Rethinking Weddings

Having worked in the wedding industry for the last 9 years I’ve been to my share of weddings. And it probably comes as no surprise that I have some opinions on them (okay, a lot of opinions). What probably WILL surprise you is exactly how much I would revolutionize the wedding industry, and wedding traditions, if I had a chance.

What Weddings Look Like Now

Right now when it comes to weddings, the order of expected events looks something like this:

  • Start dating as a teenager. Immediately start dreaming about your wedding. At some point, meet the love of your life.
  • Date for 1-3 years.
  • Get engaged!
  • Have an engagement party, bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and plan a wedding. Spend 1-2 years thinking about nothing but a wedding.
  • GET MARRIED!
  • Share lots of pictures and videos from wedding (which all your friends on social media will look at, and as a result start thinking more about their future wedding, and exactly what they want it to look like).
  • Live the rest of your life together. (You know, all the hard and rewarding stuff that comes with marriage.)

In my opinion, this traditionally American way of looking at dating, weddings and marriage presents several problems.

  • The Wedding, or the Marriage? It worries me that with all the hype we’ve built around weddings, and the many ways we’re now using social media to magnify this hype, that some couples are getting married for the wedding rather than the marriage. (I do not think this applies for all weddings AT. ALL. Do I think it applies to some? Yes. More than enough to make it worth noting? Yes.) Years and years of our* lives are spent thinking about a wedding. Yes, we* think and talk about relationships, but in my experience so many conversations revolve around those first 1-3 years of a relationship, and whether or not we should marry that person, rather than the potential 40 years that could come later. Just recently a friend (who also happens to work in the wedding industry) noted that before she got married friends and family would ask about her relationship, but now that’s she’s married they don’t. There could be a lot to this, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s because we all subconsciously just assume that the end goal is marriage, so once you’re there there’s less to ask about. I know this is likely not intentional, and might also stem back to our ability to ask meaningful questions, but I still think it’s there.

 

  • Weddings are content GOLD. Everyone looks good, the setting and scenery are fairy tale like, and you have pictures taken by a professional photographer. So these photos, and videos, DOMINATE our social media feeds. I get it. I can imagine if I’m wanting to wish someone a happy birthday on social media and looking for a picture of us together it’s low hanging fruit to turn to wedding photos. Plus, after you spend a year (and a lot of money) planning the perfect wedding, of course you want to share every detail with the world. I TOTALLY get it. But I worry that this only perpetuates the whole cycle of couples getting married for weddings rather than marriages. While the intent of sharing all these photos is good, the collective impact I think can be pretty damaging.

 

  • Post-Wedding Hangover. No, not that hangover. Perhaps a more important hangover for us to pay attention to. Once the wedding is over it is often followed by a wave of disappointment when real life sets in. We’ve* spent so much time thinking, planning and obsessing about a wedding, that when it’s all over after just one day it takes some adjustment. What if we spent as much time preparing for the marriage as we did for the wedding? (Again, this is a generalization and likely doesn’t happen for everyone. But I have heard this from enough friends and past #bdlbcouples that I do believe it’s a thing, and something worth noting.)

Solution?

So what exactly do we do to fix this problem? Especially when we have a whole industry and sector of the economy that relies on the perpetuation of it? Well, I have some ideas. Here’s what I think the process should look like…

