was successfully added to your cart.
Monthly Archives

October 2017

Is Thumbtack Any Good?

By | Reviews, Tips/Techniques, Uncategorized, Video Production | No Comments

The Beginning of Thumbtack

SFilms was one of the first companies on Thumbtack.  I remember this new startup listings/lead service app that looked interesting.  I signed us up as a vendor.  But as I looked at it, it seemed more focused on B2C– plumbers, electricians and such.  Even though we had an account, I never really used it.

Then one day I was talking to another video professional in a different city and he told me he was getting a lot of leads through thumbtack.  I was puzzled– the only leads I seem to ever see were for people wanting a music video for $250.  He said that while yes, the majority of the bids were micro budget, by getting his foot in the door, he was able to find some good customers.  Okay, I decided, I’ll have to take a closer look.

Updating Our Profile

So I dived in.  I updated my business profile.  Worked on getting a review from an existing customer.  Set up the different industries and notification levels.  And I started getting email and push notifications for new jobs to bid on.  Event Video, wedding, under $500.  That’s not us.  And then some Corporate Video, Conference, under $500.  Closer.  But what if I could raise the dollar amount for jobs in which to get notified about?

So I did.  And in corporate video it worked.  But nothing I did would stop the event video wedding low budget emails and push notifications.  Nothing.  I had long since made sure I wasn’t even listed for that.  Didn’t matter.  Eventually, I don’t know if the bug was worked out, but 6 months later, I’m finally not getting all those.

The Thumbtack Process

Thumbtack’s SEO and SEM Push

thumbtack langing page corporate video dallasAnd let’s talk about the process.  A user searches for “corporate video company dallas” and thumbtack has aggressively gone after the SEO for these tags.  Kudos to them. So the user clicks on the thumbtack link which then takes them to fields to fill out.  What do you see?  A simple, clean window with a video production photo in the background, and a mention that there are XX number of professionals near you.  What’s your zip code?

So at this point, the user is still thinking that they’re searching for a video company.  But they’re not.  The user puts in her zip code.  Then a new screen with type of video you’re wanting.  Then another with other information.  All the while, the user is still thinking they’re just googling for “video companies in Dallas.”

dallas corporate video company

Eventually, maybe they fill out the few remaining screens and hit submit.  And now they’re getting five quotes.  Not what they thought they were getting in to.  No list of companies (look at the Thumbtack google listing– it reads “definitive list of Dallas’s video production.”  But you will never receive a list.  What you’ll get is the five fastest clickers in the area.

Because I get a ding on my phone. And email.  And I can read it and click to send in a bid.

Faster Clicker Wins

Actually no.  I can’t read it.  Because if I take the 8 seconds needed to read the bid and determine that this is the perfect fit for my company, I’m too late.  First five get to bid.  Doesn’t matter if they can do the job.  There is no vetting.   And for the jobs that fit us, we have to send in a quote in under 8 seconds.

Which BTW, the Apple Watch has dramatically increased our response time– I get the push there and can open and send pretty quickly.

Our Thumbtack Results

So what about the results?  We specialize in corporate video.  We shoot conferences and seminars all the time, with live on-site editing when needed.  We haven’t even gotten close.  And this might be part of the low bid wedding projects– corporate conferences are events.  So are weddings and birthday parties.  Thumbtack really needs to separate out B2C and B2B.

What about other corporate video jobs?  I tried my friend from another city’s advice and did a low ball for someone.  The problem with this strategy is that for some reason, the low ball clients end up being the highest maintenance.  And so you bid and do the job at break even or even a slight loss, but they’re not going to agree to up the budget on the next.  Just doesn’t work.

Two Jobs after Two Years

So to date? Two jobs.  This is after several years.  And lots of “credits” purchased (and they recently moved away from credits and just call it was it is “dollars.”)  Most people never even open up the quote.  That’s because when they filled out those fields, they didn’t really understand what they were doing.

And in fairness, let me mention one of those two jobs was exactly what we were looking for.  A corporate client needing event (tradeshow) shooting and onsite editing.  That was a win for both sides.  Unfortunately, this is an outlier.  Nothing else has even come close.  Thumbtack might say it’s my profile, or that I need more reviews.  I think the large number of unopened bids speaks to the fact many of these leads are simply not qualified by Thumbtack.  Sure, Thumbtack does refund you the money if someone doesn’t open the bid.  But what about those who gave a cursory open, but realized this thumbtack thing wasn’t what they were looking for.

