Category Archives: Video Artisan

Welcome

Video Artisan pride themselves on producing cost-effective video communication tools for business clients.  They understand their clients’ needs – and how to achieve their video production goals. This is why more and more businesses are using them for their video production needs.

These articles will keep you up to date with what’s been happening at Video Artisan.  Short stories, news updates and comments are published by the company’s founder, Kevin Cook.  Kevin has been in the professional video industry since 1985 and always aims to provide his clients with exceptional levels of customer satisfaction.  The company motto is, “Under promise and over deliver”.   At Video Artisan they always go that extra mile to provide an excellent product at a competitive price.

For further details

In conclusion, the areas of expertise include corporate video, company films and all professional video services.  Please contact Kevin Cook for further advice on this website – kevin@video-artisan.com or call 020 83602 3356

 

Another team building video assignment

Team building video title
Find out why you need a team building video exercise at your next event

Another team building video assignment

We completed another M&IT Agency Challenge film this week for CAT Publications, at which delegates carry out a team building video exercise consisting of them producing a short promo on one of the presentations held throughout the day.

The whole Video Artisan service includes supplying video shooting kits for the team building video exercises and then editing each team’s film on site – and finally screening the results at the end of the day. In addition, our crew also shoot a background documentary on the event, which includes coverage of the other team building activities and presentations – plus interviews with delegates and sponsors. Not only does this serve as a great documentary of the day but it also acts as a great promotional tool for future events. As with all video content, this will also add to your general search engine visibility.

Team building video activities are beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, delegates have to take special care to listen to each presentation as they’ll be expected to know the subjects well in order to produce their film. Secondly, the time restraints placed on them means they have to quickly come up with ideas and work out how they are going to shoot their films and how they are going to be put them together – never losing sight of the fact that they have a story to tell. This helps to develop their leadership skills, their creative thinking and their ability to deliver a product as a team. Thirdly, shooting films is fun, and nothing aids the process of learning as having fun. And of course, the resultant film will act as a permanent reminder of things they have learned.

Team building video Shooting
Team building video exercises make the message stick!

The M&IT Agency Challenge events are certainly a great example of how team building video exercises fit within a learning programme. This is now the third event we have covered for CAT Publications and the feedback from the delegates would suggest that the team building video exercise is an important and enjoyable part of the event.

If your organisation is looking for something new, exciting and adaptable for your next training or presentation event, then we’d be very pleased to talk you through the process of introducing a team building video exercise.

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High-level video communications

Dorchester Abseil
Taking video communications to a new level

Filming internal video communications can often be dull and uninteresting – especially when you are not directly involved in the activity. However, every now and then a video communications job comes in which is rewarding, challenging, exciting and pushes us beyond our usual comfort zone. This job was an excellent example and not only put my filming skills and kit to the test but also tested my nerves and ability to rise (or should I say “descent”) to the challenge.

When Video Communications becomes great PR!

As part of their corporate social responsibility programme, on 20th August The Dorchester Hotel organised a sponsored abseil down the front of their iconic building in London’s Mayfair in aid of Cancer Research. With over 60 members of staff taking part, and under the guidance of abseiling specialists, Eiger Safety, the event was filmed by Video Artisan as a memento for those involved and to provide the hotel with some excellent PR opportunities.

It is not uncommon for an event such as this to pass by unnoticed, but by commissioning a video communications film you get two stabs at gaining as much publicity as possible. This was not only important for the hotel but also for Cancer Research and those members of staff who showed great spirit in making the descent, many of which were taking part in their own time. However, there wasn’t much chance of this event going unnoticed as the abseil was set up on the front of The Dorchester in full view of passers by, guests coming and going from the hotel as well as members of the press who had gathered below.

The right kit for the job

Unlike other video communications jobs this one required some specialist kit to give the viewer a much better view of the action and a sense drama. Apart from the obligatory safety kit (climbing hats, harnesses and other abseiling paraphernalia), Video Artisan had the opportunity to put their latest acquisition to good use – namely a JVC Adixxion Action Camera (GC-XA2BE) which was attached to the climbing hat of the main abseil instructor who was accompanying the volunteers as they descended down the building. The main action filming was carried out using our JVC GY-HM650.

