In Video Marketing, Brevity is Key

Feeling good about your new video masterpiece? Think you’ve done well describing the ins and outs of your business and why prospects should choose your company? Most viewers will tune out of online videos after only fifteen seconds. That might make you rethink your 45-second musical intro.

It’s not breaking news that our society’s ever-shortening attention spans prefer visuals and sound to text. Neither is the idea that there’s a lot of bright and shiny “noise” tempting your viewer down a different path. So how do you hook the viewer despite these challenges?

1. Be Concise

To engage the viewer it’s important to get to the point. We know how hard it is to condense everything your business has to offer into 90 seconds. If you’re knee-deep in it every day, it’s hard to weed out what’s pertinent to the client. Try to avoid the temptation to cram everything in. Talking heads delivering wordy explanations turns viewers off big time. If this is a training video your employee will be forced to watch, then you can get away with a lengthy re-enactment of the company’s 100-year history. Otherwise just hit the main points.

2. Use Terms that are Easy to Understand

In short, don’t confuse your prospect. They are considering your product or service because they don’t know how to do whatever you do themselves. Our clients trust us to conceptualize, produce and optimize their videos. I don’t expect them to know an f-stop from a frame rate. Using complex terms to describe your process will make the process itself appear complicated, and therefore worry your future client. Unless this video is targeting other experts, kick the tricky terminology and keep it simple.

3. Don’t Just Say it With Words

Here’s the how and why of video’s effectiveness, whether it’s an award winning feature-length drama or a Vine video about your automotive shop. (It also happens to be why I personally fell so in love with the art of film.) It’s not just the voice over doing the talking. There’s the lighting, how the shot is set up, what’s going on within the frame, what may be happening outside of the frame, music, sound effects, the pace of the editing, the movement of the camera… I could go on forever. All of these factors can be arranged to convey a strong message in a short period of time.

Brevity is the key to a successful video no matter the chosen platform. Before embarking on your next video, take time to really consider your audience and why they’ll be watching. Keep the dialogue concise and simple, and make the most of all video has to offer. If one is picture is worth a thousand words, then one minute of video is worth 1.8 million.

 

– Meredith Duncan, Account Manager

Continuity 101

In filmmaking, there’s this thing called continuity…which consists of paying attention to the little things so you don’t make a big mistake. Continuity errors are when something obvious changes within a scene. For example, a man is wearing a blue shirt. When you cut away and then back to him, he’s wearing a yellow shirt. Now nine out of ten times, you can probably get away with a subtle mistake…BUT every once in a while, you will get caught. This is a big problem because as filmmakers, you want your audience to be immersed in the story. When a viewer catches a mistake, it breaks the illusion and reminds them that they’re actually watching video. This impairs your pacing and distracts from the story.

The sad thing is, while you may think nobody will notice your minor flub, there are TONS of people that thrive on the little mistakes. Check youtube – there’s video on video of people pointing out the oversights in major blockbusters.

     “Did you see that crew member in jeans behind Mel Gibson in Braveheart?”

     “I think Frodo’s scar is on the wrong side of his face.”

With a short commercial or promo video, the results of a mistake are even more dire. With a minute or less to win over your audience, any time they waste analyzing your mistakes could be detrimental to your message.

Catching blunders in the production process saves you from a lot of agonizing later on. Trust me, the last thing you want is to produce a FABULOUS video, save the one continuity error that throws off the entire thing.  A good way to avoid mishaps is to always have a continuity supervisor on hand at video shoots. This person will keep an eye on the script as you shoot to keep you on track as well as look out for continuity. If an actor does a movement, the continuity supervisor will make note of it to make sure they repeat that movement for each take from every different angle. They may also take pictures of set arrangement to make sure everything stays in its place.

Don’t think that having a continuity supervisor lets you off the hook, however. EVERYONE on set should be looking out for errors. This will help ensure that there will always be at least one person who can right the wrongs.

Check out these clips from the CW’s hit teen drama One Tree Hill. I mean, come on! Some of the mistakes are so obvious. You don’t want to look like these guys, do you?

SEO – Simple, Efficient, Optimization

YouTube-SEO-Organic-Example-for-StandUp-PouchesWe’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; when it comes to Youtube, optimize, optimize, optimize!! Seriously – it takes only a few minutes of your time and makes a HUGE impact on the amount of views you get. Aside from – well – making a good video, this is the most important element to consider when uploading. If you’re aiming for viral status, there’s no way to achieve that level of popularity without it.

It’s pretty simple, really. It consists of loading your description, tags, etc. with a lot of keywords to make the video more readily found by search engines. Believe me, you don’t have to be an Youtube connoisseur to make effective use of SEO. There are also plenty of sources to help you optimize (we love VideoLC and ReelSEO).

