Sep 15, 2014

Archive for the ‘HR and training’ Category

Keep on Truckin’ … Safely

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Lazer post 2[6]

If you think driving a semi looks difficult, you ought to see all the steps drivers have to go through to make sure they protect themselves and the valuable loads they’re delivering.

And we’re not talking about out on the open road.  We’re talking all the things that can go wrong before the truck even leaves yard.  Or when it’s backing the trailer up to the loading dock.  Or attaching a trailer to the truck, for that matter.

Preventing exactly those kinds of things was our mission when the Blue Marble crew spent one very long day filming a training video for Lazer Spot at a warehouse in McDonough, GA.

Managing Change in Video & Web Site Projects

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

What’s the single most expensive element in a video production or web site development project?  Perhaps it’s the scripting or content writing?  Maybe the shooting or page design?  The editing or programming?

If you ask me, it’s none of the above.

The single most expensive element in any video or web project — in terms of money, time, frustration and overall quality — is the untimely request for a change or revision.

Don’t get me wrong.  Revisions and tweaks are all part of the process in a custom project such as a video or web site design.  The client and production team  need to collaborate on any number of decisions and directions throughout the project.

It’s the untimely part that makes change so ugly and divisive.  You see, every production schedule includes very specific time periods  that allow for changes and revisions throughout the life of a project.  For instance, once we’ve written a script or web content and presented it to the client, we usually build in a good solid week (or more) for the client to mull it over, share it internally, gather comments and then come back to us with an organized, collated list of requested changes and revisions.  The same is true for design work such as storyboards or page layouts.  Stock photography, video and music selections all have a scheduled period of time of client consideration and approval or requests for change.  The rough cut of the video has it’s own review period.

During those review periods, the production team busies itself with other unrelated work.  We don’t move forward until the client has approved the direction we’re going.

I  like to compare video and web projects to the process of building a house.  Most of us would expect to pay a premium if we  changed our mind about the color of the shingles just after they’d all been nailed to the roof.  Or if we decided we really needed an extra bathroom after the foundation had already been laid and the framing had begun.

It’s not any different in the world of video production and web site design.  Changes made at the wrong time usually have a domino effect.  Especially with web sites.  “Just” adding one more section usually has the domino effect of requiring changes to the site navigation on every page that’s already been designed.   “Just” adding another paragraph of narration to a video requires more shooting or time in the sound studio as well as more stock footage or b-roll shooting, more music to license, more of an editor‘s time in an edit suite to make all of these changes.  Additional graphics may need to be created as well.

So, from the client’s perspective, how can you guard your budget and your delivery schedule?  Here are a few tips that can help everyone in the process:

1.  Identify the decision makers in your organization and make sure they’re prepared to be part of the approval process throughout the life of the project.

2.  When you receive the production schedule, immediately distribute it to your internal team and make sure that decision makers are actually going to be available during the scheduled review periods.  If not, tell your production company immediately so that a new schedule can be drawn up.

3. Once you have a workable production schedule, make sure all important landmarks are blocked out on the calendars of the decision makers — well in advance.

4.  Be prepared for the unexpected — Part I.  C-level execs have a habit of ignoring their calendars.  If one of your decision makers suddenly isn’t going to be able to meet a production schedule landmark — let your production team know as soon as possible.  We can often adjust our schedules to compensate — or suspend work that might have to be undone, once the exec does his review.

5.  Be prepared for the unexpected — Part II.  Because CEOs and other heavily scheduled execs can be unpredictable, we suggest that the client set aside some portion of their budget (beyond the amount contracted with the production company) for last minute changes and revisions.  Padding your deadline by a few days to a week can also come in handy.

Bottom line:  in the world of video production and web site design, change is inevitable, but if you take the right steps upfront, it’s possible to minimize it’s more unpleasant consequences.

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12 Points for On-Camera Success

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

A guest posting by Steve Clements
Co-Owner, Executive Speak/Write, Inc.

www.executivespeakwrite.com

stevec@execspeakwrite.com

In the “good ole days” (a few years ago), there were two types of people—those who appeared on television, and those who didn’t.The people who didn’t “perform” criticized every statement, habit, tic and inappropriate line of those who did.

Then the world changed!Business leaders began appearing on streaming Internet video.Travel budgets were slashed and teleconferencing emerged as an inexpensive tool to do business without leaving town.Corporations turned to films and documentaries to tell their stories.Visual representation became synonymous with doing business.

Now everyone is a performer, having to create and maintain business relationships basically “on television.”Yes, the camera is different.Now it is situated in front of the corporate videographer, or mounted on your computer, or hanging from the ceiling in a hi-tech conference room with a screen big enough for several people to interact at one time.But the reality still stands.The ability to perform for the camera has become a necessary business skill.

So what do you need to know?The following 12 tips are just a start, but a very good start to helping you become your “in-person,” self-possessed, charming self while looking into a cold piece of metal and glass, called “a camera lens.”

1. Avoid staring into the camera and looking “possessed.” Blink. Be natural.

2. Glance down when you do look away. An upward eye movement conveys a “gazing at the ceiling” image, while that “to the sides” motion comes across as shifty and dishonest.

3. Pretend that strange looking object is really a person—a friend. Instead of talking stiffly to “A CAMERA,” talk to it as though it were your restaurant companion on a Saturday night. It will make you a more natural speaker.

4. Print your notes in a large font so you don’t have to bend to read them. Otherwise, leaning over to read that smaller type will bring that “clump of bed hair” or bald spot you spent 15 minutes hiding this morning into large focus on the screen.

5. If you’re not being interviewed, consider using a teleprompter. It takes just a little practice to get used to, but it can make the whole experience much easier on you and more enjoyable for your audience.

6. Be sure to follow the suggestions of your director and/or crew.It’s their job to set lighting and position you at just the right distance from the camera for your best look. Feel free to ask someone to “stand-in” for you so that you can take a peek at how you’ll look from the camera’s point of view.

7. Try to be “the best you”— the you who converses with friends and co-workers.

8. Put you – and your audience – at ease if you lose a word or become tongue-tied. Get angry and you make the audience uncomfortable. Joke or just move on, and the whole world laughs with you.

9. Dress for the camera. Bold stripes and patterns will strobe (that “waaaaaah look”), detracting your viewers from you and your message. Men, business-casual clothing is perfectly acceptable (just think about what you’d wear the first time you’re meeting a new client). But, if a jacket and tie are your style or your message is of a very serious nature, wear a solid jacket (a slight strip is acceptable but not plaid) and a subtle tie.

10.Women, the same goes for you. Avoid geometrics or any other strong pattern Wear solid colors that complement your own coloring, and keep your accessories simple and not shiny. Otherwise you too risk the “waaaaah look.”

11. Avoid the Richard Nixon or Morticia look! Unless it’s the style you want, men should be recently shaven to prevent “five o’clock shadow.” Women should use light makeup and subtle lipstick to ward off the garish look on television.

12. Maintain an animated and pleasant expression. Don’t let your face “go dead.”

Remember, these dozen points are just the start.You can’t become comfortable without training and practice.Invest the time.Find an experienced media/presentation coach who can help you with taping, critiques and re-doing as often as possible until you are at ease with the medium. Your business may depend on your performance in front of the camera.And, by the way, welcome to television!