Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Voice overs for Corporate Video Productions and Broadcast Advertising

Its clear that voice artists are essential when it comes to corporate video productions but how does the pricing structure work and how do the voice over artists fit into the picture?
The voice artist is thought, by many newcomers, to be an employee of a sound company. In the very distant past the idea of a voice artist or even a musician being an employee was a normal thing. Many had reasonably good monthly salaries. This however changed many decades ago and there are very few full time employed voice artists. The vast majority of voice artists are either freelance voice actors or are employees for a different purpose and happen to be able to do voice overs so are used within the company that they already work in. Some voice work is even done by people who are not actually voice artists but as a result of budget constraints have to stand in as the voice artist.

Microphone used by voice recording studios for voice artists to do voice-overs.The pricing of voice overs have seemed to be almost random in many cases but there is a standard for voice work pricing. This is a pricing structure used by voice artist agencies to keep track of talent payments and to be able to offer their talent at fixed prices. This helps to make quotations for projects a bit easier because the numbers are pretty straight forward on a list of types of voice work. The only problem for many video production companies is that the pricing is very high. The cost for a voice over artist Johannesburg based has to include all the commissions and over heads of the voice talent agencies. That means that, although in the high end voice industry it keeps voice artists earning a good living, it also keeps it out of reach of the less expensive corporate video production companies.

In many cases the official fee for a voice artist is at a higher cost than the entire video production. This is especially the case in very lengthy video productions of more than ten minutes up to many hours. These lengths of voice recording are simply too expensive for them to be done by voice over artists. This is where most companies will make use of their own staff or professional trainers to do the voice overs. One of the biggest problems for many video productions is the residual fees that come after the recording is done. For professional voice artists, the need to pay additional fees is considered part of the pay structure. Even though no further recordings are done, more money needs to be paid, determined by the length of use. If the voice recording is only used for the allotted time frame, there are no more payments required. If however the company or marketing agency continues to use the voice over, whether in video format or voice for radio etc, there needs to be additional payments.
This can be a great frustration for both artist and marketing company.
Very young person with microphone depicting the inexperienced voice over artsits doing their own voice over recording.There are many cases where voice artists will discover their voices being used way beyond their allowed length of time and not receiving payment for it. This is where the voice talent agencies step in to try to recover the additional fees. The frustration for the marketing company is that they have to constantly readjust the costs for the production long after the production is completed. This means that there is never a sense of closure because, each time the voice recording is reused, there needs to be new payments.

There are however a few voice services emerging that offer something completely different. It stems from the idea of copyright free music. That is that, when you purchase copyright free music, you are able to reuse it indefinitely and for any project, except reselling the song in its entirety. This thinking has resulted in voice-overs being offered on an unlimited use bases. In many cases it is assumed that the voice recording is used on an unlimited basis anyway, only to find that more fees are needed.
This new style of voice over service allows video production companies in Johannesburg and small businesses to get on with their marketing without the worry of hidden fees appearing later-on down the road. It makes it a lot easier to calculate total production costs and when video production companies and their clients go their separate ways, no financial problems appear in the future.

This new arrangement however does mean that the voice artist will lose out on any additional money but it does increase the chances of making more money initially. This is because more video production companies are willing to take on the unlimited use voices, over the ones with residual fees.
The separation though is often in the amount of fame involved. An unknown voice artist cannot dictate higher fees like more well known voice artists and are also less likely to be used at all. This unlimited use gives the lesser known voice artist an edge over the more well known voice actors.
There are very few famous radio presenters or actors who will agree to unlimited use of their voice recordings. They realise that their voice is a commodity and know its value. They also know that voice quality does not last forever and eventually they will no longer be able to make money form their voices. So what ever money they can make they want, and any residual payments will help in the future.
This means that in general the unlimited voice usage will be for lesser known voices. These are not necessarily lower quality voices. They may simply be voices artists at the early stage of their career so may be good quality, just not well know yet. They may also be voice artists who did not follow the route of fame but are still very good at what they do.

