My Journey into Making a Product Video

I’ve been holding onto this post for a while because I’ve been SO busy and now instead of a series of semi-intelligible posts on the subject it will be a very long diatribe.  I don’t expect anyone to actually read this whole odyssey, but as usual, my blog is my memory so I want to make sure I remember all the work that went into creating this not even four minute video clip:

So here’s the backstory: A month or so ago, I was contacted by Sandy Puc’s people about possibly posting something on the blog about her Creative Edge Kid’s Tour.  Being that the subject is right up my alley of course I said yes, and mentioned offhand that if Sandy was interested I’d be happy to send her my Wall Display Guides

I didn’t really think I’d hear anything back, so imaging my surprise when Sandy herself emailed me back saying that if she loved the product she would consider mentioning it from the stage during the tour???

After I picked my jaw up off the floor I read on that she would need a 2-4 minute video about the product and that she would need it in about 10 days.

YIKES!

So now my incredible excitement about this amazing opportunity was matched only by my panic level in trying to figure out a) what type of video? A commercial, a how-to,  scripted, unscripted?? and b) how would I ever pull it off in such a short time frame?

I reached out to a good friend who does a lot of video production and he gave me some great tips and even offered to edit it for me, but he was going to be out of town on a job for most of the time I had remaining to get this project done.. so I looked for a video editing and production company and hired one. I couldn’t imagine pulling ALL the necessary pieces together on my own. I wanted someone to help me with the script and at the very least to edit everything because what the hell do I know about making a video?

Initially, there were two deadlines Sandy’s tour manager had given me: One for the first stop on the tour and another a week later for the second stop so I could get SOMETHING done for the first date and then replace it with something better by the second tour date.  There was definitely not enough time for the production company to finish by the first date, so my madcap plain was for me to do a video on my own for the first date and have the professional one done in time for the second.

Of course what ended up happening is that I did the whole thing myself over the weekend before the deadline.. including writing the script, recording the voiceovers, selecting and purchasing the soundtrack, and editing the whole thing together.  The bad news is I’m not sure I’ll ever see the 50% deposit I gave the video editing company, but the good news is that I got the video done, delivered and learned a WHOLE lot about making videos in the process.

I thought I should share some of what I learned here for a couple of reasons. 1) Editing video is becoming more relevant to photographers now that most even ENTRY level DSLRs have video now and 2) I’m seeing a lot of references to how creating and marketing your business via video is a really smart thing to do.

In fact, I THINK I read a few facebook comments that Sandy actually talks on the tour about photographers creating a video “profile” of themselves to put on their websites (I’ll have more to report back on this once I attend the show August 5th when it comes to NJ!) which is very much inline with what I had been reading by a woman named Megan Auman who is a Jewelry maker and founder of “CraftMBA”  a site devoted to how creative professionals can market themselves.

I had first come across a posting by Megan on the untapped potential that videos have both  for viral marketing and building your brand on a guest post that she did for the “Biz Ladies” feature on Design*Sponge.  Megan has tons of good tips on how to create and edit a video for your business and many tips on how to use iMovie to do so.

Alas, I am not (yet?) a mac convert (or should I say reconvert because I grew up using macs) and therefor iMovie was not an option for me.  Some of you will remember this post where I was wondering what video program would allow me to use the native .mov files that come off DSLR cameras without needing to convert them first to .avi or something similar.  I never answered the riddle back then so I had to start my search all over again and I finally settled on Adobe Premier Elements.

Initially when I downloaded the free trial it kind of bugged out on me with some fatal errors etc so I sort of ruled it out but eventually came back to it and tired again and for some reason it started working!  Perhaps because I am so used to using Adobe products I found the interface easy and intuitive and was really impressed with the transitions and effects available – I was about 75% of the way through and LOVING the way it was coming out.

And then, without warning the program crashed on me and would not open again. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Total crisis moment. I tried installing the demo on two other computers and even purchased a license and re-downloaded the product again but still no luck.  To this day I can’t get it to work even with a boxed copy. That’s the thing about video editing.. it’s extremely finicky and dependent on what codecs etc you have installed and who knows I probably have one tiny little conflict and the whole thing goes up in flames.

So I began to face facts that no matter what I’d have to re-sequence everything all over again. A lot of rework, but at least the hard part was done like the actual voiceover recordings etc.. right? Well, yes, but for some reason the .wav files that Premiere Elements recorded would NOT import into any other video editing program I tried, I’m sure it was another codec issue but now I was REALLY starting to panic – those voiceovers took me FOREVER to do!

Then I realized that Adobe’s pro version of the Premier software (Premiere Pro) would surely have to be compatible with Elements – hey, maybe it would even open my Premier Elements file!  Well, that part didn’t happen, but it DID retain an index of all of my assets (videos, images, titles, etc) and, thank the lord, my .wav voiceover files were readable!

