Start Your Video Business Today with Joe Switzer


Start Your Video Business Today with Joe Switzer

You know you need to get started with video and you passionately want to, but you don’t. You can’t use the excuse of not having the correct camera and lens. Almost all camera bodies record video, and they do it well. It’s a matter of pushing the record button instead of the photo click. Many of you don’t use video because you’re afraid. Fear of capturing interesting video and then editing it keeps you from trying. Fear should not trump the benefit of being a standout in your market by offering a combination of services that virtually no company is doing. It’s time to offer both photo and video to your clients.

Keep an open mind. Today is the day. Adding video to your business can double your revenue.

You don’t start at the top by filming a Hollywood movie. You can dream big, but you’ll have to pay your dues along the way. You will have to work your way up before you can be picky about what productions you want to shoot. Keep it simple. Our company started with slideshows, followed by transferring VHS to DVDs, and eventually recording video and syncing it with music. Even today, the bulk of our business is pairing video content with music. Maybe your style will be using audio with video to tell a story. Our approach has always been to produce short videos, two to three minutes in length. People don’t want to spend more than a few minutes watching videos online, so why spend a day or two editing 20-minute videos?

Keep it simple and say yes to everything in the beginning. You will develop a style and attract the right clients in a short period of time.

Where should your videos live? Facebook. This network is on its way to becoming the biggest company in the world. Video is a big part of its success and future growth. In Facebook’s most recent earnings release, video continues to be some of the richest and most engaging content for people and publishers. Facebook is focusing on getting more video in your news feed. The average Facebook user spends 46 minutes a day on the Facebook/Messenger/Instagram platforms. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t upload videos to YouTube, Vimeo and your website, but if you had to choose one for now, Facebook is simple and gets excellent results.

Companies you work with are not going to be advertising on television and radio like they have in the past. Here is your chance to get into the video content producing game and help your clients maximize brand exposure. It’s not complicated to upload and promote posts. Facebook’s Pages app makes it simple to upload and promote content with your phone.

Time and Money

How much time and money is this going to cost you? You can spend no time at all by hiring a video person, or you can take video yourself and hire a photographer to take your place. Give video a try, and if you don’t have the passion for it, then be the best photographer you can be and hire someone who does have the enthusiasm for filmmaking. Our Switzerfilm business is roughly 40 percent weddings and 60 percent corporate. On almost all of our shoots, we capture both photos and video, which saves us time.

How? Instead of photographing 50 weddings, you could do 25 and bring in the same amount of money. You will find that both wedding and corporate clients prefer working with one company that is in charge of both photo and video.

Don’t worry about spending a ton of money to get your video business started. It doesn’t cost a fortune to acquire the tools for filmmaking. You can get started with the basics for under $1,000. Start with a small video track, monopod and a tripod from eBay.

Basic Photo + Video Process

Let’s walk through a past job. We had two photographers and two filmmakers for a wedding. Our goal was to produce a compelling three-minute music video.

Your clients trust you, and know you have their best interests in mind. We consider ourselves only as good as our latest project. Because we film only about 20 weddings a year, we are very excited on these wedding days to create something special.

The journey I’m taking you on is our same-day-edit wedding video that we filmed over two days, edited and presented in San Francisco. We did a photo/video bridal shoot two days before their wedding, and then filmed on the wedding day. The video shoots were captured with a monopod, tripod, track and Glidecam. On the bridal shoot (which we call “Rock the Dress”), we began with a monopod to capture close-ups of faces.

We usually try to get the close-ups done while the bride has perfect hair/makeup, and we want her groom to be sweat free and fresh. After a few monopod shots, we got the tripod and track out to give us some variety. We use foreground to add motion when we can. For the track shots, we put the camera on the ground and on objects we were surrounded by, allowing us to move more quickly instead of using the tripod with the track for each shot, which takes a few minutes to set up.

We were able to go to two more breathtaking locations where we spent all our remaining time capturing our couple having fun. For both of these locations, we focused on getting wide, super-wide and mid-shots. Our goal is to always capture variety and make sure we all get our photo and video shots before we move to the next scene. We have photos go first, and then track shots, followed by motion with the Glidecam. It’s always easier to take the wide motion shots last. We don’t have a formula for the number of locations to film and photograph, but if a spot looks good, we capture all the footage we can.

Know Your Locations and Schedule

Have a clear plan for where you want to take your clients. We had scouted long before the day of this shoot. We gave ourselves about eight hours for this Rock the Dress session. This allows time for driving, breaks for the couple and unexpected traffic or weather issues. Video takes more time for setup than photo. You have more tools to carry, so always give yourself extra time.

For the wedding day, we start as early as we can. We offer unlimited hours, and our couples know that we are in charge of our hours. We arrive and leave when we feel it’s time. On average, we spend an hour on groom prep and about three hours on bride prep. For this wedding, all the bride and groom prep was filmed with a monopod and track. We had a dedicated filmmaker for the guys and another for the ladies. We started with wide shots in the room and worked our way closer. We’re constantly trying to find all the interesting angles in a room. If we can, we turn the lights off and move our subjects into natural light. We were limited with this bride prep shoot because we had about 40 people in the room who all wanted to see each other and not just sit in darkness. For the bride’s prep, we get extremely close to her as they put on the finishing touches with 50mm and 100mm macro lenses.

Next up is the wedding ceremony. Other than the unmanned safety camera on a tripod in the back of the church, we use two other cameras and filmmakers. One filmmaker spends all his time roaming the church with a track and Glidecam/motion stabilizer focused on mid and wide shots, while the other filmmaker uses a monopod and tripod and remains in the front of the church to focus on close-ups. The roaming filmmaker covers all the angles. Always think ahead and position yourself for the exchange of vows and other key parts of the ceremony. For this wedding, we were able to make it look like we had a dozen cameras documenting all the angles because we moved around. Don’t get lazy and think you have nothing exciting to film. There is always something to capture or prepare for.

The reception was very easy for us because we didn’t film highlights with tracks or a stabilizer. It’s difficult to fit reception moments in the video when it just happened only a few minutes ago, so we are always up front with brides and grooms by letting them know the same-day edit does not include any highlights from the reception. Couples are OK with this if you’re straight with them from the beginning. We did film full coverage, with two manned cameras on tripods capturing the speeches and some dancing. Most of our couples purchase our full-coverage add-on, which is about an hour or two, and shows the ceremony and reception virtually unedited. This way, the wedding couple can go back and see any speech or watch the vows in their entirety.

Toward the end of this reception, we announced that we were about to present the video. Guests surrounded the couple and watched the three-minute video with tears of joy and a standing ovation.

Maybe producing a same-day-edit wedding video is not your style. Maybe documentaries, corporate production or video self-promotion excites you. Remember that you already have the camera and mindset for this. You know what composition and lighting do for photos. The same rules apply to video. Your clients will have new reasons to follow and engage with your company. Start today and have fun with video while doubling your revenue along the way.

Get the full story

To read the full article, launch the digital version of the October 2015 magazine.

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