All posts by sfilmsdan

Experience in Corporate Video Production Matters

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Studio Corporate ProductionRecently we asked some new clients what factors led to their decision to pick us for their corporate video production in Dallas, Texas.  We’re always glad they picked us, and trusted us to handle their video project, but we’re even more happy when the project ends and we’ve beat their expectations.

Experience in Video Production

Some clients searching for a video production company are concerned that they’re entrusting their story.. their message… their brand, to someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience in the industry.  Many business people understand that to become experts in an area, it takes much repetition and practice.  (Making the library of many corporate execs is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and this philosophy is a foundation for what he espouses.) So our clients tell us that we were selected because of our experience.  Our Producer/Director Daniel Millican started working in corporate video communications in the 1980’s.  That’s 30 years, hundreds and hundreds of projects, thousands of videos, and a myriad of awards and recognitions.  This comforts that director of marketing looking for the right team.

A Real Person

In this age of communication, it’s imperative to connect to a real person as quickly as possible.  At Serendipitous Films, we have our main phone number (214-307-2882), which is forwarded to two different people at all times.  We aren’t always able to pick up on every call, but we return messages quickly.  Our clients have commented on how responsive we are.  That’s because when we’re looking for a product or service, we want someone their to take our call, answer our questions, help us out.  So we’re committed to that for our clients as well.

Over Deliver

Our clients tell us that we often over deliver in what we promised.  This is the key to exceeding expectations.  We take a lot of pride in what we do and it shows.

Work With People You Enjoy

Lastly, we’re the nice guys.  We do great work and we have fun along the way.  Life’s too short to create a stressful, drama-filled atmosphere.  We enjoy tough deadlines and crazy objectives.  If all this sounds good for your next corporate video production, gives us a call and check us out.  We’d love to work with you.

Serendipitous Films Creates Web Videos for Permian Lide

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Recently, SFilms was contacted to produce a marketing video for tank and vessel manufacturer Permian Lide.  The original scope was to create a 4 to 5 minute video, with shorter two minutes and one minutes versions pulled from the longer piece.

Permian Lide is one of the leading manufacturers of steel and fiberglass tanks and vessels for the oil field industry.  They have plants all over the country and SFilms visited them all.  A key to the production of this video was to have drone work capture the scale of the facilities, as well as give a different perspective inside the plants.

Here is the long version.

Production Value in Corporate Video

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Red Scarlet on SliderWhat’s Trending in Corporate Video

One of the trends in corporate video production has been the increase in production value.  This can be attributed to several factors– companies realizing that their brand image is directly tied to quality of their corporate communications, and the advent of new and better tools for production.

Old Days of Corporate Video

Twenty years ago, only large corporations could afford a video department.  It could easily take a million dollars to build out a video production facility with a camera and edit room.  In Dallas, one corporation dropped over a million dollars in the early nineties to finish out a little studio. One tape deck (like a Sony BetacamSP BVW 75) was $45K new.  A camera could easily run $70K.  In the nineties, the computer revolution started taking hold (as it had with desktop publishing) and desktop editing was born.

Now, several decades later, you can buy a decent editing station for under $5K and a great camera for that or less.  The “video department” is not the huge burden of overhead for companies that it once was.

Sam With a Cam

As this revolution took place, companies realized that Sam in accounting, who liked to mess around a little with iMovie or Windows Video Maker, could put together that corporate video for the meeting.  What happened next was that a lot of companies had “home videos” for their corporate image– videos living online, on DVD’s, broadcasted in corporate meetings and conferences.  And many times, this lower level of quality led to image perception problems.

Not that Sam was always “home movie” quality– there have been some outstanding work done by home grown video personnel.  But that is the exception, not the norm.

Another important thing to mention– we have seen that sometimes, it’s better for the client to go the “Sam, from Accounting, With a Cam” route.  It might be something that’s internal, where it needs to look viral, or that it’s just important to get the message out.  And that’s fine.  Then there’s other times where production value is incredibly important.

