Hunting With Pixels’ Blog

Creating winning content through authenticity

· Blog

  When we think about video, we often imagine a film shoot. A sea of lights, cameras and gorgeous looking hipster crew with low hanging jeans (and more crack than Harlem if you’re unlucky). Professional digital video camera, isolated on white background

Important!

What struck me when I worked in TV production myself is how incredibly important video production seemed. Creating content seemed to revolve around stressed out production managers, pushy interviewers, micro managing marketing directors and a very uptight ‘brand’ person with lots of print outs and a short term memory issue.

Are we missing something here?

The single most overlooked aspect of video production is: the people. In all distraction and excitement around content, we can easily overlook the feelings of the people who are featured. As a result we often don’t manage to capture authenticity.

Why shoots are stressful for interviewees

Our approach has created the idea that being filmed as something daunting, something we need to just get over with. Stress We fill the room with hot lights, people our interviewees don’t know and we add a limited timeframe. Then we fire a list of questions at them that pushes them towards the brand message. How are our interviewees supposed to make anything conversational and authentic like that?

‘Professional’

So we suck it up and go on auto pilot. We do the 20 takes until we say exactly what it says on the print out. We get a professional presenter to represent that business that we pour all of our time and energy into. Does that make sense? We choose the great looking extravert male marketing director to represent the brand, because he’s ‘good on camera’. And yes, men are more likely to put their hand up for being interviewed.

What  is ‘good on camera’?

If we keep approaching content like this, ‘good on camera’ means being able to withstand the stress that video creates. This requires a thick skin, which rules out the 50% of humanity that’s on the introvert spectrum. If we rule out that many people by our process, our content ends looking staged and forced.

Authenticity: why it matters

Authenticity is essential for building connection and trust, especially in PR. In the run up to the PRIA conference we interviewed a number of PR Practitioners around their views on authenticity: https://vimeo.com/114209651

So why do we struggle to be authentic?

There are three factors that stand in the way of us being authentic: Organisational: we may work in organisation that don’t foster authenticity. The larger an organisation is, the harder authenticity becomes. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though. Content: the objective of a lot of content is to look polished. This is mainly to make sure we as agencies feel good about ourselves and the marketing director feels good about her decision to hire you. Our audience isn’t that interested in how nice things look: that’s a baseline expectation. They’re looking for relevant information and connection. Culture: we all fear being judged. Some organisations have a culture in which employees don’t feel empowered to add a personal touch; micromanaged and undertrained.

We’re not equally affected

This fear of being judged is especially evident when we interview middle aged women in leadership roles. These women have a good reason to worry: Women are being judged more harshly. Just check out the comments females get on Youtube. As agencies, we have can and should make a real difference by making the process of creating content easier for them. Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 1.23.18 pm  

Here’s what you can do

Here are five ways to create more authentic content: 1. Diversity – Include a diverse range of people in your message, especially the ones that don’t considering themselves ‘good on camera’. Offer coaching. Give introverts the time they need to prepare. Make sure it’s a fun experience. Our experience is that you’ll find that the reluctant ones create the best content: they hold themselves to higher standards. 2. Content – Let go of control. Create a framework of ‘must haves’ but allow for stories and serendipity. You’ll be surprised with what your team and colleagues have to offer. 3. Make it easy – Find people that you really enjoy working with, so pick your production partners based on shared values and culture instead of a hot looking showreel (which are all smoke and mirrors anyway). 4. Work with the environment – Look for a place that’s shifts the mindset so you get better stories. Get away from boardroom. 5. Avoid time pressure – Invest in people instead of technology: better to have an authentic story in HD than a stressed out interviewee in 4k.

Here’s an example

Lawyers and authenticity may seem like an oxymoron, but it isn’t if you let them tell their stories: https://vimeo.com/99220941

 Tell us your story

What’s your experience with being filmed or having a client filmed? What do you think we can all do to make things better? We’d love to hear your stories!                

What we can do

Blogs about authenticity and content Freebie for SYD and MELB –  

Launch of Slow School

· Blog, Tips & Tricks · , ,

  https://vimeo.com/103196491 We love Slow School, an unconventional business school for people passionate about building a purpose-driven and prosperous business that makes the world a better place. Last week Slow School officially launches at the Hub, so we asked a few people about that they think about education:      

Authenticity. Hard work, but worth it.

