Thursday, March 26, 2015

“Efficiencies in Video Production – How to Maximize Your Video Budget”

Not surprisingly, clients today are concerned about costs, even our multi-national corporate clients.
I represent EFX Media. We’ve been a leader in video production for over 30 years, producing both internal and external communication videos for major corporations such as CarFax, ExxonMobil, Orbital, Sodexo, SRA, BAE, Medstar Health, as well as dozens of associations and government agencies.

I’m not going to talk about our $50,000 or costlier projects, but rather concentrate on those with more challenging budgets. Although faced with ever lower-priced competition, we refuse to jeopardize quality by skimping on services. So, we’ve had to be smarter. And, over a few decades of production, we’ve learned a few tricks.
New hardware and software have allowed producers to create compelling motion graphics and animation at a fraction of the cost from even a decade ago. Not just eye-candy for getting viewers attention, motion graphics can deliver information is a succinct manner that’s easy to assimilate, and better tell as story. Graphics can often be a real cost saver.

 Arlington Economic Development wanted location production to show neighborhoods and buildings for their first “virtual tour”. 

We suggested that their money would be better spent by our utilizing motion graphics, adding motion to their wealth of still photos and renderings. 
Since buildings are static, and many of the key developments were yet to be built, sending a location crew didn’t make as much sense as motion graphics. The audience loved it and we’ve since been awarded a 5-year contract.


CarFax tasked us to create a video to share employees’ reaction to winning a “Best Places To Work” award. This meant spending a couple of days in Centreville HQ and in Columbia Missouri interviewing a wide variety of employees.  Since we knew that a recruiting video and a new employee orientation video were in the works, we suggested amortizing the location production resources by having employees respond to a variety of prompts, not just those about the award.  
Shooting green screen allowed for more efficiency in production, more employee reactions were captured, and it minimized the stress on the workplace during shooting. Each sound bite was short, to the point, often humorous and meaningful. The result is that CarFax ended up with a package of videos – recruiting, new employee orientation, and best place to work - on a very efficient budget.

T   This CarFax production package illustrates key factors for budget efficiency 
-    - grouping multiple videos into a package is more efficient,
·       - shorter is better, particularly when using non-professional talent.
·       - good use of technology, such as green-screen, can provide cost efficiency.

Example: CarFax Recruiting 


We often suggest a “variation on a theme approach” to maximize a client’s budget. In our package approach, you spend a bit more on the initial video to allow for style, graphics, effects, and the creative back and forth.
By properly modularizing the approach, ensuing versions of that video can introduce new topics, products, messages, etc. by plugging in new footage into slots. You benefit from a consistent theme and framework and you enforce your branding.


American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges had only a modest amount of money left over after production of a 10-minute anniversary video, but they needed a PSA. Lifting key video shots from the longer video, adding clever pacing and a graphic approach quite pleased their execs and members.

Example: Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges 50th Anniversary PSA
Victor Van Rees
Vice President Sales and Marketing
2300 South Ninth Street
Arlington, VA 22204
Voice 703-486-2303 ext. 310
Cell:   703-447-8950
FAX   703-553-9813

View our demos at:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Web Video by the Numbers – Not Just Window Dressing, by Victor Van Rees

A video on your website, or on YouTube, has proven to be integral marketing tool, not just a stylish branding element. A short, high-quality video, or better a series of short videos, can actually lead clients to your site via search engines (enhanced SEO). Web videos can help convert viewers into customers, and can influence viewer attitudes. Web videos are fast becoming a critical facet of successful marketing initiatives, and the numbers confirm it...

51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide cite video as the type of content with the best ROI.