JVC Adixxion
Setting up the JVC Adixxion to film

Having looked at the features and benefits of all the alternative action cameras, Video Artisan chose the JVC Action Camera for a number of reasons. We regularly use the GY-HM650 camera on video communications projects and were looking to add a small POV camera to capture shots that are otherwise impossible. The Dorchester Hotel abseil gave us an excellent opportunity to put the camera to the test and provided us with an abseiler’s view of the activity. Apart from matching nicely with our GY-HM650, one of the main reasons for buying the Adixxion was its robustness. There were lots of opportunities for the camera to get knocked whist the abseilers made the descent down the hotel facia – and the last thing you need to worry about is the camera being damaged or, worst still, being knocked off its mounting and causing a hazard to the crowd below.

We’ve also used the Adixxion on another corporate shoot for a golf tutoring product which required a shot from the golf ball’s perspective (blog coming soon) and it would have been impossible to use anything other than a small POV to achieve this. In the next couple of weeks we’ll also be using the camera’s 5m depth waterproof feature (without the need for any additional housing) on a shoot in the Dominican Republic. With a whole host of mounting options and accessories I can see the Adixxion being used time and time again. The other features that really sold it to me are that it uses a full-sized SD card, has a preview screen built in, can shoot up to 50/60fps in 1920×1080 resolution and has both side and bottom mounting positions.

Keeping video communications safe

There were of course many safety issues to keep in mind throughout the day. The real action was at the top of the climb as the abseilers were prepared to go over the edge, so not only did we have to make sure that I was properly secured but also the main camera and anything attached to it. Filming the climbers’ reactions as they went over was very important, meaning that for much of the time we had to lean right over the edge to catch the action as they made their initial descent.

Keeping it safe
Keeping it safe

 

We also had to film some of the action as they reached the ground (which had its own risks) and meant that we were constantly having to rig and de-rig as we made our way from ground to roof and back again. In these situations it would be very easy to lose sight of your own safety and that of those around you but thankfully the guys at Eiger Safety were keeping a constant eye on all activities whilst making sure it was a great experience for those taking part whilst ensuring that we always had the best shots.

The final challenge

Having witnessed close-up the buzz and excitement throughout the day I simply couldn’t refuse the offer of having a go down the ropes myself. I have worked with Eiger Safety on their promotional video and have filmed in some amazing situations as they carried out their various height-safety services but never actually managed to do any abseiling myself. I can’t honestly say I’m fearful of heights but don’t mind admitting this was outside of my comfort zone. But, having watched so many people who were truly nervous going down for the benefit of others, I couldn’t resist their offer.

Your next video communications project

I like to think I have proved my dedication to helping organisations create excellent video communications – so next time you are doing something which is worth telling others about then I am your man. Any challenge accepted – as long as it is safe!

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Videotape to DVD for converting VHS, VHS-C, DV, Video8 and many other videotape formats

Videotape to DVD conversions Title
Videotape to DVD conversions by Video Artisan

Videotape to DVD – and every other combination

Video Artisan has been converting videotape to DVD for many years now and specialise in providing our clients with a fast, efficient and discreet service. Primarily aimed at customers who are looking for a local company to carry out their videotape to DVD conversions who prefer not to trust their precious memories to a postal service, we take great pride in helping our clients preserve and archive them on a more convenient and up-to-date format.

With day and evening time drop-off facilities in Loughton, Essex – we regularly carry out videotape to DVD conversion services to clients throughout Essex, London, Hertfordshire and beyond.

What is the benefit of videotape to DVD conversion?

The most common reason for our customers wanting to convert their videotape to DVD is that they no longer have a working machine to play them back on. However, there are a number of other benefits to having your videotape converted to DVD.

