A Simple Upsell for Corporate Clients

I did this a while ago and just noticed that I forgot to make the 60 second one public.

So I made it public and thought I’d make a short point:

If you’re going to do a 2 or 3 minute corporate video, it’s quite simple to also produce a 60 second version for Instagram or Facebook (or for an email attachment).

This first one below was the 2 minute or so corporate video for Belvoir Castle.

Since the Duchess has a 20-something Marketing Executive, Instagram is now the big thing. Not sure what it’s doing for them since the Instgram public is not necessarily the big-spending public that the castle is after, but hey, it’s pretty simple to do a 60 second version once you have the main one.

Just pick a fitting piece of music that’s 60 seconds long, drop your longer timeline onto it, and start deleting footage down to the essentials and fit it to the music. Add some graphics and you’re done. I know it could be fancier, but does it really need to be?

Color Grading Tools for Hogwartians

Color grading is relatively new to me, so I’m not an expert, but so far it has enabled me to not only make shots look better, but has allowed me to dramatically improve the look of interview shots.

Denver Riddle of Color Grading Central originally introduced me to the whole subject when he released Color Finale for FCPX. It’s an invaluable tool and I highly recommend getting it.

FCPX has some powerful grading tools itself in its Color pane. It’s more powerful than many people realise, but I’m not going to attempt a tutorial that others would be much better at.

Instead I want to show you a couple recent examples, starting with a little contest Denver Riddle posted on the FB Color Grading Central page.

I’m also going to tell you about the amazing vignette tool from Slice X and show you how and why I used it in grading a few shots. It is definitely way better than the built-in FCPX tool because you can infinitely manipulate it.

I’ll put the links to all these things at the bottom of the post.

First, here’s what Denver posted and asked people to grade:

boy+meets+girl_1.1.1

And here’s what I did with it:

Boy Meets Girl

Hundreds of people posted their grades in response to Denver’s challenge. Mine seems to be one of the few he commented on directly saying it was a nice color balance. I was kind of chuffed, though he said there was too much separation from subject to background. On that I had to disagree. It is one of the primary things I try to achieve with lighting first, and grading afterwards because it creates more depth and 3 dimensionality. But in fairness, I didn’t spend that much time on it and there were still some things I wanted to do to improve it. He might have had a point. Too much separation? Anyway…

I did this grade using both the FCPX color pane and Color Finale. The FCPX color pane, amongst other things, gives you the ability to isolate shapes which you can then adjust independent of the surroundings. In this case I isolated their faces and graded them separate from the background. Most of the color work on the background was done using Color Finale which allows you to independently control the hue, saturation and brightness of the  main color components (along with many other things).

Finally I used Slice X vignette to direct attention to the subjects.

All of these things are key-framable. Since this is a still shot, key-framing was not necessary of course.

SLICE X Vignette Shape Mask

Here’s a screen grab of Slice X Vignette in use:

Slice X

Unlike most vignette tools, including the one in FCPX, this one is infinitely controllable in terms of shape and axis. Like all the others, you can also control the density, size and softness of the vignette. But this is the only one where you can also shape it and change its axis. Here are the properties that you can vary from within the inspector in addition to the on-screen controls you see above:

Slice X Inspector

Ok, now for real life.

For those of you who read Run and Gun Videography–The Lone Shooters Survival Guide, you’ll know I covered the subjects of lighting both generally and specifically in regard to interviews. Lighting is the lifeblood of cinematography and is much more effective in creating that ‘cinematic look’ than shallow depth of field alone.

Here’s an interview shot I did recently as it came out of the camera:

Peter ungraded

It was not without some problems.

While I did manage through lighting to effectively separate him from the background in a white room (turned off all overheads, closed the window blinds, skimmed the back wall with a light to give the impression of of an off-scene window while controlling the spill from hitting the opposite wall as much as I could and gave him facial modelling and a backlight–both of which I had to severely control with black foil to avoid spill). The trouble with white rooms is that light bounces all over the place. So this was pretty good and I could have left it as it was, but there was another problem I hadn’t realised at the time. It was shot with relatively high gain (unnecessarily) and so is a bit grainy. You’ll see what I mean if you click on the picture to see it full-sized.

