Visual Treatment - Corporate Video
Hi guys...so I am after some advice and inspiration. I create corporate video, and lately I have been beaten over the final line on winning a couple of big projects, and when I ask the client "why they went with the other production house", they have told me that the competitor had provided a "visual treatment" for the project - with images, etc, they'd researched the company and had a feel for their brand and had "showed the client what their video would look like".
Now I get what a treatment is, in the traditional sense, in the film production sense. But in the corporate world, I'm wondering if anyone has any good examples of what their treatments look like, or if you just know of some good examples from others, I think I may need to get into this especially for bigger jobs.
It's very difficult to mind read clients, even when you're sitting across from them. Even more so from 10,000 + miles away. But, if I had to guess, I'm thinking that the "visual treatment" was some form of informal storyboard which used still photographs to convey key scenes, especially of the product. This could be supplemented with suggested graphic treatments for titling, opens/closes, etc. Essential to showing this is also the ability to "sell it" by walking the client through the storyboard and enthusing over each step.
The other alternative, which we see here more for proposed commercial spots, is a "rip-o-matic." Pieces from existing film and video materials are cut together, sometimes combined with pictures or illustrations of the characters, to crudely depict how the final product will work.
Don't confuse storyboards and "comps" with a visual treatment or creative treatment. Most corporations who deal with ad agencies or other professional marketers for print media will always ask for a creative and visual treatment to go along with a video script. It's a statement or example of the visual design of the overall piece including color palate (or dominate colors used for the intro, bumpers, animation backgrounds), fonts to be used, etc., plus, since video is a moving medium, animation designs. Other elements can be included in the visual treatment to let your customer know the cohesive "look" of the video.
Here is an example: http://www.marcombiz.com/barricade.html
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Ad agencies and their creative directors LOVE these. But be careful.
I've seen plenty of them used to excite and attract potential clients - only to watch these suckers create a massive false expectation between what's represented by the "Creative treatment" and the achievable deliverable that is practical to produce when the work needs to finally be done.
I can go to a stock photo site like Corbis or Getty and download 25 absolutely world class GORGEOUS stock photos - put them together with "moves on stills" effects and music and a VO and wow any client with a few hours work.
But here's the deal. After they sign off on that beautiful "concept" piece. Somebody has to tell them that to bring that concept to life at a quality that the treatment represents as a actusl video that the company owns and can legally use is often functionally impossible. (at least at any budget level below Major national clients who spend millions on production and creative.) These documents used improperly often create foolish expectations, failing to note that to bring to life , say for example, a scene from a $100 buyout photo that showed the perfect family of four shopping in the farmers market - would probably take a week to prep and shoot and a $20,000 budget for talent, location costs, extras and crew. And yield 2 sec in the video as represented by the number of stills (scenes) in the storyboards.
The issue is that it's really easy to make a cool looking visual treatment. and really hard and expensive to make the actual video of the same look and quality.
This kind of treatment is supposed to be a DESIGN REFERENCE for pros who understand that as a comp, it represents IDEAS, not a promise of how the job will actually be done. But these days when companies have been dumping experienced and therefore expensive staff for years- I think a lot of folks will be over promising and setting themselves up for disaster pitching great looking treatments to clueless clients and then not knowing how to make budget smart video that can match the cool presentations.
So this is just a plea to be smart in your pitches. Know what you CAN deliver and build your treatments from that.
Cuz. Treatment and a video are NOT the same thing at all.
This from someone who has had video clients come to me for YEARS asking how much it would cost to "do this" from an agency pitch everyone just LOVED - and when I broke it down shot by shot with real world pricing - to learn over and over and over that they had in mind a budget at maybe 3-5 percent of what it would actually cost.
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You can rack up a lot of expense creating overly-elborate visual examples, to the point where you're losing money. And creating the expectation problems you set out to avoid in the first place.
A text Treatment in the classic sense should IMO be the primary tool, with animatics and storyboards used as reinforcements only for key sections, but I wouldn't as my first choice create an entire pre-vis of the complete program, beginning to end, just because a client is too lazy to read. The paper Treatment, after all is a living document, meant to be changed and changed over and over until everyone is on the same page and signs off on the proposed execution. And if you have that sign-off, the elaborate pre-viz isn't really needed at that stage, not for the clients, anyway. Pre-vis is of course useful to the director and maybe the producer. But there are limits. Time and money saved on not doing the project essentially twice can be pumped back into improving the "real" production or into reducing expenses. Or Adam Smith Forbid: into a higher profit margin.
I'm not saying David is wrong. But that Gates video in the link looks so close to a finished product, IMO it might as well have been the final master. That speaks to the quality of what David has done. But I'm not sure, if that's really just a "demo", that it made sense to finish more than the intro and one little module of it. You put in enough time on that to have already made the real thing. Are you billing all that time? I hope so.
The warning about over-selling expectations is a sound one. If the clients are of the type that really can't visualize anything, the more visuals you give them, the tighter they may fixate on some detail or fixture of those. Then when you give them the real product, any part that doesn't match the precomp visuals could be seen by these kinds of clients as a "mistake", not an improvement.
Old anecdote on a local spot I saw from the 80's. A local commercial in Chicago (I forget what it was for exactly but I want to say it was for some kind of food product)... anyhow, the agency shows the client an animatic done in inked drawings with some rostrum camera moves and simple video effects. Couple simple scenes with minimalist background art, shots of a mom interacting with kids and the product. They spent a lot of time on the audio, which played just like a radio spot, but the drawings were really barely comps. The client approved the demo animatic for air, just the way it was; he liked it's "unique look" so much. And the agency didn't have the gumption to correct the client's misapprehension of what they were watching and just went with it, though I don't know how they billed for just the animatic.
This is an interesting thread. In all the years that I've been writing and producing video, I've only been asked for a storyboard/treatment once. Maybe it's the market I'm in (New England), and my response to the client on the request for the storyboard was that all we really needed was a tight shot list.
It's my feeling that on the client end, they're so far from visually oriented, that they either latch on to a look from a feature film or commercial they've seen, then ask for that, having no idea what it would cost to achieve, but desiring it because it looks "Hollywood".
I do quite a bit of contract animation work for a production house that has only Editors on staff. They called and asked what it would cost to produce a piece which looked like Corning's "A Day Made of Glass" (if you haven't seen it, look it up). I did a bit of sniffing around, and called them back, saying that it would be upwards of half a million to produce, having found a "behind the scenes" video from the production house which made it. They were insulted, told me that I pulled the figure out of my nether parts, and how could it possibly have cost that? When I explained that it involved many actors, many locations (one of which was a Frank Lloyd Write house which had its bathroom rebuilt, then unbuilt), over many days, and a huge special effects budget, they started to get it.
As Bill says, don't let your client's expectations exceed your capabilities, or the budget, and you won't get in trouble.