Video Artisan Service Announcement

COVID-19 Service Update

Videotape to DVD/USB conversion service during COVID-19 period

First of all, we are very appreciative of the continued interest in our video conversion services during the current COVID-19 pandemic – and for our customers’ patience during the stricter lockdown period where we have had to temporarily withdraw this service.

We are happy to announce that, as from 14th May 2020, we will back in operation.  However, to maintain the safety of our customers and ourselves, we will be introducing some additional measures to help ensure we avoid any contamination and unnecessary close contact. 

Our system for processing this work for the foreseeable future is as follows:

Step 1 – Dropping off tapes, cine film, slides and other media

Customers should at first contact Video Artisan by phone on 020 3602 3356 to arrange a suitable time (which can include evenings and weekends if required).  This will be to our home office address at 174 Roding Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 3BS

Please bring your tapes or films in a carrier bag, box or other suitable container – and include your name and contact details inside. Once at the drop off location please call 020 3602 3356 and we will personally accept your package – observing the government’s 2m social-distancing advice.

If customers would prefer to send in their media by post or courier, please ensure these are sent to 174 Roding Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 3BS – and include your contact details as mentioned above.

Step 2 – Quarantine

The scientific advice suggests that the COVID-19 virus can remain active on some surfaces for up to 72-hours.  We will therefore hold your media in storage for this period of time before handling and carrying out the conversion.  We will also take additional measures to clean external surfaces of media (ensuring this does not damage recordings) and use appropriate PPE wherever practical or advised by the authorities.

Step 3 – Completion and Payment

Once your media has been converted, we will contact you to arrange collection, and include a digital invoice that will include our online banking details.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to take cash during this period.  Once we have received confirmation that your payment has been made, we will contact you to arrange collection or postal delivery back to you.

Step 4 – Collection of DVDs/USBs and your original media

Collection will be carried out in the same manner as dropping off – in that we will observe the same 2m social-distancing advice.  Collection will be from Roding Road address at a mutually convenient time.

Further Information

We hope our customers will appreciate our approach to reintroducing this service during these difficult times.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 3602 3356 or by email to

Our prices and terms remain the same as those published here .

In the meantime, we look forward to helping you preserve and enjoy your precious memories for years to come. 

Kevin Cook
Proprietor, Video Artisan


Podcasting for Business

Podcasting for Business

Podcasting on the Rise

Podcasting is on the rise, and for good reason. There are all kinds of trends going on in digital marketing now; some are old hat; some are cutting edge, and some are no-brainers. Podcasting fits all these descriptions and is something that most businesses and organisations can incorporate into their marketing mix.

Our eyes are constantly bombarded with social media feeds, binge-TV subscriptions, roadside advertising hoardings, print adverts, digital displays on escalators… the list goes on and on. And whilst all these promotional tools are all potentially valuable and effective, the space they occupy is congested and often overwhelming. That’s not a great place for any marketing message to be.

The Podcasting Edge

To consume visual content, and this includes video, it requires the recipient’s undivided attention. You can’t, for instance, watch a video clip or browse your social media feed whilst driving your car. Some people do, especially the latter, but that often ends in misery.

The consuming of a podcast can be carried out in a much wider set of circumstances and environments. In fact, listening to a podcast whilst doing things like driving a car, jogging, gardening, changing a wheel or any predominantly physical activity is wholly possible. Moreover, audience engagement levels might even prove to be higher when the audience is engaged in such activity. Unlike your eyes, your ears can be engaged on more than one thing at a time.

What audio has over video

It goes deeper than that too. Video and other visual platforms provide the audience with a complete story. They really don’t have to think about it – or use their imagination to conjure up the images for the narrative. They’re dished up as a complete plate for them. As nice as this is from time to time, like the written word, Podcasts or radio content require the consumer to fill in the visuals. This means they must be more engaged – and in this condition your business story has a better chance of sticking in their minds.

