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.

 

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.

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.

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!

Innovating with an Innovator

At MK3, we love our customers. It’s even more exciting when they live the American dream and make national news. At President Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address, Carbonite CEO Mohamad Ali, was brought as a guest of Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

Ali grew up in Guyana and came to the United States with his mother when he was 11 years old with $34 dollars in their pockets. Since that time, Ali became a U.S. citizen, graduated with dual degrees, held leadership positions in technology companies, and now as CEO of Carbonite, serves as one of the digital economy’s strongest advocates for net neutrality.

Carbonite sought out MK3’s creative team to come up with ways to engage Carbonite customers about data backup and recovery using video and animation.

MK3 also shot still photography of Carbonite backup solutions for marketing purposes to illustrate customer data centers that protect critical systems from disruptions of any kind.

It’s this kind of leading edge data protection solutions and strategies that MK3 brings to life for Carbonite consumers. MK3 helps brands like Carbonite understand their clients needs and create content that connects and engages them.

As we said at the outset, we love all our clients at MK3 but we really like it when our team gets to innovate with an innovator.

By Ted Wayman, VP of Sales and Business Development

The Power of Internal Videos

We typically focus our corporate communication efforts on external audiences – customers, prospects, analysts, the media. But what about that all-important audience – our own employees? What, and how, do we communicate with them? An email perhaps? A webcast town meeting? Heaven help us, a printed memorandum? Why not use the same impactful media, and regularity of contact, that we apply to our external audience?

Some companies do. At MK3, we see companies starting to leverage the power of quality video in regular communications with their own workforce. Hearing directly from company leadership, in this personal and dynamic way, can be a very effective means to convey critical information. We’ve seen internally facing videos used to:

  • Share quarterly or semi-annual performance results
  • Introduce a new member of the senior leadership team
  • Introduce a new public product or service
  • Introduce a new employee benefit, program or resource (e.g. that new intranet)
  • Share company values
  • Share a major company success
  • Introduce a new organizational structure

And these videos not only convey information; they provide a host of ancillary benefits to the organization:

  • Create a personal connection between leadership and employees
  • Demonstrate leadership’s care and respect for employees
  • Foster a sense of company esprit and pride
  • Inspire the team
  • Explain and contextualize important, complex information
  • Strengthen the sense of company loyalty and belonging

These videos can be long or short, but it’s important that they be high quality. And it’s important that they happen with some regularity. Why not leverage the most popular medium of our time not only for buyers and influencers, but also for our most valuable asset – our own employees! Forward-thinking companies are recognizing that there’s a powerful opportunity in internal videos.

By Mo Effron, VP of Strategy & Interactive

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Stock Footage

Stock footage.

To me, and others like me, using stock footage always felt like…cheating.

Let me explain.

If you know anything about MK3 Creative, you know that we’re a digital marketing agency that specializes in many things, but mostly video. And we do everything in-house – concept, copy, casting, production, design, animation, shooting, directing, editing…and everything in between.

All three of our Creative Directors are award-winning field directors who love to crank up casts and crews and bring our visions to life. When it comes to a live action video, our motto is “shoot first, ask questions later”…so using stock footage always felt like shooting blanks. Where’s the pride of authorship? I always considered it cheating – the easy, cheesy way out. Until it wasn’t.

Recently, a few projects came my way with tight budgets, tighter turnarounds, and aspirations to create a global look and feel – something that could only be achieved with stock, given these real-life constraints. I had to change the way I flexed my creative muscles and take pride in the stock footage I found and how I chose to use it.

All stock footage is not created equal, so to the sharp eye of a Creative Director, footage research took the place of casting and directing – with look, lens, and lighting playing just as important a role.

And using stock also enhances the design/motion graphics challenge. On-screen text call-outs and graphic framing devices become even more important as elements of visual consistency.

So the next time clients, concepts, or budgets paint you into a corner, stop worrying about library footage and take stock in it.  It’s not as bad, or as expensive, as it used to be. Embrace the power of stock footage…as long as you promise to use this power for good and not for evil.

By Jonathan Markella, Executive Creative Director

Embrace the Box

Think outside the box.
Meh.  Enough about the box already.
For years, “think outside the box” has been the measuring stick/mantra of creativity.  It’s become a catch phrase, a meme, and ultimately, meaningless.

But then again, I’ve never felt it held any meaning at all.  It’s easy to be creative with no real world boundaries.  It’s harder to light the idea bulb in the pitch black that only a box can create.  Close that cardboard up with industrial strength packing tape and Houdini your way around in there.  That’s creativity.

And by the way, there’s always a box.  Budgets, print ad space, commercial running time, and corporate brand standards – they all box you in, or out.  Only the Rolling Stones always get what they want.  The rest of us need to work with “what we got.”

So, don’t try to excite or impress me when you offer, dare, or demand that we “think outside the box.”  Show me someone who can hop in the box and stick his or her creative elbows out – that impresses me.

Bring us your boxes, large and small.  You’ll be amazed at what we can do with a little corrugated cardboard.

By Jonathan Markella, Executive Creative Director