Trailer and short clip video editing is a much needed service in the independent film world, especially by lower budget filmmakers who can’t go to the bigger digital agencies and spend tens of thousands to get a trailer cut. Too often, lower budget filmmakers try to edit trailers themselves, but are too close to the material to understand that a trailer is a sales tool, not a visual synopsis.
In addition, the internet space is becoming dominated by visual material, photos and video clips. It isn’t enough to have just one trailer, multiple video pieces are now needed to enable social sharing, video channel subscription growth and capture and maintain an audience’s attention over a long period of time in the lead up to release.
While searching online for video editors that specialize in short clips and trailers, I came across a new site called Videopixie, a community of video freelancers offering post-production services at fair prices. I immediately contacted the site’s cofounder and COO, Thomas Escourrou, to find out more about how Videopixie might be the solution for independent film marketers who are long on footage, and short on money and skills to create compelling marketing videos.
How long has Video Pixie been around?
TE: “We launched in June 2013. My cofounder and I have been in the video space for a while, but the site is less than a year old. We are growing quickly with a 700 member community of video freelancers: from editors, motion designers, animators, FX specialists, to videographers and writers.”
Video material is quickly taking over the internet space. Over 100 hours of video are uploaded just to Youtube every minute and over 6 billion hours of video are watched every month. There is a lot of competition for attention so a video really has to be compelling. Is Videopixie trying to help companies, non profits and artists who don’t have the skills and expertise to create their own videos do that in an affordable and collaborative way?
TE: “Definitely! Videos are everywhere now. With mobile access and higher bandwidths, video is becoming the medium of the web. Companies make videos to announce new products. Inventors and creators make videos to crowdfund their projects. Experts make videos to teach the world. App developers and filmmakers make trailers to sell more of their apps and films. As video distribution gets easier, the stakes are shifting to video production. How to create quality video content, frequently and affordably? When there was little distribution for a short video, it was an undertaking to invest in making a video and getting it into the world. Now that video can be put out online in a global way by anyone, it is a much more worthwhile investment.”
Video is also a great medium to put a face on a company or artist or non profit. You can demonstrate what they do, bring it to life, and make an emotional connection to an entity.
TE: “Right, basically show the soul of the venture. It isn’t easy to communicate soul through text and ad copy on the web. Video is more like real life. It hits a lot of the senses; sight, hearing, and the ability to have conversations around it. The web is becoming warmer and more human through the use of video.”
There is a nonprofit video clip I saw on your site showing what they do in Africa. It was awareness building for the organization and a fundraising initiative I guess.
TE: “Yes, the Impact Network is a non-profit improving the quality of education in rural Africa through digital tools. They needed a video for their annual fundraiser, to connect with potential donors. Their staff on the ground in Zambia shot some every day footage and interviews with their iPhones. They uploaded the footage to Videopixie and had it edited for about ~$250. The editor arranged the footage to tell a compelling story, and added some simple motion graphics.
It proves that you can get solid videos without spending a fortune. Of course, higher production value projects aren’t going away! The video production market is as vibrant as ever. But with marketplaces like Videopixie, it’s now possible to find great options for a wide range of budgets.
Often times, our users ask for help with their script and storyboard in the pre-production phase and we connect them with writers and directors. Buying 1 hour of a writer’s time to jazz-up a script is well worth it.
Kickstarter videos require planning and we have freelance directors/writers on the platform who help with pre-production. Kickstarter videos also benefit from polished post-production. Here is one of our blogs with tips to make great crowdfundng videos.”
How does one get started with Video Pixie for a project? What would I need to upload? How does the system work in getting an editor interested?
TE: “To get started, just answer a few questions about your video, upload any existing footage, and post the project to the community. Freelancers engage, suggesting ideas and styles. Some create teasers from the uploaded assets, others link to relevant videos they’ve made.