Sound equipment in studio depicting sound editing of voice overs.What is a new emergence is voice artists who can provide their own recordings. In the past, it was considered the norm to have a recording studio booking that meant having a producer and sound engineer included for all video productions. These costs could easily double the price of the voice over. This can be eliminated by the voice artist recording themselves. These are however quite rare because the skills to be a sound engineer are required. If low quality cheap recordings are needed, then this is not a problem but if the voice recordings are to be used in corporate marketing or broadcast advertising, then the quality is very important and very few voice artists are able to provide this. The knowledge of microphones and their use along with the audio equipment and sound editing software are vital. There are many who think that simply using a free piece of downloaded audio software with a few lessons on YouTube can result in the same skills. This is a fools errand. The quality required for corporate video productions and broadcast are simply not going to be achieved this way. Mostly the chances are that the recordings will be poor and the editing even worse.Doing a voice recording is not the same as doing professional voice recordings.

The commercial production companies Johannesburg based will often only use voice artists through voice talent agencies, even though they cost more, to make sure the production is high quality. They will often also insist on a professional studio being used along with a skilled sound engineer. The reason is that these costs pale in comparison to the overall costs of the high end production and the costs involved with either online or broadcast advertising. The commercials you see on TV or on YouTube adverts can cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars so the voice artist cost can be a drop in the bucket. This not the case though with many corporate videos.

High quality scenery captured by professional corporate video production companies.

Video production companies Pretoria based, and around the world have started using many online voice services like those who's voice artists are providing their own recordings. These vary from cheaper low quality services to very high end, fairly pricey, services but are great quality. The voice over industry is, at this point, a very mixed bag of established voice services and agencies and a spread of varying quality services. Be sure to get a sample of previous work before ordering any recordings. It is important to check both the voice quality and the recording quality. Ask for "dry" voice demos without music or effects which can hide low quality voice recordings. Corporate video productions need to maintain a level of quality so need the best quality voices they can get while keeping it all within budget.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

How To Use Social Media Video Effectively

It's easy enough to find statistics on how effective video is at increasing conversion rates, stats on the rate of growth of video use on all social media platforms, and the internet as a whole, but do you know how to use social media video effectively?

Cell phone showing social media

As with many new things, a lot of people like to dabble a bit. If they succeed they will continue, if they fail, they stop doing it. This is very much the case with social media video whether the video is done personally or by video production companies. The internet is littered with poorly executed social media video. It's as though the world wide web has become a dumping ground for bad video productions. While there is nothing wrong with giving it a go, social media video is a very unforgiving set up. The viewers have no problem ignoring your video or clicking away while watching it, to go see some other more interesting video. There is no sense of obligation or guilt on the part of the viewer to not hurt your feelings. If they are not interested in your video, you feel the cold shoulder of the masses.

So with a clear understanding that nobody owes you any favors in the world of online marketing and that it's a highly competitive market, let's get to how you can improve your chances of having your video seen and having it make a difference.

The two main differences you want from your video marketing online are traffic and SEO.
These are two separate but equally important parts of the effect of video in social media. They both take a long time to build up and both can change your business marketing forever.Let's begin with traffic.
At the end of the day, SEO or Search Engine Optimization is also about traffic. Although it is about being ranked high in a search engine, if that rank doesn't result in traffic, it is pretty meaningless.
Desk with collection of tools for planning a social media video marketing campaignIt is also important to know that the numbers showing traffic are not the same as traffic. This may be , on the surface, a bit odd. Isn't it all about the numbers? You want to see high numbers on your viewership right? Well not really. The numbers can be a good indication of an increase or decrease in viewership but it does nothing more than that. Unless you are trying to earn money on YouTube from Adsense, the numbers mean little. What you want is clicks on your website or action being taken by the viewer. This is where many video marketing campaigns go off track. The obsession with having the number of views go up can be self defeating .
Firstly, it is important to know that views can be bought. Let that sink in for a second. There are many videos on YouTube and other video platforms with tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of views that have barely even been watched by a handful of people. How is this possible? Its very simple. There are a range of services that offer "real" viewers at a super cheap price. The views are simply bought and the numbers show the growth in views. Many of these services include "subscribers" even "likes" and "dislikes" to make it look authentic. Many buyers are so convinced that they simply spend money on growing the number of views. A completely pointless exercise. If those views don't result in any gain for marketing, then what is the point? There needs to be some form of action after watching the video to make the video meaningful to your marketing.
It can be said though that buying your first few views can help with first impressions but it will not help in the long run. Many people will not watch a video with low viewer numbers. Like the people who will only stand in long queues because they think that other people wanting something is a reason for wanting it themselves, so viewers want to see what other viewers want to see. So starting off with a few bought views can't hurt but what matters is what happens after that. Do they actually keep watching your video? Do they interact with your video? Do they come back for more?

