I’d been working on the garden shed for the last few days and come Monday, decided to get in a little recreation and go climbing. After a bit of back and forth with my partner for the day Jon, we decided on trad climbing at Mt. MacDonald and selected the route Powerline Revised. Since I had established it and knew it well, I let Jon take the sharp end and go first. I suggested he pay special attention to the first fixed piton (to protect a fall) and he began climbing.Calling attention to a subject while filming is usually the domain of the close-up (CU). How funny was it that this idea came to mind as I played out the rope for Jon. When filming, it's important to know the shot sizes (long shot, medium shot, close-up, extreme close up) - we will be stitching together a series of these to tell the story.
If a picture is worth a 1000 words, we keep the audience’s attention on our story by pointing the camera at just what we want them to see, the subject. In effect, if the premise, the CU calls attention to the subject, the deductive logical conclusion must be - every shot is a close-up.
Jon clipped the first piton and edged up a blank section. He was creating a “story” as he climbed higher and into the overhanging blocks of the massive chimney defining the route. I could hear laboured breathing and see him battling against the forces threatening to fling him into the abyss.
Every shot is a close-up.
The long-shot is a close up of the environment.
The medium shot is a close-up showing the relationship to the immediate situation.
The close-up of the face shows an emotional struggle.
An extreme close-up of a failing hand-hold dramatically propels the story.
Every shot is a close-up. Every frame should be composed and directed with that in mind to get the most out of your story.
Jon made it to the top of the route. Now it was my turn. Dang, I wished I’d brought my camera.
Walking the dog this morning, I mulled over the troubles I had putting useful thoughts about television commercials together. Yesterday I'd reviewed my master class video with commercial Director Simon Levene and was hoping to distill his insights for you. After writing page after page of notes, I found it was too specific to Directors and not befitting a business audience. But the idea of short videos wouldn’t go away - I turned my attention to ads appearing on Facebook and Instagram.
There are hundreds of webpages written about FaceBook/Instagram advertising and you'd need days to peruse them all. Hopefully, this boiled down version serves you well.
Here are seven takeaways from my dive into FB video ads:
Get attention early - people will tune out if the content takes too long to deliver the goods.
Keep it short - the FB recommended, and backed by their statistics, says 5-15 seconds.
Get your branding in right away - see tip one.
Optimize your ad title and description - check which phrases work best with A/B testing.
Caption your ads - more people watch with the sound turned off then you’d imagine.
Go vertical or go square - no one is turning their phone to watch landscape videos.
Think mobile - over 65% of users watch video on their phone
Have a clearly defined objective for your video ad - ultimately, the objective defines why the video exists. Are you after brand awareness, engagement, app installs, lead generation, conversions, store visits?
Facebook and Instagram are hot right now. Some thought must be put into them but they are or can be, an effective tool in the marketing game.
PS - here’s a link to my favourite Simon Levene TV commercial
His class inspired my “dreams” video on the front page of my website
(http://www.picturestoryproductions.com/). Drop me a line if you're keen to know more about Simon's insights.
We bought a garden shed the other day from Rona near Duncan. I drove up-Island to get it and decided to take a side trip to Sansum Narrows and get in some hard physical activity climbing a route on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It's high above the water and boats of all sorts pass by, giving their passengers a good look at my progress.
The route took about an hour to complete and along the way, I began to dwell on the issues of objective and subjective camera angles. Glancing down at the boats, I’m sure the folks were wondering about my state of mind. Their voyeuristic/objective viewpoint would allow them to come to any conclusion. If privy to the subjective view, the one inside my head, they’d probably have been more richly entertained.
If you’re telling stories about the products and services you supply, knowing how to use these two perspectives in your videos is important. It’s relatively easy to plop down a camera and record a wide shot of an event or person doing a demonstration. With exceptions, this omnipresent point of view offers no real emotional clues. The subjective angle, on the other hand, is invested in the emotional state of the participant, it gets the viewer involved. It wants us to experience what the character experiences.
I was using a pair of board-lasted climbing shoes, ones I normally reserve for hard crack climbing. The subjective angle would showcase my experience with them - happiness at their great grip on the first big holds, progressing to unease on small edges to fear and near panic as the crux (the hardest part) demanded great certainty on polished nubbins. From the objective angle, none of this was “visible” - it was just some dude climbing a cliff. In my head, it was a much different experience.
If you want your videos to connect emotionally with your audience, your story must get them invested emotionally. Knowing how to use subjective and objective camera angles will make this much more possible.
Although it’s concerned with cinema, here’s a great link to a video on perspective.
Have a great day - Allen Agopsowicz, Picture Story Productions.