Podcasting to the world
Podcasting to the world

Think ‘Podcasting’ – think ‘Radio’

Having mentioned ‘radio’ I can’t move on without commenting on its history and its relationship with TV and moving images in general. Commercial radio broadcasts started around 1900, and some thought that the advent of film, then television and finally video, were all going to make radio obsolete. This phenomenon was highlighted by the Buggles song “Video Killed the Radio Star” – ironically the very first video that was played on MTV in August, 1981.

As we all know, video didn’t kill the radio star. In fact, radio has not only held its own but has continued to flourish and is still increasing its share of global advertising spend. According to the latest report from The Interactive Advertising Bureau, radio has now surpassed newspaper advertising revenues and, according to the trend, will soon overtake magazine advertising too. [see here] Market and consumer data provider, Statista, claim that worldwide radio advertising is expected to reach over 35 billion dollars by 2021. [see here]

Producing your Podcast

So, having whet your appetite for podcasting, how do you go about producing your first one? As a business, to test the water properly you should look at producing a short series of maybe three episodes of up to 10-minutes each. Think of three short stories you can base your podcasts on and write a script for each – keeping in mind that 10-minutes of dialogue would be 1,800 words as we generally speak at 3-words per second.

There’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already written suitable material within your brochures or website. Look for story-driven content – such as a customer case story or a press release about a new development within your business and how this is going to benefit your customers.

As for style, whilst one person telling a story is fine, it’s often easier on the listener if the podcast is recorded interview-style with one person acting as a host and another answering questions. This conversational style will often sound more natural and relaxed.

DIY or Pro Route?

Once you have your stories set out on paper you’ll need to decide whether to attempt to record them in-house or bring in some expert knowledge and equipment. I would of course recommend the latter – but for good reason. Firstly, unless you have professional audio recording facilities then the end product is going to appear amateurish – and that’s the last impression you want to leave your audience with. Secondly, whilst there’s lots of free audio editing applications out there they are not that easy to get your head around. An experienced editor, using a professional edit system, will not only save you time but will undoubtedly help make your podcasts as polished as possible.

Furthermore, it’s not just a case of outputting your podcasts to a suitable audio file format such as MP3. We will come to this next, but you’ll also need to create an MP4 video file of your podcast for distribution on social media platforms. However, if you’re just going to dip your toes then have a go at recording your first podcasts on your smartphone and use one of the many free apps that will enable you to edit and produce it. It’ll probably convince you that going down the pro-route is a much easier and better solution.

Getting your Podcast heard

You now have your first series of podcasts; how do you get them out in the world? There are essentially three means of distribution you should consider. The first and most simple way is to embed your MP3 audio files on your website with a simple ‘click-to-play’ controller and brief text explainer of what the audience will be listening to.

This article produced as a podcast

However, you really want your podcast to go further than just those who happen upon your website and spot the link. You’ll therefore need to get your podcast distributed and then listed on the key podcast platforms. These include the likes of Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Breaker and Deezer – among others.

Get in with the in-crowd!

The best distribution platform I’ve found so far is Apart from being free, Anchor’s intuitive desktop interface and mobile app will have your content hosted and distributed wherever it needs to be in a matter of moments. Whilst Anchor will automatically list your channel on various platforms, others will require manual authentication. This is no great shakes and is simply a matter of creating accounts on each platform (such as Apple Podcasts) and submitting the RSS feed which Anchor provides. This is a one-off process and, once set up, every time you add a new episode Anchor distributes it to all. This RSS feed can also be included on your own website negating the need to upload individual episodes.

You can record your podcast with Anchor via your laptop mic or smartphone, and add music within the app, but my preferred choice is to upload an already edited podcast in MP3 format. You’ll also need to create a piece of artwork which will act as your channel logo.

Social Media Distribution

The third and final means of distributing your podcast is via your preferred social media platforms. These are obviously important, but the process of sharing your podcasts here is straight forward once you have created your MP3 audio files.

Because of their visual nature, to get people to notice your podcast within a social media feed you will need to create an audiogram. These are essentially your audio file converted into a video file which includes a picture or graphic (with your logo and maybe a short description of the podcast episode), an overlaid animated waveform (to show the post has live audio) and possibly a transcription of the spoken word. This is all about capturing attention within a crowded social media feed and enticing your audience to listen in.

