Video Studios That Scale: What You Need to Know

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on the topic “Video Studios That Scale: What You Need to Know” at the Liveclicker Video Commerce Summit. On the panel was Kevin McNall from Brown Shoe Co, Kristopher Martin from Onlineshoes.com and as a last minute stand-in, the always camera ready Melissa Salas from BuyTV/Buy.com.

With one less panelist presentation than we had planned for, we decided to fill the time after Kevin and Kristopher’s presentations by turning the topic into an open forum. What came out of this was somewhat interesting but as life goes, pretty normal. Everyone struggles with the same problems. The core problem being that you have some 5,000 SKU’s and are only producing 20 videos a week. How can you produce more? There are a variety of solutions out there that were discussed such as using user-generated content or a variety of automated solutions. While those types of videos have their place, I personally feel that there is a much greater value in video assets when they are properly shot in-house so I’m going to take a slightly different approach to the topic.

To address vertical scalability, we looked at what resources you can add to your current studio to increase the number of videos you can produce on a daily basis. The problem is, most companies have finite resources dedicated to production without the ability to add additional resources which leaves you kind of stuck. What makes the most sense then is addressing how you can do more with what you have. So, let’s discuss workflow efficiencies. In fragmented form, there are 6 steps for each product video.

  1. Decide which products to shoot
  2. Get those products to the studio
  3. Shoot them
  4. Get the products out of the studio
  5. Get the videos into post production
  6. Upload the completed video to product pages

This list assumes several key components that need to be defined before high output production can begin. Three of these items off the top of my head, include using a production style based on the goals of the video, a format for custom content and using the most effective on screen personality. These details are important because not only do you want to increase the number of videos you produce in a single day, but you also want them to perform to the best of their ability.

There are literally dozens of additional sub-points in each step but from a macro point of view this is where we’ll start. Where are the bottlenecks in your workflow? Spend some time analyzing each step and come up with ways to create more cohesive transitions for greater efficiencies. For example, if you don’t have control over which products you’ll shoot or even know when they’ll show up to the studio, create a schedule. Get the list of those products so you can be better prepared with what you’re actually going to say on camera. The amount of time it takes you to shoot each product video is directly related to how productive your shoot day will be and can severely increase the amount of time you spend in post-production. The more prepared you are before you step in front of the camera, the more videos you’ll be able to produce, and the less time you will spend in post-production.

Have you ever opened a video in post-production and questioned, should I go back and shoot this video again? Typically, if you have to ask that question then the answer is most likely, yes. Another good question to ask is where are you spending the most time during post production? Sometimes starting from the end product and working backward into your production process can help address hot spots, wardrobe issues, lighting etc.

What’s difficult is that most in-house solutions are unique and carry with them unique problems and situations which mean they require unique solutions. Product videos are now an understood necessity in eCommerce so you’re ability to increase quality output is important with what you have.

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