Some time ago, some people predicted the death of the graphic arts industry when desktop publishing software became affordable and widespread. Anybody with a computer could produce their own graphics, newsletters, logos, etc. It soon became clear, however, that it took something more than cool software to produce effective graphics, and the graphic arts industry is still alive and well today.
The same can be said about the video production business. Digital video cameras and non-linear, computer-based editing systems are now within financial reach of most consumers. So why spend more money to have a video produced when you can do it yourself? If you’ve tried producing your own video project, you no-doubt already know the answer.
A good video consists of many parts, including but not limited to:
- A good plan
- a strong script
- on-camera and voice-over talent
- effective lighting
- quality microphones
- royalty free music
- motion design & graphics
- visual storytelling skills
- proper editing
The fact remains that a good video is only ‘good’ if it is effective – if it ‘works.’ If it sells product, raises funds, trains staff, recruits employees, motivates volunteers, moves an audience, or achieves whatever goal it was intended to achieve.
When a good video is finished, your audience will not say “that was a good video”. Instead they’ll say “I want to buy your product”, or “I want to join your team”, or “Now I understand”. Advanced Media approaches every video project with the end-result in mind. This guide is designed to help you get started in thinking through the process of producing an effective video.
If you can answer the following seven questions, you are well on your way!
#1: Why Are We Producing A Video?
There are many reasons to produce a video. Videos are effective for sales, marketing, training, education, recruitment, entertainment, reinforcing messages, conveying a consistent message to people located in different place, and more. Keep in mind, however, that one video cannot do ALL these things.
Before writing your script, choose the single most important purpose for your video. You can also determine one or two secondary purposes…but remember to remain focused on your main goal throughout the production process.
#2: Who is our Audience?
This is important to consider on several levels. First, you must determine how familiar your audience is with your organization or your product. If your audience consists of employees, for instance, you can use industry slang or acronyms more freely than if the audience doesn’t know anything about you or your products.
Secondly, it is helpful to know the demographics of your audience so you know what type of production will be most appealing to them. You don’t want to use hip hop music in a video that targets senior citizens. The style of writing, shooting, narration, graphics and editing are all impacted by the demographics of your target audience.
#3: How Do We Want Our Target Audience to React?
Naturally everyone is going to react to your video differently, however having specific goals in mind is very helpful. Perhaps you want the audience to cry or to laugh. Maybe you want them to learn 3 new things about your organization. Or maybe you want them to write you a check or sign up as a volunteer. Determine how you want them to react in advance, and write/shoot and edit your project with that goal in mind.
#4: How Will the Video be Distributed?
A while ago, most video projects we produced ended up on VHS tape. Today there are many more choices. 90% of the projects we do today end up in multiple formats, making the video
projects more cost effective than ever. Almost every American household has a DVD player, and most have internet access. Therefore, the majority of video projects end up on DVD and in a web-ready format such as Windows Media Player, AVI, MPEG, or Quicktime.
Other videos are distributed via broadcast or cable TV, satellite, videotape, CD, iPod, or On-Demand. We even do video for Digital Signage, such as kiosks, and flat screen monitors. And there is an increasing demand for video presentations to be used at conventions, trade shows or other gatherings using large projectors and screens.
#5: What Are Our Resources? What Are Our Limitations?
If we shot a video for a Fortune 500 company who had their own studio, cameras and lighting, they would obviously have more resources than a small non-profit organization. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the non-profit is going to have a poorer video production. The non-profit also has its strengths and resources, and by being creative and wise we can often produce a video that looks like it cost way more than the actual budget.
Larger budgets allow for more equipment, paid talent, more time to develop graphics and motion, original music, and so on. Before you start shooting, identify your budget, your resources, and your limitations…and then plan accordingly. With a little creativity, you will be surprised what we can produce. But don’t expect special effects and Hollywood production qualities on a shoe string.
#6: Who Will be Our Staff Producer / Decision Maker?
It is very important for you to identify someone on your staff to become the leader of the video project. This person will work with the video production company on many decisions – creative and technical. At the very least, they will be the point of contact on behalf of your organization and they will have the final say on issues such as script approval, selection of talent, and change orders. Making creative decisions with a ‘committee’ is a kiss of death for your project and your budget.
#7: How Will We Measure the Success of Our Video?
Some wise man once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” Before you begin your video project, ask yourself how you will know if it is effective or not. Set benchmarks based on your goals such as number of phone calls received, amount of donations made, or better qualified candidates submitting applications…all based on how you answered Question #3. This will help you make educated decisions during the production phase of your video project.
This list is not all inclusive, but it will get you well on your way to developing the framework for an effective video. Producing a video is a little bit science and a little bit art. Advanced Media can help walk you through the entire process – from script to screen – to produce a video that works for you!