The newest media wave to hit the online shore is video. Individual emails abound with links to "the funniest video ever," or blurry clips of new babies or birthday parties.
Businesses, on the other hand, have largely been left standing on the shore, scratching their heads and wondering if there's any real value to be earned from diving into making their own live video broadcasts, video emails or video on demand infommercials. Here are just five of the many ways video adds to the bottom line of any company.
1. People remember more of your message.
While people generally remember 10% of what they read and 20% of what they hear. But, they'll remember as much as 50% of what they see and hear together. Before anyone can act on your message, they need to process and remember it.
2. Increase responses by up to 30%.
A call to action is much easier to follow if it is actively delivered. Sound and motion are powerful action drivers, especially when they are delivered by your sincere enthusiasm and passion for your topic. Companies who have made the switch to video email and on- demand broadcasts have reported response rates jump as much as 30% following a broadcast.
3. Build your credibility.
People do business with people they know, like and trust. When you cut through the technological barriers of the Internet and put yourself online, you put "your self on the line" as far as viewers are concerned. The time it would normally take you to build a relationship with a potential customer can be dramatically shortened as a result.
4. The cost savings are obvious.
Anytime you can avoid the high costs of sending someone on the road to meet with clients or attend a meeting, the bottom line savings are immediate and obvious. In addition to any costs associated with attending a meeting, you need to factor in travel costs covering airfares to taxis and tolls, hotel costs, meal expenses, and even your internal costs to process the expense paperwork.
5. Soft cost savings multiply returns.
Spare yourself the productivity drain and the physical and mental tolls travel takes on your company's road warriors and you could enjoy "soft" cost savings that dwarf your hard dollar travel costs. Want an example? Look at your own calendar for the past month and count up just the hours you spent traveling to and from meetings. Multiply that by your hourly wage, and then by the number of employees in your firm.
If reasons like these don't help you convince the reluctant decision makers in your company to add video to your communications mix, please be patient with them. Historically they are in good company.
There were many who claimed the smeary images on hard to handle rolls of paper called "faxes" could never function in place of an original document. And who, they asked, would ever want to spend more time typing an email message when they could so easily pick up a telephone and place a call?
By Liz Micik
Jumat, 11 Juli 2008
The newest media wave to hit the online shore is video. Individual emails abound with links to "the funniest video ever," or blurry clips of new babies or birthday parties.
If a new webcam technology from Microsoft get the go-ahead, then instant messaging could get a whole lot more interesting.
Currently under development at the Microsoft research labs in Cambridge, England, the new webcam, i2i consists of two lenses, which carefully follows an individual's movement. Using an exclusively developed algorithm to cleverly blend what each lens is seeing, resulting in the creation of an accurate stereo "cylopean" image.
All very technical, but for the 18.5 million people (source Microsoft) who regularly use webcams while they are using instant messengers, i2i means that it will appear as if users are looking into each others eyes.
Antonio Criminisi, lead researcher of Microsoft's Machine Learning and Perception Group, said.
"We were able to come up with an algorithm that was able to take two images and capture a corresponding map in 3D. Using this powerful technology, we can now synthetically create an image as if the person is looking straight into your eyes."
According to Dr Criminisi, the biggest challenge for the backroom boys at Microsoft was in calculating how the visual brain works. In particular, how it sees and sorts out colors, shapes and distances.
"Essentially, what we have done is replace human eyes with cameras and the human brain with a computer."
The real magic behind this technology is the newly developed stereo algorithm, which makes it possible to accurately reconstruct a 3D, geometric image in real time and on a standard computer. Fundamentally, this is the same technology which was used to recreate the stunning 3D images of the Martian surface, which were beamed back by the NASA rover.
With the ability to generate realistic looking background images in order that users can pretend they are somewhere other than where they really are! Commenting, Dr Criminisi said.
"This is important for privacy, as I may not want you to see how untidy my bedroom is."
A feature likely to capture the teens market is that of Smart Icons. Instead of typing in the usual pictorial emotion e.g. :) i2i can superimpose free floating, 3D ones which can then be instructed to float freely around a person's head or anywhere else for that matter.
