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Interview with a Video Virgin

Shani Alexander is the founder of Relocations Made Easy (www.relocations-made-easy.com) which produces an interactive website and CDROM tool that advises people on how to make a stress free relocation to a new city.

To create her interactive product, Shani needed camera vision of herself explaining to viewers how the product worked in front of a cityscape backdrop.

We interviewed her to find out her experience of using a video production company for the first time.

1. Why did you decide that you needed a video component in your website tool?

I am selling a virtual personal service product and the video component was needed to introduce a real person from which my virtual product could springboard.

The video component showed a real person, a company owner. It gave the personal touch and introduced what the customer was going to receive from their purchase.

2. What were you looking for in a video production company?

I really needed a company that could understand what I was trying to achieve. I really needed them to get inside my head and make real what I was imagining, what I was dreaming up.

It had to be cost effective with no cost blowouts. It also needed to be applied to the media I was using - the internet and CDROM. I needed clear picture quality that could be viewed across those mediums without any picture quality loss.

3. How difficult was it to compare proposals between the four providers?

Everyone told me how it is difficult to compare. All the production houses said they could do the same thing, but the prices were extremely different.

When I spoke to Digicast they went to great lengths to explain the type of camera that they used. Whilst I would have liked to think that everyone could produce the same job, I realised that the big differences in prices reflected the different types of camera quality being used.

Digicast also took me on board as if I was a client already. They gave me suggestions about how to do the shoot the best way and started treating me like a client before I even made the decision to go with them. From there, we were able to develop a relationship and work together on the project.

4. As someone new to being filmed, how did you find your shoot?

I found it really long, really tiring and boring! I was really surprised at how dependent you are on the weather to be right ? you have to keep waiting for the right light and the sky. It can add hours to the shoot.

Andrew Ross from Digicast who filmed me was incredibly professional. He's passionate, technical and knows what he is doing and has to keep the poor person on the other end of the camera still interested. He did a good job managing that. I really thought he worked well with me as the presenter. Andrew got me to look at the vision on the shoot and gave me options as to how we could re-shoot it to make it better. He controlled everything but I didn't feel like a pawn. His suggestions were worthwhile.

5. What did you learn about the television production process?

I really learnt something from it and I can now look at all the different shows on television and see how good, and bad, those presenters are. I have a healthy respect for an industry I took for granted before. It was a fantastic experience at the end of it all.

6. What advice would you give to anyone looking at starring in their own video?

I advise anyone who wants to take this on to do lots of preparation.

Digicast gave me some suggestions before the shoot about how I could get myself ready and get the most out of the day. I took those to heart and I did put a lot of preparation into the script. I re-edited the script, timed it, practised it and rehearsed it in front of a lot of people beforehand.

I even hired a professional to give me a training session on hand gestures and facial expressions. My preparation even extended to my personal grooming and I had my hair coloured beforehand and bought a new suit.

I also went to a lot of trouble to get the right location. We had to let the City of Melbourne know beforehand about the shoot. The liaising with the council was a much bigger component than I imagined. I checked out the site with a council employee and took some digital shots which I then emailed to Digicast. It was a real team effort to work out the right place to shoot.

7. Would you do it again?

You bet. I'm hoping I don't need to, as I should get a few years of mileage out of it. After all, it was made to be timeless and dateless. But I'd do it again because I achieved what I set out to achieve. I'm very happy about the experience and I would do it again if I needed to.

About The Author

(c) Marie-Claire Ross 2004. All rights reserved.

Marie-Claire Ross is one of the partners of Digicast. Digicast works with organisations who are not satisfied that their marketing and training materials are helping their business grow. She can be contacted on 0500 800 234 (Australia wide) or at mc@digicast.com.au. The website is at www.digicast.com.au.

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