Category Archives: Production Techniques

The Three Cardinal Sins of Corporate Video pt2 – Audience

AudienceTell me the odd one out: Theatre….Film….TV

OK, enough fake suspense – TV is the odd one out, and let me explain why.

Simply put, you ‘go to’ the movies or ‘go to’ the theatre. You arrive at a venue, you pay for your seat and you are entertained (hopefully). But you as a viewer have no control over the entertainment experience you receive. You’re a captive audience sailing along on a narrative over which you have no control.

TV is totally different. The TV is the guest in the corner of your room. The programmes and adverts dance to your tune and if you don’t like the dance…the remote control exacts your channel-changing revenge.

Once you realise this it’s easy to see where online video or programming over internet (YouTube, NetFlix, Vimeo, BBC iPlayer, Roku etc) fits in. [It’s like TV not the cinema]. You’ll probably already see the significance, but indulge me.

As a filmmaker (making a film for the cinema) I can take my time telling you my story. It’s not uncommon for the opening sequences of feature films to be minutes long with little or no dialogue to speak of. TV is much more immediate, more fast paced – and yet it’s a slow cousin to the Internet and online video.

The Second Sin – YouTube will Love Me.

YouTube-Is-Testing-a-New-Video-Player-478321-2I recently attended a meeting with a large company in the City (London), their marketing person was an ex-film school student. As I’d worked in Hollywood for a number of years, she was very keen to get my opinion on the companies latest 4 minute video. But we’ll come back to this in a moment.

It’s estimated that you have between 3 and 8 seconds to engage a viewer on the web. After that…they’re looking for the next item on the playlist. This has a marked effect on the way you create your online videos, the style you adopt and the way you showcase your wares. If you hack together a video then throw it towards YouTube, hoping for it to ‘go viral’ (AKA ‘post and pray’) then chances are, you’ll be diasppointed.

So, unsurprisingly, the aforementioned 4 minute YouTube video, with a 30 second opening sequence featuring empty rooms, wasn’t working (who knew, right?). The ex-film student couldn’t see why, because the video was “so beautifully shot”. Perhaps so, but sadly, the audience wouldn’t hang around for 4 minutes to find out the films’ cinematic denouement. The video was akin to bringing a knife to a gun-fight.

A video for an online audience needs to be designed, constructed and shot differently. The video must look good on all types of mobile devices – tiny images will not show up well on a 4 inch iPhone screen. Please remember, Video is not a bill – it is an investment.  Furthermore, once the video is made you also need to consider the videos’ title carefully, as well as the tags and online description. It’s also worth asking if the static video is better presented as a streamed event or Google Hangouts style webinar. All of these factors will decide if people will spare you the time to watch.

Even after all this work, you’ll probably get it wrong first time. We do and I know the big companies do too. So, if you are using a video company that offers a cast iron guarantee of a ‘viral video’ – then my VW really does do 85 miles per gallon.

Online is a brilliant way to distribute your corporate video and promote your company, but online is now a defined marketplace in itself. It has it’s own ever-shifting rules, styles and trends. That’s why you need a strategy for the videos you create and a clear plan of how you will actively use them.

Join me next time for the last of these three articles, where I’ll be looking at the third cardinal sin ‘Bad Language’.

As always I’m happy to hear from readers, with comments or stories.

Contact me direct on marktodd@guvnormedia.com or @theguvnoruk

Visit our websites at: http://www.guvnormedia.com and http://www.guvnormedia.co.uk

Written by Mark Alexander Todd


Back to school at the Shireland Academy

ShirelandsTwo weeks ago I had the opportunity to take part in a careers day at The Shireland Academy, Smethwick.

The last time I was surrounded by so many teenagers, I was 18 and at my secondary school – The Manor High School, Wednesbury. I didn’t expect to see all the kids in uniform, but it was comforting to see that and so many familiar faces in the classes: the jokers, the shy girl, the teachers pet. You know the ones.

I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to say about a career in film and TV, especially to kids who have been bought up on the myth of ‘celebrity’ and ‘X Factor’. So I was really impressed with the calibre of questions and the real interest about what it was I actually did. I was also surprised by how well trained I still was – when the bell rang I instinctively reached for my bag, though what class I was going to I don’t know.

StoryboardI didn’t have much time with each group of kids but I took them through a whistle-stop tour of a normal working day and we talked about how to create a script and why you produce a half decent storyboard. In one session we actually had time to try out some storyboards and the ‘bad boys’ at the back of the class came up with a really fun idea of selling mobile phones, providing you had a budget that to pay for Jason Statham! (“Cus he kicks ass sir”).

It’s incredible to think that these kids are the first generation to grow up in a world where there is no restriction on their creativity. I’m glad to say they have embraced that opportunity. In the short visits I met teenage rappers, dancers and a couple of filmmakers, whose version of the Harlem Shake can be seen on YouTube. Despite getting in trouble for the lunchtime prank, both the kids and one ‘off the record’ teacher are very proud of their first steps into filmmaking. I hope they enjoy the journey as much as I do.


Do people like to jump on moving trains?

A long time ago I worked with a guy, (let’s call him Dick) who despite knowing very little about the film business, taught me a lot about people. In the three years that Dick and I worked together (before he ‘did the dirty’ me), I learned a few valuable lessons about how people think. One of them was ‘people like moving trains’.

Now I’m a few years older myself, I’ve been lucky enough to experience some of the situations that Dick and I spoke about, as well as add a little of Mi Experience to the mix.

So do people like moving trains?

Well, if you’re trying to get on the 6:15 to Birmingham and it’s pulling out of the station then no, BUT, that’s not what we’re talking about here. In business people DO like moving trains! If you’re starting a film or media project, no one really wants to be the first person to jump on-board. No one wants to have the pressure of being the first to champion your project just in case (I’m sorry to say it) it’s crap. So many, many times good projects fail to get going because no one will get aboard the best train in the station.

So for Mi current project I’ve taken a different strategy – I decided to green light it myself! Yep that simple. I decided not to ask for anyone’s approval or backing, I put the proposal together, wrote the script (The Crooked House), started a website (The Haunted Kingdom) and finally began work on a background documentary AKA The Life and Death and Life of The Black Country.

So how is it going? Well funny you should ask – very well.

Mi company owns enough equipment to begin shooting and so far we have shot three ghost stories (for The Haunted Kingdom), two events for the documentary and we have a gaggle of interviewees coming down the pipeline in the next couple of weeks. Things are moving forward and some days I don’t know how, but momentum is gaining and the train is moving because it has to. And people are jumping aboard because, like the 6:15 to Birmingham, they feel they need to. I look forward to rewarding their faith with some quality entertainment.

Please take a minute (well three actually) to watch a great ghost story related by Anthony Ledington.


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