The High Flyers: Tom Saffell

00:16:28 | January 28, 2015

Join Vidcaster CEO, Kieran Farr, as he sits down with Videopixie CEO, Tom Saffell. They discuss many topics surrounding video production for you and your business via Videopixie.

For more information about video production via online collaboration, visit Videopixie.

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Hi and welcome to this episode of High Flyers. I'm Kieran Farr, the CEO and co-founder of Vidcaster. And I'm pleased to introduce our guest today, Tom Saffell, one of the founders and CEO of a company called Videopixie. Tom, welcome. Thank you for having me. Yeah, it's awesome. So I've known Tom for a couple years now through inside baseball, online video-- James. Yep, all these different folks. So I thought a great way to start this interview before we talk about the work you're doing with Videopixie is to get a sense of how you got involved with video. Right, great. So I can tell you first experience with video, actually. So I got my first PC, I guess, in 1995 or '96. And it came with Encarta. Oh, yeah. A CD, not even a DVD. A CD. And it had on it about 15 or so video clips. Certain documents you went to had a video you could play. And I remember being amazed by that. And it sounds so trivial now, but you have to realize at that time there was no such thing as video on demand. Yep. Video was something that just came through the air. You turned the TV on, and what was on was on. And if you didn't like it, was a few of the choices, and that was it. And all of a sudden you could go to your computer, and you could pull up an article, and watch a video. And say, ah, this is real. This is moving. [INTERPOSING VOICES] --the space shuttle launch, the Hindenburg. Exactly. Those kind of iconic moments from history. And they were probably like 120-- Postal stamp size. Yeah, 120 pixels or something, 8-bit audio. But it was video, and it moved. That's pretty remarkable. And so more recently in your career, even before Videopixie, you've actually worked in the online video industry in different capacities. That's right, yeah. Yeah, so I worked for Flip Video for a while. I rewrote the video player for that and was part of the Flip life work, which was [INTERPOSING VOICES]. And maybe people don't know about this but the Flip Video hardware was purchased by Cisco, right? That's right. Yep. And then they were actually going to create a whole infrastructure kind of like YouTube or UStream or something like this. And that's what you had been working on? That's right. So they had a way of watching video live in a camera. And unfortunately, it never saw light of day. It was actually in infantry, in channel, like 10s of thousands of units manufactured. It was basically like their sort of iPhone compete strategy for live video. And I got canned mysteriously. And then three weeks later the company got canned. But it was a very interesting project. Yeah. It sounds like you were able to cut your teeth on a lot of the hardcore video technology that now you can apply a lot of those learnings to your current project. That's right. We do have to play videos on our website. And our video player does generally work, thankfully. That's awesome. I would love to have you introduce what Videopixie is for folks that aren't familiar with the offering. Great. So Videopixie is a marketplace for video production. So on the one side of the marketplace we have thousands of video creators. That we have editors, colorists, videographers, story specialists, produces. And those guys can basically deliver on almost any video project you want. On the other side of our marketplace we have buyers, who are typically businesses who are looking to make a video. Some of them are looking to make an explainer video, we have people making Kickstarter videos, testimonial videos, product videos, explainer videos, a wide variety. So to be clear here, make sure I'm getting this. You do both help folks to find folks for production. So the actual video recording. That's right. And then the post production. So once you have that. Correct, yeah. So we started out specializing in post production. OK. Like editing only was [INTERPOSING VOICES]. Editing only. But editing, and motion graphics, and illustrations, and animations. So we started out originally there. So people would upload their files, whatever they had. And say, OK, go make me a video. And we've recently expanded into full production. So you can now come in and say, I want to make a commercial in New York in three weeks time. Here's my budget. And you'll get bids for the best New York video agencies who will become onset. And we often find the budgets are big enough that people will travel around the country as well. So we have people flying cross country to deliver on projects. That's interesting. And so what sort of folks are in your ecosystem that are the videographers or post production? Are these folks this with tons of experience? Are they folks kind of in their parents' basement? Like how does that? So we pretty much have the full gamut. So our aim is to provide a full spectrum of pricing. So we do have projects the are $30,000 plus, and we have projects that are $50.00. And obviously, they don't all get seen by everybody. There's some filtering going on. But if you literally just need like a little simple edit done to something, get it to our site, drop it in-- one of the guys will pick it up. Obviously, he's not going a team of ten sitting in a New York studio. I'm not sure if he lives in his parents' basement or not, but he does great work. And there's lots of people like that. And then we also have the high end studios that have got between them decades and decades of experience. So it sounds like really the onus is almost on the customer to figure out what's