How to Multi-Task Your Next Video

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Every organization gets maxed out when it comes to communications and marketing teams pushing out video content. There is so much to do, so many events to cover, so many social media platforms to serve.  But there are ways to multi-task your visual and audio assets so that you can whip up videos with less time and overhead, as well as fewer real dollars spent. Here’s how.

  1. Take advantage of having key people sit down for interviews. Consider writing BRIEF teleprompter copy that covers your main theme. These brief remarks can be intercut to form a short promo in addition to your more nuanced interview-driven piece.

    Shoot UHD 4K even if delivering in 1080 for maximum flexibility.

  2. Shoot UHD 4K at a minimum, even if delivering in 1080, in order to have the lattitude to “punch in” on shots without resetting, and to give you space for captions.
  3. Allow time in your schedule–for example when setting up a new shot–to have your sound person go record “wild” sound or “foley” sound. This will offer you lattitude for more nuanced storytelling, and better assets for audio podcasts. You also always want to have time to record “room tone” for every interview set-up.  This will save massive amounts of time in your edit, when you are trying to “patch” between soundbites.
  4. Add a slider to your travel kit. A second camera on a slider makes editing interviews much simpler, and more interesting for the viewer to watch. It’s also a cost saver. Less b-roll coverage is required if you have a second angle to

    Plan for wild sound and room tone for better storytelling.

    go to, for example, and most 2-camera edits go more quickly than trying to make just the one angle work.

  5. Plan how you will tag your sound and media card metadata. Don’t just label your stuff “Day 1, Day 2” etc.  Think about who will have hands on this footage and what information they might need to know. Always include the date, the initials of the camera operator, and the location.
  6. Shoot time of day timecode and include your updated schedule along with any camera notes. This will simplify identifying the shots on ingest and make your edit go more quickly and efficiently.
  7. Always have a team member shoot “BTS” –behind-the-scenes–footage and photos, which are the most shared content on social platforms. This can be done with a video-capable DSLR, or even a smart phone (but use the highest quality image settings). Take advantage of on-the-go sharing tools like Pic Monkey and Adobe RUSH.  Your BTS shares can sometimes outrank the video itself!

    Amy DeLouise is a producer, director, author and speaker. Find more of her tips in her live workshops and in video production courses on LinkedIn Learning

When in Vegas at NAB SHOW

I’ll be spending the week with 100,000 colleagues from around the world in media/TV/content creation, producing my pop-up event #GALSNGEAR, and sharing some of my tips at these speaking sessions

If you’ll be out at the show, I have a few tips from years of navigating Las Vegas for business (which isn’t quite the same thing as going there for fun). One of the big challenges is food, since this is a big event. Luckily you can get discounts with your NAB Show badge . You can also try some of my top local food picks:

1. Lotus of Siam. Excellent, authentic, and seriously spicy–thai cuisine. Try the spicy prawns or the sea bass in any of the three sauces–I had the ginger sauce with mushrooms on Saturday night and it was divine. For folks who love spicy (me!), beware. The scale at Lotus is the real deal. If you ask for 10, you might need a tableside fire extinguisher.

2. Kaizon Fusion Roll. Asia fusion with interesting (and gigantic) sushi roll combinations in a low-key, hip bar atmosphere. Just across street from Hard Rock Hotel but not nearly as pricey as their famous sushi place.

3. Sen of Japan gets rave reviews and is more authentic Japanese, for purists.

4. Pamplemousse Locals go here for special occasion, reasonably authentic French fare. Haven’t tried it myself, so give me your feedback.

5. Lindo Michoacan A local Mexican 3-restaurant chain well regarded, including by my local friend whose wife hails from Mexico.

6. Echo and Rig Pick out your cut of steak, then have it grilled up at the restaurant next door. Talk about “on-demand” dining!

7. Piero’s A Las Vegas institution and close to the Convention Center where we’re all living for this conference. Dinner only.