Why Does Production Value Matter?

In every piece of communication, every brochure, webpage, facebook company site, perceptions are being crafted for the company’s brand.  If you have your CEO talking about how good the product or services are, it can’t be cheesy or amateurish– the viewer associates that amateurishness with the product.

Undoubtably, content is king.  Videos go viral that are exactly home videos– done with consumer cameras and made to make you laugh hysterically, or touch your heart to bring tears.  But those are for different purpose.  So companies need to know what their brand plan is and to make sure all the communications fit into that brand.  Production Value matters in sales, it matters in recruitment, it matters in the way consumers feel about the brand.

Use of Music in Corporate Videos

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music for filmThe Corporate Video Music Track

A powerful music track can change a corporate video dramatically.  Sure there are the times where a company is playing the video silently at their trade show booth, but most of the time, videos are watched and listened to.

The foundation of editing is the soundtrack.  Often, when we’re in post production on a corporate video, the audio is the first thing we lay down.  This is common with the “documentary” style corporate video.  We find all the interview soundbites, lay in the music (so we know where to take a breath for a short video montage to music) and often cut to beat for the high impact sports style corporate video.

The Source of Corporate Video Music

Licensing music is an important aspect of corporate work.  Production companies looking to cut corners have placed their corporate clients in danger of legal exposure by the use of unlicensed music.  The standard best practices for video production companies is to have a music library they pay for, getting the rights to use it for their corporate clients.  But what if they want to use that Journey song from the 70’s?  Certainly as much as it’s played, it’s public domain?

No, it’s not.  This is biggest place where companies get into legal hot water.  Sometimes, the inaccurate public domain excuse is used.  Or maybe that it’s for internal use only, so it’s okay.  Or it’s just going to be used for a live conference– one time and forgotten.  All these uses do require licensing.  And it’s not as hard as you might think.  A company can easily license song usage with ASCAP and BMI and the cost for internal corporate video use isn’t exorbitant.

Original Music for Corporate Videos

One area that’s a lot of fun is hiring a composer to create original music for a corporate communication project.  We had one narrative (movie) style video for a large corporation and the character needed to begin by listening to a country song on the radio.  Our composer cooked one up that the client absolutely loved.   Original music can bring the level of the production quality up a huge notch.

At the end of the day, it’s about effectively communicating your corporate message.  The music shouldn’t distract from that.  The point is to enhance the message and get your story out for the maximum effectiveness.

Why Dallas for Corporate Video?

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The Big D King of Corporate Video

Mattress Firm C100The Dallas metropolitan area is a have for corporate video production and corporate communication.  A strong crew base, many video production companies, studios and resources are available in Dallas.  Some might say this is due to the strong number of large corporations headquartered here.  Names like Exxon, Kimberly Clark, Frito-Lay.  But all the large companies will have their own video production divisions or departments.  And you can point to places like Houston– they have many large corporations but the video and film production resources available in Houston are small in comparison to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

The key to the corporate video industry in Dallas is the number of progressive and growing mid-size companies.  Mid-size means they need the communication muscle that the large Fortune 500 companies have, but don’t have the internal resources, so they rely on local production companies to help in their corporate communications.

And progressive means that the company understands the power of today’s video in the corporate world.  Video means better marketing.  YouTube heavily weights video on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Video means better and more consistent training.  Video means more sales.  Progressive mid level companies are tapping into this resource and using it as a powerful tool.

At SFilms, some of our biggest clients aren’t even headquartered here in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.  But they utilize us as a resource for their corporate communications.  If you need a corporate communication project, give us a call.  We’d be glad to help.

Office Space Available

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Video Production OfficeWe have several offices available for sublease here at Serendipitous Films.  One is a large corner office measuring 17ft8in X 17ft9in.  Another is a small office that is 14ft6in X 8ft3in.  We also have a reception area, common areas such as kitchen, etc.

