Budget conscious video planning

Sitting down and planning out a video project can seem challenging, especially if you know the budget is smaller than you’d like. One idea to consider is re-purposing the video. Most event videos, which are created to be played one-time before a large audience, will be posted to an organization’s web site or given out on DVDs, so they usually have a productive second life. Other content can be more challenging to place.
About Us videos are great for home page web content and can be played at trade shows and at job or career fairs. With the low-cost of LCD/LED monitors, I’m betting more companies will add screens in lobbies and waiting rooms, which adds another playback (and marketing) option as well.

Walkin' small picWhen we work with our clients during the planning phase we often remind them to think about the future … we suggest they think about what extra video content that can be recorded while our crew is on site. We have our gear, we’re going to be on location, what b-roll or cover video can we capture during our visit? Shooting additional outside or exterior footage during the visually stimulating summer months really makes sense. Why not  take full advantage of the green grass, leafy trees and the flowers when they’re in full bloom. That video can be used when putting together a project during the not so picturesque months. What may take a little extra time to shoot in the summer (possibly using our jib) can be a big time and cost savings in the future. That extra b-roll helps build out a healthy library of content every editor dreams of having.

And for the producers creating educational content, don’t forget about the interviews. If schedules allow and you have a sense of the content and script direction, spend an extra 30-45 minutes to set-up and record an interview with your expert. The timing may not be appropriate, but if it is, the time and budget savings could make it worthwhile and you’ll have the benefit of some extra content.

So the next time you sit down to think about a video project be sure to think about the future  … consider your next project and let us help  you save time and money!

– Jim Johnston

Messege sent

Communicating. A simple glance or subtle gesture can be a significant form of communication. Flipping though magazine ads its easy to recognize the message advertisers are attempting to convey, messages that will heighten product awareness. And if you look deeper into the product images, the colors or wording you may discover subliminal suggestions to reinforce a theme or emotion.

When storytellers choose video as their medium there are a number to subtle ways to communicate a message, a theme or mood that can be driven by the music, by pacing and transitions, just to name a few. All of which can be communicated in seconds before a single word is spoken. It is those nuances that video editors utilize to build a framework. The written or spoken words play a significant role in the overall message but our sense can’t help but be affected by the style and tempo of music, the pacing of the edits or the transition used between shots. Each choice helps determine the mood or style of the video and message.

And its no surprise that music from the 80’s and 90’s are making a comeback. That positive feeling you get from a  familiar song is an emotion advertisers are looking to transfer to their product during a commercial. The same is true with imagery and visual locations … like bustling scenes of New York or a crowded bar that conveys energy.

Words may tell the story and be the driving force but the numerous other methods used reenforce the message being sent and effect how it’s received.

-Jim Johnston

Look Mom, I made a Corporate Video

My mother has no idea what I do.  I’ve worked in some form of video production since 1989, yet I have failed to communicate to her the basics of my profession.

See, to my Mom – I just can’t say “corporate video.”  When I do, I get that “Oh, that’s nice” answer from her – which really means, “I have no idea what my son just said.”

Truth be told, most people are not really sure what to make of Corporate Video.  “Oh, you do commercials?” – is normally the first response.

Actually, we shoot commercials, but the bulk of our work is telling stories.  We translate corporate messages into stories using the medium of video.

Sometimes the story is about the need for a cancer center outside of the Boston city limits.  Other times it’s a tale of how one world-renown institution teaches Science to students who are legally blind.  We also find ourselves producing a video where a Hall of Fame pitcher now goes to bat for kids in need.

So maybe I have to show my Mom what I do, then she’ll understand.  For that, she’ll need to go on-line . . . that of course, is whole new story.

– Jay Dobek

The Twist is a yummy treat

The marketing geniuses at Oreos (Nabisco) have truly outdone themselves. Oreos Daily Twist images are so fun and creative I’m surprised the creamy white center hasn’t oozed off the web pages!
In the same vain as Google doodles when they updates their page to incorporate meaningful inventions, historical moments and famous birthdays, Oreo has taken that idea and created an “Oreo” image or animation based upon some event of significance on that date. Each image is cleverly crafted and include audience interaction with motion. My favorite so far is the July 23rd entry where the viewer can control their Oreo as it cycles through the Tour de France stage landmarks, as other Oreos spin past your pedaling Oreo. A great, simple concept … and there are so many!

Its no surprise Oreo has more than 27 million Likes on Facebook and 47,000 Twitter followers. The idea is simple yet very thoughtful. The creativity is as fun and pure, very much like the black and white cookie. Its genius with a twist … served with or without milk.

I’m already looking forward to tomorrows Daily Twist treat.

-Jim Johnston

1.8 Million reasons

I enjoy reading and I’m betting most of you do too. Finding the time to read during our busy days and weeks can be challenging. It can take a week or two to finish a 250-300 page book you really enjoy reading.

After reading a recent Forrester Research report, the question I’m asking myself now is why take the time to read when I should be watching more video.

Research has shown that ONE minute of video is equal to 1.8 MILLION words! Considering an average book contains 70,000 – 90,000 words, that would mean one minute of video equates to reading 20 books! And the retention of seeing and hearing a message is 3-6 times greater that reading or only hearing a message. Impressive.

We’ve watched successful fundraising campaigns be anchored by an emotional and very powerful video messaging.  Because it just works.

The depth of information and emotion that can be conveyed and retained in one minute can make a huge impression … or 1.8 million!

