Why Video Quality is Key and How to Get It!
I just got a call today from a company that we created a proposal for last year. At that time they didn't hire us because they decided to hire an individual who was much, much cheaper. Just to give you some context, we keep our prices around the Florida industry average or below, though we give much higher than average quality, service, and value. Well, as I've seen happen over and over again, their video turned out to be of very poor quality, and they realized they had wasted their time and money. Now they were ready to start over with us.
Clearly, even if you have a fantastic script on a riveting subject, the quality of your video will make a huge impact on its ultimate effectiveness. This quality is made up of many elements, and it will either help you reach your goals, or will it do the opposite - weakening your viewers' opinion of you, your company, products, and services, or training systems.
Most likely you're spending thousands on your video, and you need great results. So this is important. How can you tell if a video production company can give you the quality that you need? Choosing the most expensive company or the one with the most high-tech equipment is not a guarantee of quality.
First I'll show you why you need to be concerned with quality, then I'll show you how to assess a video's level of quality, and how to pick a video production company that can deliver quality while maximizing your video's chance of success.
First - why should video quality be so important?
Play a video for your audience that has less than great quality, and you'll see that they have difficulty focusing and absorbing the video's message. In fact, they'll start extrapolating and forming judgments on the quality of your company, services, products, etc.
And by the way, if it's a web video, they'll leave your website within seconds if they're less than impressed. So you've spent all this time and money and your video hasn't achieved your goals.
It's a reality that the quality of your video will send the viewer a clear message about who you are. They instantly decide on things like: Are you trustworthy? Do you offer good quality products and services? Do you support your clients? When they watch your video, they're deciding whether to trust you. Show up at a business meeting with a ripped t-shirt and cut off jeans, and you'll make a certain impression. Show a video with not so great quality, and you're creating a certain impression.
Yet show them a video with great quality, and they won't even notice this - BUT - they WILL be more likely to watch it all the way through, and they will be able to focus on your video's message. Think about this. You're watching your favorite TV show, or you're at a movie. Are you thinking about the quality of the show? For example, are you noticing the camera work, editing, sound quality, etc? Not likely. But you ARE engaged with the show. Because the quality is good, you're free to focus on what's important. If the quality is poor, you'll find it distracting.
What are some specific types of videos where the quality can be a huge game-changer?
Advertising and marketing videos. Though there is the rare situation where poor quality is part of an intentional strategy that could work, good quality is usually essential with these types of videos. To illustrate this, suppose you're in the process of hiring a financial adviser. You're going to meet a potential candidate at Starbucks. You see him drive up in an old beat-up car. Do you hire him? I wouldn't. Do you really want this guy telling you how to handle your money? Or would you want someone who gives the appearance of having made great choices with their own money?
The reality is that if your video's quality is low, you've taught your audience that you lack success and resources. And alsod that they can't really trust what you say about their products and services. You lose credibility and you lose buyers.With good quality you have the opportunity to gain buyers.
PR (public relations) videos. If you want your footage picked up by news stations, it usually has to be high quality. This is also true if you want to pull the audience in and influence them to have a positive impression.
Training videos. First, poor quality video is difficult to watch for any length of time, so good quality is necessary if you want to keep their attention so they can learn. Also, good quality video gives the viewer the impression that you're expert at this topic, so it will contribute towards establishing credibility. Lastly, a video production company should understand training concepts for video so the videos can teach effectively.
New employee video orientations and corporate communications videos. Quality can help influence your employees to have positive attitudes and perceptions about the company. It gives you the opportunity to inspire, motivate, train and inform them.
Speaker and consultant demo videos. Good quality video indicates that you offer quality services and that you're successful and in-demand.
Do I have to hire an expensive video production company to get good quality?
No. Paying the highest prices does not guarantee quality. But unfortunately, choosing a very low-priced option usually means you won't get good quality.
With the economy as it is, it's a reality that most video companies have their pricing somewhat. But be cautious about those who have fees that are down below what others are charging. These people tend to be those that lack experience, talent, equipment, etc. Another possibility is that their business is on the way down and out. Finding a low-cost video production company that's offering an actual bargain and giving you what you need for success is very rare or even not existent.
If it seems too good to pass on, be cautious. I've found that in this business that there's going to be someone who will give you very low prices, but in the end, as with that call I received today, it will most likely be a waste of your time and money. Or, at the very most, your video won't be as effective as it could be.
At Ball Media Innovations, we seek to keep our prices in the middle of the range, BUT we give our clients top quality and exceptional value. We're not the cheapest you'll find out there, but we're certainly not in the expensive range. We charge our clients what's necessary for us to stay in business while providing them with the real deal - highly effective, great quality videos. Furthermore, we keep our profit margins in the lower zone compared to other companies, so we can invest in top people. Read on to see what you should look for in the company you choose.
So what do I need to know in order to get good quality?
There are a variety of elements that go into this:
Equipment: Great equipment doesn't always turn into a quality video, but you do need quality equipment. Think about this. Suppose I built a gourmet kitchen in my house. Can I cater a wedding or even a nice dinner party? Don't tell anyone, but I can only cook basic egg dishes, hot dogs, etc. So the answer is no.
You get the picture. If you have the right tools, you can accomplish a lot, but only with the proper talent, experience, and knowledge. Be cautious about the video companies that focus on their fantastic equipment and facilities. Anyone can buy expensive equipment, and with this economy, you'll find a large number of people trying to make a living producing videos.
On the other side of the coin, to get the quality that you need, you'll want good equipment, but you'll need to look further (see below).
