Apr 7, 2008
So you’ve convinced your company to produce digital video. Great. Here are the top ten things you must AVOID:
- Have No Purpose. Capturing video is easy. Just place a subject in front of a camera, hit the little red button and voilla — video! But what about a purpose? It’s common for corporate communicators to be so excited about using a new medium that they forget about the most important things: the audience and the message. How will using video better deliver your message than the traditional press release, ad campaign, PowerPoint Presentation, or static HTML webpage? Find the purpose and use it.
- Have No Story. People love stories. We love watching people like us make mistakes, overcome adversity, and laugh at themselves. Most corporate communication vehicles don’t allow such expression. Video does. Use it.
- Be a Puppeteer: If you can’t find a hole in your talent’s back, then there’s no reason to work ’em like a ventriloquist’s dummy. Don’t pose them; don’t choreograph their actions; just leave the alone! Corporate video isn’t about getting an Academy Award; it’s about communicating. Let your subject speak in their everyday language. And please, no heavy editing in post production. An extra “um” or “ah” here or there is fine. Leave them in.
- Make ’em sweat: Do NOT spend lots of money on heavy lights and backdrops and gels and…Video on the web is about being real. There is nothing real about setting up a studio, turning on the lights, and having twenty-seven people telling your talent to “act naturally.” Oh, and while you’re at it, evacuate all unnecessary people from the room…including yourself if necessary. If your subject is more comfortable recording themselves alone — give it a whirl.
- Wing it: Just because anyone with a video camera and the ability to push a button can produce video, it doesn’t mean that they should. There are minimal requirements for capturing good audio/video. Read a book. Take a class at your local Cable Access Channel. Experiment with a video editing package. Have a basic understanding of the fundamentals before you say “action!”
- Shoot in a Windowless Airplane Hangar: Is there enough light to shoot your video? Can you hear your talent over the lunchroom cacophony? How about finding a quieter place with good natural lighting? Have you considered outdoors? What about that big beautiful corporate lobby on a Saturday morning?
- Wear Stripes. Be attentive to what the on-screen “talent” is wearing. Stripes and plaids drive video codecs crazy and bright clothes on dark backgrounds will make your post-production life a living hell. And without crossing over some harassment line, ahem,…ladies? Loose fitting clothes and/or a jacket will help the audience focus on your message as opposed to your anatomy. And I’m not just picking on the ladies. Guys? I don’t need to see your shaved chest, so please, button up. (Note: Please ignore if you work for Hooters or Chipendales.)
- Be George Lucas. The goal of corporate videos is to connect with your customers. It is not a place to show off the latest in special effects. Put down the green screen, throw away your rotoscope, and just record real people speaking passionately about their subjects.
- Ignore Permission. Let’s say that a customer has come to your company and given the best presentation possible. You were there with your video camera and caught everything. Did you ask permission to use it? Did you get some sort of release from the talent? If not, the video you captured isn’t worth the memory card it’s stored on.
- Require an Intermission. Consider your viewer’s distraction-filled environment, as they’re attention is pulled between email, Instant Messages, and ringing telephones. Your video needs to cut through this everyday clutter and it won’t if it runs too long. Try to keep your videos under five minutes. As a matter of fact, aim for two and settle for three.