You Ought To Be In Pictures! The Process of Making A Company Video – Part 3

Let’s take another step in our continuing series, looking at the process of making a high-quality company video that can be used to educate and entertain your audience through social media.  In the previous segments, we’ve talked about the importance of effective social media video marketing for your business, as well as the need for quality production by an experienced media company.  In this third part, we’re going to briefly discuss your essential preparation list … those things you need to know and do before seeking out and meeting with potential video production companies.

You’ve Passed the Audition … and Your Role Is …

If budget was not a consideration, the ideal scenario would be to hire an expert marketing company with loads of advertising experience to script a perfect video campaign for your business.  They would then hire a video producer to handle turning that script into an award-winning and effective viral video from which you would reap the rewards of fame and fortune beyond the fortune you already had that allowed you to hire the expert marketing and video production companies.

However, if that was all true, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article.  For the rest of us, budget IS a factor … an extremely important one … and most of us don’t have a budget for a marketing expert AND a video production company.  And let’s be clear about something … they are, in fact, two very different services.  Marketing/Advertising experts are not video production companies … and video production companies are not marketing/advertising experts.  They may overlap to a degree, but they do not perform the same role.

A marketing/advertising expert DESIGNS a campaign, which may be intended to take the finished form of a video.  The video production company turns that design into a finished product, or FABRICATES a video product from a given design.

As a business owner, you already have the skills to design marketing campaigns.  (You do create marketing campaigns for your business, right?)  So … for your business video, you will be the DESIGNER.  Yay!

“Storyboard” … not “Story-Bored”

Okay, so you’re now a marketing video designer … and you’ll hire a production company to fabricate your design.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, before you start writing your Oscar acceptance speech, it’s important to keep something in mind:  If you want the production company to properly fabricate your design, you have to be able to communicate that design very clearly.  I like to tell clients that, as a multimedia engineer, I’m a magician, not a psychic.  In other words, I can make amazing video, but I can’t read your mind to know what you want, especially if YOU don’t know what you want.

So how do you put together a plan to communicate your vision?  (We’re assuming that you do have a vision … otherwise, you’re not ready for this whole thing, right?)  The very best asset you can bring to a meeting with a potential video production company is a Storyboard.  What’s a Storyboard?  Simply stated, it’s a rough sketch, or outline, of every scene of your video.

A storyboard generally takes the form of a video frame (or multiple frames) for each scene, which contains a sketch of the visual content (all necessary visible elements).  Below the frame are notes that detail the scene activity, including object/actor placement and movement, dialog, scene duration, etc.  The quality of your drawing isn’t the important thing, but rather the ability of your sketch to communicate what should be taking place on the screen in your video.  Stick figures are fine, as are handwritten notes, as long as they’re legible and sensible.  Here’s an example:

Storyboard Sample 1 Storyboard Sample 2

Storyboard frames are, by nature, fairly generic.  If you want something very specific, however, make sure you include very specific details in the notes.  For such an event, you must detail the “what”, “where”, “how”, “when”, and “how long” specifics. For example:

What:  “Before” image moves off screen as the “After” image appears.

Where:  “Before” image slides off screen from lower left to upper right.  “After” image slides on screen from upper left to lower left.

How:  Both images move simultaneously so the “After” replaces the “Before”.

When:  During the voice-over line “We can replace your weathered old sign with a new vibrant work of art …”

How Long:  Images begin moving with the word “weathered” and finish moving at the word “art”.

This kind of detail eliminates questions/guesswork and makes the editor’s job much faster.

Make as many of these frames as necessary to accurately portray each section of your video.  This will act as the visual guide for your production company, so it needs to be thorough.  Give your storyboard to a friend, family member, or colleague and ask them to tell you honestly if it makes sense … and perhaps have them describe the scenes back to you in their own words.

In addition, write out a full script of what you want to be produced, including written dialog for every section that will require spoken word (voice-over recording).  You should also be prepared to provide graphic files or other artwork for any company logos, photos, or images needed during production.  If images or video of your employees or clients are to be used, make sure you get proper release forms signed.

When you’ve done all of this, start meeting with prospective video production companies.  Make appointments and be on time.  Go through your storyboard and script with them and make sure they understand it, and have a feel for your vision.  They should be willing to spend the time to do that.  If you feel rushed, move on to the next meeting.  ‘Nuff said.

Leave nothing un-discussed, nothing left to interpretation, unless you want surprises when you see the finished product.  This doesn’t mean the producer/editor/engineer shouldn’t enhance your vision when/where it makes sense, since they may have a keen eye for certain details.  After all, that’s what you’re hiring them for.  But they should not be responsible for designing the content of your message, nor should they be given a free hand to alter it without your approval.

