About the Company…
A Cut Above The Rest Video Productions is a full service, professional video production company that can help guide a client from concept and scriptwriting to shooting, editing and duplication. Whether you are looking for a Promotional Video, Commercial, Short or Feature film, a Dance or Theatre Show filmed with Duplication, or anything in between, we are very budget-minded and can work within the parameters given by our clients. Not all production companies are alike. We pride ourselves on the high standards we put in all our work. The videos we produce will be ones you will be proud to have represent your company and your clients. Check out some of the Projects we have produced and completed on our main page.We have a number of Samples of our work you can view on-line including:
Television Commercials Infomercials
Lewis Hatkoff is passionate about video, film and television. Having studied television production at Emerson College, he has a strong background in Media Arts and is very knowledgeable when it comes to the Arts. His focus in College was Visual Media Arts and has spent over 500 hour in a Control Room. He started the production company A Cut Above The Rest Productions in 2008 where they would go on to film Professional Corporate Videos, Weddings, Music Videos, and Commercials. His drive and persona are easily recognizable and he delivers a very professional product on any type of budget he works on. He as experience as a Producer, Director, Technical Director, Camera Operator and an editor working with both Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer. Some of his specific experiences include Technical Directing EIV News, Directing and Technical Executive Producing Unsportsmanlike Conduct, and working on many more TV Crews filmed in the Vin DiBona Studios. As well as these, he has been a production assistant on Multiple National Television Shows such as American Idol, Americas Got Talent, and Losing It With Jullian Michaels. He was also responsible for filming President Obama at MIT and Covering a Martha Coakley Senatorial Rally. Lewis is extremely focused on his goals and always goes above and beyond what is asked of him. Not only does he complete his jobs to the highest standards, but he also completes them efficiently and does not stop until the clients are happy. Lewis Hatkoff, with A Cut Above The Rest Productions, is definitely the one to hire for anything media related and hands down, promises that you will be extremely satisfied with the quality of his work and work ethic. Please contact Lewis by clicking here.
New Client Hints
What You Need To Know if Your Company Wants To Produce A Video
Studies show that people remember merely 20% of what they hear, and only 30% of what they see, and an incredible 70% what they hear and see.* With this in mind, it’s no wonder why video is such a powerful communications tool.
So your company has decided they need a video. Where do you start? What questions do you ask? How can you make sure the final product is what you are expecting? This article will give you the tools you’ll need to have a professional video project you can be proud of.
First, let’s talk about money. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Especially with video production, if you make a decision to hire a production company solely by picking the lowest quoted bid, you will probably end up with a video that is much less than what you expected.
Remember, this video represents your company. Do you want your video to look like a high school A/V project? On the other hand, there is no reason to go crazy and spend ungodly amounts of money. It’s important to find a company that gives a fair bid for the type of video you need and can produce your project in a professional manner.
Two Ways to Hire
There are two ways of hiring a producer or production company to create your video: “Package Price” and “Piece Meal”.
A package price for the entire project is the way most videos are negotiated. On the surface it seems to be the most logical. The client knows exactly how much to budget for, and the production company knows how much money they will have to work with.
The downside for this arrangement is that once the price is agreed on, the two sides can become adversaries instead of partners. The client will naturally try to get as much out of the production as he can, while the production company will then try to maximize its profits. If you choose this route, be sure to have a very clearly written bid with exactly what each side will be responsible for. With this clearly defined bid in hand, there will be no confusion or surprises.
Another way to produce your video is “piece meal“. You can hire your production company by the day, or by the hour. This way, whenever someone is working on your project, you are paying for their time and only the time they are working on your project. Your producer should be able to give you hourly and daily rates and should be able to estimate the total cost for the project according to your needs. The downside to this is that your actual costs for production may be more or less than you budgeted for.
Quality and Format
Other than the producer’s expertise, the quality of the final product depends largely on the equipment used to shoot, light and edit the video.
Standard Definition (SD)
In its simplest terms, SD is what you would generally see when you watch your evening news. The quality is very good and is used for the majority of the professionally produced productions. The standard for over 10 years has been the Betacam SP format. There are many smaller market TV stations that still use Betacam SP along with a number of production companies. There are a number of new digital formats out there that are just as good if not better than Betacam SP. These include DVCAM and DVCPRO among others. MiniDV is a very popular format. While MiniDV is a great format for what it is, most cameras that shoot in MiniDV don’t have the high quality lenses, image controls and chips (CCD) needed to give your project a professional look.
High Definition (HD)
In the last couple years, HD has really taken hold and is definitely the future of production. Many companies that want their productions taken to the level of film are finding HD to be an excellent cost effective choice. To put HD into perspective, if you give SD a quality of 3-4 at a 3-4 price, HD will give you a 9-10 quality at a 4-5 price when compared to film. The quality is simply amazing, especially when the proper time and equipment is used to light the scenes. Sony makes a couple cameras that shoot in the HDCAM format. These cameras shoot in the standard 30 frames per second and is what many HD projects and HD programs are shot on. The ultimate options for shooting in High Definition is Sony’s CineAlta and Panasonic’s Varicam cameras. These two cameras can shoot in 30 frames per second as well as 24 frames per second (24p), meaning the video images will look most like film. So for projects that look most like film, 24p is the way to go.
Note on HDV: This new format can be considered high-end consumer. Just as MiniDV is an amazing format for what it is, there is no comparison when you are match it up to true High Definition.
So how do I pick a format? It depends on the needs of your project. If you want to produce an in-house training video that looks professional, SD will be a great choice for you. There are many marketing videos or commercials that will still look great shot in SD. However, if you want your project to be at the same level of film, HD might be your better choice. Even if your project will end up on DVD, VHS or the web, the format you produce your project can make a big difference. It’s the same reason why a Hollywood movie looks so much better than your home movies even though you are watching both of them on the same VHS VCR.
