilities for getting our message to our audience. This battle for eyeballs has brought us to look at the black bars for delivering content. We have seen this video marketing trend develop this year, and we use it regularly.
Here are the key benefits we’ve seen for this trend.
  • The black space does not interfere with the video content.
  • Easy to create, high-contrast eye-catching content.
  • Subtle and understated text looks clean and gives the viewer pertinent information.
  • This is a great place for a logo/brand.
  • Easy to add animated text to the black bars, creating even more dynamics.
  • Creating a title that lives on your video.
  • Delivering closed captioning.
  • Delivering translation subtitles.
We have also seen the use of white bars as well, which seems to give a great visual flow when embedded into Facebook’s white space. The use of the white space is following the same key benefits, yet we are seeing bright colored text placed in the white space, as opposed to white on black. This seems to be a less than subtle approach to the black bars.
Because all video editing programs are capable of this easy task, adding bars is certainly something you should be considering. You can download the Black Bars here in 1080. Link:  1080 Black Bars

     

In the battle for the eyeballs, we need to take advantage of every possible branding and messaging opportunity we can. We believe this trend will follow us strongly into 2017, with new creative concepts for delivering content.
8 Sep 2016

Win the Battle of the Eyeballs

You are receiving this message because we have either met and exchanged cards or you may have contacted me or we have done business together.

The battle for audience eyeballs on social media is becoming an all-out war. The best way to stay out in front? Video with animated typography. It’s trending in a big way. Just take a look at your social media feed and judge for yourself.

It’s one of the best trends we saw in 2016, and we believe this is a trend that will continue strongly into 2017.

What is animated typography? Take a look at this video link and look for the text that’s in motion over the top of the video: http://bit.ly/2c2v8Lf

 

After we started adding animated typography to our customers’ videos late last year, we noticed right away that views increased compared to the same videos without the animated typography. There are a lot of reasons for the increased views, including:

  • You can read the message without having to click the video and listen.
  • Social media is being accessed on smart phones a majority of the time. Sometimes you’re not in a place where it’s convenient or possible to listen to audio, and with animated text, it’s easy to watch and read to get the full message.
  • People prefer to watch and read before clicking to engage with a video.

We have seen animated text on videos improve the views of video content delivered on Facebook and Instagram. We haven’t seen the same increase in views on YouTube, but that’s partly because the YouTube viewers are there to view something specific. And when you visit a link on YouTube, you go there expecting to watch and listen to the audio simultaneously.

You may be asking, “How do I get animated typography on my videos?” Well, that is the million dollar question. We understand that Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Final Cut, and many other programs have this feature built into the program. We use the Adobe Video Suite that includes Premiere and After Effects; this gives us maximum control when placing text and timing it to the video clip.

Adding animated text to your videos may not be easy, but it is worth it. It’s a game-changer in the battle for online eyeballs.

If you like this type of content, please click here to be put on our list and we will do our best to add value to you and your business.

