What the Heck is Corporate Video Anyway?

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High end linear editing suite, 1999.

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When I started college as a Radio/Television production major I thought I would work in television or movies. I never thought I would end up corporate video. Like many of my classmates I entered the wonderful world of small market television after college eventually becoming weekend director at a top 100 market. After a couple of years I figured out that not only am I good at video production, I love it. I also figured out that I hate news production. After some work in marketing and public relations I discovered a home in corporate video production.

The much less sexy cousin of television, corporate video covers a range of uses and purposes. While it might not be as glamorous, it’s filled with variety and options that television just doesn’t have. One day you could be working on a training video and the next be working a flashy marketing piece. And chances are that unless you work in news your whole life, at some point you too will work in corporate television.

Most production companies will at some point be involved in corporate video. Whether they like to admit it or not. Doing commercials is a lot of fun, but unless you’re a big firm there usually aren’t enough of them coming through the door to pay the rent. Trust me, this was not the career path I would have predicted, but you know it’s not that bad. The hours are a lot better than TV that’s for sure!

The best part is that I get to do such a variety of videos, I don’t get bored. Some have been a little less exciting than others, but in the end I’ve learned something. The challenge is to make each and every production fresh and interesting, because that’s what you’re clients deserve.

More and more companies are moving toward video to reach their customer base. They’re going look for people with vision, creativity, and high quality standards to help them do it. I think that many of these business will be looking to form long-term partnerships with small production companies rather than forming internal teams. If you only want one or two videos a quarter, the overhead for putting a team together and outfitting it with the right equipment is not cost productive. Hiring a local production company to handle videos from concept to completion is likely a better investment. One or two videos a quarter may not seem like much at the start, but if marketed well and producing good work that one company turns in to three or four, and it could just keep growing from there.

To answer the question, corporate is a growing lucrative market for those interested in a career in video. It’s fairly stable and there’s a lot of room for growth. My only words of advice are, be good at what you do. Do you’re job right and the possibilities is limitless.

YouTube Buys a Producer of Videos

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I had heard this was in the works, but it appears that the deal is done. I can’t help but wonder what it means to the future of video production.

It most certainly will change YouTube. Today YouTube is the home of cute cats, babies laughing, and quirky viral sensations. With the addition of a professional branch one can only imagine that more professionally produced content is not far behind. Yes, there is professional content available now, but it’s provided by people, bands and others primarily for self promotion.

What we’re talking about here is the potential for professionally created content created exclusively for the YouTube audience. Video content produced exclusively for the web is not new. As a matter of fact, the only thing new is the appearance that YouTube wants in on the act. But, will this change what YouTube is?

Washington, DC, October 20, 2005 -- Paul Luke ...

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YouTube seems is the home of home videos. It’s where you put everything from videos of kids for grandma to see to your videos on just about every kind of how-to you can imagine. I can’t help but wonder if professionally produced episodic videos become a regular part of the site, will it change the quality of the video we see? Will the cute cats and laughing babies be pushed to the side in favor of longer home produced series (perhaps with babies and cats as featured players)?

In some respects, I hope so. Let’s face it, there’s a whole lotta crap out there folks. Sure there are videos only Grandma’s would love, and that’s fine. But there are other videos out there that are of such poor quality even Grandma won’t watch. To paraphrase a popular saying, “With the ability to produce video comes great responsibility.” We are creative people, we want to share what we create. Here’s hoping we see more creative (and higher quality) videos with YouTube leading the way.

Video Production vs. Instructional Design

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I’m sure many of my Instructional Design (ISD) friends will disagree, but I don’t think that there’s a lot of differences between video project development and ISD. I’ll wait for the ISDs to stop shaking their heads at their computer screens….it’s true. Some of the phases have different names, but the purposes are very much the same.
**Please note I’m talking about informative videos, not cute videos of your cat posted on YouTube or other videos created for entertainment.

