The number one way to start telling a good story is to pick a good story to tell. Sounds simple? Not all stories lend themselves to video. The first test of whether a video is merited for any story is -- is this a visual story?
To tell the truth, I'm not a huge fan of much of the video I see on the web. Just because you're talking into a camera and telling me what you think -- doesn't necessarily create compelling video story making. I mean if you are George Clooney or ScarJo, I'll watch anything. But if you're not...
STICK WITH PROCESS
Show me a process. Show me how things work. Show me a cycle from begining to end. Layer the details along side the process and your information is easily digested.
Recently, I with Wheelhouse pitched to The Daily (the iPad only newspaper) a story of a street artist in New York City who paints the most unbelievable Renaissance style chalk drawings on the sidewalk. I've passed his drawings for years walking around town and always wondered who he was.
VIDEO ENHANCES THE STORY WHEN YOU CAN SEE A PROGRESSION
I looked up Hani, the sidewalk artist, on the web and sure enough he had a website with clippings of articles done on him in the New Yorker, The New York Times, The Daily News and others. Was it a bad idea to do a profile on him since others had already discovered him? I don't think so. To me, what was missing was a video that showed him working from beginning to end - how he creates these sidewalk masterpieces.
The editor at The Daily liked the idea and we set out to tell his story.
SHOW THE PROCESS WHILE TELLING THE STORY
I knew I wanted the visuals to drive the story so I made sure that I could capture Hani completing a portrait in 8 hours.
We picked a subject (Madonna and Child) that he could finish in that time.
I taped him with an unmanned HDSLR camera shooting a frame every 30 seconds. I also filmed him with a separate camera for about 6 hours doing various time-lapses on specific parts of the drawing so that we could see the drawing build over time. We also captured B-roll of Hani interacting with pedestrians, setting up, and walking away.
The process of him making a portrait was the perfect B-roll to play over his interview. In the interview, he told us where he was from, what motivates him, his dreams, and what his paintings mean.
A much easier production would have been to interview him and show his collection of stills of past works. Hani had a treasure trove of stills of his recent work. But that would have been BORING. Easier. But dull. Show the process.
Here's a link to the finished video:
(Can't see the video or want to see it in higher
resolution?) Try this http://bit.ly/mofwsD
If you liked this post, check out Part 2 of Making Great Video Stories - The Obsessionist VIdeo.
“It’s Too Bad. And I Don’t Mean It’s Too Bad Like ‘Screw ’Em.’”.
The link above takes you to a picture of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and article about him from the July 24, 2011 edition of New York Magazine.
You don't have to read the article, but I did like how Mr. Blankfein is allowing powder to be put on his balding head and face before the TV camera rolls.
Scenario: A company pays good money to record their executives speak on camera. They rent a crew, HD camera, lights, and director. The talent comes in and declines powder to wipe the shine off his face. The rough cut comes in and everyone wonders why the executive looks so shiny/oily/sweaty.
A little powder goes a long way so don't forget to bring it to your shoots. I generally use Clairol CoverGirl translucent powders. They come in a host of shades -- so to be prepared -- I bring a fair, medium, tan and dark powder with me at all times.
I use wedges to apply it and throw them out when the shoot is done.
Lately, I've had a more than a few male executives to decline wanting to use powder on their face. We all have a little shine and the bright lights pointed at your face just make it all that more noticeable.
In some cases when people don't want powder, I'll use oil cleaning wipes that have no odor but do a pretty good job in getting off the shine. Most men have no qualms about using them. I carry all of this in a toiletries bag and it's the first thing I pack for any shoot.
Lesson: Get the shine off for better looking video.
Hey there: RSS up http://www.crumplepop.com/blog/
I've bought some of CrumplePop's products like Notes (Good) for a fast easy way to put Post-It type notes on your video and Splitscreen (OK) for a fast easy way to create mattes in your video for multiple splitscreen - to get that Thomas Crown Heights Affair late 60's look in your video. The caveat with this plug in is that you can't move around the video in the boxes.
