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Fireside Production is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year. It has been an amazing ride, and we have been privileged to partner with so many wonderful organizations in this video production journey. After a decade of producing video content, our team is continually striving to keep things fresh and innovative in both our look and approach. As Director of Production, I have established some great strategies for doing just that.
Practice your craft. My motto has always been the day I have mastered everything there is to know about video production, I am getting out. The good news is that will never happen. Learning and honing my skills keeps me going. There are few things as exciting to me as learning – and mastering – a new technique. Like in any sport or artistic endeavor, practice is key.
Keep your gear clean and in good shape. Many years ago, I had the privilege to do a video project with the U.S. Air Force Survival School. One of the biggest lessons I learned about survival is that you have to keep yourself and your clothes clean and dry. When you are trying to survive and your jeans are ripped and wet, your morale starts to go. I have applied this philosophy to our gear as well. When your camera lens is dirty or your tripod is not working optimally, it interferes with your ability to produce quality work and it can bring you down. Keep it all in good shape and when something starts to show signs of wear and tear, fix or replace it.
Watch a lot of videos! In the age of digital media, there is no shortage of great video content out there. I am constantly watching videos and films to look for great ideas – not to copy – but to find ways to innovate our own style. Find inspiration in others and then, take it to a new level.
Effort! Not all projects are created equal but effort must always be consistent. Let’s face it, some projects practically come together on their own while others require some extra love. I work long hours and on a lot of projects. I am truly blessed and thankful for each and every opportunity, and I show my thanks by giving each project my absolute best. This is true throughout the Fireside team.
Preparation is so important and I will admit, not always my strongest suit. This is a part of my craft I am constantly working on… but one aspect I do excel in is visualizing my shoot. Before each video shoot, I have a good blue print of what I am going to accomplish out in the field. It is much easier to handle surprises and switch directions when you have a good plan in place to start with. If you are unprepared going in and things start to fall apart, you’re bound to collapse with it.
Last on my list is to simply be curious. I find it fascinating to experience so many different organizations and people first hand. I am constantly inspired and love the continual learning that comes with what I feel is the greatest job. Keep an open mind and heart and the creativity will flow!
Once you’ve invested in production of a video, it’s vital to optimize it and share it across your social media platforms! Don’t just shelve your video after you’ve achieved its initial purpose – once the trade show or event is over, for example. The more you share it and use the existing footage in a variety of ways, the more bang you’ll get for your buck.
Why You Need to Optimize Your Video
This might come as a surprise, but Google is not the only search engine. It may be the biggest but there are other players out there! It may come as a surprise that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine – according to Backlinko. You likely know by now that we are big advocates at Fireside of posting your video to YouTube – tagging it well and sharing it from there.
If you want people to find that video, and learn more about your organization, brand, event or product, you need to optimize it well. If you post it with a generic title – such as VID_20160316_122626, which is what it would be if you pulled it off your phone – no one is going to find it through a search. No one. But if your video is titled, Leadership Denver Bowling Bash Invite, for instance, and someone is searching for “Denver Bowling,” they are far more likely to find that specific video and hopefully, attend the event. (Yes, shameless plug. We know, but it’s for a good cause!) YouTube looks at the name of your file to determine what the content is about.
If your video is optimized well so people can find it, they’ll be able to share it with others. It’s like getting someone else to do your job for you! They’ll help raise awareness of your brand. Those shares also help increase leads and conversions. The more people know about your product or organization, the more they are likely to buy, get involved, donate or whatever your goal is.
When you post on other social media channels, such as Facebook or Twitter, you may want to just link to the YouTube video itself. You can also direct upload to those channels, but they all have their own parameters as to format and length (that goes for Instagram too). For those reasons, depending on the length of your video, you may want to invest in shorter versions as well. We have all sorts of ideas and suggestions to help you maximize the footage from your shoot.
A Good Head Start
We recognize that many of our Clients either don’t know that they should or underestimate the importance of optimizing their videos. So, here’s how we’re giving you a head start… when we deliver your video, we are very happy to help optimize the title and tags for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). We offer to get these initial steps taken care of for you and so, if you’re not sure where to start with optimization – please let us help!
How To Optimize Your Video
Here are the first steps for successfully optimizing your video:
- Before you upload to your website or social media channel, make sure you title the video. In that title, include possible keyword search terms. Those terms should be related to the topic of the video, the name of your organization, the name of your event, etc.
