If your competitors aren’t yet engaging with video media, then that simply signifies that you have room to take the edge, and do something that puts you in the progressive spotlight. As digital media and mediums advance, it is really one of those ‘when rather than if’ scenarios. However, that still leaves you with open choices, mainly around the means of production, ie, to produce in-house or outsource.
But first, why the buzz about web video? What’s the impact it can make, that seems to have the statistics catching fire from the heat of their momentum? Pretty much you can put it into two words; ‘ magic rectangle’. No ordinary version though, with static, block colours and tidy fonts. No, this is movement, people, places, voices…which for some reason will keep people on your website when ordinarily they might have ‘bounced’ elsewhere within seconds. The thing is, people don’t like to work too much while surfing a website. Streaming your message and USP via videos will encourage people to stay on your website and hear what you have to say.
However, there is a caveat…or three. Be wary, as much as video can engage, there is every possibility that it can repel as well as compel. The composition of an effective web video is a balance between an artistic science and a scientific art. There are factors to address and balance, you need a minimum of all factors and an overall mean of the combined to fly and resonate with potential clients and customers.
Let there be light
In order for web video to be effective, the images must overcome their planar limitations of the screen and amplify their dimensionality. The main tool for this is lighting. Adequate and properly placed lighting will frame a subject, enhance natural colour and shade and throw perspective into the magic rectangle. The less ‘work’ a viewer has to do, in other words, minimising distractions, the more focus they have on the messages you need to deliver. Lighting, like its audio-sibling, will rankle the viewer, when something is not quite right. The best way to accomplish this is to use a 3 point lighting system.
This need not be as technical as it sounds, you can use your domestic lighting as is, sitting just in front of an overhead light will give you a ready-made back light. Now, all you require is a fill light and a key light to bring you out, create dimension and encourage the viewer to stay. Most camcorders are now shipped with light-optimisation; cloudy, sunny, indoors, with more expensive versions accommodating for different light temperatures such as halogen, tungsten, fluorescent. Keep an eye on that and make sure to white balance. It will make all the difference.
Wired for sound
Sound is a major factor is turning people away from a web video. Words should be crisp and clear, the basic volume comfortable and the track devoid of hiss. There should be a natural bass to the voice tones and try to tweak that with what your software will allow. Otherwise, the viewer has to really care about what you are saying to stay tuned. Make sure that optional sounds in the background are switched off for recording, from air con to tv, take time to listen to the incidental sounds you can become inured to in the home. Try using a lavalier or clip-on mic, making sure your voice is heard comfortably and consistently, and no words are lost between you and the camera. By far the best sound you will achieve would be to transform your camcorder with an XLR adapter. Brands such as beachtek and juicedlink produce pre-amp mixers that drastically reduce the gain experienced by mini-jacked microphones. This effectively puts professional sound to an HD picture, bringing congruity to the viewer experience. Remember, it’s all about them.
In the Picture
Another component is framing. You will probably have heard of the rule of thirds. That is basically a way to fill the rectangle with components in a visually satisfying ratio. That’s why, so often, a talking head will fill up two thirds of a picture with a logo on the right, or something that adds subtext to the context of the video. That is not always so, but it should be on your checklist as something to consider. I did say it is a scientific art and and artistic science. Try to be creative, with occasional angles and different perspectives. Every frame of a video should underline or enhance the context with visual subtext. Make sure your content evokes and cements your brand in the viewer consciousness.
Choosing a production company is easier than you think. The main advice I would give is to look for transparency. Is there an adequate portfolio of work online for you to view? Will the same team be shooting your video, with the same standard of equipment? If not, recent examples from the person who’ll be filming you is perfectly relevant question to ask. Make sure that they ask you the right questions. They should want to know about your motivation for making the film, what you want it to achieve. Your target audience should be established in the consultation, and also the preferred style and presentation. Specifics like script or at least bullet points should be discussed at consultation stage as well as duration of the process and the video itself, distribution platforms and supply format. They should be keen to help with post production information, such as maximising the efficacy of your video, ie, getting it seen by more potential customers and clients. Budget is also an important consideration, but be sure to go with the maxim, the cheapest is not always best. Not all production companies will suit, so shop around and get a feel for the company who’ll take you through the process with as much ease as possible.
Therefore the choice is there for you. Whether you are filming in-house or outsourcing, there are factors that may help you make an informed decision about exactly what you want to put into the magic rectangle. If telling really is selling, then that carefully thought out, embedded video is going to sell you online, 24/7…in a way that online text simply can’t.