What are the key trends affecting jobs in film and content production? This was one of the questions I answered in my recent talk at the University Film and Video Association annual conference—a meeting of college educators. A couple of the trends I spoke about affect not just job-seekers, but those of us already working in content creation, plus any company or nonprofit producing their own content.

Two key trends are affecting all content creators, from small nonprofits to streaming networks: remote workflows and massive amounts of data.

Remote work is here to stay.

Let’s first talk about remote work.

I’m not just talking about Zoom meetings here. In our content creation world, remote work preceded Covid, and new technologies accelerated our ability to do everything from remotely dive into a sound mix session to allowing a director to see what the camera sees without being on set. In addition, we use tools allowing clients to give us feedback asynchronously directly onto a video timeline, and these tools got even more sophisticated during Covid. For example, ADOBE tools allow us to begin editing with temporary video files directly from the camera before we even arrive at the edit room. And systems like the Teradek, which I often use so that I can see what the camera is doing when I’m sitting near-set. But paired with an encoder and decoder, we can bring that signal to a client or producer sitting several hundred miles away.

What does this mean for content creatives and the people who hire us? We need to be extremely organized and good at self-management. And each of our team members must also be motivated, organized, and able to deliver their components of our workflow whether or not we’re sitting in a room together. Everyone also has to be excellent at communication. Even if our happy place is working alone, successful creatives must be able to collaborate and synchronize the vision—often very quickly.

The Teradek can be paired with a variety of devices to give us a remote view of the shoot.

The second trend is data.

So. Much. Data. We can shoot terabytes of data on a single shoot with multiple cameras. So it is no longer realistic to have the junior production assistant or intern function as a DIT (Digital Information Tech) on set. We use people who have real expertise in how to tag the metadata, organize the files and ensure everything is getting backed up properly. We can’t afford to lose track of anything in the transition from the shoot to the edit. There is so much data that Netflix recently released a list of jobs on set and near set that are involved in the management of data from field to post. In addition, we have many clients who like to update and revise various videos, to give them a longer lifespan. That means we need to be systematic about how and where we archive our projects, so that we can bring them “back to life” at a moment’s notice.

Both of these trends mean that successful creatives, no matter what our job description, need to be massively organized, and always thinking ahead about how we can work smarter to deliver our best creative results. That’s what my team and I try to do every day. And we’re excited about all the students learning the ropes, and entering the workforce to join us in the near future.

Data management is a big part of the workflow in professional content creation.

 

We recently developed an inspiring conference video for the nonprofit JPro, the organization of, by, and for all those who work at Jewish organizations across the United States and Canada.  It’s a hard-working group!  In addition to year-round programming, every three years JPro runs a conference that gathers Jewish community professionals to share ideas, network and learn. This year, after two years of prolific change, the conference, JPro22: Going Places, Together in partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America, was looking for a fresh approach to its annual Young Professional Award video. The goal was to weave together all six stories of the award winners into one big story arc telling how, through their dedicated work, these emerging leaders evoke the bigger themes of JPro and its community of nonprofit professionals. So we dug into our ideas bag and many meetings and weeks later, turned out the video at the end of this post.

Setting the Goals

We first took a look at the project’s goals and opportunities. Right away, we knew the awardees were young, active professionals, so we wanted to create a look that matched their energy. We decided to create an animated visual approach with angles and colors that keyed off of the wonderful conference logo designed by Greater Good Strategy. With its bright colors and lines which cleverly incorporate a Jewish six-pointed star, this logo inspired our thinking. We wanted to evoke the intersectionality of JPro community’s work and Jewish values, while baking the colors of the event logo into our visual framework. And by the way, we love it when clients have a brand guide with RGB values for video!

