What exactly is video content marketing? This is one of the hottest topics of brand marketers today but also one of the least understood.
Isn’t video content marketing just a fancy jargon for saying a commercial you may ask? Well, no. A commercial is usually a 30 second spot that no one really wants to see. They’re an interruption. Content marketing is something that someone really wants to see that also has a sales message. Something your audience may have actually sought out.
This can be very overt, like a YouTuber pitching their product throughout a video or as subtle as Hasbro’s animation studio and TV network partnership. Disney is an amazing content marketer and so was George Lucas. How many toys have those movies sold over the years. It’s hard to fathom.
What strategy is right for your brand. Well, that depends on the size of your brand, the personality of the brand and knowing your customers. Most marketers aren’t on the level of Disney. But if you have an interesting product you probably have interesting content waiting to be developed.
Want to discuss a video content marketing strategy with our team? Just reach out to us today.
Over shooting can cause big problems downstream in your production. Don’t over shoot.
This may seem obvious but it needs to be stated – don’t over shoot. With media costs getting so cheap and digital cameras being able to shoot continuously it seems to make sense to shoot more footage than is necessary (just in case) but it doesn’t really if what you’re shooting has no specific need.
I’m a firm believer in extra coverage. That means grabbing another camera angle or an extra take. However, I’m not in favor of an extra set up or an extra scene just because we can. Besides making your crew and actors tired it also creates a data management complication for your editorial team downstream.
Imagine you spent a few hours rolling on some extra bits which you may or may not use. It’s in the can and didn’t really cost you anything, right?
First it needs to be backed up. That can take hours. Then it needs to be logged. More hours. Then your editors need to review it as do your producers and or the creative team. Then they may waste even more time messing with it to see if they can find any use for it. Too much of this and you’ve wasted days of man hours that could have been billed to a real job or spent getting your show closer to completion. Good set-time management has downstream consequences. So don’t over shoot. Especially without a plan.
Need a plan to maximize your next production drop us a note and we’ll be glad to help.
As we begin the start of football season now is a time to look back at the last year. Over the course of the last 12 months we’ve been working with NCSA and their app The Florida Vault. As contractors we digitized, project managed and edited over 1,000 online videos from old game footage and feature content of the Florida Gators football team.
This was exciting work no doubt. And a lot of it! What we learned in the process is that there’s a lot of interest in content creation for the web, apps and set-top boxes and the work is a lot of fun. Want to discuss an online content or branded content project, just reach out.
Branded content is the hottest thing in marketing right now. And there are some very good reasons.
First, the cost of media buys for eyeballs isn’t getting any cheaper while complexity rises. The proliferation of channels and types of media has diluted the paid market to the point where the value proposition for a traditional TV buy isn’t what it used to be. This means more complex and expensive media plans are necessary to reach the same audience. This also mean the additional expense of creating more media executions for placement.
Second, platform opportunities made possible by the internet are increasing every day. The fractured media landscape also means more opportunites to reach customers in new and potentially more engaging ways. For a company like Red Bull that’s meant creating their own media empire with their own Roku Channel.
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Hasbro is another example of a company that’s blurred the lines between advertiser and content marketer. Are they a toy company or a Hollywood studio that makes toys. Not every advertiser has to do things on the same scale as these companies to be effective. Remember, the Soap Operas got their name for a reason.
Third, the cost of producing content is getting lower and the process less complex. Need to publish and article, create a blog. Anyone can do a podcast provided they have something interesting to say. Want to make a TV show? Professional quality filming of broadcast quality content is far cheaper than it was a decade ago. What could be accomplished with a crew of 50 can now be done with a crew of less than half and yes, at half the cost.
The timing has never been better for branded content but there remain significant challenges to creating successful projects. Not every company has the same ability as a Hasbro for creating storylines out of their products, much less the skill set. To get the kinda of eyeballs that Red Bull get’s takes time and patience to build and audience. Also, technical skill is another hurdle not to be underestimated. Bringing in the right people and partners to bridge these challenges is a necessary part of the process.
There’s never been a better time to be a content creator. There’s more opportunity to create it. To publish it. And to get it seen by large audiences. And you can do that for a relatively low cost.
This is especially true for filmed content. Just a few years ago, to reach a wide audience you had to either be very lucky and have resources of a movie studio or TV network or you had to be an advertiser with a big check.
Now content creators have all sorts of outlets that provide large audiences. YouTube, Hulu and Amazon all provide web based distribution of content to audiences worldwide. There are more players entering the distribution game every day.
Digital production tools have driven the cost down of creation in magnitudes. What used to take multiple semis of gear and a small army can now be done with a cargo van and a small well trained crew. The barrier to entry has never been lower.
