You Can’t Afford NOT to Hire a Video Crew

You Can’t Afford NOT to Hire a Video Crew 2560 1875 Alicia East

A marketing director we will call Judy with a nonprofit we shall call Suffer No Fools came to Crew Connection upon recommendation. She was skittish. After we talked through her options and how we’d go about telling the nonprofit’s story, she softened. Finally, she revealed why she was skeptical.

As a nonprofit with a limited budget, they’d first hired a college student–a friend of a friend–who would do the job for way less than anyone else she’d heard from. It was a simple job, she thought, and he could capture good quality footage without a ton of equipment.

Unfortunately, Judy had fallen victim to the idea that a good camera (for which most people can look no further than their own phones) was enough to get the results she wanted. While they’d planned to have a simple, but the high-quality video at their fundraising gala that year, what they got was unusable. He filmed without a tripod (nausea all around!). He didn’t light his subjects (it would’ve taken a highly skilled and expensive colorist to brighten the shot). And the composition of the shots was comparable to your Aunt Doris’s Facebook posts.

So they paid less than they would have if they’d hired a professional crew but they couldn’t use anything they got. That “cheap” hire turned out to be quite expensive after all.

The next year, Judy came to us with a budget to hire professionals. They’d missed a whole year of opportunity without a video that told the story and this time, they wanted to do it right.

It was an expensive lesson: We can’t afford not to hire a professional video crew.

Bottom Line

A reputable crew will have examples for you to look at. Check out their website or ask for samples that are most relevant to the project you want to do or the story you want to tell. Make sure both parties know the plan for the exact deliverables, timeline, and budget. Put it all in a contract (it protects both parties!).

Never hire based on price alone or take a chance without seeing the crew’s work. It’s just too risky to gamble on.

One of the most valuable things you get when you hire a professional video crew on Crew Connection is confidence. Our team of professionals personally vets every crew before they make it on our database. That kind of peace of mind is priceless.

COVID proof your video business with this one skill

COVID proof your video business with this one skill 400 267 Alicia East

Has this pandemic handed your business a giant, caterpillar-infested lemon? Tell me if you relate:

  1. Jobs have been on the decline since the pandemic and while things are finally picking up,  you’re nowhere near your previous workload. 
  2. You provided a creative solution for your client(s) when the pandemic forced you to cancel a project midstream. 
  3. You stress ate your quarantine rations week two and all you have left is a can of beets and a Domino’s gift card with $4.67 on it. 

Okay. Us, too. So now what? If you’ve recommended some creative ways to repurpose existing footage, you’re in good company. This Nike spot uses archival footage, voiceover, and top-notch copy to tell the story. Are you ready to go a little further? Time to flex your creative muscles with some animation skills, Creatives! 

This one skill you can add to your profile during this slow time and you’ll never want for work. And it’s easier to get started than you think. Quite likely harder to become an expert than you think, too. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I talked to Shawna Schultz of Mass FX Media–the motion design and animation lab based in Denver–about how production houses can help clients meet their goals in light of the COVID-19 limitations.    

Adjusting to new realities with current clients

Schultz has had plenty of clients approach her production house with their COVID-19 challenges. Many had live-action concepts they simply won’t be able to accomplish under current conditions. Specializing in animation has made the pivot much easier to stomach and Schultz has been able to offer solutions that don’t require an indefinite delay.

For example, Schultz and the team created a graphics package for The Unreasonable Impact COVID-19 Response Global Summit created with Barclays. The event would’ve been live without COVID, but the graphics package upped the production value of the virtual summit by allowing a polished opening, transitions between speakers, and even a fallback to cut to in case of technical glitches

Entry-level animation skills to get you rolling 

Motion capture and creating new characters may be the glamorous side of animation, but simple is good, too. Iconography, typography, and adding motion to stills are entry-level ways to bring words and images to life. I never would’ve thought seeing a Conan O’Brien monologue with typography animation alone would be more engaging than watching the man himself. 

Schultz said getting comfortable with your pen tool and clone tool in Photoshop can help you create the parallax effect in your editing software–another way to add visual interest to photos. 

You can likely get started with the software you already have. Adobe Premiere, After Effects and Animate, have helped drop the barriers to entry so you can delve into the basics without an overly burdensome learning curve. 

Tools and training for when you’re ready to add a whole new piece to your business pie

Schultz and the team have put together this comprehensive list of resources to get you started with minimal investment. Many are free!  

You can become proficient enough to add new depth to your projects or, if you like it enough, you can keep learning and become an expert. 

There’s plenty to explore before getting into motion capture and creating complete characters. No matter how far you take it, you will find uses for everything you learn.  

Bottom line

Sometimes when you’re boxed into a corner, your pivot causes you to create something even better than you thought possible. When life hands you lemons, animate them. 

Crew Connection helps video professionals connect with clients. Put all your skills to use with us by applying to be listed on our online database of highly-vetted crews. 

Shawna Schultz is president and executive producer of Mass FX Media, a motion design lab serving brands and documentary filmmakers animation and visual effects to enhance their stories.


How to make educational videos people want to watch

How to make educational videos people want to watch 400 300 Alicia East

No matter what their specialties were pre-pandemic, experienced video crews may see more opportunity to produce educational videos as we see schools, conferences, and other trainings and events shift more and more online. Be prepared to see more of your work shifting there, too. 

We’ve all had to suffer through our share of dry, stale educational videos. That means there’s a real opportunity to transform such pieces—to generate enthusiasm instead of eye rolls. 

