The Blog


Modern marketing is built around creating a cohesive brand identity, building a consistency of character around a company, and its products and services, that make it trustworthy and distinguishable from its completion. It has become essential that a company has a story to tell. That story can’t be just about what the company makes or does; it must be broader more humanizing, something to soften the perception of salesmanship and relate to people on a level they are more comfortable engaging.

Narrative surrounds people in our current culture. Content of all types is given an overarching story to engage people. This has and continues to be overwhelmingly evident in entertainment, in TV especially, where we expect the writers to carry us on an arching journey showing us complex people and meaningful change. It applies to the news industry, where facts get molded (rightly or not) to fit together to create a digestible narrative for readers. And, in PR and marketing all large brands create a story, not only for their products and services, but also as a narrative to position the Company in the best light as if they are a protagonist striving and achieving to obtain some noble goal for us all.

We are in the age of Story. In Bob McKee’s aptly titled Story he writes, “Story is not only our most prolific art form but rivals all activities— work, play, eating, exercise— for our waking hours. We tell and take in stories as much as we sleep— and even then, we dream. Why? Why is so much of our life spent inside stories? Because, […] stories are equipment for living.”

Obviously, this quote is more applicable to the more artistic mediums of storytelling (novels, films, theater, television), but I do think it lends an interesting insight into the core of this narrative marketing as well. It means that a marketer must understand that the story they tell about their client’s company, its products and services, has to fit in with that idea of ‘equipment for living.’ How will what they do impact people’s lives? How will getting them to buy the product make life better in some way? In the marketplace people don’t buy goods and services per se, they purchase the expectation of a benefit to themselves. So, when crafting a marketing message, this should be a prism through which your ideas can flow and refract: Am I building a narrative where my product or services are going to make a difference for the consumer? Let this true north guide you to your story.

A video isn’t just a video when there’s a whole range of types and styles to choose from. This month we’re taking a look at some of the more popular types of video that our clients request and the creative purposes they’ve served.

  1. Interview-Narrative Video

Probably the most frequent type of video that we do; an Interview-Narrative Video is when we interview anywhere from 1-10+ people with a series of questions related to the goal of the video’s messaging and piece a story together from the answers. These projects usually require a solid outline and do best when the interviewees are articulate and/or charismatic. Some creative uses for this type of video have been showcasing a corporate culture, building emotion around a capital campaign, and revealing the behind-the-scenes or history of an organization.

  1. Scripted-Narrative Video

A Scripted-Narrative Video is recommended for any video that’s under 2-minutes and has a lot of information to convey. The client either comes prepared with a script or we work with them to create it. From there we figure out what should visually be on screen. B-roll footage? A talking interview head? Motion graphics? Stock footage? Either a voice actor is hired to do the narration or our clients can be filmed reading off a teleprompter. This type of video is popular for general explainer videos, TV ads, tutorials, or presentations—anything that has very specific verbiage or messaging that needs to come across.

  1. Scripted-Skit Video

These videos are usually for entertainment purposes first, educational purposes second and most commonly seen in TV and web advertisements. Some examples include Geico’s “15% or more” campaign videos or the Old Spice commercials. The production value on these videos can range but usually many elements such as professional actors, locations, wardrobe, makeup, extras, additional equipment, crew, rehearsals, and set design (depending on scope of the project) need to be taken into account and can make these videos quite costly to produce. Even so, we’ve worked with our clients to produce effective budget friendly skit videos, which have been creatively used for corporate training and to illustrate the offerings of the organizations.

  1. Explainer Video

Another very popular video (especially for web use), the Explainer Video is the video of choice if our clients have very broad messaging they’d like to capture in 3-minutes or less and/or have a need for an ‘about us’ type video on their website and social media outlets. It can also serve as a branding piece. Explainer videos can range from being fully scripted to using organic interviews for the narrative, or a combination of both. Our clients have used Explainer Videos to promote their business, talk about the history of their business, or simply explain their services. The visual element can range from being just footage (b-roll) cut to voice-over and music or also incorporate interviewees speaking.

  1. Presentation Video

Some clients invite us in to simply document a presentation or a show. In these instances, we usually set up 2-3 stationary cameras and let them roll throughout the entire event and then cut everything into one video. Clients have used these types of videos to record stage plays for school archives, capture presentations with visiting speakers, and document tutorials to be shared with their off-site members/the internet.

  1. Screen-Recorded Demo Videos

Many of our clients have virtual services offered on websites and apps, and the learning curve to use them can sometimes be off-putting to their customers. Screen-recorded demo videos are a great option to let customers view how to use a virtual service. The videos take them through all the same screens they’ll be working with and we also edit in tips or steps to advise them throughout the process.

