Posts filed under ‘content’
Trick question. The important query is WHY? Why will this information be better conveyed through graphics than through, say, a more documentary approach with powerful interviews or a personal story? Why will the audience care more about the content when this infographic ends? Once you’ve answered why, you can get to WHAT.
Info-graphics for Issue Advocacy
Sometimes, infographics can be used to tell a powerful emotional story that must convey facts and figures but also turn that data into advocacy. In this wonderful piece called The Girl Effect, music plays a powerful role in drawing us into the story line. By the end, we want to take action!
Info-graphics to Inform
Sometimes the goal is actually to DE-personalize highly emotional or difficult content, so people can absorb it and act on it.
In this info-graphic video I produced for a children’s hospital, we decided to use animated characters rather than interviews with doctors and nurses. Our goal was to help parents of very sick children admitted to the Pediatric ICU understand how to better participate in their care. Our creative team and consulting parent advisory group decided that parents already see enough “talking heads” in the ICU, so that our piece would take a different approach with friendly characters and a friendly, soft-spoken voice-over. We also wanted to be able to translate the graphic into multiple languages. The finished info-graphic appears on monitors at a child’s beside, part of an internal “TV” system within the hospital.
Infographics for Branding
TIAA (formerly TIAA Cref) decided to hedge its bets and use both the personal story approach and an infographic one to roll out its new brand. Here’s a look at the TIAA brand story using real people and commercial-style footage:
Here’s the same brand in an info-graphic approach:
Right away, the first difference you notice between these two cuts is the music. While one approach is poignant, the other is in your face. My guess is the creators decided there were two audiences to reach—one an older person thinking about the next generation, and one a younger person looking ahead to their future. The two distinct approaches work well for each audience.
One of the great things about infographics is that you don’t necessarily need to make way for a narrator. As with the TIAA piece, a brief story told entirely without spoken words can get across not just your message, but your brand personality. In this case, the creators are trying to tell us “TIAA is an up-to-date institution. This is not your father’s TIAA.”
Whatever approach you decide, infographics require a very specific and disciplined workflow in order to stay on budget.
- Define the Look. You need to decide the approach, which might take a few rounds of “look boards” before you come to a decision.
- Define the Specs. It’s important before starting any video project—animation or otherwise—to determine the output specs from the start. What is the screen size and frame rate? Will you be showing this on a big screen from a ProRes file or on the web from a Quicktime or H.264 file?
- Whether or not spoken words are involved, there is still a written script that tells the animator exactly what happens in each frame. I often use approximating clip art or stills to help the artist understand what I’m going for.
- Key Frames. These are still frames that map out the entire story line before it’s animated. Settling on the right key frames for each part of the story will save you from costly re-animating expenses.
- If the story has a narrator, this must be tracked as timing with animation is precise to fractions of a second. If there is only music, this still needs to be settled on so the timing works precisely. (If there is going to be a post-score, then the artist may still want to work to what is known as a “temp track” or even a “click track” to keep the pulse exact.)
- Once script is locked, soundtrack is in and script is approved, you’re ready to start animating your sequences. There may be several approval rounds within this step.
- Final output and mixing. Getting back to those first specs, you’ll need to output whatever versions you need for live events, online, email campaigns, etc.
Amy DeLouise is a director/producer and author of the book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera (Focal Press/Routledge).
So-called “real people” can add power to a video story. For testimonials, someone who actually uses the product can be compelling. If the story focuses on a charity, someone who has lived the day-to-day impact can help raise funds more effectively than an on-camera professional host. A person who works in an organization might be the very best at explaining a new process or tool.
But here’s the catch.
Using real people as opposed to actors affects the bottom line costs of your video, in both production and post. Often executive producers focus on the cost-savings of not having to hire actors–no actor fees, no casting fees, no pension and welfare payments (for union actors). However, pro’s bring their ability to hit their marks every time, to become characters convincingly, and to deliver a particular line the same way in the wide shot, the closeup and the shot that gets done after a lunch break.