So what’s stopping you? Have an idea and a modest budget? Give us a shout.
Want to get the most out of your next video production budget? The answer may be counterintuitive. Tell your company how much you have to work with.
That’s right, lay your cards on the table and let the pros tell you the best way to play your hand. Talk to a couple production companies and then the one who actually has a great plan about maximizing your budget, work with them.
We’re not saying open your checking account and let your vendor see your bank balance. Have a reasonable idea about how much you’d like to stay under on the project and work toward that budget. Be up front and let the production company know your concerns.
It’s no fun for the vendor to guess how much you want to spend and then allocate resources around a number that was pulled out of thin air. Because of this, they may come back with an unreasonable recommendation for you simply because they thought you had a lot more to spend than you do. Also, some companies are set up to handle really large jobs or really inexpensive jobs. So it’s likely best that you at least give a vendor a ballpark before you have them crunch the numbers.
Great video production is hard and it takes a lot of skill to achieve. There are a lot of reasons why a video can come out horrible, uninspiring or just plain crappy. Fortunately, it’s usually pretty obvious to just about any viewer why a video isn’t very good.
Obvious reasons your video production sucks:
- Poor camera work that shakes, has actors cut out, or even out of focus.
- Poor sound. This could be the result or a badly placed microphone, noisy environment or wind.
- Horrible, unflattering lighting. Deer in the headlights anyone?
- Disjointed, non-sensical edit. An edit that plain doesn’t make sense or is even ugly.
These are all technical reasons which an average person can look at a video and see that it’s wrong. An untrained person may not know how to fix these problems but they’re sure able to hear the wind hitting the microphone or the lighting that makes the actress look like she’s in a budget horror film. But sometimes you can get all the big technical problems solved but the video still sucks. Well, there are some not so obvious reasons I can share with you here.
Not so obvious reasons why your video production sucks:
- Wrong person in front of the camera – Not everyone pops on camera. And even fewer can carry a film. This is why we cast and watch tape. Or when working with real people, we make sure they are “characters” or have something really important to say.
- Poor direction – It’s not as easy as point and shoot. The actor or interviewee must understand what they need to communicate to the camera and have someone who can recognize whether or not the magic is happening. The director must also have the ability to course correct in the event of failure.
- You didn’t write a script and storyboard – Production technology is becoming so accessible that people now just turn on a camera without a plan for what they are cutting together. Sure, you might get something good but your chances are much better if you start with a great script and plan each shot with a goal in mind.
- Cluttered and poor framing – Sometimes amateur photographers get lucky and create a beautifully framed shot. But it takes experience and knowledge to do it every time. Signs a shot isn’t working are clutter in the background, odd angles and not following basic composition rules such as the rule of thirds.
- Your lighting isn’t telling the story – The light needs to help tell the audience what they’re seeing. Horror movie lighting is an obvious way, but so is documentary lighting which is generally pretty “normal” looking. This light lets the audience know what they are watching is real. Want to learn how light effects meaning? Just study the old masters, yes, I mean the painters.
- There is no story – Just because you’re written a script doesn’t mean you’re telling a story. Even an informational video needs to have a narrative that includes a beginning, middle and end.
- You didn’t give the audience a reason to care upfront – Journalist call it the hook. Broadcast networks call it the tease. You have to let people know why they’re watching or they’ll loose interest and stop.
- The editing is jarring and doesn’t help the story – Great editing doesn’t impress you with it’s technique; it helps you to become immersed in the story. Like great book editing, great video editing lives to serve the story and the audience.
Of course, these are just a few reasons your video production can come out sucky. The only way to learn proper video production techniques is to keep trying, preferably work with good people and to always carefully analyzing what’s working and what’s not. There’s no shortcut to learning from experience.
Last year we produced four healthcare commercials with Agency Creative Director, Tim Holt of Marker3 Advertising in Virginia Beach, VA and their hospital client. This was a great opportunity to showcase what we could accomplish not only on a healthcare commercial but also with a hybrid shoot. We shot stills and motion, on a relatively low budget in one of the most demanding categories. Handling the stills was one of the Southeast’s top people shooters, Nick Burchell. Having him along was great as he loves to contribute to the production as a whole.
We shot in three great locations in three days and got to see basically how beautiful central VA can be. We were blown away by the wine country. And some of the wine wasn’t too bad either.
Of course, this is one of the great things about going on production, getting to see different parts of world and to capture the beauty. And on top of that, meeting new people and making friends in interesting places isn’t bad either.
