Marketing Video Marketing Video Production Visual Storytelling

Testimonials – Getting the Word Out

Your customers know what makes your business special. Let them tell the story for you. We all see written testimonials and recommendations posted on the web and they’re great. But when you use the power of video to share testimonials, the message is even more engaging. What could be more powerful than actual people telling the world what they think of your business? Putting a face on the message raises the credibility and the impact.

Testimonial videos are also great for social media. These days almost everyone spends time on social media. By having a video presence, you keep the attention of your customers longer and you give them something interesting to share with their friends. Just imagine what a television commercial would cost you. In today’s world, you can take that same content and share it on social media for a fraction of the cost. Depending on how it is shared, a social media post could stick around for a lot longer. After all, it is viewable on demand. Check out this video we created for Cycle Therapy Bikes.

As Brenda Burch, social media expert and owner of Social Media is Simple, says about the video we did for Cycle Therapy: “Video is the BIG THING and this video is beautifully done, authentic as heck, talks about the bikes, but also talks about the experience and the PEOPLE. We love this!”

Story in Focus is proud of the business we’ve created and our customers know the value of our services. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. With video, you can capture what your customers have to say about your business and share it with the world. We work hard to make your customers comfortable in front of the camera and we engage them in a relaxed conversation. When this happens, powerful phrases just naturally pour from their mouths and we collect those bits of gold in a concise video. Is it time to let others blow your horn? Why not use a testimonial video to bolster word-of-mouth marketing for your business? Give us a call and we’ll work with you to share what makes your business special on the web.

Aerial Services Video Marketing Video Production

My aerial videography and photography journey

Aerial Video flight
Greg arming the UAV for an aerial video mission.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, are a big trend these days. For once, I’m actually part of a trend. Without knowing it,  I’ve been moving towards aerial videography since I was a child. It allows me to combine the two defining passions of my life.

My father was a forest ranger in northern Alberta, so I grew up on the end of a runway. I have many fond memories of being allowed to go up in Bell 47s and the forestry’s Helio Courier.

I started flying radio-controlled aircraft in high school and still remember the simple six-channel radios used at that time. My best friend Gord and I would load up a couple of gliders and search for a slope from which to soar.

After high school, I studied aircraft maintenance at SAIT. Soon, I was working on light aircraft doing everything from regular maintenance to complete rebuilds. I was one of the few from my class that actually used the lessons learned about fabric covering.

In the 1980s Alberta’s economy took a downturn, and jobs in aircraft maintenance dwindled. For a while, I pursued my other love—capturing images. I started off selling cameras, but soon I was assisting a very talented commercial photographer who taught me many things about photography and advanced darkroom techniques. Later, I did audio visual shows with large banks of synchronized slide projectors. I loved the technical aspect and started a business creating slides for business presentations.

When that market was eliminated by computer programs like PowerPoint, I returned to aviation. I became an air traffic controller. I loved working in the Lethbridge tower. Every day I went to work and watched the planes. It was perfect. But then they moved me to the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) stream. There were no planes in sight and I was not happy.

In high school, I spent many hours in the machine shop making things. I decided to pursue a career as a machinist. Quickly, I became very good at what I did because I enjoy solving problems. I never took a production job because I knew that would kill me. Instead, I became a research and development machinist specializing in prototype work. I loved being inventive and designing things. I even made things for myself, such as a computer controlled camera mount for making virtual reality photographs, and a computer-controlled foam-cutting machine for production of radio-controlled aircraft wings. The computer-controlled foam-cutting machine was eventually purchased by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for use in their low-speed aerodynamics lab.

I was still playing with photography, and when digital video became affordable, I was in like a dirty shirt. Due to family reasons, a few years ago we started planning to move to the coast. My wife Debbie and I knew it was best to bring jobs with us, so I started making videos on the side. When we arrived on the coast, we launched Story in Focus video production.

It’s been a great journey so far and we’ve decided to take it one step further. Before moving to the coast, I started building unmanned aerial vehicles. I now have two that are ready to fly. We obtained our first Special Flight Operations Certificates a few weeks ago and have several others planned for the near future.

I have found a way to combine my love of flying radio control, knowledge of how things work, aviation safety knowledge, and film skills in one package. I am doing what I was made to do and I am loving it.

Aerial Services

“Drone” safety considerations

Drone-UAS over Birds Eye Cove Farm
A drone flight over Birds Eye Cove Farm.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), better known as drones, require special safety considerations. Recently, The Province published a great article: The buzz on drones: Operators need to know how to fly them safely.

Story in Focus recently went through the process of obtaining a Special Flight Operation Certificate (SFOC) from Transport Canada. It isn’t easy. Transport Canada requires manuals that detail safety, roles, operation and maintenance of each UAS the company intends to use. But it is more than a paperwork exercise. By carefully documenting our procedures, we were able to ensure that safety will be maintained throughout our operation. My background in air traffic control and aircraft maintenance came in useful when preparing the manuals, so did my partner’s technical writing skills.

In addition to manuals, Transport Canada also requires operators to carry liability insurance. Story in Focus carries $2M. We will continue to do our best to ensure that nothing goes wrong, but if it does we have coverage.

Companies wanting to employ the services of a UAS operator should ensure their contractor is properly certified and insured. It is not legal for a company to sell UAS services without a SFOC from Transport Canada. Fines from Transport Canada range from $10,000.00 to $25,000.00. The UAS operator must also be properly insured; otherwise, if an incident happens, your company may be at risk.

The UAS industry is in its infancy and every day there are new uses for this technology. It’s not just for aerial photography. Farmers can use near infrared images to evaluate the health of their crops. Inspections of mining, construction and lumbering sites can be completed at a lower cost and more safely. In an afternoon, a UAS can gather all the information required to calculate the volume of mining stockpiles.

