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We’re really excited for Thursday October 2nd. No, not because it’s it’s National Name Your Car day. But because iiiit’s…

Video Marketing and Production Meetup, day (cheers)

We’re hosting our very first meetup and we’d love you to come join us :)

When: Thursday October 2nd, 6:00pm

Where: RMP, 22 – 26 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TJ (map)

We’re really, really excited to have Andrew Stephen from Casual Films walking us through…

Andrew Stephen Casual FimlsHow To Make A Film: From Brief to Market

Account Director extraordinaire Andy manages the Casual Films team of producers and liaises with clients to ensure videos are consistently delivered with excellence. Notable happy customers include PWC, Samsung, philips and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Andy will be taking us through the production process of creating a business video that will inspire, engage and motivate an audience. We will learn:

  • How other businesses successfully leverage the power of video
  • The benefits of different styles of filmmaking: documentary lead, animation, and live action / motion graphics hybrid
  • How to make as much of your budget appear on screen as possible
  • Ways to distribute and measure the effectiveness of your video
  • Future trends in video: interactive video and the rise of UGC

Andy has superb experience working with a diverse range of clients on different corporate video briefs, ranging from recruitment and employer branding video through to charity communications and CSR work. Most recently he pooled his talents working for Casual Films, showing that films are one of the best ways to promote sustainability in the corporate world.

Wowzer! Andy’s talk is going to be crammed full of invaluable advice so don’t miss out – RSVP now.

Can’t make it?

Not to worry, we’ll be filming all the action on the night and we’ll post a video following the meetup. Sign up to our email newsletter below to make sure you don’t miss it.

This week we thought we’d give you a bit of a glimpse behind the scenes of our new Mail Catcher video. We’ve already mentioned how we balanced the lighting outdoors and perfected our voiceover but that’s all part of the production phase. Before you actually post your video there’s an important stage you must not miss: reviewing your video content.

And this is no mean feat. It involves being critical of your own work. What seemed like a good idea in your storyboard doesn’t always work. When faced with this situation you have to force yourself to cut something which you lovingly crafted and spent time bringing to life.

But it happens to everyone. And it happened to us in the Mail Catcher video. The good news is that, every time you spot something that went wrong, you can learn from it for your next video. We thought it would be a helpful exercise to work through our own reviewal process; pointing out what worked, what didn’t work, what we changed and why.

OK, first I need to let you see the first edit of the video (and this wouldn’t normally see the light of day). Deep breath. OK I’m good, here it is:

Make It Obvious

A lot of our videos rely on explaining something with a metaphor. We do this because when we have a complex feature it’s helpful to relate it to something else. But this metaphor? This was a mess.

What’s with all the balls? Why is Lawrence putting them in a tote bag? What is going on??!

Let me explain…

With Mail Catcher we hit upon the idea of equating email addresses to tennis balls. These tennis balls would be thrown at Lawrence (and then we realised they hit really hard and changed to foam balls :P). He would catch them (Mail Catcher – right) and add them to his mailing list (which for reasons I can’t quite explain or remember, ended up being his lovely tote bag).

But for this to work – in fact for any narrative to work – it had to be really clear. You can’t rely on your audience just “getting” it, they’re not mind readers. And when we reviewed our footage our metaphor really wasn’t clear. But we knew it could be.

First off, we needed an actual “catch” instead of just a smiley Lawrence (which is nice but doesn’t really make our point:))


Then we needed to make it clear that the foam balls were email addresses, so we added a shot of an email address written on the ball. We also scrapped that tote bag and entered the email addresses into a spreadsheet. The shot of the email address being typed just cements the fact that it’s email addresses we’re collecting here.


Take away: What seems crystal clear to you isn’t necessarily going to be clear to everyone else. You are not your target audience. You are already familiar with your product and what it can do. Let someone else take a look at your storyboard, someone from outside the company if you can.

Every Shot Counts

We wanted to show that collecting email addresses manually is hard. Constantly juggling email lists while more and more email addresses are “thrown” your way wastes a massive chunk of valuable time. So (in the original edit) we threw loads of those foam balls Lawrence’s way.

Two problems with this shot.

    1. Lawrence looks completely unruffled by this. In fact his expression borders on amused, rather than flustered:

    2. It didn’t really look like there were a lot of balls here. You just didn’t get the impression of someone drowning in email addresses.

The shot didn’t work with our narrative – in fact it detracted from it. The only option we had here was to reshoot the scene. We co-ordinated our ball throwing so they didn’t come into shot in dribs and drabs. And we made sure that our subject actually looked stressed by the inundation of email addresses.

