Thursday, March 13, 2008

The sales video: Dos and don'ts

Take a look at this sales video. Kudos to the owners! It is not a highly-produced marketing masterpiece, but it gets the job done the way that a lot of fancier and more elaborate videos on Youtube do not. Sure, the round pen is a bit confining for this big boy. His gaits might be freer if he were at liberty (he seems a little stiff through the back and neck). The footing looks hard.

What do I like about it? It's filmed with Youtube's quality in mind -- a ton of closeup footage in good light that makes it easy to see horse's gait and way of going, albeit in a less than ideal environment. In the round pen, you can really evaluate the animal in every single frame. You see transitions and analyze the mechanics of the trot and canter. There is no distracting music or dialogue, and it doesn't appear to have been edited much. After watching it I feel I've seen a decent sample of that horse's movement and temperament. The free jumping is a bonus. It probably didn't take a lot of prepwork or time, but the buyer has seen a good representation of the horse. Another video shows the same horse under saddle.

My Dos and Don'ts
Having looked at a number of sales videos in my day (window shopping, mostly), I've formed some impressions of what sales videos should include. There are also good guides to producing sales videos, but most are written for producing a DVD --Youtube and other video services have become widespread as a marketing strategy. These do's and don'ts incorporate information from these guides as well my own observations on Internet video.

  • Do make your video easily accessible. Upload a short (less than 5 minutes) video of the your horse's best footage to Youtube or (DVDs are so yesterday). You can always follow up an inquiry with a longer high quality DVD.
  • Use current footage, especially if you have a younger/growing horse.
  • Groom your horse as you would for a show. Dress as if you are showing or clinic-ing if you are the rider.
  • Select an uncluttered area -- as attractive as you can make it-- and use a contrasting background or contrasting leg wraps to define movement.
  • Use a tripod and experienced cameraperson, and plan the shoot.
  • Take the footage outside in the morning or late afternoon, ideally on a bright but overcast day. Sunglare and shadow can interfere with viewing, but if you must shoot at mid-day, keep the sun at your back. If you tape indoors make sure the lighting is adequate or you'll get murky footage like this.
  • Include a title page with horse's vital stats (age, breeding , etc.), the date of the footage, and your contact information.
  • Film at eye level.
  • Include a conformation pose. Stand the horse up without tack, both sides, front and back. Photos can be incorporated into the video if you have good shots. Include closeups of the horses forlegs and hindlegs as well as walking toward and away from the camera.
  • If you have a prospect or broodmare, include their inspection, performance test, or breed show footage, including the inspector's comments. This super video of a stallion prospect at his inspection features great comments from the inspection officials.
  • For riding horses, show all three gaits, both directions.
  • If the horse is trained riding horse, show them working at the highest level that they can perform consistently.
  • If you show your horse lungeing, include free lunge work (without side reins).
  • If the horse is moving at liberty, work in a paddock or small arena for maximum usable footage. If you must film in a large area, use the zoom feature. Try to fill the frame with the horse. This video does a nice job capturing good footage at liberty, although I'd lose the music.
  • Do edit judiciously. Remove long sequences of "bad" (e.g., overexposed, dark, too far away, etc.) footage. On the other hand, try to avoid short, choppy sequences.
  • If you are posting the footage to Youtube, check the Web site for guides on formatting the video for optimal viewing. Consider, which supports high definition video.

  • Limit use of outdated footage, or at least use it along with current footage.
  • Avoid using slow motion footage--what purpose does it serve? It seems like an attempt to make lackluster gaits more dramatic, and it's very frustrating for viewers who are trying to evaluate your horse.
  • Don't videotape from the next county. Stay up close!
  • Use music sparingly, and make any music fit the horse. I once got footage of Harvey's half brother. The video showed an error-ridden first level test set to the musical score from Chariots of Fire. It was unintentionally funny.
  • Don't use distracting elements in the video. To see what I mean, go here.
  • Don't wear bright red (it tends to "bleed" into surrounding areas on videos).
  • Don't videotape your TV!!!

      Sales videos that work!. Practical Horseman, December 2002, reprinted on the Horse Grooming Supplies bulletin board. Probably not legally posted, but it is there if you want to see it!

      The best!
      Shopping by video from Graemont Inc.
      This article talks about using videos to evaluate a horse and covers "tricks of the eye" that can make a horse appear better or worse than he is. A must-read for buyers and sellers.

      Successful horse videography

      Sales horse video quick tips from Equipoise

      How to evaluate dressage prospects by videotape. In the August 2000 issue of Dressage Today magazine.

      What you do and don't like to see in a sales video from COTH

      Cuts in a sales video from COTH

      Awesome sales videos from UDBB

      Horse video tips from

      Cindy Troy. Sales videos that work! Practical Horseman. Dec 2002. pg. 66-70.

    1 comment:

    1. I was rolling on the floor after seeing the video of their TV. That was way too funny. "It's almost as if you were there..."


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