· Blog, Case Studies, social video, Tips & Tricks · , , , , , ,

  Recently we did a project with the wonderful people of Atkinson Vinden Lawyers in Sydney. We love working with Atkinson VInden because they trusted us in executing a bold idea. Instead of making a ‘promo’ video, we worked with Atkinson Vinden to create content that’s about meaningful connection and useful information. https://vimeo.com/99794385 We are very excited about this approach, because it create an authentic story around the business: Content that’s created to connect on a deeper level than making a sale.

It’s about engaging the audience

Connecting in a meaningful way to your audience is worth while, but like anything worth while it’s not necessarily easy. A lot a agencies may tell you there’s a shortcut. You could write a script, stick it on an auto cue reader and get a great looking actor to read it out in front of the camera, pretending to be part of your business. This approach gets you very nice looking, polished and well presented video. The problem with videos like these is the level of audience engagement: meh  

Watch us not care

The relentless media and advertising efforts of the past have created a major credibility gap between businesses and their audiences. Agencies have persuaded us that it’s basically o.k. to mislead our audiences by using pretend clients and pretend business owners. That approach is very effective in terms of fast turn around and low cost for the agency, but did all of that advertising really help us as business owners?

Are we making an impact?

The average Australian encounters branding 3000-4000 times a day. By the time you read this post today, you’ve probably seen at least a few hundred. Can you recall five? I know I can’t. The ROI on TV commercials, banner ads and corporate video is dropping at a steady rate, despite the lower cost. Clearly, we’re not cutting through, and creating even more content isn’t the answer. Our audience just gets better at ignoring us.

We need to earn the trust

Our audience’s attention is a privilege that’s based on trusting that we offer something relevant. It’s time for a different approach. At Hunting With Pixels we base our content on authenticity. We only work with real people talking about real experiences. https://vimeo.com/99220941

It works..

Great brands are about creating a real connection with a long term view, because we can see that in a media saturated world, it’s the only thing that works.

There’s no quick win

We may need to recalibrate how we look at what marketing is. The first step is to accept that trust is something that takes time to build. The idea that we can outsource connection and get a big return for a low investment in time and effort is outdated and short sighted. You need to have the clout and endurance to think long term and invest into the relationship you have with your audience.

.. and there’s some uncertainty

Building an authentic brand can be challenging. The first hurdle you’d likely to encounter is that there is less control over the details of the outcome. All the information should be correct and well presented, but interviewees will bring their own personality into this. This is a generally a positive aspect of authenticity, but it does required a flexible mindset around what your brand really is. The reality is that the is no way to have full control, because your brand is what other people (including your staff) say about you.

It’s the big picture

Authenticity will give you the best shot at getting great results every time provided it’s well considered and is based on a long term strategy for your brand. This takes careful planning and some resilience, but it will yield real and sustainable results for your business.

It is shareable?

The fundamental question for you is this: Would you share the video you created for your company with your friends. And more importantly, would they? share    

Lights, Camera… wait. Make up!

· Blog, Presenting on camera, Tips & Tricks · , , , , , , , ,

At Hunting With Pixels we often get asked about what to wear to shoots. Clothing isn’t as ‘make or break’ as it used to be because cameras have become much more forgiving, and so has our audience. There are a few things to keep an eye on that are easy to miss.

Clothing – the golden rule

Wear something that is congruent with your message, that is comfortable and won’t make you hot. Do that and you’re 90% there.

Congruent with your message

Consider what first impression your clothing gives if people see you ‘out of context’. The video will be watched by total strangers, so they don’t necessarily understand the connection between your personality and your wardrobe. Having said that, your personal style is your own. If you’ve got the killer content, what you looks like is secondary. Authenticity is key, so don’t ‘dress up’ to the point where you’re not ‘you’ .

ascot

Ascot: risky but good. Snowman hanging off tie? No.

Jewelry

Wear anything you like, as long as it’s not noisy when you move. Big earrings look great, but will create weird clicking noises in they very sensitive microphones we use to capture dialogue.

Colours and patterns – ‘don’ts’

With today’s super sensitive cameras, most clothing is unproblematic. Here are few exceptions: – Very thin stripes or fine patterns. This can create weird light effects on video because of pixellation. – Very strong contrasts. If you’re pale skinned, avoid very dark clothing and vice versa. This has to do with the light sensitivity of cameras; our eyes have a much wider dynamic range in terms of what it can see in shaded of light and dark. A camera would struggle with that level of contrast. – Light orange can appear to glow in some cases. It’s more pertinent in broadcast situations.