  • Whilst there are no advantages in terms of picture and sound quality (the quality of the original recording governs this), some modern DVD playback machines will up-scale the image when played back on a high definition screen giving the impression of a better quality image.
  • DVDs offer a much more sophisticated and quicker playback function – allowing you to quickly search through the content of the DVD. If you opt for our premium videotape to DVD service we can also add chapter points throughout the DVD enabling you to skip to designated parts of the recording.
  • DVDs also require much less storage or shelf space and, depending on the videotapes being converted, can hold the contents of a number of tapes on a single disk. (See sections below on tape capacities)
  • DVDs, if converted properly, can be played back on a variety of machines. These include standard DVD players, Sony PlayStation, Blu-ray players, Computers with DVD drives and portable all-in-one DVD player/screens. Whilst no format is guaranteed to last forever, DVDs are still widely manufactured and supported in new optical disk technologies.
  • Once converted to DVD it is very easy to make further copies – without losing any further quality in the recording. Video Artisan can provide these additional copies for a few pounds at the time of converting the videotape to DVD and recommend this for archiving purposes. Whilst the lifespan of a DVD, if stored correctly, will last for many years the memories they hold are very precious so it is always advisable to back them up.
  • Converting videotape to DVD involves digitising the pictures and sound and storing them in a digital format on the disk. Our standard service results in a disk which can be played back in a range of devices (see above) – but these files can also be imported into a video editing program for further copying and editing on a computer. Exploring the disk on a computer will reveal folders that contain files with a ‘.VOB’ suffice. By copying these to your computer and renaming them with a ‘.MPG’ suffice you can carry out more refinement yourself – although it might result in degradation if further compression is added. Alternatively, Video Artisan can convert the videotape into a range of edit-ready file formats for you to use directly that will help you retain as much quality as possible (available by separate quotation).

What is the most popular videotape to DVD conversion service?

Without doubt, the most regular videotape to DVD services we carry out is good old VHS to DVD. With literally millions of feet of VHS tape still in existence, holding many thousands of hours of family memories, these represent over 70% of the conversions carried out here at Video Artisan. Whilst there are a few VHS players available to buy new, the format is obsolete and the vast majority of machines are either defunct or coming to the end of their useful lives. Whilst it is a robust format, playing back your VHS tapes, or any other videotape format come to that, has the potential of damaging the tape beyond repair – especially when the machine has been poorly maintained, stored in damp or dirty conditions or simply not regularly powered up and used.

VHS to DVD
VHS to DVD – our most popular videotape to DVD service

VHS to DVD durations

VHS tapes come in a variety of lengths, ranging from a few minutes to up 4-hours. In addition, many recorders and camcorders offered the ability to record in long-play mode, which doubled the recording length available (at the cost of a lower quality recording). Converting VHS to DVD can therefore result in one tape needing to be spread over a number of DVDs. The capacity of a DVD is also governed by the amount of compression used when carrying out the conversion – but in a similar long-play mode will hold up to 4-hours on a standard single-sided DVD. The amount on compression that is used in the videotape to DVD process will depend on the quality of the original recording and we generally recommend a standard level of compression that will allow for up to 2-hours per DVD.

VHS-C

Videotape to DVD - VHS-C
VHS-C to DVD

To help reduce the size of the camcorder many manufacturers adopted a smaller variant of VHS – called VHS-C (the ‘C’ standing for ‘Compact’). These cassettes are slightly bigger than a cigarette packet in size. The most common running time for these cassettes is just 30-minutes but there were also 45-minute variants and, as with VHS, the machines offered a Long-play mode which doubled the recording time.

As VHS-C tapes recorded in exactly the same format as a normal VHS tape they can be played back in a normal VHS player with the use of an adapter which the tapes slotted into. These are the second most common tapes Video Artisan receives for videotape to DVD conversion.

S-VHS, S-VHSC and Digital S

JVC and other manufacturers further developed the VHS format to increase the picture quality and the most common of these was S-VHS (Super VHS). Identical in appearance and offering the same recording times, these cameras and VCRs were only popular for a short period in time. The Digital S format is comparatively rare and was normally only found on professional equipment.

Video8 or 8mm, Hi8 and Digital 8

Video8 or 8mm to DVD
Video8 or 8mm to DVD

Sony also developed a compact videotape format based on 8mm tape – which are roughly the size of a pack of playing cards and could contain up to 135-minutes of video in standard mode. Further developments in 8mm tape included Hi8 and Digital 8 (90-mins recording) formats – which offered higher quality recordings.

MiniDV, Standard DV, DVCAM and HDV

Further miniaturisation of camcorder cassettes saw the introduction of various DV tape formats based on a tape width of 6.5mm. The most common of these is Mini DV, which uses cassettes roughly the size of a Swan Vesta box of matches – but a little shorter. The most common recording time of these cassettes is 60-minutes.

DV to DVD
DV to DVD

Though less common, and usually only found in high-end or professional cameras and VCRs, Standard DV tapes are larger in size and almost identical to 8mm cassettes mentioned above. Further variations of 6.5mm tapes include DVCAM, DVCPRO and, in it’s high-definition variations, HDV, DVCPRO HD.