These are the things that really matter. It may seem daunting but it can be achieved. The first thing is to not try to be something you are not. Many would argue that being funny or controversial is the answer. As much as this does work in many cases, it may not work for you. It may not even benefit your business, even though the viewers may be flying in. Remember, effective video marketing has results. Measurable results. Also not all videos need to be super high end like those made by video production companies in Johannesburg. They should however not be unprofessional. Quality is still important.

So lets get to the meat and potatoes part of video marketing on social media. Now whether you are using a video production company or you are making them yourself, the same set of ideas apply.
They are Relevance, Targeted and Constancy.

Lets start with relevance. This not only applies to the content of the video but relevance to your business. Having a puppy video may bring in an audience but if you sell industrial equipment you are wasting your time. Your mission is not to provide entertainment. Your mission is to bring in a buying audience. You can be entertaining in the process but the focus is not entertainment. Try to find topics that interest your target market.

This brings us to the targeted part. Being targeted does not mean having a general coverage of a vaguely similar audience. A target is precise. The age, gender, social standing, industry, price bracket etc are critical bits of information about your market that can make or break your targeting of the correct audience. When your videos go out they need to appeal to that audience.

Then consistency comes in. You may have heard consistency thrown around in all fields but in social media marketing, this is hugely important. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it takes time for people to trust you and your message. Secondly it's because the audience you created will fall away if they come back to your channel only to find that your messages have stopped.This is where dabbling in social media can be a killer. All the work can end up with no results and, even worse, the sense of despondency will kill your eagerness to try again. Its better to do an average job consistently than have a random bit of greatness.

So how do you get started with your video marketing? Before you put something out there, it is important to cover some basic topics. Whether you use a corporate video production company or make your own videos with your cell phone, the rules are the same. They are image quality, sound quality and packaging. If you are not going to use a professional video production company then
Shot of Video camera as used by video production companies in Johannebsurg
these are very important. Most video production companies in Johannesburg have got these parts down so its a weight off your mind. If, however, you are doing it on your own then these are very important. It would take more than a few blogs to share that information but the basics would be: use light, more light and then some more light. Don't shoot in dark areas without experience. Make sure your audio is loud and clear. Not too loud that it distorts and not too soft that the audience will struggle to hear it. If you can, use a lavelier, or lapel, microphone to improve your voice recordings.
Make sure the video audio is mixed and leveled correctly. Turning up your speaker volume can create the illusion that your audio is fine. When it goes online you will discover the problem. Make sure its loud and clear compared to other audio like music etc.Also having too much graphics in the video can take away from the personal appeal. Having some basic short graphics like nice clean titles and logos can make the video look more professional but don't over do it.

Video being watched on mobile device.Now comes the choosing of the idea for your video. This although technically easier, can be the hardest part for most people. The problems is not just finding a good idea, its consistently finding a good idea. Remember its not just a once off. What can help is to find an idea and make it a theme for a bunch of videos. For example if you sell gardening tools, you could do a series on removing unwanted things in the garden. The first episode could be about weeds, the second about bugs, the third about chemicals etc. If you sold on-line products like training programs you could take tiny parts of the training and share them as teasers. If you owned an exhaust and tyre shop you could give out advice on car maintenance tips or insider secrets to keeping car performance at its best.As you can see the topics for the video productions are similar but not exactly like the product in many cases. The idea is to attract people with similar interests to your product/service you are are selling.