A software marketing video for Price Waterhouse

75% of executives polled said that they watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week. The results breakdown:
50% watch business-related videos on YouTube
65% visit the marketer’s website after viewing a video
59% of senior execs polled would rather watch a video than read text.
65% of those who view a video click through to visit the vendor website
50% look for more information and
45% report that they contacted a vendor after seeing an online video ad. 50% of those who viewed an online marketing video went on to make a purchase for their business.
Forbes Magazine and Brainshark

46% of people polled say they’d be more likely to seek out information about a product or service after seeing it in an online video. Eloqua

Video attracts two to three times as many monthly visitors, doubles their time spent on the site and has a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines MarketingSherpa

LinkedIn Post: Followers like, share, and comment on video posts twice as often as they do on regular updates!

American Petroleum Institute  “Gas Station Spill Prevention”

Having video on the landing page of your site makes it 53% more likely to show up on page 1 of Google. Mist Media
A recent poll found that 93% of marketers had used video for online marketing, sales or communications purposes at some point during 2013, up from 81% in 2012. Another 3% said they had not used video in 2013 but were considering doing so. The growing importance of digital video marketing is also reflected in the number of dollars marketing professionals are allocating to the channel. The poll found that 70.5% of respondents expected their outlays for video to increase in 2013 over the previous year, while 14.6% indicated that budgets would remain static. Just 1.3% foresaw a drop in video marketing budgets for the year.

The following graphs illustrate findings about online marketing videos from a survey conducted during Q2 2013 and Q3 2013 by the Web Video Marketing Council, ReelSEO and Flimp Media

Is it any wonder that web video is now the sixth most popular content marketing tactic, as 70% of B2B marketers use some form of online video with their overall strategies.  Eloqua

Victor Van Rees
Vice President Federal Sales and Marketing

2300 South Ninth Street
Arlington, VA 22204
Voice 703-486-2303 ext. 310
Cell:   703-447-8950
FAX   703-553-9813

View our demos at:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Animation and Motion Graphics Considerations by Victor Van Rees

Using animated elements in your video, or totally animated videos, is often the best way to articulate complicated or multifaceted concepts. The cost for tools to create animation has lowered dramatically over the last few years, while efficiency has increased. You no longer have to fear that animation will blow up your budget or your production schedule. Here are a few examples showing how a variety of animation and motion graphics tools were used to best present compelling presentations
 In this advocacy video for American Petroleum, After Effects 2D animation was used to “sell” a mathematical argument against increased taxes.

This technical tutorial for the Federal CIO used 2D animation to simplify the concept of cloud computing for government employees.

The U. S. Census Bureau, needed an effective public education program about the Economic Census. An animated time-line, background illustrations and inventive maps were created in After Effects and combined with video to better illustrate the initiative.

For CustomInk T-shirts, After Effects was used to assemble a three-dimensional box at the end of the video. After Effects was also put to great use in bringing still photos to life with motion graphics and some very interesting transitions

 American Petroleum Institute needed to illustrate the safety-conscious techniques employed in hydraulic fracturing. 3D animation was required to demonstrate how the drilling was accomplished. Cinema 4D, a 3D animation software, along with After Effects, were used to best tell the story. 

It’s becoming popular for many budget-conscious clients to utilize what might be described as “motion-infographics”, as illustrated in this basic animated graph for Business Software Alliance

After Effects is also a very powerful compositing tool, offering the ability to combine multiple objects with motion, or to key people into an environment as illustrated from this scene from a Virtual Bus Tour   You can read more about keying and compositing in my previous my blog article – “Combining Motion Graphics with Live Video”
In conclusion, make sure you consider the whole range of video graphics techniques when telling your next video story - motion graphics, 2D animation, 3D animation, compositing/keying, and most important, a creative and technically savvy designer and editor.


EFX Media is Washington, DC’s leading provider of Video and Interactive Solutions.  Our core business revolves around Video Production, Interactive Media, and Video Archiving.The EFX Media production team has vast experience writing, directing and producing effective, award-winning communications. Our extensive in-house capabilities include multiple high-definition editing and animation suites, a comprehensive digital file management and fulfillment center, and a multifaceted interactive programming & design department.  Since 1983, our commitment to quality and effective communications has earned the trust of countless corporate, association and government clients.

