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Old April 14th, 2011, 09:29 AM   #1
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A new paradigm in video production?

I've posted on a similar topic here before (can't remember where)...but I think it's an important issue to discuss, so I'm bringing it up again.

I work for a highly-successful full-service marketing/communications firm (our business actually grew throughout the recession). In spite of our success, however, our video work has been way down.

I believe more and more daily that there are 2 big reasons for this:

a) Video is still perceived by the majority of our clients as extremely expensive; and
b) The benefits of video are not perceived as being worth the high cost.

I know these aren't new revelations (we've been dealing with these perceptions for years)...but I'm starting to think it's time to reinvent the meaning of "video production."

I know this will be controversial...because many video professionals are very sensitive to the idea that their work might be devalued...but...

I'm thinking more each day that I/we (in our business, anyway) need to start selling very low-cost video to our clients. By low-cost, I mean that rather than selling clients on full video productions with fully professional shooting, editing, FX, etc...we need to begin selling ourselves as "video enablers," that is, experts who work with our clients to show them how easy video can be to shoot, edit, and get online. (CAVEAT: when I say "how easy video can be" I mean "how easy it is to create video that—while not being polished and professional—is good enough to get a message across in an authentic, personal way.)

We all know what a powerful marketing tool video can be. And in this age of reality shows and (more importantly) social media ascendancy, the authenticity of "less than professional-looking" video carries a lot of weight with audiences everywhere.

So my feeling is that (again, for our own business)...we need to start going to clients and showing them how we can...

• show them what basic consumer or prosumer cameras/mics/lights to buy
• teach them how to use this equipment, with an emphasis on easy techniques anyone can do
• teach how to do simple editing (again, with an emphasis on how easy it can be)
• give them some coaching on doing interviews, etc.

Basically, we need to show people that video does NOT have to be something they need to pay a professional production company to do. What is more important, in my opinion, is that they actually shoot video and get it online—even if it's handheld, cuts-only video.

As I said, some might decry these suggestions as being analogous to suicide (showing people how to do our jobs)...but I think it's the opposite—a way to keep video business going through empowering clients to create their own videos...and they will still always come to us for advice and for when they need a really nicely-produced piece.

Comments?
Scott

Last edited by Scott Wilkinson; April 14th, 2011 at 10:33 AM.
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Old April 15th, 2011, 09:31 AM   #2
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Wow...52 views and not a comment. I guess everyone either thinks I'm crazy, or nobody gets it? :-)

Scott
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Old April 15th, 2011, 10:05 AM   #3
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Scot, try/use whatever business model works for you in your market. I think you've got some fresh ideas here so why not find out if it's what your clients want and see if you can make it fly? Its all about providing a service that your clients see value in.

In my market, my corporate clients are (always) sensitive to cost - but more often than not they are glad to take me on to create professional video content for them - with some help/input from them, obviously - knowing they can rely on someone to do a good job with minimum disruption and hassle to their often overstretched staff. Maybe it's the businesses I typically deal with (which vary from small, local one man bands right up to huge video projects for multinationals). Everyone seems to be juggling very busy schedules with perhaps too few people (their teams having been "trimmed" in the last few years), at least here in hard working recession hit UK. Its an established fact that those who are in work, especially in the private/business sector put in some of the longest hours compared to most western economies/our EU neighbours. I think there would rarely be people that had the free time available to go with your approach - but I could easily be wrong.
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Old April 15th, 2011, 10:30 AM   #4
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Hi Scott,

I don't think it's a new paradigm at all, sounds like business as usual to me. There are a ton of industry people out there right now who are putting on great training and support seminars to not only educate their customers, but get their name out there and generate new business. Makes sense to me if the marketing budget allows for it, even better if you can charge for the training and have it start generating profit as well as be a marketing tool.
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Old April 15th, 2011, 03:03 PM   #5
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Ok—you guys make some good points. And you're right Andy...people are always busy.

I think what inspired my post (and ideas) is the growing importance of social-media-style communication. In other words, communication that is considered by audiences to be 100% natural, casual, and authentic.

I think our clients' customers—more than ever before—crave authenticity...and with that craving comes a corresponding distrust of slick production values.

That's not to say that there still isn't a need and a place for slick production...just that if a customer audience values it when the CEO blogs directly to them (or participates in a forum)...they would appreciate seeing a totally, casual, off-the-cuff video even more (and one without high production values).

