Our latest blog post comes from our friend and video expert, Jimmy Boratyn. Jimmy is the President of Shot Time Productions and is a good friend of printForum. In this blog post, he has given great insight into what it really takes to put together a great marketing video.
Web marketing videos have quickly grown in popularity. They have been found to be very successful, and they have a very long shelf life compared to other forms of web marketing. That said, the process for making a web marketing video can be confusing or seemingly difficult if you are not experienced in film production for your business.
Let’s start by discussing some best practices when determining the style and length for your video. So how long should your video be? Many people think that since they can use an engaging video to explain all of their services or products and introduce their team in an exciting five minute video, they should, but the truth is people on the web have a short attention span. The most successful video marketing campaigns tend to be one minute or less. That said, nothing prevents you from making multiple thirty to sixty second videos. In fact, having a library of videos for your organization can keep people on your site and give you a stronger presence on youtube or vimeo. Five sixty second videos will usually be far more effective than one five minute video. If you have a video you’ve created for your business, take a look at the analytics for the video. Generally, around 45 seconds you’ll see a steep drop in viewers. So keep it short and sweet!
As for style, this is something that you have a lot of room to be creative. What is the nature of your organization and who are you gearing your campaign toward? Comedy tends to have the best chance for coveted virality, but a serious video can be very effective when targeted to the proper audience. The key though is to learn to tell your story through images. As a filmmaker and web video marketer, I live by the old film adage, “show me don’t tell”, and this is something you should keep in mind when planning your marketing video and writing your script. For example, a carpenter meticulously working on a piece of furniture will get across the message of skill and care being put into every product much stronger than someone on screen telling us they put care into their work.
Now that we have the basics of how to tell your story, what is the process for making your video? If you decide to work with an outside company like mine for your video, I encourage you to bring them on early. They will be able to lend advice on pitfalls or tell you what aspects of your project may put you over budget. They can also be a valuable resource when determining what your message is. After this, your first step will be writing a script. Your script will be the blue print for the entire project. It doesn’t need to be very elaborate, but it should be written out in a way that anyone who reads it knows exactly what is being said and what we see. It is rare for a project to go from conception to completion with only one person involved, and the script allows the writer, who plans this out, to have the same vision as the editor, who is likely finishing the project. A more advance script can even have run times for certain shots. For example:
- 0-5 second – Title screen with company logo and light flash to transition- We hear sound effect of a film reel rolling
- 5-20 second – We see a film reel projecting a film and shots of Jimmy filming – Sound byte heard from Jimmy Boratyn about his film career.
This is very basic, but it gives you an idea of what it can be. Now anyone who picks this up knows we need an interview with Jimmy, a shot of a film reel, the brand standards for the company logo, and an animator for the light flash transition. This knowledge allows the filmmaker to know what needs to be scheduled for filming, which is the next step. Generally, it is most cost effective to film everything in one day, but things can certainly be filmed out of order or on multiple days. The important thing is to be sure everything you need is filmed up front. This requires a bit more planning depending on the style of interview you’d like to do. You can either fully script what the person is saying or go for a more natural off the cuff response. This, of course, assumes that you’ll need interviews at all. Many great marketing campaigns have no interviews at all, but I’m going to focus on interview based for now. If you’re scripting the interview, you gain the benefit of being able to rehearse or hire a professional to make it not sound like your subject is reading from a handbook. You can also tailor your script to say exactly what you want. That said, off the cuff responses can be great as they often come across more natural, but you need to pay close attention to these types of interviews to be sure everything you need is said. An editor can play with this a bit, but they cannot create something that isn’t there.
The editing process is the longest stage in the production. I think this is where a lot of people get discouraged, but think about it this way, an editor is going to take, in some cases, several hours of footage, and cut that down to the best possible sixty seconds. In that time they will also be adjusting audio levels, enhancing color, cutting out any “ums” or stumbles to make the video the best it can be. Every editor works differently, so this is something I can only speak to my company’s style on, but generally, the editor will take your script and begin finding the best possible version of the various elements in the script. Once they do that, you’ll generally be sent a rough draft. This draft is going to have some flaws, and it may not even have music or sound effects, and it most certainly will not have any color enhancement done as that is a long process that is done when the video is, as we call it, “picture locked”. This stage is where you should be very honest with your editor. If you don’t like the delivery of a line, you think the music or sound effect is too loud, or you think the whole concept of the video needs to be tweaked, then express that. The best way to do this is to give them what is called time codes. If you’re watching the video on vimeo, and you see an issue, pause it, look how far you are in the video, and write it down. For example:
- At 32 second, Jimmy scratches his cheek, and I think it looks funny.
This will help the editor be more efficient with edits, let you know possible ways of fixing the edit, and keep you on track for your budget. In many cases you’ll also have a director or producer, like me, who will be the go to person to speak with. So you’d send these notes to me, I’d discuss with the editor, and let you know if we can fix it, or if we need to reshoot something. Once all of your edits have been made, and you are satisfied with the video’s story and pacing, it goes into finishing. This is where color is enhanced, title bars may be added if needed, and the video will be exported to an optimized format based on how you’ll use it. Once this is done, it’s time to launch the video!
This is where most people get thrown off track with their web marketing videos. The video can’t simply be dropped on youtube or vimeo and expected to reach an audience. There are many ways to help make your video successful for your campaign. You can use it in an email blast, embed it on your website, upload it to Facebook (Facebook is unique in that if you upload directly to Facebook your video will auto play once scrolled over. A huge bonus to posting a URL), and even use it as a giveaway. If you’re giving out flash drives at an event load your video onto it. Similarly, you can pay to promote the video on many sites. Facebook can be used to promote for a little as $10, and you can even pay for youtube ad time, where your video will play before select videos. This allows for a greater reach of your message.
Knowing these steps will help you create a stronger web marketing video and also help you stay within budget when hiring a team to create your video.