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Video Production: The Four Ps

Videos are fast becoming a key platform in the communications marketplace. US Internet users watched 14.8 billion online videos in January 2010, making YouTube the second largest search engine. Your marketing strategy should include innovative forms of communication and adding informative video is one way to keep your messages timely and fresh.

Video production has never been easier. Flip video cameras have HD capacity and cost around $150. There is a variety of software editing suites available. We like to use imovie and soundbooth on the mac. So you want to make a video to include in your marketing strategy? Let’s get started.

Plan, Plan, Plan and Plan

Well maybe not so fast. Just like the early days of desktop publishing, video best practices are a critical foundation to any project. It’s easy to think that the software and camera do it all. However, planning is the key if you want to avoid some serious mis-steps. Nancy Schwartz of gettingattention.org has an excellent example of video mistakes you want to avoid.

First P: Plan with Specific Goals

Communicating your story in the form of video takes time and thought. You should begin with a summary of what you want the overall message to be. Ask yourself these questions:

• What’s the goal of this video?
• What do I want my stakeholders to get from this video?
• What action(s) do I want the stakeholders to take?
• How long should the video be in order to inspire response or action?
• How do we distribute this video to make the above items happen?
• What resources in money, time and people can I allocate to this project?

Second P: Plan with a Storyboard (Pre-production)

Once you’re clear about your goals and overall message, you need to create a storyboard. Show the plan to your associates and stakeholders to see if the message is clear, concise and in keeping with your organization’s mission and goals.

Production styles vary. Do you use an interview/TV commentary style, documentary (Ken Burns) approach, an edgy, humorous or entertainment magazine flavor? Perhaps a musical style suits. Decide which is appropriate for your audience. Once you decide, make sure you can achieve that style with the resources and formats available to you.

How much time do you need to prepare? Do you need actors to rehearse the script? How long can you set aside to shoot so that you’re not making up shots in editing? All of these parts add up to the emotional feel you’re trying convey. Is the emotional draw to inspire, convince, motivate or produce a call to action?

Finally, what will you use for sound/audio? Will there be background music (watch for copyright issues here) or simply dialogue?

Third P: Plan for Technology (Production)

It’s vital to be concerned with technical issues. How will you light the video? How will you record or mix the audio? How will you edit the video? Do you need a voiceover or subtitles or titling? What transitions do you feel will work with your style?

The most common mistake is to make the video too long. You should have a clear goal of how much time you believe it will take to get you message across in conjunction with how long you believe the viewer will watch. Anything over two minutes and you begin to lose your audience. People are used to 5, 10 and 15 second spots where there message is concise yet clear. One minute is a great goal for an association. We did this video/TV spot in 30 seconds for SMECO to announce their new logo.

Plan for contingencies. With the SMECO spot, we planned the final shot to be sunrise at Felds Point, Maryland. The video guys set up their camera and equipment starting at 3:30am. It was a perfect weather day. The sun was rising over the sea just as envisioned. The camera was rolling. Suddenly a white van drives up into camera view and unloads 3 workers in white in full view. Fortunately, we had shot just enough material to make it work. With some creative editing we were able to remove the distracting workers. Planning for contingencies is a necessity.

Fourth P: Plan for Editing and Launch (Post Production)

If you have a Mac with Keynote, you can produce a short using your video and stills. Keynote allows you to see it play out in sequence. With Keynote transitions and sound you can export to a Quicktime file. Even with software this process takes time.

A week’s total production time for a minute long video is not unreasonable. You will want to test the rough cuts with your staff and stakeholders. What you think you are conveying may come across quite differently to other viewers. What is humorous to one person, could be offensive to another. Get good feedback, review and revise as necessary.

Almost done! Once you’ve posted your video on YouTube, make sure you let everyone know. Tweet about it through your Twitter account. Send an email and Invite your community to view, share and comment. Link to it from your organization’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Embed the video in your blog and website.

Yes, it’s possible to shoot, click, edit and launch in a day. However, a quality production process is your best insurance that your message hits the mark.

Dick Rabil is President and Creative Director at Slice. With more than 30 years of communications experience, Dick leads the SLICE team’s collaborative efforts to find solutions to your interactive and digital needs.

UPDATE:
further reading from Search Engine Watch–http://bit.ly/cMk93A

Comments 2

  1. Yup, video has an inreasingly powerful presence on the web and in marketing. Do you have any pictures of good storyboards?

    One thing I’ve found difficult before is how to record the audio aspect. Tom Johnson, a leading professional in the tech writing industry, is doing a really informative series of posts about audio here:
    http://www.idratherbewriting.com

    1. Richard, if you’re looking for an example of a storyboard, we included a link in the post to a storyboard we developed for a SMECO 30 second commercial.

      Thanks for the link about audio. Audio is always a challenge. Tom Johnson’s series on Developing a Personal Voice in Audio, from the link you provided, does have a lot of good information about keeping the narrative fresh and engaging. Thanks!

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