Solving Problems Before They Happen

In pre-production, we always assess our challenges and come up with solutions. One key challenge for this project was being able to deliver for a big screen at a conference while working with a wide range of UGC (user-generated content) from each of the awardees—in a wide range of resolutions, formats and sizes. Within our timeframe, we couldn’t possibly shoot our usual 4K b-roll in six locations to demonstrate the important work of these awardees and their organizations, so we knew we would be relying on existing assets like photographs and video to tell their stories. By designing an animated framing device, with a gentle color wash evoking key colors of the logo, we could highlight the best portions of these images. And by not blowing the images up too much, we could avoid pixilation on a big screen at the conference. Our goal is always to think multi-platform, so big screen impact was critical for this project, while retaining a design that could work online after the event.

Using an animated framing device helped to draw the eye to the best storytelling parts of visual assets.

Remote Interview Workflow

Since the fabulous JPro awardees work in multiple cities across North America, some in Canada still in lock-down, we quickly dispensed with the idea of travelling to shoot interviews or shipping 4K cameras to them, and decided on a simpler remote interview workflow. We used Zoom to pre-interview each awardee, to delve into their individual story arcs and themes. I always get pre-interviews transcribed with Rev.com so I can review them, note key phrases or stories, and start building out my interview questions and story arc.  What’s cool about Rev is you can also scrub through the video and see how those selections look on camera. Then we scheduled the actual interview recordings. Rather than relying on Zoom, we used a studio Tricaster system with engineer. The Tricaster can work with signals coming via Zoom or Skype, and stabilizes the incoming VOIP signal. The engineer isolates just the interviewee, using all available video resolution for their recording and not wasting it recording the other people on the call.  And in this case, our favorite studio also has last-mile fiber optic cable, keeping our signal as pristine as possible.

A little BTS of my home setup for on our remote interviewee, lower left, and our editor/co-producer Danilda Martinez, lower right. (Interface Media Group Engineer Monte Cansler is hiding!) Note my hi-res Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Pro camera is off, since I’m not being recorded.

Post Workflow

Once remote interviews were recorded, we immediately got them transcribed so I could start curating soundbites and developing and editing script based on the themes that would drive each video segment. The goal was to develop a key theme for each awardee that would flow seamlessly into the next theme and awardee, but also tell a bigger, unified story about JPro.  The themes were then incorporated into the After Effects graphics framework for the video.  Once I selected soundbites, we built a “radio edit” (voices only, no pictures) to be sure the story arc worked before our talented producer/editor Danilda Martinez began selecting associated visuals for the Premier Pro timeline. Throughout the editing process, we got alignment on visuals, soundbites and themes from our client using Wipster.io to manage comments and ensure any proposed revisions got addressed quickly with our post team.

Wipster.io is a tool that gives our clients asynchronous frame-accurate feedback.

Moving from Premiere to After Effects, our animation designer Chris DiNardo placed each video frame into a series of customized motion templates to adjust and crop images and create angled transitions that matched angles and lines in the event logo. We even brought this visual theme into the lower thirds (on screen names and titles of speakers) for continuity of design. Throughout our post-production process, I kept revising the script so that our team always had an “on paper” representation of what was going on in the edit.

Keeping a unified brand look throughout–including “lower thirds” where we ID people on screen–is another key to good video storytelling.

 

Telling great impact stories is my passion and that of every member of our team. The JPro22 Young Professional Award video project exemplifies how we use creativity and technology to support nonprofit organizations, their partners, funders and stakeholders through the power of video storytelling.

Working with professional actors is one of the highlights of being a director. Actors bring a range of talents to a script, even when that script is nonfiction (the kind I direct). On a recent shoot with actors, I was reminded of some of the reasons I like working with pro talent. And also some of the distinctions it is easy to forget when working with nonprofessionals in front of the camera.

Nomenclature
One of the first differences between working with pro talent and non-actors is the words we use to communicate on set. If I’m working with actors, I can say “back to one” for going back to your first mark for action, or “let’s do a pickup” for repeating a line or phrase that had a hiccup. With non-professionals, we spend more time explaining actions we need, and often why we need them because we can’t use this short-hand. A great example would be explaining how we need both wide and tight angle coverage of the same action, which is why we shoot it multiple times. An actor knows this and will ask which lens or framing we’re on so they know what we’re looking at in our monitors.


