October 3, 2012

7 top video editing tools for nonprofits

How to edit video in house with tools that fit your expertise

This is the second of a three-part series on nonprofits’ use of video. Also see:
• Part 1: What to consider when investing in video
• Part 3: Video for your cause: Getting giddy over Viddy

Guest post by Kyle Henri Andrei

Before the digital revolution, videos — like still photographs — were actually shot on film. Editing them involved cutting out individual frames and splicing the filmstrip back together, a tedious and expensive process that resulted in lots of little plastic squares on the cutting room floor. You also had to move through all previous footage to reach the scenes you wanted to edit, more or less requiring you to edit the film in the order in which you shot it.

Today, software makes editing digital footage faster, easier and much more affordable, and puts it within reach of anyone with a personal computer. Even better, digital video editing is “nonlinear,” which means you can access the scenes you want to edit directly. This helps speed up the process, especially for a short, Internet-ready video for which you just need to trim off the ends and add a title screen or two. 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

August 9, 2011

16 tips for making video interviews come alive

nonprofit video


How your nonprofit can capture the best stories on camera

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

This is part 2 of a two-part series on video storytelling. Also see part 1:
How to find amazing, powerful stories for your nonprofit video

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstStories are a great tool, which nonprofits too often don’t take advantage of. Whether you’re running a campaign or conveying your organization’s mission by spotlighting the people you help, you should be thinking about how to find stories that move people to action.

Once you uncover those stories, it can be hard to get people to tell them on camera and to get the details needed to make an awesome, powerful story. But by following the suggestions below, you can come away with great visual stories that should resonate with your community. And remember, a photo collage with a voiceover can be just as effective as a traditional video.

The following are tips from people who regularly make videos for social good, including Chris Yates of Huddle Productions, Cara Jones of Storytellers for Good, Tritia Pocci, who has created strategy for marketing media content, and Danielle Bernstein of Clear Films.

1Understand your goal. Think about what you want to accomplish with the video: Enlighten people about a cause? Move them to action? Don’t muddy it up with multiple missions. Have a plan.

2“Research, research, research,” Pocci said. Take the time to be inspired, know your subject and figure out what will work in your video.

“Interviews can take on a life of their own, and sometimes that is where the magic happens.”
— Tritia Pocci

3Keep it really simple. “Start with a simple storyline, get clear about the message you want to communicate and visualize the most concise way to convey this message through an interview beforehand,” Pocci said.

4 Don’t bring notes to the video session. This will help the person on camera feel more at ease and will cut down on distractions. “Subconsciously they’ll think they’re being interviewed and they’ll clam up,” Yates said. So just memorize a few key points that you want to cover. Adds Pocci: “Interviews can take on a life of their own, and sometimes that is where the magic happens.”

nonprofit video storytelling

5Don’t have the person look directly at the camera if your subject will be sitting down. Place yourself to the left or right and have them look at you. This will help them feel more comfortable as they talk.

6Work with only a two-person crew: a videographer and an interviewer. “I generally start these conversations while the videographer is setting up and just have him or her tap me on the shoulder when the camera is rolling,” Jones said. But remember: You can be your own crew, too, and do a one-on-one interview.

7Use people who want to be on camera. “They are generally the most articulate and comfortable,” Jones said. Continue reading

June 10, 2010

Create video stories for your nonprofit in 6 steps

How to be a videoblogger on Vimeo.


An expert provides hardware & software tips to make it easy

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, social activists, NGOs, citizen journalists. This is part of our ongoing series designed to help nonprofits learn how to use and create media.

Guest post by Sharon Vaknin
New Media Labs

With YouTube pumping out 2 billion video streams a day, one thing is clear: Video matters. Although it may seem intimidating, using video as part of your nonprofit’s online presence has become surprisingly cheap and easy. If your nonprofit isn’t yet using the power of video, this post will help you discover how simple it is to get started.

Video is an important component of telling your organization’s story — and it’s not as hard to do as you might imagine. I met David Spark, owner of the custom publishing company Spark Media Solutions, at his “How to Be a Videoblogger” workshop in San Francisco. We gathered at a small cafe as he discussed hardware, software and video shooting techniques. In this 8-minute video, you’ll get a quick guide to how to get started in video.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo
Watch or embed the video on YouTube

Here are five tips on how to get started with video:

Get equipped

The Kodak Zi8, which retails for about $145.

1You’ll need a high-definition camera to start shooting. David recommends handheld Flip recorders such as the hi-def Flip Mino, the Kodak Zi8 or the Sony Bloggie. These pocket camcorders are ideal for on-the-go shooting, as they have a long battery life, offer auto-focus and don’t have any moving parts. Most of them are cost $145-$200. (We like the Zi8, which is slimmer and offers 1080i high-def recordings.)

Higher-end camcorders (aka prosumer models) are more expensive but produce higher-quality video and provide additional controls, such as zoom, white balance, audio out and headphone jacks. Check out the Canon Vixia line ($450 to $800). In addition, digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras can usually shoot high-def video in addition to still images.


2You’ll need a light for shooting in low-light situations, say, at a party, cafe or other indoor space. Grab the Sima Video Light, a cheap (about $30) solution that’s comparable to lights that can run into the hundreds of dollars. If you can afford it, a good alternative is the Litepanels Micro (pictured at right), which you can buy online for about $250. Continue reading