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Production – 522 Productions
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Video Production During a Pandemic

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Since March 2020, we’ve seen productions canceled, in-person events turned virtual, and clients unsure about the future of their video projects. This uncertainty has had a huge impact on organizations around the world, forcing us to adjust communication plans and capture their audiences effectively – which includes tighter budgets and bigger outcomes. That’s where video marketing strategy comes in. While we’re back on set capturing footage in-person, we’ve had our own adjustments to make to provide the best experiences, videos, and services to our clients. [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Curious about what we’ve been doing to help our clients achieve their video marketing goals? Onward!” font_container=”tag:h4|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_tta_accordion][vc_tta_section title=”1. User-generated Content” tab_id=”1602001332709-f8bfae80-09aa”][vc_column_text]Something we’ve been doing with our clients who need videos to support their virtual events, current initiatives, or company communications has been utilizing user-generated content. Although the look & feel may be different, it’s refreshing to see real, raw content in a time like this. Leaning into the user-generated feel is something that we’ve found to be comforting, engaging, and simply human.

To get the best quality, we often send our participants some form of lighting, audio, and camera-tripod gear. We’ve created a Self-Tape Production Guide that reviews how to frame a camera, get the best lighting, and even choose a killer shirt to wear. Our team helps participants troubleshoot, get set up, and record so they’re never in it alone.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”2. Filming Indoors” tab_id=”1602001332769-75095dec-0c8b”][vc_column_text]As we said, we’re back on set! We’ve adjusted our production schedules, production processes, and have manned our crews with proper PPE and up to date guidelines to keep those onsite safe. Of course, things are different… but we’re makin’ it work.

To minimize the size of our crew, we provide video call links to our clients so they’re able to see everything that goes down via Zoom, and we have crew members monitoring the feed to track client questions and comments. We’re also able to utilize our office space in Alexandria as a production studio for an interview set up, b-roll, and other shoots as needed. Indoor filming is not always ideal in a moment like this, but we’re constantly adapting our COVID precautions to make sure it’s safe for everyone.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”3. Filming Outdoors” tab_id=”1602001475077-381907fc-a459″][vc_column_text]Filming outside allows for a safer environment and more space, as well as some beautiful views – mother nature am I right? Filming outdoors is a great precaution to take, and we do our research to avoid crowded areas and ensure quality airflow. And, we capture natural lighting, which looks good on everyone![/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Leaning into Technology” tab_id=”1602001527070-880ba30b-42ac”][vc_column_text]In some cases, it makes sense to show technology in your video and use it as a means to deliver your messaging. Not sure? We’ll explain.

In an organization that virtually meets and communicates already, interviewing your employees for a brand video through the computer screen might just be on-brand. Especially in a time where most of us are working remotely, it can be a great way to resonate with your audience, who are going through this with you. After all, we’re all in this together, one (or 20) Zoom call at a time.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If live action video just doesn’t work for your organization right now, or your initiative would be more effective using an animated approach, awesome! We have in-house Art Directors and animators that create and bring concepts to life. Take a look at the Florence Bascom video we worked on with USGS – it’s a great example of using archival assets to create something fresh and new that makes an impact.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=””][vc_custom_heading text=”Let us help you get started.” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:center” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]We are not only your video company, we’re your video agency. Let us help you prioritize your videos, evaluate your existing content, and develop your new message to share with your audiences. Our team of experienced video marketing professionals will not only work to deliver your videos on time and within budget, they will partner with you to help make sure your fundraising video tells the right stories to encourage support, your marketing video educates your audience on your value and competitive advantage, your training video provides easy to understand information that can be complex in writing alone, your brand video gets the word out on who you are and how you can help your existing or new audiences.

We know it can be really difficult to navigate video production in general, especially now when things are constantly changing. Which is why we’re here for you. If you’re wondering how you’ll execute your next video project, give us a call, send us a note – we even accept carrier pigeons.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

How to Use Authenticity to Make Your Video Stand Out


When you look at the videos produced by your competition and others in your industry, what do you see? What do they look like? Do yours look the same? Say the same things? Do you truly stand out?

Just like a bad website design is enough to turn you off from buying a product or service, a bad video can be enough to turn off a potential consumer from choosing your brand over another. More than half of the buyer’s decision is made up before they ever even reach out to you. Therefore, it’s essential that your video leaves your audience with a positive feeling about your brand.

Authenticity is the key to creating any video that inspires your audience to take action. Just think of all the cheesy corporate videos you’ve seen out there. The ones that you’re more likely to make fun of than to reach out to anyone. You know the ones – the Mission videos that stay so high-level that they say nothing at all; the corporate videos that use so much industry speak that you have no idea what they are actually trying to say; or the case study videos that create scenarios so unrealistic, you immediately call bullshit.

But how exactly do you actually create authentic videos? Here are a few suggestions, for a variety of videos.

