What’s the Best Camera For My Video Production?

Over the thirty-two years that I have been entrenched in the TV production business, I have seen many changes and advances in the design and technology of cameras. Let me just say – cameras have come a very long way!

When I first started in the business, in the early 1980’s, cameras were attached by a cable to a three-quarter inch or 1 inch video tape recorder.

1980 video camera recorder

By the mid to late 1980’s, cameras and recorders were one piece of equipment and the Betacam format became the preferred choice for most professionals.

1980 Betacam professional cameras

The Sony Betacam BVW-600 was the camera most professionals were using. The Sony Betacam’s resolution, frame rate and tape format were all the same.

Sony Betacam

Today, it’s much different. There are many cameras and formats to choose from, and lots of questions to be answered before you shoot. Which camera is in my budget? Do I shoot in 4K? 2K? High Definition? Which frame rate should I use? Which codec works best for me? With all the options, you could be overwhelmed before you even start.

todays professional video cameras

Here’s some information that might help…

What is Resolution?

In simple terms, resolution refers to the image size and how much detail the image holds. It is measured in mega pixels. The more pixels the greater the resolution or clearer the picture is. In 1993 High Definition or HDTV became the standard in the US. At first, HD had a resolution of 1280 X 720 often referred to as 720. With advancement of technology, that was increased to 1920 X 1080 mega pixels, commonly referred to as 1080. The majority of video production work is still shot at 1080.

Today, we are now able to shoot much higher resolutions-usually referred to as Ultra High Definition or UHD. Most profession camera’s can now shoot UHD, including 2048X1080 (2K) and 3840X2160 (4K)

What is Frame Rate?

Frame rate is the number of frames that are shot to produce 1 second of footage. The higher the frame rate or fps, the clearer the image is. Frame rate is also used to produce great slow motion footage. If you shoot footage at 180 fps and play it back at 30fps, this creates dramatic slow motion footage. Most professional cameras will shoot standard frame rates of 59.94, 29.97 and 23.98. and many can shoot higher rates for beautiful slow motion footage.

Which camera is best for my budget and project?

DSLR cameras like a Canon 7D or Sony A7s are relatively inexpensive and are better used for lower budget shoots such as weddings, low budget documentaries, etc… They usually rent for about $200 per day.

Mid-range cameras like the Canon C-300, Sony FS-7 or Sony F-55 give you a high-end look without the high-end prices. Used for many reality tv shows and corporate videos these are the workhorses of the industry. These rent for about $500 per day.

High End cameras like the Arriflex Alexa or the Phatom Flex are the top of the line cameras and are used for high end production work with large budgets. These rent for around $2500 per day

There’s no doubt that cameras have evolved over the years. From huge machines mounted on wheeled pedestals to hand held models you can take just about anywhere and large bulky videotape to digital cards the size of a quarter. Today’s cameras give you many options, so whether you are shooting a news piece, a documentary or a reality tv show the right camera is out there to fit your budget and project.

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2016 – What a Year!

Another year almost gone… and what a year 2016 was for CAS Video Productions! I had the pleasure of working with lots of great people and companies on many exciting projects. Here are a few highlights from the year.

It started with a bang with the launching of a new series of YMCA Lifeguard training videos. The project ran all of 2015 and debuted in January 2016. Check out one of the videos in the series. https://vimeo.com/167807132

CAS Video Productions- YMCA Lifeguard training videos

CAS Video Productions - YMCA Lifeguard training

Later in the month of January, we had the honor of producing an inspiring video telling the story of the joint venture of Donly Construction and Kirlin Builders and how they assisted a local veteran and family in need. Randy Morey’s home was ravaged by lead. This contamination put him and his family’s health in danger. Without anywhere else to turn, the DKJV team came in to lend a big hand. Take a look at the “Veteran’s House Project” video https://vimeo.com/161951827

