Throughout this report I will look at promotional and viral videos. It shall be both market and product research and an analysis, providing what should be a detailed overview. To achieve this I will examine the production process and its constraints, the need and use of promotional videos, and examples of existing promotional videos, on both a professional and amateur level. Both the clients needs and the restraints of the creators must always be considered and addressed. Promotional videos are made and watched by a huge variety of people, corporations and institutions. They come in many different forms, are created for different purposes and are made and distributed in a wide variety of ways. They have proven hugely successful in many different industries. Thier success has expanded and surged tremendously since the internet was introduced.
As I have said, there are different forms of promotional and corporate video. One form is what’s called a ‘promo’. This involves promoting an institution or corporation, often as a whole (as opposed to say one particular product or service). I will soon be making a promo for Bridgwater college. I will have to pitch my idea to the marketing department and stay in close contact with them throughout the filmmaking process. Colleges and Universities are prime examples of institutions that make use of promos. When looking at colleges and universities you will no longer often find one that doesn’t have at least one promo either on their site or on the institutions YouTube channel. There are clear trends and conventions for these videos. They always have professional look and feel to them (high production value). This will be because the college or uni wants to show itself to be of a high standard, professional, and even dynamic, all of which can be represented in a video. The videos always seem to have shots of the buildings themselves; shots of students at work; and students talking to the camera about how much they are enjoying their course(s). However, as every educational institution (after school level) seems to have a video like this, they may become unnoticed, as the vast majority don’t stand out from the rest. Because of this their value and even necessity could be debatable. Some people may feel the videos should be more creative. Student-made videos seem often to have less production value and a less professional feel, but have more creative ambition and scope.
Another type of promotional video, are music videos. Music videos use the song for audio, and usually contain no or very little of their own. They are usually just visual. They are used to get more attention for the song and the artist. They also mean songs can be played on TV on music channels. Without them people would just be watching a blank screen, so they enable people to watch as well as listen to the artists work (people can enjoy music on a new medium). Music videos have less straightforward conventions than say a promo, as music itself is more free, creative and expressive, so the videos reflect this. What is featured in music video could be absolutely anything. Having said that, there are some shots and forms that often recur. (E.g. shots of the main singer lip-syncing, shots of the band performing either on stage or in a recording studio, shots of the crowd dancing and so on.)
As I have said there are many other types of promotional videos, these include adverts, training videos and tutorials, information, expositories, public statements amongst others. All of them have some of their own traits and common practices. In a general sense however they mostly all follow a similar production process.
First off, the client will get in touch with the video production agency (or possibly vice versa). They will tell the agency/ agent exactly what it is they want made. They will explain to them things they should and shouldn’t include. (In my case, the Bridgwater college marketing team explained how they want their video to be ‘quirky’ and even ‘edgy’, but not to show the college in a bad light in any way.) They will also give them any other info such as how long they have to create the video and preferred locations, props amongst others. The next stage is for the agency is then to go away and come up with at least one idea they think will fit the criteria and please the client. They must formulate this idea into a proposal. The proposal should sum up the idea be concise. They then have to prepare and give their pitch. After being pitched to the client will decide whether they like the idea(s) or not. They may like some parts of the idea but want to make some alterations.
When they have agreed on a final idea, it is time to sort out all the pre-production. They need to script and storyboard the idea (they may have already done this to use in their pitch). They need to gather actors and any actors or additional specialists they need (camera operators, runners, editors etc.). They need a production schedule that fits in the time they have been given by the client. Throughout this and all processes they must liaise with the client, to make sure they are happy and content with the progress made. Eventually the schedule will start, and the production stage can begin. The footage is recorded. Finally it is time for post-production. This involves a number of things, predominantly editing. The footage must be compiled and cut down for maximum impact. Any sound, special effects, credits etc must be added. The client may want to see it then ask for it to be edited slightly differently, or some footage be cut. Finally when the video is finished completely, it just needs promoting. It will be uploaded to one or more websites, and promotional ads will often be sent out to social media or other popular websites.
When making corporate videos, there are many legal and ethical issues that the creators must be aware of. Rules and laws can change and become updated quite continuously, so anyone wishing to make a corporate video must make sure they are up to date with current legislature.
