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How much is too much for an explainer video

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Joe Clark
How much is too much for an explainer video
on Aug 31, 2017 at 1:44:51 pm


I'm trying to gauge opinion on small business video explainer and introduction videos as it's something we get asked about quite a lot but frankly we just can't do as the margins aren't there.
Have you ever thought about using a video to push your company, product or brand explainer video - either a narrated explainer video, animation or just literally a piece to camera?
If so, did you use them, did you find them effective?
Imagine a typical video would be 2-3 minutes long, filmed at our studio and feature clips from your website, branding, product demos, etc plus your voiceover and/or presenting. This would then go up on your site via YouTube or suchlike to promote your brand.

Worth it, and if so, how much?

Anything helpful would be much appreciated.

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Mark Suszko
Re: How much is too much for an explainer video
on Aug 31, 2017 at 3:34:42 pm

I see a lot of businesses doing these on the web, very few of them do it at all well. The audio is almost always terrible, second, the lighting is generally poor, as is the camera work. Third, the writing/editing is generally weak and unfocused; they like to "wing it", and that wastes a lot of the viewer's time. Usually, they excuse it by saying they are going for a "natural" or "Cinéma vérité" style, when in reality, it just looks like what it is - amateur. And no, it doesn't convey honesty or authenticity. Just sloppiness and a lack of aesthetic consideration.

All that said, the audience is hungry for good content that gets the job done. The trick is to design the messages so they are economical to make but don't look it. And to spend time refining the content as much as possible, BEFORE you roll cameras.

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Jeff Pulera
Re: How much is too much for an explainer video
on Sep 21, 2017 at 8:51:21 pm

Hi Joe,

I used to freelance for a company that hired videographers nationwide to go out and shoot 1-minute promo videos for local businesses, as part of an advertising package for Yellow Pages. They'd give me a time and place, and I basically had to just show up and "wing it" but it usually went pretty well. Never spent more than 2 hours on site, usually 1 hour or so was sufficient.

There was no script, but we had a sheet with a few questions we were supposed to ask of the client (usually the business owner) to get a feel for what they do, what makes them unique, etc. Based on that, I would ask additional questions and build some rapport with the "talent" as I listened and formulated an outline or script in my head while taking notes.

What I would then do is get them on camera briefly introducing their business, just to put a "welcome face" on the business. Many were hesitant or a little uncomfortable being on camera, but with the right coaching and putting them at ease, the intro usually came out great and felt genuine. In reality, client was only on camera for a few seconds, then cut to b-roll with their voice. Maybe we later see them helping a customer or working or something under VO.

I'd then ask questions of the client to elicit the response I needed to effectively communicate what their business has to offer. Since the client was no longer on camera, and I was only recording their voice, I could just sit with them and "talk" and get them to open up about their business and why they are passionate about what they do and such.

When I felt that I had enough sound bites - and that they were done in such a way as I knew I could splice all the bits together and have it flow and make sense later - I would then shoot several minutes of B-roll footage of the business inside and out. Usually just natural lighting.

A few times, we had quick takes of customer testimonials or other employees saying a few words. Whatever worked.

Remember, this was cheap and quick and unscripted. When I was comfortable that I had enough sound bites and b-roll, I'd get back to the studio, edit together the 60-second spot and upload it for approval the same day. Maybe 1-2 hours of editing.

This was several years ago, but I think it paid like $200-250 per job, and I sometimes did 2 or 3 in a week, so was nice "extra income" for a few hours work here and there. Just an HDV camera, tripod, and wired lav. Low buck. No Cinema cameras, lenses, SteadiCam or any of that! The results were not overly artistic, but definitely clear, steady video with perfect audio and clean editing and story. Background music added from provided library, plus opening title from template.

I have a full-time day job now, but if I could go out on my own and do something similar, with just a little more planning (time and effort) involved at $500-700 a pop, I'd do it in a heartbeat. From banging out those YP shoots, I found that I could produce a decent product without a bunch of meetings and scripting (and re-scripting) and all those time-sucks.

I met a lot of nice people running floral shops, hotels, a church, machine shop, funeral home, you name it!

Hope this is helpful. This workflow may not work for everyone - you have to be able to connect with the client and wring the words out of them that you need, on the fly. Different than working from a script.



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