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Video Production

What is the Best Length for Your Marketing Video?

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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

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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.

Using Hedge for File Management

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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.

Taking the Video Studio On Location

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The Portable Video Studio

This summer, we were fortunate enough to go shoot a commercial for Mattress Firm in San Diego.  We produced this spot through our partners Encore Live and Top Pup Media.  Stage Works in Fort Worth provided the sets.  We had a crew of about a dozen and used a very talented Mattress Firm employee as our actor.  Often, especially in commercial production, you have call to bring studio-like production value out onto location.

The Scope

video studio on locationWe needed to do a live comparison video, showing a new Mattress Firm offering opposite a leading industry mattress.  The turn around was the extremely difficult factor in this spot.  From the two days we shot this, the first draft needed to be completed by the evening of the second day of shooting and the final had to be sent to the media buyers two days later.  Incredible fast turnaround.  But we love challenges like that!

To pull this off, we needed to shoot studio quality out on location.  We rented a five ton grip truck, used three primary cameras (Canon C300’s) and one time lapse camera (Canon 5D mark 3) on the Kessler Second Shooter.  We used a 20x silk overhead to keep lighting consistent through the day as the sun traveled.

Once we had gear, cameras and crew on the site of the fair grounds north of San Diego, our portable video studio was complete.

The Shooting

Once we were all set, Encore Live helped us gather fair goers who were walking by to ask them if they wanted to try a blind test.  We would cover the mattresses and signs and the audio guy would mic them up.  We’d quickly slate the cameras and the action would begin.

We used a camera for a wide shot, and then coverage with the other two (one close up on person and one on the talent).  After shooting was complete, we’d offload right there and start cutting on the set due to the quick deadline.

The Editing

First cut of the spot was done on site while we overnighted the footage back to our studios.  Then the project file was sent to the studio where the edit team could take over.  Once the client had approved the draft, we had a colorist lined up for tweaking and completing the look of the piece.  Then closed captioning was added and the spot sent to the media buyers.  We actually beat deadline by half a day.

After that, we cut a longer version (90 seconds) for social media play.  The finished 30 second commercial has been airing and has 1.6 million views on YouTube so far.  You can check out is out right here:

File Management for Large Video Production Crews

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Large Video Production Crew File Management

We started this SFilms165 series on File Management for video production crews to do our part to stamp out horror stories of lost/missing footage from the video and film sets.  Yes, it’s happened to us.  In several different ways with different results.  Make sure you watch/read the Intro to File Management before watching this one.  Also, you can read Small Crew File Management here.  

The Large Video Production Crews

First let’s define large crew: Greater than 4 crew people.  This is a set that has many moving pieces and many crew people doing very specific tasked jobs.  In corporate video, it’s a little more rare to see large crews, but in commercial production, feature film making, and television, you can very easily have large crews.  Commercials can have 30 or more depending on the scope.  Feature films can easily have over a hundred, again depending on the scope.  Even a low budget feature film might have 30 or more crew people.

With a crew of 5 or more, chances are, File Management is your single duty.  And this is a good thing.. You can’t afford to get distracted and mess up your transfers.  On one of our feature films (the first one that wasn’t shot on film and was shot on digital), we actually had two file management crew people.  You might even be given the tile, duties and responsibilities of the DIT.  This means you not only do file management, but you’re responsible for the images on the set.  Dailies, one pass looks, etc.

The File Management System

file management video eventWe put forward the following system– you don’t have to do it at your shop, but have a system.  Cards, files and footage get lost and destroyed because a system isn’t in place or doesn’t get followed.

The File Manager will work with the Camera Assistant.. Make sure he or she is using a paper tape system—when a card goes into the camera, a piece of tape is marked with the letter of the camera and the card number. For instance, the first camera of the production gets “A” and the first card is zero one.. If a second camera is used, it becomes B and it’s first card is zero one, even if several cards have already gone through A camera.

Set up two open boxes for incoming and outgoing cards.. Go over the system with the camera assistant so that she’ll know where to drop off cards and where to pick up cards.. Make sure she tapes over the card contacts with the tape indicating the camera and card number before bringing it to you.