- Wherever there is a place to write a description of your video, do so. On YouTube, it’s the text box under the video player. Again, be sure to include those keywords.
- Include Tags. Tags are similar to keywords and help search engines like Google and YouTube determine what your video is about. Tags also help your video show up after someone watches a different video – YouTube is essentially offering similar content for the viewers to watch next.
Don’t forget to share your video – and shorter video content – everywhere you can! Post on your website, share on YouTube and the other social media channels you use. Embed your video in a blog. Video is a huge boost to SEO efforts – especially when optimized effectively.
Fireside Production’s Clients trust our team to make sure those people they’ve asked to be a part of the video production look and sound their very best. Creating an ideal interview backdrop is a critical component of that. Here are a few of our favorite tips for creating the best look for your video interviews…
Important Elements for Interview Settings
Space & Lighting – The most important element of creating the right interview setting is lighting. The Fireside team takes our own studio-quality lighting to each interview location. That means we need access to electricity and enough space to set-up. You don’t want your interviewee to be too close to a wall or another background as it’s just not ideal for lighting. Nobody wants their interview to look like a driver’s license photo where you’re pushed up against a blue wall and hit right in the face with a too-bright flash!
A larger space also allows the videographer to make the most of what we call depth of field. Essentially, we can keep our interviewee in focus and the rest of the space behind them slightly “fuzzy,” which creates an almost film-like look that’s absolutely beautiful.
Background – You may opt to use the natural setting in the room as a background or bring in a backdrop. Choose a room that’s warm and inviting – and not too cluttered. A wall with color or artwork looks nice as does a bookcase with warm tones. If you use props in the background, we’ll want to make sure they’re lit so we can accent them. You should also consider what the interview topic is… if you’re talking about research and development, a laboratory is a great backdrop. Usually, you want to select a quiet location. However, if the topic is about the work environment, for instance – you could look at setting the interview up where we can see people working behind the interviewee. We’re always happy to weigh in if you have questions about a great background.
Fireside also has several simple, colored backdrops – and a portable green screen – that we can take to your location if you are struggling with finding the right look.
Indoor or Outdoor Light – Finally, we usually want to avoid competing with direct sunlight. Though our eyes adjust well to low-to-bright light contrast, cameras tend to struggle. Mixing indoor and outdoor light – or even shade and sunlight – often renders less-than-optimal results. If the room you’re considering for your interviews does have windows, be sure there are blinds or shades that we can use to control the outside light.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good area for capturing interviews! We always happy to stop by for a site visit – if timing allows – or look at photos of possible locations to help you make the right choice.
By Kelly Brough, President and CEO
Small business is a vital part of Colorado. In fact, 98% of our state’s businesses have 100 employees or less. It must be our western roots that cause us to blaze our own trail in business – and we’re often a top-five state for entrepreneurial activity and innovation.
Here are three things we think are important to small business success:
Seek Out Support. There are many resources that can help your business grow and thrive – our Denver Metro Small Business Development Center is doing just that every day and serving thousands of small businesses in Colorado. It’s also critical that you support the growth of your talent. And, you guessed it our Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation can help develop leadership capacity for you and your team while teaching you about the most challenging issues facing Colorado.
Have a Deep Bench. From your own team to the folks you look to for advice, it’s important to have people in and outside of your organization who you can turn to. You attract top talent when you create a culture that values teamwork, collaboration and frank conversations. Make a point to build relationships with peers and leaders that inspire you outside the four walls of your office.
Get Out There. When you run a small business, you are the face of your company. While there’s plenty of marketing and networking that you can do through social media and online, personal relationships are key. That means connecting with people who share your passions, whether that means getting out to network, meeting with a leads group or volunteering.
We are so proud of the companies choosing to do business in Colorado – you will be surprised how many people will do whatever they can to help your company grow.
Thank you for doing business here.
Congratulations! You’ve made a sound investment by choosing to create a video to tell your organization’s story. Now that you have gathered thoughts on messaging and vision for the video, it’s time to plan for the video shoot. It might seem as easy as having the crew arrive and start capturing footage and interviews – but there are steps you should take to ensure the best video possible.
