Guest Blog #3: Online Video: Do you need one? by Alan Catello Grazioso

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Online Video: Do you need one? By Alan Catello Grazioso of Grazioso Pictures, Inc.

Yes, it’s the golden age of (online) video.   YouTube and broadband changed the world of video distribution.  Created in 2005 by three former PayPal employees, YouTube users today upload a 100 hours of new video content every 60 seconds. Perhaps you’re thinking…do I need a video from my company, product, pitch or service?  And how do I get started creating one?

In today’s world, our web presence is one way small businesses can “compete” with larger players.  An effective video can showcase your company, product or service and do the boasting for you.

I’m an entrepreneur and video producer (a.k.a. digital filmmaker).  I launched my production company 14 years ago and have been creating video content for broadcast television and companies for nearly 25 years.  I’ve seen media creation technology and distribution change dramatically, one seismic shift being the explosion of online video.

Over the last 5 years our online video projects for clients (not including broadcast projects) have taken us on location to 5 continents, including such places as Ethiopia, Rwanda, El Salvador, Vietnam and Israel, producing projects in 12 languages.  I’m grateful to have had these opportunities and thank online video as a result.

Video Development

In my experience the #1 constant common denominator that separates a good video from great one is a compelling, well structured story.   #2 is sound and music. #3 is image quality. Here are some things to think about when developing a video idea:

-What ways can my video be utilized and fully exploited by my company online and offline?

-What’s the story?

-How will you tell it? (interviews, voiceover, on-camera talent, fiction, documentary)

-What’s unique about your company, product, service?

-Who’s your audience?

-What’s the length of the video and how did you come to this conclusion?

-Why will viewers want to watch your video past the first 10 seconds?

online video

Before Shooting:

Here are a few of my cardinal rules to consider before shooting any video.

-Have a game plan in place before you shoot: Take the time to “flesh out” your concept and game plan.  This will help you avoid a lot of pain when it comes to editing.  Do you want the piece presented by a host, narrated off-camera or told solely by the interview subjects?  Do you want to use professional actors or your employees?  What tone, feel or approach will the film take…serious, comical, dramatic?

For inspiration, a YouTube video that stands out to me as super creative is  this video from DollarShaveClub.com.

Create a shooting outline, video treatment, and/or script prior to scheduling your production.  Work out the idea on paper first.  Talk about it amongst your team and brainstorm.  In addition to creating a shooting script, make a storyboard. This will help you visualize the final product.   I storyboard all my videos by going online and doing an image search.  For example, say shot #1 of our script starts with wide shot of South Boston, I'll find the best shot online and paste it into a word doc. From this storyboard you can easily create a shot list.

-Cast your “characters”: We produce a lot of non-fiction television, including “reality” or “real life” shows.  Casting is a major part of the process.  Think about who you want to appear on-camera. Hiring a casting company is money well spent, but you may not have cash for casting.  It’s okay… if your vision is to include someone from sales, conduct a formal or informal casting session.  Pre-interview people you think may be good candidates.  Test them on camera with your smart phone and pick the best person.  Keep in mind candidates may interview well (off-camera) but may clam up when the camera is rolling.

Viewers respond to the on-camera energy of a person.  Not to sound corny, but when I say “energy” I mean camera presence.  If a person on-camera is nervous or checked out viewers (I believe) can sense it and will likely tune out also, so casting is critical.

-Think about technical execution:  Yes, videos can be shot on an iPhone (and many have) but one huge distinguishing fact between good and horrible videos is sound.  It’s been said that sound is 50-60% of the experience of the television watching viewer and that audio trumps image quality.  This is debatable, but if watchers hear bad sound they will tune out.   Invest in recording good, clean, crisp sound.  Sound and image quality do make a difference so think about what you want to create in the end.  This brings us to the budget.

-Budget and resources:  You have no budget you may say.  Think long and hard on why you want to make a video.   One goal may be to get press interest, or get invited to appear on Shark Tank.   Regardless, creating a video will take resources.  Perhaps your cousin is an actor (and has talent).  Perhaps your neighbor owns a hair salon and one of your scenes can take place there after hours for no fee.  Who’s going to film it? With what camera? How are you going to record sound? What’s your editing plan? Do you need animated graphics to give it that higher end feel?

In conclusion, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to considering making a video.  Why? What? How? When? For whom? How long? We are in the midst of the golden age of online video and with planning, creativity and some resources you can make a great one.  And hey, it may get you 10 million views on YouTube as a result!

Alan Catello Grazioso is a member of Workbar and the head of development and executive producer of Grazioso Pictures, Inc., a fourteen-year-old production company based outside of Boston and represented by N.S Bienstock, Inc. in NYC.  His credits include BBC, History Channel, Travel Channel, PBS, Oxfam, Save the Children, BMW, L.L. Bean, Southwest Airlines, Domino’s Pizza, New Balance, and others. 

To learn more about Grazioso Pictures visit: www.graziosopictures.com

To see Grazioso Pictures lastest demo reel visit: http://vimeo.com/59703490