Posts tagged with ‘video production’

Video Title Best Practices

Some video production work requires extensive use of titles, or even language subtitles, in order to convey the meaning of the piece most effectively. I am always amazed at how poorly this step is conceived during pre-production. So I thought I would offer a few tips I have found useful when titling video, both for the web and television formats. (Note: this article does not cover the line-21 standard of closed captioning for the hearing impaired, which makes use of additional technology and delivery mechanisms. For information on CC best practices, I recommend WGBH guidelines, which are considered to be excellent, if not massive overkill.)

  1. Use simple, sans-serif font styles. This is especially important for TV, and lower quality web video. The serifs can add a good deal to the noisiness of a digitally compressed frame schema. Titles are usually meant to convey additional information during a shot (someone’s name or job title, or a location name, for example). It is good to remember that titles have to be viewed at the same time as accompanying moving imagery, so the plainer your font, the easier it is to read at a glance.
  2. Keep it short and concise. Long titles detract from the scene, and often become frustrating, when they do not appear long enough on screen for average or below average reading levels. A good rule of thumb is to keep it under 8 words, or approximately 35 characters.
  3. Use white lettering with a drop shadow. This is essential when lettering over moving video. Moving areas of contrast can cause white letters to disappear, so the drop shadow helps to keep the form of each letter identifiable and somehow anchored, while seemingly floating just above the video.
  4. Keep positioning in mind. Center-screen titles are usually best served over a dark or black matte, rather than moving video. I break this rule a lot, however. The most essential thing to remember is if your video is destined for TV: Position your titles within the title-safe area of the screen. Older tube TVs still crop the image a fair amount, so unless you want your viewers to only see the top half of your title, keep it in the safe zone. I like to use lower thirds motion backgrounds for titles, because it helps to call attention to important information that might be missed if there is a lot going on in a scene. semi-transparent lower thirds also help to mute the area of the screen where the title appears, which helps it to stand out while not entirely blocking out the primary content beneath it.
  5. Keep it on screen long enough to read. My rule of thumb is: if it deserves a title, it deserves enough time to be read. I hate that TV now flies through show credits so fast (an so small!) that no one could possibly read a word of it. I try to keep it up twice as long as it takes me to read it, since, as the editor, I am so familiar with the project it no doubt takes me a much shorter time than someone who has never seen the video.
  6. Use sparingly. This probably goes without saying, but try to make your images and videography tell the bigger story. Use titles to provide context or details that the shot cannot tell, or to save time (i.e. Let the interviewee tell us her story while the title tells us her name).

The Expert Economy

In economic down times, businesses have more and more to do to generate the same levels of revenue, with fewer and fewer resources allocated to those tasks. It’s no secret that marketing activities are usually one of the last areas to be affected, because marketing is (correctly) viewed as the one activity that can still have a bottom-line impact.

But not just any run-of-the-mill marketing activities. After all, marketing dollars have to be stretched too. The holy grail of recession marketing is figuring out how to separate the most expensive, least profitable prospects from the prospects who are eager and willing to do business today, perhaps even at a premium. So how does this happen?

Stand up and be the expert in your market.

It is generally accepted that recognized experts make more than others for the same basic work. It is also generally true that experts stay busier, with fewer recession-related dips in business.  With such compelling reasons to demonstrate your expertise, what steps can you take today to begin doing just that?  Here’s our list:

  1. Start Podcasting. A simple, sustainable, 5-minute podcast production every week with one central point that touches on your area of expertise; that seminal item that you get paid to know or do for your clients. Use the podcast as a teaser to demonstrate the many solid reasons your prospects should be calling you today.
  2. Release regular Video Tutorials that address the most painful problems your prospects face. If done artfully, the unspoken conclusion of these short, pointed video productions is that you are capable of providing the solution they desperately need.
  3. Create a Blog. If you do either or both of the items above, then you will be using a blog to do it, anyway.  A blog post twice a week builds a record of authority, both for human visitors and (perhaps even more importantly) for Google.
  4. Get your best customers to go on the record by testifying to the value of your expertise. A written testimonial, or better yet, a video testimonial can be a compelling badge of expertise.
  5. Begin Publicly Speaking. Anywhere. Anytime. In front of any audience with your market’s focus. This is a long-play strategy, however.  If you signed up today to speak for a group, it might be 5-6 months before the actual engagement.

Expertise is currency. And those that can demonstrate it to their market stand to reap rewards far greater than money alone.

Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Web Video Strategy

There is a lot to consider when planning your web video strategy. SEO, text vs. visual information presentation, the engagement object level, your market demographic, production quality, and more, all bearing on the success or failure of the effort. But don’t let this scare you. All of these factors need to be considered for a successful web page copy strategy too.