Takeaway: Lawrence’s amused expression was entirely NOT Lawrence’s fault. I’ll admit, throwing lots of foam balls at your colleagues is a pretty fun way to spend the afternoon. But you can’t be laughing off screen and expect the person on screen to be totally unaffected. I’m not saying your video shoot has to be deadly serious; we’ve found that creating a fun atmosphere brings out better performances from our team. But just remember that sometimes you need to put a sock in the merriment for a minute or so. whats_my_motivation

It would also have helped if we’d taken the time to explain the script a little more to Lawrence. At this point all he really knew was “ok we’re going to throw some foam balls at you and you need to sit there and take it”. And this was a mistake, we couldn’t expect him to look flustered if he didn’t know what we were trying to show.

You may also notice we switched out Lawrence for Terry. This was mostly because we were working to a tight schedule and Lawrence took a few days leave to get over the emotional trauma of being bombarded with tiny yellow balls (I’m joking he just had some leave to take…really…). This, actually, wasn’t too much of a problem – we ended up reshooting a lot of the video so all of Lawrence’s sections wound up being edited out. But, we could have found ourselves in a situation of having to reshoot perfectly usable takes; for no good reason other than our talented Mr Sears was no longer available.

Lesson learned? When planning your shooting schedule make sure to calendar in a reshooting session (even if you never need it) and let everyone involved know when they’ll need to be available. That way your team can shout up if they can’t make it and you can either rejig your filming dates or just use another willing victim team member.

Are You As Funny as You Think You Are?

We try and inject a bit of humour into all of our videos. We’re firm believers that a great video always has a great punch line. We actually wrote three alternate endings for our Mail Catcher video.

    1. Lawrence slips on the discarded foam balls strewn all over the floor
    2. Lawrence completely buried in a pile of foam balls
    3. Giant fit ball flies in and knocks Lawrence over.

I actually laughed out loud when Terry suggested the third one (maybe that’s just me…). So it passed the test and we decided to run with it. The trouble is, we didn’t stop to think about the logistics of doing this. It was a case of really liking an idea and being determined to fit it in to our video somehow. We quickly realised that we weren’t going to be able to knock Lawrence over with a big ball without it looking super staged and forced. Our solution was to throw the ball gently at an already sitting Lawrence. Except this completely took the funny out of the scene…

Faced with the funny ending being decidedly unfunny we just scrapped it. And ended our Mail Catcher video at the end of the screencast.

Except… we still didn’t like this. We had a touch of humour in our script “say balls to doing it the hard way” and yet a very sober ending. The visual just wasn’t right. So we went back to the original concept of the big fit ball crashing into Lawrence Terry. We decided that since we couldn’t show this convincingly, we actually didn’t have to. The power of suggestion can work wonders. We decided to make the moment of contact between gigantic bouncing ball and human take place off screen. Then we added in the crashing sound effect, and suddenly the ending was much tighter and much more amusing.

Take away: if you’ve got three different ideas don’t just scrap two of them because you’re sure one will work. It might not. Film all three. It gives you options to work with in the edit. If we’d had an alternative maybe we wouldn’t have had to reshoot.

Bonus: if you can’t do something on screen, do it off screen instead. The power of suggestion works. Use it.

A few final thoughts…

Not every video you put out there will be perfect. It’s a learning process and the best way to learn is to cast a critical eye on what you did. Try to think about what you could have done better. This can be a hard thing to do. My best advice is to sleep on everything you do. Don’t make changes and then review them in the same breath – disconnect from your video for a bit. In my case I like to come back to it with a fresh mind the next day, but if you’re on a deadline and don’t have a few days in which to polish your video you could… take lunch, read a blog post, reply to a few of your emails. Anything really, as long as it takes your mind away from, “does this shot work?”

I’ve also found – from writing this very blog post in fact – that making notes of what you’re changing and why is very helpful. I’m actually going to start writing notes on all our future videos; even if we only ever use them internally. Writing down your thought processes brings a lot of clarity (at least, it does for me). It forces you to put into words the reasons why you’re making the decisions you’re making and gives you something to:

a) look back on for future videos and;
b) calls you out when you write something like, “we didn’t like this shot”, without justifying why you didn’t like it and what you’re going to do about it.

So now, I guess all that remains to say is: if you want to see the finished version of the video AND learn a little about getting the most from Mail Catcher to boot, check out the blog post here…enjoy!


Categories Video Inspiration, Video Marketing
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If your aim is to drive LOTS of traffic to your lovely videos you should be making growing your mailing list a priority. In fact, sending your content out to an engaged email list can bring you up to 24 times as much traffic as pushing out through your social media channels (DIYthemes).

The best way to grow your mailing list? Umm, well… just ask your audience for their emails. Sending out your emails to an audience who’ve actually opted in (rather than buying a list, for example) will mean you can be sure the recipients have at least some kind of interest in who you are and what you do. And there’s no time like the present – you can start to collect your viewers email addresses today.

