Why Great Video Costs What It Does

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A couple weeks ago, we started working with a company that needed a video for a special 40th anniversary gala for its employees and clients. The video would also be shown at trade shows and on the company’s website and social media channels.

They came to Custom Video Productions after they tried the DIY approach and weren’t happy They tried doing it on their own but they weren’t satisfied with the finished product. Not even close.

With the event fast approaching, the company was under the gun to not only get the video done, but make sure it told their unique story in a powerful way. They were thrilled when they found out we could work their project into our schedule.

The final deliverable would be a two-minute video.

When the client saw the price, he kind of twitched, as if to say, “Seriously? For a two-minute video?”

I had explained our process in detail. Like most clients, he nodded and seemed to understand. But, like most clients, he needed to see us in action to truly understand the value of what we do.

Yes, the finished product would be a two-minute video. But how do we get there?

Before Any Video Equipment Is Touched

I wish we could just show up and shoot video. If only it were that easy. But we look at the big picture instead of just creating the picture.

We discuss the client’s target audience and what they want to accomplish. We go over how to incorporate the video into the marketing plan and how it can deliver measurable value to the business.

Most importantly, how would this particular video capture the 40-year heritage of this company and tell their story in a way that matters to their audience? How would it make viewers feel?

After we answer these questions, we have to work on a script that supports the video’s message. The scriptwriter is briefed, interviews the client and writes the script.

Once the script is approved by the client, we do a site survey. We visit the company’s facilities and familiarize ourselves with their business operations. We talk to employees and determine who should participate in the video based on their personality and energy. We have employees sign waivers and tell them what they should wear.

We also have to prep the client – in this case, the founder and his son – for their interviews. Our approach is to keep it loose and forget the camera is there so they feel comfortable and sound natural. It’s a conversation, not an interrogation.

After all, if you want people to believe your story, the storyteller has to be believable.

Then we schedule the shoot.

On the Day(s) of the Shoot

We don’t just show up with a camera. We bring all of our equipment, including the kitchen sink. We want to be prepared with every tool in the shed so we can deliver as much value as possible to the client.

We always have at least two cameras running during an interview. We bring different types of specialty lighting for different environments. We bring our drone just in case aerial cinematography will enhance the story.

After we shoot the interview, we have to capture everything the client talks about during the interview. We shoot actual employee interactions and what happens in the client’s facility because that’s what most of the video will show, not a talking head.

Instead of staging activity, we make sure what we capture is authentic. We become a fly on the wall, never interfering with the company’s ebb and flow. In this case, we captured the footage we needed over the course of two days. We also grabbed old black and white photos and certificates that would help us tell the client’s 40-year story.

Then we bring everything back to the studio.

Converting Media into the Client’s Story

All footage, photos and other media are loaded into our editing software. Our video editor starts organizing everything into a structure that begins to resemble a story.

If a professional voiceover and music are needed, we provide the client with a few options of each to choose from. Sometimes we’ll have a musical score created from scratch. For this client, the owner only spoke Spanish, so we had to add subtitles during his interview.

Then we do the editing and create a rough cut to show the client. We’re careful to make the video timeless by avoiding any seasonal or date-specific references unless they’re required for the video.

After we get feedback from the client, we do more editing. Once the client signs off on the rough cut, we do the final edits – color correction, audio sweetening, optimization for YouTube, etc.

Then we hand a finished product to the client. That little two-minute video doesn’t seem so simple anymore, does it?

This is why great video costs what it does. It’s not just the video itself, but the process, the strategy, the equipment, the expertise and the attention to detail required to make it great.

Honestly, great video is hard. But like Tom Hanks once said, it’s the hard that makes it great.

If you’re ready to make a great video that does justice to your brand, let’s talk.