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!!

Imagery is Worth a Thousand Milliseconds

From Wikipedia: A millisecond (from milli- and second; abbreviation: ms) is a thousandth (1/1,000) of a second.[1]

When we look at dynamic digital signage, it is vitally important that we know the standards when it comes to frames per second in the world of A/V. To create the illusion of motion, video (just as with film movies) consists of a series of images displayed in rapid succession.  Each single image is referred to as a Frame.  The number of frames displayed per second is the Frame Rate.  Ranging from 24 Frames Per Second (FPS) to more than 60, each video rendering standard has a purpose and appropriate set of applications. This is a long subject for a later post.

What is important to know is that the images on your digital display, especially those incorporating “motion” and transforming from one context to another, are relaying far more information than any set of words could ever reproduce. Why is this? It is closely linked to the nature of the left and right hemispheres of our brains.

The main theme to emerge… is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres respectively and that our education system, … and modern society discriminate against the right hemisphere. –Roger Sperry (1973) 

 “… now that computers can emulate many of the sequential skills of the brain’s left hemisphere – the part that sees the individual trees in a forest –… it’s time for our imaginative right brain, which sees the entire forest all at once, to take center stage.”  – Dan Pink, NY Times, April 6, 2008, “Let Computers Compute. It’s the Age of the Right Brain”

You might say that we have entered the Age of Dynamic Digital Signage. Each of us, you, me, our audience, all have the capacity to absorb untold millions of bits of information in one gulp, so to speak, via our Right Brain attributes, as we look at an image, a scene, or a face. The Left Brain, on the other hand – the younger, less primal brain – needs to immediatly judge and sort, pocketing bits of data and filing each into a mental file folder based on its qualities. This entire subject comprises the material of tomes, millions of pages of research devoted to the amazing conversation and unique languages of the left and right brains.

All you need to know is that pictures really do convey a thousand words. What a boon for digital signage! The medium that is best able to convey mood, feeling, subliminal connection, brand building, and appeal to the senses is electronic digital signage! Combine music, the engaging montage of images in support of a product message, and you are finally able to hold attention, lift sales and build your brand’s appeal.

…“The era of ‘left brain’ dominance—and the Information Age it engendered —Is giving way to a new world in which ‘right brain’ qualities— inventiveness, empathy, meaning— will govern.” —Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind.

 Building Brands with Digital SignageInventiveness… empathy… meaning. These are qualities that should be imbued within your digital content design. LobbyPOP is gifted with a talented team of dedicated and creative humans who use technology – audio and visual elements – to create powerful messaging that goes far beyond what digital print alone could ever achieve. You are invited to visit the LobbyPOP YouTube channel to experience some of the magic.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  — Albert Einstein

Next post: How About Color, Contrast and Brightness?

 

Media Creatives

By now you must be rolling your eyes as much as we do, whenever you hear things like “digital delivery ecosystem” “multi-screen, multi-zone” “no technical know-how required” “digital signage platform” “up-rez” “integrated hardware and software” “IP-based remote updates” and “place based media buys.”

Spend as much time deeply immersed in the electronic signage arena as we have, and you will be as certain about the following as you are about anything: That the two most important elements of electronic digital signage are the two aspects that are mentioned the least:

  1. Content. Real, quality, beautiful, targeted, creative content.
  2. Support. Real, quality, friendly, knowledgable, support.

This post is about Content. It won’t be long before business owners and marketing managers turn their noses up at pixelated footage, bad color, and poor sound quality. The kind of content provided by content providers like LobbyPOP is media house quality. Ninety-one percent of media companies report they supply agency-like services to marketers today, with campaign development, ideation and targeting creative to the right audiences topping the list. Creative development and custom content, cross-platform integration and execution come next. Surprisingly, supplying consumer insights is seventh on that list — and might be the area of most opportunity.  LobbyPOP places vertical market insights and solid research first, when creating new content for businesses.

This is a multimedia journey from static content, marketing silos, and disconnect between ad space and buying place, to instant delivery of targeted messages within engaging, “movie-like” content at the point of purchase – the last three feet of marketing.

Seek out media creatives, partner with them. Here’s a quote to note:

“Media companies are the most underleveraged resource for insights that exist,” said Kim Kadlec, chief media officer-worldwide VP at Johnson & Johnson, which owns a major online media property in BabyCenter. “They’re making the content that people are paying to see, they’re not paying to get away from it. We’d like to learn a little more about that.”

Focusing on new business models will be important for digital print sign companies. This “on the ground, at the front line” spot held by sign companies can be an invaluable asset when it comes to client expectations for their dynamic media delivery.

Next post: Custom, Relevant Content.

For Digital e-Sign Professionals

You may be a Digital p-Sign Professional – offering every wide-format digital print product your clients need. You could also be a Digital e-Sign Professional – giving customers electronic digital signage as well. While “e” and “p” are only 11 characters apart, there is a world of difference between print and electronic mediums. Thus far, over the past three years of engagement with the digital print sign industry, we have verified that the electronic medium presents some challenges for anyone who works in digital print and static signage.

Here are the most common hurdles, and how we address them:

  • File formats and square pixels. To create stunning wide-screen images, and provide the quality your client either expect now, or will expect soon, you have to know a tremendous amount about non-linear video rendering, frame-rates, aspect ratios, and how these translate from one program to another. You will want to allow for long rendering periods – far longer than even a grand format digital print file – if you are crafting a five-minute edutainment sequence. Workaround? The content can and should be created by experts, and delivered to you for your client’s playlist.
  • Choosing one delivery system over another…. and understanding what the heck you are talking about. Digital print experts are able to quickly ascertain the substrates needed for a particular sign, indoors or out. In addition, mounting hardware, installation services – these are all slam-dunk easy parts of the visual communications package. But start talking about wired, vs. wireless, vs. all-in-one systems, vs. push technology, vs. pull technology, vs. cloud-based, vs. RSS feeds, vs. traffic cams, video feeds and existing collateral, and you have digital soup. Solution? Start with a simple questionnaire that places the focus on the client’s abilities and needs. A Q&A logic tree will lead you to the perfect solution. In this way, you focus on the user experience and find a system that is truly usable.
  • Knowing what to ask a customer and how to present this technology. We’ve seen more digital signage installations in the past year alone than we’ve seen in the previous six years combined, because it helps brands and retailers who are struggling to find creative, affordable ways to increase sales and amplify the message.  That is the foundation of what we do at LobbyPOP: we build on this experience, and provide an affordable Digital Sign Expert certification course which addresses this very issue.

 Next post: Media Development