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The incredibly compact microphones that get attached to a person’s clothing in order to pick up their speaking voice are called “lavalier” microphones. They’re also referred to as “lapel” microphones. These microphones can serve a number of purposes, but to capture someone’s voice inconspicuously is by far their most common use. Don’t let their small size fool you. The most important voices in broadcasting, politics, and the entertainment world all have to wear lavaliers. They have to sound good.

Lavalier microphones are used both wirelessly and with microphone cables. This article’s focus is on the nature of the microphones themselves, regardless of how they connect to their source. It should be noted that with wireless lavalier microphones, the type of connectors that attach the microphone to the transmitter of the wireless system vary greatly. If you’re curious about what kind of lavalier microphones you can use with your specific wireless system, don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-947-9923.

The need for a lavalier arises when hands-free operation is required, and when the sound must be clearly picked up without the obtrusive visual presence of a larger microphone. These circumstances can also apply when a shotgun microphone is used, but lavalier microphones offer certain advantages shotguns cannot. Lavaliers are usually only a matter of inches away from a subject’s mouth, so the audio quality is often more present and consistent. A shotgun microphone usually requires an extra person to operate a boompole, but lavaliers function without manual assistance. Lavalier and shotgun microphones don’t necessarily replace one another; in fact, they’re commonly used in conjunction with one another during a production.

Lavalier Mic
Using a lavalier clip with two holders allows you to create a loop in the cable to cut down on vibration noise.

There are a few different pick-up patterns available in various lavalier microphones. The most popular pattern is omnidirectional. A common misconception about omnidirectional microphones is that they pick up the sound of an entire space, no matter how far away the microphone is from the person’s mouth. This is not so. Omnidirectional does not mean omnipotent-directional. Omnidirectional lavalier microphones are popular because they tend to sound the best. Also, when the person who is wearing the mic turns their head while they’re speaking, there is no dip in volume because there is no area in the pick-up pattern the microphone is trying to cancel out. Another reason for their popularity is that they are physically smaller than the cardioid lavaliers.

Cardioid lavaliers are really only used in high-noise environments, or when feedback from monitors in a live sound situation becomes an issue. In both of these cases it’s often a better idea to use a headset microphone as opposed to a cardioid lavalier.

Lavalier microphones are used universally in TV and film production, as well in live stage productions and houses of worship. In theater it’s common practice to conceal a lavalier microphone in the hair or the wig of the performer. In film production lavalier microphones are often hidden beneath clothing. This is done in situations where the microphone needs to go completely unseen.

When a lavalier is obscured behind hair or clothing, some of the high frequencies can get cut because the microphone is physically muffled. Manufacturers compensate for this by designing and building lavaliers with a boosted high frequency response. Because of its flat physical shape and its excellent sound quality, the Tram TR-50 is a popular choice for a microphone to conceal under clothing.

Voice Technology VT506
This Voice Technologies VT506 features a 6dB high frequency bump. It also includes various mic clips and a microphone cage.
Countryman B3
Due to its extremely small size and resistance to moisture, the Countryman B3 is widely used for hiding in a performer’s hair or wig.  Countryman also makes a lavalier with a high frequency boost that’s good for concealing, the EMW Peaked Frequency Response.
EMW Peaked Frequency Response.

Lavaliers can be used for a variety of purposes, in a number of different ways. From surveillance operations to sound effects creation, their miniature size finds its way where other microphones cannot. Musicians will sometimes use lavalier microphones on their instruments. The multi-tasking Audio Technica AT831B comes with one clip to attach the microphone to your clothing, and a second clip to attach the microphone to a musical instrument.

Below we have listed some popular accessories that work universally with all lavalier microphones:

Microcats – These are little fuzz balls that fit snuggly over lavalier microphones in order to cut down on wind noise. They enable you to use a lavalier in a high wind environment.

Undercovers – A disposable system from Rycote that enables you to mount the microphone under clothing (you don’t need a clip), and it prevents rustling and contact noise as well. This is an excellent solution for use with lavaliers that do not have a microphone “cage” accessory available.

Stickies – An adhesive pad from Rycote that allows you to easily mount a lavalier to clothing or skin.

Overcovers – A disposable system from Rycote that enables you to easily mount a lavalier microphone to clothing or skin, and protect the microphone from wind noise when used in high wind environments. Microcats.

RKR Micro – An inexpensive universal microphone clip solution.

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The complete history of the video camera is contained within only the last century or so, but as with many forms of modern technology, no one person is solely credited as having invented the video camera.  John Baird, a Scottish engineer, was one of the earliest pioneers in capturing moving images for television production.  However, his experiments were built upon others that had come before him and much of the technology employed in the evolution of the video camera was built upon his findings. So while it’s safe to say that Baird was a pioneer in video camera technology, it is unfair to say that Baird invented the video camera.

The video camera as we know it today is able to record images and sound. The first demonstration of this capability took place on 14 April 1956.  Ray Dolby, Charles Ginsberg, and Charles Anderson invented the video camera that was the first machine to record both image and sound. This invention sold for approximately $75,000 US Dollars (USD) apiece.  Affordable only to major television broadcast studios such as CBS, who purchased three the same year, these machines remained professional devices for several years.

Video cameras designed for personal use, now called camcorders, became available to the general public in the 1980s.  These machines were bulky, heavy, and expensive, but proved to be efficient.  Building upon technology that had been developed for years, major electronics companies such as Sony and JVC began developing new technology.  These companies invented the video camera we now call camcorders.  These devices were capable of capturing image, sound, and recording to a storage device all in one machine.

n the late 1980s and early 1990s, those same companies who had invented the video camera for personal use began to miniaturize and digitize their machines.  The camcorder became smaller and more compact and by the late 1990s, digital camcorders were the most popular form of video camera. Today, video camera technology is inserted into numerous portable devices including cell phones, PDAs, and digital cameras, capable of taking both still images and moving images as well as recording sound.

Reprinted from One Market Media (Jimm Fox).  Visit them at http://onemarketmedia.com/

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Some people come into video production thinking it won’t cost very much and think it takes just a few hours to do. Sometimes it can be that way but most of the time it isn’t. Some of the factors that can determine the cost for digital video productions are:

* Experience
* Equipment
* Time
* Production Value

EXPERIENCE
Experience counts for a lot when choosing a producer/videographer/editor. They understand how to spend the
time wisely and efficiently. The less experience someone has the more likely mistakes will show up when you
start a production. Is there good audio, was there enough light on the subject, how slick does the
production look? Most of the high quality work that is done in videography/editing is never noticed even though you do see it. It just looks good. Lower quality work is more noticeable as unattractive or lacking something.
If you look around you can find some individuals out there who have plenty of good experience and creativity and not charge an arm and a leg for it. Whoever you look at, watch their clip reels, observe their work history and talk with them to get an idea of what they have to offer.

