Do you know, right now as of this moment, how much video content there is on the internet?
Well, just to prove a point, and at no additional cost to you, the reader, I hired a crack team of data scientists to find out. You can tell these guys are the real deal because they use that big proper calculator you used to use in school. Not that small poxy calculator you use on your kitchen table to weigh up the various tariffs of internet service providers.
Like I say, proper scientists these.
Anyway, they worked out that if every frame of every video was printed out on paper, that would be enough paper to go all the way to the big Tesco and back.
That’s right the big Tesco. Not that one off Alfreton Road that’s just a Tesco Metro. I’m talking about the big Tesco that’s gotta be what… about a mile off surely? You can tell it’s a big one cos it closes after lunch on Sundays.
How do you stand out amongst such a huge… I’m mean that big Tesco really is far… amount of video content?
Well I’ll tell you what, I just watched a bunch of terrible corporate videos and what you do is you watch out for all of these… And maybe, I dunno, hire dudes who know what they’re doing…
Get The Performance Right, Mate.
Typically, in the worst type of paint-by-numbers phone-it-in-and-slap-x-amount-of-margin-on-it corporate video production we’ll cut straight from a logo to the owner of the business. It’ll cut in a little too early so we see him look up from just before he’s been told ‘action’. He begins talking but he’s not quite sure where he’s supposed to be looking. Is he looking at the camera? Or kinda at it but, slightly off? And, good god, his gaze is wandering and every now and again his eye flicks back directly at the camera… Then his gaze just drops straight down to the floor.
His hands? What is he doing with his hands? They are either nervously clasping and unclasping in his lap or across his torso or they are swinging by his side.
Basically, you know in any cop film you’ve ever seen when they have a baddie in the interrogation room and you can tell he’s lying through his teeth? That’s what that performance is saying to your viewers, and hence your potential customers. That! That’s how that looks.
At last, breaking this Japanese-water-torture of a piece to camera, we cut into a slightly closer shot – only he’s looking entirely the wrong way – somehow the camera crew have messed up the eye-line so it looks like he’s talking squarely to a small fuchsia pot plant overgrowing in the corner.
We cut back out to a wide shot of the man – by this stage he’s so uncomfortable his hair is matted to his forehead with perspiration. The video is beginning to resemble a hostage tape, you almost expect him to hold up a copy of today’s paper to prove he’s still alive.
The Music, Dear Lord The Music!
That opening logo we mentioned earlier – it will be accompanied by music. It won’t be good music though it will be the type of music you hear in a lift.
A lift on its way to hell.
To get an idea of this music… Remember those polyphonic ringtones you used to have – oh no, not even close… Now think back to those monophonic ringtones – yes MONOphonic. The music is like that, only it’s playing- somehow- inside your ear drum itself. The music is the same 3 or 4 notes repeated inside your very ear itself so even if you put your hands over your eyes you can still hear it, vibrating the very core of your being.
And when the music isn’t playing: The sound is muffled and fuzzy – it sounds like it’s been recorded through a sieve. A boom mic appears in shot throughout, though, somehow the audio sounds like it was recorded from a completely different location ie in a wind tunnel. it’s hard to hear our man talking over the whine of the monophone powerline hum.
The Effects, Are You… Are You For Real?
Let’s go back again, The man talking will have a little title at the bottom which unfurls telling you who he is. There will be magic pixie star dust coming off this title as it unfurls.
The man’s name, position and the name of the company will all be spelt wrong, not just a bit wrong either there will be approx… 4/5 Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs or somesuch going on in there. How do you even get hieroglyphs in a man’s job title? I sincerely could not even do this if I tried, even if I tried at gunpoint
At one point we cut away to a graphic showing how well the company is doing. The graphic will be taken straight off a google image results page and will be obviously the wrong size to fit the screen: the screen is rectangular but the graphic is oblong and so obviously the graphic has been stretched to fit the screen. We know this because we can count each individual pixel – count them like it’s a game of minesweeper but less fun, and when I say less fun I mean absolutely no fun.
Even though the video has finished there will be a trail of just a black screen for a few seconds afterwards. Oh and the Youtube title will be the name of the video file which was uploaded so will be no doubt called something like XYZ_promo_FINAL!!!!!_V2.mp4
A Pervasive And Untold Sense Of Awkwardness
I find it… I find it hard to explain this one. But I had a look at a few corporate films and… Blow me down, shiver my timbers, (why… why have we gone pirate now Jack?) It’s hard to put your finger on but there’s just this terrible sense of awkwardness.
Basically, this awkwardness will be tee’d up with “oh Janice, could you send an all-staffer email out ABC Terrible Production Company Inc are coming in to take some footage of the office for our corporate video.’ These shots, always just look incredibly staged and leaden. I don’t know how but, point a camera at someone and ask them to perform a task that they have done 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for the past 5 years and they will just somehow look wrong.
And this isn’t their fault – they got roped in unwillingly, mostly at the very last minute.
Use an actor – or work with the person before and during to make them at ease – either way and for the love of god do something to make this less tense – honestly sometimes it’s like a Mexican standoff.
As we’ve discussed previously yer mobile phone is not an option, but there’s also a smorgasbord of other video and film cameras out there- a lot to choose from I know. But, and I know it’s easy to get lost in a sea of mumbo tech-speak, but also… You gotta use the best to get quality.
That said, the best is pretty cheap, you can hire the same digital cinema camera used to shoot The Hobbit trilogy for circa 250-300 of Your Majesty’s Pounds Sterling a day! There’s no excuse for kicking out something which looks all over the shop. I bumped into a competitor on the networking circuit a couple weeks ago and they admitted to shooting everything, not just in-house, low-level stuff but every corporate video on a DSLR – because “it has a nice image quality, it’s not very good at motion though…”
Dude, it’s not very good at motion because it’s a stills camera!
Dude this is a camera, for still images.
Getta betta camera is all I’m saying.
And obviously there’s a whole plethora of other stuff – dollies, jibs, cranes, snorricams, etc, if you want your company to impress, you gotta go quality which, as I mentioned before, doesn’t always smash the piggy bank.
Have you ever come out of a cinema and turned to a friend and said: “yeah, yeah good film! Felt a bit too short to me though.”
Chance are you have never said this. And to extrapolate this theory down – most commercial-use films are similar.
Let’s put it like this: Tv adverts are mostly 30 seconds, some are 40, 60 or 90 but all-told they’re very short. And tv adverts are used to communicate things of huge complexity, everything from the latest super computer to government health campaigns. Generally speaking if you’re struggling to distil something down into a couple of minutes it’s not because it can’t be it’s because you’re thinking about it in the wrong way.
Let’s put it this way: It took Vinnie Jones just over 30 seconds to teach viewers how to save a person’s life.
Are you teaching someone the vital skills to save a human life? Nah. Keep it short then. Obviously, just how short depends on the project itself. But I find most times you can be so much more expedient than you think.