A UX designer named Alex Chen recently published an article which lists some (but not all) the online marketing and advertising gimmicks that make the Internet less accessible to users with difficulties than it should be. Here it is:

  • Moving content
  • Pop-ups
  • Up-next auto-play videos
  • Manipulative visuals

Since Videocide is all about video, let's talk about the third item on the list: the up-next feature that can be found on sharing networks such as YouTube. What the author is referring to under that name is the automatic queuing of videos. On YouTube and similar networks, the player will wait for five seconds before firing a new video in auto-play mode at the end current clip. Unless the user is already inside a playlist, the chained clip gets selected by the system, as the algorithm deems it semantically related. As the author of the article puts it:

This [5  seconds] time limit is inaccessible to pretty much everyone — it might be difficult for a visually impaired or intellectually disabled person to find the pause button, or for a physically disabled person to actually hit the pause button, especially if it’s not keyboard accessible. (source)

The auto-queue feature is triggered by the platform and is not controlled by the publisher. It is the result of YouTube playing the addiction card. Like an infinite DJ that wants nothing but to keep you, the users, consuming more videos. It would make perfect sense for the platforms that use this gimmick to include, at the very least, an easy opt-out, a longer pause or some accessible interaction to enable users to cut the chain at any point. As with most barriers to accessibility, such mechanisms would also help with general usability, as it would make the platform less intrusive. 



Yet YouTube cares a lot more for its immediate profits than it does for its users. In the cold, calculated mechanical mind of the system: views = profit. In this day and age, that observation should come as a surprise to no one.

The author's underlying argument -- which poses that this sort of behavior on the part of the media provider is the result of its adherence to the rules of capitalism -- if not completely wrong, should be at the very least open for debate. According to the author, it is capitalism that is somehow responsible for the often profoundly stupid visuals and auditory gimmicks in our network streams. Let's discuss: 

If you start with the assumption that capitalism is responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world; and if you do so while willfully ignoring what goes, conversely, right, then you will indeed conclude that the economic system is bad, if not pure evil. But who or what you blame for the issues that you encounter in your life (on- and off-line) is a matter of point of view, namely your particular point of view. Depending on that particular angle, you could just as well conclude that the fundamental evil behind problem X (whatever X stands for)  is religion. Or education. Or human nature. Or philosophy. Or marketing. Or race divisions. Or Western democracy. Or U.S. cultural imperialism... The truth is that it's probably a bit of all that, with a dash of everything else. 

Don't get me wrong: I do not intend to defend capitalism. I personally consider the economic system to be deeply flawed and doomed to promote and provoke both irresponsible inequalities and destructive social behaviors. However, capitalism is nothing but an economic system; it is not an ideology nor a philosophy. Contrary to what the author of the article seems to assume,  capitalism is no more "a drive for maximizing profit at the detriment of people’s well-being" than socialism is. A perfectly valid argument could actually be made to the contrary: within a well-balanced capitalist system, the only real way to maximize long-term profits and real growth is through the promotion of the people's well-being. It could be argued that ultimately, businesses, social behaviors and organized activities that do not adhere to this principle are but shooting themselves in the foot. 

 

The prevalent buzz uttered by online marketers these (mid-2019) days is, for the most part, hovering over voice search. Rightly or wrongly, these marketing specialists assume that the statistical bump lighting up their analytics radar around voice will be sustained and will grow at the same rate as other historical trends. Many predict that voice search will soon take over typed search, and will have done so by the time Donald Trump is either kicked out of, or re-instated in, the Oval Office at the end of 2020.



I find this quite an unexpected statistic. I personally never used voice search seriously, and I know very few people who use it on a regular basis. However, it is possible that I am living under a rock without realizing it. Who would know, better than Google? Let's go ahead and ask the search engine: Is voice search the future? Try it: the first item on the result page predicts that by 2020 (that's 4 months from now) voice search will account for half the search volume on Google.com. In other words: marketers expect that regular folks like you and I will progressively rely on voice commands, and avoid the tedious typing of keyword combinations, to google their favorite subjects and their most pressing questions. Whether it is through Alexa or other listening devices, it appears that people are giving up on typing.

It turns out that I am far from alone in the pool of skeptics: 

For the remainder of 2019 and into 2020 [...] 67% of digital marketers and creatives anticipate video marketing as their first priority. [...] Beyond video, survey respondents indicated that experiential marketing (31%), micro-moments (28%), motion design (24%), visual search (21%) and voice search (10%) are important to their 2019-2020 marketing efforts. (source)  

More than 8 out of 10 businesses see voice search as having the lowest priority amongst all the trending web technologies. Is it possible that everyone is dead wrong and simply betting it all on the wrong horse -- with apologies to real horses, who shouldn't be racing for a living? Since that horse is video, I am probably biased. Though I don't always agree with the majority, when I do, I make sure there's a good reason for it. 

 

Here at Videocide, we're setting out to explore a variety of markets. We are currently looking at our options and screening videographers in the hopes of expanding into the national real estate market. There's nothing revolutionary or even special about the niche itself -- and I am sure that there's a lot of competition in that specific segment. However, it is worth a trial if we can add something unique to the field. 