This way they don't feel like you are selling to them. They have a sense of knowing your brand, trusting your message and having a sense of reciprocity. They, when they finally need your product or service, would more likely chose yours over your competitor because they feel like they know and trust you. Once you get this right, like the shampoo bottle says "rinse and repeat".
Having an audience that likes what you are doing will bring in bigger and bigger audiences who will grow in trust and liking of your business.
Many video marketers make the mistake of turning their marketing into a money generating video service. This can be a big problem for many marketing campaigns. While it is nice to make a few extra dollars form your videos, the trust can be damaged. The amount of return from the sales through your business as a result of your video marketing can massively outweigh the small gains from money earned form adverts on your video. Even worse is that your competitors can end up advertising on your video. You bring the audience, they get the results. Your video marketing should be to bring in your audience, to direct them eventually to your business. Nothing more, nothing less.

Your videos can also have a big impact on your SEO. This means that your videos can help with your business ranking. While many video production companies can make great videos, what hey might not be experts in is the application of the videos. Many SEO experts will tell you that embedding and back-linking is key to SEO. The embedding is where your marketing videos, on places like YouTube, are embedded into your website. Then your YouTube video can have a back-link to your website. This works well for boosting SEO. It also helps for your audience to be able to find your videos.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Using a Voice Artist For Corporate Video Productions

Many corporate video productions are made using a presenter who does all the speaking. The image and voice of the presenter are recorded on set so there is no thought of a voice-over. There are times though when a voice-over is necessary and in many cases a real benefit to the production. If a presenter is being used, one of the main concerns is ambient noise and acoustics. The environment where the video is being shot has to be quiet and not have echo. This means many industrial videos are just about impossible with a presenter because of the noises from the factory machines and vehicles.
There may also be normal corporate environments that are just too noisy. These can include businesses that are too close to busy roads or having noisy neighbours or even construction taking place nearby.
This is where the voice artist becomes a necessity. Many of the business marketing videos made for small businesses, made by video production companies, make use of in-house client company staff to
Studio microphone for a voice artist to provide voice-overs for video the actors and presenters. Many would believe that the same would apply for the voice recording for the corporate video. This is often a huge mistake. The reason being that if the viewer sees a spokes person for a company, they do not expect that the person is an actor or presenter. The average person has a less than spectacular voice but because you can see that the presenter is an average person, without performance skills, the average voice is acceptable. In many cases it is also a benefit to the marketing of the business as the person seems more relatable as an average person.

This however is not the case when the viewer cannot see the presenter. If there is a voice recording it is most often expected that the voice will be that of a professional voice artist. Hearing an average voice may lead the viewer to believe that the company making the video skimped on the voice artist and went the cheap route. This can damage the overall perception of the company being marketed. This would work against the marketing which is intended to impress potential clients.
The voice, if the video is done without a presenter, should be of the highest quality because not only is it expected, when there is no visual of the speaker, the mind of the viewer becomes more focused on the voice recording. This is a natural human response. When one sense is reduced the others are heightened.

This means that the voice artist should not just be good but be great. The one benefit of using a voice artist is that the voice can be heavily processed and still be accepted by the audience. This is where close mic techniques and processing equipment can take a good voice and make it sound great. Audio processing may be new to many people, even to some video production companies.
Microphone and mixer of radio station showing a radio DJ voice being processed.The first real use of voice processing was for FM broadcast radio stations. The intention was to make the radio station sound louder than others. The fight was on to create the loudest radio station. This took a wrong turn initially resulting in stations sounding very harsh although very loud. Along came the Orban Optimod. This was a processing device that not just compressed audio to make it loud, it offered multi-frequency limiting, compressing and processing to allow for, not only a loud sound, but a high quality and hugely impressive sound. It made the radio station sound "bigger" and not just louder. That is often why when you meet a radio presenter in person they sound a lot less impressive than when they are "On-Air".

