What are the key trends affecting jobs in film and content production? This was one of the questions I answered in my recent talk at the University Film and Video Association annual conference—a meeting of college educators. A couple of the trends I spoke about affect not just job-seekers, but those of us already working in content creation, plus any company or nonprofit producing their own content.

Two key trends are affecting all content creators, from small nonprofits to streaming networks: remote workflows and massive amounts of data.

Remote work is here to stay.

Let’s first talk about remote work.

I’m not just talking about Zoom meetings here. In our content creation world, remote work preceded Covid, and new technologies accelerated our ability to do everything from remotely dive into a sound mix session to allowing a director to see what the camera sees without being on set. In addition, we use tools allowing clients to give us feedback asynchronously directly onto a video timeline, and these tools got even more sophisticated during Covid. For example, ADOBE tools allow us to begin editing with temporary video files directly from the camera before we even arrive at the edit room. And systems like the Teradek, which I often use so that I can see what the camera is doing when I’m sitting near-set. But paired with an encoder and decoder, we can bring that signal to a client or producer sitting several hundred miles away.

What does this mean for content creatives and the people who hire us? We need to be extremely organized and good at self-management. And each of our team members must also be motivated, organized, and able to deliver their components of our workflow whether or not we’re sitting in a room together. Everyone also has to be excellent at communication. Even if our happy place is working alone, successful creatives must be able to collaborate and synchronize the vision—often very quickly.

The Teradek can be paired with a variety of devices to give us a remote view of the shoot.

The second trend is data.

So. Much. Data. We can shoot terabytes of data on a single shoot with multiple cameras. So it is no longer realistic to have the junior production assistant or intern function as a DIT (Digital Information Tech) on set. We use people who have real expertise in how to tag the metadata, organize the files and ensure everything is getting backed up properly. We can’t afford to lose track of anything in the transition from the shoot to the edit. There is so much data that Netflix recently released a list of jobs on set and near set that are involved in the management of data from field to post. In addition, we have many clients who like to update and revise various videos, to give them a longer lifespan. That means we need to be systematic about how and where we archive our projects, so that we can bring them “back to life” at a moment’s notice.

Both of these trends mean that successful creatives, no matter what our job description, need to be massively organized, and always thinking ahead about how we can work smarter to deliver our best creative results. That’s what my team and I try to do every day. And we’re excited about all the students learning the ropes, and entering the workforce to join us in the near future.

Data management is a big part of the workflow in professional content creation.

 

What trailblazers inspire me?  For International Women’s Day, I immediately thought of five world-changing, badass conservationists I met recently—women working in biodiversity hotspots to save their local habitat, species and communities to help save our planet.

As global citizens, we’re so lucky to have women like Awatef Abiadh working in North Africa, Ingrid Parchment working in Jamaica, Leah Mwangi in Kenya, Martika Tahi in Vanuatu and Le Thi Trang in Vietnam—check out their videos to learn more about the challenges they face and how they are bringing communities together to save biodiversity.  Biodiversity hotspots are Earth’s most biologically diverse yet threatened terrestrial areas. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) empowers civil society organizations–with leaders like these fearless, focused women–to manage the global biodiversity crisis at a local level, one initiative at a time.

One of the great things about being a digital storyteller is learning about people who make a difference in our world, and thanks to @Interface Media Group (IMG) I was lucky enough to get to know these five inspiring women and their incredibly important environmental work, partly funded through grants from CEPF, as part of the IMG production team which produced the CEPF Hotspot Hero Awards videos and the entire virtual awards event where all 10 heroes were celebrated. Let me take this opportunity to shout out the incredibly talented creative team at IMG, including Director of Experience Design Jordana Well, Senior Project Manager/Line Producer Frankie Frankavilla, Director of Visual Effects Dave Taschler, Editors Luke Blackwell and Abbey Farkas, Sound Designer Dennis Jacobsen, and Sound Mixer Pavel Sinev—it takes a village to create great content!

You can watch the entire virtual awards event produced by IMG here and learn more about the important work of CEPF, their global partners, and all the Hotspot Heroes.

 

It’s brand planning time! Photo by Unsplash.

“We should do more with our brand” is the lament of a lot of busy nonprofit, corporate and association communication professionals.  Here are three ways to boost your brand engagement this  year.

