Are you a storyteller? A practitioner or a technician?

So as I was sitting in the morning church service, there was a piano selection performed right at the beginning. As I was sitting there listening to this beautiful melody coming out of this grand piano; I thought this grand piano has been sitting at the front for a long time but I have yet to notice how beautiful it sounds. The soloist was playing this instrument in a way that brought out the tremendous musical range. The soloist was completely engaged with the piano, focused on the song, the notes, the stanzas. Why have I never noticed this piano before?

The audience was completely engaged in the music, tied to every note, anticipating the next stanza, watching as the soloist’s hands interacted with the keys, playing notes with methodical movements from one to the next. The piano has the potential to play that well…but it is the soloists interpretation of the music selection as she used this instrument to bring the story of the song to the ears of the audience.

About a week ago, I had someone question me whether the advent of Flip Video devices would create a drastic reduction in online video production industry? A great question. But as I listened to this soloist interact with this grand piano, I began to think about this question even more. My first response to this individual was simply whether I am using a Flip Video device, a high definition pro-sumer camera, or a $70K Sony HDCAM….it is not the device that tells the story…it is the practitioner who interprets the technology to create and deliver the story.

True practitioners, real storytellers know how to evolve with technology and maximize it’s potential to meet the needs of an audience. I think of a story I produced a few years ago about an Opera Singer on his way to re-merge as an Opera Sinder, my friend Ron Gattis.

When I first started working in video production (broadcast video production), I used what was called BetaCAM video devices. The camera weighed 30lbs and was the size of medium size briefcase positioned on my shoulder or on a tripod heavier than the camera itself. We would take the results of the video taping and use two large BetaCAM decks (Two large VCR’s) to edit between in a linear mode. One mistake and there was no going back…time to re-edit. Using that set-up, I won six Emmy Awards and numerous other AP awards for Television Excellence.

I tell this story…and many journalists before me endured broadcast video camera larger than this where the camera was split into two pieces.

Now, I work with a camera less than half the size, half the price, and edit on a laptop. I can deliver my stories to audiences broader than the DMA I was working in during my broadcast television days. I put the video into the laptop and can move the video around, manipulate it in ways that would take a major post-production house of 10 years ago tons of money and weeks of production.

The technology is changing, but I still have to use it appropriately to deliver a high quality story in a manner that allows the audience forget they are watching this story on a screen, remove their peripheral vision. Whether it is a theatre or a computer screen…I want to create that story within an interface that is interactive. You know what I mean, that moment when you are sitting in a movie and you are so involved with the story-line, you forget you are in a theatre. It is all about being in the “Zone” from both an audience perspective and a practitioner perspective.

Do you think that if the soloist was given a keyboard device that was no bigger than a laptop, she could render a melody worth sitting and listening too? Do you think Ansel Adams could render a beautiful landscape using a pin-hole camera that was created from a Quaker Oats cylinder? The ability for a practitioner to tell a story is embedded in our DNA, whether it is a Flip Video Camera or beautiful state of the art Grand Piano.

So next time you hear that beautiful melody/harmony coming from a Grand Piano…think for a minute, is it the Grand Piano rendering those beautiful notes….or is the vision of the soloist interpreting the potential of those keys and bringing you the audience into “their” world. I love telling visual stories!

my life as a visual storyteller…translating to new media

My wife and I have been cleaning out our attic and working on the baby room. I found an old picture from 1998 when I attended the NPPA Oklahoma Workshop for News & Video. NPPA stands for National Press Photographers Association, which is a group of people who believe in one common goal, telling a good story visually. So why do I bring this up in my blog…well, it goes the very foundation of my business.

As a young journalist, the NPPA along with many workshops like Poynter Institute in Florida, I learned how to listen, capture, and craft a compelling story. From technical proficiency, which included using camera, sound gear, and our linear edit bays to visual storytelling that believed in capturing the moment. These skills have stayed with me over the years and influence how I approach every project I work on today.

Being a good storyteller is a subjective trait…many different people have different approaches. Some use writing, some use photography, some use technology. I use my cameras and my digital knowledge. I have learned how to transform that storytelling, journalistic approach into a marketable business in today’s economy. Now what does that mean?