So for most, your production budget will determine which route you will take.
You should have an experienced video producer coordinate your entire project. Your producer should be available to you at any time to answer questions and to consult with you about any part of the production. Don’t scrimp on your producer; they could make or break the entire project, and they should not be learning on your nickel.
Your producer’s job is to manage the project from beginning to end. They are responsible for coordinating the scriptwriting, pre-production, shooting, and editing. Depending on where you live and his or her experience, you can expect to pay your producer between $350 to $850 a day.
Scriptwriting is usually charged by a finished minute rate. For example, if your script is 10 minutes long and you are charged $100 per finished minute, your cost for a complete script should be $1000. A complete script should include all voice tracks and equally important, the video shot descriptions that match the voice track.
Shooting is usually charged by the day but can also be charged hourly. Depending on your needs, your shoot may be as small as hiring one cameraman with gear, all the way to having a complete crew that may include a cameraman, lighting director, audio technician, production assistant, teleprompter operator, make-up artist etc. Rates vary depending on your location, but it is standard to hire a strong two-person news style crew shot in SD for $1,000 – $1500 per day, including professional camera gear, audio and a basic lighting package.
You can expect to pay $2,000 to $3,000 for a two person crew shooting in HD. This would include a High Definition camera, HD monitor, audio and a basic lighting package.
Depending on the scope of your project, the shooter can also act as the producer.
Editing is almost always charged by the hour. For most all projects, digital (non-linear) editing will handle your project beautifully. Depending on the system, you should pay between $100 – $200 an hour for editing SD and $175 – $300 an hour for editing HD. This should include an experienced editor that can make suggestions on how to make your project even better.
Meeting the Producer
When you initially talk with your producer, be sure to ask some questions. But more importantly, the producer should ask you most of the questions and listen to what you want. This is your company’s video and it’s up to the producer to try to get in your head to give you a product that you want, within your budget, and not what the producer wants at the budget he wants. Be aware if the producer tells you what you need without listening to what you are saying. At the same time, ask the producer for recommendations that would enhance the project beyond your video knowledge.
Set up a time to meet with the prospective producer. Meeting at your location is usually most beneficial. If you want a marketing or training video for your widget, it would be important for the producer to see the widget. It would be important to bring copies of videos you would like to emulate and tell your producer what you like and don’t like about these videos. Be sure the producer brings sample videos similar to the project you want to do.
Look at past projects your producer has completed. You should also call the producer’s past clients to get feedback on their professionalism, work quality, and personality to understand what is was like to work with them.
Q and A
Your producer should listen to what your company’s goals are regarding the video, ask a lot of questions, then give suggestions for the best way to produce your video within your budget. Often, your production company won’t know anything about your business and vice-versa.
Questions to Ask Your Producer
What can I do to keep my costs down?
A good producer will help you keep the project within your budget. Some of the more common ways to save money are:
- shorten the length of the program,
- use fewer professional actors, and
- keep the shoot days to a minimum.
Holding a pre-production meeting to coordinate the project could save hundreds of dollars. If the shoot is scheduled at your company’s location, try to do everything possible to facilitate the shooting process. For example, if you are creating a marketing or training video for your widget, let your manufacturing line take direction from the video producers and allow disruption of their work.
What kind of experience does the producer have?
The experience of the producer relates directly to the quality of the finished product. Be sure to see examples of video work that the producer has personally produced.
Are there any extra charges?
Ask up front if there will be any extra charges. Some common extra charges: taxes, tape costs, mileage, travel expenses and duplications. It’s important to understand that if you, as a client, make changes to the project that require additional work from the production company not originally agreed upon in the proposal, expect extra charges to apply.
What will you need from me?
You, or a representative from your company, will need to have an accessible contact person to help coordinate approvals, schedule shoots, and answer questions to help make the production process as smooth as possible. Speaking of approvals, it will be essential to have you, or designate, responsible for approving each aspect of the production process, including scriptwriting, shooting and editing. Once approvals are given, you can expect any changes made thereafter will be additionally billed.
During the shoot, you should be able to stand and watch every shot in the monitor to be sure it represents your company the right way. That is your opportunity to be sure the director is getting what you want. However, please be aware that you did hire a professional crew to produce your project. This is a team effort, let them do their job while making sure you convey what you want in your production.
Questions Your Producer Should Ask You
What do you like and dislike about other videos?
What do you want to achieve with this video?
Who is the target audience?
What do you want the audience to do after watching the video?
How will the tape be shown?
How many shoot locations are there?
Will we be shooting during business hours?
If we are shooting during business hours, are there any logistical concerns?
How long does the video need to be?
Will a company executive need to be on camera?
Do you need a professional on-camera talent or voice-over?
Who will write the script?
Will you need extra graphics or animations in the video?
Are there any other materials that need to be included in the video, such as photographs?
Final Points to Remember
An important point to remember, especially if you are a rookie at using video, is that communications is key to the success of your video. Your production company should be available at any time to answer any questions you may have. Your producer should be kept informed of the project’s status and what the next steps are.
Television is a huge part of our lives and we are very accustomed to top quality programming. Today’s audiences are sophisticated and expect broadcast quality video productions. If your video is anything less, your message and image will suffer greatly.
Remember to ask questions, be sure you are asked a lot of questions, and go with your gut feeling. Chances are you will end up with a great product and have a fun time in the process.
Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions.
A Cut Above The Rest Video Productions
(818) 835 3344