Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why Businesses Must Invest in Online Video Marketing

I found this article to be very insightful and on point in today's market. Businesses are using video to attract potential prospects along with educating, answer questions, showing technical procedures and proposals.

Why Businesses Must Invest in Online Video Marketing

Friday, February 1, 2013

Are “authentic” low-end videos right for your business?

The video production landscape was forever changed in the early '90s, beginning with the democratization of video cameras, production tools, and software. It was once the sole domain of large production houses and network and cable TV providers who held the keys of these tools tightly. Today, anybody can use a video camera, cheap (or free) off-the-shelf software, and the internet to tell any story that they’d like to share. This type of video is what is commonly called Authentic Low-End (ALE) video.

ALE has become a powerful tool that has disrupted many politicians and celebrities alike. It is what millions of people view on YouTube and similar video sharing sites every day. It can be as simple as a dog riding a skateboard, a baby laughing, an awesome last-second sports play, or any number of situations that people get themselves into during the course of daily life. No one can escape it - unless they never venture outside of their home - and even then it might not be safe.

ALE is not a fad. It is here to stay, for better or worse - and I love it!

ALE has also started showing up in business, corporate, and non-profit videos. But should it?

I’ve seen both brilliant and awful examples of ALE video use in this arena. I believe ALE has a place and can sometimes be the strongest content a business or organization can use. On the other hand, it can be absolutely horrible if done improperly. However, predicting what people will find to be in good and/or bad taste is no easy task, and that makes using ALE videos risky.

So, what’s the key ingredient that typically determines the thumbs up or thumbs down?

CONTENT! Content is king and will always be king. High end or low end, it does not matter.

So, if you’re a social media expert, blogger, company employee, or just a video enthusiast, and you want to make sure your ALE videos can pass the test for a business or organization, here is some advice:

ALE Video Pitfalls

If content is truly king, then does it matter how the message is delivered? For the sake of argument, let’s assume that your ALE video content is fantastic! Despite your amazing content, several factors can still cause your ALE video to bomb with viewers. So how can you keep it from getting thumbs-down clicks?

The first thing to remember is audio is 90% of video. Well, not technically, but it might as well be. If your audience can't hear the message clearly, or if the audio is a bad mix of background noise vs. the subject, you might as well not upload it. Your audience will forgive bad video, but it will not forgive bad audio. If the message is hard to understand, the message is lost.

So to avoid audio problems, make sure to practice and test your audio recording quality in different environments to figure out the best “sounding” area. If you are not able to connect a decent microphone, make sure your subject is within an acceptable distance to get the best audio. Sometimes this means being as close as 3 to 4 feet away, or even closer.

The problem with built-in microphones is that they’re always in automatic mode. They decide what sound to pick up - and what sound not to. In automatic mode, the loudest sound source in the area is what your camera automatically “assumes” to be the most important. These “important” sounds can be air conditioning, people laughing in the next room, a gust of wind in a park, a truck with no muffler, an airplane flying overhead, or even a refrigerator kicking on and off. Any of these sounds can be distracting enough to take away from the message, no matter how good your content is.

There are other potential problems with ALE videos, such as poor lighting, improper color correction, bad editing (or no editing), shaky video (no tripod), and incorrect framing (remember your family pictures where you see more of the ceiling than the people?). Most of these problems have easy and affordable solutions that can be found with a few internet searches. But audio remains the biggest and most difficult problem facing ALE videos for business.

The ALE video formula has many factors that can distract a viewer. Is there any option that can avoid these distractions?

Higher-End Videos

If your business ALE videos need massaging, why not just hire a video production company?

I understand that ALE videos are suppose to be “real” and (here we go)... “authentic”. But are the reality TV shows we watch truly real and authentic?

There’s a “look” that most people perceive as real and authentic. There’s no question that some ALE videos are real, but any intentional message recorded to video has been well thought out, written, prompted, and then recorded.

After I see a bad ALE business video, I often wonder: would they do the same thing with their website? Would they hire an employee’s parent to design and produce their website? Would that be considered “real” and “authentic”? I’m aware this is a bad metaphor, and it’s not meant to diminish anyone’s skill level, but sometimes it’s best to call on the experts.

Visual Media Concepts has used an ALE video for its promo, and it's proven to be very popular. Check out our mascot, Luci, enjoying a ride in the car.