To Thumbtack’s credit, there are situations that this service is great for.  I talked to one professional in another city looking for a local crew.  My rates were just too high, because she’s been getting a college student with a DSLR and that’s all she needed in these different cities.  Awesome.  Thumbtack works great for her.

Two Suggestions

I have two suggestions for Thumbtack.

  1. Find a better way for the bid process.  The five fastest clickers is no way to qualify vendors.  Either do away with the 5 quotes only rule or come up with a better way than a mad dash to submit in the few seconds after a job is posted.
  2. Qualify the Lead.  Let the user know what they’re getting into on the landing page.  Sure, you might not get as many, but the quality would increase, and that means something to your customers– Us.

Bottomline on Thumbtack

And I think this is the bottom line.  You need to have a “win” on both sides– the client and the vendor.  So that’s what Thumbtack is for– matching those who can do the video work for pennies on the dollar and still win, with clients that need a low cost solution.  If you seek a professional, skilled video company through Thumbtack, you’re going to get the five fastest responders, regardless of skill level, experience and quality.  Just fast on clicking.  You won’t be able to really do due diligence.

So google search for a video production company in the city you’re looking for and click on those companies and check out the website.  And watch their samples and portfolios.  Then contact the ones you like.  Unless you just need a warm body with any kind of camera.

What is the Best Length for Your Marketing Video?

By | Corporate Video Production, Info, Video Production | No Comments

retail video best length

What’s the Best Length for a Web & Social Media Marketing Video?

“How long should my marketing video be?”

Clients ask this a lot.  Some think their marketing video needs to be in the “ten to fifteen” minute range.  Others say five minutes.  A few think less than sixty seconds.  Typically, companies that are just getting into making marketing videos tend to think too long.  But what is the answer?

Less is more?

A good, general rule to follow is “the shorter the video, the better.” The quicker you can get to the core message of your video, the easier it is for your audience to digest and understand. For example: two minutes is a great place to start.  But before we enter that two minute dictate into our rulebook, there are variables, rules and types of marketing videos that bring exception to the two minute drill.

Types of Marketing Videos

The first decision that must be made is what kind of marketing video is needed. Are we talking commercial spots that could play just as easily on television as the web?  Or a longer video meant to be viral that gets people excited about your retail product or service?  Let’s discuss the different types of web and social media marketing videos.

  1. The Commercial

This is a straight up, made-for-tv broadcast spot.  The timing on these is very regimented, down to the 30th of a second.  The most common is 30 seconds.  Occasionally you’ll see 60 second commercials, and  it’s not unheard of to have shorter spots at 15 or even 10 second spots.  What some marketing executives decide to do is simply take that expensive broadcast commercial and release it on the web.  This is a solid move because it is simply  taking a paid ad and using it for organic reach.

In this example, our retail client has gotten two million views of their commercial organically by placing the ad online.  Not all companies rely on organic advertising, either.  One question to ask here is “If it is a broadcast commercial, should it only be used for broadcast?”  Some businesses are utilizing these spots for digital paid ads as well.

  1. The Long Form

In this instance, long means “a longer form of the broadcast commercial.”  It’s where you take a 30 second broadcast spot and make it longer,  like a minute,  or even a minute and a half.  Remember, outside of broadcast, there are not strict rules that a video needs to be exactly a certain length.  As an example of both the broadcast version (link above) and the “long form” version, here’s what we did for a retail client of ours recently.

  1. The Viral Marketing Video

how long should marketing video be?

This video is usually one of three genres– Humorous, Emotional, or Sensational.  The goal of the viral marketing video is to get viewers to spread it for you, organically.  Some people will try and “pay” for viral– but to truly get it out there in significant numbers, the content has got to be strong enough for someone watching and to think “I’ve got to share this.”  The length of these videos can vary, but to have any chance of viral success, they must maintain the viewer’s attention throughout the entirety.  A key principle for a viral marketing video is: The more entertaining the video, the longer it can be.   So for these, 90 seconds to four minutes is usually where these marketing videos fall.

