Casting a promotional line

When you really get down to it, creating and presenting promotional material is like fishing. I’m no expert angler, but I know this, if I want to catch your ‘choice’ fish, you need the proper bait. So I guess the real questions is . . . who are you trying to attract and why?

Last Minute Production promotional video

Relevance promotional video

Spending some time wrestling with that question can help create promotional content to make people curious enough to want to know more.

In earlier posts we’ve written about understanding your audience when creating and presenting a video and the same holds true for a promotional video. The main objective is to give your viewer a sample of your service and entice them to act, which may be visiting your web page, learning more about your product or service, really any call to action.

Many promotional videos are short and snappy, with an upbeat pace while getting to your message quickly while conveying some emotion, as that is what will make your audience react and take action.  The end game is always to create some form of action, even its only to learn more.

As a videographer I always think images first but you would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you didn’t lock in a solid script before working on the visuals. As always, the visual images should mesh with the script. Develop the script from viewers’ (potential client’s) perspective, thinking about what will entice them to want to learn more about you . . .  show them, entice them and make them want more.

For a few examples check out our Promotional Video page.

Thank you for reading.

-Jim Johnston

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

Five easy tips for using a teleprompter

I am not a public speaker but enjoy speaking to small groups and have found it’s much easier to speak to a larger group when I have a crutch, like a PowerPoint presentation to follow along. But relying on the crutch can have its pitfalls. The same is true for using a teleprompter.

A teleprompter is a great tool for making presentations to camera, but as the topic expert, you need to acts like it and not just read like it. Here are 5 tips to help improve your performance with a teleprompter.

1.  Writing Your Script 

Most importantly, write your script to be spoken as you would normally speak and NOT as you would write. Keep in mind that your audience will hear your words and not see them, so it’s important to write in a conversational way. And use real world examples you feel your audience will identify with … it will make you more comfortable too.

2. Practice, practice and practice but don’t memorize

It’s important to have a very good handle on the content and flow of your address and know what your keys points are so you can emphasize those but you don’t want it to sound rehearsed. Re-read and rehearse to the point of knowing but not memorizing the presentation. Feeling comfortable with the content will allow you to focus on #3 …

3. Show passion, energy and warmth

By now we’ll assume you have a solid handle on the content and flow of your presentation, its time to focus on passion! It may feel odd but most people need to add a like extra energy to their delivery to camera to really show the passion and warmth your audience will respond to. If its appropriate, show a genuine smile as you start and end of your recording. And try to keep the energy high throughout, which can be a challenge. Use bold,  CAPITALIZED or underlined text in the script to help emphasize key words and remind you to keep the energy up!

4. Be yourself – use non verbal communication

What sets you apart from others is your personality so let it shine through during the presentation. You’ve written a conversational script, you’re feeling comfortable with the content and are ready to deliver it with passion and warmth. Act as you would when talking with a small group of friends, be animated, move your hands and feel comfortable enough to show facial expressions. And always remember to look your audience in the eyes, which in this case is the lens on the other side of the teleprompter screen … all of this will make your message more believable and you’ll connect with your audience.

5. You’re the expert, relax and enjoy the experience!

If you make presentations regularly then using a teleprompter should be a very useful tool, enjoy it! Allow your personality and knowledge of the content to shine through. The words on the screen will guide you through your message – have fun with it. You’re audience will feed off your energy and find you more believable.

If you are not used to addressing an audience, live or recorded, remember you are making this presentation because you are the expert.  And this presentation will prove it! Take a relaxing deep breath  just before you begin, focus your eyes on the teleprompter screen and enjoy the ride.

Good luck!

-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

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

Cookies

We love cookies, especially chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin but when it comes to business we can do without the cookie-cutter approach.
While surfing the web I’ve noticed a trend of “package pricing” for corporate videos and testimonials, which I find to be nothing more than a gimmick. Yeah, it sounds great but what are you really getting in return for the “package price.”
Its our belief that every business has its own unique story to tell and that message should be crafted based upon many factors, including who your target audience will be and what you’d like them to know. Understanding those key two elements will help build a framework, supported by a variety of elements, such as: interviews, testimonials, audio narration, graphics and/or animations plus music, just to list a few.
At LMP we believe there are so many options we can utilize to build a cohesive and well thought out video message worthy of your company’s partnership. We would never sell it as a package with a cookie cutter approach … that would be a recipe for disaster.
If you’d like to learn more about what we could cook up for you please let us know.
Thank you for reading!
-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

 

Take advantage of the mobile explosion

Everywhere you look people are using smartphones. Standing in line for coffee, waiting for an appointment or walking down the street, their heads are down, eyes focused and thumbs are tapping frantically. Phones like the Droid, iPhone or Galaxy have become a commuter or frequent flyers’ constant companion. I have to admit being a little envious when my neighbor showed me his recent purchase, an HTC with a stunning 4.3-inch screen.

There’s no denying our appetite for mobile technology. There are over 100 million smartphone users in the U.S. and 30 million current tablet computer users, which is expected to climb to over 90 million by the end of 2014.  Those numbers are huge! Cisco reports that 52% of all mobile data was consumed by video, which means people are doing more than checking news, weather and Facebook updates.

Combine those use habits and stats with a growing 4G/LTE high speed data network and there is almost no limit to what a smartphone user can consume.

From a business perspective, we are all consumers. For B2B or B2C, that means more opportunity to entertain and inform using video. Customers and consumers are watching video at a rapidly growing rate. Those same people are making informed decisions, influenced by word-of-mouth, reviews and video views. They are selecting their doctor, buying a car, choosing where to bank and how to donate their money.

The growth trend of mobile video viewing is undeniable. How do you plan to reach your audience? The screens and eyeballs await …

– Jim Johnston

Video is everywhere …

Every now and again I’m asked “so why should I use video?” Where to begin, there are so many reasons …

Let’s start with technology. We’re living in a time when we’re all connected to the internet 24/7. A culture has emerged where we (customers and consumers) are looking up information on our computer, tablet or smartphones constantly. Google and Wiki have become the portal to find instant answers and information. It’s that culture, supported by blazing data download speeds, that has propelled video to be consumed by all, even bad video … just ask Rebecca Black.

That ‘connectivity’ baseline has led companies to the realization that customers and B2B clients can and will consume any information available, beginning with the more entertaining form: video. Each day 4 billion videos are watched on You Tube alone! And we’ve learned that a well produced video can be incredibly effective, not only delivering a message but conveying emotion and information which can inspire viewers to action.

We are all customers and consumers and can learn about products and services by watching reviews, product launches and how-to videos. Savvy marketers are using video in a variety of forms including powerful testimonials, to educate their audience, and to raise brand awareness.

As our appetite for video has grown, so have the searches for learn about a business, to entertain audiences, videos that tout a specific service and even inform remote employees with simple messaging.

One of the most powerful and successful uses for video is honoring community members and motivating audiences during fundraising campaigns. Non-profit organizations have limited opportunities to recognize the efforts of volunteers but need maximum impact.
It’s that type of lasting impact and emotion that video can provide which has viewers searching for the play button.

– 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