The art and science of creating engaging storytelling videos

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Storytelling videos evoke emotion and encourage engagement

Video content is quickly becoming one of the most popular new ways to market products and brands online. There are many companies that are jumping onto this bandwagon and producing advertising and marketing content that showcases and demonstrates some of the products that they have available in their inventory. However, some of the most popular and engaging videos that have had success on platforms like YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing platforms involve the use of detailed storytelling to generate interest and evoke emotion.

Make it more likely to remember your message

Storytelling in video content is one of the best ways that you can create a memorable experience for the user. When you create a memorable experience that’s engaging and that actually connects with someone who is watching your video, this increases the likelihood that they will share or pass along your content to others. It’s extremely easy to share videos across the Internet and across social networks. In some cases sharing of video that we enjoy could be as easy as sharing a link across social media or even just pushing one button to share that content on a different page. This is why there needs to be a focus on storytelling and quality content creation when it comes to video production.

You can rely on our quality equipment and expertise

Professionalism is another aspect of video production that needs to be done correctly in order to create engagement online. In order to really wow an audience and provide them with something that they will want to learn more about, it’s important to use professional quality equipment and expertise to create a video that you can be proud of as a company or individual. Not everyone has the expertise and background to do proper video editing, filming, story boarding or script writing. We all may have vision or an idea on the type of content that we want to produce, but we might not have the technical background to really let this idea come to life. This is where the help of an expert video production company can help to create quality video content for online use. Here at S-Films we can work with you to see your vision come to life and in a professional quality format that is bound to wow your audience.

By combining a story that reflects your brand or idea with professional quality equipment and expert skills we can create a video that’s engaging and entertaining for your audience. Contact us for information about our commercial / industrial or time lapse video productions services.

Acting: A Director’s POV

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“After the third time this actor approached me, I decided I would never cast him again.”

“I got a real inside peek into what this actor was really thinking.  She forgot she was still mic’d and I was wearing my headsets.”

“This actor was extremely talented.  But he hosed me in post with his performance.”

These are thoughts of a working film director.  You can learn to save time, money and heartache in post, while cementing your reputation as a seasoned, veteran actor.

Announcing a new workshop for Acting: A Director’s POV!  Join us Saturday April 12, 2014 for a 3 1/2 hours, hands-on workshop, from a director to an actor.  Register here.

Daniel Millican, writer/director for five feature films has worked with Adam Baldwin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Sean Patrick Flanery, Joey Lauren Adams, Mimi Rogers and more.  On casting his last film in NYC, he realized there is a huge bias against using local actors.  As he explored the reasons why, he discovered some acting industry keys that can help local actors land the bigger film roles and avoid the mistakes that would leave them on the cutting room floor, or worse.

In this workshop, Millican will take the actors through exercises to illustrate these performance keys, concentrating on what they mean from the director’s point of view.

Cost is $89 and you can register for a morning session (8:30 to noon) or the afternoon session (1pm to 4:30).  Class size is limited to 15.  Click here to register and save your spot.

Serendipitous Films reserves the right to cancel.  If the workshop is cancelled, you will receive full refund.

Are you leveraging social media for branding and traffic?

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Although it’s a fairly new technology, social media has quickly become one of the best places for people to share stories, life experiences, and pictures, and keep in touch with friends and family. Since most social media websites usually have thousands or even millions of people at the same time online, they are the perfect place for businesses to expand their client base and draw traffic to their website through the use of video.

Using video and having a solid video marketing strategy will help your company become an industry leader. Video usually encourages people to share and has a multiplying effect when their friends can also see it and find out about the product or service that is covered in the video.

Videos are much more likely to go viral through social media

While pictures and text also tend to go viral sometimes, videos are usually the ones that are the most likely to go viral due to their ability to clearly communicate emotion. People tend to connect to video a lot faster and it usually is much more memorable mainly because of the larger amount of information it provides to a user in a small period of time. Videos can also incorporate other types of media, making them a lot more visually interesting, and it appeals to more senses, so it’s more likely to reach a wider audience.

Facebook is a good popular avenue for video marketing

Videos on Facebook are extremely popular and are always being shared. When a person posts a fun or informative video to his/her audience, it won’t take much time until people start to view it, comment on it, and share it with their friends. And since Facebook has hundreds of millions of users, the possibilities of who could watch it are endless. Recently Facebook announced that companies will be able to run video ads on its website, which basically means that people will be able to view commercials directly on the site without the need to leave the already familiar community.

YouTube is owned by Google and  can send you a lot of traffic

Usually video can be easily incorporated in social media and various types of websites. It usually only involves integrate a link to your website where people can easily play it there directly or on YouTube. YouTube makes it where people can easily share video and embed it on their sites if they want to. Being the second most popular search engine, YouTube has the potential to send a flood of qualified people to your website ready to make a purchase.