In doing the necessary business planning for this new adventure, I stumbled upon a not-so-negligible amount of articles commenting on the steps necessary to produce a good video for real estate. The goal of the research is to establish with some degree of certainty 1) what customers want and needs, 2) what exists on the market that fulfills those needs, and 3) which such needs are not currently addressed.

Among those articles, one titled 4 Video Design Ideas For Real Estate Listing caught my attention. 

Let's be honest: despite the way it advertises itself, the article is, at best, just as vapid as 98% of the content rolling out of marketing mills daily.

  • The title grossly overstates what the article delivers
  • Almost/ all the content (a dozen paragraphs) could have -- and probably was -- written with a different subject line before being re-purposed under a new title
  • The copy brings nothing at all to the table
  • It could have been -- and probably was -- written by someone who has no experience in making videos, let alone doing so for the real estate market

Conclusion: Reading this article is an absolute waste of time. I'm willing to bet that a simple consumer-grade AI text generator would have produced a better copy. At this point, you're probably wondering why I am wasting your time and bandwidth even talking about it. The answer is: because it is yet another proof that being there matters. The article's author was never there: she likely never shot or edited a video in her life. She may know little, if anything at all, about real estate. Why even bother?

The first -- in many cases, the only -- requirement to shooting a relevant video is to be there. Ask any (real) journalist. 

The video medium is a means to recreate an experience: the first-hand, human experience of being there. "There" is, of course, wherever the subject of the video is. In most case, that is: where the camera is pointing to, or from. The extraneous material (the text and titles, the visual effects, the layer of narration, etc.) can only perform its function when it gets added to the original layer of content.

The common-sense requirement of being there, which ensures that the viewer will feel engaged in the stream of images and audio that is coming to him or her, is too often ignored. Keep this in mind: if you are to put together a video for some real estate property, the first order of business is to get there, on location. 

Viral trends, just like the biological viruses they are named after, are forgotten and vanish as quickly as they appeared.  So just in case you didn't pay attention to social media trends back in late July: an interesting visual illusion made its viral round on social media. The attraction point was a purportedly monochromatic image, yet the image clearly appeared colored in the eyes of the viewer. 

The image itself is indeed using nothing but gray tones. However, it is covered with a carefully layered grid made of thin colored lines. Like a nearly transparent spider's web, the grid merges into the black and white background and is indeed barely noticeable. However, the presence of the colors in the grid lines forces the brain the compensate for the contrast and automatically make up for the missing colors in the image's own elements. 

The "color assimilation grid illusion" is an interesting trick, though I'm not sure at this point how you can use it during a party. It may have some interesting applications in the future -- such as providing a way to digitally colorize archived visual documents, and do so without altering the original material. There are several drawbacks and limitations to this technique, the most obvious being that the resulting colors appear significantly washed up. The presence of the distorted grid can also be distracting. Finally, the displayed image is not technically devolved of colors: the grid provides  Which means that technically, the premises are misleading, as the displayed image (the combination of a black & white photo and a grid of colored lines) uses hues.



It's interesting to note that the magic even works on moving images: as the clip included in the referenced article (and embedded above) proves, monochrome videos rigged with the same grid overlay will appear in color. The author of this technique, Øyvind Kolås, a GIMP developer,  plans to integrate the technology in a future iteration of the graphic editor.

Did you read War and Peace

  1. I sure did. In Russian. 
  2. Of course. I even wrote a 20-page essay about Tolstoy's masterpiece back in College.
  3. I did back in high school. It was a required read. 
  4. I've read the Cliff Notes.
  5. I've seen the movie.
  6. I opened the book once and read 2 paragraphs.
  7. No, but I've heard it's a very thick book.

In your opinion, which of the 7 answers above qualify as a "yes" in response to the initial question? It depends, right? It depends not so much on what "reading" means but on the objectives and the follow-up to the question. Is there going to be a follow-up quiz? Are you supposed to name all three Kuragins children? Are you expected to deliver a literary opinion to back up your (positive) answer? Is it enough just to know the gist of the novel's main plots? Is the question inconsequential? If you've read the novel once but don't recall anything about it, does it matter whether or not you read it at all? 



You could easily swap the subject, simply by switching from book to video: Have you seen this video? [insert any movie or video title you like here] Then ask yourself: what does it mean to have seen a video? The range of answers you'll get from random people will likely match the ones you'd have gotten if you had asked about a book instead. Although, to be honest, the likeliness of someone having read a specific book is relatively low these days.  Still...

Frankly, viewership is the last metric brand marketers and advertisers should care about. [source]

Since it is written by a leading marketing agency, the above statement can be surprising. Then again, it is 100% correct: viewership metrics are nowhere near as important for marketing purposes as you'd expect at first sight. They're generally only good at inflating (or deflating) your business ego. As a matter of fact, there is likely no correlation whatsoever between measured viewership and the impact of the videos on your business -- or on anything and anybody else for that matter.  

Like every other social media platform, Facebook can define its metrics how it wants. [source]

The underlying argument of the article titled: WHY FACEBOOK’S VIDEO METRIC INFLATION ISSUE SHOULDN’T DETER MARKETERS is that it is up to the vendor to define the parameters of what constitute acceptable measurements points. Whether you agree or not in your context matters little. After all, it's a free market. One that's controlled overwhelmingly by Facebook.