Our offices are located in Haltom City, a suburb of Fort Worth, on the Dallas side.  We are in the Studios121 building on Airport Freeway.  The synergy here is great, with 3 stages and other creative businesses in the building.

At Serendipitous Films, we produce corporate videos and communications, commercials and feature films.  If you think you might be interested, give us a call and let’s chat.

Editing the Corporate Interview Video

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corporate videoCorporate Video Documentary Style

One common style of corporate video is the “documentary-style” approach– the story told through interviews.  This can be in conjunction with a voice over narrator, but more commonly, told entirely through interviews.  It’s called “documentary-style” due to most docs relying heavily on interviews.

Production

The quantity of interviews can vary– a good number is a minimum of three (though there are times the one person video works, especially in a short video, or web video that’s around 60 seconds or so).  We’ve had projects where we’ve shot as many as 30 people for one video.  Because Dallas Fort Worth is home to many large corporations, we see many videos shot in this style in the metroplex.

Post Production

The way we approach the Doc Style video at SFilms is to create one timeline of “selects.”  We go through each interview, pulling good soundbites, and placing them on the timeline.  For large projects, we might create a second sequence where we pare down the selects even more.  For the corporate video which had over 30 interviews, we had three different timelines– the first one was an hour and a half of “selects.”

In many ways, this approach is like sculpting– it’s taking a block of marble and roughing out the statue.  Then roughing out more.  Then fine tune chiseling.  Until the image is perfected.  The same with the story in the documentary-style corporate video.

B-Roll

A very important element for the doc style corporate video is to have strong visuals to accompany what the interview is talking about.  It’s difficult for a viewer to watch a “talking head” for a long amount of time.  It’s human nature for the eye to “look around” even when talking to someone in real life.  So you don’t want to lose your viewer because your image stays the same for more than 20 seconds.

One way to change this is to lay B-Roll down.  These are images supporting what the person is talking about.  Another way is to shoot the interview with two or more cameras and change the angle.  We often use a combination of both.

Talking head videos do not have to be boring and unengaging– often they can be a strong method for getting your story out to your audience.  Done right, it can grab and captivate your viewers.

How Long is a Corporate Video?

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It’s a Matter of Length

One of the most common questions we get asked by our clients is how long their video should be.  In some ways, it’s akin to asking how long is a piece of string.  Well, it all depends.  Let’s look at some of the variables.

Variables for Your Corporate Video

MattFirmStateFairWho is your audience?  Is it an older crowd that grew up on 1960’s and 70’s television and movies?  Or is it a much younger crowd who has grown up on YouTube?  That younger person is not going to easily sit through even a ten minute video, unless you keep a very fast pace in the editing.  Likewise, the older person might be turned off a bit by the “MTV” style editing.  We did a video on a retirement plan– it was a little longer than some of our similar videos for a different audience.

What type of video is it?  If it’s a very technical training video, it might be an hour long.  Or five minutes.  We done both.  One client has over 20 videos, each lasting only 90 seconds to 2 minutes for training.  Another is an hour lecture.  Is it a marketing video, showing off a product or service?  Keep it short.  90 seconds for a web video is a great length.  2 to 3 minutes is okay.  If you’re including soundbite interviews, three people’s bites, it will be hard to do a 90 second video.  A Seminar Recap video?  Your audience usually is the people in the video, it’s okay to be longer.  8 to 10 minutes.  A fundraising video?  Short again.

Scripted?

Narrated?

Interviews?

Subject Matter?

These all go into answering the question of “how long my video should be.”  As a default, it’s always better to simplify your message, saying one thing several times, than several things one time.  One mistake that’s easy to make, is to get into the minutiae of your product or services when your audience just wants the big picture.

Usually, length affects costs.  So the longer your video, usually the longer the editing and shooting.  However, the opposite can be true as well.  For a client we shoot a bunch of interviews, it takes less time to create a 10 minute version than to continue whittling away down to a 4 or 5 minute video.  And a :30 commercial spot, though the shortest of all, can run into six figures in cost.