Expectations
Good actors come to the set prepared to deliver their lines. If you are directing a scenario, they’ve already studied the setup and considered actions they might use to make the scene believable. If an actor is reading from a teleprompter, they will still usually request the script in advance so they are ready to read it without any stumbles. One of the problems I see so often with internal communications teams expecting a CEO or other executive to be able to read off a teleprompter easily is that this is a learned skill. Even if an executive does it multiple times a year for the quarterly report video, they don’t do it weekly or daily like a professional does. So they may need some coaching.

Selecting wardrobe is something pro talent expects to do on a shoot–it often comes as a surprise to non-actors.

Varying the timing or delivery of lines is something pro talent can do easily.

Consistency
Even when an actor is playing “background” and doesn’t have primary lines, they will be consistent in their actions. Maybe they pick up a coffee mug and take a sip during the scene. They will pick it up at the same point in the action every time, which ensures that we have matching action across multiple takes and camera angles for ease of editing. When you work with nonprofessionals and expect them to re-enact a scenario, even if it’s something they do every day for their job, they won’t be able to deliver this consistency. So plan accordingly and schedule additional time (at least 20% more time) for your shooting and editing.

Actors are an important part of our team as storytelling professionals. They can add depth, drama and professionalism to your next video. And if you need pointers for working with non-actors on camera, check out my book Real People on Camera from Routledge Press. It includes tips and strategies I’ve used over the years to get great “performances” from non-professionals in front of the lens.

In a few weeks, I’ll be spending time with more than 60,000 colleagues in media, tech & entertainment at @NABShow, producing our first-ever #GALSNGEAR Women’s Leadership Summit there, and sharing some of my production and business strategies at these conference sessions.

If you’re headed to Vegas, too, here are some of my tips from years of navigating this town for business (which isn’t quite the same thing as going there for fun, although we definitely have that, too). One of the big challenges is food, since this is a large event. Luckily you can get discounts with your NAB Show badge. You can also try some of my top local food picks:

1. Lotus of Siam.  This Thai restaurant–now with two locations!–offers beautifully made, authentic, and seriously spicy cuisine. Try the spicy prawns or the sea bass in any of the three sauces–I had the ginger sauce with mushrooms one year and it was divine. For folks who love spicy (me!), beware. The scale at Lotus is the real deal. If you ask for 10, you might need a tableside fire extinguisher.

2. Kaizon Fusion Roll. Step inside this strip mall sushi place and discover a chic Asian fusion dining experience. On offer are unique (and gigantic) sushi roll combinations in a low-key, hip bar atmosphere. Just across street from Hard Rock Hotel but not nearly as pricey as their famous sushi place.

3. Sen of Japan is another local favorite, with consistently high reviews and more authentic Japanese fare.

4. Lindo Michoacan A local Mexican 3-restaurant chain well regarded, including by my local friend whose wife hails from Mexico.

5. Echo and Rig Vegetarians, avert your eyes. This place let’s you pick out your cut of steak, then have it grilled up at the restaurant next door. Talk about “on-demand” dining!

6. Piero’s A Las Vegas institution and close to the Convention Center where we’re all living for this conference. Dinner only.

7. Tamba Indian A family owned place with plenty of tables for big groups. Except heads up, don’t go the Tuesday night of NAB Show (4/26) because Women in Streaming Media, RISE and #GALSNGEAR are hosting an event there (email me an I’d be happy to send you the RSVP link!)

8. The only Vegas eatery on the strip that makes my list consistently every year is Beijing Noodle No.9 at Caesar’s. Try the soup dumplings (they’re not IN the soup, the soup is IN the dumplings!) and a bowl of Lanzhou noodle soup.

9. The Peppermill. Everyone tells me about this place and I’ve never actually made it there. But they say the breakfast will keep you alive on the show floor for an entire day!

10. Walgreens. No I’m not kidding you. There are three on the strip. With food truck lines at the Convention Center often long, and with little turnaround time between sessions, I’ve come to learn that grabbing some yogurt or a freshly made sandwich in the morning from Walgreens is a reliable go-to food solution. And that saves more eating fun and funds for dinnertime. There is one exception–the Indian carry out in South Hall, which is excellent.

