Effectiveness of Video Is Clear; Here's Some Advice on Starting Out

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“Soon we will be spinning up a new video distribution network that will allow us to further monetize our great content and reach new audiences.”
Jason Fox, VP of digital, Consumer Reports

"Thematically right now, one of the things we're watching is mobile video. Viewing habits on mobile are increasing. People watch video ads on Snapchat, Twitter, other platforms. So we'll definitely be talking about [doing more] mobile video."
Vivek Shah, CEO of Ziff Davis

We know the why of video but let’s get back to the how. Five months ago, I reported on a film hit at Sundance called Tangerine that was shot totally with an iPhone 5s. (Since then, I have acquired one, so I’m trying video now.) Its theatrical release occurs this Friday.

If they're making mainstream films now with an iPhone 5s, we should be able to do 2-minute interviews or event Q&A's or here's-our-latest-report. Clearly, we're not there yet. The survey of marketers I referred to yesterday reported that just 27% are using video—those 27% reported 81% effectiveness in terms of engagement. Remember, videos can be short. I just watched a dog crawl into a refrigerator—you don't want to know how many views it has.

Here are the 4 things that writer/director Sean Baker needed to shoot Tangerine:

First, of course, the iPhone (they used three).

Second, an $8 app called Filmic Pro that allowed the filmmakers fine-grained control over the focus, aperture, and color temperature. “The separate ability to control white balance, focus and exposure were key fundamentals that enabled them to get good focus points in every shot,” said Neill Barham, the founder and chief executive of Filmic Pro, in a New York Times story on Monday.

handheldThird, a Steadicam hand-held support called a Smoothie. "These phones, because they're so light, and they're so small, a human hand—no matter how stable you are—it will shake. And it won't look good," said Baker.

Fourth. The final ingredient was a set of anamorphic adapter lenses that attach to the iPhone. But that was mostly for cinematic quality.

A couple other advantages to using the iPhone: the people you’re filming may be more natural, and you may be able to go places you couldn’t with a bigger camera. Or you can shoot while riding a bicycle like Baker did—or maybe not.

Baker is an expert, but you don't have to be. "The only people screaming that videos have to be perfect are the ones that get paid to make the videos," wrote blogger Marcus Sheridan on The Sales Lion. "My point? Just hit record. Get started. Some will always be better than none. As long as you try to get better and better, you'll be just fine."

"Shortform video does not require deep pockets to be effective," said Tony Lorenz, co-founder and CEO of bXb Group, speaking at last month’s SIPA conference. He suggested nofilmschool.com and movenote.com as two resources. "It has to be mobile first...Production specs have relaxed…Dynamic planning will ensure you get the most out of your video. And then metrics will evaluate engagement."

My videographer friend at the American Trucking Association uses a Canon vixia hf m52 (a small consumer handheld camera), which is HD and retails for around $500, and a wireless lav mic for interviews. "It's affordable and good quality," she says. For editing, she uses Final Cut Pro. The version that came out FCP X (10.2) is available for around $300. (They’ve now added 3D titles.) Imovie also does a pretty good job (that comes on Mac computers for free).

She added a couple tips: "You can invest in one of the smaller cameras like I did to get used to filming and editing, and then invest money as you get experience into a more professional level camera. I just purchased a Sony professional level camera. As for editing, you can start off with Imovie. Adobe also offers a cloud software program, where if you pay a monthly subscription (around $50 per month) you can have access to their film editing program Adobe Premiere (similar to Final Cut) and other programs like Photoshop and Lightroom."

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…