Mission Videos + Vision Videos + Overview Videos

Whatever you want to call it, the video that sets forth your company’s reason for being is the video that you want to be the most genuine and authentic in. This is the video that’s going to explain why your company exists and why someone should choose to engage with your product or service. Speak to your audience in real terms. Interview your team, especially those on the front lines. Let them explain who you are and what you do. And don’t put words in their mouths. Odds are any script read by employees will be written by a conglomerate of people with a variety of opinions… none of which express how that individual actually feels. Be bold enough to trust your employees to vocalize your company’s mission. And don’t have them recite the mission statement core values… unless yours is a company where those values are engrained in your DNA. Otherwise, they’ll look wildly uncomfortable doing so and that’s the last visual you want.

Real Life Case Studies + Customer Testimonials + Product Videos

You know you smell bullshit a mile away when you watch a commercial where it’s clear the actor has never actually used the product their hawking. Or how commercials fail when they awkwardly cram the company name or show the product far too often. These types of videos create a negative feeling and turn consumers away. This is where branded documentaries are so effective. These are micro- or mini-docs that tell positive stories about a product or service in a manner that’s more about what the product or company stands for than about the specific product itself. Yeti has done a fantastic job over the years crafting stories that resonate with consumers because they touch on feelings and emotions that they can relate to. Branded documentaries simply connect on a different level. They create a positive emotional connection with your brand, and from a sales and marketing perspective, those folks are far more likely to reach out to you.

Culture Videos + Recruitment Videos

Authentic culture videos are crucial to the sniff test. I know it sounds crazy, but to be authentic, tell true stories. Put your biggest brand advocates on camera – the one who can tell a story about how your in-depth mentor program changed the way they see financing. Or tell the story about the new employee who initiated your company’s recycling program. Culture videos are where you shouldn’t hold anything back. Let your people shine. If you have a crazy team, and you want to attract crazy people – show that. Get your team talking about how they feel, or translate their feelings into a tightly written script (under 300 words, please!). But whatever you do, don’t start saying you’re something you’re not, because you won’t be able to fake it. If you’re saying that you have a fun, laid-back atmosphere, that better be the case. Have the visuals support those claims with team members involved in a heated ping pong match or ribbing one another in the lunchroom. Don’t cut to a silent library of a common area where employees eat in silence or shame.

At the end of the day, whatever the style of video, authenticity is going to make it stand out from the crowd. If you want your viewer to care (which is the whole reason you’re willing to spend a lot of time and money developing them) then you must be authentic.

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About the Author

Chad Vossen, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder

Chad Vossen is the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder at 522. Chad’s combination of documentary filmmaking and marketing skills allows him to have a unique approach when connecting a client with what matters to their audience. Outside of work, Chad loves reading, writing, and finding cool new videos, in addition to spending time with his two daughters and his wife, Alisa.


The Pros And Cons Of Outsourcing Video For Your Marketing Agency: Q&A with Chad Vossen of 522 Productions


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Interviewer: What we’re talking about today is the pros and cons of outsourcing video for your marketing agency. Let’s start with pros, what would be the biggest pro to outsourcing?

Chad Vossen: In the context of building an in-house video department themselves or outsourcing, one of the biggest pros is flexibility. A lot of issues with marketing teams or agencies is they have a variety of different clients who may have a variety of different needs which means they might have a need for a variety of different types of videos. One of their clients might need animated video, one of their clients might need a recruitment video and one of their clients might need a voiceover with stock footage, or whatever.

So the biggest piece of building and scaling a team when there’s a variety of different needs is that you need to understand your clients’ needs. The ability to outsource to a video production company, allows you to maintain that flexibility. You can go to an animated video production company or you can go to a company like ours where we do both, live action and animated.

Outsourcing video as an agency gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility and ability to best tailor a video for your client’s specific need. I think that’s the biggest pro. When it comes to cost, there’s a pro and a con because you’re going to pay a premium for that since you’re hiring specific talent to execute a specific need, but when you build an in-house team, you have to pay for them whether or not you’re working on a video project. In that case, you just have to hope that all of your clients need video and you have to hope that they all need the same type of video.

That’s something we found in talking with a variety of digital marketing companies, that they’ll hire somebody or they’ll try to build an in-house team then that person either gets swamped or is bored. They hear from their clients, “Oh, I need video”, but then it doesn’t go anywhere in the long run. They don’t really stop and think about what it is that they actually need in their strategy. They’re just looking at the short term. I have these six projects, but once those projects are done, what’s happening in the future?

Interviewer: Would you say that a pro to outsourcing would also be that it allows you, as an agency, to have more consistent delivery of content because of all the constant needs and changes? It seems like if you have an in-house team or person they get pulled in a thousand different directions all the time.

Chad Vossen: Yup, if you have the right relationships I think that’s an interesting point. If you can build a couple of relationships, you go with a video production company and then an animator or with a freelancer when you need to. So it does give you flexibility if you get inundated with work. You’re not piling it all on this one independent person.

When companies or larger marketing departments start building their in-house team, everybody goes to this person and a lot of times they just feel like a whirling dervish because they’re getting directions from a marketing person, the recruitment person, this person, that person, and they’re trying to feel everything and they don’t have the proper structure in place to be able to manage all these things and everybody’s a priority and it gets really complicated to field all of those requests.

I think with internal marketing departments trying to build out their own video production team, they really need to think that through. What is the hierarchy? How are they being utilized? Who is assigning the tasks and who’s ultimately responsible for saying “No recruitment team, you’re not getting a recruitment video.”? We have these ten requests over here that are due for this conference or whatever the case is.