NTERibbonCutting

SFilms Assists TopPup in Opening of NTE

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After more than three years, and nine months early, the construction has all but come to an end in Northeast Tarrant County, home to Fort Worth and neighbor to Dallas.  NTE, the North Tarrant Express, is a project to widen a heavily congested portion of roads through six municipalities near Fort Worth, connecting to Dallas.  TopPup Media was called on to video document the construction over the past two years, and SFilms partnered with TPM to make that happen.

Construction video is extremely different than the normal corporate video shoots.  First, all crew people out in the construction zone had to be safety trained and wear the proper safety equipment.  Also, the type of shots for showing construction are different– the story is told through aerials and timelapse, with a little standard video shooting.

We have really enjoyed shooting for NTE and we’re fortunate to be able to continue through our work in Dallas with the LBJ Express and the newly christened NTI, I-35 through Fort Worth project.

The Ribbon Cutting for NTE was held on a beautiful October Saturday and had many dignities from the six cities– Fort Worth, Euless, Bedford, Hurst, North Richland Hills, and Haltom City.

One Person Shoot and Edit

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Shooting And Editing

Sometimes, we get a call for us to send one person on a client’s job that requires shooting and editing.  In this post, we’ll discuss the best practices and tricks/techniques to help it go smoother.

What to Take on a Video Shoot and Edit:

For a recent job that required the Shooter/Editor to be on a tour bus with the client, our shooter took five cameras, a MacBookPro and several USB powered harddrives.  In addition to support equipment like tripod, etc, he also took a drone for aerial footage.  The cameras were a C100 for main recording, a 5D mark 3 for additional shots and the ability to shoot stills for the client as needed, and three GoPros.

Drone shot of the Austin 360 Bridge

The biggest hit for the client was the drone– we were able to get those “wow” shots that pulls viewers in.  In addition to that, many timelapse shots were done on location and on the bus.  Special quick mounting devices helped secure the GoPro’s to the exterior of the bus.  These included an aftermarket suction cup and a GoPro goose neck with clamp.

The editing station was a MacBook Pro running a USB 2TB harddrive that was USB powered– this is key, because power receptacles can be at a minimum on the road.  In addition, a UPS (battery backup) made sure nothing lost power.  But this is almost overkill if the only thing you’re plugging in is your laptop.  If power goes out, you would still have your laptop battery to run for a bit.

Tips and Techniques

The key to shooting and editing on the road is to think like a news crew.  In corporate video production, you might shoot as much B-Roll as you can; interview as many people as you can, asking them all sorts of questions, just in case.  But you won’t have time to go through the mountains of footage– so once you’ve got your soundbite, time to move on.  Got just enough B-Roll?  Time to move on.  If there ever was a time to keep it simple, it’s in this environment.  Especially if you’re using 5 cameras.

Keep those batteries charged.  Constantly be switching them through the chargers.

Maybe purchase a belt (like a cinematographers from Film Tools) to keep things on you handy.  Our shooter keep a lens, lens cleaner, wireless mic, and extra batteries on his.

Keep your camera rigged built, ready to go at any moment’s notice.  Also, make sure you gaff down lose cables and things that get snagged easily.

Take an extra harddrive and backup your project file often.  Once I was on a shoot in Africa and my primary harddrive failed.  Fortunately, I lost nothing as I dumped to two drives everytime I offloaded footage.

Vitamins and Airborne or whatever you use to keep whole– you’re going to have very little sleep, so keep yourself healthy.

Don’t fall behind.  Stay aggressive on the editing.  It can bite you in the behind if you fall behind.

You have to do several jobs at once, so an attention deficit person is well acclimated for this challenge.  You have to shoot, while thinking like an editor, and not mess up on the other things– like sound, lighting, and production value.