  1. Engage Stakeholders in Social It’s not enough to have staff schedule regular social media posts. Build ways for your donors, your customers, your board members to engage with your brand story. Give shout-outs to the people who help your organization deliver on its mission, and be sure to tag them. Give tutorials to members of your leadership team who might not be as comfortable with social on ways to engage across platforms. Send emails to board members with a link to your latest LinkedIn post and ask them to comment on it and share it to their channels. Every share expands your community and the impact of your brand.

 

  1. Ask Influencers to Share. The social tag is the modern equivalent of getting an autograph, but actually more useful for your brand. When one of my nonprofit clients gave a hospital tour to Justin Bieber (and encouraged him to tweet about it, which he did), they got 10,000 new followers in a matter of hours. Find out if any key personalities or well-connected board members are already known to your institution and encourage them to make a social mention or tag your organization. You can’t hit them up every time, so make thoughtful decisions about when it would be most important to have this extra amplification, such as before a major event or fundraiser.

 

  1. Create Platform-Friendly Content. If you want your content to be mobile- and web-friendly, make it a priority to upgrade your acquisition and output specs. For new video content, shoot in High Def, at a minimum of 1080p (29.97 frame rate, or 24fps which looks nicer in many cases and saves you some file space) but optimally at 4K for maximum flexibility and image quality. This larger acquisition size takes up more space, but storage is cheap. And you can easily make 1080p versions of content for web distribution. Whereas having your fabulous year-end video look dated and pixelated on your social channels when 5G is fully in place is an expensive mistake. For photos that you might want to re-purpose in videos, be sure you prioritize horizontal framing, not vertical. And if you want to post photos to IG, then you’ll need to collect vertically-framed scenes, too!

Merry Branding in this (relatively New ) Year!

Photo by Chris Yang, Courtesy Unsplash

Think Big Picture First

If video is part of your content plan this year, it will be important to start by stepping back and think big-picture as you budget. Why? Because budgeting project-by-project is inefficient in terms of time, audio/visual “assets” and money. You’ll want to consider all the assets you collect for any project to be resources for the next projects. So for example, maybe you want to create some short and snappy Tik Tok videos. While you’ve got people in front of the camera, could you also be creating testimonials or other content for longer videos?  If you are videotaping speeches at a conference, could you also have a roving crew capture in the moment footage of participants, or set up a booth for attendees to tell their stories? And once this footage is created, don’t just use it and lose it. Plan to archive it in such a way that other content creators in your organization can locate and repurpose this footage (see my January post on this topic). In other words, build a content library that reflects your brand, your mission, your organization. (Pro tip: get interviews transcribed so that you can find and use excerpts more easily across media, and for easy captioning.)

Set Realistic Parameters

It’s best to set some realistic parameters for your video project, including the number of reviews you want to be able to have, whether you want live-action or animation, and any specific turnaround deadlines. Without these, I can just give you some rules of thumb on cost. 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), then you can get an explainer video produced for as little as $4,000. Live action videos tend to start at about $10,000 for a video with one day of shooting, and go up from there depending on number of shoot days, length and complexity. Be careful about “we can make your video for $500” pitches. Most of the time, these videos ending up being boilerplate creations that don’t really fit the bill for most organizations.

Watch Out for Hidden Costs

Remember that either you or your production vendor must use properly licensed music or stock images.  You don’t want a DCMA takedown notice requiring you to prove you own various licenses in order to get your video reinstated. There are lots of creative and affordable libraries for this type of content, and an experienced producer can help curate just the right image or song mood to augment or support your production. If your organization produces lots of videos every year, it’s probably more affordable to purchase a blanket license, which gives you a certain number of downloads or usages for a flat rate.

Another hidden cost is unusable footage. Meaning, if you are acquiring video for multiple purposes, the best way to future-proof it is to acquire in the highest quality–4K UHD. Even though lots of organizations are still using videos on the web for online events, for example, at some point soon we’ll be back in person and you’ll want to project that video on a big screen. Footage shot at 1080 won’t look great and anything you recorded at 720 over Zoom will be blurry. So think long-term to avoid costly reshoots.

What Variables Go Into a Video Budget?

