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This is the third and final segment of our blog series on preparing for a video interview. This segment will provide some useful tips on the interview process and how to respond to questions.

People are often nervous about being interviewed on camera. It is important to remember that the types of interviews we conduct are for some kind of informational video, whether it be for marketing, internal communications, training, etc. In this type of interview, you are not on the hot seat! It is the director’s job to make you look as good as possible so you will always have the opportunity to do a re-take if you are not happy with your answer.

I find that interview subjects often ask for a list of questions ahead of time. I am reluctant to provide the questions because I don’t want the person being interviewed to rehearse their answers. At the same time, I know if I were to be interviewed I would want to prepare. What I usually do is provide the interviewee with a list of questions similar to what I will be asking but not exactly what I will be asking and not in the same order. This allows the interviewee to prepare and to feel more comfortable going into the interview but ensures the answers remain spontaneous. I have also had clients who have written the questions and answers for their staff members who are going to be interviewed and requested the answers be on a teleprompter. Nothing looks worse on camera and I have never seen anyone read answers and make it look natural. This is a practice that should always be avoided.

Going into the interview there are a few basic things to know. An on-camera interview is not a natural interaction like having a conversation. It should appear conversational but there are some real differences. Except for in very special circumstances, you will be looking at the interviewer and not at the camera. Always hold your look toward the interviewer and avoid making eye contact with the camera. You may have seen an interview where the subject doesn’t know where to look so they shift their eyes back and forth between the interviewer and the camera. This never looks good and makes the person being interviewed appear shifty and unfocused.

In most cases, the interviewer’s questions will never be heard in the finished video. This requires the interviewee to respond in a way that allows the statement to stand on its own without hearing the question. For example, if the question is: “How long has your company been in business? The response shouldn’t be…”7 years”. The proper response for a video interview would be, “Direct Impact Media has been in business for 7 years”. That way the video editor has a complete thought that can be used and cut together with other responses. When you finish your answer continue to hold your look to the interviewer and don’t look to camera. People will often look to the cameraperson for approval but the editor needs you to hold your gaze for at least a second once you have completed your answer.

It is also important for the interviewee and the interviewer not to speak over one another. Wait until the interviewer has finished speaking before responding. If the interviewer is experienced they won’t speak over you. If they want to provide feedback you will often see them nodding their head without saying anything. This provides feedback to the interview subject while avoiding crosstalk, which will often make the answer unusable.

When answering questions it is best if you can speak in sound bites. Answers that ramble on are hard to use and require lots of editing. Answers that are 20-30 seconds in length are best. Most people feel like they need to say too much so practice ending your thought. Often people will give a great response to a question but they never conclude their thought. As the interviewer, I often ask the person I am interviewing to give me a condensed version of their answer. That helps get the main points while keeping the response succinct.

Another technique I use is to ask the same question in a variety of ways. Getting different answers to the same question gives the editor choices when piecing it all together. If you are being interviewed and the interviewer asks you a very similar question in a different way just answer the question and understand that this is a technique. Do not say things like “as I said…”. The final video will probably only use a few clips from your interview so the viewer will never know that you are repeating yourself.

The main thing is to relax, be sincere, and smile at the person you are talking to. Try to forget the camera is there. I find people relax after a few minutes and usually, the interviewer will ask you a couple of throw away questions just to give you a chance to get in the groove. If you are finding it difficult, your camera crew will usually help you through the process.

Thanks for reading this series of blog posts and I hope it provides some useful advice for the next time you appear on camera. Please let us know if this series has been helpful.

As presentation specialists we are often required to help put the finishing touches on presentations or create them from scratch. One of the questions we have to answer is whether to use PowerPoint or Keynote? There are good arguments for both so we decided to provide our perspective on this question. I have to state from the start that I am a Mac user but for many years worked primarily in a Windows environment. I switched to Mac about 6 years ago after starting Direct Impact Media so much of my early knowledge and experience with creating presentations was using PowerPoint for Windows. I now use both, but I am still more familiar and faster when creating in PowerPoint.

I like PowerPoint because of my familiarity with it and the fact that it is a much more universally used program. I also like the fact that I can create a PowerPoint presentation on either platform and play it back on either platform whereas Keynote is strictly for the Mac. Since I am a Mac user, I often create PowerPoint presentations using my Mac knowing that they will likely be played back on a Windows PC.

