Screaming with Video

“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”

– Mark Twain

Maybe “scream” is too strong of a word to use for my purposes, but are you using on-line video to “loudly proclaim” the story of your business, organization, or message?  Video combines sight, sound, motion, and emotion to create a message that helps you connect with your potential clients and customers.  Video allows you to tell a deeper story and has a more powerful impact.

Consider this:

–      75% of C-Level Executives say they watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week (Forbes/Google Survey)

–      YouTube is now the #2 search engine trailing only Google (comScore Internet Survey)

–      Videos that are run through a simple search engine optimization program are 53 times more likely to end up on “Page One” of a search engine result than just a text-only webpage (Forrester Research Study)

A short video (up to three minutes is an accepted norm for website videos) can help you tell your story in a direct, concise, and powerful way.  In keeping with that theme, I’ll keep this blog post short because Twain also said:

“The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”

Mac

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Things keep changing.

The new year has brought us a new video camera here at Tweedee Productions.  And with a new camera, of course, new technology.  Well, kinda.  We’ve already been using Panasonic’s P2 technology for a couple of years.  Our new camera, Panasonic’s HPX500EFP is actually a compliment to our well used and reliable Panasonic HVX200.  Both shoot amazingly good, eye popping, high-definition 1080i video.  The 500 has a few more bells and whistles, and comes in a more traditional shoulder-mount, Betacam-style configuration.  So far, I love it!  In addition to shooting great looking video in several HD and SD formats, there are also loads of other menu settings that allow the user to customize the “look” of the camera.

The most amazing thing to me is the recording media.  Both the 200 and 500 record video and audio onto a P2 memory card.  We can record about 2 hours of high-definition video onto a 64gb card about the size of your average smart phone.  This technology is a far cry from when I started in the business.  (OK, I don’t want to sound like an old guy here – so no stories about how I used to lug my 25 pound video camera and 25 pound 3/4 inch record deck 5 miles through the snow.  Uphill.)

When I started working my first job as a video photographer, videotape field recording had just started reaching markets like Madison, Wisconsin.  Three-quarter-inch tape was the industry standard back then, employing a two-piece camera/record deck setup, and recording standard-definition video onto a 3/4 inch videotape cassette.  We were able to record a whopping 30 minutes of two-channel audio and SD video (yes, in color!) onto a tape about the size of a small Gideon’s Bible.  Years later one-piece Betacams came along with a smaller 1/2 inch tape cassette, then even smaller DVCPro and mini-DV tape formats with smaller cameras.  Today you can record fairly decent HD video on a cell phone.

So now that we are digital and tapeless, what’s next?  My colleague Dan Presser and I where just discussing the “next big thing” in video production technology while getting coffee last week.  You see, the weak link in the whole video aquisition-input-edit-output chain has always been the time it takes to transfer recorded media into an editing system.  In most cases videotape has to transfer in real-time.  With digital, large HD files may take several minutes to copy onto a hard drive.  Sure, there are some costly solutions now available that will speed up the process.  But what about this – a field camera/recording system that moves recorded images live, wirelessly, and as they are being recorded right into an edit system!  Sound far-fetched?  Yeah, well so did recording HD video onto a playing card sized device way back in 1980.

A 3/4 inch videotape is much bigger than a P2 memory card.

Gregg Schieve, CEO and Founder

show it to me

Sandy shedding some light on the internets.

a friend pointed some research out to me… The Nielsen Norman Group, a consulting firm whose founder was deemed by the New York Times to be “the guru of Web page ‘usability,’” has done extensive research into what makes websites successful:  1)nothing higher than a sixth-grade reading level on the home page;  2)more “scannability” — highlighting, color-coding, bullet points; and  3)one idea per paragraph.

but maybe the most interesting bit was if you’re trying to reach young people – they don’t have the reading ability, patience or research skills to successfully complete what they set out to do online. kids now-a-days have a very different learning style. they don’t read, they watch – tv, youtube, web video.

my take-way (from reading all those words): the best way to reach your online audience? VIDEO.

