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Ten Tips for Telling Great Videostories

Ten Tips For Telling Great Videostories


Buying multimedia these days is a confusing process. When you want a sight-and-sound program to tout your company in person or on the web, what do you ask for? Probably a Flash or a PowerPoint. Problem is, thats putting the cart before the horse.


Todays audiovisual world is filled with possibilitiessome are found in the way shows are shown; others in the way they are created. One thing should be sure– video will be a part of your presentationat least if you want to make a real splash.


This article looks at the multimedia/video/presentation buying process and offers ten considerations you need to make to successfully commissionor produceyour next major audiovisual communication. I hope you will adopt them.


  1. Flash? PowerPoint? Video? Dont Rush to Conclusions.


When youve got a story to tell and it requires sight and sound, be careful not to prescribe the solution too quickly. One mans PowerPoint these days is another womans video. When people need something to run off of their computer, theyre quick to ask for a PowerPoint show or one of those FLASH things.


Right idea, but not necessarily the right spec.


Flash is considered hip, and PowerPoint is considered a must. But PowerPoint and Flash often are just containers for VIDEO, just as a VHS tape and a DVD are containers for video.


SO, just because you want your project on the web or on computer CD-ROM, doesnt mean it shouldnt incorporateor bevideo. Video is what the big boys useoften, even in major documentaries and motion pictures.


Dont choose the production method solely on the distribution method.


  1. Sound Is the Secret Weapon.


Whats the first thing you remember about Star Wars? Dah-dah, da-da-da dahhhh-dahhh!


Yup, the music. And the sound effectsthe hum of the light sabers, the drone of the Death Star. Can you imagine Star Wars without music?


Even in corporate videos, music plays an extremely important part. But youd be surprised how few producers actually realize that. Theyll let a narrator blab on and on, and, to add insult to injury, youll hear the same piece of music looping for the entire length of the show! (Flash presentations are notorious for this.)


Sound tells your audience how to feel; how to distinguish whats important; when to react and how.


A picture is worth a thousand words? Music is worth a thousand emotionslike loyalty, belief, trust, enthusiasmall potent predictors of productivity.


  1. Create for the Environment.


Ever see an IMAX film on home video? Is it the same as in the IMAX theater? Ever see your favorite movie on a 4-inch LCD? Was it the same as in your home theater?


No, of course not. IMAX movies and major motion pictures (especially science fiction and thrillers) are created for LARGE screens, in rooms where people are quiet and the sound has impact.


Commercials played in sports arenas on those big jumbotrons generally feature very little dialog. Whod hear it? You can barely hear the music.


When a video communications project is strategized, the environment in which it will be played is an important part of deciding the style and intensity of production. If your CD-ROM is never going to make it past a laptop, running out and shooting sweeping panoramas of the countryside may not be necessarybut plenty of close ups will be.


Play to the room.


  1. How Long Should It Be?


Attention spans are short! Shouldnt all videos be short? Well, theres short, and short. Theres real time, and perceived time.


A boring video goes on forever. An exciting video ALWAYS seems shorter than it is, and often bears seeing a second time!


Audiences arent stupid. They dont have short attention spans; they just dont like to be bored. A good story will transcend time. It will seem shorter but last longer in their minds.


  1. $1,000 a Minute? $200 per Slide? $3.99 a Pound?


Pricing is always liable to a lot of subjectivity, and so over the years people have tried to quantify the production of multimedia materials. A thousand dollars a minute has been quoted since the late 1960sfor film!


But lets shatter some illusions. Video production (in fact, many creative activities) can not be judged entirely on the running time. It takes $2 million and 9 months to produce a single 24-minute episode of the Simpsons. Ive seen industrial training tapes that ran 90 minutes and grossed the producer $2,000.


Shouldnt he have gotten $90,000? Not for pointing a camera at a podium and hitting record, and editing out awkward pauses!


It is MUCH tougher to produce a great five-minute video that will rouse an audience and get specified results. To keep up a broadcast-quality pace, to have the right music, to shoot in various locales, to create high-quality 3-D and other animations… well, itll cost more than $5,000, I guarantee that. Sometimes, not much more, but other times, 10 times that amount. Your producer should be willing to write a proposal, tell you what she plans to do, and give you a specific quotation for that exact effort.


  1. What Style Should It Be?


On the surface, communications styles change often. After all, audiences like what is current and hipto them. But different audiences come from different age groups, economic backgrounds, regions; so what is hip to a 22-year-old web designer in Atlanta might not be hip to the 45-year-old engineer in Dallas.


Your producer needs to think like a chameleon. Yes, we all have our own strengths and styles, but we are working for you. And you have a corporate style and a defined audience. Too slow a pace, not enough hip animation, and maybe the twenty-somethings will snooze. Too kinetic, too flashy, too loud, and maybe the chairman of the board will have your head.


Maybe youve never seen American Idol, but that doesnt make it unpopular with a large part of the population. If youre not hip on the likes of an audience, trust someone who isyour producer, or that DJ-wannabe who can name everything ever produced by



Uh, who?


  1. Can I Have That Tuesday?


If its your dry cleaning, yes.


If its the multimedia project or video that is going to convince 5,000 that downsizing is good for them, well, no.

Good video takes time.


