Posts Tagged ‘professional video’

Using an In-House Video Studio to Respond to Industry Current Events

February 20, 2013

Outside of the news industry, corporations are not broadcasting stations with staff positioned in key locations or contracts with international wire services, set up to report on current events as they unfold. Yet unending waves of news events are filled with stories that affect different companies in myriad ways, and responses by those entities have potential public relations value. How can a corporation ensure it is a valued commentator of relevant news as it happens?

For many companies, press releases or other textual documents are the fastest way to respond. Say, for instance, the Supreme Court issues an opinion about tax law. A large law firm with a tax department might want to post information explaining the impact of the decision. Time would be of the essence, since the case is fresh on the minds of folks in the target audience and because it is always better to beat competitors to the information landscape. The speediest approach might involve an expert in the department writing some text responding to the decision, then posting it on the website immediately.

Yet this is the era when more folks watch than read. Yet again, producing a video response generally entails hiring a corporate video production company, finding a mutually agreed upon date for the shoot, then waiting for post-production to be completed, approved, and electronically sent to the folks who will be posting it. ZZZZZZzzzzzz…. (That’s the time window sizzling out.)

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Model of a Video Studio V&V is designing for EisnerAmper

An in-house corporate video production studio is the perfect solution for this challenge. The type of studio envisioned would be designed and set up by a video professional, who would help the company purchase and place the lights, camera(s), microphones, backdrops, and other equipment in stationery spots that have been pre-tested to generate the best quality video. In the hypothetical example cited above, the tax lawyer charged with responding to the consequences of the Supreme Court decision would go into the studio and sit on a chair around which the gear has been pre-arranged by the video professional. Someone on staff, perhaps in the IT department, would be trained on usage of the equipment, so he or she could simply turn on the lights, clip on the microphone then put it in the “on” position, and start the camera(s) rolling.

This type of video would entail very little editing. It would generally consist solely of a fade up from black at the beginning and a fade down at the end, a title card, perhaps a few graphics underscoring key points, and occasional transition devices if the presentation requires a few cuts. An employee at the firm with basic editing skills might be able to do the job. Alternatively, the firm could outsource these minor clips to a corporate video production company, signing an agreement that provides for the need for immediate turnaround. This latter solution would also ensure that adjustments could be made in color correction and audio sweetening for any production missteps (such as a failure to fine-tune lights for a person taller or shorter than the average for which the lights were pre-set).  Since the type of editing involved is basic, the editing costs should be affordable.

As video overshadows other types of communication avenues on the web, embracing this format becomes increasingly advantageous. The key is to find ways to do that while maintaining a commitment to quality reflective of the company that posts the clips. A professionally designed in-house video production studio is a very good mechanism. It has value for many types of videos — among them, responses to current events that put the corporation at the forefront of information and action.

Our Corporate Personality

January 14, 2013

The notion that a corporation is a person under the due process clause of the US Constitution stretches back to the US Supreme Court decision in 1806 of Trustees of Dartmouth University vs. Woodward. The great Justice John Marshall, writing for that court, defined a corporation as “an artificial being” (and thus Dartmouth, as a corporation and a party to the charter-contract in dispute, could enforce its constitutional rights).

Other decisions elaborated on the concept, which was ultimately written into federal legislation stating: “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise . . . the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.” (1 U.S.C. section 1).

So at Voices & Visions we got to thinking… If V&V is a person (however artificial), what is its personality? It cannot be a reflection simply of its staff, since we are a collection of diverse personalities. How do we even begin to define the traits of this corporate person for whom we all work?

We started by listing some characteristics that we believe reflect V&V’s persona, based on the company’s “lifetime” of experiences – i.e., all the different projects on which V&V has worked together with the team of folks who’ve driven them. Those attributes include:corporate video nj, corporate video new jersey, corporate video production, business video, marketing video

  • Artsy/colorful
  • Warm/welcoming
  • Hip
  • Hard-working/ambitious
  • Down-to-earth
  • Enjoys diverse friendships
  • Traveler, but not tourist
  • Loves the journey
  • Establishes bonds globally
  • Is grounded in a stable, healthy family
  • Loves new challenges
  • Part techy, part creative, part academic
  • Thorough
  • Flexible
  • Adaptable
  • Storyteller
  • Loves dancing
  • Enjoys fine food, coffee, wine, and chocolate
  • Green/eco-friendly

We know that neither the distinguished lawyer Daniel Webster, who argued Dartmouth University before the Supreme Court, nor Justice Marshall, intended their definition of “corporation” to stretch into the notion of an entity defined with human traits. Nonetheless, these 207 years later, we would love to hear your comments about additional traits you think should be associated with V&V – as well as some thoughts about how the totality of characteristics might manifest themselves in a greater corporate personality.