EQUIPMENT
Equipment is the next consideration. The type used can add a lot of quality and/or cost to a production. Do
you want the video production done in HD or SD? HD is going to cost more but that is where all production is
going. Though SD is still very good for web videos or internal company use. There are many tiers of HD and
SD equipment and you should be aware that the more sophisticated the stuff is, the more it will cost to use. Most companies have invested $15,000 for a camera, lights, and audio gear. Other have invested $30,000 to $100,000 or more. Get the camera/crew that fits your needs.

And it’s not just the camera. There are lights, microphones, teleprompter and other accessories that help with the creation but add to the cost, especially if more people are involved. So, how many people will be on site? Each person adds a significant amount to that total. Is the crew just 1 person or is it 2 or more? Location is something else that will dictate what is needed. Is it indoors or outdoors? Way out of town or in the suburbs?

The other half to this production is the video editor. They too have a lot of equipment that needs to be updated on a constant basis. New and better techniques are evolving which requires upgrades and further investments, again in the $5,000 to $20,000+ range. Some monitors for color correcting cost around $10,000 each.

One of the major stumbling blocks to having a pleasant production experience is the type of video format you choose to use. Be especially aware of the formats and codecs. Talk with your video production team and choose a format/codec that is compatible to both the videographer and editor. It is real important to talk with both before starting a production. Not just the videographer. Not just the editor. Both! There are a lot of new and evolving developments within the industry which changes the playing field on a regular basis. If you have both of these folks on the same page you can save yourself some money and lots of headaches.

TIME
This is a very important point: make most of your decisions during pre-production, making changes mid-production can be very costly. The decision making process is the most expensive part of any video production and eats up most of the time. Which is why the more time you spend on pre-production the less time is spent making last minute decisions during the actual production, therefore saving you money. Some items to focus on are: a script, location, if and who will be the on-camera person and preparing them for their appearance, any props you need, make sure they are ready by the day of the shoot. The more of these projects you do the better you will get. Experience of the crew will also show in the time spent during production. These are some time saving features during a shoot but what about in post? Sometimes changing a font is easy and doesn’t cost much, other times it almost means a complete rework of a video edit. It really depends on where in the process the change is made and how many other steps are affected by that change. This is with all aspects of post. Find out how many other things get changed when you ask for “your” one change. Where it lands in the process makes a huge difference.

Expect it to take a minimum of at least a half day for a simple video production shoot. The time needed will depend on how long the total piece is that you are creating and how much production value you want to invest in the video. The crew will need to set up their equipment and make sure everything is ready for the on-camera
person. Lights, audio and anything else required for the video will be included at this time. This process
can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour (or more) to complete. Again, how complicated and involved is the shoot? The more involved the longer it takes to set up. Higher quality requires more time to set up. Be prepared for this necessary prep time. It makes a big difference in how the final product looks. Then there is the on-camera person. Are they comfortable in front of a camera, are they experienced or is this their first time? Even the best of talent will need more than a couple of takes to get the “good one”. A newbie will require more takes but isn’t it better to spend an additional 15 minutes to get a good take then to try and edit around the mistake in post and still not be happy with it? Once the shoot is finished, all of the equipment needs to be packed up and removed. This tends to be faster than the set-up time. Keep in mind every time you need to change locations the whole tear-down/set-up process has to be done all over again.

Editing generally takes longer to complete than the actual shoot. First the video needs to be brought into
the computer which can take time. Is it tape based or file based video captured in the field? If an hour of video is shot on tape, it will take one hour of time to get it into the computer before editing can even begin. If it is file based it will take a shorter amount of time. Deciding which “takes” are the good ones requires listening to all of them. This in and of itself takes time. Most of the time a producer is responsible for this step. In other productions another person like a writer is the responsible person. It all depends on what type of production and where the duties lie for each individual. Do graphics need to be created? This takes time. Is everything all gathered together and ready to go? If not, this can cause delays in the middle of an edit. Once an edit is finished it still may need more work. Like audio sweetening, color correcting, etc. Then it will need to be rendered, exported and turned into whatever format is needed as a deliverable. This takes time. Sometimes hours. Also, how many proofs are needed before a final is agreed upon by the “decider”. Each redo takes time. Not all corrections take only a minute or two, some take an hours.

One time saver is to have all of these elements ready to go at the beginning of the edit. A script will really
help speed up the editing process. It makes it easier for the editor to follow along with the different takes and ensures that all elements are included in the edit. Having the script on hand will also help determine what graphics are needed. What music if any is wanted? Is there any animation? What are the names and titles of people shown in this video? Do you need them identified?

Other items to consider are; what final format is the product supposed to be? This can be a different format from the one used on the video shoot. What dimension size is needed? How will it be delivered? These bits of information are important to know from the beginning of the production to help save time in the long haul. Each process requires a certain amount of time. Be aware of how long it takes to do what you want in “production” and smart decisions will follow.

PRODUCTION VALUE
This is an intangible type of thing. This is the creativity of the people involved and how they go about
incorporating it into the video. Sometimes these are very well thought out methods and procedures, sometimes
quirky, on-the-spot changes and sometimes it’s trying to get things perfect and paying attention to detail.
There are many little things added together and they all add time to the production. Changing the audio level,
getting rid of a hiss, doing a take one more time to get the shot just right, changing the light just a
little, adding a filter, re-working the script, adding more graphic elements, adding music, adding animation, editing out something someone said because it is too late to have it re-shot, experimenting with several methods to reach a “best” solution, correcting color; all of this takes time. But this kind of time is well spent. This is your look and feel – your image.

COST
You can take all of the above mentioned factors into consideration to help you determine how much time it would take to create your video. The more involved it is the more time it will take. The more simple it is the less time it will take. One is not necessarily better than the other. However, how that time is spent is important.

