Lessons We’ve Learned in Video Production
If you ask local video production company Studio 120’s creative director Jeff Petersen about how much the video industry has changed in his 15-plus-year career, he’d say the shifts are infinite. “It’s a wide and dynamic field.” he says. “So many creative and technical disciplines come together here. There is always something new.”
So how do companies like Studio 120 keep up with national needs in an ever-evolving media landscape? Petersen says it comes down to having an experienced team that’s passionate about helping people. The Plymouth-based subsidiary company of The ADS Group works with clients to further establish their brand. In an era of AI-generated content and deep fakes, maintaining real, human connection during the video process results in high-quality branding, expert connections, and an overall better experience for clients.
Here’s what Studio 120 has learned along their video production journey, and how they keep clients coming back.
1. Don’t fear what you don’t know.
“Let us be your experts.” That’s a former tagline of Studio 120 that is still true to their mission today. Video production can be intimidating for many businesses, especially ones that have never seen the need for video in their marketing portfolios before. Now inundated by the surge of video creation and interaction on nearly every social media site, business and nonprofit leaders are tasked with the seemingly insurmountable: learning how to be media experts without industry knowledge or experience.
“Sometimes companies are hesitant,” Petersen says. “They’re at a place where messaging and marketing is essential to growth, and they correctly assume video needs to be a part of it but are unsure about what that looks like. That’s where we come in. We meet them where they are and take them where they want to be.”
Video isn’t as complicated as it’s made to seem, Petersen says, but that’s easy for him to say as a longtime industry expert. But the world is now youth-oriented in a way it has never been in the past, he notes, which can make the corporate world unsure of how to engage their clients in addition to the next generation of users.
“So many of our clients, where their mindset is when they first talk to us, is that they’re looking for an expert,” says Tracy ReiderBower, business development. “They want the peace of mind of having someone they can lean on so that they don’t have to know everything.”
2. Impact is more important than recognition.
Awards in the video production industry are kind of like peacock feathers: unnecessarily flashy. What’s more important to Petersen is that the work that Studio 120 creates speaks for itself and makes their clients happy.
It’s this personalized, high-quality emphasis that keeps notable clients—including Penguin Random House, Mayo Clinic Health System, the Twin Cities Film Fest, Midwest Transmission Center, Helping Paws, and the Lone Survivor Foundation—coming back again and again.
“Whether our client is a small family business or an international publisher, we aim to bat a thousand,” Petersen says. “There’s no room for error.” Baseball references aside, “We keep the metric for our success simple,” he adds. “What we really want is to leave happy, satisfied, and successful clients in our wake.”
3. Conversations are key.
While representing clients whose businesses are both little and local, notable and national, you learn pretty quickly the importance of determining what exactly a client wants out of a video project. “It’s conversations, it’s communication,” Petersen says. “It’s understanding where they’re at and creating a path to fulfilling their vision of where they want to be.”
Producing video content is more accessible than ever—most cell phones are equipped with 4K resolution, and more than 150 million Americans use TikTok. But knowing the ins and outs of lighting, sound, resolution, DVD authoring, digital accessibility standards, and DCP conversion requires someone with experience—someone who can effectively utilize the newest technologies to make your message matter. Developing that message involves more than just some sliced B-roll and a solid script; it involves a customized approach to meet each client’s unique needs. “A lot of cool things come together in one place,” Petersen says of his video approach. “And you have the opportunity to synchronize and harmonize those things.”
4. Bigger isn’t always better.
Video production teams of yesteryear involved countless roles: camera operators, audio technicians, producers, lighting and sound crews, and teleprompter controllers. Thanks to innovations in technology, video teams are smaller but their impacts are bigger than ever. For Studio 120, that’s possible because Petersen breaks down daunting video projects into digestible pieces without unnecessary middlemen, ensuring clients feel comfortable and at ease in a process that may be unfamiliar to them. This individualized approach helps Petersen stay focused on the most important part of any video project: the client’s goals.
“Early on, I would be far too willing to bite off more than I could chew because I really wanted to do all the work,” Petersen says. “I was really excited about doing it. There wasn’t anything I ever wanted to turn down. And that’s still true. But the reality is, if you’re going to keep your clients happy, that personal focus, that one-job-at-a-time approach—[it] can’t be beat.”
5. Accessibility is critical.
Accessibility is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s critical to the success of your business or organization. Studio 120’s unique offerings—including ASL translation and video production, human-voice audio production, multi-language translation, and DCP conversion—helps them create content for clients that has an impact around the globe. “We’re reaching people around the world,” Petersen says. “And we’re reaching people who have had barriers to access here in our own community.”
It’s one thing to create the content; it’s a whole other thing to make it accessible anywhere on the planet. “And that’s one of the things that we offer here that brings in people like Penguin [Random House],” Peterson says. “It’s our ability to add that value.”
The ADS Group is a Plymouth-based, full-service media development and distribution company. Their subsidiary companies Studio 120, Advanced Duplication Services, and Copycats Media make media simple with everything you need to bring your brand to the next level, all under one roof.