One example of a legal issue is the issue of copyright. This involves not using any copyrighted material without explicit permission from the owner and/ or creator. This could be any kind of media, music, sounds, slogans, names, (even fonts) etc. Not following conventions on copyright can issue in you having to ‘take down’ your video, fines and even a prison sentence! The creators of corporate video must be extra careful as even things in the background (or things included in shots unintentionally) can be liable to a copyright persecution. If there is media that creators wish to include they must get in contact with the person or company that own the rights to it. In some cases the people will simply allow their material to be used, in others however, the owners will want money or a stake in the profit for the use of their content. If this is the case, the people creating the corporate video must decide whether the media is worth paying for. If not they will have to remove it from their video or find a suitable replacement.
Privacy can be both a legal and ethical issue. Most people would think that filming someone unaware or without their permission is wrong. If a corporation were to release a video that included people been filmed without permission, it would reflect badly on the company. Most companies these days take ethics seriously and want to be seen as ‘moral’. That being said, it is not illegal to film someone in public, even without permission. (Filming someone repeatedly after they have asked you not to could be classed as harassment, but just filming people publicly is legal in the UK). Also there is the Right of publicity – also called “personality rights”, this is the right to control how your image is used for any purpose. (I.e., to keep one’s image and likeness from being commercially exploited without permission or contractual compensation.) Filming someone in a private place on the other hand is always strictly illegal, and anyone that does so may get into trouble with the law. This would also been seen as an even more unethical thing for a corporation to endorse. This is certainly an critical issue to bear in mind.
Another legal issue is libel. Libel means to publish or broadcast an untruth about someone which could be damaging to him or her (or his or her reputation). This is a serious issue, and something that must be considered if any particular individuals (often and especially high-profile individuals) are to be mentioned or portrayed in a corporate video. Even if what is said is ‘clearly’ meant to be humorous, or the makers of the video though their content was in ‘good taste’, they may well still be liable to libel claims and prosecution.
Another issue that needs to be considered, for both legal and ethical reasons, is representation. This means how you represent any ‘group’ of people. People can be ‘grouped’ in terms of ethnicity, religion, physical and mental ability, age, gender, sexuality and many others. It is important not to portray any of these groups in a distasteful way or in a bad light. This is called being ‘politically correct’. The general Great British public (on the whole) are very scornful and usually rather shocked when any corporation (even if by accident) releases content which is seen as discriminatory or stereotypical. With stereotyping, people should tread even more carefully, as stereotypes are often subjective, opinion driven, and not always known to everyone. Getting into disputes over discrimination and stereotyping can be heated, and sometimes ambiguous. If the negative representation was particularly severe, you could face legal action and be taken to court. You may simply be asked to remove your video from the site you uploaded it to, but this means all the money and time spent on making the video was a complete waste. The aim should be to portray everyone equally, and avoid stereotypes as best as one can.
(Task 3 and 4)
Here is a link to a video college students made last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUjOXAztxUY
It is called ‘something different’, they made it to try and go viral. It is designed to be funny, and to parody the traditional college promotional video. The first few shots are ones of the college, or students walking along, gently panning to the side. Slow music is playing to ‘set the scene’. There is then a shot of a student with a mic being pushed into his face. From this moment on the audience now know for certain that this is a parody. These sort of things happen throughout the video, turning the idea of corporate professionalism on its head. A harsh, condescending voice asks, ‘what’s different about Bridgwater College?’ The student pulls a moronic face and simply goes ‘ummmmm’. Someone then shout’s ‘SCIENCE!’ as the word flashes up on-screen. There is a shot of two students in lab coats standing by a model skeleton. They raise their hands in the air and shout ‘science’ themselves. Then the camera falls to one side as two fireballs explode onto the screen. This is ‘random’, silly and funny. It is also exciting. It genuinely engages the audience. Next someone says ‘maths’ in an odd accent and again the word flashes up. A student stands by a whiteboard and points as he says, ‘this and this equals this!’