Simpli-good

That my dear readers is the video highlights for my wedding events which took place almost 5 months ago. This is my story on my experience dealing with the video for my wedding, a feature I originally thought I wouldn’t be able to fit into my budget.  
A lot of people these days spend a lot of money and effort in planning their “dream wedding”. It is no laughing matter as even the simplest of weddings in KL can cost a considerable amount of money. It is also no wonder that more and more people, myself included try to go the extra mile to find deals and cheats to extend that limited budget.
To be frank, my initial wedding budget did not include provision for a videographer. My initial market survey showed that the cost of hiring one was rather prohibitive. Coverage for one event would easily go into the 4 digits and I had 3 events to cover! So I initially settled to just hiring a photographer instead. At the back of my head, I always thought of how cool it would be to have a wedding videos like the cool ones you see on youtube. Also, being a fan of the arts, I had planned quite a number of performances for my reception and it would be of a shame if I couldn’t have all that recorded for future viewing.
Luck was definitely on my side and God sent me hope in the form of Groupon and by the name of Simplisiti Studio. The deal was as below:

For those of you who have no idea what Groupon is well, they’re a company that runs a website that has deals you can purchase from them offered from various vendors nationwide and in your area. Think of it as cutting out coupons in the news paper and you’re not too far off. Basically the deal was, customers get 3 hours of coverage of their event(s) and they will include a 5 minute (up to 5 minutes) video montage on DVD for the event(s). I say event(s) as one may purchase several Groupons if the 3 hours aren’t enough. What is the price for all this? Well, a very reasonable RM120! They didn’t have much of a portfolio so I couldn’t really judge their work beforehand but heck, at that price, my expectations were not very high. Heck, if they just turned up and just straight recorded the event without editing also would be fine by me...
 As you can see, I initially had my scepticism. Years of being told that there’s always a catch with discounts does that to you. How many times have you heard about companies raising the price of their goods and then giving customers huge discounts to make them feel better?! I grew up with that preconception so I decided to ring them up to get more info and to see if the dates I wanted them for were available. I guess I was one of the earlier people to call as after I confirmed the details and confirmed their availability they asked if we could meet up and discuss about the video I wanted done. I thought it was a nice personal touch so after purchasing the Groupons, I arranged to meet up with the Simplisiti team after work at Mc Donalds Subang Jaya.
I met up with the team later that evening and got to know more about the company and what they do. Kamal, the owner of the business was there to meet me with his cousin what until now for the life of me I could not remember his name!! Sorry bro... hehehe anyways, basically Simplisiti derives its name from Kamal’s mother, Siti. It is an extension from their mother’s business who used to provide decoration services for Hantaran dulangs and other wedding preparation stuff. They branched out into wedding photography and now, they decided to go into videography. Hence the very little internet presence and small video portfolio. They were using Groupon to advertise their services and quickly build up their video portfolio.
I thought that was a smart idea, I had to ask “but at what price?”. I have heard stories from some of my more entrepreneurial friends that Groupon takes quite a big chunk of the advertised figure as commission for the Groupons. So I asked Simplisiti, how much did it cost to advertise with Groupon? Kamal was reluctant to reply at first but when I suggested 50% he answered, “nearly ” and said it was in the 30-40% range. “Whoa, that means you guys are only making RM70-80 per Groupon for 3 hours of work plus however more number of hours of editing!?” I said. “Are you guys even making money?” I remarked to shrugs coming from the Simplisiti guys. To me these guys are really doing charity work. Fresh graduate staff at my company can charge RM160 per hour for their services and these people were charging less than that for 3 hours plus editing time. To me that was charity.
We agreed to meet up again at their offices and formally fill in the service request form with the details of my event. I asked them if I could get more footage and they said that I could purchase additional 30 minute footage for each Groupon for RM50 which I quickly agreed to. I also had time to chat to the other team members at their offices which was a simple commercial unit at a quite run down looking Worldwide business centre. The premises was a little snug and having known some other start ups, was not much different from other small start ups I’ve visited before.
D-Day came in no time and a few days before that the videographer, Shahril called me to confirm the venue and time. My Akad Nikah or solemnisation was held at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Mosque and true enough the videographer was there as my family’s procession proceeded. I was pleasantly surprised to see 2 videographers instead of the 1 stated in the Groupon. I was later informed that the other videographer was an intern who used the event as a training ground but was also brought along as he had previous experience organising a wedding at the same venue. Good, the more videographers the better as I thought 2 cameramen could capture the moment from different angles. On hindsight I would recommend to those thinking of hiring a videographer to insist of 2 videographers to minimise the risk of one videographer missing any important moments. The same can be said for photographers. I strongly suggest that you hire 2 photogs for each event to avoid disappointment.
Months went by and knowing how busy they were I didn’t really pester them about my video. I knew with that many Groupon purchased and not so many staff working for them, it would surely take alot of late nights to stay on top of the work load. So I didn’t really follow up until I think about 2 months after the wedding after which I had already given them the songs I wanted for my videos. A few days after contacting Shahril, the videographer he texted me saying that he has prepared a wedding highlights video for us and he’s uploading it up on Vimeo and letting us downloading it – in HD for absolutely no charge at all!! We quickly downloaded the video and were awe struck by the quality of the video and how the music and video just worked extremely well. That was the video at the beginning of this blog post.
By now Simplisiti were already maksum in our minds. They could do no wrong. =P.  A few weeks later he texted me saying that the Nikah video is ready and that he has uploaded it on Vimeo. This video had the song we provided them and it was really good. Well worth the RM120 we paid. Check out the Nikah video montage:
At this point, I was having second thoughts about the song for my side’s reception. I had initially wanted to use Monica’s “Angel of mine” song but since the whole theme of my reception was very much Malay, with all the traditional dances and all a more traditional and Malay background music would’ve been better. So I asked Shahrill to choose the song he thought was suited to the video. This of course resulted in further waiting but because this was because I had changed the song and asked him to look for another song, I didn’t mind.
2 months went by and I followed up with Simplisiti to see if my videos were ready. I got a reply in the affirmative so I arranged to pick up the DVDs from their offices after work. I called them up before hand to make sure there was somebody waiting at the office when I came. Luck was with me as Kamal was there as Shahril was out on an errand. I received 3 DVD boxes containing the 30 minute videos I ordered and one of the DVD boxes had the highlight videos on them. I managed to play one of the DVDs on my laptop but decided to use the time to catch up with Kamal instead. He apologised about the delay in the video and I related that I could understand the workload and frustration that I forsee some of his clients might have thought. Thankfully he said next year would be less hectic.
The presentation of the DVDs admittedly could have been better, the dvd box felt rather flimsy and the paper printout on the cover rather simple. I see how some people might find this an annoyance but for me the content matters the most so I didn’t really mind. But as a point for improvement maybe Simplisiti can take note for future “full fare” paying customers that might take a gripe at details like this. I've made so many clones of these disks to give out to relatives that how the originals are packaged meant very little to me.
I watched the highlight videos in the car and was pleased with the other videos they produced for me – the Reception videos:
Bride’s reception video
 Groom’s reception video
Admittedly, after the highlights video and the nikah video I was rather underwhelmed by these two videos but by no means were the videos sub standard. It was a simple case of bar raised high by the first video. Also, their Groupon did not promise HD video so the videos did not look as sharp as the ones he uploaded on Vimeo. I must ask them to upload the HD versions on Vimeo after this.  
The 30 minute videos were also good, the only gripe being that Shahril put in background music where I wanted to be able to hear the sounds of the actual event. A quick text to Shahril remedied this and he said that he will burn me new videos with no background music. I am now thinking of asking him to make me a video of all the performances for that event. I guess I’ll contact him on this later. They seem to be flexible enough to accomodate most requests.
So how would I sum everything up? Well, to be fair they have enabled me to have video covorage for my weddings where as without the Groupons I might have not been able to have any video at all. For the amount of money I paid and the results I got I must say that they have far exceeded my expectations. As the saying goes "you get what you pay for". The highlights video exceeded my expectations at any price. The other videos were also very good although knowing them they probably were made to meet a deadline. Overall I am very pleased with their work. Given their lack of experience makes their work even more praiseworthy. Are they recommendable for full paying customers though? That is the big question I bet you're thinking in your mind right now. 


