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Have you ever been to a block party?

When all the cars are gone, a fantastic play space emerges.

We still remember the open street before they set up the bouncy house.  A shared car, driverless world?  Pretty wonderful to imagine.  Honda takes us on a magic journey across that world.  Let us know your reactions.  A share from Cresta Creative.

When all the cars are gone, a fantastic play space emerges.

I still remember the open street before they set up the bouncy house.  A shared car, driverless world?  Pretty wonderful to imagine.  Honda takes us on a magic journey across that world.  Let us know your reactions.



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How to Make a Great Video – Final Tip

The Process – Choosing the Right Production Company

If you are considering commissioning a corporate video project and you have decided to use a professional producer, here’s how we would go about it if we were the client – if we were you.

Let’s assume you already selected a handful of potential production companies you want to contact.  First, request samples.  Make sure they are complete samples of their projects, not sizzle reels.  You are not buying a sizzle reel; you are buying a complete production.  You want to see all the elements of the video production – the quality of script, of editing, of photography, of use of music and sound effects, of graphics, of on and off camera talent and how all these elements are packaged to affect you as an audience.  Is the message clear, direct and effective?  Are the interviews believable?  Does it make you want to watch more?  These samples should be recent.  They should be varied in not only the subject matters but the styles and approaches.  They should be the work of the key members of the team that you would be working with.  Watch at least three.

If you like the samples, you can request an initial phone conversation or send a formal RFP.  A lot of people tend to rely too much on emails in this process but we think it is important to talk to a real people.  You are buying a quality video production but you also are buying a relationship.  Have an actual conversation with them.  Talk about your vision for the project.  Be candid with them.  Good producers will appreciate that.  And after a good dialog, if they “get it,” you’re likely to get what you want in the end.

The key is to find the good fit.  Think of this exercise as building an extended communication team as opposed to hiring a supplier.  Finding a good partner whom you can trust and whose knowledge and experience you respect is critically important.  Building a positive working relationship with a production company not just for one project but for the future projects will help you in a long run.

Commission a treatment, schedule and budget.  This will be invaluable as a means of keeping the project front and center with your management team.

A side note.  We, professional video production companies, have one favor to ask of you the client.  If you are bidding the project with multiple companies, be honest with us.  To create an intelligent treatment that is useful to you to make the right decision, takes time and effort.  And if you decide to work with someone else, let us know that too.  We will appreciate your candor.  The second worst thing for us is never to hear from you after submitting the proposal.

Most of all, have fun!  Making a terrific marketing and corporate video should be an upbeat, interactive, positive experience for everyone.

We are passionate about every aspect of the process of making a successful video project.  We feel strongly that there’s a right way to produce a creative, engaging and engrossing experience — communication that moves the people.  And speaking of that, we would be extremely excited if you would call us and ask for our samples. 🙂

If you have any questions, please write to us.  We will be happy to help with any questions.  And thank you for visiting this website.   Cheers!

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How to Make a Great Video – Tip #10

The Process – Distribution

At big meetings and presentations, videos really shine.  They provide the sizzle, the focus, theme-setting that gets everyone excited about the new product, service, strategy, division, company, idea, etc.  They become often centerpieces of the “Meeting in a Box” that participants take home and share with their people.

Make sure you know how your video is going to be viewed in advance and communicate the particulars to your production team.  If necessary, connect your video producer with your meeting producer directly so they are exactly on the same page.  On the other hand, seeing the audience filled in a hotel ball room giving a standing ovation at the end of your video is a great feeling of success.

When online, videos can reach a huge number of people inexpensively, quickly and with built-in feedback.  Make sure your video is optimized so that people with different devices can play it back easily and smoothly.  Nothing is more frustrating than the video stream that chokes and stutters frequently.

No matter the type of distributions, try to provide the most user-friendly file/format for a variety of end users.  If it’s not easy for them to use, they will walk away and your video will never be watched.  You will most likely have to provide a few different files for different playback specifications as well as for your archive.

Finally encourage people to give you their honest feedback.  It will only make your next video project more successful.

Next up is our final chapter of How to Make a Good Video.

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How to Produce a Great Video – Tip #9

The Process – Management Review

Just as you were carefully briefed before your review, you need to do this with your internal clients.  Clearly and simply, tell them where the project stands.  If this is a finished piece, then let them know that.  To the extent possible, have this first management review in person using the best presentation format and equipment available so they can fully appreciate the good picture and sound.  And just as you did, ask them to watch the whole video without an interruption, then watch it again for the second time with Q & As.