Shape and Fit

Video can be a bit unforgiving when you wear baggy and shapeless clothing. Perfectly fine if you’re going for that baggy hiphop look, but in other cases go from something that has a nice shape that will give you a taller look. The reason for this is that close up shots don’t give us a context of your surroundings, which can make you look bigger than you are. This is why we’re often surprise about how short TV personalities are when we meet them in person.

A few fashion tips

Here are a few things that will make you look your best. Feel free to totally ignore this though; authenticity is more important than being polished. woman with frame sign

Men’s clothing

Collared shirts tend to look better than T shirts in close up. There’s more texture and visual interest. Jackets also look good, especially if they’re nicely tailored around the waist. Never, ever wear a too big suit on a video shoot. Unless your David Byrne. burn

Light coloured shirts generally looks better than pure white. Pure white tends to blow out and look a bit flat once you add video lighting. Ties work if you’d normally wear them too. Try to go easy on novelty ties or large patterns, unless it’s very ‘you’ of course!

Women’s clothing

Power suits. We love the 80’s just like the next girl, but they look huge on video.

Avoid earth tones if you’re interviewed inside; you’ll blend in to the background too much.

Consider the surroundings and find a colour that both suits your skin tone and has a nice contrast with the background. Wear clothing that emphasises shape without being tight. Wear shoes that give you good posture, but make sure they’re comfortable: they’re unlikely to be in the shot.

Being comfortable will make you look and feel more relaxed and confident.

Make up

Men: Use a bit of powder a shade darker than normal skin color, to even out skin tone and reduce the shine on cheeks, forehead and nose. We’ll have some on set.

Women: any make up is fine, maybe avoid dark reds/maroon for lip gloss and cheeks because the extra contrast of video may emphasise the make up too much. Also avoid a lot under the eyes (none is best). We provide translucent powder in case of shine, but you may want to bring your own just in case.

Facial hair

Get a good shave before the shoot to avoid the five o’clock shadow. Neatly trim facial hair if it matters to you, and if you bother wearing facial hair it probably should. hip

…and Action!

All of these suggestions are just that: if a snowman tie combined with an unkempt beard and too much make up is your style, go for it. Rules are there to be broken.

At Hunting With Pixels we work hard to make doing a video an enjoyable and relaxed experience, so contact us any time if you have any questions. We’re here to make you look and feel great!

Hello Startup Grind

· Blog

We love people with Big Plans

At Hunting With Pixels we believe in the power of ideas, so we’d love to help you spread them. Here’s how you can get started with video: 1. Join us at one of the amazing Startup Grind events in Sydney and Melbourne. 2. Do a 30 second pitch to camera and we’ll make you a free video that looks a bit like this: https://vimeo.com/91151014 3. Don’t bore your audience with a sales pitch. Show off your expertise by sharing something interesting. 4. Get in touch beforehand so we can help you shape your content for maximum effect.

Here’s another one:

If you really want to start cooking with gas, do a series of videos like these: https://vimeo.com/84089886  

Hunting With Pixel’s latest and greatest: Atkinson Vinden

· Blog

 

A video about lawyers.

I loved working with the wonderful people at Atkinson Vinden! When we started this project we were thinking about what it is lawyers do.

It’s not about ‘what’

You can describe the process (litigate, check contracts etc.) or you can describe the ultimate goal: Getting the right advice from the right person so you have peace of mind.

It’s about finding the ‘why’

One of the best parts of being part of Hunting With Pixels is that we get to spend time with people who work in a different industry. As a ‘creative’ it’s a very interesting and enriching experience; you get a much better understanding of what really drives people.

The Right People

When I talked to Annabel, Rod, Sheena and all the other lawyers at Atkinson Vinden I really got a much deeper appreciation of the work of legal professionals. It’s very different from the stereotypes we generally use to describe them. Have a look at the video, I’d love to hear what you think. Robert, Creative Director

Tim Grogan of Linked In discusses how to build a business using the platform

· Blog

How to embed a video on Youtube of Vimeo without getting black bands

· Blog · ,

What’s the story with the black bands?

We’ve been getting some questions around black bands appearing on web videos so we though it might be helpful put the solution on the ol’ HWP Blog. Sometimes when you embed an video, you’ll notice those black bands on the top and bottom, or sometimes on left and right:  

What’s going on here?