A word of wisdom…if you create a PowerPoint presentation on a Mac and play it back on a PC or vice versa, remember that even though the transition of PowerPoint from Mac to Windows is usually fairly seamless, it is always necessary to test your presentation prior to presenting. Never assume it will work perfectly and expect to do some troubleshooting or re-formatting when switching platforms.

Now for some of the differences:

Themes and Templates

When it comes to building your presentation, both PowerPoint and Keynote do basically the same thing. If you are building a new presentation using the built-in themes and templates then Keynote has some really nice looking themes that seem more contemporary than the ones available in PowerPoint. PowerPoint 2013 does offers an updated selection of templates and themes although they still don’t have the elegant appearance as the standard templates in Keynote.

Text

Although Keynote provides more control over text spacing and kerning which is very convenient, PowerPoint provides the ability to create more interesting text effects than does Keynote. For instance, in PowerPoint you can give text a 3-dimensional look with shape and embossing, which is something Keynote does not allow you to do. To create the same look in Keynote you need to create the text in Photoshop or Illustrator and import it into Keynote. That makes last minute text changes much more difficult and time consuming. PowerPoint allows you to add a variety of 3-dimentional effects right in the program, which can elevate the look of your presentation.

Transitions

Transitions are also somewhat more interesting in Keynote and offer some animation techniques that are just not available in PowerPoint. I do like some of these transitional effects and they do look more sophisticated than what is available in PowerPoint. Surprisingly, with the launch of PowerPoint 2013 the transitions and animations have remained basically the same as previous versions. The transitions and animations in Keynote add improved production values when used appropriately and have been the reason we have opted for Keynote when building certain presentations. Always keep in mind that one of the most common mistakes is to overuse transitional effects. It is important to remember that “less is more” and the fancy transitions should be used sparingly.

Multimedia

The ability to insert photos, graphs, and video is important when building your presentation and both programs do a good job. Typically, when inserting video on a Mac you want it to be in an .mov format and on a PC you want to use a .wmv or mpeg format. A Mac will play .wmv’s if you have Flip for Mac or another third party plugin. Most Windows machines with QuickTime installed will play .mov’s but the recent release of PowerPoint 2013 has expanded capabilities and support for .mov’s and numerous other file formats. One feature in Keynote that I really like is the ability to use a looping video file as a background image for a slide. This allows you to have a moving background and is quite useful for adding a very high-end look to a title slide or sponsor logo.

There are good reasons for using both programs and it may come down to what the user is most familiar with. The best advice is to assess your needs before creating your presentation and decide which one works best for your specific needs. If you have trouble with either there are many good online tools and videos to help you out and I always recommend lynda.com as a great source of online tutorials.

How to Present Yourself

Welcome to part two of our three-part blog series on preparing for a video interview. In this segment I am going to provide some guidelines on how to present yourself during a video interview.

Video interviews are sometimes conducted standing up and sometimes sitting down. If it is a sit down interview it is important to sit forward in your chair. Leaning back will give you the appearance of not being fully engaged and can make you appear complacent or even arrogant. When I interview people on camera I often have both the interviewer and interviewee sit on stools. A stool forces you to sit forward, sit up straight, and to exercise better posture. You want to appear engaged with the interviewer so sitting forward and straight up will make you look more professional, more engaged and more credible.

When sitting on a chair or stool it is also very important not to swivel. Usually the director will choose a chair that does not swivel but in some workplaces they can be hard to find. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and make a conscious effort to hold your body still. Since the camera has a limited field of view, even small side-to-side movements make you appear like you are moving and will create a distraction.

In a standing interview the thing to avoid is shifting your weight from side-to-side. This has the same effect as swiveling in a chair. When standing for any length of time it can be hard not to shift your weight so a technique to use is to angle yourself toward the camera and place one foot pointing to the camera and one foot behind the other, positioned perpendicular. In this position, if you shift your weight you will be moving forward and back which won’t be nearly as obvious to the camera. Angling yourself to the camera will also make you look better. Think about the before and after photos they use on a weight loss ad. When you stand square to the camera you take up more space and look larger and less flattering.

