Unless you have a clearly planned vision for your video project, you are most likely wasting your time on what you believe to be a great idea in the moment.
It is important to run free with the imagination, to get excited and to set off fireworks as you go along the process, however if you are serious about the purpose of the investment you are about to make, you will need to get serious with knowing and understanding your idea, its purpose and its intended outcomes.
In this blog we will suggest the best methods for clarify your vision before you begin moulding and polishing it through the various stages of the video production journey. These methods are nothing new, they’re actually all common sense, yet knowing what to do, in what order and acting upon them are often ignored to reach the goal quicker.
So if you’re going to read on, whether you follow this word for word or you choose your own path, just ensure you act upon your highest and clearest thoughts for the end result of the video project.
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”
For vision is the art of seeing potential fully realised, and this may only be achieved when you have taken into consideration more than just a glorious idea.
All projects begin in the stage of what we like to call development. This comes before preproduction for it is the stage where ideas become feasible in relation to budget and schedule. Yet before this more advanced stage of Development is even approached (matching your ideas to your resources) the initial brainstorming begins.
For most, this simply means throwing out as many ideas as possible, for us at Methodworks Production, we suggest a defined method for reaching your successful outcome and it begins with your first ideas. We suggest you begin by answering the following questions;
(i) What is it you have?
The most pertinent question of all is what is it you are sharing, showing, communicating by the means of your video project? Do you know your product, your service, your cause inside out? Could you answer the most common questions by your target audience about it? Have you really considered your brand? Basically, as Socrates was once quoted “know thyself” know who you are and what it is you do. Write down your answer to this question with all the relevant details that would excite, inform and entertain your audience.
(ii) what does it solve or what is it producing?
The next question segues from the first. The only way to advertise or communicate is through understanding that to attract attention you must be satisfying a need, a requirement, solve a problem or cause positive change in your audience. What do you do? What are you offering and how does it affect your audience? What is in it for them? Write down your answer to this question with all the relevant details that would excite, inform and entertain your audience.
First Choice TV Advert 
First Choice went straight in by provoking an emotion in the stereotyped purse string holder of the family, the father. Having worked hard all year, it is now time for his summer reward. The song chosen “I got a feeling” immediately relates to the time of year and to the visuals on screen. Everyone in the neighbourhood is present to congratulate him as he departs for his summer vacation, he is elated, excited and celebrating from the minute he leaves his home. In a dreamlike manner he leads his family into a chauffer driven 60’s sports car, at the airport he is still being greeted by everyone as a winner with smiles appearing to be the only person getting on and off the plane. At his destination he is greeted with signs of good weather, even his driver tips him by placing money into his shirt pocket. At the resort, all the other holidaymakers, families and even the staff are there. He is confident, relaxed and happy. Then nearing the end of the commercial he see’s an host of empty sun loungers as the sun is setting in front of an empty pool. He has finally escaped. What are First Choice focused on? Being all inclusive, taking care of everything and ensuring your holiday is just what you needed.
We finally see the whole family in front of the empty pool as dad celebrates one final time with a fist in the air. He knows that from the moment he booked he wouldn’t have to think about money, extra costs, surprises or holiday nightmares, he would be able to chill out. First Choice pretty much nailed it with understanding the needs of the working class family man and hit the mark by instilling the grandest feeling of happiness within the audience as they are taken to the beginning of the holiday but teased as the commercial ends. What to do now? See question five.
(iii) So who is your audience/target/market?
So you understand your product/service/cause and you know what it does and how it can affect your target audience so now you have to determine who the demographic of your audience are. The reason for this is, the way you communicate and relate to your markets needs to be tailored as specifically as possible so that you can reach your desired result. In the First Choice advert mentioned above it was clear it was targeted at the family man probably from a working class background, probably around the age of 35-45. We know this by the choice of character who is the protagonist through the advert and dads will relate to this.
So do you know who you are aiming at? If you have a more general product/service/cause maybe it would be wise to focus your video for a campaign on a smaller section of your target audience. Map out who – what you offer – relates to, produce profiles, include all the relevant qualities, characteristics, age groups, cultural backgrounds, income brackets, status, anything which would affect how you communicate to your audience as you will see in question 3.
Have a look at the advert above and see if you can summise the demographic the advert was aimed towards. Do this for several adverts and promo videos (you could even do it for TV shows and anything visually produced, we suggest adverts as they are short and sweet and you are most likely looking at creating some form of advert yourself so this will be good practice for you) until you feel confident in doing it for your own.
(iv) What are you communicating and how are you communicating it?
Now we begin getting into the ideas section, yet we are not quite there yet. You might be thinking – Wow, this is a bit complex, you’re a bit anal doing all of these things – okay, if you want to speed ahead and take a shot (unless you are a confident seasoned producer) it’s one sure fire way of learning what works for you and we highly endorse you finding your own methods. All we’re saying is, time and time again this is what has worked for us so we continue using this strategy.