Victor Van Rees 
Vice President Federal Marketing 
2300 South Ninth Street Arlington, VA 22204 
Voice 703-486-2303 Cell: 703-447-8950 
View our demos at:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"How To Pick The Right Video Production Company - Don’t Forget the Intangibles." by Victor Van Rees

You need a marketing, convention, training, or recruiting video.
You’ve worked up a set of specifications – how long, how many shoot days, how much graphic design, etc. 
After receiving three or more quotes, you have to pick one. How do you decide?
Is the lowest price the main driving force, or is it quality (of course, all the vendors profess top quality).  Consider the intangibles.

Creativity – Is your intention a clear, direct presentation of facts and message? Or do you want to make it a memorable impression – have some personality to separate it from the herd?
To determine if your vendor can breath some spirit, excitement, or a unique perspective to your project, ask them to provide samples or a creative approach.
Don’t forget to allow some flexibility in your budget for those creative touches.

PersonalityWhat services a company provide is only part of the relationship. How they provide a service can make a difference.
What about the personality of the producer, editor or the entire production company?  Visit the facility and get a sense of their culture. Do you think you’ll like working with them?
Ask for references. More than anyone, those other groups can give you a great perspective of how a working relationship might evolve. This is an important facet, since you will likely be spending a good deal of time with them.

Finishing, Duplication, Web Posting - Is the vendor truly a full service facility?
A full service post-production facility can truly deliver from ‘script to screen’, and should have the resources to create and distribute your product for your specific need.
Are you playing this video from a computer during a meeting?
Will it live on a large-screen display at your annual event?
How about an HD broadcast commercial? 
Or are you embedding this on your web site?
Do you need DVDs or CDs to send out by the year’s end?
Most in-house production setups, or smaller single-person outfits, do not possess the materials and technology to go seamlessly from the edit suite to your specific distribution needs.

Full-service production facilities can master to most any tape or digital format in standard or high definition, create web-ready video files, embed your presentation within a PowerPoint, develop interactive menu driven DVDs, or provide … well, you name it. 
If you have more complex needs like translation, captioning, package fulfillment or interactive programming, make sure the vendor you choose can manage and direct the process. Think about all your needs and find the vendor who can meet them all.

Special Effects, Animation and Interactivity:
Do you want to make an impression on your audience? Will your video have a greater impact through a distinct, creative presentation style that only motion graphic effects or animation can bring?
Blending your branding with animated scenes, aligning your message with the right pace and emotion will let your message resonate more with an audience.
Does the video company you select have additional capabilities to create 2D and 3D animation? Full service post-production facilities generally have on staff motion-graphic designers or animators who specialize in creating impressive or realistic effects, using their skill to blend them seamlessly into a story.
If your presentation will live on a DVD, Interactive programming can transform a ”chaptered” DVD into an interactive experience for a viewer.
Utilizing a combination of technology and skill can separate your presentation from others, reflecting a positive image of your company as a creative, energetic forward-thinking group.

Storytelling – You have a message to send. Make sure your audience both receives and clearly comprehends it. Storytelling is an art requiring talent enhanced by experience. A professional editor or producer understands how an audience receives a message and interprets the varied sights and sounds. Balancing all the elements from effortless pacing to eliciting a specific emotion, are some of the advantages of working with an industry pro. Viewing sample videos can tell you a lot about the story-telling ability of your video company.

Deep Bench – Modifications and deadlines are a fact of life, but will they overwhelm your vendor? Will your facility of choice handle and adapt to immediate turn-around needs or last-minute changes? Do they have ample edit suites, night shifts and additional personnel to meet a too-near deadline or last-minute changes? Or will your project just stand in line, awaiting the next available opportunity?

Cost in dollars is always a major consideration. However, when making your selection, think about the additional impact of time, quality, reputation and stress. Creating a quality video takes a lot of work, but with the right video production partner you should actually enjoy the process.