Every project I work on whether it uses video production, new media, teaching, or coaching…I work to find the story in each context. I use a stoytelling approach to each and every project that crosses my desk. I was trained as a journalist to listen for the stories. Yes….listen for the stories. When I would go into a breaking news scene, we were trained as photojournalists to listen visually. Carry our cameras on our shoulders and our microphones in front of us and listen for the stories.

We would capture images from the field during hurricanes, conventions, fires, events, etc. and listen for the story. Listen for people talking and those colorful metaphors that painted the picture. We were trained to look at every situation and then turn 180 degrees to find those who were describing the story. Why…what better way to capture a story than through the eyes and ears of the people who are experiencing the situation. We resist writing voice-over in our scripts…it signifies we did not do our job collecting quality interviews and moments. We aim to allow people to tell the story, not some third party voice-over.

So how does photojournalism and storytelling translate into new media including blogs and social outlets? Storytelling is an amazing tool. It gives us the opportunity to tell stories, third person accounts through outlets like video, blogs, journals, and other new media tools. It allows us to capture other peoples’ thoughts in a way that we can share them others to enjoy. It provides and opportunity to bring the audience into the context and see thing through someone else’s lens. It also provides and ethical approach to content creation. We learn to honor those whom we are using to tell stories, to represent their interests along with ours as well.

We have an opportunity to take a project, a blog, a video, a message and bring the audience into a theater, our digital theater. We have a chance to see something through another lens by using words, video, pictures, sounds, etc. We have a chance to stop writing corporate copy, generating brand messages…instead craft a story that can translate to the people around us.

One of my favorite things to do on a project is a little ethnography project. When I first start working with a group, I like to emerse myself inside the story. I like to find myself inside the context, then start capturing the sights and sounds of the message. Their are many ways to tell a story, but I chose to tell it through another’s viewpoint…to capture reality for others to enjoy. Content can be king!

This is my craft…

I was talking with a close colleague and friend tonight as we were working on a project, and we were trying to articulate the craft of visual storytelling. I was telling him that I have a friend here in Anderson, SC who is constantly introducing me to new people, and he uses my tag line, “This is my friend Bobby Rettew and he is a storyteller.” Then he follows-up with the phrase, “I am still trying to figure out how a storyteller makes money.” Well, Cordes Seabrook…this post is for you.

The craft of visual storytelling is tough to define…it is years and years of experience telling rich stories for broadcast television outlets across the country. It is years and years of judging and critiquing products for the National Academy of Television, Arts, and Sciences; Associated Press, National Press Photographers Association; and other local, regional, and national organizations. It is years and years of producing and leading teams of storytellers to produce shows, long format production, and numerous commercial spots for television and online distribution. But most of all…it is all about letting our stories tell themselves.

Telling compelling stories is not only understanding the mission of the project, but completely understanding the audiences you hope the message will compel to make action. It is understanding that the beginning, middle, and end is just the frame work for connecting the message to the audience; but weaving layers or messages tied together with a single red string.

The search for the red string is one of the hardest parts of the process…but once found, it makes the production to create the final product move increasingly faster. I was having dinner with Bob Dotson of NBC one night in Charlotte, and he explained to me that anyone can tell a story. But those who tell compelling, rich stories tell ones with layers and layers of messages…each connected with a single red string that crescendo at the right time, allowing the audience to full see the message through the subject(s) eyes and ears.

The approach I use aims to stay away from writing voice-over or track for someone to speak. Voice-over that connects all the sound-bites. The craft starts from the very beginning, with the interviews. The construction starts and continues during the shooting and interview process. This is the time to collect sound, great interviews. These interviews are collected in a way that tell the whole story from beginning to end. Each person interviewed has their own story to tell, adding to the the bigger picture of the final product. So it is the burden of the storyteller to guide each subject through an interview, so each person tells each piece of the puzzle. During this process, finding that one theme, idea, moral, ethic…the red string that connects all the pieces is crucial. Then while writing, we connect all the pieces using the red-string…to connect all the dots.

The red-string can be a person’s story, a subject each person reveals, an event that takes place…whatever is chosen, it has to make sense for the audience to grasp. Then using all the other elements, interviews, broll, natural sound, and music to fill in the gaps…guiding the audience through this visual timeline.