Also studies suggest that having a video on your Facebook profile will give you a lot more attention than those profiles that don’t have one. This is mainly because a lot of people tend to take video more seriously and perceive it as higher value than images or text based content.

In conclusion, the best thing to do when looking to expand your customer base is to create a video that showcases services, shows the strengths and benefits through storytelling. Make it emotionally appealing and memorable and it will be more likely to captivate your audience and make them feel compelled to share it. Often we find that the video production process can be overwhelming with the right script, actors, setting, story, and other critical elements that go into it. Our job is to simplify that and help you craft the perfect video that make your brand look professional and sophisticated.

Longterm Timelapse Video Production – A Primer

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Construction and Industrial Longterm Timelapse Video Production

Lately, we’ve had a lot of calls from our construction and industrial clients to provide long term timelapse for projects that are going on. So here’s a primer on what timelapse video is and how we break it down.

First, let’s define timelapse. Video runs at 24 or 30 frames (pictures, if you will, I don’t want to get into interlace or progressive discussion) a second. What time lapse does is to take one picture every so often, then you combine them into a video, which plays back each picture at 1/30th (or 1/24th) of a second.

Interval – this is the length of time between the taking of a picture. The longer the interval, the *faster* the video will play. So if you’ve got a one month timelapse that you take one picture a day, the entire month would play back in one second. If you took ten pictures a day, the video would play back in ten seconds… so the shorter the interval, the slower the month goes by.

Location – Let’s divide this up by the location of what you’re wanting to capture, and the location of the camera. Are you wanting to capture something outside? Can the camera shoot it from indoors? One of our longest timelapse cameras (going on almost a year), is taking pictures of a large construction area up against the window of a top floor conference room. We have other cameras in weather-proof cases, powered by solar panels up on telephone poles or concrete caps. We’ve placed cameras in large plants and warehouses, indoors, shooting indoor stuff, but mounted high on a rafter in the ceiling. Each one of the timelapse locations requires certain rigging and preparation.

The crucial thing for the camera in long term timelapse, is uninterrupted power and large memory. The most stable and dependable power is electricity. However, you have to watch out for blackouts and human error (workers unplugging the camera). We now use a battery backup with our camera systems that are running off of normal AC.

For memory, you can either have a large card inside the camera, or a way to upload the pictures to the internet as they’re taken. In the camera on the conference room mentioned earlier, we actually have it connected to a computer, which is on the network and able to upload pictures to dropbox as it takes them. This is ideal because we can monitor and know when we’ve got a problem.

Right now, we’re experimenting with a camera that has built in wifi, and also with a card that has wifi. The biggest obstacle with both of these systems in a long term situation, is that the card can fill up, and right now the wifi does not enable you to delete photos as you pull them.

The Camera – We use conventional digital SLR cameras to take pictures (it’s not necessary that they be video compatible). We also use iPad’s and iPad Mini’s. The DSLR will take a picture that’s in the neighborhood of 5000×3000 pixels. Since high def video is 1920×1080, you’ve got plenty of quality to make an outstanding video timelapse with a DSLR.

Movement – Another tool for timelapse is moving the camera during a timelapse period. This can create a very dramatic video, but is only good for short timelapse periods (like a day or less). This usually involves a computerized slider with a motor for very fin and super slow movement.

Whatever your long term timelapse need, there’s a solution. If we can help, feel free to contact us

Video “Packages” For Live Corporate Events Keep Attendees Engaged

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We’ve just come off of our client’s annual convention, held at a large hotel in the Washington DC area.  Over the five days of the convention, we shot a lot of video, recorded the speakers in multi-cam, and did on-site editing to play back video as it was happening nearly live.

But one thing we did was started months before.  And that was creating video “packages” for playback during the conference.  The term “package” comes from the broadcast world and refers to pre-produced video stories usually used in live event to highlight an upcoming act, highlight what was happening backstage or what transpired earlier.  You see this a lot in the live portions of performance shows like American Idol or America’s Got Talent.  You’ve seen them a hundred times– the video of the artist explaining why they chose this song, or what they had to overcome to get there this night.

The Olympics are currently broadcasting.  You see packages all the time.  Maybe it’s a pre produced video showing why figure skater Ashley Wagner was chosen after a bad nationals.  Or why Shaun White pulled out of one competition to focus on another.

For my client, the packages where mostly comedic “skits” using some very talented guys from their company.  We shot these a month or two before and edited them long before the event, and had them ready to play once called upon.  Another package video focused on an employee getting an award.  We shot his interview without him even knowing he was winning something by telling him we were doing a video on his department.

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We also shot some packages there at the event.  One was comedic.  Another was motivational.  And a third informational.  The opening video for the event was motivational, and heavily produced, using photorealistic 3D animation and rich surround sound design.