Pre-production should be one of the biggest categories for any video budget. And it’s a big red flag if a vendor gives you a budget with little to no pre-production time in it. Our team typically spends several days, if not weeks, of planning for every shoot day. If live-action videography is involved, for example, then our pre-pro time is made up of location scouting (virtually or in person), pre-interviewing subjects, writing a rough outline or story arc, writing a shooting script (which might include “fantasy soundbites”), compiling a shot list, developing our gear list, and planning for any travel.

Production categories include director and/or producer on set, audio, video and lighting crew and equipment, media cards and laptop for backing up footage.  If travel is required, most crews charge ½ to ¾ of their usual day rate for each travel day (since they are basically fully booked and cannot take other work on those days). If producing in a studio, we might add fabrication of sets, wardrobe needs, or the purchase or rental of props into our production budget.

Post-production categories typically include voiceover recording and narrator fee, editing (a minimum of three rounds–rough cut, fine cut, final cut), graphics, music licensing, sound design and mixing, and color grading. For a short nonfiction video, my team plans on at least 1 day per finished minute to get to rough cut, 1 day per finished minute to get to the fine cut, and then ½ day per minute for the final delivery. So a five-minute video could take several weeks from the start of editing to delivery.

The opportunities and the options are endless with video. So start with your big picture needs, be sure to cover your bases on licensing, and engage professionals to help get you across the finish line.

If you want more details about how to produce a video for your company or organization, try Amy’s newest LinkedIn Learning courses. If you message her on LinkedIn, she can unlock a segment for you for free!

It’s that time of the year. So what gift do you get for your favorite media-maker? Here are some of my favorite things (hint, hint, family!).

Low Cost, Small Cameras and Rigs

The OSMO Mobile 3 hand-held gimble can help you create motion shots with your phone.

These days, content creatives are really multi-platform producers. We are simultaneously creating content for social platforms, live and virtual events, the web, streaming channels and more. So we need as much coverage of a given shot sequence as possible, plus BTS (behind-the-scenes) for promos. Several cameras fit the bill for an affordable price. Priced under $500, the Insta360 1X2 can augment any production, giving you added angles for social media and BTS. The micro-sized Insta GO2 is another option if want a motion camera you can drop in your pocket! For $99, the foldable DJI Osmo Mobile3 gimbal turns your phone into a mini Steadicam that can give you some added motion and flexibility for video storytelling. Or for just under $350, you can get the DJI Osmo Pocket with integrated 4K camera to add extra motion and angles to your next project.

Drones!

For advice on favorite drones, I turn to my friend and award-winning producer, editor and master trainer Luisa Winters, co-owner of Mid-Atlantic Drones.  She tells me she loves her DJI Mavic Pro 2, which she uses to get those classic, cinematic shots for a wide range of clients. DJI has since come out with the Mavic Pro 3. If you don’t want the Pro price tag but still need those soaring shots, the DJI Mini 2 is a solid, affordable choice.

Here’s my friend Luisa Winters with her many drones! (The Mavic is the white one)

I love my Blink 500 that allows me to record good audio wirelessly at distance from my phone.

Sound Matters

Without good audio, picture is less than half of the story. Luckily there are plenty of great audio tools on the market today. The Saramonic Blink 500 Pro B2 is just one of those tools, and a “favorite thing” of producer/director Danilda Martinez of Datzi Media. With an 8-hour battery run time, this 2.4 GHz dual wireless system offers broadcast-quality sound for 2-people to cameras, mobile devices and more for just under $300. Whether you conduct interviews, are a podcasters or Youtuber, this portable, lightweight dual mic system includes a charging carrying case and shoe mounts for any camera. If you’re solo vlogging and don’t need a 2-person setup, I’ve been really happy with my Saramonic Blink 500 with one wireless remote for $169. They offer systems for both Android or iPhone.  When I’m not using my Blink to connect to my camera, I actually plug the lavalier into my Blackmagic ATEM Mini to record webinars and zooms. (See how I did that? Got another great item onto the list!)

The Blackmagic ATEM mini pro is a great switcher for podcasts and webinars. You’ll never “screenshare” again!

Lights, Action!