Visual storytelling is a craft…it is one that is hard to teach, articulate, and reproduce. This craft is also fraternal, you know when you meet another person that shares this same passion. We believe in the ethics of this moral enterprise, protecting the voice of the subjects that we so carefully provide as a platform to deliver a message. We are advocates for the people(s) voice…the voice of those who know the story the best. It is our ethic to properly represent that voice and bridge the gap between message, audience, and the subjects’ voice. If we are not careful, our writing sometimes de-humanizes the words they speak.

The business of this craft…to find those who believe in the craft and final value in advocating for the subjects voice. This visual storytelling enterprise closely represents that mission of word-of-mouth marketing, but we just provide a visual medium to communicate their message. We advocate for their message…because deep down inside, the audience wants to hear a story from those they relate. The audience relates to people that they can identify with, those whom they could see themselves replaced in the monitor or television screen. If that is achieved, and we can make the audience see themselves in the screen saying the powerful words…then we have achieved the goal of the craft. Visual storytelling is a craft…it is my passion.

The Interview – Documentary Approach to Storytelling!

No I do not mean a job interview, but this can be loosely applied. I am thinking about what it means to conduct an on-camera interview for a story using video. Once, again…a story. One of the most profound ways to tell a video story is through the eyes, ears, experience, and perceptions of others. Writing a story for the news, for video, or however you want to display the information can be done in so many ways. But one way is through interviews. We can write the best copy, but interviews provide that red-string that binds a compelling story together.

This post is dedicated just to the interview…not to the implementation of the interview into a story. One fundamental ideal I always carry with me comes from a long time journalist and NBC Corespondent Bob Dotson. I remember the first time I ever listened him to speak to a group of journalists (photojournalists) at the NPPA week long boot-camp in Norman, Oklahoma. The best way to conduct an interview is through a series of questions and statements; but what ever you do, ask the question and stare…make the interviewee fill the void. When you get back to listen to the tape, you do not want to listen to answers with your “Uhh Haa”, “Really”, or “Wow”. You want to have the interviewee’s audio as the only audio in the interview.

Conducting an interview is like telling a story…the interview needs to have a beginning, middle, and end. You want to create a conversation between you and the interview subject. Also…you want your interview subject to forget that the microphone and the camera are surrounding them!

When I conduct an interview for a story…I first think of how to make the technology go unnoticed. The first thing that needs to happen is that the wireless microphone needs to be put on the subject FIRST. It needs to be put on in a way so that it is hidden from the view of the camera and thus the final audience. I like to have the transmitter placed behind the subject, maybe of the pants waste-band, then the microphone and wiring under the shirt, blouse, or sweatshirt. The end of the microphone near the neckline of the shirt to pick up the audio of the subject. Then, the camera needs to positioned in a place that the subject is not focusing on the camera. It can be placed in the adjacent room where the lens can zoom to shoot through the doorway.

Once the camera is rolling, I like to start off with what I consider throw-away questions and answers. I ask a series of questions that have nothing to do with the subject matter at hand but merely to learn more about the person to gain trust. This is to build the conversation so that when the real questions are asked, the answers come naturally.

As I move into the questions that are the purpose for the interview, I am building up to the main questions, the main purpose of this interview. I always have notes of topics that I want to cover on a notepad, but in topic form so that I do not use the piece of paper to recite the question. I use the interview as an opportunity to explore the subject’s expertise, gaining knowledge not only for me as the storyteller but for the audience.

As I move through the questions…I always have a few questions that are the most important, the ones that require the best response. I place these appropriately in the line of questioning that makes sense and come out naturally. I build the interview to these questions where each question leads to the next response that ultimately leads to the questions that matter to the interview.

The Interview is merely the process of telling a story. Allowing the interview subjects to provide supplementary information that supports that main object of the story. The interview provides context and allows their “expertise” to bring credibility to the story and context to the audiences minds.

Conducting an interview is just a conversation, an exploration…learning more about their experiences and expertise. The video camera is merely a device to help us relay this story to the intended audience.