This type of processing was however a live process and could not be used "Off-Air" unless the recording was run through the processor creating a second generation audio recording. This was not that great in the days of analog recordings. When digital recording came along, that all changed, and more importantly the processing equipment became way more affordable in the form of a computer program, as opposed to a piece of physical equipment. Also the processing could be done within the program without the need of an external recording device, This removed all the second generation audio problems. A voice artist in Johannesburg could now have their voice edited and processed in New York or anywhere else. Video production companies in Johannesburg could do the same to their voice recordings for corporate video.

This meant that the "power" sound of a radio presenter could now be put into a small business marketing video at almost no extra cost compared to the past. While it is still important to start with a good sounding voice, the final video product can now have a high end "broadcast" sound.

Studio depicting how a voice of a voice artist can be significantly boosted Many of the commercial production companies Johannesburg based, and around the world, used this to their advantage for TV adverts. This meant that they could stand out from the crowd and be loud enough to be paid attention to by the viewer. There was however a downside to it. That was that TV adverts were much louder than the TV shows. This resulted in very annoying burst of sound for the TV viewer. When a TV program cut from a gentle scene to an explosive washing powder commercial, the effects were in many ways negative because of how it upset the viewer. Many TV stations and video production companies learnt to control this but there are those who still do this unnecessarily.

The voice artist though has become the center of the issue as the voice quality, tone, accent and skills of the voice artist can lift a marketing video to great heights. This is more obviously noticeable in the movie trailers where a hugely powerful voice narrates the commercial for the upcoming movie. This kind of "giant" voice can be entrancing and can really draw in an audience.
This kind of big voice is not necessary for corporate video productions but it does show in a very clear way how the voice of a voice artist can make a huge difference to the overall wow factor of a video. Corporate video production companies Johannesburg based have begun to make more use of this to great effect.
For South Africans, the "big" voice sound is mostly limited to broadcast but many corporate video production companies are now using South African accent voice artist quality along with the processing to create high end videos. Processing is used in this video below to show how enhanced a voice can be for corporate video.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Why Do Movies Look SO Different To Video Productions

Amazingly movies these days are actually video. Gone are the days when cinema films were filmed on actual film. Cinema projectors are also video projectors. The idea of big reels of film being put on to reel to reel projectors are long gone. If film is actually video then why do films look different to video.
A shot of a film production crew on set with actors and director.There are quite a few technical reasons as well as style reasons. These differences make a such a difference to the final image that its worth looking into it to see what can be used to improve video productions used for marketing and company videos.

The first thing to look at is the camera. The ability of the camera to produce the high quality image is where a lot of the magic begins. The first and probably most important difference is what is referred to as dynamic range. This is the difference between the very black and the very white. When you have low dynamic range, when the subject of the image is at exact exposure, the bright areas in the video are over exposed and in many cases the dark or black areas are either crushed too black or are filled with video noise. Video noise is where there seems to be a type of sparkle in the black are low light areas .This twinkling is incorrect information that the camera puts out when it can't actually measure what is there. A professional cinema camera can capture a huge dynamic range allowing for areas as bright as the sky and areas as dark as a cave entrance to be exposed within the acceptable range.
View of snow covered mountain top showing wide dynamic range of a film production cameraThis is further improved by using what is referred to as a "flat" image. This is where the bright and dark areas are compressed to be well within the range of absolute white and absolute black. This is one of those great features that are now available on more reasonably priced cameras. The Panasonic GH4 and GH5 have this ability as well as the Sony 7sII. They have what is called a "log" video. Referred to by terms like V Log and similar terms. These allow the lower priced cameras to achieved similar results to cinema cameras. This can allow corporate video production companies to have the same dynamic range for their corporate clients.

The flat image not only allows for the dynamic range but also allows for the editor to have a lot of scope in the colour range. A camera manufacturer called Black Magic has a range of cameras that produce extremely flat images that can result in video with spectacular colour dynamic range which can give the editor a huge scope for creativity. Black Magic is producing cameras for cinema as well as normal commercial use. What is important to remember though is that the Black Magic cameras were designed with the editor and colourist in mind so if your editing skills are not the best then this can be a less than perfect choice of camera.