Video lighting has been getting smaller and more portable for a decade now. And there are several fixtures that can serve as a nifty last night of Hanukkah gift or Christmas stocking stuffer. Producer Danilda Martinez loves her Aperture MC lights. The MC lights are part of the Aputure M-series. This one fits in the palm of your hand and can be mounted using the built-in 1/4″-20 threaded mounting hole or—and this is pretty cool—you can attach it to metal with its built-in magnets! You can control it from your mobile phone or tablet, selecting a color temperature from the color range between 3200 to 6500K, in increments of 100K.

The Rugo mounts onto any camera or drone.

Another great small light tool is the Rugo Mini from Fox Fury. I’ve been throwing these lights into my run bag for a while now, and they are a life-saver. A Rugo can work very well in lieu of a “pepper”—the term for a small light fixture–to throw some extra love onto a background feature of a scene, or light up a dark interior for a b-roll shot. But a Rugo Mini can do so much more. About the size of your fist, these small lights come with a bag of mounts and adapters, making it possible to mount them on a drone, on a DSLR camera or on a traditional light stand. They are also battery-powered, have three interchangeable lens settings (spot, area, flood). And—get this—they’re waterproof. They are always on my holiday list.

Asynchronous Video Edit Feedback Software

Getting feedback from clients on works in progress is one of the most challenging parts of the job as a video producer. Luckily there are several tools that pre-dated Covid workflow that got even more sophisticated, to help us along.

The main go-to in the industry these days is Frame.io, which recently got bought by Adobe. One of the coolest features of Frame is Camera to Cloud, which means you don’t even have to wait for your files to arrive in the edit room to begin reviewing shots. Immediately after your camera records the originals, C2C-certifed devices capture high-quality, low bandwidth H.264 proxy files with matching timecode and filenames that live in the cloud.  (You still need to back up all your data in the field, people!)

Notes are never easy, but with Frame.io, everyone can see frame-accurate comments.

I’ve been using both Frame and Wipster.io for many years. Their integrated review panel for Adobe Premiere and After Effects means my editors can see comments right in their timelines. They can also share their work-in-progress directly from the timeline.

Vimeo has come up with similar features for reviews. But their real strength lies in the Video Library feature which is targeted at teams that may not themselves be video producers. Inside the branded Video Library, an organization can house all their videos and livestreams in a single place—divided into handy folders—so everyone can find the content they need.

 

As you can see, our industry has a vast array of wonderful tools to help storytellers succeed. I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season.

Here’s me, taking some scouting footage and photos before a recent shoot

Location production is back! With vaccination rates rising and locations opening up, the need for ample preparation for your next on-location video is critical. As a producer, I spend much more of my time in pre-production than in production. And if I’ve done my job right, post-production (editing, music, graphics) will also go smoothly. Here are some of my go-to strategies to ensure a successful project before we step out onto location.

1. Location scout for audio, not just video
Often when we scout locations, we are looking. Looking for the best lighting, looking for a relevant background for an interview, looking for a great establishing shot to capture the story. These are essential. But we often forget to listen. How loud is the location? Will it be louder at a particular time of day? How will that affect any interview we conduct here? Google maps is helpful to us in many ways, even when scouting remotely for sound. By using satellite view and street view, for example, we can identify high traffic roadways, nearby firehouses, and other potential audio issues like RF interference which is common in tall, urban office buildings (and requires a wired rather than wireless lavalier setup for interviews).

2. Plan ahead to move fast
With more content creation than ever, we video producers need to move fast when on location. But we also need to be smart. Adding just a single person to the shoot—like a production assistant who can refill parking meters or a grip who can set up the lighting for the next shot while the previous one wraps—can allow your team to gather twice as much quality footage in a day. The added expense is more than offset by less frustration in post and less need to turn to stock images or do a reshoot to fill gaps.

3. Make an acquisition and distribution format plan
Decide before you shoot what metadata you want included on files. “Day 1” is not a great tag, FYI. You can also avoid problematic reworking of files if you know from the start what kind of distribution platform you will be using. This might be multiple platforms—like pushing a video to YouTube but also cropping parts of the video to a different aspect ratio for social shares on Instagram. Up-scaling always introduces quality issues, so if you’re not sure about delivery at the start, better to shoot at a higher resolution (aka 4K) and downscale afterwards. It’s also important to consider frame rate (24fps and 30fps are standard, but the latter creates more frames to compress). And, you’ll also want to consider whether to shoot in LOG or RAW and color grade afterwards in post, or to “bake in the look” with a setting like Rec 709. These are all important conversations to have well before the shoot, as they may affect equipment decisions for camera and lighting. And camera equipment dictates audio configurations in many cases.