You can embed in any size you like, provided your aspect ratio is 1.77:1 or what they call in 16:9 in video production lingo. The aspect ratio is the ratio between the width and the height of a video. If you get the ratio wrong, you’re trying to force stretching the video in real time. Most machines and servers can’t handle that, so websites like Youtube will ‘letterbox’ or ‘pillar box’ your video, which are the black bands you see.

Calculating your ratio

When I was a kid my teacher banged on about how important it is to being able to do maths in your head, but I never saw the point because I had a Solar Powered Calculator.  Who needs brains when you have one of those? Of course, now I’m a proper adult and have children of my own.. I still think it’s a waste of time: http://size43.com/jqueryVideoTool.html Just punch in the height or width you want in the Aspect Ratio calculator, et voila: correct aspect ratio:  

How to change how the video displays

The default embed code plays the video at 560×315 but you can tweak the embed code and change the size yourself. This is the standard embed code from Youtube you get when you click the Share>Embed button under the video: Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.20.51 pm Add the embed code to your page in ‘text’ or ‘html’ mode, depending on what platform you work in and simply adjust the values of ‘width’ or ‘height’: <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ceOSoS9X0mY” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>      

Video reviewing: how to get it right

· How We Work

Getting the most out of your reviews

We can appreciate that our video production project is added to your already busy full time job, so here’s how we make sure you get the best results in the shortest possible timeframe. appr

Get it right the first time

The number one ‘time suck’ and cause of overblown budgets and timelines is not getting the review right, so reviewing properly requires you to be fully mindful of the task.

Here’s how you make it happen.

Get a cuppa. Get Pen and paper. Block out 10 minutes of time, close the door.

Time your review well

There’s a good body of research showing that after about 14.00 our brain’s ability to process information rapidly declines, so try to avoid reviewing in the afternoon. You’ll do a better job and spend less time if you review in the morning.

Wearing different hats

Even for experienced video producers, there is no way to spot every detail in on go so it’s important to run the video a number of times while concentrating on one aspect of the video.

First run: overall impression

You can only make a first impression once; the same counts for getting a first impression. Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 2.44.57 pm  

Put the ‘big picture’ hat on

On your first run, don’t stop the video or get into the detail yet. Use your first impression to look at the big picture; does the message of the video connect to what you want to achieve? Does the structure make sense to you? Are there things that confuse you?

Pen and paper

penpaper A good way to do this first run is to have a notebook and pen so you don’t have to switch applications or move things over the screen to capture your thoughts. Don’t stop the video, don’t touch your keyboard. Watch the video in realtime and jot down the ideas with a few words.

Second run: titles

One of the most common issues we see in reviews is getting titles wrong. Do one run of the video just concentrating on titles; is the spelling exactly as you briefed? Is the capitalisation correct? Be especially careful with brand names; for instance ‘Linked In’ has to be spelled like ‘LinkedIn’ with no space. Never make any assumptions about titles, always check them with the person involved.

Third run: other details

Have one last run where you look at details. Are some shots darker than others? How do the colours look to you? Are there any cuts to seem to fast or slow to you?

Audio

Can you hear all the speakers clearly? Do you feel the music reflects the content and your brand correctly?

Titles

Is the spelling correct? Does the font match your other branding?

Deliver feedback effectively

Once you have overview of what you jotted down on paper, put it into the shared Google doc that we provided so everyone can comment. This way you can easily keep track of changes and reviews.

Did you involve all the stake holders?

Last but certainly not least; has every stake holder reviewed the footage? Are you on the same page about what changes are required? Did the branding people/ CFO/ marketing director share their thoughts?    

How we work

· How We Work

Welcome to Hunting With Pixels!

  It’s always a buzz to welcome a new client to our company, and we are passionate about making sure you have a great experience working with us. Our success is defined by yours, so we’d like to run you by the various steps in production so you get the best possible result from your project

Collaboration

At Hunting With Pixels we have a collaborative approach to projects. This means that both you and HWP commit to a workflow that will ensure it’s smooth sailing all the way! c2  

Before we start

Before we edit we need the following from you: 1. All up to date assets. Your current logo in high resolutions, all images in resolutions over 600 pixels wide, ideally HD so 1280 plus width. 2. A list of stake holders and one appointed person to sign off. It’s essential everyone is involved in the reviews. 3.  Sign off on a production timeline we all agree on. This includes milestones for reviews, so it’s important to check that stake holders are available on those dates 4. Correct titles Getting everyone’s titles right can be time consuming, so it’s important to check with interviewees on time. Titles need to be delivered as a text document with the exact titles and names of everyone in the video. You can also add those to the shared Google doc. It’s essential to check with interviewees what their title should be in the context of this video; it may be different from what’s on their Linked In page. Check spelling and capitalisation. For example, Linked In is used as one word with a capital in it, so ‘LinkedIn’. Never ever make assumptions about titles. Changes further down the track may incur a cost if we can’t combine it with a V02 edit.