8. Tamba Indian A family owned place with plenty of tables for big groups.

9. The only Vegas eatery on the strip that makes my list is Beijing Noodle No.9 at Caesar’s. Try the soup dumplings (they’re not IN the soup, the soup is IN the dumplings!) and a bowl of Lanzhou noodle soup.

10. Walgreens. No I’m not kidding you. The food truck lines at the Convention Center can be long, and I speak at multiple sessions with little turnaround time. So grabbing a yogurt or a freshly made sandwich in the morning at Walgreens (there are three on the strip) rather than waiting in line at lunchtime is my go-to solution. And that saves more eating fun and funds for dinnertime. There is one exception–the Indian carry out in South Hall, which is excellent. The only bummer is they have no seating.

I hope to see you soon at NABShow in Vegas!

Amy DeLouise is a writer-producer-author-speaker and foodie who operates out of Washington, DC but travels the world.

Impact Video: Finding Value in Your Media Archives

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Today I bring you a great case study demonstrating how you can bring impact to a very short organizational story–in this case, for an awards event–if you know where to find your archival media assets. This case has all the classic elements: a quick turnaround deadline, a large quantity of assets to mold into a seamless 2-minute story, and me digging through boxes of old archival sources that no one imagined would be part of a future video. I thought I’d deconstruct the process for you, and shed some light on how you can up your game by mining your own media archive to create content for your organization.

Fulbright Prize Introduction from Amy DeLouise on Vimeo.

The project is a motion graphics opener I just produced for the Fulbright Prize event in Berlin, where this highly regarded international prize was given to Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany. As these stories so often start, we had brainstorming meetings about how to tell the history of the prize in 2 minutes. In addition, we wanted to show the breadth of the work of the association giving the prize. Also, we needed to list past prize winners and years. Oh, and show all of their images, some of which were not available in the organization’s archives. Also, we needed to include quotes about the importance of the prize and the value of international exchange from well-known people and prize winners. And…we also needed to incorporate the thematic blue color of the organization’s logo, and create a look and font style that could be incorporated into the print, social, and other materials for the event.

This is all great stuff and just the kind of thing that gets my creative juices flowing! So here was our process:

Step One: Identify existing content that helps tell the story. This involved digging into archives for old footage, transcripts of old speeches, and old newsletter articles. Also pulling together archival images of past awardees, and more recent digital images of association events. We determined in this phase that the quality of archival clips were not good enough to pull footage (and it would make the show too long anyway), so we would look instead for quotes that told the story.

Before the magic begins, we start with raw materials–archival content from a variety of media sources

Step Two: We boiled down the best quotes from the broadest representation of past prize winners, and people who had spoken about the importance of the Fulbright international exchange program, and shaped it into a script. (Note: Scripts don’t have to include spoken words.)

Step Three: We identified the best images of awardees, and then we had to license and request some additional ones, so that we had a full compliment of images of past awardees at the high resolution required for large-screen HD presentation.

Step Four: As part of the image curation process, I pulled together those “action shots” I thought best exemplified the work of the association–as a convener, educator, and source of ongoing cultural exchange.

Step Five: I selected several cuts of music–pacing is critical for animation, and we “cut to the music”, so we have to choose this first. We settled on a piece we felt had rhythm, excitement, and momentum. I also like to lean towards more full orchestrations for videos that will air live in a large space, with quality speakers.

Step Six: Since this was airing abroad, which has different frame rate specs than the US, we sent a test file to the A/V company at the on-site location, to be sure it worked well from their end before we started to animate.

Step Seven (really steps 7 through 10): My graphics team and I went through multiple drafts of the story, honing and tweaking until we–with our client–felt we had the best representation of the story.

Step Eight: We rendered out our final files and shared them, making sure they had been proofed (so many names!)

Step Nine: We delivered the final files via link to the company in Berlin who was running all the A/V at the event.

