Everyone wants to know what THE best video camera is on the market. Friends (who don’t work in video production) will ask me this question before making a purchase, “What video camera would you recommend?” I’m flattered that they respect my opinion, but the answer is a little more complex than it used to be. Today there are an incredible amount of cameras out there – each with their own capabilities. I’m hesitant to say that one camera is BETTER than another camera, because I’m not quite sure that’s the case. Every camera is DIFFERENT. Each brings to the table something that makes it unique. Think of these different cameras simply as tools in a toolbox. Each one performs a specific function and each one is suited for a particular job. I feel the same way about cameras. They are simply tools that help you to tell a visual story. You should select a camera based on the type of story you want to tell and the style/look you want to achieve. For example:
If a client wants the project to look a little raw and feel low-budget and home-made, I will select a camera and shooting format based on those parameters.
If it suits the project, I might shoot standard-definition video in a MiniDV format.
If I know that I will be going into a shooting situation with very low light levels, I will choose a camera that performs especially well in low light.
If I know that I need to achieve a rich, cinematic look with shallow depth-of-field, I might select a large-sensor camera with the flexibility to change lenses.
You get the idea.
Editing systems are now fully capable of importing video footage from different cameras (with differing frame rates, formats, and frame sizes) into the same project. So now, producers can mix and match their source footage into one video if need be.
The goal has always been to tell the best story. All you need is the right tool for the job.
I usually fill out an NCAA basketball tournament bracket, even though I don’t watch the regular season very closely. I think there are others who can say the same. So what is it about March Madness that draws so much interest, even from those who don’t consider themselves basketball fanatics?
I believe that the allure lies in the idea of community.The tournament has a knack for bringing people together. We want to compare our bracket with others. We want to compete. We want to cheer for something. We want to brag when our bracket holds up better than the next guy. And we want to share our frustrations with someone else, whose bracket crumbled as quickly as ours. March Madness promotes a singular mindset and singular focus. And AT&T has tapped beautifully into this spirit of camaraderie with their “Brackets By Six Year Olds” campaign. I love this series of videos. In each episode a journalist interviews children to get their insight into each college team. See below:
There are some marketing lessons that can be gleaned from this campaign, and from March Madness in general:
Be Community-Oriented. As stated above, March Madness builds community. Your marketing efforts should do the same. Cultivate an environment that makes it easy for clients and customers to talk to each other and to you. People like to be around others with a similar interest. Everyone knows that March Madness will happen every single year. Perhaps you can create some kind of event, promotion, etc. that happens on a regular basis. Maybe it’s a training class or giveaway. You can also create an online community, in the form of a Google+ hangout, forum, group, or webinar. Whatever it is, create something with a singular focus that clients and customers can look forward to.
Be Timely. AT&T decided to “piggy-back” on an already popular event to create a great marketing campaign. Knowing that people are heavily interested in the NCAA tournament, AT&T capitalized and produced videos centered on that event. You might look at ways that you can take advantage of pre-existing events to boost the conversation around your brand.
Be Imaginative. Nothing will help your brand stand out like a unique perspective. And children have the greatest imaginations. Consider Sony’s recent ad, directed by Wes Anderson (but written by an 8 year old). AT&T tapped into the minds of children to create some wonderfully imaginative perspective on college athletics. And that kind of imagination draws people in, because who doesn’t find the mind of a child cute, funny, and remarkable? Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to utilize a bunch of children into your next marketing campaign, but it is important to communicate an interesting point-of-view to your audience.
Camera technology is constantly changing in the video production industry. It can be difficult to keep up with new image sensors, codecs, image sizes, frame rates, etc. and you can easily break the bank trying to acquire all of this new gear. Small to medium-sized production companies, as well as independent producers, need to pick their battles when it comes to the purchasing of new gear. However, it IS exciting to witness the continued evolution of this industry and how the tools of motion picture storytelling continue to improve.
One bit of technology that’s impressive is new LED production lighting. Everyone is familiar with LED (Light Emitting Diode) in one way or another. For years it was used for small indicator lights on all kinds of electronics and appliances. Only within the last 5-8 years, however, has LED become a serious alternative to traditional incandescent and tungsten lighting. LED fixtures are now being used in architectural spaces (offices, commercial, etc.), residences, and theatrical applications. And now LED is being used in video and film production lighting.
There are several advantages to LED that should cause any production company to take a serious look at using it for their next project.
Fewer Watts Used – Video and film production crews are accustomed to using fixtures that use high wattages in order to get the proper picture exposure. 650w, 300w, 1000w are common for interior locations. For exteriors one might see 1200w, 2000w, and even 5000w. However, LED production fixtures use much less wattage, but will emit an equal amount of light. So, instead of using 650w, an LED equivalent might use 80w.
