Rhett Bailey, vice president of TranterGrey Media Group, can’t say for sure that the Evans-based marketing and media company was the first in the Augusta area to use drones as part of its video production services, but it definitely started the trend.
“We have always been on the forefront of video, that’s for sure,” Bailey said, just hours after returning from working on a video production in Seattle and catching a red-eye flight home. “I don’t want to say that we were the first ones to fly drones commercially around here because that may not be true, but we were definitely one of the first. In fact, in the beginning, we had other agencies calling us to ask how much it would cost for us to fly a drone for them. That sort of stuff.”
When Bailey joined TranterGrey about five years ago after working for Levi Strauss in San Francisco, he was anxious to grow the company’s video production department. TranterGrey’s early use of dramatic and exciting footage with drones definitely caught people’s attention.
“I guess we don’t want to necessarily be known as a drone company,” Bailey said, chuckling. “We want to be known as a video production company that makes high-quality content. Drones are a part of our toolset. But so are different lenses and our different cameras, so there are all kinds of tools we use in order to get the shots that we need.”
While TranterGrey Media is a full-service marketing and media company that specializes in a variety of different areas including graphic design, webpage development, app creation, billboards, direct mailing and television and radio commercials, Bailey let his passion lead the way.
“My heart is really into video production,” Bailey said. “And as the years have gone on, it has morphed into video with a much more creative focus. When I came along here about five years ago, we were doing creative, but the creative that were doing here was based on being a marketing agent and placing media. So we were shooting commercials and we were telling people, ‘Hey, we will do these inexpensive commercial for you, as long as we could place it, that’s what we’ll do.’”
Bailey said he wanted to think bigger.
“I wanted to do it a bit differently,” he said. “I saw the trends going towards a lot of digital. I felt like when you have a creative agency you can go one of two ways: one way is to concentrate on developing websites or, the other way is you can start with video production.”
While TranterGrey also offers webpage development, Bailey put a lot of time, energy and money into expanding the company’s video production division.
“It was kind of like, you know how when you were kid and everybody was listening to ska music and you could either go punk rock or reggae? You just had to make a choice of which direction you wanted to go,” Bailey said, laughing. “This was kind of the same thing. We chose to go the route of video production. And it is expensive and time consuming, but I saw it as an important step.”
Due to the strength and long-term success of TranterGrey’s parent company, SuperSaver Coupon, Bailey said he was given the freedom to make that leap.
“SuperSaver has always done well and, at the time, SuperSaver was the parent company,” Bailey said. “Now, it’s our sister company.”
His father, Blane Bailey, has worked in advertising in the Augusta market for about 25 years. He started doing direct mail with Jones Intercable back in 1992, and he was the first person to do co-op direct mail in the area. Finally, in 1994, he formed his own company, SuperSaver Coupon.
The direct-mail business funded what Rhett Bailey describes as the family’s “true passion,” which is TranterGrey. The full-service agency was formed by his father more than a decade ago and has been thriving ever since.
“When I came here, I just started this transition into a creative agency,” Rhett Bailey said. “Transition is a little tough because we still have a great team that places media and so, we still do those things, we just do a lot less local videos than what we were doing before. Most of what we do, we do out of town, on bigger projects.”
In fact, TranterGrey is now a multiple Emmy Award winning company that regularly travels both nationally and internationally on video production projects.
“In the last six weeks, we’ve been to Chicago, New York, Africa for two weeks, Tuscaloosa, Ala., Minneapolis, Las Vegas and Seattle,” Rhett Bailey said, smiling. “We’ve been to all of those places over the past several weeks, so it can get a little crazy.”
Rhett Bailey said he is finally getting to the point that he can sleep on the airplane to get some much-needed rest.
“We went to New York City where we did New York Fashion Week, which it is insane,” Rhett Bailey said, laughing. “At New York Fashion Week, you see the most pretentious, craziest, most self-centered event that happens in the United States. Or at least of any event that I’ve seen or been a part of. And then, we transitioned to the next week being in Africa and working on a video production of people not having any clean water to drink and seeing those kinds of conditions in comparison. The contrast was shocking.”
TranterGrey traveled to Africa to work on a video for the Spartanburg, S.C.-based organization, Lead Like Jesus, Rhett Bailey said.
“We shot video for the Christian company, Lead Like Jesus, which was founded by Ken Blanchard, the author of ‘The One Minute Manager,’” he said.
Basically, Blanchard began the organization with his longtime friend, Phil Hodges, after studying the Bible and becoming fascinated with how “Jesus led perfectly in every way,” according to the group’s website.
Therefore, Lead Like Jesus is meant to help inspire and equip people to not only live, but lead like Jesus. It has become a global organization that partners with established ministries throughout Africa to help those struggling communities, Rhett Bailey said.
“It was an incredible opportunity,” Rhett Bailey said. “And it’s exciting to see how much we have evolved. These days, one job may take two or three months as opposed to, in the past, where we would have three jobs in a week. Now, it is us just being a little more picky and choosy about jobs. The clients that we are taking on have a little more robust projects, which is exciting for us.”
