Broadcast Commercial Video on a Budget for Beck’s Shoes

Background

Creating high-quality broadcast commercials on a budget is no easy feat, but it’s something we at Slow Clap thrive on.

When Beck’s Shoes wanted their first commercial to highlight their customer-centric brand and set them apart from big shoe retailers, they turned to Slow Clap for help. Beck’s Shoes is a footwear retailer primarily located in Northern California, with many stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is family-owned and operated by the 5th generation of the Beck Family.

Beck’s might not have the big commercial budgets of large retail chains, but we knew we had to deliver something special without breaking the bank. Here’s how we did it.

Approach

Slow Clap really got to know Beck’s Shoes as a brand, diving into their history, values, and what makes them special. As part of the research, our creative director, Daniel Lichtenberg, went into the store and ran through the full customer journey to get the feel of the great white-glove experience first-hand.

The commercial we created was all about showcasing Beck’s in-store experience, something you just can’t find at most shoe retailers anymore. The concept followed a customer’s journey from entering the store and being greeted by a salesperson, all the way through the personalized fitting process, including a 3D foot scan and expert shoe advice tailored to the customer’s needs.

“Beck’s wanted something that was more about trying to get people in the door to really highlight their differentiators. They wanted to make this video all about what makes them different, like an evergreen advertisement for the business.”

Daniel Lichtenberg, Creative Director at Slow Clap

Throughout the project, we embraced creative problem-solving to stay within budget while still delivering a top-notch commercial. This included making strategic decisions about the shoot location, filming techniques, and post-production process.

One of our most significant cost-saving measures was casting Beck’s own staff as the talent and voice-over for the commercial. This not only saved on hiring professional actors but also added an authentic touch to the video. Beck’s employees already knew the brand inside out, which helped convey the genuine care and expertise customers can expect.

Beck’s Shoes employees (Matt Lopez, Steve Fox, and Shari Fox) acting in the commercial video.

Execution

A key aspect of keeping costs down was utilizing Slow Clap’s owned equipment, instead of renting a big truck full of lights. This decision not only saved money but also ensured we had the right tools on hand to capture high-quality footage without the added expense of rentals.

Filming took place at their newest and most beautiful store in Santa Rosa, CA. Shutting down the store for filming wasn’t an option due to potential revenue loss. Instead, we filmed during regular business hours, working closely with the store staff to minimize disruption. This approach requires careful planning and coordination, but it allowed Beck’s to continue serving customers while we captured the footage we needed.

We put together a small but highly skilled team. With just a director, producer, director of photography, camera operator, and production assistant, we were able to work efficiently and effectively in the active store environment.

“Working with Slow Clap is great because the team really knows their equipment. We used custom light modifiers, which was something Slow Clap came up with. So that was super useful when you don’t have a full grip truck. I also learned a lot from Dan and the team on still getting high quality work with what we had. I didn’t feel at any point restricted to being able to shape the light the way that we wanted to.”

Jose Alfaro, Director of Photography

[Left] Jake Richard operating camera. [Right] Daniel Lichtenberg and Jose Alfaro reviewing footage on a monitor.

“We were very impressed with the planning and prep before the day of the shoot, and most impressed with the teamwork displayed with the team on the day of the shoot. They were focused from set up to tear down to assure that every shot was captured thoughtfully and kept great organization of their equipment the duration of the shoot.”

– Michell M. Lopez, Director of Development at Beck’s Shoes

With the money saved from casting, we allocated extra resources towards post production. We were able to create social media cuts of the full length video for Beck’s to use on social platforms and advertisements. This was not part of the original scope, but we found ways to add more value to this project as we were wrapping up production.

Drone shot of the Beck’s Shoes store in Santa Rosa, CA.

Result

In the end, Slow Clap delivered a high-quality broadcast commercial without exceeding the budget, plus delivering several social media versions of the video. Beck’s Shoes was thrilled with their first commercial video, which now lives on their website/YouTube, and is also featured in Beck’s Shoes stores across the region.

“I LOVE IT. It’s perfect!” – Adam A. Beck, CEO of Beck’s Shoes

Next time you’re looking for a way to make a big impact without a big budget, remember that resourcefulness can go a long way. And if you ever need help bringing your vision to life, Slow Clap is here to help.

 

Further Reading/Related Videos

Beck’s Shoes – Who are we and what can you expect?

How a 100-Year-Old Shoe Retailer Stays Current in Silicon Valley

What does it take to stay in business for a full century?

Beck’s Shoes Is Acquiring Stores and Aiming to Keep the Legacy of Small Independents Alive

 

Other Case studies blogs to read:

Freemark Abbey: A Study in Style

Venturing into Virtual Production with Mindful

The History of San Francisco’s Waterfront

Blue Shield of California: Oakland Headquarters

What is the Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment?

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission: Community Benefits Outreach

La Crema Winery’s 40th Anniversary

Freemark Abbey: A Study in Style

Background

Freemark Abbey is to California wine what Tiffany is to jewelry: timeless, classic, and synonymous with quality.

With roots dating back to the 1880s, Freemark Abbey is a storied Napa Valley winery with a storied history. It was founded by Josephine Tychson, the second woman in Napa Valley history to construct and operate a winery. It was also the only California winery to showcase two wines at the Judgment of Paris, the famous wine competition pitting California wines against French wines in 1976. Both of Freemark Abbey’s submissions placed in the top 10, catapulting the small vineyard onto the world winemaker stage. 


In 2020, Freemark Abbey came full circle by hiring Kristy Melton as their winemaker, the first female winemaker since Josephine Tychson crushed her first grapes in the fall of 1886.

In an effort to honor its history while celebrating its future, Freemark Abbey’s parent company, Jackson Family Wines, reached out to Slow Clap, to produce a series of short documentaries highlighting the winery’s rich heritage and continued commitment to creating exceptional wines. Slow Clap had previously produced a brand story video for La Crema, another member of Jackson Family Wines’ impressive portfolio of wineries, and the team was excited for an opportunity to get out of San Francisco and engage in video production in Napa Valley.