-Jim Johnston

Now hear this – 5 steps to record better audio for video

If you watch enough web video it becomes pretty obvious that poor video quality seems to be everywhere. Thanks in part to the gazillion videos on YouTube, we’ve been saturated with so many shaky, poorly shot and produced videos that low quality seems to be the norm. It seems those lower standards for the general population has opened the door for businesses to post lower quality video content on their web pages too.

But what happens when you stumble across a video with bad audio? Like when the voice sounds are too low or crackling, or there’s extraneous noise and you’re strain to hear what the person is saying. If you’re like me you click away … and that is a lost opportunity! I’m always surprised when I see business and professional organizations who compromise their reputation by posting poor quality videos on their website or Facebook page. But I’m even more surprised when I witness BAD audio that can usually be avoided.

Capturing quality audio seems to be a lost art and it shouldn’t be. Recording audio with a camera mic is just not acceptable unless the camera has something to say!

Here are 5 simple things to consider when setting up to record audio for video:

1. Use a lavalier mic or boom mic with a stand. When using a boom mic position the mic stand arm in front of and over the interview subjects head and point the mic at their chin. This one step will go a long way towards getting the audio you desire.

2. Limit extraneous noise by staying away from high traffic areas, open windows, rooms next to elevators and closing doors. It seems obvious but it should be one of the first considerations when selecting a shoot location.  When in an area where there are some unavoidable sounds, put the interviewees’ back to the sound and be sure to have the microphone placed as close to their mouth as possible.

3. Avoid large rooms with an echo. If you hear a slight echo when setting up you will certainly hear it when your editing, then its too late.

4. Careful placement of a lavalier microphone. Lightweight fabric, necklaces and jewelry will move and rustle, creating too much noise if the interview subject adjusts even slightly, which creates unusable audio. It may seem awkward to ask people to run a microphone under a tie, blouse or collar but the benefits will outweigh the potential embarrassment.

5. Using headphones is required! A set of headphones that cover your ears will block out most  other sounds and allow you to focus on the audio you are capturing. Ear buds will work in a pinch but investing $25-$75 in a quality set of headphones will go a long way to hearing the problems so you can work to eliminate them.

Hopefully these tips will help. If you’d prefer to call a professional … look no further, LMP is always happy to help!

– Jim Johnston

 

Give ’em what they want

Talented speech writers and presenters work tirelessly to create compelling content for their audience because they understand we all want to be entertained while hearing their message. You’ve sat through more than one boring, flat presentation that didn’t connect with you or the audience. If the presenter had taken time to consider the audience when crafting the message the results would be more favorable for all involved.

When in the discovery phase of creating a video project, a couple of items to consider: who is your target audience and what do you want them to know. Building on those elements and keeping a consistent message will be key components to create  a successful video. Add a well thought out creative concept and you’ll create a winning formula for your audience and net you the results you want.

Another factor to consider is keep it brief. Our culture communicates in short texts, Facebook posts and tweets of 140 characters or less. We’re expected to tell a compelling visual story in 2 to 3 minutes or less! And brevity is not a trend. Our collective ‘video attention span’ continues to gets shorter and shorter, so it is paramount to be on target and concise!

If you do the pre-production work upfront with a plan to maintain your creative message, satisfying your audience won’t be an issue. You’ll  hit ’em between the eyes!

-Jim Johnston

Welcome to our new virtual home

The name Last Minute Productions (LMP) started as joke in college.  Everything I did was exactly that — last minute.  So I injected humor into what could be a stressful situation and gave my work habits a name, “Last Minute Productions.”

In 2005, I found myself able to embark on what I always wanted to do — work for myself.  Finding the name was easy —  finding work was challenging.  Slowly, companies came to trust me.  As the jobs got bigger, I needed help — someone to handle the writing and producing.  Lucky for me, Gary Gillis was peddling his own company and was more than happy to help out.  We were fortunate and had opportunities to work with some amazing companies, including  The Home for Little Wanderers, Memorex, Catholic Memorial, and a number of hospitals throughout the state.

In 2007, Gary and I became partners and took LMP from a DBA to LLC.  Along the way, we’ve learned the meaning of plenty of business acronyms and what it takes to be successful in a competitive market like New England.  There are a lot of good video production companies in our area, so it goes without saying that price and quality matter.  What we always want to excel at is client relations.  We understand deadlines (it’s in our name).  We get that budgets are tight but standards are high.  Video can be hard work, long hours — we make sure that during every stage, no matter how stressful, somehow we will put a smile on our client’s face.

Maybe it’s because we have the privilege to shoot in cancer centers and schools for the blind that we  know not to take ourselves too seriously.

When Gary and I began this adventure, our offices were in my vacated step-daughter’s room and my dusty basement.  We now have a “grown-up” office space in Needham, Mass., which houses a studio and two edit bays.  One of those edit bays belongs to an extremely talented editor/compositor name Ryan Mecheski.  We also added another partner, Jim Johnston.  Jim and I were roommates in college for a year — he might have been the first person with whom I shared the joke about “Last Minute Productions.”

The first website we had was built on trade — Springsteen tickets.  Today, we proudly show off our new site.  Thanks to the good people at SPIN350 — spin350.com — we can now easily add new videos, write blogs, and post photos of our dogs.  (We are very happy about the last part.)

Thanks for finding us on the Web and reading my first blog. I promise the next one will be so much better.

Take care,

— Jay Dobek