Posts Tagged ‘Voices & Visions’

The Effectiveness of Testimonial Videos

August 18, 2014

Client headliner feedback: “The [first] video went over well at the convention! It definitely left the audience wanting more. We just did an email campaign around the [other two] videos … and our sales people love them!! The morning we launched the YouTube link announcement I got an email from a sales rep around lunch saying that it couldn’t have come at a better time because he played the videos in his presentation and they went over really well!!”

            — Marketing Manager Lauren Vellek, RICOH Americas

Beginning this summer we have been working with global technology company RICOH to produce a series of testimonial videos for their production print solutions — apparently with very promising immediate results. To fulfill the job requirements, we have been going to print shops that use RICOH production print systems to videotape owners’ feedback about the product.

Says the owner of a PIP Printing shop in northern New Jersey on camera: “When we tested the RICOH product, we brought some of our most complicated jobs. We were very, very pleasantly surprised that we got a lot more than we had anticipated with some of the extra features where we’ve been really able to put a lot more work, both black and white and color, than we ever have before because it’s just a much, much better product than we’ve had here in the past.

“… What came with it …was … a training program that didn’t only cover the uses of the equipment but also helped to foster a better business improvement program for things that we did here day in and day out for 20+ years.”

 

Says a metro Philadelphia area Sir Speedy shop owner: “The great thing with RICOH has been their service. We place a call and within in an hour or less, we get a phone call. I’m fortunate to have a fantastic technician that is assigned to this area and he goes above and beyond the call to help meet our needs and the needs of our customers.”

If these quotes stand out in written form, multiply that impression by many-fold when they appear in video. It is only common sense: seeing and listening to the sincerity and feeling behind impactful words spoken by an actual shop owner who was not obliged to make the comments goes a long way toward effectively making a sale or closing a deal.

Of course, this approach is not mutually exclusive of producing a more formal video ad for TV or online avenues using a script, actors and the type of sizable crew that such an effort requires. But in comparison to this more traditional commercial production, the budget entailed for short testimonial videos pales, and its results offer the promise of a resounding success.

Visitor Center Video for National Historic Site

June 7, 2012

Sitting amongst New Hampshire hills, ponds, state forests, rivers, and covered bridges is an idyllic former summer colony in Cornish that was once home to America’s greatest sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

Unbeknownst to me prior to Voices & Visions winning the National Park Service contract to produce a documentary-style film to screen at the Visitors Center of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, I had actually encountered the artist’s work many times before. A large equestrian statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman, led by the winged angel of Victory, is the centerpiece of the Plaza Hotel entrance to Central Park. First exhibited as a work-in-progress at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair, the General is depicted leading the march through Georgia to seize Atlanta for the Union forces. History has oft-quoted his candid statement that “War is Hell,” and in this great work of art, Saint-Gaudens creates motion and emotion in the bronze, with wind billowing back Sherman’s cloak and tension straining his facial features.

Yes, it’s clear: I loved this project! The footage that we used was shot in 2009 by a company that produced a PBS documentary, but it was owned by the National Historic Site. Upon getting the job to produce a 15-minute informational video to be viewed by visitors to the grounds, we were provided with 60 hours of unedited interviews and b-roll, as well as the opportunity to become art history students of the life and work of Saint-Gaudens.

As a writer, this job started with me. I spent a week feeling like I was researching for a major term paper, but the library was mostly in the form of oral accounts that I transcribed and imbibed. I supplemented this knowledge base with Internet-based facts and one old-world source of information: a book. Slowly the vision of Saint-Gaudens came to life in my imagination, then on my computer screen, subject to some minor revisions by the experts who have made the Historic Site their professional home for decades.

The sensitivity, beauty, and craftsmanship, yet novelty and originality that were the hallmarks of this sculptor’s works and were vivified in the script, inspired the motion graphics created by our designer Lori Newman and the flow of the archival and still images and video footage our editor Curt Fissel wove together. Diane Moser, a music historian, composer and performer, found and re-created period music from the Cornish Colony (recorded by audio engineer Chad Moser), adding era-appropriate feeling to works that were largely focused on Civil War heroes. And narrator David Rosenberg was so taken by the story that he has already made a trip up to Cornish to see the National Historic Site!

 

In retrospect I realize it’s a funny coincidence that all of our video production partners who worked with us on this film (Lori, Curt, Diane, Chad, David, and me) are from Montclair, NJ – a town long known as its own artistic colony of a sort. During the course of this project, we were all highly inspired by learning about the Shaw Memorial across from Boston Common,  honoring Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment — the first volunteer regiment of African American troops raised in the north; the monument to Civil War naval hero Admiral David G. Farragut, which sits in NY’s Madison Square Park; and in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, the impactful statue of a contemplative Abraham Lincoln in bronzed motion, rising out of his Greek-style chair.

Examples of Saint-Gaudens’ works can be seen in a number of spots across the US, but the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is filled with works that spanned his lifetime and give color to US history and his unparalleled personal experience. This national park is open from Memorial Day weekend to Halloween, 9 am to 4:30 daily, and is located at 139 Saint Gaudens Road in Cornish, NH, just off NH Route 12A. Please wander around and enjoy the grounds, but first watch the informational video to give yourself the contextual background that will elevate your experience.

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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Video Field Production at Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway

February 6, 2012

The past number of blogs in this column have focused on end video productions. Some upcoming ones will highlight parts of the process that lead to that goal, shining light on those steps as they unfold.

Last week Voices & Visions had the opportunity to videotape a snippet of the construction of Manhattan’s new Second Avenue subway line with our client Moretrench, a geotechnical contractor specializing in the engineering and implementation of solutions for a spectrum of underground construction challenges in diverse conditions.  A few of the areas of the company’s expertise are dewatering and groundwater control, temporary earth retention, excavation support, deep foundation applications, and environmental remediation. Excelling in its service offerings, Moretrench is interested in having marketing videos created for its website to give browsers a visual peek into the thoroughness and quality of its services.

Curt always says that everyday is a field trip for us, and yesterday was a great example. Moretrench was a subcontractor, and their job was jack grouting,  with the goal of forming several seven foot-diameter columns underground so close that they form a retention wall. Advance preparation (pre-production) is useful, but being on the site personally, standing on street level, to witness the construction of an underground facility is awesome! I love the NYC subways, but rarely when I have waited on station platforms or zoomed through its maze of tunnels have I thought about the detailed, complex work that was involved in ensuring that the East River (for example) does not suddenly swallow up the tracks!

Our field production job was to translate our awe of the operation and its orchestration into elements that will speak to the target audience. Our client directed us to the site supervisor, who we asked to walk us through every step of the process, breaking down the information into sound bites that are comprehensible both for audiences in the industry and those who are newbies but are interested in the services of Moretrench. That’s my MO: Asking the interview questions that lead to more questions that lead to more questions, always with a smile and with the goal of total comprehension. I figure if I get, so will audience rookies.

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Not only that: The general contractor, for which Moretrench was the subcontractor, was on site and happy to say a few very complementary comments about the company which we can edit into a testimonial video for the web.

By the end of the shoot, we had collected what was transcribed into 20 pages of factual information, wonderful visuals, and a bunch of ideas regarding ways of cutting the material to be useful to the client.

Keep checking in for the video that will be created!

PS: Photos by Chris Ponnwitz, Marketing Coordinator, Moretrench