Harry’s Story is a documentary about the childhood memories of Harry Andringa. Harry was only nine years old when Hitler’s Nazis invaded Holland in 1940. His family risked their lives hiding Jews from the German soldiers for years during the occupation. Harry explains living under Nazi brutality and the liberation of Holland by the Allies.
In February 2021, the documentary was submitted to the Toronto-Newmarket monthly film festival. – our first submission to any film festival. The film was entered under the category Best Documentary Short. It won the category and will automatically be nominated for the annual festival. Harry’s Story lives on!
Do-it-Yourself (DIY) videos are a popular medium to educate customers on assembling or using products. Everyone likes to save money. If a DIY product can save a consumer money and it can be explained in video you will have a better chance expanding your customer base. Here are some tips in planning your video to make video recording and editing efficient. An example of a DIY video is “How to Winterize Your Travel Trailer” on YouTube. Note: This video is monetized and is a good example how your time creating a video can be financially rewarding.
Plan Before Shooting Video
You can save time during the shoot by having a good plan i.e. a shot plan. Think of the consumer receiving your DIY product. Write out the product steps without using technical terms. Expand on the steps by writing the voice over script for your narrator. In the sidebar make a note what video is captured, graphic or still photo will be used to show each step- this is your shot list.
Go over your script and shot list several times and have other staff review it. When your shot list is nearly complete, send it to your videographer for input. It has to be clear in the videographer’s mind too so he/she knows your vision and what needs to be video recorded.
Prepare For The Video Shoot
Ensure all the supplies you need are readily available on the shooting ‘set’. Check the set to make sure it’s tidy and any unwanted or distracting elements are removed since you wish to focus on your product. Determine who will be in your video; yourself, a staff member, extras or even actors. Depending on the type of video you are shooting and its final destination you may require signed releases. Your videographer can help with this detail.
Record High-Quality Audio
If you are recording audio sound it is imperative to control ambient noise since sensitive microphones will capture noise in your video. Viewers are less forgiving of poor audio than poor video. Traffic noise, a noisy fan, air conditioner, plant equipment or even buzzing fluorescent lights can add audio noise and ruin your masterpiece. Sometimes ambient noise is good since it can add authenticity to a location for a DIY video but it’s usually best to minimize noise.
Good Video Needs Good Lighting
Good video requires lots of light- more than photography. For this reason, your videographer will want to know what artificial or natural light is available at the shooting location. The videographer will usually have an arsenal of lights to handle any kind of accessory lighting required.
Consider Professional Narration
DIY videos can be narrated by a host or a voice-over narrator. A host narrator can work very well and be convincing but let’s face it- not everyone can narrate well on-camera. If you prefer having a host a good script can be extremely useful in shortening the number of takes. A teleprompter can be a helpful tool and need not be expensive. There is an iPad app that works great as a teleprompter and reduces the of narration ‘takes’.
Voiceover narration can often be the preferred route for DIY videos. You can create a shot list and script, capture the footage, perform a rough edit then tweak your script to match your footage. Leaving the voiceover narration to the very end can save a lot of headaches trying to match up footage with audio. The final script can be sent out for audition to one of several services on the web. Professional radio/TV voices can be hired for as little as $150 US for a 5 minute video.
Editing Your Video
Your videographer may also be your video editor. In this case he/she will already have a good idea of your video vision. You will probably have input at two or more stages in the editing process- the rough or medium cut and certainly the fine cut. Your videographer will want to know the final use of your video too. Will it be destined for YouTube, Vimeo or PowerPoint? Encoding is different for each however once your video is produced in 4K or HD it can be encoded for virtually any use.
Adding Music to Video
Well timed, edited music can add a professional touch to any video and create the mood you need to convey your message. Long gone are the days when you can edit a song from iTunes into your video. Copyright laws are more strict than ever. YouTube videos with copyrighted music may get covered with ads or banned outright. The better solution is to allow your videographer to seek royalty-free (or royalty-paid) music which is legal and will not get banned on the Internet. There are 10’s of thousands of tracks available- one will be perfect for your video at reasonable cost.
Always include information in your video where the DIY enthusiast can find additional help. The video can cover the high points. Detailed information provided as a pdf or FAQ section on a website, forums, or support line can create better customer loyalty, referrals and repeat business.
You’ve decided you need a company video and need to hire a video production company. Unless you know exactly what you want and how you want it produced, choosing a production company can be a daunting process. Issuing a request for proposal (RFP) can be the best means of sourcing video production talent if you are looking for input from experts – some new ideas on how best to convey your message.
By giving the production company details in key areas you will be providing necessary information needed for a meaningful quote.
Required Information For Your RFP.
1. In your RFP give a brief outline of the video purpose – to generate more web leads, to educate viewers about a new product or process, to create excitement around a new product launch, etc. This will help the video company identify your goals and objectives.