If your clients want to make changes, listen carefully and evaluate their requests and why.  What they say they want to change often may not solve the problem that is bothering them.  If necessary, give them a sense of which changes will cost time and money and which ones won’t.  Most of the time, everyone appreciates knowing that.

In our experience, these reviews are usually wonderful.  Even if everyone waits breathlessly for the most senior person in the room to give his/her blessing, when it comes, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment.  Congratulations, you rock!

OK, but the project is not yet over.  We’ll talk about distribution next.  There are some horror stories we can tell you.

If you have any questions about how to produce a good corporate video, write to us.  We’ll be happy to think besides you.  And as always, come back and visit us next week.

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How to Produce a Great Video – Tip #8

The Process – Client Review

You and key members of your communication team should review the video first.   Then, bring in your internal clients.  We all know an importance for a good communicator is to understand how to manage your client’s expectations.

Listen carefully to the explanations from the editor or producer as to where they are in the process.  If they say, “The sound is still rough” or “These graphics are placeholders,” make sure you clearly understand what they mean.

Request to watch the whole video from the beginning to the end without an interruption first.  Then watch it again for the second time.  This time, you can stop and discuss what needs explanations.

It can be a very tenuous time.  You could inadvertently ask for something that will ruin the piece or add a lot of time therefore cost.  In their eagerness to please you, the production people may agree with you without much thought.  Have a dialog.  That’s why you’re there before your internal client.   Talk it all through until everyone is very clear on what needs to be done to get it ready for the next review.  Write down a list of actionable plans in bullet points and email that to everyone involved for confirmation.

Can’t emphasize this enough.

Oh, and by the way, don’t’ let the fact that you may not be very experienced in video production keep you from speaking your mind.  Ask questions.  Good producers will listen to your concerns and fix what needs fixing.  On the other hand, if the video does exactly what it was set out to do, share your enthusiasm and praise with your production team.  They will really appreciate that.

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How to Produce a Great Video – Tip #7

The Process – Post Production

In many ways, a good video is realized in the editing process.  The editor, producer, director and writer will work together to bring the original vision of the video to life through editing of pictures, graphic, music, sound effects and dialog.  All these elements individually and combined play huge roles to create a good corporate video.

Keep in mind that producers may follow different post-production processes depending on the nature of the project.  Some producers prefer “rough cut” the video in low resolution before refining it.  Other producers prefer more precise editing from the start.  Make sure you understand the particular process and confirm what is expected of you as a client and when.  Approval points are critical in post-production as re-do’s can be costly.  Good producers will be happy to walk you through the process.

Over the past two decades, editing methods have evolved tremendously.  It used to be physically cutting and splicing films.  It became tape to tape linear editing using very expensive tape machines and a switcher.  Then random access non-linear editing systems became available in fancy edit suites that cost $1000+ an hour.  Today, with a laptop and $1500 investment on software, anyone can become “an video editor.”

We believe editing is an art form very much like writing; it needs an exciting beginning, a solid middle and an amazing end.   A good video communicates to people.  It moves people intellectually and/or emotionally.  Regardless of a subject matter, a good video always tells a good story.  This takes a thoughtful process beyond technology and its convenience.  Every edit point is a decision making point that requires understanding overall flow, pacing, audience’s psychology, aesthetic look and feel and good common sense while making a point, explicitly or implicitly, of the communication goals of the video.  A good editor always has a reason why he/she edits Scene A with Scene B though it often is subtle.   Just because the editor is a computer wizard, it doesn’t mean he/she can edit well.

Put yourself in your audience’s mind, sit back, watch the entire video, and ask yourself.  Did the video move me?

We’ll discuss the review process next week.  If you have any questions about your own corporate video, let us know.

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How to Produce a Great Video – Tip #6

The Process – Shooting

Shooting can be the most exciting, interesting and just plain fun part of the process — or it can be a nightmare.  If it is well pre-produced and everyone is on board as to why you’re doing the production and what is expected, they will usually bend over backwards to help.  That requires meticulous pre-production, whether it is on location inside or outside, in studio, shooting interviews or B-roll.  Good organization and common sense are essential to a successful production.  This, by the way, includes phone calls – real conversions with your colleagues on site.  Keep in mind that when you shoot in a plant or a lab or a store or an office, you are potentially disrupting their workflow and people need to be prepared for that.  Discuss that with them in advance.  As a client, your most important job is to make sure your colleagues, the producer and the crew are all on the same page in terms of what is expected from everyone, including safety.

