We’ve been shooting video professionally since 2001. In 2008 Canon released the 5D Mark II, the first digital cinema camera. An absolute game changer that led to a career of video production. It’s amazing to see all the tech advancements since our passion for video was ignited. In doing video professionally for 20 years, we’ve learned a lot mostly by trial and error. In this blog I want to present our five stages of a video production and pull out a lesson learned from each stage. Here we go…
Almost every project starts with a discovery meeting. This is a time when the potential client tells us what they are looking to accomplish. In this stage of the process, listening is key. But an important thing to remember is that roughly 80% of communication is nonverbal. Pay attention to things like facial expressions, posture, gestures, eye contact, personal space, or tone of voice. You’ll be surprised at how paying attention to these things can reaffirm your feeling of entering into a beautiful working relationship or toss up red flags to what could be a nightmare client.
This stage of the process has a lot to do with gathering and organizing all the pieces to make sure the production day runs smoothly. It’s often under appreciated and minimized by clients. Over the years we have found that we have a tendency to take on these tasks at a lower rate or even for free just to land the chance to do the production. These things might include getting actors, sourcing props, building sets or nailing down locations. It’s not until we’re using personal time, material, money and personal relationships so that the client can save a couple bucks that we start kicking ourselves. Now if a client wants to save money on a production, we’ll task them to carry the load of pre production. Some clients will, others will see the time it takes and up the budget to get it professionally taken care of. This will always make the production smoother and more professional.
This is the time when everything comes together and the cameras roll. Being efficient with everyone’s time is key on production days. A hard lesson we’ve come to realize is that every minute that camera is rolling is another minute that has to be gone through in post production. If you keep your shots organized, your interviews focused, and your audio clean, post production will go much smoother, ultimately saving time and money.
I find myself constantly reminding clients that just because the video has been shot, the project is far from over. The editing of a project is usually the most time consuming. One thing we have found helpful is limiting the amount of revisions a client can request and putting a deadline on when revision requests are due. We also found that having one point person on the client side as a point of contact/revisions is very helpful. This eliminates having conflicting requests that need to be sorted out with you or the editor’s involvement. If your client can filter out any discrepancies before it hits your desk, you’ll save yourself a potential time suck.
You and your team just poured their heart and soul into this project and now you’re about to hand it off to the client. Do you know how the final product is going to be shown? This is a great discussion to have in the discovery meeting. Is there anything you can do to make sure that the video is delivered to the audience in a professional manner? Here a few real scenarios where we shed a tear:
• You create a video for a live production and it glitches because the person running the software or the equipment is inadequate.
• The client’s “marketing” person puts the video five pages deep on their website and they end up getting on you about ROI.
• The “call to action” in the video drives people to the clients website. But the website is hot garbage.
• You create a video for social media but the client didn’t allocate funds for a digital ad buy and then wonder why only their mom liked it on Facebook.
Whether you’re a current client, industry professional or potential client that’s checking us out, we hope the wisdom we have gained over our 20 years can assist you in the process of creating authentic and compelling video content.
I was scrolling through my social media feed and this Chris guy came up as a “suggested friend” once again. I had heard his name around town because he had opened his digital marketing office around the corner from Real Video. I figured it was a sign so I requested his virtual friendship.
Once we connected, he mentioned that he had a client who had a video concept that was above and beyond his capabilities and was researching production companies in the area that could handle it. He found the Real Video Production Co. website and was actually going to reach out to me later that week.
Isn’t that weird how things like that happen?
So I invited him over to the studio to discuss the project and how he thought we could help. Basically, he was developing an online platform that would network private practice dentists and assist them with their marketing needs. One major goal for the organization was to recruit a certain number of dentists onto the online platform so that they could pool together and release a Super Bowl commercial that would be followed up by a series of mailings for each participant’s specific zip code. But first things first— he needed a recruitment video that coincided with the launch of the website…which was happening in 3 weeks!
His client had an idea that involved a huge cast and some big location needs. We crunched a few numbers and quickly realized that to pull off that idea was going to be way above the proposed budget and next to impossible to pull off within a three week timeframe. So essentially, we had to go back to the drawing board.
As the creative director, I walked out of that meeting and into a quiet room with only my thoughts, a sketchbook and a pencil. I started the painful journey of creative development (I’ll write a separate blog on this in the near future). I ended up walking out of that room with 5 pretty solid concepts. Then I took those concepts to the team to see what it will technically and financially take to pull off these ideas and can they be pulled off in 3 weeks. To my surprise all five ideas passed the gauntlet.
I called Chris back into the studio the next day and pitched the 5 ideas back-to-back. A couple of concepts rose to the top but ultimately it was the client’s final decision. After some short deliberation, the concept was chosen, and we were off to the races.