Video – Good Ole fashion Storytelling

It took years and years for me to get to the point of understanding what it means to tell a story. A Story…which is comprised as a Beginning, Middle, and a End.

Hmm…let’s think about this for a second. It is currently recommended that if you are creating online video content, that you keep it within a few time parameters.

1) If it is a single person speaking right at the camera…then a minute is about as long as the human attention span can stay engaged.

Jakob Nielsen’s “Talking-Head Video is Boring Online” states that “Eyetracking data show that users are easily distracted when watching video on websites, especially when the video shows a talking head and is optimized for broadcast rather than online viewing.”

2) If there are more shots beyond the headshot edited over a person speaking (a narrator), then a person’s attention span on average is willing to hang around for about 2.5 minutes. What do I mean? Well, there needs to be a variety of shot selection instead of just looking at the one talking head shot.

Now, given these parameters…let’s talk about Beginning, Middle, and End edited so that it tells a cohesive story between 1 to 2.5 minutes. OMG….seriously. Did you know that if you wrote a script for a video that is:
– one full page length on an 8.5×10 in piece of paper
– one inch margins
– single spaced
– 12 point font size
then it would take roughly 2.5 – 3 minutes to narrate the script. Most people have a hard time condensing a blog article less than five paragraphs. This is why I like Twitter…tell a story in 140 characters.

Many people in advertising and pr like to plan, and plan, and plan, and pre-plan the plan. You know, write the script with the message/vision in mind. Dictate what the narration is going to say, script each person in the video so that it is a controlled message. There is tremendous value in controlling the message.

I typically take a more journalistic approach to creating messages for the clients who choose to work with me.

  • Identify the context by analyzing the Audience, Purpose, and Delivery.
  • Identify the cast (people/subjects featured in video)
  • Identify the storylines that provide context for each subject
  • Write an overall OUTLINE of the story
  • Schedule Interviews
  • Outline the questions/points for the interview
  • Interview each subject on-camera as a conversation
  • After each interview, log and transcribe each interview
  • Write final script
  • Identify gaps in story
  • Write narration and on-camera host scripts that interweave the interviews that display the story (Beginning, Middle, and End).
  • Edit the story. Be prepared to deviate from script based on pacing and story execution. Place each piece of the puzzle together to support overall message.
  • Revision Cycle with stakeholders
  • Deliver the message to the target audience

Now this is a basic overview of the “journalistic approach” to storytelling. But really…it is the approach of letting the subjects tell the story. Using keen interview skills to listen to responses, and being prepared to alter/adjust the interview to pull relevant topics from the subject…bottomline, to meet the needs of the message. This most important part of this process is…LISTEN! Listening is the key to telling a good story. Listen to the subjects, listen to the message, listen to your instincts, listen to the responses on tape, listen to facial expressions of the subjects, listen to the clients reactions.

So how do we listen? Well, let’s talk about listening during a few keys areas of the process.

1) Listening during the interview.

Bob Dotson (NBC Correspondent) said the best way to listen during an interview is to ask a question/make a statement then sit there and force a response. Do not say a thing, create a silent void for the subject to fill. Do not sit there and do the typical “Ahh Haha” or the “Yes” while the person is talking…you will corrupt the audio recorded!

Listen to the subject by watching their facial expressions while you ask questions. This is key to seeing and understanding what makes the subject tick. Did you know that the first two or three questions are typically throw away questions. Questions that get the subject warmed up…use them to your advantage…make them feel comfortable and forget the camera is there. While you are listening to the responses…stay tuned into the how the subject’s mood changes so that you know when to ask a hard question. LISTENING will help you frame your interview session. Interviewing a subject is like telling a story…there is a beginning, middle, and end to the question an answer session.

2) Listening during the logging/transcription session

This is the time to watch, listen, and analyze whether the interview session translates the intended message. Listen for changes in the storyline both in the interview and the over-arching story that is being created. Listen and log “soundbites” that fit into the storyline. As you are logging/transcribing take note to the “soundbites” that might fit in the beginning middle, or end. Listen and take note to the comments….additional “B-Roll” or footage might be needed as complimentary video to reinforce the comments.