 

“[Working with Slow Clap] was great – they were very professional, responsive, and open to ideas.”

– Nikita Kubiak, Digital Marketing Director at Jackson Family Wines

Approach

One of Freemark Abbey’s vineyards in Napa Valley.

Freemark Abbey wanted to focus on a number of topics spanning the entire history of the winery. In order to accomplish this without overwhelming their audience, they decided that five short videos would be the ideal approach. Slow Clap worked with the Freemark Abbey team to determine the five chapters of the story, starting with the founding of Freemark Abbey in 1886, to the fateful Judgment of Paris 100 years later, ending with present-day and female winemaker Kristy Melton at the helm. 

Challenges

Freemark Abbey has a distinctive style for its interior brand photography: dramatic, elegant, and cinematic. It is achieved with a soft, large light source that dramatically falls off the background, resulting in a high-contrast look and a background that fades to black. 


Freemark Abbey’s Distinctive Look

It was important that Slow Clap’s interior shots matched the distinct look and feel that had been carefully crafted by the Freemark Abbey team. 

This visual style is challenging to pull off in a documentary-style video production because it requires precision and control in a filming environment that is often more spontaneous, scrappy, and tends to utilize the available light in a subject’s natural surroundings.

“With a scripted piece, you have the full control and ability to do whatever you want. Maybe you’re working with actors on a stage; you can bring in as many lights as you want, you can take the time you need to get the shots you need. With a doc-style piece, controlling it with that much nuance can stifle the creatives and the story itself. You risk the authenticity of the footage. So you want to walk a fine line between getting that heightened visual feel, getting the right lights in there while using as few lights as possible and keeping the crew as small as possible in order to capture authentic, uninterrupted moments and performances.”

– Dan Lichtenberg, Creative Director, Slow Clap 

In order to achieve this nuanced lighting style with a small footprint of equipment and crew members, Slow Clap began by designing a detailed lighting plan that outlined the equipment, how it would be used, and its precise placement on set. 

A page from Slow Clap’s lighting plan detailing the lighting setup for one of the interview setups.


The view from behind the camera

Slow Clap’s production team determined the ideal lighting scheme for the interview shots would  entail a large, 600-watt light to illuminate the subject, a 200-watt rim light to cast light on the back of the subject and create separation from the background, and a 200-watt light to illuminate the wine barrels incorporated into the background. 


The resulting interview setup.

In addition to the lights, the production team utilized a variety of modifiers such as grids, snoots and flags to control and block the light, creating what is known as “negative fill.”



“Negative Fill is removing light or creating shadow in an image. When you light something,  it’s important to think about what you want to light and how you want to shape it. You won’t be able to shape light in a pleasing way without negative fill.”

 Jake Richard, Camera Operator, Slow Clap  

The fill side of the subject’s face is a dramatic falloff from bright to dark, which compliments Freemark Abbey’s visual brand identity – historic, elevated, and refined. 

Slow Clap also worked with Freemark Abbey to acquire the wine cellar as a filming location; a large space with a dearth of natural light. This location made it much easier for the team to control the surroundings and successfully pull off the lighting plan. 


The Freemark Abbey Wine Cellar

Just as a bottle of wine is only as good as the grapes used in its production, a series of wine videos aren’t complete without showcasing the bucolic vineyards where the grapes are produced. Instead of trying to replicate the dramatic interior lighting, Slow Clap took a page out of the book of Missy Elliott: they flipped it and reversed it:

“The visual style we came up with was sort of the inverse of what our interiors were. Our subjects were backlit, sort of silhouetted, whereas the interior is where the subjects were basically the only thing that was fully exposed and the background falls away. With the exteriors, the background was the main thing that was properly exposed and the subjects almost fall away into silhouette.”

– Dan Lichtenberg, Creative Director, Slow Clap

In order to achieve this look, Slow Clap filmed all of the outdoor scenes during golden hour, the last hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise, which ensured the sun was close to the horizon. The subjects were then placed with their backs to the sun to achieve the semi-silhouetted look. 


Filming on the grounds of Freemark Abbey

The result was an elegant contrasting image to complement the interior scenes.


An outdoor shoot featuring the well-lit background and semi-silhouetted subject

 

Result 

Thanks to careful planning and vision, Slow Clap was able to successfully deliver five docustyle vignettes that were visually and stylistically on brand for Freemark Abbey. The videos won Double Gold in the 2022 Barleycorn Award video category and a Gold Telly Award in the Short Documentary Branded Content category.

In addition to video accolades, the John Barleycorn Awards, which honor innovative work in the wine and spirits industry, tapped Slow Clap as the 2022 marketer of the year

 

“The videos were well received. They were very informative and high-quality, and they told the Freemark Abbey story well. We have the videos across our website and run paid ad campaigns utilizing cut-downs of the long-form video. These helped drive brand awareness and engagement.”

– Nikita Kubiak, Digital Marketing Director at Jackson Family Wines

Other Case studies blogs to read:

Venturing into Virtual Production with Mindful

The History of San Francisco’s Waterfront

Blue Shield of California: Oakland Headquarters

What is the Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment?

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission: Community Benefits Outreach

La Crema Winery’s 40th Anniversary

Slow Clap’s 2023 Year in Review: A Year in the Fast Lane

As Slow Clap wraps up its first decade in business (we turned nine this past summer,) we look back and reflect on all the amazing things we’ve learned, and just how much things have changed… and how fast! Take a look at our year condensed into one minute:
 

2023 by the Numbers

Speaking of AI, we had yet another huge project for AI startup Imbue to announce their $200MM fundraising round, and to help with their hypergrowth hiring spree. You can see the Imbue brand story video we made here. It’s a really interesting blend of documentary storytelling and hand-drawn illustrations, animated to bring the CEO’s anecdotes to life.

August 2023


We had another blowout party for Slow Clap’s ninth birthday party in August. This is our favorite night of the year, as we get to celebrate all the big wins that we rarely have time to celebrate as they’re happening (on to the next deadline!) with our team, clients, and collaborators. 

