Tag Archives: Do It Yourself

You Never Know Who’s Watching. (The Top 5 Things That Matter)

Over the past two weeks, I won two different clients specifically because of two different videos on my website.

Someone asked me recently if quality matters for web videos. I replied that quality is the top 5 things that matter for web video.

Quality, quality, quality, quality, quality.

I just invested on a new professional HD camera with which to shoot.
I know, most websites play videos in small screen players. But there’s something that folks forget: sales of Internet ready TVs are increasing steadily.

Think about that amateur video being played on a 46 inch screen. If you thought shaky, hand-held camera shots were distracting on a small screen, wait till you see it magnified. Now, add in that low, or not-quite right light. Is anyone still watching after 30 seconds?

Major newspapers, television stations and networks are all putting video content on the web. Any poorly-produced DIY video will have to compete with that.

Quality.

Anyone can upload and share anything. It’s what is driving the explosion of social networking. It’s really, really cool. However more people want to connect with businesses and brands than ever before. Done right: with basic, well thought-out shots and a little showmanship, you can not only connect with customers and prospects, but they will stay on your website longer. That gives you more chances to convert them.

Coming soon – more about how your competition uses video.

That’s a wrap.

Quality Videos Reflect The Quality Of Your Business: Part two

Tonight, a friend passed a referral to me. I went to look at the company website – we’ll call them “LLC.com”. Their web design firm has posted some videos about what a great place this company is to work for. Now, defining your corporate culture is an excellent use of video in today’s climate. Google has done it with the Life At Google series on YouTube. The Google series is shot well, and has compelling themes.

The videos I watched tonight on the LLC site were
• Grainy – if I didn’t know better, I’d think they were shot with someone’s camera phone.
• Used the on camera microphone – a very big no no. Sound is as important as picture, and since all of these shots were extreme close-ups, to have the voice sound like it was coming from a barrel is quite rude from the position of a viewer.
• Looked cheap. One of the persons were shot sitting in front of a window. The light coming from behind washes the subject out.

Another web designer called to tell me about a client who needed video. Before I could respond, however, he called back to say the client had shot the video himself. He said the quality was just “OK”. The webmaster wouldn’t offer his opinion, and unfortunately, his client may suffer.

Producing videos for businesses is a lot more than Point And Shoot. I completely understand the DIY point of view, BUT. . .

• You have to have an external microphone, period. No discussion.

• The basics of 3 point lighting are simple to learn. So use room lamps, and buy some Perfect Daylight bulbs so at least your colors come out right, and your subjects look like somebody you would want to watch.

• Seriously consider using a professional. The expertise we bring in storytelling and getting the right message across with the right pictures and edits can make all the difference.

If you’ve made an investment in an attractive website, it’s only right to make sure your content stands out as well.

———- That’s a wrap.

What They’re Saying About Real Estate Videos

So, I starting reading one of those articles about “What Your Real Estate Agent Won’t Tell You” and I got less than a quarter of the way thru it when the author mentioned how a listing’s photos and videos can be misleading because of Photoshopping or creative editing. I wouldn’t deny that those things take place, but not in my experience.

First of all, real estate agents are notoriously…(how shall I put this)…frugal. Many of them take their own pictures, and some even make their own videos.
Secondly, the kind of photo manipulation or video editing really takes some time to master. Many agents are known to be…impatient.

Actually, real estate videos can be rather quick to produce. Most agents simply want a walk through to show prospective buyers the layout point of view. Any additional editing, whether in amateur software or on a professional level, is an expense of both time and money. It’s been my experience with real estate videos that if the home is attractively staged, a video will do a much better job of selling the property than photos. It’s real. You don’t need Hollywood effects or deceptive editing to make it work.

It’s nice to see some popular websites for real estate professionals that agree with me: Homes.com reports that successful agents understand social media. And they add, “Video is another great way to promote your business and your listings online. After posting virtual tours or walk-thrus of your listings, start adding videos that discuss real estate trends and give advice. The better the content, the more it will be passed on.”

And PropertyGuru.com takes it one step further: “Keep your videos alive. Online video content should never be considered a final product. If the property doesn’t sell immediately, change the video to encourage new buyers and give them a different interpretation”

I have also seen actual customer emails thanking agents for providing videos, rather than just photos, in their marketing efforts. Even in the relocation forum City Data, one poster implores agents to “spend a few hundred bucks on a well shot and presented video tour and sell a six or seven figure home.”

There is a myriad of ways to sell real estate, even in a down market. But the wise agents and brokers would do well to discover the advantages of video marketing.

–That’s a wrap.

4 Times When Video Is A Bad Idea

Videos for SEO, Videos for product demonstrations, and for customer testimonials. Videos to show your expertise to prospects or build credibility. They’re all great ideas. They’re ideas that can help and grow your business.

Unfortunately, there are times when using videos can be a bad idea. This all falls under the heading of “read your contract”. Here are some real world examples. I can’t believe there are companies who actually do this, but there are.