In February, I was thrilled to work with Scripps Networks and The White House on Michelle Obama’s healthy eating initiative video. The “Surprise Visit” video highlighted the First Lady’s surprise visits to area elementary schools and a local family to check out their school and backyard gardens that are helping kids and families lead healthier lives. Checkout this heartwarming video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-MPjbKS8B8

CAS Video Productions Michelle Obama Healthy eating initiative

The majority of February through April was spent in the editing room for various clients including several labor unions and the DC Office of Cable Television. Spring turned quickly to summer, as I traveled throughout the country producing, shooting, then editing a series of convention videos for LIUNA. https://vimeo.com/197517833

CAS Video Productions for LIUNA

In September and October, I had the exciting opportunity of working with Allessia Cara. The up and coming 18 year old pop star is seizing the world’s airwaves. Look for the release of her documentary in 2017.

Cas video - Alessia Cara

Also in October, I worked on the new DIY show Big Beach Builds, which was finishing up its first season of shooting. The show will air on DIY in March. Other television programs I shot for in the fall included The Rachael Ray Show, The Chew and The Daily Planet.

CAS Video Productions

CAS Video Productions

In November, it was back to the White House for the 18th year of shooting a White House Christmas, which airs annually on HGTV.

CAS Video- White House Christmas

CAS Video- White House Christmas

The year ended with a fun shoot with Sports Illustrated and the Baltimore Raven’s center Jeremy Zuttah.

CAS Video Productions

As you can see it was quite a year with many amazing projects. I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings. Happy New Year!

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The White House Christmas Special- an Inside Look

Every year, for almost 20 years, I have been fortunate enough to be involved in the White House Christmas Special, which airs on HGTV. The first show was filmed in 1998 during the Clinton Administration. At the time, I had been shooting several other programs for Scripps Networks, who own HGTV, as well as The Food Network, The Travel Channel and DIY Network. When they asked if I would be interested in shooting the first White House Christmas special – I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been part of the production team ever since!

In a typical year, the production usually begins around late September or early October when a team from the White House travels to a tree farm to select the tree for the “Blue Room”. The tree is chosen from the farm that wins the best tree award from The National Christmas Tree Association for that year. This year the tree came from a farm in Wisconsin.

White House Christmas Special Tree 2016

In late October or early November, the actual shooting at the White House begins. This is when some of the early stages of decorating are shot. It’s quite busy as the cooks, pastry chefs and flower shop workers all begin prepping for the Christmas season.

As you can imagine, there are many people involved in this type of production. On Thanksgiving Day, producers and crew from Scripps Networks travel from Knoxville, TN to Washington, DC. They join up with a few of the local crew members to prep for the next 5 days of shooting. Very early in the morning, the day after Thanksgiving is when the real action begins.

Before the rooms can be decorated, the White House staff is tasked with the responsibility of removing all the priceless antiques and furniture from the “State Floor”. (Rooms on the first floor.) Once everything is removed, hundreds of volunteers from all over the country start decorating. The decorating must be completed in 4-5 days.

When all the final touches are complete, the First Lady typically hosts an event to kick off the White House Christmas season. After this event, the footage is taken back to Scripps, where the editing process has already begun. To complete the editing in time for the air date, there are five different edit rooms, working around the clock to finish the program in time. As you can see, its quite a production!

Be sure to tune in to this year’s show! It airs on Sunday, December 11th at 6PM.

The White House Christmas Special

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6 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Professional Video Company

If you’re thinking about hiring a professional to do your next video, finding the right production company can be a little trickier than you might think. Before you rush into hiring the first company that pops up on google, it’s important to make sure that you learn as much about your potential production company as possible and also that they understand the goals of your project.

Putting together an outline of the goals of your video along with a list of wants/needs, and a budget can help clarify your project. Understanding what you are looking for and asking the right questions can help ensure that the company you choose recognizes your needs, your style and your budget.

