Archive for the ‘Video Production’ Category

The 15 Second Video Ad

December 12, 2012

Studies through Nielson on mobile ad effectiveness are finding that consumers exposed to mobile video ads demonstrated significantly higher brand awareness, favorability and interest in purchasing. Mobile video has become a high performing vehicle to drive ROI and merits greater investment in cross-screen marketing campaigns. How can your brand launch an effective video ad for mobile platforms?

The ideal mobile video ad length was determined to be 15 seconds. Now a days even if your ad is motion picture quality, a mobile ad that is 6 minutes long will not produce the results you need. Our lives are very busy and keeping someone’s attention for that long on a video advertisement is difficult. How long would you spend watching a mobile video ad?

Before you start creating your next ad campaign, I’ve organized some valuable points for your perusal.

1. Always have great content. Interesting content creates effective video ads. Since the ideal ad unit in mobile is 15 seconds, it should probably be the most compelling within the first second or two. Aim to get your point across quickly and in a way that will resonant with the audience you are trying to reach.

2. Know your audience. Knowing who you are trying to market too will play a role in both the content and where you deliver the message. If you want to reach an audience that will actually watch your video, make sure your ads run on engaging, entertaining, long session time apps like TV viewing, video content, games and social apps. Users in these apps are more receptive and more likely to engage with ads. Context is equally important, particularly for brands, so be equally sure your ad is running alongside content that is appropriate for your video.

3. Optimize your video ad for all platforms. If your video doesn’t load in three seconds or less, your audience will just go on to something else. Make sure your video is not grainy and your audio doesn’t cut in and out. Don’t put your brand at risk with slow-loading, low quality video.

As you plan those creative campaigns for next year, keep the above thoughts in mind and I look forward to working with you on your next mobile video ad in 2013!


Animoto Gets You Going with Web and App Based Video Creation from Still Photos

October 11, 2012

A friend of mine introduced me to Animoto and in a nutshell Animoto lets you create fun videos from your own photos, video clips, texts and music. This can be a great tool for recreational or professional web users looking to expand their product offerings to their clients. You can also get Animoto’s iPhone and Android applications for those on the go or onsite moments. With the proliferation of mobile photography and video this could put more immediate options right in your hands.

To showcase the simplicity of how quickly and easily you can create a video upon signing up for your account Animoto asks if you’d like to create your first video using your Facebook images. I said “why not” and gave it a go. Within minutes I had a thirty second video showing my images in a fun and professional video collage with music. Sharing the video was a snap on a website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and via email. I could pick web friendly video resolutions 360p, 480p and 720p HD. Animoto has many “styles” to chose from and some good looking holiday themes for free. The Pro account which you pay for, has even more. Each “style” has it’s own unique effects, background and transitions. They look professionally done and polished.

Animoto offers you three levels of accounts. Lite is the attractive price of “FREE”. With a Lite account you get unlimited 30-second videos, dynamic themed video styles for all occasions and 600+ music tracks. You can also upload your own music like in all of the other plans.

To learn more and create your first video in minutes visit It’s Fun!


Get Ready For Your Executive Portrait

April 18, 2012

Websites, LinkedIn, brochures, press releases, company publications and other media all require a head shot of The Boss or relevant executive depending on the story.  This picture can carry a lot of meaning as it may be the first and possibly only visual representation of your company and values a new client or the public may have.  As they say “there’s never a second chance to make a first impression;”  approach the creation of this image with some care.

First of all, a definition: we are talking “chest up” shots here, not wider environmental or group images.  Generally your photographer will supply a background of a drape or seamless paper.

Gov. Jerry Brown

I never thought I’d be writing a column like Emily Post, but here are a few suggestions to help the executive prepare for a photo shoot:

1. What to wear:  Simple and classic are best for professional portraits.  Unless you are the late Steve Jobs, a suit and tie are your executive uniform.  Keep colors and patterns muted but some color in a tie adds flair.  Your clothes are the frame for your face but they also reflect taste and professionalism.