  1. Branding Video

Branding videos can be some of the most creative and free-form videos we do. These videos strive to set a tone or create a feeling associated with the client’s business. They can be in the same family as explainer videos, but some branding videos have no narration at all and are simply b-roll footage cut to upbeat and fitting music. We usually will spend a few days capturing footage of our client’s business, sometimes staging shots but mostly just documenting, and piece everything together from there. These videos are great for social media and can easily be cut down to smaller spots.

  1. Animated Videos

Animated videos are a fun way to add some creativity to any organization. We work with our clients to come up with an audio/visual script and the style of animation and go from there, sharing progress updates as production goes on. Generally, 1 to 3-minutes of animation takes about 4-6 weeks to complete so these animations can sometimes take longer to produce than other offerings. Industries that have utilized our animated videos have included payroll companies, insurance agencies, and domestic welfare organizations. They can help enliven commonplace messaging and also be a great alternative for organizations looking for simplified ways to illustrate complex issues and resolutions.

Over the past decade, the proliferation of filmed content upended expectations of how, where and when we consume media. There has been explosive growth in original entertainment, sparked by the advent of video hosting sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, allowing Creatives to bypass traditional channels of distribution and interact directly with their audience.

The Internet has opened up the largest venue for the distribution and consumption of video content and it is impacting the expectations of consumers.

The explosion in content has coincided with advances in technology and increasing accessibility and affordability of technology for video producers at all levels of the production food chain. We are seeing higher levels of production value at lower costs. There is more quality content competing for an audience than ever before.

This has sent major shockwaves through the entertainment industry. Beyond YouTube, the advent of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime among others, have blurred (and in some cases eliminated) the boundaries between the Internet, TV, and Movies. These three, increasingly overlapping, spheres are competing against one another for our most precious currency, our time.

Television is in the midst of a new Golden Age. The past decade has seen innovative content, the championing of fresh voices, and seismic disruptions of content release patterns by various networks and non-traditional outlets.

Netflix has changed the consumers’ consumption expectations by embracing customers’ tendencies to ‘binge-watch.’ HBO has embraced ‘high-concept’ series such as Game of Thrones and Westworld which traditionally would be destined for a big screen.

Networks have embraced storytelling in all forms, breathing new life into anthologies and limited series. HBO, AMC, FX and others are creating ‘auteur TV’ where writers and producers have the power to create their vision of their stories .

Similarly, shifts in viewing habits have found the movie business trying to reinvent itself to continue to keep up with its audience. This has led to several schools of thought as to how to keep movie-goers coming to cinemas.

There are those who think the key is to enhance the theater-going experience by expanding concessions at the theater, making formal dinners available to movie-goers and serving alcohol to patrons. Some believe that movie theaters need to continue to enhance technology by increasing frame-rates, upping resolutions and creating 3-D experiences. There are those that champion day and date releases, meaning a consumer can see the film in a theater, stream it or watch it on-demand in the comfort of their home on the same release day.

For many indie filmmakers including RPR, we see this multi-platform world as an opportunity to find a mass audience for stories that never would have found them in the past.

The eye test to distinguish what belongs on TV and what belongs on film is increasingly blurry. The trend towards TV has grown so strong, that it is common practice for creative talent pitching projects to have both a TV and a film version of the project to shop.

The rise in quality has also coincided with an increase in quantity. With the massive expansion of the avenues to deliver content, there has been an increase in the demand for content for those channels. In 2016, there were over 490 original scripted series released, meaning that the production opportunities for content producers and the resulting viewing options for consumers is at an all-time high

This reinvention of content creation and consumption patterns has brought some non-traditional video producers into the market. Large newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are becoming increasingly digital, evolving from a traditional newspaper into content producers. Pushing content out across their various platforms, print, video, educational, and even virtual reality. Magazines have an increasing digital focus, featuring video updates on their websites and regular podcasts.

In February, Conde Nast, the publishing titan that owns such publications as Vanity Fair, GQ and Vogue increased their footprint in their video content arena by launching a program called The Big Script, intended to champion short films. This underscores the collapse of traditionally media siloes into the infinity of cyberspace. Conde Nast is simply doing what everyone in the content production must do, updating its storytelling to the medium of the moment with an eye on the future.

There are a lot of questions to be asked when businesses first start thinking about using video for their marketing needs. How much is a professional video going to cost? Who or what is needed? How long will it take to make? At RPR Studios, we encounter these questions and more with every new client we meet and we’d like to set you up to succeed. So how should you approach your video project?