While Dr Criminisi admits there are still issues to iron out before the project is passed on to Microsoft Development, he is pleased with what has been achieved in under two years. Dr Criminisi's team is already experimenting with code which enables users to create their own wrap-around avatar, 3D face and then have it move as if it were their own.
By Robert Palmer
As a company that sells streaming media services for a living, we get questions everyday about what needs to be done to make an audio or video presentation that will stream well over the Internet. Most of these inquiries come from small businesses with limited budgets for marketing and advertising. They are always pleasantly surprised when we tell them that they can do it themselves!
Let's start with an audio only presentation:
Write out your script first! Focus on two to three points that you feel are essential to explain your products or services. Keep the script simple. If your site offers a wide variety of goods or services, you might consider several different messages with each one keying in on one or two important areas.
Have someone who is not familiar with your business review the script and your site. Be sure that they understand your message. If they don't, rewrite it!
Practice reading the script until you feel completely familiar and comfortable with it. (You can hire professional voice talent for reasonable rates if you'd prefer not recording the audio yourself.)
Use the best quality tape recorder available to you. A cassette recorder is fine.
Use a high quality brand name audiotape.
An external microphone that plugs into your recorder is preferable to the one that comes built-in. They are very inexpensive and produce a better recording.
Do your recording in a quiet place with as little background noise as possible. (That one seems pretty obvious, doesn't it?)
Speak naturally! It can help to have a friend or colleague act as an audience to give you focus.
Record your presentation several times. Select the one that will sound the most natural and inviting to your site visitors.
Send the tape to the encoding (streaming) vendor. They'll take it from there!
A video presentation takes a little more time and effort, but you really can do it yourself. Your home video camera will work just fine! All of the same rules you used to make your audiotape apply here including the use of an external microphone. Good quality videotape is essential. The following suggestions will help you prepare a video presentation for your site that should stream very well:
Keep the camera steady! Put the camera on a tripod or brace it against something solid like a table or a wall. If you must pan or zoom, do it very slowly. (Too much motion can cause a "blurry" stream.)
Simplify your frame. Think about where everything is going to be. People coming in and out of the frame can create movement that may cause confusion.
Stay focused. A lot of auto-focus cameras can't focus properly if you are too close to your subject. Five or six feet away is a good distance. Don't try to shoot through a window; the camera will focus on the glass.
Good lighting is essential. Try to light your scene from the front. Don't stand in front of a window; the backlighting will cause you to be in silhouette. Try shooting outside if possible.
Use the fastest record speed. This will insure the best video quality.
Record in a quiet place. Hold the mike close to your mouth to cut down on external noises.
RELAX AND ENJOY YOURSELF! It really shows. Practice until you feel comfortable.
If you have additional questions or concerns, your streaming vendor should be ready and able to assist you.
Early adopters of Rich Media techniques, streaming being one of them, have already started to reap the rewards of higher click-through rates and increased conversion rates. If your message is meaningful and relevant to your site visitors, your streaming presentation will add to their enjoyment of visiting your site and encourage them not only to buy but also to return and buy again!
By Ronni Rhodes
In the heavily populated world of E-Commerce, what determines whose site will be successful and whose won't?
Is it the layout and design of the basic site? No. We all know of sites where no expense was spared on design and the company still failed to produce a commercial success.
Is it the product offering? No. We all know of sites where the product offering was more than adequate, the pricing competitive, and service was acceptable, yet success was elusive.
Is it a traffic problem? No. We read letters everyday in forums and discussion groups from those whose sites generate a lot of traffic, but sales volume is only marginal.
What determines success is the ability to stand out in a crowded field! What determines success is making your site different from your competitors. What determines success is the way in which you present your offering so visitors will want to stay at your site and buy from you.
Purchasing decisions are not simple ones. It doesn't matter if you're targeting consumers or business buyers. People seek ways to make their buying decisions easier. It is up to you to:
· Learn what your customer wants
· Highlight the features and benefits that appeal to the customer.
· Present your product in a way that differentiates you from your competition and utilizes your product knowledge.
