Making production sound a priority…
Online video for business is hot and getting hotter. Just as every company needed to roll out their first website about 10-15 years ago, video has now become accessible enough for just about any company to get in the game. With the explosion in mobile adoption and the content required for that usage, I’d argue it’s increasingly crucial. Tread lightly though! Just as you wouldn’t show up to work in your pajamas, you want to make sure your business videos represent your company in a professional manner. In order to help you avoid the metaphorical icebergs that can endanger your online video efforts, I wanted to share some of the frequent pitfalls that await unsuspecting practitioners of the dark art we call video production.
Disregard these tips at your own peril!
- It takes a village: A video isn’t an end unto itself, it exists in an eco-system. To perform well, video typically needs to be promoted in social media, optimized with meta-tags, potentially encoded, distributed and archived in various formats, etc. These are just some of the issues that can take some pretty advanced technical understanding and experience. Sure, you could just post something on You Tube or Facebook but we recommend making sure you understand the whole process before you get started – or you may end up not getting what you really need to achieve your goals.
- Don’t mistake hubris for capability: Video is exciting. Sometimes, the very idea of creating a video seems to hypnotize people into thinking they actually have the bandwidth (and capability) to see a video project all the way through to the end. Make sure you are being honest with yourself about what adding this additional responsibility will mean. Some clients barely have time to review what we produce for them, I can’t imagine what would happen to their other work if they tried and do it themselves!
- Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should: Even if you think you have the extra time to boot-strap a video, the quality of the end product may suffer. One of the main reasons to hire professional practitioners of any craft is that they have spent a lot of time perfecting their craft, have specialty tools and keep current on the latest techniques – the very things that can ultimately make a better product: be it a car, a waffle, a house or a video!
- The pros make it look easy: It can be very challenging to look at the work of a professional and really understand the scope of what went into making it. In the absence of such information, there is a tendency to commoditize the end product. But beware, not all waffles or haircuts or videos are created equal. To the untrained eye, it may seem easy to make or do something, but when there are wide fluctuations in quality of the end product, it is the professional techniques that can make all the difference.
- The medium & the message: The craft of storytelling in the video medium is a specialized craft, similar to, but yet different than other storytelling formats. I’ve seen many a script that was written by a ‘writer’ that didn’t get video, ending up way too wordy and obtuse for a visual medium. It takes years of experience (and raw talent) to learn how to write a video script that incorporates originality with consideration for the branding, engagement, timing and logistical issues associated with video production.
- Planning for chaos: No battle plan survives the first shot and having years of experience to draw upon is the ammunition that will provide for tactical reinforcement when chaos is inevitably introduced into any production process. If time and money are in play (and when aren’t they?) chaos is the enemy – trust me when I say that there is always something that you haven’t thought of!
- Talent matters: It probably sounds obvious and doesn’t need much explaining but I’m frequently surprised at how often the talent factor is overlooked. Your budget will go further if you can align available talent with what’s needed to maximize your specific project. For example, maybe using an emotive voice over actor is where you get the best value & impact, or maybe it’s concept development, design or camera work. Determining the key differentiation sweet spot for each project is a skill in of itself.
- Test early and often: Technology and creative techniques are rapidly changing. In order to make stand out content you probably need to innovate, which will require early and frequent testing to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. Testing is a great way to improve the product while also making sure you’re headed in the right direction.
- Know your rights: Now that we all have cameras in our pockets and You Tube it’s tempting to think that we can just shoot and post whatever we want. I suppose, technically you can, but what many people don’t seem to realize is that there be consequences. There’s a myriad of legal issues about who/what/when/why/where you can shoot and post video, and if you don’t know what you are doing, you can get sued in about 2 seconds. There are also liability-related issues. For example, do you know what would happen if you get hurt while shooting a company video ‘on location’? And don’t even get me started about company logos…that’s a whole other blog post!
- Sounds good to me!: It’s been said that sound is over 50% of the story – word on the street it’s more like 60-75%, depending. One of the biggest rookie moves is bad sound. It can be as deadly as NOT using a quality microphone, proper mic placement, loud background/ambient sound, maybe some RF interference – any of these can torpedo an otherwise perfect visual performance. It’s easily overlooked if you aren’t paying attention (or monitoring the audio) and has rendered unusable many-a video shoot. There are few remedies for truly hosed audio, thus the raison d’etre for ‘The Sound Guy’ -oft overlooked, ’til it’s too late.
The good news is that it’s still early enough in the business video adoption phase that savvy companies are able to effectively stand out and use video to grow. As these tips and similar production practices become a part of the corporate lexicon, these truths we will hold to be self-evident! Nobody questions the ROI of business cards or a website, and soon, video will be just another tool for communication. Until then, it’s going to be a little bit of the wild west as the video industry attempts to prove it’s worth and help businesses understand how to best use this powerhouse of a communication tool. It’s going to be a fun ride…
Have thoughts- or an opposing view? Let us know!
Used by permission. Written by Dane Frederiksen, Principal at Digital Accomplice LLC site link: http://www.digitalaccomplice.com