Well, I recommended them to my sister who's getting married next month so I guess the answer is YES. They have their short comings I admit but the most important thing to me are the video quality which to me is generally excellent. With less workload next year I predict their quality can only get better.


Before I end this post which has probably broken my own record for long blog posts, I would like to share some thoughts on choosing a video/photo-graphers (vendor) for weddings or any other event:
  1. Choose one that you are comfortable with the style of the products they produce. Alot of satisfaction comes when the video/photo style meets your expectations.
  2. Make sure the price is right. Make sure you don't stretch our budget too much. Spending too much on just video/photos can get one's expectations a little too high and makes one prone to disappointment.
  3. Always look at a certain vendor's portfolio before choosing. Sometimes their reputation precedes them and sometimes they are not given much credit for their work. Vendors with a small portfolio are generally riskier choices and are generally cheaper or are willing to give big discounts. As in many other things in life, bigger risks normally result in a bigger gain and like myself, having pain peanuts and getting beautiful videos makes one feel really good inside. Of course, getting great videos from an expensive vendor is good too but getting it for less just makes one feel so much better inside.
  4. Know what you are getting for the money you are paying. Some packages offer HD DVDs and some don't. Some will have better equipment to get that magical shot/angle. Some have very rigid/limited working hours and some don't. Only you know what you want out of your vendor so make sure you are clear on what you're getting.
  5. Give extra weighting to vendors that offer 2 or more staff to handle your event. the more staff they have for your event the better change you have of getting better shots/footage from more angles. 
  6. Once you have selected your vendor meet up with them and run through the event with them. This will make them better prepared to take the shots that matter from the best angles. Introduce them to your closest family members. On the day itself, assign someone that can inform the vendors of the important people that need to be in the video/photos. A vendor can do much more when he is not "surprised" on that day.
  7. Last advice will be "Manage expectations". Do not have unrealistic expectations of your video. Sometimes there are many constraints to getting a good video/photos. If you set your expectations low you will always feel satisfied. Your chances of ending up happy after getting your videos is much higher than expecting a hollywood blockbuster trailer. You are bound to be disappointed.
So guys, that was my experience with my videographer. Other people might have other experiences with their videographers, maybe bad maybe good. The thing is this industry is a very people orientated business were the main objective is to make people feel good. Everyone knows that you can't make everyone feel good all the time.....