Interviewer: So, would you also build a case for outsourcing even if you do have an in-house team in your agency?

CV: Yes. And that’s a good question because we’ve often gotten pulled into those exact situations where internal marketing or production teams are overworked or they don’t have the skill set that we do to be able to tell a cinematic documentary or create an animated video. Some of their in-house people might not understand animation. Being able to outsource gives you that flexibility. You may already have an internal team, but you may still need to outsource.

IN: Can you think of any other major pros to doing that? We’ve covered flexibility, cost, consistency of content creation, production support in general. Anything else?

CV: It enables you to deliver across a broad range of requirements. And I don’t know how to best boil that together, but somebody could come to you for a high-end, 30-second television commercial or event coverage and if you’re outsourcing, it gives you the capability to manage all of those types of requests. Where if you have an internal team, a 30-second national television commercial might be totally out of the wheelhouse. Or, if you have somebody that strongly prefers executing high-level concepts, they’re not going to want to go do event coverage. It goes both ways. It gives you flexibility in terms of the deliverables.

IN: How about some cons. What would some of the challenges of outsourcing video be?

CV: You don’t have a direct connection. You don’t have all the trust. Trust is the most important thing. You’ve got to take time and take your bumps and take your bruises. You have to find the right partner and experiment on certain things because it doesn’t take much for a video to go wrong. It’s one of those situations where it’s a well-oiled machine and if one of those cogs comes out, say, if you hire bad talent the video could fall apart. If somebody is late to a shoot, the video could fall apart. If there’s dirt on the lens… the video could fall apart.

So there are so many different intricate details in video production that you need to make sure that you trust and have faith in whoever you’re outsourcing with that they’re going to deliver on time, on budget, and that they understand what it is that you’re trying to achieve. A lot of video production companies just show up and shoot. They’re ‘Executioners’. They might make it look nice, but at the end of the day, they don’t really care. They’re not the ones with the relationship with the client. They’re just there to execute a task. So you want to make sure that whoever it is vested and has an interest in this video performing the way that your client wants them to perform.

IN: We talked about the flexibility as a pro, are there any cons related to the flexibility that comes with outsourcing?

CV: Yes, let’s say you do find that partner, and they’re awesome. If they’re awesome…  they can also get busy, they can get booked. You may have an in-house or you may have your go-to animator, but maybe he goes on vacation for two weeks and you’re like, “Damn, I really need that video for the conference.” For example, we’re talking with a marketing agency who has a large Fortune-100 client. They were working with an independent freelancer who got too busy and swamped and couldn’t handle the workloads. That provided us an opportunity because we have a more robust team. We’re 14 people, so we’re not just one person.

There’s a con to that if you go on a smaller scale, you don’t have that sort of scalability.

I think it also goes to the fact that most of our successful videos can take a while to understand. We had one government relations consultant-client who we had gotten to know and took the time to get to understand who they are and what their culture is and all those types of things. It takes a while to develop that rapport and be able to create a video that captures their personality. When we went back and did a second video, that video was that much more smooth because we understand who they are and we have that intimate relationship.

If you put a marketing company in-between us, the marketing company, rightfully so, typically gets protective about their relationship with their clients. They don’t want us necessarily going first and talking with their clients directly because they want to they want to manage that relationship. So, when we don’t get that intimacy with the end-client, it’s harder for us to wrap our heads around who they are, what they’re like, sometimes we don’t even meet some of the end clients until the day to shoot. So, we don’t have that relationship, we don’t have that rapport and it just makes it that much more challenging to have that come across in the video.

IN: Do you have any tips on overcoming some of those cons? Are there any communication tips that you could recommend or anything like that?

CV: Yes, with the marketing company and the video production company developing a relationship of trust, it all comes down to the importance of trust between the marketing company and the video production company. The more the marketing company is able to develop that relationship and trust with the video production company, that they can trust them talking with their clients. That’s fine if they always want to be there and be involved, from our perspective, we would certainly encourage that because they’re the ones who have the relationship with their client.

But it’s really sort of developing that relationship of trust and being able to provide and being open and transparent about the information about the clients themselves and the nuances of relationships, what the company is like and what the goals and objectives of the project are. And really just working together in a team to be able to execute the video that they need.

IN: You mentioned earlier that cost can be a pro and a con. Is there anything you want to say about that as a con?

CV:I think, when you’re outsourcing, the pro obviously gives you that flexibility. It’s sort of on-demand, you’re not paying for it unless you need it. But then the con to that is you’re paying the premium for it. You’re already paying premium rates for that outsourced resource because they’re not salary on your team. It’s going to take them a little longer to understand who the client is and understand things of that nature.

You’re going to have to rent equipment. You’re paying for the luxury, if you will, of not having a full-time staff at your department and you’re paying for that premium of the ad hoc performance.

IN: That’s a good point there. Would you say that overall with the cost still works out in your favor? The costs by not staffing a full in-house team and owning equipment and all of those things?