How much time? A well-designed, strategized, outlined, planned, written, and produced project (already it sounds long) takes time. Heres a planning guide for a typical 10-minute video:


Write proposal–1 week

Script–2-3 weeks

Production planning–2 weeks

Shooting–2 weeks

Logging and digitizing tapes–1 week

Music selection, voice tracking–1 week

Rough cut–1-2 weeks

Review time (script, rough cut)–1 week (its up to you)

Final edit and effects–1.5 weeks

Duplication–2 weeks


With overlap, overtime, and some real sweet talking from you and me to the hard-working staff, maybe we can cut that down or work some things in parallel. But dont kill the messenger. Allowing sufficient time for the project will get you one hell of a program In the long run, when you do it right, it shows. And the spin-off benefits are enormous.


  1. Use Interviews for Believability


Interviewswith your customers, employees, suppliers, even youcan have a dramatic impact on the credibility engendered by your video.


This is especially true for softer subjects, such as fundraising, public opinion, HRD company introductions, tributes, etc.


Interviews are not what they seem. They appear candid (and are); they seem unscripted (and are); they seem easy to do and a way to skip scriptwriting (they ARE NOT).


Interviews require researchwho has the best stories, attitude, presence. Interviews require testinga pre-interview. And they require scripting, if only as a target goal to help the interviewer frame the right questions.


Never let your producer put words into peoples mouthsa pet phrase, an endorsement, a rah-rah statementunless the interviewee came up with it candidly. Theres no faster way for all of you to look boneheaded.


And I dont think THAT was the purpose of the video 9. Videos Hidden Value


Many big videos and presentations are created for meetings. They unveil the theme, set the stage, introduce a new product, whatever.


But when management realizes they will be used only once, they often become unnecessary. Staging, projectors, production coststhats a lot of cabbage for 500 sales people. Couldnt we add a second entre at the awards dinner?


Fact is, I agree with your bossto the extent that everything should have a repurposing value. And todays video does. Plan it right, write it right, and in no time your videoor at least scenes from itcan be used on the web, on CDs and DVDs, and in your salespeoples PowerPoint presentations.


Now you can justify the purchase and sleep a bit easier.


By the way, even WITHOUT a reuse value, there is nothing like a rousing video opener at a big meeting to set the tone, redefine a company, begin the change process, and build a roaring fire under your sales teams butts. The difference is seen in sales; they have the energyAND new video tools to take with them. The increased revenue more than pays for the cost of the video.


  1. A Good Video Producer Knows Sales


And not just because he sold you a project.


Video done right is a form of persuasion. It follows all the good rules of sales (with some exceptions).


First of all, videos must get audiences saying yes. We have to start with common ground and then build our case.


Video incorporates logic. If, then, and after that, then


And video promotes emotional connection. Add the emotional punch, and now youve got a sale.


If a video producer doesnt know this, then hes not a producerhes a craftsman working at some aspect of our trade. And that is fine.


But those who can sell audiencesthey are few and far between.


The care and consideration that goes into producing your companys video overview, sales presentation, or funding solicitation is no less important than the wording of a direct mail piece, the design of your ad campaign, or the development of a corporate identity. For, indeed, a video presentation becomes your corporate identity.


Use these ten tips and youre on your way to perhaps the most successful communications project youve ever undertaken. That just might mean a raise, a corner office, or at least a slap on the back. And thats all good.

Making Presentations People Want To See

Standards have risen sharply in recent years when it comes to making intriguing presentations. The days of boring slides and droning speakers are over. With the widespread use of PowerPoint and the ease of making colorful, interesting slides with movement and sound effects, it is expected that you will make a fabulously engaging presentation whether it’s in a classroom, a boardroom, or at a trade show.


Here are some tips on how to make a terrific slide presentation.


First, be prepared. Make sure you have a laptop, a projector, and a projector cart ready to go. We recommend the Fusion Laptop Projector Cart from Versatables. Many hotels, universities, and businesses have oneso don’t be afraid to ask if they do when you’re getting ready to make the presentation. The Fusion Laptop Projector Cart allows for easy projection and control of the laptop from one mobile unit. If they don’t have one, you may need to make other arrangements. If you aren’t using your own laptop, bring your presentation on a flash drive and email it to yourself as well. Just in case the flash drive doesn’t work, you’ll be able to access your email on the laptop (most places now have Wi-Fi) and download it directly to the laptop you’ll be working from.


Second, bring handouts of your slides just in case. I know of a woman who went to give a power point presentation and the university’s projector wasn’t working. Luckily, she handed out the handouts she brought and the show went on. She looked like a star for being prepared when the university wasn’t.


Third, don’t overdo it. Too many graphics, too much color, and too much sound can all negatively impact a presentation. You want the means of the presentation to enhance the subject you’re presentingnot overpower it. Pick one color scheme and stick to it. Avoid the swirling graphics and stick to simpler ones. Don’t include a million examples of clip art or decorative photographs. As you create the slides, make sure the information is presented in a clear, logical way. Then look at each individual slide and ask if there is anything that could be added to visually enhance the viewer’s understanding of the material. A chart? A graphic? A photo? If the answer is no, don’t include one. If it’s yes, think long and hard about which graphic achieves your goal of enhancing understanding before adding it. The problem with many presentations is that they seem amateurish because the presenter went overboard decorating his/her presentation with graphics that distract more than they enhance.


Fourth, pay attention to time. If you can convey the same information in eight minutes instead of twelve, why wouldn’t you? Everyone’s time is precious and attention spans are short. If you’re clear and concise about what you want to get across, there may not be a need to give lots of convoluted information and scenarios. Stick to one clear example that illustrates your point and applies to the people you’re presenting to.


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