Are Chop Shops Shrinking Your Media Profits?

Have you noticed people wanting to pay less for video production services? From the big boys to the non-profits down the street? Some chop shops are filling that niche, but what does that mean for the rest of us? In this blog post, we’ll look at video marketing trends and see if there’s room for change.

I recently had a production company that creates a well know reality series on a major cable network contact me for a half day of camera work for $250. I’ve run into that low of offer for a full day’s work as well. While it could work for someone starting out, it brings up a multitude of problems. For one, the half day of work is a myth, after prep and travel, your day is spent. But that’s also simply not enough for the freelancer or production company to function when you include the cost of equipment, marketing, dues, healthcare, etc.

Companies are popping up to meet that need. Companies like Pixel Fish, Demand Studios, Knowlera. These companies rely on a large database of independent producers, camera operators who are willing to work at a cut rate in order to offer their client a very inexpensive product. A few of these companies offer livable payment levels if you work with them in bulk, however, most do not offer rates at a sustainable level. They do meet the needs of a niche market.

On a larger scale, there are companies willing to pay an appropriate rate, but it seems like the national conversation about the increasing divide between the middle and upper class also applies to the film and television industry. The good paying film and media jobs are getting fewer and farther between.

Part of this has to do with the cost of equipment coming down, which, lets face it, has been overpriced. I remember paying $400 for a one foot long custom monitor cable for a studio camera about 10 years ago, or $25,000 to $50,000 for color correction software. And these are just low budget examples.

The broadcast verses cable verses the internet is another factor. Ad dollars spent on most forms of television dropped while ad spending for cable increased by 5% the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012.

The slowed economy has likely played a part too.  According to ComScore, video views have increased by 1290% since 2006. However, ComScore’s research also notes that ad dollars for video marketing have fallen notably behind the amount of video being viewed, as indicated in this graph:


But research also indicates that advertisers simply don’t trust internet video advertising yet like they do the old standbys, broadcast and cable.

So what does all this mean?

First, there are market places for video that are not being taken advantage of. It’s up to us as professionals to find them.

Second, our clients need to be educated. Video is effective at making them money, whether by entertaining or by direct solicitation. We need to identify those ways and talk our clients about them.

Third, hiring someone at a cut rate, whether a large company or a local outfit comes at a cost. A well studied and exacted media piece is far more effective than a quick edit filled with stock footage. Successful companies still understand this and know paying extra for experience and specialized services will equal a greater return.

In summary chop shops and those new to the business can and will manufacture video at a cut rate that is less effective and not sustainable. It’s up to us as production and post facilities to either seek out the fewer clients who know the difference effective media can make or educate the large group of “middle class” clients about the increasingly underutilized world of video marketing.

Written By: Nikia Furman, Filmmaker

Next Month: Give Yourself A Creative Tune-up

This Production and Post thread discusses current issues filmmakers  and media professionals face everyday in production and post. For the most part, it will focus on issues the average filmmaker is facing, from software and equipment choices to budgets and organizational solutions with interviews and advice from people who have been there before and know how to get the job done. You can get monthly tips and insights, participate in and learn from the results of related surveys, join in the discussion and ask questions. Click here to sign up.

Budgeting for Video Marketing: Where to Start

nConnect Urban ForestryIt can be difficult knowing just how much you should budget for media marketing. Here are some factors that will help you know how much to spend.

First lets look some statistics. The Online Publishers Association says 80% of people remember watching a video on a website they visited in the last month. Of those, 46% took action and 12% purchased the specific product featured in the ad.

According to ComScore, website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product after watching a video.

A typical business will spend between 3% and 8% on marketing.

Conservatively, you can then break that down into spending about 5% of your marketing budget specifically on video, or about 5% of the expected profits from a campaign.

However, many spend considerably more than just 5% on video marketing simply because video can be so effective. For example, if video is a key component for an event that includes your primary call to action, you could justify spending 50% or more of the event budget on the media piece.

You can also get more bang for your buck by using a specialized media company. For example, my company can usually deliver 10% to 40% greater results than media clients create in house or by using other companies. That difference is due to a 15 point analysis I’ve developed for my non profit clients. (We will save the topic of how not all video marketing or fundraising is created equal for another post.)

Lets look at a small campaign where the goal is to raise $100,000. If you use a video to make your key appeal at an event, you’ll likely increase your returns by at least 10%. So by spending under $10,000 on a video fundraising piece, you will likely still make a profit. In fact you could make $20,000 to $40,000 or more.