CV: That’s a great question and honestly one of the more difficult one for a marketing company to understand because if they have a lot of consistent work and not just a couple projects upfront, but, “Hey we have clients that need to do a series.” Or clients that really want to develop video plans rather than, “Hey, I just need this one off project.” Then yes, it makes sense to potentially build an internal team.

But if you’re building an internal team to execute a couple of short-term projects, then it doesn’t really make sense. From our perspective, our clients are unpredictable, we’re very project-driven and that makes it hard for us to foresee things in the future. In a way, we’re an outsource marketing video production department for a variety of marketing companies. From that perspective, we’re waiting for the phone to ring, which is no different than a marketing company would be unless they’re sitting there and promoting their strategic video plan with their direct clients.

IN: Yes. That makes a lot of sense. So doing something in-house, the benefit there would only be if you have a specific situation? Maybe you decide that with all of your clients, part of your contract is that you do a 30-second trailer or two social videos a month for example. Then you have a minimal setup and one person who is in charge of that. But that doesn’t get you anywhere near what you really need for true video production. So there’s a little bit of a compromise there. So then maybe you don’t have to outsource all those little things and you can have both ways?

CV: And then I think another thing that a marketing company should consider, is the temperament and the type of person and the type of role that you’re going to add to your video department. An issue that a lot of the marketing companies would have is they’re going to hire this guy and he’s just going to want to go out and take pretty pictures and make That person… he’s a creative or she’s a creative. They’re not necessarily thinking about the end product the same way the rest of the more… shall we say, practically-minded right brainers.  Creative need wrangling. It’s a left brain, right brain thing.

So when hiring someone to start an internal video department, their temperament has to be considered. If you’re going to put them in a monotonous, repetitive herky-jerk situation or fast turnarounds or things like that, you really need to consider the temperament of the person that you’re hiring for this position. You also need to think about how they interact with folks. Is this somebody that can talk effectively with clients and deliver on what they’re going to say? Yes, they take a lot of pretty pictures, yes, their reel looks great, but there’s more to it than just that. While there are certainly a lot of outgoing Creatives… there are probably more introverted ones who prefer working in isolation.

Think about their response times. Their ability to manage multiple projects. Their ability to effectively communicate with clients. Their ability to convey the project’s vision to the clients so they understand what’s happening throughout the entire process. That’s all those nuances why project managers or producers are so important. You need somebody who can have all of those skill sets that project managers do and still execute and deliver a creative and compelling video.

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About the Author

Chad Vossen, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder

Chad Vossen is the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder at 522. Chad’s combination of documentary filmmaking and marketing skills allows him to have a unique approach when connecting a client with what matters to their audience. Outside of work, Chad loves reading, writing, and finding cool new videos, in addition to spending time with his two daughters and his wife, Alisa.


Strengthen Your Company’s brand with Corporate Videos

Think about the last time you read a simple, yet memorable blog post. That probably takes a second. After you read it, did you share it? Now think about the last memorable video you watched. Probably a lot easier to recall. There’s a reason for that: video provides a lasting impression on visitors.  

Video combines the senses of sight and sound. We’re far more likely to connect with someone telling us a story than if we read about that story. We’re more likely to form a bond with someone when we can see the excitement on their face or hear the passion in their voice. We’re simply more likely to feel inspired ourselves. This ability to form an emotional connection puts video in the unique position for brands to leave meaningful impressions on potential customers, employees and investors – especially if they tell authentic stories that resonate with their audience.

If you use video to strengthen your company’s brand, quality matters. With social media being as popular as it is, the amount of advertising and marketing content that users see daily is overwhelming. This means it’s more important than ever to create collateral that connects with your audience. Quality videos combat short attention spans with compelling visuals, soundbites, and music. A well-executed video can easily convey more information in 30 seconds than a 500-word blog post.

But once you’ve produced your perfect brand story… how are people going to find about it? Videos make this easy on your audience because they’re so much easier to consume. Let’s face it, you’re far more likely to discover a story from a friend or colleague via video than a blog. Which are you more likely to share? This ability makes video the most popular way to advertise across devices. Newspaper, billboards, and radio are simply less effective and more difficult to track your ROI.

Because video is able to capture the attention of viewers far more effectively than written text, it creates a better means for getting your brand’s voice out there.  The internet allows you to reach a wider range of audiences, as well as the ability to target the right personas for your product. This optimized marketing generally leads to more qualified leads, which in turn helps boost sales and notoriety. It’s worth the investment.

Video also allows provides the widest canvass for crafting how you want your brand to be perceived. It enables you to capture your company’s essence with powerful visuals, a strong voiceover, or sharp motion graphics. This helps create an authentic, meaningful connection with viewers.

How is your audience influenced by this connection? Video helps companies move the bottom line for their business.  Traditional marketing doesn’t offer the ability to resonate with customers and potential employees. This leads to better hires, more donations, or higher comprehension rates.  A strong corporate video shows a commitment to a strong brand.

There are so many stories and opportunities waiting to be shared in business today. These opportunities open gates for creators and corporations alike to develop a genuine connection with visitors that translates to a lasting impression. Not only does video help market a brand, it allows the viewer to get a sense of company culture, to see the true goals and values of the company, and ultimately connect on a human level that other forms of communication simply do not provide. For these reasons, corporate video provides an excellent place to start if you’re looking to strengthen your company’s brand.