Mini DVD camcorders

In more recent years manufacturers developed cameras which recorded to a mini-DVD disk. The disks are 8cm in diameter and offered the benefit of being playable in a normal DVD player once they were ‘Finalised’. Basically, the process of finalisation was carried out once you filled the disks up or did not want to add any more video to them. Without finalisation the disks could not be played in anything other than the camcorder itself – so it is quite common for clients to have these disks in un-finalised state and unable to play them back if they no longer have the camcorder. However, Video Artisan have specialist software applications which enable us to extract the un-finalised files and convert them to DVD. Please note, this isn’t always possible and can result in part of the recordings being unrecoverable.

HDD (Hard Disk Drive) Camcorders

Camcorder HDD to DVD
Camcorder HDD to DVD

Further miniaturisation was achieved by the introduction of camcorders with internal HDD recorders negating the need for tapes. The main drawback of these camcorders was that once the HHD were full you had to transfer the video off to another device or media. Whilst it is rare for Video Artisan to provide a conversion service for these cameras we can do as long as your camcorder is still working.

Solid State or Memory Card Cameras

The most common current camcorder recording system uses solid state technology which records to a memory card. These are usually SD cards but can include CF Cards (Compact Flash), MicroSD, MiniSD, SDHC, XD, MS Duo, MMCmicro and MMCPlus. These can all be easily converted to DVD for easy playback.

Other video formats

Whilst Video Artisan can provide all of the above videotape to DVD services in-house, we can also arrange conversion of pretty much any one of the more specialist or rare video tape and digital formats – including Micro MV, Betamax, Betamax ED, Video 2000, U-Matic, 1”, 2”, Digi-Beta, M2 and more. These conversions are carried out by separate quotation and usually take longer to complete.

Not just videotape to DVD

Audio Cassette to Audio CD
Audio Cassette to Audio CD

Whilst DVD is by far the most common format we convert to, we are also able to deliver the conversion on a number of different storage media. This includes Blu-ray, Memory Cards, USB sticks, portable HDD and data DVDs. We can also convert Cine Film to DVD too – in various gauges (8mm, Super8, 16mm and 35mm).

We can also convert audio cassettes to Audio CD. Please ask for details.

Cost of converting to DVD

The vast majority of our videotape to DVD conversions come under our standard rates as detailed here.  However, we also offer discounts on orders involving 10 or more tapes (of varying formats) – and can provide various bespoke packages including editing, captioning, duplication and specialist disk packaging. Please call for more details or visit our studio in Loughton, Essex to discuss the options.

Call: 020 3602 3356
Mobile: 0777 153 5692

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Video Production in Essex

Video Production for Business

Video production in Essex definitely seems to be on the up, with a surge in activity amongst on-line marketeers, businesses and government institutions looking to exploit the power of video on their website, within their social networking platforms and in direct video marketing activities.

Video is no longer just for larger corporations and businesses, but has fast become the marketing tool for organisations of all sizes.  It’s not just about driving direct sales either, but is fast becoming the preferred method of delivering all kinds of information – be that news bulletins, instruction manuals, internal communications and any story which can be shared through this very engaging and highly effective medium.

What’s all the interest in video production in Essex?

Video production in Essex is proving so popular for a number of reasons.  Firstly, Essex is booming – especially in areas surrounding Video Artisan’s studios in Loughton, Essex.  Situated just inside the M25, we’re well within the London catchment area and are well positioned to serve businesses and organisations in Central London and beyond.  With the UK’s motorway network on our doorstep we can be anywhere in the UK with ease whilst at the same time connected to Central London via Loughton Station which is on the London Underground Central Line.

Video production is, and always has been, a very competitive service industry.  Modern high definition cameras and technology are becoming ever more affordable – making it more and more accessible to everyone with a story to tell.  Stepping just outside of the Central London video production industry our clients can save many thousands of pounds in production costs without losing any of the benefits of having a highly targeted and professionally produced film. At Video Artisan you get London agency productions at out-of-town rates.

Video production in Essex is therefore not about making compromises – but rather about making huge savings and yet still being able to tap into all the advantages that commissioning a video production can offer.

We’re not just local though – and regularly travel throughout the UK and beyond to help our clients create video content which helps them achieve their goals.

Look no further for video production in Essex

To find out how Video Artisan can help you to harness the power of video, and for a no-obligation appraisal and quotation, please contact us today.