Good news, then, we’ve just launched our Mail Catcher feature which makes this process super easy. Add a mail capture form before, during or after your video and when a viewer enters their email address we’ll automatically sync this to your existing email list (MailChimp, Aweber or Google Drive).

Step 1: Integrate your email provider

First you’ll need to sync up your vzaar account with your email account, so we can input the emails onto the list for you (say goodbye to manual imports – hooray!). This is simple. So simple, in fact we can tell you how in about…ohhh ten seconds.

Step 2: Manage Mail Catcher settings

It’s then just a case of choosing which lists you want to use as default and whether you want to have your Mail Catcher form appear at the beginning, middle, or end of your video.

The help document here has more details, or of course you can always get in touch with any questions.

Login to your vzaar account, or sign up for 30 day free trial, to get started.

Happy Mail Catching :)

Meet Sally. Sally is interested in learning more about the housing market/buying a car/caring for her new Golden Retriever (whatever product or service you offer) so she Googles it and up pops your video, answering her specific questions and promoting your offering.

And yet what happens at the end of your video? She goes away again and you’ve missed a golden opportunity to connect with her.

So how can you find – and build relationships with – more people like Sally?

Well, you could always buy an email list. Specify your target demographic – female dog owners perhaps – buy a list of names and start blasting out all your latest news. Sounds like a great plan, right? Well, MailChimp did some research, and turns out it’s not.

MailChimp Email List Statistics Source: MailChimp

Purchased email lists have virtually non-existent open and click through rates. You’re sending your important messages to an audience who just aren’t listening.

Far better then, to create a mailing list of people who are actually seeking your solution. And the only way to do that is to capture email addresses from the source. Let’s go back to Sally. She’s your perfect customer – actively researching the solution to a problem you solve. So what if you could find a way of collecting her email address? You could then reach out to her next time you’re running a promotion on dog brushes, for instance, and you know that she’s actually interested in what you have to say.

That’s where Mail Catcher comes in.

Mail Catcher makes it easy to identify just who your viewers are and gives you a way to stay in touch with them. By inserting an email capture form into the beginning, middle or end of your video you can collect leads and grow your mailing list. Even better, with integrations with MailChimp, Aweber and Google Drive we’ll automatically send email addresses to your existing mailing list so you don’t need to juggle different lists – it’s all done for you.

But, to get the most out of Mail Catcher it’s important to think strategically about when you use it.

Getting the most out of Mail Catcher

Mail Catcher makes it possible for you to gate your content by placing the mail capture form at the beginning of the video. That is, before anyone can watch it they must enter their email address. You can also have the form pop up part way through, or let your content roam free and have the form appear right at the end.

How do you decide where your form should be?

Well, it really depends on the aim of your video and the type of content you have…

1. Lead generation

If the aim of the game is to generate sales leads you should gate your content (by inserting Mail Catcher right at the beginning of your video).

You need to craft videos that are of high value to your audience. Think about the types of questions they are asking and create a video that answers them. It’s essential here to get a good fit between your video topic and your audience. It needs to be valuable enough to them that they want to leave their email address.

Uberflip have a fantastic flow diagram to help you decide whether your content is gate-worthy. If it is, set your Mail Catcher to appear before video playback and the leads will come flowing in.

Experiment: Try adding your Mail Catcher form during the video. That way you can introduce your concept, establish yourself as the expert and then, just before you make your killer point, Mail Catcher shows up. This can bring you some very high quality leads since your audience have watched your video and appreciated the pre-gate content enough to reward you with their contact information.

2. Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is really about getting your message out to a wide audience. If you’re gating your content you limit this somewhat. Any gate you put in place will act as a barrier to your viewers and reduce the likelihood that they’ll watch your video.

Instead offer free content to encourage views. Here your Mail Catcher form can then appear right at the end of the video. It’s unobtrusive so won’t deter viewers but it will also reel in some extra leads, without damaging the high view count you’re shooting for.

In Summary…

Providing high quality content that addresses consumer pain points is a fantastic way to grow your mailing list because it “catches” the email addresses of an already engaged audience. By adding an opt in email form to your videos (a la Mail Catcher) you can stay in touch with your viewers and start to build relationships. It’s these relationships that build brand loyalty and ultimately amount to more business for you in the long run.

Placing your mail catcher at the beginning of your video is a sure fire way to collect the most email addresses. But, it will probably reduce your view count. You need to work out what it is your trying to achieve with your video and act appropriately. Mail Catchers at the end, or during, playback are less intrusive and will mean your view count stays in tact, while netting some higher quality leads too (since they’ve already seen your content and are still interested in learning more from you.)

Login to your vzaar account, or sign up for 30 day free trial, to get started.

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