  • Start dating as a teenager.
  • Date as long as you want. One person or many people. One at a time, or all at once. Your call.
  • Know that you’re ready to commit to one of these people for the rest of your life? Cool. Go ahead and get married. (But also, don’t feel like you have to. Keep dating all the peoples for the rest of your life if that’s what you want and what makes you happy.)
    • This marriage commitment ceremony should be small and intimate, with only family and your closest friends. Maybe at a courthouse. Maybe in your backyard. Your call. Focus should be on the commitment you’re making.
  • Do all the hard and important things that build a lifelong relationship. Go to therapy (together and alone), commit to regular date nights, have children, travel, communicate (regularly), support each other through miscarriages and family deaths and pandemics and all the hard shit that makes up real life. Stay married. (If that’s what matters to you. If it’s not working and you’re not happy, that’s okay too.)
  • 10 years in, throw a WEDDING. You know what it takes to make a marriage, and you’ve done a lot of it already. There’s more to come, for sure, but you deserve to celebrate. Renew those vows, involve all the people in both of your lives… throw the WEDDING.
  • Continue to be married. Celebrate as often as you’d like the longer you’re married. Because while marriage is not for everyone (and should absolutely not be something we feel like we have to do), I do believe it’s worth celebrating when you commit to it and THE. WORK. Just like all the other hard stuff we do in life that we don’t really know how to celebrate (this is definitely a topic for another blog post…).

I’m not naïve enough to think this will be the answer to all the problems we encounter with marriage in our society, but I do think it could be a move in the right direction. A direction that puts more emphasis on the marriage, and life you’re committing to, and less emphasis on the actual wedding and celebration. And while I know 2020 has been a REAL hard year for lots of couples, and the wedding industry, what I’m seeing is what I’ve always envisioned your marriage commitment ceremony should look like. Small, intimate, personal, (and affordable). While I want every 2020 couple who had to postpone to have the wedding they’d like, I’ll be curious to see how many find it as necessary to plan a big reception a year later, when you already have the marriage. Perhaps COVID was a push in the right direction in terms of forcing us to think about what really matters when it comes to weddings and marriage.

 

* To be clear, I don’t think this is exclusively a problem for women, but I do want to acknowledge that I think this is much LARGER problem for women than it is for men. Based on a history of patriarchy, our roles were to get married and make babies, and these days the wedding is the first step. I know a lot has changed since then, but the world we live in now still has this as a foundation, and this influence definitely has a large impact on the wedding industry.

Virtual Video Production

The era of COVID-19 has changed a lot, both about our every day lives (no Tuesday night wings at the Wooden Nickel?!?!), but also about the way we operate as businesses. For us here at BDLB , it means all in-person shoots we had scheduled are now postponed indefinitely.

It also means many of our clients are relying on online more than ever- whether that’s brand marketing to keep them top of mind for when this is all over, to course and training materials to replace in-person work they can no longer do.

Whatever the needs are, we’re actively trying to figure out the best ways to serve our people, and we think we’ve come up with something… Virtual Video Production.

Here’s how it works…

Step 1: Kick-Off Call

We start by hopping on zoom to talk through all the things… what you’re hoping to create, what you want it to do for you, what tools you currently have available, and what (inexpensive) equipment might help in addition to what you have.

Step 2: Shoot Prep

Next you order all the gear you need, and begin prepping content for the actual shoot. We’re happy to help with this part if we can! (Turns out my Masters in Curriculum & Instruction is actually coming in handing lately…)

Step 3: Shoot Day!

We’ll hop on Zoom/FaceTime with you again on shoot day to help you pick the right spot to film, set up the camera/cameras and lighting, get your audio right, and then you can start filming!

Step 4: Deliver Footage

Once you wrap shooting you’ll deliver all the files (video and audio) to us via either Dropbox or Google Drive. We’ll do the hard work of organizing, syncing, and backing up before we dive into editing.

Step 5: BDLB Works Their Editing Magic

We’ll then get to work editing, taking your content and making it even more polished. This can be editing the actual content (cleaning it up, making it shorter/more efficient if needed), dividing into bite sized chunks to make it more digestible for your audience, all the way to color and audio correction to make sure it looks as good as possible. Last we’ll add any finishing touches, like branded logos, text, titles and music.

Step 6: Put It To Work!

Once we deliver the final videos to you, it’s time to put them to work for your business. We’re happy to help with selecting the best platforms, adding closed captioning, and best ways to promote/boost your posts to get more eyes on them!

 

Wanna see an example?  Here ya go!