Whether you are sitting or standing, hold your chin slightly down. When you hold your chin up it accentuates your neck and forces you to look down your nose at the camera. Hold your chin slightly downward, forces your eyes open, and is more flattering.

In summary if you can follow these three tips, you will come across much better in a video interview:

  • Sit up and use good posture
  • Angle yourself toward the camera
  • Don’t sway or swivel

Our next segment in this blog series on preparing for an interview will provide you with some good tips on responding to questions. Thanks for reading and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or subscribe to our RSS Feed

Corporate video programs often consist of interviews with executives, company leaders, content experts and third-party validators. We have conducted hundreds of on-camera interviews and while some people are familiar with the process and know what to expect, others have never appeared on-camera and it can be quite intimidating. This series of posts is intended to provide some insight into the on-camera interview process and provide you with some knowledge on how to make it go smoothly. Our next few blog posts will provide some good simple guidelines on the following:

  • What to wear
  • How to present yourself
  • Responding to questions

In the first of this series we will talk about what to wear. Most things are okay, but there are a few things to avoid:

  • Never wear anything with small stripes or a tight pattern such as herringbone. These patterns don’t respond well to video and cause an effect known as the moiré pattern.
  • Avoid wearing bright white or bright red. Off white, light blue, and grey are good alternatives to white. Consider that in an interview you will be mic’d so there needs to be a place to attach a lavaliere style microphone. T-shirts make this very challenging. Dark colours are best and have a slimming effect while light colours have the opposite effect. Very bright colours can be distracting so stick with neutral tones.
  • Women should wear dark nylons rather than white. Overly flashy jewelry can be distracting especially large dangly earrings, so keep the bling to a minimum. Make-up is another thing to consider. It is a good idea to come to the interview ready for the camera. Sometimes there is a make-up person on set but that is a luxury many corporate videos don’t have so look your best without being overdone.
  • Another good thing consider is what setting you will be interviewed in. If you are being interviewed in the field, don’t dress for the boardroom. Most importantly, try to dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable. The more comfortable you feel, the more comfortable you will appear on camera.
  • Lastly, bring options! If you are not sure then bring an extra suit jack, casual jacket, a different shirt or blouse and a few different accessories such as two or three neckties. Even if you don’t use them it gives the production crew the option of getting you to dress differently to make you look as good as possible.

Content marketing is defined as the creation and sharing of content to increase brand awareness and sales. A good content marketing strategy involves creating regular original content focused on delivering information to customers and potential customers that they will find interesting and valuable.

Content marketing doesn’t focus on selling. The purpose of content marketing is to create and maintain brand loyalty by delivering this information in a regular and consistent way.

The value to the marketer is that it is great for search engine optimization or SEO. Search engines reward websites and video channels that publish quality, consistent content. Video is a perfect way to create an audience. Companies are using online video more than ever before to increase their online audiences. Recently I found this article that explains how companies are taking advantage of online video to create and build their online presence.

Multimedia is a term that is often used although there is sometimes confusion about what it means, probably because the term multimedia can encompass so many things. Many people think of multimedia as a PowerPoint presentation and don’t consider all of the other things that fall into the category of multimedia. With the integration of the web and television and the proliferation of smartphone technology the definition is becoming broader all the time. Quite simply, multimedia is multiple forms of media integrated together. Media can consist of graphics, sound, video, photographs, and text. Often, multimedia involves some kind of animated treatment or transitional effects. Everyday we all explore websites, which are really interactive multimedia presentations. Websites utilize text, photos, graphics, audio, and video and are now being developed with smartphone friendly versions designed specially for the smaller touch screens found on mobile devices.

In the presentation world, multimedia is most often PowerPoint or Keynote, but it also includes any software designed to deliver multimedia content. In addition to presentation graphics, we usually consider motion graphics to be large component of any multimedia production. At AV Strategies we create PowerPoint and Keynote presentations as well as programs delivered on video that consist of still images, graphics, narration and music. With these productions the lines between video and multimedia become quite blurry. As technology advances the integration of all these mediums continues to evolve and redefine multimedia.

We produce multimedia projects primarily for business presentations and live events. We use tools such as Photoshop, PowerPoint, Keynote and After Effects depending upon the project requirements. We can create designs from scratch or use existing graphic treatments to build clear, concise, and compelling content. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your next multimedia presentation.