Video packages have a lot of use in corporate events.  If done correctly, these can add a lot to the messages the client is getting out to their attendees, and keep them engaged throughout (like the comedic).  The packages break up the parade of speakers and keep attendees laughing, learning and listening.

Time lapse photography and video techniques using DSLR’s

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As we’ve been brought on to shoot a lot of different construction and industrial projects that are large in scope, we’ve had the opportunity to really dive into shooting time lapse.

Timelapse photography is the use of cameras to take a series of “stills” that when played back at 24 frames or 30 frames a second, creates a “fast-forward” video effect.  Because they are only stills, not officially video, just about any camera can be used for timelapse.  And with the quality increase in cameras, the stills are usually a much higher quality than if it was shot at video.  It’s really a matter of math:  A high def video picture size might be 1920 by 1080 pixels or lines.  A still might be 5000 by 3000.  So you can shoot wide and zoom in potentially without any quality loss.

Our Time lapse Process

We shoot our time lapse scenes with DSLR’s like the Canon 5D mark 3 and the Canon 7D, T3i, etc.  We’ll use GoPro’s for time lapse and we’ve also used iPads and iPhones at times.  We pull the images into Premiere and frame it like we want, color and correct and then export.

Right now, we have several “long term” projects.  We have one camera that’s been shooting since early June (over 7 months).  Fortunately, this camera is inside an office building looking out the conference room window and is being controlled by a computer so that the pictures can be immediately uploaded to the cloud so we can grab them back at the studio.

Another camera is outside on a lamp pole, away from electricity and is being solar powered.  This one will be going for approximately 3 or 4 months.

Creating different time lapse effects

When shooting time lapse, you have to decide the interval between pictures.  A long interval will be a much faster timelapse effect. The camera doing 7 months is at one picture every 20 minutes.  Other cameras might be at one picture every 6 minutes.  When we’re on set doing a timelapse for 30 minutes, we might have the interval at one picture every 2 seconds or so.  The scene doesn’t move as quick.  But it’s great for seeing those clouds fly by the buildings.

Another relatively new trick is to move the camera while taking timelapse.  This relies on a motorized mount that slowly moves.  Everything has to be smooth.  While taking a series of pictures, if the camera is bumped or jostled, it can have a bad effect on the final sequence.

Other techniques involve speeding up or slowing down the interval to create cool effects or “bramping” which can help your exposure during sunrise and sunset.

Time Lapse comes in a variety of flavors.  It can be a lot of fun, but does require experience and knowledge to do it correctly.

The Power of a Viral Video Campaign

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Today, businesses and corporations are seeing the power that comes from a viral video campaign.  With sometimes minimal financial effort, companies can reach millions without spending millions.  There’s only one problem– a successful viral campaign can’t really be guaranteed.  You can spend the money and inflate the numbers somewhat, but at the end of the day, successful viral videos can be categorized into three styles and have one thing in common– compelling content.

Let’s define “compelling” in today’s computer age.  In a viral video campaign, the word means that a user readily and eagerly clicks the “play” button and more importantly, then clicks the “share” button.  This is what “compelling” means.  The audience is compelled to watch and share.  So for companies that feel it imperative to take a company powerpoint and turn it into a viral campaign often miss the mark.  Some of the best corporate viral videos only mention the company in the last five seconds.  JC Penney’s Beware The Doghouse, Pantene’s Violin story are classic examples of videos that only hit the company at the end.  Others might simply have a mention at the beginning.

So what are the three styles that lead to compelling content?  Comedy, Emotional, or Sensational.

Funny Videos get forwarded.  Dollar Shave Club has an executive who comes across incredibly well on camera as the spokesperson for his own company– and the script they wrote is awesome.

The Violin video mentioned above is an example of Emotional.  These videos tug at your heartstrings and your eyes mist up.  Then you click the Facebook share button so all your friends can be likewise touched.  By the way, puppies usually win the day.

A team blows up a whale on the beach– and blubber lands like fiery hail from heaven.  This Sensational approach garners views like a car wreck– people can’t turn away.  This is the center of the approach of reality shows like Jackass and others.  The problem is that people are having to go bigger and higher and scarier.  I wonder where that ceiling will end?

So for a successful viral video campaign– you will need a compelling video that either is funny, emotional or sensational.  The wonderful thing is that budgets can vary greatly.  Some of the most successful videos where produced for nothing.  And some have very healthy budgets.  And others will spend a lot of production dollars to appear that they had no budget.

A more personal approach to corporate video production

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A lot of corporate video companies have a “corporate” approach that may come across as too scripted or even fake at times. S-Films focuses on ensuring your company’s image looks professional while also allowing the personality of the individuals in the video to shine. Whether you need training videos, infomercials, or other type of video in a professional environment we have the expertise and team to make it happen.