We also welcomed Kiante Marron to the team as a camera and post-production assistant. Kiante’s Gen Z, everything-is-content mindset has been a great refresh to our creaky old Millennial brains!


September 2023


In September, our producer Katy went on maternity leave (more about that next year!), and we welcomed a new producer to the team, Sarah Nathan. Similar to Katy, Sarah brings a documentary and journalist eye to Slow Clap’s body of work, having formerly worked at AJ+, ESPN, as well as Washington State University.

Our team traveled to Orange County to produce this customer story video for a new client,  InterPayments, as well as another virtual event video for our longtime client, Ironclad, in Dallas,TX.


October 2023


In October, we were thrilled to receive the Fast 100 award from the San Francisco Business Times, as one of the 100 fastest growing private companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. And on top of that, we were ranked #23.

We also continued our longtime partnership with the nonprofit Asian Law Caucus, producing three videos for their 2023 gala. We’ve produced these stories for ALC every year since our founding.


November 2023

In November, we produced multiple equity training modules for our partners at The National Equity Project (NEP). We’re happy to continuously support this non-profit and to create content that educates and supports DEIB work in the community. The Slow Clap team had a great 4-day shoot at the NEP office in downtown Oakland and the collaboration was seamless.

On a side note, we got another Slow Clap baby on the way! Our founder, Dan, left for paternity leave in mid-November. Wish him congratulations on his baby girl!


December 2023


Wrapping up this year, we were all hands on deck (or all legos on deck) for our Slow Clap holiday card video. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to live our childhood LEGO® dreams. When it came time to decide on a theme for our annual card, we were inspired by 90’s toy commercials. As it was also our first take on stop-motion animation, we were glad to have Kiante lead the way. Check it out here if you haven’t already.

Looking ahead to 2024, we’re excited to take on new adventures with our amazing team and partners.

Cheers,

The Slow Clap Team

  • 59 video projects completed for our clients, from product launches to client success stories to brand stories and branded content
  • 14 clients, including cause-based non-profits like Asian Law Caucus, startups like Imbue and The Yield, and Fortune 500 companies like eBay and Apple
  • 23rd fastest-growing company in the Bay Area, according to the SF Business Times’ Fast 100 list
  • 10+ different cities filmed including New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and (of course) San Francisco & Oakland 
  • 100+ videos delivered; from long-form virtual event videos to 15-second social media videos
  • 100% NPS (net promoter score) on Clutch
  • 9 Industry Awards
  • 2 new team members
  • 2 Slow Clap babies
  • 1 virtual production shot on an LED volume

2023 by Month

January 2023


We got 2023 started on a light note, making a series of social media video skits for startup Ironclad. The videos were produced in a DIY style to feel more like organic social content, and featured the lawyer influencer (yes, those exist,) Alex Su making fun of all things business contracts.


February 2023

2023 was year nine of our continuing relationship with healthcare insurance company Blue Shield of California. One highlight was continuing our series of ERG (employee resource group) video profiles. In each mini-documentary, we tell the powerful stories of employees who have gone through their careers facing adversity because of who they are. In February, we filmed interviews for the Black Employee Network, Elevating Women, and the Unidos (Latinx) ERG. All videos have since been released. 


March 2023

In March, the Slow Clap team learned about the fascinating world of low and moderate income housing development and lending as we produced a video about the Golden State Acquisition Fund (aka GSAF). GSAF is an innovative fund created by the State of California and administered by Low Income Investment Fund (aka LIIF) that, to date, has been responsible for more than 10,000 new units of affordable housing.


April 2023


In April 2023, we got a repeat of April 2022. We love when our clients come back for more, and the San Francisco Treasurer did just that when we produced this video about the Kindergarten to College (K2C) program’s success. It gives us a chance to be part of something bigger, something that affects our community. This video features four students in San Francisco schools that have taken advantage of the program to save for college throughout their entire schooling, starting in Kindergarten.


May 2023


Slow Clap produced a fully-virtual production from start to finish for the first time. For those who don’t know, a “virtual production” is a new technique of producing video content that was first developed by Industrial Light and Magic for The Mandalorian. In May, we wrapped and delivered this product launch video for Mindful.

Mindful was releasing an entirely new UI for their product, with design that was accessible and “kind by design.” And to announce it, they reached out to us to build an entire virtual world from scratch. We built the world in Unreal Engine, rigged it on the large volume LED wall with Disguise, and used active camera tracking to bring the whole thing to life. This is a technology that will become standard industry practice in the near future, and the Slow Clap team is so excited to get to be on the bleeding edge of it. Check out a behind-the-scenes video about the making of this.


June 2023


2023 was the year of AI… from ChatGPT to labor strikes to deep fakes to AI Drake songs. 2023 was the year of AI for Slow Clap as well. We adopted some amazing AI tools like Descript for our workflow, and we got to produce video projects for some leading AI companies, like Sana, a leader in the TechEd space. Here, you can see Sana’s CEO talking with the CEO of Nvidia, which is now the sixth-largest company in the world due to its all-in play on AI hardware.


July 2023

Speaking of AI, we had yet another huge project for AI startup Imbue to announce their $200MM fundraising round, and to help with their hypergrowth hiring spree. You can see the Imbue brand story video we made here. It’s a really interesting blend of documentary storytelling and hand-drawn illustrations, animated to bring the CEO’s anecdotes to life.

August 2023


We had another blowout party for Slow Clap’s ninth birthday party in August. This is our favorite night of the year, as we get to celebrate all the big wins that we rarely have time to celebrate as they’re happening (on to the next deadline!) with our team, clients, and collaborators. 

We also welcomed Kiante Marron to the team as a camera and post-production assistant. Kiante’s Gen Z, everything-is-content mindset has been a great refresh to our creaky old Millennial brains!


