Category: Learn

What to Tell Your Subject Before they get to the Testimonial Shoot

The experience your subjects have with previous video production will vary tremendously. Some executives and marketing professionals are used to being in front of a camera regularly and will be old hands but more junior, or more technical members of staff, may not have much experience and will need some coaching. There are pros and cons to each extreme of on-camera experience. Old-hands are more comfortable in front of the camera but they can fall back on a learned ‘script’ which can come across as disingenuous. Video virgins can be nervous on-camera and can take more care and time to get to say what you want clearly but they may come across as more genuine and relatable. If possible we always try to have a pre-interview call with the subject which helps us judge the subject’s experience and personality. The pre-interview meeting also helps to relax the subject so we can put their fears to rest, answer any logistical questions and demonstrate our professionalism. Click for more

3 Styles of Corporate Video (Part 2 of 2)

Done for the Day

[Part 2 of 2]

In part 1, I talked about the 11 categories of corporate videos that I see on YouTube. I often see people confusing types of videos with styles of video.  Animation, for example, is not a category of video but a style. The animation style is better suited to certain types of videos (explainer and overview videos) than others (I haven’t seen animation used in customer testimonials before) but it is best to separate the two. When you are tasked to create a type of video, you should then look for the style that is best suited to that: working the other way around is putting the cart before the horse. When you ask a client what kind of video they want to make, and they answer “Something animated” you need to cut to the type of video they really want before you get to the medium to render that message. You can also use a combination of styles: elements of screencast, animation and live action are often all blended together in overview videos, with high production values.
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11 Categories of Corporate Video (Part 1 of 2)

Done for the Day[Part 1 of 2]

There is no definitive list of different kinds of corporate videos that you can create. This list is constantly evolving and changing, but these are the kinds of external-facing, corporate videos that I see most commonly. These kind of videos are the ones you’ll find on YouTube associated with a company or brand. Video can also be used as a very effective internal communication tool but those videos are more typically found inside a company’s firewall rather than out in the public view on YouTube. All these types of videos in this list are the kind a company sees fit to release for public consumption.

One thing to remember is that you may create any of these kinds of videos with a specific purpose in mind, but your audience may use it for something entirely different. For example, I’ve created many, tightly-edited, feature demonstration videos that were intended show new and existing customers, features in a new release that they might be interested in. I’ve found sales guys using those videos instead of a demonstration, to save time, or to show a feature not yet available on their demo environment. Expect and encourage this. Once you put a video out on YouTube it may have it’s own life that is very different than the one you intended. I have seen managers panic about this and try to shut this ‘abuse’ down by taking videos off line. This over-reaction is to be discouraged.

I also see people confusing types of videos with styles of video so I have tried to list both separately. Animation, for example, is not a type of video but a style. The animation style is better suited to certain types of videos (explainer and overview videos) than others (I haven’t seen animation used in customer testimonials before) but it is best to separate the two. When you are tasked to create a type of video, you should then look for the style that is best suited to that: working the other way around is putting the cart before the horse. You can also use a combination of styles, with elements of screencast, animation and live action often all blended together in overview videos with high production values as a common example. Read more about styles of video in the second part of this piece.
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What can you Learn from Funky In-Flight Videos?

Virgin America have been getting a lot of buzz about their in-flight safety video that has got more than six million views, to-date (BTS if you’re interested in hoe it was made). Rightly so, because they did the, almost, impossible in making you actually want to watch an in-flight safety video; hell, like most people who have seen it I watched it from the comfort of my own home and nowhere near a airplane seat. Virgin have made a marketing opportunity out of nothing and should be commended for that but they’re not the first airline company to get creative with the safety video, nor is it the first time they’ve got creative in this genre.

Delta’s Holiday video:

Not as hip as Virgin’s video but still a good effort.

Air New Zealand: Old-School Style

Air New Zealand has a tradition of wacky safety videos and you may have seen their Lord of the Rings flavored video but this Betty White effort is a personal favorite.

So, what can we learn from these safety videos? It’s obvious that every video, no matter how mundane, is a marketing opportunity. It’s also a chance to establish or reinforce your brand: if you want to be seen as staid and old-fashioned, just put in the least amount of effort that you have to, but if you want to be seen as fun and hip your video better reflect that. And, just because the video is intended for internal consumption (on your planes or internal website) doesn’t mean that it won’t get out there – in fact, all of these example videos assume that they will get out there and you should assume the same too. Humor goes a long way to sugarcoat a boring message and it keeps you watching  and engaged long after you would have normally turned off as a viewer.

Think about this next time you’re just going through the motions, creating a dull screencast video. Not every video deserves the over-the-top treatment, and you’ll rarely be given the budget to do something so big, but how can you make your videos more fun and engaging? There’s no single answer but it’s worth thinking about. As always, make every video something you can be proud of.


6 Ways Video and Filmmakers Can Use Pinterest

movie-clapper-pinterestYou could be for forgiven for thinking that Pinterest is just for people into food, fashion, puppies, interior design and Ryan Gossling but, if you dig a little deeper, you will find it a useful resource for video production and filmmakers too. Here are six ways you might use Pinterest as part of your process:

Practical Uses

  • 1 Video Mood board

    When filmmakers talk, especially when cinematographers and directors talk, they often talk in influences on themselves and for the work. A good way to make sure everyone is on the same page for a project is to create a mood-board for the project. As you can pin video, stills and audio Pinterest is the perfect place to create and share this. If you want to be a dictator, create a board, and then make your minions view it. If you want a more democratic process, you can let everyone on the team have a say and contribute. Pin links to movies that have some influence on what you’re trying to achieve. Link to actors who would be your ideal for a role. Link to costume, set, soundtrack, prop and location ideas. Break things out into separate boards if a single board gets overcrowded – no one wants to wade through more than a 100 pins so make it easy for your cast, crew and collaborators to find what they need.