We brought the RED configured as light as possible, enabling us to move quickly and shoot when the light was spectacular. This enabled us the get footage that captured the optimistic mood the agency creative team and the client wanted for the healthcare commercial job. In the above still, you can see how soft the light was early in the day in the Appalachian foothills.
Here’s a couple of the healthcare spots we shot that week in Virginia. Editorial was done in native RED RAW using Adobe Creative Suite’s Premiere Pro while color grading was done in Davinci Resolve.
Production stills by Nick Burchell.
Plan for problems so you can overcome them on your next shoot.
Motion picture and video production requires a tremendous amount of planning, labor and resources focused on a fixed amount of time. Many producers forget to plan for problems.
What happens if something goes wrong like someone doesn’t bother to show up on time or a piece of gear breaks down? Potentially you have a bunch of people and equipment sitting around burning up money and getting nothing done.
Problems like this in production are common. It’s how you react to them that determines the outcome of the job. Here’s the tip and it sounds like a no brainer but it’s often over looked. Have flexibility in your schedule? If an actor is late, what else can you be working on. Your sound guy starts vomiting after lunch, who’s gonna step in and not screw everything up? Multiple problems. Do you have slop in your budget for overtime?
Next time, plan for problems and don’t worry about having problems on set. Because you’re prepared when they do happen.
Need some help getting organized for your next production, reach out to us for some advice on how to make it great.
Super Bowl Spot wrap up including the best and the worst from 2014
Well, the game was a blow out for Seattle. I’d predicted a win but not a humiliation. Payton Manning will need to do some soul searching after an epic blown opportunity and so will a lot of the advertisers.
It’s easy to be dismissive or even mean about some of the spots last night. But to be fair, most advertising is uninspiring. Great advertising is rare and hard to produce.
People who haven’t sat in endless meetings while “suits” nibble away at your great idea will never understand how difficult it is. It’s brutally hard to produce great. And I guarantee, the creatives were swinging for the fences when they produced this years load of mediocrity. And I can almost guarantee that the original concepts were likely 10x better than what ended up on the screen.
Was definitely the Bud puppy spot. This is an animal spot retread but the people love it like their Hangover 3s and their Fast and Furious 6s.
Mazeratti: Beautiful film making by Director, David Gordon Green. The spot feels reminiscent of Terrence Malik’s work and his film George Washington. Beautiful pictures but not sure if it will sell any Maseratis. Also feels a lot like the Levi’s work W+K did awhile back.
Microsoft: Nice creative strategy behind the Steve Gleason ad. Too bad for them and Payton the Saints didn’t make it to the big game.
Chrysler spot with Dylan. It felt like they were trying to copy last years Halftime in America but badly.
Kia: The Matrix spot is what we call borrowed interest and poorly executed.
Coke: I’m sure someone somewhere thought they were making a great “total market” ad. Instead they produced another Pajama Boy. Keep the politics out of advertising folks. W+K strives to strike passion in viewers but this is likely to bring out the wrong kind in half of their audience – especially with immigration reform being pushed in Washington.
The rest aren’t really worth mentioning.
2014 appears to be the year that 4K televisions have hit the mainstream. Too bad the content availability doesn’t yet match the possibilities of these sets offer as they arrive in homes daily.
It doesn’t appear that the traditional content delivery providers, including satellite and cable companies are ready to pipe 4K content to homes anytime soon. It took innovators like HD Net to prove there was indeed a market for HD content long after the first HD sets were available.
The transition to 4K looks to happen much soon thanks to wide adoption by consumers of content streaming already. And the devices that consumers are streaming to are made by the same companies providing the set. That means there’s already a gateway and a desire to get content in the home. In fact, Sony as a content producer and technology company is currently able to provide a growing library of content to it’s customers.
For many still, the only way to see 4k content is YouTube. Which is an open platform for anyone who wants to create content. Soon we expect to see Netfix and other streaming platforms (possibly iTunes and Roku) and apps opening up more ways to get content in the home. Also, camera maker RED is selling it’s own 4K player and announced a partnership for their own content distribution network.
How can a marketer get involved in this revolution? Create your own content. Sponsor content. Or provide your own platform via apps or web delivery. The current market isn’t here yet, but it’s coming and faster than most people realize.
Want to discuss 4K content production please reach out to us today.
Will 2014 be the year of content marketing?
A lot of the same sort of predictions are being bandied about that we’ve been seeing for the last couple years.