Fewer Circuits Needed – One of the considerations that must be made while shooting on location is knowing how to patch in all of your lights to avoid overloading one circuit. This can be especially dicey when working in older buildings. LED production lighting features DMX control, which allows the gaffer to daisy chain several fixtures together, then load all of those fixtures into one outlet.
Daylight and Indoor Color Temperatures – If the video production crew is set up for an exterior location with a light kit consisting mainly of indoor-balanced lamps, the gaffer must compensate for this difference in color temperature by placing gel over all of the indoor-balanced lights. This is quick and easy to do, but you also lose light output in the process. For exterior shoots, this loss of light could be unacceptable for the Director of Photography. You could use a fluorescent light bank with interchangeable daylight and indoor bulbs, but this might not give you the punch you need for exterior applications. LED production lights can come with interchangeable arrays, so you can quickly change from interior to exterior color temperatures without sacrificing light output.
No Heat – Every production light we have ever worked with, even a small 300w fresnel, produces an enormous amount of heat. That’s due to the infrared wave lengths that are emitted when the light is working. Up to ninety percent of a 2000w fresnel output may be heat. Once a shoot wraps, grips must either wear gloves when handling the lights, or wait until they cool down. This is why television studios are kept at a very cool temperature. LEDs, by contrast, produce almost no heat, because they operate with far less wattage than traditional tungsten sources. Think of the energy savings for production and TV studios. Less wattage means a reduction in energy consumption. Less heat from the light fixtures means that a studio doesn’t have to cool the studio as much, resulting in a significant reduction in utility costs.
Retrofit options are also available for studios who have a large inventory of fixtures.
There are several good reasons for using LED in video production. In the coming months and years this technology will continue to have an impact on the lighting industry.
Perhaps you have ventured into the online video arena by uploading a little bit of content to your website, YouTube channel, or Facebook page, and now, you’re interested in learning how to make the most of these efforts. I came across some advice from Kelly Wallace (Chief Correspondent and Head of Video for iVillage) while watching an episode of The New Media Minute, hosted by Daisy Whitney. iVillage is one of the most popular sites on the Internet, ranging anywhere from 26-30 million unique visitors per month. Over the past few months they have been increasing the amount of video content they produce for the site. Currently, videos on iVillage generate 4 million views per month. Here’s what Wallace had to say for those interested in adding more video to their site:
Start out small. Video is more expensive to produce than written content so don’t try to bite off more than your advertising budget can chew. If you start out small and invest just enough to get you up and running you can easily see what works and what doesn’t work. Then, as you familiarize yourself with the process and you work out the kinks in your format, you can begin to invest more and more into the production and post-production of your videos.
If you have a variety of video content than spans different themes, think about organizing this content into playlists or channels, to help viewers find what they’re looking for.
Think about creating regularly scheduled programming so your viewers know when to expect newly released content. Much like a TV schedule, you can set up to release videos on theme #1 on Mondays, while Theme #2 is released on Friday. The more familiar your audience becomes with the schedule and with the on-camera talent, the more they will begin to relate to you, your people, your brand, and your topics.
Video is an extension of your brand. It’s another way you can reach your potential customer. But remember that the quality, the format, and the value of the content will ultimately reflect back on your brand and will effect how the public perceives you. Think out your video strategy carefully and be diligent to produce the best possible content you can.
Marketing videos, training videos, TV commercials, etc. are different from products that one might buy from a retail, wholesale, or dealer location. When you purchase a product off the shelf, for the most part you are buying something that is immediately ready for your use. There might be some assembly required on your part, or it may need batteries, or charging/fueling. And if that product is not to your satisfaction, or if it does not work properly, you will have to return it for an exchange or refund. You can’t ask the clerk behind the counter to send the product back to the factory to make modifications and design changes to meet with your particular tastes.
The process of producing a video is more fluid and flexible. If you find yourself working with a video production company for the first time, this is an important distinction to make. You shouldn’t worry if the initial edit of your video isn’t quite what you wanted, because that particular cut is NOT the final version. Changes can always be made.
We, like many other video production companies, will always submit a rough cut to our clients to see if our approach to the project matches the client’s vision. So, don’t hesitate to tell the video production team what you like or don’t like about the edit. Give them your feedback. Ask questions. If there are certain things you would like to change, mention that to them and (most of the time), those changes can be made.
Video production is a collaborative process. Our job is to ensure that our clients are happy with the videos we produce for them. Nothing is set in stone until the client approves what he/she sees on screen. Post-production is a flexible, fluid, ongoing process, so don’t panic if you see something that isn’t quite right. Sit down with the producer and/or director and open up the lines of communication so everyone remains on the same page.