A production studio in a kit

Ej4's Instant Video Presenter kit is winning fans among businesses that need to make Web marketing videos on the cheap.

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By Diane Anderson

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(Fortune Small Business) -- In June, Missouri doctor Stuart Hoover needed to create a Web video to market his new wellness center in Springfield. He had farmed out similar video projects in the past, at a cost of thousands of dollars and weeks of waiting. This time he took a chance on a $300 product called Instant Video Presenter, from St. Louis company ej4.

He was sent a green screen to stand in front of and software that let him key in professional-looking images over that green screen. The recommended camera and lighting cost him an additional $200. In just 30 minutes his first video appeared on his new Web site, HealthyLifeTube.com. It featured Hoover in front of a (simulated) bank of monitors in a television newsroom. "I couldn't believe how simple and precise it was," he recalls.

Ej4 was founded in 2004 as a video consulting business that also offered production of custom videos shot in its two green-screen studios. But by 2008 the company was receiving so many requests for small-scale projects with quick turnaround times that it decided it would be more lucrative to outsource the work to the clients -- and sell them the necessary tools.

Ej4 launched the green-screen product in May 2009 and had sold 300 units by the end of July. Founder Luke Gunther says that sales rose steadily through the summer and began to take off in the fall. "We're starting to make waves," he says.

Ted Finch, president of Video Backstage in Austin, recommends IVP to his clients who need quick turnarounds. "Instead of spending nine grand with me, they just turn on their camcorder and press a button," he says. "Projects that would have taken weeks now take minutes."

Not everyone is so sure this is a good thing. Allen Weiner, an analyst at IT research firm Gartner in Scottsdale, Ariz., cautions that customers might sacrifice video quality, especially if they use Webcams.

"If you're on a budget, it might be okay," says Weiner. "Sometimes the message can override lousy video. But you've got to be careful if you want your brand to be associated with high quality."  To top of page

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