Watermark Productions

How To Produce an Effective Video that Works!

Ten years ago, some people predicted the death of the graphic arts industry as Desktop Publishing software became affordable and widespread. Anybody with a computer could produce their own graphics, newsletters, logos, etc. It soon became clear, however, that it took something more than cool software to produce effective graphics, and the graphic arts industry is still alive and well today.
The same can be said about the video production business. Digital video cameras and non-linear computer based editing systems are now within financial reach of most consumers. So why spend more money to have a video produced when you can do it yourself? If you’ve tried producing your own video project, you no-doubt already know the answer.

A good video consists of many things including:

›› a good plan,
›› a strong script,
›› on-camera and voiceover talent,
›› effective lighting,
›› quality microphones,
›› royalty free music
›› motion design & graphics
›› visual storytelling skills
›› proper editing
›› and more!

The fact remains that a good video is only ‘good’ if it’s effective. If it ‘works’. If it sells
product, raises funds, trains staff, recruits employees, motivates volunteers, moves an
audience, and so on.

When a good video is finished, your audience will not say “that was a good video”. Instead
they’ll say “I want to buy your product”, or “I want to join your team”, or “Now I understand”.
Watermark Productions approaches every video project with the end-result in mind. This
guide is designed to help you get started in thinking through the process of producing an
effective video.

It boils down to answering seven questions.

Question 1: Why Are We Producing A Video?

There are many reasons to produce a video. Videos are effective for sales, marketing, train-
ing, education, recruitment, entertainment, reinforcing messages, conveying a consistent
message to people located in different place, and more. Keep in mind, however, that one
video cannot do ALL these things.

Before writing your script, choose the single most important purpose for your video. You can
also determine one or two secondary purposes…but remember to remain focused on your
main reason throughout the production process.

Question 2: Who is our Audience?

This is important to consider on several levels. First, you must determine how familiar your
audience is with your organization or your product. If your audience consists of
employees, for instance, you can use industry slang or acronyms more freely than if the
audience doesn’t know anything about you or your products.

Secondly, it is helpful to know the demographics of your audience so you know what type of
production will be most appealing to them. You don’t want to use hip hop music in a video
that targets senior citizens. The style of writing, shooting, narration, graphics and editing are
all impacted by the demographics of your target audience.

Question 3: How Do We Want Our Target Audience to React?

We produced a video for a client a couple of years ago who told us they wanted the
audience to ‘cry three times’ while watching their video. The video was for a non-profit
organization, and it featured disabled people achieving great success through this
non-profits efforts. When the presentation concluded, one participant told the CEO how
much he loved the video and that he ‘cried 3 times’.

Naturally everyone is going to react to your video differently, however having specific goals
in mind is very helpful. Perhaps you want the audience to cry or to laugh. Maybe you want
them to learn 3 new things about your organization. Or maybe you want them to write you
a check or sign up as a volunteer. Determine how you want them to react in advance, and
write/shoot and edit your project with that goal in mind.

Question 4: How Will the Video be Distributed?

Ten years ago, most video projects we produced ended up on VHS tape. Today there are
many more choices. 90% of the projects we do today end up in multiple formats, making
the video projects more cost effective than ever. Almost every American household has
a DVD player, and most have internet access. Therefore, the majority of video projects
end up on DVD and in a web-ready format such as Windows Media Player, Real Player,
AVI, MPEG, or Quicktime.

Other videos are distributed via broadcast or cable TV, satellite, videotape, CD, iPod, or
On-Demand. We even do video for Digital Signage, such as kiosks, and flat screen moni-
tors. And there is an increasing demand for video presentations for Image Magnification
(iMag) to be used at conventions, trade shows or other gatherings using large projectors and
screens.

While your video can be converted into any of these formats after it is completed, it is im-
portant to consider your main methods of distribution before shooting begins because each
format has its own limitations and needs. For instance, a web video is usually viewed on a
small monitor and compression can make motion graphics choppy. If we know your video is
for internet use, we can take precautions during production to ensure it will look as good as
possible on the web.

Question 5: What Are Our Resources? What Are Our Limitations?

We recently shot a video for a corporate client who had their own studio, cameras and
lighting. They were a Fortune 100 company with a huge staff and a huge budget and they
flew their talent in from another state. Obviously, they have more resources than a small
non-profit organization. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the non-profit is going to have a
poorer video production. The non-profit also has its strengths and resources, and by being
creative and wise we can often produce a video that looks like it cost way more than the
actual budget.

Larger budgets allow for more equipment, paid talent, more time to develop graphics and
motion, original music, and so on. Before you start shooting, identify your budget, your
resources, and your limitations…and then plan accordingly. With a little creativity, you
will be surprised at what can be produced. But don’t expect special effects and
Hollywood production qualities on a shoe string.

Question 6: Who Will be Our Staff Producer / Decision Maker?

It is very important for you to identify someone on your staff to become the leader of the
video project. This person will work with the video production company on decisions,
creative and technical. At the very least, they will be the point of contact on behalf of
your organization and they will have the final say on issues such as script approval,
selection of talent, and change orders. Making creative decisions with a ‘committee’
is a kiss of death to your project and your budget.

Question 7: How Will We Measure the Success of Our Video?

Someone once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you
get there?” Before you begin your video project, ask yourself how you will know if it is effec-
tive or not. Set benchmarks based on your goals such as number of phone calls received,
amount of donations made, or better qualified candidates submitting applications…all
based on how you answered Question #3. This will help you make educated decisions dur-
ing the production phase of your video project.

This list is not all inclusive. Producing a video is a little bit science and a little bit art.
Watermark Productions can help walk you through the entire process, from script to screen,
to produce a video that works for you!

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