I hope to see you soon at NAB Show in Vegas!

Amy DeLouise is a writer-producer-author-speaker and foodie who operates out of Washington, DC but travels the world.

I was recently asked “how do you nurture your creative soul while advancing your career?” It’s a great question. I believe there are four keys. Today, I’ll take a look at the first: curating experiences to inspire your creative self.

At my company, when we launch a video project we often start with inspiration boards—something to inspire us; a visual framework within which we can build the story.  In the same way, it’s important to create your own “inspo board” for life. For me, that means going to a lot of museums and installations. Earlier this year I experienced Man Ray: The Paris Years at the Art Museum of Richmond–a fantastic look inside the creative process of this great photographer, as well as the creative milieu in which he soaked daily while living in Paris. And one of the things that surprised me the most was how much of Man Ray’s archetypal photos were created for commercial projects—commissions for magazines, book covers and the like. One of his most iconic and insightful images is of Ernest Hemingway with a bandage wrapped around his head. At the time, Hemingway had been struggling to write. At a party, he drunkenly mistook the chain of a previously broken skylight for the toilet chain. The glass came crashing down on him, he was rushed to the hospital, and reportedly spent hours on the operating table. That night, Hemingway almost died. Man Ray snapped the photo a few days later, capturing Hemingway’s vulnerability, courage, and a slightly rakish look with his hat off kilter as he looks into the middle distance. After the accident, Hemingway’s creativity was unblocked and he wrote A Farewell to Arms, probably one of his greatest works. Some of my many takeaways from this curated experience: a crisis can move us to action. The pivot point in a story can be unexpected. And getting paid to work doesn’t mean the work isn’t worthy–it’s a gift that allows us to keep creating.

Some of my other favorite inspirational experiences are outdoor installations, sculptures and murals. Living in Washington, DC, I’ve got plenty to choose from locally, including the haunting Korean war memorial, Some of my other favorite inspirational experiences are outdoor installations, sculptures and murals. Living in Washington, DC, I’ve got plenty to choose from including the haunting Korean war memorial, including life-sized statues by Frank Gaylord[ making you feel as if you are right there with them in the cold and relenting rain.

And the joyful murals surrounding Ben’s Chili bowl done by artist Aniekan Udofia.

I was also lucky enough to catch the multi-floor Adam Pendleton exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York when I was there last month for a project.

Now that Covid restrictions are lifting, I’ve got lots more places on my list to inspire my creative work this year. I can’t wait!

What art or installations have inspired you?

 

 

What trailblazers inspire me?  For International Women’s Day, I immediately thought of five world-changing, badass conservationists I met recently—women working in biodiversity hotspots to save their local habitat, species and communities to help save our planet.

As global citizens, we’re so lucky to have women like Awatef Abiadh working in North Africa, Ingrid Parchment working in Jamaica, Leah Mwangi in Kenya, Martika Tahi in Vanuatu and Le Thi Trang in Vietnam—check out their videos to learn more about the challenges they face and how they are bringing communities together to save biodiversity.  Biodiversity hotspots are Earth’s most biologically diverse yet threatened terrestrial areas. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) empowers civil society organizations–with leaders like these fearless, focused women–to manage the global biodiversity crisis at a local level, one initiative at a time.

One of the great things about being a digital storyteller is learning about people who make a difference in our world, and thanks to @Interface Media Group (IMG) I was lucky enough to get to know these five inspiring women and their incredibly important environmental work, partly funded through grants from CEPF, as part of the IMG production team which produced the CEPF Hotspot Hero Awards videos and the entire virtual awards event where all 10 heroes were celebrated. Let me take this opportunity to shout out the incredibly talented creative team at IMG, including Director of Experience Design Jordana Well, Senior Project Manager/Line Producer Frankie Frankavilla, Director of Visual Effects Dave Taschler, Editors Luke Blackwell and Abbey Farkas, Sound Designer Dennis Jacobsen, and Sound Mixer Pavel Sinev—it takes a village to create great content!

