Video Retrospective: Learning From Our Mistakes

You may remember last month we wrote about our video mistakes and how we fixed them. Well, I’m (err kind of) pleased to announce that on our latest video shoot for Tinypass Integration – we made a few more! But it wasn’t all doom and gloom on this video shoot – we also tried out some of the techniques we learnt from our last video efforts (you can read about those here). Here’s what went right, and what we can do better next time…

What Went Right

Avid blog fans will remember that the last time we made a video we wound up having to reshoot huge chunks of it. Once we saw the actual footage we realised it just wasn’t clear what on earth was going on.

We didn’t fall into this trap again. Instead, we added a pre planning phase to our video process. The aim of this phase was to sort the wheat from the chaff. I’ll admit it; sometimes we’re guilty of becoming fixed on an idea and then just going with it (hence last month’s heavy reshoot). If you go straight into planning you often don’t realise the silly ideas – until it’s too late. The pre planning stage helped us to get over that, simply because it *wasn’t* the planning stage. We went through 4 stages of pre planning:

– Video Conceptualisation

Throw a few ideas around and discuss how they work. You’re looking for *any* idea – no matter how crazy it sounds – so don’t create a hyper critical atmosphere. Everyone involved should feel comfortable to share. Jot all the ideas down and move on.

Ok, now you can criticise. And when I say criticise I don’t mean “that would never work!” or “that idea is a load of rubbish”. Take each one in turn and simply ask questions about it. Start off with some higher level questions:

Video Pre Planning

  • Is this relevant for my audience?
  • Will this make the viewer feel something?
  • Is this likely to meet my goal?
  • If an idea makes it through this first pass you can get into the nitty gritty:
  • What would the location be?
  • What props would we need?
  • How do we create x, y z?
  • Simply by asking the right questions you can often weed out which ideas you should scrap.- Test Your ConceptSometimes it’s difficult to see on paper how something actually looks in real life. Having the footage in front of you brings things to life in a way that words on a page can’t. It makes it easier to tell if something is a particular idea is a non-starter. We used an iPhone to just walk through a few of the shots.- Do NothingSeriously, take a break. Enthusiasm for an idea can sometimes get the better of you. When we went back to review our test footage we scrapped the initial idea and went in a different direction. If you’d asked me before the break I would have told you I loved the idea and I was really excited to get going on the video shoot. Not so much when we went back and reassessed. If you give yourself a break and you STILL love what you’ve come up with, the chances are it’s not half bad!- ReassessOur initial idea was “cash for clicks”. Our lovely video star Virginia would set up the Tinypass integration on her vzaar videos (with a few clicks of a mouse button) and in the cash would roll. To demonstrate, we decided we would show people watching various videos. Virginia would click, and cash would appear. Still with me? If that sounds confusing, it may explain a little about why we scrapped it.The problem was, the cash really appears when your viewers click to pay. So in that case shouldn’t the viewers be the ones clicking? But then, we also want to show that it’s really easy to set up the pay wall so we kind of need Virginia to click as well. Maybe everyone could click? Or maybe no-one…? Or maybe…?We were tying ourselves into knots to try and make the clicking for cash work. This is a bad sign. If we couldn’t understand the link between the clicks and the cash, how could we expect everyone else to?Despite our initial enthusiasm we realised we were just forcing the concept to work. So we just came up with a new one. And then we went through our questions again until we were confident it could work: “Does it achieve our goal?”, “Does it make people feel something”…

    What Can We Do Better?

    We may have learned from past mistakes, but that didn’t stop us making a few new ones:

    1. Plan For Bad Weather

    For this video we decided we’d shoot outdoors. In the UK. In November. Perhaps not so surprisingly, on the day of the shoot we were met by very dull, gloomy skies.

    This gave us the chance to learn something new: how to brighten a shot – even when the conditions are dull. We added extra bits of colour and interest to the shot and used all the light available. Then in the edit we experimented with a bit of color grading. You can watch our in house video producer Terry explain the specifics here.

    I’m not saying that we’ll never make this mistake again. Even in the Summer it can be pretty hard to predict the British weather. But, if this does happen to us again, we know exactly what to do about it (and now so do you!)

    Take Away: if something goes wrong don’t panic. Fixing it gives you the opportunity to learn something new.

    2. Collaborate Earlier

    In this video we decided to overlay some graphics as a way of showing what was going on on the computer screen. We spent quite a lot of time trying to fashion a good looking set of graphics to use. And then we asked our designer and she did it in less than half the time.

    It’s always great to learn new skills, but since we were editing to a deadline it would have been better to get our designer in from the get go. We would have saved time, and given her longer to prep. Lesson learned.

    Take Away: when you’re in the planning stage ask yourself who from the rest of your team needs to be involved to bring your vision to life.

    Final Thoughts

    Analysing what went wrong in our video production efforts is helping us to make or whole process much smoother, and hopefully resulting in some much more interesting videos! I highly recommend adding an evaluation stage after you’ve created the finished product. You’d be surprised how much clarity it brings, you can really see the crinkles that need to be smoothed. By sharing our own successes (and failures!) we hope it helps you too.

    Here’s to our next video! In the meantime you can check out the final version of our Tinypass video here. Enjoy :)

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