The first step is to find the right space. It’s important to choose a space that will best represent your organization and the feel you are going for. If you’re unsure, our team is always happy to swing by for a site visit to scout locations before the shoot. Fireside Production strives to be low impact, but we do bring with us lights, cameras and tripods, which do require some space for set-up and storing. Once it’s all set up for interviews, a room can feel VERY small! So be sure to select a space for the interviews that’s on the bigger side and that your team will feel comfortable being captured in.
Keys to Selecting the Best Shoot Space
While the main focus will be the interviewee, the background definitely matters. Think about how you want to be represented… is a board room a good fit or do you prefer something more casual? Are the colors in the room warm and inviting or is it a bright white space? Can you move a few items into the background to make the shot more visually appealing? Books, flowers, lamps… props like these can take a dry background and give it lots of pop!
Control the Lighting
Natural light can provide challenges during a video shoot (more to come in a future post!). Your video crew should bring lights, so it’s best to pick a room for interviews that offers the crew the option to control the natural light. That means, if there are lots of windows – be sure there are blinds or shades the crew can close if the sun is proving challenging.
Steer Clear of High-Traffic Areas
If the room is a high-traffic area, it can cause interruptions and distractions during an interview. Is there a restroom door or elevator nearby that will be opening and closing often? These noises can be distracting in the finished video, so we’ll often start and stop the interview to recapture the sound if the videographer is hearing distracting sounds. If the room is right next to a busy road, that outside traffic noise will often bleed into the room and doesn’t sound good in the final piece. Finally, a stream of people walking by can be distracting to the person being interviewed. So, a quiet and private room is often ideal.
That said, if the subject of the video is relevant – sometimes, it’s nice to capture an interview with a busy work environment as the background. Again, your video team can help weigh in on the best locations for your shoot.
Whether you have decided on a conference room, open space, personal office or someone’s home, take a look around and see if there is anything you can do to take the space to the next level!
A jacket hanging over a chair or clutter on a desk – in our day-to-day routines, these items are normal to have around but during the shoot, you want to present your space in the best possible light. Tidy up. Move the trash out of the room and put the tissue box away. These little touches can really make a difference! If you have any family photos on your desk, you may want to take them down for the shoot if you’re not comfortable with photos of your children being in the finished video.
Water Bottles, Coffee Cups & Snacks
This is a another easy way to get your space video ready! Put away any food or drink items and give your desks a nice wipe down. Most people also don’t want to be captured while eating or drinking… and it’s a good way to avoid other brands popping up in your video. Hey, speaking of brand… why not pull your company logo or website up on your computer for the video shoot? That’s always a nice touch!
While we are aiming to capture the most authentic video possible, we also want to capture your organization at its best! The Fireside team is trained to look for these details and help to make sure everything is looking phenomenal. These little steps can help set you up for success and ensure we have an efficient and enjoyable shoot! Now that your space is ready – here’s how to prep for the interview itself.
Celebrating our 10th anniversary at Fireside Production not only gets us excited about the next ten years but also provides a chance to reflect on the past. What strikes me from a production standpoint is just how much things have changed – and yes, improved. Any company that is reliant on technology can attest to how equipment can be like a shiny new toy one year and absolutely obsolete the next.
A Timeline of Technology Innovation
When Fireside Production launched in 2006, we were jazzed to own the new Panasonic DVX 100B camera. This camera captured in standard definition on Mini DV tapes. Over our first few years, we captured on more than 625 tapes. That’s around 37,500 minutes of tape!
From tape and standard definition, we moved with the rest of the world to high definition and P2 video cameras. Fireside purchased a Panasonic HVX 200a followed by a Panasonic HG 250. These record on P2 cards at about 1gb per minute of finished video. Let’s just say we use a lot of hard drives! More on that later… We still use those cameras from time to time but today, capture predominantly on Panasonic AF 100a cameras. This camera captures on SD cards. The footage is absolutely beautiful and uses just a fraction of the hard drive storage space. Yay!
On the edit front, Fireside started a decade ago with the MAC G5. That soon became obsolete. So, we replaced it with two MAC Pros. These looked a lot like the G5 on the outside. They are big, silver and sweet but yes, they too became somewhat obsolete for what we do. In 2015, we updated to the latest version of the Mac Pro. These units are much smaller, much faster and keep Fireside on the leading edge with editing tools. We’ve also acquired two Mac Book Pro laptops that allow us to edit out at Client locations for quick-turn videos.
