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rollowenlock

Freelancers becoming in-house video producers

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I've been on mograph since 2004 and back then success looked like being picked up by a production company or studio and being represented as an artist or director. Then you'd spend all your time doing pitch work to agencies trying to get brand jobs, and doing music videos on the side to try out new ideas (that would then be picked up as style for a TVC).

 

More recently, has there been a shift to video producers (videographers, mographers, VFX, animation) moving in-house? I was looking on Linkedin at big companies like Microsoft, Evernote, Xero, Nokia etc and they all have in-house video producers. When I dug a little deeper, and had a look at who they were, they were all freelancers only a couple of years earlier.

 

Are we seeing a shift in the video world? Are companies now moving away from using production companies, or studios (and agencies) for the majority of their video, and doing it in-house? Are marketing departments now demanding video production skills from their teams?

 

Let me know if this has happened to you, or if you've seen this shift.

 

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You can kind of see how this happens. A freelancer gets a lot of bookings from the same agency working for a big client, and the client puts a lot of work the freelancer's way, perhaps ends up getting in touch directly. They make the freelancer an offer just as they're thinking of a bit more stability, maybe having kids or buying a house.

 

It probably says more about the massive amount of video content big companies are expected to produce now that they need an in-house team to keep up with the pace, rather than continually farming it out.

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You can kind of see how this happens. A freelancer gets a lot of bookings from the same agency working for a big client, and the client puts a lot of work the freelancer's way, perhaps ends up getting in touch directly. They make the freelancer an offer just as they're thinking of a bit more stability, maybe having kids or buying a house.

 

It probably says more about the massive amount of video content big companies are expected to produce now that they need an in-house team to keep up with the pace, rather than continually farming it out.

 

Do you think companies are moving much more into video as their content rather than text and imagery? If so, will most freelancers be in-house before too long?

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If so, will most freelancers be in-house before too long?

 

It is not an industry shift. It may be more commonplace to see a staff member who does video creation, but there definitely aren't flocks of artists leaving the normal agency / boutique circuit for corporate entities.

 

People I see taking such jobs were only freelancing to help fill a void between FT jobs in the first place - ie. not a circuit player. Those jobs seem to always resolve around internal sales, vaporware demos, corporate presentations, and the like. Some content is public, like web how-to videos, but if the company has an agency, public-facing work will almost always funnel through them. Agencies, tv networks, etc are moving more in-house but that is a completely different scenario than with a Microsoft, Nokia, etc company whose primary business isn't content creation.

 

I believe most people who frequent this board are in advertising, and for the most part are of the type who run for the hills if presented with an offer to create such content full time. Contrary to outsider's belief, freelancing isn't inherently unstable. Plenty of top-notch freelancers have families, houses, and the like.

Edited by AromaKat

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It is not an industry shift.

What I am seeing is a shift in how companies market themselves, they are seeing video content as way more important and effective compared with only 5 years ago. this is leading to videomakers making really great 'brand' work without going through agencies. If a company once had a staff writer, and a staff website builder, they now have a staff video maker to create content for the wider marketing goals. (this can also mean they have lots of each, Evernote for example has 2 in-house video makers and get about 40 freelancers to work with them around the world)

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I'd like to think we are a bit different from a software company's Youtube "video makers". They are just two completely different worlds. I know you are here asking for market research purposes - so yes, you have a market there, for companies just cranking out bloggy content to populate their online video channel, but no - there really is no threat, shift, whatever in our neck of the woods. The two are completely different markets for you.

Edited by AromaKat

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its like marketing guys who use photoshop.

 

Now that the tools are easy enough to handle for someone with a month of training, its is gonna be more common place. Just like speed typing used to be a big deal and now every teenager can type blind.

 

so for general template filling jobs they have in house guys as i see it.

 

But i think for more pro level or as aromakat puts it "client facing" work they probably still go to agencies who do this professionally.

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I've got to speak up and provide a different perspective. As Aroma Kat and Vozzz stated, there may not be a shift in established freelancers going in-house. However, there is certainly a need for creative professionals in-house in a variety of industries now. I was never a circuit-player, and only took a few freelance gigs while looking for F/T opportunities, but that was my aim. I like the stability of a regular paycheck, benefits superior to those I could afford on my own, and when I've faced health issues over the past 5 years I didn't have to worry about losing my entire income.