So if you are using real people, you need to focus on 3 areas to minimize the budget negatives:
- Casting. While you may use an informal process, you’ll still need to “cast” people to be sure they can work with you, they have an interesting story, and to build a relationship prior to the day of taping. While actors can step onto a set filled with strangers and go, most regular folks can’t. Always avoid using someone solely on the recommendation on another person. If you will be the day-of-production interviewer, producer or director, you’ll need to talk to them yourself to be sure you have a good rapport.
- Scheduling. Build extra time into your shoot schedule. Not just for each angle or shot, but also breaks for your “talent.” Unlike pro’s, who can muscle through a long day, most regular folks need some time out of the lights. Plus they will likely need to make calls, check on the kids being picked up from soccer, etc. I’m always surprised how often I’ve got someone telling me they’ve “blocked out” the whole day for our shoot, and then when we arrive, they’ve actually got several hours of phone calls, errands or other work scheduled. No one outside of production understands that what we do is a really focused, full day or more type of job.
- Post Workflow. Your post-production workflow will also need to be adjusted. If you are conducting interviews, be sure you get transcripts made (from mp3 or wav files of the interviews) so that you can make a preliminary set of selects and then choose from those for your final edits. This will save massive amounts of time slogging through footage to find soundbites. If you are creating a re-enactment or a direct-to-camera video, you’ll need excellent field notes via Adobe Live Logger, Google docs, Lumberjack, etc. that allows you to correct for the usual mistakes and changed dialogue or non-matching action that commonly occur when using non-actors. Again, this will save massive amounts of time and frustration during editing.
I’ve built some handy templates and other prep, shoot and post resources into my new book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera. Use code FLR40 at checkout for 20% off (not available on Amazon). Let me know any other tools you think I should add here on the website.
It’s been a cold, rainy spring here in DC, the perfect weather for planning and strategy (not so great for outdoor shoots). And post-NAB Show, it’s a great time to re-assess workflows, consider new technologies, and tidy up that digital media library.
So what key steps do you need for great video storytelling? It all comes down to Three Essential Questions you need to ask yourself when planning your edit.
Wait, you say. planning my edit? What about my script? My shoot? But let’s face it, the story all comes together during the edit. And when is the optimal time to start planning your edit? Is it a few days before you step into the edit suite? Is it when you start digitizing your media? Not surprisingly, the answer is well before you even shoot the first frame. Working in the digital media space now often means drinking from the firehose of assets–millions of frames to choose from as we acquire with more and more flexible cameras. So it’s even more vital to be prepared before you start working with all of that content. Ask and answer these questions before you shoot, and you’ll be ahead of the game for your edit:
- What tools can I use in the field to help my edit go more smoothly? (Tip: any tool that allows you to identify best takes and best soundbites–use Adobe Live Logger, paper notes, or Google docs with notations on your script. And don’t forget to metatag camera footage with more than just date and time–for example camera operator initials or some code that tells you where this footage fits into the story line)
- What workflow can I use to ensure that the media gets transferred accurately? (Tip: use the 3-2-1 backup system–make two additional on-site copies of digital media files so that you have 3 in the field, travelling back from the shoot have 2 identical copies (and the one original stays behind). When you get back, ingest one of your two copies and check for accuracy before blowing away the original field cards. And yes, it costs a few more dollars to have extra cards–which is way less than a re-shoot and lost time will cost you!)
- What other assets can I collect before or during my shoot to augment my edit? Think about field sound clips, archival photos and other visuals. (Tip: always collect as much as you can in the field–I’ve even brought a mini-scanner on site and scanned old photos after conducting an interview.)
Every ounce of planning will deliver impact on screen. Go for it!
Amy DeLouise is a producer-director, speaker and author. Her new book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera (Focal Press) is available here at a 20% discount for blog readers! Use Code FLR40 at checkout!
