Alan Naumann is a Minneapolis-based videographer who does 200+ funerals per year, and as you might surmise he's learned a few tricks of the trade in his many years as the leading funeral videographer in the Twin Cities area. Business Everlasting, a two-disc set comprising one DVD-Video-based tutorial and an additional CD with various sample business documents in Word and PDF form, presents the world of funeral video according to Alan Naumann and as such it's an effective and compelling introduction to the field. Any videography outfit considering adding funeral video to their offerings would be well-advised to purchase Business Everlasting ($69.95), sit back, and let Alan Naumann teach them what he knows.
Like Lucy Galbraith, whose article "Producing Memorial Tribute Videos" will appear in the November issue of EventDV (due out next week), Naumann instructs videographers looking to break into the memorial video world to start by building relationships with funeral homes. One of the first things he emphasizes on the DVD (which he narrates himself from his studio in Minneapolis) is the importance of customer service: "You should always be available and willing to be of service to a funeral home," he says. He illustrates the point by showing his wife and partner in Memory Vision Productions responding to a call from a funeral home and immediately driving over to pick up photos and other source materials for a new video project. Soon quick response turns to quick turnaround; Naumann says their typical turnaround time for a finished product is 24 hours. Delivery, he adds, can take two forms, with DVD as the default; Memory Vision will also loan a VHS master to any funeral home that lacks DVD capability.
Quite a bit goes on in that 24-hour period, Naumann says, as he walks viewers through a (real) sample project. First he scans the 30-35 photos that he will use in the video (more photos, or video clips are premium features); then he goes to work on restoration, removing redeye, fixing cracks and removing dates and scratches as much as possible. He uses Photoshop to automatically adjust the image in each photo, and does both (simple, smooth) pan and zoom and integration into a slideshow in NewTek VT.
The real value in the DVD is the tips Naumann gives on creating a product that will set a videographer's product apart from what a funeral home itself can do. For Naumann the key differentiating factors are the effectiveness of a videographer's photo restoration work; the use of tasteful and appropriately simple transitions (almost always two seconds, he says), and, most of all, motion. "You are there to do a video presentation," he reminds his viewers, and without motion, of course, it's not video.
Naumann makes many key recommendations, among them the subtle use of nature backgrounds (either shot by the videographer or acquired in buyout material like Digital Juice Jumpbacks), how prominent to make your logo, how to use titles, how to select and work with music. And he illustrates each recomendations with some wonderful samples of his own work.
With sections of the video like "How to Approach a Funeral Home" and "How to Make a Profit," Naumann also gets down to the nitty-gritty of the funeral video business, with discussions of marketing strategies and pricing. He also provides useful information on how the funeral home business has changed, with the trend toward large corporate funeral franchises supplanting local outfits, and discusses how this affects videographers and their challenge to demonstrate the value of their services (corporate funeral homes are more likely to have their own video programs, even if what they produce is greatly inferior to what a real videographer offers).
Naumann provides even more hands-on business tools on other segments of the DVD and on the CD. The DVD menu offers links to video testimonials about the value of professional funeral video that Naumann says purchasers of Business Everlasting are welcome to use in their own marketing. On the CD he also includes sample contracts and the like.
All in all, if you're looking for a way into the funeral video business, Alan Naumann's Business Everlasting provides you with a welcome introduction.
To read more information on or purchase Business Everlasting at Alan Naumann's Memory Vision site, click here.