Final Step: This step hasn’t happened yet, but we need to have the video audio-described, so that a blind or visually impaired viewer can still access this content. Accessibility is not just a matter of captioning, though captions are essential for videos with spoken words and narration.

Here’s the big takeaway: saving your archival assets is essential–you never know when you will need them. Digitizing them at high quality, retaining the originals, and metatagging them with important information is even more important. Your media archive contains gold, if you know where to find it.

Amy DeLouise is a video producer, author and trainer, helping organizations tell their best stories. She has a new LinkedIn Learning course out on Multi-Platform Storytelling, will be giving workshops at NAB Show this Spring (see Speaking page).

Multi-Platform Madness: A Day on the Set

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This week I produced and directed a fun shoot for an international education association. What might appear at first glance to be a simple studio shoot  was really a multi-tasking day that allowed us to gather multiple content streams at once, for later multi-purposing.  Here are some of the elements we shot in less than 8 hours:

-5 interviews with a Canon 300 Mark II camera

-Secondary/side angle of all interviews w/a Canon DSLR camera on a slider

-6 direct-to-camera reads of a brief :30 appeal

-BTS (behind the scenes) video and photos

-Samsung Gear VR footage of our setup

-Hyperlapse time lapse footage of our setup

-Smart phone photos and videos of our day on the set

And now here are all the outputs we can achieve for this client: 

-A short video about the association for their website combining the interviews,  BTS footage, and other existing content from the association

-Social media sharing content using the BTS photo and smart phone content

-A Facebook video campaign using the direct-to-camera content

-An Instagram video campaign using the direct-to-camera content

-Interview transcripts that can be mined for quotes for website and newsletter sharing

-VR and timelapse content that can boost social sharing

 

Planning For Multiple Content Streams

Of course, this all takes advanced planning. You can’t accomplish multiple outputs without having the right people on your production team. You need to have a designated BTS Photographer and ideally a separate BTS Videographer.  These roles are different, but can sometimes be combined as long as you are clear about what you need from each format. You will also need a DIT–Digital Information Tech–who can be offloading, ingesting and verifying your footage and photo media cards as you go, because you will need to keep using cards throughout the day.  That person will also be meta-tagging your shots so you can find what you need for quick turnarounds later. Again, this person could have another role such as production assistant, but you had better be darn sure they really know what they are doing when it comes to media management. On some shoots I rely on my director of photography (camera op) to do this job, but then you have to wait until the end of the day. This means you need to purchase more media cards up front, since you won’t want to “blow them away” until you have ingested, duplicated, and verified all your footage. For a multi-camera shoot like the one we did this week, I did not want to distract my camera guy with that task, so we had our BTS photographer do it because she is also quite experienced at this DIT role. She also pulled up all our footage in a laptop version of Premiere Pro, our NLE (nonlinear editing) platform, so that we could check our colors “in the real world”.

Designing Your Workflow for Spoken Word Content

You’ll also need a workflow plan for your Transcripts. I like to use a real, human transcriber for long interviews or anything involving speakers with accents.  The folks at Noble Transcription do a great job. If you live in a town with lawyers, you can find a transcription service! For quick interviews, Speechmatics is an AI platform that does a pretty nifty job. You might have to correct things like acronyms, which it isn’t good at recognizing. I then import my transcripts into PremierePro using Transcriptives, a new plug-in from Digital Anarchy. Transcriptives attaches speech elements to every clip from the interview, allowing you to build your script, output drafts that everyone can review on paper, and output your final captioning.

Archiving and Future-Proofing

Really, the future-proofing comes in the planning stage. I like to shoot everything in 4K these days. That gives me enough lattitude to compress content for small screen delivery without compromising quality. It also allows me to crop images to 2K, giving me the ability to add a second “angle” without moving my camera.   It also gives me enough color space and pixels to crop unusual specs like the awful Facebook vertical, while keeping high quality color and resolution for larger-screen delivery.  Future-proofing also means ensuring that you have permissions “in any and all media” from all your participants, so you don’t have to go back to them every time you change your output. You also will need to get the right licenses for any music or stock images you add into your final products.  As far as archiving goes, we really don’t know what the next digital medium will be, so the best policy is to save all your content in its highest quality form, without any added text or soundtracks. This will allow you to continue multi-purposing well into the future.

