film

YouTube is Not for Video Content Marketing

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So you've created some stunning new video content for your company, and you want to get it out to the world as soon as possible. So, you jump over to Youtube, upload it, share it on social media and email campaigns, sit back and wait for the leads to start pouring in, right? Well actually, that may not be the best course of action anymore. You may inadvertently be limiting your chances to learn some very important and actionable information by sticking with Youtube as your only video content delivery system. Let's face it, as much as you may love it, Youtube does not have the critical components for successful video marketing. 

Let's start with what Youtube has that makes it so appealing for marketers? Well, first of all, it's incredibly simple to use. Nearly everyone who has an internet connection can make a channel, and start uploading and sharing videos of any kind. As Youtube is one of the largest video content delivery services, boasting over one billion unique users a month, it seems like the views (and leads) will will flow right in. And, yes, perhaps you do get a bunch of views, but how do those views translate to actual leads? You can certainly put a link in the video to your website or a landing page, but then you're at the mercy of the viewer to follow through. While you can get some interesting data from Youtube's analytics, what you're lacking is actual actionable information. Here's some of the information that you can't get from Youtube analytics:

  • How many times did each individual viewer watch your video?
  • At what point did the viewer stop watching the video?
  • Which parts of the video did the viewer watch more than once?
  • Which of your other videos did the user watch?

And not quite a Youtube data question, but more importantly:

  • Did you have an opportunity to capture that user's information?

While it's great that your videos are getting views, if you're using Youtube for marketing purposes, you're missing out on ways to start the lead down the funnel if you can't easily capture that information. You can hope that the viewer is watching your video on a landing page, but that won't always be the case, and with the pace of today's world, expecting the viewer to take the time and make the effort to follow through themselves and look you up for more information may be a little too much to ask. 

So how do you fix this gap between a video being viewed, and you (or your sales team) following up with them based on that particular content? That was the question that I asked myself not too long ago until a friend told me about Wistia. Wistia is a video platform delivery service that takes marketing efforts in mind. They know that it's not enough to just post and share videos. That may be where engagement begins, but it certainly doesn't end there. Being able to ask for an email address directly in the video window removes a step that can easy be bypassed by the viewer, and by creating an email gate in the middle of the video, you have the chance to hook viewers with the first part of your video, gain some trust, and deliver on your promise of good content after obtaining lead information. 

Wistia's video stat dashboards tells you a lot more about your video's performance than Youtube.

But it doesn't have to be like that if your metrics tell you different. Being able to see where the hot spots of your video are, you can better tell when to ask for the viewer's information. Also, if you're using a CRM like Salesforce, or inbound marketing software like Hubspot, you'll have the opportunity to create a better picture of lead, and what their needs are, leading to a better understanding of how your product or service can better serve them. Not only that, but Wistia can also help optimize your video for SEO for better discovery, another important feature Youtube can't match.

 

So, am I against using Youtube? No, not at all. Youtube is a fantastic tool in for those who want to show make their video content available to a large audience, but it may not be the best tool. If you need to get higher quality information about who is watching the content you take the time to create, and also want the added benefits of better customization and branding of your content, maybe it's time to move to something a bit more tailored for what you need. Views on Youtube are fine, but at the end of the day, a view is just a view. 

Be sure to check out Wistia's Learning Center for some very helpful content on video marketing and video production. 
 

Things I've Learned on Set - Part 1: Communication

Over the past few months, I've had the opportunity of being on a few sets for feature films, commercials, and television series. And there are a few things that have stood out to me. While some of these things were to be expected from watching behind the scenes features of DVDs and Blu Rays, there's a lot that doesn't get put into special features. The first of those observations was how the crew communicates, and what bad communication can do to the shoot overall.