You receive the first bids within a few hours and hire the freelancer you like best. Then project delivery starts using collaboration tools (real time chat, easy file transfer, reviewing tools etc). Payment happens at the end when everyone is satisfied.”
Right, I saw there is a money back guarantee so there is protection on both sides. The editor knows the money is there so they won’t get stiffed for work. And the buyer is protected in that their money isn’t paid until they sign off on the final cut.
TE: “We play an insurance role for both parties, which brings peace of mind to the users and the freelancers. Users know they’ll only pay when satisfied. And freelancers know they’ll get paid for their work.
We chime in when necessary to make sure projects are budgeted properly, and that quality standards are met.”
If I am an editor looking for extra work, how do I get started with Video Pixie?
TE: “Signing up is easy, there is a link at the bottom of the home page. We require reels and a list of skill sets. Within minutes you can browse available projects and you’ll start receiving email notifications when new projects are posted.
You can ask questions directly to the clients from the real-time chat. You submit bids for projects you are interested in. If you have relevant reels then great – just attach those to your bid – or you have the option to create a teaser (using the project’s footage which we make available in SD for faster download in the bidding phase).”
When you say bid, do you mean you offer to do a project for a certain amount of money? Is it by the hour, by the project?
TE: “It is by the project, not an hourly rate. Editors have access to the database of projects that includes a brief, the asset list, and the budget range. They can quickly scan through and see what is involved in the project and how many others are also interested in bidding. If a lot of people are bidding, it might not be attractive to submit something. “
What is the typical turn around time on an edited piece?
TE: “It depends on the scope of what needs to be done. It could be just a few hours for very simple, scripted clips. Many of our users make videos every week, so they know exactly what to submit and what they want. For projects that need more creativity and back and forth, it could be one to two weeks.”
In uploading assets, how long can the footage be? A trailer for a feature film would involve uploading a 90 minute film.
TE: “There is no size limit. Uploading 200 GB of footage is no problem on a fast connection. We built an HTML5 resumable uploader called Evaporate JS. It works straight from the browser, no plugin. It’s free, and takes full advantage of your connection speed.
Uploading is the recommended workflow for most projects. Shipping hard-drives is also an option, and it is sometimes needed. For example, if the director wants the trailer cut from TeraBytes of uncompressed footage (eg. DPX , open EXR). In that case we still recommend to upload at least some footage so that interested editors can make teasers for you in the bidding period.
With the easy upload, you get a notification that it went through. We also have a notification system that alerts you when input is requested from either party. There is also a real time chat feature that gives a better sense of what it would be like to be in the editing suite with the person working on the project. We are also working on in-timeline commenting, so instead of making note of the timestamp to make comments on a certain aspect of the edit (make a hard cut or transition here, or insert a different image, or whatever), you can leave a comment within the timeline edit and the editor can bring those comments right into their editing suite, instead of searching through email or message communication. This is our next improvement.
It may be that you don’t upload the full hi res footage. Maybe you want to do proxy edits where you upload SD footage and editor works off of that to get the final cut. Then you would take that trailer file into your own editing system and render the high definition trailer on your own system. This is a process for a more advanced person who just needs help formulating a good edit.”
Besides non profit videos, weddings, music videos, what other kinds of videos have been made through Videopixie?
TE: “Hundreds of videos have been made on Videopixie since launch: Kickstarter videos, animated explainers for start-ups, Udemy course videos, game trailers, movie trailers, sizzle reels for TV shows. Here is a link to recent examples: www.videopixie.com/happy-new-year
Some projects are straight forward, others involve tons of footage, creative scripts, motion graphics, FX, color grading, animations.
We also have started doing a lot of work with Youtubers. We created a partnership with a multi channel network (MCN) called Fullscreen. Videopixie serves as a post production house for their network of Youtube channels to get shows edited and make motion graphic logos or intro or bumper pieces to make the videos unique.”
This would be great for independent filmmakers who want to make audience testimonials as people come out of a screening or on set video for crowdfund backers. There are all kinds of things a production shoots, but never finds time to edit.