A Few of the Best Video Production Examples We’ve Seen

Over the years we’ve seen our fair share of video productions. Everyone knows a bad video when they see one, but do you ever recognize a good one? Since we’re on a mission to rid the world of cheesy corporate videos, we thought it’d be a good idea to shine a light on great work that takes place outside the walls of 711 King St.

We chose the following video examples because they are simple, smart and authentic ways to  connect with viewers. They do more than just cram a ton of information into a short window. They craft a compelling story around the product – not necessarily about the product itself.

Blue Apron

Yes… they play a lot in Youtube pre-rolls, but these spots are extremely well put together. These do a fantastic job of humanizing today’s dining experiences. Often times meals are cooked after a long day’s work, or hastily thrown together. These spots encourage the viewer to slow down and savor the act of cooking… because Blue Apron makes it easy for you.  

Here’s a few reasons why we dig these vids:

  • Showcases food as a means to bring people together
  • The whole campaign (days of the week) does an excellent job demonstrating the practical value of their product
  • Cinematography and story makes the situations feel authentic, and makes the act of cooking an art.


Yeti is pretty much an ideal branded content developer. They have cultivated and created an entire following that grew organically from their branded documentary series that crafts authentic stories about their target audience. Yeti’s videos don’t hit the viewer over the head with their product – they simply tell unique stories that resonates with them. Stories that focus on Yeti’s core values that ultimately connect with the viewer.

Here’s why we dig these:

  • The purpose of the videos aren’t to sell products (at least not directly). Their purpose is to generate brand loyalty. Viewers see the values expressed in the videos as their own, and therefore for a bond with the brand.  
  • These stories are as authentic as it gets. Yeti cultivate stories from their loyal followers who express the same feelings that the company stands for. And it’s not by mistake that these individuals all happen to have hobbies or professions in visually stunning arenas.



A little older, but this is storytelling on another level. The Take Note team does a phenomenal job humanizing a product: stationary. The team expertly reminds the viewer that even in today’s digital world, handwritten notes are still essential in our day to day lives.  

Here’s what we liked:

  • I can’t think of a more creative way to tell a story using stationary as the driver. From first date recap to the end, the story draws you in.
  • Simple, relatable life situations (plot points) that resonate with most viewers
  • They are able to tell the story of a lifelong relationship without getting lost in any unnecessary details as far as the product is concerned, such as what they people look like, and where the events take place.

Purple Mattress

This video is about two years old, and 100% focuses on the product, but it recently resurfaced in our office Slack channel as a video that we love. It’s extremely difficult to humanize your brand while trying to sell the audience on the benefits of a product, but the team at Purple does just that. You may not watch the whole thing, but I mean… when was the last time you were interested in watching a 4-minute video about mattresses?

Here’s what else we liked:

  • This video entertains while it informs. That script is dynomite.
  • Using Goldilocks as the ‘spokesperson’ was a stroke of genius – it’s a character that everyone knows; she’s associated with sleep; demands thing to be ‘just right’; and opens the door to a world of comedic possibilities.  
  • Timing – from the tight script to the tight edits, the video is impeccably timed throughout.

These are just some examples of how you can tell a brand story. If you’re looking for more practical tips on creating videos that resonate with your audience, check out our ebook, The Fundamental Guide to B2B Video Marketing. It helps get your started on creating a video that speaks to your audience. If you don’t need something like that… then I wouldn’t download it. Then it would just clutter your desktop.

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3 Myths We’ve Heard about the Cost of Producing a Video

Often times folks newer to video think that because we have a ton of higher profile brands on our website, that they won’t be able to afford us. That’s not certainly not the case, but it is certainly a common concern. I mean, considering that the average Super Bowl ad costs $5.5 million, it’s no wonder our clients fear the cost of video.

I’m not here to tell you that video is cheap, but the good news is that the old way of thinking – that video is crazy expensive – is quickly becoming outdated. Investing in good video production for your company can be just as affordable as investing in any other marketing solution. It simply depends on your needs and who you partner with to create the video content that puts your brand on the map.

We figured that since many of us are consistently debunking the myths about the cost of a video, we thought we’d take a second to address some of those misconceptions head on.

522 Productions

Myth #1: “Video is Expensive!”
Let’s start here. The cost of video production is similar to the cost of buying a car, it all depends on your needs. Often it comes down to how much you need your video production company to take off your plate. Unfortunately, creating a proposal is simply not a one-size-fits-all pricing model.

To better understand what can drive the prices of video production up, let’s take a look at the factors that influence price. We’ll break those down in terms of the different phases of a typical video project.

  • Pre-Production: Think about who’s developing the actual content of the video (the script), as well as who is going to be in it (Talent) and where you’re filming (location). If you’re using your team and filming at your location, that can help keeps costs down.
  • Production: Think about whether or not you want an animated video or live action. What makes the most sense for your story? If you’re filming your own material, make sure you go in with a clear purpose. Same goes for creating animated video. Make sure you know what you want to produce prior to developing the graphics.
  • Post Production:
    Biggest consideration is usually time, but just because you want a :30 video, doesn’t mean it’s going to be cheap. But shorter videos can save your budget… and if the message is right – engages your audience far more effectively. Another thing to consider is how much content your team has to sift through during the edit. A tight script helps saves time in Post Production.

