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Legal Video Samples

Published at: 03:06 pm – Monday June 28 2010

Here is a sample of a two person interview we recently shot in our green screen studio. In this segment, Grant Crowell is interviewing Dahlia Saper of Saper Law about the legalities of new media and web videos.

As always, visit our green screen page at Chicagovideowork.com for more info and green screen demos.

-Michael Feig

Side note: The virtual set we built from scratch for Grant Crowell (the host) from ReelSeo.com

3D-Tv or Not 3D-Tv: That is the Question

Published at: 02:07 pm – Monday July 05 2010

You finally thought it was safe to scrap that two hundred pound rear screen projection television, (which had been reliably entertaining you for a decade or two), and you sprung for that thinner, wider, lighter, energy friendly High Definition flat panel tv. Well, the television manufacturers have come up with another way to try to separate us from our hard earned money. It’s my opinion that the idea that 3-D content is going to become widespread within the next few years thanks to Hollywood and sporting events isn’t likely. 3-D has the œchicken and egg phenomenon of needing quality content before consumers invest in the hardware while hardware manufacturers need widespread adoption in order to lower the prices of the equipment so more consumers adopt. It also reminds me of lessons learned while getting my MBA: marketers want to make what they can sell, engineers want to sell what they can make – even if no one is buying. œBuild it and they will come may have worked for a baseball field in œField of Dreams but I don’t think it’s going to translate to 3D. Especially when 3D-capable Tv manufacturers are attaching warnings of motion sickness, perceptual after effects, epileptic seizures or strokes and to consult a medical specialist before using the 3D function. It sounds like a drug commercial to me.

Maybe you’re thinking that there really aren’t that many films that have been released in 3D and it will take years to create enough content to warrant spending your money on a 3D television, and you’d be right, but,
Remember when they started taking old black and white classics and colorizing them so they could re-release them and once again separate us from our hard earned dollars? Well, technology strikes again and a process called depth processing can be used to create 3D scenes from all those old films and videos to achieve a ‘3D look’. I bet that is just what you were waiting for.

My stroll through the mega booths at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in April in Vegas revealed that LG, Toshiba, Sony, JVC and Panasonic all had plans to introduce 3D capabilities in 2010 and Samsung had already begun selling its first 3D ready Tv in February. 3D Blu-ray players are already on sale, DirecTV 3D broadcasts began with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Time Warner has 2 slots on its schedule for 3D and others have plans or are already broadcasting.

One of my pet peeves about 3D is that I don’t want to sit at home wearing colored glasses or glasses with wires that plug into something. Interestingly, Philips was developing 3D television sets that wouldn’t require the need for special glasses, but apparently changed their mind due to the current world economy and the slow adoption of customers moving to 3D.
I should clarify that while various manufacturers are developing 3D Tv’s, there is currently no universal technical standard for the format.

Fortunately, the entertainment industry is expected to adopt a compatible standard for 3D in home electronics. But as I recall it took them over a decade to finalize standards for HD, so I’m not holding my breath. In August 2008, SMPTE (one of the major standards organizations) established the “3-D Home Display Formats Task Force” to define the parameters of a stereoscopic 3D mastering standard for content viewed on any fixed device in the home, no matter the delivery channel.

While I have prided myself as a video pioneer and enjoyed experimenting on ‘the bleeding edge’ of video technology during the past 30+ years while producing videos for our clients, I’m going to sit on the sidelines for a while as I did for High Definition DVD’s. On that battle, I waited until the shakeout left only Bluray standing (it was a very short battle). I’ve seen a major shift in the delivery format of the video productions which we produce for our clients as the internet has become more robust. Currently over 90% of our corporate video production work is delivered digitally for use online, as of course are 100% of our multi-camera webcasts of meetings, seminars and continuing education projects. For now, I’m happy with my non-3D High Definition projector, projecting a 10’ diagonal image on my family room wall and watching movies without special glasses and the headache I usually get from extended 3D viewing.

Youtube Video Channel

Published at: 02:07 pm – Tuesday July 06 2010

We just set up a new Chicago Videoworks channel on youtube. Watch multiple videos demonstrating the wide variety of video production services we perform at


If you are still hungry and want more Chicago Videoworks Demos, you can always visit

http://www.chicagovideowork.com/videoproduction.html .

Burn Baby Burn (a week at Underwriters Laboratories)

Published at: 10:09 am – Friday September 10 2010

Mike, Carl, Sebastien and I got to release some of our inner children this past week on a four day Steadicam video shoot at Underwriters Laboratories.  For those who don’t know what UL does… take a look at any of the electrical items in your home.  If they bear the UL seal of approval, they’ve been tested at UL labs as to their suitability for daily use and their ability to meet specific safety criteria.  One of the coolest rooms in which we shot was their burn room.  It’s probably the size of three tennis courts with a 50′ ceiling and a movable concrete ceiling below -  basically the largest land based elevator in the world with no center supports.  It lets them simulate the multitude of heights of warehouse ceilings and distance from sprinkler heads to various products.  The day we did our walk thru, they built a couple living rooms (one with special sprinkler heads and one without) and then lit them on fire for a few dozen fire chiefs.  Makes me want to have sprinkler heads in my house.  They also have a building where they test roofing materials and can get a 2-car garage sized over up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit in 5  minutes.  And they think what they do is work?  Sounds like fun to me.  Martha Stewart, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Mythbusters have all been there for experiments.