Be realistic, courteous and flexible during the shoot.  Be prepare to make a hard decision on the spot.  No matter how well the shoot is planned, surprises do happen.  Most frequently it results in getting behind the schedule.  And production delay can be costly.  Don’t freak out.  The last thing you want is adding stress over already high-pressure situation.  Understand and evaluate the priorities and discuss that with the producer.  Do you want to come home with hours of unusable garbage footage because you didn’t have the time to do it right or do you want to come home with good footage that will be used in corporate video library for years?

In our experience, the best compliments are your colleagues and customers saying “that was fun!” “You can come back any time!”  You know those compliments will find the way to your bosses.

A side note: be sure to send a thank-you note/email to all participants and copy that to their bosses.

We’ll discuss editing next.  If you have a specific question about your own corporate video production, just send us an email.  We’ll be happy to talk to you.  As always, please share your thoughts with us.

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How to Produce a Great Video – Tip #5

The Process – Script

Sometimes, the treatment serves as a script.  Particularly, if the project is dependent on a lot of interviews and on-the-spot coverage, writing a tight script at this stage will unnecessarily box in the production.  The actual script in this case will be written after those interviews are shot.  On the other hand, if your corporate video is completely narrated, the script will be written prior to the shoot and the approved script will be broken down to a shot list.

In either case, think of this as a house that will be built based on a blueprint – great blueprint, likelihood of a great house.  Terrible blueprint… you get the picture.  Can’t emphasize enough.  This is one of the biggest approval points in the process.   Pay attention, take the time and review carefully.  If you don’t, it could add a lot of money that you won’t be able to justify in the quality of the final product.

The process continues next week.

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How to Produce a Great Video – Tip #4

As in any successful corporate project, having a well thought-out process is important.  It requires a balancing act.   It is true the devil is in the detail.  At the same time, you can’t miss the forest for the tree.  The corporate video production can be, in a sense, a crapshoot for no fault of anyone.  Your CEO’s schedule do change suddenly on the day of your shoot.  Manufacturing lines can break down just when you are ready to roll the camera.  It pours when all the shots are outside.  You have to be flexible when you are dealing with uncontrollable.  Having a good process won’t prevent any of these to happen but it will prepare you to change plans and come up with best available solutions.

The Process – Treatment

A corporate video treatment is simply a description of the video as seen from the audience point of view.  A very simple way to judge a treatment is to ask, “Did I enjoy that?”  If you enjoyed reading the treatment, if the treatment captured the essence of the message, then you’re off to a great start.  If no, have your production company rewrite the treatment.

The treatment should clearly state the goals and objectives of your corporate video and how the production company is proposing to achieve those.  It should include a budget with specifications, though certain items, such as a number of shooting days and travel expenses, may still be expressed as a range.  The treatment also includes an overall schedule for pre-production, production, post-production and delivery.  Keep in mind that if the specifications change, it will often affects the budget and schedule.

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How to Produce a Great Video – Tip #3

Decide on a budget range.

We are often asked “How much does a video cost?” It’s one of the questions on top of your mind if you are about to commission a corporate video. But it’s one of the hard questions to answer. It’s like asking how much is a car? You need to remember the few questions you asked yourself in Tip #2. What kind of car are you looking to buy? What is the primary use of it? What’s important to you? Brand recognition, gas efficiency, technology features, eco-friendliness, color and style, safety, etc.?

Even if this is the first corporate video project that you’ve ever supervised and even if no one else in your organization has, you can still ask a peer in one of the associations you belong to. You can call a few professional producers and ask for ranges for the kind of thing you have in mind. You can look at samples and ask about the budget. You can find a kind of video you like on YouTube and ask about the budget based on what you see. Once you have a pretty good idea of what the video should cost, you need to be sure that the return on that investment is reasonable. You may back away from video as a tool if it simply isn’t worth it to the company. That’s a much wiser decision than trying to do a production on a shoestring budget and ending up with a mini-disaster on your hands, creating a perpetual state of nervous breakdowns. Good video, like any good communication tool, can be costly. If you insist on hiring your associate’s brother-in-law who shoots weddings for a living, be prepared for the result. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for.

Remember this. If the final product delivers your company’s communication objectives and enthusiasm, your boss will not remember, nor care, how much that corporate video cost in the end. But they will remember and will be extremely annoyed if the video dose not deliver what it was set out to do — no matter how little you spent to make it. We all want an attaboy for a job well done.

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