Creating a Quick Promotional Film

Creating a Quick Promotional Film

I was tempted to title this blog ‘Creating a Quick Promotional Film for Free!’, but that is really not possible if you put any value at all on your time (or the time of a company like Video Artisan!).  If you are serious about business, then I am sure you will understand this.  And, if you have ever tried to create a professionally looking promotional film yourself, you’ll understand that it can be VERY time consuming – especially if you have got to shoot lots of original footage in order to tell your story.

However, this article will reveal how to you can take a big slice off that time commitment and get your story out to your audience a whole lot quicker – and often a whole lot cheaper!  I will cover how you can start creating a quick promotional film using purely stock footage and images and share a case study which epitomises this approach.

We are all aware of the growing influence that video content has on SEO for your website and social media marketing, but the recent social distancing restrictions have made the challenge of creating a quick promotional film a little harder.  We are still shooting original footage for clients, and sometimes that’s the only thing that will work, but these restrictions add a layer of complexity and logistical demands that might put some companies off the idea.  Do not let that happen!  Adding video into your marketing mix is essential these days (If you are still not convinced read our in-depth article here).

SEO used in Creating a Quick Promotional Film
Video is at the heart of perfect Search Engine Optimization

Case Study – ‘Haynes Group – The Core of your Connected Future’

This case study is an excellent example of how we helped in creating a quick promotional film – exceptionally quick in fact.  The Haynes Group, who are a structured cabling company, approached Video Artisan at the end of May and 10-days later the final version was signed off and in use.  It does not include a single second of originally shot video – and we did not spend a single moment in face-to-face meetings with the client (or anyone come to that) – so a perfect example of observing social-distancing when it was at its height.

The initial enquiry came about through the MD of the Haynes Group spotting a short promotional video we produced on ourselves called, ‘Local Films for Local Firms’ (watch here ).  This was distributed on our Facebook page (among other platforms) and within an hour of its release generated the enquiry from the Haynes Group asking if we could do something for them.

We then studied website content to get a feel for what they were all about, and then followed this up with a Zoom meeting with their MD to talk though exactly what they wanted the video to achieve.

As the Haynes Group worked on projects throughout Europe, with the COVID travel restrictions in place it was obvious that we were not going to be able to acquire footage of their current projects.  Even without the COVID situation many of their structured cabling projects are within extremely sensitive server centers so it was totally impractical to film anything original within a reasonable time and budget. 

Everything about this project was calling for use of stock footage so we set about researching what was available that would enable us to tell their story.  Thankfully, Shutterstock gave us all the answers and the solution to creating a quick promotional film.  We did look through some of the free stock libraries, but nothing came close to the selection and quality available through Shutterstock. 

We made the client fully aware of the costs involved in licencing this and our fees on top for bringing it all together and we were still under what they thought they would have to spend. And even after adding a voiceover and royalty-free music it brought the overall budget to around £3,500.

Getting Stocked up for Creating a Quick Promotional Film

Though we were unable to tap into free stock images on this occasion, we often do.  Another film created around the same time illustrates just how effective free stock can be and how it can add to the story you are trying to tell. 

For the ‘Smiths of Loughton – At your Service’ film created for a local retailer (watch the film here) we blended original footage with free stock video clips from www.pexels.com. This is another library which I turn to often and has a useful array of more generic footage.  A search on Pexels will also show what is available from paid-for libraries which I guess is how the site is funded.  It also has a great selection of still images too.

A sensible approach is to write your script according to the stock footage available – especially when the budget is limited.  You might find that you have to tweak your script to make the pictures work more effectively for you  But don’t go too far with this otherwise you will lose the story you are trying to tell.

You might even find that searching through these libraries inspires you to create even more stories.  I certainly found this when we create a series of short social media video adverts for our own business.  With a bit of imagination, and some skilful editing and use of words, you can craft a whole new meaning and life into otherwise inert stock.

And do not rule out looking in your own archives.  If you have created videos before there is a surprisingly good chance that some of the footage could be used again – especially if your story tells something of your history or how things have changed over time. 

Feel like Creating a Quick Promotional Film?

If you are interested in seeing what could be created for your company or organisation from stock footage – or maybe a blend of original content combined with stock – then please get in touch.  We will work with you on developing your story and creating it in the most cost-effective and creative way. 

Creating a Quick Promotional Film can be an extremely rewarding and profitable experience – and we would really love to help you along the way.

Kevin Cook
+44 (0) 20 3602 3356
kevin@video-artisan.com

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Local video production

Local Video Production

Hear how Video Artisan is demonstrating the power of local video production as an effective marketing tool.

What is the benefit of using a local video production company?  The answer, pre-COVID, was, “not a lot, really!”.  We were all used to travelling, casting our marketing nets further and looking beyond our local business community for business and services.  I dare say some of this was price driven.  We all believed we could, “get it cheaper elsewhere”, and that “elsewhere” could be many miles away. 