A horizontal lens flair known as a transmorhic lens flair caused by a transmorphic lens in film productionThere is one feature which was created specifically for cinema cameras and was intended as a work around for the 35MM film. It was intended to fit a "CinemaScope" or wide angle image onto an almost square piece of film. This was a practical fix which was not intended to produce any visual effects of any kind but it did. In the industry it is known as a Transmorphoc lens flare .This is a lens flair that spreads out horizontally. Its a fantastic look, especially for SCI FI Films and just about any scene with electric lights that can be made to look awesome. The name comes from the lens which was a "Transmorpohic" lens converting wide angle to 35mm.

One of the most commonly accepted differences between video productions and film productions is the resolution. Cinema cameras shoot in 4K or higher while most video cameras are HD. This has changed though with the Panasonic GH4 and GH5 which can both shoot in 4k. The cinema cameras still offer higher quality images in many cases but the 4K of the Panasonic is excellent not just for 4k but when reduced to HD is amazing. The use of DSLRs and micro 4/3 cameras has brought the photography camera into the world of video. This change has confused many clients of video production companies who have had to explain that it is in fact a video camera. Stories abound of professional video production companies and corporate videographers being laughed off set and ask to leave because they had what looked like a photo camera. The improvement in technology can be confusing to the uninformed clients.

Another difference between films and video is what is called aspect ratio. This is the shape of the picture, the ratio being the horizontal vs vertical measurement. The TV aspect ratio was 4:3 and most HD video is 16:9 while cinema is 21:9 .This is why film is so much "wider" than normal video. There are other aspect ratios being use such as the 18:9 which is a compromise between 21:9 and 16:9.
The wide screen look can be very cinematic in its look and many marketing video production companies have used it to make their video look more like movies. The problem is that it also makes the video smaller to fit on most TV or computer screens.

Wide aperture of film or video production camera produces shallow depth of field.There are also many techniques which are less technical, that make a huge difference in look. They are depth of field, extreme close ups and moving cameras. The depth of field is also known as shallow depth of field, as the depth of focus is very shallow, allowing only certain areas in the view to be in focus. The rest is out of focus to different levels. The extreme close ups are very prominent in movies but most video production companies in Johannesburg and around the world will not attempt this as the clients often don't understand and think there is something wrong with the video. Moving camera though has made a substantial leap from cinema to video by many of the pieces of equipment becoming more affordable. The equipment used for movement in cinematic cameras have been doing the most to produce cinematic looks in corporate video productions in Gauteng.

Video Production set with camera on dolly wheels. The moving camera equipment for cinema that made use of many skilled staff have scaled down to require only one operator thus making the unreachable more available to corporate videographers and video production companies who were stuck with static shots before. The best that corporate videographers could do before was to tilt the camera up and down, left and right and zoom. This was enough for most corporate video productions in the past but clients of video companies have become more demanding while wanting to pay less at the same time. This is where the small jib crane, slider, and tripod dolly wheels have made a huge impact. The results are almost indistinguishable from the film set shots.

While breakthroughs in cinematic filming have done great things for the public's entertainment, the trickle down effect has been that video production companies can reproduce lesser versions that have an enormous difference to the production value of corporate video.

Its important though to understand which aspect of cinema do not belong in corporate video. Shaky camera effects and lens flair are examples of effects being brought across the divide that should not be in most cases. These effects were intended to give a certain look to the films being made.They do very little to boost the production value of corporate video and can have a detrimental effect on the overall look because instead of it looking more cinematic it looks unprofessional. The shaky camera look in particular can make it look like the camera operator simply had a shaky camera from not having the right equipment. Event though the shake may be intentional, the viewer does not know that.
So while there may still be differences between movie techniques and video productions, some of those should stay that way while others can be used to great effect to produce fantastic results for company marketing.

You can see many of these techniques being used by a corporate video production company in Johannesburg in this video below.

Top three mistakes video marketers make.

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