Female executives enjoy a bit more freedom but I recommend avoiding distracting jewelry and decolletage.  As an executive the goal is to transmit an image of competency, intelligence and authority.

It helps to bring an alternative jacket, tie or scarf to see how they work on camera.

2. Colors to avoid: pastels, greens if your complexion has yellow undertones as green can make skin tones appear sickly; avoid multi-colored and busy patterns and bright red as the principle color.  No white, beige or yellow shirts without a darker jacket.

If you have a very dark complexion the best way to drive your photographer into another profession is to wear all white as lighting then becomes very challenging.  In general unless you’re a bride or a doctor, don’t wear all white!

Susan Tellem, RN, APR

3. Grooming:  gentlemen, this is a close-up so have a fresh shave and check out those pesky nose hairs if you trend toward “shrubbery.”  Likewise, if you are prone to a 5 o’clock shadow at noon, schedule your session as early in the day as possible.  Just before your session assess your reflection in the executive washroom.

  4. Make up and retouching: if your skin is very oily or shiny both women and men can benefit from some subtle pressed powder.  Thinning or absent hair can be supported by a little powder of the appropriate  shade to harness shine.

Gov. Brown’s portrait has almost no back lighting.  This avoided a “hotspot” on the top of his head from the usual back light. His photographer positioned the Governor in front of a light background which supplied the needed separation.

Near-miracles of retouching can take place in PhotoShop or other software.  But If you have an unfortunate cold sore, razor burn or other prominent skin eruption, allow the photographer to carefully apply a dab of cover-up with a new sterile applicator or fresh cotton ball.  This can really help the final result.

If you have a “trademark” mole or other feature that might typically get the Photoshop axe, let your photographer know in advance of any editing how far you will go in image “improvement.”

Meg Whitman

4.  Scheduling your session:  Time is money and many executives are scheduled to the extreme.  Yet this photograph will be your “public face” for years on news releases, websites, social media and company brochures, right?  So, if possible, try to budget a good fifteen minutes to work with your professional photographer once the shooting technology and environment are ready to go.

5.  Posing and expression:  What is less natural or spontaneous than a frozen grin in front of a camera?  If possible, relax a bit and be open to a few variations in posing and expression.  Use the spirit of collaboration, that way you will have a good number of images to choose from after the session.

If you are working with a photographer for the first time, let him/her know what you like and don’t like about your image.  A little friendly banter can help lower the stress of a photo session and result in a representation of you that reflects both your professional status AND your humanity.

All of these suggestions work equally well for a video interview.   For fun and more great tips on executive portraits, check out Five Easy Steps to bad Headshots    Happy shooting!

Case study: Using video to educate patients about advances in healthcare and beauty.

April 14, 2012

Video as a marketing and patient education tool has remarkable flexibility and power.  Done right, it can boil down complex technologies to clearly answer the question:  “What can this medication, device or treatment do for ME, the patient?”

I like to base this type of video around a specific case because it personalizes the “problem/solution” basis of the technology, medication or treatment and has the duo of physician and patient tell their story as it advances over time.

This video runs 2 1/2 minutes which I think is just about right for a complex video, but shorter is almost always better!  Get to the point, tell a relevant story for your audience, include some contact info and GET OUT!

Marina Plastic surgery, 4644 Lincoln Blvd. Suite 552, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 877.298.9915

Video by Marshall Thompson,, 310-403-2507


June 21, 2011

I’m fascinated by the promise and accomplishments of  biotechnology.  It has been one of my proudest accomplishment that  has become such a conduit for telling the stories of the Biotech world to the greater public.  This is often in concert with Ahmed Enany, CEO of Southern California Biotechnology Council (  I love biotechnology because it shows that profit can go hand in hand with innovation and doing good for the world.

Last week I recorded the SoCalBio networking forum at UCI focused on “Digital Marketing by Bioscience Companies.”  It covered current trends in web, cloud, mobile and social media applications and featured speakers from Advanced Medical Optics, Edwards Lifesciences, DevicePharm and Simple Steps IT.  The video will be available on YouTube this week.

The San Francisco Chronicle just published an article about how early-stage biotech companies are competing for extremely tight funding.

