Oct 21, 2014

Posts Tagged ‘educational video’

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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One-to-one Marketing with Video on the Web

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

OK — I just have to tip my hat to real creativity.  The Tomorrow Awards has launched what might be the coolest one-to-one marketing strategy that I’ve ever personally encountered.  Which isn’t to say there aren’t more impressive examples out there — it’s just that none of them have ever targeted me!

So, this week I received an innocuous handwritten letter in the mail.  Return address: “The Future”.  Who knew the future actually resides in Richmond, VA?  Anyway, I don’t recognize the handwriting and I don’t really think I know anyone in Richmond, but I go ahead and open it.  (Amazing — I was hooked by the return address!)

Inside is an actual original crayon drawing of a dinosaur with one handwritten  line scrawled in crayon:  www.stopthedinosaurs.com/Cara B.

I let the thing sit on my desk for a couple of days.  I mean, is this some insidious, twisted plot to expose my computer to who knows what virus or scam?  Am I about to become the butt of some international internet-based joke?  I could only hold out so long…

blueMarble caraBarineau from Nate777 on Vimeo.

Pretty cool, right?  I mean, this campaign — despite it’s adolescent trappings –  appears to have taken some serious work.  First the folks behind this campaign had to find us and a sample of our web design work.  (By the way, the web site featured in this video is for The Voyager Group of Laguna Beach, CA.)

They had to identify me and the address for Blue Marble.  And, of course, they had to customize their video and their crayon drawing just for me.

And did it work?  Pretty much, I’d have to admit.  I watched their video — twice.  I clicked through to the Tomorrow Awards web site and searched all around it.  I haven’t yet signed up to be a judge, but I probably will.  And now I’m promoting them with a post on our blog!

Yep — they got me.  Hook, line and click-through.

I loved this campaign on so many levels!  First, the personalization — I’m speechless.  Second, the use of video was fun and engaging.  Third, the hook to the Tomorrow Awards web site was superb.  Fourth, direct mail — it’s still alive and kicking!

This is a great demonstration of the power of video on the web … the effectiveness of combining old and new media … and, let’s face it, a lot of good old raw creative thinking!

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Do-It-Yourself Video

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Well it happened again. I ran across another online discussion — this time on Hubspot, one of my very favorite SEO blogs and was dismayed to read the following:

“Gone are the days when you have to spend $10,000+ on a video by acquiring a crew, hiring a director, booking a studio, etc. Creating online video doesn’t have to be hard, nor does it have to look amateurish. If you follow these few basic steps, you can — quickly and easily — create a video yourself that shines…”

If you follow that line of thinking — it should be no problem using your own snapshots of the company executives in your next annual report, right? I mean, look at the great digital cameras that are available today. And iPhoto makes retouching so easy!

Here was my response to their blog:

Don’t ever forget that your brand is judged everyday by the quality of the messages and images you put in front of your audiences.

It may not be fair, but if your web site, printed materials or video look amateurish — that’s EXACTLLY the impression your prospects will now have about your organization. Amateurish. Unsophisticated. Unprofessional. Small. Not a major player.

You know you’ve thought the same thing about other companies’ sites when you’ve been online.

So, it’s true — the low cost of HD video cameras and laptop or even web based editing software is making video production much more accessible to everyone.

And, for video testimonials and simple short messages from executives — most companies can and should be able to create good video on their own.

But before you take on a video project with no outside professional help, remember some of the tough lessons companies had to learn back in the 90s when Desktop Publishing was all the rage.

I actually worked with a company that purchased Corel Draw and a color printer and told the RECEPTIONIST to learn how to use both so that they could “spice up” their proposals. Care to guess how that all worked out?

OK, so the point is this: just because you CAN layout a brochure — or point a video camera in the general direction of your CEO — doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

It sounds trite, but it’s true — you only get one chance to make a first impression.

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