September 2023


In September, our producer Katy went on maternity leave (more about that next year!), and we welcomed a new producer to the team, Sarah Nathan. Similar to Katy, Sarah brings a documentary and journalist eye to Slow Clap’s body of work, having formerly worked at AJ+, ESPN, as well as Washington State University.

Our team traveled to Orange County to produce this customer story video for a new client,  InterPayments, as well as another virtual event video for our longtime client, Ironclad, in Dallas,TX.


October 2023


In October, we were thrilled to receive the Fast 100 award from the San Francisco Business Times, as one of the 100 fastest growing private companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. And on top of that, we were ranked #23.

We also continued our longtime partnership with the nonprofit Asian Law Caucus, producing three videos for their 2023 gala. We’ve produced these stories for ALC every year since our founding.


November 2023

In November, we produced multiple equity training modules for our partners at The National Equity Project (NEP). We’re happy to continuously support this non-profit and to create content that educates and supports DEIB work in the community. The Slow Clap team had a great 4-day shoot at the NEP office in downtown Oakland and the collaboration was seamless.

On a side note, we got another Slow Clap baby on the way! Our founder, Dan, left for paternity leave in mid-November. Wish him congratulations on his baby girl!


December 2023


Wrapping up this year, we were all hands on deck (or all legos on deck) for our Slow Clap holiday card video. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to live our childhood LEGO® dreams. When it came time to decide on a theme for our annual card, we were inspired by 90’s toy commercials. As it was also our first take on stop-motion animation, we were glad to have Kiante lead the way. Check it out here if you haven’t already.

Looking ahead to 2024, we’re excited to take on new adventures with our amazing team and partners.

Cheers,

The Slow Clap Team

Tips for Great Video Production at any Budget

“Every budget tells a story. If you want a good ending, you have to plan and make smart choices along the way.” – Some wise person 

According to a recent report by HubSpot, 54% of consumers claim they want to see more video content from their favorite brands, which is no surprise with video marketing being at an all-time high. A whopping 91% of businesses use video as a primary marketing tool. What’s more, 92% of video marketers say that their video has given them a positive return on their investment. In other words— online video consumption isn’t just #trending, it’s profitable!

Yet many businesses may not have the kind of video marketing budget it takes to make a show-stopping blockbuster.

In this blog, we’ll go over how to produce high-quality and engaging video content without going broke. Here are some insider tips on how to create compelling videos that will yield results— regardless of your budget.

Plan Meticulously 

There’s a lot that goes into a successful shoot, so working with like, say… Slow Clap means having a professional guiding hand to lay all this out with you. Yet big budget or not, planning is your best friend when it comes to video production— because every minute costs money.  

It helps to plan out as much as possible of what it is that you hope to achieve with your video in advance. Start with a project brief for the video where you identify your target audience, key marketing messages, goals, and a call to action. From there, you could either pass the brief over to a few video agencies and compare prices, or, if that’s not quite in budget, you can handle the creative in-house.

From a detailed script to a storyboard of your scenes, having the groundwork laid out minimizes your overall video shooting time and ensures maximum efficiency of your resources. 

 

Embrace Stock Footage and Archival Media

Stock footage is a great way to increase your overall production value and fill gaps in your narrative.

As an alternative to stock footage, consider using your company’s archival images and videos that could be repurposed for your video. Does your company already have an archival library of past video projects or photos? If so, repurpose it!

Another option is personal photos and videos. While this depends on the story that you’re telling, it can be a budget-friendly option to get your story across. 

Take this video, which relied almost entirely on personal images, archival footage, and stock footage. It’s an example of how it’s possible to make an elegant, engaging, and effective video without lots of additional filming days for b-roll. 

https://slowclap.com/work/ucsf-diabetes-academy-joanne-kagle/

It’s important to note that while we managed to tell a story, the con is that the quality of the images don’t match across the entire video. Ideally, if you have the time and budget, shooting b-roll promises consistent high-quality video. 

 

Limit Filming Locations

When mapping out the idea for your story, try to create a storyline that doesn’t require filming in various locations, especially if you only have one day of production budgeted. Filming in multiple locations means more time lost to travel and equipment setup. 

The right video production agency can help you choose a versatile location that can be made to look like various places.  By using different angles and backdrops, a smart video producer can create the illusion that your video was filmed in various locations without the hassle of it, ultimately saving time and money.

Pro-Tip: 

To save on location fees like renting a studio, consider shooting at your own office. If you’re creating a corporate video or a video specifically about your company, using your own office space means no need to rent furniture or props, you’ve got a ready-made set! Alternatively, you could even consider shooting in someone’s home if it’s appropriate for your video.
 

Here’s a great example of how Slow Clap was able to turn their client’s office into a studio with a backdrop. This reduces the hassle and cost of renting a studio space and the film team comes to you!


 

https://slowclap.com/work/imbue-brand-story/

Emphasize Content Over Aesthetics 

While a highly curated, scripted, and glossy approach can look great, it’s the content that truly draws viewers in. In other words, an engaging story that’s well presented can overshadow any holes in your budget. By creating a captivating narrative that connects with your audience, your viewers won’t even notice less polished visuals and production values.

Focus on presenting a story that resonates with your viewers and encourages them to watch until the end— not just because it has special effects or snazzy visuals, but because it facilitates meaningful engagement and stirs emotions. Viewers are more likely to remember, share, and act on videos that make them feel something, and evoking feeling is totally possible on any budget.

That’s where Slow Clap shines; we specialize in authentic storytelling that strikes an emotional chord with viewers.

Here’s a compelling example of authentic storytelling in a video by Slow Clap and Blue Shield of California with a simple, one-day shoot.

 

https://slowclap.com/work/joses-story/

Never Underestimate the Power of Post-Production

What if we were to tell you that you could create a video without needing to film at all? You can create a perfectly engaging video with stock footage, motion graphic text, animation and a voice over. Here are some examples of videos that didn’t require any shoot days, yet still tell a good story.