Let’s compare…

Video

  • Audience Analysis
  • Requirements Collection
  • Interviews with Subject Matter Experts
  • Design & Development (write script, choose look and feel, etc.)
  • Evaluate

Instructional Design

  • Audience Analysis
  • Requirements Collection
  • Interviews with Subject Matter Experts
  • Design & Developments (write instructor guide, decide on look and feel of materials, etc.)
  • Evaluate

Even with writing there are similarities. You have to determine the most logical approach for the project. Where do you start? Where do you end? Whether you’re teaching or video taping a process you move from step-to-step in logical progression. The level of detail and end purpose may be different, but they way you go about it is essentially the same.

Whether I’m writing a script or writing an instructor guide I look at it as telling a story. Yes, there are differences but the fundamentals are the same. You need to get a point across. You want to have the viewer or learner leave knowing something that they didn’t know before.

I’ve come across more than one ISD or learning professional that will completely disagree with me. They are certain that the approach is completely different. And even when the instructional documents I completed were on par with what they completed (using their “vastly different” approach) they refused to believe that I used anything other than the same approach that they did.

I will agree that the level of detail, and the execution are different. And I know how hard it is to update video compared to updating and design document or instructor guide. I agree that there are differences. But most of the differences are in the fine print and not in the steps taken.

I’d like to think that video production folks, Instructional Designers, e-learning gurus, teachers, professors, and producers do more things alike than they do different. I think that it’s like having a different dialect. We’re all speaking the same language, we just have a different way of talking about things. The biggest differences come at the beginning of the project when the type of medium used and the purpose is decided (think back to the cute kitten video mentioned above – videos done for entertainment do not fit the approach I’ve described as well as a documentary or instructional video.)

Now, I’m sure that there’s someone out there reading this who is not happy with this line of thinking. I’m pretty sure that there are folks who could be down right angry. They’ll demand to know how someone like me – a video person for Pete’s sake! – could know anything about instructional design. I’ve spent most of my time in corporate video working with instructional designers on instructional videos. I also spent a few years working as an ISD developing a class complete with instructor guide and handouts. There are still people who I worked with then who don’t believe I developed the materials I did approaching it “my way.”

I say as long as the product does what it is intended to do, meets its objects and succeeds in training or educating someone, does it matter how you got there?

Making Do with What You’ve Got

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We’ve all been there. You’re on a shoot, or doing something in post, and you don’t have a piece of equipment you need. Well it happened to me a few days ago. I was cutting some voice-over when I realized that I didn’t have a mic stand. So I did what everyone in video production does in this situation – I improvised. I looked around the office and turned a lonely looking 3 hole punch into a stand with a little help from Gaffer’s Tape.

Mic Stand and 3 Hole Punch

Mic St and/3 Hole Punch

We’ve all done it. Gorilla video production. Production by the seat of your pants. Whatever you want to call it, it’s making do with what you’ve got. Maybe you’re missing a light stand…maybe you’re missing lights. A quick trip to a big box hardware store and you can get what you need for a stand or a light…or both!

Most seasoned video production folks have at least one story about how they made something work in a pinch. So let’s share some old “war” stories. What have YOU made do with? What did you have to make out of spare parts to get the shot and save the day? I’d love to see a picture too! This is your chance to show us just how ingenious you are!

5 Reasons to Consult a Professional

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While I’m all for people grabbing a camera and whatever video editing software they can get their hands on and going for their best video productions, there’s something to be said for professionally produced videos. Professionals have learned the hard way – and are usually quick to share what they’ve learned. The fact of the matter is that there’s a lot of good reasons why you don’t need a professional to shoot and edit your video. But before you grab that camera of fire-up your laptop, here are 5 reasons to do a little research and consult some video professionals.