Hedge Your Bets

Use Hedge to transfer the card to your two hard drives.  If you don’t use Hedge, use another file management app.  Keep a good log of the cards you transfer.  When finished with the card, and verified that the data was completely copied, you can put the tape back onto the card, but not over the contacts and place it in your outgoing box.  The camera assistant can pick up cards to go back to camera from this box.  Make sure she knows that the tape back on the card, but not over the contacts is free to reformat.

The System

Make your system—use your system.  Problems that occur are almost always because the File Manager did NOT follow the system.  And problems at this level are cataclysmic.  Don’t be that guy.  Follow your system and you’ll do fine.

Top 5 Things to Look For in Video Studios

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Top 5 Attributes for Video Studios

Commercial Studio ShootWhen you’re looking for a production company with a studio to handle your video production needs, to be able to compare apples to apples, it’s important to know a few things.  And while many companies use studios for many different things, this list is for businesses and corporations looking for video and film help in these areas:

  • Commercials
  • Training
  • Social Media Marketing videos
  • Informational

This isn’t really about still photography, though the points do somewhat crossover.  It’s also not really about feature filmmaking where you’re going to build sets and have them for weeks or months at a time.  We have our own studios to use at SFilms, but we’ve also rented studios in many cities across the country.  (For a peek at the studios we have available, click here.)  What’s important to know when renting a studio for a corporate video shoot?  So let’s get to it.

Quality of the Studios – Facilities

When looking at video studios, take a look at the quality of the stages.  Did they adequately sound proof the studio?  Do you have enough power?  Are the ceilings high enough for sets and lights?  We have shot in studios before that might have had a nice new coat of paint and clean, but you could hear the traffic noise outside the doors.  Then we booked our client to come in and do a six hour presentation.  We can’t stop and wait for trains to pass.

Do the studios offer other facility needs?  Like dressing rooms, makeup rooms, green rooms.  Take a look at the parking.  Can you not only get there and park, but if you’ve got trucks or gear coming, do you have an easy way to access the studio you’re going to be setting up in?

Rates

Sometimes it does come down to money.  Studios will usually rent you the space by the day (and occasionally by the hour if you work with them a lot).  You also might need a half day the day before to setup and light.  And that brings up other services– studios have a rate for “dry”– just the room.  Or you might get a rate for supplying power.  Then lights.  And grip equipment.  Make sure when shopping for a studio, you know what the rate they give you entails.

Sizes and Types

video studiosStudios come in many different configurations.  Small might be the size of a large office (15 feet by 15 feet).  Others might be mammoth sizes where you could play a football game inside the space.  Make sure you find a studio that fits the job you need it for.  You don’t want to rent that large studio for one person talking head against a green screen.  It’s better to use the smaller one for that.  (Besides the obvious cost difference, sound is typically better in the smaller stages).

Then do you need a seamless cyclorama (cyc)?  White or green (or blue)?  Black?  A one wall cyc?  Or a two wall cyc?  Standing sets you can use? Studios will usually have a cyc of some sort, but make sure it’s painted for what you need.  Have them do that before you arrive.  Be aware that when you have a white, green or blue cyc, make sure it’s clean, especially the floor.  Studios have to often repaint all the shoe and scuff marks that occur in a production.

Staffing

Does the facility have qualified people?  Many times, you might be bringing in a local crew, but studios usually come with a couple of people to grip and gaff for you.  Do they know their stuff?  You don’t want to ask for a power tie in and have the in-house guy stare blankly at you.

When you are shopping for a studio to rent, these are good things to keep in mind, to help get that apples to apples comparison.

 

Video Studios Dallas Fort Worth

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Video Studios

While a lot of our shooting for corporate video takes place on locations, often clients need video studios.  Serendipitous Films is fortunate to operate from studios offering 43,000 square feet of sound stages.  The studios are located in between Dallas and Fort Worth, 15 minutes from DFW airport.  Boasting three main stages, each one has extensive sound proofing, lighting grids, cycs and sets.

The facility offers greenrooms, dressing rooms, makeup room, and offices for clients and producers.