The article states that, “The top 20 percent of U.S. biotechnology companies raising money garnered 82.6 percent of funding in 2010, while the bottom 20 percent drew 0.4 percent, according to a report released Tuesday by consulting firm Ernst & Young.” Just 0.4 percent? Yikes!  That means for a new firm in biotech trying to secure funding, it will be harder than ever. You have to do something to get your ideas and potential products in front of investors.

Have you thought about making a video about your firm? Or present what you want to do with funding to start a firm?  A picture tells a thousand words, as the saying goes and a video tells a million words. Have you seen the “Story Of Stuff”? A viral video that millions of views later made kids and adults actually enjoy hearing about environmental issues?  (

Instead of immediately approaching investors with an idea, gain viral and grassroots support first! This will give you way more credibility. An on-line video is the way to do this especially if linked to a social media effort. Check out my website to see more about my work in Biotech and please contact me if I can help you tell your story.

To read the full San Francisco Chronicle article check out –


May 24, 2011

This has been an exciting few months for video. Last month we talked about the power of video to bring about revolution and change in the Middle East. Today I want to focus on the power of video when it comes to Public Service Announcements. Public Service Announcements don’t have to be the boring clips that keep you from whatever TV show you wanted to watch. They can actually be, you know, engaging and informative!

To illustrate these points I want to direct you to seven 30-second PSAs I did for CERT. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. The basic idea of CERT is that when a major
disaster strikes, professional emergency workers will not be able to handle the demand or make it to your emergency in a timely manner. With CERT, if the community volunteers are trained, then they can help save lives, especially in disasters with no warnings like an Earthquake. A major component of the training is to raise “situational awareness” and work in teams of two in order to avoid becoming another victim while trying to help others. In other words, don’t touch that wire lying on the ground as it may be “hot” and could kill you; don’t immediately run into a partially-collapsed building to search for victims since it could further collapse and, again, kill the CERT volunteer.

I am such a fan of CERT and have seen how the program worked first-hand during the annual Malibu fire season that I wanted to do these PSAs for free and make them sort of “home-spun”. Since we only had 30 seconds running time, we wanted to focus on just one

idea per PSA and really get that across to the viewer. We covered topics such as packing your emergency kit, how to safely turn of your home’s gas supply, and proper way to use a fire extinguisher. At the end of each spot, we gave contact info for how citizens can get involved. We found that by putting the viewer into that “emergency situation” through the power of video, we had great results with people wanting to be prepared.

With the reach of digital video distribution, I feel that the PSA is more important than ever. That’s why I have transferred all my old ones and put them up on YouTube so we are not just limited to whoever happens to be watching TV that day, but to anybody in the whole world! Instead of interrupting your favorite program, the future of PSAs will be informing your favorite website or on-line video programming or search results. The key is to make them quick, to the point, and interesting, just like video has always been. Same as it ever was!


April 26, 2011

Have you heard the old mountain climbing adage that if you are going to climb Everest you are better off with your 30-year-old hiking boots than buying a new pair that haven’t been properly broken in? This can sometimes be applied to filmmaking as well, but instead of hiking boots I am talking about the recent surge of interesting new cameras on the market. In this blog I want to focus on some tips you can use if you are working on a shoot with a camera you have not quite broken-in yet.

Recently PRVideo.TV was hired to travel across the country to Detroit to work on a video project. I had not been to Detroit in many years, but was aware that things were not going well for them economically. I was surprised at how beautiful Detroit was and also how empty it was. Entire neighborhoods, with gorgeous but decrepit homes, had been abandoned. The client had recently sold their Sony EX-1 and had purchased a Panasonic AG-AF100. The client’s decision to make the switch was a creative one; they felt the AF100 could better facilitate their brand and direction plus they loved the cinematic shallow depth of field facilitated by the Panasonic’s large micro 4/3rds imager.