On the flip-side, we understand that it CAN be tricky or confusing to navigate if you’re new to the process. Even we had to Google it, attend training sessions and experiment with it for awhile before we learned the gist. If you simply don’t want to commit the time or hassle to learning the ropes, there are other options, such at BlueBoost.  BlueBoost is a service of Blue Forest Studios that will take your video and get it seen online.

Ask about our mini-case studies for All Weather FIrestarters, Greenshield Organic and Rhett Rotten!

Alyssa Rudisill & Kathy Hughes Langfield

Why Storytelling is More Influential Than Selling

storytell_image_webIn part one of our Infomercial vs. Commercial debate, we talked about how the main idea associated with infomercials is ‘annoying.’ Let’s be honest, there’s no quicker way to get us to switch channels than hearing the familiar Oxyclean advertisement, or one similar to it. Infomercials are highly identifiable by their traditional approach to selling items.  But one thing that you can’t ignore is that they work! Otherwise people wouldn’t spend the amount of money producing the videos or airing them if they didn’t.

We start with a demonstration of the product: what it does, why it’s amazing, why other brands don’t live up to this one. All of that is well and good; obviously it’s the type of information you’d want to include in any kind of marketing technique. But then they start in on the irritation…

“You get all of this for only $19.99! That’s right, everything you see here for just $19.99! Similar products are going for more than double that! But you get it all for – wait for it – $19.99!”

Come on, is anyone really fooled into thinking that this is some killer bargain? But then, of course, they try to sweeten the deal…

“But wait! Call now and you’ll also recieve this (fill in random useless item here) for no extra cost to you! That’s (product and useless item) for JUST $19.99!!!

And then they repeat their phone number about 500 times, so if you’re still tuned in by this point you’re spending a lot more time praying for the infomercial to be over than thinking about the product.

Now, think about that technique and ask yourself – wouldn’t an engaging and entertaining commercial go so much farther in persuading the consumer to buy the product than annoying them into submission? You might think the benefit of an infomercial is that it highlights the benefits of the product, but a well-made commercial can do all that and more. For example, we like to create a narrative around the product. We enrapture and enlighten through visual storytelling. This is a great option to think about if you want to appeal to customers through entertainment. People often remember more information when it’s embedded in an interesting story. This video explains why.

As an example of the storytelling advertising technique, you can look at the Evolvemint fundraising video we produced.

At Blueforest Studios, we love to tell stories – we’d love to tell YOUR story. Give us a call or check out our portfolio for more inspriation.

 

Tackling Analogies Through The Art of Animation

In some of our past blogs, we’ve tried to highlight the benefits of using animation to deliver complex messages. You may think that what you’re advertising is too mature to be presented in an animated format, but you’d be surprised at just how potent a well-created animation can be. Matthew Johstone, writer and illustrator, recently joined forces with the World Health Organization to create a powerful video about depression, proving that animation is influential at any age, whether you’re five or fifty.

The video ‘I Had a Black Dog, His Name Was Depression,” explores the debilitating nature of depression and ways of overcoming the condition that plagues millions of people globally. The story is delivered in a metaphorical context, personifying depression by representing the condition as a black dog, rather than alluding to a theoretical concept. The video really succeeds in bringing their message to life by using the dog figure to communicate the effects of depression. Trust me when I say this is no Clifford they’re presenting; it’s an ominous, dominant, pervasive figure that the subject can’t escape. He ‘chews up’ the man’s memory and prevents his concentration, ‘sniffs out’ his confidence and ‘chases it away.’

It’s difficult for a person who isn’t afflicted by depression to imagine what living with the disorder must be like. It’s not something you can feel for yourself or come to grasp fully unless it’s happening to you. In creating this anthropomorphic figure of depression, the black dog, the creators are able to illustrate visibly the essence of depression, rather than presenting a vague idea for viewers to grapple with. Animation is the perfect way to bring figurative messages to life. Imagine telling the story of the black dog in live action – viewers would see a forlorn dog and recall Sarah McLauchlan’s haunting SPCA commercials, rather than interpreting the analogy as it’s meant to be understood. Instead, Johnstone and WHO created a video that allows viewers to deepen their understading of a complicated issue by giving them something to visualize.

Blueforest Studios is experienced in creating animated videos to explain complex issues in a simple way. We’ve made videos for Tar Heel Tax ReformEvolvemint and Men’s Ministry. With each we have strived to use animation to tell a story and engage the target audience. Do you have a subject matter that might not be easily tackled using live action? Contact us today to learn more about our animation process!

