There can be a lot to learn when it comes to video. Andi Kneeland joined us to talk about her experience with video production as a marketing communications professional. Listen in as she shares what surprised her, what she loves about the process, and her tips to those just starting out.
[00:00:04.29] Laura: Learning by doing is one of the best ways to grasp any complex process, and video production certainly has a lot of moving parts. We thought the best way to explain what you might experience during the process is to bring in one of your peers, a marketing communications professional, to share her experiences.
[00:00:25.18] Andi: What's the process? How does this happen? Scheduling. What is this going to cost me? Oh my goodness.
[00:00:30.05] Laura: Despite the early anxieties, this is what 25 years of experience sounds like.
[00:00:35.25] Andi: I now consider myself kind of a production geek. I love the whole process.
[00:00:41.15] Laura: Next on CloseUp, video production decoded through the eyes of a marketing communications professional.
[00:00:49.13] Rhonda: Andi Kneeland is here in the studio. Andi, welcome to CloseUp. I was really eager to get you on the program because you have great experience producing videos, and you can provide some of that valuable perspective on the process. First of all, tell me a bit about your background.
[00:01:03.24] Andi: I have been a marketing communications professional for the past 25 years. Worked for several wonderful organizations and have kind of been a jack of all trades when it comes to marketing communications throughout my career. I've worked for some Fortune 100 companies, and now I manage all of internal and external communications as well as community relations for Veolia Water Milwaukee which is Veolia's largest project in North America, and our client is the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District.
[00:01:36.27] Rhonda: So, take me back 25 years ago to your first video. What didn't you know that you had to learn along the way?
[00:01:44.02] Andi: Well, I'll tell you what I didn't know was pretty much everything. I'm sure it was a daunting task at the time just to understand what's the process, how does this happen, who is responsible for the script and working with subject matter experts and scheduling and what is this going to cost me? Oh my goodness. And what's the final output going to be? What kind of file type? And where are we going to market it, and who's going to use it? And is it going to be a success?
[00:02:11.08] Rhonda: And I'm sure you felt like you were under the gun to meet the expectations of your internal team, particularly whoever's paying for the video. Explain how that idea for video was brought up in the first place
[00:02:21.24] Andi: I think every marketing communications professional can relate to this feeling of many times we become the order takers and when somebody says we need a video, okay, well, sometimes we have to work backwards from that. What is the strategy? What is the messaging? So, we've all been in that situation where something has been dictated to us. That's one way. And at that point, you really do have to take a step back and understand the strategy and the messaging and how things are gonna be used and who the audience is before moving forward. Best case scenario, you are the person driving the process, and you can come to the table with hey, I think video is going to be the best way to get our message across efficiently and effectively. And that's obviously an ideal scenario.
[00:03:07.01] Rhonda: So, the next steps out of that kind of meeting is to choose a video production partner. What did you look for?
[00:03:11.29] Andi: Really, I'm looking for someone who's an expert in the field and also who can kind of anticipate what I don't know. So, I know that's asking a lot. But you'd be surprised when you have a good relationship with an agency, how that actually comes naturally. So, I'm the first to raise my hand and say I'm not the expert, you are, and I need someone who's confident in that expertise to be able to hit pause and say okay, hold on. Did you think about this? Or maybe I would suggest doing it this way? I almost see it as a responsibility to be asking those questions. They shouldn't be just order takers either because they are the ones who are the experts.
[00:03:49.17] Rhonda: So, it is a creative process, and because of that producers ask a lot of questions during pre-production all with the goal of nailing down a very defined plan for production. How valuable is pre-production?
[00:04:01.17] Andi: Well, I will tell you garbage in equals garbage out. It is worth it to take that time in pre-production to engage your partner upfront, so that they understand the strategy and the messaging. And, you know, use them as a resource because really once it hits the editing suite, you got what you got and a lot of times you don't have the opportunity to go back and recreate a scene. So, that's why that planning process is so important.
[00:04:27.27] Rhonda: I'm curious. Once it came time to roll cameras onsite, what surprised you about video production?
[00:04:34.16] Andi: Great question. I now consider myself kind of a production geek. I love the whole process. Some of the things I didn't realize was that there's several takes that are going to happen, that you're going to repeat the same scene several times, and they're going to move the camera. So, there's different camera angles. The idea that you can't just cut scenes and pick them up without having some kind of transition in mind. The idea of b-roll and how important that is and how that can change the tone and the feel. When we started out, it was pretty much just talking heads talking at people, and that's not an effective or entertaining way to deliver a message. So, as I learned the process a little bit more, it was wonderful to understand how creative you can really be when it comes to delivering your message through video.
[00:05:25.16] Rhonda: So, Andi, think back to one of those videos that you did. What exactly was your role when the cameras were onsite, and you were shooting the footage?
[00:05:33.03] Andi: For about sixteen years, I managed a high-end sales recognition program where we used videos quite a bit as entertainment and also to get some important messages across, but it was done in a very lighthearted entertaining way. A lot of my time and energy was focused on managing that non-professional talent, if you will, which is your executives. Which, you know, they're busy people. It's hard to get them all into a room at the same time or even get them consecutively scheduled. So, a lot of what I did focused on how do we use the crew to the best of our ability efficiently, but also I had to take into consideration that I have five or six busy executives I need to cycle in at the same time and stay on budget and stay on time.
[00:06:20.05] Rhonda: Staying on budget and on time is really important, and what surprised you about the way the day progressed from one scene to the next?