AV Strategies is a Canadian dealer for Catchbox, a throwable microphone system designed to engage audiences and turn Q&A sessions into a fun experience. Catchbox is an event production tool that helps liven up events and shifts the meeting experience to encourage participation and discussion. The device makes asking questions in a packed ballroom much faster while the act of throwing a soft cube helps create fun, engage people in the discussion, and gets people talking.

We all know that passing a wireless handheld mic is a slow and arduous task. With Catchbox there’s no passing the mic through a crowd, getting a runner to squeeze in between rows of seating, or trying to encourage audience members to come to an aisle mic. Simply throw the Catchbox to whomever has a question. Organizers love not having to enlist volunteers to run the mics; now they can sit back and enjoy the fun.

Catchbox Pro is a module that allows us to convert our existing beltpack wireless microphones into throwable microphones. It’s a simple and inexpensive add-on to the wireless systems that we already use for our events. We can also order customized branded covers for Catchbox, so your Catchbox can include your logo and company colours. Ask us about Catchbox for your next event. Find out more on the catchbox site.

avs at the Pacific National Exhibition

Each year Vancouverites look forward to the Fair at the PNE. The Fair is considered the best part of summer with exciting exhibits, rides, nightly headline entertainment and plenty of food & drink.

AV Strategies provides audiovisual services for many of the live venues throughout the Fair. This year we are providing audio, video projection, LED Star Drape and live cameras in the Pacific Coliseum for both the SuperDogs and UNBELIEVEABLE: A Magical Experience. This show includes magic, comedy and breathtaking illusions showcasing a line-up of internationally renowned magicians and illusionists. We are also providing our Stageline SL-100 Mobile Stage and the PA sound system for Festival Park, a summer celebration of everything Canadian in anticipation of Canada turning 150 in 2017! Festival Parkavs is also providing the audio system and lighting for the Plaza Beer Garden featuring the Dueling Pianos.

In addition to providing audiovisual support, the Fair’s Entertainment producer, Patrick Roberge Productions, engaged us to create a number of multimedia presentations to enhance many of the Fair’s live shows. We’ve created video components to support UNBELIEVABLE by producing the show’s impactful video opener and various vignettes throughout the performance. We developed the screen graphics for Hit the Deck, a dance show featuring Canadian music and our team also created the animated show logo for Mermaid Tales – a Journey under the ocean.

We are proud to be involved in the Fair and selected as the AV and production vendor for these events by great partners such as the PNE and Patrick Roberge Productions.

by Bruce Hitchen

20 years ago one of the main differences between a professional video and amateur video was the quality of the equipment. Even then there was more to it than the cost and quality of the equipment but that was the primary reason why no one ever considered producing their own corporate video. There are still differences between professional and consumer equipment but gap in the picture quality difference is becoming narrower all the time. We now see productions that are shot and edited on an iPhone. With the equipment available to so many at a reasonable cost many people and companies consider producing their own video to save money. I have seen this done successfully but that is a rare occurrence. In most cases, what seems like a reasonable endeavor often proved to be much more difficult that thought at the onset.

Like any other profession, video production is a skill that is learned in school and developed over time. Like an engineer, teacher, or dentist, video producers go to film or broadcast school and then spend many years in junior positions slowly working their way up to a senior production role. This gives them a base of knowledge that helps them do their job and know instinctively what will work well and not so well when producing a video.

So what separates a professionally produced video from an amateur production? While good equipment always makes a big difference, there is no substitute for training and experience. When a company insist on shooting their own footage there are a few things I identify as making a video look amateurish and if you can get these things right then it is half the battle to having footage that can be turned into a usable product in the edit suite. They are:

  • Poor lighting
  • Poor audio
  • Shaky footage
  • Zooming and panning
  • No editing

Lighting

Lighting is hard to do properly when not trained so the best thing is to use the natural light but move the subject to where the light is most flattering. Don’t shoot a subject that is strongly backlit and make sure there are no harsh shadows.