no one, if you’re 8 or 80, wants to spend tons of time wading through a boatload of verbiage.  get my attention, get to the point and don’t waste my time.

we tried this experiment with the tweedee productions website. instead of a bunch of words, we did videos, lots of videos. we kept them short, interesting (in my opinion) and entertaining. we tried to eliminate as many written words as possible.

some of our clients have seen the light. they’ve started doing video newsletters instead of emailing newsletters full of words, articles and clip art. the vnl allows them to highlight their important industry news and map out articles of interest that drive clients to their website for all the details.

with the holiday season upon us…. instead of bogging up your snail mail with cards you’ll toss in the trash, we’re sending out this video greeting. no natural resources wasted. its short, sweet and filled with the spirit of the season.  happy holidays.

now if you’ll excuse me, i have to get back to my youtube.

Viral Videos, Thanksgiving, & Turkey Testicles

Anyone who tells you that you need to make a “viral video” is not giving you good advice.  We’ve produced hundreds of videos here at Tweedee Productions and the only one that has truly gone “viral” did so by sheer luck.  A few years ago, we produced a short video feature about the annual Turkey Testicle Festival in Huntley, Illinois.  We posted the video to YouTube and it got about 200 hits in the two years it was up.  Then last November, some national blogger looking for something to write about leading up to Thanksgiving stumbled across our video and posted a link on their blog.  From there, the video started getting passed on, forwarded on, re-posted, etc.  Suddenly, I was receiving e-mails from people in Florida, California, and Colorado with links to our video.  The video has now been viewed more than 1.2 million times (truly a viral video with those kind of #’s).

But aside from posting it to YouTube, we’d done very little to promote this particular video.  In fact, most videos that go viral do so under similar circumstances to ours.  So basically, there is no guaranteed method to create a video that will go viral, and anyone who tells you they can help you make your video go viral is probably not leading you down the right path.

A true “viral video” is a rare phenomenon, but a video doesn’t have to go viral to be effective.  A recent video we produced about a new medical device is being distributed to a targeted audience of physicians and health care administrators.  Going viral would not necessarily benefit this particular company but showing the video to specific people with the means, the authority, and the need to purchase the device does provide a huge benefit.  The company just received FDA approval to officially sell their product.  However, they’ve been out showing the video to potential clients for almost two years so they’ve already laid the groundwork for a successful product launch.

However, if you still have your heart set on trying to create a viral video, just follow our successful blueprint:

1)      Tie your video into a National Holiday

2)      Feature people eating some sort of fried avian testicles

3)      Find a four-leaf clover

Mac

The Virtual Company

We have a tradition here at Tweedee Productions.  Almost every day at about 2:30, a small group of us will walk down to Ground Zero Coffee Shop for an afternoon shot of caffeine.  The short walk gives us a chance to talk about things outside of the office.  Our conversations range from our families, to the Packers, to the latest Hollywood movies – conversations that usually have nothing to do with work.  I appreciate these walks and talks, and realize the benefits they have for the rest of the Tweedee team.  Which brings me to my point in a round about way. 

I just finished reading an article in the April issue of Inc. Magazine titled The Office Is Dead, Long Live The Office (I know, I’m a little behind in my reading!).  For those of you unfamiliar with the magazine, they pride themselves in writing about up and coming companies, industry trends, and various business models that make some companies seem all too cool.  So the editorial department at Inc. decided to live out a concept that it would typically write about – the virtual office. 

For those of you over 50 (like me), a virtual office or company is one that exists without formal headquarters.  Its owners, executives and employees all work in separate locations, many times from home offices.  They stay connected via a myriad of cool electronic devices, web cameras and free software.  And many of these virtual companies, as reported in the Inc. article, are multi-million dollar virtual companies.  

So after working as a virtual office for one month, the Inc. team produced a 10 page article about the pros and cons of virtual companies.  Pros and cons like less overhead, more individual freedom, confused family boundaries, more legal costs, and a seemingly cooler work vibe.  But what I found most interesting was the effect that the virtual office had on the Inc. staff.  Some people loved it – working at home in PJs, working from a coffee shop, coming and going as they pleased.  Others not so much – it was easy to become distracted from work, and mostly they felt lonely and disconnected.    

