- Results- A professional video producer or photographer is only as good as her last happy client. The focus is always on what will make your message most compelling, effective and memorable.
- Knowledge- Professionals need to know how to work with a wide range of technical tools and creative techniques. A professional keeps up with new developments in everything from lenses and cameras to font design and animation trends—all to know the best equipment and techniques to tell your story with impact.
- Releases—There are Rights of Privacy and Rights of Publicity to consider—among others—when doing a photo shoot, even when it is on your own company’s property. A professional photographer or video producer will know what releases are needed for your project.
- Liability— Professionals carry liability insurance to cover any property damage during your photo or video shoot.
- Gear — Professionals have the right equipment to get your job done, even if there are variables like a sunny day turning cloudy, or a sudden change of location (which may change the lighting and sound environment).
- Efficiency— Professionals are experienced at working in “real world” environments, and will know how to design the shoot for minimal disruption at your workplace or event.
- Budget – Professionals document the scope and cost of each job. They work to stay on budget and inform you immediately if a change will alter the price.
- Copyright— Professionals understand copyright law and how it impacts the use of images and music. Ignoring these laws can cost you much more than the price of your professional hire.
- Customer Focus— Professionals treat you, your staff, your vendors and your clients with courtesy and respect.
- Deadlines — Professionals meet deadlines.
Thanks to the American Society of Media Photographers website for inspiring this post with their great list.
© Amy DeLouise and Amy’s Brand Buzz, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amy DeLouise and Amy’s Brand Buzz blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Video content may be copyrighted by others and may not be used without written authorization. Seriously.
1. Start With a Talking Head—Start your viewer’s experience with some words from your CEO or other corporate leader, preferably speaking directly into the camera, and not looking as comfortable as s/he would like. Not!
SOLUTION: If you have to put in your CEO, try using snippets from him or her during a recent speech. These can be used to “voiceover” parts of your video so you are not spending a lot of time looking at someone’s head. Here’s an example in a USDA video
ANOTHER SOLUTION: If you’re leadership are really brave, and you’ve got a good writing team either in-house or with your production agency (and that’s a big if!), you could try what IBM successfully did with its Mainframe marketing launch. They spoofed The Office using their actual Vice President of Worldwide Sales. It’s still one of my favorite corporate vids of all time, and it garnered enough industry and mainstream press to skyrocket sales. As an added bonus, by showing the company’s hipper side, the video improved IBM’s employment brand, with increased high quality applications to jobs in the mainframe unit.
2. Avoid a Unifying Concept. If you really want to confuse your viewer, be sure to include 4 or 5 or 6 or even more main ideas in your video. Not! Three ideas is plenty. One is even better. A written script is essential (even when there is no voiceover), to map out the framing and delivery of your Main Idea.
SOLUTION: Here’s a great video from Facebook that starts with the concept of the Chair. The images are stark, beautifully composed, and devoid of the generic “b-roll” flavor of most corporate videos.
3. Make a Music Video – Everyone wants to use their favorite song as the score to their video. No problem! Except that you need to purchase the music “sync rights” and know how to direct and edit a music video—which is harder than it looks. Aside from choreographing every movement and person to a specific beat, you need to convey content that is relevant to your message.
SOLUTION: If you have a motivated staff person with the time to map out every move, then shooting your own music lip sync video can let everyone in the organization participate and have fun—which might in of itself achieve your communications goals. Here’s a really cute (although sometimes odd and sad) lip sync video by a retirement home that I think succeeds in showing they have spirit and might be a fun place to hang out
ANOTHER SOLUTION: If you have more complex goals to accomplish—like a training program—they you may need a professional team to help you map out the shoot and edit. This safety training piece I produced for a children’s hospital took quite a few weeks of planning, in order to tie in with a full training program. We shot a lot of it against green screen so as to include the maximum number of people without interfering with patients in the hospital. And yes we licensed the music for the correct usage rights.
Thanks for taking the time to consider three things to avoid when you make your next corporate video!
If failing finals is an indicator, then they are. In my county—with some of the highest-ranking schools in the nation—we just learned this shocking data : 61% of our high schoolers failed Algebra 1, 62% failed geometry and 57% failed Algebra 2. Wow. The thinking goes that since these are the “on-grade-level kids” (aka “losers” in our lovely system), they are less motivated to study than their “above grade level” peers, and therefore more likely to fail. But look at the stats we are presented with for these supposedly more motivated kids taking honors courses: Geometry: 36% fail; Algebra 2: 30% fail. Seriously?
Here’s my worry: too much relying on testing, which feeds into kids getting branded as certain types of students, which leads to their loss of self-confidence, which is then fed by not receiving the best possible teaching.
On a personal level, we got a little dose of this with our high schooler. One semester, his (young and inexperienced) math teacher refused to take questions in class because she couldn’t do this and still get through all the to-be-tested material. A previously favorite subject suddenly became a world of lost confidence. We were lucky enough to be able to work with a tutor, who answered questions and offered the missing support. And the result was our student did just fine. But while he was struggling, the guidance office–where we were already signing up for the next year’s classes–was already ready to demote him to the dreaded “on grade level,” suggesting he couldn’t hack math. Fast forward to a new math teacher in the next semester who was more experienced and fielded questions in class, and voila, test scores improved.
How many other kids is this happening to every day? Probably plenty.
At a national education conference, I interviewed Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy . He shared his theory about how kids get branded as certain types of students and what we can do about it. You can watch his video answer to my questions here…
Khan’s ideas have been revolutionary in changing the school systems that have adopted his platform. One of the many changes his method has brought about is the “flipped classroom”—that is, where teachers let kids work on material in advance, often using technology to access tools and materials. With the outcomes of this work (Khan can provide metrics), teachers learn what their students’ strengths and weaknesses are BEFORE they plan their lessons, then plan and teach accordingly. Children who need more work in a particular skill can then continue to do that work both inside and outside the classroom. That way, more students gain mastery of the material, the teacher becomes a guide rather than someone spouting facts, and students learn strategies they need to overcome challenges in the subject matter.
Wouldn’t it be great if my county could get on board with this new approach to helping children succeed as lifelong learners?!
As we focus on Tsarnaev brothers, their country of origin, and if we should worry about threats from other ethnic Chechens, I’m reminded of my Italian ancestry and two terrible legacies when our nation branded Italian immigrants and Italian-American citizens as “traitors.” One is the still mostly unknown internment of Italian-Americans during World War II. In September 1939, when Britain and France declared war against the Axis nations of Germany and Italy , President Roosevelt asked FBI Director Hoover to compile a list of people to be arrested in case of national emergency. The authority for these arrests was based on the 1798 Alien and Sedition acts, which gives the government power to detain aliens in times of emergency. By June of 1942, the total reached 1,521 Italian aliens arrested by the FBI, many
simply for curfew violations, with hundreds sent for up to two years to military camps in Montana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. In Fort Missoula, Montana, these American citizens joined 1,000 Italian nationals who had been interned there since May, 1941. [American-Italian Historical Association, and the book Una Storia Segreta: The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment during World War II]. Given that most of these people lived in east coast cities, and many of them had family members fighting in the American Armed Forces, the shock and sense of betrayal of dislocation was significant and lasting.
But the precedent for unfair treatment of Italian immigrants had actually been set decades earlier, with the famous—or should I say infamous—trial of Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, anarchists accused of armed robbery and executed in 1927. It’s too long a story for this blog, but the short take is the public was afraid of these foreigners, and partly for good reason. Two days after they were indicted, an anarchist sympathizer—also Italian— allegedly orchestrated the Wall Street Bombing, where a time-delay dynamite bomb packed with heavy iron sash-weights in a horse-drawn cart exploded, killing 38 people and wounding 134. [Wikipedia, relying on Paul Avrich’s book Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background] Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it?
There were no questions that Sacco and Vanzetti were members of an anti-government, militant organization. But there have been ongoing concerns about the fairness of the trial. Historians and legal scholars agree that anti-Italian, anti-immigrant prejudice affected the way the trial was conducted, and ultimately the outcome. And in 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation to that effect, declaring “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names.”
Today we love our Italian brands. Ferrari and Fiat. Ferragamo and Fendi. But in the new normal, when we are under a constant state of threat, a foreign name or heritage that is as unfamiliar today as “Italian” was in the last century, can be a negative brand that is hard to overcome, even in a country founded by immigrants.
With chaotic images from Boston still flashing through my mind, I sat with 79 other musicians in the NIH Philharmonia last night to tackle “Titan”–Mahler’s 1st symphony. The opening movement matched my mood—eerie, somber, haunting. In the violin section, we play a harmonic A for what seems like eons. But soon the lyrical melody kicks in and I’m reminded of the good in this world. And people like Mahler, who, instead of painstakingly assembling bombs to destroy lives, carefully built epic symphonies to last many lifetimes. The fact that Mahler was a Jew whose music was banned by the Nazis, gives me a special sense of triumph as we head into the joyful, Austrian melodies of the second movement. But the third movement forces me to pause and reflect on the lives that were taken, and those that will never be the same, as the somber bass plays “Frere Jacques” in a minor key. Soon, haunting melodies echo through the winds and strings, me along with them.
Then the triumphant 4th movement is upon us. And I really mean Upon, since the notes bear down at a rapid-fire pace. There is fury and fire and the horrible images return to my mind; then just as suddenly, are swept away by one of the most achingly beautiful melodies in symphonic music. A yearning towards dawn. There is hope. Humanity has much to give.
The horns stand up for their triumphant finish. The hall is literally vibrating with sound. So magnificent, it’s actually hard to breathe. The final chords rebound and we all sit frozen, suspended in time.
Guess what, bomb-makers? Our creation is more powerful than your destruction. In the beginning there was The Word, or maybe it was The Note. We the music-makers were here before you. We will outlast you. And what you try to build cannot even fathom what we are already making together.
If you’re in the DC area and want to hear the NIH Phil play Mahler 1 on Saturday April 27th, details here.
I’m just back from Vegas for NAB—the National Association of Broadcasters Convention. What an awe-inspiring assembly. By the numbers: more than 92,400 attendees, with more than 24,000 from around the world; 1,600 exhibitors in 900,000 net square feet of exhibit space; plus 1,700 press. The people were broadcast execs, Directors of Photography, audio engineers, producers, directors, and more. Exhibits ranged from DJI Phantom mini-helicopters to suspend Go-Pro cameras to the latest Black Magic pocket camera , plus the latest in Digital Asset Management systems, sound systems, lighting rigs, you name it. Over at Post Production World, where I was teaching, packed classes included Digital Publishing, an all-day Time-Lapse and Panoramic DSLR workshops at Red Rock Canyon and Nelson Nevada Ghost Town.
What does it all mean?
The art of storytelling is alive and well. For a while, we thought the internet killed stories. It certainly made it harder for print newspapers and nightly news shows to compete with a new 24/7 news cycle. But now, the digital revolution has democratized the art of creating content. And NAB is proof that there’s a storyteller’s tool for every price point. And while the conversations were about new gear or bandwidth or asset management or distribution platforms, at their heart, the discussions were about how to get great stories to audiences who are consuming them at an exponential rate.
Sure, we can sometimes let the newest gadgets distract us from the Real Tools of storytelling: great ideas, great scripts, great interviews, a dab of decent project management (some of the things I taught) to be sure we’re telling the best stories in the most compelling way. But the accessibility of low price-point cameras and editing tools had clearly made its mark. I saw a new generation grabbing the reins and putting their content out there (mini shout-out to Kanen Flowers here) with or without the traditional distribution channels that used to comprise the “broadcast” industry.
My only complaint about NAB? No lines at the ladies rooms! (Seriously—they’re like empty caves at all hours). As a past president of Women in Film and Video/DC, I’d say that there’s still room for more women at the table, especially in broadcast management and the technical fields. Just sayin’.
So if NAB was evidence of a Renaissance in the Art of the Story–and I think it was–then thank goodness what happened in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas. Adapting what our fondly missed film critic Roger Ebert always said, I’ll see you at (or behind) the movies.