Create (More) Video Without A Camera

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The traditional video production process and techniques have a clear role for many video purposes. This approach requires specific skills and tends to be inherently expensive, time consuming, and doesn’t scale efficiently.

When you shift the purpose for video from entertaining or promoting to explaining, proving and educating, different criteria should dominate. To address these new criteria for video a different approach that leverages a different process and technique is required.

The driving principle of the new approach should be to leverage every project, subject expert, previous asset and resource to create content extensions and re-usable assets. This is in service of the ultimate objectives of quality video with lower costs.

A key technique is to create core, re-usable assets. This starts with images, animations, audio, video, but also includes modules of communication elements that are capable of being re-configured into new content programs.

Plan for content extensions. Extensions are content suitable for different audiences, or buyer roles if you are in sales or marketing. Content extensions could also be created to leverage different media formats or delivery channels.

In short, this requires thinking and planning beyond an initial “point production” objective, with the aid of a content strategy.

New Video Creation Techniques

This process is simple. The core concept is to create modules, or frames, that are eventually “stitched” together to create a final video.

1.  The process begins with scripting the narrative, defining modular segments, creating a storyboard. The narrative becomes the foundation that drives everything. The script should be narrated and the audio track segmented according to the modular definitions. To paraphrase Julia Child, set those aside, you’ll use them later.

2.  Visuals are selected from an image library or created for each module, or frame of the video. The primary technique should be animated graphics, images, even video segments. If custom images or new motion video is required it should be shot as segments that support this process. This might include pictures of speakers, products or custom elements. For motion video it could be a talking head introductions or conclusions, expert interviews, or a motion process that is critical to the video message. But this is more an acquisition process than a video production process.

  • In twenty years of creating video this way we have learned to minimize “talking head” video to a relatively few segments, literally seconds in duration. They simply become boring too quickly and add little to no value after the initial introduction.
  • Text overlays should be developed, as appropriate, for each frame.
  • Think of your visuals as inexpensive, flexible b-roll for your video.

3.  Modularity extends to keeping audio separate from visuals as much as possible, until the very end of the process, when the video is created. Keeping audio and visual elements separate makes it possible to maintain these assets over time.

  • This also provides flexibility to assign different audio to visual modules, such as foreign language narrations or versions for different audiences.
  • It maximizes the potential for fast and easy re-use.

Now, how to build and stitch these modules together?

We have discovered that PowerPoint is an excellent tool for creating visual elements, including text overlays, for synchronizing audio, and for managing the source as modular frames. As PowerPoint based assets, these frames can be mixed-and-matched into new, custom shows.

4.  To create the final video program, the PowerPoint could be processed with any of the alphabet soup of PowerPoint to video conversion or screen capture tools. This is a common technique. Video can also be created as an export directly out of PowerPoint 2010. Most people are unaware that PowerPoint 2010 provides the ability to export a show as a video.

Here is a customer video example of what this process can produce.

Avitage Collections — Organize and Manage Source Versions

Managing these assets in PowerPoint works well with small volumes of videos. It is a low cost, practical solution for smaller organizations.

The problem begins when new versions are created in the scale that comes with aggressive versioning, or when this approach is deployed in larger organizations or to a sales channel.

Each version of PowerPoint shows duplicates common slides and video elements. Creating updates to all versions is virtually impossible. Just think of your PowerPoint experiences. Wouldn’t it be better to always have the latest updated version of a video — or even the source assets — instantly in the hands of everyone using it, without requiring each user or customer to do anything?

For example, imagine you had 10 users across training, marketing and the sales organization posting links on web or landing pages, in microsites, in learning management systems, portals, and distributing links through email and social media (blogs, Twitter posts, Linked-in pages or groups, etc.) A single video could literally be sent or posted, and then picked up by search engines and promulgated to thousands of links. That’s the idea, right?

What if the content they are posting is user created and may subsequently require clean up for messaging or brand standards? What if the videos contain important messages about your organization, or are core educational concepts? Wouldn’t you want some ability to update and maintain them over time?

To solve the problem of organizing as many versions as needed, while enabling the ability to update underlying assets over time, without having to re-build and re-post links to new shows, Avitage developed a database application called Avitage Collections.

Avitage Collections

Avitage Collections manages each slide, each video asset, as a separate file. This application allows users to create virtual versions of shows without duplicating source assets. Each show or video version is a “collection” of the assets that make up the video. In the Collections database, this is a virtual process of managing links to the underlying video assets.

The workflow is simple. After a new show is created and synchronized in PowerPoint, the file is uploaded into the Avitage Collections database. Individual video modules can be uploaded as well.

PowerPoint with embedded audio or video are processed by the application. Each slide is extracted into a separate file. The PowerPoint with embedded audio or video is converted into a separate MP4 video file.

All the metadata associated with the file, or tags to native video files, are extracted and managed in the database. A link comprised of the item title and associated thumbnail is created.

At this point, items are available to be organized into user or content manager defined Collections — as many as required. Rather than duplicating the physical source assets as they would in another PowerPoint or video file, new shows are virtual, comprised of links.

Only when a video show is requested of the database is the physical video instantly created. This means updates can occur to the underlying video assets, without having to know all the places that link to the video, or where the video is stored using links or embed code from Avitage Collections.

Here is a link to the source assets in the video example above.

What PowerPoint Teaches About New Video Requirements

Reflect on your PowerPoint experience over the last 15 years. This content has been constantly tweaked, but with limited ability to keep it up-to-date out in the world where it counts. Imagine the PowerPoint frustrations you’ve fought for decades, as video in our online, viral sharing world.

Yes, video is a powerful and important content type. But this can cut both ways. If you don’t install a method to keep it current, accurate, on message, it can hurt as well as help.

In addition to providing a better way to address the new video criteria of content relevance, scale and cost, this process — especially aided by a database application like Collections — resolves the challenges of sharing source assets so they can be re-used, and maintaining videos over time to extend useful life, thereby lowering the total cost of content.

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