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

September 22, 2011

How to make cause marketing video that doesn’t suck


10 tips you need to know before picking up that camera

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, brands, educators, video producers, Web publishers, storytellers, individuals.

Guest post by Steve Stockman
Writer/director/producer, Custom Productions, Inc.

Stockman headshot Videos are made out of passion you have for your cause — the people you are helping, the changes that need to be made, the story that has to be told. They’re a powerful cause marketing tool. But no matter how good your cause is, one truth stands between you and successful communication: Nobody watches bad video. A poorly done video — one that bores people to the point of clicking away — gives you no chance to inspire, to inform, ask for donations, or share your passion. And if nobody watches, you might as well not bother.

The good news: stories about people, struggle, challenges and passion are entertaining — as long as you know how not to push your audience away with a lame video. Turns out that with a little bit of awareness, planning and practice, you too can make video that doesn’t suck.

Here are 10 things you need to know:

1The audience comes first. What kind of experience is your video providing for the audience? If it isn’t going to take them on a fun or emotional ride, maybe your project should be a memo instead. Give the audience a good time and they’ll love you. And vice versa.

2Video shines at communicating motion and emotion. Facts and figures? Not so much. It’s a human thing — as animals, we’re wired to pay attention to things that move (Food! Danger!) and the communications of the tribe (Is he going to hit me? Does she want sex?). If what you have to say is best said with charts and lists, it may just not be good video material.

3A good video can be summed up in a single sentence. That sentence should consist of a noun, a verb and a result. “Our executive director” is not a video. “Our executive director confronts congresspeople on the street to ask about Global Warming” is.

4Think in shots. You won’t see a lot of long, rambling shots on TV. That’s because a video needs detail and action to hold our attention. Don’t run your camera non-stop. Instead, find something interesting. Aim. Shoot. And, when it stops being interesting, stop shooting and point somewhere else. Your short shots will add up to a shorter, more professional video. Continue reading