Thursday, October 26, 2006

Traditional Wedding Videos Suck!

Traditional wedding video production sucks!
There's not one thing a traditional amateur or professional video producer claims that cannot be created or produced by any person who knows how to turn a video camera on and off, keep it in focus and hold it steady.
Anybody can do that!
Anybody attending the wedding can manage to capture what happened. With the trend toward traditional, some call it journalistic, others call it documentary, style coverage there's no reason to pay someone to videotape the event. In fact, why even burden anyone with the responsibility? Just have somebody place the camera on a tripod, feed it a tape, set the angle to capture a medium range framing and press record. Depending on the media used, check every 55 minutes, reload with a new tape, hit record and get back to the party.
Want to take it a step further?
Get a dozen or so friends or family members to bring their various quality, size, brands, format camcorders. Have each of them responsible for acquiring specific elements - the vows; the kiss; the processional; the recessional; the toast; cake cutting; garter/bouquet toss; first dance, mother/son & father/daughter dance(s).
Collect all that stuff when you return from your honeymoon, borrow what cameras you need to get all the footage into your new 24" screen iMac, load your favorite songs, and put it all together with software from iLife '06. Piece of cake!
You'll get all the conversations in their entirety. You'll get various angles of shots on some elements, one angle for others.
You'll get plenty of candid footage to reminisce over for years to come.
In fact, let's go back to step one, sort of...
...instead of fretting for 40 or more hours to put all that footage together, since you're not really gonna watch it again, if you even bother to watch all of it once, just burn it to a DVD with auto chapters say every 10 minutes and watch it, move around in it to your heart's content.
This is all your wedding video is really about - preserving it for future generations. Keep the reality of what happened intact, and playing it for laughs occasionally when the old gang gets together. Or, for that occasion when grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, or other family members who were there come over for dinner.
Somebody mentions "the wedding video" and you drag it out of the back of the drawer (You do remember where it is, don't you?)
Wait a minute, grandma and grandpa aren't coming over because they're no longer alive. Mom's divorced, and dad never takes the time to call, much less come by. But remember that little number dad and grandpa did together at the DJ's station, singing a couple of wacky tunes? It's worth pulling that video out and watching just to revisit a few of those moments so many years ago. You've got a couple of photos in the album, but it'd be a treat to hear that again. And the words dad shared during his heart-felt toast. Grandpa added something and gave you that...
Oops, that's where one of the cameras ran out of tape. No, wait! Remember! The guy who was in charge of shooting the fun stuff wanted to get in on the act so he set the camera down for a few minutes - missed that take.
Well, what do you expect for free, huh?
Especially when you consider the probability that even self-professed professional wedding and event video service providers will miss the mark occasionally. At least you got something, and it didn't cost you a dime.
You have a video that documents, more or less, your wedding day - none of that cute, creative stuff with all the slow motion (Nobody moves in slow motion in real life, do they?) That's only in the movies - went out with "The Right Stuff." Or, the black and white where only the blue car or red bouquet are in color - what does that have to do with reality?
Or the soft, dreamy segments that focus on you, your eyes, face, veil, hands, rings, lips (really sensuous lips), that expensive dress, your beautiful hair styling, earrings and more...
That wasn't really a part of your wedding, or what happened when you were getting ready for the ceremony. The girls were mostly talking about shopping for stuff, getting a speeding ticket on the drive down, there was that slight, sort of, argument with mom, then everybody yelled something incomprehensible when some guy stuck his head in the door.
You need the reality of it!
Why would you want some creative elements that might interpret what you felt in your heart, some romantic moment that passed through your mind as you were putting on the necklace he gave you as a special present. Why depend on something visually that might reflect poignant moments during the day? You can remember those things, how you felt inside...'s all that loud, mixed up conversation that mixes together on the video like vegetable soup - you know there's celery, carrots, peas but they're all mixed together. Anarchy in conversation, nothing discernible.
When you hire a video producer who does this for a living, you hire someone who depends on the quality of her product and her reputation to survive in a highly competitive business.
When you hire a video producer to come to your event, she comes with one thing in mind - covering every aspect of a very important day.
When you hire a video producer to come to your wedding, she is not your guest! She focuses on having the right equipment, getting the right angles, capturing the things that are said and done, and putting them all together in a way that not only documents your wedding day, but reflects the essence of you, the poignancy of your many moments, the smiles, the tears and the comments. The creative stylization of her special sequences, featuring special moments between you and your husband, you and your parents, grandparents, friends goes beyond simply setting to video what happened - it reflects how you felt.
Get past the thought that all you need is a videotape documenting the day. Hire a professional, and get an artist who knows how to paint a moving canvas with scenes and moments colored with your emotions, your smiles, the romance, and the beginning of your married life. Life can be strewn with disappointments, but for a reasonable price and extraordinary value, your wedding day video doesn't have to be one of them.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Effective Marketing

