Engage Your Customers with Video – Part 2

Last month’s blog introduced the four stages of video production, including planning, shooting, editing, and distributing. It also provided several tips for planning the purpose, content and technical aspects of your project.

To recap the technical requirements, it’s best to use a high-definition video camera, although the newest smart phones have good quality. Shoot at the highest definition the camera allows and use a tripod. If your camera can connect to an external microphone, by all means use it. A wireless lavaliere mic will reduce the ambient noise and allow you to shoot from a greater distance than if you rely on the internal microphone on the camera. Finally, make sure there is sufficient light when shooting.

Now, let’s continue with getting the shots you’ll need to create a great video. Next month we’ll cover editing and distributing.

Class is now in session. Today’s topic:

Getting the Shot Right

When you planned the content of your video, you determined to whom it would address, a desired outcome, and two to three key points to communicate that would cause the viewer to act as you want. Writing an outline will help you stay on track.

Let’s assume that your video will combine a live “actor” that speaks to the camera with footage that contains motion. That motion may be a product being demonstrated. That’s what NueMedia, LLC does every year with the videos it shoots for clients at some of the larger woodworking trade shows.

The purpose of the NueMedia videos is to make attendees aware of the clients’ new offerings and increase booth traffic. While each is unique to the company, every video is structured the same.

1. Standard lead in (music, video, no voiceover) ~30 seconds
2. Introduction (self, company, booth location) ~15 seconds
3. Call to action 1 (in this case, come to booth) ~10 seconds
4. Show and demonstrate item 1 ~15 seconds
5. Show and demonstrate item 2 ~15 seconds
6. Show and demonstrate item 3 ~15 seconds
7. Call to action 2 (come to booth or visit website) ~10 seconds
8. Standard end tag ~10 seconds

While the organization and timing of your video will be different, the more specific the plan, the better the final product.

It takes about 15 to 20 minutes of actual shooting to get enough usable footage for a 1.5 to 2.5 minute final product. Yes, that’s 10 times the amount you’ll actually use. Waste comes from two sources … shooting “product in motion” shots you don’t use and human error. Experience may help you reduce some of the waste, but don’t kid yourself into believing you’ll get what you need with a single try.

When shooting, I follow the adage of an old Irish carpenter friend. Tom always bought a dozen 2x4s when a job required 10. His mantra —it’s better to be looking at it instead of looking for it. When creating a video for your company, chances are you’ll only have one session in which to shoot. Get all the shots you can so you’ll have what you need when editing.

It’s a good idea when taking action shots to let the camera run a second or two longer than what you expect the actual shot length to be. Those extra seconds of time become handles and that enable you to splice separate shots together and make them appear fluid and natural.

The other reason for needing 10 times the video than the final product is human error. While some people are naturals in front of a camera, most of us aren’t. Cameras make people nervous. Expect your actor to stumble when speaking to the camera. S/he will need multiple tries to communicate the message with the right style and pace. When stumbles occur, keep the camera rolling and allow for a few seconds of silence. Those short handles of silence will make it easier when editing.

One last point to keep in mind during the shoot is zooming. It’s okay to zoom, but don’t go crazy with it. If you zoom, keep it slow and steady. Some video cameras provide a setting that controls the speed of the zoom. If your camera has this control, use it! I don’t recommend using the zoom on a cell phone. The results are just too choppy and inconsistent.

As with any project, the quality of the ingredients impacts the quality of the end product. Shoot more footage than you think you’ll need and don’t be afraid to experiment. One of those shots you think is crazy may be just what the final product needs to make it interesting.

That’s it for today’s lesson. Next time we’ll focus on editing and distributing videos to your awaiting public. Watch for it in the next issue of Strategic Business News.

Class dismissed. Now go forth and conquer.