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Old April 16th, 2011, 12:38 AM   #6
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
• show them what basic consumer or prosumer cameras/mics/lights to buy
• teach them how to use this equipment, with an emphasis on easy techniques anyone can do
• teach how to do simple editing (again, with an emphasis on how easy it can be)
• give them some coaching on doing interviews, etc.

Basically, we need to show people that video does NOT have to be something they need to pay a professional production company to do. What is more important, in my opinion, is that they actually shoot video and get it online—even if it's handheld, cuts-only video.

Scott
Maybe you have this covered:
What you shoot always looks good to you. If you involve them, they will bite. But it has to be easy for them - as easy as twitter or youtube. You will have to ingrain this into their 'corporate culture', and must begin at the top and bottom, plus it must tie in with whatever they are doing.

This is where you can score: by providing them cheap equipment, letting them run wild with it and finally learn for themselves that EITHER:

1. What they are doing is good enough for them. You make money by providing the 'platform' plus consulting fees.
2. Video is not for them. In which case they come back to you after regaining their sanity. You become the Boss and they factor in the budget for professional video.

However, I must disagree on one point: You cannot teach them how to light or edit. That won't work IMO. I'll bet after the 'experiment', you will find most companies choosing option number two.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 10:28 AM   #7
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

It sounds like you're trying to get rid of us professional video producers. Sugar coat it all you want, but you're eliminating our jobs.

For the money they're going to spend buying cameras, lighting, mics, editing equipment, etc., they might as well hire a professional, who already has this gear. And it won't look like it was made by amateurs, which it would be in your scenario.

No thanks.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 01:31 PM   #8
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Well, where to start...

As already noted, not everyone has time or the staff or inclination to take on or assign MORE varied job descriptions - meaning they would RATHER outsource, at reasonable cost. They just need to know what it the ROI looks like. The ROI of investing in an "in house" video department is probably pretty darn poor for many companies, IMO, and they would be better served by outsourcing.

Also, it's not cheap to make even acceptable production quality video - cameras, mics, lights, audio - it all adds up! Sure it's POSSIBLE to make low budget video, but there's so much of it, already, why add to the growing flood?

Ultimately, it's the CONTENT that matters, poorly shot video that has compelling CONTENT will still get watched, but I have to wonder how much longer it will be all that viable, as there is SO MUCH out there, and people have short attention spans! Sure Video is the "hot thing" NOW, but for how long?

To add a bit of perspective - as computer horsepower and capabilities have grown, there are SOME jobs that simply have ceaased to exist = they no longer are viable when the computer can duplicate the capabilities faster and cheaper. WE are still in the "digital revolution" - first word processing became a viable replacement for printing presses, then affordable digital imaging to where there's a decent camera in almost every personal device, and now video is becoming democratized and commoditized... my guess is that the actual human being is in danger of becoming obsolete within the next generation or two!

It doesn't take much to see where this goes, and businesses and business models have to adapt, so that's where "new ideas" need to be examined. Whether a business or business model will be or remain viable is a whole other question.

Scott, ask yourself where you will be able to monetize the "idea" and will it have acceptable ROI? Then ask the question of a few clients and see how it goes, that's where you'll find an answer.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 04:43 PM   #9
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
...I work for a highly-successful full-service marketing/communications firm...

I'm thinking more each day that I/we (in our business, anyway) need to start selling very low-cost video to our clients. By low-cost, I mean that rather than selling clients on full video productions with fully professional shooting, editing, FX, etc... we need to begin selling ourselves as "video enablers," that is, experts who work with our clients to show them how easy video can be to shoot, edit, and get online...

Basically, we need to show people that video does NOT have to be something they need to pay a professional production company to do. What is more important, in my opinion, is that they actually shoot video and get it online—even if it's handheld, cuts-only video...
IMO there are some values in strategic marcom that aren't shared among video producers, and vice-versa.

Some of those values are in conflict here. Of course the marcom strategist should be thinking about how target audiences perceive crowd-sourced product endorsements. And, the in-house producer, in turn, needs to think about the practicalities of acquiring same.

From the other side of the street, the whole subject is lunacy, degrading of the values video professionals work so hard to create and maintain.

This ain't new. It's been said earlier in this thread, and many times before.

Where I think the discussion goes off track is in considering one as a substitute for the other. And that goes in both directions - amateur productions have their place, but it isn't the same place as the pro productions; using pro approaches in creating projects meant to appear "amateur" is high-risk too.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 08:56 PM   #10
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Somehow the phrase "give a thousand monkeys a typewriter..." is fitting.

