Category Archives: Production Techniques

A Guide to Advertising & Production Costs

How much will that cost? That’s a question I’m sure every business gets almost daily. With some products, like a television or computer, the answer is relatively easy. Go online, find the model you want, compare specs and prices, and choose your retailer.

But for most things, figuring out the cost is much more difficult. From buying a car to getting a fence installed, the price can vary wildly based on factors too numerous to even think about.

So what does advertising cost? How about getting a video produced? What about having a website designed…or an interactive kiosk created…or…well you get the idea. There are no quick and easy answers, but there are some guidelines you can use for many types of projects.

Let’s look at websites. If you’ve ever gotten estimates for having one designed, the differences in price can be cavernous. I’ve seen website estimates vary by tens of thousands of dollars based on the same specs. How can this be possible? Some of the disparity can be attributed to differences in turnaround time, differences in how the site is programmed and built, the experience level of the designer etc. But more often than not, if there’s a huge difference between the lowest bid and the highest bid, it’s a good bet you’re looking at one severely underbid estimate and another severely overbid one.

Certainly there are many types of websites with varying levels of complexity, not to mention the growing need to build separate mobile versions. But for most sites, you could use the following guidelines to figure a range of what it should cost. Continue reading

Update on 3D Television Networks and 3D in Theaters

By Chris Blair

I ran across an interesting article this morning about the status of 3D in movie theaters and on television. You can read it here.

The gist of the article is that director Christopher Nolan won’t be shooting the next Batman movie (The Dark Knight Rises) in 3D, and that ESPN is questioning it’s foray into 3D with it’s ESPN3D network.

ESPN’s Senior Director of Technology, Johnathan Pannaman, recently told a European business conference that ESPN is “still not sure what makes sense for 3DTV, and we don’t yet see a proven ROI [return on investment].”

All this before Discovery Network has even decided on a name for it’s proposed 3D network, and still hasn’t announced a launch date, only offering “early 2011” as the proposed launch.

My prediction is if ESPN3d folds, Discovery 3D will follow, all before it ever airs a second of 3D content.

The importance of audio in videos

By Chris Blair

Bad audio can ruin an otherwise well produced video. Whether it’s poorly recorded voice tracks, mismatched ambient sound in scenes with dialogue, or poorly timed cuts in a testimonial interview, bad audio can disrupt the flow of individual scenes and sometimes the entire video.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest changes in video production over the last 20 years is that many people don’t budget for audio on projects. Whether it’s having a sound engineer on a shoot, producing custom music, or even spending time sweetening an audio mix, audio is often the first thing that gets cut when planning a shoot or edit. In fact, on most of our shoots, the camera crew ends up being responsible for audio. And while our shooters are adept at setting microphones and monitoring levels, it certainly isn’t the best way to guarantee quality audio on a shoot, especially when it calls for actor dialogue or extensive interviews.

Audio is just too important to be treated as an afterthought. It’s arguably half your product. It can drive the pacing of a project and can create the appropriate mood, add emphasis, and subliminally influence how images are perceived. People have gotten so used to the impact of sound that studies have shown that when test subjects are shown silent video of events or machines that make loud or distinct sounds, a huge percentage report hearing the sound while watching the video. Continue reading

What’s Your Story?

By Chris Blair

Almost all human interaction involves the use of stories. It’s been that way for centuries. Prehistoric cave dwellers used drawings to tell stories. The world’s best-selling book, The Bible, is a book of stories.

Without stories, most of us would have no reason to communicate; no reason to interact. How difficult would it be for us to learn about ourselves, document history, or entertain without them? Watch a major television network for a couple of hours and count how many programs or commercials use stories.

Why are they so effective? Because people identify with events that are in tune with their experiences. And stories provide structure. They introduce characters and settings, grab our attention by introducing conflict, then satisfy our curiosity by providing a resolution.

Without stories, videos and commercials usually become a jumble of facts and claims that attempt to tell the viewer what to think. Other videos are nothing more than moving, talking wall hangings. Great to look at, but pointless. Stories offer an account of events that let readers or viewers interpret the meaning.

Using stories is really pretty easy. If you’re producing a video about OSHA rules and regulations, at first blush it may seem difficult to make the subject matter compelling. But what if employees don’t comply with OSHA rules? Bingo! You’ve got a storyline. The set-up: a manager ignores OSHA rules. The conflict: employees are torn between obeying their supervisor or obeying OSHA rules. Then an accident occurs. The resolution: the accident makes employees understand it’s everyone’s responsibility to follow OSHA rules.

The best lawyers use stories to convince juries. The best ministers use stories to inspire. The best educators use stories to motivate and teach. The best producers use stories to educate, entertain and sell. Use them in your video projects. People respond to stories.