Tools We Love: Part 1 

We live in a world that’s crowded with content – so how do you make yours stand out?  That’s the challenge we take on every day here at MK3, in producing live action video and animated content that “pops.” And while there’s a lot of “creative” that goes on behind the scenes, our motion graphic designers, animators and video editors use a few common tools from their  toolbox that you can use to produce content with a professional look and feel. Here are a few tools that our video editors use, in one form or another, on almost every project.

1. Quicktime: This platform is great for remote and user generated video production – especially with our current distancing limitations. When recording interviews remotely (using Zoom or other virtual meeting platforms), screen recording is a simple solution to producing content. Easy to use and already installed on most computers, Quicktime does everything you need, without a lot of extra junk. Users can record certain portions of the screen or the entire screen, and high quality video files get saved to your desktop for easy access.

2. Adobe Suite: Adobe software is ideal for those who tend to use multiple editing platforms. The Adobe Suite of tools lets you transition between platforms seamlessly; from video editing with Premiere to photo editing with Photoshop. And while there are hundreds of tools available, you can produce a pretty impressive project with only a few of the simple ones. With Adobe, you can experiment and grow along with the entire suite.

3. DaVinci Resolve: If you’re looking for a one-stop color grading platform, DaVinci Resolve is your software. While this program has a bit of a learning curve, it offers a great selection of color grading tools as well as some new editing features. DaVinci Resolve is free to download and with so many options, you can evolve from basic editing to the nitty gritty techniques used by professionals.

While our editors love these tools because of their user-friendly interfaces and flexible capabilities, each of these platforms has a lot more to offer. MK3 uses tools like these every day to produce carefully crafted content that “pops,” helping our clients to stand out in our content-crowded world.

Want to give your content a more professional look? Reach out to info@mk3creative.com to learn more about what MK3 can do for you!

Meet MK3’s Summer Interns

Times are changing, and so are internships. MK3 has been providing rewarding and hands-on internship programs since 2009, giving college students a chance to gain real-world marketing experience. And then, the “real world” changed…changing this summer’s internships along with it. Our work and workplace have moved online, and while our internships have gone “virtual” they are virtually the same – using screen sharing and conferencing platforms like Google Meet and Zoom to provide our intern team with a fully immersive educational experience. This summer, we have a unique batch of interns already thriving in this unique environment – meet Sydney, Alex and Noah!

Sydney is a rising senior journalism major at Emerson College. She quickly took to video production and design, and began pursuing opportunities in those fields. At MK3, she’s our Creative Marketing Intern and works with our team to help create blog posts, generate social media content and more. Beyond MK3, Sydney works as a graphic designer at Boston Tattoo Company, and vlogs in her free time.

Alex is a senior journalism student at Emerson College with a minor in psychology and creative writing. When she isn’t studying hard, she enjoys reading fantasy epics, finding and making delicious eats, and strumming on the ukulele. At MK3, Alex holds the position of Content Marketing Intern, helping to develop the written content being pushed out on blogs, eblasts, and social media.

Noah is a rising senior at Brandeis University, where he’s a double major in psychology and business. Outside of the classroom, he’s also the captain of the Brandeis Men’s Soccer team. Here at MK3, he’s our Marketing Project Management Intern, working on key marketing strategies, including social media management and our growing referral program.

Our interns are diligent collaborators, contributing to the fun and fast-paced MK3 environment. They’re already involved with MK3’s internal operations and some of our most front-facing projects, proving themselves essential in helping us maintain our blog, and keeping our social media fresh and relevant.

In this age of uncertainty, MK3’s commitment to Boston-area students remains constant; providing opportunities to improve their skill sets, and establish professional experiences and relationships. MK3 runs on creativity and enthusiasm, and our interns are a reflection of both. 

New Guidelines for Video Production

Distance is in, which makes meaningful engagement challenging. There are still stories to tell, and now more than ever, video is still the best way to tell them.

But as restrictions evolve and businesses reopen, how do we return to live video production? Good question. So we asked it – and came up with a few good answers; three approaches for an on-camera interview video production:

1. User Generated Content & Video in a Box:

Record your own video from your home or office, with remote directing help from our team. We can even send you a “Video in a Box” camera/audio/lighting kit for a more professional look and sound.

2. The Controlled Studio Environment:

Produce on-camera interviews in a professional studio, adhering to all Massachusetts-mandated safety guidelines, and offering high-quality live streaming so remote clients can experience the production as if they were there.

3. The Remote Video Shoot:

Produce and direct an on-camera interview shoot with a professional crew adhering to predetermined safety protocols, in a client-provided space. As always, we’ll collaborate on the best shooting location and conduct a “hands-on,” yet professionally “distant,” video shoot.

Each project is unique and will require its own unique planning and precautions. MK3 will work with clients to determine the best approach for each production.

 

Don’t let distance become detachment. Stay informed, stay engaged and stay connected with the help of video. We’re all together, apart.

For more information about new video production practices and precautions, contact Joel Kaplan at jkaplan@mk3creative.com.