 

 

 

 

https://slowclap.com/work/lattice-the-era-of-people-success/

 

 

 

 

https://slowclap.com/work/workato-the-new-era-of-automation/

 

 

 

 

https://slowclap.com/work/oaaa-awards-kick-off/

 

Turn Budget Constraints Into Creative Triumphs

Obviously, a higher budget yields higher production value. To give you a better idea, in Slow Clap’s case, we filmed a virtual event over three days using intricate props, an LED video wall, and Unreal Engine, creating realistic virtual backgrounds for Mindful, a cloud-based contact center. 

 

Kind by Design: A Special Mindful Event

Take a look at the behind the scenes of this production below.

Needless to say, this video was not created with a modest budget. However, that’s not to say that a low budget means you have to skimp on quality. It’s all about getting creative with your storytelling and optimizing your resources.  

A great example of this principle is the film Searching (2018), a thriller that had a small budget of only $880,000, but managed to gross over $75 million worldwide. The entire movie was shot from the perspective of computer and smartphone screens, which was a fresh and unique approach to storytelling. It’s a testament to the power of creativity and proving that a modest budget doesn’t have to mean modest results. 

And while your tech company or corporate marketing strategy may not necessarily be looking to make a low-budget thriller film, you get the idea.

Here at Slow Clap, we’re committed to creating authentic stores that captivate. We’re deeply rooted in the belief that genuine storytelling is the backbone of every outstanding video—not necessarily production value.

In a world where audiences have no shortage of brands to choose from, let us help make your brand the obvious choice.  From explainer videos, to testimonials, to motion graphics, we’re here to tell your brand’s story. 

Are you ready to see how Slow Clap can help you create high quality and engaging video content regardless of your budget? Get in touch today.

 

Further reading:

 Why Your Company Needs Branded Content

 Video Trends Proven to Work for Your 2023 Marketing Strategy

 How to Maximize Views for Your Video Content

 These Five Case-Study Videos Earn Brand Recognition

The History of San Francisco’s Waterfront

In 2018, the City & County of San Francisco passed a proposition to reinforce the Seawall, a barrier that protects the City’s waterfront from flooding. The Seawall is over 100 years old and is in desperate need of reinforcements to protect it from earthquakes and sea level rising. As part of the project’s overall budget, Slow Clap was selected by the Port of San Francisco to produce videos on an as-needed basis. The Port wanted to tell San Francisco’s rich waterfront history as a reminder of how much has evolved over the years to adapt to a changing city, and to get residents ready for another big period of change. The Seawall’s upgrades are likely to span decades and cost taxpayers billions.

“Working with the Port and Civic Edge for four years on this contract has been amazing. It’s so rare that you get to form such a deep working relationship, as the Port’s exclusive video content producer, and get to help define the story of a government agency.”


– Daniel Lichtenberg, Creative Director, Slow Clap

Approach

The Port wanted to tell the history of San Francisco’s waterfront in just a few short minutes, leaving local residents with a strong sense of history and a greater understanding of what’s at stake if we don’t adapt fast enough. In order to quickly communicate this, Slow Clap thought the best course of action would be to find and license archival photographs from the past 100+ years, and create a “timelapse” wherein our archival photos are juxtaposed with video footage shot in the present. If we were to find the right photos that lined up with the perfectly filmed scenes from today, this would clearly and succinctly communicate how much has changed, and how much of San Francisco’s waterfront is on land that formerly was under water.

“We wanted to give comfort to San Franciscans with the message that things are always changing and that’s the magic of the waterfront – we get to weigh in the direction that we want to go.”
– Amber Shipley, Managing Partner, Civic Edge

Pier 7 and the Embarcadero Freeway (1970)

Pier 7 and the Embarcadero Freeway, 1970Pier 7 and the Transamerica Building 2020

Pier 7 and the Transamerica Building, 2020

 

Execution

Over the course of almost a year, Slow Clap dug deep into the archives and found the perfect archival photographs to contrast with images of today. This included photographs from the gold rush, the 1906 earthquake, the Seawall’s construction in the 1910s, Fisherman’s Wharf in the 1950s, MLB footage from the 1990s, and numerous other photos. What isn’t reflected in the final video, though, is that our team pulled several hundred archival photos in order to whittle it down to the perfect photos and spent months tracking them down and licensing them.

“We really wanted to capture the significance, beauty, and transformation of the waterfront. Finding the most compelling photos through research and proper licensing of each image was crucial.”


– Nicole B Wilson, Associate Producer, Slow Clap Productions

Challenges

Each photo had to match perfectly with a compelling present-day scene. We identified the exact location where each archival photo was shot, scouted the street corners first on Google Earth to make sure the contrast from past to present was compelling, and then in person to get the perfect camera match, procured permits for filming, and then used semi-transparent print-outs of the photos to get an exact match during filming.

Behind the Scenes SF Port

Behind the Scenes at SF Port, 2020

Result

The final video transitions from past to present day with a seamless, surprising, and impactful crossfade that immediately communicates to our audience the changes along the waterfront. An informative narration and motion graphics further reinforce the past to the present theme. Viewers are left with a clear picture of what’s at stake as the Port of San Francisco prepares for the future of our waterfront, with the Seawall project and beyond.

This video first premiered at the 2020 Oceans Film Festival in San Francisco, with plans to launch on the Port of San Francisco’s YouTube and Facebook pages. In the meantime, the Port has used the video at numerous community engagement events. In 2023, Slow Clap won the Gold Telly in Branded Content for Government Relations.

 “We love working with the Slow Clap team and in all my experiences, there is always so much creativity. I admire their ability to polish and execute a creative idea.”
– Amber Shipley, Managing Partner, Civic Edge

The History of the San Francisco Waterfront

Meet Slow Clap’s Founder & Creative Director: Dan Lichtenberg

Get to know Dan a bit better with our quick Q&A interview.

Introduce yourself!

Hi, I’m Dan, and I’m the founder and creative director of Slow Clap.

What’s your role? What made you gravitate towards this craft?

I wear a lot of hats. Which I think is a theme of my career. I like to consider myself a “generalist” (as opposed to a “specialist”) and I also always tell the team that they too should think of themselves as generalists (albeit, with one or two specialties where they hold deep knowledge).

