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Q: Video production for our website has been on marketing agenda for the last 6 months, yet we’ve still done nothing about it!

We like to be creative with our website, but my colleagues aren’t yet convinced how effective web video is, compared with the flash and rich media we already use.

And the website video production process is unclear.

We still haven’t met any web agency or video producer who can show us exactly why a web video or a series of web videos can make our site more profitable.

I’m sure you must get lots of mails like this, but I’d like to understand more about web video productions.

Where can you point me?

Marketing Manager

A: Well into 2010, we can now move onto the fourth part of this online web video production seminar (which by the way has been updated since it was first written in 2009):

Making your web video visuals motivate strangers to act

Whatever style of web video you choose, and no matter how compelling your script is, your visuals must be produced to rivet the audience.

That is: Your visuals need to motivate strangers to act.

But this doesn’t mean you need “special magic inspiration” or “expensive levels of tv creativity”.

There are two practical approaches to achieving great visual results which are essentially free, and which I’ll share with you here:

> Visuals during the web video shoot

> Visuals during post production

During the web video shoot

Each one of the following can make a big difference to the look and feel of your web video visuals.

The choice of:

> Camera Operator

> Lighting

> Shooting style

Let’s look at these one at a time.

Camera Operators:I can start by saying that all camera operators are not equal.

The good ones are hard-working, imaginative, and greatly help the flow of the shoot.

Conversely the bad ones only graft for some of the day, or work slowly (unhurriedly), will deliver adequate workmanlike shots (with occasional gems), and be more prone to cause interruptions to the filming for whatever reasons.

It can be a bit like picking a builder.

Ideally you need to see examples of their video footage, or get a reference you trust.

Either way, a good camera op will:

> make your visuals shine.

> get more done in the available time

> make the filming a pleasant experience for all

Lighting also makes a world of difference to shots.

While a modern video camera can shoot in low light, the footage will look much better if it’s lit professionally.

This means having:

> a light on the front of the scene

> a Fill light to illuminate the rear of the scene, as a front-lit only scenes tend to produce a dark background.

> a Key light to highlight

Did I also mention you can use filters and coloured gels? Ask your video director about these, especially using subtly coloured gels in the background Fill lights.

The shooting style can vary from:

> tripod

> to on-the-shoulder

> and to steadicam (a camera harness/rig that takes smooth moving shots)

On-the-shoulder filming, masquerading as “arty reportage”, is often an excuse for crew laziness or lack of budget, ie, “reportage” is quick to shoot and therefore cheaper, as more scenes get shot for the same time period (I think the word “reportage” was first coined in video in 2008)

If you can afford it, use steadicam.

Steadicam is what all Hollywood movie makers and TV film makers use.

It makes wonderfully smooth moving shots, as apart from static tripod shots, or wobbly on-the-shoulder shoots. And it’s become affordable in recent years.

Steadicam will make your web marketing video look smarter and more polished, even if you’re aiming for an urban street look.

These three – camera operator, lighting and shooting style – are how you inject more power into your web video visuals during the shoot, so motivate viewers.

During web video post production

Post production includes video editing and studio work.

But editing is only the starting point for any web marketing video production.

You’ll want to see effects like picture-in-picture, image tinting, graphics, animated captions, great music and sound fx to bring your images to life.

If you don’t have these then your web marketing video will look very plain.

The difference lies in your choice of video editor – and whether they’re a mechanic or an artist.

A mechanic will have a few tricks up their sleeve. That’s for sure. You don’t last in the editing game unless you have a strong technical background.

But at one extreme, the overall impression the web video makes will be “effects for effects’ sake”, as though you’re getting the effects because you’ve paid for them, plus a few one trick ponies tossed in..

Or, even worse, the effects will seem intrusive and interrupt the flow of the story, or make you jar.

At the other end of the scale, a genuine video artist-editor will use effects to:

> enhance the flow of the story

> make your whole business message more compelling

> create a feeling of overall thematic integrity.

Great effects, whether subtle or large, can enrich every scene in your web video, adding another level of perception to the shots.

Video effects can convey intelligence, planning, technology, powerful emotion and so on.

With the right effects development, ordinary web video footage somehow becomes more elevated, more powerful, more meaningful.

And your audience of strangers will feel more elevated, feel the power, and discover a more compelling message in what you have to say to them.

This web marketing video example highlights all these points

The solution for any individual is to check out your web video production company closely. See what they provide.

Look for evidence of consistently great visuals, and not just a few mechanical video effects spread out among mundane shots.

You should also expect some reading matter, a fully professional storyboard from your web video producer.

This book-of-the-movie approach allows you to see what you’re going to get prior to the start of shooting.

This way, your web marketing video production becomes an internet winner.

The fifth and final part to our web video production seminar is about measuring the results.
© Studio Rossiter

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