 

To clarify a few points made above, in my experience, in-house producers/mograph artists/video dudes are finding an increasingly high demand for quality content that is public facing. Sales content? Yes, I think that'd be true of anyone on here. Corporate presentations? Very limited, I once worked on a pitch video to gain a state gambling license for a casino, other than that, never. Vaporware? Not in my experience.

 

I led a small team (3) of motion graphic artists for a regional casino who had a large install of displays throughout the interior and exterior of their property. We were responsible for producing 8-10 high-end videos each month, along with producing weekly customer-facing video podcasts, recording and mixing radio spots, producing animation-driven TV commercials aired throughout the Philadelphia/NJ/NYC markets and supporting the graphics efforts of our in-house web and print production teams which often meant translating our designs into billboards, mailers, web heroes and merchandise. We only hired competent, well trained, well established artists for our team as we expected top-notch content.

 

After the casino, I moved onto a software company where the situation is slightly different. Our team of 3 is divided among the design and marketing departments. The 2 video guys/gals from our design dept were trained in design and production and were hired explicitly for those skills. The 1 guy from the marketing side is just as competent in terms of production but takes on slightly different tasks, instead of creating graphics and high-end finishes for videos, he write scripts, can shoot and edit, but is 100% responsible for regularly updating our software's educational videos, which serve as a great contributor to conversions and as a product showcase.

 

I've seen this need for in-house staff for a few reasons:

1) Flexibility. When it's the 11th hour and a change was made to an app, a new feature was released, a feature was rolled back or the release timeline for a feature has shifted, there's an importance in having an in-house team who has the flexibility of responding, and more-so predicting when a project may change in scope or timeline.

 

2) Cheaper. I'm sure this isn't always the case, but when certain work was sent out to agencies, I've witnessed deliverables in need of additions or changes that don't make sense to pay the agency for. For example, we launched a large TV campaign, but found an alternate tagline performed better, we made the change. In another campaign, the agency murdered our logo in their endtag animation, we recreated it to better match our branding. In yet another, the agency returned a great looking spot with shotty sound and unacceptable graphics, again, we came in to clean up. Not sure that's a case anywhere else, but we often had to play custodian as we weren't part of the production process to advise (downside of corporate culture and many levels of management). In those cases, the work was estimated by the agencies but the costs didn't make sense over using the in-house talent.

 

Rollowenlock – I think you're right on in assuming companies are including video in their content creation teams, and I believe more and more professionals are being recruited for these positions as opposed to promoting Joe in Customer Service to pick up a camera or iMovie.

 

Aroma Kat, Vozzz – I think you have valid points as well. I think there is a separation, and don't necessarily see established freelancers picking up and going in-house. However, I do think there's more customer-facing content being spun out than you'd think.

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Rollowenlock – I think you're right on in assuming companies are including video in their content creation teams, and I believe more and more professionals are being recruited for these positions as opposed to promoting Joe in Customer Service to pick up a camera or iMovie.

 

Richard, you're speaking my language! I'm trying to learn more about how in-house teams work, and your experience sounds perfect. Can I grab you on Skype for 15mins? We're building a product that streamlines the workflow of video review and approval, and your insights would be invaluable.

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Can I grab you on Skype for 15mins?

Yes, and the name is Scott, my name is way too common to ever get a cool username. Sent you a DM.

 

Asana have a professional documentary filmmaker making their customer case studies...

That's awesome.

 

To add to the conversation, a friend of mine does promo videos for new developments for a home builder listed on Nasdaq. Honestly, one of the coolest corporate pieces I've seen recently was the way he put together their stock exchange debut. Another does educational motion graphics for a financial planning company, they're detailed and well thought-out.

Edited by richarscott

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This trend is definitely on an upswing in the last few years. In fact, I'd say that I have seen people running to corporate in-house recently. A bunch of my friends have. Mograph firms seem to be bleeding at the moment. And the post houses aren't doing that spectacularly either. So many freelancers and agency mographers are trying to go for the more stable companies which tend to be the big corporate clients.