So what type of equipment will your production company need? It should be considered broadcast quality. If the equipment isn't broadcast quality, your video will look like an amateur shot it, and will look unprofessional. And the crew should be highly experienced using the equipment for the type of video you're having produced.
Experience levels: It's only logical that this one thing will have a huge impact on the quality and success of your video. Clearly you'll need a company that has experience with the equipment as discussed above.
Nearly anyone with a phone or personal video camera can create their own videos these days. Wedding video companies can do a fine job of producing personal event videos. But if you want a great video for business or training purposes, you'll get the most for your money and the best chance of success if you choose a company with a LOT of experience in that arena.
So what more do you need? A company where the people have talent, experience, education, highly developed instincts, and understanding of business and training theory for video.
Then you need to make sure that they won't be substituting their less expensive, inexperienced staff on your project.
As you interview prospective companies, the answers to the following questions may help you decide if their experience is appropriate for you:
- How long have they been in business producing videos? Try to determine if they've been doing this full time or on the side. You'll want a company that has many years of full-time experience behind them.
- What kind of videos do they produce? If your video is for professional purposes, you'll want a video company with that type of orientation. I would not recommend choosing a company that does wedding videos unless that's what your video is for.
- How much work have they done producing videos in the category you need produced (marketing, PR, training, etc)? They should have some understanding of the concepts that go into your video. So if your video is for marketing
purposes, they should understand marketing principles.
- Who will be working on your particular project from beginning to end? Many companies will pass the work down to students or those with less experience because they can pay them less. But every person on the crew, as well as the
artist and editor, will affect the outcome of your video. You'll want only those who have years of successful work and proven talent behind them.
- Are the crew members going to be able to fit in with your environment? Will they put your people at ease and work easily with them? Unfortunately, it's a reality that there are MANY companies with crews that dress and act inappropriately with vulgarities and poor manners. I only employ crew members
who behave professionally, respectfully, and politely, with good manners and appropriate dress. Whoever you hire should do that as well.
- Request references and verify that they're real if you're not certain about the company's reputation.
Finally, review samples of the company's work. Sometimes they create a composite video that shows brief flashes of their shows. It's fine to ask for longer samples of their work if you feel you haven't gotten enough of a feel for their level of experience and quality.
Review the following:
Shooting: We discussed how good camera work goes unnoticed by the viewer, but they will be able to absorb the video's message. When you view a company demo, take note of these things:
- How the shots are framed. There are some basic rules to consider, but keep in mind that special and creative effects are sometimes used to achieve a mood or look. However, usually the focal point should be in the center of the screen. Faces and heads should be in full view, with nothing being cut off. When there are multiple focal points, they should be set equidistantly from the screen's sides.
- Camera focus. Sometimes, camera people with less experience can sometimes lose focus and have difficulty refocusing quickly.
- Movements of the camera. Again, special effects and creative license can sometimes be used here, but usually camera movements should be smooth, and they should get the relevant information and activity on the screen. Camera motion should not be noticeable. The work of amateurs can sometimes be shaky and bumpy. And the zooming in and out may be done too quickly or too slowly. Often they also either move too much, which can create a distraction, or too little, which can make the show boring.
Lighting: No one wants to be seen with poor lighting. It can add years to you, making you look much older! Bad lighting can radically exaggerate even the small wrinkles. With good lighting, your video picture will have dimensionality, and bad lighting will flatten your image. Good lighting minimizes shadows and bright spots, and of course, bad lighting does the opposite.
Sound: Excellent sound quality is necessary. Viewers today know the difference. When the sound isn't excellent, you're much more likely to lose the viewers' attention. Good quality sound should be clear, easily heard, but not overly loud, and crisp. It should allow the viewer to focus on what you most want to be heard.
When you view a company demo, take note of these things:
- Level of sound. It should be comfortable, level, and even. There should be no need to strain.
- Is the sound crisp and clear? It should be. Or is there an echo, or noise? Do they sound like they're speaking into a tin can?
- Are there sounds in the background? There shouldn't be anything that fights the video, such as lawnmowers, voices in the background, airplane noise, air conditioners, etc. … While this is occasionally impossible to avoid, it's usually controllable.
- How's the music? Does it seem appropriate? Does it enhance the message? And does it blend and support anyone speaking, or does it fight them? Is it distracting or overpowering?
Special effects: They can be great, or they can be tacky and disruptive. Special effects go in and out of style. If you're using old-style effects, they can date your show. They should usually be used sparingly, or the video can take on an amateur look.
Video Editing: An experienced editor with a lot of talent can make your show fly, while an inexperienced editor can ruin a nicely shot show. A good editor picks the correct shots to be used, does the appropriate cutting to get the message and mood across, and can create a professional look. With less experience, some editors may choose shots that use the same angle repetitively, and make edits that confuse the brain.
Ultimately, here's what you look for in a video...
The real test: If a video is well-made, you won't notice the lighting, editing, sound, and special effects. You'll just be able to really focus and take in the message. It will FEEL right, and you'll have a positive impression.
Do you have a video project we can help you with?
About the Author & His Company: Greg Ball, is President of Ball Media Innovations, Inc. Prior to starting the company, he ran the Burger King World Headquarters video operation. Greg founded Ball Media as a Miami video production company in 2002. He eventually expanded services to also become an Orlando video production company. Greg directs shows in both locations, as well as nationally, with crews throughout the country.
Ball Media Innovations specializes in producing videos for businesses as well as the medical community. This includes web videos, marketing and training videos, social media videos, convention, conference, and trade show videos.
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