Whatever your message is, you’ll need to decide what the best method of producing that message is. We hope you’ll choose us over any of your employees' parents. :)

So what is your opinion? What videos had messages that grabbed your attention, and were they ALE videos or professionally produced videos?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I don't have the tools to edit my own VIDEO

Are you a self-trained video geek? Would you like to save some money by NOT buying expensive editing software? Maybe you'd like to up the ante of your videos with some graphics and music.

The web is exploding with video editing cloud services that allow you to upload, edit and share your footage.

Let's assume you've used your built in laptop video camera, cell phone, or have a handheld video camera and would like to add music, effects, transitions, and a few simple graphics on the cheap.

Check out WeVideo.

We will be signing up later today and give it a test run. It looks easy and intuitive, but we're not holding our breath. HD video files can be very large, in size, and we suspect the upload time will be long. Make sure you have a broadband connection before you upload.

 Visual Media Concepts is always available and willing to help edit your self-shot videos. However, if you're a DIY person, there are many options available for editing and sharing your video content.

Please post and share your thoughts and edited videos using a cloud service. We would love to hear what your experiences were using these online applications.

Now get out there and shoot some video!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bad Audio...go stand in the corner

“90 percent of video is audio.”
What? That doesn't sound right? But it is!

I forget where I read or heard this quote, but it's always resonated with me. When I first started in video production, audio wasn't a priority. I was so concerned with the video framing, lighting, exposure, focus, and using smooth and steady movements that I completely ignored the audio quality.

It didn't take me long to realize the importance of quality audio after a couple of failed production shoots. I remember being so embarrassed, showing off my beautiful interview and B-roll footage, only to hear my boss complain about the audio levels.

I, of course, was sent out again to recapture the interview. I don't remember which was more humiliating - reshooting the interview or having to call and explain why I needed to reshoot it.

It's been proven that people will sit through a low quality video  with good audio, but they will not sit through a high quality video with bad audio. With that being said, let's cover some quick tips!

Tip #1- Do not use the built-in camera mic.
Say you just bought a new video camera and plan to produce some "in-house" content to post on YouTube, Facebook, or other social media platforms. But you didn't  think about buying any additional audio mics to go with the camera. Oops! Here are some of the problems that you might experience:

·       The audio might sound "muffled" and "echoey", depending on how close the subject is to the camera and where you're taping.
·       You might hear yourself fumbling around with the camera. You may even hear the camera zooming in and out. The camera might pick up the loudest noise in the room and amplify it. Air conditioning, loud noises, birds outside, cars, trucks, people laughing, etc. now seem to be what the camera mic thinks it should focus on. If this happens, the camera mic is likely in auto mode.

All of these things can be extremely distracting during an interview. So how does a professional avoid these problems?

The first thing I do is, of course, use an external mic. When I'm taping an interview and a loud truck rolls by or I hear other distracting noises, I reshoot the segment again, even if it was spot on. The problem of noise interruptions can occur whether you have an external mic or a built-in camera mic, but it's definitely worse with the latter.

So, what do you do if you don't have access to external mic?
·       Choose a quiet room, and be sure to turn off any air conditioning.
·       Place a "Video Taping in Progress" sign on the door.
·       Situate the interview subject as close as possible to the camera. Use a tripod (or a stack of books) so that your hands are not touching the camera.
·       Make sure your interview subject is not making extra noise, such as rustling papers or clicking a pen.

Tip #2- Record room tone.
So, what the heck is room tone? It's the ambient sound of the room or area in which you're taping the interview subject. And why the heck do you need it? Here's an article that briefly explains: http://bit.ly/PFe3UR

Room tone is important if you want to edit out "uhms" and "ahhs" and make the video more polished and professional. You can change virtually anything someone says with proper B-roll footage and room tone. Plus, recording room tone will help Visual Media Concepts edit your video if you were to ever need some help! :)

Tip #3- Good or Bad, make sure it's consistent.
Audio levels can be "fixed" or "sweetened" after you finish, but don't rely on this exclusively. Always try to get the best possible audio signal. The proper way to check this is to use headphones and monitor the audio while it's being recorded. If your camera doesn't have a way for you to accomplish this, run a test recording and watch/listen to it.

