Blog

Our blog promise is to provide: the latest trends in video, useful tips, and share our journey as a husband and wife owning a business together.

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When you are a small business owner, you make sacrifices.   Sometimes they are small, sometimes they are big.   This weekend was one of those bigger ones.

John and I have worked together producing videos for more than 10 years. Ranging from college sporting events, documentaries, to weddings. This weekend John was taping a wedding in Cedar Rapids, while I was at a bachelorette party in Des Moines. I was at lunch with the girls, when I get John’s text:  “I just threw up”.

John said he had scrambled eggs for breakfast but thought they might have been bad, and it could be food poisoning. He told the photographer, Jeremy, and the mother of the bride, but he was trying to continue taping in-between throwing up several times in the bathroom. But that he had missed most of the Bride and Groom getting ready.

After getting the third text like this, I decided to leave the bachelorette party and help John finish taping the wedding. It was going to take me two hours to get to him, so I couldn’t meet him at the ceremony in time, but I could meet him downtown and help with the reception.  I wasn’t dressed for a wedding so I changed in the car, put on the romper I wore the night before and used my daughters car seat mirror to reapply my makeup and fix my hair.

Since we’ve become parents, I’ve taken a back seat to shooting weddings and it’s been John running our small business on his own. However, throughout the last ten years John and I have taped a lot together, so we were able to pick up where we left off and start taping like nothing had happened and it was all apart of the plan.  John handed me a camera and I went with the girls, and John went with the guys. I then followed the wedding party to the bar while he headed to the reception venue to get some air conditioning and start getting b-roll. By this time, he was feeling a lot better. I shot some more b-roll at the reception for about another hour then I headed home to put our daughter to bed while John finished getting sunset and first dance footage. John and I never told the bride or groom any of this. What they knew is that John’s wife, Caitlin came to help shoot footage after the ceremony. 

Today, we rest at home.  We ate breakfast (John did not go near the scrambled eggs!), I did laundry, John mowed the lawn and he and the baby are taking a nap while I update the blog and reflect. I didn’t think twice about helping my husband and business partner. But would I have done that for any coworker? If I would have gotten that ‘please send backup text’ from another coworker and I was 2 hours away would I have left? It makes me think about my current relationships at work and school, how far am I willing to go to help another coworker or fellow student in need? What would happen if we all showed more respect and caring to our fellow coworkers and students. What if we were all willing to make occasional sacrifices (big or small) to help one another when they ask for help.

First Week of Classes

This blog highlights the challenges and successes of a working mom and wife going back to school. #BAWMgettingMBA

Orientation. I woke Nora up so I could take this photo, and also see her before I left for the day. Which is why she’s still in her Pajamas. 

To say that I am nervous is an understatement.  What am I getting myself into? I am a mom, wife, work full-time, and I’m going back to school part-time to get my MBA. Luckily, I have strong supporters around me.

Selfie with Herky before Orientation began.

  1. My husband.  #My#1supporter.  Driving home from our Weekly Sunday night dinner at Grandma’s house, I told John I was nervous about my #firstweekofschool and he knew just what to say. “You will be a Bad Ass Mom getting her MBA”.  I liked the phrase so I decided to name it the title of my blog. I added the W which stands for two things: Wife and Working Mom. #BAWMgettingMBA
  2. My Mom #TheVoiceofReason. My mom is my best friend. We have gotten much closer since I moved back to town after living in Rochester, Minnesota for four years. Now, we are 1.5 miles away and go on weekday walks and have family pizza night on Fridays. Speaking of meals – I bought an Instant Pot on Amazon Prime day thinking that would help make cooking easier when I go back to school. Well – school starts today and the instant pot is still in the box. My mom the voice of reason suggested that I rotate simple meals for the first few weeks. “Taco Tuesday. Salad Wednesday and Pizza Friday.  That’s 3 meals”. I prefer Taco Tuesday, popcorn Wednesday and pizza Friday-Monday.
  3. My Coworkers #PositivePeers.  I told my coworker that I was hesitant to go back to school right now because I have a 13 month old and I don’t want to spend time away from her.  This coworker is also a #BAWMgettingMBA. She said, ‘Don’t think of it as time away, think of it as ‘me time’. But what about all those weeknights I’ll miss bedtimes and all the time on the weekends doing homework.  “Caitlin, she still takes naps, you can do homework while she’s sleeping’. Just that one conversation changed the way I was thinking and helped me think more positively about investing in myself and going back to school. I applied the next day.

So, yes, I’m nervous, and I’m sure my palms will be sweaty through the whole first class tonight. But I know with my friends and family behind me, these next few years will be successful!

All set up for the first night of class. HERE WE GO!