What tends to happen with this amount of preparation and planning is that you’ll quickly get a feel for the “right” company or person to hire.  They’ll appreciate your work, and will be impressed that they don’t have to ask you for it.  They’ll “get” your vision and feel inspired with ways to bring it to life.  You’ll not just hear them tell you they understand … you’ll know it.  They won’t have that tell-tale blank look in their eyes that says “Wait … what?”, even though they nod and say they’re “with you.”

Congratulations!  If you’ve done all of this, you’re in the elite class of video production clients.  The vast majority of clients seeking video production have done very little to plan, script, and storyboard their project.  Their projects will take far longer to complete.  Their projects will likely have the same look and feel as every other “house-produced” video from the company that makes them.  Their video will not be fresh and unique, and will not represent their business as only the owner of said business could represent it.  YOUR video, in contrast, will be the opposite.  Your video will be easy to produce, as the planning and scripting has all been done.  Your video will have the unique quality of expression that comes from the experience of living and breathing your business for many years, and knowing what makes your business better than your competition.

Next time … turning your business experience into dynamic visual expression that draws your audience in!  Then later … file formats!!  WooHoo!!

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You Ought to Be In Pictures! The Process of Making a Company Video – Part 2

video-business-man-2Know Your Limitations!!

In this series, we’re looking at the process of making a high-quality company video that can be used to educate and entertain your audience through social media.  For Part 2, we’re going to briefly discuss personal limitations as they pertain to the production time requirements.  To poorly paraphrase the great Clint Eastwood, “A business owner has GOT to know his/her limitations.”

It’s almost the year 2013.  Everyone has a video camera, even in their smart phone.  Virtually every computer being made today comes preloaded with software to edit and produce video.  The same software the pros use is readily available for purchase, too.  HD cameras are dirt cheap now, as well.  So why hire a professional company?  Can’t everyone just make their own videos these days?

Ummmm … yes.  Everyone CAN make their own videos, but not everyone SHOULD.

I’m reminded of the story of the famous photographer who goes to a dinner party with friends.  The host greets the photographer and says, “Your photos are AMAZING … you must have an incredible camera.”  The photographer smiles and says nothing until after dinner is done, at which point he looks to the host and says, “That dinner was AMAZING … you must have an incredible stove.”

Great videos are not made by equipment or software or computers.  They’re made by people who know how to make great video.  These people might have great gear … but they’d make great video even if their gear wasn’t great.  It’s what they do.  They have a particular talent for the process, along with a whole bunch of experience in doing it, often combining to make a product that’s way beyond what the average person of above-average intelligence could imagine.

That doesn’t mean YOU shouldn’t make your own video … just that you should really take some time to evaluate your own ability, understanding, and talent.

Time in a Bottleneck

In addition, you should take a look at how much of your valuable time you’re willing to spend making video … because it does take time, and lots of it … at least if you want it to look and sound good.  We’ll talk more about the element of “time” later in this series. For now, use this rule of thumb:  It takes a minimum of an hour of video shooting to yield one minute of final video, and from pre-production (to plan and prepare storyboard, set up interviews etc.) for a video shoot, through the shoot itself, to post-production (editing, rendering, authoring), taking the average figures for each of these activities, a time estimate of 4 hours of production for a minute of final video content is the norm!

video-post-productionThe greatest amount of time is devoted to the editing process. You can expect, for quality video results, that beginning video producers can take upwards of 8 hours or longer to edit a two- or three-minute piece. Advanced shooters (>1 year experience) can edit in one to four hours for a two or three-minute segment.

If you can take that kind of time away from your business and/or family, and feel you have the talent and ability to make a truly great company video, then by all means go for it.  Be honest with yourself, though, and remember that your business deserves the very best you can give it, if you want it to be as successful as possible.  Know your own limitations. It is very easy to distinguish between a professional studio product, and a “made it myself” project. From voice-over recording for clear dialog during the render, and custom graphics and text overlays to enhance and clarify the message, to a custom music bed with sound envelopes that adjust to the voice-over, these fine brush strokes can make a masterpiece.

If you don’t have the talent, knowledge, or time to invest in making your own video … which I’d guess describes most business owners in America … then make it a priority to find a professional video production company that will offer what you need, and with whom you can develop a working relationship.  The right company will provide exactly what you need within an agreed time period, while leaving you the time to focus on running your own business.  For the purpose of this series, we will assume that you will be hiring a media company to produce your video, as it is usually the best choice for a busy business owner.

R-4-cropWe’ll stop here for now, but when we return, we’ll look at what you’ll need to know before you start looking for your video production company. Here’s a hint: Content, i.e., your storyboard, gets built to achieve a specific goal or set of goals: Response, Recall, Reliance and/or Recreation(The concept of “R to the 4th” was developed here, first.)

Intrigued? Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series!