I suppose my formal roles are Executive Producer and Creative Director. I love overseeing the creative process, and guiding a group of creative folks to create something amazing. But I also love the logistics and budgetary side of things. In our field, these problem-solving tasks are sometimes just as creative as the “creative” side of things!

What’s your prior experience? What made you interested in founding Slow Clap as a company?

My “craft” background is in editing and post-production. Which I think is a good foundational skill set to have in video, in terms of storytelling and understanding what’s possible. But what editing doesn’t teach you is how to effectively communicate and collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders and partners to bring a vision to life. I guess what led me out of editing and into the world of production was the constant thought in my head of “why didn’t they get this shot?” and “what on earth were they thinking?” And can I tell you, after a decade in production, I feel a lot more humble about it. Nothing ever goes as planned on set, and it’s always easier in hindsight. Which… again… is part of the fun of production! If you can’t handle uncertainty, don’t bother applying.  

Jumping into production was one thing. Founding a company was a whole nother thing. Slow Clap started as a side project with my friend Katy Montgomery. We made a few short films and passion projects. Then I decided to leave my job and try to do Slow Clap as a real business thing.

At my old company, which was also a boutique production company like Slow Clap, we made lots of videos for tech companies, also like Slow Clap. But the work we made tended to be a bit more geared towards lucrative projects. Which, don’t get me wrong, is great, and smart business. But I wanted more out of my job. I wanted to feel like the work I was producing was making an impact, and I wanted the opportunity to tell stories that otherwise might not be told. So with Slow Clap, we’ve made it a priority since day one to always work with nonprofit clients at below-market rates (and, depending on our calendars, often well below market rates). You can see many of the videos we’ve made for Asian Law Caucus, SFILEN, the San Francisco Foundation, Artsy, and more to see some of our cause-based projects.

To me, the amazing part about getting to tell these stories is not just being able to contribute to social justice causes, or telling amazing, creative stories. It’s getting to see my team in action, working on these videos, and being so proud of these projects after we complete them. That is what Slow Clap is all about, coming together around a joint cause. And, yeah, also, making some lucrative tech videos to make sure we stay afloat!

Favorite Film? What am I watching?

I’m not really one for favorites. I tend to think something is good, bad, or really good. 

Recently, I’ve seen examples of all three. Good: Black Bird. Bad: Everything’s Trash. Really Good: Luce. Oh, and actually recently I watched something really bad: You People. Lauren London needs to quit acting. Jonah Hill needs to reassess what the hell he’s doing with his life.

Any Hobbies?

My hobbies for the last eight years have mostly just been my business… Before that, I wrote a lot. I even have a book of poetry published, as well as some poems and short stories in various journals.

These days, I’ve been getting back into tennis, which is great!

But mostly, I just enjoy hanging out with my wife, Rahel, and two dogs, Salty and Peppa.

Lastly, favorite project you’ve worked on?

I’ve been part of pretty much every Slow Clap project for the past eight years, and there’s too many to pick just one.

I will point to a few that I think best summarizes and achieves what I think we do best at Slow Clap, which is to tell authentic stories for brands and causes in a way that entertains and elicits an emotional response.

GitHub Future Builders – Optikey: This was part of a multi-video series about “Future Builders” we produced for GitHub. It documents some of the folks who are “building the future” using GitHub. I think these videos really were the culmination of a lot of hard work we did over the first four years of the company. I like to think of them as “the first time we actually got paid to do what we love to do.” These videos are similar to many of the stories we got to tell for our nonprofit clients, but we got to do it with a healthy budget and nice production values.

Built in Slack: Another great intersection of cause-based work with a client’s agenda at the center of the story. We got to document several nonprofit grassroots movements that were using Slack to make an impact during the pandemic. I love telling these stories about changemakers.

Adobe – Jessica Chou Spotlight: I’ve always loved telling stories about artists. We’ve done this for many years pro bono. But this video is probably the first time we were hired by a brand to tell an artist’s story. Another example of the powerful documentary-style storytelling Slow Clap excels at.

Meet Slow Clap’s Post-Production and Camera Manager: Jake Richard

Get to know Jake a bit better with our quick Q&A interview.

Introduce yourself!

Hi! My name is Jake Richard. I grew up bouncing around from Southern California to the Bay Area and in between but decided to settle in the Bay. I have attended classes at the Academy of Art and City College of San Francisco.

What’s your role? What made you gravitate towards this craft?

I am the Post-Production and Camera Manager which means that I am responsible for all of the footage and projects we take on, making sure it is safely ingested on our systems and that it is prepped and ready for an editor to begin work. I also manage the company’s equipment making sure that it all remains in working order and is ready to use on the next shoot. I always had a love for filmmaking and wanted to get a deeper understanding of the full processes it takes to make something great. 

What’s your prior experience? What made you interested in joining Slow Clap?

I started at Slow Clap as a production assistant with no experience and did my best to work my way up. My main goal was to learn something new every day when I started to work here, and I couldn’t imagine where it has led me to today. My interest in Slow Clap was always how authentic and human the approach to storytelling was. 

Favorite Film? What am I watching?

It’s always so hard to pick a favorite film, but a couple of my favorites from childhood are Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Currently, I am watching the Sopranos for the first time. 

Any Hobbies?

I am a fan of going to the movies and I try to stay up to date on the latest shows. I also enjoy relaxing with my friends and playing video games. Most of the time I can be found training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in my off time. I have been doing it for almost 8 years and have recently received my brown belt.  

Lastly, favorite project you’ve worked on?

This is hard because I love all of our videos. Some of my favorite projects I have worked on are the Building the Future videos we did for Github which was one large scripted video and 3 doc-style videos. The scripted video was the first big production I had worked on, and the doc-style videos were all fun to travel and work for. Others include the Juror Orientation video which I think has the biggest audience (albeit a captive one) of any video I have worked on and Earl’s Story for Blue Shield which was one of the first projects I had worked on. Most recently, I am really proud of how the Freemark Abbey videos turned out for Jackson Family Wines which we have already won a few awards for. 