Victor Van Rees
Vice President Sales and Marketing
2300 South Ninth Street
Arlington, VA 22204
phone: 703-486-2303

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Well Begun is Half-Done"- Preproduction Planning Guide by Victor Van Rees & Tom Oates

Aristotle, an early proponent of detailed preproduction planning, is credited with the phrase - “Well begun is half done”. Surprises and change orders mid-project tend to derail a production schedule and increase costs. Thinking through all the details of any project will not only keep your production on budget, it will enhance the quality and effectiveness of your video. The following is a check-list of items to consider when planning a video project...

PART ONE: Creative Approach/Messaging

  • What is the objective of the video? What do we want the audience to think, feel and do after viewing the video?
  • Who is the ideal viewing audience for your video.
  • How will the audience benefit from watching the video?
  • What key messages do you want to get across in the video?
  • Who is going to write the script?
  • How much specificity, facts, figures, talking points must be provided to the script writer?
  • What is the desired tone, manner and mood for the video?
  • Is there any existing video footage or graphics that can be re-purposed in the video? 
  • Can stock footage/graphics be utilized in place of original location shooting?
  • Have you identified individuals to be speakers in the video?  If so, how people will be included and are there bios and photos available for each person?


PART TWO: Production

  • What specific geographic and/or building location(s) will be required for shooting the video?
  • Will crew travel be a cost consideration – most labor is based upon portal-to-portal?
  • Are there additional locations available for b-roll shots or atmospheric shots that might be needed for cutaways - people working, building amenities, etc? 
  • Has a shoot location(s) within the building been determined - Rooms/Location
  • Is the location ‘noise secured’? (clear of construction/traffic or outside noise, office conversations, elevators, foot traffic)
  • Are there windows at the location (will we have to contend with sunlight/exterior lights)?
  • Will outlets for lights be available and will there be a building electrician or maintenance person available?
  • On the day of the shoot, what hours will we have access to the location? (we may need to arrive early for set-up and stay late to finish the shoot). The crew normally arrives approximately 90 minutes prior to the scheduled “roll tape” time.
  • Will the building/location be accessible? (i.e. not locked if it is too early/late in the day)?
  • What is the parking & loading protocol? What information will building security need for all crew / vehicles involved?
  • Who should the crew contact upon arrival? (name, phone number, email address)?
  • Are location or filming permits needed for this location? Have they been filed with appropriate offices? Will copies of the permits be needed on-site during filming?
  • Is a separate insurance rider – Certificate of Insurance (COI) - needed for this shoot? Will a copy of the COI be needed on-site?

PART THREE: Post-Production

Prior to editing, all music, graphics and voiceover narration must be finalized.  Plan for  the following items prior to initiating post-production and editing, either before, or as soon as possible after the shoot is completed:
  • Do you have specific ideas on music or voice-over talent for your video or would you like suggestions? 
  • Is there a corporate branding guideline to be followed?
  • What type styles for titles or other text in video?
  • What graphic design and colors should be considered for transitions?
  • Are their existing charts, graphics or photos to include, and do they need enhancement?
PART FOUR: Deliverables

  • What format – DVD or web based?
  • Are either custom design labels and packaging required?
  • Closed captioning required?
  • Foreign language versions required?

Now you have considered nearly every element for budgeting and planning your next video project. You can now expect a more accurate budget, a better production experience and less stress.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

White Paper: Save Money with an Omnibus/Ad Hoc Video Support Contract verson II

From Victor Van Rees, VP Federal Marketing, The EFX Company (dba EFX Media)
With an omnibus video services contract, similar to contracts awarded to EFX Media by the US Census Bureau, FEMA, OCC and others, Federal agencies can enhance quality, improve efficiency, and most importantly, save money. Oh, and you’ll only have to deal with contracting and price negotiations once every 3 to 5 years. 

Consider bolstering your in-house video capabilities with video services such as: a network of qualified video crews in every state and in fourteen other countries; technical support, such as: editing, interactive programming and animation; and staffing on an as-needed basis, under an IDIQ or BPA contract. When any department requires services over and above your existing capabilities, a vendor, such as EFX, could supply them on an "as needed" basis. 

