Pre-production key to a successful shoot

pre-planningWe recently had the privilege to work with Georgia HOPE on an initiative to put permanent, licensed therapists into local schools in order to address mental and behavioral health issues on a more timely and effective basis. We had to interview almost two dozen individuals at multiple locations in order to capture the entire story and provide a clear and concise summation of HOPE in school for Georgia HOPE to use to encourage other school systems to implement the program in their own schools.

Invariably, every shoot has its own challenges. Sometimes it comes down to equipment failures, weather chooses not to cooperate, guests/actors provide unusable footage or the venues turn out to have terrible aesthetics. However, this most recent project was by far one of the easiest and least stressful in recent memory and it all came down to one thing — a clear focus on pre-production.

For those who may have never been involved in coordinating a video shoot, there are many moving parts and several key skill-sets are brought to bear in order to provide a high quality production. And each of these resources generally bill on a day-rate. (In terms of filmmaking, a typical half-day shoot is 6 hours or less, while a full-day is generally 12 hours.) We jokingly let people know we will not be providing a 2-KC production: two kids and a camcorder. At a minimum, you need an experienced camera operator, sound operator and lighting person. Depending on the locations, you may need to bring extra crew to move equipment, stage the areas to be filmed, make-up/hair stylists, wardrobe, food and catering services and an on-set medical person. And, once it’s all done, you move to editing the footage, followed by color correction and sound editing before delivering the final product.

This helps explain why video shoots can become an expensive endeavor. However, as was the case in the Georgia HOPE shoot, our contact took the concept of pre-production to heart. We always advise our clients about the importance of this phase of a video shoot because it costs almost nothing to think through each and every element of a production. Our client took time to figure out how many people needed to be filmed and then made sure the maximum number of them would be available at the same time for each location. She also prepared everyone ahead of time with sample questions so they would be better able to speak succinctly on camera.

It takes a lot of time to setup and breakdown all of the equipment used in a shoot. If we can prevent unnecessary setups and breakdowns, we can spend more time getting the shots we need, which translates into a huge cost savings for the client. Getting everything filmed in one day versus three can effectively cut the budget by anywhere from 40%-70%.

Of course, you never want to sacrifice the quality of the shoot just to save a few dollars. But, spending the hours necessary to maximize what can be done on any given shoot-day will payback huge dividends, not only in terms or budget, but also in terms of avoiding problems. This is why most film shoots are never shot in chronological order. It would be cost-prohibitive to do so. Instead, we try to maximize everything we can get in one location before moving to another and is why pre-production is key to a successful shoot.

At AJS Productions, whether you want to film a commercial, a training video, a documentary, a short movie or a full-blown film, we can help make it come to life. We will sit down with you and make sure you understand all of the elements that need to be considered and lend you our expertise to keep both your budget and your vision in mind. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation.



How often should we update our website?

woman-question-marksThis is a question we get from every one of our clients. Let’s face it, many small-to-medium businesses require everyone to wear multiple hats.  Having to add, “online marketing”, “website manager” or “social media specialist” to the already formidable list of roles played, often means your website is the last thing on your TO-DO list and is likely the first to be ignored. Many assume, once your site is built, it never needs to be touched again.

Perhaps that was the case two decades ago, but with so many websites competing for search engine results, a stale or untouched site will fade into obscurity. Search engines (e.g., Google and Bing) want to know your site is fresh and relevant and will track updates and changes to use as part of its overall formula for ranking your online home. Of course, there are other facets that go into determining whose site shows up at the top of page one of a search and who ends up on page 5 (or worse), like key words, phrases and using best-practices website development, but even the best designed site will still fade if left to gather dust.

So, how often do changes need to be made?

As a general rule, you should have something new on your website once a month. This could be a new offering, a special sale, a welcome to a new employee, an anniversary celebration or your thoughts and advice on a particular subject. quality-web-content-seoAdding a blog to your website is a tremendously easy way to create and post content and, if setup correctly, can also be used to update your social media outlets as well.

Every six months, it’s a good idea to spend time going through every page of your site, reading the content and reviewing the pictures to see if anything needs to be updated or removed. Often a business will create content hailing a “new” product or offering, but, after six months, is it really new? Some make the mistake of using words that will artificially date the content of your site like, “New for 2014,” or, “Come celebrate April with us,” but it’s now July. There is nothing wrong with adding those kinds of updates to your site, but you must be sure to take them off or move them to an archive section, rather than risk looking like your site is filled with out-of-date information.

