Learning by (making) video

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First up: if anybody doubts the power of sound and movement (aka video) to make a dramatic emotional impact with viewers watch this and get back to us.

That’s why this year, we have spent a lot of time and energy shooting short videos destined for the websites of clients such as Merri Community Health and ourselves. Our videos were not as tear-inducing as the example above but we are convinced that they offer a way to communicate that is hard to resist. Here’s what we learnt from making 30 or so videos:


public speakers with disabilities in Australia

Meet the Marriott School Ambassadors.

Introduce your people via video

So much of your business success hinges on whether people think your individual people are great at what they do.

You need to convince people of their skills, authenticity, and passion. You could do this with words and a headshot or you could do this with video. Which do you think will be more effective?


Marriott Support Services did this beautifully with a series of videos showcasing their public speakers all of whom are young people with an intellectual disability. We are proud to have made them.

More is more It’s better to make a series of shorter videos that break down a topic into bite-size pieces then make one longer video encompassing many perspectives on the one subject.


video production melbourne

Time is of the essence.

Less is more.

People claim to know that attention spans are short and getting shorter. Then of course the very same people make a video and find that they have much to say in such interesting ways that the viewer should be happy to block off five minutes. This is deluded. Sixty seconds is a long time online so anything more than two minutes duration is likely to outstay its welcome. Looking back at some of the videos we shot for ourselves in January – some of which are 90 seconds long – we realised that we could have shaved some excess time but didn’t. Bugger.


video production tips

Short captions. Fleeting theme tune.

Opening credits An opening credit or graphic adds professionalism to your videos and explains what people should expect. Be sure to keep them very brief as people’s patience can wear thin, particularly if they’ve already seen two or three of your videos in the preceding minutes.

We ensured that our credits were short with an exceptionally brief piece of audio which is both cute and allows people to check the volume level on their devices.


Picture quality Whether you’re a corporate entity or a nonprofit you need to have videos that look like they belong on the world wide web. Shooting your videos in high definition is not a budgetary consideration anymore; so go HD. Ensure that your videos are well lit and have excellent audio quality. The latter will usually require a lapel microphone. Too many videos suffer from hollow sound quality which immediately brands your videos as amateur.

And no – being a voluntary outfit does not allow you to create content that is amateur in appearance. Hire the best people you can hire which in most cases does not mean someone is tech-savvy nephew.


Music / Audio A lot of online videos have a bed of music underneath. This can be very distracting if it is not balanced well with the sound of the narrator. We recommend not using a continuous soundtrack or score under your video. You may wish to use some carefully selected sound effects at various times throughout your videos to add emphasis or humour but be minimalist with this won’t you? Similarly you may wish to insert some graphics to highlight key words, concepts or extra information.


More overlay please Overlay is the term given to the visuals you see as you hear the spokesperson talking in the background. For instance you may start a video featuring the interviewee on camera talking. Then, at an appropriate juncture, the vision of that person is replaced with overlay that somehow relates to what they’re talking about as per this short film we shot recently for Merri Community Health:

Without overlay you have a long, boring and amateurish video. You need to shoot more overlay than you ever thought you needed and an editor willing and able to browse that overlay and edit it with a deft touch.


It’s all about editing Hollywood directors are fond of saying that a movie can be made or broken in the edit suite. How true this is. Sharp editing with savvy use of graphics, music and various angles makes all the difference. A one-shot, set-and-forget approach will not work. You need close-ups, wide shots, overlay, graphics all working in concert to keep people’s attention. Editors make the most of your content.


tips for online videosHave a script Most people prefer to work with a script. We intuitively don’t like scripts as they turn normal people into actors, causing them to be more concerned with remembering their lines instead of saying what they actually mean in an authentic way.

Some spokespeople prefer to work without a script. This is more fun but causes two problems: 1. it makes editing harder as there’s no script for reference. You may have to transcribe the whole bloody thing! 2 you wrap-up the shoot, only to realise the next day that there were 17 things you should have said on camera but didn’t.

Scripts or dot point outlines help avoid these problems. For each of the videos we made we had an outline of what needed to be said. Knowing that we were able to add overlay, graphics and still images in the edit suite allowed spokespeople to deliver a chunk or two at a time. Don’t burden your spokespeople with the need to deliver all of the talking in one fell swoop – this is madness and a shortcut to a very boring video.


video marketing

This guy knows stuff. And hangs out on balconies.

The production is just the beginning

So you’ve created your video masterpieces – now the hard work begins. If your intention is to rack up millions of hits you will have to do your darndest to promote them.

YouTube is a very big place and it’s unlikely that your videos will be found by strangers. Just as you should optimise your website so that it is found via Google you need to optimise your YouTube videos so that they are found by people searching YouTube. Babyfaced James Wedmore teaches a lot about this and all things video related.


making videos for youtube

A trio of thumbnail images.

Thumbnails YouTube only offers you a few selections for your thumbnail image. Pick the most vibrant, lively, attention-grabbing option. Generally speaking a picture of a person is more compelling than other imagery. If you can combine an image of a person with some text explaining the video, you are probably on a winner.

Make-up! You aren’t making a Hollywood romcom but viewers would like you to look pretty damn presentable. Make-up really helps – especially under the heat of the spotlight. Brett could have looked like Nicole Kidman if we’d got a make-up artist on board. Opportunity missed!


conference marketing

Maureen is best experienced on video.

Got a conference? Want bookings? Shoot video.  Every event organiser wants more people at next year’s event than they got this year. Testimonials help. They are five times more powerful if delivered via video. Set up a camera and encourage people (with chocolate) to proclaim the magnificence of your event. This will make promoting next year’s conference much easier.


To video or not to video Like everything associated with the online world, videos promise much but may not necessarily deliver. For every YouTube sensation there are many, many videos with very, very few views. That said, any website aiming to impress viewers and build credibility needs videos. Use them to add colour and movement both literally and figuratively.


hootville youtube thumbnails - 12Want to watch some?

Go here and watch.

Want to make some? Call Brett 0414 713 802.

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