Audio

Using a camera mic usually sounds hollow and makes it hard to hear what is being said. A simple way to address this is by buying an inexpensive lavaliere microphone from an electronics store such as The Source (Radio Shack). The microphone will plug into the camera’s mini audio jack and then can be clipped to the lapel or tie of the person speaking. This always makes a huge difference to the quality of the audio. If you can’t get a microphone then ensure the subject is close to the camera in a place without much ambient noise. Everything picks up on camera so if a plane goes overhead or a loud car goes by then you need to reshoot the segment.

Footage

Shaky footage caused by the camera being handheld is the biggest problem to overcome. The best way to address this is to buy a tripod and use it. Having your camera solidly mounted on a tripod will make the biggest difference to the look of your footage.

Zooming & Panning

Avoid zooming and panning. To get a smooth zoom or pan is very difficult. Most consumer cameras don’t have a very good controls for zooming and often the zoom is on or off rather than having a variable speed. Both zooming and panning require professional cameras and tripods to do properly and require the skill of an experienced camera operator. It is best to shoot your topic with various camera angles and framings and try not to zoom or pan. Zooming and panning are also techniques that are used far less often in a professional production than most people think. Look at a television show and note how often you see a pan or zoom vs. a series of shots with different framings.

Editing

Finally, you need to edit your footage. In a production the editing is as important as the shooting. We typically shoot hours of footage for a fairly short 3-5 minute video and then select only the best shots for the final product. Editing also requires organizing your footage and putting shots into sequences and adding music, graphics, and transitional effects. This is where the rough footage comes together to make your final production.

The bottom line is that producing a high quality video that looks professional is much harder than it appears. Video has a huge impact on how customers perceive you and your business so it is worth doing right.

There are many reasons why small and medium businesses utilize video. Video is a powerful tool for communicating information with employees & customers, marketing your company or product, Or training employees, customers and installers. The list is endless. Consider the following:

  • A promotional video that explains who you are and what you do
  • An intro video welcoming visitors to your website
  • Showing your product in action
  • Customer testimonials that provide insight into your company’s value and how you have solved problems for customers.
  • Demonstrate how to install or set up your product
  • Train clients, staff or third party installers remotely
  • Creating a website advertisement that promotes a particular product or promotion online.

Incorporating video on your website provides a powerful tool to increase the popularity of your web pages. Whether you want to earn money, share knowledge or increase page views, video can make your site more dynamic, more engaging, and will at tract and keeps visitors on your site longer.

Consumers are watching video online for entertainment and information at an increasing rate. It is expected that online video will account for over 70% of Internet traffic within the next few years. We turn to YouTube and other online sources regularly to learn about products, services, and techniques more and more. When people want to know how to fix a lawn mower or lean a new piece of software the answer is online and usually it is the video demo that gets the first click.

In addition to the value of video as a communications tool it is also a great marketing tool for your business especially when you consider the SEO benefits of having video on your website. Businesses spend a great deal of money to create their site and then a lot of time and money to do the search engine optimization. Search engines love video, and you can use video to drive a lot of traffic to your website. Why? Well here are few reasons why video can improve your search engine results.

Video Encourages People To Stay On Your Page Longer

Search engines use time spent on a page as an indicator of page quality. For this reason a high bounce rate or ‘short click’ is seen as an indicator of a lower quality page, while more time spent on a page is an indicator of a higher quality page. Video is a key strategy in getting people to stay on your page longer, but only if the video is well produced, engaging, and relevant to the viewer. Studies have indicated that viewers stayed an average of two minutes longer on a website when they watched a video.

Videos Can Help Your Product Rank

Your chances of getting a page one listing on Google increase 53 times with video because there is still much less competition for video pages.

YouTube Dominates Search Results

The largest search engine in the world is Google. YouTube is the world’s largest video sharing community and the second largest search engine. Google also owns YouTube so it is not surprising that YouTube dominates Google’s video results with around 80% of results. The remaining 20% of video results come from Vimeo and a variety of other less established video search engines so you get the biggest bang on YouTube but it doesn’t hurt to also post video’s on other sites as well.

Informational Videos Work

The types of videos that rank the highest in search engine results are informational type videos. Informational videos make up approximately 80% videos search results while sales and marketing videos don’t rank as well.

The bottom line is that video is essential to compete for search results. Video is also a great tool for communicating company information, building your brand and making your site an informative and entertaining online destination for your customers.