Posts tagged with ‘web 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).

Online Product Videos Set to Explode in 2009

A recent study from emarketer.com says it all: Online product videos sell more products, reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts, lower the rate of returned merchandise and raise sales.

The report goes on to say that online retailers rank implementing web video production at the top of their list this year.

Proof that the audiovideoweb continues to dominate the user experience, and those businesses who are employing video marketing strategies are reaping better-than-market-average rewards.

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.

Plan Your 2009 Marketing Efforts Now

With marketing dollars potentially growing tighter next year, it’s important to make every dollar count, and real return for online content and marketing efforts is a must. We continue to see Google loving sites with video, and further optimization strategies we are using in conjunction with video are making real differences for our clients.

We just recently heard from one such client who told us he landed a new customer with a projected business transactional worth in the mid-six figures next year. The reason his client told him he got their business? “Your persistence in contacting us, and your amazing web site and video.”

Since these were marketing services we had provided, we were thrilled to hear the results in such quantifiable terms! But were we surprised to hear it? Not in the slightest.

Our web video and design services provide real returns to clients. If you have fewer dollars to spend on marketing right now, shouldn’t you be thinking about how online video can act as an inexpensive, tax free employee, working for you 24/7, 365?

YouTube Has Changed Everything

(Video Interview) Carter Harkins, the founder of Harkins Creative, talks about the changed expectations of internet users for web sites, in light of the “YouTube Revolution”.

The web is an amazing platform to tell a corporate story and engage visitors in more immersive brand experiences. And although it was once considered something only the mega-brands could afford, web video production is actually more reasonable than you think.

In a series of short video interviews with our founder, we will discover the trends that are shaping today’s internet experience, and lock in on key strategies using audio and video to drive traffic and engage consumers. Stay tuned in the days and weeks to come!

web video…what works?

I think a lot about this question, and there isn’t a single answer. Much of the answer is informed by the market, the purpose, and the audience, so let’s look at these three factors in more detail.

The Market
It really goes without saying, but the appropriateness of a video is largely dictated by the market for which it is created. Financial institutions are no more likely to get value from a viral prank video than a high-caffeine energy drink is likely to get traction with a “Hallmark Moment” style video production. The market dictates the type of video that is likely to make an impact, and any consultant, director or producer worth his/her salt has a highly developed intuition about such things. Often, the really good ones choose to specialize in certain markets, because their understanding of the nuances of, say, panty hose keeps their work sharp and tuned, while delivering a visual message with conviction and authenticity (two words I’ll likely unpack in a separate post soon). Web video, of necessity, should employ a slightly more informal tone than other visual mass mediums, and only recently has the video production industry begun to figure this out. Still, it’s all a matter of degrees, and any giant departures from established norms had better be able to stand up to the scrutiny of honest web-surfers who rarely hesitate to provide raw feedback.

The Purpose
I’m amazed at how many times this crucial element is left out of the early discussions about video production. “We know we need a video. Everyone has video on their web site. Can you do something for us?” But video on the web without a clear purpose is a certain failure. Web-based video is a weapon that can take down a variety of game, but not unless it is loaded correctly and aimed properly. Knowing what savage beast you are hunting will help you choose the weapon and the ammunition you need to take with you out into the web-wilderness. A few good questions to help you clarify your purpose: What information does my customer need to know before making a purchase? Can I answer the five most frequently asked questions in a quick video tutorial? What three things distinguish me, my product or my service from the rest of the pack? What information do people come to my web site to obtain?

The Audience
Would you take a three-year-old to a gruesome slasher movie? Hopefully not. But why do businesses think that it’s acceptable to offer their customers under-thirty a video with a hip-quotient equal to CSPAN? Match the video production values with the intended audience. Think about it: You have slaved over making sure that your product is exactly what your target consumer wants and is willing to pay you for. But if you tell them about your product in a video message that isn’t speaking to them in a tone or a style they understand, you might as well have saved all the trouble in developing anything at all. When blowing through an ad budget for mediums such as television, video production is scrutinized under the demographic and psychographic microscopes, and much care and attention is given to crafting visual content that hits its mark with audiences. The same cannot be said with regard to web video. The vagaries of broadcast successes don’t always transfer to the online medium, for one, but even more horrendous is the fact that online audiences aren’t even attempted to be understood, even though the argument can be made that we have the potential for vastly more specific and valuable information about behavior online.

A video production begun by examining these three fundamental areas will be much more likely to achieve realistic goals and return on investment.