Infrared cameras can show heat loss from roofs or find a lost child in the woods. Images taken by using a UAS can be used to generate 3D models. This enables architects to design buildings in harmony with their surroundings while saving excavation expenses and minimizing environmental impact. These are just a few examples of what can be done. I’m sure you can think of others.

Using a UAS can save money, as long as it is used in a safe manner. That is the purpose of the SFOC process. Obtaining a SFOC helps ensure safety is in the forefront. If you ever want to explore the ways in which a UAS operator could help your company, please give me a call.

The video posted with this blog was a test of a new camera mount.

Greg Nuspel (250-510-7971)

Video Marketing

Co-operative social networking is a win-win

Co-op social networking sets off the fireworks
Co-op social networking sets off the fireworks

by Debbie Bateman

I’m sure that you know how important networking is for connecting with potential customers. When we need a product or service, we all tend to ask someone we know for a recommendation. The advantage of this approach is that it gives us confidence in the quality of the product or service being offered. If the person we know was satisfied, we believe we will be satisfied too.

It used to be that word-of-mouth spread by phone or face-to-face contact. Nowadays it spreads by the internet and the message reaches an exponentially increasing audience. Thanks to social media for business, satisfied customers can share recommendations and business owners can share their expertise with a huge audience.

The key to sharing expertise and winning new customers is to provide value-added content. It demonstrates your expertise and it makes people happy because it solves a problem. Video is a great platform for this purpose because it grabs people’s attention.

But what is value-added content? If you figure out what your customers need to know and give that information to them, you are providing value-added content. For example, a lawn care service might explain how to remove fairy rings. A roofing company might explain how to tell when a roof needs replacement.

Customer recommendations and value-added content are good, but what if your marketing budget is limited? You may think that you can’t afford videos. The driving force behind all social media is people helping each other. The same force can be used to expand the budget available for video and the number of people who will see the video. If businesses that market to a similar customer base combine their resources and create a video that is shared on all of their social networks, the reach of the message virtually explodes.

Let’s look at a simple example. A butcher shop wants to highlight the quality of the meat it provides. Local chefs want to showcase the wonderful meals they prepare at their restaurant. They decide to join forces for marketing. The butcher shop provides the steak and the chefs prepare a meal—all of this is captured on video. You can almost taste the steak it looks so good. Both businesses share the video on their social networks. The message reaches more people. Both businesses gain new customers as a result and they both were able to stretch their marketing budget. Talk about a win/win.

Here are a few other potential matches:

  • a cheese shop and a wine shop
  • a business offering kayak tours and a nearby resort
  • a photographer and a wedding planner
  • a realtor and a landscaper
  • a childcare service and a yoga studio

There are hundreds of combinations. You already know which businesses fit best with yours because you already network with them. Share the cost, fun, creativity and adventure while increasing your social reach. Let’s find someone you can team up with and together we can create that next great video sensation.


Video Production Visual Storytelling

Shooting video with a smartphone

Smartphone videoLots of articles have been written about how to produce videos with a smartphone. Most of them describe how to use the equipment and skip over the need for video production skills. This can be misleading. If you don’t have video production skills, you won’t create useful videos and it doesn’t matter what type of equipment you use.

Don’t get me wrong. I think using a smartphone to shoot video is a great idea. Why? Because it enables you to see if you can develop the skills that go into producing an effective video. And you can do that without spending a lot of money. If you’ve decided to shoot your own video using a smartphone, these are some of the skills you’ll need.

Skill #1: Shooting strong visuals

A smartphone lets you practice the basics of capturing strong visuals: composition, camera moves and lighting. With a smartphone, you can experiment with angles and level of focus. You can try simple camera moves like panning and tilting. You can also learn about effective lighting. Try shooting under various lighting conditions. See what the shadows say when they move across a person’s face. Lighting allows you to capture mood, but when used carelessly it can ruin a video.

Most people go through a few stages in their discovery. Your first reaction may be, this is cool. I can actually shoot video. Wow. Your friends and family will cheer you on. Then the next stage will arrive. You will start to discover errors. If you care about improving, you will likely reach the stage at which you think everything you shoot sucks. Congratulations, you are on your way. The everything-I-shoot-sucks stage is the most important stage because it means you are actually learning to tell the difference. Dig in. Soon you will begin to improve in significant ways. There will be plateaus, yes. Never mind. Keep pushing and soon you’ll move up the learning path.

Skill #2: Capturing quality sound

As your images improve, you may come to realize that the sound quality is not on par. Try watching a selection of YouTube videos. People will stop watching a video with poor sound sooner than they will stop watching poor visuals. If you’re going to produce your own videos, you need to learn how to capture quality sound. This will likely involve using a better microphone than the one on your smartphone. You’ll need to test microphones and different techniques until you find the best ways to get quality sound. This will take you as much time and effort as developing visual skills.

Skill #3: Telling an interesting story

The whole time you’ve been learning about visuals and sound, you should be developing your storytelling skills. Without story, videos are boring. Watch anything good. The more a video sticks with you, the better its story. A person who cares about creating good stories should be constantly looking for them in books, movies, newspapers, TV shows and everyday conversation. Whenever you find a good story, ask yourself what makes that story good. Many books have been written about story plots and how they work. You can excel at storytelling if you take the time to study these books.

Skill #4: Editing down to the essentials

The final step is editing. Without editing, you will not have a video people will watch. Everybody shoots stuff that is not useful or engaging. If material doesn’t add to the story, take it out. Keep reducing, always challenging yourself to remove more. The better you trim, the sharper the end result.

So those are the essential skills and they take time to learn. As with any skills, the more you practise, the better you will become. And yes, you can do all of this with a smartphone.