One thing to note at this point of the story is that the concept that was chosen involved some pretty advanced green screen work. This was something that we had only dabbled in and didn’t have much experience with. So the next day we did a basic version of the concept in our studio and did a test shoot. We reworked the idea as a social media piece for us introducing our new post production manager, Dan. Needless to say, poor Dan hit the ground running when he agreed to join the Real crew. LOL. (view the post here)
The next seven days we were frantically on the phone building the cast, crew, securing equipment rentals, locking in a location and picking up props.
Production day went off without a hitch. Our cast and crew were amazing! The entire production took just under 10 hours. It moved like clockwork.
The next day Dan was head down in the edit bay putting the pieces together. He knocked out a client-facing rough cut in three days. To our surprise, the client had zero revisions. They loved it! Dan dove in, took a day, and did the final color correction and audio pass.
The video was delivered to a happy client on time and on budget. What more could you ask for?
Check out the final video here.
I’ve walked past this building a million times over the years and I have always admired it. It was originally a machine shop built in the 1940’s. There is nothing fancy about it. It’s just a big open box with big windows on either side. It sits just off Crown Point’s historic downtown square. It has been transformed into a few different businesses over the years like a pool hall and hair salon, but back in June of 2020 this beautiful rental space miraculously became available. The timing was perfect because we had just started Real. A few phone calls later and it was ours! The day we got the keys we met over there, pulled out some old chairs from the basement, cracked a few beers and started to dream about how we could build out the space to best fit our needs of a video production studio.
The space is essentially a 2,000 square foot box. One thing we knew we wanted to do was break the space up in half. The front of the space would be for production and the back of the space would be for office space and post production.
Another issue we knew we were going to deal with was storage space for our equipment. So one thing we did was take inventory of our gear. We noticed that a lot of production equipment is long and skinny. We’ve got tripods, light stands, speed rail, paper rolls, flags, bounce cards… the list goes on.
Well, the solution to our problem was inspired by an art show I had attended in Chicago. It was in a big, beautiful gallery that was broken up by false walls. It wasn’t until another guest dropped her glass of wine on the floor that I discovered these false walls had another purpose other than displaying the art. Someone walked over to one of the false walls, opened up the side of it, and pulled out a broom to sweep up the glass. I glanced inside the wall and noticed that inside it was storing a bunch of canvases and other cleaning supplies. It was genius!
So we decided to take that same concept to not only break up our space, but to store some of our awkwardly shaped equipment.
After taking measurements of our space and of the gear we needed to store, Josh decided to build a 3D rendering in Sketchup. He accounted for each piece of gear and created a custom space for it within the wall. He even took into account what type of wood would be needed for each space depending on what would be holding. For instance, a cubby for a metal tripod could be built with OSB while a cubby that holds a nylon flag needed to be made with smooth plywood so it wouldn’t snag the fabric.
We also really enjoyed the industrial look and durability of the plywood so we decided to do the outside of the wall in plywood tiles instead of drywall. To class it up we made 56 2’ X 2’ tiles, routed the edges, and stained each one with a white stain. We hung the tiles on the wall switching the direction of the wood grain with every other one.
We knew we wanted this wall to be versatile and hold many different items other than production and lighting grip. We found while in the design phase that we could fit two hidden drawers in the center of the wall under the 60” 4k Conference Display. They are hidden because the face of them matches the 2’ plywood panels that make up the pattern of the entire wall. Both drawers are soft close. We also integrated 120v outlets and usb charging ports into both drawers. These drawers would be perfect for charging appletv remotes, camera batteries and powering a raspberry pi with emulation station to unwind by playing a quick game of Super Mario Brothers!
Above the drawers, but behind the 2’ panels, we built in some space for a sound bar, below the drawers hidden inside the wall we added the sub.
This wall is now the centerpiece of our studio and is a great example of form and function.
Video content is an integral part of new media. It has become one of the most successful channels in engaging and converting leads for your business or organization. As more and more people are glued to their phones and social networks, they’re more likely to be receptive to your company’s content.
Here at Real Video Production Co., we don’t just shoot and edit videos, we tell the story of your brand. We make it a point to get to know the people behind the company to build relationships and truly understand what they exemplify.
We believe that your story is the most powerful marketing tool because it’s unique and unrepeatable. With our help, we can amplify your brand message to create a lasting impression.
We’ve been in the storytelling business for over 15 years and we owe it all to our clients who’ve recently bolstered our credibility by leaving positive reviews on our Clutch profile.
Clutch is the leading ratings and reviews platform for IT, marketing, and business service providers. Each month, over half a million buyers and sellers of services use the Clutch platform, and the user base is growing over 50% a year. Clutch has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S. and has been listed as a top 50 startup by LinkedIn.
In one of our recent partnerships, we developed and produced an informational video for a waste disposal company. With our experience, we are able to help them inform their clients of their various services and extend their reach to new and potential customers.
The video was well received by the clients and has given them an opportunity to strategize on their marketing efforts to build their digital presence.
They noted our hands-on approach and transparent project management:
“They responded quickly when we had questions whether we called or emailed. They also made sure to schedule photo shoots and video filming around our busy schedule in consideration of our hours of business.”