Here are 6 important questions to ask:

  1. How long have they been in business and what type of videos have they produced in the past?

Asking about their experience- how long they have been doing it and what kind of videos they produce most often and have done in the past can give you some good insight. Taking a look at their previous projects can help you to determine if their style, quality, and professionalism matches up with what you are looking for.

  1. What is included in the production costs?

Choosing a video company that’s in line with your budget is a major deciding factor. The costs of production should be clear and upfront. Make sure to ask if lighting and sound and talent (if needed) is included in the costs of production? A quality company should understand your goals, factor in equipment and location, editing time, shooting hours, and provide a range of options to fit your budget.

  1. How much time will be needed from you?

It’s important to know how much involvement is expected of you? Are you responsible for writing the script? Providing illustrations and graphics? Will you be included in the shooting of the video? How about the editing? Knowing your time commitment upfront will help avoid bumps in the road and keep things running smoothly.

  1. What’s the estimated timeline to complete your video?

Knowing how long it will take to bring your video from pre-production to final completion is key to avoiding frustrations and keeping your project on track. For example, a simple product demonstration may take 3-4 weeks, while a training video or intensive marketing campaign could take 6-8 weeks or longer to produce.

  1. Who owns the final video files?

You should expect to have full ownership of your video once the final payment is made. Many companies retain the right to use parts of your video for promotion of their services. In other words, use your footage as a work sample in their portfolio.

  1. Are there additional changes to my video if changes are made after its been completed?

It’s not uncommon to have to make a couple changes after your video has been completed. Tweaks and updates may be needed. Fixing typos, updating a logo, adding a phone number may be necessary. Be sure to ask what the charges will be to make additional changes or to update your video in the future.

Doing your due diligence can make a world of difference in the outcome of your project. Asking the right questions upfront will help you to make an informed decision on hiring the best production company for your video.

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Should you Hire a Professional Video Company ?

These days most businesses are using videos in their marketing in one form or another. Whether posting a “how to” video on social media or a training video on your website, videos are an important part of marketing. And with today’s technology… just about anyone with a smart phone or digital camera can produce a video-right? Well maybe, but when it comes to creating videos for your company, does it make sense to do it in-house or should you hire a professional video company?

Depending on what you are trying to achieve, sometimes it might be acceptable to make a “DIY” video. For instance, for social media posts, a quick “behind the scenes” video that you can throw up on Facebook or Linkedin that doesn’t look overly produced, may be all that’s needed. But when it comes to putting a video on your website that brands your business or generates awareness or sales, hiring a professional is best. (Even if you own a camera and you think that you can do the job in house.)

Should you Hire a Professional Video Company ?

Professional” is the keyword– Hiring a professional means that you are getting years of experience, not only in the technical aspects of filming and editing your videos, but also in the creativity and vision. The experience and education that a professional team brings to the project will help you create a high quality video that delivers the right message.

Time Is Money– when your budget is tight it may be tempting to take on your video project in house. While DIY might appear to be cost saving- assigning a sales person or marketing manager to your project could end up being more expensive in the long run. The time spent on research, writing scripts, shooting the video and editing can be a labor intensive process.

Lights, Camera, Action –Having the right equipment and knowing how to set it up and use it is critical to a quality production. Lighting, shooting, audio, graphics and editing all require the right equipment and the expertise on how to use it.

Good Eyes – The knowledge and experience that a professional brings to your presentation in front of the camera can be priceless. Suggestions on what to wear, make up, voice or the best way to present your products and services can all be very beneficial to your video project.

To sum it up… connecting with your audience is the most important factor when making a video. Partnering with a professional can help you reach your goals of producing a great video in a cost and time efficient manner, without taking away key employees from what they do best.

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What Type of Video is Best for My Company?

You’ve done it! You understand the importance of videos to your overall strategy and to your bottom line, you’ve done the research and you’re ready to go. You’re ready to connect to your clients, customers or employees. The next step is to determine what type of video is best for your organization? What type of video is going to make the biggest impact?