  1. Have a Vision

Before you call on a video production company it’s best to have an idea of what style of video you’d like, what message you need to get across, and what budget you’re working with. Do you want to showcase your business from all angles with employee interviews, client testimonials, and lots of footage of your establishment? Do you need to document a roundtable discussion for demonstrative purposes? Do you want to use actors in a scripted scene to entertain your audience? It’s helpful to do some research and collect examples of videos that you can share with the production team. The clearer you can be with your expectations, the easier it is for a video producer to facilitate them or suggest cost-effective alternatives.

Also, consider how involved you’d want to be in the production. Do you want to write the script? Do you have the graphics you’d like in the video already created? Most video producers are not advertisers or marketers and will serve mostly as hands-for-hire to your vision. At RPR Studios, we do offer additional creative services like script writing, concept development, or graphic design for an added charge. Whatever materials you have or plan on having for the producer to work with will help keep the cost of the project down.

  1. Meet with the Production Team

Depending on the scope of your project, you may be working with your chosen video production team for a few days to a few months. It’s important to have an initial meeting in-person to get to know the crew and start the conversation about your video wants and needs. In a first meeting with RPR Studios, you can expect us to start the conversation with our background and show you some videos from our portfolio. From there, we like to learn about you, your business, and what you’re looking to do with a video. Sharing your ideas and the examples you’ve collected is beneficial at this early meeting as it helps us to consider production costs and generate a quote for you.

  1. Receive a Quote

After our first meeting with a potential client, we generate a quote. We consider a matrix of production details like how many hours editing may take for rough cuts, color correcting, sound mixing, or graphic designing; how many people should be on the crew and how long the shoot will take; and how many hours we will spend casting, scheduling, scripting, or revising. Unlike some studios that just give you a lump sum per project; our quotes break down item-by-item what services we feel your video requires. We encourage our prospective clients to consider the quote and suggest changes to the scope of their project to fit their budgets. We then reassess and re-quote. All clients are given a payment plan and we also offer special discounts for non-profit organizations or if a video series is bought in bulk.

  1. Pre-Production & Coordination

Once the quote is green-lit, we start on pre-production. This can include outlining, scripting, casting, scheduling interviews, location scouting, and much more. We can handle many aspects of this phase on our own, but (depending on the scope of the project) some things we may need help coordinating. Remember, you know more about your business than we do so when it comes to scheduling interviews with employees or selecting filming locations, we look to you for access and guidance. It is also in pre-production that we need your feedback most because what’s decided in pre-production is what ultimately gets produced. We may ask for approvals on actors, storyboards, or graphic elements. Any revisions after the production has commenced can be costly.

  1. Shoot Day: What to expect

With most productions, pre-production is the most extensive part of the process—and for good reason! When shoot day(s) comes around, we at RPR will be organized; will know where we’re going to be at what time; will know what needs to be filmed and how to facilitate getting the required shots. Depending on the type of production, our clients are either on location with us as guides, interviewers, or spectators, or are able to continue their daily schedule while we work on our own. Responsibilities are usually determined in pre-production coordination based on the type of video that’s being produced.

  1. Reviewing “Rough Cuts”

Once all of the footage is captured, post-production begins! Generally, our clients can expect to see a first “rough cut” within a week. Like the name suggests, these cuts are quite rough. The pacing or flow may seem off, audio levels may seem uneven, color or lighting might seem dull and the video may exceed the desired length (for example, a first rough cut may be 7 minutes long while the final cut is required to be 3 minutes). The purpose of the first cut is to match what was captured in camera to the sequence of the agreed upon video outline or concept (generated in pre-production).

From there we ask our clients for feedback and make their changes as well as our own for a second rough cut. The second rough cut is slightly more refined and usually shorter. We send that off for another round of feedback. After two rough cuts and feedback, we have the video at the desired length with the desired content and confirm a “locked” video with the client. Then we polish! For the final cut, video pacing is smoothed out, audio is professionally sweetened, music is added, motion graphics are finalized, color correction and color grading are implemented, and all final tweaks are made.

  1. Receiving your Finished Video

Some videos take a week to produce and some take a month or more. On average, our projects usually range from 4 to 8 weeks. Once the video is finalized, we export it in a format to suit our client’s needs, whether it’s for web, TV, or another format. Our most common export type is an MP4 file, H.264 codec, at 1080p resolution and 24 frames-per-second rate, suitable for playback on a computer, tablet, TV, presentation screens, or on social media. We always deliver finished videos digitally, unless requested otherwise (we can deliver on DVDs or flash drives for an additional cost).

So there you have it! We hope our production process overview helps you to approach your video project with confidence and understanding. If at any point you have any questions about working with us, feel free to give us a call at (518) 635-3456 or email at info@rprstudios.media.