From Las Vegas, NV NAB Show 2016 –
I’m just back from NAB Show where I was privileged to co-host #GalsNGear Live! by Women in Film and Video (WIFV-DC) with Adryenn Ashley of Crowded TV to help showcase the amazing women working in production and post-production in broadcast, feature films, docs, commercials, branded content and more. Live-streamed by Broadcast Beat, we featured Megan Donnelly, DP and Camera Technology Specialist with AbelCine; Rose Fadem-Johnston, DP, Luisa Cassasnovas Winters, Drone Operator/Adobe/Apple Certified Trainer; an iZotope demo by Cheryl Ottenritter, Senior Mixer/Founder, Ott House Audio; Katie Hinsen, Senior Finishing Artist, Light Iron (on TWO Oscar-winning teams!) who is also a founder of the Blue Collar Post Collective; and Jillian Arnold, Video Engineer, Local 695; Lucy Seaborne did a demo for us at the Snell Advanced Media booth, and Christine Steele of Steele Pictures also conducted #GalsNGear interviews with Victoria Nece, Adobe After Effects and Alissa Johnson, Adobe Anywhere as well as Stefanie Mullen, the impressive woman behind the effects of Rampant Design. Christine also took time to make us an animated logo bumper. What an impressive crowd!
Terrific GNG graphics for our signage, logo and buttons were created by Deborah Humphries of True Color Chrome.
Shout-out to our amazing sponsors, including our lead sponsors Black Magic Design and Media Central! We had more than 100 people watch the show live, and thousands more watched online. Sponsors gave us more than $4,500 in giveaways–everything from cameras to graphics packages to audio software and tickets to creative conferences. Let’s do this again at another industry event! How about Cinegear, IBC, Sundance, Cannes?? Let us know what you think!
While I’m out at NAB Show, I thought I’d share a guest post by Matt Barker, a self-described tech geek, filmmaker and entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of getfilming.com, where he manages the online course production and the filmmaking community.
By Matt Barker
As the owner of an online start up, I spend a lot of time online. Some would even say I spend too much time online (my wife, mainly). I have to admit, staring at the screen all day long can become a little tedious but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love what I do and I love how the tech and the internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. A particular favourite innovation that the online world has brought with it, is online education.
Gone are the days when you’d enrol for a course at your local college or university a year in advance and just wait for the learning to start. You can learn anything online from coding to filmmaking, from algebra to cake decorating and the best part is, you can learn from anywhere in the world, instantly and on your own schedule.
Lots of people reading this post will have enrolled in lots of courses online already. They would have learned a ton of information from expert tutors both on sites that house a plethora of courses like Skillshare or Udemy and from more specialist sites like Team Treehouse or GetFilming, an online Film School. I urge anyone and everyone to at least try online learning but if you still need some convincing, here’s five reasons why online education will help you succeed.
Unlike traditional learning, when you enrol in an online course you get to choose who you want to learn from. There’s such a huge demand for online courses that there is an endless supply of new tutors, courses and schools opening every day. What this means is that working industry experts are realising that they can make a lot of money selling their knowledge. In some cases, they can make more teaching a subject online than they can make practising it in their day job – but this also means there is a lot of competition. To make decent money from teaching online, they have to produce a complete course for a specific topic that is better than any other course online. Having experts compete with each other to provide amazing education for us, is a great thing.
Netflix and other streaming services introduced us to the world of on demand video. We’ve been spoilt and now everyone wants everything yesterday. Fortunately, it means if you decide you want to learn any topic, you will be able to find a course straight away and start learning instantly. If you’re thinking of a career change you can find a relevant eLearning site that caters for your topic and find out if that career is for you in a few days. How many people have spent years in education only to realise they don’t actually like the career they have invested so much time in?
Community of Learners
When you learn online, you don’t just get an expert tutor teaching you what they know. You have a whole community of people learning with you. This is great for motivation, for help if you get stuck, to find recommendations on other courses and it’s also great for networking. That all important element of any career path. It’s all about who you know and by learning online, you instantly connect with a community of people studying the same topic and who knows, maybe that person who helped you with your course can also be the person to give you your big break.