Illegal Video Testimonial Production? Gimme a Break! Selling Yourself in the B2B Environment: Trust, Lies and Videotape, part 2

Published at: 03:11 pm – Friday November 04 2011

So what do you need to do to build trust from someone who doesn’t know you?  You accomplish this by showing them previous video production work that will give them the confidence to trust that you will deliver a high quality video product, at the quoted price and make them look good.  It’s best if you can show them something to which  they can relate and by that I mean relate to their particular video project.  If they want a corporate capabilities video, an animation video, a green screen shoot, testimonial video or a webcast – show them one.  What do you do if you don’t have a relevant sample?  This is where your salespersonship comes into play and you need to show existing high quality work and convince them that the skill set for what they need is no different from the skills you regularly use for your other clients¦ and since you haven’t done something exactly like what they are looking for, you’ll give them a discount if you they allow you to use it as a sample.  We frequently do quick things in the studio on spec just to prove our desire for a job, and the willingness to go the extra mile for our clients before they are even clients, all with the goal of earning their trust.

Not too long ago we were contacted by a potential customer with dozens of  technical optical products that needed to be shown off in 360 degrees for their website and they needed a cool, animated background.  That meant green screen.  The problem was that all of the products would reflect and partially transparent and we weren’t sure we could effectively shoot these without a great deal of expensive frame by frame work on the video footage in After Effects to get rid of unwanted reflections.  What did we do?  We told the customer of our concerns which gave them the confidence we had thought about their product in depth and asked them for a sample product that we would test at no charge, just to be sure we could get a result that met their needs.  We took an old record turntable, built a device to hold the product with minimal contact points to simplify keying and then did a green screen test with the rotating turntable.  It worked, but we didn’t like the outcome.  Then we decided to use a still camera and rotate the turntable by hand in precise increments, take still images and animate them.  We were happy.  They were happy.  We knew we could do the job and they knew that we could do the job.  How else can you earn their trust?  Let your current customers do it for you with video testimonials.  That will be discussed in another blog.

Illegal Video Testimonial Production? – Gimme a Break! Selling Yourself in the B2B Environment: Trust, Lies and Videotape, Part 1

Published at: 03:11 pm – Friday November 04 2011

Did You Know That in Some Places It’s Illegal for Patients To Do Testimonials for Doctors and Dentists?
Have you asked your clients to participate in video testimonials for your own business or are you like the shoemaker with the kids who have no shoes?

One thing that I still remember from MBA school is to define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which is a term coined over a half century ago by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company.  One thing that I acknowledged decades ago in my business is that you never have a second chance to make a first impression.

How do these two bits of information relate to video production?  Chances are that the first time a potential client comes in contact with your company will be when they do an online search for video production.  They will find your website and experience their first experience with your business (hopefully they’ll find your site, remember just because you built it doesn’t mean anyone will come, which is a subject for another blog). So what do you need to do for your clients?  You need to help them put their best foot forward as the first impression and help them evangelize that unique selling proposition of theirs to their target market.

Of what form should a testimonial by a client of your client consist?  I can think of a few.  I constantly see video production companies and pretty much every other type of business owner, typing out testimonials, putting them in quotes and putting someone’s name under it.  Sometimes they do something stupid and attribute it to someone like John D.  Do you ever believe testimonials that aren’t truthful enough to fully disclose who provided the quote?  The business owner could make up anything, including the town or state in which the person supposedly resides.  If you’re going to reprint these, don’t use a quote unless the client will let you use their whole name or at least part of their name with their company name.  If you’re marketing B2B, you might want to leave out their title so your competitors don’t easily know exactly who to solicit in attempt to take business from you.

If you’re marketing B2C for event video production, it’s not as big of a deal because the event has taken place and there isn’t really much risk of loss.  One variance of this are recommendations to you or your company’s LinkedIn profile.  These have been quite useful for us in establishing credibility and building trust with potential clients who do not yet know us.  The key here is that a recommendation by someone with a LinkedIn profile to your business is more transparent and truthful than one that you reprint and attribute authorship.

For our event video business we used  a variation of this method and took handwritten thank you’s from clients, scanned them and posted jpegs on our website.  We love the believability factor and warmth of handwritten thank yous.  The only problem is that we haven’t received any in years because no one seems to handwrite anymore, including me.  They just send email thank yous – which once again put you back in the position of having to copy and paste.  If you do, be sure to include enough information about the author so that it is believable.  Better yet, ask them to post the recommendation on your LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Yelp, Angies List and any other reputation sites that you can think of that relate to you or your industry.  Something else we have on our site is a first and last name list of hundreds of former event clients.  We won’t give out contact info or even let potential clients speak with past clients. However, if they know someone on the list, they are always welcome to contact them.

Now to the real point here, video testimonials.  This has been the biggest growth area of our business in the past 18 months.  We believe this is a result of  companies feeling the pressure of increased competition,  a downturned economy, offshoring and their desire to let their own clients help sell their successes.  These testimonials not only can provide the videographer with a new market but doing them for your own production company will allow you to more efficiently ‘sell’ your services to potential new clients.  They also help to entrench you with your existing clients because those whom you ask to participate will feel special, particularly if you invest in a stylist for makeup and hair (unless your client doesn’t have hair).

Next blog will briefly cover 1st person vs. 3rd person and effective communication.

Chicago Videoworks Mission

Published at: 06:04 pm – Wednesday April 28 2010

Since opening in 1979, Chicago Videoworks has seen the world of video production, video editing, animation, graphics and green screen technology change in dramatic ways. Today, it seems anyone can buy video equipment and say they are in the video production business. However, owning the latest equipment doesn’t automatically enable experience or insure a quality production.

What hasn’t changed? The success of a video production is still contingent upon having quality content and ideas. While we have all the latest equipment, we are best known for our creation of cost effective, message driven, videos that help our clients motivate, persuade, inspire, promote, sell and educate their target market. Realistically, we could get better results from 20 year old equipment than most can get from state-of-the-art equipment, because when it comes right down to it, we are in the business of selling ideas and that is what we are great at.  Remember, “if it moves, we’ll shoot it.”



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