1. The video is not created specifically for your business. Just like there are templates for websites, a producer can create a video template. This usually has a minimum amount of your information. It’s built around pretty graphics, or generic pictures.
2. You don’t own your video. Can you imagine that? Anything you planned, pictures you took, ideas you might have had – they can all vanish, because you signed a leasing agreement rather than a sales agreement. Yes, it actually happens. And if you don’t pay for another round, they’ll pull your video.
3. You do all the work, and they get paid. I know of companies who want their clients to shoot the video footage, and then send them the files so they can edit. Or they want you to write the script. I mean, if you’re paying for professionals, shouldn’t you get professionals who can give you their expertise?
4. You have no control over the final product. “Double check your work carefully”, one video contract says, “If we have to make any changes after you sign off, we will charge you.” Really?? Even in a restaurant, if you don’t like the meal, they’ll make it for you again. What’s wrong with this picture?

There are things about technology and marketing that scare some folks. But if you’re making an investment in a professional looking website, ask questions, and make sure that it’s going to be more than an online brochure. Engage your customers and prospects with compelling content. You’ll find that it starts paying for itself quickly. And it pays over and over.

— That’s a wrap.

Behind The Scenes – Part Two. Editing

Picture this: a shot of the top drawer of a desk. A hand moves into the shot, and opens the drawer. We see – a pistol. What’s the next shot in this story?
-a closeup at a man’s reaction, surprised at his find?
-an over the shoulder shot of someone, an aggressor, standing in front of the desk?
– a medium shot of a man looking into the drawer. He is a police officer, and there are other police officers in the room, but in the background.

Each one of those tells a different story. It’s up to the editor to tell the story of what the cameraman has been shooting.

Even with business videos, I have to do the same thing. I have to ask myself, “Where do I want the viewer’s eyes next for maximum impact?” This is the main thing that sets amateur videos apart from professional videos: amateurs tend to want to get everything in one long take. And they end up with mistakes, and gaffes that need to be removed but aren’t because editing has a steep learning curve.

It is nice of Windows to add a Windows Movie Maker to every version of it’s operating system that is produced. However, editing with Windows Movie Maker is like trying to run a race in wooden shoes. It can be done, if you’re patient, but overall, it’s – clunky.

There are some very good consumer editing software on the market. The problem is, it’s not plug and play. There was a learning curve in video editing even for me, and I’ve been cutting audio for over 20 years.

The shots I make that tell the story but will have little or none of their sound used is caller “B-roll” These are the shots that are the demonstration, while a voice explains what’s going on. I consider my B-roll to be probably the most important footage I can shoot. Because while I cut away from the main speaker to show the demo, I can then edit the speaker’s AUDIO without making the video jump cut. That’s very helpful for taking out extraneous phrases or noises and making the person on camera seem more polished.

Morey: Ask me what is the most important quality of a great comedian
Henny: Ok, What is the..
Morey: TIMING!

I’ve always loved that bit of dialog. It’s so true, not only in comedy, but in anything that tells a story. And a good editor has a good sense of timing. You know when you’ve stayed on a shot long enough and it’s time to move on. Many amateurs stay on a shot waaaay to long. Unfortunately, if you look at much of the stuff that is posted on You Tube, you’ll find that the rule instead of the exception. The eye is quick, and the brain is quicker. Usually, three or four seconds is all you need before it’s time to change shots.

Watch your favorite movie or TV show again and pay attention to the editing., the scenes that were used and the decisions that were made to tell the story. I know you’ll see something that will open your eyes.

Now, what do you want for YOUR project? What’s the story you’re going to tell?

That’s a wrap.

6 Absolute Musts For Shooting Yourself On Video

I have seen a handful of vanity channels, so-called business presentations, video blogs, and all the rest, and I gotta tell ya.. owning a video camera or a web cam no more makes you a talk show host than owning a guitar makes you Erc Clapton.

I was compelled to start watching these folks because they had a headline that drew me in, they said something interesting, or because I know them. Truthfully,  I didn’t last more than 3 minutes.

So I keep coming back to something I’ve said time and time again: Either you want to be known as an expert, or you want people to buy a product or service from you, so be as professional as you know how, or the next guy will.  Online video has no excuses for poor quality.  If you’re going to shoot yourself, here’s how to do it with a little class:

  1. Find an uncluttered spot. Look at your surroundings the way the camera is going to see it. Don’t let anything get in the way of the camera’s main focus.
  2. Back Away From The Camera.  Really. All this fisheyed e-trade baby video is making me nauseous.
  3. SMILE !!!!  And hold eye contact. Put a picture of someone you care a lot about beside that camera lens.  Then talk to them.  You will be more natural
  4. Take off the headphones.  You don’t have to hear yourself. It also looks really low tech. If there are music cues or an interview you have to respond to, get an earpiece, or just set the phones down out of camera range. You’ll still be able to hear it.
  5. Don’t take five minutes to get to the content.  I don’t really care that this is your fifth show, and you now have two thousand viewers.  Acknowledge what I came to see. At least Letterman and Leno start with a rundown of what the show’s going to be about.  It’s not a bad idea for you to do that, too.  Of course, it will mean actually planning, and not talking off the top of your head.
  6. That will directly affect your “um” quotient.  Take notes, and use those notes to prompt you for the next idea.  Planning and focusing keeps the “ums” to a mimimum.  A little silence is a lot more preferable to inane babble.
  7. Keep it short and to the point.  I’m not going to watch you for an hour. Especially if it’s just you on camera.  Sorry if it hurts your feelings.  Brevity is the soul of wit. You’ll get more viewers with a shorter piece. You’ll be more focused.  Did you know that all of the network evening news shows used to be 15 minutes long?