Don’t get me wrong, even by addressing all of the thoughts above, you can still develop a crazy expensive video. But it doesn’t have to be.

Myth #2: “My phone takes amazing videos… Video Should be crazy cheap”
The way you feel about watching your brother-in-law’s shaky vacation footage from the cruise he went on last year, is the same way consumers feel about watching your company’s recruitment video filmed on the marketing coordinator’s iPhone. Bored, a little sick, and annoyed that you are wasting time watching a pointless video.

When you pay for a professional production company to create video for your brand, you are investing in the full process of research, writing, editing, and distribution. So to debunk this myth, good video production will never be free.

Myth #3: “All Proposals are Created Equal”
When potential clients approach 522 Productions with an RFP, many of them assume all proposals will be comparable in terms of hours, equipment, shooting locations, and editing. I wish that were the case.  

Our Director of Business Development puts it this way: Comparing proposals is like comparing apples to, well… apples. There are over 100 different types of apples, each has different qualities, is grown differently, tastes different, and is harvested differently. The same goes for video proposals – every production company will be looking at your project differently, with a different understanding as to what exactly your project needs. One proposal might include time for script writing, concept development, a second camera, and voice-over narration, while other proposals might not.

If you can, try to compare everything on a level playing field. Get an understanding of what each video production company will provide at each phase of the project.

Here are a few things compare when reviewing proposals:

  • Pre-Production: Concepting; Script Development; Coordination
  • Production: Talent (Actors); Locations; Size of Crew; Number of filming days; Number/type of cameras; type of equipment used
  • Post Production: Number of deliverables; length of video(s) Music; motion graphics

The bottom line is, that every project is unique. Sure, there are many consistencies. But there are a lot of variables, too. Just make sure that you compare quotes equally, otherwise you might not realize how little or how much your production company will provide you.

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A Producer’s Perspective: What’s the most important phase of any video project?

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

I try and take Benjamin Franklin’s reminder into consideration with any undertaking — personal or professional, big or small. Of course, the higher the stakes, the more important the planning process becomes. If I sign up for a 50-mile race without following a carefully-planned training plan, I’m either going to not finish, or seriously injure myself, or both. If I try to start my own business and don’t bother to do research or write a business plan, my dream will probably end before it even gets off the ground.

What about video production? Chances are, if a business or organization has put a lot of time and money behind the decision to create a video — whether it’s for marketing, internal training, education or another purpose — there would be some level of consequence if the video did not achieve the level of success that the business or organization had hoped.

By now, my point that planning is important, is clear. But here are three specific reasons why I believe pre-production is the most important phase in any video project.


Consolidate the vision

One of my first steps in pre-production is to get to know you. I want to understand how and why you made the decision to create a video in the first place; what event or thought process sparked the initial discussion; what you need to happen as a result of this video; what you like about particular videos; and even what you don’t like about other videos.

Getting to know you as a client as best I can is extremely important to me. It’s from learning all this information that I am then able to work with our creative team to develop a customized creative concept (or two or three) that we feel best accomplishes your goals. My hope going into any concept presentation is that, because we have done all the necessary research and pre-production up to this point, we will walk away with a clear concept with which everybody is happy and ready to move forward.

Ensure a smooth shoot

If I were a wedding planner, I wouldn’t tell everyone to show up in the morning and then hope for the best. There are a lot of moving parts performing different roles at different places at different times of the day, and if the day’s not carefully planned, then there’s a myriad of ways the day could end up — few or none of which would be ideal.

The same goes for the day of video production. Everyone on the crew has a different role, and as soon as everyone arrives, I want every person to know exactly where he or she should be and what he or she is responsible for, from where and when to set up equipment and where interviews will be conducted, to what time we’re eating lunch and where to get parking validated. It’s not that I don’t like answering questions; it’s that I want to make sure I anticipate every question that could be asked and answer those questions prior to the day of the shoot.


Save time

If given the the option to spend more time in pre-production or post-production, my choice will always be the former. Spending more time in pre-production ensures the most efficient use of time in post-production.

Think of it like building a shed. You have differently-shaped pieces of wood, different types of screws, some tools, and a picture in your head of how you think all the pieces should come together. But what happens when you think you’re done, only to realize you forgot to actually level the ground first. You have to start all over, and it takes twice as long than it would have if you took the time to develop careful instructions and make sure you had all the right tools in place.

With video, you can have all the right pieces, but without at least an initial plan to put it together, there’s no strong foundation on which the story can stand.

Happy planning!

Ready to put your videos to work? Download this easy guide to explore the world of effective B2B Marketing.

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A Producer’s Perspective: 3 Things to Know About the Day of the Shoot

Shoot day is one of my favorite parts of the entire video process. Being on-set getting to interact with the client, working with the creative team and watching them do what they do best, conducting interviews and executing the vision we’ve worked so hard on developing is, yes, hard work, but exciting, rewarding and just plain fun.