This photograph shows a man operating a steadicam

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  1. Biting off more than you can chew: You’ve dreamed big. Too big. You’ve come up with an idea for an outdoor shoot at night, with a slow trip around a local landmark. Great! You don’t have lights, a steady cam or dolly? Time to consult a professional. There are ways to do the shoots on the cheap yourself, but it just may come out looking… well…cheap. A local production company may be willing to give you some ideas, as well as price out the cost for them to do it. In the end you might just find it’s better to pay to have the people with the right equipment do it, than to spend the time and money yourself creating a shot you can’t use.
  2. It’s got to look good: you’ve spent months, maybe even years  badgering, pushing convincing your organization for months, maybe years, that video is the answer to a number of problems. You’ve even told them that you can do it yourself with your own camera and software – a real cost savings! Now that you’ve got the green light you’re not sure what to do next. Consult with professionals, on-line if not in person, before you start to shoot. This blog and this one are just two of the professionals you can find on-line willing to share their experience. Look around your area and see if there are any video networking groups that you can join, chances are that you’ll find at least one professional to answer your questions. Talking to a pro before you start to shoot can save production nightmares down the road.
  3. OOPS!: You’re feeling great about the video you shot, until you get back and start to edit. Maybe the color is wrong, or the focus, or the lighting, or the audio or…well let’s just say there’s a lot that can go wrong that you don’t catch while you’re in the field. Hit the internet my friend. I recommend visiting places like Creative Cow, where you can get tips from the pros. If you’ve networked with local production folks you might just find someone who will be willing to sit down with you and show you how to fix the problem. Or you discover that you don’t have the capabilities to fix the problem. Maybe you’ve even tried to re-shoot without any improvement. It’s time to call in a professional. It might cost you some money (and pride) but if you need the shot, and it has to be right, then call on someone who knows what to do.
  4. Just not professional enough: So your nephew – or your boss’s niece – is in film school and is looking for something to cut their teeth on. The price is right (free) so why not? They could the next Coppola or Scorsese, but they’re not there yet. If you need a video done in your place of work with the least amount of disruption possible, and needs to be delivered on time to a very difficult client, this budding director may not be the best choice. Talk to some local production companies, you may even be able to arrange for the legend-in-training to do an internship with the professionals (and a lower cost for you by helping to provide crew). Remember, one video might be great for a class project, and not so great for the boardroom.
  5. You just don’t know how: There’s no shame in not knowing everything. Maybe you’re the best darned widget person in the country, but just because you know all about those widgets doesn’t mean that you know all about video. And who says you should? Going to someone who lives and breathes video production has its advantages. Yes, it’s going to cost you, but you’ll have someone who (hopefully) knows what they’re doing to walk you through the process. In the end you’ll have learned something and gotten the kind of product you’re looking for with far fewer headaches.

Even if you don’t hire a professional production company to work on your video, you can learn a lot from the pros. It’s some of the “trade secrets” that can turn your project from just another video to your organization’s show piece.

One last thought. Remember, you get what you pay for. Uncle Bob maybe great at shooting and editing the kid’s birthday parties, but do you want the first wedding he shoots to be yours? He’d be more than happy to do it for free, but chances are the finished product will look like someone’s uncle did it for free.

The OTHER Side of Me

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I realized that I’ve neglected a very important part of what I do and who I am. It’s time to rectify that.

I’ve gone by a lot of different titles….video specialist, videographer, multimedia specialist, media specialist, editor, director…the list goes on. In a nutshell, I’m good at video production. It’s my sweet spot. I’ve done marketing and communications work but I always find myself back in some aspect of video production.

I consider myself a generalist. There are those who focus on editing, or lighting, or sound. I’ve never been that lucky. Most of my work has been on small teams or small projects where you have to wear many hats. I’ve worked in small market television and corporate video. I’ve even shot weddings as side gigs on the weekends. And I can honestly tell you that a bad day editing is in many ways better than a good day doing almost anything else.

So why do I bring this up? Because I intend for this blog to cover my video life as well. I’m hoping you’ll find that there is a bridge between what most people think of as video and the world of marketing, messaging and outreach.

And now and then I may throw in an amusing story about some of the crazy things I’ve seen, done, and experienced during my video adventures. You’ll have to stay tuned for that.