  1. The Educational Video

Warning, this is a trap!  Sure, your title says Director of Marketing so you’re thinking “We don’t do any educational videos.”  But when you try to “educate” your potential customers, then the video is an educational video.  Consider any ad that explains how a product works. Essentially, these ads are teaching potential consumers in an entertaining way.

And by the way, if you don’t make it entertaining, you’d better make it extremely short.  The same rule applies here– the more entertaining, the longer you can make it.  Poo-Pouri has mastered the “educational” marketing video.

One way businesses try to make an educational video entertainment is to make it an “Explainer Video.”  This is where your content is animated (usually 2D) and combines simple illustrations with text, graphics, and a voice over.  Often people use the “white board” effect of a hand drawing the text and graphics.

Desktop or Mobile?

Is your audience watching your videos on desktop computers or on mobile devices?  Before you get on the smartphone video bandwagon, keep in mind that in a 2017 study, 86% of business related videos are still watched on desktops.  However, Cisco estimates that 75% of the mobile data in 2020 will be video.

That same study reveals that the majority of business videos are under two minutes.

The Two Minute Warning

Why two minutes?  Well, there has been a lot of writing talking about the increasingly shorter attention span of our markets today.  If you’re still reading this blog, pat yourself on the back for a great attention span! In today’s world, phones beep every few minutes with a new message, or a Facebook notification, or a phone call, or a squirrel runs past your window.  After two minutes, it’s hard to keep  most audiences engaged. .  Two minutes is ideal for  YouTube-type videos.  When you start posting to social media, one minute is max for Facebook and even shorter for Instagram and Twitter.

The biggest trap thatMarketing teams fall into is trying to communicate a comprehensive message.  A marketing video is not the best tool for expositing the complete details about your retail products.  Think about those ads for car dealerships that spend the last few seconds reading the mandatory fine print at lightning speed. If you have the choice, save that for the printed brochure.  Video is the tool for piquing  the target audience’s interest and drawing them in.

retail video sfilms 2You put a piece of bait the size of a bowling ball on a hook and you’re likely to not catch that rainbow trout.  Just that little, colorful, creative fly is all you need. And now I’m hungry.

The Growth of the Marketing Video Strategy

Are retailers really using video to its fullest extent?  eMarketing is estimating that digital video ads will see double digit growth each year through 2020.  This is easily the biggest growth sector for advertising for the next few years and a strong opportunity for any marketer

So when you are creating your marketing video for the retail industry, think in terms of enticing your customer– drawing them in.  Video is a strong tool when used in this manner.   Just keep it entertaining if possible and as short as necessary to do the job.


The Technique for Slating on a Corporate Video Production

By | Corporate Video Production, For the Crew, Tips/Techniques, Video Production | No Comments

Today, our guest instructor is Alicia Pascual who provides tips and techniques for the proper way to slate.  For many that are trying to break in to filmmaking, especially in the camera department, this is must-have information.  Your first job on the set could very well be slating.

It’s broken into two parts below.  Enjoy!  For more info from the SFilms165 lessons, click here.

What to Wear on Camera

By | Corporate Video Production, Important Info for Your Corporate Video, Tips/Techniques | No Comments

What to Wear on Camera for your Corporate Video

what to wear on cameraSo you’re going to be on camera for your company’s video.  Most of the time an employee is on camera for their employer, it’s for an interview.  There are some simple guidelines to follow to make sure you know what to wear on camera.  If this is your first time to go on camera, check out this article.  To hear Kara talk about Hair and Makeup, click here.

First, here’s what you can expect for the interview– the crew will come in and setup the lighting, camera and sound.  They might put a lavelier microphone on you, which might be as simple as just clipping it on, or it might be hidden under your clothing by a sound professional.  Setup will probably take longer than your actual interview.

Clothing Style

If you’re going on camera for your company, the style of clothing can be varied.  Most of the time, what you wear to the office is a good starting point.  For many, that’s business or business casual.  Different industries have different looks.  Financial industries will keep it more formal– business, suits and such.  Construction might be FRP jeans and heavy shirts.  Retail might be polos and golf shirts.  Video makes a strong impression to the viewer about what your company is and it’s culture– what you wear needs to match what impression you want them to have.