Video Production From The Road: Interviews

October 26, 2012

One of the great upsides to shooting corporate videos at locations around the globe is that we spend our days at facilities with people with whom we have the privilege to become acquainted. After all, we are usually interviewing them on camera, and even when we’re not – such as in the production of a video that uses musical backgrounds without words – we are interviewing them off camera to understand the nature of their work so we can properly capture and present it.  Formal interview time is always bookended by plenty of informal chatter, making the former more comfortable for everyone. And so we learn things like colleges that interviewees’ kids attend or where they went on their recent vacations. Those conversations lead to others, and before we know it, we often all discover how much we are enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes dinner invitations follow, and even when they don’t, recommendations for good dinners (and all the colorful context) are usually a good bet. By the time we are departing, we find that we have collected valuable insiders’ perspectives about the places we have visited even if the trips are only for small amounts of time.

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Of course, we don’t always hit it off as good ol’ buddies with the folks we are interviewing, nor do we have any expectations. But we do maintain an attitude of “work hard, play hard,” so we find fun spots to spend the off-hours, with or without our professional colleagues. A few days ago at a pub in Rouen, France, we met a woman at the next table who had come to have a drink after week. After a few friendly comments, we all found that we had many things to discuss, and we spent quite awhile talking, laughing, taking pictures, and sharing stories. Today, of course, such encounters don’t end with the last drop of distinctive French wine. We have become Facebook friends, and if prior such meetings are an indication, I am confident our knowledge of each other’s lives and cultures will continue to expand over time.

Video Production From the Road: Flying Tips 2

October 12, 2012

Having become a semi-learned student of the airline rules, I wield them like constitutional rights.

Last year I chose to become an APP (my designation for the 25,000 plus mile status) on two airlines: United and American. The former is part of the OneWorld network, and the latter is a member of Star Alliance. Since my home bases are Montclair, NJ – 10 miles from Newark Airport – and Los Angeles, the most convenient airline for me to fly in the US is United, which has the Newark-based hub of its recent mergee, Continental.  American sometimes flies out of Newark, but more frequently its NY flights originate in and go to JFK and LaGuardia, making it a second choice for me.  However, the Star Alliance has more airline partners than OneWorld, and they fly to many more destinations, so I’m glad to have at least the APP-1 (more than Any Passenger and less than Any Passenger Plus) benefits.

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I write this blog now aboard a flight from Melbourne, Australia to Hong Kong. I am traveling with my husband/business partner Curt. We are videotaping for a corporate client in both locations. The decision to do the shoot happened late in the game, so arrangements were made last minute, when few flights were still available.  The only feasible and affordable option required traveling with Cathay Pacific from JFK to Hong Kong, then Hong Kong to Adelaide, Australia, then Adelaide to Melbourne, where we worked for three days. This flight goes from Melbourne directly to Hong Kong, where we will stay for two nights. The next leg is to San Francisco, where we will work for a day. The last segment will take us from San Francisco back to Newark.

Cathay Pacific is a Star Alliance member. With our American gold status, we are classified as Ruby travelers on Star Alliance, going through the first and business class check-in and security lines, and boarding earlier in the game than other passengers. Since the economy class tickets had been sold out for the eastward bound flights at the late time of our booking, we purchased the next level: premium economy. That gave us a little more room and an APP+ status. But here is how being a partner airline APP member served as an advantage: The flight from NY to Hong Kong was 15 hours; the one from Hong Kong to Adelaide was another 9. When we arrived in Hong Kong, a ticket agent was waiting for us, informing us that we had been upgraded to business class. With open seats on the plane, priority went to us instead of others who had bought premium economy tickets since we had a combination of those slightly more expensive tickets and APP status on another Star Alliance partner airline.