The Director Sets the Tone

On any set, someone has to be in the driver's seat, but just because someone has great vision doesn't mean that they can be a great director. The director needs to be able to communicate. However, communication isn't just limited to telling people what to do. It's also about setting the general atmosphere for the shoot. I've seen plenty of shoots crumble into situations where everyone is yelling, people are saying things like, "I'll never work with them again...", and the general attitude is pretty negative. On  the other hand, I've seen shoots where the time has gone by so quickly, because everyone was having fun, invested, felt respected and like their contribution mattered. The main difference here is the ability of the director to set the tone of the shoot. There are two ways to address the tone on a shoot that I think work best:

  • Pre-shoot meeting:  Let as many people in the crew (and obviously the cast) see the script as possible. Let them know what to expect, and why things are happening. The more they see how each piece of what is filmed will affect the outcome of the final piece, the more they'll understand direction you give. This also gives you the opportunity to tell everyone involved that their safety is your main concern, stay hydrated, don't get hurt, and other important notes.
     
  • During the shoot: Don't yell, don't raise your voice, don't be disrespectful. These kinds of actions trickle down from the top, and you set a precedence for how others should act. This can make things get ugly really fast. Keep your calm, and no matter how frustrated you get, don't raise your voice or belittle anyone on set, cast or crew. That's an easy way to make sure these people don't appear for your next shoot. 

Share the Praise

Another great way to communicate is at the end of a shoot. I know, I know. You're tired, you want to look at your footage, you want to have that martini. But take a moment to get together with your cast and (especially) your crew and go over what went well. Communicate what worked, and what didn't, and anything that needs to be done for the next time, (especially if it's there is another shoot day coming soon. Pick out a few people who did especially well, and give them some praise.

While one person has to drive the bus, it's always helpful to have everyone feel like they're included. Communicating with your cast and crew about what you're hoping to achieve, what you expect, and giving them praise afterwards will keep your shoots fun and productive, and it will keep people coming back. Remember to have a clear vision of what you want and be able to vocalize it. Also, remember to keep a cool head in the face of frustration, and keep everyone involved as much as you can.  

Have you been on a film/commercial/video set? How has communication impacted the flow of work?

Sometimes things don't work out, and that's OK.

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When learning to do anything, from ice skating to film making to hang gliding, there are always going to be setbacks and mistakes (hopefully not so many in the last one). What we learn from situations that don't pan out can be just as, if not more important than when things go perfectly. Through mistakes and unwanted situations, we're able to learn first had the consequences of our actions and decisions that we could have possibly prevented, were we aware of where they were leading. Further, the impact of negative consequences is a better teacher than someone telling us, 'don't do this, that will happen,' as we ourselves must then directly face the outcome, and dig our own way out of it. 

Something like this happened about half a year ago. Wanting desperately to find a partner in filming, I joined a social network that specialized with video, film and creative arts. I found someone who lived nearby, and we eventually got together to give it a shot.

The shoot was not my favorite experience, I found myself extremely frustrated, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I had to take a few days to really understand exactly what bothered me so much about the event, and realized a lot of it were things that I could have preemptively addressed, if not recognized red flags earlier and gracefully back out before things got heated.

And things indeed got heated.

Now, to be clear, there was nothing wrong with this individual, but we ended up not seeing eye to eye, which lead to harsh words, and blocked numbers. It even let to me holding on to the project, not editing the footage or adding visual effects, because I was so negatively impacted by the experience. I didn't want to see it, touch it, and any frustrations that I would have found during the editing process were only intensified by my feelings towards him and the shoot. 

After the parting of ways between myself and the other team member, I had a really difficult time doing anything film related. I couldn't write, I didn't want to try to learn any new visual effects, I didn't touch my camera in weeks. I didn't realize that I was so negatively impacted by not only the experience, but frozen because of the guilt that I didn't want to edit the footage. That negative impact stopped me from moving forward, from getting better, learning more and trying new things.  

I was very close to scrapping the whole thing, deleting footage, forgetting that it ever happened. However, I took a moment to stop and think. This supposed failure has been a greater teacher than my most popular videos. I've learned what I will and won't stand for, what to avoid in order to have a more productive shoot, what type of people I work best with, and most importantly of all, the ramifications of negative feelings towards a project.  