You can watch the entire virtual awards event produced by IMG here and learn more about the important work of CEPF, their global partners, and all the Hotspot Heroes.

 

Here’s a surprise: my biggest challenge last year wasn’t Covid. Not by a mile. Exactly one year ago, I broke my right wrist. So badly that I needed surgery. One 3” titanium plate and 10 screws later, loaded up on painkillers and still unable to feel my entire right arm due to a surgical nerve block, on Day 2 I assessed my situation. And it freaked me out.

Writing was my first challenge. As a multimedia producer, I do a lot of writing. The week after my surgery, a major deadline loomed for an 1,800-word blog post for one of my clients and a video script for another. Thankfully I had already done the background research. But boy, left-hand typing and non-dominant hand mouse-ing was quite laborious. (Speech-to-text was not the easy functionality I had hoped, which I’m sure my friends with different abilities already know.)

But here was the biggest challenge of all: playing the violin.

playing on a street corner at age 13 with my duet partner Jeff

You see, I’ve been a musician since I was six, and a violinist since age 9, having apparently begged my parents relentlessly to play that instrument.  Growing up, I spent hours taking violin lessons, playing in youth orchestras and competing in solo competitions acro

The only photo I have of Giuseppe DiLuisi circa 1906

ss my region. On weekends, various musician friends and I would play on street corners in Georgetown, a tony neighborhood in Washington, D.C., to earn money towards our college funds.  Years later, when playing in my college symphony orchestra, I learned from a relative that my great great grandfather Giuseppe DiLuisi had played the violin for a living, in summer riverboat orchestras on the Mississippi and

winter music halls in New York. At the age of 9, he had arrived in this country from Italy with only the clothes on his back and his little violin. So my passion stems from long family roots.

Flash forward, and I’ve been playing at a professional and semi-professional level for, well, a bunch of decades now. In the Washington DC area where I live, I’m lucky to be surrounded by great musicians, and often play in churches, in various chamber groups, and with my amazingly talented colleagues of the NIH Philharmonia.

Back in March of 2021, the thought of never playing again was devastating.

Music has been essential to my life—not only personally, but also professionally. As a content creator, I spend a lot of time curating just the right music, reviewing sound mixes, working with talented sound designers. Because sound is more than half the picture.

So when I broke my wrist, I did what I always do when producing a complex multi-media project: I threw myself into the details.  I read everything I could about rehab for string player injuries. I showed up religiously for painful physical therapy sessions twice a week.  I took my PT “homework” very seriously. And my talented surgeon Dr. Peter Fitzgibbons—who had been briefed in advance on my absolute need for full flexibility again—brought great confidence to each of my check-in’s. At one point, I brought in my violin and the Bach Brandenberg Concert #3, which the NIH Phil planned to play in December, and demonstrated a passage to show how far short I was falling to manipulate the bow into Bach’s many nuanced sequences. I was determined to not just play the part, but play the principal 1st violin solo part for this concert. And that was my goal every single day.

Focusing on one overarching goal has a way of putting everything else in perspective. Whether you are managing young children through Zoom schooling, grappling with your evolving career, or facing the trial of you or a family member struck by Covid.  Take the climb in small steps. Break the challenge into manageable pieces. You will get there.

Today, I plunge into the work of 2022 with gratitude. I can write and produce videos. I can play the violin again. The healing took so many steps. But I’m finally there. And you will be, too.

 

It’s brand planning time! Photo by Unsplash.

“We should do more with our brand” is the lament of a lot of busy nonprofit, corporate and association communication professionals.  Here are three ways to boost your brand engagement this  year.

  1. Engage Stakeholders in Social It’s not enough to have staff schedule regular social media posts. Build ways for your donors, your customers, your board members to engage with your brand story. Give shout-outs to the people who help your organization deliver on its mission, and be sure to tag them. Give tutorials to members of your leadership team who might not be as comfortable with social on ways to engage across platforms. Send emails to board members with a link to your latest LinkedIn post and ask them to comment on it and share it to their channels. Every share expands your community and the impact of your brand.