Anthem Film for Spruce Creative Studio

Course/Community Film for Kate Bowler

Just drop us an email if you’re interested in trying out some Virtual Video Production for your business or organization. We’re excited to offer a free consult, and first video free for anyone who wants to see how it could work for them!

 

 

At Home Videos: What You Need To Get Started

Even though I’m a professional videographer, as a business owner who sometimes works from a home studio, professional grade equipment is not always what you need to produce high quality content for your business.  Today I’m going to walk through the basic equipment needed for high quality DIY At-Home Video Creation.

To start, let me just say, the cameras and mics on today’s phones are pretty great, so you can likely set up basic filming for something like your instastory without any of these- but if you’re looking at creating more consistent & high quality social media videos, or building a YouTube channel, it’s probably gonna be helpful to have a couple tools to help you along the way. So if you’re willing to spend a little cash to take your DIY video game to the next level, these are the three items we’d most highly recommend: 

  • A handy-dandy mini-tripod. Windowsills can be a great stand in if you don’t have the budget, but having a tripod gives you a lot more flexibility in how you want to compose your shot.
  • The second item I’d recommend is a good external microphone. While the mics on our phones work for basic video, they’re really only designed to pick up room audio and aren’t targeted in the way a shotgun or lavalier mic is. And while your average viewer probably couldn’t articulate all the differences between a beginner cell phone video and a higher quality version, it almost always comes down to audio. You can find a bunch of different models of entry level mics on Amazon, but in THIS video we review our top three options that are all less than $100. 
  • The final DIY accessory to incorporate in your at-home video set-up is a light. While you can certainly take advantage of light you have at your house, there are several reasons why having a separate light specifically for videos can up the quality and make the end product look a little less… homemade. We talk through several options in our video on lighting, as well as show some examples of how lighting can impact quality. In terms of affordable options you’ll find everything from a clip-on LED light that runs you about $7 to a full scale LED ring light and stand that’ll end right around $100. Which one you pick will depend on the factors that are most important to you. 

So in conclusion, shooting at home IS possible with only basic entry level equipment and a cell phone. no matter what type of business you run, video is a proven way to better market yourself to your ideal client. 

COVID-19 #porchportraits

Photographers across the country started doing something called ‘Porch Portraits’ almost as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic began and people were asked to stay at home. They would drive around to their clients homes and make portraits of them from their car or sidewalk using a zoom lens. It was a way to stay creative behind a camera, and capture their people. Plus, many did this for donations to organizations supporting relief efforts in their community.
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Lucky for me, I live in an intentional co-housing community here in Hillsborough where the furthest house away is about 500 yards from my front door. So this weekend we captured #porchportraits for 20 different families (all while masked and an appropriate distance away), to raise money for @studentudurham. Over at @studentudurham they are collecting laptops and WiFi to better support their students and families so they can continue learning while at home. This extrovert found so much joy in this project and boy did I love getting to be behind the lens again 📷❤️


Amidst this quarantine, projects like this and opportunities to creatively play have given me life, and this one has perhaps been the highlight so far. Excited to share some of what we captured with you here ❤️

 

 

At Home Videos: AUDIO

So you’ve started filming your own content at home and are now looking to up your game. In our opinion, audio is THE most important place to invest your time and money, and in this video we’ll not only talk about why, but also share our favorite three options for the small budget beginner. 

We’re gonna talk about three kinds of audio you can use when making your own video content at home. 

First, let’s talk about the built-in microphone on your cell phone. Unlike the camera quality of the most recent cell phones, audio has not advanced at the same speed. So while you can certainly use it, it’s going to give your videos the feel of being home made. 

The quickest way to level up is by using an external microphone.

The first type is a lavalier mic. Lavalier mics clip on your shirt or collar, and then a cord runs straight into your camera or phone. The professional quality lav mics have a receiver so you’re not connected, but the entry level models are super simple and just connect via a cord. 

In our research we found two entry level mics that we think are a great place to start. The first is the Purple Panda, coming in at only $39.99! What you’re hearing right now is the PURPLE PANDA. 