going to be the right video strategy for them. And that kind of filters down to how much to spend on this stuff. And so how much should they be spending? Right, right, Yeah, no, it's a great question. And actually, just this week we're going to be launching a new pricing tool that helps people understand what they get at different price points. We always say for any given project, there's always $1,000 version, and a $10,000, and a $100,000 version. So it really depends on what exactly you looking for. But basically, some kind of rough guidelines. So if you want somebody to show up to your office with a good camera, someone that knows what they're doing, maybe two cameras. Shoot footage, take it back, edit it, deliver to you a 10 minute edited video with some intro and bottom thirds. That's going to be around a $1,000, $1,500 depending on where you are in the country. And if you're doing like training videos, that might be a great option. Now if you want to do 10 training videos, and you can get them all show in the same day because you've got it all prepped, you could probably get that down to maybe $150 per video. Because you're just doing all of them one at a time. Yeah, you can knock them out if you've already got the scripts and you know what's going to happen. And so that's kind of an example of where by sort of dovetailing your team with the team you hire so that you're doing the things that you know how to do, and they're things that they know how to do, you can get the price down a lot. So it sounds like the key here is to think about what you're doing before you get the camera person on site. Definitely, definitely. And I think probably the right process would be to come into Videopixie, explain to the website, explain what you're doing. And then think a little bit about your budget. But then once you get bids, there's still some kind of room for iteration and discussion with the creators about what role is going to be on which person. That makes sense. So maybe I can explain to you a lot of the questions we get from customers and prospects about video. So, of course, Vidcaster is a software platform. And we help folks distribute the content in a way that's going to drive an objective, like lead regeneration, training, or certification. And so we have folks to come to us and say, we love seeing the stuff that you've done with other customers here at Vidcaster. And we need a training program for our company, but they have no content. And to them it is a daunting, gigantic, challenge to even understand what's involved in that it seemed like a huge thing. So maybe if you could kind of walk us through a little bit of how would you guide a customer to think about how to even get started. And again, the typical use case we see a lot now is, I work for an organization. Let's say there's 100 employees. And so far we've been doing employee training only through this two inch thick binder of stuff. We'd like to have a more efficient onboarding. Where do I start? Right, that's a great question. So content is probably the single most important thing about video. You can spend a lot on getting the production right and making it look technically good. But if you don't have compelling content then people aren't going to watch it. People often ask is how long video should be. And there are 30 second videos that were too long and there were three hour films that you wish, at the end, was still running. Because it's all about how engaged the audience is with the content. So in the case of something like marketing and training materials, I would say that's probably an instance of where the content has to mainly come from within the company. They know what it is that needs to be said. But maybe to contrast that with like an ad-- let's say you're going to do a big ad buy against it. Maybe having some of the ideas come from an external agency is going to be helpful because they're going to have a fresh perspective on it. So I would say again in the case of training, somebody's job, probably internally, is to take that two inch binder and say, what is it the we actually want to do? Though you could definitely hire a professional to help you sort of synthesize that, kind of do the screenplay version of most of your training catalog. Well that's an awesome suggestion. And to pull that point out, one thing that I've done is-- I create video content for Vidcasters-- I will just do a PowerPoint. Like super ghetto, like very basic, like 10 slides. And I'll just talk through here is kind of what I think it should be. And I'll just do a screen recording. And that's not at all the video I'm going to publish. But at least it gives me a sense of what it's going to look like. And then I have a lot of comfort that I'm not wasting or burning through a bunch of time of an expensive videographers to actually go through that. So that kind of what we you're implying? Yeah, I think you could do that. I think also, the idea of Videopixie is that it's a completely open marketplace. Where you can go and ask the professionals, what is it we're to do? And so I'd say in the case like that, you would upload some of your content. And like some of those to be a PDF or PowerPoints. And you would explain hey, I want to turn this in-- That's really helpful. And then you would have the creators come back and say, well, here's how I would approach it. Here's what I think. Here's how I think we can turn this into video content. And they'll provide you examples. And that's kind of the crux of the price question. In the sense that if you went to them and said, I got it worked out. This is exactly what the video story looks like. We just need to do the shots, composite these animations, and we're done. You're going to be up to save a little bit of money. You want somebody to help you