Makeup and Wardrobe in an HD World

It’s probably a safe bet to assume your leadership team is not thinking about wardrobe or makeup when you book them to be part of your next video production. Someone needs to impress upon them the impact of both. A good video production partner will do just that.

To put anyone, regardless of gender, in front of an HD camera without at least basic foundation and powder is doing them a disservice. Our team prides itself on making our clients feel comfortable behind the scenes and in front of a camera. When it comes to first-timers behind a puff we often equate the use of makeup to that of sunscreen. We ask them, “You’d never spend a day on the beach or on the course without sunscreen – right?” Foundation and powder are serving a similar purpose – protection from HD cameras. Nobody, not a single skin tone, looks alive in HD without the help of makeup. We want the audience for your messages to be focused on exactly that – the messages, not wondering why the person on camera looks anemic, or sweaty or blotchy or you take your pick. Studio or field lights can be hot, people sweat and when that camera light goes on, people sweat. It’s natural; makeup allows this to happen without affecting the impact of the video.

After makeup, wardrobe is deceivingly simple. At least it can be if you follow a few basic rules. Small patterns, herringbone, tiny checks, thin lines buzz the screen, and create what’s called a moiré effect, which you want to avoid at all costs. A buzzed viewer is not an engaged viewer. We counsel your on-camera team to stick to high contrast bold colors, and if patterns are involved in a blouse, dress, or tie, we make sure they are large scale. We also encourage them to “dress the part.” Attire sends a subliminal message, so be conscious of ensuring that what you wear is in sync with the message you are conveying.

Well-applied makeup, the right wardrobe, and the proper lighting can also reduce the “camera adds 10 pounds” effect. Strong, flat light directed straight at a person is a sure-fire way to add this digital poundage. We take great care in the blocking of every shot to avoid this phenomenon.

Does this blog make me look fat? Let me know what you think. Do you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address? In the mean time, talk to you next Friday.

Great Expectations Require Good Planning

Expecting the unexpected is a given in any video production process. What separates the great production teams from the ... well ... others is the ability to maintain an open dialogue with their clients so that when the unexpected does, inevitably, occur, they can react quickly, offer a solution and keep the production on track. The foundation necessary to anticipate unforeseen issues is, quite simply, good planning.

The next time you choose a production partner be sure to get a sense of what formalized systems they have in place to track a project from pre-production to the final cut. Those who lack a formal method of blocking out milestones and tracking a process are a potential liability to your ability to meet a deadline and stay on budget. Our team lays out contingency plans as part of every project we take on. Rain can shut down a day of external shooting. An executive’s schedule is fluid. A new product can be delayed in transport from the manufacturing facility to the shoot location. All these scenarios have the potential to delay a production and delays usually equate to missed final delivery deadlines and cost over-runs.

However, good planners build-in contingencies to make sure that when those unexpected events occur, the other tasks necessary to meet the original deadline can quickly be inserted into the newly opened time slot. Graphics can be sent for approval. Music tracks can be sampled. Interior shots can stand in for a shoot day that was meant to be spent outside.

Of the many unpredictable variables involved in a video production, one thing remains certain, if you expect the unexpected you can plan on your project remaining on track, on time and on budget.

Let me know your expectations of this blog. Do you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address? In the mean time, talk to you next Friday.

It’s ALIVE! Tips for a Compelling Video

Form and function are not mutually exclusive concepts if you assemble the right team for your next video production. You can have it all and you can afford it. It simply takes planning, and choosing the right partners. The next time you embark on a video production project, keep the following tips in mind. They just might make the difference between a good video and one that tells a compelling story, loud and clear.

The appropriate layering of voice, music, ambient sound, graphics and — what we’re all after in video — images that convey compelling messages, are all means of bringing life to your productions.

Let’s start with what your audience will hear: voice, music and use of ambient sound. Seek out video production partners that have true “go to” or in-house sources for voiceover and music, and who understand how and when to use ambient sound to its advantage to create a mood. These elements are critical in a successful production. When you’re in the throes of a production these elements can seem like subtle or even esoteric details that don’t really impact your audience. However, If not handled with finesse, or worse yet, not included, your piece will be flat, lacking in emotion and potentially unable to truly reach your audience.

Make sure your team has a strong handle on what you want your final piece to look like before you start scheduling your shoot locations. Collectively you need to decide when graphics versus footage will be the most impactful and how your script will be best supported visually. Again, the use of images and graphics add layers of interest, keeping your story compelling for your viewers.  