3) Listen during editing process

As you are constructing the message from the script…listen as the message flows. If it feels awkward, forced, contradicting, etc; then be willing to listen to your instinct to change so that you feel “at peace” with the pacing.

4) Listen during the revision process

Watch and listen to others as you present the story to your peers and the stakeholders. Watch their facial expressions. Notice when each person starts to lose interest by playing with their iPhone, or looks away. Notice when there is a complimentary emotion that matches the moment in time in the story. If someone cracks a joke, then the audience should smile or laugh. If not, the editing did not execute the purpose. Listen to the responses and be willing to step away from the creative enterprise to think critically about the overarching goal. Be willing to question and listen to why each person had a particular response


Oh No – Where Did Social Media Go???

Lately I have been thinking a bit about “The Grid”…you know that thing that keeps us all connected! Imagine waking up one day and you are in Little House on the Prairie…no grid, no iPhone, no iPad, no Internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no telephones, no television…NO ELECTRONIC TECHNOLOGY! What would we do as a society? Think for a second…the headlines in North Korea have been exposing us to that possibility…and E-Bomb. Something that could potentially knock out even the most un-assuming pieces of technology that we depend on…even fuel injection cars.

No this post is not a conspiracy theorist type of post..just one to think, what if all of this electronic technology was GONE? I think of the Allstate Commercial addressing the economy with the message about getting back to basics. But what if that message had a bigger meaning…basics beyond electronic technology.

What has Social Media taught us that could translate into the Little House on the Prairie scenerio? Think for a second…hmm, it has taught me how to use innovation to build relationships. It has taught us that communities are important for so many reasons..but most importantly how to communicate using new innovation.

So, if right this second someone took an eraser and starting erasing the laptop sitting infront of me, the iPhone in my hand, the telephone at my desk, the server in the closet, the electrcity in the walls…and on and on. I would want to know how my friends I have built connections with on Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, etc. are doing. I would want to reconnect in a more basic manner. I would want to figure out how to communicate with my grandparents, my friends I established on Twitter who are all over the world, etc.

We would innovate and create new forms of communication or step back and rely on traditional forms of communication to find ways to gather, communicate, share ideas, have a drink, and so on. We might even start writing letters again, you know those good ole fashion hand written letters that might be delivered via a horse or a person driving a car that only uses a carburetor.

We would probably value face-to-face interaction because we cannot quickly get our fix on Twitter where we communicate like someone watching a tennis match. Do we depend too much on electronic communication and forget how to establish and maintain relationships outside of the grid? Have we evolved too much with the grid where we can only create a thought through a keyboard which restricts our critical communication skills necessary in a face to face interaction?

HMM…I wonder. I wonder where we are going? I wonder who will be able to evolve without the grid? Will I be able to or am I conditioned to depend on the iPhone?

When I left broadcast television news back in 2000 to return to graduate school, one thing I did was step back from the grid. I got rid of a cell phone and tried to re-evaluate how I communicate. It was nice not to depend on that device that followed me around… tying me to the grid.

Now…I am dependent upon the grid! This powerful pieces of connectivity that i get thoroughly pissed off when i drive through a “DEAD ZONE” or when my cable modem drops connectivity for ONLY A FEW MINUTES. Oh no, I can’t write a blog, I can’t tweet, I can’t upload a photo….I JUST CAN”T EXPRESS MYSELF…what has the world come to?

But hold on…I am breathing…I can talk…I can shake a hand…I can communicate with my mouth…with my handwriting. I can still express myself.

Have you ever caught yourself saying…what did we do before the Internet? What did we do? Really…what did you do? Maybe we did actually Tweet, maybe using a different method?

I have always explained my conversations in Twitter using this scenario. Imagine showing up for a big conference and you walk into a room filled with close to a thousand people. As you walk through the crowd, you ware walking in and out of conversations…listening to comments as you make you way through. You might stop for a second to chat…then keep on walking, in and out of conversations….until you reach a group you are ultimately there to see. You might still mingle after finding that group, walking in and out of conversations…but ultimately you are there to talk to certain groups…as you are listening to different conversations.

Did I just describe Twitter in a different context…a different paradigm…different physicality? Is Social Media just a technology or a communication method regardless of technology? What is the grid?

