Posts Tagged ‘edit’

The incredible support system that provides the foundation for our small business

March 27, 2012

When you look through the outside window into the Montclair, New Jersey office of our professional video production company Voices & Visions Productions, you see three people diligently working away everyday: Our cinematographer/editor/tech guy Curt, our operations director/office coordinator Krystal, and me – the writer/producer/dealmaker/proposal author/marketer. We are the incarnate definition of a small business – a few people tirelessly changing identities to suit the tasks that roll through the door on any given day.

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But as we prepare for a video shoot in Austin, TX this Thursday, I am reminded of the fantastic system of support invisible from that exterior window but on whose brains, dedication and enthusiasm much of our success lies.

The prompt came in the form of this question from our client: “Can you get us a few insurance endorsements immediately so we can gain admittance into some buildings for which they just gave us permission to videotape?”

We are insured to the hilt thanks to doing a lot of work in Manhattan, but my myriad jobs do not include policy review or preparation of insurance paperwork. Fortunately I know I can rely on our agent, Sherrie Uzzo of The Scirocco Group. All it took to accomplish the goal was forwarding the client request to her and asking her to handle it. I was cc-ed on a bunch of Q and A emails that flew back and forth, but I never stepped in, and the job was accomplished correctly and with good karma.

The day before a sales tax question arose over a service we don’t ordinarily provide but for which I needed to bill a client. I’m a lawyer by training, but I have never worked in the murky and confusing field of tax law, nor do I have any desire to wade through it. I don’t need to: We have a great tax lawyer/accountant, Harold Lorman, who swims in those waters. A few emails and a follow up phone call, and we had a plan in place – both for the invoicing of the client and for sending an inquiry to the state sales tax office.

These issues arise because we have work, lots of these days, and that is largely due to the social media marketing and search engine optimization that consultant Lea Spencer has been doing for us. When I tried about a year and a half ago to spread the word about our company through my personal Facebook contacts, I failed. In came Lea, who does this work for businesses, and voila! We are often on page 1 of Google searches for “Corporate Video.”

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It’s one thing for prospective clients to find us and another for them to hire us, but one reason they do so is because of the high-quality motion graphics and animation created by designer Lori Newman for those clients who want to go that extra step to get extraordinary results. Whether we are creating a video for a geotechnical contractor for which she needs to show animations of the activities going on deep underground or a popular, fun-loving juice bar in Australia  that calls out for motion graphics popping with color and happy smiles, Lori is the most talented and dedicated graphic artist I know.

In recent months as video and social media have collided, we’ve evolved to encompass this combined expertise, which has also led to requests to re-create websites fashioned in the latest technological capabilities. Enter Curtis Fissel III, Mr. Techie, the behind-the-scenes guy on the five websites associated with our companies. Curtis is always available for any kind of implementation and ready to dig into whatever new innovations crop up. Never overwhelmed by possibilities, he also never tires of trying them on and seeing which ones fit best.

All of the calls related to IT, graphics, social media marketing, accounting, and insurance pass through the phone and keyboard of Krystal Sancho, part of our core who CAN be seen through that outside window. Ever patient, always smiling, and never frustrated, Krystal fields them through their correct courses to resolution, no matter what that takes. She is the rock that enables Curt and me to go on our frequent video field trips around the world, recording (then writing and editing) stories that give personality to the organizations for which we create marketing videos, web videos, testimonial videos, industrial videos, recruitment videos, investor relations videos, and documentaries. I am grateful for a top-notch team of as-needed partners, whose optimism, creativity, intelligence, and passion play a major role in giving our small business the capabilities of a much larger entity.

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Corporate Video Production: An Idea A Day: Day 12

December 14, 2011

Video Highlights of Conferences

Conferences are very important to organizers for many reasons: They establish reputation in the industry by bringing together impressive speakers, they convey information that is appreciated by attendees, and they often bring in profit. They also cost a lot of money to execute, so producers carry a burden of ensuring the success of the objectives, which includes incentivizing attendees and others to return for future events.

Enter another benefit of corporate video production! While the presence of some photos and a few quotes on a web page lauding a forum are advisable, a video portraying real speakers and scenes can transport the viewer to the event, underscoring the value of participation in a way that no other media can accomplish.

Example: Private Equity International (PEI) prides itself in providing “alternative insight.” Through its numerous publications and global conferences and training sessions, PEI offers authoritative, informative and useful content covering issues in the alternative asset classes of private equity, infrastructure, real estate, and real assets.

One of the important conferences PEI spearheads each year is its Investor Relations & Communications Forum held in New York, which our corporate video production company Voices & Visions was asked to videotape, then edit into a production for PEI to showcase to prospective attendees via its website and other online sites. The video captured background shots of a number of sessions, the ample networking opportunities, the amiable spirit that characterized the atmosphere, and many interviews with session leaders and participants discussing the unique benefits of this event. PEI hoped the video would attract two audiences: those specifically focused on next year’s event on this topic and viewers with more general interests for whom the video can provide insight into the value of all the conferences and training sessions PEI spearheads.