Facebook claims almost $9 of every $10 spent in the U.S. on social video ads. [source]

 

Religious people will recognize that Satan occupies the whole of his family tree. He (or she) is truly one of a kind, in all respects. The evilest entity has no known parent or sibling, and in spite (or maybe because) of its loose morals and generally bad behavior, he/she has no descendant either. 

I am convinced that Satan, having no family responsibilities to speak of, also has an infinite amount of free time on its hands. Considering that this "being" has to keep itself busy for a literal eternity, one must assume that it needs to entertain quite a few hobbies. Those hobbies are necessary to counter the Devil's tedious daily job which is centered around the roasting of human souls on open braziers.

What does the Devil do to pass time? Sadly, no theologian that I know of has ever given this important question as much as a passing thought. Luckily for you, readers, I -- having nothing better to do at the moment -- did. Hear me out:

The great Evil one isn't, by definition, good at anything, so it must keep itself busy by being bad. My theory is that the fallen angel spends most of its free time right here on Earth, impersonating obscure but otherwise extremely productive engineers and product designers. Posing as a genius, he/she must then use the power afforded by those positions to design and market consumable objects that are, at once, irresistible and flawed. The dissemination of the resulting high tech toys -- common objects such as phones, computers, cameras, and drones -- allows the Evil spirit to lure and seduce us, humans, in such a manner that we inevitably end up promoting and financing the exact products and behaviors that will cause our doom. 



This theological theory of mine hasn't been proven (yet.) Nonetheless, you have to admit that if it describes a very twisted, evil plan, is it not?

At the heart of most of these modern toys lies the battery: arguably one of the most devilish components ever devised by (likely, evil-minded) scientists. The rechargeable battery is the best example of the duplicity of means that these devices embody. They are at once the best and the worse of modern tech. 

They are the necessary Schrodinger's cat that keeps devices alive and dead at the same time. 

Batteries, like the modern men and women, are either working or dead: there's no gray-zone. Rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, live a potentially endless cycle of deaths. They are like a prophet, constantly on the verge of vanishing, only to resuscitate in a big, shocking "reveal" a few hours later. Rechargeable batteries are indeed an apparatus imbued with magical powers since they enable cameras to keep shooting and phones to keep browsing by drawing power seemingly out of thin air. On the other hand, they represent the worse of its kind, not the least because they seem to be designed to run out of juice and turn off your devices at the exact moment you need them the most. 

Nobody expects you to keep your camera, computer or phone permanently plugged in: if the vicinity of an electrical outlet was a requirement for shooting videos or operating a smartphone, the world would be a very different place indeed. So what is the solution to the impending death of your device? More (rechargeable) batteries. If there's anything you learn while shooting, it is that you'll need more battery than what you planned for. Plan ahead.

Sorry for the click-bait title: the truth is I am not going to go through 99 ways to kill your viewership. In fact, I'm only going to mention one, which opens the list of 5 Video Marketing Mistakes mentioned in a recent post somewhere else. In the article, Andrew Hubbard cleverly remarks that video intros are often the culprit. 

It doesn’t matter how good the content is if you fail to get users to watch past those first few seconds; no one will see the gold that lies further in.

The short version of the argument is that you have, at best, 6 seconds to prove to the viewer that the rest of the media is worth watching. If you waste those precious few seconds in a display of vanity -- for example, by showing an expensive 3D animation of your brand's logo -- then you're not doing anyone, including yourself, a favor. You still wasted your viewers some precious seconds, and you ensured that they will never know, let alone remember, you or the message that you are trying to convey. 



The point is: get to the point, and do so as quickly as possible. I'm sorry, but in case you didn't already know for a fact: nobody cares about you or your brand. Unless you have an established brand and you are explicitly reaching out to existing customers -- people who recognize and love the brand -- then there's no point in wasting their time or visual attention with branding. It's not going help your brand at all.

In a digital video, your audience is by no mean captive. Unless people are sitting in a movie theater -- and trust me: they are not -- most of the times your audience is as fleeting as a butterfly at night. The media will show up in a timeline on social media, or floating somewhere on a page as an ad, or else will be inserted as an optional, complementary element in a post. In all cases, the media can be skipped or ignored, and it will be.

Your story -- which means: whatever the message of your video is -- should lead to your brand. Not the other way around. 

One down, 98 to go. I'll see you around soon.

According to The Atlantic's technology reporter Taylor Lorenz, TikTok users are preparing to take over the Internet. At first, the title's statement sounds as click-bait as anything coming out of Reddit or HuffPo. However, I would suggest that it is actually an understatement: TikTok users aren't simply preparing to raid the Internet, they're gearing up to take over the world. The whole wide world. You see: these users are often teenagers, and that's just what teenagers do, by definition. It's their world to conquer, after all.

More on that in a moment. First, let me answer the elephant in the room: what is TikTok? If you're not a teen yourself, you probably have no incentive to -- or even interest in -- installing yet another selfie-ish app on your phone just to test it out by yourself. 

