When clients call me with a new video project, I listen intently, take copious notes and wait for the inevitable pause. Then I launch into a list of questions only a producer would ask.
- Who's the audience?
- What challenges are you trying to overcome?
- What do you want viewers to take away?
Because let's not kid ourselves, I know the real goal is not video. Video is simply a powerful vehicle to deliver a message. The real goal is to change viewers' minds so they think and act differently. When they finish watching, I want them to say:
- "Now I understand why the company is realigning."
- "I never knew that group was so involved! I should join them."
- "Wow. I need to check out the flexible widgets on the New Tool 6000."
Where are people watching your video?
Getting a clear picture of the goal is just the beginning. It's also important to understand how the video is delivered to the viewers' eyes. Years ago, there weren't many options beyond VHS and DVD. Now the Internet offers an ever-changing array of formats and destinations. So I ask more questions:
Will it end up on your external website or YouTube?
Would you ever play it on a big screen at a trade show or meeting?
What's the most common playback format and average bandwidth for your audience?
If I know a video will be a meeting-opener, but could also end up on the company's YouTube channel, I'll keep that in mind as I craft the script. My client and I could identify sections that would easily be taken out for a shorter YouTube version. I might shoot extra scenes specifically for the web, or design animations in a way that allows us to remove images the client feels are too proprietary. Planning for ways to repurpose video is a great way to squeeze extra mileage from a communications budget and supplement an online video strategy.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
When I helped produce a video for Northwestern Mutual on their company-wide volunteer effort, I knew I also would be producing an internal version. Having the information ahead of time helped streamline production needs, allowing us to repurpose shots that saved time and money.
Even if a video is as simple as a sound bite, it helps to know how and where viewers will see it. When I collaborated to provide video content for the Instititue for Building Efficiency website, I knew the player would be small. That's why I suggested simple, easy-to-read copy for the name and title of each speaker. The solution is not rocket science, but it beats trying to read illegible copy. If this same video played on a big screen at a trade show, I would suggest changing the look to something more stylized.
I do ask clients a lot of questions. The more I know about how and where a video plays, along with your communications goals, the better I can design a creative concept and map out the best path to deliver a compelling message.