Here’s what I did with it:

Peter grade

 

Grading was done with FCPX and Color Finale. Then I added the Slice X vignetting tool subtly. I also used Neat Video to de-noise it. The result, I think, is that the shot has more depth and dimension.

And one final sample and a small test:

 

Duchess ungraded

Duchess grade

The first one was out of the camera, the second one graded. But what may be of more interest is the lighting. See that big window in the back? Well, there were three more to the left which effectively lit up the whole room. I closed the heavy curtains on the side windows. Then I placed a softbox in the floor in the background (left) to create a fake light from the (now dark) window being sure to keep it off the walls. Now I was able to light her with a relatively low intensity softlight and have her more dramatically separated from the background. I gave her a backlight and a little frontal fill which also gave her eye lights.

As I told Denver, this is what I try to achieve with almost any shot–separation of subject from background which can be achieved with focus or lighting or both. (In this case lighting was going to carry the job as the focal length was wide and the depth of field too great)

.

I could have done it more telephoto (which can also be more flattering), but chose this because she is a Duchess in a castle and I felt the grandeur of the room was important to include.

Now for the test:

Did you notice the microphone in the shot ?

(I didn’t think so–which is why I left in in there rather than crop the shot)

Because of the depth and because of the directing of attention to her face, what is it that you look at when you  see this shot.? Her face, right?

Our little secret.

 

Links

Color Grading Central Facebook page

Color Grading Central Website  (where you can get Color Finale)

Slice X Vignette Shape Mask

Neat Video De-noiser

Run ‘n Gun Videography eBook

 

 

YouTube Analytics

YouTube analytics

I recently produced a short promo video that performed surprisingly well in its first 5 weeks online. In fact, it’s out-performed any other video I’ve produced like it.

When a video performs well or badly, YouTube analytics is a handy and comprehensive tool to determine why.

You’ll find the analytic metrics in your  YouTube ‘video manager’.

The metrics I tend to be interested in are, 1) traffic sources, and, 2) Audience Retention. There are a lot more metrics being tracked including views per country, viewer demographics, etc.

Traffic Sources

Traffic sources tells you if the video is being viewed from the YouTube watch page (organic search), as a suggested video by Youtube (someone watched something else and Youtube suggested yours to watch next) from an embedded website, etc.

Audience Retention

Audience retention can be viewed as ‘absolute retention’ or ‘relative retention’.

‘Absolute’ tracks every minute your viewer watches your video. It shows you where they start dropping off and also tells you if they watch it more than once or watch certain parts over again (indicated when the retention percentage exceeds 100%).

‘Relative’ compares your video’s performance with other videos that YouTube deems similar to yours. Here you can see if your video is performing average, above average or below average.

As I mentioned in the book Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide, it is folly to expect that 100% of people watch your video all the way through. Even popular viral videos probably don’t achieve that. For one, there are those who click on it and click right off realising it was not what they were looking for. For two, they tend to click off when they perceive it is done if they do watch it all the way through, but may not stay on for any ‘end credits’. For three, people may stop watching when you’ve ‘sold’ them on whatever it was you were trying to do (in the case of business or fund-raising videos, product videos, etc.) –and that would be the purpose of the video in the first place.

“Attention Span”

This is not a metric, but it bears mentioning that you’ve all heard that videos should be ‘such and such’ a length due to the ‘short attention span’ of people. This is simply false. A video can be as long as it keeps the attention and interest of the intended audience period. Any other datum is simply the confession of video producers who produce crappy videos.

As an example, my most popular videos (the NX30 and X70 reviews) were both long videos. 14 minutes I believe for one and the other was even longer. Yet between them I think they’re well over 175,000 views with tons of engagement (comments, likes, shares, emails to me, etc.) and the audience retention is about 35% which I think is quite good. Look at it this way: 60,000 people watched the entirety of both videos.