A couple things I like about this one- it can plug into most cell phones, though for the newer iphones you will need a little adaptor thingy to convert it. It also comes with a fuzzy windscreen in case you’re filming outside, and my personal favorite is this extension cable. If you’ve gotta be plugged into your camera while filming, I like that this one gives you a little more space. 

The next option is the Rode Smart Lav+.

Rode is one of the most famous audio companies out there, and we actually use a Rode shotgun mic for our professional shoots. This lavalier mic is their very basic, entry level lav, coming in at $67. It’s similar to the Purple Panda is most functional ways, but it’s worth noting that it does NOT come with an extension cable. I’m confident you can probably buy one, but I kinda like that the Purple Panda comes with it already. 

And our last option is an external microphone, and actually sits on a desk or tapletop. The version we like best is the Yeti Blue.

In my opinion, this one definitively produces the best audio, but there are some trade-offs. To start with, this mic runs you at about $102, so it’s definitely the most expensive. It also connects to your computer using a USB cable, so will NOT plug in directly to your camera and phone. Practically what this means is that you’ll be left with two files that will need to be synced together using editing software- one file will be the video with built-in audio, and one will be an audio file with just the sound. Once you sync them you’re good to go, but it does create an additional step.

The other trade-off is that this one does need to sit on a table or desk. So depending on where or how you’d prefer to film your content, this option is going to limit that to only places where you are sitting. For podcasters or online workshops or calls, it’s great. For video content you’re filming while walking or moving, not as great.

So again all of these microphone options have their pros/cons, it just depends on your priorities and use case. However, each microphone is guaranteed to provide you professional level audio that is sure to maximize the quality of all your DIY videos.

Video Content Marketing: What It Is & Where To Start

There are lots of ways to use video in your marketing, as we talked about in THIS video, but my personal favorite has to be content marketing. This video will help you understand why, and begin to think how you can use this type of video content in your online marketing. 

What it is

The beautiful thing about content marketing is that it’s not about explicitly SELLING anything, it’s about providing valuable content that helps solve your clients’ problems. It’s the kind of content that you watch because it provides you with immediate value, not because it tells a good story, or is catchy advertising. 

Here’s an example from my life:

I follow two interior designers on Instagram who do a great job with this, and all they use is Instastory. They travel to different thrift stores, flea markets, you name it, and spot good finds and talk to their viewers about how they would use them. 

If you’re local, you can always head to that location and actually purchase the items which could be awesome. But bigger picture, it teaches their viewers and followers about design, how to find value in used items, and ways to tweak, paint, etc. to bring them back to life. Personally, as someone who’s always thinking about how to do this in my own house, I LOVE this content it keeps me watching simply because it’s useful and immediately applicable to my life and interests. 

And while they’re never telling me in these stories to hire them, they ARE doing two things: 

The first thing they’re doing is staying top of mind. The more often I watch their stories, the earlier and more often they show up in my feed, which means I’m thinking about them and their business more often. If I eventually need an interior designer, or a friend says they need one, it’s going to be quick and easy for me to recommend them. 

The second thing they’re doing is establishing credibility, and making me view them as an expert in their field. They sharing their knowledge in a way that helps, which is going to make me more apt to turn to them when I get to design challenges in my own home that I can’t handle myself. It also allows them to charge more. The more you’re viewed as an expert in your field, the more people will expect that they’ll be paying a premium for your work. 

Common Fears

Okay, now I’m going to address one of the biggest concerns I hear from people when I explain what video content marketing is… but why would I give away all my knowledge for free??? Won’t that impact my business model and take business away from me????

Understanding why this isn’t true is gonna go back to what we talked about in THIS video where we discussed Brand Identity and Ideal Clients. The first step is understanding the value you provide in the work you do, and who you are providing that for. What do you want people to be HIRING you for? Like work that they would actually pay you to do. It’s important you don’t give that away for free, but video content marketing should keep them paying attention to you until they do need to hire you for THAT THING. 