 

The game is shifting. There are still plenty of motion design firms making money, but it's a fickle thing based on luck. The aesthetic has changed. DSLR productions are now more than acceptable for global campaigns. We ain't in 1992 anymore. They have options. Have you seen the new DSLR comparisons to the RED? It's gotten awesome. Sony, Panasonic, Cannon, Black Magic. They have 4k now on GH4 et al.

 

It's funny because Apple has recently started an in-house agency and is using that to spark and leverage the relationship with Chiat Day/MediaArtsLab. Anyone who has read the Phil Schiller emails knows what I'm talking about. They weren't happy with the work, think they know everything about advertising, etc.

 

And it's happening for a myriad of reasons. RichardScott has made a good case. It's often easier for them to make those last minute changes in-house at the final hour.

 

Many of them started because they didn't understand the burden. Now they see how difficult it is. This might shake out differently in 10 years, but this is definitely a booming thing right now. And the content being made is awesome.

 

Target now has an in-house agency and they're doing awesome work.

Edited by BoArlander

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Don't know how it is in the states but the money got squeezed out of making music videos and so a lot of B2B corporate shite has landed in my lap in the past 2 years, and before that I was almost exclusively making videos to be projection mapped at huge corporate events. Bread-and-butter work is very much becoming the norm here, whereupon people with afx/c4d are routinely contacted by freelance agencies on behalf of marketing agencies desperate to impress XXX client who has 5 days, £2k and absolutely no idea of the process behind video production. It is making me miserable.

It could just be that I'm shit at my job/have a terrible reel and ergo don't get hired on broadcast enough as a result, but rather than buckle and get a full-time job making cinema posters, I'd much rather just retrain in houdini/maya/zbrush & be a cubicle monkey for a bit until some rapacious VFX firm sends my ass to Vancouver or a games studio to Montreal. The motion graphics scene in London pisses me off, mostly because I can't get the projects I want (which are therefore absent from my reel and cannot beget similar good projects), so perhaps the grass is greener on the other side (of the world). Almost everyone I know who has started their own company has done corporate work almost continously, whereas ten years back, it could have just been a stopgap to keep the accounts in the black between TV commissions and pitch sessions. The only clients I see who consistently want to increase their ad and b2b marketing spend are the world's biggest dickheads and working for them feels uncomfortably similar to being a trafficked prostitute. Anyone else feel me?

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...people with afx/c4d are routinely contacted by freelance agencies on behalf of marketing agencies desperate to impress XXX client who has 5 days, £2k and absolutely no idea of the process behind video production. It is making me miserable.

 

... The only clients I see who consistently want to increase their ad and b2b marketing spend are the world's biggest dickheads and working for them feels uncomfortably similar to being a trafficked prostitute. Anyone else feel me?

 

It seems the writing is on the walls - only it's the walls of the Star Wars Garbage Compactor. Dianoga literally translated into 20th century English is Envato.

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The only clients I see who consistently want to increase their ad and b2b marketing spend are the world's biggest dickheads and working for them feels uncomfortably similar to being a trafficked prostitute. Anyone else feel me?

 

LA/NY mograph studios have become more and more very factory like even for designers. I try to choose projects wisely, but it’s tough to know what you’re getting.

 

Quite often, I get these calls from these sweet sounding coordinators who don’t want to give me any courtesy of info about a project. As a designer, we’re just supposed to hold without having any info on the client, job, deadline scenario or anything else.

 

God forbid we ask too many questions. Then we surely won’t be getting called back. They'll hold you and sub you out for lower bidder.

 

Too often US producers squander our time and ask to 1st hold entire summers. Meanwhile, they are asking others to do the same. Next thing you know, they finally drive the price down and then release you. It was never a first or even third hold. They lied to stall for time.

 

I’m learning that it’s better to just take the first thing that books. Deal with the fallout later. The system is too broken.

 

 

[Rant Completed]

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If I give my rate, it's often good to know what am I giving the rate for. Am I doing just Styleframes? Do they expect me to be doing some Hardcore Animation until 2am everyday? They just send this emails wanting to know my rate and if I can come in immediately. Tsk tsk you mograph thugs. <_<

 

Back to the main topic… The shift in how companies market themselves. It's actually an interesting topic.

Edited by BoArlander

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