In our experience, here are a few tips for getting the most our of your web video strategy.

  • Keep it short and free of too much visual filler. I regularly read blog post comments about the intolerance people feel toward long, meaningless stretches of content that isn’t relevant to them. “Short” is a relative term, by the way. A 30-second video on the intricacies of the impact of government involvement in free market dynamics is too short.  Keeping  the content only as long as it needs to be is a good rule of thumb, whether the medium is text or video. Complex, information-dense subjects can still be kept brief, as highlighted by this video we recently produced for a client:

  • Be considerate. Provide player controls in a Flash player. YouTube has a good player, albeit not the best quality picture in the video space.  At the very minimum, use a Flash player with a clearly identifiable play/pause control, and a scrubbable timeline (to be able to scan through lengthy content). A volume control is less of a concern if you are being considerate with your volume levels during production and editing. Full-screen toggle control is nice but not essential at all.
  • Take time to visually conceive the video before production begins. Is there a clear story or thought progression?  What is the best way to visually convey the ideas being expressed? If the content is candid, captured in the wild, and less than 90 seconds, it should contain one main point and get right to it.
  • Do a DIY or How-To video. How-To Videos are wildly successful, and can quite easily get you and your brand on the radar in your market.  Think about what content you could freely offer your customers.  Think of the video content as bait without a hard hook; free without strings, yet clearly demonstrating expertise and brand value.
  • Include a full transcript of videos that contain audio dialogue or narration. Post it on the page in close proximity to the video, so that Google can see and index it, and visitors can scan it to see if the video is worth their time. If the video has no spoken word component, compose a detailed paragraph or two that hightlights the value of the content a viewer could expect to see if they click “play”.
  • Know your customer profile. Are they entertainment seekers? Busy people with little patience for fluff or filler? Engaged community members? Info seekers on a mission? Answering this question will greatly inform your choice of video style and length.
  • Get the production right. More and more, web video is being seen as a primary informational source, and in some cases, is preferable to text only.  Production values count more these days, whereas just two years ago, they didn’t.  Just don’t confuse quality production with over-slick, fluff content that is meaningless to a viewer.  30 second animated logo sequences rarely have a determinative impact on customers.

Web video productions, used well and in conjunction with other informational mediums, can be a great and profitable way to relate relevant and valuable information to customers and prospective clients.

World Expo Water Tribune Videos a Success

We just received word from our client Stevn Lovink, founder of Planet2025 Network, that the three videos we were hired to produce for the World Bank as part of a worldwide conference held in Zaragoza Spain were a great success!

The goal of the project was to create a series of three short videos to be used in a week-long live, multi-location, globally networked conference, with groups of participants located in nearly 30 countries, all participating live via GDLN conferencing software. The videos were designed to be the catalyst for those discussions, which centered around the global challenges taking place in the water sector.

Each video tackled a unique area, such as the societal values necessary to foster a water and life-sustaining civilization, or effective methods of communication about water issues such as waste, pollution and leadership corruption, and accelerated means of educating a global populace about these urgent issues.

It was challenging work, which is just the sort of thing we love around here! You can view three of them on YouTube (as a matter of pride, I feel I must mention that YouTube really distorts the quality of both the audio and video. We delivered a final cut with a much higher production value, but YouTube is the easiest place to see it online, so the tradeoff for the client was worth it. Please be sure to click the “View in High Quality” link right below each video as it loads. Thanks!)

Values for a Life Sustaining Civilization (Part 1)
Values for a Life Sustaining Civilization (Part 2)
Accelerated Learning

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Video as a Search Engine Ranking Tool

We have been following these kinds of stories closely. To most who are familiar with how search works, with content relevance being determined almost exclusively from textual cues, the idea that video could help a web site rank higher in search engines is a bit incredulous. But nonetheless, Google continues to favor web sites that employ video on pages, and articles abound as to the reasons why. And while surrounding video with textual cues and keyword proximity is the best way to tell Google and your visitor what a video is about, every effort should be made to make the video content as relevant and as targeted as possible.

It has been our observation that a video production does an amazing job of converting visitors, and getting them to sit still on a site, engaged in a brand message for much longer than they normally would be inclined (as much as 70% click rate!). But the fact that search engines seem to actually be looking for pages with video makes this content strategy all the more appealing.

Spring Video Demo Reel

I always have fun when I assemble these reels, looking back on the recent work I’ve done for clients. There were some really fun projects this past quarter!

I put together the music clip for this, and also decided to present the video with a little more flair than a typical demo reel, so it coul serve a bigger purpose, namely that of a marketing video, which, due to so much recent work, I have put off repeatedly. No complaints. I hope we all get too busy to tend to our own gardens now and then. Enjoy!