For example, these videos, right here, are content marketing for us, and while we like to think we’re providing valuable tips on the strategy side of video production, what we do as a company, and what our clients pays us for, is to actually create effective marketing video.

We want our blog posts and videos on YouTube to be helpful to you in the long run while thinking about video and online marketing, and even equip you in creating very basic marketing films for yourself, so that we can spend our energy on the harder, more creatively energizing videos that will produce an even larger impact on your businesses growth. 

For the example I mentioned earlier, their hope is that by providing some quick and easy design tips, they’re creating a following of viewers who care about design. And my guess is, people who don’t care about design are never going to pay an interior designer to work on their house. 

But those who DO care about design are going to take their short videos and quick tips to do small projects in their house, but because they care about design they’re likely to invest at some point in an interior designer to help with bigger projects. And you know exactly who they’re gonna call when that time comes. 

Who I Would Recommend This For

My last tip when it comes to video content marketing is that is has to be consistent. Content is King, but consistency is Queen. If you have great content, but only put it out once a month, it is likely not going to have the impact you want it to have. BUT, if you have great content and you’re putting it out on a regular basis, this is how you will see the impact you’re hoping for. 

SO, in conclusion, here are three businesses I would MOST recommend video content marketing for: 

  • Businesses who have some past experience with video, and are ready to commit the time to creating consistent content. 
  • Businesses who have been around for more than 2 years. Creating good, consistent content you need to have a clear idea of your brand identity and ideal client, and the problems that you can most help them address with video content. This can be harder to do at the very beginning, but once you’re a couple years in all it takes is some time to put those thougths on paper- you likely already have the knowledge of your target market to do this. 
  • Businesses who are looking to take it to the next level. While video content marketing doesn’t always provide the immediate bump in sales because it’s not explicitly selling you or your business, it will increase your visibility and establish credibilty. These two things will help keep you top of mind for more people, leading to more referrals and future business, and allow you to charge more. Plus, there’s always the possibility of creating a YouTube channel that you can monetize, or additional revenue streams in online courses, coaching, workshops and more.  

Stay tuned for a future blog/video where we’re going to dig more into the actual implementation of video content marketing. We’ll explore the different options, from Instastory to a YouTube channel, and help you figure out the best places to start. 

3 Types of Marketing Films

In every discovery meeting with potential #bdlbclients we like to give an overview of the different types of video marketing films and the various places a business or organization can start. For visual learners, I always draw this image on our white board…

So in this video we’ll talk about the 3 types of video marketing films: Brand Films, Content Marketing & Social Media Films. We’re gonna save Course Films for the future, as this is a whole separate category of films that could grow your brand- less marketing and more a whole new revenue stream. So stay tuned 😉, and for now enjoy this video! If you find it helpful, make sure to like, subscribe to our channel and share with your friends!

Brand Identity & Ideal Client

OH. BOY. I know you’ve heard it before, and I also know it’s one of the hardest things we do as business owners, but today we’re going to be talking about your brand identity and ideal clients. I know what you’re probably thinking… ‘But Janice- I thought this channel was about video marketing?’ and you’re right! But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that if you don’t have a clear idea of your brand identity and target market BEFORE you start creating videos, you won’t see the results you want.

Alright, let’s dive into the hard part – WHO you are, and who you serve best. There are a lot of different books and tools to help you through the process of finding the answers to these questions, including one of my favorites- The Conquer Kit: A Creative Business Planner for Women Entrepreneurs. You can also head to our website for a free downloadable PDF we’ve developed to help our clients work through this part of the process before we start filming.

It’s important to acknowledge first that these two things are GOING to evolve over time. Who you are now, and who you serve best now, and who you will be in 5 years are likely going to be different- they might be a little different, or they might be a LOT different. And that’s totally okay! I started Big Dog Little Bed 8+ years ago as only a wedding videographer, and now we specialize in helping businesses & organizations grow using video. That means not only do we create videos to help them market, but we also help them think through the strategy behind the video creation. SO different than what I was doing back in 2012! And that’s totally okay. Our brand, literally the logo and visuals, along with the work and messaging, has all changed over time to reflect the changes in who we are and who we serve best.