How do you accomplish this in a meaningful way that doesn't drain your marketing budget? Utilize streaming media to capture your audience's attention and to focus on the aspects of your product that will generate a sale.
Let's use an Internet store that specializes in southwestern pottery as a hypothetical example. We'll go on the assumption that the store has an attractive website with good navigation and a secure shopping cart system. The return policy is clearly stated, and there is specific contact information. On the site is a nicely laid out catalogue with good product descriptions, small, fast loading graphics (which can be enlarged for a closer inspection) and a well-designed price list. The products are grouped by type (urns, bowls, vases etc.) so that a visitor can browse easily. A perfect Internet shopping experience, right?
The answer is only a qualified "yes" because this store is no different than several hundred others selling the same merchandise.
What can this store owner do to make shopping at his site exciting, fun, and memorable?
· Use a short audio to introduce southwestern pottery to the visitor. What are its' special characteristics? Why is it different than pottery produced in other regions?
· Show visitors where the pottery originates with a slide show. Use pictures of the artisan's studio and the area that surrounds it. Coordinate the slides with a script that describes the geography and how it contributed to the style of pottery shown.
· Interview several of the artisans on videotape. Let them tell your visitors about themselves and their work.
· Have a pottery collector talk about the use of color as it relates to southwestern pottery.
· Do a video as a cross promotion with a local interior designer. Describe and show how to best use southwestern pottery as part of a complete decorating scheme.
· Use video to show the actual creation of some of your better pieces. Take your visitors inside the artist's studio for an "up close" look.
You might even be able to generate revenue with some of your original programming. Sell commercial spots within the presentation to other merchants who offer products that are complementary to yours. (This can be as simple as inserting a graphic.) Work with these same merchants to promote local events that highlight the products of your area. Your local Chamber of Commerce might even want to purchase a spot in one of your streaming presentations.
For an E-commerce site with affiliates, use streaming media to help your member sites. Put together a slide show that gives participating members a chance to briefly highlight their own sites for a small fee. Use two to three graphics from each member and have relevant text from each member scroll by as their store appears in the show. Not only do you recoup some of your production costs from the advertising, but you also get your sales commission when member sales increase!
Streaming media should not be used arbitrarily, however. Unless your material is relevant to your visitors and adds perceived value to their purchase, don't waste your time or theirs. When designing your streaming media presentation, ask yourself what it will accomplish that your current content doesn't. Will it complement your existing material? Will it be utilized to enhance your offering? Will it provide additional incentive to make your visitor buy?
If you can answer yes to those questions, streaming media should be a strong candidate for your marketing dollars. Use streaming media technology wisely, and it will go a long way to making your E-commerce site stand out in a very crowded field.
By Ronni Rhodes
DVD Authoring is the process of collecting various content assets such as video, audio, photographs, subtitles, and menus, connecting them together and burning them to a master dvd disc.
The assets themselves are generated in a variety of applications such as video editing, post-production, image editing and subtitling. They are then compiled in a DVD authoring application such as Ulead DVD Movie Factory on the PC or DVD Studio Pro on the Mac. The process of authoring is very much like building a website. The menu screen on a DVD is analgous to the homepage of a website in that it contains links to all the content on the DVD.
Menu screens usually link to the main feature, chapters within the feature, additional scenes not contained in the feature, photographic slideshows, and additional audio content. The main menu screen can also contain links to sub- menus, which helps avoid cluttering the main menu with too many options.
In addition to setting up menu selections on the main menu, the DVD authoring application allows the producer to set-up additional features such as subtitles. Within the authoring application, each item is given the metaphor of a container. A container can hold any type of supported content and is linked to a menu selection, either on the main menu or a sub-menu.
DVD authoring applications also usually support the creation of multi-angle content (where viewers can decide to watch a different passage of video with the same soundtrack and subtitles) and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound
Using this method it is very easy for even a comparitive novice to create a fairly sophisticated DVD disc with most of the features found on a commercial disc. Indeed the biggest challenge for the prospective DVD author is the aesthetic design itself. Getting all the bits to work properly is one thing, but making it look good and intuitive to use is another.
