The booming state of online video, the growth of screen-shares & web meetings, and the coming gen of video-native kids – here’s the bottom line: The next two years will radically up-end the notion that it’s too costly to make valuable videos. The ROI on business video – which can’t yet be easily measured – but when done right, is obviously positive – will skyrocket.
A new generation is inventing and using advanced video-making tools. Cameras everywhere are becoming a 6th sense. Smartphones, for better and worse, are emerging as 2nd brains – and video enables us to both convey and digest more information, more quickly. Too pie-in-the-sky? I agree. So I’ve turned to TV technology history for guidance. This article presents five historical trends in the TV & media tech industry; what each portends about the future of enterprise video; and actions you can take to further your progress.
TV Tech History Lesson #1.
More Content: The Genre Explosion and the Irresistible Pull of Bright Pixels
The history of TV is defined by an ever-expanding list of content genres, sub-genres, channels & show formats. Humans are endlessly interesting, it seems, whether as creators, viewers, or reality stars somewhere in-between. The rise of cable TV brought channels like QVC and C-SPAN. TV shopping? Watching Congress? Surely those programming concepts had doubters at launch. As it turns out, the content tail is long indeed. YouTube is all grown up, and – gasp! – an explosion of content is topping the charts. Let’s call it UGC 3.0 – business owners can leverage the incredible diversity of production techniques and content genres being invented every day.
Projecting forward, and into the enterprise:
UGC 3.0 will bring more marketing videos, including 3-minute marketing videos and 60-minute webinars – (althought they’ll be shorter, and more watchable this time.) However, you can expect so much more. Demos, training, meeting and call summaries – video will increasingly be utilized as an asynchronous communication tool, somewhere between Live and On-demand.
Action Item 1: Watch YouTube to find inspiration.
The first step? Grok the message above by taking 30 minutes to watch YouTube. Don’t finish every video – what a time-waster! But do take a brief tour, start off with some key words, popular videos and channels. Identify show formats you can re-invent or imitate to the benefit of your product or service. Pay attention to lengths, formats & production techniques. Brainstorm with colleagues. Read about Hollywood celebs. (Wait — don’t do that last one.)
TV Tech History Lesson #2. Convergence Matters.
Media Production meets Video Communication. The Screencap is the new RenderMan.
Steve Jobs left us with many legacies – one that’s often overlooked (in my view) is Pixar. Pixar showed that computers really could create emotionally rich video content – without a camera. Pixar has generated heart-warming movies using their animation technology, RenderMan.
Screen capture technology is poised to have the same impact on video creation for the enterprise. For years it has been a critical collaboration tool inside enterprises – credit Camtasia and Skitch (now part of Evernote) for that. If broadcasters can place scrolling screen caps of Facebook in the local newscast, surely it’ll work in your video too. Indeed, a massive and creative diversity of footage can be created this way – from co-browsing to web tours and more. In less than two years this basic technology will expand significantly, becoming as valuable inside the enterprise as live switchers and mixers are in live broadcast TV production today.
Action Item 2: Make a slideshow QuickTime.
If you visit one of our business landing pages, you’ll see a 43 second slide presentation with some basic animation, narration and stock audio. It won’t win an Oscar, but it’s a fast and painless elevator pitch for certain consulting prospects. The elevator pitch was created in about an hour with QuickTime’s screen cap tools. Go on, click that play button.
TV Tech History Lesson #3.
Tech Lowers Costs: The Rise of Robo-talent, Movie Magic & Templated Content Production
There’s a saying in Hollywood – “We’ll fix it in post”. Spoiler alert – it’s true. ‘Post-house’ is a hipper word than ‘video factory’, but capital-intensive tools, labor specialization and automation are all part of the history of content creation. Remember taking your first great-looking Instagram pic? That’s what post-production does for your favorite TV show. Here’s one simple example, a Reality TV show might use 100+ cameras in production – recording tens of thousands of hours of footage. How else to capture those magical moments of idiocy? Reality producers then use special tools – logging, editing, and automated metadata processing – to sift through megatons of video – turning out shows on time & budget.
In two years, we’ll have radically new video post tools that are purpose-built for the enterprise – enabling low-cost, compelling content for every function, from sales to support. It’s Moore’s law, writ-large, applied to video — every year, content tools pop-up in power and crumble-down in cost. Cloud computing magnifies the trend. ‘Fixing it in post’ is gradually becoming ‘Making it in post’.
Sure, God-given talent – Stephen Colbert comes to mind – is essential to the process of big-ratings entertainment making, but the new generation of enterprise video tech will increasingly empower the supporting roles.
Action Item 3. Learn to shoot. Plan to re-purpose.
If you are hiring someone to make a video – you should ask them to include you in the process. Even if you make just one cut, it will be a great way for you to learn the basics without getting frustrated or giving up. Then, tell them to anticipate future assignments making re-purposed versions of the final asset. That should drive the production planning effort in a more strategic direction and leave you with a far more valuable set of footage assets.
TV Tech History Lesson #4. Remote Production: The Truman Show is here.
PTZ is an acronym for pan, tilt, zoom – the label is most commonly used to refer to a type of surveillance camera that can be mechanically controlled, from anywhere, with an app or joystick. Yes, today, these cameras are primarily used for security reasons. But that’s going to change. Broadcast-grade PTZs already shoot spectacular city views during live broadcasts atop major sports arenas. And major events are produced remotely – much of the 2012 London Olympics was produced in New York City. (New York City? Get a rope.)
Why? Cost. Live production requires expensive people & devices on site to shoot, mix and switch camera inputs with studio feeds, effects, and audio. Remote production enables companies to stream video straight to the cloud with nothing more than a connected camera.
Within two years, enterprises of all types will set-up local ‘video sets’ to support live, on-demand, and even spontaneous programming starring participants in every location – and facilitated by a single person behind an iPad. If you’re skeptical, read up on the success of Dropcam. Or take a peek at the Soloshot – featured as the thumbnail image. Think about the ability to conduct focus groups, town hall meetings, social and viral marketing – all with technology that is already quite mature.
Action Item 4. Buy a DropCam or Soloshot for the office.
Send a link to your employees, customers or suppliers. Who knows what’ll result. Whatever it is, I promise, it’ll deliver 10x the value of the cost of either gadget.
TV Tech History Lesson #5. Live-to-VOD:
Twitter, near-live, and the rise of mobile video monetization.
Time-shifted viewing (DVRs, VOD) has been fragmenting TV audiences for years. It’s one reason the TV industry has seen a dramatic increase in the relative value of live content such as sports. Twitter is another reason — it enables live clips and reactions from a game or match to be distributed widely in real-time. As a result, 2013 saw massive growth in live clipping and instant highlights — just moments after a goal, shot, or interception, consumers can view clips of what happened in near real-time on their favorite mobile app.
Within two years, a critical mass of small and medium-sized enterprises will have strengthened their role as ‘digital media company’. They’ll establish an annual cadence of tent pole events – annuals meetings, trade shows, investor, customer & developer events. These events will serve as content programming anchors — a lead-in and jumping-off point for the next cycle of conversation. For all of these touch points, video will be the #1 way to rewind, replay & redistribute the moments that can make the biggest impact.
Action Item 5. Prepare for the Live, Execute for the Near-live.
Don’t shoot for the moon on producing a webcast that rivals the Super Bowl halftime show. Only 2 or 3 key moments really matter. So know those moments – ask for feedback ahead of time, and in real-time, to improve their impact. Place those moments at the center of everything you do in the minutes, hours & days after the event – and as the lead-in to the next. Always remember this – shorter is better.
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