CommCorner guest 004: Playground Studios

Playground Studios, and the guys behind the videos they produce - Palvinder, Ik, and Ramandeep have a unique thing going. When they're not shooting commercials and gripping short films, you can find them writing poetry, composing the original scores you'll hear in the background of all of their videos, or producing the WhatUp! Silicon Valley podcast. It's kind of annoying the multitalents each of the Playground team has, but one thing is for sure, they can take you from zero to A+, primetime ready video in no time flat.

If you have a commercial shot or a video to go viral for your business, the creatives behind Playground Studios are who you call. On shoot day, it's obvious they have conceptualized the video before it even begins to take shape - from the script, to the look, to the feel, to the sound, to the ever-important call to action. Playground are Our Guys at WhatUp! and there's no reason they can't be Your Guys for for all your videography projects...forever!

Your Ultimate Guide to Video Production

WHY VIDEO?

We all know that people would rather watch a video then read, but many businesses still lack an introduction by video. Video is predicted to be the preferred medium of communication for the coming years. Videos help build trust, drive engagement and increase sales; it makes sense that businesses will continue to add more video production content in the coming years.

1.8 million words... that is the power of a one minute video, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research.

If you break down the composure of a one minute video clip, to reiterate everything that happens in the video (i.e. the narration, background, emotions, musical undertone, actions, etc.) it would take nearly 1.8 million words. 1.8 million words would be an estimated 3,600 web pages.

 A couple of other cool facts...

Videos lead to an increase of 200%-300% to your email CTR, according to Forrester Marketing group business survey.

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According to Forbes Insight, 50% of senior executives would rather watch a video than read. Everyone wants their attention yet most still choose to communicate with them via text over video.

You might be asking yourself: Are videos really that important? Think about the impact you can make and how much you can portray in just one clip. It is your elevator pitch to the world in which people don't have time to sit down for and listen to a formal presentation. Videos are creative and focus on capturing an audience and keeping them entertained. Without video you’re missing out on one of the most effective ways to communicate today.

 

THE VIDEO CREATION PROCESS

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Almost every client of mine, at some point, asks "How does the video process work?"  Every video production company has their own process, but here at Playground Studios, we aim to make it easy.  I always give the same answer: "We handle the entire process from A-Z, with your approval and input along the way."  It's true that's our goal; we want our clients to be stress-free about their next video. 

Let's talk about how the process works... btw, this is after the deal to work together is finalized.

Meet to follow up and learn

Right after the contract is signed we schedule a meeting(phone, in person or via email) with our client to learn more detail about their business.  The goal in the meeting is to get pure info about the company, not outline the video.

We ask questions about the company history, culture, vision and overall goal as a business.  This information allows us to put together a storyboard with company influence.

Create a couple of storyboards

This is the first thing we provide to our clients.  We provide them with a couple of storyboards, which is a complete vision of their video.  The goal of the storyboard is to allow our clients to foresee a vision of their video.

We will typically provide multiple storyboards, to give a few options for their video.  If our client loves one of the storyboards, we will begin the video process.  If they don't love any, we will keep making reiterations until the vision is perfect

Find Actors & Location

Depending on the type of video, we begin by finding locations and actors.  If the video is something based around the business, like a business intro video, we usually shoot on the company's location with actual employees.  Otherwise, when needed, we do all the work to set up the shoot.

Shoot Day

Shoot days are the best days. Typically, the video shoot is a quick process which is usually just a day, sometimes two.  Shoots are rather quick because all the planning is already in place from the storyboard creation process.  The biggest factor on shoot days is making sure your actors are comfortable and ready to go.  

Edit and Finalize

Editing is the most strenuous part of the video process but also the most crucial.  Our initial editing takes about a week which includes editing the entire footage, narrating if needed, creating any required animation/graphics and composing a background song (yes, we are that multi-talented).  

After the first edit, we show the video to the client, get any opinions and make final changes.

The entire video process averages about 3-4 weeks with the most time-consuming factor being the communication process.  Our clients determine the speed of the process by how quickly they respond and give us their feedback and "Okay" on the project. 

 Whether you're the client or a production company, remember two things:

Keep it simple and have fun doing it.

MARKETING YOUR VIDEO

So, you have your video created or are considering a video, but you don't know how to advertise and reach an audience.  It's honestly not too hard and has become a very cost -effective method to grow your business.  There are three main ways of advertising your video and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Taking your video to TV

It's a very old method and many will tell you it's dying out, but airtime is still the best place for branding.  With my experience in the industry, nothing gets you a better bang for your buck when it comes to branding.  Television ads have the highest impressions per a "moment".  What I mean by moment is how many people see your video at a single given time. Television ads also do a great job repeating your video to the same viewer repeatedly.

So how does it all work... Where do you go? How much should you pay? What should it look like?

Where do you go?

Airtime is old school and so is the process of getting your video to the television.  You typically find a representative in your area for the TV network.  The easiest way is to find a corporate email and ask them who would be your local representative.  For example, if I wanted to advertise on CNN I would start HERE.

How much should you pay?