The real beauty of learning online is that the curriculum isn’t static. Let’s take creating websites as an example. If you go to college to learn how to code a website, chances are that by the time you finish your course, the technology you have learnt will be outdated. With online courses, it is not just important but necessary for the tutors to keep the content up to date. Any new technology that replaces old technology will be updated in the course to reflect the changes, almost in real time.
Something for Everyone!
The more you look into online education, the more you will find courses in topics you didn’t even know existed. Every single person can find a course that suits them to either learn a new hobby or to completely change their careers. Some eLearning platforms like Skillshare try to cater for every taste (and they do a very good job). Skillshare is more for the casual learner, someone who perhaps wants to develop their skills or make themselves more attractive to their boss. There are subscription learning portals such as Lynda.com, which started out as a platform for office software learning, but has rapidly expanded with hundreds of courses on Photography, Video Production and more. Then there are sites like GetFilming, which is an online film school and community. They specialise in teaching you everything you need to know to pursue your dream career as a filmmaker, whether that’s as a director, screenwriter, VFX artist or any other job in the Film and TV industry.
There are many reasons to want to learn something new. Personal development is a privilege we now have at our fingertips, so I say let’s take full advantage of it. Traditional education for years has been an exceptional way to teach and to learn, there’s no denying that. But if you are thinking of learning a new topic, I would highly recommend looking into online learning.
It happens more often than we’d all like to admit that inexperienced speakers are selected to deliver important information directly to the camera. Whether they are the head of a department, the leader of an initiative, an enthusiastic volunteer, or the child of the executive producer, this person might not be all that comfortable with a teleprompter, or might not work with cameras and crews every day the way professionals do. That doesn’t mean you can’t direct a confident delivery. But your approach will need to differ from how you’d work with an actor or an experienced on-camera speaker.
I Need to Direct My Boss on Camera, Now What?!
One strategy for encouraging a natural delivery from your speaker is to do a quick Q&A with them off-camera first. I often stand farther away than is truly necessary, and lean forward. This is to encourage a slightly louder speaking voice from the talent. It forces us both to connect on purpose, not simply by default. It’s surprising how often this Q&A approach works quite nicely, and feels natural.
Another strategy is to suggest in advance of your shoot day that the “host” practices a bit by recording themselves with their phone. Even though I have spoken before rooms with hundreds of people, before I taped my first Lynda.com course, I did the same thing. Speaking to a lens is vastly different than talking to people who react in real time. The first thing that struck me about my pre-recording was I didn’t smile enough. Even thinking about smiling helps the delivery seem more natural and congenial.
What About a Teleprompter?
Most folks aren’t aware of how much skill goes into reading from a teleprompter. Some people also do better with bullet points, rather than full copy. If you intend to use a prompter, you will need to add 30 minutes to your recording time for several rehearsals, to let the person get used to reading the words naturally. Most people trip up on one major issue: that the prompter follows them, not the other way around. They will get progressively slower as they read, waiting for the prompter to “catch up” when the prompter is actually following their speed. You’ll also need to add some big gaps to force people to slow down their read.
How to Work with Kids for Direct-to-Camera Videos
Kids are naturals. Don’t over-coach them. Do give them examples in advance from kids’ shows they like to watch. Remember that audition pre-interview? Ask a few questions about shows they like, so you can reference them just before and during the shoot. Encourage kids to practice with their i-things at home. But the best thing you can do with kids is be a supportive cheerleader. Use the same tools for keeping parents out of sightlines that you use with other gatekeepers: give them their own monitor, preferably out of the room. But check in periodically to be sure they’re happy. Because a happy parent will be a great ally for you as you create a positive experience with your production team
This blog post is excerpted from my new book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera (Focal Press/Routledge). Purchase the book here Buy Real People on Camera. Or if you are coming to #NAB16 please stop by my Post|Production World session on getting the best with real people on camera – info Amy at NABShow on Real People.