Studio A

video studio a news set

This large studio comes with several standing sets– news oriented programming and a car show backdrop.  These can be removed or covered with other sets.  Politicians and celebrities have used the studios for remotes to MSNBC, CNN and other news outlets.  Studio A is large enough to handle studio audiences and multicam recordings.  A control room is provided for the bigger jobs.

While we used the A Stage for feature film shooting (featured in the movie “Rising Stars” with Barry Corbin and Fisher Stevens), it is a great place to shoot corporate interviews, press release videos and internal communication videos.

Studio B

video studio bStudio B is a medium sized studio with a full head to toe green screen seamless cyc on one wall, and a two wall seamless white.  This versatile studio is where a majority of our corporate videos are shot.  They’re perfect for that seamless white look (a curved white cyclorama that shows no horizon line).  And the large greenscreen gives the ability to shoot multiple people and movement if needed.

Studio B is used for corporate training, social media marketing, commercial spots and many more.  Our client, the NASE, shoots a series of informational videos with us in Studio B.  We also shot our award winning Airbus Helicopter video using the seamless white cyc, shown here.  For that shoot, we took advantage of the white seamless to add dynamic animation that the actor could interact with.

Studio C

video studio c white cycWhile bigger than Studio B, the C Stage is purposely left unfinished and is the place for longer standing sets and projects.  It’s also used for holding studio audiences and having large meetings while on site.  It has a large one wall cyc that can be painted from green to white and anything in between.

So whatever your studio needs in Dallas or Fort Worth, we’d be glad to help and give you pricing.  Studios are usually rented by the day or half day.

File Management for Small Video Production Crew

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File Management Part 2

This continues our campaign to squash file mis-management once and for all.  In this part 2, we cover file management for the small video production crew.  As long as there’s been digital acquisition on the film and video sets, there’s been the need to ensure that digital content makes it back safe and sound to the edit room.  One time of losing a camera card is one time too many.  For Part 1, click here.

Small Video Production Crew

Okay, so first let’s define what we mean by a “small crew” for video production.  Sometimes, one person goes out with a camera and shoots all he or she can for the client.  Then maybe a second person is there to help carry the gear.  For interviews, a third person might be added to cover sound.  Or back to one person who does it all.  A small crew is one to three people.  So maybe you’re a one man band, or you’re the grip slash PA, but here’s our system for file management.

video production file managementThe Small Video Crew System

When you place the card into the camera, tear off a piece of paper tape that you keep with the camera bag, and with a sharpie, mark the camera letter and the card number.  The first one would be A zero one.  Place this tape over the card bay on the camera.  When you’re ready to pull the card, take the tape off, wrap the card contacts with the tape, and set the card aside in a safe place.  A card with the contacts taped means that card has NOT been transferred.  The new card gets placed in the slot with a new piece of tape on the outside of the camera, over the card bay. 

Off Loading

Then, when you get to the computer, take the card that has the tape covering the contacts out and insert into the computer.. Open Hedge and copy the card over to your two sources (we’ll explain Hedge in a future chapter).  If you’re not using Hedge, then use file manager or whatever software you’re using to copy over to your hard drives.  Once the card is transferred, and the footage is confirmed on the hard drive, remove the card.  Place the card backwards in the card wallet—it’s best practice to not use the card again on this shoot, unless you absolutely need it.  Stack the piece of tape on the card reader or computer.  As you go through cards, keep stacking the tape—you never know when you might need to go back through and see which cards got transferred and in which order.

The paper tape is a great way to keep everything straight.  Buy a couple of different rolls and keep them in the camera bag with a sharpie.  It should become part of your kit.  Think this is overkill?  You’ll wish you’d spent a few dollars on tape and markers the first time you accidentally delete footage.

 

Look for part 3 soon!

File Management for Production Companies

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On Set File Management

Production Companies Problems

One of the biggest “gotchas” that production companies can encounter is lost or corrupted footage.  It sounds simple: “Copy camera cards over to hard drive.”  But it’s the most critical job on the set.  You mess this up, and you can lose that great performance, that wonderful camera work, those awesome sets.  So to avoid this pitfall, let’s look at the tools you need.