 

  1. Ask Influencers to Share. The social tag is the modern equivalent of getting an autograph, but actually more useful for your brand. When one of my nonprofit clients gave a hospital tour to Justin Bieber (and encouraged him to tweet about it, which he did), they got 10,000 new followers in a matter of hours. Find out if any key personalities or well-connected board members are already known to your institution and encourage them to make a social mention or tag your organization. You can’t hit them up every time, so make thoughtful decisions about when it would be most important to have this extra amplification, such as before a major event or fundraiser.

 

  1. Create Platform-Friendly Content. If you want your content to be mobile- and web-friendly, make it a priority to upgrade your acquisition and output specs. For new video content, shoot in High Def, at a minimum of 1080p (29.97 frame rate, or 24fps which looks nicer in many cases and saves you some file space) but optimally at 4K for maximum flexibility and image quality. This larger acquisition size takes up more space, but storage is cheap. And you can easily make 1080p versions of content for web distribution. Whereas having your fabulous year-end video look dated and pixelated on your social channels when 5G is fully in place is an expensive mistake. For photos that you might want to re-purpose in videos, be sure you prioritize horizontal framing, not vertical. And if you want to post photos to IG, then you’ll need to collect vertically-framed scenes, too!

Merry Branding in this (relatively New ) Year!

You need to explain an issue, product or service to an audience through video. Where do you start? Begin with these three keys.

  1. Know Your Target Audience

When creating branded content, you naturally want to start with “what”. What work does our nonprofit do? What benefits does our association offer? What product or service does our company provide?  But starting with WHY is better. Asking Why We Do What We Do inevitably leads you to the people who benefit. Who are they? Why do they need what you offer? What impact are you making in their lives? My team and I guide clients to talk about “why” when we start developing a creative brief for any video. One of the very best “Why” videos I’ve ever seen is the Girl Effect. Just over a decade old, with more than 2.5 million views, this video is still making its point of Why girls matter (and by extension, why the work of www.girleffect.org is needed. Also note there is plenty of “data” presented, but all through clever motion graphics and a powerful cello score, with no boring voiceover. In fact, no narrator at all!

 

  1. Know the Viewing Environment

In years past, my production company’s videos for clients would often be shown on giant displays at large live events, and only later online. Today, snippets of our videos might be played on social platforms while extended play versions are screened at hybrid events, where they are viewed simultaneously by a live audience on a large screen and a remote audience on mobile devices, iPads, or desktops. And those virtual audiences might be listening on earbuds, headphones, or computer speakers. How we approach each project—from the visual design to the audio planning—must take into account these multiple viewing and audio environments.  Audio is particularly important to both engage the audience and ensure that the video can be understood well, even in a less than optimal viewing environment. This Pew Trusts Mobile Banking explainer is a great example of audio that connects the viewer to the content without overwhelming it, and motion graphics that also tell the story, so that it works on screens and sound systems both large and small.

 

  1. What Action Should Viewers Take?

Companies want you to click and buy. Nonprofits want you to get involved or write a check (or both). These goals require the right kind of crafting of the story and message, because causing behavior change is no easy task. As video creatives, we spend time in pre-production getting to understand what makes viewers care and take action, so we can choose among strategies to prompt action.  The four most common ways to promote action are: FOMO (fear of missing out), Freebie (creating indebtedness), Authority (trusted brand), Validation (testimonials of community members or influencers). In this #GALSNGEAR sizzle reel, we are using Authority of several trusted industry brands, Validation with soundbite testimonials, and a dash of FOMO to drive prospective #GALSNGEAR participants to the website (where they can sign up to get involved).

https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/602111635

https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/602111635

Whatever your explainer content, starting with Audience, Environment, and Action will help you craft a message, a creative plan, and a technical plan that delivers impact.