In a larger campaign, say a $1,000,000 campaign, the results could be even better. You could bring in as much as $200,000 to $400,000 more. Again, I have to stress these results would only come from a stratigic media piece and not likely from a video created by a volunteer or internal staff member who “does video on the side.”

Alternatively, you don’t want to spend too much on a video. If you are working on a smaller campaign and you expect the profits to be around $50,000 for example, it doesn’t really make sense to spend more than $5,000 where you would just be breaking even.

Keep in mind that a video’s worth is more than what it might bring in at a single event, since it will likely have a long shelf life and can be shown over and over again in various ways and places for a year or two.

Also, the bigger your budget is, likely the less you’ll need to spend on marketing. Walmart, for example, spends only 2-3% of its budget on advertising simply because it’s total budget is so large. However, the larger your available budget, the more you’ll want to maximize your resources by creating videos that focus on segments of your market or constituency, using surveys or focus groups to make sure you are meeting their needs and using higher end video production techniques, talent, graphics, etc. In a larger campaign, these elements will add hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of dollars, in income.

Questions or comments? Feel free to post them below or contact me personally.

Next month we’ll take a look at video analytics and what results you can expect from posting a single video versus multiple videos.

July Video Marketing Recap:
I had some good feedback from last months post, A Helpful Video Marketing Checklist. No takers on the survey however. Let me know if you have questions you would like addressed or topic suggestions for upcoming posts.

Hidden Troubles of Adobe’s New Subscription Model

AdobeCC_3There are darker sides to Adobe Creative Cloud that are missed in much of the debate about the new subscription plan. We’ll take a look at five reasons why Adobe CC isn’t good for the consumer. You can also participate anonymously in a survey to see what user’s choices for Adobe CC are trending towards.

Imagine taking your Tesla Model S in for new tires and your mechanic tells you that he’ll only change your tires if you sign up for a monthly plan that will double the cost of the tires, allow them to put on off road mudding tires and install a rear end tow package. “But I don’t want to go off roading or tow anything with my Model S,” you say. “It will give you flexibility,” the mechanic says. Besides, that’s all we do now.” This is the new sales model for Adobe.

Before we head to the dark side, let’s start with a quick review of what has been discussed in many Adobe CC articles and reviews. Adobe will start charging its customers a monthly fee to use its software. In turn, Adobe will give you access to all its software with automatic updates and limited access to online storage. Some businesses like to have the very latest version of every software installed so they can use the latest tools, to impress clients, or because they hope to have a software bug fixed or feature added that’s been needed for the last five years but never seems to be fixed by the software manufacturer. Other users don’t care about the cost and like having access to all of Adobe’s software. Still others find it easier to pay a $50 monthly fee up front rather than $1,200 or more to upgrade.

The idea of subscription based software isn’t new. What is new is forcing customers to choose between either subscribing to one piece of software or all your software products, whether or not you need them. That’s quite a demand considering Adobe’s large application library. It would save you money if you used all their products, which almost no one does. So for the most part, it’s an increase in cost for services you don’t use. Essentially it’s great for Adobe because it gives them higher profits, a steadier income and it will make it more difficult for people to pirate their software. The consumer on the other hand, only receives modest benefits and even more drawbacks.

AdobeCCFive Steps to Impending Doom

1: Everyone is Doing It
Those talking about the switch will often say- that’s just the way software is moving. However, think about the implications of wide spread subscription based software. Imagine if all software was subscription based- every OS, every app, on every device you own? Cost to both businesses and individuals would be staggering and likely not sustainable for most.

2. Big Brother Wants You Plugged In
You have to be connected to the web in order to use Adobe CC applications. Adobe says you only have to connect every seven days, but we all know how things go. Your computer, your network and your internet connection are all stable 99% of the time… except that one day when you are working on a deadline… or you happen to be in a remote location or internet dead zone.

3. The Forecast is Partially Cloudy
Cloud Computing is still slow. Although most of us enjoy a fairly speedy internet connection in the US, an internet connection is still slower than the connection in your computer. If you don’t believe me, log onto Adobe Story right now (they have a free version) and you’ll start to see not only delayed key strokes, but your whole computer start to bog down, and the problem just gets worse as the size of your project increases.

4. But I Don’t Want to Update Now
Automatic updates can be problematic. Many companies, small and large, limit their software updates to once every few years, because annual, or even biannual updates can be problematic and therefore costly. Inevitably, one piece of software doesn’t work with another because not every company updates their software at the same time. There will be blood.

