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Is it the cobbler with shabby shoes? Or what??

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Todd TerryIs it the cobbler with shabby shoes? Or what??
by on Mar 19, 2012 at 3:36:21 pm

No real question in this post, just a semi-rant and a bit of a puzzlement...

We're planning some equipment purchases this year in several different areas, so a bit more than usual I've been watching some product demo videos of various kinds... everything from lighting gear, to camera support equipment, grip gear... lots of things.

I have noticed that, strangely enough for people in the film and video business, that our industry seems to produce some of the absolutely worst self-promotional videos out there. I mean, really awful.

Sometimes our own company demos here aren't quite as up-to-date as they should be, but what we do have looks good. One reason they are sometimes a little lagging is that we don't dare put out something promoting ourselves that is not as slick as we can create.

You'd think that since these other companies are in "the business" that the videos would be some of the slickest around... but I find some of the production values to be some of the poorest as far as this type of work goes.

Zero concepts, horrible camera work, afterthought lighting (if any), sloppy editing (if any), amateurish graphics, poor talent choices (obviously usually an employee or owner who has no business being on camera), cheesy music (if any), and the list goes on...

I was talking with an equipment vendor recently, a company that is making a pretty darn good and innovative new lighting product (which we will probably buy). They were asking some marketing advice, since they are a start-up company. I mentioned some things they were well aware of... such as that their website and collateral material was pretty amateurish. They agreed with all that. But when I mentioned all of the opportunities for improvement with their demo videos, I pretty much got a "Huh? What's wrong with them?" These videos are literally "Let's wag the Flip cam around for 1 minute so that you can kinda see what the product is and does." Literally. And they were perfectly fine with that. And still are.

It's not universal... companies like Canon and RED put time and effort into creating good demos that are as polished as they should be. But it seems that is the exception, not the rule.

It's just sad, I think. If we can't even get our own industry to do good work for ourselves, it's tough to expect other industries to let us convince them they need our good work, too.



Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Rich RubaschRe: Is it the cobbler with shabby shoes? Or what??
by on Mar 20, 2012 at 2:14:39 am

It's the auto mechanic syndrome. Ever see a mechanic's car? Usually the one parked on the corner that you would bet wouldn't even start. But he's not about to go home and start working on it.

Self-promotion is a tough gig. Hardest thing to do is say the top three things about yourself that totally rock. You'll hardly ever get them right.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage

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Alex ElkinsRe: Is it the cobbler with shabby shoes? Or what??
by on Mar 20, 2012 at 1:22:03 pm

I've noticed this a lot and it's absolutely fascinating, and at the same time completely infuriating when you're trying to find information about a product.

The other one that gets to me are the 20-minute long tutorial videos. It's as if a lot of us can't look objectively at our work/software/products and think, "I know this is a good product/service, but how can I convince others?", yet it's what we tell our clients to do every day!

Just to add to the list of video companies doing it right, I'd say the promo videos AJA put out are pretty good.

Alex Elkins
Twitter: @postbluetv
Post Blue showreel
Latest work: Greyhounds in Motion at 500fps
My Vimeo Pro page

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Mark SuszkoRe: Is it the cobbler with shabby shoes? Or what??
by on Mar 20, 2012 at 2:39:18 pm

I've noticed this too, Todd. You see it even more with software. I can't tell you how many youtube vids of a product or software demo I've seen where the audio narration is actually done by a text to speech converter.

For the guys developing stuff in their garage to sell, I think it boils down to the fact they didn't save out enough capital from building the thing, to go on and spend on MARKETING, expecting a "build it and they will come" response to, what to them, seems like a slam-dunk concept.

Well, it may well BE a slam-dunk concept, IN YOUR HEAD, but the trick is communicating that vision to others. People with money.

I've seen a number of efforts on Kickstarter that look very professional, but just as many that are incredibly weak.

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Mike CohenRe: Is it the cobbler with shabby shoes? Or what??
by on Apr 6, 2012 at 5:00:35 pm

Totally agree. No names mentioned, but I see videos supposedly demonstrating a product but you don't see much of the product - you see plenty of the person talking. There is a company that does these in-service sessions, like interview lighting or whatever, shot with a few cameras, but the cuts are at odd times and the angles make it hard to see the action, and they seem to be using the built-in mic - this is a company that sells video and audio gear.

Just because they sell donuts doesn't mean they can show you how to make donuts.

Mike Cohen

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