Business seats on these eastern airlines are amazing for a number of reasons, but best of all, the seats fold down flat like beds. As someone who has a hard time sleeping in planes, I slept more than half of the journey, waking up refreshed enough to work for the afternoon in Melbourne. It made a huge difference!

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Director of Photography, Curt.

The seats en route back west are only economy. But because of our APP status with Star Alliance member American, Cathay Pacific was able to offer us bulkhead seats, ie, front row in economy, with unlimited leg room.  For non-ruby passengers, these seats would have cost an additional $100 each, but our status ensured we could get them, and at no extra charge. We have reserved the same seats for the trip from Hong Kong to San Francisco.

The last leg of our trip will be provided by United, enabling us to return on a direct flight to Newark Airport. Checking over the seat availability, it seems we will be doomed to the last row. But as APP members, we stand a chance of getting upgraded, if anything is available.

I am well aware of the disadvantage of accruing miles in more than one airline per year. By this year’s end, I will have accumulated just short of 100,000 miles on all my flights combined. Had I stuck with one airline or partnership and taken a few extra trips to reach that mile marker, I would have been a lifetime status holder. Instead, the status I’ve earned over the last 10 months – which in another three weeks will be APPP on United and APP on American – will be good only through 2013. Come January 1, I will have to start all over again for 2014. But the offerings didn’t leave me much of a choice. The flights that gave me the most miles were available at specific times on particular airlines. At least I will enjoy my status in the coming year, always keeping an eye on changing rules and new opportunities.

Read Flying Tips 1.

Video Production From The Road

October 5, 2012

Day 1: Departure from JFK

Our corporate headquarters is in Montclair, NJ, about 15 miles from Newark Airport, but unfortunately for us, the majority of international flights still depart from JFK – a one hour drive when there is no traffic (a rare occurrence). When we are shooting a documentary about which we feel passionate and are working on the hope that funding will follow, we become beggars for free rides from friends on the much-disliked trek from NJ to Jamaica, NY.  And when we travel for quick stints, we take the car and find parking lots near airports that are priced less expensively than an hour of parking in midtown Manhattan. But when we travel for a more lengthy time for corporate clients who pay for our expenses, a car service saves the driving stress and guilt for swallowing hours of friends’ time.

Warning! Not all car services are the same! Most of those coupons in the Val-Pak envelopes that come in the mail suggest discounts of all kinds, but when you call the company to get a quote, you often hear about a host of other add-ons to the rate they advertise as total – things like tolls and extra bags and tips and taxes. You do the math and realize the discount drowns under the supplementary fees. There are exceptions, however, if you do the research. (All good things in travel come with extensive, time-consuming research. But once you’ve got it figured out, the knowledge goes a long way for a long time.)

We use a car service that is truly a one-price, no gimmicks. Tolls and even driver’s tip is built into the fee, which gets charged on my credit card at the end of each airport drop-off. The car of the driver Kenny (973.573.7142 or abovelimo123@yahoo.com)  is a bit old-world – a Lincoln Town Car that was probably a “beaut” about a decade ago — but it is a smooth ride and does the job, even if the permanently-jammed front window requires the driver to open his door to dunk in the change as he goes through the tolls for which he does not have EZPass. Those are his choices, but I don’t care. I’m usually busy in the back seat, distracted from the road by the constant flow of new messages into my smartphone.

The next hurdle at the outset of a videotaping trip is checking bags without paying for extra weight. Considering that we typically carry two professional cameras; one or two camera tripods and several more for lights; a full light kit; a set of microphones including wireless, lavs and shotguns; supporting equipment such as cables, batteries, chargers, and all kinds of Mary Poppins’ bag accessories – not to mention a few weeks’ worth of clothes to be worn in different climates – this is no small matter.  First on the list of packing is thinking about which items must travel with us onboard, either because of their fragility and expense, or in case the suitcases don’t arrive when we do. Over the years, we’ve had luggage end up in all parts of the world, sometimes opposite sides of our destination. That unfortunate occurrence is not an excuse for failing to work upon arrival, so back-up plans need to be considered in advance.

