February 23, 2009 Program Summary

“Video Production in the 21st Century: New Opportunities for the Independent Producer”

Peregrine Media Group
At this highly informative and theatrical event, Robin and Vivien Chilton, owners of Peregrine Media Group, presented practical advice on movie production, whether you create your own videos or wish to outsource your projects to media professionals.

Robin's presentation also demonstrated the layers of detail in a video program that work together to add impact.

Viewers often don't perceive the many layers that stimulate their senses because the finest works are so transparent in their delivery. Robin peeled back these layers to show how the cumulative visual impact changes as layers are added or taken away. He further demonstrated the importance of sound, lighting, and color in post-production processing, touching on the following topics:

a) Video planning, design, and production techniques

  • Why you might want to create videos for educational or marketing purposes
  • Understanding your audience, storytelling, storyboarding, and scripting
  • Tips on lighting, audio capture, and achieving high-resolution productions
  • Creating simple, still-image presentations to high-end, full-motion video (e.g., TV commercials)

b) Demonstrations of the latest cameras and software

  • Overview of basic camera equipment; screen capture and video editing software packages
  • How a $5,000 outlay can produce the appearance of a $20,000 video using post-processing techniques

c) Keeping your video projects affordable

  • How video production resembles and differs from other types of multimedia projects (e.g., Web design)
  • Working on a budget: what's possible to do easily on your own vs. what's usually better to outsource
  • Ways to mix and match do-it-yourself video segments with high-quality video recorded in a studio

d) Tips on outsourcing your video projects

  • How to keep your outsourced video projects on schedule, within scope, and on budget
  • Common misconceptions and client responsibilities to be aware of when you choose to outsource
  • Tips on working with a consultant to help you sort out your needs and requirements

Read Robin's tips, below, and download this article and a handout, linked further down.

10 Tips for a Recession-Proof Production
by Robin Chilton, Producer/Director

In these most challenging economic times, there is still a need to communicate. Our needs for progress only increase during times like these, and there is no better way to get your message out than through quality video works.

With this in mind, we have generated 10 useful tips for producing quality video on a budget. This is a short list of methods derived from our own practical experience, and we truly hope that they help to facilitate your next production.

1) Do it Yourself?

With production technology becoming more and more accessible, the option to produce one’s own video is becoming ever more enticing! Whether this is the most cost effective option however, is not always known until you’ve tried. Video Production is a skill that takes many years to master. If you are seeking professional results, it is very important to examine your skillset, your free time, and your options closely, and to make the wise choice to either hire your Producer or to be your Producer.

2) Keep it Simple

The most effective communicators do not always convey the most information. They convey only what is necessary to reach their objectives and their audience at the highest level possible. Simplicity can be your most effective and cost effective option at the same time. Less is often more, and if your working on a budget, put more money into less, and leave the rest for another day.

3) Know Your Limitations

By knowing and communicating your limitations, you empower your hires to maximize them. Is your budget abnormally low? Is the only location possible for Production near a loud freeway or in a flight path? Do you have to have a speaking dog in your video? What ever your limitations or requirements may be, think them out and make them known. A production crew can seldom “come back tomorrow” without having to charge you for today, so make sure your producer is well informed and has an opportunity to search out problems and solutions for him/herself. Your level of risk will be lower, and your process will be smoother.

4) Find "Jack" (or Jacqueline)

If you do decide to hire a producer and you’re on a budget, the “Jack of All Trades” may be your best option. There are multiple skills required to produce quality video. Who will run camera? Who will record sound? How about the script, AV editing, project management, and make-up? As much as we recommend that each of these positions be filled by a skilled professional, this is often not possible due to budget. If your concept is kept simple, and you find a multi-skilled Videographer who can do it all, your audience may not know the difference!

5) Trust "Jack" (or Jacqueline)

Once you have found Jack, you must trust Jack. Video and Film Production is a highly integrated process. To make the most of your budget, it is important to a) choose the right professional from the beginning, b) communicate your goals and ideas effectively, and c) to release creative control to your Producer from that point forward. Don’t forget to include meetings and creative sign-off along the way, but know that your best path to success lies in the hands of your Producer. For more on how to choose that individual, see #6 below.

6) Hire Experience

It is logical to assume that low-budget production calls for low-budget professionals, and based on your quality needs, this may sometimes be the case. Quite often however, experience saves. If veteran Producer A costs $150/hr and newbie Producer B costs $100/hr, and Producer A is twice as efficient as Producer B, you save money! By selecting Producer A you also hire someone with deeper knowledge who not only knows what he/she needs to do, but also, what he/she doesn’t need to do. This can minimize your scope and overall cost as well.

"Experience" however, does not mean the "best in the business." If you are working with a four-figure budget, find professionals most experienced at working in that price range. A big budget Hollywood Director may not be the best choice for a $10,000 training video and vice versa. When searching for a Producer, seek references, research their reels, and be sure to ask what job they held in the productions they show you.

7) Stay Organized

Project Management or a lack thereof can make or break your budget. The more organized you are, the less time and money is spent on unnecessary hang-ups. Every budget production should factor in project management to maintain client correspondence, staffing, production schedule, etc. Managed risk is minimal risk, and project management keeps your investment in all the right places.

8) Use Existing Material

Producing quality video can be costly, and for good reason. Professional equipment is extremely expensive to own or rent. Videography is also a highly specialized craft, and professional rates reflect that There often are however existing media assets like still photographs, and legacy film and video that can minimize the amount of new video needed. Take inventory of existing media within your organization. It could save you a lot of money and diversify your format at the same time.

9) Make the Minimum

There is a minimum production budget that can be considered reasonable to maintain a professional production standard. Gaining an understanding of how much production costs and why, can keep you in the know on what you can and can't expect for your dollar. Mutual respect between client and producer for one another's needs is important to project chemistry and the working relationship. One project often begets another, and establishing a good working relationship can only add to production efficiency on future projects.

10) Focus on Fundamentals

Solid fundamental production lays a solid foundation for your message. Your minimum production budget should allow for the fundamentals and build from there. Scriptwriting, principle photography, sound, and AV editing are the most basic fundamental areas in production that must work together to make your message shine. A beautiful picture with weak sound can have as little as 30% of the potential impact. Snappy sound and video editing only makes so much sense without a quality concept or production script. Your budget, whether low or high, should always focus proper attention to all of these fundamental areas to yield a consistent, quality outcome.

Copyright 2009 Robin Chilton (see below for bio information)

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Video Production in the 21st Century”
Date: Monday evening, February 23, 2009

Robin and Vivien Chilton of Peregrine Media Group (PMG). PMG was originally founded in 1999 as "Eden Productions" by Robin Chilton, a freelance educational producer on California Coastal subjects. Through 2002, Chilton's sole focus was on "The Eden Project" to educate and aid environmental advocates, local governments and the public in the movement for environmental reform. Among these works was the Telly award-winning "Rejoice in Yosemite," and two documentaries on the removal of Matilija Dam in Ventura County.

In 2003, Peregrine Media Group was born, and Chilton turned attention toward commercial, corporate, and medical works on the Central Coast, producing all broadcast and internal video for Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria for five years. Among these works was the multi-award-winning "Inspired Healthcare" television ad campaign, and dozens of works for internal education, recruitment and retention efforts, and community wellness education.

Beyond medical works, Chilton produced and directed a series of corporate documentaries for both Advantage Homes, California's leading manufactured home dealer, and REC Solar, one of the Nation's leading solar energy providers; as well as a national spot for Deutchebank's DWS Investments, and two ad campaigns for Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

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