Once the content of the disc has been laid out in the authoring application, it is then previewed to make sure everything works properly. It is then 'multiplexed' (the content is linked together) and the master disc can be burned.
It's worth noting that the affordable DVD writers and authoring applications only support writing to DVD for General media which doesn't have the necessary lead-in tracks required by mass duplicators. Therefore this type os solution is not really suitable for producing DVDs which need to be mass-duplicated.
By Robert Armstrong
Having a corporate or promotional video for your company is often viewed as something of an expensive luxury - useful, but rarely considered to be an essential marketing tool. Whilst many businesses can understand the benefits of having a corporate video, all too often they are put off by the perceived cost and subsequently find it hard to justify commercially. Furthermore, the process of making a video can at times, appear complex and intimidating, with an array of technical terms and processes.
Streaming video provides a number of useful opportunities for maximising the potential of an existing corporate video. And compared to other distribution media such as DVD or CD-ROMs it also offers a cost-effective solution for broadcasting a new corporate presentation to a wider audience.
Although streaming video is certainly not a new concept and has been around for some time, it's now easier than ever to add streaming video content to your website. The technology required to enable video streaming is widely available, it's relatively inexpensive and with the dramatic growth in high speed, broadband internet connections, a growing number of internet users can now view high quality, streaming video on their computers.
In this article, leading corporate video & business television producer, John Howarth, explains some of the ways in which streaming video content can be made to work effectively for your business and produce tangible results.
Provide Compelling Content
Try to provide content that creates a real interest for the viewer. Instead of simply informing them of your key corporate values - the typical narrative being 'how successful we are, the great products & services we offer, our featured clients' - why not turn the message into something that is actually useful and engaging to watch.
Take for example a company that manufactures kitchen products. Whilst you could produce a video to establish company values by highlighting such areas as quality of craftsmanship and original design of the product, this information is almost certainly available more easily on the web pages. It could be far more interesting for the viewer to provide them with a series of recipes, which feature the products being used in context.
Another technique is to provide content that is not centrally focused to your company's core products & services. For example, your company sponsors a sports event or art exhibition. How about showing some clips from the event, with company branding around it? By using more recognisable and popular content, you are creating a wider 'reach' for the video, with the added possibility of gaining increased website traffic.
Lets say you already have a corporate video, it's around ten minutes long and you currently distribute it on a video tape format or DVD. The most obvious solution would be to have it transferred to a streaming format in it's entirety and loaded up onto your website. Whilst a ten minute corporate video sequence may be useful as a backdrop display in a trade exhibition or screened to a captive audience in a conference, it's often far too long to use as a streaming video clip on your website. Who really has the time to sit and watch a corporate video clip for this length of time? It's often far more useful to break the sequence down into a series of individual clips or re-edit into a shorter, condensed version that has greater impact.
Following on from this, you might also want to distribute streaming video clips around different areas on your website. This way, the clips featured can be targeted to match - and complement - the page content. For example, on a page detailing company clients and case studies, the video clip could feature customer testimonials; situated on a contact details page, the video sequence could feature some generic shots of company locations and building exterior shots.
Brand The Video
Whatever streaming video clips you use, try to ensure they are branded with your corporate identity. This could be a small logo in the top corner of the screen or a 'picture frame' wrapped around the moving images. Taking it a step further, you may want to add an introduction sequence with animated corporate logos at the beginning and end of every sequence. Another option is to create an HTML or Flash 'player' customised with your corporate identity. The video clip would then play within this frame and could be complemented by some animated product or service information around it.
When reviewing website statistics, it is frequently pages featuring streaming video content that are the most 'sticky' and have the longest viewing times by site visitors. Use this factor to your advantage - it's an ideal opportunity to get your core brand values, products and services across to the site visitor.
By John Howarth
Studies show that people remember merely 20% of what they hear, and only 30% of what they see, and an incredible 70% what they hear and see. * With this in mind, it's no wonder why video is such a powerful communications tool.
