Tag Archives: production planning

How To Know When Long Is Too Long

Ok, so I’m watching a webinar about how to use video to better engage with customers – pretty appropriate for me, right? The presenters hit a lot of topics, and one of them was how long should your video be?  The consensus was two to three minutes, which I totally agree with.  They talked about the “drop-off rate” that’s the point at which your video stops being interesting to whoever it is watching it.

The webinar was an hour long.  I stopped watching at about 20 minutes. Why?

Reason #1:
Camera movement for the sake of movement.  There was one camera and two people. The camera would zoom in to one of the presenters, then pan over to the other presenter before zooming back out again. There was no purpose to the movement. And it didn’t keep me from getting bored.

Reason #2:
The presenters didn’t plan out what they were going to say. There were a lot of Ums and You Knows, and when the host asked a direct question, the guest could not give a direct answer.

Isn’t it funny that when people like this talk about the need for video to be compelling, that they fail to be compelling themselves.

I once had a jewelry store owner tell me why she started her business. She was not only compelling, she was spellbinding. That kind of story edited to the right images will keep people watching.

How long should YOUR video be? When Blendtec did the “Will It Blend Iphone 4” video, it ran almost 4 minutes, and has grabbed over 3 million views.  But after 60 seconds of a talking head, some folks can’t click away fast enough.

How do you want to tell your story? Consulting with a professional may be one way to make that story something your visitors will want to watch.

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.

Behind The Scenes part one – WHAT IS POST PRODUCTION?

Part of our core message is : “We write, shoot, edit, do post production, then deliver the files to you.” And while I try to keep that core message simple and as targeted as possible, I want to do some in depth blog posts to explain what makes Videos On Your Website a valuable resource.

Every video gets a little post-production. It may be as simple as adding a music track. Oh, wait – did I say simple?

Music should enhance without being obtrusive. All music tracks have to be edited themselves – so that they fit the same timing as the video. Sometimes, whole segments of a music track have to be moved to match scene changes.

Voiceover is part of post production. Being a voice artist for 20 years, I could go into fanatical detail about this. But I won’t. I have another blog for that at ronharper.com. Suffice to say the voice tells the story. Narration entails a lot more than reading.

Everyone likes nice graphics, whether it’s a logo, or a great still shot. But how about a little blip at the bottom of the screen that shows the speaker’s name? That is usually made up of two different video files: a background, called a “lower-third”, and the text file. How big should it be? Where do you want to place it on the screen? Want to match the color to the logo? Those are some of the decisions we make at that point. Still shots don’t always fill the screen, and they need a background. Or, maybe you’d like to start at the top of the still and pan down, or slowly zoom in.

Is the color right on all of the shots? If not, we can adjust it in post. Want a special filter, or other effect – it’s all done in post production.

Come back soon, and we’ll have another peak behind the scenes.

–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.

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