Posts filed under ‘video’

3 Ways to Minimize Budget Impact of Using Real People on Video

AmyDirectsTalentSo-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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

May 23, 2016 at 11:33 am Leave a comment

3 Tips for Planning Your #Video #Story

ButterflyIt’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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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!)
  3. 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!

May 13, 2016 at 10:26 am Leave a comment

Eating Well at #NABShow

Every April, 103,000 of my colleagues in media and I descend on Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters Convention. Here are some of the out of the way eateries I’ve discovered over the years. Please add more! See you in Vegas!

1. Lotus oCaesars Palace ADf Siam. Excellent, authentic, and seriously spicy–Thai cuisine. Try the spicy prawns or the sea bass in any of the three sauces–I’ve had the ginger sauce with mushrooms and it was divine.

2. Kaizon Fusion Roll. Asia fusion with interesting (and gigantic) sushi roll combinations in a low-key, hip bar atmosphere. Just across street from Hard Rock Casino, but not nearly as pricey as their famous sushi spot.

3. Lindo Michoacan. A local Mexican 3-restaurant chain well regarded, including by my local friend whose wife hails from Mexico.

4. Sen of Japan gets rave reviews and is more authentic Japanese, for purists.

5. Pamplemousse. Locals go here for special occasion, reasonably authentic French fare. Haven’t tried it myself, so give me your feedback.

6. Echo and Rig Pick out your cut of steak, then have it grilled up at the restaurant next door. Talk about “on-demand” dining!

7. Piero’s. A Las Vegas institution and close to the Convention Center where we’re all living for this conference. Dinner only.

8. The only Vegas eatery on the strip that makes my list is Beijing Noodle No.9 at Caesar’s. Try the Soup Dumplings–the soup is actually IN the dumplings, not the other way around!–and a bowl of Lanzhou noodle soup.

Amy DeLouise is a writer/producer/author speaking all week at NABShow–the National Association of Broadcasters convention–in Las Vegas. Her Post/Production World classes are listed here  http://bit.ly/ADatNAB16. Please stop by!

April 15, 2016 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

Where’s Amy DeLouise at #NABShow16 ?

 

DeLouise teaching at NAB

I love speaking at NAB Show!

I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting loads of interesting people at #NABShow in Las Vegas this year! If you’re trying to track me down, here are a few of my plans:

Saturday, April 16th

After a business breakfast, I’ll be off to get my credentials, to see how our #GalsNGear event buttons turned out (12,000 of them at registration desks!) and be sure our T-shirts got delivered to the store. Yes, guys are invited, too. See details under Tuesday below. Then for the afternoon I’m speaking at Post|Production World on Knocking it Out of the Park as a #SetPA an In-Depth Session on Essential Business Skills for the Freelancer. Then it’s off to an annual get-together convened by the ever-amazing editor Nicole Haddock.

Sunday, April 17th

I’ve got an early launch to speak at 8:30AM on Stress-Free Productions: Managing Clients and Executive Producers.   Then I’ve got a little gap, so if you want to grab coffee or an early lunch (love the little Indian place in South Hall) that would be great! Then it’s off to speak all afternoon at PPW: Career Transitions for CreativesSo You Want to Produce. Then it’s off to some private parties and one of my favorite Vegas shows, Jersey Boys.

Monday, April 18th

This day is gonna be fun but tiring. I’ll be speaking with @Adryenn and @RodHarlan in an All-Day Social Media Symposium ! Then it’s off to moderate a panel on a subject that’s important to me Creating Inclusive Work Environments with Douglas Spotted Eagle, Gayle Hurd of the National Association of Black Journalists, Sarah Serrano of Veterans in Film and Television.  Then it’s off to Media Motion Ball!

Tuesday, April 19th

This is gonna be quite a day. I hope you can join me in the morning for some coffee and donuts provided by Black Magic Design at the first #GalsNGear pop-up event, livestreamed by Broadcast Beat. Then I’m off to speak at PPW again: Budgeting Basics for Video, Putting Real People on Camera — a topic so dear to my heart I wrote a book about it! I’ll head over to the NAB Bookstore for a book-signing (please stop by! invite friends!) for The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera. Folks in my classes will get special DISCOUNT passes during NAB Show! Then I’ll head back to North Hall to moderate a panel on Breaking Into the Industry with Christine Steele, Katrina Deleon of Production HUB, Ashley Kennedy of Lynda, Paul Murphy and DP Joseph DiBlasi. Boy will that be an interesting conversation!  If I haven’t lost my voice yet, then I’ll see you over at Supermeet or maybe the Killer Tracks party.

Wednesday, April 20th

My day starts with being a guest on NAB Show Live! with host Janet West tackling gender balance and #womeninfilm with some terrific colleagues I’m looking forward to meeting. Then, hmmm, should I head over to the show floor or take some chill time at the pool? Perhaps a bit of both. I’ll catch up with some Lynda.com friends and colleagues Wednesday for cocktails, then I’ll be headed to dinner. (Any great ideas? I do promise to repost my off-strip Vegas restaurant favs blog post, but always looking for more out of the mainstream rec’s.) I don’t head out until late morning Thursday, so it could be a late night!