4. Logistics
Logistical planning ahead of time is part of what allows the creative to happen on a video shoot. Everything from ensuring the crew has a location to park and load-in safely to organizing the lunch order ahead of time ensure your shoot goes smoothly. If you have a whole series of interviews scheduled, be sure to plan a little turn-around time in between so the crew can reset the shot, and stagger your schedule so each person has time for makeup and/or for you to review their wardrobe without a rush.

I’m thrilled to get back out “into the wild” for video creation. It’s going to be a great rest of the year!

 

Feel free to reach out to me about your next video production (see sidebar). 

Photo by Unsplash

If you’ve been creating content for virtual meetings and events this year, then you know that you need to maximize the impact and longevity of your content, even after the meeting. In this blog post, I’ll talk about how to plan engaging content that helps you maximize impact, amp up your next virtual or live event, and ensures audiences engage with your brand even after your event is over.

  1. Ensure Video Content Fits into a (Virtual) Event Story Arc

So many times we create content for the wrong reasons. Maybe “Cherie needs to be in the video” because she’s an important stakeholder in the organization. Or a particular sponsor needs to be featured. But how do you connect these stories to the story you are telling in your event? Each event needs its own story arc, a narrative that you want attendees to come away with once the video cameras are off. So as you build your virtual content, ask these questions:

How do the various videos we want to share fit into our overall story?

Is there a way we can make them fit better?

Can we break longer videos up into smaller portions –“snackables” — to tell our story on social before and after our event?

It’s important to map that out, and find appropriate places for different narratives that feed into your larger story.  If something doesn’t fit, you might need to find an alternative. For example, often sponsors have multiple videos they’ve created about their products or services. Perhaps one fits better than others with your target attendees. Sometimes I’ve even been able to get sponsors to create a more customized version just for us. This way, attendees don’t feel like that content doesn’t fit with our bigger story. And anyone viewing your event afterwards online will also find a cohesive message.

  1. Engage Audiences as Communities Post-Event

Sometimes you need to deliver different content to different communities in different ways. That means planning ahead to create multiple versions of some videos you want to feature at your event. For example, you might share a 1-minute version of a member story for an association event, but then post-event, share the full 4-minute video. And post-event, what opportunities are you offering participants to engage with one another to share the impact and continue important conversations? Perhaps you create an event alumni Facebook group. Or invite attendees to join a monthly Zoom chat which you can kick off with a new impact story, to jumpstart the conversation. Or perhaps you want to engage your community post-event in some important policy action through an email campaign that contains links to several different content strands. Audience members are people, and your event is just one touch point to build a sense of shared purpose and continued connection.

  1. File Formats Best Practices for Video

If you are producing a hybrid or virtual event, you’ll likely have a number of different content elements to bring into your delivery platform, then share again afterwards. Most platforms are still only streaming at fairly low bandwidth depending on your subscription level, so don’t overwhelm the system by trying to play back 4K video. You could end up with audio out of sync and heavy digital drag.  If you have high resolution assets, make lower resolution compressions and test them in advance on your platform. Typically, 1080p mp4 files compressed for Vimeo or YouTube spec will play back just fine.

If you have speakers who will be sharing videos, be sure they play back these sources natively from their presentation computer (and whoever is hosting that session should also have a backup copy on their desktop.)  And don’t wait until your event to find out how they will look. Have speakers who want to share videos practice sharing in a test session. I recently attended a virtual concert where the speaker tried to play back a performance from her YouTube channel, which caused a lot of unnecessary lag and choppiness. She could have shared the source file with no problems directly from her desktop. And be sure any video content you want to play back through your event platform—such as sponsor videos, intro videos, or highlights—are also tested through the platform. You can always share higher resolution versions through your website, YouTube channel or Vimeo channel post-event.

 

Amy DeLouise is a producer/writer/director specializing in branded content for virtual and live events.

Whether you host a podcast or are creating video content, interviewing is essential. Here are some of my experiences and tips for working with VIPs, Celebrities and Experts.