When all these elements come together it ensures that your final piece looks, sounds and feels like a reflection of your company and its culture, and conveys the messages you want your audience to receive, loud and clear.

Make your voice heard loud and clear. Do you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address? Let me know. In the mean time, talk to you next Friday.

No Such Thing as “Basic Training” in Video

FSP Video Boot Camp

In a media-saturated world, a viewer’s expectation for a return on the time invested in watching any type of video is increasing exponentially. When it comes to harnessing the power of video for training internal or external audiences there has never been more at stake than now. The messages your team needs to impart, and the knowledge that needs to be absorbed, simply must be compelling to your audience within the first 30 seconds, or you’ve lost them. With that in mind, be sure your communications and video production partners take the right approach to your next training piece.

For our clients we take a bit of a “boot camp” approach to training videos – and really all our video communication. We start with the basics. We carve out pre-preproduction time to ensure we all have an agreement on the baseline understanding of our audience. That’s the only way we can tailor our training, be it in the form of a video, webcast or webinar.

You won’t be successful if you go into your video project without truly understanding and evaluating the needs and expectations of your audience.

Now more than ever your training dollars need to provide you a return on your investment and your audience needs to feel that their time was also well invested. These are not mutually exclusive endeavors with the right team in place.

What can our team do for you? Do you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address? Let me know. In the mean time, talk to you next Friday.

Welcome to the Jungle…

A short time ago the Queen of England made the mistake of wearing a monochromatic green suit. In a digital age, that’s the wardrobe equivalent of a wearable green screen. The Internet — being what it is — let loose with their creativity and the social media results were hilarious (at least to us non-royals).

This past spring, Disney released a live-action version of Kipling’s classic tale, The Jungle Book. The film was created using nothing other than green screen — no locations — just a non-descript soundstage and one actor. Other than the lead character — bonus points for those of you who recall “Mowgli” from your childhood — all other visuals were computer-generated and animated with Mowgli being added to the digital scenes via green screen. What does this mean to you and your internal or external communications needs? It means the world … in the sense that the world can come to your production via green screen and you don’t ever have to leave your hometown. 

You don’t need a Disney-sized budget to employ this technology either. Vendors with in-house green screen capabilities (like Full Scale Productions) can net clients serious savings on locations, logistics and overall production. The next time you're considering a video that will require a multi-day shoot spanning various locations keep in mind that a green screen using existing footage of the locations, or even stock footage, could save you thousands. In addition, the technology can also be utilized to put your talent in locations, situations or bring visual consistency that could otherwise be inaccessible or impractical. If you watch any type of news broadcast, you’re watching green screen technology each time they cut to the weather. The possibilities are only limited by you not discussing the option with your video vendor. 

I value your feedback. Do you have any specific issues I have not yet addressed that you’d like me to cover? Let me know. In the mean time, talk to you next Friday.

Roughing It Is a Good Thing

Few things in life are absolute. However, in the world of video production there are two things that are – pre-production makes for better production and a rough cut pays dividends by saving time and therefore money.

It’s common practice for our team to build project timelines with pre-production meetings that provide for valuable direction and insight to be gathered from our clients. It’s information that flows both ways and in the end saves time. Most video budgets are tight and our clients want to ensure that the dollars they spend add value to the final product – not spent in loops of revisions and avoidable rework. If your communications and video partners don’t advocate carving out plenty of time for pre-production, you’re beginning a process with a significant disadvantage that will most likely catch up with you before the final edit of your piece. That will mean more time and money.

We also build in time for our clients to review rough cuts. A rough cut is essentially a no-frills version of the video in process. Before we spend too much time on layering in graphics, special effects, sound design, etc, we share the rough cut with our clients for feedback. We take a “no surprises” — good or bad — approach and the use of rough cuts allows us to stay true to that philosophy. Again, if your team does not build in this phase of production they’re doing you, and the final piece, a disservice.

I consider this blog a bit of a rough cut in the sense that it should be the start of a two-way means of communication. But, for that, I need your input. Do you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address? Let me know. In the mean time, talk to you next Friday.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Lights, Camera … Calls to Action … effective communications, regardless of the tactical delivery, often have a very clear call to action. Don’t be shy. Tell your audience what you want. Whether your audience is comprised of shareholders, employees, or potential or existing customers, they all want one thing in exchange for their time and attention — an answer to the question of Why? — which can lead to a What? Why are they paying attention? And, what do you want them to do with the information you’re sharing?