  • 2 Bookmarks are dead (if they were ever useful in the first place)

    I used to bookmark pages I thought might be useful but them I could never find what I wanted in my mess of bookmarks spread across three different browsers on many different machines and devices. Chances are, if you’re a video producer, you’re a visual person, so what better way to store those useful links than on a Pinterest board? If it works for wannabe interior designs it will work for wannabe filmmakers too.

  • 3 Find practical and DIY solutions and tools

    There are plenty of boards where other users collect DIY projects for filmmakers. Others share collections of Filmmaking gear and tools if you don’t have enough gear-lust already. Yes, you can just Google these subjects but the visual responses to your queries in Pinterest are a more pleasant way to browse results, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.

Social / Marketing

  • 4 Promote yourself and your videos…

    … but not too much. If every pin you make links back to your own store or blog you wont get many followers. Why follow you on Pinterest when you can just go to your blog for the same content? Be more generous in your pinning but there’s still room for a board that is dedicated to your own work. If people want to know more about you they can see some of what you’ve made in a dedicated board. It’s also an easy way to create a portfolio you can point people to, especially if your work is spread across different hosts, channels and accounts.

  • 5 Show what you’re made of

    Looking through someone’s Pinterest Boards, you get a sense of who they are through what they like and promote. Do I want to work with this person? Is this person just promoting their own projects or products or are they being generous with their pins? Are they just following the herd and repinning the same stuff as everyone else or are they using Pinterest in their own way? What movies do they like? Which people do they admire? When you’re looking to work with someone new, you want to know as much about them as you can find. You might be working with them 24×7 for the next 6 months. Yes, it’s important that they can do the job but it’s also important that you can stand to be with them in close proximity for that long. Pinterest is a tool that can help you make that decision: it tells you something about a person beyond their IMDB entry or on-line portfolio. And while you’re considering that, what do your pins and boards say about you? You should probably check into that before you apply for next gig because they’re going to Google you before they offer you the job.

  • 6 Make Contacts – follow other video producers and filmmaker’s boards

    The community of filmmakers on Pinterest isn’t large but it is useful and inspiring. Find and follow boards and pinners who trigger ideas when you’re browsing Pinterest over your morning coffee. Comment on, or re-pin, or favorite pins you like: the social aspect of Pinterest is not as interactive as Facebook or Twitter but you never know who you’ll bump into on the site.

More Links

When Compression Attacks

As a creator of video and audio I am trained to look and listen for faults in my productions. Sometimes my boss accuses me of working all day on something that, he thinks, only I will notice. And he’s probably right but I can’t let something go out there looking bad, or, even more importantly, sounding bad. I probably do hear mic rumble no one else is aware of but, I think, this attention to detail is a common trait of video production peeps.

Here is an example of a video, a company put out, probably thinking that, it was good enough, but listen to those audio artifacts! I usually discourage people from learning to hear mp3 compression artifacts because, once you start to hear them, it is impossible to un-hear them and that path only leads to ridiculously expensive hi-fi choices. In this video, even the most untrained ear can hear the compression artifacts. It has been crushed so much the narrator has a digital lisp. There’s also all that high end digital sizzle and zing that’s almost painful to listen to.

If you ever need an example to send to someone who wants to know what compression this is a good example to send them, It is also a good of example of when a technical issue distracts your viewer/listener from your message. Who can even pay attention to what this company is selling when the audio is so distracting?

How to Take Photos at Conferences

You may be the team’s video maker but you no doubt get asked to take still images too. You’ve been asked to take some pictures for the team’s/company’s blog/newsletter while you’re at the conference. How do you come back with something actually usable?

Larry Ellison at Oracle Open World

Larry Ellison at Oracle Open World

How hard can it be?

If you were sent to the souks of Morocco with a half-decent camera, it wouldn’t be hard to come back with a few fantastic shots. You’d have amazing light, fantastic colors, and exotic characters to work with. Conferences typically have none of these things — the light is usually horribly unflattering and there is too little of it, and you’re taking pictures of a lot of people in business suits milling around making presentations, and in meetings. It can be difficult to get enthused about the subject.

There’s a reason I use stupidly heavy, expensive cameras and lenses for these photo shoots, but learning to use this equipment takes time. And who wants to lug around tens of pounds and thousands of dollars worth of camera gear, in addition to your laptop and other gear? So what is a road warrior to do, especially if you just want to use your iPhone or slim point-and-shoot?

There are a few things working in your favor:

Your shot will probably be displayed in a relatively small size — perhaps just a thumbnail in a blog entry or a newsletter to try to make big blocks of text more visually interesting. Your shot is not going to be printed in a two-page magazine spread, so you don’t need to sweat the small, technical stuff.

Secondly, today’s cameras (even the one in your iPhone) are amazing pieces of technology. Compared to the cameras of 5 years ago, the way they handle low light and complicated lighting situations is almost miraculous.

Almost … Click for more