I’ll have a new LinkedIn Learning course on this subject soon, so watch this space for updates!

 

 

How To Make Effective Explainer Videos

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There are three keys to creating effective explainer videos. Whether you need one to promote a for-profit company, product or service, or you are looking to help explain/advocate for a nonprofit enterprise, these are the most important tasks at the outset:

  1. Know Your Target Audience

People often start the video production process, understandably, thinking about their company, their product or their service. But actually, when planning a video, it’s smart to start with your audience. Who is your viewer? How old are they? What language(s) do they speak? Will you need to make your video accessible to the visually impaired or hearing impaired community (and if you are a federal agency, this is required by law.) What does your viewer already know (or not know) about your company, your nonprofit, or the featured product or service? Most importantly, what do you want them to know, and how does it affect their lives? Once we delve into these questions, we can start developing a conceptual framework or creative direction for your video.

  1. Know the Viewing Environment

Some of my work gets shown on giant screens at big events. Many of my videos get viewed on a smart phone. How we approach each project—from the visual design to the audio planning—depends largely on the primary viewing screen and environment. For example, if you think someone will likely be watching your video in a fairly quiet, home or office computing environment—let’s say for a training video—then we might use graphics that move pretty quickly and some fun music. If, however, this is a video that might be watched on a smartphone without the audio on, we’ll need to plan a design that has impact with only subtitles.

  1. What Do You Want the Viewer to Do Next?

When working in the fundraising and nonprofit arena, you often want the viewer to Volunteer Their Time, Write a Check, or encourage others to Get Involved.  If you are selling a product or service, you want someone to Click and Buy. These are very specialized goals that require the right kind of crafting of the story and message, because causing behavior change can be quite challenging. Usually we (or your in-house marketing team) spend time in pre-production interviewing people who are the target market, or in the case of a nonprofit have become involved as volunteers, to find out what triggers made them care.  We also may spend time out on location, meeting those people who have been affected by the product, or by the work of the nonprofit so we can hear their first-hand stories and scout the location to figure out the best way to show impact on the screen.

This pre-production preparation is essential to successful storytelling. Only then can we craft a design, the messages (script), a production timetable and budget.

What about some examples?

The video at the top of this post is an animated explainer I produced for a children’s hospital, to ensure families engaged in rounds while their child was in the intensive care unit. We had to translate this into multiple languages, thus the choice of mouth-free animated icons.  Animation by David Fuchs at RHED Pixel.

 

Here’s a fun US Postal Service explainer using what we in the production business call a “practical” visual effect (in other words, a real effect created on set, not done through the magic of post-production) to accomplish the visual “flip”. (Shot by Matt Gottshalk)

Here’s an animated explainer I created for an issue advocacy organization, in the style of the famous Monty Python graphics, in order to capture attention at a large membership event.  Animation by David Fuchs at RHED Pixel.

Here’s a fun stop-motion style explainer about a subject that isn’t always fun–dental care–produced by Rachel Rasby, with co-producer, Julia Hoppock, and cinematographer, Lee Gillenwater at the Pew Trusts.

This video for a farewell gala was created entirely in After Effects from archival photographs, interspersed with some original graphics and quotations that we solicited from supporters about the leader of this performing arts organization.  Animation by, you guessed it, my favorite animator David Fuchs at RHED Pixel.

What about costs?

