Thursday, February 25, 2016

Animation or live action? It's not just about the budget anymore, it's about the story.

Video animation can be a great solution for companies looking to extend their marketing reach. In two minutes or less you can sell just about anything from a new product, established brand or the dream of a great product to come. It's also relatively inexpensive, impactful and efficient way to create compelling content.
But, there are times when the creative needs to go beyond animation.  This is especially true when it comes to a multi-billion dollar company whose customer are amongst the most recognized brands in the world, and projecting the right image is critical for attracting new customers.  In other words: don't pitch me another whiteboard, video, we need to get serious about our brand.
When our production partners, Spring Street Studios, were first approached by CSAT-Solutions of Houston, our collective first impression was, wow! This is a company that repairs computers and motherboards for the world's largest and most notable tablet, PC and LCD screen manufacturers in a facility large enough to fly a drone through. Once we saw this, the options quickly narrowed. We needed a powerful brand video that featured the key management team, the facilities and, of course, a drone. After all, if you can't fly a drone through a building in Texas....
A few insurance hurdles and several pre-production meeting later we arrived in for a five-day shoot in the dense humidity of  Houston. We shot at the CSAT facilities and interviewed the management team, who were all passionate and lucky for us, articulate advocates for the company. On top of that, we shot hours of b-roll footage to help get over the sheer size of the operation. We commissioned local drone experts, DroneWorks, to shoot the ariel and internal fly-throughs: the only way to showcase the scale and breadth of the facility. 
Despite all the usual pre-production potholes (and the literal potholes that crippled the production vehicle on the last night of shooting) we managed to capture the story of C-SAT Solutions. 
I could say it was the drone footage, the six GoPros we had on time lapse or the three camera shoot that made the difference, but in truth, it was of all the above, along with the hours we spent with the executives before the shoot, preparing them for their interviews. At the end of the day, their own words told the story, we just needed to figure out what to omit. Sometimes, production is as much what you leave on the editing floor as it is about what you leave in the video
Five days of shooting and a few weeks of editing later, we had a powerful brand video that told the CSAT story. We drafted in ace movie trailer editor, Ley Wilson, to add the drama and impact to the video. It's recently gone live on the company's new website and is getting some great responses. 
You can check it out here:

Sometimes the decision to either go with animation or a live shoot comes down to budget, other times it comes down to the brand and the story you need to tell. As every craftsman knows, choose the right tools for the job and if that includes a drone octocopter, then fire it up and let it fly.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Don't take the cheap shot- selecting the right video partner.

As we kick off a brand New Year, I always like to take this time to both reflect on some highlights of the past year and also attempt to predict what the year might bring when it comes to video content creation. As video content is growing so rapidly, I thought now was the right time to highlight what to look for when selecting a video production partner. 

For those of you who don't know us, Jones Digital Media is a creative agency specializing in copywriting and video content production. We're based in Oakland, California, and produce multiple animated or full-production videos every year for our clients. Being so close to the world's tech hub, our clients tend to be high-tech companies from startups to established enterprises, as well as retail and non-profits. 

Less is not more.

Overall, the trend over the past year has pointed towards more video content creation, not less. This is a good thing. With so many companies struggling to get their voice heard in an increasingly cluttered media landscape, video is now a key component in getting noticed both online and in the boardroom. 

Video production has, of course, become increasingly less expensive over the years, and it's tempting to punt on the lowest bid when it comes to choosing a video production partner. As attractive as this option might seem, it could be the first misstep you make when commissioning a video.

Look at it this way...would you opt for the cheapest solution for website, SEO or any of your external facing marketing collateral? Probably not, so why use cost as the key driver when creating an asset that will be seen by thousands of potential customers and be a direct reflection of your company? 

For many companies, we understand commissioning a video can be daunting, especially if this is the first foray into video production for the marketing department. There are a few key pointers I believe can help you choose the right video production partner and avoid costly missteps along the way.

Don't believe the sizzle.

Make sure you watch a company's sizzle reel or website content with a critical eye. How varied are their execution styles? How compelling is their script writing or storytelling? How varied is their client base? The more varied the client base, the more confident you should be that the company can execute on your vision, or help you create a vision that best reflect your company's goals.

Go with the flow.

In any business endeavour its' all about the people. Creating a video can be a long, intense process with layers of approvals and input from everyone from the CEO to the marketing intern. A good video production company will help you manage this process and workflow so everyone feels included without bottlenecking the process.

Who's the boss?

Or, more specifically, who's the Creative Director on your project? A buttoned up production company will assign you a CD from the start of the project. He/she will be your key creative driver from the scripting to the final production and will help you get the very best product. 

Cheap? Good? Quick? Choose two. 

It's an old video mantra. Want your video turned around quickly, and look awesome? It's not going to be cheap. Want your video cheap and quick? Then chances are it's not going to be that good. Cost, of course, will always be determined by your departmental budget, but skimping on production values will ultimately reflect badly on your brand, product, and your department. 

Play On...
Video content creation is one of the most fun parts of marketing, it's one of the reasons we at Jones Digital Media love what we do.

Set realistic budgets from the start, partner with the right company that "gets" what you do and most importantly, make sure you have fun doing it.