. On the last ‘this’ the shot changes to a zooming close-up of a cat, and a meow sound is heard. Each of these subjects are only taking about 3 or 4 seconds of video to ‘show’, meaning the video is cut quickly. This gives it a lot of energy to it, and it can keep the audience engaged all the way through. Next is English, it shows a student reading a book, suddenly a foot comes out of the book and kicks him right in the face. Anyone ff a school-leavers age will find this hilarious. The following subject is IT (for each section the word still flashes up as someone says it in the weird, comical voice). We see a student sat in a darkened room, doing what appears to be computer programming. The text is green on a black screen, this could be some kind of reference to the matrix? Pop-culture references always please an audience. The student exclaims ‘Hah finally!’, we then get a clip on the screen of My Little Pony. The seeming initial seriousness of the scene sets up the comical realisation, that what he’s actually doing is simply accessing a kids TV show, this again works well and will be funny to the target audience. Next is mechanics, a student by a car waves his arms and the car turns to a skeleton (as in no body kit, or wheels etc, just a chassis and frame). This one is only two or three seconds, demonstrating scenes in these sorts of videos can be effective when they’re short and punchy. Next is beauty, a female student says ‘make me look beautiful!’. Text then pops up that reads ‘one beautiful later’, then it cuts to her covered in green and boils, she merrily concludes ‘I’m an abomination’. Music shows a college band playing on a stage, it then zooms over to the right (pans), where we see just one or two students, one of which is slowly clapping. This 180 degree pan is accompanied by a ‘whoosh’ sound effect. This furthers the impression that this is actually an ‘anti-video’. The video, which surely is trying to promote the college, is showing things as not going well, or even as disasters. However it may make it stand out more for this very reason. In ‘drama’, we see a student, a hand comes out (from about where the camera would be), and slaps him across the face. He ie then has blood from his nose down his face, and mundanely says to the camera ‘I’m sad now’. This comedic violence (the blood especially) is pretty surprising for a video that the college itself has uploaded to its own YouTube channel. Maybe this generates more interest and appeal, or maybe this reflects badly? It is for the individual to decide. Media came next, and the shots shows us some zombies walking towards the camera. The film has an old grainy filter on it and there is a black border at the top and bottom of the screen, gentle eerie music plays. A student walks into the foreground of the shot from the left, looks at the zombies, then turns to the camera and says ‘really?’ in an unimpressed manor. Immediately after he says that, an electronic woosh is heard (as if something had been turned off), the borders disappear, the music stops, and the filter turns itself off! What’s left is just some people that look like zombies stumbling around, which seems a lot less impressive now. This is a very clever idea, it reveals the seams of the way video can be edited and manipulated for effect, again turning something on its head, and again not portraying the college as impressive of accomplished. The final subject is art, it shows a college girl doing a painting. It then cuts to a shot from behind her, so we can see the only thing on her paper is a stickman, This is meant to be funny to the audience. It now returns to the boy from the start, shouting continuously, I think it is meant to be because he realizes there’s nothing good or conventionally good to say about the college, however it isn’t actually that clear.
This video, of course, is meant to be funny. It isn’t particularly straightforward to analyse comedy videos, as different things are funny to different people. My personal opinion on the video was that it was funny in parts, and had a good energy to it. The video currently has just over 2000 views. It is the fifth most popular video ever uploaded by Bridgwater College. 2000 is a respectable boundary to cross, but all in all, it cannot be said that it went viral. Of course ‘viral’ does not just refer to a videos view count. It is more than that, it is the frantic sharing of (and communication about) a video over social media sites, other websites and possibly email, direct messages and text. But if a video does go viral in this way then a resulting factor will be that it has a high view count.
According to an essay on Viral Videos at Elon University (in which they took the top 20 most popular YouTube videos of all time, and analysed them for patterns) they found the majority of the most popular videos had titles that were three words or less, and had run times of less than three minutes. ‘Something Different’ complies with both of these trends. The essay concluded that people are drawn to media online that can be quickly and easily digested. I thought the fast pace editing of Something Different would make the consumption of it easy and passive for the audience, all the while being enjoyable.
So maybe even though this video did things right, it just didn’t do them well enough. In the comments you can see some people criticise it for being too alike to the content of successful viral YouTube vid maker ‘Tomska’. SO perhaps originality (or a lack of it) was the issue.