Comprehensive Guide to Video Creation
Learn how to plan your next video marketing campaign in order to maximize reach and results
Video is a critical component of modern marketing. Consider the fact that more than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day. Video consumption is on the rise everywhere, you can find it on social media, in taxis, on electronic billboards, in elevators, on video monitors at the gas station, on digital screens at the airport and many other places. Video quite literally surrounds us wherever we are and smart marketers are using this to their advantage.
In our video saturated world, creating compelling videos and promoting them across multiple channels should be a part of every organizations’ communications plan.
Consumers, media and influencers are demanding it! And although every client, every video and every campaign is unique, effective multichannel campaigns driven by video content share some common characteristics.
Whether it’s live action, animation or mixed media, making a successful video comes down to planning. Well-executed video can deliver excellent ROI, but without proper planning you’re guaranteed to waste time and money.
So, how do you go about preparing the best strategy for your campaign? It’s a process, and this guide will be your basic training, helping you get started, taking you through post-production – plus a glossary of terms for those new to video – all the way to the successful release of your campaign.
Start With a Goal And Focus on The Story
There is so much media competing for our attention today that it can quickly become overwhelming. Therefore, making a succinct video with a clear call-to-action (CTA) will lead to better results. Instead of creating a video with the general purpose of “increasing awareness,” think about the clear, tangible action you want your video to spark.
As an example, let’s say a niche software company is looking to emerge as a disruptive, thought leader in its industry and is designing content to convey that message. A successful video for this firm’s campaign might demonstrate the impact of the company’s breakthrough technology, with a CTA to download a white paper written by the CTO.
Identify the targeted audience for your content
It’s imperative to truly understand your intended audience. Who are they? How old are they? What is important to them? Sometimes it is helpful to think of your audience not in vague, general terms, but to build out a thorough persona (e.g., job description, education, professional goals, pain points, personal interests and so forth.) Then, deliver content that is important to that specific target audience.
For instance, what does “Olivia,” a tech-savvy, female millennial in the Bay Area, really want to see from a company promoting connected home technology? Would Olivia respond best to technology executives speaking on camera in a graphically enhanced video, demonstrating products in a slick, 360-degree video? Would an animated infographic with compelling statistics be more engaging? Or, would Olivia be more ready to take action after viewing hyper-stylized, stop motion behind the scenes footage?
After you’ve identified your purpose and the audience for your video, it’s time to delve into your story.
When crafting your story, keep the following in mind:
- Brevity — Think short, clear and to the point, especially for online, social media and television.
- Story — Make sure you’re telling a story. Data and numbers alone are not engaging. Keep viewers watching by asking questions. If they’re not asking “what’s next” then they will abandon the video. Reality TV editors do a great job of this — the audience always wants to know what’s next.
- Connection — Find a way to connect to the audience — the piece should elicit an emotional response.
- Brand — Keep your brand in mind, asking is this a story your company would tell? But at the same time, don’t forget to take risks. It can make your video better, even if it’s straying from your typical look and feel.
- Call to Action — Remember your audience and don’t forget a CTA. It should be clear and direct.
Pick a Format For Your Video
Now it’s time to consider the format for your video. Here are the basics about what the two primary types of videography would entail for your brand:
1) Live Action
This is video that does not use animation. For these productions, the final piece is edited together to tell the story. It can include voiceover, interview and b-roll footage. It will also need sound design and color correction.
Every live action video budget needs to include:
- Script — Sounds obvious, but it’s your roadmap to planning everything else.
- Shoot Day — A crew should include a videographer, audio tech, producer, and basic lighting gear.
- Transcription — Don’t skip it. If you’re interviewing someone you’ll want a transcription to refer to, saving you oodles of time deciding what to put where in your piece. Also, this will make it easier to create closed captions for Facebook and YouTube videos. You can also post videos as a blog post with an accompanying transcription.
- Editing — If you’ve blown your entire budget on the shoot itself, you’ve committed a cardinal sin of production, earning the unenviable title of “rookie.” Whatever is shot is going to need some editing — usually a lot.
- Makeup — Your talent might insist on this — find out now and then you can budget for it.