But my recent promo for the Belvoir Castle shoot exceeded even that.

It appeared that Belvoir Castle uploaded the file I gave them directly to their servers, so that was not a source of the views counted by YouTube. The other site it was embedded on was Guns and Pegs (which was a YouTube link), but I doubted it was delivering that many views. So I had a look to see what was happening.

Traffic sources

Turns out only 21% came from embedded websites. 43% came from the YouTube Watch Page and 1/3 of all views were because of YouTube suggesting the video when someone was watching something else similar.

Thus, nearly 3/4 of all views were the result of an organic search.

Next I looked at audience retention.

Absolute retention

Here I found there was a very high retention rate (73%). Roughly 3/4 of all viewers watched the entire 4 minute video.

Relative audience retention (how the video performs compared with similar videos), showed it to be ‘above average’ through most of the video.

Relative retention

How did they find the video?

That is attributed to the relevant title, tagging and description I gave it. (mind you, this is for a targeted public–those who are interested in paying big bucks to shoot on a country estate, and to a lesser degree, those generally interested in the subject of shooting or Belvoir Castle).

Why did they watch as much of it as they did?

That can only be a measure of the quality of the video to get and keep their attention.

As you can see, using these analytics, one could go back and modify a video to improve it by seeing where attention drops off, evaluating what caused it and then remedying it. As for me, I usually just let it go if it seems to be doing its job.

There’s a chapter in the Run ‘n Gun Videography ebook that goes into greater detail on how to optimise videos for YouTube, and even then, there’s much more to it than I covered. But I did cover the essential basics based on my own experience.

Message

Message is a big subject in that book and it might interest you to know that when I produced this particular video, the client had quite something else in mind. It took some fancy dancing to go ahead and produce it the way I did and then get them to watch it with a looming unalterable deadline facing us. After all, it was their interest I had in mind, not any desire to make myself look good. They loved it, so again, the point made in the book about the seniority of message was well proven as the video’s performance in the first 5 weeks has been very positive. You just have to understand and be able to clearly communicate the intended message and disregard ideas to the contrary.

FCPX–Cutting a Live Show Using the Multi-cam Editor

Just saw this short clip showing a sample of cutting a live show (cameras still recording) in the multi-cam editor in FCPX on a Mac Pro.

It’s a 4-camera sample and the live recordings are happening at the same time on the same Mac Pro whilst the shots are switched live in the multi-cam editor. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for 6,9 or 12 cameras.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WuJotQsB7Y&feature=youtu.be

Corporate Video Sample

(originally published on the Run and Gun Videography Blog)

In the book Run ‘n Gun Videography–the Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide I went into some length to describe an atypical approach to shooting corporate videos which I’ve done successfully for several years now. In short, it’s a method of deriving the narrative content (or script) from an interview.  And it does take some knowledge of how to do an interview.

Anyway, I recently completed a 2 day shoot from which I produced 11 different videos. This company produces a diverse range of product protective covers as well as cotton bags and what was wanted was an overall video for the site’s home page or ‘about us’ page, several short narrated demonstration videos on their best selling products and a few more narrative driven ones, also on their best selling lines.

The sample I’m showing here is one of the latter.

This series is now one of my favorites, and the reason is that this guy was so likeable and sincere, even self-deprecating, which, oddly enough, is perfect for the UK audience which responds better to soft-sell than hard-sell.

Even he was very nervous about the whole being on camera thing and I really had to twist his arm. But he was so easy to talk to that he easily forgot about the camera and just continued to be his normal, likeable self. This, and several other short videos like it, was produced from only about 40 minutes of interview, and like any other narrative script derived from an interview, it was pieced together to create a seamless narrative even though it wasn’t recorded in the order you will hear it.

Now maybe this isn’t fair, but in the process of uploading his videos YouTube offered up some ‘related videos’ which are some of his competitors.

