All Push and No Play Makes You a Dull Person

Google expects their people to spend 20% of their time working on pet projects. That’s a whole day a week. It’s a really great idea, and not just because it often results in new products and services for Google to offer the world. It also makes for better performance at one’s “day job”. Google’s not the only big company pushing the idea of encouraging their people to spend time working on projects not directly related to their “real jobs”, either. 3M’s been doing it since forever. And they brought us post-its, so you know they’re onto something.

That insistence on working on pet projects and playtime gets me thinking about our business, the business of video & film production. Often there’s not enough playfulness involved- I know a ton of talented guys who spend all their time going from video production gig to video production gig. Never resting. Never tinkering with pet projects. I’ve watched a lot of them get burned out, and most of them fall into a rut, where their videos get stuck at a certain quality level and never progress to the next level.

I really believe that all push and no play makes one a dull person. That’s why we’re always working on a couple side projects while we do our paid projects. It makes our paid work better, and it makes us more well-rounded people. Sometimes, it even opens our minds to new ways of doing things.

 

The Biggest Secret to a Successful TV Commercial

We do a lot of local and regional TV commercials, along with the occasional national spot, and we’ve won a ton of awards for some really good work we’ve done in that space. After working with a variety of clients from the Fortune 500 to Mom-and-Pops, it’s become painfully obvious: the reason many spots just don’t work is a total lack of focus and the absence of a solid concept.

Conversely, if you create a local TV commercial that has a strong concept and message, one that’s focused and not scattered, you’re miles ahead of the competition.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

Five Tips to Produce Quality Video for the Web

We do a lot of broadcast video and corporate films, but we also do a fair amount of video designed for the web. So I’ve learned a few things about how to do web video right.

Web Video Tip #1: If you’re still shooting using interlaced video- stop that! You shouldn’t be shooting interlaced anymore, anyway, unless you’re shooting sports videos. Even corporate videos deserve progressive-scan video signals, and web videos look a ton better when you get rid of that ugly “1980s” look by shooting with a camera that can shoot progressive, not interlaced.

Web Video Tip #2: Shoot to deliver your video at 24p. It looks way more filmic and cool.

Web Video Tip #3: If you’re going for a cinematic quality (and you should be, to stand out), try to minimize shaky camera moves. They scream “cheap amateur”. This is why you invest in things like tripods, dollies, and Steadicams.

Web Video Tip #4: Make sure you expose properly! You have no idea how much crappy video we see, here. Usually we’re asked if we can fix it. If the video involves blown-out highlights, we can’t fix it at all. Some places to watch for blown out video: foreheads of men. Noses. Anything that gets too shiny when you shoot. And yes, some video has blown out backgrounds. That’s usually not so bad, it doesn’t look as amateurish as blown out faces.

Web Video Tip #5: Audio quality matters! If you can’t use a dedicated soundman, then at least record with lavaliere microphones and listen to the audio as it’s being laid down. Ideally, you’ll be recording into a separate audio system. Why? Because most cameras’ onboard audio sucks. Sometimes, we run a mike into the camera and still record a separate, higher-quality mike into our dedicated audio recorder. Then, in post we use software that automatically syncs the good audio to the camera audio. Then again, we almost always use a dedicated soundman, too.

Upon reflection, each these tips applies equally well to almost any kind of video you create, if you’re going for a quality look for your message. But many companies and organizations don’t put as much thought into creating a web video as they do when creating, say, a corporate film or a TV commercial. As the web becomes the dominant medium in our culture, learning to do your web video correctly will help you stand out, and give your message the best chance possible of connecting with people.

What’s a Minute of Video Worth?

According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester research (and really, he’d know, right?), a minute of video is worth about 1.8 million words. That’s something like 36,000 web pages. It’s a stack of novels. It’s… well, it’s a lot.

I’m not sold on a minute of video being the equivalent of almost two million words. But a well-crafted video that really shows off your company is an incredibly smart investment. It makes sense- the average attention span of an adult is now hovering at around 8 seconds. What’s going to grab and maintain that interest- reading words, or watching a well-made video?  Video engages like nothing else: over 70% of consumers online watch online videos, and experts say that the amount of online traffic that’s video-related will jump to 90% by 2013.