I too admit that until I set out to research the subject once I read the article, I realized that I no real clue as to what TikTok really is. The article didn't help much, to be honest. I presume that this piece of serious journalism wasn't written by someone who is an active TikTok user, let alone a fan of the platform. Serious writers don't usually spend their leisure time snapping short videos of themselves. 

In short, it's a visual, Vine-like social network where people shoot, edit and share short 15 seconds videos. The app originated in China, gained a lot of traction in India and came to America's shores as recently as a year ago. The app boasts well over 500 million users worldwide, 30 million of them living in the USA. Here's what posting on TikTok looks like: 



If you're interested in the particulars of that network, you can peek as some statistics about TikTok here. In short, it's simple, it's fun, it's popular, it's free and so far it is unconstrained. 

Whether the TikTok network will continue to grow is hard to tell. As far as I know, TikTok could vanish tomorrow without raising as much as a beep on most people's radar. Yet its mere existence, not to mention its meteoric rise in popularity, proves once again that video is the way to go.

In the beginning, there was silence. A little over 130 years ago, the limitations of the analog technology forced the moving streams of images we call movies to silence. Yet silent movies were never a choice, much less a genre. Even back when the sound-less film was, literally, the only technology in town, the art of cinema was not meant to be mute. Theaters hired piano players and even live actors to make up for the missing dimension. Elsewhere, where they couldn't afford hired audio contractors, it was left to the attendance to provide sounds.

The so-called silent movies were indeed highly participatory activities; they were social events which allowed audiences to become the voices and the noises of the movies they were witnessing. It could be argued that the crowd-sourced, collaborative noise which silent cinema enabled -- and even encouraged -- made each screening a truly inclusive event: an experience so unique, in fact, that it could never be replicated.  

What is a film, a movie or a video without a soundtrack? A flipbook. A GIF. At best, a high-speed slideshow

In digital storytelling, the sound is a critical component that cannot be replaced. To a degree, the sound of the spoken words can be mirrored on screen using printed words, like subtitles or interstitials. Otherwise, nothing can take the place of the music, the sound effects, the tones, the atmosphere, the presence and the noises that make videos what they are. The audio dimension ensures that there is a proper three-dimensional context and that there's breathing space. Sound soaks the moving images in an environment that makes the experience as human, dynamic, and fluid as can be.

That being said, it is a cruel irony of the modern way of life that the majority of videos are consumed without sound. We watch most videos on a tiny phone, equipped with a tiny speaker -- one we can barely hear from 2 feet away. We barely pay attention anyway, unless the movie jumps out at us. We watch videos while we drive. We watch videos while we eat, drink and talk. We watch videos while we exercise. We watch videos while we watch TV. We watch videos in between chats and other activities, in spite -- or maybe because -- of the fact that we're already busy. This is both what we do and how we do it.

Does that mean that you can afford to skip the audio dimension and put all your chips on silence.   

Rule no. 1: Assume that 80% of your audience is deaf. 

Writing anything is hard. However, it's also hard to explain why writing is hard, especially to a non-writer. Writing sounds simple, doesn't it? But writing is a task, a homework of sorts: using nothing but written words, an author has to fill a stream of consciousness and evoke the images and emotions that can sustain that stream. Then the author needs to align those words in such a way that it channels this stream directly into the reader's mind.

The content that powers that stream needs to be original. Yet despite this originality, the content must also be built on a foundation that sits on enough cultural and contextual familiarity so as not to repulse the reader. The content flow must be contained and coordinated, and it must follow a cadence. This lets the words dance to a rhythm that allows the readers to join and stay on for the entire ride. The result should be neither a flood nor a stagnant pond, but rather feel like a river. It has to take its readers from point A to point B in a steady yet challenging fashion.

Yes, writing is difficult enough. Yet writing a script for a video can feel even more challenging to a write. More often than not, the words that make up a script will not simply be read but rather spoken out loud, interpreted, and enacted. The outcome of the script -- the movie or clip -- is hard to predict, the direction even harder to control. So many questions, so few answers.

  • What is the goal of the video?
  • What is the audience like, and what does it like?
  • What is the expectation vs. what can be delivered?
  • Which words will best match the on-screen action?
  • What action should the words trigger?

In the contract that ties him or her to write for a video, the scriptwriter is tasked with putting down the words that will ultimately drive the visuals. If you are even vaguely interested in learning what scriptwriting implies, you could do worse than skimming through two recent articles which have been featured in our own news section: How to write a video script, and I’ve Written 13 Video Scripts This Year—Here Are My 6 Best Tips.  Should the art of scriptwriting be new to you, you will end up with a good grasp of the size of the tasks involved. 

As we -- at the time of this writing -- are nearing yet another economic bust cycle, it's time to ponder about our collective tendency to keep falling for the same tricks and in the same traps. Isn't that amazing? Haven't we learned anything? Recall that around a decade ago, the curtains behind the big banks and other financial actors fell off their support and crashed onto the stage. This "accident" revealed that their massive wealth was but the result of speculative shenanigans. 

While we more or less recovered from the crisis that ensued, we know for a fact that the same crew has been up to the same tricks. They've been openly following the same script for the entire decade that followed. Thus, it will come as no surprise once the same outcome -- or worse -- crashes on everyone, like a glass ceiling during an earthquake. We've earned it through our insatiable greed. 