To come up with a plan for your videos, it’s important to understand what kind of videos you’ll need– in other words, determine the goal of your video(s). Is your goal to try to increase awareness on a subject, build lead generation, provide training or establish trust with your customers?

Different types of videos are good for different types of goals. Regardless of whether you sell product or services, you’re a non- profit, or you’re promoting your brand, videos can help you reach your goals.

What Are Your Goals?

The goals of videos can be broken down into a few different categories: Brand building, increasing traffic to your website, engagement, generating leads, increasing sales or teaching and education.


  • Brand Building (increasing the awareness of your organization’s brand)
    • What type of video should I use?
      • Social Videos– videos that can be shared to Facebook, Linked in and other social media sites
      • Blog Videos – short snippet videos that go into your blogs
  • Traffic Building (increasing the traffic to your website)
    • What type of video should I use?
      • Social Videos– videos that can be shared to Facebook, Linked in and other social media sites
  • Engagement (invites and engages people to participate in a brand or event)
    • What type of video should I use?
      • Blog Videos – short snippet videos that go into your blogs
      • Video Testimonials – clients sharing how great it’s been to work with you; partners who have benefited from your collaboration or customers reviewing your products
      • Educational/Teaching – present solutions to problems or concerns
  • Lead Generation (creating leads through interest or inquiries about products or services)
    • What type of video should I use?
      • Event Videos – conference or promotional videos- drives interest and registration
      • Video Testimonials -clients sharing how great it’s been to work with you; partners who have benefited from your collaboration or customers reviewing your products
      • Educational– present solutions to problems or concerns
  • Increase Sales (self explanatory- don’t you think)
    • What type of video should I use?
      • Product Videos- product demonstrations or information about products
      • Sales Videos– information about company and services
      • Video Testimonials – clients sharing how great it’s been to work with you; partners who have benefited from your collaboration or customers reviewing your products
  • Increase Employee or Customer Knowledge
    • What type of video should I use?
      • Training/Educational Videos– training for employees or explaining a concept or product

So, whether you are trying to increase awareness, build lead generation, or establish trust with customers, videos can help you reach your goals.

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3 Reasons Why Videos are So Important in Your Marketing?

Whether you sell services, products, are branding your business or promoting an event — the stats are in! Video has become one of the most powerful ways to share your message. In fact, “70% of marketing professionals report that video converts better than any other medium”. Still not sure if video fits into your strategy? Read on for the top 3 reasons why videos are important in your marketing.

Video is being called the future of digital marketing. Studies have shown that more than half of companies are already using video in some way to market their business and that number is expected to quickly rise over the next few years. Videos are expected to dominate the marketing world in the very near future.

3 Reasons to Market With Videos:

1. More and more people are searching for information on the web and video is becoming increasingly important for reaching and communicating with your audience- your website visitors, customers, followers, and your fans.

A friendly voice or face can help your audience connect to your company on a more personal level. Rather than struggle to find the best word to describe your business or your services, a video can take your audience on a tour or demonstrate your product.

2. Secondly, everyone has a different learning style. Some people are visual and learn by reading or viewing demonstrations and some learn through listening. Using videos can help you reach out to all different types of learning styles

3. Lastly, videos rank high in search engine results. Research shows that videos are 50 times more likely to show up on Google’s search results than text pages. Your videos can help you get found easier and improve your website’s search engine optimization.

So if you’ve been thinking about incorporating video into your marketing strategy…. Now may be the time!

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CAS Video Production completes YMCA Lifeguard Video Series

IMG_0151CAS Video Production recently completed the video portion of the 2016 YMCA Lifeguard training course. There are 14 videos in the series. The training videos were shot in San Diego California in August 2015.

IMG_0801They were posted at CAS Video Productions in Huntingtown MD. The videos were produced, shot and edited by Chris Sciannella. Here is a link to the introduction of the video series.