So this is a question you should be asking yourself regularly. It’s not an exercise you can do once and say ‘DONE!’, but one that you should pause to reevaluate on a regular basis. If you’re not using the tool we have on our website, I would start with these general questions, reflecting and brainstorming on each, and eventually moving towards a clear 1-2 sentence answer as to WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU DO, and WHO YOU SERVE BEST.

One more thing to note before I offer some general guiding questions I’d suggest- it’s worth noting when you do this if there is a difference between the CURRENT ANSWERS, and what’s true for your business right now, and FUTURE ANSWERS, or what you’d like to be true in future years. This can be particularly important for newer businesses, who are still figuring out the answers to these questions.

OKAY, here are some general questions I would use to guide this reflection:

  • What do you do as a business (literally)? In the brainstorm process I’d list of any services or products you offer now, as well as any you might imagine offering in the future.

  • WHY you do this work. There are lots of videos and resources out there emphasizing the value of grounding your business in the why, and understanding what your WHY is can be a crucial part of your brand identity, so I’m linking a couple of my favorites below. Grounding your brand identity in WHY vs. WHAT allows more flexibility in shifting your business and offerings over the years.

  • How do you approach your clients and the work? I love this one, because it really gives you a chance to reflect on both process and point of view. We tend to obsess about product, but I think the real marketing advantage comes in when we deeply understand and communicate our process and point of view in addition to that.

  • What makes you different from other people or businesses doing the same thing? What is your unique competitive advantage? Why are your current customers choosing you?

    • Again, for this one I’d think beyond just differences in product and services, but also differences in your process and your point of view. These impact overall client experience, so are worth reflecting on when it comes to brand identity.

  • How do you want people to FEEL when they interact with your brand? While this is certainly part of their actual experience when hiring you, this can also be more generally. How do you want them to feel when reading or viewing content you create? What about when they see posts on social media, or interact with you or your employees in real life?

  • Where are you located, and where are your clients typically located? This could be a factor if you’re a regional company who only serves people in a specific area, or the opposite, if you love to travel or serve clients remotely and want to make it clear that where you’re located doesn’t impact who you serve.

Once you’ve reflected on yourself and your business, the next step is thinking about WHO you serve best, also known as your ‘Ideal Clients’ or your ‘Target Market’. One activity I’ve done in the past that I’ve found extremely helpful is creating a client ‘avatar’ where you literally create an imaginary person who represents all the characteristics of your ideal client. I’ve even seen some people name them, and use that avatar as the barometer for any marketing materials they create. Would this post or video make this person more likely to continue following me? More or less likely to hire me? Rather than asking ourselves how EVERYONE will feel about the content we’re creating, thinking really specifically about how that person would feel about it.

I’ve personally found it helpful to think back over the past year and list the three clients I most enjoyed working with, and then reflect on characteristics they all have in common. These characteristics are likely going to help in identifying who my ideal client is.

If you head over to our Coaching/Strategy tab, you’ll have access to a free downloadable PDF that will guide you through this process, resulting in your 1-2 sentence overview of your brand identity.

Social Media Starter Kit

WE. KNOW. Video sounds like a good idea. You’ve heard all the stats*, you’ve listened to the podcasts and you really do think you should probably start doing it. BUT WHERE DO YOU START?!? 😣🤦🏼‍♀️😩

Don’t worry! That’s what we’re here for.  Not just to shoot and edit, but to help you think through the strategy behind your video plan so when you DO invest you know you’ll get the results you were hoping for.

So all this leads to an exciting announcement with our newest video package… Please meet our Social Media Starter Kit!

BOOK NOW!

The goal of the social media starter kit is to be smart and efficient with your time, shooting a bunch of content in one day that you can then use throughout the year on Instagram, Facebook, your website, in email marketing… you get the idea.