The truth is: we all want more and bigger things. We want them so big, and so bad, that we are willing to blatantly disregard the actual needs, the real cost, and the consequences. Too much ain't enough. 

Nothing illustrates this tendency -- some would call it folly -- better than our need for bigger screens. According to consumer studies, as of July 2019, the most popular TV size on the market is now 65". That's huuuuuge by any 2016 standard. Yet three years later, it's the new normal. Don't get me wrong: nobody's complaining. But there's no stopping there either. Give it a few years and the market will demand 100"+ TVs. They will soon have to increase the height of the standard door frames just to allow the new devices in -- and the old ones out -- every few years.



I can perfectly see the details of what almost everyone on my block is watching on TV as I walk down the street. But as noted by David Shapton of UK-based RedShark, "for many people, the move to bigger screen size is going to result in worse pictures."  That picture quality problem is a consequence of the ratio between the source and the display resolutions; it is further compounded by the viewing distance. Indeed, you're living room isn't magically expanding on the horizontal axis as you grow your TV diagonally. 

But none of that is going to stop people -- and you, and me -- from moving to "as big as can be" screens once the prices break the threshold of affordability. 

My smart neighbor used to take great care of his lawn. I, for one, only bothered with minimal maintenance. For years, even during the summer's dryest heat waves, his grass held through perfectly, with a bristled bright green, whilst mine turned spotty, threatening yellow. Thanks to generous applications of Roundup and other over-engineered chemicals, his front yard always stood out. I guess I'm not that smart, which explains why my lawn looked normal.

Then a few months ago, the same neighbor sold his house and moved out. Almost immediately, the previously shimmering green turned brown and all the grass revealed itself as dying or already dead. By now this adjacent lawn is but a path of desert land;  a dead zone where odd weeds I do not recognize love to thrive. It still stands out, but for the wrong reasons. By comparison, my lawn looks like an expensive golf course. Seriously: I'm surprised Donald Trump hasn't yet made me an offer. I should take a video and post it on Twitter.  

The moral of this (100% true) story is that in the end, my lawn is smarter than his, and it's not even trying. His lawn tried so hard it died still, on its feet, for the sake of maintaining appearances at all cost. You could say that the neighbor's grass was on a chemicals subscription and that it ran out.



Such is the world we live in.

For a world that's trying to get away from limited life products and packaging, having products that just stop working after only a few years is a tough sell. [source]

In this excellent article published on RedShark, Chris Foreman dares to tackle a subject that is little discussed in mainstream media: the implications of a subscription-based life. We talked about this before, and will likely do it again in the future.

In short, it seems like the smarter your equipment (cameras, lighting, and other smart devices) is, the more doomed it is to suffer quick and unpredictable obsolescence. This is due in no small part to the model of acquisition that these products abide by. In order to stay smart (or just plain working), connected devices need a subscription. The software that runs them does, too. So while there are obvious advantages to using smarter devices, the added, artificial brain power that they are imbued with comes at the cost of slowly draining your own brain (they require continuous management) as well as your wallet. It's something to keep in mind.

In a recent post on Tuts+, videographer Jackson Couse demonstrates what it takes to shoot a scene when the subject is people walking and talking at the same time. 

Until you (as a videographer) have experienced first-hand the challenges of filming while moving, you probably think that grabbing clips of such a common and boring human activity is a simple matter of pointing a camera at the subjects and letting it roll. Think again!

You need a good handle on the camera itself, as well as a device that can handle the movement -- for example, using an integrated image stabilizer. You also need to figure out in advance what kind of shots you will need in your final scene. If you are shooting from a single point of view (as the author of the video does) then you want to be able to capture the important and relevant scenes as they occur, in real-time. You need to time your own actions according to the timing of the script (if there is one,) or else be prepared to shoot the scenes multiple times over until everything falls into place. 

If you are filming unplanned live-action scenes -- such as a dynamic dialogue happening between two people which won't be repeated -- you need to have all these contingencies, and more, under complete control.  

Note that the article mentioned above -- which includes a 5 minute-long video -- is more or less an advertisement for a bigger tutorial that is only available to paying customers of Evanto. For that reason, it is quite limited in scope.

Working as an agency for non-profit organizations such as charities puts a business in a rather strange situation. On one hand, you (the agency) need to survive as a business, pay the bills and the people that contribute, and at the same time build enough of a financial buffer to absorb the un-plannable bumps on the road. In other words, you need to make a profit. On the other hand, in spite of the fact that it is operating for profit, that same agency has to balance the practice with the delivery in a way that doesn't contradict the principles and goals of the charity organization it is working with.

Let me put this another way: getting rich out of working with a non-profit charity -- which is designed to help people in need -- is a no-no and wouldn't make much sense. Conversely, bleeding out business vitals (money) simply because you're on a mission to assist others wouldn't make sense either. It wouldn't serve any purpose to end up in the same camp you were trying to help out. In fact, there's but a tightrope that stretches between those two unwanted outcomes. As an agency, this tightrope is what you often have to walk on in order to get through.  

To be honest, I've long pondered over this necessary balancing act.