Video Editing is more than pushing buttons! Telling Stories!

The idea behind video editing is half passion and half technique. Video editing is more than just editing…it is creating a story, creating a vision that forces the audience to forget they have peripheral vision.

How do we do that…well, let me say that it has taken me years and years of editing tape-to-tape and non-linear editing. You have to understand the technical constraints in-order to manipulate the editor to make it produce what your mind is envisioning.

How do I edit…well, I work first with technique…then passion!

1) I like to build sequences. What do I mean by sequences? Well, a series of shots that creates a series of visual images that shows the action. An example would be if you are getting out of a car and closing the door. The first shot would be a wide shot of the car as you get out of the car, to the tight shot of your hand opening the handle, leading to the next medium shot of the door opening, etc. One of the best directors I think uses sequences very well is M. Knight Shyamalan. He likes to use a series of shots brought together where they lead from wide shot to tight shots in sequences. This technique is allows the audience to engage with the visual story without even realizing it has happened.

2) I like to let sound drive the edit. I LOVE SOUND EDITING. I may not be the best technical sound editor, but I love to use sound to predispose the audience to what shot is about to come. If I am getting ready to show you the train is going by, I like to slowly bring the sound up from the train in the preceding shot to get you mind thinking train and then BAM…there is the train. An since I like to edit in sequences (wide to tight shots), and there is a “jump cut”, you can use sound to blend the edit to fake out the mind. You basically make the eye forget the visual mistake by nailing it with some sound that distracts the eyes. I also like crisp sound to edit. If the hammer is nailing the nail, I want to hear that crisp sound and make sure it matches!

3) WIDE, MEDIUM, TIGHT, SUPER TIGHT…TELL THE STORY! That is my motto…my mantra. I am somewhat a purest when it comes to my editing style. Now, I can get flashy with those fast, graphical edits…but I like to tell the story as I would visually see it with my eyes. Our eyes do not pan, they do not zoom…so why should we edit that way? You will not see me edit pans or zooms unless it reveals something. So, I search for the opportunity to edit from a wide to tights. Especially in interviews where I want to create pacing…start with a wide shot on a comment, then cut to the tight shot comment for emphasis. This creates pacing and visual interest!

4) I edit in a Non-Linear Paradigm (Final Cut & Avid) using Linear methods. I am in the zone when I have two BetaSP Decks side by side, manipulating the four channels of audio and one video track to tell a story. It is my opinion that most editor these days are sloppy allowing the non-linear editing software just create a dissolve or effect when there is nothing else to do. Linear editing is a tremendous exercise forcing one to think two shots ahead and three shots behind. You have to know what shots you are going to use next and how they blend with the previous shots. YOU ARE TELLING A VISUAL STORY…not just creating visual overload.

5) I like to evaluate a sequence or the final product in a couple ways…mainly to see if I gained success. I like to watch the video with my ears closed, eyes open; then watch again with eyes closed and ears open. This is to see of the sound and the visuals tell the same story. I also like to get others to watch the the final product and watch them as they watch the story. I like to see where they loose interest, where they have emotion, basically to see if the purpose matched the reaction.

6) I like telling stories! I like to be able to throw out all the rules and sacrifice the technique in order to achieve a better story. If there is a great moment captured and it needs to breathe…no fast edits, no sequences, no fancy effect…then let it breathe! Your audience will thank you for it and come back for more!!!!

Editing Food For Thought! Do you have any thoughts?

Building a Social Media Presence around Video

Using video is one of those mediums that can really enhance your social media presence and can add so much to your campaign. BUT, you gotta think through this little bag of tricks. If done incorrectly, this integrated marketing tool can make you look like a dummy! (I almost just typed a bad word).

I am not going to talk about message development, that is a whole other ball of wax. I am going to talk about how using video online can help generate traffic, relationships, and enhance your SEO.

First…create a series of short messages around a campaign, event, and idea.  When I mean series, I mean more than 3 different video messages. These need to be targeted at a specific audience and a specific topic. This over-arching theme will bring these messages together.

Second…have a home-base for these video messages.  Whether it is a blog, a video section of your site, or the homepage; these video messages need a home so people can find them within one consistent place.