say how do we turn these PowerPoints into a compelling videos, then you're going to pay a little bit more. Got it. So what we've been talking about is a project, like a one specific thing. Where once I get this training thing, we're up, we feel comfortable, and we can go with it and train our employees. Another common question we get from customers is, I don't want to just want to make one video. I actually want to have a strategy for my team, usually marketing or sales, so that we have a compelling set of content that's released on a regular basis. And again, the folks to come to us sometimes are saying well, we get it. We understand the power of video. We know why it's useful. But we don't know where to start. So unlike the one project where it's clearly defined, how do you suggest that folks get started with recurring content for content marketing? Where do they start? So that's a question. So if they can batch things, that can save cost, as I mentioned before. You could maybe get 10 short videos shot in one day if you were really on top of your logistics. So that's one way to get cost down to something like $150 there. So in that example, let's say that the company already has blog content, so writing content. And then they basically come up with, OK, well let's try an experiment of doing 5 or 10 of these in video form. Then have the videographer come on site and just get them all away while he's there. And that's kind of your test batch. Yeah, I think that would probably be. I think I would say if you were doing a test batch, and you hadn't done it before, maybe you will get five done in one day or something. But maybe we should talk a little bit about folks that aren't so sure about the power of video. Is it worth the time and effort to do this stuff? Right, great question so. This kind of goes back to the genesis of Videopixie. So have you seen those little robot floor cleaners? Yeah, the iRobot or-- yeah. Yeah. So I'd been thinking for a while I should buy one of these. This was years back. And I'd been dawdling. I'd go to the Amazon page, and I'd think about it, and I would never hit the trigger. And then one day I went to one. It wasn't actually the Rooma one, it was one that just kind of pushes a Swiffer around. And they had a bunch of pictures and the had a video. And I watched the video. And it wasn't a great video. It was an expensive video. But it was a video of the product in action. And I watch it and I went, yeah. I think I want one of those. Buy. And that was before Videopixie, it was before SellStage. But I was like, you know what? That just worked on me. Because the thing is-- It was just showing it working. It wasn't anything fancy. They topped and tailed it. And there was probably a lower thirds and a voice over, but it wasn't expensive. It wasn't a high production. They didn't have to put a ton of time into the story. And I just need to sort of see it in action. So the thing is that we humans like watching moving pictures. This was true before the internet, right? If you go to any house in the 80s, like after dinner, what are people doing? They're sitting on their couch, for the most part, watching moving pictures. Because that's part of the human condition. We like doing that. We all like doing that. We all do it every day. And so that means that video is pleasant to the human soul. We enjoy it. And then on top of that, it's a very good medium for telling stories. And stories are the best way to convince people of anything. Well, you've won me over. I think video is powerful. Well, very cool. So I was thinking that a really helpful thing would be for you to actually describe how does the process work at Videopixie. So let's say I do have an idea. I have my PowerPoint. I know what I kind of want to achieve. How do I go about doing that? How should folks get started? Great question. So you come to Videopixie. To get started, we ask you what type of video you're making. You tell us. We ask you to type out a brief description of what you're trying to do. We ask you to set a budget and we help you with that. Any point through this if you want to pick up the phone or send an email to us, come and ask us questions, we'll give you guidance. And then once you basically have your brief outlined-- and you know, it's pretty simple to outline a brief-- you hit post project. That project then gets emailed to all the relevant creators. And they'll get an email. They'll also see it in the list when they sign into the site. And they'll be asked to bid on it. So they'll come back with bit somewhere around your range. And they'll typically come back with a bid and suggestions. It's not just here's my price. It's here's my price and here's what I'm suggesting. Or here's my price, and here's work that I've done before of a similar nature. Or they might even come back with questions. So you'll typically get, within a few days, 5 or 10 quality bids. You then go through. Again, if you want our help deciding which one is the best, you're welcome to ask us. You'll pick one, and then you'll work with that person. And then we provide tools to do for them to upload a video so that you can see it, and leave them comments, and request another cut. So you typically go around three or so iterations, sometimes more. And then when you're happy, you wrap up the project. And you pay them. Very cool. Sometimes for bigger projects, people pay 50% upfront, 50% at the end as well. Very cool. Well we're going to be using Videopixie this video. We are. So if you're seeing this right now, it has been successful. And I think a good example of the sort of stuff you can do with your platform. Yeah. So Tom, thank you very much for joining us. Thanks for having me. It was awesome to have you on the High Flyers series. For High Flyers, I'm Kieran Farr. Aim high.