Photo by Chris Yang, Courtesy Unsplash

Think Big Picture First

If video is part of your content plan this year, it will be important to start by stepping back and think big-picture as you budget. Why? Because budgeting project-by-project is inefficient in terms of time, audio/visual “assets” and money. You’ll want to consider all the assets you collect for any project to be resources for the next projects. So for example, maybe you want to create some short and snappy Tik Tok videos. While you’ve got people in front of the camera, could you also be creating testimonials or other content for longer videos?  If you are videotaping speeches at a conference, could you also have a roving crew capture in the moment footage of participants, or set up a booth for attendees to tell their stories? And once this footage is created, don’t just use it and lose it. Plan to archive it in such a way that other content creators in your organization can locate and repurpose this footage (see my January post on this topic). In other words, build a content library that reflects your brand, your mission, your organization. (Pro tip: get interviews transcribed so that you can find and use excerpts more easily across media, and for easy captioning.)

Set Realistic Parameters

It’s best to set some realistic parameters for your video project, including the number of reviews you want to be able to have, whether you want live-action or animation, and any specific turnaround deadlines. Without these, I can just give you some rules of thumb on cost. If you’re project is entirely animated, and you have a very small team helping to guide the project and do reviews/approvals (i.e., there aren’t layers of bureaucracy or board members etc who might make significant changes along the way), then you can get an explainer video produced for as little as $4,000. Live action videos tend to start at about $10,000 for a video with one day of shooting, and go up from there depending on number of shoot days, length and complexity. Be careful about “we can make your video for $500” pitches. Most of the time, these videos ending up being boilerplate creations that don’t really fit the bill for most organizations.

Watch Out for Hidden Costs

Remember that either you or your production vendor must use properly licensed music or stock images.  You don’t want a DCMA takedown notice requiring you to prove you own various licenses in order to get your video reinstated. There are lots of creative and affordable libraries for this type of content, and an experienced producer can help curate just the right image or song mood to augment or support your production. If your organization produces lots of videos every year, it’s probably more affordable to purchase a blanket license, which gives you a certain number of downloads or usages for a flat rate.

Another hidden cost is unusable footage. Meaning, if you are acquiring video for multiple purposes, the best way to future-proof it is to acquire in the highest quality–4K UHD. Even though lots of organizations are still using videos on the web for online events, for example, at some point soon we’ll be back in person and you’ll want to project that video on a big screen. Footage shot at 1080 won’t look great and anything you recorded at 720 over Zoom will be blurry. So think long-term to avoid costly reshoots.

What Variables Go Into a Video Budget?

Pre-production should be one of the biggest categories for any video budget. And it’s a big red flag if a vendor gives you a budget with little to no pre-production time in it. Our team typically spends several days, if not weeks, of planning for every shoot day. If live-action videography is involved, for example, then our pre-pro time is made up of location scouting (virtually or in person), pre-interviewing subjects, writing a rough outline or story arc, writing a shooting script (which might include “fantasy soundbites”), compiling a shot list, developing our gear list, and planning for any travel.

Production categories include director and/or producer on set, audio, video and lighting crew and equipment, media cards and laptop for backing up footage.  If travel is required, most crews charge ½ to ¾ of their usual day rate for each travel day (since they are basically fully booked and cannot take other work on those days). If producing in a studio, we might add fabrication of sets, wardrobe needs, or the purchase or rental of props into our production budget.

Post-production categories typically include voiceover recording and narrator fee, editing (a minimum of three rounds–rough cut, fine cut, final cut), graphics, music licensing, sound design and mixing, and color grading. For a short nonfiction video, my team plans on at least 1 day per finished minute to get to rough cut, 1 day per finished minute to get to the fine cut, and then ½ day per minute for the final delivery. So a five-minute video could take several weeks from the start of editing to delivery.

The opportunities and the options are endless with video. So start with your big picture needs, be sure to cover your bases on licensing, and engage professionals to help get you across the finish line.

If you want more details about how to produce a video for your company or organization, try Amy’s newest LinkedIn Learning courses. If you message her on LinkedIn, she can unlock a segment for you for free!