For editing software, we have remained loyal to Final Cut Pro, although the platform has changed dramatically. We started out on Version 5. Then upgraded to Version 6 and then, Version 7. In 2014, Fireside moved to the total remake of FCPX. We absolutely love it and often say that this platform has brought a lot of joy back into the edit process!
Our hard drive library is extensive. For years, we’ve used G-Tech G-Drives and today, we have a total of 23 2tb drives and seven 4tb drives. I was never a great mathematician, but I believe that is 74tb of footage. Wow!
While the technology in video production has evolved so much over the years, some things here at Fireside have remained the same. Our team continues to bring spirit, creativity and innovation to our work each and every day. Many of our Clients have been with us for years – and we are so grateful for that! We are looking forward to the changes and discoveries that lie ahead for Fireside and for the video production industry and hope you will share that journey with us!
Listening is a life skill. My father once told me I’d always learn more by listening than talking and, as usual, he was correct. At Fireside, listening well is a part of all that we do… from hearing our Clients’ exact vision for their videos to conducting effective and enjoyable interviews and optimizing time during a shoot. Listening is key.
Why Listening is Important
It starts in planning and extends throughout the video production process. By really hearing what’s important to each Client, our team is better positioned to make the most of unexpected opportunities throughout the process.
A perfect example happened when Fireside was capturing the National Senior Games for Humana. By really hearing and understanding Humana’s dream to help people achieve lifelong well-being, our team was able to recognize an unplanned opportunity to spotlight someone who really embodied that message, a 100-year-“young” javelin competitor who inspired so many through his story.
Listening well is a critical component of not only the shoot and the interviews but the edit as well. By learning the preferences of our Clients, we can make sure we’re on the right track from the start… which also helps to keep costs down throughout the process.
Communication is the bedrock of a successful video project and there’s not much more gratifying than seeing our Clients light up when their message comes to life.
Ten years. I literally cannot believe that Fireside Production is marking its 10th Anniversary! When Tom and I began this journey back in February of 2006, we were really just trying to solve a family challenge. We were new parents and had decided I would work as a freelance journalist – rather than continue my full-time news career – to take care of our baby girl. When the economy turned sour, we lost much of our freelance and for him, overtime opportunities. That’s when we got resourceful and began borrowing or renting gear to produce videos as a supplemental income. Little did we know what a twist of fate that would be!
Keys to Small Business Success
Lucky for us, YouTube was founded in 2005 and forever changed the way people used and viewed video. The seed was planted and the demand for quality, online video was growing. Although, Tom and I knew next-to-nothing about starting or running a small business – we did know how to produce memorable videos.
The timing was there and fortunately for us, so were the resources. Denver is a spectacular city to start and expand a small business. The support network here is unparalleled – that is, if you tap into it. The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Development Center provide access to some of the greatest local minds in business. There are tax and accounting resources, workshops on everything from marketing to business planning, opportunities to get outside eyes on your business and show you where to shore things up. There are courses aimed at helping entrepreneurs to build smartly and groups where you can safely bounce ideas off people who’ve been there, done that.
You often hear about the importance of relationships and mentoring in business. It’s absolutely true that building relationships is essential. You need people to turn to for support and ideas, for inspiration and motivation. You also need mentors. Fireside was fortunate to win a Mentor-Protégé agreement with one of our first Clients, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. That experience gave us access to information on best practices in federal procurement and taught us how to improve our proposals, our process and even, our invoicing.
It’s all out there! You just have to say yes to the chance to learn and improve. A lot of times, people are more interested in proving themselves right – than improving what they do. If you’re serious about growing your business, you need to be bold. You need to be confident. You also need to check your ego and be teachable… and truly, the learning never stops.
Equally important to timing and resources – is support. There were the clients who took a chance on Fireside during our infancy as a company. There were the people over the years who came alongside us and joined the Fireside team, contributed their time and talents to cultivating something special. There were the people who saw our work or experienced our process and championed our company, who recommended Fireside Production. Clients, partners, supporters, members of our team… YOU make us who we are today. YOU made this past ten years possible. We’re now counting on YOU to help us usher in the next ten.
Fireside Production is ready to take on its next challenge… innovation and growth! We are hard at work on some very exciting changes that we’re confident will make us a better company, that will result in an even more memorable experience for our clients and will ultimately, take our video production services to the next level. We’re looking forward to this next chapter and hope that together, we will make Fireside the trusted leader in video storytelling in Denver – and beyond.