5. Bugs Don’t Hurt… Except Bees, Mosquitoes and Black Widows
Finally, subscription based applications stifle innovation. Adobe would no longer need to entice users to buy an upgrade version with new features and bug fixes. You simply have it or you don’t. And that really is the crux of the situation. Adobe has a monopoly for it’s price range, especially when it comes to compositing. The nearest product in quality to After Effects is likely Eyeon Fusion with a price tag around $2,400, plus $500 annual license. That’s about the cost for Adobe’s new products, with rumors saying Adobe’s subscription price will soon rise.

It’s a bit of a dismal future to think of Adobe having less motivation to improve. Adobe’s products are in various states of usability. While programs like Adobe Photoshop and Soundbooth seem to operate smoothly, others have issues.

For example, Adobe Premiere, from its inception to present, becomes slow and unstable when editing large projects such as feature length films or even half hour television shows. Adobe After Effects is actually quite limited when it comes to actual effects by today’s standards, relying heavily on plugins from companies like Red Giant. The lack of true 3-D rendering is also significant. Adobe Story is loaded with bugs and tools that work sporadically. It could be powerful, but tries to force one to use OnLocation, which has it’s own software issues and is impractical for many who don’t want to carry an extra computer around sets or in the field to capture and log footage live. In addition, several of the applications are redundant. It might make more sense to combine Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

In a way, we are living in a new wild West. Back in the 1800’s when the railroads and settlers were stretching West, businesses rose and fell as they took advantage of the new changes. Now, even though the internet is a few decades old, we are still learning how to use the web as it changes. It is getting faster and we can do more. Online backup and interconnectivity are extremely useful tools and will only grow. As it does, business will try to make as much money from that as possible. Adobe is asking it’s customers now, how far can we push this line? Rest assured, they’ll push it through as far as they can to make money.

AdobeCC_2Maybe you are one of those that really like Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Good for you. Believe it or not, I have been an Adobe fan too. They offer a wide variety of powerful tools.

If, on the other hand, you don’t like the idea of Adobe CC, you can join over 36,000 people by signing Derek Schoffstall’s petition against mandatory “creative cloud” on He recently passed his goal of 35,000 signers and raised it to 50,000.

What do you think? Do you like Adobe’s Creative Cloud? Don’t like? What alternatives do you use? Leave a comment below or take this short anonymous survey about Adobe’s mandatory subscription. We’ll look at the results in next month’s news letter.

Written By: Nikia Furman, Filmmaker

This Production and Post thread discusses current issues filmmakers  and media professionals face everyday in production and post. For the most part, it will focus on issues the average filmmaker is facing, from software and equipment choices to budgets and organizational solutions with interviews and advice from people who have been there before and know how to get the job done. You can get monthly tips and insights, participate in and learn from the results of related surveys, join in the discussion and ask questions. Click here to sign up.

Helpful Video Marketing Checklist

Furman Pictures AMP ProductionAre you using your current online video marketing or fundraising pieces to their maximum potential? If you aren’t currently using video, skip to the section Why Use Video? If you already are, here’s a short check list to see how you are doing:

– Do you post a company promo clip on your homepage?
– Do you have a page on your website dedicated to video clips?
– Are video links included in emails?
– Are your video clips posted on Youtube, Facebook or other online site?
– Are your videos posted on multiple online sites?
– Are links to video included in most print materials?
– Are your videos shown at public events?
– Are your videos shown at company events?
– Do you post links on Twitter or other social media every time you post a new video
– Are your videos used in online advertising such as Facebook ads?
– Have you edited your promo to use as a 15 or 30 second ad before Youtube clips, on TV or in theaters?

You can also fill out this checklist online and see everyone’s anonymously results next month.

If you answered yes to most of these, you are on the right track. If not, consider the amount you have invested in creating a video promotional and all the extra exposure you could be getting from that initial investment. Those marketing or fundraising dollars could be stretched a lot further and get even better results.

Next month, we’ll be discussing Video On a Budget- How Much Is It Worth? Click here to sign up for the Video Marketing Tips Newsletter.

Written by:
Nikia Furman
Film Maker

AMP Short Teasers Update

AMP Furman Pictures dramatic topic teasersHere is a quick update for the cast and crew of the dramatic short teasers written and directed by Nikia Furman, Furman Pictures, for AMP Studios that filmed in Portland, Oregon last month:

Producer Brian Belleau tells me there will be a delay in post production, maybe a couple months, due to big changes their organization is going through. Look for an update in June or July, 2013 on that project.

