May 2, 2012

An engaging, uplifting nonprofit promo video

Code for America from Inkerman Road on Vimeo.

Code for America: 5 tips on upping your video game

Lauren MajorCode for America, a nonprofit that uses technology to transform local governments, boasts a creative, compelling promotional video that not only clearly describes its message but also engages its viewers to get involved. In just five simple steps, any nonprofit can follow its example.

Be human and personal

1Be sure to make a personal connection early in the video. Many organizations and causes have a cohort of motivated, smiling people behind it. Bring these people to the forefront and show how upbeat and promising working for the cause is! Code for America illustrates its work environment by interviewing employees about what part of the job and cause they like. People are human and social creatures and are more inclined to stick with a video if they can relate to the on-screen subjects.

Use captivating visuals

2Watching a talking head is no fun for anyone. But listening to someone speak while looking at colorful flowers or a fun work environment is far more interesting. The supplemental footage in a video that does not capture a talking head is called b-roll. For example, Code for America’s video displays a shot of the office while founder Jennifer Pahlka speaks over it. Continue reading

April 17, 2012

Online advocacy video best practices

Tips on techniques to get traction for your efforts

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, cause organizations, brands, businesses, Web publishers, videographers, filmmakers, educators, film students.

Lauren MajorEvery person, cause and business has a story to tell, and a few key video techniques can help bring these stories to life.

Here are a few ways to achieve effective storytelling with video, allowing you to spread awareness and advocate for a cause that deserves greater visibility.

The process: Discover the real story

When going into an interview, leave preconceived notions behind. Stereotypes are not only often wrong, but they also sometimes color perceptions. In the 2-minute story Living a Balanced Life, Major Multimedia tells the story of Charlie O’Leary, executive director of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust by day and artisan of one-of-a-kind custom bikes for racers, commuters and nature lovers by night. (See video at top.)

The story can often take a totally different direction once the interview begins. Keep an open mind to find out what’s really going on.

While we researched a story concept, developed a set of interview questions and prepared a preliminary shot list prior to the initial interview, once we began talking with Charlie we recognized the conservationist angle — what motivates his bike building, living a more balance life — was a much more interesting story. In the interview, listen deeply to your subject and deviate from your script by delving into the areas that could make a more interesting story.

Once you’ve captured the initial interview, the first step to discovering the angle of the story should be the transcribing process.

Crafting a captivating script

Write down the entire interview or narrative, word for word. If you don’t want to invest the time, hire a service such as Voss Transcription, who can turn the video narrative into text in one day turnaround typically. Read and re-read the transcription several times, then …

1) Highlight the best parts of the interview.
2) Add corresponding time codes and clip numbers from the video footage.
3) Edit the text down to a script (just the highlighted parts).
4) Make sure there is a really strong beginning and ending.

Also, to reel in the viewer, building an arc in the middle of the script (a conflict or struggle) is often desirable as well. Continue reading