If you think a completed video, shot and edited for you, can be done for $100 think again. Add another zero
to it and it will be closer to what needs to be spent to get a very basic video done. Different types of production will cost different amounts. If it is a simple talking head, either with a green screen are office background, then that doesn’t take too much time to shoot or edit. It still may take two to three hours of shoot time and depending on how many takes were done, it could take another 2, 3 or 4 hours to edit. You are still looking at a starting price of around $200 for a very simple one camera, no lights, mike on a camera shoot with not much editing done other than getting it ready for the web. A more realistic approach is to figure that a finished video will cost anywhere from $200 to $2000 for every finished minute. (That $200 is rock bottom by the way and is rarely met.) Given that range, a 3 minute video could cost anywhere from $600 to $6000. Some folks would even say that $6000 is too cheap for making a good production. To give you a different perspective; the average cost to produce a 30-second national television ad in 2001 was $358,000. You obviously don’t need to spend that much unless you are wanting to advertise nationally.

These sums probably don’t help much because it is such a wide range but that is part of the business. There is such an extensive variety of production styles and such a wildly different set of expectations that sometimes it’s just a simple jump into hard reality that will give you a number that works for you. If you are interested in creating a video for the web, launching a company product or making a training video then having a better idea on what is involved in making a video can help lead you into making a better budget for a video production. This in turn should give you a better product in the end and will make you much more pleased with the whole experience.

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Search & Win

There are currently (2011) three main frame rate standards in the TV and movie-making business: 24p, 25p, and 30p. However there are many variations on these as well as newer emerging standards.

  • 50i (50 interlaced fields = 25 frames) is the standard video field rate per second for PAL and SECAM television.
  • 60i (actually 59.94, or 60 x 1000/1001 to be more precise; 60 interlaced fields = 29.97 frames) is the standard video field rate per second for NTSC television (e.g. in the US), whether from a broadcast signal, DVD, or home camcorder. This interlaced field rate was developed separately by Farnsworth and Zworykin in 1934,[1] and was part of the NTSC television standards mandated by the FCC in 1941. When NTSC color was introduced in 1953, the older rate of 60 fields per second was reduced by a factor of 1000/1001 to avoid interference between the chroma subcarrier and the broadcast sound carrier.
  • 30p, or 30-frame progressive, is a noninterlaced format and produces video at 30 frames per second. Progressive (noninterlaced) scanning mimics a film camera’s frame-by-frame image capture. The effects of inter-frame judder are less noticeable than 24p yet retains a cinematic-like appearance. Shooting Video in 30p mode gives no interlace artifacts but can introduce judder on image movement and on some camera pans. The widescreen film process Todd-AO used this frame rate in 1954–1956.
  • The 24p frame rate is also a noninterlaced format, and is now widely adopted by those planning on transferring a video signal to film. Film and video makers use 24p even if their productions are not going to be transferred to film, simply because of the on-screen “look” of the (low) frame rate which matches native film. When transferred to NTSC television, the rate is effectively slowed to 23.976 frame/s, and when transferred to PAL or SECAM it is sped up to 25 frame/s. 35 mm movie cameras use a standard exposure rate of 24 frames per second, though many cameras offer rates of 23.976 frame/s for NTSC television and 25 frame/s for PAL/SECAM. The 24 frame/s rate became the de facto standard for sound motion pictures in the mid-1920s.
  • 25p is a video format that runs twenty-five progressive frames per second. This frame rate derives from the PAL television standard of 50i (or 50 interlaced fields per second). Film and Television companies use this rate in 50 Hz regions for direct compatibility with television field and frame rates. Conversion for 60 Hz countries is enabled by slowing down the media to 24p then converted to 60 Hz systems using pulldown. While 25p captures half the temporal resolution or motion that normal 50i PAL registers, it yields a higher vertical spacial resolution per frame. Like 24p, 25p is often used to achieve “cine”-look, albeit with virtually the same motion artifacts. It is also better suited to progressive-scan output (e.g., on LCD displays, computer monitors and projectors) because the interlacing is absent.
  • 50p and 60p is a progressive format used in high-end HDTV systems. While it is not technically part of the ATSC or DVB broadcast standards, it is rapidly gaining ground in the areas of set-top boxes and video recordings.
  • 72p is currently an experimental progressive scan format. Major institutions such as Snell & Wilcox have demonstrated 720p72 pictures as a result of earlier analogue experiments, where 768 line television at 75 Hz looked subjectively better than 1150 line 50 Hz progressive pictures with higher shutter speeds available (and a corresponding lower data rate).[4] Modern cameras such as the Red, can use this frame rate to produce slow motion replays at 24 frame/s. Douglas Trumbull who undertook experiments with different frame rates which led to the Showscan film format, found that 72 frame/s was the maximum frame rate at which emotional impact peaked for viewers.[5] 72 frame/s is the maximum rate available in the WMV video file format.

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Most video cameras have some sort of audio capture built-in. You can usually find a hole or a slot on some nub-like protrusion towards the front of the camera, behind which rests a tiny microphone. This microphone captures not only the noises your talent make in front of the camera, but also the noises the camera handler makes, the noises the wind makes, and the thump-thump noises the camera operator’s hand makes against the chassis. None of this makes for particularly good audio capture for your video or film project.  Let’s think beyond the camera-mounted microphone.

Tascam DR-1 Recording Device

Even otherwise high-quality consumer-level cameras don’t have many features when it comes to audio. Sure, an accessory hot-shoe may support bolting on a higher-quality microphone than what’s already embedded, but that doesn’t solve all your audio problems. An external microphone connection jack is probably only a tiny 3.5mm terminal suitable only for attaching low-power lavaliere microphones. For great audio, you want a guy with a wind-muff-wrapped shotgun microphone bolted to a boom, pointed right at the talent’s mouth.

The first questions to answer once you decide to graduate from on-camera audio to a separate microphone are: What kind of microphone do you use? What do you plug the microphone into?

The answer to the first question is “a shotgun microphone,” which is recognizable by its long tubular structure and is renowned for its highly directional performance. Because it (mostly) captures only the sounds that you point it at, you can capture high-quality recordings of dialogue without inadvertently recording ambient noise. This means that your microphone needs quickly escalate if you want to also capture environmental/ambient sounds in your scene. A good entry-level shotgun microphone costs between $150 and $300. Higher-end microphones quickly escalate in price.