Beyond Adventure Airs on Outside Television

Beyond Adventure, Ice ClimbingBig news! Season One of Beyond Adventure, a non-scripted outdoor adventure series, is currently airing on Outside Television.

Beyond Adventure is a television series that I am the Associate Producer of. It is a spin off of another show I developed for Blue Mountain Television called Escape, which aired nationally on iLife and some other smaller networks.

In addition to the role of Associate Producer for Beyond Adventure, I also held the roles of Episode Producer and Primary Camera Operator for 7 of the 13 episodes.

Brian Belleau, Beyond Adventure Producer, really headed the funding and organization for AMP Studios. It was really great working with him on the project. (Don’t tell anyone, but Brian and I actually had our differences at first, but developed a mutual respect and worked through, or at least around, the rough spots).

Since I probably won’t win any red carpet awards, even thought it’s an excellent show, I’m going to say some of my thank you’s now. Thanks to all the cast, crew, board members, supporters, etc. for your part in making Beyond Adventure happen, and Escape as well. They both took an army… and a few minor injuries, burnt clothes and damaged cameras. If anyone finds a bullet cam at the bottom of Yosemite Falls, please send it to my address and I’ll make sure it get’s back to its rightful owner.

Production Wraps

Furman Pictures AMP Production

Production wrapped Thursday on 5 short films/ topic teasers for AMP Studios. Furman Pictures handled the script development, casting and location scouting for the project.

Furman Pictures AMP Production

Nikia Furman was responsible for directing the pieces, working closely with Brian Belleau, AMP Producer and Cinematographer.


The production was the result of months of planning followed by a tight week of filming five scripts at four locations in four days with a cast of of 16 actors, 5 background actors and 7 crew members.

Furman Pictures AMP Production

Production in Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area went smoothly for the most part. There was a pretty good down pour the first day, a parking spot that didn’t get reserved downtown by the local authorities and a persistent wood chipping crew in West Linn, but all in all, things went well.

nConnect- Senator Patty Murray

nLight nConnect Internship

Senator Patty Murray is the keynote speaker at nConnect’s celebration tonight for key contributors, like Furman Pictures.

Furman Pictures created five promotional videos for the non-profit, each highlighting a different intern- business partnerships. nConnect used the videos both locally and in Washington, DC to promote the organization’s mission.

nConnect works together with community businesses and organizations to connect students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers.  so get to hear from students on how our volunteers in nConnect’s programs have helped them in their classwork and guided them in the workplace.

Zebra Media, Nike, AMP, Television Series

Work last week including shooting for Zebra Media at the Nike retail lab. Boyd Anderson at Zebra Media brought me on board to shoot behind the scenes footage for Zebra’s project with Nike. It was a fun project and an enjoyable crew.

I’ve also been working with AMP Studios on writing eight 2 to 5 minute length dramatic scripts for a client’s new website. I’ve been asked to direct the first five scripts which will be filmed in the Portland area. I love writing and these stories have been satisfying to develop. I feel honored and enthusiastic about being able to direct them as well and I’m looking forward to bring work to some actors I’ve had my eye on here in Portland. Scripts are in the final stages of revision and production should take place mid March.

Also, in the next week or two, I’m told a short post production project should be coming down the line from another international shoe and sportswear company I’ve worked with in the past.

Oh, yes. Season One of Beyond Adventure will begin airing soon on a new, but well know outdoor network. I was the Associate Producer for the series and Episode Producer and Lead Camera Operator for about half the episodes. I hope to post more information on that soon.

… and happy Valentine’s Day!

Projects for the New Year

Swans on Franz Lake

It was nice to finish up a couple projects at the start of the new year.

One of those projects was working with the Steigerwarld Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards to promote the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards’ various programs at the Steigerwald Lake sight. Furman Pictures was responsible for production and post on a 3 minute promotional for the Stewards. You can view the completed project in my gallery.

Finished up production and post of a template project for an anonymous client and their third party client. I am told the third party client was very happy with the finished product, which makes me happy.

I’m currently developing scripts for a client who want’s eight 1-3 minute short dramatized pieces for a website under development by a 3rd party. The first drafts are out on those and we are under review now. Really enjoyable project.

Other creative works making their way through the machine too.