Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Leveraging Your Video Assets

Video is expensive. This is an inescapable fact in the creation of quality video productions. The hard work and talents of many creative people are involved in the acquisition and editing of even the shortest video productions. There is a mantra that can be borrowed from the environmental movement that can be utilized to reduce the long term costs of video acquisition and creation: reduce, reuse, and recycle. There could be some poor applications of this phrase that could damage a single stand alone video production. But, if video is part of the long term communications and marketing strategy for an organization it can be utilized very effectively.

A great case study would be Primitive World’s work with Kristen Rantanen, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs for JEVS Human Services. Our work with JEVS and Kristen is an excellent example of leveraging a library of video assets for long term production value. There are two primary examples that come to mind in our work with Kristen.

JEVS recently opened a new campus for the vocational and technical school in Northeast Philadelphia, the Orleans Technical Institute. Kristen had the foresight to ask Primitive World to capture a time lapse of the construction process that took place over the course of a year. That video can be seen at That time lapse footage became the basis of an opening celebration video, part of a school program marketing video, as well as an asset used directly on the web page above in the completion of their successful capital campaign. By not letting a strong visual opportunity go by, JEVS has a precious video asset that can add production value to many of their videos for years to come. Not to mention the organizational history that was prevented from slipping through the cracks.

JEVS holds an annual luncheon fundraiser called Strictly Business, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary year in 2008. Each year up to four awards are given recognizing success stories in the Greater Philadelphia business community for outstanding Business Leadership, and Inspiration Awards for individuals who have overcome great obstacles to join that business community. For the event a video is created to tell the story of each award winner. Primitive World spends a full day interviewing people involved with the award winners to tell each story. On average we collect three hours of raw footage to create each four minute video.

When we were creating the Orleans Technical Institute program marketing video, we were able to go to the library of footage created over the years to use clips and interviews related to award winners who either attended or hired from Orleans. We already had campus B-Roll on the shelf from shooting these other stories. We had interviews with people who hire Orleans graduates discussing the high quality of their students. We had footage of former students working in the field, as well as discussing their experience at the school. Using previously acquired footage, we managed to create the new program marketing video with only one new day of shooting. Without the library, we would have needed three or four days of shooting to create the same piece.

There are some possible pitfalls to this method. Additional editing time is required to cull through older footage. An interview from years ago might be a little long in the tooth to match the styles and fashions of a subject today, and therefore might not cut in with new footage well. The technical ways older footage was acquired might not mesh with a new production. A VHS copy of an old video will definitely not intercut with newly acquired High Definition video, etc. and so forth.

But, there are many instances of pleasant happenstance where the library can save investment in new shooting or can greatly extend the budget of a single production. But instead of leaving everything to chance, we prefer to look ahead. If an organization is going to produce multiple videos over the course of a year are there any overlaps that can be found? If we are going to come interview your executive director about one program can we stay an extra half hour and also do the interview for that other video? The crew is already hired and the lights are already set up.

As video production becomes an expected form of organizational communication, keep your eyes open for places to extend your production dollar by creating a library of video assets that you can leverage to reduce, reuse, and recycle.