What you plug your microphone into, if it’s not your camera, is also important. Microphones traditionally attach with a 3-pin XLR connector, which provides an electrically balanced signal path that eliminates noise interference over long cables. It’s possible to use an XLR-to-minijack cable to plug your microphone directly into your camera, but it’s not recommended and probably won’t work. Instead, a microphone should plug into a preamplifier, which takes a low signal from a microphone and turns it into a “line level” signal suitable for mixing, recording, or editing. You’ll need a preamp that can provide 48 volts of “phantom power” to the microphone if you’re using a condenser mic (most good shotgun mics are condenser mics).

If you don’t plug a microphone into your camera, you’ll plug it into some kind of recorder, ideally a computer (a laptop if you’re doing a field recording). The bridge between a microphone and the computer is the “audio interface” which takes care of converting the analog microphone input to a digital output the computer can manipulate and store. Audio interfaces usually include one or more built-in preamps for microphones and use USB or Firewire (IEEE 1394) to connect to the computer. Audio interfaces range from inexpensive USB units ($100) with two preamps to expensive multi-channel rack-mount units with as many as 8 preamps ($400 and up). You’ll need a preamp for every microphone you use, so a two-channel interface is a good place to start if you use a shotgun microphone together with an ambience mic.

The computer needs software to capture the incoming digital audio and mix, manipulate, and save it. Recording software ranges from the free (like Audacity) to the cheap (Garageband, which is not only for garage bands) to the expensive (Apple’s Logic or Adobe’s Soundbooth).

Once a microphone is selected and attached to an audio interface, you must decide what recording settings to use. Digital audio is described in terms of sample rate (the number of “samples” taken each second to represent an analog sound wave) and word size (the number of bits used to describe each sample). For reference, standard CD audio has 44,100 samples per second (44.1 khz) and a 16-bit word size. There’s no magic recording setting, but the higher the numbers the better the audio quality. Even the least expensive audio interfaces from M-Audio or Presonus are capable of providing 24-bits of resolution at 48,000 samples per second. The best rule is to capture the audio at a level at or higher than the settings you’ll use in your postproduction workflow. For most DV or better sequences that will be 48 khz. Most NLEs (including Final Cut and Premiere Pro) use 32-bit floating-point for the audio, so capture at 24-bits if you can and 16-bits if you have to. Do not capture to a compressed file type like MP3. Instead record your audio in uncompressed WAV or AIFF format.

The last big question to answer concerning capturing audio separate from your camera’s microphone is how to sync the audio to the video. The easiest way is to start rolling both the camera and the recorder and use a clapper board to create a sync point. This gives you both a visual (the top of the clapper hitting the bottom) and an audible (the sound of the clapper) cue. Make sure the clapper is audible on all the microphones you’re using. Later, in the editing suite, you can use the clapper as a cue point to synchronize the audio to the video. Remember to use the clapper any time you stop rolling either the camera or the recorder. A timecode break in either means a break in sync.

If you capture a scene with a separate microphone, you don’t necessarily have to disable your camera’s onboard mic. In fact, it can be useful to keep that audio as a reference track in your project — maybe you missed the clapper board or it was at a weird angle, in which case the reference audio from the camera can be used to sync with the good audio from the recorder. Be sure in this case that the camera and the recorder are using the same sample rate to record (any camera you use ought to support 48khz rates, since it’s a DV standard).

Recording separate audio can complicate a shoot. You’ll need at least one more set of hands on your crew; ideally at least two more — one to hold the boom and another to man the mixer/audio interface/recorder, set input levels, and overall ensure a good audio capture. And of course, you need someone to operate the clapper board. You’re the director — it may as well be you!

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Video production can cost as much or as little or as your budget allows.

You can borrow a flip camera, shoot some video and upload it to YouTube – all for free. Or you could hire James Cameron to write, produce and direct your video where you’d be looking at a budget just shy of  half a billion dollars when you include marketing costs and Hollywood accounting. Both options would result in a finished video but you’d probably need special glasses to watch the the more expensive option.

The good news for businesses looking to engage a video production company is that many of the factors that affect the price of a video have been going down over the last few years. Some dramatically. Assuming you find a company that does great work (this is a critical first step by the way – if the company doesn’t do great work it’s not worth paying anything for) the first question to be answered is  ‘how much does a video cost?’ There is no simple answer to that question but here are 25 factors (ranked in order of importance to the overall quality of the video) that affect the price of a web video:

  1. Production Experience. Doctors, mechanics, lawyers, videographers… whatever profession you care to mention, experience matters more than any other factor and, all things being equal, you do tend to get what you pay for. There are many, many moving parts in the creation of a video but at the end of the day you are paying for the expertise and experience of the key people responsible for your video. 
    Costs:
    You can pay $25/hour for a recent film school graduate or $250/hour for a top flight video veteran. On average most production companies will charge between $50/hour and $150/hour for the people involved in key activities such as shooting and directing.
  2. Concept / Script / Storyboard –  Doing video for the sake of video is a waste of money (although it’s great for the video production industry!) What measurable business objective are you trying to achieve?  How is this video specifically going to achieve that objective? And of greatest importance, do the people creating your video have the experience or guidance to create a video that will help move your business forward? Lighting, sound, framing and editing are all important but they don’t matter in the least if what you are creating has no value to your intended audience. Like companies that spend $10,000 on website development and little or no money on content for the site, many companies waste a lot of money on nicely shot but otherwise meaningless video.
    Costs: Expect to spend between $60/hour and $125/hour for an experienced marketer (does it make sense to have an entertainment script writer or video production assistant develop your marketing script?) to develop a concept, script and storyboard that serves as the blueprint for you video.
  3. Editing. The editing process is highly nuanced. Editing is where you create the style and substance of the video – you sequence all of the available assets into a cohesive story that communicates your key messages in a clear and engaging manner. Editors arguably should be the most highly paid (and skilled) in the entire process (quite often they are not.)
    Costs:
    Editing costs run between $40/hour and $125/hour.
  4. Actors/Presenters. Do you need to hire professional presenters, actors or models to improve the quality of your presentation? Not everyone is good on camera. You may need to make difficult decisions about who should represent your company. In a broadcast commercial quite often it is not someone in your company. Even in a corporate video you may decide that hiring outside talent is the best decision.
    Costs:
    Presenters, models and actors can range anywhere from $50/hour to $200/hour or more depending on experience, demand and union costs.
  5. Camera. The quality and flexibility of the camera you shoot with can make a huge difference in the finished quality and editing options for your video. Are you shooting on a $ 500 DV camera, a $2,500 DSLR, a $10,000 Full feature HD camera, a $20,000 RED or are you shooting on Film? The pace of technology advancement in film and video is breathtaking and the features and capabilities of cameras are changing weekly.  Bottom Line: You should be able to see the difference in the final output quality in more expensive cameras. If you can’t, then it’s not worth paying for.
    Costs:
    You will spend between $25/hour and $150/hour or more depending on which digital camera is used. Film cameras, lenses and stock will take you well over $1,000 /hour.
  6. Equipment. The more experienced video production companies tend to have a wide variety of tools and equipment on hand for each shoot. Do you need a track dolly or a jib-arm to create a shot with movement? Do you have a high quality field monitor to know exactly what you are getting (or not getting) as you shoot? Do you have all the necessary audio equipment (lav’s, direction mics, booms etc) to capture the audio you need?  Lighting and framing are everything in video. Do you have lights – lots of different lights to accommodate a wide variety of shooting scenarios? Do you have a variety of lenses to create the specific feel you are after – wide angle, fixed focal length or Cine lenses for narrow depth of field, etc?
    Costs. Equipment cost can run anywhere from $25/hour to $100′s/hour or more depending on what specific equipment is required.
  7. Crew. If you’ve ever watched a movie or television show being filmed you might wonder why you need so many people standing around idle on a set. Most business web video productions don’t require more than two people (and sometimes one is enough) but depending on the complexity of the shoot you may require a crew of three or more. If you are conducting man on the street interviews as an example, you need a cameraman, a sound man and a directer or interviewer. Concept videos like commercials will often require more people to help with the logistics of the shoot.
    Costs: Expect to pay between $ 25 and $75/hour/person for experienced crew.
  8. B-Roll / Cut-away shots. Most videos benefit from the addition of footage that supplements what is being said on screen. If you are interviewing a business owner who is talking about their new equipment you should cut away to shots of the equipment as they speak. Showing the viewer what is being described in the video is more informative (show me , don’t tell me) and also helps to keep the attention of the impatient viewer.
    Costs: The length of time and equipment used to capture the b-roll will increase production costs. You can add anywhere from 10% to 50% of the total shooting costs if you need to supplement interview footage with b-roll.
  9. Locations and production time. Where are you shooting? How long will each scene/interview/shot take?Are you shooting in one location or many? What are the specific requirements and constraints of each location? Are you indoor or outside? If you are shooting outside is weather a factor? If so what happens if it rains? How much set-up time is required? Are the locations close together? The most important factor is the total amount of time required for production. There are few economies of scale for time – but with good planning you can do a lot within a specific period of time.
    Costs: This cost is arithmetic. Two days of shooting is twice as expensive as one day. {If shooting extends for many days or is regularly scheduled then most companies offer a discount}
  10. Studio shooting. Do you require the use of a sound stage or studio? Do you need a controlled environment to shoot in? Are you shooting green screen and keying out the background in edit? The use of a studio has to be factored into the overall cost of the production one way or another. Larger companies may include studio time in their shooting costs and other companies include it as a line item as studio rental time.
    Costs: Factor in between $100/hour and $ 400/hour depending on the size of the studio. (If you need a studio you will be charged for it – one way or the other)
  11. Set, props, equipment, extras. Aside from video production equipment are there other special props or pieces of equipment that need to be included as part of the costs? Do you need to rent a van, rent furniture, hire extras, hire a plane or helicopter for an aerial shot or bring in special equipment for the shoot? These all have to be factored in to the cost of the shoot.
    Costs: Depends on what is required.
  12. Stock footage Do you require supplemental footage or images to support the video? There are many websites that sell high quality still and video footage. Some videos are comprised completely of stock footage, text and voice-over.
    Costs: Stock images can be as cheap as $3 and great quality HD stock footage can cost as little as $50.
  13. Narration Do you need a voice-over to tell your story or to tie the video together. Video is a powerful medium but it is even more powerful if you take full advantage of audio to support what is being shown on screen.
    Costs: Voice-over costs have dropped dramatically over the last five years. Many voice artists work from home and can produce great work for almost any budget. $100 – $400 for a 2 minute video is reasonable depending on the experience and demand for the specific voice artist.
  14. Audio files. Do you require a music bed, special sound effects or other audio to supplement your video?
    Costs: Good quality music for video starts as low as $30 for a two or three minute track. Custom audio can cost $1,000 or more depending on the experience of the musician and what is required.
  15. Teleprompter. A teleprompter can save a shoot. Even the most experienced speaker can be intimidated by lights and camera. It’s true that you can usually tell when someone is reading a teleprompter but that may still be preferable to the agony of a shoot spiraling out of control because the CEO can’t remember his lines.
    Costs: Teleprompter and operator usually cost between $350 and $600 for a half day.
  16. Geographic Location. New York is more expensive to shoot in than Central Lake, Michigan because the cost of living is higher in New York. Half day rates don’t exist in some large cities today.
    Costs: Expect to pay between 25% and %50 more if you are shooting in a large city.
  17. Digitizing, transfers, rendering and uploading. Video takes on many forms during the production process. If you shot on film you have to transfer it to a format that works in your editing system. After you edit it, you have to render it to a presentation format (for web, for broadcast, etc.) and depending on where it’s going you may have to upload it somewhere (your web server / YouTube / The Academy Awards, etc). All this takes computer and human time and you generally have to pay for both.
    Costs: Sometimes these costs are buried, sometimes they are line items. Tape transfers are still very expensive ($100′s of dollars).  Rendering and uploading time are usually buried in the costs but can also be charged out at an hourly rate ($50 – $100 per hour).
  18. Length of the Video. The longer the video the more it is likely to cost. Web videos tend to be around a couple of minutes although this varies considerably depending on the type and purpose of your video. Filming an articulate talking head (limited editing) for 10 minutes is much cheaper than creating a 30 second commercial. So…
    Costs: All things being equal (they never are) consider longer to be more expensive, but it’s not arithmetic. An extra minute of video might only cost you %10 more if you have planned the extra requirements into the overall workflow.
  19. Licensing/Union Fees. Are you using any media assets or talent that could be subject to ongoing licensing, usage or union fees? The web continues to drive all costs down including licensing fees – but they still exist. The best talent is usually a member of  SAG, ACTRA or some other union.
    Costs: Varies depending on the project and talent.
  20. Direct or Third party. Are you dealing directly with the video production company or are you going through an agency or other middleman?
    Costs: You should expect that you are paying at least a %30 mark-up if you are going through a third party.
  21. Interactivity. Are you creating linear video or are you building in interactivity? Is there a direct call-to-action that you want to get the viewer to follow? Do you require flash programming do build the video into a special player that will sit on a specific landing page? The future of video is interactive video.
    Costs: Expect to pay between %10 and %30 more to develop interactivity and flash support elements into your video.
  22. Hosting. Your video is going to live on the web. Where is it being hosted? You might end up hosting it on different servers (your own, YouTube, a business portal, etc.) depending on your business needs.
    Costs: Hosting is either free or relatively inexpensive ($ 5 – $10 / month/video depending on bandwidth usage.)
  23. Formats. How many different formats does your video have to be rendered in? Where is it going to be seen? Do you need a short version (editing down) and a long version? Does it sit in a multiplayer or is it in three different players? Should you break it up into pieces to make the length of it a little less evident and also to allow the user a bit more control?
    Costs: Adapting multiple formats for a video could add %5 to %10 percent to the cost of the job depending on how much editing is required.
  24. Language and translation. Do you need close captions? Do you need language versioning? Do you need onscreen text to change per language? Do you need to dub in different narration for different markets?
    Costs: Language versioning can add %10 to %20 to the overall cost of the job. (Editing and proofing of different languages is usually much more time intensive than one language alone.)
  25. Miscellaneous fees. Ya, everyone hates lawyers ‘disbursement fees’. Video production has the equivalent in ‘Miscellaneous fees’: Travel costs, meals, mileage, hotels, transportation, out-of-pocket… it all adds up.
    Costs: Usually in the $100′s and sometimes in the $1,000′s of dollars on larger shoots.