You see: marketing operations have a bad rep in the public eye, and for good reasons. The science of marketing is perceived as the evil that tries all it can to manipulate and convince the people to act against its own best interest. That is why any attempt to use this same evil for good (i.e., helping charities) is seen as a bad omen. It's a risky business that unduly puts everyone around it at an even higher risk. But is it because marketing is a necessary evil, or is it simply because it is never evil until you make it the purpose it serves?

You could say that whether or not marketing is inherently evil remains a matter of opinion. But is it really so?



Here's an example of the dilemma in action. In a recent post on the Typito website titled Ideas for heartwarming charity videos, the author identifies 4 approaches to scripting a video to help market a charity. I'll be paraphrasing here because the original article is particularly bad at wording its intentions (among other things):

  • Use raw footage of real situations
  • Involve the viewer personally
  • Use comparative situations to anchor the argument
  • Center the narrative around a "star" that the viewer can identify with

Each of these points is generic enough that it would warrant a separate in-depth article, and none of them applies specifically to charities. They do, however, have one thing in common: they require you to align the video script with corresponding emotional triggers. In other words, if you want your viewers to do something -- such as provide a donation, participate in an activity or voice their support for a cause -- then you need to say or show something that will get them excited and involved. The recipe is as follow:

Change = situation + emotion + reaction

In other words, in order to trigger a change, you will need to describe a situation clearly and eloquently. For example

  1. Children are dying of hunger in South Sudan;
  2. Close-up on a sick emaciated kid laying over a dirty blanket
  3. Explain how the viewer can help to remedy the situation 

 

The heat is on. Hopefully, you have some time off to go somewhere you've never been, encounter people you've never met, do things you've only dreamed of. Take some videos, won't you?

Do you need some tips to help you shoot videos you'll actually use and enjoy later? Try this short article, published on Vimeo's blog. 

One of these tips is about keeping your videos short and varied. 

Keep your final video in mind as you’re shooting, and be selective. Shoot clips that vary in length because it’s easier to edit or layer a mix of footage than it is to distill tons of files that are 7-10 minutes long. [source]

Shooting videos should be fun, but it should never get in the way of having fun. Practice what you've learned about making videos, and enjoy the best summer of your life (so far.) 

 

Imagine what the cost of producing just about anything digital would be if you had nothing but your hand, your brain, and a pencil to work with.

No fonts. No searchable library of free or near-free graphics. No way to make an exact duplicate. No copy and paste. No Photoshop or Illustrator. Nothing but your hand and a pencil.

If this was your world and the conditions you had to work with, how many videos would you be able to produce? Probably none, right? The cost of doing so would be so high that it could not be justified. 

We live in an age where automation is everything, and where everything is or will soon be automated. Get used to it. 

Japan lives in the same automation age as I, a Westerner, does. Yet it appears that not everyone who lives and works in Japan does. Take the business of hand-drawn anime, for example. According to this report by Vox, the people who work as animators in can barely make ends meet and yet are forced to work an unreasonable number of hours.

In case you are wondering: "anime" is simply the Japanese word for animation. It refers to either a style of animation made in Japan, or an animation created in the style of the latter. Among the better-known anime are Sailor Moon, Pokemon and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The working conditions that Eric Margolis describes in the Vox article referenced above are not limited to the artists drawing the world of anime. One could argue that most every manual worker around the world is getting screwed one way or the other. However, it's undeniable that those conditions are the consequence of the progressive devaluation of human work.

When technology appears to deliver in mere seconds -- and at near no cost -- what would otherwise require an intensive and prolonged combination of thoughts and/or physical actions for human, then the product of human work itself takes a hit. In a way, modern technological development (AI, IoT, computers in general) is throwing a brick in the balance of what we value as humans. Discovering what will be needed to counterbalance the relentless advances of technology in our daily life may be a matter of survival. Ironically, this fight for the survival of the human soul in the face of technology is a recurrent theme that drives many, if not most, ... animes.

 

A recent quick guide dedicated to helping video creators to design efficient YouTube ending sequences reminded me of this often neglected aspect of videography: outros. For the record, in YouTube's official vernacular, branded outros are called end screens. They are short static clips that serve as a bookend to the current video. Those end screens will be displayed for a configurable amount of seconds, right before the movie ends and rolls off into the next video in the queue. The goal of those YT-specific sequences is to encourage your viewers to consume more videos within the same brand space. It also encourages them to stay on YouTube. As a bonus, it allows for consistent branding across all your videos if you choose to use the feature.

On the YouTube platform, outros are created from static background images, which have a number of holes or open windows acting as placeholders; you then fill those holes by embedding visual links in the form of other YouTube assets (such as videos, channels and subscription links) or authorized external links. 

As you can see from the list of available assets, there's only so much that YouTube will allow you to incorporate in your outros. The goal is YouTube is to trap users into their ecosystem; thus driving your viewers off and away isn't part of the deal. Even if you somehow manage to promote yourself, your services or your products through these links, you'll still be promoting YouTube first, yourself second.