We’ve also been featured as part of the top video production companies in Chicago in Clutch’s sister site, The Manifest. It’s a B2B platform where they showcase various companies with notable awards and projects to better direct clients for the service they may need.
We like to thank our clients for making our 15 year journey an amazing experience. We couldn’t have made it this far without your appreciation and support.
If you want to put your ideas on film, drop us a line today! We’re looking forward to working with you.
We get this question all the time.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to answer.
It’s like asking how much is it to build a house? Before you give the answer you need to know a lot of information:
• Where is it?
• How big do you need it?
• What are your requirements?
A mansion in the Hollywood Hills cost more than a bi-level in Indiana.
Video is the same way.
Compare the cost of your last Instagram story to Michael Bay’s Japanese military bombing scene in Pearl Harbor (5.5 million dollars).
Both are videos. You get the point.
So what’s the best way to talk about this uncomfortable topic of money? Well, we find one of the best ways is for the client to give a rough budget right out of the gate. This way we know what we can offer within those boundaries. This way it saves us time of coming up with an idea and over shooting the budget by taking a shot in the dark. Instead, it gives us a sandbox to create within where we can offer the client the best work with what we are given and they can afford it. It’s a win-win.
Now, I know what you are thinking. “What if I have a 10K budget and they say they can do it for 6K”?
Then give us a 6K budget and use the 4K to pick additional options to better the production and make your life a little easier.
With a 6K budget you’ll have to find people from your organization to act in the video. Because of this, you’ll have to cast them, dress them, rehearse them, and organize them all to show up after hours to the same place at the same time. Because they are not professionals, chances are the production will take longer. Or, you could use the additional 4K to hire professional actors who come in and knock it out, making the production take less time and look and sound that much more professional.
Finding examples of the type of video you would like is a huge help in this process as well. There is nothing wrong with finding a video your competition just put out and saying “I want this but more awesome”. Nine times out of ten we can watch that video, sprinkle in what we think will make it cooler and price it out accordingly.
Remember, the number one thing you can do to save money on a video is shorten the time it takes from concept to completion. That includes indecisive meetings that don’t include decision makers, going round and round on budget, and being strict on rounds of revisions.
After all, time is money right?
Now, let’s talk about that video you need.
My oldest daughter begged me to enroll her in an art club.
A few weeks in she was telling me about the class and she mentioned these two girls who were best friends (both named Grace) and how they were being a little rude. Dumb stuff, like not sharing crayons and being exclusive.
So I simply coached her on how to handle the situation and nothing more was brought up about it.
A few weeks went by and I picked Natalie up from art club. I noticed she had some sort of project in a plastic bag as she climbed into the back seat.
“I see you brought home one on your art projects, I’m excited to see it”. I said.
Gazing out the window, I see her shrug in the rearview mirror.
“I thought it was cool but the Graces said it was stupid and that I did it wrong”. She said.
I felt my blood pressure rise.
“Can I see it”? I asked.
She pulled out a messy little flower pot collaged in layers upon layers of tiny squares of cut paper. It was every color imaginable. Once I saw it I understood what the project was and understood why the Graces mentioned that she didn’t follow the rules on how it was supposed to be done.
“How did you make this?” I asked.
“I dumped a bunch of squares of paper on the table, covered my flower pot in glue and then rolled it through the pile of squares.” she said.
I replied “Let me guess, the Graces took their squares and meticulously glued each one on the pot with a little space inbetween am I right”?
“Well, no one will ever notice the Graces flower pots because they are boring and unoriginal. You were given the same materials and the same time frame but you thought out of the box and created something different, wild and beautiful. I hope you never lose that way of thinking”.
I parked the car in the driveway, took that little flower pot and transplanted a little cactus into it and placed it on the windowsill in the kitchen.
Now, it’s a daily reminder to not act like the Graces.
As a father, I live for teachable moments like this. This one in particular resonated with me when it comes to video production.
Access to great equipment is so easy now. There is always a new, better, cheaper camera coming out. Editing software is getting quicker and less complicated to use. Piles of footage can be scrubbed through faster than ever. Pre-assembled soundtracks and visual effects can be added at a click of a button.
So if all these amazing resources and equipment is available to everyone, what’s going to set you apart?
Real Video Production Company prides itself on being able to tell amazing stories for our clients. Because authentic and compelling stories build trust and trust builds loyalty.
A customer is a customer but a LOYAL customer becomes a brand ambassador.
Leaving the comfort of our steady 9-5 jobs to fulfill a life-long dream of owning our own video production company is scary as hell. And just to make it more exciting, we did it during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
This may be the best and/or stupidest thing we’ve ever done.
It’s stressful. It’s going to take a lot of hard work. But our team believes that the cost of regret is far greater than the cost of failure. So we’re going for it and this little bird is our mascot.
Why? Because it’s a symbol of provision.
Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
So, with that, I invite you on this journey with us.
Let’s create beautiful things, share inspiring stories, make mistakes, make friends, be vulnerable, unique, authentic and genuine.