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Susie (available from B&H Photo/Video)

Ordinarily two of us travel per shoot, with two carry-ons each. That leaves the checked luggage, which in the days of BetaCam SP were numerous but now are down to three, each of which comes close to the 23 kilogram or 50 pound maximum weight. One is our 28 inch suitcase carrying all our clothes and some smaller pieces of equipment that lightens the load of the other bags. For this trip we’ve added a 21 inch, two-pound screen since we’ll be setting up a mini-editing suite in the hotel room.  Another bag has our full lighting kit, and a third has the tripods, light tripods and cables. Our big suitcase and light kit have wheels that roll on all four.  One additional carry-on is our prized possession, so important that she merits a name: Susie (derived from “wuski” – Polish for “carts”) – a powerful baggage cart holding up to 250 pounds that folds up into a flat item less than three feet tall and one inch wide. Susie, who we wheel into the airport with the tripod case and carry-ons, has seen more of the world than most people I know! After we check-in the bags that get stored under the plane, her load goes down to the heavier carry-ons, which we wheel through airports with ease except in LaGuardia where there seems to be a prejudice against her and they require her to go the way of the rest of our luggage.

The last major obstacle on the departure side – assuming no plane delays – is getting through security. Since the essential equipment accompanies us on board, we are usually subject to bag checks –almost always a delay, but never a problem.

Significantly, we’ve finally splurged the extra annual $250 for the American Express Platinum card, which lets us use US Airways lounges regardless of the flight we will be taking as well as American and Delta lounges when we travel with them. We also have access to Priority Pass lounges around the world, where I write this now from Hong Kong. (After the next trip, we’ll have enough miles on United to get into their clubs at no charge, too.) These spaces provide a much more comfortable waiting area, replete with free wi-fi, large comfortable chairs, snack food, drinks, and nice bathrooms. I’m doing the same thing in this lounge as I would be doing back in my office in New Jersey.

Next week: Flying Tips.

Corporate Video on the Road

October 3, 2012

The end of the calendar year brings corporate meetings of all kinds. In today’s visual world, a constant flow of intermittent video throughout the course of these lengthy gatherings ensures more interest and participation, which ultimately translates to greater success for hosting firms.

Enjoying fish soup in the Traveler’s Lounge in HKG Airport (Hong Kong).

As a full-service corporate video production company working in this world, autumn ushers in a heavy travel schedule for us at Voices & Visions Productions as we work this year in Australia, Hong Kong, France, Finland, and various cities in the US – all in a single month.

Success with a schedule as hectic as this requires a deep-seated knowledge of how to travel as lightly but completely as possible to ensure the video captured looks as beautiful as it does when we shoot in our home territory.  Another important factor in preventing plane and road burn out is knowing how to plan the travel experience on a limited budget, to ensure comfort and even playtime in the after-work hours (when they happen). Over the coming few weeks, I will write blogs that address a bunch of video tips on the heavily traversed road.

Photo Optimization Tip

August 29, 2012
This week’s tip for photo optimization comes from our marketing director, Lea:
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Never use the default file name for a photo. Before uploading an image to any blog or site, save it with a name that is descriptive. If the photo is saved as GDB00002.jpg, Google has no idea what the image depicts. If it’s saved as beach-santa-monica.jpg, it will be seen as such by search engines.
Tune in later this week for an in-depth discussion of photo optimization techniques.
See last week’s tip on video production.

How To Optimize YouTube Videos For SEO

July 30, 2012

According to studies conducted by the marketing research firm Forrester, sites with video are over 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of a Google search results page than those with text alone. Recognition of the value placed on video by Google probably accounts for the popularity of this form of media; a survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers found that 80% of marketers are using video this year. Yet equally important to the proliferation of professional video is optimizing the productions  for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

Above is an example of a YouTube video we uploaded and optimized.

There are several key elements to optimizing marketing videos on YouTube which begin with the file name and description. The title should not only reflect the nature of the video, but it should have keywords that cause Google to pay attention. Additionally, posted videos should contain an accurate description of the content. to ensure that folks searching for this type of information find them.The reason keywords are so important is because Google can’t actually read the content of videos (yet!). Rather, the title and description of the video tell the search engines what it is about. The more accurate, content-rich and keyword-filled, the more information Google will be able to use in its optimization formula. Ever a step ahead, descriptions that are bombarded with random keywords put the videos with which they are associated in jeopardy.Another SEO clue is to provide a URL to a website – preferably the page where the video lives on the website – in the video description, creating a link between two respected sites. Significantly, when there is an increase in the number of locations to which content is uploaded, Google views the video as having more authority and ranks it higher.

