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Cradle to Grave: Producing Video Yearbooks
Posted Apr 3, 2007 Print Version     Page 1of 1

As we think of different life events, perhaps one of the most anticipated and memorable is high school graduation. Unfortunately, as time passes, so do the memories—unless there is a committed videographer on hand to capture them. Welcome to the world of video yearbooks. This was a service I had no plans to offer—but due to circumstances (i.e., having three children in a private school), I didn't have a choice—and I am grateful for the experience.

Video was already an important part of the school's curriculum. Teachers would require either a term paper or a video project—guess which one the students would usually choose. The school had even hired a national company to produce video yearbooks for the seniors. They were slick, 45-minute productions that covered graduation and highlighted one or two other events. The administration was pleased—but the students and parents were not. Too many things were omitted, and many students were left out completely. Hence, the invitation for Mr. Naumann to meet with the Senior Class Parent Committee and discuss options for making the video better.

After meeting with the parent committee for about an hour, I gave them a proposal that they couldn't refuse. I offered to do the video yearbook for the same price that the national company charged the previous year—but guaranteed that it would be at least twice as long and that every senior would appear at least two times. I also guaranteed the inclusion of senior highlights from all of the sporting events and the performing arts, as well as other important senior experiences, including the all-night party.

For me to do this, they had to designate my company as the official video company for the senior class, and give me exclusive rights to all of the events that I would be taping. They also had to guarantee that each senior would purchase a video. By the time we finished, not only had they agreed to all of my ideas, but it was also determined that I would produce highlight videos for all of the sports banquets and tape the homecoming events, the Madrigal Dinner at Christmas, the spring choir concert, school plays, and more.

That also meant extra income, since each athletic team had a budget for their banquet that included video, and I would be able to sell videos of the school plays and other events we would be taping. This would have meant biting off more than I could chew if video hadn't already been an important part of the school's activities. I didn't have to tape any sporting events because that was already being done. I also had parents and students who were eager to participate.

So the first thing I instructed my volunteers in was the use of time code. I showed them how to go through each tape and mark the in and out points that I needed to find. For example, the people marking the hockey tapes would mark good defensive plays and goals made, as well as shots of seniors in action. This way, not only did I have good material to put together for the banquet highlight video, but I also had my material for the video yearbook.

In producing the highlight videos for the various sports teams, I would give that group a special one-day rate (usually about $700), and would include 10 free videos. Of course, they still needed more copies for the rest of the players and family members, so I would usually sell an additional 20 to 40 videos—at $20 each. I would allow one day for editing their video, which I would spend with just one person from the committee who had the authority to sign off on the video. (This way we avoided doing the video by committee.) If they weren't organized enough to allow us to complete the video in one day, I'd charge them for each additional hour. It was amazing how we always seemed to complete the video in just one day!

When we videotaped school plays, we would receive help from school staff in setting up a table for taking orders. They made it very clear that there was to be no videotaping of the performance and that if people wanted a video they would have to purchase one. By the time spring came, we already had more than enough material for the Senior Video Yearbook. But we also knew that some of the most important memories were yet to be made. I made sure that I was at all of the senior assemblies personally so that we would get the video footage we needed.

For graduation I would usually have one or two videographers working with me so that we could cover the graduation ceremony, a special boat ride, and the climactic all-night party. My goal was to have the video edited and delivered to the school within two weeks of graduation. My very first video (and all subsequent videos) exceeded the school's expectations. The videos were always about two hours long—with each senior well represented.

I no longer have time to do video yearbooks, but I am grateful for the several years we were privileged to produce them. I should tell you that the main school I worked with only had about 100 graduating seniors, and we only charged $35 per video. By the time you add all of the activities we covered, we made many times the amount charged for the video yearbook, and established lasting relationships with families that would use our services in the future. I still receive the occasional call from a graduate who is now employed by a company that needs a video. "Mr. Naumann, I was wondering, do you tape. . . ?"

And of course, my answer is yes.

Alan Naumann recently published a href="http://www.memoryvision.tv/video.php"target="new">The Complete Course on Funeral Videography, an updated and expanded version of his popular Business Everlasting training DVD. A featured speaker at WEVA Expo 2004-6 and a 2006 EventDV 25 honoree, he is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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