2. Give an estimate of the length of the video. Remember, less is more, particularly with web video. Intro company promo videos are best kept 2-3 minutes long. Educational videos can be longer but always keep in mind the video should be focused and hold the viewers’ attention. If you want your video to cover two distinct topics consider creating two separate short videos. Providing the video length(s) will give the producer information needed for quoting.
3. Specify the shooting location – your office or plant or do you require a studio?
4. What is the required style of your video? The video could be a product demo, testimonial interviews, message from the President, product comparisons…detail as much as you can.
5. Who will be in the video? Staff members, plant employees, satisfied customers, professional actors?
6. Do you require professional narration or will company employees provide the dialogue and narration?
7. What is your timeline? When do you need the finished product?
8. What are the deliverables? Blu-ray, YouTube, Broadcast, DVD or a combination of formats?
9. Do you have a budget in mind? This may sound at first like you are opening a Pandora’s box, however, if you envision a video with high production quality but don’t give details that would lead the producer to this conclusion the producer may quote on a production level that doesn’t meet your expectations. One way around this is to ask for production value options. For example, with a budget of $2000 (or less) what can you provide? What can you provide for $4000 or $10000?
Always suggest how you want the RFP response structured. For the sake of comparing responses you may ask the quoted price stated in the cover page. You may have a detailed list of information required in a particular order such as: Cover Letter, Contact Information, Production Crew, Project Production Strategy, Work Plan, Relevant Project Experience, 3 Customer References, Detailed Quote, Link to Demo Reel.
Always state the RFP closing date and time for responses, how responses must be delivered (hard copy, email or both) and that late responses will not be considered.
Have you seen a video style you really like? If so, provide a link so the Producer can get a better idea of what you want.
What To Ask For Larger Projects.
1. A Video Treatment. A treatment is a statement of the project showing that the producer understands what you want to achieve with your video and gives a summary how the video will be created.
2. A detailed work plan showing milestones at definite dates that you provide.
3. Equipment list. This may help you determine which producer has the better tools to do the job. If you or a member of your RFP team are not familiar with video/photographic equipment this could be meaningless information. Keep in mind many professionals do not own all their equipment – they rent it to keep pace with the newest and latest available. You could ask what equipment they would use and how this would add to the overall production level of the project.
4. Risk Mitigation. Identify the possible areas of risk and what plans will be in place to minimize risk. This could cover crew replacement in case of illness, unfavourable weather conditions and if something happens, ‘what is Plan B’?
5. You can even state your scoring system for responses, for example 20% for experience with similar projects, 20% project cost, 20% customer references, 20% demo reel, 10% completeness of response, 10% understanding of project and quality of response.
What To Look For In A RFP Response.
1. Did the producer complete the response in your required format? If the response is incomplete, did not arrive before the deadline or not in your stated format? This should speak volumes.
2. Has the Producer worked on similar projects? Do they have some knowledge of your company, product or service? Does it appear they researched your company before they created a written response – did they do their homework?
3. Examine their video treatment, strategy and work plan. You are hiring professionals who can bring you fresh ideas. A producers’ creative talent is their greatest asset. How can they apply it to your project?
4. Check out the quality of online demos and other projects. This should rank high on your scoring grid.
You can easily export (or freeze) frames of video and save them as a still image with a free application called MPEG Streamclip by Squared 5. It’s a free download and is available for Mac and PC users at www.squared5.com.
Editors note: Google ‘MPEG Streamclip’ for a download link but beware the site has no SSL certificate (no https). I downloaded the app years ago and have had no problems.
Once you download and install the program you must first import your movie. Open MPEG Streamclip then select:
1. File> Open Files> and select your movie.
2. Play your movie and pause it when you get to the frame you wish to save as a still photo.
3. Select File> Export Frame.
4. The Frame Exporter window will appear (see photo above) loaded with options. You can select 4:3 or 16:9 format (widescreen). You can custom size your exported image by selecting ‘Other’ and keying in the image size you want.
5. If your video is interlaced (such as 720x480i) you can select ‘deinterlace’ to remove fuzzy horizontal lines. If you have HD video such as 720p you can leave blank since this video is progressive and doesn’t need deinterlacing.
6. You can make many adjustments to the photo by selecting Adjustments. Brightness, Contrast, Saturation can all be fine-tuned here. Volume adjustment is used when converting video files so leave this unchanged.
7. A preview window is available to see your photo adjustments.
8. Select your desired quality. Remember- higher quality results in larger file size. Here we are dealing with single frames of video so file size is not usually a problem. Also select JPEG, TIFF or PNG.
9. Select OK and where you wish to save the final still image…that’s it!
MPEG Streamclip can do a host of other functions like converting video files into other formats. But if you are looking for a fast and easy way to freeze video frames this is a great way to do it, inexpensively. If you are looking for photos for the web the exported photos are usually high enough resolution to work fine!