By answering the first three questions you have surmised what you do or are offering, what that does for your audience and who your audience are. Now we begin to get to the more exciting stage of forming ideas for that. However before we begin this even, we have one last little task which we’ve touched on in previous sections but will focus on now. Visual communications are by themselves, yet there is something you must understand before going any further. Any film or tv show, advert or video you’ve ever watched that you enjoyed or appreciated, which caused you to tell all your friends and family about it or caused you to react in a certain way (maybe to seek further information, to buy something, to get onto your social media to tell the world about it) it’s all down to one simple factor. You were emotionally stirred. So here the question really is, what emotion are you hoping to pluck at? What feeling do you need to leave the audience with?
If you can come up with this you are now well on your way to understanding the psychology of video marketing.
Coca Cola – I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing
If you don’t remember this advert it may simply be because you are too young to have seen it yet even though it occasionally reappears on our television screens (the ad was originally released in 1971). What does singing a song on hills have to do with me drinking or purchasing a bottle of Coca Cola? It’s all subliminal right, you probably already know where we are heading with this. The key line in the song is “in perfect harmony” relating to singing which is actually being used as a metaphor for the world being in harmony as we see races and cultures of all kinds in their traditional clothes singing the same sing with smiles on their faces, in perfect harmony.
Slyly of course, every individual is holding a bottle of coke and the songs lyrics have been subtly laced to include the line “I’d like to buy the world a coke” with the harmonies being one of their slogans of the time “the real thing” like it’s the real deal rather than the other imitations that are available. It is worth noting that some of you may remember the actual song which came after the commercial which dropped all references to Coca Cola yet still promoted the idea of love, peace and hope. This was the notion of the time period, the zeitgeist and the idea was the association of the feeling you got when watching the uplifting commercial when holding and drinking a bottle of coke yourself (no one in the advert is actually seen drinking a bottle of coke interestingly).
Today Coca Cola is very much focused on the emotion of happiness associated to their brand and product even taking advantage of the new revolution of communication tools by including the hashtag #MakeItHappy which no doubt spread throughout social media. The ad below was released in the first quarter of 2015, see if you can list all of the attributes used to instil the emotion of happiness and the transition to the emotional state of happiness to this advert…
(v) What should your audience do next?
The final question before you begin to unleash your imagination and let it run wild is the sole prupose of the video, what result are you seeking? So this is more the structural element of the planning approach.
Whether it’s people buying a product, donating to your charity, investing in your service, whether it’s adding more likes to your Facebook page, increasing awareness and getting people talking or it’s simply to entertain leaving a lasting memory about you, you have to know the purpose at the start of your journey. What are the results you wish to achieve from the video project? Use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym ensuring your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. This is what we often call the Call To Action.
Cash Generator TV Advert
Simple but effective, we all have stuff we don’t need and often there are times when we could do with a little more cash. This whole advert is a call to action to not only sell your stuff (solving your cash flow problems) but to also browse around to buy stuff and even buy your own stuff back (using Cash Generator as a form of loan provider. Whatever you choose as the audience, Cash Generator are winning. Is your call to action clear within your video project?
If you’ve read this far you are clearly serious about making better visual communications. So go forth and brainstorm! Now of course the clarifying of your vision is an ongoing and organic process but wait… ooops, we’re not quite finished yet, but the questions are well and truly over.
We have one more small task which we suggest you entertain prior to your eruption of ideas beginning. Often called a logline, we like to call it the power line. It is a single line which of text which encapsulates the whole purpose of your video. These are also used in television shows, films and even business slogans. Without spelling it out for you, here are some examples;
– The Ultimate Driving Machine [BMW – conceived by Ammirati & Puris]
– The World’s Favourite Airline [British Airways – conceived by Saatchi and Saatchi]
– Simples [comparethemarket.com – conceived by VCCP]
The logline (or word as given by the last slogan exampled) is your guiding compass throughout your entire project, each time you are making decisions, refer to your power line to see if your decision is in complete alignment with your initial idea, your main focus. Now you have an arsenal of tools ready for your brainstorming session – lets begin!
Throughout the actual production phases of the project, the notion of clarifying your vision should continue. Having completed your sketchy brainstorming and ideas session. If you haven’t already it is now time to refine your ideas to a Proposal and start matching those ideas to your overall Budget (entire figure) and Schedule (start to end time). Then you may expand this into your Treatment and develop the Script or Interview Questions and the storyboard where appropriate. Once approved you can begin getting into the details of your PreProduction and piece everything together.
Just a mention here, your vision will continue to develop and be refined through the above mentioned stages as well as during filming and the editing phase however with all the planning and focus in the very earliest of stages you should now, through PreProduction to Distribution, be adding value to your first fantastic idea and are well on your way to executing an amazing video.
If you are seeking video production for your website or organisation, a commercial production for television or a local network channel, or you are seeking assistance, please get in touch with us at Methodworks;
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We look forward to promoting and communicating your messages and story as we have for all of our Collaborators.
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