Thankfully, there’s a few great apps that do all the donkey work for you. Probably the most widely used and heavily featured is Just upload your MP3 file, add your picture or graphic, choose your waveform style and position it – and then let Headliner do its job. After a short while you’ll be given a link to download your video clip in MP4 format which you can then share on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.

Whilst there’s an annual subscription for Headliner accounts, you do get the first ten uploads free to get you going. You could also have a look at which is free for a basic account.

Get going!

Hopefully you’ll be a little more informed as to what the benefits of podcasting are and whether it’s for you or not. If it is, but you’re not that confident about the production process, then please do give Video Artisan a call. We have a growing experience in providing the complete podcasting process. Recordings can be created at our Loughton studios or we can bring our mobile recording booth to the comfort of your own premises.

For more details, please call us on 0208 3602 3356 or email Please see our freelance rate card here.

You can subscribe to the Video Artisan Podcasts here:

Pocket Casts
Radio Pubic


Square Video – maximising your Social Media real estate

Square Video

Have you seen our SQUARE video advert and need a quote? Email us now. Need more facts and figures? Then read on!

Square video (1:1) – it’s all about ratios

As someone who has been involved in video production for over 30-years, I’ve had it pretty easy when it comes to creating a universally-accepted ratio for video content. Since the early 90s, after the European Union launched something called, “The 16:9 Action Plan”, that’s pretty much all we’ve been creating.

By 2010 the old (and almost square video) 4:3 picture ratio was dead.

As with many things in life, TV content and technology and the way we chose to consume it, are constantly changing. Today we are more likely to view video content on our phone, tablet or desktop computer than a traditional TV set. More importantly, it is usually consumed within an application, a website or social media platform – and not necessarily (in fact, rarely) played full-screen. Video content has become a feature within something else – most usually a social media platform.

In these surroundings the shape of the picture is less restricted. Most professional video editing software will let you create quadrilateral (four sided) images of any ratio – and in this article where going to discover the growing importance and value of 1:1 Square video.

Don’t be a square – use Square Video

The inspiration behind this article is the growing number of requests we are getting to create Square Video. It’s easy to understand why we’re seeing this increase because our clients see Square Video everywhere on social media. It’s hard not to notice it. We’ve also made a conscious decision to create all our own promotional content as Square Video.

The big attraction of Square Video is that it occupies a far greater amount of real estate on social media platforms – especially on mobile devices. Compared to video created at 16:9 widescreen ratio, Square Video takes up nearly 80% more screen space. If you’re trying to attract attention, or you are paying to promote a video on social media, this is a real and valuable advantage.

There’s been lots of discussion about the use of Square Video on the Internet and one of the most worthy and interesting articles is a report published by (see here).

In this report, Buffer invested $1,500 in promoting a variety of videos on the key social media platforms – produced in a variety of different picture ratios and layouts – and measured their effectiveness and return on investment.

Their findings are pretty conclusive. In essence, if you want to increase the visibility of your video – create it as a Square Video.

Now some of this research acknowledges that Square Video’s efficiency and footprint is impacted by the device it’s being watched on. On a laptop, video shown in a social media feed occupies a much smaller area, regardless of its aspect ratio.

Square Video in laptop social media feed – it’s big, but could be bigger!

This footprint size is very different on a mobile device – and this is the most common way we are accessing the Internet and social media platforms. The latest stats show that more than half the website traffic worldwide (around 53%) is generated through mobile phones. In parts of Asia and Africa it’s more like 60%. You can read more into these statistics on Source Statista

Square Video on a mobile phone – takes up almost the entire screen!

Social Media for Square Video

We all understand the value of social media in promoting brands, services and products – or indeed influencing an audience to react in a certain way. But many businesses base their entire marketing strategy on social media engagement. The number of users on the most widely used platforms are quite staggering.

Statistic published by

A jaw-dropping 92% of Facebook users access the platform on their mobile phone. If we wind back to the increase in real estate Square Video offers over 16:9 video (nearly 80% more visible) you can understand why most serious users of social media video are creating video this way.

