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Ten Tips For Telling Great Videostories

Buying multimedia these days is a confusing process. When you want a sight-and-sound program to tout your company in person or on the web, what do you ask for? Probably a “Flash” or a “PowerPoint”. Problem is, that’s putting the cart before the horse. Today’s audiovisual world is filled with possibilities—some are found in the way shows are shown; others in the way they are created. One thing should be sure-- video will be a part of your presentation—at least if you want to make a real splash. This article looks at the multimedia/video/presentation buying process and offers ten considerations you need to make to successfully commission—or produce—your next major audiovisual communication.

I hope you will adopt them. 1. Flash? PowerPoint? Video? Don’t Rush to Conclusions. When you’ve got a story to tell and it requires sight and sound, be careful not to prescribe the solution too quickly. One man’s PowerPoint these days is another woman’s video.

When people need something to run off of their computer, they’re quick to ask for “a PowerPoint show” or “one of those ‘FLASH’ things.” Right idea, but not necessarily the right spec. Flash is considered hip, and PowerPoint is considered a must. But PowerPoint and Flash often are just containers for VIDEO, just as a VHS tape and a DVD are containers for video. SO, just because you want your project on the web or on computer CD-ROM, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t incorporate—or be—video. Video is what the big boys use—often, even in major documentaries and motion pictures. Don’t choose the production method solely on the distribution method. 2. Sound Is the Secret Weapon. What’s the first thing you remember about “Star Wars”? Dah-dah, da-da-da dahhhh-dahhh! Yup, the music.

And the sound effects—the hum of the light sabers, the drone of the Death Star. Can you imagine Star Wars without music? Even in corporate videos, music plays an extremely important part. But you’d be surprised how few producers actually realize that. They’ll let a narrator blab on and on, and, to add insult to injury, you’ll hear the same piece of music looping for the entire length of the show! (Flash presentations are notorious for this.) Sound tells your audience how to feel; how to distinguish what’s important; when to react and how. A picture is worth a thousand words? Music is worth a thousand emotions—like loyalty, belief, trust, enthusiasm—all potent predictors of productivity. 3. Create for the Environment. Ever see an IMAX film on home video? Is it the same as in the IMAX theater? Ever see your favorite movie on a 4-inch LCD? Was it the same as in your home theater? No, of course not. IMAX movies and major motion pictures (especially science fiction and thrillers) are created for LARGE screens, in rooms where people are quiet and the sound has impact.

Commercials played in sports arenas on those big jumbotrons generally feature very little dialog. Who’d hear it? You can barely hear the music. When a video communications project is strategized, the environment in which it will be played is an important part of deciding the style and intensity of production. If your CD-ROM is never going to make it past a laptop, running out and shooting sweeping panoramas of the countryside may not be necessary—but plenty of close ups will be. Play to the room. 4. How Long Should It Be? Attention spans are short! Shouldn’t all videos be short? Well, there’s short, and short. There’s real time, and perceived time. A boring video goes on forever. An exciting video ALWAYS seems shorter than it is, and often bears seeing a second time! Audiences aren’t stupid.

They don’t have short attention spans; they just don’t like to be bored. A good story will transcend time. It will seem shorter but last longer in their minds. 5. $1,000 a Minute? $200 per Slide? $3.99 a Pound? Pricing is always liable to a lot of subjectivity, and so over the years people have tried to “quantify” the production of multimedia materials. A thousand dollars a minute has been quoted since the late 1960s—for film! But let’s shatter some illusions. Video production (in fact, many creative activities) can not be judged entirely on the running time. It takes $2 million and 9 months to produce a single 24-minute episode of the Simpsons.


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