When looking at your closet, there are some choices that are better than others.  You’ll want to avoid white or bright yellows that may reflect light and make you appear washed out on camera.  At the other end of the spectrum, the color black tends to absorb too much light.  And it can drain the color from your face.  Additionally, some bright reds can be too distracting.  Speaking of Red, bright red can cause problems for cameras.  Best to avoid bright red.

The colors that are best for the camera are solid colors in muted or rich jewel tones:  Solid colors such as Blue, Purple, Grey, Navy, Coral, and Green.  Now if your interview will be on a green screen, you will want to avoid wearing green.  Or if it’s blue, avoid that color.


It’s best to avoid busy patterns or tight patterns, such as plaids, herringbone,  checks, or tight stripes that are too close together.  Busy patterns on clothing, including neckties tend to play tricks with the camera causing a distracting wavy pattern on the screen.  You’ll want your audience to focus on your face, not your busy wardrobe.


what to wear on cameraBring a couple of different clothing options that are professional or represent your company.  Make sure you bring comfortable outfits , and choose fabrics that aren’t too heavy or cause you to get too warm under the lights on set.   If you bring several options, you can have the camera operator check them out in front of the camera. Then you can decide which outfit will be best.

Avoid large shiny jewelry that could reflect light back into the camera, or earrings or bracelets that could dangle or make a rattling sound while you are talking on camera.  Always make sure your clothes are ironed and ready for the camera.  There may not be an iron on set or time to take care of that, so make sure you do that before you arrive.

Style your hair away from your face to avoid any shadows and just  Keep everything simple and professional.  For more information on makeup, check out this article.

Now that you know what to wear on camera, relax, you are talking about something you know best, YOU.  And You are going to be amazing!

Using Hedge for File Management

By | Corporate Video Production, For the Crew, Info, Tips/Techniques, Video Production | No Comments

Hedge Software for File Management

file management hedgeHedge is a great tool for video production file management.  The biggest advantage is that the file transfer from your card to the harddrive is faster through Hedge versus file manager.  Because Hedge bypasses the bus on your computer.  It also is able to verify the transfer, whereas File Manager doesn’t do that.

This short blog is to show you how to use the software.  For learning about file management, visit our other instructionals:

Step 1

To begin, open Hedge.  You will have the Connected Discs window, which shows you which hard drives you have connected.  Make sure your primary and secondary harddrives are connected and show up in the center.  Then connect the card you want to transfer.  It will show up in this window as well.

Step 2

file managementWhen the card shows up, drag it over to the left, the Sources column.  Then drag your primary harddrive over to the right, the Destinations column.  Drag the secondary drive over to destinations as well.

Hover the mouse over the primary harddrive in Destinations—you will see a green eject arrow but also, when you hover, you will see a grey down arrow above and to the right of the drive icon.  Click that grey down arrow and Destination Folder and then Browse.  You can navigate to your project folder, camera subfolder, and name the camera and card number.  Then repeat the same procedure for the secondary drive.  Note that when you change the destination, the drives switch on the right column.  Make sure you get both drives pointing to the right folder. 

One nice time-saving feature Hedge offers is the ability to create file paths on the second drive. After you point to the destination on the primary drive, when you select the secondary drive, you can do the most recent folder and Hedge will ask you if you want to create the path.  Click yes and you don’t have to create folders in Finder or File Manager.

Also, it’s important to name the folder exactly the same on both drives.  If you want to do this in Finder before copying over, that’s fine—just navigate to the correct folder through the grey down arrow.

Step 3

Once folder destinations have been done, click “Start Transfers.”  Your camera card will be copied over.  The next dialogue window will ask you if you want the incrementer to be adjusted.  If this is the first card, have it start back at 001, then the next time, just let it increment.  When Hedge finishes the transfer, it will say completed.  If there were any problems, Hedge will inform you.  Also, a text file is generated at your destination.  You can check it over to see if there are any discrepancies.  You’re ready to eject the card and start in on the next card.

The key to File Management is creating a system and following it.  Trouble happens when you take shortcuts or don’t follow the system.  It gets repetitive– don’t fall into the trap of complacency.  Lost footage is a killer for the production.