If you can do those simple things, you’ll be surprised how better you look, and how much more professional you come across.

–That’s A Wrap.

Bad Video ; Empty Promises

I’ve probably blogged about this before, but everytime I see one of these sites, I just want to erect a barricade around it.  Crime Scene Tape if you will.

It’s those sites who tell you how important video is to your website (it is) and then proceed to tell you that they can put one together for you using stock photos and a voiceover. (they can, but it won’t do you any good)

To make matters worse, THEIR websites usually have the well-placed red text that screams “SIGN UP NOW!!” or “LIMITED TIME OFFER!!”  They do this for the same reason Cosmopolitan writes the kinds of headlines it does for its magazine: It’s An Impulse Item.

If you own a small business, since when is your marketing plan an impulse item?

Yes, you can find some very nice looking stock photos, then add text overlays and pretty music, and you have a nice BORING video.

Where does it connect with your customers, your prospects? Where does it engage that audience of people who are looking for exactly what you do?

There are companies that will promise you thousands of hits on your website if you will just buy their e-book or sign up for their monthly program.  Some of these same companies promise you thousands of Twitter followers if you will just pay them “x” number of dollars.

But listen to me: You don’t want thousands of hits to your website. The only ones you want are the ones that will BUY from you. Those are the ones who are already searching for you. They may know that they want the product that you sell, but maybe there are different features. Help them decide. Do THAT in a video that stars you.

Ask people to watch a video with only words spinning and scrolling, and to me, that’s tantamount to the web pages of old with their blinking text and spinning animated gifs.

And it doesn’t tell me who you are.

I want to buy from you. I want to do business with you. I want to feel like I already know you.  That’s what your prospects are saying.  How will you answer them?

A slide show doesn’t cut it.

–That’s a wrap.

6 Reasons Why You Need To Use Flash For Web Video, and 1 Reason Why You Don’t.

If you’re putting video on your website, you want as many folks as possible to watch it, right?  No matter if your viewer is using Windows, or Apple, they should be able to watch it quickly and without hassle.

There are more than a handful of multimedia formats, and some players don’t play them all.

I’m a PC – always have been; always will be.  Here’s something I didn’t know – not all Windows systems have Windows Media Player pre-installed. On the other hand, not all Apple machines have Quicktime pre-installed.  Windows Media won’t play Quicktime files. Quicktime doesn’t like Windows. But there’s one format, and one player that works with both operating systems.

When it comes to putting videos on your website, Adobe Flash has a lot going for it.

  1. The small file size means it loads quickly
  2. You can pre-set the buffer size, so it starts playing immediately
  3. It embeds easily into webcode
  4. You can determine how you want the player to look.
  5. You can view it full screen if you want
  6. Mobile devices are using it.  (It’s true, Flash doesn’t play well with the Iphone.  That’s why you also need an MP4 version of all your videos.)

Your website visitors don’t want to have to wait while a video downloads. Give them the experience they want, and the information they need, and they will actually spend a longer time on your site.  My average viewer spends almost four minutes on each page.  And there are effective and affordable video players which will even generate the code for you.  All you do is plug and play!

Do it now.  The longer you wait the further behind the curve you will be.  Video is not a craze.  It will become as ubiquitous as text and images are on websites.

–That’s A Wrap.

5 Ways To Make DIY Videos Better

Of course, I’m a big supporter of using videos on your website. There are many ways to record videos for business. One way is to do it yourself. Some of these new pocket-sized cameras are making it very easy

So what’s being shown in all these videos? Not much more than talking heads.

There is so much that can make a great and compelling video: different angles, close-ups, b-roll. But it’s hard to take those shots and mix them in, because the selling point of the little micro-cams is that they will upload directly to the web. And that means no editing.

Editing is how you tell a story. Look at all of your favorite programs on TV. They have different shots, and various angles, reaction shots from the other players, location shots to establish where they are. You can do that if you’re doing it yourself. It just takes a little planning. Planning will make a mediocre video a GREAT video.

If you’re going to shoot with a microcam, here are five things that will make your videos better from the start:

  1. Make sure you have a steady platform. Use a mini tripod.
  2. You can’t see what you’re shooting with most microcams. Try not to get that “in your face fisheye” effect. Don’t be afraid to shoot it again and again.
  3. If there are going to be two or more speakers, don’t swing the cam from side to side. You’ll just make the viewer dizzy.
  4. Shoot in different locations. Use a background shot to show where you are, then in one edit, you can be moving forward with your content.
  5. Plan Plan Plan Plan Plan Plan Plan.

If everyone’s video looks the same, these tips will set yours apart. Many folks, however, are attracted by the easy shoot and quick upload of these microcams. If you already have an expensive looking website, don’t sabotage your image with a poor quality video.

–that’s a wrap