Careful, Mindful and Resourceful. The Small Business Story.

The COVID-19 crisis has affected everyone, everywhere. It’s a public health emergency, an economic reality, and it’s affecting companies large and small. The impact on small businesses, however, is unique. Normally, their size is an asset, allowing for a nimble and cost-effective approach to the marketplace. However, during an economic slowdown like we’re experiencing now, small businesses can’t always absorb the impact the way larger ones can.

That’s why small businesses everywhere are being careful, mindful, and more resourceful than ever. Companies who can work remotely are doing just that, and relying on kitchen tables, makeshift home offices and video conferencing to conduct “business as usual”. And here at MK3, it’s fairly usual.

While social distancing has made it difficult to produce video shoots for our clients, many creative approaches don’t require live action shooting (Motion Graphics! Stock Footage! Both!), and our post-production capabilities are as busy as ever. Brainstorming, scriptwriting, voiceover recording, editing of existing or stock footage, audio mixing, and the design and animation of motion graphics are all the ingredients of a great video, and can all be done remotely.

Small businesses are also getting creative on keeping the team “together”. Shoulder-to-shoulder collaboration, office drive-bys, and cubicle camaraderie are all quarantined. What are we replacing them with? Here at MK3, we’re video conferencing our regular Monday morning meetings, and scheduling mid-week and end-of-week video check-in calls as well.

In addition, we hold daily “water cooler” video calls – optional and open – for folks to check-in and chat about anything work or non-work related…replacing the valuable “what did you watch on TV last night?” lunch banter that we’re all missing. And all of this is over and above the as-needed phone and video calls that are driven by our on-going projects.

Surviving and thriving in this challenging environment means we all have to be more careful, mindful and resourceful. Small businesses are making the best of it and making news! Check out this story from WCVB-TV, featuring MK3! Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay busy!

Take Stock of Stock

Distance is in. And not in a good way.

Today is all about distancing – social, safe and sanitized. It’s the right thing to do, but not the best way to produce your marketing videos.

How do we keep the video communication channels open? By staying creative and relying on the tools and techniques still available to us: motion graphic animation and stock footage/photography. Creating videos using these approaches can be done “long distance”, with all collaboration conducted via email, phone and video conferencing.

If your business is driven by the power of people and their relationships, you might need to consider using stock. It’s not always as “generic” as you might think and when used properly, can still pack the emotional punch you’re looking for.

All stock footage, however, is not created equal. MK3 is experienced and adept at working with stock, because as Creative Directors and Cinematographers, we don’t rely on keyword searches to find the right content – we approach every production as if we’re directing a shoot, because the look, lens and lighting are just as important.

When searching for stock, we’re also scouting locations, casting actors, and reviewing each sequence for unique lighting, focal length and frame composition. We want your stock footage and photography to look and feel as unique as your video’s message.

Using stock also enhances the opportunities and importance of design/motion graphics. On-screen text call-outs and graphic framing devices become even more important in creating visual and branding consistency.

Distance is in. But as always, so is creativity. And that means being smart about your approach to video. Now, more than ever, consider using stock footage in your productions. It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.

Striking the Right Tone

The Heritage Challenge

There’s no place like home. Especially now, since many of us are housebound. In these days of forced “nesting”, home services are more essential than ever.

And no one knows more than Heritage Plumbing Heating Cooling and Electric, a New England-based home services company. During the COVID-19 crisis, their challenge has been two-fold: balancing their commitment to their employees and their customers. How do they stay safe, and still stay open in this time of personal and financial need?

Heritage needed to reach out to their customers but didn’t want to appear as if they were trying to capitalize on a difficult situation. They wanted to communicate their new strict safety precautions, including “contact-free” in-home visits. Given the economic impact of the COVID crisis, they need to offer economic incentives and discounts. And most importantly, they wanted their customers to know “We’re Still Here”.

The MK3 Solution

Heritage had been running a successful recruitment TV ad campaign and still had a bank of broadcast air-time available, so they came to MK3 for help in creating a series of commercials to deliver their unique “We’re Still Here” messaging.