OK, we're talking A/V gear, but there are things a "pro" integrates into their "DNA" as they work and learn and gain experience - it becomes part of what a client pays for. It's an ephemeral element, but one you can't ignore.

Conversely, give Ansel Adams a "brownie" camera... or if he were shooting today a cheap P&S...

I've got no problem "educating" a client or a potential one, in fact if they begin to realize how much work is involved in even a simple production, perhaps they might be more excited about paying you to do it!
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Old April 17th, 2011, 04:31 AM   #11
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

The perception of what is "good" by an amateur videographer compared to what is "good" by a seasoned professional videographer is like comparing apples and oranges. Therefore, you can't teach an amateur how to shoot a good video in a simple lesson or workshop. It takes years of experience and practice. There is a major difference between knowing how to shoot a video and thinking you know how to shoot a video.
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Old April 17th, 2011, 01:55 PM   #12
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

I think there is a change, and I think it's the search for authenticity -- I think that's an accurate assessment. I'm working on a plan in our business to provide what I call micro-videos, and hoping to find a broad market. I think rather than looking for a few $10,000 or $100,000 clients, we should maybe consider looking for hundreds of $200-500 clients.
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Old April 17th, 2011, 03:05 PM   #13
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Authenticity is a great word, reflecting a consumer perception of product value.

When a clip is "authentic", is that referring to the content, the clip, or the product? (Despite what my wife says) I don't think these are just semantic differences. If I'm marketing, I'd care about credible clips that build on perceptions of authenticity of my product, wouldn't I?

I can remember hearing "authenticity" applied to athletic products back in the mid-1980s, so, I don't think the "search for authenticity" is new. Back then, that value was promoted through signing pro athletes for product technology endorsement, then using their statements (not just their images) in outbound marketing. If it's good enough for eg. Martina Navritilova (tennis superstar of yesteryear), then it's good enough for me. That's authenticity.

What crowd-sourcing gives us access to is an "everyman" authenticity. That's new, I think.

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Old April 17th, 2011, 04:27 PM   #14
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

I think your question about the effort to sell is a good one. I've found marketing to be a challenge in our business and maybe I'll find that out. I guess my current working theory is that many businesses know video exists and wish they could get into it but feel that the time and cost is not worth the benefit. My hope is that with a low-cost, simple entry product, I would have a product that would be helpful and attractive to nearly every business in town.

That being said, $200 is pretty low. We'll see how it goes (-: I do think I can shoot and edit a 1-2 minute authentic local video in somewhere between 2-5 hours that would be helpful to their online marketing. I've been thinking about it a lot and have plans for a test video in a week or two.
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Old April 17th, 2011, 10:16 PM   #15
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Re: A new paradigm in video production?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
Authenticity is a great word, reflecting a consumer perception of product value.

When a clip is "authentic", is that referring to the content, the clip, or the product? (Despite what my wife says) I don't think these are just semantic differences. If I'm marketing, I'd care about credible clips that build on perceptions of authenticity of my product, wouldn't I?

I can remember hearing "authenticity" applied to athletic products back in the mid-1980s, so, I don't think the "search for authenticity" is new. Back then, that value was promoted through signing pro athletes for product technology endorsement, then using their statements (not just their images) in outbound marketing. If it's good enough for eg. Martina Navritilova (tennis superstar of yesteryear), then it's good enough for me. That's authenticity.

What crowd-sourcing gives us access to is an "everyman" authenticity. That's new, I think.

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Wouldn't it take as much effort to sell a $200 project as to sell a $2000 project?

Here's another view - the kind of authenticity you describe here generally sucks.

You turn the camera on. and unless the talent is extremely professional or a skilled public speaker, "authenticity" takes the form of Ums - aahs, digressions, lost trains of thought, and wasted time.

In essence, most people - even VERY smart people - have personal communication styles that are anything but clear.

"Just let the camera roll and when you stop - so is the movie." Nobody does that. Why? Because it insults the audience.

At it's heart, Editing is removing the crap, however authentic it might be, that doesn't advance the communication.

Editing HONORS your audience by condensing the time and clarity of the message you're presenting.

It's not real - it's BETTER than real - because of the editors efforts not to waste the audiences time.

So sorry, no prize for this idea.
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