While I work with the client to develop a schedule that works for all parties and communicate expectations for the day, there are a few things that I’ve observed often come as a surprise. In this post, I’ll talk about a few of those observations, with the hope that when shoot day rolls around, you’ll be as least surprised as possible (except in the best possible way).


1. Setting up is a process

Capturing footage — whether it be one interview or a day full of interviews and b-roll — is no easy task; it’s much more than showing up with a couple of cameras and pressing “record.”

From the creative side, there’s lighting to consider; maybe the sun is too harsh that day, or maybe the clouds are casting a dark shadow over the set — what lights do we need to set up to help compensate? Maybe we’re set up in a really nice conference room, but the paint color makes the subject look washed-out — how can we move or rearrange the set-up?

From my side of things, there’s also logistics to consider. Maybe the building we’re filming at requires our crew to unload gear at the loading dock and bring gear up through a freight elevator, which requires us to contact a security person ahead of time to come let us in and escort us through the building. Often times, the only close place to park is in a parking garage, but our van with the gear exceeds the clearance height — then what?

Yes, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered prior to the day of production, and I assure you that we will do our best to anticipate every single one of these questions. However, it’s these behind-the-scenes questions we’re finding solutions for that do add to the process of production way before we even start to press “record.”


2. There will be interruptions

Interruptions are inevitable. This is particularly true if we are filming in the city.

“I’m sorry to interrupt you — that was a great answer — but we have to wait for this siren to pass,” is something you will most likely hear at least once during the day.

There will be sirens, loud trucks, construction projects and cars honking that we may need to pause for in order to capture the cleanest audio quality possible.

While noises from public areas are beyond our control, it is our job to minimize or prevent the noises that we can control. A big thing to anticipate is whether the location at which we’re filming has a loud A/C unit; just the sound of a fan or air blowing out of a vent can, in fact, be disruptive. If we’re filming in a location where there’s people working or walking about, or in a room that’s adjacent to a busy parking lot, it’s often a good idea to send an e-mail out ahead of time and/or make signs to post on walls and doors.

For example, I remember at one shoot, our designated interview location was right next to an elevator. The constant “ding ding” of course prolonged the interview; had I spent more time scouting out other location options, we could have had a much more efficient, less disruptive interview. Lesson learned.

3. We’ll ask you to do another take. And another. And another.

Say we’re on a shoot that requires some staged b-roll, such as having the talent play an instrument, type at a computer or simply walk down a hallway. If the talent performs the action perfectly the first time, we will undoubtedly ask him or her to do it again. Or if we’re recording a scripted voiceover, and the person speaking does a wonderful job the first time, we will ask him or her to record it again. And most likely again.

The reason we do multiple takes isn’t necessarily because something wasn’t done well or captured well the first time. The reason we do multiple takes is because in the editing process, you never want to have a thought that starts with, “I wish we would have.” We like options to cut between and edit together and to make sure we include just the right visual at just the right time.

So maybe we record your voiceover two more times, but this time, let’s have you do one take with a slower pace and speak as if you were giving a speech, and let’s have you do another take with a faster pace and more conversational tone. Or maybe we’re filming you doing as simple as working at a computer, but for a second take, let’s have you type, take your hands off the keys, sit back to review your work, and continue typing. The point is, we like options. And hey, it’s all part of the fun of shoot day.

522 Video Questions No. 6 – Can I Change the Scope of My Video?

You can always change the scope of your video. Sometimes your team will be able to pull it off without a worry in the world. However, sometimes, it won’t be free and easy. The real factor is going to be how and when you decide to make changes. I’m going to get into a few different scenarios and how they affect your project.

Scope Change Before Pre-Production

It’s towards the start of your video project. Let’s say you agreed to do a lifestyle video. You want to have some voiceover with great b-roll shot over the course of two days… but you just got out of a meeting with the CEO. She feels that the best message within the video would be for your clients to hear her talk about the direction of the company – interview-style. A completely different plan than what was budgeted for and discussed initially.

Luckily you haven’t had any meetings with your video production company yet. No kickoff meeting and nothing has been booked. In this situation, you should be able to call your point of contact and have a scope discussion. Two things will come out of this – your POC should try to fit your new scope within your budget or will have to recommend a new budget based on your new requirements.

Outcome: This one shouldn’t be that big of a deal, because the work hasn’t really taken off yet. Hopefully you can figure out a way to settle it without adding dollars, but either way, at least you’re not going to be paying for work that isn’t going to be used.

Scope Change After Pre-Production

Let’s say you’ve gone through your concepting meetings with your video partner, you’ve developed a schedule, booked locations, etc. and NOW your CEO decides to make the change.

Well, this is when things start to get a little hairy. Your video team has spent time developing story boards or mood boards, figuring out the concept and spent a sizable portion of your budget. If you change concepts now, a lot (or all) of the work put in so far could have been all-for-not.

Outcome: Here is where your video team needs to get crafty. Maybe your Producer finds a way to shift funds from post-production into another round of pre-production or maybe you drop a member of the crew. However, most likely you’re going to have to put an addendum into place and add some work.

