• January 5, 2010
  • By Pete Schuermann, owner & creator, Monster Zero Animation/FX

Lights! Camera! Action!

Once a high-priced peripheral channel to analog broadcast and print media, digital video has become one of the most cost-effective ways to build a brand-and still faces exponential growth. As a result, the medium is rapidly moving to the front and center of virtually any CRM effort that includes:

  • branding;
  • advertising;
  • direct marketing; and
  • public relations.

The impact of video spreads at warp speed once it goes viral — pushed on by one viewer to many others. [Editors' Note: See CRM magazine's October 2009 feature, "Can You Create a Viral Hit?"By now, most marketers are fully aware that video sharing sites like YouTube can reach tens of millions of eyeballs with a single-hit video.

These factors have made digital video a potential channel that every corporate or start-up marketing manager must develop as a core competency. So, how do you reap the benefits of this digital video bonanza?

First, you must begin with a sense of the scope of your video project. That begins with establishing the big idea that will matter to your market and define your brand.

After establishing the content requirement, you must first determine what image assets you have to work from and work with. It's recommended that you start with an image inventory to determine what you have.

Since we're still in the relatively early days of digital, your company probably has major archives full of legacy images in video home system (VHS), film footage, still images, older digital file formats (e.g., mp3s, CD files), and the like. These may need to be combined together within the same production and even include more recent hi-definition video to contemporize the final story. You may find that RealPlayer (Windows users) and Quicktime Pro (Mac users) can help with digitized video available on the Internet and/or in your archives. However, if you have no legacy assets and you're shooting from scratch, your project must take into account the complexities of location, equipment, talent, scripting, editing, and other post-production performance and cost issues. 

Whichever the case, you will need to determine what special effects are needed to help improve your message, such as green screen technology. Advances in compositing techniques (i.e., the ability to blend a myriad of different sources into one image) have made these choices for final imaging virtually endless. I suggest thoroughly storyboarding to address all content and effects in detail.

Before you even begin with any of these approaches, you will need to have thoroughly strategized the final formats your video production will play across. A good video manager will know that a project will have "life" across many platforms, as more outlets are growing every day. Questions to ask here are:

  • Will the message be conveyed on a six-foot or six-inch screen?
  • Can it be adapted? And if so, how?
  • What are the deliverables?

But handling modern advances in storytelling requires more than a grasp of the technical resources — above all else, it needs to convey a story. Without the storytelling component, the biggest bag of visual tricks can yield only so much.

Therefore, companies serious about video production are advised to hire a good director. He or she will know which shots can be rescued out of the creative tap dancing done in the edit room and which must rely on their own merit. A director's keen knowledge of digital effects is paramount as it saves time while on location.

An adept director must be able to use whatever media is thrown his way. If a director's resources and viewing venue are limited, then his knowledge of all aspects of video production will be put to the test:

  • film formats;
  • video formats;
  • composite techniques;
  • screenwriting;
  • cinematography;
  • editing;
  • computer graphics; and
  • audience manipulation.

More important, make sure the director has a complete knowledge of resources available in today's visual realm. That way, your big picture — that is, your story — will live and breathe anywhere — be it broadcast television, online, in a PowerPoint presentation, or on a DVD.

About the Author

Pete Schuermann (pete@monsterzerocreative.com) is a highly versatile, independent film director who resides in Colorado Springs. Schuermann has done work for clients as diverse as Walt Disney Home Entertainment and American Airlines Cargo. His projects range from short branding pieces to full-length, award-winning documentaries. A more comprehensive set of guidelines for digital video production and applications can be found at www.peteschuermann.com.

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top.
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For the rest of the January 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

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