Buffer’s research shows that Square Video outperformed 16:9 video on all social media platforms. This was measured in relation to views, engagements (shares, likes and comments) and completions (when the entire video was watched). Some of their test videos achieved up to 35% more views and up to 100% increases in engagement.

Is 16:9 video really dead?

You might be thinking, “Have I wasted my money on a 16:9 video?”. No, definitely not!

There’s still plenty of capacity and screen time left for traditionally formatted video – and many situations where Square Video is just not suitable. For instance, if you’ve created content for full screen display. In this situation the shape of Square Video will mean it will have a much smaller footprint when shown on a 16:9 display.

This is also true of video embeds on your website viewed on a laptop. Laptop screens are almost all 16:9 and Square Video just cannot fill them.

What it does mean though is that next time you commission a video you will need to have a conversation with your production company about how their ideas will translate to the small screen and social media feeds. Ideally, you’ll get content that will work for both.

There’s also a great opportunity in re-purposing 16:9 films you’ve had produced in the past. The most basic way to do this is to zoom into the 16:9 video – making sure that the best possible framing is maintained by digitally panning and following the action.

Better still is to use a process called, ‘Letterboxing’. This basically means positioning the 16:9 video within a Square Video frame. The unoccupied part of the frame can then be used to include subtitles, branding or any other graphical element that will help you to capture the audience’s attention. Interestingly, Buffer’s research shows that Letterboxed content was sometimes even more effective than Square Video.

Or you could even just leave this space blank, creating separation between your media and the other content in a social media feed. (see below on how we can help you re-purpose your existing 16:9 video content)

Creative considerations

It’s universally accepted that attention spans are getting shorter. Some time ago YouTube suggested that social media videos should be no longer that 90-seconds – but even that’s too long for an Instagram video advert (limited to 60-seconds).

That shouldn’t be a barrier to video being able to achieve what you want it to do in a social media feed – and that’s simply to get your target audience to engage with it. This could be as simple as liking, sharing or commenting on it – but equally it could mean clicking through to purchase.

This ‘Past Touch-Point’ path is obviously critical in measuring the success of any social media campaign – but at the very least you need to tell the viewer what you want them to do next – what is referred to as a ‘Call to Action’. This could be as simple as a graphic saying, “click here for further information”.

Another very important consideration is that when video content appears in a social media feed it is mute. If it wasn’t it would get very annoying! This means you’ve either got to have exceptionally engaging images to attract the viewer in, or captions and graphics telling them why they should. This is probably one of the main reasons why Letterboxed Square Video works so well as there’s plenty of uncluttered space to show it.

This muting feature can be used to your advantage though – especially when the video content includes people talking to camera. Whilst these should always be subtitled, people are generally lazy and will feel compelled to click on the un-mute button rather than read. The secret here is to make sure their first spoken words are compelling.

Get going with Square Video

Whereas quadrilateral video is the norm now, who can guess where video shapes and ratios will head in the future? I’m sure that any shape, or indeed any dimension, is possible. Video that wraps around is already here with flexible screens. As throughout the history of technology, much of this will be driven by the devices and platforms we use. But for now, Square Video is really where you want to be.

We are more than happy to talk to new and existing customers on how we can help them increase their social media feed real estate. Or, if you have existing video and want to see if this is suitable for adapting to the Square Video format, please get in touch. It might be a lot cheaper than you think!

Kevin Cook
+44 (0) 20 3602 3356


Filming Customer Referrals

Filming customer referrals title

Winning new business by Filming Customer Referrals

Filming customer referrals creates powerful marketing tools for your business or organisation.  No, it’s not a fad – it’s a fact!  We all buy from people – so there’s nothing better than hearing other people share their stories about their experience with your organisation.  All successful organisations now concentrate on perfecting their customer experience.  By filming customer referrals you can share the experience repeatedly with new and potential customers.

Tips and Tricks of filming customer referrals

Like all marketing activities, you must know the “who, what, where, when and why” answers.  Who are your customers?  What do they want or need? Where are they?  When are they looking to purchase your products/services?  Why should they choose you?

These Five W’s questions form the basic approach to journalistic storytelling.  They also constitute a formula for capturing the complete story on your customer’s experience.  Armed with these questions you have a ready-made script to start filming customer referrals.

