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Short History of Corporate Video – Preface
Before we look at the history of corporate video production, it ’s worth taking a quick look into the future and predicting what we may see in 2011, 2012 , 2013 and beyond.
My first corporate video prediction is the death of Blu-Ray in its present form. Effectively, we’ll see the death of all silver spinning media like cd and dvd.
Solid state memory like usb sticks, flash drives and such will increase to become the media of choice for corporate video, when online video streaming isn’t available.
This might sound hard to believe (2012 – not any more!), but with the emergence of video platforms like the ipad, youtube, android and mac iphones, the need for large physical media like disks will quickly diminish. Now’s the time to back up all those movies, folks.
My second prediction is the massive growth of web video, at the expense of physical media. Every worthwhile corporate web page will want to have a video. And this will create a massive demand for more corporate video, which in part will be met by amateurs and video hobbyists (which is free), but as like as not, the professional corporate video production company, now in business as the web production company – or simply – the video production company, or video production services.
My third prediction is the productisation of corporate video. There’ll be less muttering consultancy and more positive off-the-shelf corporate video products, like talking head videos, testimonial video, presenter video, 2 minute web marketing video and such – designed to successfully engage the audience online. How long before you locate a production company with a product search?!
Now on with the history of corporate video.
Corporate videos have been with us since the 1970s and even before when film was used. The arrival of reel to reel editing machines heralded this new phenomenon within corporate communications. But a reel to reel studio back then could easily cost £100,000 to fit out, not including the tube cameras which could cost £30,000 upwards. These studios were primarily geared up for television production, and knocked out a few corporate videos almost as a sideline.
So naturally corporate video was the domain of the chosen few, the rich companies who could afford to have a piece of television all for themselves.
Being a big budget affair right from the start, it wasn’t unusual to have wild animals, exotic locations or expensive TV personalities as part of the show. A £50,000 price tag wasn’t unusual. And some London advertisers paid this.
We know of one major client who spent £110,000 on a single training video, using flightcam shots and custom music tracks amongst others – and it wasn’t even for worldwide distribution!
Then as the 80s progressed Sony, the main supplier of video and media equipment, started to bring prices of professional equipment down. Digital Video Effects (DVE) machines also dropped from £100,000 to a low end of £15,000. These allowed scenes to fly on, or appear in interesting ways, like circles and cubes. This price drop resulted in the growth of independent video studios who didn’t depend on television as their main source of income. The true corporate studio at last started to emerge. Typically an independent could produce most of a video in-house then maybe go to a TV studio for the final finished effects, the polish if you will.
Back then, a video would be edited in a local studio on a cheaper semi-pro format such as Hi-Band, where the completed programme was made at offline quality. The offline was taken to the TV studio, sometimes with a file that listed all the edit points, or frequently with a piece of paper listing all the edit points. The TV studio then compiled the offline at full online quality. This was a laborious and time-consuming process compared to today, but it meant that any company with an important message that needed to go on video could afford to do so.
Alongside this graphic PCs emerged, from high end Sun workstations to the lowly Amiga, all capable of delivering that most important of video elements – graphics and captions.
Graphics were a big breakthrough in corporate video as they allowed invisible things to be seen such as the inner workings of a machine or technology process; or with training videos, the key points to remember could seen as captions, making the learning easier to remember.
By the 90s we saw the emergence of the first non-linear digital editing suites, edited on a PC, be it Mac or Windows. In practice these edit suites were limited by the speed of the PCs of the time, and all the clips in a video now had to be rendered, ie, processed by the PC, which made production times in the studio much slower. Realtime became much rarer, and many video producers took a while to adopt these systems (not Rossiter & Co, natch).
In practice we saw the rise of the hybrid edit suite – a mix of reel to reel tape machines with a PC in the middle to do the effects, dissolves and transitions, and manage and edit the timeline of the video, complete with high quality audio.
While this is still a long way from today’s totally digital environment, it did see the price of corporate videos plummet much more to today’s acceptable levels. Editing a video as a timeline onscreen was a major leap. Now clips could be cut and pasted to wherever they were required. And clips could be quickly trimmed to a precise size, which improved the timing and dynamics of the resulting video programmes.