It’s best to set firm parameters for you project, including the number of reviews you want to be able to have, whether you want live-action or animation, and any significant or quick turnaround deadlines, plus the target length. I know 2 minutes seems short, but it is double the number of frames of a one-minute video, so can take twice as many resources! For the purposes of this blog post, and based on my years of experience, I can give you some fee ranges.  If you’re project is entirely animated, and you have a very small team helping to guide the project and do reviews/approvals (i.e., there aren’t layers of bureaucracy or board members etc who might make significant changes along the way, thus adding to time and costs), then you can get an explainer for as little as $5,000-$7,000. Remember that on the low end of the scale, you must be sure any quote you receive includes proper licensing of any stock graphics, photos and music!  (Be VERY skeptical if someone tells you they can produce an explainer for much less than this.  I’ve seen some websites advertising $500. The professional rate per day for an editor or graphics designer and their equipment is this amount, and that’s just an average rate and doesn’t include time for scriptwriting, storyboarding, meetings with you, and working with your team to research and verify the factual content to be included, not to mention the creation or licensing of music, hiring and directing a narrator, etc.)  On the higher end, if live-action videography is involved, for example, because there are impact stories and interviews to be filmed, perhaps with travel to various locations, then you are more in the $20-25,000 ballpark.  Many videos will fall somewhere in between, and with a streamlined internal process for content design and approvals , you can get a quality product for about $12-15,000.

The opportunities and the options are endless with video. So start with 1, 2 and 3, and then engage some professional help to get you across the finish line.

Amy DeLouise is a writer-producer-director and love to explain things using video!

 

NAB Wrap Up Webinar

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What happened at NAB? Join me as we review the emerging industry trends in an IBC365 Webinar today with Carolyn Giardina of the Hollywood Reporter,  dock10 CTO Paul Clennell and IHS analyst Przemek Bozek. Join us TODAY APRIL 18 as 4pm UK time (8am PDT / 11am EDT / 5pm CET) Click here for the webinar

On the show floor at NABSHOW 2018

 

Eating Well at #NABShow

This week I’ll be headed out to Las Vegas with 100,000 of my best friends in media, TV and video production for the biggest conference and technology showcase of the year, NAB Show. Many of us who are not on expense-account budgets will need to find good spots for dining, so here are my favorite places to eat well without breaking the piggy bank.  If you have other suggestions, please let me know!  Also, if you are headed to NAB, please check out my workshops during Post|Production World and don’t forget to stop by the always exciting #GalsNGear main event on Tuesday morning–a networking coffee thanks to Adobe and Blackmagic Design followed by a dynamic session with cutting-edge gals in UAV, AI, 360, VR, and post and more than $10,000 in gear and software giveaways. An event not to be missed!

Alright, back to my food picks:

1. Lotus of Siam. Excellent, authentic, and seriously spicy–thai cuisine. Try the spicy prawns or the sea bass in any of the three sauces–I had the ginger sauce with mushrooms on Saturday night and it was divine. For folks who love spicy (me!), beware. The scale at Lotus is the real deal. If you ask for 10, you might need a tableside fire extinguisher.

2. Kaizon Fusion Roll. Asia fusion with interesting (and gigantic) sushi roll combinations in a low-key, hip bar atmosphere. Just across street from Hard Rock Hotel but not nearly as pricey as their famous sushi place.

3. Sen of Japan gets rave reviews and is more authentic Japanese, for purists.

4. Pamplemousse Locals go here for special occasion, reasonably authentic French fare. Haven’t tried it myself, so give me your feedback.

5. Lindo Michoacan A local Mexican 3-restaurant chain well regarded, including by my local friend whose wife hails from Mexico.

6. Echo and Rig Pick out your cut of steak, then have it grilled up at the restaurant next door. Talk about “on-demand” dining!

7. Piero’s A Las Vegas institution and close to the Convention Center where we’re all living for this conference. Dinner only.

8.  Tamba Indian A family owned place with plenty of tables for big groups.

9. The only Vegas eatery on the strip that makes my list is Beijing Noodle No.9 at Caesar’s. Try the soup dumplings (they’re not IN the soup, the soup is IN the dumplings!) and a bowl of Lanzhou noodle soup.

