San Francisco is my Nature Valley
If you had a chance to read my first article, then you know that my enthusiasm for the digital media space was ultimately spawned from a desire to enter and win a video contest (grand prize $10K). I didn’t win the contest, but that hasn’t stopped me from entering at least half a dozen more! (I can be as tenacious as a weed).
Should you have enough time on your hands / interest in me to review my YouTube history , you’ll see that I also threw my hat in the ring for LG, Pepto Bismol, 1-800-Flowers, Swiffer and Nature Valley…sometimes I break from contest trolling and dabble in what I like to call my “glass-half-empty view of the world” (take a gander at “Hey Volkswagen Driver!” to see what I mean)….but then my own brand of cynicism can start to bum me out and I inevitably go back to contest submissions (but remember, only those which I think I stand a chance of winning).
One of my recent entries, my “Nature Valley” submission (yes, the makers of those dry but delicious granola bars) was really quite simple in structure. After reviewing the competition (ALWAYS review your competition so you know what you’re up against) I could see that the featured videos moved a bit slowly, the angles weren’t always fabulous, the audio/narrative was native (as opposed to recorded afterward in the quiet of your own home or sanitarium) and sadly not dubbed in once the video footage was edited and ready for audio to be introduced. It’s a seduction really. A slow dance. You can’t just throw it all together and hope for the best. Ya just can’t. Thus, a lot of the entries had a very “rookie” feel to them. That’s not to say mine was stupendous (and admittedly it could use some work) – but I’ve learned a thing or two about the basics.
1. Keep things easy to watch by recording in a way that allows the viewers’ eyes to rest (use visuals that are inviting, not jumpy and that don’t move too fast or transition too quickly)
2. Don’t keep the native audio on your final cut – silence that and either add a music track to the whole piece or narrate your video so that the sound quality is something you aren’t embarrassed to own up to
3. If you’re entering a contest, pick unusual landmarks (the Golden Gate Bridge for one!), unusual subjects (costumed or otherwise) and add some original songs/lyrics to your work to make it stand out. Get creative folks! It’s your time to shine!
Nature Valley was kinda a no-brainer for me. I mean, I live in San Francisco – literally right up against Baker Beach and the Presidio. I’d be hard pressed to find a better spot to film in and again, stuff like famous bridges, statues, towers, etc. all make for footage that people wanna see. And, sometimes, a little Velveeta in your narrative helps. I’m not saying to go Hallmark on us, but slow down your speech, enunciate and tell me why I want to listen to you for a full 60 seconds. Seduce me with your prose and lyrical ways….I dare you!
When filming something like I did for Nature Valley, you’ll need to solicit a friend, significant other, family member (that still owes you from when you moved them cross country) etc., to help because unlike staged home/office settings in which a tripod or flat surface can be used to mount a camera, you’ll be moving about and using wide angles, close ups, action – all things that will necessitate a helping hand. (And, if you really don’t have ANYONE to help you, go on Craigslist and hire someone).
Lucky for me my bf agreed to help me out and so we set off on a bright Saturday to get my footage. I knew he wouldn’t have much tolerance for “retakes” and such and so I limited my favor-asking and ultimatums for the end of the day. I figured, it didn’t matter if we got the “perfect shot” every time, what’s important is getting enough footage to edit down and wind up with something reasonable to work with. That’s the key here. More is more. You don’t want to get stuck with just enough to scrape it together and then feel deflated by your shoddy outcome.
After I caught at least 30 different video segments of me walking, hiking, skipping, jumping, blowing on dandelions (blah, blah, blah) all I had to do was take the camera home, upload my clips and then edit it in a way that transitioned smoothly and moved the plot along. Because of the way in which this particular video was put together I could use the “narration feature” in Creator 10 to walk viewers through it. It was pretty cool to discover this actually, and I found I could have the video playing while I narrated so that I didn’t have to script it out first – I could literally tell a story and have it sound fairly natural.
I’ve blathered on long enough and I know you want to read about some breakthrough with Blu-ray – so off I go. But do leave me a comment (positive please - my ego is quite fragile) and I just may write you back! ;)