When Video Goes Bad

In 1928 When Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport invented sliced bread, people thought this was a pretty big deal. A few years passed and then in 1976, JVC won our hearts with VHS. The internet arrived in 1989, and blinded with excitement we persevered with low-quality video and slow download speeds, hoping for things to one day change.

Even in 1993 when High Definition Video’ was officially invented, we couldn’t really imagine how we would ever benefit from a few extra pixels. However, everything fell into place when the clever people at the phone companies decided we needed faster online connections and ‘broadband’ became the hottest word on everyone’s lips. The ability to upload and watch video online was a revolution and the web soon became awash with poor quality home movies…

It wasn’t until 2009 when Apple decided that we all needed something called a ‘tablet’ when ‘streaming video’ became really exciting. Combined with a 4G connection, the heady mix of video and your mobile device was a marriage made in heaven.

Fast forward a few years and nobody talks about sliced bread anymore. ‘Video Marketing’ is today’s buzzword. Any business who isn’t marketing themselves through high-quality Video Production is missing a huge opportunity to reach a global audience. Or at least, this is the perception.

This simplistic view of how video content became the weapon of choice for marketers obviously only tells half the story. When professional cameras were the size of a small child and had more buttons than a jumbo cockpit, nobody in their right mind would consider picking up one and shooting a promo‘. These days we find more technology in our camera phones, than in many early broadcast cameras. But as a wise man told me recently, “just because you can cut your own hair, doesn’t mean it looks good!”

“8% of businesses will try and make their own video content”

Faced with the dilemma of wanting a video for your website, but knowing that professional quality comes at a cost, brings the temptation to just ‘do it yourself.’ Let’s be clear, ‘user-generated’ content is something that should be encouraged; putting video at the heart of your digital marketing strategy can make a huge difference to how you reach, attract and maintain online audiences.

When is it right to shoot ‘in-house’ video?

Acknowledging capability and managing expectation is key. Whether an in-house marketer or a manager accepting this responsibility, understanding when and where to deploy ‘home-made’ content is critical. If the requirement is to support blogs, ad-hoc company news or internal communication, then audiences will be far more forgiving than say, when they watch your Promotional Video on the company homepage (where production standards must equal your brand and organisational values). Knowing when to ‘call in the professionals’ will avoid wasting time, money and potentially the damage you may cause your reputation.

“70% of businesses use a combination of outsourced and ‘in-house’ resources”

If you do decide to ‘have a go’ yourself, here’s our ten-point checklist to keep in mind when you approach your production:

1. Keep video simple: Don’t run before you can walk. Start with a small production, getting used to the camera controls and understanding your limitations.

2. Create a production plan: Write yourself a brief and list the key messages your video should aim to communicate. Keep in mind the ‘objective’ and the content should stay on track.

3. Video duration: There’s a tendency to try and pad out your production with as much information as possible. Chances are most people won’t watch till the end, so get your point across as quickly as possible.

4. Build a narrative: Everyone enjoys a story, so seek to build a narrative into your production. Even if it’s just a blog, consider how you structure the message and aim to create a compelling start, middle and end.

5. Master sound quality: There are few things worse than poor sound. People may tolerate a badly composed image, but they’ll switch off straight away if it’s inaudible.

6. Video composition: First rule of Film Club: learn the ‘Rule of Thirds.’ Read it now!

7. Camera shake: What’s with the ‘Blair Witch’ shaky picture? Invest as much as you can in a tripod that will give you the ability to pan without camera wobble.

8. Lights: There’s a reason the saying goes ‘Lights, camera, action…’ Make a set of lights the most important weapon in your armoury (and then learn how to use them).

9. Shoot ‘cutaways’: Material supporting the interviews or narrative, couldn’t be more important. Be sure to capture as much content as possible that will add visual interest to your production.

10. Deploy, deploy, deploy: Video content that isn’t viewed is like leaving a Ferrari parked in the garage; pointless. If you go to the trouble of producing video, work twice as hard to promote it and share as much as you can.

This should only ever be a guide. Like any craft, mastering the skills to produce high-quality video content is a life long journey. Practice as often as possible to develop your production skills.

Where required we can train your organization the skills required to create and deploy content of a standard high enough to share, where perfection may not be necessary, but quality must be satisfactory.