I had not had any hands-on experience with the AF100 but I did my due diligence knowing the hazards that can come up when working with a new camera.   I spent a few days before the shoot learning many of the features that I wasn’t familiar with. The good news is that if you have been handling cameras for close to 30 years, there isn’t a whole lot you haven’t seen. Most of it involved gong through the rather complex setup menu.  As with most things, the best way to learn was just getting “hands-on” experience and recording a handy pet (here, kitty, kitty!) or a plant, reviewing the playback and making adjustments.

Since a large part of video production in the field is trouble shooting I was careful to read the “fix-it” section in the manual several times.  Another huge difference between this camera and any full-sized or shoulder-mount news camera with which I was familiar was the lack of a motorized zoom lens.  In fact, the Panasonic AG-AF100 mounts a series of still camera lenses, and if you want a zoom, you must manually twist the lens just like back in 1975.  I admit this lack of a universally standard feature in both consumer and professional cameras made me take a closer look at the operational style the rig demanded.  At first I would set a focal length and move in closer rather than zoom if I wanted a bigger image.  Later, when shooting an athletic event, I did manage to manually zoom the lens fairly smoothly to follow some action on the sports field, but it was a challenge.

Another important lesson of this experience revolves around how you  communicate with your client.  Don’t say you have used an unfamiliar camera before when you haven’t!  It is a recipe for disaster especially if you cannot get to spend a significant time familiarizing yourself with it before the shoot day.   My client appreciated my honesty and when I came across something in the field that was not familiar I asked for a few minutes to sort it out.  I can’t emphasize enough how critical  honest, open communication is when dealing with clients.

As I mentioned earlier, the client had switched cameras to go in a different creative direction. This made me realize something: creative decisions are now technology decisions!  It is an incredible merging of style and technology that has only come about because of the thousands of new choices for how to film and edit your video piece. It also showcases how important continuing your technical and creative video education is!  I’ve been learning for 30 years, no need to stop now.

The good news is at the end of the shoot, the client was happy and I was happy. It makes your job a little bit harder to be working with a new camera, but unlike hiking boots, with the right approach and preparation you can make working with a new camera nice and comfortable.

It’s a Mino HD World

February 9, 2010

I just made my first Flip Camera video with a little second-generation Mino HD.

It’s about the size of an iphone and is completely idiot-friendly:  no zoom, no controls, fixed wide angle lens.  Push the big red button to record;  push it again to stop.  It works great in low-light situations and if you park it close to anyone speaking, the audio is not that bad.  Pretty good, in fact.  You pull off the exposed 16 x 9 relatively high-def footage – a total of 2 hours’ worth of 1280 x 720 pixel goodness – through a clever attached USB arm that swings out from the top of the thing. Ergonomically, as you charge or extract video it works best lying prone next to your laptop so I used a USB extension cable to feed it into a port on my HP desktop.  Charges the internal battery the same way.

The FlipShare video management/editing software is built-in and is really easy to use.  You pull the video clips into a folder on your computer and there are simple tools for cutting it up, adding supplied music tracks and titles.  List price, $230.00  Yes, two hundred thirty dollars for a functional HD camcorder with basic editing software.

Contrast that with my first video camera purchase:  Sony Betacam BVU 400a, body only, $47,000 plus tax.  The zoom lens was an extra $8,500.00.  Each battery was $500.00, needed three, plus the similarly-priced charger.  Then the editing software:   Media 100 with capture board, no computer $17,000.00.  Mac G-4 at the time was about $2,800.00.  The expense just went on and on.  Plus the little bugger offers about twice the picture resolution as that current landfill resident.

Now this thing is not going to replace “real” shoulder-mounted HD cameras like you see at White House press conferences – yet.  But, working within the obvious limitations of the little camera one can achieve video results that are better than just “OK.”  The overall idea, I believe, is to chose and use the right tool for the job.  The little Mino HD is ideal for a cheap HD backup camera, it can grab a second angle while using the main camera and when shooting a shy or fearful subject  it’s less intimidating.

My, my, how things have changed in the old video biz.  Fortunately for me, you still need to know how to tell a story and that’s where I come in.

See you next time!

Marshall Thompson

Writer.producer.director and now, MinoHD slinger.

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