I look forward to connecting with you in Las Vegas or at another content event this year!

 

Amy DeLouise is a Director/Producer/Author and Speaker at NAB Show among other industry events. Her new book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera is out tjhis week from Focal Press.

 

 

April 11, 2016 at 1:03 pm Leave a comment

Video: Direct-to-Camera with “Real People”

AmydirectsIt 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.

 

April 4, 2016 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

How to Prepare to Conduct a Video Interview

Amy Interviews

You’ve got to shoot and interview and ask the questions. How do you get the best from your interview subject(s)? How do you prepare? These four steps will improve the process every time.

  1. Research. I don’t just mean your basic Google search or Wikipedia page look-up. I mean actually reading something your interview subject has written or watching a speech they have given so you can a) learn from it and b) refer to it and build rapport. Also read articles about your person, so you understand where they come from and what they do.  Talking to people who know them well–a spouse, assistant, co-worker–can give insights into their style, character and personal history.
  2. Pre-Interview. Have a phone conversation several weeks in advance of your interview. Weeks not days, because you don’t want someone saying “As I said to you yesterday…” in their answer. I find phone is better than Skype or Google Hangouts, because people are more honest when they can’t see you. If you don’t have the time or ability to pre-interview, then talking to someone who knows this person is even more important. You don’t want to be blindsided by a strong viewpoint, a difficult to understand accent, or some other element that you could easily prepare for in advance.
  3. Create a Story Arc. Everything is story. Even reality. Find the challenge that your subject had to overcome. This is the high point of the story, and you can work backwards from it as you develop questions to lead up to the main high point. Also think of what might hook in viewers to this story. How can you elicit that bit of the story arc? Then think about how the story ends. What’s a good way to help your subject get to this conclusion?
  4. Reverse Engineer Your Questions. Reviewing your research notes, your pre-interview notes, and your draft story arc. Then build questions that can elicit those answers and topics. The goal is not to control every moment, but to help support your subject as they reveal their story.  people always ask me if I send interview questions in advance. Absolutely not! Send a list of topics, sure. But don’t give away your questions that are designed to elicit a story arc or you will find yourself interviewing someone who has over-prepared. If someone tells you that you MUST send questions, send three or four but write them related to themes. Get into the specifics on site.

Look, we all know that nothing is ever set in stone when you conduct an interview with a “real person” (i.e. not an actor or someone highly media-trained) on camera. Good preparation makes the shooting and editing process go much more smoothly.

This blog post is based on one of the chapters of my upcoming book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera (Focal/Routledge). Details and pre-orders here.  For more details on specific interviewing techniques and post-production strategies for working with interviews, see my Lynda.com courses here: Amy’s stuff on Lynda.com

March 18, 2016 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

Photos: Five Tricks for Keeping Track

labyrinth copyright B.DeLouiseThanks to digital photography, organizations now have millions of photos to use in their promotions, websites and videos. But a photo is only useful if you can find it! As a video producer, I’m often fishing through massive files of photos labeled IMG1024 etc., trying to find just the right shot. Here’s a way to avoid that hassle and expense:

  1. Assign a Photo Guru. Even if multiple departments use and shoot photos, make one person responsible for your photo management system, and your tagging process. This person should create a cheat sheet for item 3 below.
  2. What Gets Measured Gets Done. Set a target for each quarter tied to institutional goals. Metrics might include not simply the number of photos to labeled and archived but how you are making them accessible to multiple departments/users/members/donors and how often they are getting reposted and linked back to primary content.
  3. Use Metatags. When an event is over, ingest all media cards and batch rename the files (while checking the box for retaining old metatag info) with the name and date of your event. If you hire professional photographers, give them the names you want to assign to each event or each day of a multi-day event. Your tagging work is not complete, but at least you have a good start. Most photo archiving systems will allow you to add other information such as who is featured in the photo and other keywords.
  4. Be Clear and Consistent. Don’t label your Los Angeles Gala photos “LAG” one year and “LA Gala” the next. In five years, no one will be able to find the LAG photos.
  5. What’s Old is New Again. From #TBT posts on social media to anniversary videos to website timelines, old photos get new life. Organizations that have been around since before digital will need to scan (at 200dpi minimum) old photos so that they can be re-purposed for web, social media, video, print and live event uses. This is a great job for a summer intern! But the intern will need to speak with the Photo Guru, above, so s/he understand key categories, institutional themes. Provide a handy photo “crib sheet” of important people for reference.

 

Amy DeLouise is a video producer/director who often finds herself slogging through unlabeled photo archives in search of the perfect shot!

January 29, 2016 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

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Amy DeLouise Producer/Director/Author

Amy DeLouise Producer/Director/Author

Video and multi-media producer, brand wrangler and marketing collaborator, waking up audiences nationwide as a workshop leader/speaker, love creating mission-driven, advocacy communications. Violinist and a cappella singer.

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