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Creating a custom Vine video

Vine Video
Creating a custom vine video for business

What’s this Vine Video all about?

It’s time to admit it… I was one of those who thought Vine video was just another gimmicky social media platform that was going disappear quicker than it appeared. It hadn’t even shown up on my radar until Twitter bought Vine Video out at the end of 2012 for a reported $30 million (source Vine Video Wiki) – but even then I couldn’t quite see what all the fuss was about. Isn’t it funny, this all changed the moment I had a call from one of my regular clients asking if I could produce a Vine video series for them. Of course I could – and I’m now well and truly hooked!

Vine video website
Vine video website

Vine video was originally an iOS app that enabled you to create short, looping videos with your mobile device and then upload and share them. By the beginning of 2013 it was available on Android too – but it really started coming alive when the web version was released in May this year. The maximum clip length is 6-seconds (just over apparently) and the simple Vine video app enables you to compile your video (with sound) in bursts or as stop-frame animation. Once completed you can then add descriptions and tags and share your Vine video through Facebook and Twitter (and others) – or embed it on your website.

You might be reading this and thinking that Vine is nothing new as you can do pretty much everything here with YouTube. However, the main way that Vine video differs is by it 6-second time limit and looping playback which lends itself to different content to YouTube. The content on Vine video also differs as it has to be created via the Vine app (well not really but I’ll come to that) and the camera within the device. You can of course make things easier for yourself (and make better Vines) by using accessories on your phone such as external microphones, lens adapters, tripods… but you’ll see that much of the content on Vine is basic, low production value content shot by normal people using their basic device and nothing else – other than a creative mind!

You’ll also see some pretty spectacular 6-second films which will have you wondering how they shot them using just a phone or tablet. You’ll also come across more and more Vines which were obviously not shot on a phone. These are what are commonly referred to as ‘Custom Vines’, and are generally pretty highly polished films that have been shot and edited professionally and the user has been able to circumvent Vine’s normal upload process.

Creating a Custom Vine video

Vine’s current inability to upload externally produced videos has been a major frustration for users and had resulted in a few third-party solutions that enable you to fool Vine into thinking the content you’re posting was created within the app. I’ve not used this, but one of the first of these was a free iOS app called ‘Uploader for Vine’. There were also other ways you could manually kid Vine by replacing the temporary video files created prior to publishing with pre-created content. But now there’s a really simple Google Chrome extension that does the job really neatly – namely Vine Client. Using Chrome, simply go to the website and activate the extension, open a free account and link it to your Vine account and you’re off.

Vine Client
Using Vine Client to upload your custom Vine videos

The technical spec for Custom Vine video file is reasonably straight forward and achievable with any half respectable editing system – but must be adhered to for a trouble-free upload. The file needs to be less than 5Mb and between 3 and 6.8 seconds in length. They recommend using MP4 using the H.264 codec (but there are other file formats they’ll accept) – with a square format pixel dimension of 480px by 480px at a maximum bitrate of 1,200Kbps. The audio should be 64 Kpbs bitrate, 44.1 Khz, 2 channels, AAC. An audio stream needs to be present, even if silent.

Once you have your formatted files it’s then simply a case of logging on to Vine Client and uploading it – job done! I suspect that Vine will eventually cave in to users’ demands and build-in the ability to upload Custom Vines directly (or more likely monetize that process) – but until they do this process seems to work quite well.

Start having some fun with Vine Video

Like other users my first attempts were video doodles created within the app itself. I’m a big fan of Instagram for photos and occasionally use its video tools too (apparently there are tools/processes to enable you to create Custom Instagrams as well – see useful reference site here about difference), but I think Vine’s simplicity is what has won favour amongst its rapidly expanding user base. Creating Custom Vines though opens up a whole new world of video fun.

Nipper Clipper Vines

Getting back to where this all started, my client Stylfile (one of Lord Sugar’s enterprises headed up by Apprentice winner and inventor, Tom Pellereau) wanted to create a collection of Vine videos to celebrate the first anniversary of their Nipper Clipper baby and toddler nail clipping product (see blog here). Having produced a number of films for them about Nipper Clipper and other products in the Stylfile range, the thought was to produce a series of Vines based on existing footage which had the potential to generate viral interest.

The first Nipper Clipper Vine appeared on 17th June to coincide with the product’s launch in 2013. Happy Birthday Nipper Clipper! More will follow in the series – so keep an eye on Vine.

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