Hand in hand with this, Sony brought out lower spec reel to reel video tape machines. So instead of spending £30,000 plus for an edit machine, it was now more like £5,000. These lower spec machines ran Betacam SP, the television standard, but were actually a notch below true broadcast in quality.
This small quality drop made no difference to the corporate clients. They started to order video in droves.
Right through the nineties, video hardware products came down in price, and software flourished with more and more effects, graphics and tech functions being added to the ever faster PC which now become the heart of the video studio. And we started to use DVDs.
By 2000, corporate video had become a worldwide phenomenon, not just restricted to Europe and the US. Everything corporate could be shot on a reasonably priced camera using DVCAM, and edited wholly on a PC. Since then, we’ve had more and better of the same, until now we have film producers like Richard Rodriguez producing commercial movies in his garage in Texas, which turnover £25M plus, well known movies like “Once upon a time in Mexico”. 1st screening in a garage!
2d and 3d graphics and animation start to become common during this period.
Prices and costs have levelled out for the corporate commissioners too.
What has now emerged as the key point is the added-value a studio the can offer over and above the basic shoot and edit of a video, things like creativity and style.
And unlike say, PC manufacture, video has not yet become a commoditised off the shelf product. This is because we’ve seen that many corporate videos are actually quite bad, in that their story is poorly scripted or naively told, or that too many videos look the same, so audiences are growing tired of them.
This has meant that a studio’s script and storyboard capability has come to the fore, along with special creativity & processes they provide, the creativity that will keep tired audiences riveted to their seats, and remembering every word.
As for technology – apart from DVD, we see True 1080 HD as the new standard, with quality so glossy that the finest of textures like smoke or rippling water look iridescent. And pictures are so detailed that you could almost fall into them. Non-HD looks flat and dull by comparison.
Long live True 1080 HD. But you can be sure there’ll be something better before long. Perhaps streaming HD that works on the web with the simplicity of multimedia? Corporate video never stands still!
Corporate video production – 2011 and beyond
The overwhelming feature which will dominate corporate video production for 2011, 2012, 2013 and beyond is web video.
Consider that youtube receives millions of visitors every day, many of these being business video viewers.
Soon business buyers will expect to see a promotional video online.
The delivery mechanism for corporate video had changed too. DVD and Blu-Ray and fixed silver media will vanish. They will be replaced by a multiplicity of streaming video formats, including h264-based mp4 and quicktime videos, and html5-based videos such as Google’s WebM.
Corporate video production will will not just one delivery format such as the VHS days of the 1990s. Multi-delivery will become the norm.
Other video viewing platforms are also emerging. The physical delivery mechanism for corporate video is altering before our eyes, with PCs and DVD players now being supplanted by laptops, netbooks, iPads and smart phones, in both Mac, Windows and Android formats.
Cameras too are changing. The move is towards 35mm – equivalent\ video camcorders, such as the pioneer Canon EOS.
These cameras produce stunning stills and video quality, recordable currently on rewriteable 32gb SD cards.
And the corporate video production process has radically changed with Skype video calls beginning to replace face-to-face meetings.
It’s no longer necessary to buy from a local video production company, when every video producer is only a webcam call away. Some companies will start to specialize in webcam videos.
But some things never change. Scripts and storyboards are just as important as ever to the video production process.
Filming is still essential. Great editing and effects are even more vital, as videos are produced for ever wider web audiences.
And of course, the old international standard like PAL, NTSC and SECAM are starting to become less relevant as many viewers no longer use televisions for watching a corporate video.
The next decade is certainly an exciting time for corporate video production.
Mobile computing is now seizing its share of the market.
But more importantly, video viewers using mobile devices – tablets, iPads, iPhones, android – watch more video, and they watch each video for longer. Mobile video gets more views.
If marketers are looking for where the new video audience lies, look no further.
Go mobile. It makes obvious sense.
Which not only means your video needs to be designed for mobile. The video hosting has to be mobile ready.
This means using an html5 player. Non-html5 players will not work on many mobile devices. And you’ll need to ensure your web videos are search friendly. Check our blog articles to find our more about this.
Corporate video production was never in better health.
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