The History of Corporate Video Production – Part 1

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Before we look at the history of corporate video production, it’s worth taking a quick look into the future and predicting what we may see in 2011, 2012, 2013 and beyond.

My first corporate video prediction is the death of Blu-Ray in its present form. In fact we’ll see the death of all silver spinning media like CD and DVD.
Solid-state memory like USB sticks, flash drives and such will become the media of choice for corporate video, where online video streaming isn’t available.
This might sound hard to believe, but with the emergence of video platforms like the iPad, YouTube, Android and iPhones, the need for large physical media like disks will quickly diminish.

My second prediction is the massive growth of web video, at the expense of physical media. Every worthwhile corporate web page will want to have a video. And this will create a massive demand for more corporate video, which in part will be met by amateurs and video hobbyists, but as well as, the professional corporate video production company, now in business as the web production company - or simply - the video production company, or video production services.

My third prediction is the way we produce corporate video. There’ll be less muttering consultancy and more positive off-the-shelf corporate video products, like talking head videos, testimonial video, presenter video, 2-minute web marketing video and such. Now on with the history of corporate video:

Corporate videos have been with us since the 1970s and even before when film was used. The arrival of reel to reel editing machines heralded this new phenomenon within corporate communications. But a reel-to-reel studio back then could easily cost £100,000 to fit out, not including the tube cameras that could cost £30,000 upwards. These studios were primarily geared up for television production, and knocked out a few corporate videos almost as a sideline.
So naturally corporate video was the domain of the chosen few, the rich companies who could afford to have a piece of television all for themselves. Being a big budget affair right from the start, it wasn't unusual to have wild animals, exotic locations or expensive TV personalities as part of the show. A £50,000 price tag wasn't unusual. We know of one major client who spent £110,000 on a single training video, using flightcam shots amongst others - and it wasn't even for worldwide distribution!

As the 80s progressed Sony, the main supplier of video and media equipment, started to bring prices of professional equipment down. Digital Video Effects (DVE) machines also dropped from £100,000 to a low end of £15,000. These allowed scenes to fly on, or appear in interesting ways, like circles and cubes. This price drop resulted in the growth of independent video studios that didn't depend on television as their main source of income. The true corporate studio at last started to emerge. Typically an independent could produce most of a video in-house then maybe go to a TV studio for the final finished effects, the polish if you will.
Back then; a video would be edited in a local studio on a cheaper semi-pro format such as Hi-Band, where the completed video was made at offline quality. The offline was taken to the TV studio, frequently with a piece of paper listing all the edit points. The TV studio then compiled the offline at full online quality. This was a laborious and time-consuming process compared to today, but it meant that any company with an important message that needed to go on video could afford to do so.

Alongside this graphic PCs emerged, from high-end Sun workstations to the lowly Amiga, all capable of delivering that most important of video elements - graphics and captions. Graphics were a big breakthrough in corporate video as they allowed invisible things to be seen such as the inner workings of a machine or technology process; or with training videos, the key points to remember could be seen as captions, making the learning easier to remember.

Look out for my next article on corporate video production 1990s to the present day and beyond.

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