Choosing your customers

You will already have a good collection of satisfied customers.  Some will be particularly special and exactly what you want to attract more of.  These existing customers are your best advocates in attracting new “ideal” customers.  Whilst each will have their own customer experience story, a powerful connection to new customers will be found within their answers to the Five W’s questions.

You are not looking for the best on-screen performers or most photogenic people when filming customer referrals.  What you are looking for are real people who can tell their story in a believable, natural, and engaging way.  The secret here is to get them relaxed and comfortable in front on camera.  This is one of the things we pride ourselves on here at Video Artisan.  We make the experience fun, interesting and educational for all involved.

The important extras when filming customer referrals

The interview itself obviously forms the main narrative when filming customer referrals but additional footage is needed to tell the complete story.  Referred to as ‘B-Roll’ or ‘Cutaways’, these shots are used to illustrate the customer’s story.  They help the film flow and to enable editors to cut the customers answers to deliver the most concise marketing message.

-Roll when filming customer referrals
The role of B-Roll when filming customer referrals

Quite often the interviews will have many edits within each answer.  Without B-Roll to cover these joins you would end up with jump cuts and loss of continuity.  Done correctly, the end result will be a fluid and logical.  And, most importantly, they help deliver a compelling case for new customers to engage with your business.

Case Study -Kainos Evolve

We have recently been filming customer referrals for Kainos – focussed on the successful implementation of their paperless healthcare system, Evolve.  The customer in this instance was Ashford & St Peters Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  The customer story is all about how the Evolve system, combined with Apple hardware, helps this NHS Trust to save millions of pounds and to deliver a safer and more efficient health service to their local community.

Your next step

If you are thinking about how you could start filming customer referrals, please get in touch with us today for a free consultation.  Call Video Artisan on 020 3602 3356 or email now.  See our Freelance page for details on filming and editing rates.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Advertising Videos for all

Advertising Videos

Creating Advertising Videos

Make no mistake, we create advertising videos. Despite all the clever and creative ways we like to describe what we do, 99% of the time we’re creating advertising videos.  They’re videos, and they’re advertising something.

Some like to talk up our craft (and there’s nothing wrong in that) and call these “advertising films”. However, in almost every instance the intended outlet for the content we create for our clients is being distributed online.  That’s usually through YouTube of other social media platforms – and these are video channels.  So yes, we create advertising videos! Sometimes, however, we’re doing a whole lot more than that.

CAT Publications Advertising Videos

We’ve created many advertising videos for CAT Publications over the years.  These are mainly in the form of event documentaries covering either their M&IT Awards or their M&IT Agency Challenge events.  Whilst these videos are supposed to inform and entertain, their true purpose is to act as advertising videos for future events.  In fact, we’ve just completed the 2017 M&IT Agency Challenge video which is already being pumped out to encourage participation at next year’s event.

Where this assignment differs from others is that Video Artisan are not just there to make an event documentary.  We are very much part of the team building experience and provide delegates with a video challenge of their own.  Each team at the M&IT Agency Challenge has to shoot a short film within an hour (edited by us) – the judging of which goes towards points and prizes at a gala dinner.

Many forms of advertising videos

There are of course many forms of advertising videos.  Some are just straight promotional films that directly sell the product or service.  Others get the advertising message across in the form of educational content – or maybe purely entertainment content.  Whichever platform you choose, you should never lose sight of the aim to advertise.  Google Dictionary describes this as, “to describe or draw attention to (a product, service, or event) in a public medium in order to promote sales”.

This is why we generally describe Video Artisan as a, ‘Promotional video production company’.

Planning your advertising videos?

If you’re starting to think about how you can introduce advertising videos into your marketing mix, give us a call.  We like to think we can help any organisation to achieve their video goals – regardless of budgets and the complexity of the task.  The key to making this successful is to start to talk to your video production company at an early stage so they can advise on the most efficient and cost effective approach. If you’re at that stage now – call Kevin Cook on 020 3602 3356 or email

Advertising Videos Interivews
Shooting interviews for Advertising Videos