We interviewed A. Troy Thomas, President and Owner of Inertia Films, about the special knack to produce something that does more than just convey the information. 

How to create educational videos that keeps viewers genuinely engaged, smiling, and clicking for more

What information do you need from clients in order to be most successful?

A. Troy Thomas: While we always need to get an idea of the technical details—the look, feel, style, platform, etc.—what we really need to be effective is to truly understand the audience and what makes them tick. That’s the first rule of effective communication.

We also want to know more about the person or company producing the video—how long they’ve been in business, what their culture is like, and what kind of project they want to produce. Beyond just the topic, we want to know what clients want to accomplish on a deeper level.   

What makes an educational video something people want to watch?

ATT: People like watching videos that present information in a new, uncommon way. Most want videos with creativity, color, relatability, music, and humor. Humor is big! As long as it’s appropriate for the content, making people laugh is a surefire way to engage them

What do you do when you know a client’s vision will bore the viewer?

ATT: We offer other options to creatively draw the viewer in but still get across the client’s ultimate message. The material is their world, but they don’t always know how to relay it. You have to go beyond the “what” with educational videos and get into why the audience should care. If they seem resistant to our suggestions, we sometimes provide examples of other videos with messaging similar to what the client has suggested and talk through what works or doesn’t work about that video. Giving them an example to start from makes it easier for them to start looking at how their own message comes across.   

What are some of the qualities of an engaging educational video? 

ATT: A video has to start with the basics of solid content, visual presentation, and creativity. Beyond that, it has to be relevant to the target audience.

Today’s audiences are used to fast-moving content. Use this knowledge to your advantage by incorporating appealing graphics, hiring dynamic presenters, and breaking up content into bite-sized chunks. 

Audiences want something creative and out of the ordinary. Make sure any critically important or unexpected information comes across clearly, but also respect people’s intelligence and think of fun, lighthearted ways to present content that people would generally take for granted anyway. 

Clients and editors must work in tandem to determine what designs and visuals will be most engaging. 

What’s the most common mistake that leads to a boring educational video? 

ATT: Simply providing the information in a standard, sanitized format is a surefire way to lose your audience. Even though the goal is to relay information, there’s a way to do it that makes audiences want to watch. 

The bottom line

Trying to produce a video that keeps audiences from falling asleep? It behooves you to go beyond pointing a camera at a talking head. Educational videos can be both informative and fun to watch. Crack that nut and you’ll never want for work.

A version of this post originally appeared on ProductionHub here. Conversation edited for brevity and clarity.

About Inertia Films, Atlanta, GA

A. Troy Thomas founded Inertia Films on a dining room table in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1993. Thomas moved headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia to leverage the post-Olympic boom in 1996 and then went on to add its first digital, post-production suite to facilitate in-house projects in 1999. From there, the company moved into a new production facility near downtown Atlanta. It includes two HD post-production suites, production offices, live shot capabilities, and a studio with Cyc wall. This award-winning company uses state of the art equipment on every shoot and continues to thrive in the film industry.  

About Crew Connection

Crew Connection puts experienced video crews and editors at your fingertips. In just a few clicks you can search, chat with, and book vetted crews local to your shoot—all on your own schedule. Sign up to find or become a crew on CrewConnection.com or call us at 303-526-4900.

Setting yourself up as an independent contractor

Setting yourself up as an independent contractor 2560 1707 Alicia East

If you’re ready to take the leap into working for yourself, you can save some hassle down the line by setting your business up the right way from the beginning. First things first: If you’re confused about whether you are/want to be an independent contractor or a gig worker, we define the difference here. If you’re sure it’s the independent contractor world you want to explore it’s a simple process if you know the steps. 

How Set Yourself Up as an Independent Contractor 

STEP ONE: Get set up

Choose a name and decide on the best form of business ownership (e.g. LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, etc.) for your situation. This will impact many things including taxes and your personal liability. For more info, visit
www.sba.gov/business-guide. Most states have unique license and permit requirements for business registration. This information is readily available online by searching “register a business in <your state>.”

No matter where you do business, you need to apply for a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) here

STEP TWO: Protect yourself

Protect yourself and your business with insurance. Talk to your agent about General Liability and Workers’ Comp. General Liability protects you against claims for personal injury, property damage, associated legal fees, etc. Worker’s Comp pays for you and your employees’ medical expenses if they’re injured while working. Even if you don’t have employees, many companies require vendors to carry this coverage.

STEP THREE: Set up banking 

It will make your life eleventy billion times easier if you keep your business and personal finances separate. Set up your bank account and get any credit cards you need in your company name. 

STEP FOUR: Market yourself 

A great way to market your business is through a nice looking, informative website. You can hire someone to customize it or your can build your own. Visit www.godaddy.com for more information. 

STEP FIVE: Equip your business 

Independent contractors typically don’t use their clients’ equipment. You may already own everything you need. If not, consider leasing your equipment. 

STEP SIX: Manage your business 

Develop an Independent Contractor Agreement. Your larger clients will most likely require you to sign their own such document, but it never hurts to have your own. Either way, this is an important document. Click here to order a state-specific agreement, or do an online search for “independent contractor agreement example.”  Next, set-up an accounting system for invoicing and receivables tracking. Many independent contractors use Quickbooks or another DIY software to pay yourself and pay your self-employment taxes. You can also hire an accountant to do it for you. 

STEP SEVEN: Do something great

You did it. You’re in business. Now you can get busy contributing to the world in the ways only you can. Visit Crew Connection to see how we can help you fill your pipeline with high-quality work.