 

How to Cherish the Wedding Experience

You spend a lot of time thinking about your wedding. Food that your guests will eat. Wine they will drink. Music for dancing. We rarely stop to think about our own experience as the bride and groom.

Getting up early to do hair and makeup. Figuring out how to pin a boutonnière to a rented tux. The inside jokes and stories shared amongst family and friends.

These are the experiences that our wedding guests rarely see, but to the bride and groom, to you, they are the experiences that make up your wedding day.

Hurry up and wait.

Your wedding day will fly by in a flash. Before you know, the sky above is full of stars and your feet sore from all the dancing. How do you remember this day? How do you remember your wedding after 6 months? A year? 5 years? 50 years?

Most of us have photographs of some kind. Professional, friends, big cameras, phone cameras. Maybe they’re saved in different places. A photo album or book from the photographer on a bookshelf. Facebook pages of friends and family. You have your photos to remember the day.

How do you remember your ceremony? The toasts? The first dances? Your father’s words of wisdom and love while he toasts your new marriage? The advice provided during your ceremony? How do we remember these moments?

Slowing down the day

It might not seem like it at the time, but when your wedding day is done, everything went by too quickly. We don’t have enough time in the day to talk with all of the people, to truly hear all of the wisdom and advice given, to see all the smiling faces, the dancing kids (and grandparents).

Looking back on your wedding day through video is one way to remember those missed moments. The moments we want to remember. The moments that make us cry, that make us laugh, and that make us love again.

Our culture today cherishes objects over experiences, and our weddings aren’t that different. It’s all about having the perfect reception, the perfect dress, the right colors, the right food, and stressing out about all of those choices. When the wedding day is done, however, all we are left with is the experience and the memories.

When the memories fade, what are we left with? How do we remember?

Surprise – We’re Getting Married!

Do you remember that scene in “Father of the Bride” where Annie Banks surprises her parents and says that she’s engaged?  I grew with a cousin who was obsessed with FOB 1 and 2 – so there were many sleepovers together watching this movie.

I bring up this scene because John and I recently video taped a surprise wedding.  The bride is a coworker of John’s and we’ve hung out a few times with the couple outside of work.  They invited us to their engagement party and had asked John to take some video of the party at a local restaurant.  But it wasn’t really their engagement party – it was actually their wedding.

We of course knew about the surprise, but it was a little tricky to shoot and get footage without giving it away to the rest of the guests.  We wanted to blend in as much as we could since the crowd was a mix of coworkers, family and friends.  We knew we needed to act as guests taking photos – but secretly taking footage for a wedding.  We shoot our weddings with a Canon T3i and to the average eye it’s a picture camera – so this fancy piece of equipment helped us “go under cover”.

This bride and groom asked us to record video of their wedding because they weren’t going to be in the room when the maid of honor announced the surpise wedding.  They wanted to see everyone’s reaction.  They wanted to experience the event as their guests experienced it. They wanted to see the raw emotion and raw surpise and joy from their friends, and family.

John and I were very honored to be part of their wedding and a part of their special surprise.

 

How to include video in your blog

Where do I post my video?

Caitlin and I often find ourselves on the receiving end of this question. While our safe answer often includes the phrase “It depends,” we feel one of the best ways to include video is right in your company blog!

In fact, I recently came across a great example from Backblaze, a cloud storage backup provider for businesses and individuals:

Why is this a good example of corporate video?

1. Short and concise

At less than 2 minutes, Backblaze poses a clear question right at the beginning of the video. For the remaining 90 seconds, the video clearly answers that question in an easy-to-understand manner.

2. Faces! Action! People!

Immediately, the video shows Backblaze employees in their natural habitat work environment. Following is Backblaze Chief Technology Officer, Brian Wilson, who narrates the question and lays out the Backblaze solution. As a whole, the video makes the people and technology stand out as cornerstones to the company; i.e. the reason for Backblaze and their success is the people and technology.

3. Visuals tell the story

A previous supervisor once told me that he would proof his video work by watching it with the sound muted. Why would you do something like this? Isn’t the interview and information important to the video? Think back 100 years. Did you have sound in movies? Nope. Could people understand the story? Yup. People understood those silent movies because they told the story through the picture. The above video from Backblaze tells the same story in pictures as it does with the audio.

4. Audio matches the pictures

Well, duh, right? Any audio should match what the pictures show, right?

Watch the video again. Close your eyes. Do the words paint a picture? Do you still understand how Backblaze works?

Backblaze b-roll gif

This is one of my favorite strategies when I’m proofing narrated stories or interviews because a well-shot (ah, squirrel!) video can distract you from a poorly written script. Close your eyes and you can more clearly see how your audio, and therefore your video, flows and tells a story.