TE: “Yes, the goal is to make video production easier and possible for a wide range of budgets. So people can create quality video content frequently with economics that make sense.
Audience testimonials are a no brainer, they are very compelling and cost very little to make. Just film, upload the footage, and get a finished video back for under $150 a day later to post on your FB page.”
Also, films need more video content than just a trailer. In the months leading up to release, many short clips need to be created and released at regular intervals to keep an audience’s attention and enable them to share these videos on their own channels. Every filmmaker and distributor wants buzz for their films, but they need to enable people to share material with their friends and widen that buzz.
TE: “We also see this trend in the video game industry. It used to be about one big trailer for the game, but now the most successful games are creating new videos every month in lead up to release and well after. It is important to find a workflow for creating this content that doesn’t become burdensome.”
Videos can be used to bring critical moments in the production of a film to life for its audience, in near real time. Why only shoot on set for the special features when you could share a critical moment on the set from this morning or this week? This is a great way to keep backers of a crowdfunding campaign up to date on how their donation is working to create a project. Having an on demand editing service that is affordable and quick keeps the production from having a backlog of shot footage that no one is in charge of editing.
Videopixie takes a 10% fee for facilitating the editing project. If you plan to have a regular schedule of videos that need to be edited, many of the editors will offer a bulk discount for repeat customers.
As already stated, there is a money back guarantee for your satisfaction. If you are unhappy with the work of the editor you chose, Videopixie either will pay to have another editor re edit your piece or release your money from escrow and return it to you.
There is a full FAQ section on the site as well as some sample work. Before you sit down at the editing console and struggle for the right cut, consider spending a little bit to get a professional’s time and experience instead. In fact Videopixie is giving $100 credits to the first 20 readers who start a project. Make the perfect trailer or compelling short video clips for your film with the community on Videopixie.
Sheri Candler March 20th, 2014
We continue to look at filmmakers who successfully have run more than one crowdfunding campaign in order to learn how success builds on itself. This guest post from UK based filmmaker Christopher Bevan of YSP Media talks about the importance of setting a reasonable funding goal and communicating regularly with your donors.
As an independent filmmaker, I was very keen at looking into crowdfunding as a viable option to get our next project off the ground. I’d first heard about the idea of doing this at Chris Jones’ Guerilla Filmmaker’s Masterclass back in 2011 and, when the time came in March the following year, I made the decision to press ahead with our first crowdfunding campaign for a short film called Caught in the Headlights. I chose to use IndieGoGo due to the flexible funding option and also because, at the time, dollars were the only currency on there and I wanted it to be open for international backers.
Having watched lots of other crowdfunding pitch videos, it was clear to me this had to be well made and feature interviews with the team talking passionately about our project.
What helped was already having an existing social media base to reach out to with regular content updates. The first campaign was an overwhelming success for us and we raised $2893, or 181% of our target with backers from all around the world. From this campaign I learned a lot and it was an exhausting experience, but well worth it. The effort of continually pushing the campaign through social media can be a trying process and much of the campaign I ran alone, adding to the work involved, but again totally worth it.
The biggest thing I learned from running that campaign was perk fulfillment. I listed perks that, once factored in, cost a lot to create and took up a lot of time to fulfill. Fortunately we raised more than our goal, so this didn’t affect the film’s budget, but when we had American backers qualifying for perks that required additional postage, the numbers didn’t add up.
In the end, we wrote to backers explaining the situation, offering them the option of digital versions of the physical items to cut down costs, and all were happy to accept this to help the film. Yes, we essentially offered more than we could deliver in terms of perks, but on the one or two items where this became an issue, we were honest and upfront about it. Many backers are more concerned about the project, but giving them the information and choice is still very important. The film turned out well and went on to receive several awards and nominations on the festival circuit.