 

Live to Virtual Events: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Times have changed. As companies start distancing themselves from live events, virtual is reality. Switching from high touch to high tech can be challenging, but just because the format has changed, doesn’t mean the process has to. The best way to create a dynamic and engaging virtual event is to approach it like a live event!

That means strategy, creativity and execution are still critical. And so is how we apply them across traditional event logistics – such as attendee and speaker management, audience engagement, event content development and production.

Venue

All events need a venue. For live events BC (Before COVID), that usually meant a hotel or convention center. In the world of virtual events, your technology platform is your new “meeting space” and finding the right one is your first step. Your event needs to be more than a haphazard video call, so think about the event experience you want for the presenters and audience to find the right platform to help host your event. And to truly make your virtual venue feel like “home” you can explore designing virtual “sets” and branded backdrops for your presenters, as well as event-branded landing pages – your virtual venue “lobby.”

Agenda

Just like live events, you need to consider the audience experience and plan your agenda accordingly. Your audience is sitting in front of a computer, most likely at home, and it’s harder to hold their attention. Scheduling shorter general sessions and strategically breaking up the day (coffee/snack breaks, lunch, etc.) helps keep the audience fresh and attentive.

Audience Engagement

As with any event, you’ll still need to tell a story, create an experience, and make it memorable. The key to any successful event is an engaged audience. Most virtual platforms offer engagement tools like polling, Q&A and quiz functions, so incorporating these into your presentations can create an interactive experience for the audience. Video production elements like company logo animations, animated name/title speaker intros and traditional video productions are even more effective for virtual events, because they give the audience a visual break from the PowerPoint slides and “talking head” experiences that often dominate typical video conferences. And of course, nothing engages an audience like compelling content, so now more than ever, don’t let the technology get in the way of what you need to say.

Stay Connected

Your audience may not be able to enjoy each other’s company, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still connect with them in a personal way. Send gift baskets and branded “swag” directly to your attendees’ homes, and in turn, have them send in personal photos and thoughts on the event content that you can integrate and display throughout the event – all great ways to unite the audience and stay connected.

Practice Makes Perfect

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Tech rehearsals, presentation rehearsals and dress rehearsals. Familiarize yourself and presenters with the virtual platform. Understand the technology and practice as if you’re live on stage – because virtually you are – and practice makes perfect.

Ask the Experts

Lastly, ask for help. You wouldn’t plan a live event without help from industry experts and you shouldn’t plan a virtual event without them either. It’s a team effort. And with over 20 years of video and live event experience, MK3 can help turn your live event into a successful virtual event, without having to reinvent the wheel.

Scriptwriting Tips of the Trade

Video production is a visual medium, but more often than not, it starts with the written word. The script is the foundation a video is built on, so it’s always a good place to start. If you’re tasked, challenged, or motivated to write a video script, here are a few tips to help guide you.

Find your voice. Not the actual voiceover artist, but your brand voice. What tone should you use to deliver your message? Casual and conversational or serious and informational? Your tone and word choice should always match your brand.

Stand Out. Find a way. If your video can support an abstract conceptual approach, let the concept guide the scriptwriting. (Just make sure the tone, attitude, or style supports the information and doesn’t bury it.) If your message or brand requires a more straightforward, informative approach, you still need to find a way to stand out, and again, it should start with the writing. A solid creative approach can always turn a good script into a great video.

One is the loneliest number. You really need your video to resonate, so work hard to whittle the content down to one main message. You can support your message with 2 to 3 sub-messages, depending on the goal and the intended length of the video. But keep it lean, so viewers know what you mean.

Avoid the long and winding road. Don’t lead viewers down a path without directions. Structure your script so that you communicate or “tease” your main message up front, so viewers know what they’re about to hear. Then you can “unpack” your message in an orderly fashion and sum it up again at the end, reinforcing what they’ve just learned. In other words, follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Tell viewers what you’re going to say.
  2. Say it.
  3. Tell them what you just told them.

Write for the ear, not for the page. Grammar and syntax are important, but with video scripts, you’re writing for the ear. You want language that rolls off the tongue and flows like a welcome conversation. That means avoiding stilted, overly formal language and sentence structure. Get your 5th grade English teacher out of your head and write with your viewer in mind.

Out loud and proud. Shorter is better. Always look for ways to edit your script to keep the total running time down. The best way to check the length is to time it while reading your script out loud, at a slow, reasonable pace. Timing it “in your head” doesn’t work – it takes time to actually wrap your tongue around every word.

Be talented. Tips don’t take the place of talent. If you have a way with words – go for it, but if you don’t, find people who do and work with them. Some people just have “it”, and that’s why they’re writers.

Great American writer Dorothy Parker one said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” Writing isn’t easy. It’s equal parts talent, hard work, practice and patience. Scriptwriting is an important part of our creative process at MK3. Whether we’re writing a script from scratch or taking a client’s script and “punching it up”, we have award-winning creative directors and writers on staff, ready to write the right way.

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!