I think it was deeper than that though.  We had all broadened our horizons and travelling habits.  We had become entrepreneurial globetrotters – and loved it! Then COVID lockdown hit and our world collapsed. Many companies in our industry were, and still are, extremely nervous and could not see a future for local video production.  Now we must.

No hiding away – Local Video Production is here to stay!

I will mention this now as it must be mentioned. There are many businesspeople that see it as poor publicity to even mention the word ‘COVID’ in any marketing material or conversation.  It is a bit like Harry Potter’s Voldemort – ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’.  Well, here you go… COVID, COVID, COVID!  Writing about it and talking about it is not going to make you get it. It is a fact of life that we must deal with.  The alternative is to roll over and play dead – and we are not going to do that.

I too was a bit in shock for a while after seeing about 80% of our business disappear almost overnight.  Our two main areas of income were derived from the corporate events industry and large-scale military exercises.  Both gone – in the stroke of a pen.  We soon realised it was time to go back to our roots and serve the demand for local video production services. It is there; you just have shorten your sights.

Local video production in Kenya
Filming in Kenya – A while off yet!

Moving back home

When we started Video Artisan back in 2012, I spent some time looking at what businesses were in my local town – Loughton in Essex.  I trawled through local business directories, drove around all the local business parks and commercial zones noting down address and company names (both physically and virtually using Google street view) and built up a database of local marketing targets.  I drafted a letter, addressed to ‘The Busiest Person in the Company’, because I didn’t have an actual name, and posted out about 250 letters announcing the offerings of my new local video production company. 

Within a couple of days, I had picked up a handful of clients that kept the business going through the first three years.  I am not claiming to be any kind of marketing guru, but that one single activity got me through what are often the most challenging years for any new business.  It was my ‘zero-to-hero’ moment and the COVID crisis has brought my focus back to my local community today.

Local films for local firms

Within a few weeks of lockdown we was starting to plan our return into the local business community.  Of course, we had never really left it but all our marketing efforts up until then been on a much wider scale.  That made sense pre-COVID, but like any marketing the wider you spread your message the thinner it becomes.  Local video production marketing is a lot more intimate and directed – and relatable to your intended targets on an otherwise difficult to achieve level.

Our first task was to make sure all our online efforts had a strong element of “local” about them.  In practice this means you’ve got to make sure your website content is location centric.  In the longer term, when we are all dashing about the globe again, this will not be wasted effort as your location is still an important part of your business make up. 

We also made sure our Social Media content and connections were inline with our local targeting. If you are selling local video production services, you want to make sure any search engine results include you when the term “near me” is typed in by a user (a very common thing users type into Google… “XYZ near me”).  Google My Business settings, the Facebook and LinkedIn Groups you belong to etc all should reflect your local ambitions and interests.

Local Video Production Show and tell

We then needed a piece of marketing collateral to hang our ‘local video production’ message on and the only logical medium we could use was a short video entitled ‘Local films for local firms’.  We had to put our money where our mouth was, and it was less than 24-hrs after releasing this through Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter that we had three strong enquiries. 

At the time of writing this blog two of those enquiries have been converted into completed films (turned around in a week).  The first was for a local retailer, and the second a local structured cabling company (see two videos below).  The third (a prospectus for a local school) starts in production at the beginning of July.

And this success has not stopped there.  We are now talking to a further three companies about their local video production requirements. 

Your turn to look more closely at Local Video Production

If your business is local to Loughton – or anywhere within Epping Forest and the surrounding areas – and want to explore ways we can help you to raise your profile through video, please get in touch.  We are sure we can introduce ideas into your marketing that will help you do more business locally too.  See our showreel here.

Please contact Kevin Cook on 020 3602 3356 – or email kevin@video-artisan.com

Key benefits to doing business locally

1 – Supporting local business helps the local economy, creating healthier financial surroundings for your own business to trade in.  What goes round, comes round!

2 – Supporting local business means less travel pollution and is kinder to the environment. Full stop!

3 – Local businesses will understand many of your business challenges more intimately.

4 – Local businesses form networks with other local businesses are more likely to trade with their connections. Get yourself connected too!

5 – Working with local businesses promotes and develops business intelligence for future employment.

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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 info@video-artisan.com.

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

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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 Anchor.fm. 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 www.headliner.app. 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 www.auphonic.com 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 kevin@video-artisan.com Please see our freelance rate card here.

You can subscribe to the Video Artisan Podcasts here:

Spotifyhttps://open.spotify.com/show/7DOHo7PuHsHqNI65kgxcZ5
Pocket Castshttps://pca.st/jygvuyry
Radio Pubichttps://radiopublic.com/video-artisan-WP4299
Stitcher – https://stitcher.com/show/496730

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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 Buffer.com (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 https://social-media.co.uk/list-popular-social-networking-websites

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
kevin@video-artisan.com
+44 (0) 20 3602 3356

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