 

Differentiation

When I meet people in a networking environment I am often asked what sets Blueforest Studios apart from the other companies in town.  First we share our stories and talk about the company’s that we work for or own.  Then as we delve deeper the question comes up: Why should people choose Blueforest Studios rather than one of the hundred other production firms in the area?  I usually talk about our gifted staff – award-winning, creative, dedicated, and innovative.  If they let me I will tell them about the award that we won for this touching American Heart Association video.  Or I will tell them how that video touched someone so much they remembered it over a year after the ball.  I will tell them that our video producer created the music for that video because he just couldn’t find the right piece.  And that he did that on his own time because the client didn’t have the budget for custom music.  If they care, I will tell them that we have the best combination of creative folks in the Triangle and that they can’t go wrong with our company.  But some of those characteristics are prerequisites to be in this field.  After your first year – you better have an award or two to show for your efforts, and you have to be creative if you’re in video production and we all like to think that our staff is dedicated – at least most of us say that.  So what’s the difference?  Since I have never worked for another video production company I can only say that anecdotedly not all companies are as focused on client success and long-term gain as we are.  When we realized that some of our customers were using their very expensive videos once and then posting them in a hidden place on the internet we went back and asked ‘Why?’.  Could they repurpose the video to get a larger return on it?  Did they just need to optimize the video to get more views online?  Then we started working with clients up front to determine how they could get the most out of their investment in the video.

So in summary – we are not just into a transactional relationship.  Our team loves making videos but they really enjoy videos that are creative and effective!  Month-after-month we have repeat business from customers who could go anywhere in town and if we win new business we rarely lose them to a competitor later.  Now we’ve added another differentiator with animation and our own in-house illustrator who helps explain even the most complex issues – like Tax Reform!

Jingles All the Way

Imagine: you’re lounging on the couch watching the Panthers dominate in last Sunday’s football game. At the halftime commercial break, you hear the distinctive voice of your worker on television. Suddenly you realize…it’s YOUR commercial! That’s the experience our CEO, Russ Reynolds, had last weekend when the spot for the Leith Toyota came on. Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 12.40.26 PMLeith came to us with the request to include a jingle in their commercial that was catchy and would get viewers’ attention. So like a dutiful production company, we started brainstorming how to produce a commercial incorporating a memorable tune that would run through viewers’ heads and entice them to head over to Leith. We took our inspiration from other popular commercial jingles and eventually came up with an idea that we thought would appeal to consumers. Not only did we do the instrumental work and recording, but we even gathered up half our team and got them in the audio booth to start chanting. The vocals you hear belong to none other than a group of diversely talented Blueforest Studios staff. We even coerced our account manager, Meredith Duncan, into sipping pepsi and milk on-camera (it was supposed to look like an iced latte). This is one way in which we’re demonstrating how dedicated we are to producing the best possible product for our clients. We’ll go the extra mile to ensure that what you receive is the pinnacle of our creative abilities. Check out the Leith commercial below and let us know what you think! If you’re interested in having a video that features a catchy jingle, give us a call – we’d love to help you in any way we can.

Basic Lighting for your Video Production

Lighting is one of the key elements in video production and it makes all the difference when it comes to the quality of your video. Here are some lessons we’ve learned in lighting over the years:

  1. The quality of your video sends a message about the quality of your product.
  2. Using good lighting can make a huge impact.
  3. If you can, get a simple, 3 piece lighting kit – like this one for $800.
  4. Key light – Main light for your subject(s).
  5. Fill light – Secondary light that is not as bright and provides some contrast to the features of the subject(s).
  6. Hair/Back light – Helps the subject(s) stand out from the background.
  7. Windows – Don’t get a bright window in the back of your shot. Draw the blinds or move the shot.
  8. Adjustment Suggestions: Harsh Light – use a diffuser, move the light further away. Noisy Image – you need more light in general. Move lights closer, find another lamp or light source to add to the overall light in your shot
  9. Guerrilla Tactics: Use a window as your key light, lamp as your hair light and buy a $20 flood light on a stand from Lowe’s

Please share your thoughts on this video and questions for future video
blog posts. For a more detailed explanation and to see what these tips look like on camera, check out the video below which features a lighting demonstration.

Leveraging Your Video on Vimeo

There are so many video sharing sites out there but one has reigned supreme for the past few years.  YouTube is great for sharing funny cat videos and even marketing videos that you’d like to have found in search.  But what about videos that are for a more targeted audience or for an interface that can be customized and maintain professionalism?  That’s where vimeo comes in.

They offer an interface free of distraction and have been a favorite for award-winning shorts from filmmakers.

And, now they are looking for more ways to differentiate themselves.  They started with tip-jar, giving viewers a method to show their appreciation to the video producers and now they are offering Vimeo On Demand.  They’re new On Demand option gives anyone the option to sell their video work online however they want.  So you can make it a limited engagement for say 1 hour or let the user have almost permanent access to the content.  We are thinking about how some of our clients would have liked this sort of option for training videos and documentaries.  What other uses do you envision of Vimeo on Demand?  We’d love to hear your ideas.

Kathy Hughes Langfield

The Top 4 Reasons You Should Care About 4k

If you are reading this article, I assume you’ve heard of 4k at this point.  If you’re still not sure what it is, here’s a brief overview. You’ve heard of 1080p which is a video with a resolution of 1920×1080. That’s a lot of pixels and produces some great images on your home TV if you have HD content like Blu Ray, HD cable or Satellite, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 etc.

Now imagine multiolying that resolution by 4! Now you have 4k or Ultra High Definition (UHD.) The term 4k comes from the hollywood film industry because they have been scanning and projecting film prints at 4k resolution for many years now.

So, why should you care?

  1. It might be the next big thing.  There’s always a “next big thing” in technology. Eight years ago (in 2004) 1080p HD was introduced. Seven years before that was when DVDs became the next big thing. If you follow that pattern in technology, we are due for a “next big thing.” The industry tried to push 3d on us (mainly because it’s harder to pirate,) but that has proven to be more of a niche thing.

If you’ve followed CES 2013, you may have learned that almost every major TV manufacturer has just announced a 4k TV set. Sony in particular seems to be going all in on it announching 4k TVs, 4k broadcast and disk formats, 4k camcorders, and there’s a strong rumor that the PS4 will be the first 4k gaming platform. Many signs indicate that 4k UHD will be the next big thing in media.

        2.  For some of us, it already is the next big thing.  We’ve been filming TV commercials, web videos, and documentaries in 4k for about a year now. There are at least 2 other video production companies in town doing so as well. I’ve had many people ask me why we are filming in 4k. Here are the top 4 reasons I give them:

  • Acquiring footage in 4k gives us sharper 1080p images.
  • Future proofing our library. In 5 years, when 4k is mainstream, our clients will have a 4k library of footage to draw from.
  • Flexibility. I can film a wide shot and later change it to a close up and still be well over 1080p resolution. I’ve done it before and it’s gotten me out of a couple of pinches.
  • Bragging rights. It’s a character flaw. I’m an early adopter. I like being out on the bleeding edge. It costs me time and money sometimes, but it also means I can write this article so you can learn from my mistakes.

         3. Movie Theaters. You may or may not know that movie theaters have been projecting 4k movies for several years now. So how does that affect you? Well, if you are producing a TV commercial or documentary that you ever want to play in theaters, you will be able to take advantage of the power of 4k UHD. There is a company called RED (who happens to manufactuare the 4k cameras we use) and they have jumped in the 4k theater distribution game. What this means is that in a couple of years, there may be a way for you to very easily screen a low budget film in a local theater at 4k UHD.

         4.  It’s Beautiful!  A funny thing is that even though I have been filming in 4k for over a year, up until last month I have never SEEN any of my images in 4k. That all changed when we discovered a high end home theater company in town who has a 4k projector installed in a $200,000 home theatre demo at their office. They too had never seen 4k footage on their beautiful set-up. That’s because there are still no devices that are capable of playing back 4k footage.

We spent several weeks building a custom computer rig that was up to the task of 4k. Last month when we sat down to finally see true 4k projected I was blown away. I saw details in the footage I had shot that I have never seen before and I have looked at the footage for hours upon hours. This was good and bad, because I realized that I am going to have to raise the bar in some of the ways I am shooting because 4k shows off every mistake you make.

 So, the bottom line on 4k for consumers is that it’s coming. I imagine the TV sets will be starting at $5,000-$7,000 and will drop in price from there in much the same way 1080p did. TVs are getting larger, so an 84″ screen will soon cost the same as a 60″ 1080p screen did a few years ago. Content is also on it’s way as several companies have introduced formats that can pack 4k into a bandwidth similar to bluray discs or even less.

For companies that are producing videos, commercials, etc, you can hire a local company like ours and have us produce your video in 4k for not that much more than producing it in HD. (There’s about a 10-20% increase in cost due to equipment and data storage costs.)  Here’s a commercial we recently finished that was shot in 4k and was broadcast in HD last month on local TV.

If you have any questions about 4k, email me Ammon Ehrisman at ammonATblueforesstudios.com because I love talking about it!

(Ammon is the Creative Director at Atlantic Creative located in Raleigh, NC.)