10. Walgreens. No I’m not kidding you. The food trucks at the Convention Center are long, and I speak at multiple sessions with little turnaround time. So I will often grab a yogurt or a decent sandwich in the morning at Walgreens (there are three on the strip) rather than wait in line at lunchtime. And that saves more eating fun for dinnertime.

Alright, you’ve got my picks. I hope to see you soon at NABShow in Vegas!

Amy DeLouise is a writer-producer-author-speaker and foodie who operates out of Washington, DC but travels the world.

#FemaleFilmmaker Friday: Saving Sea Turtles

Filming in the cold Cape Cod sunset.

For #FemaleFilmmaker Friday, I’ve brought you an interview with Seattle filmmaker Michele Gomes, co-founder and Creative Director of InterChange Media who I was lucky enough to meet at an #NABShow several years ago.  I produced an interview for her project Combating Ebola, a series of emergency response videos that aired throughout West Africa. We talked about her new feature length documentary, Saving Sea Turtles, co-directed with her production partner Jennifer Ting. The film won the Green Spark Award at the American Conservation Film Festival.

What got you interested in the plight of the stranded sea turtles?

I grew up in Rhode Island and spent my summers swimming in the Atlantic and I’d never heard of sea turtles swimming off the shores of New England. Then, during a visit to the Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Cape Cod, we met a naturalist who told us that the rarest sea turtle in the world was washing up cold-stunned (hypothermic) annually every November and December and dozens of people were volunteering to go on patrols to save them.  So we decided to rent a place for 5 weeks in order to capture this phenomena.

Did you set out to make a full-length feature doc or did the project evolve?

The project definitely evolved. I was interested in filming the conservation efforts and finding out what was going on with the sea turtles. Jenny wanted to make a film about the naturalist, who she thought could even make a good host for a television series.  We both agreed we needed to capture what a “sea turtle stranding season” was like. After being on the ground, witnessing an environmental crisis—the largest sea turtle stranding in Massachusetts history–and seeing how the local community came together to try and save 1200 sea turtles, we knew we had to tell the whole story. The species is Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, and marine wildlife specialists and volunteers are working hard to prevent them from

Filming hatchlings on the beach, helped by volunteers.

going extinct.

What were some technical challenges that you and Jenny faced with production and what were your solutions?

​While we brought a lot of equipment, we were not prepared for the weather conditions during the winter on the Cape. The patrols happen after every high tide, day and night. The first time we went on a night sea turtle patrol, we had plans to shadow a retired private school teacher named Nancy Rabke.  The wind was so intense that when she came over to our car I could barely get the door open and she had to fight to wedge herself into the car and said, “I don’t think you should come out with us tonight.  The wind is just too strong!”  We completely agreed. Cape Cod is an enormous sand bar that sticks out 60 miles into the ocean and the sand gets wiped around by the wind and it can be painful.  If we had tried to film that evening, our lens would have been destroyed and we wouldn’t have captured the rest of the events as they unfolded.  So we had to adjust and be patient and practical.

Because of the wind storms and the volume of sea turtles that got pushed ashore, everyone around us was overwhelmed and dealing with the unexpected.  So we had to think and move fast, be resourceful and ask lots of questions without getting in the way.

We also lost the main character because he ended up having a major health problem just when the mass stranding was taking place.  So we shifted our focus a bit and found another lead. Luckily, this story didn’t rest on one man’s shoulders. The film reveals a community network that involves thousands of people from states all along the eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as from across the US and Mexico.   

Michele with a 50 lb juvenile loggerhead sea turtle that she had just carried off the beach. It survived and was later released. The 275 lb female sadly did not survive.

Every documentary hits financial challenges. How did you approach the funding?

