The world of video is exploding. Video marketing is even bigger.
Video is everywhere and, statistically speaking, the favored means of communication these days with nearly every demographic. Why? Because it works…most of the time.
The problem with video is, like every creative field, the quality varies from production company to production company. Videos are definitely not all the same and neither are the professionals who make them. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for the lay person to figure out the best company to hire, which is why we have created this series comparing experienced production companies versus lesser experienced teams.
What should you look for when comparing them? What factors will affect the success of your video production? In Part One of our series, we are going to look at the basics between the two types of companies. As the series continues, we’ll dive into each aspect of video production, breaking down how experience shows itself and whether or not it matters (which, of course, it nearly always does).
The biggest benefit to using a newer team is price. In many cases (not all), lesser experienced production companies have lower overhead costs. This is often because they don’t have studio space or the size the more established businesses have. This can be a good thing, as long as the lack of space does not translate into lack of equipment, capabilities or services. Bottom line is that it’s a lot cheaper to operate out of your parents’ basement or an apartment than it is to have an established office space with editing suites, narration booth, insert studios for green screen and in-studio interviews, and more.
The downside is that a lower cost can mean a cheaper approach—inferior quality equipment and a dearth of finishing touches, like music, captioning, audio mixing, original animations. It can also show a lack of understanding of the project and what is required to present a quality video. We have found that many inexperienced or newer professionals in this industry mistakenly underbid projects and then have to cut corners because they didn’t anticipate the costs to do something properly. This speaks to poor planning or a simple misunderstanding the needs beforehand. These failures can affect the quality of the final project.
Experienced production professionals charge more because of what they bring to the table—experience, skill, broadcast-quality equipment, professional editors, producers, scriptwriters and directors of photography. These things matter in how the finished product looks.
Hiring professionals is always a bit pricey, but in the grand scheme of things, production professionals, such as directors, executive producers or directors of photography charge far less per hour than a good attorney. But they can change your image, bring your ideas to life and affect your business in concrete ways.
When comparing bids from companies be sure to look at their capabilities and how they plan to shoot and edit the video. Look for differences in approaches, equipment, crew, and whether they mention any issues that need to be addressed as part of the budget that was not included directly in the job description. Cost should not be the sole reason for selecting a company. If you use that as a measurement, you could regret it. Do due diligence first.
We’ve talked about this a bit, but it bears repeating. An experienced production company will have an insert studio, soundproofed narration booth for broadcast-quality recording, full editing suites, client space to hold meetings and review footage at the least. Many lesser experienced or newer companies don’t offer these amenities or capabilities and have to hire these services out or make do with lower quality options, like meet at the local coffee shop.
Look for companies that are established and have the proper licenses, insurances and other requirements of your jurisdiction.
Speaking of capabilities, video media professionals use professional tools, such as broadcast-grade cameras with high-end lenses, quality lighting and sound kits to help their clients present their best professional image so they can rise above the noise of their mediocre competitors. Capabilities matter. What equipment the team uses and how they use it matters. How they plan to edit the footage matters too. It all matters. Hiring a company with professional capabilities and access to professional-grade equipment when its needed is essential. While you can make a video with a pro-consumer camera and laptop, it won’t have the same quality as a professionally produced video will. It’s kind of like the difference between taking a date for a burger versus a really good steak. They can both be good, but which you choose depends on how you want to be seen.
Again, review capabilities in any proposals and make sure the company has professional-grade equipment and the same services as competing companies. This will help you compare bids beyond price alone.
In the Approach and Application
The biggest difference is in approach and application. Many inexperienced or newer professionals are either self-taught or recently graduated with little to no field experience. They can lack the experience in real world applications and miss things they would have learned apprenticing with a more established company.
It takes time to learn the tricks of the trade and the pitfalls. A professional production company employs professionals who have education, skills, talent and experience to deliver a quality product. They also offer a team approach, using the best in their fields. This means bringing together a scriptwriter, director of photography, director, producer and editor who work as a team to create the final product.
Doing it all yourself is difficult at best. It’s tough to hold a camera and a boom mike, for example. Or to set up lighting, sound and arrange the best shot. Or hold a camera and ask interview questions. A professional company is a team approach where each position is filled with someone who is trained specifically for that job.
Of course there are prodigies. The trick is to figure out how to tell the difference between inexperience and inferior quality. They are not synonymous, which is why we have put this series together. As we continue with it, you will learn what to look for in a company and how to tell when a low price or lack of equipment is an issue and when it’s not.
Carefully review how the companies will approach your project and whether they have a plan for any potential issues in the selected locations or with the content.
In our next blog, we will look at pre-production and how to evaluate experience.
If you have any questions about production or hiring a professional production company, please contact us either through this website, Our eMail or call us at (703) 683-5305. We’d love to hear from you.