Remember, you generally do not get a second chance to make a good first impression! If the content is dated or the descriptions are no longer relevant, you might as well be saying the same thing about your business. Customers use the internet daily to find goods and services and when they land on your site, they will decide, usually withing moments, whether or not your site reflects their expectations. If it looks tired, dull and old, that’s the impression they will have.

Finally, your site should have a design overhaul every 12-18 months, depending on if you have been keeping up with the content, providing monthly updates and staying on top of dated material. This doesn’t mean having to pay for a brand new site, but taking time to rearrange some of the material, rewrite some of your content, change fonts or font sizes, adding updated graphic elements — basically, give your virtual home a fresh coat of paint. Yes, there is generally some cost involved, but it should be a fraction of what it cost to build your site. Compare that investment to lost revenues from clients who never even bother to walk in your front door because of what they’ve seen on your website.

AJSProductions_NewLogoBecause we focus on small-to-medium business clients, we know your time is valuable and we strive to do all we can to provide the easiest mechanisms for you to keep your website fresh, relevant and up-to-date, while also providing the ability to upkeep social media. If you’d like to learn more about our processes and methodologies for website design and build, feel free to contact us directly. There is never a charge to meet with a client to review an existing site or to begin the process of building a brand new one from scratch. Remember, it’s never too late to be what you might have been.

Happy Mother’s Day from everyone here at AJS Productions

MOTHERS-DAY1We wanted to take a moment to wish all of the moms out there, including the mothers of everyone here at AJS Productions, a very happy Mother’s Day this weekend. Most of us are so busy with running our businesses, we often find holidays creep up on us and take us off guard. Every small business owner knows there is no such thing as an “off day,” but we want to encourage everyone to strike that work-life balance and take some time to reach out to your mom (and the mother of your children). Everyone here knows the importance of working hard, exceeding expectations and paying attention to the small details. But, we also strive to instill in our workplace the culture that we work to live — not live to work.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Happy Cinco de Mayo to friends and clients alike

cinco-de-mayoEveryone here at AJS Productions would like to wish all of you a very happy, safe and fun Cindo de Mayo. It’s hard to believe we are heading to the halfway point of the 2nd quarter of 2015, but they say time flies when you are having fun — or busy. Or both!

So, here’s a toast to hoping you are all experiencing a little bit of both! Cheers!



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Developers using boilerplates may not give you the bang for your buck

Several people advertise cheap website development. They call it “inexpensive” or may even use the phrase “the cheapest price around.”  But, if you are a small-to-medium business, you need to understand that there is a HUGE difference between building a site with templates or boilerplates and knowing how to properly code, build, develop, and brand a site to maximize website search engine optimization for content while giving your customers a site that accurately reflects who you are and what you do.

The analogy here can be found in the movie-making business. Sure, two kids and a camcorder can make a film, but is it going to look like what you expect when you sit down at the local cinema?  The old saying, you get what you pay for, has never been more applicable.  Think about it.  Your website is a 24/7, 365 day a year non-stop advertisement for your business.  Can you really trust it to someone who knows just enough to fill out some forms and  change a few colors?  Give us a call today.  There is never a charge for consultation at AJS Productions.

Go Social.  Go Everywhere.

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Launch of SPMH Law, LLC. — a high-end personal injury lawfirm

HomePageScreenGrabWe are so pleased to be able to take a few moments to announce the lauch of our latest client — SPMH Law, LLC.  The law firm of Slover, Prieto, Marigliano & Holbert, LLC. has been an exciting project for all of us here at AJS Productions.  Though a new firm by name, the experience of the senior partners amounts to over one hundred years of legal practice and courtroom activity.  Collectively, they have tried well over 500 cases and have participated in hundreds, if not thousands, of mediations, arbitrations, and settlement conferences.

Our attention to detail, focus on SEO marketing and social media integration is what gave us our first opportunity to make a pitch for why they should choose AJS Productions.  After learning about our business strategy and the services we offer, they decided to put their faith in us and today is the day to pop our virtual champagne corks.

For those who are looking for a personal injury firm that puts the rights of the injured first, then we suggest giving the attorneys at SPMH Law, LLC. a call for a free consultation.  In fact, as personal injury lawyers, they will never ask their clients for any out-of-pocket expenses if they take the case.  They work solely on a contingency fee basis — if they don’t win, you won’t have to pay a dime.

And, for those who have been sitting back for too long without a website, or a site that has been gathering dust for far too long, make an appointment today with us.  Much like SPMH Law, LLC. we will never charge a client for our consultation time.  Until we have an executed website development contract, there are no fees charged by AJS Productions.