FEMA has tasked EFX with providing script-to-screen video production services to communicate the importance of and the critical points in following  and complying with the Privacy Act. EFX videotaped in multiple locations, Atlanta to San Diego, and created several videos in a short amount of time . You can view one of the videos at

 You will save money compared to adding staff on a semi-permanent basis for what might only be a temporary spike in activity. A vendor can supply media specialists, designers, producers, editors on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. Further, you would avoid the high cost of retooling your video equipment to keep pace with the latest in High Definition cameras, recorders, editing software, multimedia capabilities, etc. You would have at your fingertips, experienced artists and technicians who can instantly deliver a polished, professional, modern look to your videos. 

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently awarded EFX with its second BPA for start-to-finish video production.EFX produced this recruiting and orientation video for bank examiners, shot in various US locations.

An extremely important issue is scheduling. How often have you had to postpone communication releases until your in-house shop can work them into their schedule? An on-call full-service production center can deliver rapid-response location shooting, animation, editing and finishing within days, if not hours.

For FEMA, EFX taped training seminars in San Diego, then created a graphic-oriented promotional video to show FEMA stakeholders  the importance of attending orientation seminars. View the video by clicking

The U.S. Census Bureau foresaw this advantage and awarded a contract to our company similar to what was proposed above – location shooting, editing, animation and staffing. The advantage of having a vendor with wide-reaching capabilities such as EFX under contract is you can minimize contracting efforts when sudden needs require immediate response.

Noorvik, Alaska, January 25, 2010 -- EFX provide US Census Bureau with a live satellite uplink from remote Alaskan village of Noorvik . In this photo, Census Bureau Director Robert Groves traveled by dog sled today and visited residents.

In addition to providing the U.S. Census Bureau with nationwide location, EFX provided animation, editing, and translation services. The animated video, “It’s Easy” was produced in 60 languages, including a version for the English & Spanish LGBT communities and a version in American Sign Language. View the video at

 Here’s another example of cost effective animation for a government agency.  Touchstone and their OMB client, needed an animated video to simply explain the benefits of cloud computing. The video EFX created was presented on the website. You can view the animation at

The funding minimum for such a contract can be extremely low, with each task order requiring simplified budget approval. A specially discounted rate card for services and labor categories would be established up front to allow instant cost calculation for task orders. The cost savings would be considerable. 

We can share with you sample discounted rate cards for ad hoc support contracts that have provided other agencies with the efficiency of instant support, enhanced quality, and extremely important budget savings

The EFX Company (dba EFXMEDIA)
GSA Contract GS23F0059P and GS23F0060P (small business set-aside)

EFX Media is one of the country’s leading full service video production and media communications firm with a complete production, post-production, graphic arts and creative department located in Arlington, VA. EFX Media has a team of exceptionally talented, experienced, and dedicated professionals trained in traditional media, the latest interactive and distribution technologies as well as business communication. Our core business revolves around Full Service Video Production, Interactive Solutions, Media Services and Online Video Distribution. We emphasize creating benefits and value for our clients. We have developed methodologies based on industry best practice and years of experience that allows us to deliver quality services. 

We are a small business, on the GSA schedule. Our staff of managers, producers, directors, cameramen, engineers, editors, designers, writers, schedulers, and office staff have been carefully developed to find the most capable and loyal personnel available to manage projects and to best serve our clients. Additional information about EFX and samples can be viewed at

Just a few of our clients include: US Army, US Navy, Tricare, FEMA, USDA, OCC, US Marshals Service, Library of Congress, IRS, US Census Bureau, Department of Justice, National Geographic, UN Foundation, Booz Allen, Serco, SRA, General Dynamics, America Online, Exxon-Mobil,, and many others.

Victor Van Rees
Vice President Federal Sales and Marketing
The EFX Company ( dba EFXMEDIA)
2300 South Ninth Street
Arlington, VA 22204
Voice 703-486-2303 Cell:   703-447-8950

View our demos at: