While Sarah Palin glittered her way to a Donald Trump endorsement, most of us can’t pull off that on-camera look. In fact, it’s generally advised to stay away from shiny, high contrast fabrics, let alone shiny stuff dangling off a fabric. This is because contrast can confuse the camera sensor, and may cause a “moire effect”–the image may seem to vibrate. Especially once the quality is degraded through broadcast or Web compression.
So what’s best for your next event or appearance that will be recorded on video?
In this heady pre-primary season, take some cues from our political class. For women, solid jewel tones work well. Reds can be tricky. But you’ll still see plenty of women wearing them for televised events like the inaugural swearing-in ceremony or the State of the Union address. (To be honest, purple stands out more, as in this photo of the SOU a few years back.) For men, a pop of color in a tie works well (see Lindsey Graham’s canary yellow). The same rules about avoiding busy patterns and high contrast apply to both ties and scarves. The Prince of Wales is a natty dresser, but this combo of polka-dot tie on striped shirt would be a nightmare on camera.
It’s always best to bring a few options to a shoot, and if you have time, do a short screen test. And if your production is against a green-screen back drop, of course avoid green (remember to check earrings, ties, etc!) or those elements will disappear–just like magic!
Amy DeLouise is a director/producer who works hard to make people look great on camera. Her book on producing with real people on camera comes out this spring from Focal Press.
Storytelling through video can help you advocate for a cause, raise awareness and money, train, and motivate. And with video engagement levels and distribution platform options at an all-time high, charities, associations, government agencies and corporations are producing more reality-based short video content than ever before. But many communications teams launch into producing videos without a solid script. That can throw up unnecessary roadblocks to success. With a plan for your nonfiction story arc and a script-to-screen process, producers can lower their overhead costs and improve storytelling impact and audience engagement.
Identify Characters: Be sure you’ve identified a main character (protagonist), which might even be your organization. Are there supporting characters? Those might be other people who can speak about this person or product or initiative. Don’t use more than 3 or 4 characters in a less than 5-minute video, or you’ll overwhelm viewers and confuse your narrative.
Write a Script: You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint. Don’t shoot a video without a script. Even if your video is largely based on real people interviews, you want to have some kind of game-plan going into those interviews so you can craft a compelling story. Your script can include bullet points for the topics of potential “soundbites”–something that helps you create your interview questions and craft the story line on paper before you start spending money in the field or studio.
Create Storyboards: Particularly if you’re producing a graphically-driven piece, you will need storyboards to help guide the way before you invest in animation. For other types of videos, your storyboards can be as simple as stock images in a Powerpoint with a few descriptions beneath each one. These visuals can really help you when you’re faced with choices of how to light, shoot and edit your production.
Get Interview Transcripts: If you are interviewing people for your show, get transcripts made–a very small investment of a few dollars per minute–so you can select your soundbites on paper before spending time and money editing clips together.
Build an Editing Script: Once you’ve inserted your favorite soundbites or options into your initial script, you’ve created an editing script. Add in your selections or options for stock music and other visuals, such as stock or archival photos, videos and graphics, and you’ve got your guide-posts for a streamlined post-production process.
For more detailed tips about how to create an effective short-form branded stories on video, try my new Lynda.com course in nonfiction Scriptwriting.
Amy DeLouise is a director/producer, speaker and author who makes branded short-form videos for impact.
“Helping people understand what can and can’t be communicated through video” and “Keeping viewers engaged” are two top sticking points for the video writers who attended my workshop during GV Expo this morning. We covered strategies and tools for writers to get better results with video. Top tips include:
- Define the goals for your video. Use a Creative brief to outline these goals, along with your story approach, point of view, creative look, and any budgetary or scheduling requirements. Include a few success measures–“if this video is successful, what does that look like?” This might mean a lot more than number of views. It might mean the number of minutes reduced in customer service calls, or the number of registrations for next year’s event. Think measurable goals!
- Define your characters. A 1-2 minute video doesn’t need more than one main character. Supplemental characters include setting and music, which play an important role in how the audience views your subject.
- Define your story arc. Everyone thinks about narrative arc with fiction, but engaging nonfiction stories have them, too. What’s your hook? It needs to grab your audience in the first 15-30 seconds, before the dreaded initial drop-off in viewing happens. What’s after your hook—how do you give the back story quickly and efficiently? What’s the central challenge of the character and how do they overcome it (the climax)? And as your story winds down, do you include a call to action?
- Use tools and workflow. Get transcriptions done if you are creating an interview-based story. The roughly $25 per person will be worth it! Then you can focus on finding those elements that move your story forward. Plan a writing workflow that gives you the flexibility to find the hidden stories, but develop creative that meets your goals. Especially if you are writing for animation, you will have to be very detailed in your approach to story so that you allow time for storyboarding, keyframes and animation tests.
Amy DeLouise is a scriptwriter and video director working in short form nonfiction. A slide deck from her writing workshop at GVExpo is on the Speaker tab of this website. Don’t forget it’s #GivingTuesday. Join me in buying a gift for a child in need through Central Union Mission Operation Christmas Miracle.
Women are Ram tough. That’s the message from Ram Truck’s newest commercial “The Courage is Already Inside” featuring women doing hard things. It’s a well-produced and welcome message in the usually testosterone-obsessed truck segment. (Dodge has even produced some negative portrayals of women, notably in its Charger commercial during Superbowl 2010.)
As many of you readers of my blog know, I am a car-lovin’ gal, and so whenever there’s a convergence of great branding and car stuff, I’m all ears and eyes. This new ad from The Richards Group agency caught my attention. Directed by Jaci Judelson, the spot breaks new territory in car marketing to women. Judelson’s images are gritty, nuanced, and human. She has worked on Dove’s “Real Women” series, among other commercial ventures, and directed the new Sundance series Single Stories. Marketing to women has come a long way. And by positioning this brand to appeal to strong-minded women and men, Ram is leading the charge.
Amy DeLouise is a nonfiction Director/Producer and consults and speaks on branding, marketing, and digital storytelling. Join her with fellow speakers at GVExpo December 1st and 2nd at the Washington DC Convention Center.