While we help you craft a good script we also do encourage the freedom of fresh ideas and spontaneous thoughts. Corporate video production doesn’t need to be cold or boring or scripted all the time. We can help your company produce a creative and fun video that highlights each person’s individuality and aspects of their personality that people can remember and connect with. We can also help you find local talent if the people in your staff dont feel confident to be in front of the camera. We encourage using real staff and real customer experiences to make the stories credible and share worthy.

People follow other people so giving the audience a face and a voice to remember combined with the story will be much more powerful and have a bigger impact on them. It takes talent and creativity to create a compelling story that makes your message memorable. When the audience can identify with the story line and resonate with your message they are much more likely to take action and make that proposed phone call or visit that website. Contact us here to learn more about our corporate video production services.

What Video Production Companies Look For When Hiring Freelancers -The 4 A’s

 

freelance-video-production-s-filmsFrom time to time, production companies will hire freelancers to fill the gaps on various video productions.  Rarely are two video projects the same– and each project requires a different set of tools and personnel.  So almost every production company will hire freelancers at one point or another.

The Four “A’s”

When we look to contract freelancers, we run everyone through our “4 A” filter– Attitude, Ability, Availability, Affordability, and in that order.

Attitude-

Many years ago, we did a large corporate conference in Dallas, and the AV company promised me the best audio engineer in town.  He was good, but he brought a real bad attitude and had to be replaced.  Attitude trumps ability every time.

Ability-

The freelancer has to be talented.  Their level of expertise can directly effect the production value of the project.  And depending on the position, need to balance between being an artist and being an engineer.  For animations, I’ve seen work that is done that is precise, but lacks the creative flair.  Vice versa, I’ve seen work so creative, it misses the point of the client’s story, or even detracts from it.

Availability-

It won’t do us any good to hire someone if they’re not available.  Usually, if we call a freelancer that isn’t available, then we call another time and hit the same result, eventually, we’ll quit calling.  Conversely, if a freelancer commits to a shoot, and then are offered a bigger gig, there are industry standards for handling this– the freelancer finds a suitable replacement and asks the production company if this is acceptable.  This happened recently and the freelancer found a very capable replacement.  Also, another producer friend of mine had a freelancer drop out a day or two before the shoot because he had a bigger gig come up.  That freelancer is no longer eligible for re-hire.

Affordability-

Sometimes we’ll have budgets already set by the client and we’ll present the rate and the freelancer can say yes or no.  Other times, we can bid a job to a specific freelancers standard day rate.  A freelancer’s day rate should be reasonable.  I’ve had freelancers tell me their day rate, which was way too high, and tell me that they’ll be glad to work for less.  Then I feel like a jerk asking them to work for “cheap” when the rate might be the standard in the area.  The freelancer should have reasonable day rates established.

 

We have hired camera operators, location sound people, makeup artists, gaffers, steadicam operators, jib operators, and production assistants for the shoots.  For post, we do sometimes bring in an extra editor or two, hire specific animators who specialize in After Effects, or 3D.

 

And the great thing about Dallas Fort Worth, is the level of talent here is very high, due to the large amount of corporate video, national commercials and tv shows.

Video Production Styles Close Ups to Time Lapse

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The key to powerful, effective corporate video productions is the ability to produce with different styles. When I worked for a video production house in Dallas in the 90′s, a client of mine would always tell me faces, faces, faces. We were doing sales motivational videos for people selling insurance. I had tried to put some fancy transitions in, and the note back was to get rid of the “color bars” at that transition point and to put in more faces, faces, faces.

So as we shot for our insurance client, we adjusted to shoot close ups of the people. These sales people were not interested in cool effects, and brilliant cinematography– they wanted to see themselves up on the big screen.

As we’ve shot some scope-of-project pieces for a construction client, the opposite has held true– the notes come back– lose the worker at 2:06 and put in more wider, dramatic shots of the project. So instead of going with our long lenses, we’re putting on the 11-17mm and also setting up lots of timelapses. The client here is using the videos to show scope and scale of what they can accomplish.

And another customer wanted to grab attention at tradeshows– all they wanted were the special effects– the stuff that earlier client would call “color bars.” So motion graphics, with sound effects and cool music is the order of the day for this client.
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Different videos have different goals. It’s important to have a full toolbox of styles and strategies. We can shoot the close ups. We can gather the multicam footage at the seminar and conference. Animation? We have 3D, 2D, 2D+, and more. Slow pace editing? Fast paced editing? It’s all about your story and the best way to get your story across to your intended audience.

It’s not enough today to be just a specialist– to be a “timelapse” company, or a motion graphics company. We feel it’s best to have people that are specialist in all these things and more– to be able to bring whatever tool you need to the job that’s called for.

Serendipitous Films does this in the Dallas video production industry. Let us know if we can help you.

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