So your company has decided they need a video. Where do you start? What questions do you ask? How can you make sure the final product is what you are expecting? This article will give you the tools you'll need to have a professional video project you can be proud of.
First, let's talk about money. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Especially with video production, if you make a decision to hire a production company solely by picking the lowest quoted bid, you will probably end up with a video that is much less than what you expected. Remember, this video represents your company. Do you want your video to look like a high school A/V project? On the other hand, there is no reason to go crazy and spend ungodly amounts of money. It's important to find a company that gives a fair bid for the type of video you need and can produce your project in a professional manner.
To start your video project, there are two decisions that you will need to make. First, do you want to hire an independent producer or a production company? Second, you will need to decide if you wish to receive your bid for production as a "Package Price" or "Piece Meal".
Independent Producer or Production Company?
Independent producers usually work for themselves and do not own any equipment. They generally rely on outside production companies to supply their equipment and crew needs. This means that if you have an immediate need, the producer is dependent on someone else to help service you. However, unless the independent producer is very busy, you should get good personal attention.
By hiring a production company, you can get a producer who is part of the production company that has the equipment and crew resources in-house. They can generally respond immediately to your needs. Depending on the scope of your project, a production company will either use an in-house producer or hire a freelance producer to coordinate your project.
Either way you decide, be sure you have an experienced producer to manage your project.
Two Ways to Hire
There are two ways of hiring a producer or production company to create your video: "Package Price" and "Piece Meal".
A package price for the entire project is the way many videos are negotiated. For most situations it is the most logical. The client knows exactly how much to budget for, and the production company knows how much money they will have to work with.
If you choose this route, be sure to have a very clear bid with exactly what each side will be responsible for. The advantage for this is if the company requires to do more work than initially planned to finish what is described in the bid, they are obligated to do whatever it takes to complete the project. However, it is very important to understand that if you, as the client, request more than what is described in the bid, you would be expected to pay extra for your request.
The other way to produce your video is "piece meal". Hire your production company by the day, or by the hour. This way, whenever someone is working on your project, you are paying for their time and only the time they are working on your project. Your producer should be able to give you hourly and daily rates and to estimate the total cost for the project according to your needs.
Whether you hire an independent producer or a production company, you should have an experienced video producer coordinate your entire project. Your producer should be available to you at any time to answer questions and to consult with you about any part of the production. Don't scrimp on your producer; they could make or break the entire project, and they should not be learning on your nickel.
Your producer's job is to manage the project from beginning to end. They are responsible for coordinating the scriptwriting, pre-production, shooting, and editing. Depending on where you live and his or her experience, you can expect to pay your producer between $350 to $1000 a day.
Scriptwriting is usually charged by a finished minute rate. For example, if your script is 10 minutes long and you are charged $200 per finished minute, your cost for a complete script should be $2000. A complete script should include all voice tracks and equally important, the video shot descriptions that match the voice track.
Shooting is usually charged by the day. Depending on your needs, your shoot may be as small as hiring one cameraman with gear, all the way to having a complete crew that may include a cameraman, lighting director, audio technician, production assistant, teleprompter operator, make-up artist etc. Rates vary depending on your location, but it is standard to hire a strong two-person news style crew for $1,000 - $1500 per day, including professional camera gear, audio and a lighting package. On smaller projects, the shooter can also act as the producer.
Editing is almost always charged by the hour. For most all projects, a high-end digital (non-linear) editing system will handle your project beautifully. Depending on the system, you should pay between $100 - $200 an hour for editing, including an experienced editor that can make suggestions on how to make your project even better. Finding a Production Company
Looking under "Video Production" in the Yellow page directories is generally a good way to find a local production company. Remember: just because the size of an ad is bigger for one company than another, it doesn't mean the production company is better.
Personal referrals sometimes are your best bet. But remember that this video will represent your company, so be sure you are referred to a professional video producer with experience and not cousin Billy who has a consumer camera and wants to get into the video business.
You can also search the Internet. One of the best sources for lists of production companies on the web is at www.mandy.com. There are many others sites with lists, but this one seems to be the best. Using search engines like Google to find production companies that have a presence on the web is also a very good source.