As to whether or not creating outros for your YT videos is a worthwhile investment, it depends a lot on your viewership demo and habits. If you check all the boxes below, you should probably spend some time and resources to create an engaging outro. Consider creating an outro if you:

  • Runs an active channel
  • The channel has a substantial number of recurring viewers
  • Viewers have an incentive to watch the video until the end
  • Publishing videos on a regular basis

On the other hand, if you do not meet these criteria, you may as well save yourself the trouble and either: stick with the standard "branding" outros, or else ignore the custom end screens altogether. This will leave it to YouTube to direct the users to what it considers relevant content -- content which probably isn't yours.

 

The collapse and eventual demise of traditional media channels -- so-called "mass" media, such as the television networks -- are driven by the rise to "social" video alternatives, the likes of YouTube. I know that by this time (mid-2019) the latter assertion rings much like a cliche. Fair enough. Nevertheless, it is a verifiable fact that in terms of sheer viewership, the giant video platform YouTube and its peers have already surpassed their traditional counterparts as the medium of choice for the majority of the world's population. And before you ask: no, it's not just the millennials!

An important and somewhat annoying side-effect of that situation is that it has a tendency to turn the conversation inward, shifting away from its natural subjects and towards the medium itself. Hence an increasing amount of time wasted by major YouTube influencers discussing the subject of ... YouTube, its politics and its policies. The same could be said for Twitter, Facebook, and other online influences and their public discussion platforms.

There's nothing new or particularly enlightening about "the medium [becoming] the message:"* the concept dates back to at least 1964 -- back when television was taking over the airwaves and displacing radio from its golden pedestal in the public eye. It could, of course, be argued that back then, the medium was only mildly interjecting itself in the discourse. By contrast, in the era of social media and the relentless pursuit of every last drop of viewer's attention, the platform is often drowning what should otherwise be the main message. In other words, those who speak on YouTube often speak too much about YouTube, about matters that have little to do with anything but... YouTube.

It doesn't help that the social platforms often have so many rough edges and internal quirks of their own that it is nearly impossible for anyone taking their words to the platform to avoid constantly self-referencing. How many times does a YouTube vlogger have to remind its audience to subscribe and click the bell? Just because everyone else does it doesn't mean you have to do it.   

(*) Marshall McLuhan published Understanding Media in 1964 and died in 1980. Those two facts are unrelated.

If you were born after the turn of the new millennium, you're probably wondering why some the most common things and concepts in technology are labeled the way they are. Most devices are named after either the primary action they were designed to perform (hammer), or their shape (axe). So why is a phone called a phone? It's a small rectangular screen. Voice calling is probably its least used and most-likely-to-fail feature of these devices. So why is it called a phone, again?

Why is every page in a Powerpoint called a slide?

I know that one. That's because up to the early 1990's, the closest thing you could come up with to do the equivalent of a Powerpoint presentation was to use a stack of 35mm slides and arrange them in a plastic rack. You'd then slide that rack into the side of a special projector, before proceeding to display the content of those slides, in the per-arranged sequence, on the wall or on a special portable cinema screen. A small, corded remote controller allowed the presenter to go back and forth through the slide deck while the machine's mechanic noisily swapped each slide as it went.

It was cumbersome and not very practical, to say the least. Worse, for each such "slide" the presenter had to take an actual photo -- with a camera, not a phone! -- and wait for them to be developed in and delivered from a lab. You then had to annotate each slide with a marker so not to lose your bearing, order everything perfectly and carry those decks around  wrapped in a rubber band, hoping not to drop and accidentally scatter them, as the resulting mix-up could mean the end of both your reputation and your career.

Since humanity has yet to come up with a better name for an ordered set of image files, slideshows are still called slideshows.

Slideshows are the poor man's version of videos. They are useful to present a lot of graphic information in a relatively limited space. It's also the name of one of the most annoying feature of web sites which keep swapping the elements on the screen when you least want that to happen.

On the other hand, it's easy to make an interactive slideshow: while few users will probably bother to watch them on a web page, they make great eye-candy and can be used for a variety of purposes. Admittedly, when resources are limited, they are sometimes the only solution to a problem. Here's how to make such a slideshow in Facebook. Tip: it's so easy you don't need a tutorial. Or better yet, use one of the resources we've collected in our directory to make a better one.

When it comes to sizing their videos on a web page, many if not most honest people will err on the side of modesty. Their biggest mistake is to make their visuals too small and timid.

Then there are those who go big, no matter what. They go big on the smallest things, and they seem to know no restraint regardless of the subject. You know the kind... don't you? They will auto-start the media and play it at full volume as soon as the page loads. They will boast the (literally) incredible features of their products or ideas using flashy and borderline tacky, explosive graphics.

[publitio]player|2nbz7ikX|Videocide[/publitio]

Marketing is a question of balance. Tune your video to the context: turn it up and tone it down so that it is just right for the reader. Too small and you will lose your visitor quickly. Too big and you will likely annoy them to the point of no return.

Just how big is too big? The answer is: I don't know.

I don't know, because it depends on the context. It depends on the product, service or person you're promoting, the market fit and the audience you are reaching or targeting. You can read about the 5 Steps to Effective Video Landing Pages to get an idea of what to address. One thing is for sure: don't be modest. But don't blow it either* .


* If you don't know Theranos' story, you can watch serial videos recounting the full story of the startup that blew it here (abcNews.)