Bottom Line?

Taking all of the above into consideration there are reasonable ballpark figures that you can use as a guidepost for budget purposes. A two to three minute web-based corporate video presentation might cost between $2500 and $7500 depending on the variables mentioned above. If you use the time honored “$1,000 a minute” for a professionally produced online corporate video as a starting point, that will give you a reasonable idea of where to begin in the budgeting process.

Budgeting Tip:

The best way to get a quick estimate is to have a reference video to compare to. (I.e. “How much would something like ‘this’ cost.”)

visit us on the web at:  www.adr-productions.com

Shooting and editing video is easy, right? After all, everyone is doing it, plans on doing it, or wants to do it. So what’s the problem? Why are there so many poor videos out there? YouTube, GoogleVideo, Liveleak, and other websites have loads of them. You’ll find them on DVDs, and even on some television broadcasts. Why is this happening?

Because basic rules of editing are often violated or ignored altogether. True, art has no “rules” yet there are some basic practices to which viewers have become accustomed and even expect.

Following these small tips will help you to make better DVD’s and web video. You’ll note that the first few tips are related to camera work and not the computer/editing aspect of the project.  Great video begins before you get it into your computer.  Great editing is much easier with good camera work.

Shoot for the edit
When you’re shooting your video, be peripherally aware of how you’ll be editing the story. This can be difficult with family/vacation videos etc, but shooting with some idea of how you want to tell the story will help. For example, you might consider starting each shot by tilting down from the sky, and finishing each shot tilting up towards the sky. Perhaps there is an element in the shot to the left or right that could be panned to/from at the beginning of each shot, or perhaps even the panning itself can be incorporated as part of a transitional element.

This technique like any other, may be over used if there are several scenes to be cut, so think about how many scenes you may be shooting. If it’s a lengthy vacation video, you won’t want to be panning to the sky every couple of minutes for half an hour. Also for family/vacation type footage, be aware of changing the camera position or angle.  Move yourself around every minute or two. Go from a wide angle to a tighter shot. This will provide more flexibility when editing.

Give Yourself Some TIME
One error many shooters make improperly is to begin shooting when they press the “Record” button. Do your best to get at least five seconds of pre-roll and five seconds of post roll. Not only will this provide some “head/tails” for the editing process, but it also might mean you catch some blooper or other fun content. Also, it gives your tape time to wind around the head so you’re not clipping off part of the action. If you’re in one of those “WHERE IS MY PICTURE/CAMERA???” (WIMP) situations, start the camera rolling before you remove the lens cap or start pointing the camera. Just get it rolling and worry about everything else later.

Get Stable
Nothing is more difficult to watch or edit as jerky, zoomy footage. Nothing screams “AMATEUR” more loudly than jerky or zoomy footage. Use the zoom quickly or not at all when the camera is recording. Try to avoid holding the camera at eye level; this is where the small LCD monitor panels are very useful, but be aware that using the LCD monitor also means faster battery drainage. Try to hold the camera steady at chest level, digging elbows into your sides, forming a crude tripod with hands on camera and elbows against the body. Monopods or tripods make shooting with stability easier, but also makes for a less portable shooting solution when shooting those quick moments.

When you do pan or zoom, be sure to hold on the subject for at least a few seconds. For example, if you are zooming in or panning on a tree to show a bird’s nest in the tree, make sure you hold on the nest before panning/zooming away.

Now Hear This
Audio is usually forgotten in the heat of the moment, and in those “WIMP?!” moments, that’s OK. But in situations where you’re calling the shot, audio is much more important than the picture. Viewers can forgive and even not notice poor framing, exposure, or even focus if the audio is good. Audiences “see” differently when good audio is present, and by the same rule, see differently when audio is poor. If it’s a challenge to hear what’s taking place, the senses attempt to process the audio as best as possible. We’re predominantly aural animals, so do what you can to have great audio. That might mean a better microphone on your camera or subject, or even going as far as acquiring an inexpensive wireless to allow for roving camera while keeping audio sources in one location.

If you’re doing an interview, prior to hitting the Record button you might want to ask your subject to speak up, particularly if you’re using an on-camera mic. If your voice will be heard on the recording too, consider speaking less loudly than you might normally speak, because you’re closer to the camera than your subject is. Use good judgment when choosing music. Your favorite Nickelback tune probably won’t work well with that cut of your son or daughter hitting a home run.

Take Two
When possible, shoot the same scene twice from two different angles or focal lengths. Shoot wide and then get in close, taking one high shot and then one low shot, or whatever other creative angles you might find. Get some “B-roll,” shots you can cut away to/from. For instance, you might shoot the winning field goal at the end of the game with a wide angle, but don’t be afraid of asking someone to kick the ball into the net again after the game, or better yet, shoot medium or close shots from time to time during the game. These can be used to prolong the moment, or provide more information.