Many in the business often ask what kind of advertising efforts produce the most effective returns - specifically asking about advertising in publications. First and foremost, newspaper advertising is one SURE way to burn money without a match. On the rare occasion when you can afford page dominance (full or half-page) and have a special deal you're offering for a limited time, you can get some action, depending on the publication. But it remains a gamble.
As far as what works, what doesn't and possibly why: This is our experience, mileage may vary.
By far, when we have wanted to get some momentum going in the bridal community it has been through participation in the various bridal fairs held in the Southern California area.
We have an ongoing policy, also, of checking out new, old or otherwise active wedding related sites through Google, and listing with any and all of them that feature a free listing, regardless of how the listing is placed. We also list with a few paid sites, of which the most effective one appears to be
We do occasionally get leads from these paid sites, but we are cutting back this year when renewals come up on most of them. Last year we dropped two, this year we'll discontinue with three others, leaving weDJ as the last hold out in hopes that it will pay off in the long run.
Printed advertising is basically a waste of money, and I have 30 years in the publication and advertising field to admit first hand that the medium is largely ineffective.
Published advertising is a lot like government assistance programs and bank loans - you virtually have to prove you DON'T need it in order to get it. How's that?
...if you have a LOT of money like, say McDonald's, Coca-Cola, most of the car companies, etc. then constant advertising via all the media channels is great for national/international awareness campaigns.
It is the visibility and linkage, constancy and ad media dominance that establishes a brand, etc.
When advertising in printed media there are basically TWO ways that such advertising might prove effective (note, I didn't say 'might give you a decent ROI') in establishing who you are - page dominance (half- or full-page ads only, translates into EXPENSIVE) and repetition (smaller ad running continuously over a LONG period of time, sort of the old Yellow Pages effect - you're always there so you MUST be a valid company). These are effective, if you have the money, but are negligible when it comes to proving profitable over the long or short term.
Will people KNOW you you are? Likely. Will they remember you when or if they need professional video services? Possibly. Will they, and enough others, spend enough with you to return the investment? make a profit? NOPE!
Page dominance and repetitive ad publication in known publications distributed to the bridal community are saturated with advertisement. You pay extra for placement (the theory that one page or location is better than another in the publication - front half, right side page, front or back inside/outside cover, etc.) that may or may not give you an edge. Again, EXPENSIVE! Actually, so are the other umpteen dozen pages, with ads going for anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000 for color, placement, etc.
Paying web sites are pretty much the same experience, basically. They are becoming saturated and there's NO way a popular site like, say The Knot, can guarantee you first page or top of page listing ALWAYS, no matter WHAT price you pay.
That takes us BACK to square one. It is my personal experience and educated opinion that direct marketing is the ONLY way to fly if you want to invest in a campaign that has some hope of giving you ANY ROI.
Even bridal fairs can be a crap shoot, but at least you are THERE, visible, pressing the flesh, handing out information to people who have SOME degree of interest - enough to make the effort to attend. The lists generated by some of these bridal fair organizers are no better than a list of old jokes, but others are quite effective in after event marketing efforts.
Any list, however it is obtained, MUST be MILKED for all it is worth, with direct mail, phone calls, e-mails (not your best approach due to the universal attitude toward SPAM or the perception of it). Depending on the posted anticipated wedding dates of the brides on our lists we'll follow up first with a phone call thanking them for visiting the event, then a letter and brochure or even a demo if requested, post cards, THEN an e-mail or two.
Our final contact with ANY of them is about 30 days prior to their event date - sort of a "one more shot" effort.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Letter to Brides

Dear bride:
If you have not kept one bit of home movie memories, saved one single blockbuster movie DVD for your personal collection, recorded every episode of ''Friends'' on TV, or collected any footage on video of one birthday party, graduation party or trip to the beach, mountains or Paris...
...then PLEASE! Do NOT read further.
Oh, you HAVE done one or more of the above? Then I'm sure you plan to have your upcoming wedding professionally produced on video to preserve the atmosphere, sights and sounds of the day.
And, therefore you do not need to read further.
Years from now, when you cannot remember who was there, what they said, how well you used to dance, you are one of those rare people who were smart enough to save those memories to visit again and again.
Right? So, you do not have to read any further.
And if you were so inclined to NOT collect old movies, new movies, old or new television shows, any home movies your parents might have made, or home videos of celebrations from childhood to college graduation, you would NOT have read this far and changed your mind about the possible value of keeping a professionally produced video of your wedding day.
You would not come to the conclusion that having a video now, to preserve today for the future, might be a great value after all.
Professional wedding and event video producers. Look us up, we're easy to find.