Since he turned 4, John wanted to become a firefighter. Not surprisingly, like most kids his age who had similar plans, he did not become a firefighter. He's now an IT professional and would probably not be able to put out a fire if one was to engulf his laptop power supply. In a way, that's a good thing: if every kid who planned on becoming a firefighter in the late 20th century succeeded, half the population would be working in and out of fire stations.

The same John now has 2 kids. Both boyz. They look like him. They talk like him. But while the genes survived, the dream didn't. His new generation couldn't care less about putting out fire: the kids want to become YouTubers.

[publitio]player|y5pBonbQ|Videocide[/publitio]

Should they follow through with their plan, the latest batch of kids have indeed a higher chance of succeeding. There's literally an infinite potential in the area: the revolution will be YouTubed (though not monetized.) So if you want to help your youngsters to grow up and become YouTube stars, there's no better way to learn the ways than to look at ... YouTube -- where you'll find hundreds, even thousands of classes and information on the subject of YouTubing

And if you are an adult who didn't quite make it at firefighting and want to talk about it (or anything else for that matter,) then here's one way to get started:



You can find the entire article and transcript here.

Some people jump on the bandwagon early, often unprepared and too quickly for their own good. Most people will hop on at the station, blending in with the anonymous crowd of mediocre travelers and adopters. Finally there are those who come late and are therefore condemned to run behind a train that isn't stopping anytime soon. The latter will usually curse and shout, yet in the end having no one to blame but themselves. Even a fool is wise when it is too late!

[publitio]player|mJskZyi3|Videocide[/publitio]

If you're in business, video is the medium you don't want to miss; the train that's about to leave the station. Not convinced?  Vidyard just published a report on the state of video in the world of business communications. The data is presented in an infographic, so it's easy to digest and takes less than 3 minutes to scan. Honestly, it delivers some interesting statistics that you may not be aware of. None of that information will blow your mind, yet in case you don't have your ticket yet, it is certainly enough to convince that you need to get there on time before the (video) train leaves the station. Don't be a fool...

 

Phones can do (almost) anything. That's if you allow for a bit of flexibility with the meaning of the word anything, of course.

[publitio]player|GAfd4u66|Videocide[/publitio]

Phones can talk. Write. Sing you a song. Answer your questions. Do the dishes (if you have a smart appliance.) Reply to your emails. Organize your life. Or disorganize it. Find your keys. Pay your bills. And so on and so forth.

But... can you make a serious video using only a phone?

The question is not whether smartphones are a serious video and filmmaking tool, but why on earth you would disagree that they are? [source]

Here's an example of a whole feature film shot on iPhones.



The point is: you can do it too. Get started. Now!

I was once asked: what is the absolute minimal checklist I should use to validate a business video?

[publitio]player|TtTsRnlS|Videocide[/publitio]

Here's my answer:

  1. No sales-y content
  2. Use a reliable source for your data

That's it. If you hit on those two boxes, you just cleared the way to making sure that your viewers will trust you. That will work even if the video is not too polished, obviously under-funded or not quite as good as you wish it was. Trust is everything.

Don't believe me? This little article on TechBizVideo makes the same point, from a slightly different angle.

Out of the blue, slipping off the mouth of a lamp I was cleaning in my basement, a genie appeared. Still surrounded by a cloud of shimmering dust, he spoke loudly while hovering over a pile of boxes full of old Xmas decorations. He said he was in a hurry. Apparently, he had to get back to his genie lamp to complete some urgent administration work. However, he said that before he departed, he would grant me one wish. Only one? He answered that his miracle skills weren't the best in the industry and that all he could do at this time was to give me a simple choice, to which I had but ten seconds to make up my mind. Here are your choices, he said. You can choose to live forever, or you can choose to stay young for the rest of your normal lifespan.

He stared at me as the allotted seconds dripped away. I gave the offer some quick thoughts.

Living forever sounds nice, but I have a feeling it would get boring quickly, relatively speaking. Relative to infinity, that is.

Hurry, he said.

Forever young? Except for a few perks that came bundled with a package called "youth," I'm not so sure I enjoyed being "young" that much. Looking back, I really hated some of it. I enjoy my life now, and I'm not "young," so why would I want to go back?

I hesitated, then after pondering about the pros and cons of the offer once more, I opened my mouth to let him know that I had decided to...

Too late, the genie whispered, before vanishing back into the lamp where he came from, never to show up again.

Why am I telling you this story? A recent post on the Techsmith website conveys some of the site's editors insights as they relate to "trends" in online media usage. We're talking images and videos used on web pages as well as digital communication channels in general. You can watch the video below.



To be honest, there's little that stands out: the so-called trends of 2019 are no more than a continuation of what anyone could have gathered a decade ago on the same subject. There has been no break-out technology developed in recent years. The only real difference is that people and businesses are able to create more videos, faster. This is due to the fact that it is significantly easier to create clips and imagery than it was just a few years ago. In other words, we're flooded with images and videos; the hurdle of getting to make a video is now replaced by the difficulty of creating a video that gets noticed.

Videocide.com is a service provided by Codecide, a company located in Chicago, IL USA.