One thing I've learned is to NOT over-tweak the audio while it's being recorded. Why? Well, it's easier to raise or lower the entire audio track at once than to have to tweak a bunch of areas independently. Don't misunderstand this tip; it's alright to turn the volume slightly up or down. But don't make any dramatic adjustments. If your viewers have to turn the volume up and down while watching the video, then you've lost them. Even if your audio is bad, just let be bad all the way through and then try to fix it in postproduction.

These audio tips are just the tip of the iceberg. Wait until you hear about compression and other ways to tweak your audio!

Do you have a tip for shooting on a low-end camera, phone, or even a prosumer camera? If so, please leave a comment.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Please monkey around with my car commercial

I needed a laugh today and nothing can more funny than a bad car commercial. I've only seen a handful of creative car commercials. My favorite, and some what controversial, is the Trunk Monkey. As always, humor is selective. Some people find it funny and some do not.

What do you think?

Here is a really bad, locally produced commercial. At least they tried to be different...creepy different.

Now, here's a local Dayton, Ohio car commercial.

There is nothing wrong with this spot, but is it memorable or engaging?

I've heard some people state that even if the commercial is annoying, it's still doing its job. I'm not sure I believe that. I understand the concept, but I have never run into anyone (no pun intended) who has actually shopped somewhere from a commercial that annoys them.

Have you? If so, I'd love to hear about it.

Visual Media Concepts is fascinated with the idea of creating engaging content for businesses and organizations. Tell us your wacky ideas and we promise not to produce an annoying spot.

Monday, February 28, 2011

To Flip or not Flip...that is the question.

Having video on your website is one of the most important marketing decisions you can make today. The democratization (to make something available to all people) of video has been with us since the 80s, but now, more than ever, it is truly in the hands of everyone. The dominant platforms are cell phones and flip style video cameras. Anyone can shoot and upload video to the Internet.

What I’d like to discuss is when and when not to use Flip (I will use “Flip” as a generic term for any kind of lower grade, hand held video camera) cameras to promote your business or organization.

Let’s start out with the advantages and disadvantages of using a Flip or hiring a professional. We’ll look at just a couple of the most important for both.

The advantages for the Flip are:

It’s small, easily accessible, and fast.

The disadvantages for the Flip are:

Picture quality (not using proper lighting techniques being the main reason).

Poor audio quality because of the built in microphone.

Less production values.

The advantages for hiring a professional are:

Proper picture and audio quality.

A better planned production with more production values.

The disadvantages for hiring a professional are:

It’s not fast, more expensive, and takes more time.

Let me say this, I love Flip cameras! I’ve been in the video business since 1992 and I’ve seen all the equipment get smaller and better throughout the years. Also, it is possible to use a Flip camera to create great productions. The video of Luci, my Great Dane, on my home page was shot with a Flip camera. The real question to ask is what does this project call for and what are you trying to do?

Here is the biggest thing to keep in mind…audio is 90% of video. Weird huh! People will except and watch a bad video imagine, but they will quickly stop watching a video with bad audio. The message is the most important part. Hearing, clearly, what people are saying is the most important part of the video. The main reason audio is so poor with a Flip is because it’s a small, inexpensive, built-in mic that picks up everything in the room you’re taping. It’s set to “automatic levels”. So it will “fight” back and forth between all the noises in the room. It can be very distracting.

Another consideration is lighting. When uploading video to the Internet, by default the encoding process zaps the luminance value of the video. Basically, it makes the image darker once it’s online. If the videos you’ve shot on a Flip camera are already dark and hazy, then the final product will not be what you want.

If your message is important, then hiring a professional and planning will solve all of the above problems.

So, in conclusion, shoot with your Flip cameras and have fun! Knowing the weaknesses of the camera will allow you to decide if you should or shouldn’t.

Here’s a checklist for minimizing problems shooting video with a Flip camera:

-Shoot interviews up close (2 to 4 feet away) and in a quite room.

-Hold the camera as still as possible, use a tripod or set it on something static.

-Be aware of the lighting and always try to move your subject into good lighting.

-If you’re going to edit the video, leave 2 to 3 seconds of “slop” at the beginning and end. This will give you more freedom to cut, dissolve and use fades.

-Have fun and experiment!

Keep in mind though; you do not eat at a 5 star restaurant wearing cut up jeans, flip-flops, and a stained T-shirt. Choose a professional, like Visual Media Concepts, when you need a top-notch production to engage your audience and keep them coming back for more.