Keep Calm and Carry On is a classic example of a call to action that has become an iconic image as well as a catch phrase almost 80 years after its intended use. The pithy text and notable graphic design was originally a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for WWII. It was intended to raise the morale of the British public as they faced the very real threat of massive air attacks on the country’s major cities. Fast forward to the year 2000 and the discovery of one of the posters. It sparked a full-on rebirth of the call to action and spawned a myriad of uses of the image and text in everything from wearables (including pet "clothing") to dishware and household accents. The next time you're faced with distilling your messaging down to an effective call to action. Keep this example in mind. It’s everything a call to action should be – straightforward, impossible to misinterpret, and pithy enough to stick in the mind of your audience.

Here's my call to action to you — I want your feedback. Do you have any specific issues that you'd like me to address? Let me know. In the mean time, well… you know what to do… talk to you next Friday. 

Like it or Not, LOL is also a Language

The dictionary definition of “language” includes:  The phraseology and vocabulary of a certain profession, domain, or group of people.  Our team is often faced with clients that can construct entire sentences and have complete conversations using industry jargon – usually acronyms – all while avoiding a single noun or verb. They successfully communicate with others that speak the same language, but we counsel them to apply the theory of Occam’s Razor – assume that the most straightforward approach is always the best.

As is true with many things in life – just because you can, does not mean you should. Watch your language. It’s often helpful to consult communications professionals outside your industry to provide an objective evaluation of the effectiveness of your messaging. We’re often called upon by our clients to perform a “gut check” on many communications vehicles – not just the videos or webcasts we’re creating on their behalf. The savvy professionals know when to bring in a fresh perspective.

Very often when we’re editing a piece we allow images to convey what words can limit. Keep that in mind as well as you sort through what you deem an appropriate level of your industry’s “language.” Regardless of the tactic you are using to communicate, use jargon sparingly and only if you are completely certain that your audience is fluent in your industry’s vernacular.

Am I speaking your language? I want your feedback. Do you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address? Let me know. In the mean time, talk to you next Friday.

A Valuable Lesson Learned from the King

Pink Cadillac

To borrow a lyric from Elvis, “… stop, look and listen.” That was his philosophy in a certain earwig of a tune. It applies well to the way our team approaches each and every project. Listening – it seems like something that really should be a simple common courtesy – should not be worthy of discussing. Sadly, input we gather from our clients indicates that to do it well is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to their vendors – particularly the ones that specialize in communications. However, that same group of clients consistently points out our listening, relating and “translation” prowess. By translation, I mean the ability of our team to take their ideas, objectives and intent and translate those into meaningful storylines that resonate with their audiences.

The translation of tactical to practical requires effective, two-way communication in the pre-production phase of a project. Our team prides itself on sifting through the jargon, corporate-speak and sometimes politics, to get to the real message that needs to be delivered and then translating that message into words, images and calls to action that tell a meaningful story, and in the end can change an opinion or behavior.

 So, next time you’re kicking off a communications initiative consider the power of being a good listener, and be sure your team consists of others who understand how to listen and how to translate – then you’re well on your way from getting tactical to practical.

 Your feedback is always welcome. Am I covering topics of interest to you? Do you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address? Let me know. In the mean time, talk to you next Friday. (And my apology if Rubberneckin’ is now the earwig of the day.)

How The Story Ends Is Up To You …

An impressive-looking, red carpet worthy video and an effective one can be mutually exclusive, but not for our clients. I often find myself providing counsel early in discussions with clients about the need for storytelling. If a message is going to hit its target, it must first and foremost be compelling and delivered in such a way that it resonates with its audience. No amount of custom graphics, soundtrack or voiceover talent can make up for ineffective content. Just as in real estate the mantra is, “location, location, location.” When working with a video production company your mantra needs to be, “storyline, storyline, storyline.” (repeat).

In order to soundly place your message, keep the following questions in mind at the beginning of the video production process:

1.    What do I want the audience to hear? Keep it simple, drill down to the most salient facts.

2.    What do I want them to feel? Regardless of the demographic you are intending to influence, at the end of the day, action requires connection.

3.    What do I want them to do with the information? Be specific, use a call to action, if appropriate. 

Once you’ve answered these three questions with your production company, you’re well on your way to producing a successful video. And, by the way, this goes for internal or external video communications. 

As always, I welcome your feedback, and I’m here to help. If there’s a topic you’d like me to cover, let me know. If you like, or don’t like the tone, tenor or content of my blog, tell me… talk to you next Friday.