Has the production company won any awards for the videos they have produced? There are regional and national awards that producers can enter their projects. If your production company has won some critical acclaim, it's a good chance that they would be a good company to produce your video.
Quality and Format
Other than the producer's expertise, the quality of the final product depends largely on the equipment used to shoot, light and edit the video. For most corporate video projects (marketing, training, communications, etc.), commercials and television programs, the Betacam SP or DVCAM formats are the smartest choices because of their widespread compatibility. There are a number of new excellent broadcast digital video formats, like DVCAM, that are just now emerging on the market. From a client's point of view, Betacam SP or DVCAM or one of the new professional digital video formats (DVCPRO, Betacam SX, Digital Beta) will give you broadcast quality images. Even though Mini DV is quite an incredible format for the prosumer market, it doesn't have quite the quality of the professional formats.
Meeting the Producer
When you initially talk with your producer, be sure to ask some questions. But more importantly, the producer should ask you most of the questions and listen to what you want. This is your company's video and it's up to the producer to try to get in your head to give you a product that you want, not what the producer wants. Be aware if the producer tells you what you need without listening to what you are saying. At the same time, ask the producer for recommendations that would enhance the project beyond your video knowledge.
Set up a time to meet with the prospective producer. Meeting at your location is usually most beneficial. If you want a marketing or training video for your widget, it would be important for the producer to see the widget. Bring copies of videos you would like to emulate and tell your producer what you like and don't like about these videos. Be sure the producer brings sample tapes similar to the project you want to do. Look at past projects your producer has completed. You should also call the producer's past clients to get feedback on their professionalism, work quality, and personality to understand what is was like to work with them.
Q and A
Your producer should listen to what your company's goals are regarding the video, ask a lot of questions, then give suggestions for the best way to produce your video within your budget. Often, your production company won't know anything about your business and vice-versa.
Questions to Ask Your Producer
What can I do to keep my costs down?
A good producer will help you keep the project within your budget. Some of the more common ways to save money are:
? shorten the length of the program,
? use fewer professional actors, and
? keep the shoot days to a minimum.
Holding a pre-production meeting to coordinate the project could save hundreds of dollars. If the shoot is scheduled at your company's location, try to do everything possible to facilitate the videotaping process. For example, if you are creating a marketing or training video for your widget, let your manufacturing line take direction from the video producers and allow disruption of their work.
What kind of experience does the producer have?
The experience of the producer relates directly to the quality of the finished product. Be sure to see examples of video work that the producer has personally produced.
Are there any extra charges?
Ask up front if there will be any extra charges. Some common extra charges: taxes, tape costs, mileage, travel expenses and duplications. It's important to understand that if you, as a client, make changes to the project that require additional work from the production company not originally agreed upon in the proposal, expect extra charges to apply. What will you need from me?
You, or a representative from your company, will need to be an accessible contact person to help coordinate approvals, schedule shoots, and answer questions to help make the production process as smooth as possible.
Questions Your Producer Should Ask You
What do you like and dislike about other videos?
What do you want to achieve with this video?
Who is the target audience?
What do you want the audience to do after watching the video?
How will the tape be shown?
How many shoot locations are there?
Will we be shooting during business hours?
If we are shooting during business hours, are there any logistical concerns?
How long does the video need to be?
Will a company executive need to be on camera?
Do you need a professional on-camera talent or voice-over?
Who will write the script?
Will you need extra graphics or animations in the video?
Are there any other materials that need to be included in the video, such as photographs?
Final Points to Remember
An important point to remember, especially if you are a rookie at using video, is that communications is key to the success of your video. Your production company should be available at any time to answer any questions you may have. Your producer should be kept informed of the project's status and what the next steps are.
Television is a huge part of our lives and we are very accustomed to top quality programming. Today's audiences are sophisticated and expect broadcast quality video productions. If your video is anything less, your message and image will suffer greatly.
Remember to ask questions, be sure you are asked a lot of questions, and go with your gut feeling. Chances are you will end up with a great product and have a fun time in the process.
Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions.
By Greg Coon