- More content marketing
- More online ad retargeting
- More social
- Crowdsourcing of marketing content
- More mobile
- SEO to be more important
- More integration
We’d have agree with most of this. Two of the trends that has been bandied about by the guru types as a solve for everything but cancer are social and crowd sourcing. First, for social, only certain “cult” brands are able to create a very large footprint with social. Brands that have a unique relationship with their core consumers. Frankly, if you make something less exciting than iPads and Harley choppers, good luck finding a large group of people to spread your message for free.
Crowd sourcing of marketing content. If you’re expecting a crowd of free labor to spread a strategic message about why others should buy your product, you’re dreaming. Unless of course your Mr Harley or Mr Davidson.
So what’s the takeaway? Like every year plan effectively, have a good strategy, understand your audience and work on creating marketing content that’s integrated and makes use of social and mobile platforms effectively.
Want to learn how to improve your content marketing with video? Reach out to us today to find out how.
Every year, Fluid Films celebrates the holidays by donating our services and the concern comes up on how to best mark the holiday season. Maybe do something funny, create something serious, or just send out a thoughtful card. But instead of doing something about ourselves, we decided to get to the heart of the matter and explore the act of giving. So we created a short film about City of Refuge and the volunteers who go out in the city’s most at risk neighborhood and feed those who need nourishment and hope the most.
What we were most struck by, talking with recipients and the volunteers, is that those giving were getting as least as much back as they were providing. Please take a moment to watch and if you feel moved consider making a small donation. Hopefully it won’t only be Fluid Films who celebrates this holiday season.
If you have a non-profit project you’d like us to help you with please let us know. We offer discounted services for those doing good in our community.
Actor, Comedian and Jim Rome caller, Jay Mohr will host a new game show program on Hulu next year. This will be produced as brand content series and not typical entertainment programing. What’s significant about the new show isn’t that it’s an internet program or that it’s being produced by Hulu. It’s that it has a single sponsor and won’t be featured only on the sponsor website. The new show will be branded content in the original sense, going back to the advent of soap operas and radio programs sponsored by one company like the “King Biscuit Flour Hour.” With multicasting and decentralized distribution, brands now have the opportunity to take even more control of their message than ever by esentially owning the property. The question is, how many will risk their marketing budgets on these types of ventures?
The Alliance Theatre asked us to help them create an electronic press kit for their latest show featuring a score by Barry Manilow. The release was picked up by several outlets including the influential Broadway World.
Of course, electronic press kits (EPK) are valuable for more than celebrities and entertainment. They’re also valuable to corporations and small businesses. Consider how valuable if the press had an easy way to cover the introduction of a new product, the appointment of a new executive or cover a new marketing initiative. If you think you need an EPK, please reach out to us and let us help.
Wondering what the year of RED is all about? The future and 4K content acquisition.
In 2012 we did an awful lot of work with our Canon DSLRs. They provided an excellent value for our clients and the footage looks great when properly lit. We plan on shooting with DSLRs more in 2013 but we have recently purchased a Red Digital Cinema camera system and believe that for most of our clients this will offer an even better value.
Most of our clients are seeking a great return on their investment for their production dollars. We’re not the cheapest but we’re far from the most expensive option either. We achieve a great value proposition by focusing on the things that create good production values: writing, great lighting, authentic performances and technology. The Red Digital Cinema cameras offer some of the best technology available today.
One way is the over 4k image size easily translates into many different applications. Imagine being able to crop your footage for all sorts of different applications including vertical online banners and motion POP and trade show displays without any loss in quality. And with the rise in “retina” style screens and also the trend towards 4k playback, the content our clients are creating today will still be relevant over the next several years.
If you’re interested in learning about 4k video acquisition, and why we believe this is the year of RED, please reach out to us and let us know about your project. To learn why we believe it offers the best value available today, reach out to us today.
How long should your web video be? Most marketers don’t know.
One of the great things about creating television commercials or television programs is there is only one length they can be. Not so for most web video. Most of the time it can be whatever length you decide. So how long should your web video be?
Not surprisingly, length is the most discussed topic and often is the least understood by corporate clients, even ones with experience creating television commercials.
Often marketers think of length in terms of entertainment. A half an hour is a short television show. So a 40 minute web video isn’t horribly long for an informational video? Wrong.
Informational pieces need to get to the point. Your audience won’t invest their time to watch a video hosted online unless it’s only a few minutes long. Sure they’re exceptions. But that exception probably won’t be your video.
If you’re presenting to a live audience, your dynamic will be different and the video can be longer since you have a willing audience that has allowed you to control the presentation. Also, if your material is not purely informational your audience is much more likely to engage with it for more than a few minutes.
We find the best way to keep your online audience engaged is to break the content up into bites no more than a few minutes long. You can then create a gallery of information that a customer can watch bit by bit. Picking and choosing from 10 to 15 different videos is a lot less intimidating for someone with limited time than clicking play on a 15 or 20 minute video.