Video Trends Proven to Work for Your 2023 Marketing Strategy

At Slow Clap HQ, we’re (obviously) always trying to deliver the best content for our clients so that more audiences clap…more…slowly. But it’s deeper than that— we want to inspire viewers to act, whether that be sharing, subscribing, or signing up. In order to do that, we need to pay attention to more than just beauty shots and captivating storylines. We need to think strategy, we need to think trends— we need to be ahead of the curve.

And it’s quite a big curve to get ahead of. Video is, quite simply, exploding:

In 2022, 82% of all internet traffic was video downloads and streams.

Nearly 700,000 hours of video are streamed on Youtube each minute.

According to Vimeo, video is preferred by 80% of people over written text.

And despite the global economy taking a hit, 64% of marketers expect their video budgets to increase in 2023.

So here’s our two cents on what’s coming up in the industry and what to look out for:

BE A SHORT KING – Now this isn’t necessarily groundbreaking news that short videos can be more successful than longer ones. Maintaining audience engagement is one of the hardest things to do when making a video, so keeping a piece of content short and sweet can be instrumental in achieving it. As a video production company in San Francisco, we’ve known this for a long time and there are ever-more data to prove it:

Source: Hootsuite

Leveraging the power of short-form content is essential to any video marketing strategy. As long as it stays true to your brand, there’s no reason to shy away from it. It doesn’t have to be all about TikTok, but keeping your videos succinct and to the point will increase messaging and access to your audience.

It’s important to note, however, that this is not a blanket rule, and the length of a video should also be discussed in the context of the platform it’s going out on.

BE HUMAN –  In a nutshell, successful videos are informative but also relatable. A recent study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute found that half of the respondents create videos to raise brand awareness and nearly 40% said one of their primary goals was also to create a human connection. There are multiple ways to do this— you can use real employees or customers over hired talent or delve into the world of UGC (user-generated content):

Not only do user-generated videos provide more value in terms of authenticity, but they also drive higher engagement and are often a good way to save time and money.

STRATEGIZE THIS – Creating content is all well and good, but if you don’t have a strategy to lead it out into the stratosphere and support it while it’s there, then you might as well stand on a hill and watch it roll down. 

  • Setting a video strategy is essential to provide direction and focus for your videos. If you publish a video without a strategy, and it doesn’t get seen, that’s not the fault of the video—  it’s the fault of your strategy.
  • Put your money behind the videos.

And that’s it! Good luck with all your video marketing dreams for 2023.

Slow Clap’s 2022 Year in Review: A Bananas Year for Video Content

As the Slow Clap team gets ready for 2023 (wow, we never thought we’d make it but here we are), we took some time to reflect on 2022, the busiest, craziest, most fun year in our company’s eight year history of making videos. Take a look at our year condensed into one minute:


2022 by the Numbers

  • 58 video projects completed for our clients, from virtual event videos to commercials, explainers and educational videos
  • 29 clients, including cause-based non-profits like Public Advocates and Asian Law Caucus, startups like Lattice and Ironclad, and Fortune 500 companies like eBay
  • 10+ different cities filmed including Palm Beach, Dallas, Los Angeles, Riverside, Napa, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and (of course) San Francisco & Oakland 
  • 100+ videos delivered from long-form virtual event videos to 15 second social media videos
  • More than 500 minutes of video content produced
  • 5 million views (and counting)
  • 100% NPS (net promoter score) on Clutch
  • 9 Industry Awards


2022 by Month

January 2022

Our first assignment of the year got us out of the office, and into the water. We partnered with the Port of San Francisco, a longtime client of ours, to produce a video highlighting the fisherpeople of Fisherman’s Wharf, who recently started selling live crabs right off their boat. Tourists and locals alike really enjoyed gaining access to the “working Port,” and getting to talk directly to the folks that catch the crabs. It’s like an open air farmers’ market on the wharf.


February 2022

Our longtime client Ironclad tapped us for yet another virtual event production (the first of three in 2022). Last time we worked with them, we got to film at the Port of Oakland on a tugboat. We figured that was hard to beat. But we beat it in February by filming in a hundreds-year-old redwood forest in Marin. To capture the epic scale, we worked with a massive jib arm, and some heavy duty lighting. Always fun to pull out the big guns.


March 2022

Glide is one of the coolest clients you could think up. Their no-code platform lets anyone turn spreadsheets into mobile apps, whether or not you’ve ever seen a line of code. How cool is that?

We’ve been lucky enough to partner with them to tell their customer success stories for several years. This time around, we got to go big, featuring the PGA, who used Glide to develop apps for the Ryder Cup. We captured interviews at PGA’s Texas and Florida HQs, plus even got to film some product shots and reenactments at our Oakland studio. But most importantly, this customer story video is surprising and entertaining.

Our client at Glide said it best: Their team doesn’t create videos that are off the shelf. They create something that engages the viewer emotionally.


April 2022

We love partnering with our government clients like the San Francisco Treasurer. Telling stories of huge impact, like the Kindergarten to College (K2C) program’s success, gives us a chance to be part of something bigger, something that affects our community. The video we produced does just that, featuring stories of kids and parents who have taken advantage of the K2C program to save for college.


May 2022

After two years spent researching, writing, filming, and editing, in May we completed the new Juror Orientation video for the State of California. Our client had this to say about the collaboration: The team was adaptable, flexible, innovative, creative, and open to new ideas and solutions.

This educational video is seen by nine million jurors a year, and is used as the primary tool to make sure we have an educated jury of our peers. The video has a shelf life of ten to twenty years. At 100+ million views, that’s blockbuster status baby!

We were also excited to simultaneously launch a documentary about the history of Jury Service as a companion piece to the orientation video. We had the amazing challenge of condensing several hundred years of history into ten minutes, and we got to learn how essential juries are to a healthy democracy.