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The sky's the limit, but the norm is: Ads start at $2,500/month; Average: $5,000/month; High end:$10,000+/month.  The main exception to paying over $10,000/month is to advertise during a hot event(i.e The Superbowl).  

My clients typically do a $5,000 per month, 3-month commitment (3 month commitments usually give bonuses).  Their return for $5,000/month is typically 120-230 spots/month.

What should it look like?

A commercial should be made in two versions: a 30-sec version and a 15-sec version.  The 30-sec commercial will be aired initially and should eventually be broken down to 15-sec and doubled in spots.  It should be creative and catered to the brand, so it can be funny, serious, meaningful... whatever suits the brand best.  

Advertising on Facebook

Marketing your video on Facebook is one of my favorite methods.  I love Facebook advertising because it's smart, easy to do and effective.  Facebook also has a large reach with lots of selective data to pick from. Included with Facebook ads, you are given the option to take your reach into Instagram. 

Facebook advertising allows you target your customer whether it's based on age, geographic location, career, gender, religion, hobbies, etc.  It's amazing, smart, sophisticated and cost effective.

If you do your research and learn your customers, Facebook allows you be extremely selective and market your video to your key audience.  The costs are also very budget-friendly, from $10/day to $100+/day for however long you desire.... you're in charge of your daily cost and campaign budget.

Advertising on YouTube

Advertising on YouTube is also a great solution for any video. YouTube has a mass reach and a similar approach to Facebook to allow targeted ads. YouTube has similar targeted marketing like Facebook but less specific targeting with larger numbers of views. The biggest difference between Facebook and YouTube is YouTube ads are automatically played when someone watches a video while Facebook ads require people to watch your video (making them click on the video by choice).  

 It's simple. Now that YouTube is part of Google, all advertising is in Google Adwords. Sign up > Upload your video > Pick your audience > Set the Budget > Accept > AND YOU'RE DONE :)

** Coolest thing with YouTube Ads.... you don't pay if your advertisement is canceled before by the viewer watches the ad for the 30-sec minimum. That's pretty darn awesome!

So, those are the 3 key platforms to advertise your video.  Use Television advertising to get branding, Facebook advertising to grab very specific views and YouTube ads to get a mixture of the two.  It's key to know which platform(s) you want to utilize before creating your video as this allows the video to be crafted to cater to that specific platform of viewers.  The easiest way to find what platform is best for your customers is to put yourself in their shoes.   

 

TOP RESOURCES FOR VIDEO PRODUCTION

We have no idea what filmmakers did 25 years ago when needing actors, locations, equipment. I assume they put an ad out in paper for actors, they walked around door to door at nice houses for locations and scoured phone books for equipment rental places.

Nowadays, you sit at your computer and have the world beg YOU to be in a part of your video. Here are the top 5 resources for any shoot.

ACTORS: SFCasting.com

SFCasting is an amazingly simple site to access a ton of actors very quickly. It's as simple as posting the title and synopsis of your project along with a brief description of the characters you need. Once the SFCasting team approves your posting (usually within a couple of hours), you will have anywhere between 50 to 300 actors submitting their pictures to you in an easy to review page. 80% of the actors that we have used in our projects have been from SFCasting. The other 20% have come from a mix of ModelMayhem, Craigslist, friends, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends.

LOCATIONS: AirBNBVRBO, etc...

As simple as it is to find actors, it's just as easy to find beautiful houses. You have obviously heard of using sites like AirBNB to book vacation homes, but you'd be surprised at how willing some of these homeowners are to open their homes for your shoot. It's as simple as typing in the city, adjusting your budget, checking the box for "full home" or just "1 room", and a long list of beautiful homes will pop up. Email the host and in a very kind and reassuring way, explain how you'd like to use their home and that you won't damage or destroy anything. Usually, you're good to go!

Voice Overs: VOICEOVERS & Fiverr

You would not believe how easy it is to make your video sound ultra-professional with an incredibly high-quality voice over using two sites, Voices.com and Fiverr. At Voices.com, you simply place an ad and within hours you have 100's of incredibly high quality voices reading your script back to you. With every ad you place, you will be guaranteed to find that one, absolutely perfect voice that fits your video's sentiment perfectly. The other option is Fiverr where you can get a pretty good voice over done for... five dollars. Not too bad of a deal! For smaller budget projects, definitely go with Fiverr. 

EQUIPMENT - BorrowLenses

Borrowlenses is a site where you can rent ANYTHING you want and have it delivered to your HOME. 8K Cameras, top-of-the-line lenses, lighting, sound equipment, batteries, CF Cards, anything. The prices are incredibly reasonable and the customer service is wonderful. I've rented from here tons of times and have always been incredibly happy. 

CREW - Craigslist

If you need qualified people for your shoot tomorrow... use Craigslist. It's another site where, within hours, you can have a long list of quality grips, gaffers, cinematographers, sound guys, camera operators, etc. all wanting to join your project. Over the past 10 years of hiring people on Craigslist, we've found some real gems that we developed long-term relations with. Need a crew, use Craigslist!

Ramandeep Sidhu ramandeep@playgroundstudios.com

Palvinder palvinder@playgroundstudios.com

Ik ik@playgroundstudios.com

 
Hannah Duchesne