The cool thing is that they have a pretty interesting blog focused on HDSLRs, do it your self projects to enhance your video and the latest hardware and software news.
...is the one that gets you to shoot more and edit more.
I get lots of queries from friends and colleagues on the best video camera to buy. I always ask, what are you using it for? If you're a professional, the world has moved away from having just one camera. Camera prices have become more and more affordable.
Indeed, when I started in the biz, you shot with one camera. A broadcast quality, Beta SP camera that retailed for around $60,000. Nowadays, pros have a complement of cameras and use them like a golfer uses all the clubs in his/her bag. It depends on what the job requires.
WHAT I USE
For clients, I've been working with DPs who own the following SONY EX-1 with Letus Adapter, SONY EX-3, Canon 5D and 7D, Panasonic HPX 300, Panasonic AG AF 100, and the trusty Panasonic HVX-2000. I just tested the SONY PMW F3 and that looks to be a real beaut.
For my own personal stuff, I have a Flip, iPhone, a Canon HV30 (tape based!) and a Panasonic GH1. These cameras are simple to shoot with and easy to load into a computer and start editing. Of all three, I'm shooting more with my iPhone because that's the one in my pocket. But the Flip which is nearly the same size to my eye has better low light capapbility and more punch - I just can't check my email with it.
JUST GET OUT THERE
The point is... The best camera is the one that gets you using it.
Who knows what you'll encounter... I was driving to the grocery store right after a huge NYC snow storm. Right in front of me was the answer to the question, "Where do they put the snow?" I whipped out my iPhone 4.
I shot it from the car and the joggers ran into frame just as I was starting my "tracking shot." It all felt very Woody Allen so I went looking for some '40s band music.
If nothing else, I can look at this video come the summer time when temperatures reach 100 degrees. And weep.
A COOL RESOURCE
The music is Del Casino and His Orchestra from the The Prelinger Archives at the Internet Archive. Most of it is public domain, and the web site encourages you to take the content, mash it up and use how you see fit...
You are warmly encouraged to download, use and reproduce these films in whole or in part, in any medium or market throughout the world. You are also warmly encouraged to share, exchange, redistribute, transfer and copy these films, and especially encouraged to do so for free.
-- The Prelinger Archives
Worth a look.
Seeing the Twixtor plug in on all those cool bike videos on vimeo made me think how could I bring this 1000 frames per second look into a employee communications corporate video.
I thought it would be cool to see employees having a ball traveling up and down in mid-air but slowed down so I could really spend some time on them (2 to 3 seconds).
The idea was for a show where the client need was to highlight this team for outstanding achievement.
I've edited together the twixtor doctored footage in this video below and have some advice if you want to incorporate twixtor in your next show:
Take a look at the Twixtor samples here in this film. This was taken from a finished piece produced by me at Wheelhouse Communications. Music is The Empire State by Caution Cat, courtesy of Love Cat Music. Can't see the video in your email: http://www.vimeo.com/21659380
For extra bonus points: How did we get the people so high up?
Since we watch videos on computers and mobile devices and slates - the notion that a video must be presented in a landscape aspect is going away quicker than your cable TV bill.
TVs are landscape.
But we are so close up to our computer devices that Portrait mode is coming down the pike as a new way to view moving images.
Have you been taking cell phone video on your iPhone? It just feels natural to hold it in one hand in portrait mode.
Take adavantage of Portrait mode in your next video...
I found this little film by Rick Hamilton on vimeo that takes advantage of being vertical. It feels like 4x6 home photos come to life.
Forbes Insights recently published results of a survey conducted with Google. The news for video makers is good. Over 80% of Executives surveyed said they are watching more video than they did a year ago.
The answers were most encouraging for video content creators.
Over 50% of the respondents said they took action after watching a business related video and 60% of the under forty crowd made a business related purchase after viewing on-line video content.
But here was the stunner, 30% of the under 40 crowd preferred video to text for "business information you need."
I see that number only getting bigger in the months and years ahead.
(click to pop out)
Download the full survey here.