This was a passion project of ours, so we mainly ended up funding it ourselves.  We tried a Kickstarter campaign, but didn’t reach our goal.  We applied for grants but didn’t receive any.  Getting funding for a film about conservation is notoriously difficult.  It is not typically a flashy subject.  Women ​Make Movies in NYC became our fiscal sponsors so anyone who wanted to donate money towards the film could do so through them.  ​

Are there any tools–camera rigs, workflow management tools, etc.–that you used that made the process easier?

Go-Pros helped us to capture the underwater footage we needed as well as helping us to put the viewer into the footsteps of a volunteer (think pre-VR).  We discovered that the shoulder rigs we rented were too heavy and didn’t fit our bod​ies, so we went with hand-held except for sit-down interviews. ​

Not only do you have to be technically prepared, but you also have to be mentally prepared.  I’ll never forget the moment about a week before the production began that I realized that we will not only be shooting live sea turtles, but dead ones as well.​  Being prepared to expose yourself to some potentially traumatic content/experiences can be helpful.

What is your top piece of advice for any first-time long-form documentary makers?

​Be sure you are focusing on a subject that is meaningful and inspiring. If it is a meaningful subject, you’ll get it done no matter what obstacles you face (financial, time, technical, etc.)  Witnessing the dedication of the sea turtle patrol volunteers going out at 3 AM in 20 degree weather in harsh conditions inspired us every step along the way. We finished the film to honor their work and to help out with the plight of species. So in the end, we felt good about all the work we put into the film and we are so grateful that we get to share it with others.  Also, Jenny and I put down our cameras to help save sea turtles and that was a transformative life experience.

Any final thoughts?

Be sure to bring your post-production partners into the project early.  We’re so happy that we had meetings with an animator well before the film was in picture lock.  The more you can prepare your post-production team the better.  Talk to everyone about your film because you never know who is going to make a great suggestion.  It was our roommate who recommended our narrator and we were blown away by our experience working with a living legend, Dr. Sylvia Earle.  Creating a feature length documentary is a time- and energy consuming commitment. Our film took 2.5 years + and was demanding work.  Not only are you a filmmaker, but you have to be a social media expert, distributor, promoter, web designer and endless advocate.

Amy DeLouise is a Director-Producer-Filmmaker. She will be giving production workshops and hosting the #GALSNGEAR livestreamed discussion at NABShow in Las Vegas in April.

 

 

 

 

What Makes a Great Video Info-Graphic?

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Trick question. The important query is WHY? Why will this information be better conveyed through graphics than through, say, a more documentary approach with powerful interviews or a personal story? Why will the audience care more about the content when this infographic ends? Once you’ve answered why, you can get to WHAT.

Info-graphics for Issue Advocacy

Sometimes, infographics can be used to tell a powerful emotional story that must convey facts and figures but also turn that data into advocacy. In this wonderful piece called The Girl Effect, music plays a powerful role in drawing us into the story line. By the end, we want to take action!

Info-graphics to Inform

Sometimes the goal is actually to DE-personalize highly emotional or difficult content, so people can absorb it and act on it.

In this info-graphic video I produced for a children’s hospital, we decided to use animated characters rather than interviews with doctors and nurses. Our goal was to help parents of very sick children admitted to the Pediatric ICU understand how to better participate in their care. Our creative team and consulting parent advisory group decided that parents already see enough “talking heads” in the ICU, so that our piece would take a different approach with friendly characters and a friendly, soft-spoken voice-over. We also wanted to be able to translate the graphic into multiple languages. The finished info-graphic appears on monitors at a child’s beside, part of an internal “TV” system within the hospital.

Infographics for Branding

TIAA (formerly TIAA Cref) decided to hedge its bets and use both the personal story approach and an infographic one to roll out its new brand. Here’s a look at the TIAA brand story using real people and commercial-style footage:

https://ispot.tv/a/A2bc

Here’s the same brand in an info-graphic approach:

https://ispot.tv/a/AMee

Right away, the first difference you notice between these two cuts is the music. While one approach is poignant, the other is in your face.  My guess is the creators decided there were two audiences to reach—one an older person thinking about the next generation, and one a younger person looking ahead to their future. The two distinct approaches work well for each audience.

