Christmas and New Year is boom time for workout DVD sales and planning: preparation and production will already be underway for this year’s batch. The shelves will be bulging with new products from celebrities and fitness experts who are promising to guide us back to fitness, following our festive indulgences.

But how many of us have given any thought to what it takes to conceive, film, produce and place those DVDs on the shelf?

To find out, WatchFit spoke to Ken Gray, Managing Director of IMC Vision Ltd, which has been a leading producer of fitness and lifestyle DVDs for close to 20 years. And, as it happens, his company has filmed eight outstanding DVDs with WatchFit expert Joey Bull.

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 How To Make a Workout Video: Behind the Scenes with IMC Vision Ltd.

Who do you use and how do you select your presenting talent?

When we started out, celebrity videos (as they were then) were the big deal. They were huge. We decided we needed to be different and elected to work with genuine fitness experts instead.

Having said that, early on we made three workouts with Diane Youdale, who enjoyed huge celebrity status due to her time on Gladiators as ‘Jet’, but she was also a qualified fitness professional and dancer.

We have also made a number of films with Suzanne Cox who followed Diane onto Gladiators, but she too is highly qualified. For us the key consideration is to work with highly credible, outstanding leading experts who have a genuine pedigree and an ability in front of camera.

They develop their own exercise programme, script and perform their own workouts and, as a result, are able to deliver them with genuine passion, knowledge and authority. We only get involved on a practical production level, we don’t interfere with their areas of expertise.

There is nothing false or cosmetic about what we do. These are real experts delivering effective, proven programmes.

Celebrity titles certainly do big numbers but they tend to be transient and are superseded very quickly. Because of the way we operate, our titles have great longevity and continue to sell well years after initial release. Presenters are still earning good royalties from their first workout, whilst making their seventh or eighth film with us.

And because soap stars, TV presenters and weather girls only tend to enjoy national popularity, they have little or no presence outside the UK. Our titles are available in multiple foreign territories and translated into Chinese, Slovakian and German amongst others. This makes our products and presenters truly international.

How do you decide on a style and subject for a DVD?

IMC Vision is constantly researching and watching the fitness market for trends that will either satisfy current demand or set the goals to stimulate new consumer interest. Sometimes even older established trends re-emerge as new leading forces in the fitness world. Yoga is a prime example of this.

But even with older more established themes you can re-position the concepts to reach a brand new market. Yoga for the Inflexibles, Yoga Dance and Yoga Inch Loss Workout are good examples.

Quite often the consumer is affected by other popular media. For example cinema, music and television. So movies like Black Swan stimulate interest in Ballet, Million Dollar Baby – Boxaerobics, Warrior – Combat Inch Loss Workout, Step Up – dance workouts.

The fitness market is also very much lead on occasions by the US. Huge fitness themes like Pilates, Gymball, Taebo and more recently Zumba are all driven from America. Hence, you will find within the IMC Fit For Life range a broad spread of programmes that fit all of these markets.

Our two recent Latin Dance Aerobic Workout DVD’s have been released to give the UK market something alternative and, in our opinion, more exciting and effective than the current Zumba programmes.

IMC was highly instrumental in establishing the Gymball Workout DVD in the UK and was part of the Special K Gymball promotion, which was one of their most successful ever promotional launches.

So we keep our eye on what is happening in the world of fitness and beyond into the arts and media and we work closely with appropriate presenters to develop programmes that will harness and even progress those trends.

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What locations do you use?

IMC takes a lot of time over location choice. We believe that, if a consumer is going to invest in one of our workouts and repeat view on a regular basis, then they need to be attracted and inspired. And location plays a big part in this.

Quite often sourcing strong natural elements such as a beautiful beach, blue sky and bright sunshine can certainly lift the soul, making it easier to engage in the workout. Fitness themes such as Yoga, Pilates and Thai Chi lend themselves to this environment beautifully and we often shoot in Lanzarote.

Other more targeted themes like Boxaerobics are more suited to an edgy warehouse theme. We recently shot a Joey Bull ballet workout in a Gothic converted church that had been given a contemporary theme which created just the right ambience. Whilst our newer Latin workouts are performed in a more dance / salsa nightclub themed environment.

All of our locations bring an interesting element to the whole production whilst absolutely complimenting and reflecting the theme of the workout contained.

What size crew is involved?

We film with at least 3 cameramen, ensuring the viewer has multiple interesting angles. We want to make sure the consumer can easily follow the workout routine, but at the same time presents the images in a way that best informs and holds their interest. Supporting the cameramen will be a production assistant.

There’s a professional lighting and sound man who is critical, because these factors clearly influence the quality of the end product. Obviously, each programme requires a Director to ensure the whole piece has a clear vision. And the Producer ensures the operational elements and booking procedures all come together.

And lastly the programme requires a professional editor who works alongside the Director to make sure the workouts flow and the end result is a well produced programme.

Once the filming is in the can, what takes place next and how does the product get to national and international markets?

After filming, the programme will require editing, graphics are applied and a fresh music score is added to the final mix. On approval by the Executive Producer, the programme can then be mastered off and authored for DVD replication.

Bringing a DVD to the market means the programme is authored and formatted with menu facility and sent off for mass production. The design for the sleeve, point of sale and advertising elements are created using specific images of the artist, which is important for the marketing process.

Once these creative images have been produced, IMC Vision can market the product through a broad range of media tools, including traditional magazine advertising, targeting National Accounts buyers, creating a PR buzz throughout the media.

With regards to the international markets, we attend numerous prestigious and high profile programming markets where we sell directly to the delegates who attend on behalf of their companies (DVD, Satellite and Cable etc. ).

How long does it take to go from pre-production, through filming and ultimately to market?

The process period from start to finish can take three to six months. The first stage is agreeing the concept and sourcing the right artist. The fitness professional will then take the necessary time to write, choreograph and rehearse the programme. This process takes longer, if the artist requires other performers in the background of the programme.

The shoot itself can take anything from a single one day (if a single shoot in an easily accessible location), up to six days if it is a foreign location. The editing period can take from four to seven days, depending on the complexity of the piece.

The mastering authoring and replication of the DVD will take three to four weeks and then the pre-launch publicity and ongoing marketing kicks in and that lasts for weeks and months.

To read more about Guy Holland, visit his Expert Profile.

For further information on IMC Vision and its full range of Fit For Life DVDs visit www.imcvision.com.

** WatchFit has a number of Joey Bull workout DVDs to give away to lucky winners. Look out for notice of this competition on WatchFit social media and simply like and share the notice to be entered into the draw. **

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