Along with traveling to places like Africa and New York City, TranterGrey is also working on several major productions in the South.
“We were in Pinehurst, N.C., shooting some stuff that we can’t really talk too much about,” Rhett Bailey said. “There is a person who is trying to start a new major league organization. I can’t name the sport, but there is a major league organization that he is trying to start so it was like a $400,000 production.”
While Rhett Bailey jokingly described his role at the company as more “client relations” based, he said TranterGrey’s vice president of creative services, Tyler Jackson, really drives the video production team.
“It is nice when a client allows you to be really creative, and not even out-of-the-box creative, but just something impactful,” Jackson said. “Those are the jobs that are the most fulfilling for me.”
One of TranterGrey’s goals is to get more of those kinds of creative video production jobs over the next few years, Rhett Bailey said.
“Tyler and I work really well together,” he said. “Our passion really is the creative side. When I came here from San Francisco, I knew that I wanted to do something fun and creative, so Tyler and I were on the same page with that. And he was already doing it. He has been here eight years, and we’ve continue to grow creatively since then.”
Part of that creativity has been developing quality footage, including the ever-popular video using drones.
“We use drones a lot now,” Rhett Bailey said. “We have two drones: one that we have travels with us and one that we usually use locally just because of size and they have different camera specs and that sort of thing. But these days, drones are a dime a dozen. You can go and buy the same drone that we travel with at Costco for about $1,000. So, anybody who wants to start a drone company can easily go buy a drone and get licensed for it.”
But not everyone can provide quality video and footage using drones, he said.
“It is an aspect of what we do, but we do see a lot of drone work where people only use drones,” Rhett Bailey said, adding that he wanted to be careful not to offend anyone. “We don’t just use drones. We pepper it throughout the video. There’s a difference.”
However, there are certain businesses like real estate companies that need a lot of aerial footage in commercials and drones are a perfect way to accomplish those shots for not that much money, he said.
“You can buy a $1,000 drone now and get that shot, where before you had to rent a helicopter and a pilot, which was really expensive,” he said. “With a drone, you spend $1,000, and you can use it for years and years and years. Even if you use it one time, you are getting something the equivalent of footage that would have cost you $10,000 or more to get before drones came along.”
And the ease in which people can now get drones and operate them is incredible, he said.
“They have just become dummy proof now,” Rhett Bailey said, laughing. “The drones that we had before, we built them ourselves, we wired them, we soldered them, we programed them and we did all the software updates. It was a lot of work, so if we broke or lost them, it was a big deal. Now, you pull a drone out of the box and it’s ready to go. And they are a whole safer than they were before. It’s amazing now.”
But in order to have a quality video production, you need a lot more than just a drone, Rhett Bailey said.
In fact, TranterGrey has invested in some RED Digital cameras that can be as expensive as $80,000 each. Basically, RED cameras were developed to allow cinema-style shooting like as in a traditional film camera, but instead of shooting film the RED cameras shoot digitally.
RED cameras are used throughout the film industry, even in major motion pictures such as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Transformers: The Last Knight.”
“It’s an expensive camera,” Rhett Bailey said. “Fortunately, they came out with a new model that’s more affordable that’s around the $20,000 price range. But we shoot with that stuff, and we are constantly trying to do a better job than what we’ve done before. Luckily, we have won three Emmys for the work that we’ve done and a bunch of ADDY Awards. So, our work has a whole new quality that people are recognizing.”
In 2015, TranterGrey won an Emmy for the “Text & Drive” public service announcement which was a campaign that 1 Hour Optical sponsored to remind people to not text and drive.
That same year, the company won another Emmy for a public service announcement with the same anti-texting commercial and an anti-teen drinking commercial sponsored by Advantage Behavioral Health System.
Companies are finally realizing the value of an excellent video production, but Rhett Bailey said it has been a battle at times to prove that such quality comes at a price.
“People see paying for video as a worthy cause when they are putting it on television, but when they are putting it on internet, which is actually going to be seen more than the TV, they feel like it is of a lesser value,” Rhett Bailey said. “They say that they just need something quick for their Facebook page.”
It has taken some time, but companies are beginning to see that they need to offer quality video footage, especially on the internet, Rhett Bailey said.
“Everything is driven towards video now,” he said. “Every bit of marketing and every bit of information. The truth is, nobody wants to read anymore. People want to hear about it, see about it and laugh about it on video, so video can really create an image for your brand that you can’t capture anywhere else. That’s what we’re doing.”
He said he can’t wait to see how TranterGrey evolves over the next decade.
“We want to take on additional clients that are even more forward thinking and have larger projects,” he said. “I think we all have the desire to make some sort of short film and movie one day. But, even more importantly, I want to see every employee that is here fulfilled in their position.”
It is important for all TranterGrey employees to enjoy what they do, each and every day, Rhett Bailey said.
“I want them to feel like they are supported and they can financially support their family and their livelihood doing what they love to do,” he said. “So, a goal of mine is to make sure that everybody who is here feels like it is the best place to work and they are proud of the product they are producing every day.”