Third…these video messages need to have a equal treatment in production quality as the message itself. If it is meant to be shaky and  dark…your message better represent the reason why it is shaky and dark. But, be controlled in the delivery of the production quality. The person watching needs to understand your message, the production quality needs to enhance the message not detract.

Fourth…create a channel on YouTube, Blip.tv, or Vimeo to host all of these video messages. Once the messages are created, upload them to these channel and spend time developing the title for each video, the description, and the tags/key words. I sometimes use the URL of the homebase for these messages in the title.

Fifth…schedule a release of these messages. If you have produced 5 of these and you want to share all of them…maybe release them once a week. Use the embed code provided by YouTube, Blip.tv, or Vimeo and place them within the site. Once placed…tell the world!

Sixth…tell the world that they are updated on your home-base. Use TweetDeck and/Hootsuite to regually tell the world that a new video has been updated. Use email marketing and even LinkedIn to tell your spheer of influence that is it live and people can go watch it. Ohh…when you tell them, use the URL where it is located at the home-base and shorten the URL using TweetDeck or Hootsuite. This will allow you to track the clicks. This works well in a blog where you have a specific URL for each blog post.

Seventh…create a discussion around the video that was just updated. Get on your social networks and tell people about the video and ask their opinion about the content, create a discussion.

Eighth…repeat this process. Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder) talks about consistency and frequency when using new media and social media combined. It is smart thinking.

Video in Blogs: more than the brain dump!

Video production is one of the most time consuming efforts one can take on when trying to create content for online media. It is not only one of the most time consuming but can be one of the most labor intensive and cost prohibited methods to engage an audience via a message. Now, I know that it has become easier to take that small video camera, shoot some video, upload it to YouTube, and post it to the site. But there is a balance: when to use professional based services/equipment and consumer based services/equipment.

As this is one of my areas of offering…I understand the market is shifting with online video content being created and offered by more consumer based models. But, with that said…this leads me to my argument. There are times and places when to use video content for the blog. There are times and places when to use consumer based equipment and when to use more professional based services. Bottomline…it comes down to MESSAGE. Yep!

Regardless of how and why you approach the production, video for the blog can be POWERFUL…Yes, if used the right way! Now, I am not an expert, just a person that understands user-centered applications of video content. I did get my graduate level education based in user-centered design and audience analysis and I been working behind the camera since 1992 with numerous awards for broadcast television excellence. That was the credibility spin for you…but it was to let you know I am not just shooting you a line of bull.

Here are some thoughts to consider when creating video content for your blog:

  1. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Basically, no need to feel like you have to record an eight minute video about your thoughts when you can spread out the topics to multipurpose the content.
  2. Multipurpose the content. You are going to invest in time in setting up the equipment to shoot the video, shot lots of short video segments that can be used not only in the blog but in other areas.
  3. Keep the video content to around a minute, and no more than minute and a half. Remember, the attention span of a quick clicking web browser can only engage in video content so long.
  4. Create multiple short video segments within one shoot. I worked with a client and we shot a whole years worth of content in one day, enough to release one video on his blog once a week.
  5. Know that the video content for the blog must either take the complimentary position to the written content or the reverse. Know which is the most important content and shape the post based on this concept.
  6. Research a good technical set-up for the shoot, if you are a one man show. DO NOT sit in front of a mirror or window…the camera will not like that. You can also use a household standing light as your “key light” filling your face to make you not look so dark.
  7. Make sure you have a good audio set-up. This means invest in a microphone that can record you; so you not sound like you are standing across the room.
  8. Consider hiring a video producer/message creator/videographer for this production. This person will help you formulate your message and keep you on task with the message and delivery. They will also help you with the technical side so you can focus on the delivery and not if the camera is going to tip over.
  9. Use the power of YouTube. It helps you with SEO and also with that big homogenous linkage system that powers Google. Plus, it can play on almost all the mobile devices so anyone can view your message within your blog.
  10. If you want to consider private hosting, consider someone that deliver to mobile devices via HTML5 or other javascript based applications. I use Sorenson360 and it has great user analytics from viewership to length of video watched.

So…take with a grain of salt. Give me your thoughts and ask questions.