Once you have a tight, compelling text-based story (see my earlier posts), it’s time to translate that story into sights and sounds for the visual medium. Care must be taken to ensure that the translation results in a cost effective video production blueprint.
It’s a balancing act to create online videos that are effective B2B sales tools, but also are affordable. I focus on getting a good handle on the visible and audible content before going into production. There are many ways to communicate each story element. It’s my job to make sure that the choices made communicate clearly, in a way that holds the viewer’s interest, but also are done at a reasonable expense. It’s much more cost effective to play with these decisions on paper than it is to try different approaches during (or after) production.
After I’ve written the story, I break it down into its component parts. The ‘story elements’ include:
- the background or context,
- the core marketing messages (the fewer the better… or they get muddled),
- a profile of the protagonist (the ‘hero’ – usually a customer, but can be your product or service),
- a profile of the antagonist (in B2B this is typically the problem that your solution resolves),
- the precipitating event or situation (the ‘pain’ that made them take action),
- obstacles the hero must overcome,
- the denouement – what happens after (the benefits enjoyed in the post solution world).
A multimedia story is some combination of camera shoot video, animation, audio (voice over, dialogue, sound effects and music), text, static images, charts and motion graphics presented so that the information in sight and sound are complementary, not redundant.
Next, assign the story elements to the various media:
- Decide what pieces of the story work best in live action (or animation). Live action and animation are best for depicting people speaking and interacting with one another. Camera shoots require a film crew, equipment, actors and locations. These get expensive. Full motion animation, even with today’s digital tools, is labor-intensive and can also get expensive. I like ‘semi-animation’. Visual details are sketchy, and the movements of the characters are limited, but the labor required is greatly reduced, and therefore the cost. If the animation is produced creatively, the story remains intact and viewers remain engaged.
- Decide what pieces of the story work best in still photos. Still photos are the best medium for depicting an actual person, place or thing. They can add visual interest, but because they’re static, they should be used sparingly.
- What will your audio mix be – how can it best support your visuals? Quality audio is critical. Voice-over narrative, and especially dialogue, make visuals more powerful and real. Avoid using audio alone. Give your audience something interesting and relevant to view at all times.
- What part of the story works best in graphics? Motion graphics show how things work. Graphics go where cameras can’t… inside a person’s thought processes or to demonstrate the workings of a software application (demo screen captures). Animated charts can add visual interest to supporting statistics.
- What part of the story belongs in text? Text on the screen should be used sparingly, but it can be essential to emphasize a point, to deliver quotes from credible sources, or when it would be too costly to convey the necessary information visually.
- Make sure the information in each medium is complementary, not redundant. Some overlap between the information delivered by sights and sounds is okay, but we’re using video to compress the time it takes to deliver marketing messages. Communicate different information to your prospects’ eyes and ears simultaneously. Don’t commit the video version of a boring PowerPoint delivery (the presenter reading text off slides). Of course, your sight and sound channels must deliver congruent, related information or you’ll confuse viewers.
When you’re satisfied there are no holes in your story, that all superfluous information has been excised, and each story element has been assigned a cost effective medium, it’s time to work on the script and then the storyboard.
In our next post, we’ll cover the script writing process.