PS - I successfully negotiated the crux and finished the route safely. Next time, I’ll use my slip-lasted shoes to see how they do. If you’re thinking about making a good preforming video, send me an email and we can talk story and how to get your audience involved.
Driving to a training session I was to give to a Search and Rescue (SAR) group, my mind wandered over the outline of my talk. Noting the outcome was the most important part of the session, I reconsidered my talking points. Was I introducing tools, concepts and skills in the right order? Was a deep understanding necessary or could I just cut-to-the-chase and allow a demonstrated proficiency?
In-person training differs greatly from making videos for businesses but I ask many of the same questions. What is the outcome we’re looking for? How should we structure it? Are we demonstrating properly? What questions must be answered? Additionally, videos must be paced, have the right tone and be on target with the audience and branding. Whoa, seems a lot more difficult than giving a talk and demonstrating skills. Nevertheless, here are five mistakes not to make when prepping for your business video.
Not knowing the purpose.
Not knowing the audience.
Not being concise.
Not knowing what you’re selling.
Not having a narrative flow.
In the SAR session, I began my talk with the point of view of the “client” and what they were going through. We progressed to how we’ll help them and introduced the tools and skills needed to get to the desired outcome. We then practised, engraining the lesson. Like making a business video, I knew the purpose, the audience, I stayed concise, knew what had to be sold and wrapped it all in an engaging story.
In a few days, the SAR group will be using their new skills at an event where we can make no mistakes. I’ll be on-site, double-checking their proficiency and making notes as to my teaching effectiveness. Your video probably won’t put people’s lives at risk but maybe it’s time to think about it in the same manner.
Have a great day - Allen Agopsowicz, Picture Story Productions.
PS - send me an email and I’ll reply with a wonderful short read, The Seven Pillars of Storytelling - an excellent primer on engaging your audience.
Video production is costly so it’s important to know what story to tell before you start. Whether you’re making a business or corporate video, communicating with intention begins with knowing the different types of stories available. Here are several story types that businesses can use to get their point across.
The Values Story: Great for individuals or companies who wish to share the core values and qualities which make them special. Expressed beliefs must be woven into a story which demonstrates the qualities espoused.
The Why Story: A great way to connect and build trust by explaining the deep motivations, influences and desires that determine why you do what you do.
The Origin Story: Overlapping somewhat with the Why story, this story boosts trust and connection by sharing with the audience where it all began and distilling the resulting journey down to the moments of conflict that were overcome with passion.
The Vision Story: Where are you or your company headed? Encourage the audience to become involved with a story of how the world would be better if your service or product is brought to life.
A Teaching Story: Lessons learnt by personal experience are woven into a story with conflict and desire. An emotionally engaging tale will leave the audience with the message you intend.
An Impact Story: Generally a case study or testimonial that’s crafted with a character’s journey and transformation to demonstrate the values and qualities a business wishes to portray.
An Objections Story: Confirm the objection but then through good personal storytelling, show how this was overcome and why it was for the best.
For a deeper look at story, see The Story Factor by Annette Simmons.
If video footage is not shot under the same exact circumstances, correction and grading will need to be done in post. For the most part, the following steps will need to be undertaken to convince an audience that a scene was shot at the same time and place.
1) Base Correction Stage a) pick a "hero shot" from the set of scenes and set your exposure values (gamma, gain and lift) with help from the waveform meter, b) modify the contrast values using gamma curves to your liking, c) colour balance with help from RGB parade and vector scopes keeping in mind people's skin tones are most important, d) match the shots from the rest of the clips to your "hero shot" by split screening.
2) Build your Look a) determine the mood the scene requires, b) determine the time of day, c) consider and build in the context of the scene, d) is there a popular look you wish to copy?, e) is there a stylized look the scene requires?
3) Secondary/Isolation a) using masks, clean up any details in the clips (exposure problems, skin smoothing etc) again with masks, focus attention where you want the audience's attention.
Correction and grading can make or break video footage, no matter how creative or imaginative the script, work of the director or DP. Poor shot-to-shot matching is probably the biggest sin no matter how many ungraded or uncorrected youtube, iPhone and GoPro videos the audience has seen.
Everyday I like to do some editing or video production work. Here's sample of some editing done with footage I didn't shoot.
This is one of the most fundamental video editing tips out there. The easiest way to make a cut invisible is to cut during some sort of movement. This can be the movement of a character, such as a head turn, hand gesture, or a punch. Or, you can cut on the movement of the camera itself. Often the camera will pan, dolly, tilt and whip around the screen. Cutting on these movements will help to mask your edits and create a more seamless experience for the viewer.