One of the great things about infographics is that you don’t necessarily need to make way for a narrator. As with the TIAA piece, a brief story told entirely without spoken words can get across not just your message, but your brand personality. In this case, the creators are trying to tell us “TIAA is an up-to-date institution. This is not your father’s TIAA.”

Info-graphic Workflow

Whatever approach you decide, infographics require a very specific and disciplined workflow in order to stay on budget.

  1. Define the Look. You need to decide the approach, which might take a few rounds of “look boards” before you come to a decision.
  2. Define the Specs. It’s important before starting any video project—animation or otherwise—to determine the output specs from the start. What is the screen size and frame rate? Will you be showing this on a big screen from a ProRes file or on the web from a Quicktime or H.264 file?
  3. Whether or not spoken words are involved, there is still a written script that tells the animator exactly what happens in each frame. I often use approximating clip art or stills to help the artist understand what I’m going for.
  4. Key Frames. These are still frames that map out the entire story line before it’s animated. Settling on the right key frames for each part of the story will save you from costly re-animating expenses.
  5. If the story has a narrator, this must be tracked as timing with animation is precise to fractions of a second. If there is only music, this still needs to be settled on so the timing works precisely. (If there is going to be a post-score, then the artist may still want to work to what is known as a “temp track” or even a “click track” to keep the pulse exact.)
  6. Once script is locked, soundtrack is in and script is approved, you’re ready to start animating your sequences. There may be several approval rounds within this step.
  7. Final output and mixing. Getting back to those first specs, you’ll need to output whatever versions you need for live events, online, email campaigns, etc.

 

Amy DeLouise is a director/producer and author of the book The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera (Focal Press/Routledge).

 

 

How to Set Your Rates for Creatives

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As a creative freelancer, one of our toughest challenges is how to set rates. Here are four ways to set your pricing. You can use a combination of these approaches, and sometimes may need to make adjustments depending on your career goals or the needs of a specific project.

  1. Market-Based Pricing – Market-based pricing is generally driven by two key factors: the number of vendors available (supply) and the amount of work (demand). But there are other variables at play. For example, if there are union rates for this job or service in your area, that may affect the typical rate charged–it usually improves it. Or, there may be pressures on the market, such as seasonal demands. Becoming an active member of a local association or meetup group — in my area of Washington, D.C., TIVA and Women in Film & Video , in NY and LA the Blue Collar Post Collective (BCPC)— is a great way to develop friendships with colleagues and learn about trends in your market. The BCPC conducts an annual rate survey which is a great tool for our industry.
  2. Value-Based Pricing – Using this model, the price of your services are driven by the value the customer puts on your work. For those with more experience in a particular subject matter or style of content, value-based pricing can work well. Value-pricing also works if a client really wants a particular team in place for a project and you have the track record to deliver what they need.
  3. “I Need This Job” Pricing – Of course there are stages of every career where you accept a rate lower than you might otherwise because you are trying to gain experience, try your hand at a new skill or tool, or secure work in a down market.  I would just warn that you don’t want to do this very often, or you are likely to get stuck at the lowest rates (and bring everyone else down with you.)
  4. Salary-Based Pricing – Wait, we’re talking about freelancers, right? So why would the term “salary” apply? Well, you may want to set your day rate by determining the amount of money you’d like to (or need to) make divided by how many days you are likely to work. This is not a hard and fast rule, but a good way to see if you are going to make your financial goals. If not, you either need to raise rates, work more hours, or perhaps garner more skills that prospective clients want.

 

These are excerpts from an upcoming Lynda.com course of mine on Freelance Work Strategies for Video Producers and Motion Graphics Designers. Let me know if there are topics you’d like to see addressed!