Of course, every project is different and if you would like to discuss your next web video production with us, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Sure, we shoot “video” but we’re not videographers. So why does it matter?
Sometimes when we talk to new and prospective clients, they’re “just looking for a videographer” mainly because they don’t want to spend a lot of money. Ironically, when we explain to them that we’re filmakers and storytellers who are expert in telling the story of their cause, product or brand using video, a light bulb goes off and their attitude changes.
What do they suddenly see? That the project which started as a simple need to have something “videoed” has become an opportunity to tell their story in multiple channels both internally and externally. Companies will see that a video created for an event will also become a powerful vehicle for the website or to use on YouTube. An ad agency will turn a simple video or television commercial into a web video advertising campaign across banners, pre-roll and YouTube.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being a videographer, if that’s you passion. It’s just that our passion is storytelling, we just happen to do it with really cool movie cameras. To learn what it’s like to work with us just drop us a note.
Content marketing has been around as long as advertising. Since you’re reading a blog, you probably aren’t even old enough to remember when radio shows were brought to you by flour companies and soap operas were produced with, er, soap companies. Back when broadcast media was new, advertisers and broadcasters were very up front the content was created to grab your attention long enough to hear the sponsor’s message. Product placement didn’t need to be stealthy.
Broadcast advertisers were not the first to create an audience for a purpose. Even the Roman emperors understood the power of amassing an audience with blood and circuses. As technology evolved from the Emperor’s Coliseum, to Shakespeare’s playhouse, to Edward R Morrow’s radio microphone and now to the internet, those with messages and an agenda find an audience with great content.
Today, when people discuss content marketing, they’ll say that marketers need to become publishers to actually be effective content marketers. I don’t think this is true. As a marketer, you can create a show and put it on YouTube or say Hulu and you’re not a publisher. Or you could create or sponsor a column on CNN.com. In both cases, you are using content to market but in neither case would you own the printing press. And as an added advantage you have a built-in audience. Not every company can or should create something like AMEX’s Open Network. Anyone can start a blog but not everyone has the budget to promote a site and build an audience on the scale of AMEX’s.
So what’s different today and why has content become a buzzword? Because audiences have become fragmented by emerging technology. This has created both opportunities and challenges.
Opportunities for the little guy who no longer has to pay a toll to the networks to get his message to an audience.
And challenges to the big guy who is finding his audience more elusive.
Let’s discuss some of the opportunities created by technology. Blogging, website creation, white papers, videos and news articles are all content that can attract an audience. Anything that isn’t overtly advertising would qualify. Kind of like this article which I’m clearly not creating for my health — heck, I haven’t even mentioned what we do. Creating content as a company can impute leadership, expertise, and whatever other qualities the content reflects. Whatever quality the content has, so does the brand presenting it by its relationship. Similar to a great product. This is the reason Chevy makes the Corvette. Thankfully, making a great video is cheaper than building Corvettes.
For the big guy, the challenges of a fragmented audience can create a lot more work. The blunt instrument of media dollars won’t work as hard when customers have so many choices of media outlets. While many talk derisively about today’s media, the death of magazines and print media in general, reality TV, screaming heads on cable news shows and all that celebrity reporting, there is more opportunity than ever.
The tribalization of media has fostered much of the great content being created in television today. HBO, AMC, Showtime, and FX have all created amazing programming to ensure they have an audience and survive. This same tribalization serves to parse audiences and allow for precise targeting of consumers. Also for content marketers, the success of great shows like Madmen, Sopranos, Homeland, Lost and even web based programing demonstrates that great content creates its own audience.
If you can create, develop, harness or buy great content for your brand that reflects its essence and properly promote it, you’ll be able to use content marketing to effectively reach your customers.
Take a quick look at your marketing plan. Does it include anything that isn’t an interruption for your customer? A piece of mail they don’t want, a billboard obscuring their view of the countryside, or, the worst sin of all, an interruption in their favorite Thursday night drama. This may have been business as usual yesterday but today the customer is in control. You need a branded content strategy yesterday.
You probably already know that print media is suffering. People are consuming their news reading media on the internet now. Radio is also suffering thanks to iPods and various internet based platforms like Podcast, Pandora, and Spotify. Why would your customers listen to music on a commercial radio station when their are so many better alternatives? The same transformation is happening with all media – especially TV. Viewers are opting in or opting out of your messages. Are you ready with an engaging brand story and a branded content strategy?
Want to discuss your plans for branded content video in the coming year with us. Just click here.