And even better? We do all the hard work for you. Keep reading to find out how it works, step-by-step.

1) KICKOFF STRATEGY SESSION. You sit down with the BDLB team for a two hour kickoff meeting where we use our foolproof materials and process to help you figure out exactly what kind of content will be most helpful for your business, your ideal clients, and your current marketing strategy. We leave you with some homework (and all the materials to support you in doing it) so you’ll be ready to roll on shoot day.

2) SHOOT DAY. Here’s where we really get started. Shoot day can start with hair/makeup if you’d like (we have a preferred hair/makeup wizard who we’ll happily book for your day), and while you’re getting ready we’ll set up all the video equipment we’ll need for the shoot. Then, we start! We can guide you  with our proven interview tactics (you can sort of read about this here), but you can also come prepared with any scripted content* you’d like to capture.

*YOU GUYS… we even have a teleprompter, making this infinitely less painful 👏🏻

3) THE EDIT.  We pack up, take off, and the real magic happens. We edit all the footage into 10 or 20 edited clips (half day/full day) that are all 60-90 seconds in length (perfect for social media), and delivered to you less than two weeks after we wrap shooting.

4) TIME TO SHARE. Once we deliver all the clips to you via Dropbox, they’re ready for you to start using! We’re working on building up a library of resources (blog posts, YouTube videos, PDFs…) to help you more effectively share with your audience, so we’ll also be here long after we’re done to make sure the content is doing what you’d like it to do.

THAT’S IT! Boy, that sounds easy. Almost as easy as shooting us a quick email to get started 😉 Looking forward to it!

BOOK NOW!

 

*75 million people in the US watch online videos everyday. In 2019, internet video traffic accounted for 80% of all consumer internet traffic. YouTube has 1 billion users– almost 1/3 of all internet users.  Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined. Just a starter 🤷‍♀️

Understanding Copyright & Raw Footage

Copyright law and raw footage… two very sexy topics we’re gonna tackle  in today’s blog post. Sexy AND important. 

INDUSTRY STANDARD. So as a starting point, let’s take a look at what’s pretty typical in the video industry (here in the United States). This is not necessarily how all videographers/photographers operate (that’s why it’s important to read the fine print), but most do. 

Copyright. The videographer owns the copyright to all videos created in the course of their work together, both raw footage as well as the final edited product. While this is usually explicitly stated in a contract, if it’s not US copyright law falls on the side of the creative. The default is that creators own their creative content because, well, they created it. 

Raw Footage. When hiring a video production company, raw footage is not included.  This is one of the large differences between hiring a production company and hiring a freelance shooter… freelance shooters are hired JUST for the shooting, so of course raw footage is included. But when you hire a production company the assumption is that you’re being hired to create a final product; that final product is what the client is paying for, not the raw footage.

 

WHERE WE STAND

Copyright. We also maintain copyright ownership over both the raw footage captured for a project and the final product. Our contract then provides a limited license to our clients for specific use cases. We intentionally leave this pretty vague to allow clients to use videos in any online/digital marketing including (but not limited to) their website, social media, online courses, Kickstarters, paid advertisements, etc. Basically all the reasons our clients typically hire us. We will adjust this section of our contract based on what we know about our client and what they’re hiring us to create (and for what ultimate purpose). 

Why do we maintain ownership? We’re creatives. This footage, and the final products, are part of our portfolio and it’s important to us that we ultimately own what we create. This is both to protect our brand (it prevents clients from making any changes to the final product and keeping our name on it), as well as allow us to keep footage in our long term archive, which we can use in future projects should we choose to. This most often refers to scenery/establishing footage that might have been shot for one project, but could be a nice supplement for a future story where we weren’t able to shoot live footage for all portions of it. We can dip into the archive and see if there’s anything useful there.

Raw Footage. As a video production company (and not freelance shooters) our contracts do not include raw footage. Our clients are hiring us for a final product, and what we create along the way outside of that final product is not included in the package price.  