File Management Tools

First of all you need a computer and hard drives.  Preferably two (or more).  Industry best practice is to take the camera card, copy it over to two different hard drives.  And make sure you copy to each hard drive from the card—don’t copy to a hard drive, eject the card, and copy from the first hard drive over to your back up hard drive.  If you have anything corrupt, you just copied that over.  Always copy from the camera card to your primary hard drive and your backup hard drive.

Software and Apps to Use

production companies on set file managementNow when you copy, you can use Finder (if you’re using Mac OS) or windows file manager and just copy the contents of the card over to the hard drive.  But how do you know there was nothing corrupted in the transfer?  There are several apps that will copy for you, and run verifications (check sums) to make sure every single 1 and 0 was copied over.  We use Hedge for the Mac—it allows you to copy straight through from card to hard drives, which speeds the transfer up a bit, instead of going through your computer bus.

Have a system.  Use one color box or colored tape for cards that need to be transferred, and another for cards ready to go back to the camera team (they’ve been verified).

In addition to the physical system, make sure you have a good file management system on the computer.  A master folder should be created for the Production.

Smaller Shoots

On smaller shoots, it might be that you have other jobs on the set—make sure you don’t get confused on file management.  For our video on the small video crew file management system, click here.  What good is it to help craft a well shot scene, only to mess up the transfer and that scene get deleted?  I’d say your file management duties are more important than any other job you might have on the set.  If you mess up, everyone’s work was practice for the re-shoot.  Yes it’s pressure—that’s why you have to have a system and follow it religiously.

One last word—I used the term File Management instead of DIT.  A true DIT also does first pass coloring and is responsible for the image being created on the set.  In corporate video, it’s mainly just managing the data from the cameras.  Remember—keep it straight!

History of the Camera, Part 1

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Intro to the Camera

For incoming interns and new students of corporate film and video, we cover the basics of the camera and answer questions such as “what is progressive scanning?” and “what’s the difference between component and composite video?” and more.

Brief History of the Camera

Cameras were created in the 19th Century by utilizing glass to focus light onto a chemically treated surface.  As technology improved, glass got better and the chemically treated surfaces were improved.  By the early 20th Century, the cameras had become somewhat standardized.    Then motion picture cameras came along.  Same principle- but instead of taking one frame or picture, now a motor was created to speed the chemically treated surface (film) through the housing to enable taking many pictures each second.  This started by hand cranking the film through (resulting in variable speed– notice in those old movies all the action is sped up).  But motors eventually were added which led to a standard of 24 frames per second.  Each image was exposed in it’s entirety, creating a “progressive” order in the images.  And these cameras were all mechanical.

Now for Television

Then television was invented.  Now, images were created electronically, not mechanically.  Since the United States was leading the world in the new technology of television, a group of bureaucrats and engineers sat down (actually mandated by the FCC) to create standards so that everyone who bought a tv could see the same programming.  Up to this point, you had RCA making television signals with 400 or so scan lines across, and Philco making theirs with over 600 scan lines across– the signals weren’t compatible, so the government stepped in.  This group called themselves the National Television System Committee (nice name).

In 1941, this group, with the acronym NTSC created the television standard of 525 scan lines at 30 frames per second.  (Important note: the television would “draw” the odd lines by skipping every other one on it’s way down to the bottom and then go up and fill in the even lines.  It would do this every second, so each pass was called a “field.”  This procedure is referred to as “interlace.”  So technically, the NTSC standard was 60 images a second).

Creation of Color TV

When color was brought into the industry in the 50’s, the NTSC mandated that it must be compatible with everyone’s black and white set.  So the three signals of info that create a color picture had to be composited into one signal.  Thus “composite” was born.  Meanwhile, the rest of the world took what the US had done and improved on it.  The PAL standard was created much closer to the film rate and had 25 frames per second.  The scan lines were an improved 625 lines across.  And when color came around, PAL redid it to keep the three color signals separate or “component.”

And this was the way it stayed for decades.  Watch Camera History part 2 for more (coming soon)!