I’m including a couple samples–the first which I think is rather typical and the second which is simply a home-made video for a business. Please do not comment or do anything to criticise them. Rather just notice the differences and learn something from them. This is why I wrote the book Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leT4TveP6Nw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wcf2oCXSc4E

Now, to be honest, despite what I wrote in the book, it isn’t always as easy as I describe.

The project previous to this one was an example. Very nice guy, but very self-conscious. Though I managed to break him out of it part of the time, I had to use interview material that was a bit more stiff in places, including the beginning. That one was a 12 minute video meant to replace his frequent need to take clients and brokers on 90 minute tours of the factory. It was a 2 hour interview, which tells you how difficult it was. Most of the time he was covered by B roll and for those moments he was in good form I’d bring him back on screen so you could see the passion and get a feel for the continuity of his talk (which was really created from 2 hours of interview to appear to be a seamless 12 minute talk). If you ever wanted to know how coal briquettes are made that video is last on this page. It’s titled and tagged so as to not come up on searches for that company, and is offered here only for education purposes in the context of this post.

 

Deal for FCPX Users, New and Old

I’ve been touting Izzy Hyman’s FCPX tutorials for a few years now as being the best on the web.

They got me from confused to ‘up and running and having fun’ in one day.

I’m just going to pass on an email I just received where Izzy is making a special offer for a few days on his beginning and pro FCPX tutorials and beginning Motion tutorials, plus some other stuff–all for $39.  Mind you, that’s HOURS of tutorials.

I get no kickback from this.

Here’s the email and link:

To celebrate the fact that I’ve officially started creating my
next-level Motion course, I’m launching a giant bundle that only
lasts a few days.

From now until Friday, I’m offering a massive bundle that includes:

* My downloadable basic Final Cut Pro X course ($37 value)
* My Advanced Final Cut Pro course ($49 value)
* My basic Motion course ($49 value)
* My Final Cut Pro X Theme Bundle #1 which includes
  10 themes ($39 value)
* My Final Cut Pro X Theme Bundle #2 which includes
  11 themes ($39 value)

I’ve never offered this bundle before!

You’ll get $213 worth of my products for only $39.

And the bundle only lasts until Friday, June 26th. After that,
these go back to being individual products.

Make sure you don’t miss out. Get the bundle right away.

Click here to get started.

Sony HXR NX30 as an Internal Car Mount

For anyone interested, I did a short, crude test for my step-daughter who is planning on doing a short film that takes place wholly inside a car.

As it is a low budget film and even though she has access to a Red camera, I pointed out that due to the profile (length) of the Red, it wouldn’t be possible to do internal frontal mounting of the camera–or if so, due to its lens proximity to the actor, would require a wide angle lens.

I did a short test using the NX30 in full-auto using its Active mode stabilisation (which uses image processing in addition to its gyro stabilised lens).

Normally car scenes are shot with speed rail mounted cameras outside the car. (or they are shot static with green screen backgrounds). Because of the open window, car scenes are post-lip-synced which is quite an art and not all actors can do easily–especially children as would be in this case.

So I put the NX30 to the challenge.

I shot it in my Landrover 300tdi Discovery (1997) and recorded the audio with a Sony wireless lapel.

I wasn’t expecting great results on the sound (it would be better with direction microphones hand-held on booms from the back seat, but as mentioned in the video, even the lapel would have worked pretty good in a quiet car like the high-end Range Rovers or equivalent.

The camera was mounted on the dash on a guerrilla tripod and wired down. Nothing fancy. A suction mount to the windshield would have been better but I didn’t have one. (could get one for about £40 to do the job).

Turns out it did ok.

So here’s a low budget solution to shooting interior car scenes.

Note: While shot in full HD, this is a 720p upload. Try to watch it in at least that. This is the raw camera footage, untreated in post. (the filter tests at the end were done because my step-daughter wanted a ‘filmic look’, so I tried a couple of filters toward that end)

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