Allow us a brief metaphor to explain our position. Sticking in the realm of all things “raw”, lets pretend our team at BDLB are sushi chefs. As master sushi chefs, our job is to create mouthwateringly beautiful “sushi” that will thrill your senses, touch your heart, and nourish your hunger. We pride ourselves on every bite being perfect, no matter what kind of “sushi roll” we’re making. And yet… have you ever watched actual sushi being made? The chefs strip each fish down to their core, cutting away the bad pieces until they have a perfect block of fish to use in each roll. Would you ever ask a sushi chef for the shavings from your Spicy Tuna roll? Of course not, because the simple truth is, anyone can go out and buy raw fish. But with sushi (just like with video), you’re not paying for the fish. You’re paying for the person who can transform that block of raw fish into deliciously delectable and digestible sushi. 

Similar to our metaphorical sushi chef brethren, what makes us great is knowing which parts to strip away. It takes a trained eye to know what footage to include in any given film. Just how sushi chefs pare down their fish, we do the same with our videos. It could simply be a bad piece of fish (out of focus, shaky camera), or there’s a tendon (exposure, audio), or they need to shape the fish to fit a certain type of sushi roll (narrative vision, timing constraints). 

To complete the metaphor, another reason we don’t release our raw footage is due to the unintended negative impact it can have on our reputation. Imagine if you took a sushi chef’s leftover fish and used it to serve your own homemade sushi. After your dinner guests are sick from the bad fish, they’ll ask where it came from. We don’t want to take the blame for an untrained chef’s rookie mistakes. After all, just like sushi restaurants, positive word of mouth is critical to our bussiness’s structure and growth. We want you to want to dine with us again. 

And lastly, the very practical business aspect of our position is our business model and the loss of future work. We are not freelance shooters, but a video production company. We are not selling just our shooters and their time, we’re selling a process and a final product. Everything we do is partnering with our clients to create a video that will meet their goals, and we don’t feel okay about providing raw footage that you can shop around to see who can edit it for a cheaper price. We view our pricing as an investment in a partnership, a process AND a final product. Handing over raw footage just doesn’t make sense in the context of our business model.

 

 

BUT THERE ARE ALWAY EXCEPTIONS…

All of this aside, we care about our clients and there are some cases where providing raw footage or ownership of the footage is important, and we do occasionally sell* raw footage and/or copyright. There are two major instances (that we can think of) where it might make sense to do this:

  • You are a large business/organization with a video team, and while you hire us for a specific project you’d like to be able to use footage collected in future projects. Purchasing raw footage here, as well as the copyright ownership, is well worth the additional investment because of what you’ll save in the future not having to hire another videographer to shoot for a project. You have a team in-house who knows how to use this footage in future projects.

 

  • The topic or content is particularly personal or sensitive, and you want to maintain control over how it’s used in the future. This is an instance where you likely would care most about the copyright ownership, which would also include the raw footage. When the videographer owns the copyright they can use the footage in future projects, but by purchasing the copyright and footage you have ultimate control. One thing to note here is that videographers and video production companies (us included) are humans, and usually care about our clients. I can only speak for BDLB, but I can’t imagine a scenario where we would re-use personal or sensitive footage in another project without talking to that client first. That’s just one of the things that comes along with the way we approach our process and partnerships. 

 

  • You hired a videographer to film your wedding and you can’t imagine missing a single moment. This is an instance where it might be worth it to buy the raw footage**, but you likely wouldn’t care as much about purchasing the copyright. 

 

*For all the reasons mentioned above, plus the cost of hard drives and the actual time it takes to export all the footage, we do not ever provide raw footage for free.

**Though it’s worth noting that most videographers (BDLB included) will provide the option of purchasing full doc edits of important moments so you don’t have to miss anything, but also don’t have to wade through a TB of video clips. Friendly reminder that raw footage is unedited, not color corrected, not synced with audio, and just a folder of lots and lots of clips- if you don’t know what to do them, they actually are more annoying than valuable.