[00:06:27.07] Andi: One, that it's a methodical process, and you have to trust your director because they know what's going to happen during post-production, and sometimes you have to trust that. Two, the amount of takes that actual occur for each scene. Some of those wind up in the outtakes, but some of those are very strategic because you're trying to get the very best out of your talent. And also, you're going to be repositioning cameras because you're gonna say the same line ten times but different camera angles. So, you have to trust that. So, they may be going down the road with something that doesn't make any sense to you at the time and then all of a sudden you see it in post-production, and you understand oh, that's why they were doing that. They whole idea of b-roll footage and how important the is to be able to use in between cuts to make those scenes seamless, if you will, seamless transition between scenes, and you don't want talking heads all the time. And just like the amount of time it takes to set up the right lighting and audio and making sure that everything goes seamlessly throughout the shoot.
[00:07:30.18] Rhonda: Yeah, I guess we should really define what b-roll means. I mean those are really the visual scenes that are not necessarily an interview or a narration track, they're really the scenes that fill in the details.
[00:07:40.11] Andi: Where'd it come from? What does b stand for?
[00:07:42.06] Rhonda: Well, it goes back to the days when you had like interviews were considered the a-roll, the primary story telling part of it, and then the b-roll were the scenes and other things that might be edited over the interviews or as other parts of the video.
[00:07:55.21] Andi: I will comment. I will add to my other comments that that was also an educational process was the first time I had a script delivered in my inbox and pulled it up, and there was all this stuff. There was a line right down the middle and all these acronyms. Now I'm pretty comfortable with what they mean, but boy the first I had to sit down, and you had to explain it to me like I was a child. That's definitely a learning process as well.
[00:08:20.29] Rhonda: Absolutely. Like any business, there's that shorthand lingo of the trade, and that's just all part of the process. You mentioned post-production, and I want to get into that a little further. That's the final step where an editor cuts together the footage, the graphics, animation, the music, the narration, and you're sitting there in the edit suite, Andi, what's that like?
[00:08:40.15] Andi: As far as the first time I ever sat in an editing suite and saw the magic, if you will, it truly is magic what can be accomplished in post-production. I will tell you that's probably my favorite part of the whole process much to the chagrin of some of the editors that I have sat behind over the years telling them no, don't do it this way, hey, can I see that again. But it really is magic when it all comes together.
[00:09:02.13] Rhonda: When it's time to share a version with your internal team, Andi, how do you set expectations and really navigate the feedback that you receive?
[00:09:10.09] Andi: Over the years, I've learned that if I can get that product, that end product, to 99% point where I think, yep, we might have a little tweaking, that's probably the best case scenario to be able to hand that over to whoever your internal stakeholder is for that just final approval. You're always hoping for that, right? Fingers crossed. How I try to set it up is that people are reviewing for accuracy. Because ten people can look at the same video and have ten pieces of feedback for you. So, the way you, kind of, navigate that pushback is that if it's not something that is inaccurate in the video, you can usually talk them into keeping that cut. And also, they have to understand time is money, so each time we go back and ask for revisions, it's going to cost a little bit more which it should because we're paying for a service. That usually helps them make their decision in the right way.
[00:10:01.02] Rhonda: Everyone has a favorite video they've worked on. Looking back, Andi, what was yours?
[00:10:05.06] Andi: I would have to say my favorite was when I took over the sales recognition program, it was the first video that I was ever involved in. And, I think back to it, and there's many reasons I can point to why I call it my favorite. It was a James Bond themed video for entertainment purposes, but I learned so much, and I think that's why it remains one of my favorite videos. The outtake reel was crazy funny, so that was interesting and something I learned along the way. Future video producers, outtakes are awesome, and they're the best part of the whole process. But there was one thing that happened during that shoot in which we filmed a scene, and I'm not sure I was 100% comfortable with it from the start, and once I saw it in post-production, I actually had it cut because my gut told me it was the right thing to do which was the right decision at the time. So, it kind of taught me that I need to trust my instincts as well which I think we can all learn something from that.
[00:11:10.09] Rhonda: What advice would you give to someone who's either doing their first video or they've done a few but are still not quite sure how to get the most out of the process?
[00:11:18.21] Andi: I would say as much as they have the ability to educate themselves, definitely do that. Again, it's an interesting process. It's a creative process. But then there's a methodology to it as well, and there's a lot of pre-planning. I personally like to be close to my projects, so when looking for a partner, make sure that they're comfortable with that relationship. And finally, find yourself a good trusted partner. I prefer to have someone working locally with them because I want to be at their location. I want to be able to sit in the editing suite with the editor and go through reels and make changes on the fly and really establish a relationship so that we're comfortable. Again, a good partner's gonna make sure that you're succeeding, and they're also gonna be comfortable pushing back and asserting that their the experts but in a very respectful collaborative way.
[00:12:12.27] Rhonda: Excellent. You have great advice Andi. It was a pleasure chatting with you, and we'll do this again.
[00:12:18.15] Andi: Sounds good. Thanks, Rhonda.
[00:12:20.22] Laura: Video production is more than cameras and lights particularly when it comes to pre-production. As Andi said, garbage in equals garbage out. We did an entire episode on what to expect when you're getting started, so be sure to listen to that one if you haven't done so already. Finally, always remember to trust your instincts during post-production editing. Bounce ideas off your production partner, but at the end of the day, no one knows your audience better than you. So, we're curious. What's your favorite video that you worked on? Go to plummedia.com/podcast and leave us a comment about what made it memorable. Also, be sure to subscribe to this podcast and leave us a review. If you have any questions you'd like us to answer, just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is CloseUp: Decoding Video Production for Your Business. Produced by Plum Media. I'm Laura McElree. Thanks for listening.