- A Little Padding — We recommended every video budget includes at least 20 percent for unexpected costs. Maybe it’s crew overtime or graphics your boss decides must be included. Or maybe it’s a scope of work change. Whatever it is, a little cushion can save you.
This is video that uses a storyboard of static images and brings them to life with movement. The illusion of motion is created by the rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other. This is typically created with no live action production and can be 2D or 3D. It will also need sound design and editing in voiceover, if required.
Every animation budget needs to include:
- Script — Like your video budget, without a script you have no direction.
- Style Frames — Defines the visual look and style of the piece.
- Storyboard — A sequence of pictures, either drawn or using still images, representing the shots planned for the animation. These can be used in live action shoots, too.
- Editing — This is when your animation editor brings it to life.
- A Little Padding — Just like with live action, and no less important, even if the reasons may be different for adding 20 percent for a little budget breathing room.
Choosing a Production Partner
To ensure your video meets all your needs it’s important to find the right production partner for the videography style you choose. Hire a reputable production team who can craft your ideas into beautifully produced stories. Leverage people who specialize in content production and specify animation, live action or a combination of the two. They know the questions to ask and have the know-how to get your project completed on time and on budget.
Use this three-step cooperative framework to choose a partner:
- Creative Brief — A brief is typically simplistic in nature but informs the partner producing the content of your goals and messages. The secret to the brief is to be completely honest and communicate what you really need to get across.
- Strong Concept — With the brief completed, let your production company come to you with some ideas or concepts on how to best execute your vision. You should get at least two to three concepts to choose from.
- Distinctive Strategy — Also let your partner help strategize and unearth a unique angle for the story. Look for the best format to present the story within your budget without sacrificing quality.
Getting Ready For Production
Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for creating a video here’s what needs to happen next for animation or production day.
Scripting, Style Frames and Storyboard Phase
These are created before filming or animating and must be signed off upon before production begins (note that not all live action video calls for storyboards). Be clear on the details and approvals. You have to be able to walk into your production day with an accurate vision of what you’re there to capture. And to that end, it’s critical that everyone on the team is on the same page before a single frame is shot. Having to go back later could result in costly fixes or completely missed opportunities.
Creating and Filming Phase
This is the day you are going to capture all of the interviews, b-roll shots, or scenes needed for filming and editing the final piece. Avoid surprises by knowing what exactly is or isn’t included in your production budget. Consider these line items:
- Custom Music — Stock music is inexpensive and available with usage rights. If you want music created just for your piece, you’ll need to hire a composer.
- Teleprompter — For precise messaging, a teleprompter is a must and can certainly save time rolling on flubbed sound bites or nervous talent.
- Set and/or Food Stylists — Usually not necessary for basic shoots, but if needed, expect an additional invoice.
- Location Scouting — This may be needed to assess the space and determine if anything additional is needed to execute on the day of the filming.
- Permits — Permits may be necessary if shooting in public spaces.
- Certificate of Insurance (COI) — A document used to provide information on specific insurance coverage your location may require.
- T&E — If your location means flying folks in, it’ll be extra and rarely included in the budget. Also, it’s really important to budget for meals. Lunch for your cast and crew if they are working a full day, but depending on the size of your shoot and the length of the shoot day, this may need to cover breakfast and dinner, too.
Grasp the opportunity for more on set
So what can you accomplish on a shoot beyond the script itself? Well, there may be opportunities throughout the day that lend themselves to quick and easy add-ons that no one will fault you for because you’re organized, competent and kind. Here are a few ideas to help take your message further:
- Social Media-Ready Clips — Be ready for sharing on these channels with clips and soundbites.
- B-roll — Footage of the office, or someone doing some action appropriate work.
- Shout Outs — Share a message on camera for your sales team, or a shout out to your client to say how thrilled you are to be involved in the campaign.
- Behind The Scenes (BTS) — BTS footage that might be used in a reel later to show how utterly awesome your shoot day was. (And if this is a critical component of the campaign, you may want to budget for a second crew to capture your BTS footage at the get go).
