What To Look For When Partnering With a Video Company

04.12.2017 - No Comments

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digital Video is everywhere

There’s absolutely no escaping it at this point–video is a part of marketing life. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. By the time this day is out, five billion videos will have been watched on YouTube. With video services like Vimeo, Netflix and Hulu competing in the same space, there are no shortages of options and more than half of consumers prefer online video platforms to live TV. And brands know that online video influences consumers, with 28% of customers making purchases based on seeing a branded video. Video is so pervasive, simply reading this blog is an act of old-school resistance.

So, there’s very little reason for brands and companies not to be telling their stories through video. Web production and technological advances have brought prices way down, Facebook and YouTube make it possible for every company to find a platform, so it is now expected for corporations to be competing with video. The question is–how?

things to consider

There are a number of factors to consider before partnering with an agency or a production company, first and foremost being: What are the goals of your video? You should know what you’re trying to communicate and what audiences you’d like to reach. Attention spans are short (and getting shorter) so you must remember your audience, think about how and where they’ll be consuming your video and tailor a product that fits those criteria. This is something an agency, like Happy Medium, can help you discover and plan for. After you know your goal, there’s plenty else to keep in mind.

good/fast/cheap

There’s an old filmmaking adage that is no less true in the digital era: the Good/Fast/Cheap triangle.

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You’ll notice on this diagram that while there are sections that overlap, there’s no section where all three interact with each other at the same time. That means if you need something amazing really quickly, you should be prepared to pay for it. If you want to save money on something that’s awesome, your real investment may end up being time.

quality is king

It wasn’t long ago in the Wild West days of online video that a poorly lit, low-quality cell phone video with substandard audio was an option for a brand. That’s no longer the case. Even casual arenas like Facebook Live are becoming more highly produced. Companies that don’t have professional video risk looking, well, unprofessional. High-quality video is no longer optional; it’s the only way.

For digital video, quality is all about pixels. Simply put, the more pixels, the higher quality of video (and the larger the file size, which is something to keep in mind for server space or website performance issues, etc.). There are a lot of terms, numbers and jargon that can make a non-video person want to pull their hair out but here are a few dealing visual quality.

480i and 480p: The 480 here refers to the number of vertical pixels. Videos are rarely square so a 480 video will be 480 pixels “tall,” and typically 720 pixels wide. The “i” and “p” mean interlaced and progressive respectively. The details are complicated but the bottom line is that progressive video is clearer with smoother motion. 480 videos are standard definition.

1080i and 1080p: Once again, 1080 refers to the pixel height, with the width typically being 1920 pixels. “i” and “p” are the same as with 480. The difference here is that 1080 video is in high definition; it looks better and can be manipulated easier without losing quality. 720p is another, less robust, high definition format.

For many projects 1080 is a perfectly acceptable resolution but on bigger screens or for fine detail, it can’t hold up as well as 4K, which we’ll discuss in a moment. Think of a cell phone photo–with good lighting and composition, a quality smart phone can take a wonderful image. But if you start using your fingers to zoom in on or crop that image, you lose quality really quickly. Go ahead, take a picture with your phone right now and crop in–it doesn’t take long to get to Grainy City.

4K: This refers to the pixel width of the video: 4,000 pixels. This is more than twice the number of pixels of a 1080 video and it makes the video super high definition. 4K videos are better than 1080 for a number of reasons.

  1. It gives more detail. More than twice as much, in fact. This makes the image clearer with less noise.
  2. It gives a clearer picture even at close range. The heightened resolution allows the viewer to understand the information when positioned closer to the screen than with 1080 or lesser resolutions. This is important to remember when considering that many people watch video on a phone just inches from their faces.
  3. It gives you options. For numerous reasons, video sometimes needs to be exported at lower resolution than what it was shot in. Doing so with a 4K video keeps more of its detail than a lower resolution doing the same step down. Cropping, resizing and stabilization is all easier with a 4K video.

Happy Medium shoots in 4K for the above reasons. This is an intentional decision to be on the bleeding edge ahead of the curve, but as screens keep getting better and people purchase 4K televisions faster than was anticipated, we feel confident we can now shoot in a format that will be the dominate one for the next five years or so (which is a long time in technology terms). It means shooting video that is going to look good on all screens now and, just as importantly, retain its quality for years to come.

Some videos should be shot in lower resolutions so we have the ability to do that and still get high quality images. It’s like having a Swiss army knife, we’re prepared for anything.

Happy Medium never shoots in 480 but the below video gives an indication of the quality and size difference of a 780 video compared to 1080 and finally to 4K. With each step up you’re getting more detail and, importantly, a video that isn’t going to look outdated or unprofessional in a few years or even months.

What’s the process?

When choosing a video partner, you’ll want to assess your own level of involvement and find a company that works the way you want. Videos are a collaborative medium and before you invest in a company, you’ll want to know who you’re getting involved with.

Happy Medium likes entering into true partnerships. We are experts in video but our clients are experts in their own story so we enjoy their input as we go about telling it. We submit video concepts that are top-level directions of how the project could go which the client gets to choose from. Once decided, we prepare a creative brief fleshing out the selected direction and work with the client to make sure we’re headed towards the right conclusion. Then we write scripts and select the cast and locations, all with the client’s insight and feedback. Some clients don’t want this level of involvement and there are other agencies and production houses that can accommodate that but we find that the final product is better and the process is smoother with more collaboration.

We do this because video is like a sculpture. A painting or a word document can be changed fairly easily, but once a sculptor knocks off a block of clay, it’s gone. So it is with capturing video; if you don’t get the footage you needed or if you get footage that you think you need but the client actually wants something else, it’s impossible to get that footage without reshoots or other (costly) measures. Making sure everyone is on the same page before, during and after the cameras are rolling helps to get a final product everyone’s happy with.

Do they get you?

Users spend nearly 17 minutes a month watching online videos. You should be in that space. However, the most important question you should ask when considering a video partner is “Do they get us?” You’re hiring a storyteller after all, and if they don’t understand the story, it can be worse than not making a video at all. Have they made videos like the one you want to make before? Do your cultures mesh? Do they get you? Because if they don’t, the best equipment and smoothest processes in the world are not going to get your message across.

Video is a big undertaking–undertake it with someone who gets you.


As Happy Medium’s creative director, Nick Renkoski oversees the production and execution of creative projects from websites, marketing materials, television commercials, video production and graphic design. Nick holds a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.

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