5. not the whole enchilada

Are you an engineer? Specifically, are you an engineer who actually understands scalable cloud storage architecture? Then this video probably raises more questions than it answers. But…you’re also in luck! Backblaze wrote an article to accompany the video, which goes more in-depth than the video does. Video is probably not the best place to put information like this:

With Backblaze Vaults, we wanted to be able to do maintenance on one pod in a vault and still have it be fully available, both for reading and writing. And we weren’t willing to have fewer than 2 parity shards for every file uploaded, for safety. Using 17 data plus 3 parity drives raises the storage overhead just a little bit, to 17.6%, but still gives us two parity drives even in the infrequent times when one of the pods is in maintenance. In the normal case when all 20 pods in the Vault are running, we have 3 parity drives, which adds even more reliability.

But that type of information is perfect in a written article. Think about what works in your video, and what might work better elsewhere.

Video is one part of a much larger whole.

The Backblaze video is a perfect example of how video is only one part of your entire marketing strategy. I found out about the blog article from the Backblaze customer newsletter. Clicking on that took me to the blog, where I saw the video at the beginning of the article. Did I continue to read the article after watching the video? Nope. Does it make me glad to be a Backblaze customer? Certainly!

Count the marketing touches: email, blog, video. There’s different information, a different purpose, a different outcome to each of these touches. Neither one is meant to convert a prospect or customer on their own, but together they paint a clearer picture of who Backblaze is and how they can help you or your business.

5 questions to ask before creating a video

johnworkingthecamera

John recording a video for Social Brand Forum

 

One question I always get asked about video:  “How long should my video should be?”  In the past 10 years of creating videos, I have shot and edited videos ranging from live 1-hour events, to 30 second commercials.  The most popular videos are under three minutes.   Saying everything you want to say under three minutes can take be hard.  But these five tips will help you Cut. It. Down.

5 questions to ask before creating a video.

  1. Why do you want to do a video? Ask if video is the platform or tool for what they want to accomplish.  Often times I have coworkers requesting a video, but once I start asking clarifying questions, I realized I was asking them to define why they want video.  “Tell me why you need it, not what you need“.
  2. Who will be watching this video? Again, another question for definition and to provide specifics of the overall voice and tone of the video. The overall tone for a video will differ greatly based on the demographic, for instance: creating a video for a millennial is very different than creating one for Baby Boomers. The pace of the video is different, the music you choose will be different, and animation will depend on your audience. You’d be surprised at how hard this question can be for people to answer.
  3. What are 1-2 things you want the audience to know after watching the video? This question gives you the bullet points of what makes this video a success in their minds.  If you cover these two things in the video – they will be happy.  I learned if I don’t ask this question, I had more revisions in post-production, because the goal of the video wasn’t accomplished.  The more answers you get before shooting the less editing you have. 
  4. How and Where is this video being shown?  Will this video be shown at an event? or sent via email? or shared on social media?  You need to know if the video is a ‘stand alone’ video.  Or will there be some context provided before its shown? Knowing the context of how the video will be shown will help you better frame the video – how much information you need to provide….and what you can leave out.
  5. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the last question is When.  This question is pretty self-explanatory.  What’s the timeframe and deadline.  This gives me a timeframe to work with and lets me know how much time I have to shoot and edit.  I work backwards from the date given, and send the video two weeks before this date just in case there are any changes. I will let the client know this too, so they can expect a date to get the video.  That why they aren’t sending you emails asking where it is.

If you ask these five questions, you won’t have many changes to the video. And that’s a good feeling. It’s very rewarding to get it done right the first time.

Working Title

I’m writing this post as our 4 month old chocolate lab puppy is laying in my lap on the couch.  Isn’t she ADORABLE!?!

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This little lady is another member of our family and will contribute to the business blog on occassion.

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John and I are working on a lot of behind the scenes stuff this weekend on our business.  I am working on most of the ‘business side’ (aka non-fun things) and John is working on all things creative and ‘techy’.  I couldn’t explain the difference between Canon and Nikon cameras but he would give you a spreadsheet full of similairities and differences, cost comparisons and product reviews etc.  I read this section to him – and he said “It’s true”.  So folks, I’m not just making this up.

We ordered our business cards this weekend and are working on finalizing a payment plan.  We are also determining a turnaround schedule and will set up social media accounts here shortly.  We’re getting excited to have everything up and running, but for now it’s a working title production.

Caitlin

Ready for 2015

We’re now booking for the 2015 wedding season!

2015 is shaping up to be a great year, especially if 2015 is the year you’re getting married! If you’re in Eastern Iowa and are tying the knot this year, be sure to see what we offer. Our wedding video packages are worry-free with simple, straight-forward pricing.

Contact us today to book your date.

xoxo
Caitlin + John