http://tinyurl.com/zwfupwj

28 Jul 2016

Cayla Craft

For those that have been following our blog you know that our job allows us to meet a lot of interesting people in a lot of exciting locations. One of our recent assignments took us to Bakersfield, California to meet with a very enterprising young couple who were interested in having a new lifestyle video shot.
Cayla and Chase Craft are independent distributers for Isagenix International, a very popular and successful marketing company for dietary supplements and personal care products. They explained that they needed to replace their current marketing video with one that more precisely reflects their personality, authenticity and success story. Apparently the production company that produced their initial video failed in all respects and left them very disappointing and dissatisfied.
We planned to shoot the video footage we would need in two locations and all in one day so as to inconvenience the Crafts as little as possible. We arrived first in Bakersfield early in the morning and introduced ourselves to Cayla, Chase and their two beautiful children at their home located on a 5 acre lot in the middle of farm equestrian land. Quite a contrast to the numerous oil wells and pumps just a few miles away. With a lot of distance to travel in one day we immediately went to work. While I interviewed the Crafts to learn more about exactly what they wanted to see in their video, Cache and Carrick went about preparing the location we shoot in while Steele filmed some B-Roll footage around their home and property.
During my interview I learned that Cayla was once a registered nurse while Chase was employed as painter where he would scale the huge oil wells to paint and repair them. The Chase’s have since left those jobs and are now at home full time with their children while managing their ever growing distributorship with Isagenix.
With the easy part of the video work completed it was time to drive the 122 miles to Pismo Beach where we would film the rest of the footage we would need to complete the project to the client’s satisfaction. It’s at Pismo Beach where the Crafts often come to relax and enjoy the California sun and sand. It was very evident to me that this little stretch of beach is clearly their home away from home and the families fun get-a-way spot just by the way they lit up getting out of the car. It was truly a beautiful spot and I can see from the looks of my crew that it wouldn’t take much to turn them from a highly effective film crew into a bunch of beach-bums in no time at all. With the day wearing on and more work to do it was time to crack the whip and get back on task.
I decided that this location would be a perfect opportunity to get some magnificent aerial footage using our state of the art U.A.V. (drone) and capture the surrounding beauty of the area, complete with pounding surf and blue skies. While Cache and I set up the drone, Chase produced a guitar from the back of the car along with plastic buckets and shovels and the family hit the sand.
It’s here that I confirmed a previous suspicion. That dogs either really hate drones or they really love them, from out of nowhere no sooner had the props wound up to full speed did we had a pack of them all looking to catch and eat this valuable piece of equipment. Although fast and nimble, none of them had mastered the art of flying yet so as the U.A.V. took off, so did the dogs.
Shooting outdoors is always a blast for my crew and I and it always presents certain challenges that over the years we have learned to prepare for and overcome. One of them is never leave Steele near an unattended guitar because he’ll quickly pick it up and put the camera down, and the other is whenever we are shooting at the beach be sure to always have a bag of French Fries in the kit bag to keep the local Seagull population busy and away from the mics.
Being satisfied that we had some great video ‘safe in the tin’ it was time to call it a day. With the orange sun setting in our rear window and the open road unfolding in the windshield we started our 400 mile journey back home.

27 Jul 2016

Moapa

Who doesn’t like hot dogs, beer, fireworks and great music on the 4th of July? We certainly do and that’s why when the call came in from the Moapa Band of Paiutes last week asking us to video their July 4th weekend celebration concert, we just jumped at the opportunity.
Located on the Moapa Tribal Reservation at the entrance to the Valley of Fire just north of Las Vegas, the two day event was planned around big name entertainment and a non-stop firework display. When my crew and I arrived on the morning of July 3rd we found a huge stage built on the desert floor, situated on a round grassy common area surrounded by vendors of every kind. Although it was hours before the first band took the stage, the smell of hot dogs on the grill was already wafting around the area which meant they had my full attention. How the grass got there I’ll never know.
We met with the tribal leaders, received our stage passes and laid out a direction plan on how we were going to get the photos and video we needed to complete this assignment. For this job I chose Steele as my cinematographer and Carrick as my co-pilot on the U.A.V. (unmanned aerial vehicle – i.e. the drone). It was already 110 degrees and no shade to be found and if we had to pay for the water we consumed in the first few hours alone, this job would have been a cash lost-leader for Cache Media Works.
As soon as the sun set the fireworks started and didn’t stop till the show ended at 10pm. Tonight’s concert featured country greats Leann Rimes and Brandy Clark and by the reaction of the crowd I would say that everyone thoroughly enjoyed their music. Shooting outdoors always presents a certain amount of challenges and tonight was no different. Half way through the show the area was suddenly blanketed with very high and very hot winds that wiped through the trusses combined with unstable thermals that almost grounded the U.A.V. permanently if not for two hands on the controls.
Back on the ground, Steele was having a ball capturing some fantastic imagery of a lot of patriotic people having a tremendous amount of fun. One scene was very moving when he caught a young girl waving the American flag silhouetted by flashing stage lights with the sound music and fireworks in the background. Its moments like that, that all the photography stars just line-up to make a memorable shot come true.
We returned the next day, the 4th of July to shoot the last day of the event and the energy of the previous day had totally changed. It was as if we were shooting between two high-energy power lines, as the air seemed electrified and alive. It was clearly evident that tonight was rock-night with the performers being Uncle Kracker and Bret Michaels. The mood of the crowd was already alive before the first string in the first guitar was struck.
Tonight we were going to concentrate on a lot of aerial shots from the U.A.V. as the weather conditions were perfect with low winds and what was promising to be an amazing sunset. One thing we always encounter when using the U.A.V. is the curiosity of people nearby and especially children. Kids are just fascinated with U.A.V.’s and are drawn to them like candy. I know, because I’m one of them. The hard part is maintaining a good safety margin around the drone during take-offs and landings. What is even harder is watching their parent’s freak-out every time that happens.