Now that you’ve produced your content, it’s time to make sure your audience gets to see it. Develop your distribution plan, keeping that all-important audience and how they like to consume video in mind. Remember that you need to align your budget if you’re using a distribution plan across multiple channels.
Make sure your content Is platform specific
In addition to understanding what specific video content your audience wants and how you make that a financially stable reality, you also must connect them with your content where they want to see it. Smart video creators produce content that is specifically tailored to the intended platform. A brand’s own website may be the optimal place for longer-form footage, such as a “what we do” video, and while video for channels like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat used to be an afterthought, today social media video is increasingly important. All social channels require shorter videos with varying optimum lengths and platform-specific style and specs.
Think of a nonprofit organization that wants potential donors to truly understand its mission. A longer-form video enables a deeper type of emotional connection that short, social videos may not. So maybe the same nonprofit that produces a longer form video “mission statement” for their owned channels, may then craft a series of 15 personal profiles of individuals who have benefitted from the charitable work of the organization for use on social.
Consider amplifying content with a multichannel campaign
A multichannel campaign will reach your existing audience on your owned properties, and can also garner new audience via content distribution and recommended channels. While distribution is a key component of successful content marketing, it is too often an overlooked step. Multichannel plans amplify video content with tactics such as promotion via press releases, microsites and strategic placement.
Let’s say a company is launching a financial management app and wants to catch the eye of “Michael,” a 40-something, male, C-Suite executive from the biotech industry based in the Boston area; in his world, he could be immersed in the campaign’s videos. Video messages could appear on the websites he will be visiting, at the gateway to the Wi-Fi network he will access, in the lobby of his office building, in his taxi on the way to the airport, on his favorite satellite radio channel, on a screen at the airport lounge and on the cable channel he watches at night.
Remember how content “Earns” Attention
Beyond the innumerable ways you can leverage paid options to hyper target your audience, don’t forget about good old earned media. If you amplify your message beyond your owned channels with content distribution and a media outreach strategy, you stand a far better shot getting coverage by influential outlets, journalists and bloggers.
Take a brand supporting a charitable organization with a CSR campaign. Pitching radio, TV or blog interviews for one of the organizations’ rising stars to discuss how your brand’s efforts will impact the community could be a huge win. Also, the organization should have b-roll available to complement the journalist and/or bloggers’ story.
Measure The Impact
Once your video marketing campaign has completed, you’ll need to take stock and measure the performance against the goal you set at the beginning of this process.
First, the metrics and goals for the campaign and its video content should be established up front. Decide what is most important to your organization and this program. Is the goal “big picture” market positioning, measured by increased brand awareness and total impressions, or engagement and actual actions by target demographics, evaluated by video views, clicks, shares, and embeds. A specific data baseline can help you measure not just the ROI of an individual campaign and its components, but also enable the comparison of initiatives against each other to better gauge success and plan future endeavors.
What if a campaign for a new nutrition product for toddlers was designed to reach young mothers and included a coupon offer. Success metrics might be measured around earned broadcast audiences for the brand’s video content, unique monthly visitors on “mommy blogs” covering the product, website traffic, brand recognition/share of voice in the industry and the number of times a coupon offer was shared and redeemed.
Video: The Heart of Successful Marketing Campaigns
Video should not just be a part of your next multichannel marketing campaign — it should truly be its heart. Strategic advanced planning to maximize budget as well as clarify purpose, audience, targeted distribution, media outreach and measurement will help ensure that your brand is optimized and ready to engage your target audience wherever they are.
Now that you are armed with what’s needed for your next video campaign, it’s time to find your production partner and get things rolling.
Glossary of Production Terms
To orient you in the video production process, we put together a quick glossary. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so speak to the experts before executing on any video strategy.
- LIVE ACTION VIDEO refers to cinematography or videography, meaning the video uses real people and elements and does not use animation.
- B-ROLL is the footage captured to enrich the story you’re telling and allows you greater flexibility when editing. Instead of featuring only talking heads, you want other images you can cut away to that add dimension to your story.
- B-ROLL PACKAGE is a compilation of interviews and video footage that is edited for reporters and producers to use for coverage of a story. Stations can downlink this package via a satellite feed, stream, video download or request a hard copy.