Name That Tape
Label tapes. Label them by date, order, or Ovaltine Secret Code, but label those tapes. And when you capture those tapes, use the name of the tape as part of the capture folder. If you’re not using tape, such as with the newer AVCHD camcorders, then label a file folder with a unique name prior to transfer. You might even consider putting a text file in the folder describing the contents, as this will help you in the sorting of tapes. Some NLE’s such as Sony Vegas (professional version) offer searchable media managers that will help locate a specific file when you need to find it quickly. At the end of the day, if the file isn’t labeled, it doesn’t exist in the digital sense. Computers are for making life easier; help the computer do its job by labeling that information.

Picture This
Use graphics, title cards, or still photos to illustrate a shot or to cover a difficult edit point. Title cards or graphics can also be used to stretch a scene where the camera might not have been pointed at the subject just yet, or was turned away too quickly. They also come in handy during a focus or exposure shift due to auto settings on the camera. Cutting to a graphic or title card also provides a way to literally tell the audience what they’re going to see, are seeing, or have just seen if the video wasn’t completely compelling. “Will Johnny make the goal?” or “What Happens Next?” are two examples of title cards. These worked for years in the era of silent film, and can still be used to good advantage.

Edit for the Story
If you’re telling a story, cut out everything that isn’t related to the story. I recommend considering the audio first, so that the audio has a good rhythm and flow, and the picture will generally follow as a result. If the picture doesn’t follow, then B-roll, graphics, or title cards can be used to help carry the story along as long as the audio is in good rhythm. B-roll and graphics are good for transitional elements as well.

Speaking of Transitions
Every video editing package comes with at least a hundred transitions. That doesn’t mean each one needs to be used. In fact, 95% of them shouldn’t be used. Fly-away cubes, bouncing balls, shatters, etc should all be relegated to the deep dark corners where only the dust kitties play. There are instances where they may be considered tasteful, however rare they may be. Wipes and dissolves are very common for a reason; they’re not incredibly noticeable, and more importantly, they’re expected. Long dissolves are great for showing passage of time, flash transitions can be used to grab attention or create a transition to a flashback, wipes are great for going from location to location or from one distinct scene to another.

Hustle n’ Flow
Just like great music has a rhythm you can dance to, good video editing has a rhythm that can be sensed by the audience. Learning to edit to a rhythm isn’t hard to learn, but it can be difficult to learn to do it well. Cutting to musical beats is a good way to get started. Tools like Ultimate S or StillMotion for Sony Vegas can also help in this learning curve.

At the end of the day, editing is a series of cuts that remove parts of the story that don’t pertain to the clean, clear presentation of the story. Editing involves creating elements that help move the story along, whether they’re transitional, informational, directional, or clarifiers. Audio elements are cut so the story moves along and is clear and comprehensible.  Just as you would cut out “uh, um, oh by the way. . . ” from your audio, think of the video cuts as being the removal of the video equivalent of “uh, um, oh by the way. . . ” Cut  shaky footage, focus changes, just plain boring bit and any other shots that take away from your film.

Finally, practice. Like anything else worth doing, it takes practice to be a good editor, learning the rhythm and flow of a good video production that compels the audience to watch through to the end.  With this in mind, go shoot AND edit some great video!

As always, ADR Productions will work with you on any project you feel is beyond your production skills.

 

Visit us on the web at:  www.adr-productions.com

Statistics provided by YouTube reveal that 67% of internet usage is based on videos and 70% of online users are interested only in watching videos. Online video production is one of the best avenues to drive huge traffic to your website. Videos enable you to convey your message through various methods, such as via action, gestures, visual images, visual text, music, animation and speech.

Advantages of Online Video Production

Online video production offers numerous benefits to businesses looking to increase their brand recognition and gain a competitive edge. Let us have a look at these benefits:

1. Sense of belonging: Through videos, people come into contact with the real person instead of text and pictures. This creates a sense of belonging between the company and its clients, and it is an opportunity to enhance customer loyalty.

2. More appealing: There is a famous adage, “Seeing is believing”. When people hear something said by a person, they tend to believe it faster than they do after reading information.

3. Wide audience: YouTube states that people view 2 billion videos regularly. You can also reach a huge audience with the help of videos and create your brand awareness.

4. Interesting: Some people find videos more interesting than text. Even if the video is little longer, people may view it patiently.

5. Video sharing: If people like the video, they tend to share it with their friends through social media sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. This creates the opportunity to spread your business without any serious effort on your part.

6. Client feedback: By putting your video on YouTube or other media website, you can actually involve viewers. They can put their comments, which will help you to adapt your offerings according to your customers’ preferences.

Online video production can result in growing sales and building the reputation of your business. Video marketing is a powerful way of gaining online visibility because it is cost effective and appealing to customers. If you have an online business, it is favorable to adopt this strategy along with other marketing strategies.

ADR Productions strives to create powerful and convincing videos for your business.

Visit us on the web at www.adr-productions.com

Panasonic DVX100b

White Balance

  • White balance tells the camera what each colour should look like, by giving it a “true white” reference.
  • If the camera knows what white looks like, then it will know what all other colours look like because all colours are contained in white.
  • Most cameras do this function automatically .
  • It actually works very well in most situations.
  • Incorrect white balance shows up as pictures with orange or blue tints.

How to do a manual white balance

  • Point the camera at something non-reflective white in the same light as the subject, and frame it so that most or all of the picture is white.
  • Set focus and exposure, then press the “white balance” button.
  • There should be some indicator(usually 2 triangles and a square blinking) in the viewfinder which tells you when the white balance has completed.
  • You should do white balances regularly, especially when lighting conditions change (eg. moving between indoors and outdoors).

Focus

  • Auto-focus is strictly for the birds!
  • The focal area is determined by the camera not the operator.
  • And it goes hunting for moving objects, sucking up battery power.
  • Also the internal mic will pick up the motor noise while “hunting”
  • The most common manual focus mechanism is a ring at the front of the lens housing.
  • To obtain the best focus, zoom in as close as you can on the subject you wish to focus on,
  • adjust the ring until the focus is sharp,
  • then zoom out to the required framing.
  • Maximum focus or depth-of-field will be achieved by using a wide angle lens (zoomed back out), a small aperture and lots of light.