The Tags section of the uploading process is where all the keywords that don’t weave smoothly into the description can be highlighted. Prospective clients and customers will search for products or services using specific words, which can be tagged. The tags should be separated with commas, and each should not be more than one or two words.

Finally, the video should be accurately categorized, and the visibility option should be set to “public.” These details may seem obvious, but they are often overlooked and can affect the reach of a video (or lack thereof)..

In addition to Youtube and website postings, videos should be posted across a wide range of social networks. Online communities should be encouraged to share them. Repostings on separate sites increase the authority of the material in the eyes of Google and Bing.

The Evolution of Video Production, Part 2

July 23, 2012
As the video industry continues to evolve at an exponential rate, it becomes increasingly important for video production houses to stay ahead of the curve. Evolving with the market is no easy trick, but it’s also not a foreign concept to Voices & Visions’ principals Ellen Friedland and Curt Fissel, who’ve been in the business since the nineties. They’ve successfully made the switches from linear to digital and from SD to HD, and they are excited about the latest turn: video going social. video production new jersey, video production new york, curt fissel, ellen friedland, voices and visions, corporate video production
As an active user of LinkedIn since its inception, Ellen names it as her top network, stating, “I listen to a lot of conversations happening on LinkedIn and read articles showcasing statistics about everything related to video, which keeps me up to date on trends in the industry.” Ellen uses this information to inform her conversations with clients. “We make sure that what we do and what our clients do is in harmony with the latest marketing information related to video,” she says.
A big influencer in the social video world is YouTube, and since it is owned by Google, it serves as its own search engine for video. “Google values quality and substance in its text and videos,”  Ellen notes. “Pre-Google’s ownership of Youtube, home videos of people’s dogs walking across the floor were acceptable, and even companies grew accustomed to the unprofessional nature of many of the video postings. Today people recognize that they need to have professional videos.” The quality of the videos is not the only trend Ellen has noticed Google preferring; she believes the quantity of videos matters as well. “It’s my understanding that Google pays attention to sites that post numerous substantive videos,” she tells clients. She adds that additional videos need not multiply the costs of production. Says Ellen: “The amount of video captured and the time spent editing may be the same whether one longer video or several shorter videos are produced.”
This shift to shorter, more numerous videos is just another in a long line of industry transformations for Voices & Visions’ senior editor, Curt, who considers the changes all part of the job. He names professional seminars, conferences and active involvement in user groups as his primary sources of information gathering. While these activites are very time-consuming, Curt recognizes that, “this is the profession I’ve chosen to immerse myself in, and I want to stay on top of it.” His reference to staying current is focused on both the changing styles of video production as well as  the software editors use to produce them.
After the switch from linear to digital, Curt became proficient on the AVID editing system, which he used for 10 years. Several years ago he made the switch to, Final Cut Pro, to which he now feels a strong alliance. “The ease of Final Cut Pro, when working with a Mac, made the transition necessary,” he says. Curt is, however, open-minded to ever-new technologies, which is how he’s been able to stay ahead of the game.
At the most recent National Association of Broadcasters conference, it became clear that industry choices have expanded to include other systems, like Adobe Premiere. Curt appreciates the creativity of all the new offerings and never opposes adopting new software that improves on the old.
Conferences like the annual NAB and sites like LinkedIn help small businesses to gain footing in the never-ending tidal waves of industry shifts.. But that’s not enough; it also takes a willingness – and excitement — to be ready to learn and implement the next best products and services.
Read Video Production, Part 1

Tip of the Week

July 19, 2012
This week’s tip comes from our writer and producer, Ellen:
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When traveling to other cultures, learn about the culture to which you’re traveling:
Back in 1995, when we were doing a lot of work in Poland, I went to the store and bought a Polish language audio cassette. I decided if I was going to be in Poland, I needed to know certain words and expressions: Thank you, please, where is the bathroom, right, left, straight. After many rewinds, I learned some of the basics, which made it so much easier to get around. People also responded more helpfully and enthusiastically because they realized I was trying to take part in their culture.