Three versions

We base our pricing and planning on delivering three versions of the video to you: V01: this is a draft version that you can make unlimited changes to (except if you want Brad Pitt’s head CGI’ed on; that may need a slight adjustment to the budget) V02: Refining the changes you required on V01. Slight tweaks, minor changes. V03: Final version. We fully commit to budgets and timelines for your project, which is why we adapted this three step process to ensure we get you there.

Version 1:

For editing, we send you Version 1 of the videos, which is a roughly cut clip, that you send to all stakeholders (read: Mark!) and everybody makes their comments etc, which you collate all in one Google doc, which we will set up. Google docs allows all changes to be made across everyone’s versions so there is no risk of double up or cross referencing required. Google docs is easier for feedback documents than Dropbox, as more people can be signed into the doc and you can view the version history. This is the longest feedback stage and we encourage people to watch each clip at least 3-4 times.

Getting reviews right

Reviewing video is a skill. Here are some steps to ensure you don’t miss anything in your first review: http://www.huntingwithpixels.com/how-we-work/video-reviewing-get-right/

Comments on version 01

Comments and feedback need to be specific and time coded, like “at 3.34-3.45 there is a drop off in audio”; “cut this shot of Jenny at 2.57 out (insert screen shot)”; or “Can the music sound more like the this: (include example)”. Comments that are non specific like “I don’t like the sound of the background music” or “I don’t like how video 4 ends” or “Can you make me look younger/thinner/like Angelina Jolie, etc” aren’t helpful as it requires our editors to second guess what you may be thinking. If you have any trouble with this, give us a call. Sometimes being old school and actually talking may help!

Version 01 is a big review!

Video production is very labour intensive; a tiny tweak like a spelling mistake to all your ten videos will take an editor a full day or rendering, checking, encoding, uploading and checking again. If you play it by ear, you’ll run out of budget pretty quickly, so we don’t start implementation until all V01 feedback is signed off Of course we can make any change necessary at any point, but we can’t guarantee it will be included in the budget. The feedback Google doc can include screen shots to illustrate a feedback point, but do not attach asset images to the google doc. 

Keeping order

zootje Comments also need to be listed in chronological order, under a per video header, for example: ‘Video 1: What is LPTC’ Background music: we would like it to be faster paced and more funky sounding, like Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. 0.10-0.12 cut out moving of hand 1.01-1.23 irrelevant comment please remove 1.45 insert this image: “1_what is LPTC_ 1.45”

Delivering assets

It’s essential that you send us all relevant branding documentation and logos before we edit. If you send us images, please ensure you have the copyright, which means written permission in some cases. We can help you with the copyright process if you’re not sure

How to deliver images

ASSET IMAGES (images that are used in the videos): All background / video asset images need to be labelled as such “{image number}_{video title}_{timecode}” For example: “1_what is LPTC_ 3.21” if they’re added on after V01. Otherwise, it would be good if you can add a description on what you want to go where in an email or the production document we share with you. That way we know exactly when to insert what image and you don’t spend time explaining to various producers what you’re after. All asset images can be emailed or we can create a folder in the dropbox if you prefer.

 Version 02: tweaks, refinement

Here we implement all the changes supplied, thus creating a Version 2 of the clip. We then return this clip to you and you look over it to see if the changes were all implemented correctly. Any V1 changes missed on our part are included in the budget, **any additional changes are extra cost**. We will happily edit and make tweaks and changes ad infinitum, however, we find this more ‘locked off’ approach tends to focus people, which results in budgets being kept and videos getting delivered; a better outcome all round!

Version 03: Final

Step 3 / Version 3 Delivery: This is the completely signed off and agreed on version of the clip, which will be uploaded to the site.

What if I need more versions?

In some cases three versions may not work for you. For instance, if you’re an agency you’d need three versions to get it to sign off before you send it to your client. Government or large educational organisations may require more reviews too due to their organisational structure. In those cases we’ll create the extra versions at an hour rate that we will discuss with you beforehand.