Some of the most nervous and challenging subjects I’ve worked with on camera are celebrities, CEOs and subject matter experts. These are the very people you’d think are fairly comfortable in front of cameras.  Yet it’s worth remembering that not every celebrity loves cameras. The reasons can vary widely, and it’s useful if you can do your homework to be prepared.

For example, I once interviewed a brilliant scientist who shared in our pre-interview that he had ADHD, a condition which had eventually led him to a career in science to unlock the genetic secrets of the human condition. This scientist admitted that he was unlikely to stay focused for more than five minutes at a time. He was right. I had to let him get up and check on experiments and talk to colleagues in between every question. Flexibility is sometimes the key to a happy interviewee, and thus a better interview.

A brilliant conductor was another fascinating and tricky interview subject. Having worked with her for many years, I was not surprised that she almost directed our production from her seat. Allowing an expert to feel in control is often a key to creating a successful interview dynamic, even though you are always keeping track of the story arc and important points you want and need to draw out for your particular audience.

I once worked with a Very Famous TV Personality whose name shall not be included here. That’s because her on-screen bouncy persona was a far cry from her real approach, which was difficult and anxious. Her assistant was equally challenging. We had to do many takes, some of which I had to carefully cajole out of her, because I realized no one on her team was willing to admit to her that she had made some mistakes. Yet I knew that she would want a perfect take, and wouldn’t approve anything less (and frankly, neither would I). When conducting interviews with experts, VIPs and celebrities, part of your job is also managing feelings, and managing the managers.

As an interviewer, director or producer, you need to be ready for everything.  Your best weapon is knowledge. Your second is patience. And for challenging VIP’s, the crew or tech team needs to be 100% on their toes, with no chit-chat. Everyone needs to exude the confidence that you will make this person look and sound their absolute best.

 

This blog post is partially excerpted from my content creator’s guide The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera (Routledge Press).

 

Remote feeds during the #GALSNGEAR Tech Talks segment that I produced and hosted from my virtual office in DC, with switching and production took place from Broadcast Beat’s studios in Florida, during NAB Show Express online conference.

If you’re confused by all the many tools of virtual event and content video production, you’re not alone. Here, I will set out to briefly demystify some of the different components and tools for creating, encoding and distributing content remotely.

Virtual livestreaming and switching platforms

Zoom, WebEx, Skype are some of the livestreaming platforms we are all familiar with by now, so I won’t go into their features. Manycam is another dedicated streaming tool useful for those teaching remote classes, for example. ManyCam allows you to stream live videos on YouTube and Facebook simultaneously, and includes a mobile app for Android and iPhone. As this useful review explains:  “This program acts as a middleman between your webcam and whatever application you want to connect it to. It could be Facebook Live, Twitch Livestream, a Skype video call, and much more.” Streamyard is a newer player, recently acquired by Hopin, and a bit more sophisticated. It allows the user to add subtitles, put links on the screen live, and engage guests using a robust chat feature. And you can use it to stream your video content directly to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other platforms.

Virtual event management platforms

Managing a virtual event requires much more than the live streaming/switching function. You need a way to track tickets and users, provide captioning and translations, build out spaces for sponsors and more. Some event organizers have cobbled together solutions by combining tools like Eventbrite for ticketing and tracking audiences with the services of Rev.com for live-captioning on Zoom.  Socio, Bizzabo, Hopin, and Aventri are some of the players who offer integrated event management elements with ticketing, tracking, metrics, translations, post-event content storage, and more.  For example, Socio provides a way to segment your audience for access to different sessions and push notifications, interactive mingling areas, and a sponsor hub.

Mootup has intrigued me for some time.  They’ve put the focus on creating a VR like experience without a need for headsets. The platform offers a gamified experience where each participant selects an avatar that can move through conference spaces such as an auditorium for presentations, breakout rooms like the firepit, virtual tradeshow floors and more. And it integrates with Zoom, so speakers can present from the traditional Zoom app directly to the 3D audience.

Pro tools for switching and encoding multi-source content for streaming

If your organization is building in-house production and streaming capabilities, or producing an event that requires a broadcast approach to multiple feeds, then you have many tools to choose from.