So, in an effort to close the book on the whole experience, but also show myself that I learned something, I opened up the project file that I hadn't touched in weeks, and hit render. Below, you'll find the uncompleted project, warts and all. It's not bad, and there are a lot of things that I could fix, but it's important to see it for what it is. It failed, but it wasn't a failure. In fact, it's some of my best camera work with what I had at the time. And if it's taught me anything, it's that sometimes, it's OK to fail.

 

What I liked best about Iron Man 3

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Be warned: Extremely minor spoilers for Iron Man 3. No spoiler warning for Avengers. That was last year. You should have seen it already.

So, here in the United States, Iron Man 3 was released last night. Being the nerd that I am, my wife and I saw one of the first showings. The revenue was already over $307.7 million in international sales, so I was pretty sure it was going to be a good movie as I went in. Much like everyone else in the theater, I enjoyed the effects, the humor, the twist and the finale, but what stuck out to me as the most memorable part of the story was the establishment of Tony Stark's character in the beginning of the film.

"Everything's changed since New York", is one of the first things we hear Tony say in the Iron Man 3 trailer, referencing the events of The Avengers. "I can't sleep" is another line in the same trailer. From these few lines, we can already tell that the events in New York left something with Tony, or rather, took something away. The Avengers brought aliens, gods and monsters to Earth. Tony Stark, for all his genius, is still a man in an iron suit. Compare that to Thor, The Hulk, and Loki (not so much to Hawk-Eye and Black Widow), and you can see how Tony Stark has developed a complex, anxiety attacks, and a sort of PTSD, in the first act of Iron Man 3. 

Here's a guy that, no matter what he can create, is already somewhat out of his league, and the range of villains he has to fight went from a quite literal hostile takeover in Iron Man 1, weapons manufacturer and another mechanical genius in Iron Man 2,  to a race of aliens and gods in Avengers. The stakes suddenly surpassed him, and no matter how smart he is, Tony isn't a god. 

Interesting to see how much smaller Tony is outside of his armor

Interesting to see how much smaller Tony is outside of his armor

So what does he do? In Tony Stark fashion, he overcompensates. At the end of Avengers, he's using the the Mark VII armor. At the beginning of Iron Man 3, he's just finishing up the Mark 42. So, Stark has built, (almost obsessively) 35 suits of armor between Avengers and Iron Man 3, to compensate for the fact that for once, just being Tony Stark may not be good enough to protect who he loves.  

No matter what the cause of the anxiety attacks, Downey Jr plays the part well. As someone who used to get anxiety attacks for a period in my life, there was an odd familiarity with Stark losing his cool, not being able to breathe, and needing to escape. So why did I like this aspect of the film the most? The Iron Man franchise asks you to suspend quite a large amount of disbelief as it is, but this brings something very human to the table. 

This is what made the most impact on me. Tony Stark is human, and while he still wears multiple suits of armor, the events of The Avengers left him somewhat psychologically wounded, or at the very least, bruised. And like anyone who has suffered psychological bruises knows, even a suit of armor can't protect you from yourself.  

Shots from Filming

On Saturday, I went out with a few folks to film a scene I had written the week before. Here are a few of the graded shots from that day.

(Pro tip: Click the thumbnails to biggify)

Doctor Who's Episode Posters are Brilliant

One of the many things that I thing the BBC does right, (and that most American networks can take a few hints from) is how they've recently been promoting Doctor Who. The show has taken up more of a following in the past few years since Matt Smith jumped on board, so obviously there's a great market for it here. (Maybe because our own scifi TV shows are so lacking this year?) 


But enough of that. I absolutely love how BBC has been promoting each Season 7 episode with it's own movie theater (or theatre, depending on what side of the pond you're on) style poster. It makes me feel like each episode is really not just an episode, but a serious event to be enjoyed as much on it's own as part of the longer series, much like a movie franchise. Each one is below. What are your thoughts on them?

After the hiatus, I think they stepped it up a notch.