- ENG (NEWS STYLE) VS. CINEMATIC STYLE SHOOTS: There are now several levels of cameras and crews that go with them, so here are a couple of options. There are standard News Style shoots, a.k.a. Electronic News Gathering, which are broadcast quality HD camera, audio gear and audio technician with a three point lighting kit. Cinematic Style Shoots offer increasing levels of cameras, upgraded lighting package and additional lenses. Rely on the production company to guide you and determine what is necessary.
- POST PRODUCTION is when all the elements come together to compose the final piece. This could include editing of live action video, color correction, sound design and mixing, as well as animation.
- SOUND BITE is a short clip of speech extracted from a longer piece of audio, often used to promote or exemplify the full-length piece. Videos can be told exclusively with the use of sound bites and not use any voiceover.
- STYLE FRAMES are typically used prior to a full storyboard to help align the visual look and style of the piece. They’ll usually depict a few frames of a storyboard to get sign off on prior to creating all the storyboards.
- STORYBOARDS are a sequence of pictures, either drawn or using photographs, representing the shots planned for an animation or video shoot. Dialogue, visual directions and other cues are part of the storyboard. They can be used for either a live action piece to help plan out the shots in advance, or as the frames that would be used in an animation video.
- ANIMATION creates the illusion of motion by the rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other. This is typically created with no live action production and can be 2D or 3D. Animators are artists who specialize in the creation of animation.
- MIXED MEDIA is a video that includes both graphics/animation and live action.
- VOICE OVER is narration in a video or film. If the video was voice over exclusively, you would not see the person on camera. Often you would hire professional voice over talent to be used in either live action or animation to help tell the story.
- CINEMAGRAPHS are still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement occurs. They are published in either animated GIF format or as video and give the illusion that the viewer is watching a video.
- INFOGRAPHICS are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information clearly and visually. They can improve understanding and retention by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends.
- GEM is a Graphically Enhanced Message and represents the marriage of live action, augmented with motion graphics.
ABOUT THE EXPERT: LARRY CARDARELLI
Larry is Cardarelli is Vice President of MultiVu Production and MultiVu Creative, a division of PR Newswire. Larry started in business news writing and producing for Lou Dobbs on CNN. He also freelanced for the BBC, Fox, and ABC News, as well as several independent production companies. In 2004 Larry was hired as a producer for MultiVu, a division of PR Newswire. In 2007 he was promoted to Senior Producer and Executive Producer in 2012. As Executive Producer, Larry was tasked with the development of a creative team as the industry was changing from broadcast-centric production to content creation. In 2013, under his leadership, his team brought in more than $600k in new creative production revenue and $2M in 2014. Larry was named Vice President in 2015 and continues the development of the creative department within MultiVu.
His avocation is food and wine, having worked in several New York City restaurants including the former New York Times 3-star March restaurant, has written for Food Arts magazine, attended the certificate program in Restaurant Management at The French Culinary Institute in conjunction with Cornell School oF Hotel Management. Larry is a James Beard nominated TV food producer.
ABOUT THE EXPERT: LAURA GARNETT
Laura Garnett is a Supervising Producer at MultiVu, the video production, distribution, and media strategy division of PR Newswire, a CISION company. Laura has 14 years of experience in film, television and broadcast journalism. Laura is currently the Supervising Producer at MultiVu, an award winning multimedia company. In her time at MultiVu, she has produced a wide range of videos, from corporate videos, PSAs, interstitial advertisements, b-roll packages, video news releases, and online videos for content marketing. She has focused on everything from health, technology and consumer production pieces.
Prior to joining MultiVu Laura was a writer, field producer and Assignment and Planning Editor at the 24 hours news channel NY1 on Time Warner Cable. While there, she planned NY1’s city coverage of the 2008 Republican National Convention that was held in NYC. As the Assignment Editor she also oversaw reporters and field producers and camera operators in the field. She field produced numerous stories for air on the news channel from crime, political and feature stories.
Previous to NY1, Laura worked at HBO in the legal department, Lifetime Television as a production assistant, and Bloomberg News, writing and producing stories for their radio channel. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and majored in American History.