Having two experienced pilots on the controls of a large U.A.V. is essential to getting great shots and maintaining a high level of safety for those below. That’s why we designed our rig to accommodate a pilot who concentrates just on flying the U.A.V. and a co-pilot who concentrates on the camera and backing up the pilot when not filming.
As I mentioned earlier, the fireworks were non-stop all night and the constant barrage created a surrealistic battlefield backdrop to the throbbing rock music, complete with smoke and concussions that bounced endlessly off the bracketed mountains nearby. At one point I decided to risk my very expensive U.A.V. for the sake of a really great shot and sent it flying off in the direction of the firework field. Even on the ground several hundred feet away I could tell from the flight controls that the U.A.V. was taking a beating in the air, being pounded by the concussions of the huge fireball explosions. The view on my monitor revealed a scene that few people have ever seen before, for there appeared miniature atomic explosions complete with mushroom clouds and shock waves. What an amazing sight, a sight that was commonly seen over the Nevada desert over 60 years ago. Although I can’t prove it, there appeared to be a few veteran anti-aircraft gunners down below on the launching field that apparently believed the drone was a target and not a camera platform and after a few very close calls it was time to fly out of the battle area and return backstage.
The weekend was a tremendous success for the Paiute Tribe and for Cache Media works in the video we captured. Two days later the video received some pre-editing and was turned over to the client for review.

18 Jun 2016

Video

Producing a marketable video outdoors and on location is always a daunting and challenging task for any production company.   Shooting one in a short time frame at multiple locations throughout a large demographic area such as the State of California is what usually separates the men form the boys.

In early 2015 Cache Media Works was approached by the global marketing giant Isagenix International (http://www.isagenix.com  )to produce a new sales and lifestyle video for several of their key California distributers.  Isagenix was familiar with CMW’s cinematic style from a previous project and they knew that CMW would effectively reach their target audience of 18 to 35 year olds on this new project with the desired marketable effect.

CMW quickly developed a price estimate, which was almost instantly approved and then went about compiling a travel matrix along with the specialized cameras and equipment to meet the demands of this project.  One those demands were the development and use of specialized aerial video platforms and camera stabilization systems specially designed by CMW technicians. 

The first stop of the two and half week road trip took the CMW team to Bakersfield California where they met the first of several distributors that were to be included in the video.  Within minutes of the door being answered the photographers were shooting B-Reel footage while Joe Kenemore, the director on this project, went about interviewing the client.  Of particular interest was the lack of scripts and pre-staging of the video and photography scenes.  Joe explained that his unique cinematic style in regards to videos of this nature is to expose the person on camera as a live and very authentic person, something a script or repeated directing and coaching wouldn’t reveal.   This results in a very real and passionate interview.

Throughout the next week, Isagenix executives from the various distributing regions would be present at the shoots to ensure that CMW was capturing the information and story they wanted to tell in this video.  By the end of the first week on the road the word was out that CMW had become so intimately familiar with both the company and the brand message that the Isagenix people were nowhere to be found.  That’s confidence.

The last location on their tour was in San Francisco and here it was decided that they would take advantage of the many beautiful parks in the bay area and shoot the last segment outdoors.  It was on this shoot that the CMW team realized that they have mastered every video and location element except one, and that being the local seagull and crow population who was determined to make their entry into the film industry.  After some convincing shooing and a left over bag of French fries from lunch the CMW team got their shots, completed their shoot and packed for a well deserved trip home.