Scope Change After Filming

Well, as you can imagine, this is probably the worst place to have a scope change. As a team, we’ve gone through all of pre-production, booked and paid for a crew as well as equipment and now your CEO has decided that she doesn’t like the direction of the video.

Outcome: You have a couple options here. My biggest piece of advice – take the footage and figure out something you can do with it. You can set voiceover and use the footage as b-roll. If it’s already that lifestyle piece and you want an interview, then try to book a half-day shoot to just get the interview.

Long story shoot, put some of what you’ve captured to use. It’s always okay to add, just don’t throw it all away. If you’re working with a good company, you should be able to use what you’ve captured, even if you’re changing gears. Stay the course. You’ve come too far.

Scope Change During Post-Production

So you’ve seen the first cut of the video and decide that you don’t think it has what your audience wants. You start second-guessing your decision to go doc-style versus showing fast cars and athletes. My advice here – don’t second guess yourself. You made a decision for a reason. Stick with it.

Outcome: If you need some more footage added in, your video partner should have access to stock footage or have some things backlogged that they can add. Worst case scenario, finish up this video, add a couple of things here and there, and get started on another one while you find out whether or not your video is successful. You are probably overthinking it!

You Can Always Add

Don’t forget that you can always add on to a project. You want more camera angles, more interviews, more days of shooting, more cuts of the video, new cuts to the video. Just ask! Your video partner shouldn’t ever be too busy to do more work for you and if they are… well then call us!

6 things to remember when developing your next training video

Whether it’s safety training or a specific process that you want to relay to your employees, you have most likely put a lot of thought into your training video production needs. You probably even have your training information in order and you just need to start shooting your video. But, wait. There are some things you should consider about the video production first. Many training videos fall short because some important issues are not considered during production.

Before you begin, don’t forget to consider these elements when producing your training video:

  1. Assess Existing Training Materials
    Assessing your employees’ training needs is usually the first step when developing a training video. Just because you’re developing a brand new video, doesn’t necessarily mean that the existing material should be thrown away. Before getting too far with concepting and script development, it’s important to do an analysis of the existing training materials. During the review, determine what is and is not useful.
  2. Relate to Your Audience
    One of the most important things about video is the ability to relate to your audience. And, for the most part, your audience is never a single person. So, don’t assume that your audience has limited knowledge. On the hand, don’t gloss over topics that may require explanation either. Overall, you should consider presenting your information in a way that is applicable to slightly different knowledge levels. If you find a large gap in the awareness levels of the audience, then you may want to develop different types of videos.
  3. Avoid Focusing on the Negative
    If people remember seeing someone doing something dangerous, then that’s what they will remember. This point can be crucial when producing a safety video. When improper techniques are presented at all, they should be followed by a clear explanation of what should be done instead. You want to emphasize the right way to do things, rather than what not to do.
  4. Cast Your Presenter or Speaker….Carefully
    Actors, narrators, and presenters can provide another dimension to your video and keep the information interesting. They can instruct employees on what to do and say, especially if you have a business involving regular face-to-face interaction with customers. Using actors is also helpful for safety training and for demonstrating interpersonal relations skills. At the end of the day, it is important to find a presenter or speaker who relates to the audience (see point #2 above).
  5. Use a Mix of Visual Elements
    Let’s face it. Training content isn’t always the most exciting material to cover. In addition, the audience normally expects a traditional approach. So, in order to keep the audience engaged, it can be helpful to integrate a variety of visual elements. Keep the video interesting by switching between text, graphics, on-camera talent, etc. Training material can be delivered effectively with a balance of contextual information, people interacting, and relevant graphics and statistics.
  6. Encourage a Conversation
    Don’t let everyone run out of the room as soon as the video ends. After a training video is finished, it’s important to follow-up with a conversation. An engaged audience has more to offer after an effective training video. Encourage viewers to share their own experiences and insights. If the training video is distributed online, then build a forum or share a blog post to enable comments.

So, that outlines some key considerations for beginning a training video. And, if you’re wondering how to get started with any type of video production, we’ve got you covered there too.

Now that you’re ready to make an effective training video, be sure to download our guide to B2B Marketing. This guide explores helpful tactics to take your business marketing to the next level.

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Finishing Strong: The Best Television Finales of All-time! (Warning: Contains Spoilers)

If you’re like me and you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you’re feeling nothing short of complete satisfaction after having witnessed the epic and emotional conclusion of the critically-acclaimed, ground-breaking series.  Maybe it ended exactly how you thought it would.  Maybe you didn’t see it coming.  Either way, you can’t get those final scenes out of your head.  To me, that’s the mark of a truly great series finale. It’s the feeling you get when it all comes together. It’s the perfect culmination of everything that has happened before and leaves you to imagine what happens after.  For writers, this is no small task. Continue reading “Finishing Strong: The Best Television Finales of All-time! (Warning: Contains Spoilers)”

6 Websites Using Video Effectively

One important part of your web design strategy is adding interactive elements, such as video content. However, adding great video content to your website is not as easy as it may sound. To take your video content from average to excellent, follow in the footsteps of a few brands that have truly exceeded expectations when it comes to using video on their websites. Read on to learn more about these six brands, which have websites rife with engaging videos. Continue reading “6 Websites Using Video Effectively”

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