MK3 collaborated with Heritage to ensure the ads not only deliver the right message but strike the right tone. Sending camera crews to record new footage wasn’t possible, due to social distancing concerns, and stock footage and photography felt inauthentic for this campaign.

Heritage wanted to confront the serious nature of the crisis, while creating a caring and thoughtful tone, so MK3 produced a series of text-only commercials backed by a simple white screen. No voice, just words and music. In today’s busy media landscape, the approach not only matched the seriousness of the message, but stood out in its stark simplicity.

Communicating with your audience can be challenging enough. Striking the right tone in a crisis requires thoughtful creativity. Video has always been a powerful communication tool, but like any tool, it’s all in how you use it.

 

DIY with User Generated Content

We’ve been spending a lot of time staring at each other on video screens lately…from desktops and laptops to handheld devices. More and more, we’re conducting business on-camera, live from our living rooms, makeshift home offices, and empty conference rooms!

Necessity is the mother of invention, and as resources are being reviewed and restricted, people are becoming more and more resourceful…and creating their own video content for internal and external communication.

Since we’re video professionals here at MK3, we have a name and an acronym for it – User Generated Content, or UGC! And because we’re video professionals, we’re here to support your UGC productions.

UGC is a quick and convenient way to deliver content across your audience spectrum, and while it’s typically lower quality than professional productions, it’s become more accepted in these days of remote-to-remote communication.

MK3 can offer UGC consulting, including everything from tips and best practices to remote directing and production support, as needed. Adding a little professional polish to your video can increase its quality and effectiveness.

MK3 + UGC =

  • Consulting: Best practices, tips, advice, techniques, critiques
  • Remote Directing: Location/background direction, directing on-camera performances
  • Video Editing: Editing your video content for a tighter presentation
  • Video Enhancements: Animated/branded “open and close” framing devices, animated support visuals/charts, graphs, text on screen, b-roll and stock footage additions

For example, here are a few tips, just between video friends:

Location, location, location!

If you’re recording yourself on camera, scout your location and dress the set! Everything the camera sees reflects on you and your message, so pay attention to your background! Pick an area that’s uncluttered, but feel free to selectively add “props” like a vase of flower, photo or other simple home or office furnishings.

Room with a view!

If you’re recording in an area with windows, try to sit facing them to take advantage of a soft light source on your face, and NEVER record yourself with a window behind you.

Sideways is the best way!

If recording with a smartphone or tablet, hold the device horizontally, since that screen orientation is closer to the industry standard 16:9 screen ratio we’re all used to viewing video content on.

We’ll all get by with a little help from our friends – and you’ve got a video friend in MK3. Let’s hop on a video chat, or a good old-fashioned phone call, and generate some content together!

Set your Messaging in Motion

We all know the value of video as a communication tool, but with today’s steady diet of “distancing”, it may be time to think of traditional video techniques in non-traditional ways.

Creating a video to promote your product, launch your business or communicate your message has always come in two forms: a “live action” video, in which people and products are recorded “in action”; and motion graphics “animation”, in which concepts that are not inherently visual or tangible can be visualized through animated graphics, text, design and iconography.

Live action video production requires camera crews and close collaboration, testing the need for personal and professional distancing. An animated video, however, can be created at a distance of anywhere from 6 feet or 600 miles… and beyond!

So think about using traditional animated productions in non-traditional ways, like presenting the messages you’d normally deliver in person, at events or in meetings, with engaging informative and dynamic motion graphics-driven videos, including:

  • White Paper messaging
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Employee and HR communication
  • “Town Hall” company-wide updates
  • Sales meetings and presentations
  • Enhancing/packaging your own User Generated Content (UGC)

Using motion graphics for projects you normally wouldn’t have before, can help make the “new normal” feel a little more… normal.

So let the loss of face-to-face interaction inspire creativity, and the creation of new video tools that’ll not only help bridge the current communication gap, but provide you with a new complementary toolbox for the (hopefully) not too “distant” future.

Looking beyond animation? Here are a few other ways virtual can be reality.