Guest speakers Ken Sneeden and Kirsten O’Donnell. 
At FPRA’s November 2 meeting, guest speakers Kirsten O’Donnell and Ken Sneeden shared tips and techniques for video production. 

As Director of Public Relations at Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Kirsten utilizes video for many purposes from education to promotion online. She also has professional experience in broadcast news. One of her most successful recent campaigns for Goodwill was the “So You Think You’re Thrifty” contest. She emphasized that while a photo is worth a thousand words… video, at 29 frames per second at just two minutes of length is worth 3,480,000 words!

With the availability of a wide variety of cameras and software, you can either do it yourself or go pro, depending on the audience, budget, medium, degree of artistic freedom, and the longevity desired. Cameras range from hundreds of dollars to thousands, depending on the quality. Software can be a simple as Windows Movie Maker or professional quality such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro.

Doing it yourself is ideal for audiences already familiar with your organization or purpose, when you do not need to build credibility. By doing it yourself, you have a smaller budget, complete control (but lower quality), short and trendy format, and it’s easy to use for web, social media and podcasting.
You should hire a pro when approaching a new audience where credibility is not established yet, and you want to have a longer-lasting video with more return on investment. You’ll need a larger budget and will have less creative control, but will create a broadcast quality video with better effects.

Some additional tips that Kirsten shared for shooting an effective video:

  • Be a storyteller. A good story can go a long way. 
  • Have a shot list ready. 
  • Take more footage than you think you need, including different angles of the same thing. Rule of thumb: 10 minutes footage for 1 minute edited. 
  • Begin with an establishing shot to set the mood and begin the story. 
  • “Cover it up” – talking heads are boring. Edit video over talking. 
  • Keep it simple in terms of special effects – just because you can doesn’t mean you should use all those cool editing tricks. 
  • Consider video without video – use photos, music, video effects to create animation. There are some simple online services for this: Animoto, Vuvox, One True Media. 

Ken Sneeden is an award-winning former journalist and television station executive. He’s been in the business of professional video and multimedia production at his company Ken Sneeden & Associates since 1991. Ken shared a professional’s perspective on video production.

Some of the new developments in video production are that HD (high definition) is more commonplace with a 16 to 9 ratio. The old format is SD (standard definition) a 4 to 3 ratio. Sometimes, he still creates both formats depending on where they might be used.

The newest development is BluRay. It’s the highest quality you can get. HD is condensed on DVD, but is better on BluRay for a real wow factor. However, the user must have a BluRay player to view it.

If you want to shoot fairly good quality video, try a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera with a tripod. With newer models, HD quality is built-in. This type of camera is good for beauty and contrast. However, they’re not as good for action, moving subjects, panning and zooming.

Ken also discussed length of video. With shorter audience attention spans, videos are becoming shorter, too. Old corporate videos would generally range from 7-10 minutes. Now they are 4-6 minutes, and no more than 2 minutes for the web. Production time has also decreased due to the newer technology – but when working with the pros be sure to allow about 30-45 days, including scheduling, planning, scripting, approvals, shooting and editing.