Blackmagic Design offers a great series of affordable professional production switchers, as well as the bargain-priced ATEM Mini and ATEM Mini Pro for smaller setups with fewer sources. (I use the ATEM mini when I present, so that I do not have to rely on the “screen share” functions of Zoom or other platforms.)

On the higher end, Talk Show VS4000 is a multi-channel video calling system designed to simultaneously connect you with up to 4 remote sources and give you full audio and video control over the signal and what happens next.

A Tricaster has long been the standard for in-studio switching, and can take a signal and push it to YouTube, Facebook, a website, or an external encoder. It will work with Zoom, WebEx, Teams or Skype. The Tricaster can also ISO record audio and video, and has the ability to handle mixed format inputs.

Video encoding systems such as Teradek can save you bandwidth if you are encoding a large amount of content for streaming to an online platform like Youtube, Twitch, or Facebook. A Teradek encoder can also be used on set so that a remote producer or interviewer can monitor the live video feed on an iOS device for confidence or directing local configuration.

This is just a brief overview of the tools we use as live and virtual event and content creators. I hope it’s helpful as you navigate our new world of virtual and hybrid event production. Please reach out to me if I can help you with any remote, live or hybrid content creation this year.

Amy DeLouise is a virtual and live multi-platform content producer. She’ll be speaking this week at the Remote Production Conference. Use this link for 10% off your registration!

 

You’ve got some interviews lined up for a company video. Maybe you’ve already got a list of questions. But will you be able to turn those soundbites into a compelling story? Before filming, you may need to do some brief writing. Namely, a short creative brief, conduct some pre-interviews, and develop a story arc. As a professional video scriptwriter and producer, here are a few of my top tips for some writing that will help your video end product.

  1. Creative Brief. What’s the look and feel you want to convey? Who is your target audience? And what are you trying to get them to feel and do after watching the video? What are the delivery specs and what platforms will it play on? Who has final approvals? What’s the budget and timeline for delivery? Detailing the answers to these questions is essential before you roll on any footage. Often, I like to add storyboards to my creative briefs, so everyone can discuss looks and agree on a visual style. You can use tools like Storyboarder Plot or the more high-powered Frameforge. You can certainly reference other videos on YouTube, but be careful. If you don’t know the budget and timeline of those projects, you could be setting a goal you can’t achieve. And don’t forget that even a crappy sketch can help everyone on the team visualize the look!
  2. Pre-Interviews. Whenever possible, conduct pre-interviews. If you’ve pre-interviewed someone, you can build rapport in advance of lights-camera-action. You can also get a sense of key stories and anecdotes and how to approach your questions. You’ll also get a sense of their personal style, which will again help you conduct a better interview. A solid story arc drawn from these interviews should include a brief introduction or back story, a key challenge or turning point, and a resolution. And ideally also an opening hook. (I’ll leave that for another post.) By pre-interviewing your subjects and thinking through your story arc in advance, you’ll get better soundbites and avoid missing an important element.
  3. Story Arc. Now that you’ve got the lay of the land in terms of who your main characters are and the stories they can tell about your subject, you can start to lay out a possible story arc. This doesn’t mean you can’t stray from this idea once you are in the editing room. But a solid story arc can help you decide which questions are most essential when you have limited time for interviews. You can also start to understand what additional visuals you might need to tell the story, whether they are stock images, archival content, or b-roll.  For my video projects, I like to have these elements in my story arc:
    1. An opening hook—something to grab the viewer and get them into the story.
    2. Background – an extremely brief explanation of what we’re talking about—which can come from interview soundbites or a narrator.
    3. Central challenge or conflict – every story needs some tension, even nonfiction. What created change in the central character’s life? What did the product do to change the world of the customer?
    4. Resolution – Some final thoughts or a resolution of the central challenge gets you to the end.
    5. Call to Action – If you are making a fundraising or advocacy video, there may be something you want viewers to do after watching. “Get involved by clicking this link” etc.

You don’t have to be a Hollywood screenwriter to make your interview-based nonfiction story better. But you will find that doing some writing in advance of filming will improve your video storytelling and impact. In an upcoming post, I’ll talk about taking the story arc plan and transcripts and turning them into an editing script.

For more details on video scripting, see my LinkedIn Learning course http://bit.ly/HowtoScript