That’s huge. You want a part of that for your business, right?

Now, for a company that wants to put its best foot forward and engage its customers, video’s a win. Pretty much everyone knows that. But a problem still remains- how do you stand out from the competition with your video? I have a few thoughts on that, but they’re for another post. Stay tuned!

MidasMount SnapFocus Prototype

Brandon, our friend at MidasMount, has been working on a special new prototype SnapFocus/Shoulder rig for our RED MX camera. We’ve got one of the very first prototype SnapFocus devices, which allow us to pull focus on the fly as we shoot, without needing a second person to pull focus, like traditional film cameras do. The SnapFocus is a huge advance, and will let us get some amazing shots that previously wouldn’t have been possible.

I’ve donated the shoulder pad support from our Birns & Sawyer shoulder mount to the cause, and Brandon’s bringing out the acetylene torch and the welding kit to build us a one-of-a-kind, RED MX version of his awesome invention.

Stay tuned for pictures, as this project develops.

TV Ad vs. Web Ad: Which Is Better?

A couple years back, AdWeek wrote about a study by Dynamic Logic on the effectiveness of reusing your existing TV commercials on the web vs. creating new, web-focused video advertising for your brand. The results? Both have a place, and you can use both effectively. Original web video does better on converting people to customers, though. Here’s a link to the original article.

And a special shout out ‘thank you’! to our friends and colleagues at Explore Media in Indiana for pointing out this ‘oldie but goodie’!

New Video & Film Projects

Ever have one of those periods where you’re so busy that you don’t have the time to talk about the cool stuff you’ve been doing? That’s how it’s been here for us, lately. I just got back from New York and a nice shoot at PepsiCo, where I teamed back up with my was-LA, now-New-York-based camera assistant Katie for a few days of fun work. Now, we’re headed to Taco Bell world headquarters to do a shoot. And earlier this week I was at UCLA doing a video shoot for their new MBA program. On top of that, my movie “Unlaced” is starting to apply to film festivals.

Meanwhile, Jeff finished an important web design project last week that’ll make life around here a lot less stressful. And we’ll be starting up some end-of-year housekeeping for ourselves around here towards the end of November, after our web client PLUSdoc’s next revision is complete and rolled out.

So it’s been really busy, but pretty fun here. I can’t wait to show off some of the stuff we’ve been working on.

Video On The Web- Another Statistic

Retail site visitors who view video stay two minutes longer on average, and are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors, according to ComScore*.

* ComScore is a global leader in measuring the digital world and the preferred source of digital marketing intelligence. 

Web Video Production: Scriptless is Foolish

We love helping clients create memorable videos for their websites. But often we’re approached by clients who know they need a video, but don’t understand that a script is really important. A good script, or at least a solid treatment, is really the only way to make sure you’re creating a video that’ll meet your goals. And it’s far cheaper to make changes to a script than to a finished production.

Sure, there’s times when a script isn’t vital- times when you’re doing interviews and getting soundbites, for instance. But even then, a rough treatment will help ensure you grab everything you need, which saves you time and pain in post.

It’s like building a house- you really need some sort of blueprint, or you’ll end up building something terrible that’s a complete mess. Or something gorgeous that’s just not what you wanted.  Either way, it’s not useful to your business- or at least, not as useful as it should be.

When we can, we try to educate the client about the importance of having a script for their video. Most of the time, they listen, and the collaboration is fruitful. Sometimes they don’t. We try to avoid those situations as much as we can.

Companies with video get 437% more engagement from customers

From GoMoNews:

 Videos are now a bigger part of Google’s search results as Google learns to index video content. Videos account for 50% of all online traffic as of January 2012. Not only do videos boost your company’s visibility, but they promote engagement. Customers exposed to videos are 437% more likely to engage your brand.

Wow, right? That’s more than 4x the engagement. Video matters. A lot. And no matter what your business’ size, you need quality video on your website and an active YouTube presence.

Learn about our video production services.

Read the whole article at GoMoNews

About PatrickOrtman, Inc.

PatrickOrtman, Inc. is one of the top-rated video production companies in Los Angeles and New York City. We make high-end corporate videos, and commercials for TV and digital for clients that include 11 Fortune 500s.