That last notion hit home with me and was summed up by the comments from Inc. Magazine photo director Travis Ruse.  His reaction made me appreciate what we have here at our non-virtual office.  Travis said, “My job really became just about my job.  I missed the distractions and surprises that my co-workers bring to the day.  Part of working is the social aspect of doing something collaboratively.  I missed that very much.”    

I started Tweedee Productions 12 years ago in a home office.  That lasted less than 6 months.  I needed a place – an “office” – and much like Travis, the collaboration of working with and bouncing ideas off of my office mates.  I would have trouble working in a virtual company today no matter how cool of a trend it continues to be.  Here at Tweedee “world headquarters”, we have the freedom to set our own hours.  We are very generous (by American standards) with vacation time.  Yet we all come together at a specific place, at a somewhat specific time and make good video.   How much cooler can that be? 

Gregg Schieve, CEO and Founder Tweedee Media Inc.    

Sandy Kowal and Steve Donovan on the Tweedee coffee walk.

OK! I talked me into it!

Well, I took the plunge.  I made the leap.  I threw all common sense to the wind and got a smart phone.  A SMART PHONE!  It makes me feel smart just to say the name – Droid Eris.  “Why yes, I have the Droid Eris.”  

But, will it make me smarter?  Will I work and live smarter?  It’s only A PHONE!  

I don’t need a smart phone.  In renewing our cell phone contract, I could have gotten a new, simple, easy to use cell phone.  But then, I don’t need an electric garage door opener either.  But it is sure nice to have when it’s pouring rain or the temperature is 20 below!  

So I talked myself into it.  Really, once I heard my arguments for getting one, I was convinced.  With more and more ways to watch video either on the internet or on mobile devices, I need to understand video delivery technology.  I need to understand what the buzz is all about.  After all, Tweedee Productions is in the video content production business.  I better know how all this stuff works.  

Mac Chorlton, our business development guy, has had a Blackberry for a couple of years now.  He understood the potential right away.  I remember the day he got it – he was all excited.  He explained how quickly and easily he could show someone one of our videos at a networking or sales event.  Image that you’re at a cocktail party and someone asks you what your company does.  You get that “why, I’m glad you asked me” smile on your face as you whip out your smart phone and play for them a short video that explains your product or service in three minutes or less.  Brilliant!  Instant emotional connection. 

Now, if I could only figure out what this button does…  

Gregg Schieve trying to figure out his new smart phone.

Video Art Emotional Brand Connecting the Dots

If you’ve never believed Emotional Branding is part of your company or your client’s landscape, you’re wrong. If there’s an opinion of your service, product, business, etc. then there’s an emotional awareness that can be labeled as Emotional Branding. What is the customer’s perception?

Like a piece of artwork, you view it and walk away with an interpretation. When I look at Bruce Charlesworth’s new video installation at Madison’s Museum of Contemporary Art, I can stare at it forever and help myself understand what I’m viewing. I’m looking at this thing and I can interpret so many things from it. I guess that’s what art is. Taking a message and interpreting it to your liking.

So what will your video convey? What will the viewing walk away saying? Do you let the viewer interpret or will you feed them the message.

When you struggle to connect dots, turn to creative, storytelling techniques that allow interpretation. Many Americans are sorting out what the FIFA World Cup will play in our culture. How we celebrate it (or not) or root for the U.S. team (or not) is to be determined. It seems to be on a precipice of being entirely welcomed to our sports culture but, until it is, advertisers are struggling to pigeonhole what this game is. Who is watching it and how are we watching it?

Sometimes it’s difficult to connect the dots from your brand into an event or special that, you feel, can work well. Leave the interpretation up to the audience. Home Depot cut a spot for the FIFA World Cup that bring them together in a way that leaves the audience to infer everything. And it works beautifully.

Some say that audience doesn’t know what it wants. I agree but they will sometimes look for what it likes if you leave it to their judgement.

Steve Donovan, Senior Editor, 19 time marathon finisher