Mariah is the founder of M3M Marketing out of Grande Prairie, Alberta. She walked us through how to get started with visual storytelling from equipment and budget to processes and tips. If you’re an Alberta business interested in dabbling in video and visual storytelling, check out the Facebook Live video here or read the recap below.
What is visual storytelling and how did you get started?
Visual Storytelling is a visual and audio experience that you provide a certain audience to help communicate more effectively. They want to tell through visuals and audio. What I also do is I’m involved in some other creative projects like I do some short documentaries. I’ve done two of them so far.
What kind of equipment do you need to get started in visual storytelling?
It can be really intimidating to get started in video. There are all kinds of experts recommending specific (expensive) equipment to get going and it’s intimidating because it’s a new medium for most people to communicate, so the idea of video alone can be overwhelming let alone all of the technical pieces that have to fit together.
Mariah recommends that people forget about a DSLR camera right off the bat and get going with their mobile phone. Start there and invest in more equipment once you really get going in the video. However, one piece of equipment you should invest in right away is a tripod. Because a shaky video is hard on the viewer and instead of hearing the message of the video they’re focusing on not getting motion sickness.
Secondly, she recommends not overlooking audio. “Audio is so important…if people can’t hear you, it’s a bad experience.” Consider investing in a Rode Mic or a Lav mic. If purchasing one right away isn’t in the budget, there are places in most cities where you can rent one to use and test.
Additionally, she recommended checking out film associations as well.
What kind of software do you need to edit video?
With any rich media, whether it’s photos or video, we need to edit it most times. Most computers will come with a basic video editor like Mac computers come with Movie. There are tools such as Microsoft video maker. have a lot of different controls available to you that you can you know, boost the volume or change the color a little bit or it just enhances your video overall just with basic software’s that come with your computer already. For others who may be more advanced, you can check out Adobe software like Creative Cloud.
What kind of budget should someone expect in order to get going in video and visual storytelling?
Mariah estimated a budget of around $300 to get started with video and recommends using whatever you have available to you right now. What kind of process should you follow for visual storytelling? Success with a video or any type of communication without proper planning and having a consistent process in place. When allocating resources to video, you don’t want to just shoot without a reason.
The first step is to identify the purpose of the video – what are you trying to do? Who is your audience? What is the optimal outcome?
Visual storytelling is so effective because we can take key messages, and convey emotion simply. Take the time to think of think about the message you want to share, how you want to share it and the style.
If I want to pay someone else to create a video for me, how much does it cost?
A one-minute-long edited video can start from $300 to several thousand dollars. Things you must consider is what’s involved. Is it a full day shoot? How many people are involved? Is there any travel? What kind of editing? What does the timeline look like? Do you need stock video? Stock music? Script? Actors? What kind of equipment? Whether you plan, shoot and edit a video on your own or hire someone to do it, it’s important to remember that it is an investment. And if it’s done with outcomes in mind, it should be worth the investment whether it’s time, money or both.
How long from start to finish does it take to create and produce a video?
The first step is pre-production (this is the planning stage.)This is when you come up with your shell. You determine the purpose of the video, who needs to be involved, where the shoot(s) will happen, what the timeline looks like, the equipment they need. When you’re planning out shoots you need to think about all the visuals you will need, so if it’s a special event everything happens over a finite period vs. other types of video ha require multiple-day shoots and people. than that.
The second step is production (shooting.) The final step is post-production or editing. Typically, Mariah will edit a two-minute video over a couple of weeks with lots of breaks. Editing can be a frustrating process sometimes. If it’s just not connecting the way you want it to. It can be frustrating. You may realize in the editing process that the message you were trying to communicate just isn’t coming through, so now you’ve got to play with the material and potentially pivot. And decide how to convey the message differently. How do you weave the right messaging in while telling a good story? It is important to map out the top three things you want the video to convey and think about how to get that message across with visuals and audio. If you’re interviewing somebody like a salesperson, in like a retail shop, you need to craft the questions to try and get those right responses out of them. Scripting is great too, script certain aspects of your video, short statements would be best. But I think you get a more realistic approach to a video if you were to just ask questions versus allowing someone to like try and like remember the script and they get really hung up on on the script kind of thing. It’s important to map it out in the sense of what are those core things that you want to communicate?
Where can you find additional assets like stock video and stock audio to integrate with your video?
Mariah uses Envato Elements the most. Recently they’ve added stock video and stock audio (music and sound effects) when before they were just like images, graphics. Adding music and sound effects to the video can help you tell the story better. There are some free resources, however, you must make sure that you understand rights and limits when you use those files.
What are some resources for people just getting started in visual storytelling?
Peter McKinnon. He’s a Canadian. He lives in Toronto. He shares a lot of tips, gear, reviews, and just some actionable ideas. The nice part about YouTube is that they can show you the techniques of how to do it and then they show it like actually happening in a video.
Caleb Pike. He has a channel called DSLR Video Shooter. He’ll actually buy stuff off of Amazon and review it to show you what it looks like. He sets everything up to go over the pieces of equipment. This channel is specifically helpful for people who are just getting started as some of the gear he uses talks about is fairly affordable.
Where is visual storytelling heading?
Well, I definitely think more and more people are going to use it…places like Facebook are favoring video content. So it’s only going to grow because people are constantly struggling to get their messages in front of people… And I think it’s going to become more competitive…And the technology is going to advance, which means things are going to become a little bit cheaper in terms of gear and it’s going to become more accessible to people…the way people tell stories I think is going to change. There’s even a camera out there that has like a 360 view. So you just literally stick your hand out, just like a selfie stick and it captures everything. Technology is going to advance and it’s just going to create more and more options for people to tell stories in different ways.
Tips for people just starting out in visual storytelling?
Get good at telling a story with the gear that you have. Pick up your phone or your camera and just start shooting video. Just play around with it. Have no fears and kind of learn from it.
Create a video, then criticize it. Think about what you could do differently the next time to make the video better.
Learn the features of your camera. Play with the settings to get an idea of the capabilities. There are many videos on YouTube on most cameras.
Shoot multiple angles if you can and capture audio from two different sources. Technical difficulties happen, so to cover yourself in a couple of ways so you never miss a moment.
Attend local workshops. YouTube is amazing, but getting hands-on experience and attention can help speed up the learning process (fail fast!)
Remember that all projects aren’t created equally. Always budget more time than you need to complete it and don’t rush yourself because you won’t get the results you planned for.
Use natural sources of light wherever you can especially if you don’t have a light at your disposal, or you’re working with fluorescent lights, which don’t usually create a great image. Look for a window where maybe the person can stand by and really check out different angles. Because light is your friend. As long as you use it, use it right. Stop standing in front of a wall for interviews. Most interview-style videos have people lined up against a wall but there’s no depth to your image (you want depth!) Move away from the wall and play with angles. Use a script to stay on track but don’t give out your list of specific questions to the subject or interviewee.
Talk with your subject or interviewee ahead of time and ask them to repeat the question in their answer, it will reinforce the message of the video.
Audio should be top-of-mind. Consider the space you will need to capture audio in. Is there air conditioning or refrigerator hum, or an echo in the room, or a really noisy background of some sort? Find a space that is quiet and an area without disruption. Depending on the video, this might not always be possible but work with what you can.
Thanks to Mariah for taking time to discuss visual storytelling via video with us over on #SMQ- Social Media Questions (with Kat)