June 2022

Another huge production challenge landed in our laps with Ironclad’s summer virtual event video. Ironclad has always been thinking outside the box for virtual events, but this was on a whole nother level. The theme was 80’s high school in the style of John Hughes films like Breakfast Club and 16 Candles. So we scoured thrift stores and local area high schools to put together an authentic expression of this fun theme. We rented a high school that hasn’t been updated since the 70’s, put together a classic gymnasium school dance scene, rented a 1980’s Porsche, and so much more. Our production design team had a blast with the 80’s period pieces. There’s enough in there to watch this video 10 times before you catch all the easter eggs.


July 2022

We celebrated Slow Clap’s eight year birthday party in a big way at the Alice Collective in downtown Oakland. We’ve celebrated every Slow Clap birthday with a party, inviting our clients, our team, our collaborators, and their loved ones to celebrate another year of amazing video projects, and connect over some banging food and drink. 2022 was no exception.


August 2022

In August, Katy Bailes joined the team as a producer, to help lead our increasingly complex and large body of work. Katy came from the Economist’s documentary films division before joining Slow Clap, and brings her top notch storytelling skills and can-do attitude to all our projects. She’s been a huge asset to the team, and to our clients, in the short time she’s been here.

We also added Keely Liles to the team as a camera and post-production assistant. Keely brings her fresh ideas and fun personality to all of our projects.


September 2022

The Slow Clap team tackled a new challenge in 2022, partnering with San Francisco Bay Area regional retail chain Beck’s Shoes to create a brand story video about their unique approach to retail. Shoe cinematography is unlike any other challenge. These are fashion items that move at ground level. But of course, the most important thing is the look on a customer’s face when they find that perfect fit, which is right up our alley.


October 2022

We always reserve a portion of our calendars to partner with cause-based organizations, offering below market rates. This year, we partnered with Public Advocates, one of the first public interest law firms in America, to produce this short documentary about their 50 year history. We worked with the folks at PA for the entire year to go through decades of archival material and film several new interviews. In the end, we produced a brand film that shows how Public Advocates “makes rights real.”


In addition, after three years of development and pandemic delays, we finished a five-part documentary brand film series for the iconic Napa Valley winery Freemark Abbey. From being founded by a woman in the 1880’s, to winning top prizes at the Judgement of Paris, Freemark Abbey has been redefining what great is since its founding. It was fascinating and exciting to get to be the team to bring this story to life.


November 2022

Another one of our cause-based clients is Asian Law Caucus, who we’ve been partnering with for eight years. In fact, they were our very first client!


This year, we helped them celebrate their 50th anniversary by producing several videos. Our favorite among them was this moving montage featuring several of the best interviews we’ve captured with ALC clients over the years.

December 2022

We’re used to being behind the camera, but in December, the whole team got to try something totally different: we turned the camera around, and starred in the Slow Clap holiday card video. It was a blast, and an opportunity for the team to poke fun at me, in the style of The Office.

To put a cherry on top of the year, we scored some major wins, taking home top awards at: Clutch (Top 1000 B2B Companies), the John Barleycorn Awards (Double Gold and Top Marketer of 2022), the Telly Awards (Gold in Branded Content), the MarCom Awards (Platinum in Corporate Image Video), and the Corporate Content Awards (Best Content in a Live Setting).

We’re looking forward to another great year of partnerships and challenges in 2023.

Dan Lichtenberg
Founder and Creative Director
Slow Clap

Meet Slow Clap’s Producer: Katy Bailes

Get to know Katy a bit better with our quick Q&A interview.

Introduce yourself!

Hello! Nice to meet you! My name is Katy and I am Slow Clap’s newest recruit! I am originally from London in the UK and have been living in San Francisco for around 2 years now by way of marriage to my lovely husband George! Prior to joining Slow Clap, I worked at the in-house documentary film team at The Economist newspaper. There we made short(ish) documentaries about anything and everything from start-ups in the world’s largest refugee camp to what led to Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential election.

What’s your role? What made you gravitate towards this craft? 

I am a producer at Slow Clap which I’m very happy about because I love producing! In general, I have always wanted to produce and make documentaries because I’ve always been interested in what’s going on in the world. It may sound a bit simple but that is simply it! From a young age, I was always fascinated in the stories of my friends from different places and the stories of the new places I visited and lived in and so making films and specifically documentaries just kind of made sense to me as a job. I like the mix of creative organizing (if that’s a thing!), whereby you have an idea or a concept and you make that a reality through solid processes. I love working in a team and truly appreciate the collaborative nature of filmmaking in all its forms.

What’s your prior experience? What made you interested in joining Slow Clap? 

I was interested in the role firstly because I wanted to diversify my experience from documentaries into more commercial work. As Slow Clap is a corporate video production company in San Francisco, I really love that Slow Clap works with a large variety of companies from large tech organizations to smaller NGOs and I was impressed with the documentary style of the work they produce. To me it was sort of the best of both worlds— I could continue working in a style I was used to and appreciated but rev it up a bit with new clients and processes. I also really liked the photo illustrations of each member of staff and the inclusion of the company pets! 

What am I watching? 

Anything from Keeping Up with the Kardashians to old Brazilian classics like Black Orpheus! This year I am excited for the new series of Succession but am also looking forward to watching some new documentaries like To The End and Descendant which is about African-Americans tracing their ancestral roots.

Any Hobbies?

I’ve always loved dancing from ballet to dancehall and so I try and keep that up! I am a big fan of anything Brazilian and so I enjoy reading and keeping up to date with what’s happening over there and on the continent in general, as well as speaking Portuguese as and when I can. Now that I live in California, I am embracing the outdoors and love a good hike to watch a sunset and am even considering taking up paragliding!

Lastly, favorite project you’ve worked on? 

I have to say probably Public Advocates’s 50th Anniversary as I got to piece together 50 years in a paper edit, continue to develop it throughout the editing process, and see it come to life. It was an honor to learn about the many stories of Public Advocates as well as highlight the systemic changes that they created in the community.