In addition to posting the video on multiple online locations, PEI will need to use social media and other outlets to let its audiences know about the video and where they can access it so that it does its intended job. That aspect of the campaign goes to marketing strategies – a story for a different blog! From the corporate video production end, PEI has distinguished itself by highlighting the value that its events convey through enabling interested folks to peek into the virtual window of one of their important annual conferences.

 

Corporate Video Production: An Idea A Day: Day 10

December 12, 2011

Since we specialize in both corporate video production and documentaries and find many similarities in the two arenas, our business clients in the New York / New Jersey metro area and other places with whom we work on marketing, web clip, investor relations, HR, testimonial, nonprofit, or other types of videos also come to us when documentary projects loom.

The term “documentary” is used here broadly, intended to apply to programs as short as five minutes and as long as 1.5 or more hours. Outlets for documentaries we have created have been as diverse as film festivals, PBS/cable stations, online networks, and internal corporate channels. Sometimes a company wants a documentary created to mark a special anniversary and plans to screen it only for its own employees and customers/prospective customers. Combining new video from all locations relevant to the storyline with the corporation’s archives of photos, past film or video, and other materials, a documentary can be produced that generates pride and excitement. In other instances, an organization is beginning a new and exciting project and would like to have it recorded as it unfolds, then create a documentary post-experience. In addition to internal audiences, sometimes these pieces contain messages worthwhile to share with wider crowds via the Internet or film festivals. And in some cases we are approached by an organization that has learned through one of our clients about our background in this genre and approaches us to help bring a special project to documentary life.

The last situation materialized recently.  An organization called Someday Melissa contacted us (via one of our clients) with a documentary in need of post-production about a 19-year old girl named Melissa who tragically lost her life to an eating disorder. The group came to us with the video shot and a first draft documentary of 60 minutes already edited; they said they wanted the hour-long version tweaked, then they wanted to have a 30 minute production edited. They also wanted a trailer for the program.

We recognized that the 60-minute version required more than tweaking. While we were limited story-wise by the interviews and video provided, we were able to envision ways of reorganizing the footage and changing some of the sound bites and shots to provide a much tighter and more compelling story. We worked with musicians on audio that underscored the feelings in the piece, and we edited the shots carefully and with emphasis on the most important events and messages. Transforming the project from its original version to the new one required two weeks rather than the day or two initially anticipated, but the end project was powerful.

Once the 60-minute version had been completed, we were fully familiar with the storyline details and materials supporting it, and we had the opportunity to re-imagine storylines in shorter time constraints, editing the half-hour piece and trailer were much less time-consuming. The latter can be seen on the organization’s website:

The documentary Someday Melissa: The Story of an Eating Disorder, Loss and Hope has just been made an Official Selection at its first festival, the 2012 California Independent Film Festival. It has been submitted to many others and is also screening at community forums and academic institutions. Now we are videotaping the stories that continue evolving as the film impacts its audiences, with the web and social media outlets promising additional educational opportunities for the new footage with the hope that Someday Melissa will help curb the devastation experienced by so many people suffering from eating disorders.

Corporate Video Production: An Idea A Day: Day 6

December 6, 2011

Continuing this week’s theme of blogs about nonprofits for which we have created video productions over the past several months, I now turn to a local NJ affiliate of a national organization.

With just over two weeks before this organization held its gala fundraiser, one of the honorees approached us with the request to shorten the long video the national organization had created and customize it to the NJ event.

The first challenge we confronted was that the material provided to us was in its final, compressed version – right for presentation on a DVD or the Internet, but not helpful for editing purposes.  This formatting meant that all the layers of visuals and audio were permanently compressed together, so any attempt to extract sound bites, for example, could cut off a musical score smack in the middle, or a preference for a different musical selection could not be accommodated since the audio was embedded in the original version.  With the inability to remove entrenched layers, the title cards naming individual speakers were also unalterably fixed.

We brainstormed with a key spokesperson for the nonprofit client who had strong opinions about some of the revisions and who sought help in figuring out how to accomplish those details given the challenges inherent in the video formatting. Here are the solutions we fashioned:

  1. We identified a core chunk of the original video that contained enough substantive quotes about the organization to paint a passionate picture of its importance without all the preceding or subsequent embellishment. This segment was under two minutes in length.
  2. We excised and maintained as a unit this core segment from the video, discarding the remainder. The in and outedits had to be made at spots where the music had natural interludes. The second or two of video tags on the bookends of the core were covered by black dissolves.
  3. We created a new title slate for a person whose position had changed since the time the first video was produced. In the original piece, titles appeared on opaque cards, which we could replicate. While we were not able to get information about the specific font that had been used, we were able to find one so similar that any differences would not be recognizable.  We created a new card and inserted it as a layer on top of the single, compressed layer, so that the correct title came up.
  4. We built a new opening with simple graphics tailored to the local affiliate. We wrote copy to provide a meaningful introduction and utilized archival black and white images that we had in our video library. (It helps that we also produce documentaries!) We added new music under this opening section. The intro was under a minute and ended with a fade to black that dovetailed – like the musical score — with the core section of the original video.
  5. We created a new closing that drew together the local and national using the music that had opened the piece, the graphics, and some stock photos descriptive of the larger message this shortened video (around three minutes) was expressing.

The final product was a big success at the gala, with the details of the editing surgery eluding the several hundred people who attended.