Exposure

  • Auto-Exposure can be used as a guide.
  • If you’re not sure about your exposure, try flicking the Exposure to auto and see what the camera uses, then go back to manual.
  • Find a comparison of various camcorders regarding image quality

Back Lighting

  • When shooting a subject against a strong backlight such as a window or the sky, the camera adjusts the exposure for the strong backlight, which leaves the subject as a silhouette.
  • Some cameras have a “backlight” feature which helps with this problem.
  • To adjust the settings manually, open the iris until the subject is exposed correctly.
  • This will mean the background is too bright, but it’s better than the subject being too dark.

Audio

  • Getting good results with audio is actually quite difficult.
  • The internal microphone picks up the hum of the video tape, servo-zoom and autofocus.
  • This is very annoying in playback of the video.
  • To improve it , try plugging an external microphone into the “mic input” socket of your camera.
  • Be careful of wind noise. Even the slightest breeze can ruin your audio.
  • Many cameras have a “low-cut filter”, sometimes referred to as a “wind-noise filter” or something similar.
  • These do help, but a better solution is to block the wind.
  • You can use a purpose-designed wind sock, or try making one yourself.
  • Get a good set of headphones to monitor the audio as you are shooting

Microphones

  • Buy a microphone intended for camcorder use. It should have a mini jack plug.
  • A WILDTRACK of general ambient background noise(at least 10 seconds) should be taken on every shoot to hide any audio jump cuts during editing . A cardioid or omnidirectional mic will do the job admirably.
  • A BOOM is a powerful external mic placed at the end of a long pole that can record clearer dialogue from a distance.
  • A CARDIOID microphone has a heart-shaped pickup range. It is ideal for recording individual or group(2-4) conversations.
  • An OMNIDIRECTIONAL mic is what is built into your video camera. It has a 360 degree arc and is good at recoriding general audio but poor at picking out specific sounds.
  • A SHOTGUN , or unidirectional mic is best for recording sound straight ahead and at a distance. Good for recording subjects that are hard to get near.
  • A TIE CLIP MIC is a small mic that can be clipped on place to the clothing of a person being interviewed. There can be two types:
    1. Controlled through a cable
    2. Radio – controlled.
  • A CONDENSER is the device commonly found in most mics. It converts the ripples caused by sound into an electrical pulse, which is then recorded.
  • Exercise – Do a search to check out some available mics

Visit us on the web at www.adr-productions.com

Reprinted from PCWorld

Why Video?

Video on the Internet is still novel enough to be compelling in its own right. People now routinely use the Web to search for information about products or services that they want to purchase. And if you can dig up a typical Web site’s traffic patterns, you’ll find that an enormous percentage of site visitors click away from the site in less than a few seconds. They scan the text and pictures and make a snap judgment about whether or not the site has anything to offer them. It is extremely difficult to get them to read all the way through the home page, let alone click through to get more information on subsequent pages.

In contrast, once they start, people are more likely to watch video clips through to the end than they are to read a whole Web page. This gives you a better chance to engage them and get your message across.

What’s Your Message?

The most important step is to determine what you want to tell your audience. Maybe you have a novel product or service that customers may not understand. In this case, an “education sell” might be most appropriate, in which you explain the category as a whole and the benefits it offers. If the product or service is familiar to your prospects — such as buying a house — then you want a “comparative sell” that showcases the advantages that your particular product or service has to offer. Or maybe you want to use a “promotional sell” message that makes a special offer such as a discount or bonus item for people who see the video.

Designing Your Video Clip

Keep it short. Four or five minutes long is a good limit for a promotional video. If it runs longer than that, your audience is likely to lose interest and click away. Also, the large size of longer videos makes them more difficult to manage.

If possible, create a widescreen format video in MP4 format. This is the new lingua franca of Internet video, and has efficient compression to keep your files smaller. The widescreen format matches the newer HDTV aspect ratio, and thus immediately gives your video a more current appearance.

Create your video in 720p resolution (1280 by 720 pixels). This is easier to do now that many under-$400 digital still cameras will also record 720p video. Many sites–including YouTube–now support high-definition clips, so the extra resolution will make your video look better.

One note on tone: Be cautious about using humor in your videos. What might be funny to one person can be seriously offensive to another. Unless you’re appealing to a narrow and well-defined audience that you know well, you might want to avoid making a comedy clip and stick to a straightforward approach.

Distribute Your Video

Just as a Web site is not likely to increase business on its own, you need to do more than just post a video. First, you need to put it in lots of places so that more people are likely to find it. Consider using an uploading service for distribution. TubeMogul is a free service that will post your clip to seven or more video sites including MetaCafe and Yahoo Video, as well as YouTube. It will automatically adjust your video if necessary to meet the sites’ requirements (though all will accept widescreen MP4 files). So you just have to upload your file once to TubeMogul, and it will take care of the rest.

TubeMogul--click for full-size image.The TubeMogul service makes it easy to post a video file to many video sharing sites in one easy step.

You also need to keep search optimization in mind when you post. Choose your tag words carefully so that viewers will be more likely to find your clips.

Note that posting your video to these video sharing sites makes it easy to embed the clip on a Web page. YouTube creates HTML code that you can cut and paste to put both a player and your video clip on your Web page. You can even choose the format for the video player that appears on your page. Promote your clip by finding other sites that will link to the video’s location on your site, or that will embed the video right on theirs.

YouTube--click for full-size image.Use YouTube’s “Embed” entry (in the right-hand column) to get HTML code that you can paste into a Web site so that you can play the video right on that page.

If appropriate, consider sending out a press release announcing your video. Send it to local news outlets if you sell to your local markets. Try low-cost services that will deliver electronic press releases to a broad range of media outlets, such as SBWire or PRFree.

Also, take advantage of the social networking sites available on the Web to promote your video. Put it on your Facebook page. Get people to submit it to sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon, del.icio.us, and Reddit. Just as with a Web site, you need to drive people to your video in order to get them to see it.

Finally, don’t abandon your clip. Nothing dies by itself on the Web, so if your products or services change, or your promotional offer expires, or for some other reason the content of your video clip is no longer current or accurate, remember to take it down from the sites where you posted it. Just like a Web page that is never updated, an out-of-date video can hurt your business rather than help.

But a well-crafted video that gets promoted to your target audience will deliver your message in an efficient and effective way that engages your prospects and boosts your business.