As far as sending updates to the backers through IndieGoGo, this started frequently, but as post-production continued, these updates became more sporadic as fewer events were happening that warranted passing news on to our backers. Once we began the festival journey, we updated our backers each time we were nominated for or screened at a festival. I did find it was easier to direct backers to our social media channels if they chose to follow them as this was far easier to update and more flexible too. The film is now available online and since we are no longer contending for festivals, we have ceased updates on the project and informed backers of this news. They can of course follow us through social networks still.
Our second campaign ended earlier this year for a short film called Love & Other Chairs
A similar funding target was set and this time we were fortunate enough to reach 136% of our target. This is where the lessons of the first campaign came through. We created perks that were mainly digital, cost less to produce and were easily manageable, but still valuable. They included a mention in our Twitter feed and Facebook page, thanks in the end credit roll of the film, a thank you credit on imdb, as well as a walk on role, and executive producer credit. We did away with perks that required posting, everything was delivered online.
In terms of communication with backers, we used videos to convey messages on occasion, but again this would happen more frequently depending on what news we had on the film. We did use the IndieGogo update function a lot more during this campaign, releasing concept art and casting details to backers throughout to keep the momentum going.
During the campaign for Caught in the Headlights, we found that our $25 perk was the most popular, and this is where we’d directed most of our rewards. We’d looked at IndieGoGo’s stats to back this up and when creating the Love & Other Chairs campaign, we created an equivalent £20 perk that had similar weighting and once again this proved to be the most sought after perk. So we learnt the second time round about stacking up what people were going for.
We also chose to reach out to the same backers who had contributed to us in our first campaign via a direct email campaign, details of which were available from our fulfillment spreadsheet generated by IndieGoGo after the first campaign. I would estimate nearly half of our backers came back again to follow up their support, some upping their contribution and going for a higher credit on the film this time around. I think most donors want to see a quality product at the end of it. Most perks that short films can offer don’t have huge monetary value, but offering a credit or being a part of a project have the most appeal.
Being honest and passionate about what you are creating is very important as well as sending contributors regular updates to show that you haven’t just used them for the money and ceased communication. I have seen so many campaigns that send one, two or sometimes no updates and don’t talk to the people who have already supported them. I have personally backed 6 or so campaigns now and am always more attracted to filmmakers who interact and keep in touch.
Managing the donors can be tricky, but the spreadsheet function on IndieGoGo helps in that you tick off backers who’s perks have been fulfilled as well as maintaining a list of what you still need to do. It is a challenge to run one campaign, let alone two back to back, but our success encouraged us and the results were worth it.
I think in order to have the best chance at success, you must set a target that is achievable based on having pre-existing material. Had we set out for £2000-3000 and been overly confident the first time around, we may not have hit our target. Yes it is hard work running these campaigns, but the pay off is great in that you have a ready made audience for your films. Know your audience, know your realistic funding target, know your timeframe and try to bring a track record. This is what will give people confidence to support your work.
Christopher Bevan is an award winning filmmaker specialising in directing, producing and writing. He has amassed a wealth of experience over nearly 8 years of filmmaking whilst actively working on over 60 projects. His films have been screened at festivals both at home and abroad. His award winning short film Caught in the Headlights (2012), picked up best picture and the audience award at the Transitions Derby Film Degree Showcase and has been nominated for several other awards. He is in post-production on his latest short Love & Other Chairs (2013) and the pilot episode of sitcom Jobseekers (2013). He runs production company YSP Media based out of Derby, United Kingdom. You may follow him on Twitter @chrisbevan89 @yspmediafilms and on Facebook. Also, on the Facebook page for Love & Other Chairs.
Sheri Candler November 19th, 2013
Posted In: crowdfunding
Tags: Caught in the Headlights, Chris Jones, Christopher Bevans, crowdfunding, donor communication, Guerilla Filmmaker's Masterclass, independent film, indiegogo, Love and Other Chairs, perk fulfillment, pitch videos, YSP Media