But now I had to do what I hadn’t planned on having to do, which was learn a pro editing program without having the time necessary for any sort of learning curve.

Happily, I found Premier Pro extremely user friendly. I actually was able to figure out 98% of it just by intuition and the other 2% via the occasional google search. Don’t get me wrong – I barely have scratched the surface of what the program can do- and in fact, many of the things that were once click with Premier Elements actually required more work in Pro because Elements was loaded with quick and easy text effects and transitions that you need to either create manually in Pro or use After Effects to achieve.    I’m going to keep working on figuring out WHY I can’t get Elements to work on my computer because I think it’s a fantastic product, and in the meantime I’m going to also learn more in Premier Pro – It’s always good to expand your skill set and stretch your comfort level a little bit!

I’ve focused so much on the odysy of editing the video, but there were so many other things that went into it like figuring out the script and the contents- should I be on camera at all or just do the voiceovers?? Originally, I thought I would speak the script on camera and hired a local photographer friend to do the video, but in the end I HATED myself as a talking head, and the video was out of focus anyway (it’s so hard to get video focus right on DSLRs!) but we DID manage to get some really cute footage of me doing a shoot for which I used Jasper as a model of course!

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My photographer/videographer friend has a GORGEOUS natural light studio where we shot these and he has full 106″ seamless that I shot these on.. it’s such a luxury when you are only used to 53 inches!

After filming me shooting Jasper, Jeff took Jasper home so Chris and I could do the video segments. But first he snapped a few stills of me as an afterthought.. I’m so glad he did because now I can replace those god awful shots of me in my about pages with these:

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So now I had my stills and some video footage, so I had to do the voiceovers.  Thank GOD I had already purchased a decent microphone for recording my tutorials and a pop filter so I started recording and re-recording.. this was perhaps the most challenging part of the project. Between our sump-pump going off because of so much rain and creating a loud background hum and trying to record audio in a tiny house with a rambunctious three year old.. it wasn’t easy!

Lastly, I had to pick some background music.  I googled royalty free music and found a track that I loved but it was $1800. Um, no thanks. Then I remembered that most stock music sites that cater to photographers also cater to videographers so I found a piece of music that I LOVED for $20 on stock20!

With all the parts in place it was just a matter of the time involved in sequencing and editing which is a lot.  Lets just say that video editing makes photo editing seem like a cake walk!

And then, finally I was finished!! I sent it off to Sandy and prayed that it was even close to what they were looking for..and finally I heard back:

It wasn’t!

It turned out it was a) too long and b) a bit too “salesy”

Luckily Sandy’s staff is amazingly nice and they said it would be no problem for me to resubmit it for the next tour date. So, just when I thought my all-nighter video editing days were behind me, I had to do the same thing again the following holiday (July 4th!) weekend!   It was a bit easier the second time around and I’m so happy to report that Sandy said it was fine and she’ d use it in the tour! This is the version that she is currently showing:

Actually, the hardest part of the whole project was knowing that Sandy MIGHT use the video but not being sure and not wanting to tell anyone for fear of jinxing it!  Even after she said she would, I still was afraid to believe it until some Clickinmoms forum friends actually went to the show and told me that yes, it was in there!  I seriously can’t wait to see the tour when it comes to NJ August 5th.. how strange it will be to watch a giant crowd of people watching my video? I’ll be bouncing in my seat! Plus, I’m really looking forward to meeting Sandy who has been so incredibly kind and supportive throughout this whole process.

Speaking of which, if anyone is interested in seeing the show (and my video on the Giant screen!) the link to buy tickets for the event is here:
http://sandypucpresents.sandypuctours.com/event_registration.php

Sandy gave me a discount code for my readers which knocks $30 off the price: BLG11

So far, my forum friends have said that people in the audience have loved it, so it was obviously worth all the hard work.

Whew- longest post ever! But I’m so glad I finally got that down because now I can play catch up with everything ELSE that has happened since :)

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miniko says:

I saw your video last night at Sandy Puc’s workshop in Ft. Lauderdale. Of course, I exclaimed, “Oh my gawd it’s Ariana.” I had to explain I e-know you from the bump and from following your blog. You did a great job with the video.

Karen H says:

Wow! Blown away by the video. I don’t see how any professional editing company could have done it any better, it’s just perfect. I would buy that software if I was a pro, it looks very useful and easy to use. Good work!

cristina says:

Congrats!!!Im going to the Sandy Puc on August 2. When I see the video there Im going to feel like I know you!!!Ahhh that’s Ariana, Jasper’s mom:)

ariana says:

Thanks Nina!
Cristina, as far as I’m concerned anyone who reads my blog does “know” me :) And now, thanks to this post you know more than you ever wanted to about the making of that little video LOL!

Nina says:

This turned out great! I love the stills of you and of course, Jasper is as cute as ever! :)