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Need a little advice for conveying intent...

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Corbin Gross
Need a little advice for conveying intent...
on Sep 3, 2013 at 9:10:23 pm

I have this video that I put together. It's an ad for the catalog that we'll be distributing during the holiday season. This is the first time I've tried to put together something with a story line, instead of talking head/informational/tutorial kind of things. I'd love if you all could check out this video and tell me if it makes sense and is watchable. I'd love to know if it makes sense to somebody who was not involved and doesn't know the project.

Spoilers after the link, I don't want explain it before you see it. NOTE: It'll have music once I get the edit finished.

Here 'tis...

First Draft



So here's the story. The boss hands off a project to source the corporate gifts. The first employee doesn't want to do it/doesn't have time, so she hands it off to the next employee. So it goes throughout the company until it lands with an intern in the mailroom. He's ready to take on anything, and just happens to have the proper tools handy (our catalog). He makes short work of the project and lands himself a promotion.

Now there are certain things in the story that will make sense to somebody in our industry, the gifting assignment, sourcing imprintable apparel and schwag... But overall, is this story easy to understand? I only hired one actor to save money, so the expressions and movement are somewhat lacking. Plus, I've just not got a lot of experience with this type of video.

I can add titling, thought bubbles, inter titles, or whatever I need to help, I just want to make sure it doesn't look too much like a bandaid.

Thanks in advance for the advice, everybody!

Corbin Gross | SANMAR
Photographer/Videographer | Marketing
22833 SE Black Nugget Road | Issaquah, WA 98029
206.727.5501 x5237
http://www.sanmar.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need a little advice for conveying intent...
on Sep 3, 2013 at 10:56:28 pm

It's (very) nicely shot --- but too long and too slow to get to the point, and the sequence of the guy with pencil in teeth, ordering for everyone, seems to take a glacial epoch. The payoff shot is weak because it only implies that everyone was satisfied with their imprinted gifts, you don't show everyone's reactions, just that the guy that thought to use the site to buy everything was rewarded with a promotion. The timing for this sample felt like the 1950's.

You don't need the build-up of passing the buck on the gift list. That's tertiary to the real issue; no matter how you got the duty, you now have the job and you need to do it right and fast. Lose the entire first half, pretty as it is. The people watching this on a web site don't have the time, and, they are more likely to identify with the low-status mailroom guy than all the people in-between, in your original build-up sequence.

You start with the shlub getting handed the list and being told to DO IT! with maybe a reference to the clock or calendar that telegraphs a too-short deadline. Then your seriously-shortened shopping spree, mostly showing the list of giftees getting ticked. Now you ADD the payoff shots of customer GRATIFICATION when they open the gifts and appreciate the quality and appropriateness.

I know it's part of the joke that he gets the promotion based on the gifts, but really, I think it should be more about the new respect and admiration/friends he's earned by executing this so well. He should walk the gauntlet of high-fives from happy people as he struts down the corridor... and into his new office.



Green?


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Corbin Gross
Re: Need a little advice for conveying intent...
on Sep 4, 2013 at 3:24:26 pm

Thanks so much for the critique. I totally get what you're saying about the concept. It might have been cool to start with a MGR meeting deciding to "give it to Mike, he'll eat anything" kind of a motif. That'll be for next time though, this is already shot and will be due soon. You're right about the length though, I've already cut about 35 sec off just tightening it up and removing some of the redundant shopping shots.

What about understandability though? That was my main concern. Were you able to understand the story without reading my synopsis? Specifically, was the talent able to convey 'passing the buck'? I thought it might look like they were distributing a memo instead of handing off the project.

Ideally, I'll be able to convey that without having to add titles. I have a comic book style thought bubble/lower third worked out and also an X-files/crime drama typewriter look as well, but I didn't shoot for that, so it's going to look a little bandaid-y if I have to use them.

Thanks!

Corbin Gross | SANMAR
Photographer/Videographer | Marketing
22833 SE Black Nugget Road | Issaquah, WA 98029
206.727.5501 x5237
http://www.sanmar.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need a little advice for conveying intent...
on Sep 4, 2013 at 3:30:43 pm

I didn't get the "passing the buck" theme at all: to me it just looked, as you said, like a memo distribution. Kill that whole part off, I say.

"Passing the buck" is really not at the heart of your message anyway: it doesn't really matter how you got the buck, as it were. That process, pretty as it was, adds nothing to the main point of the story. What the audience wants to see is what you do, now that YOU HAVE "the buck".


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need a little advice for conveying intent...
on Sep 4, 2013 at 3:39:47 pm

Is this guy paying for all the gifts out of pocket himself, or is the company paying for it, like some secret santa thing? Why is everyone getting gifts, is this some kind of motivational campaign? If the company's paying, why is the job then considered so undesirable? Because it's hard to please everybody? Because everyone's tastes are so different, you'd need to go to a lot of different sources to get the right gift?
How does the catalog and/or web site solve this problem?

Also, if he's on the web site, at that point, why keep referencing the catalog? Is this promoting the printed catalog, or the web site? It should probably choose one or the other, say, spot the catalog in a break room, then just cover the web site after that initial "seed" is planted.


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Bill Davis
Re: Need a little advice for conveying intent...
on Sep 4, 2013 at 8:57:29 pm

You're getting good feedback here.

Just to emphasize one over-arching theme.

In the newspaper business of yesterday, when training writers, they would often say "you buried the lead."

It implied the writer didn't put the most important info FIRST.

A lot of what Mark is commenting on is the visual equivalent of this.

Just as an aside, even after decades of writing, I find that I still do this about 40% of the time when I write.

I'll go back and realize that my third paragraph is a better "first paragraph" then the current one. I think it's about taking a few paragraphs to get my brain into what I'm writing and get the "flow" going. But who knows.

Watch your project again and for EVERY scene, decide if it REALLY has to be there. Or if one tighter scene could take the place of two looser ones.

We've all seen this basic idea done in a :30 spot. You've used nearly 2 minutes to do the same thing.

Nothing wrong with your shooting or basic storytelling, it's just not particularly well paced for the modern "short attention span" theatre era.

But overall, nice job.

Just needs refining.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need a little advice for conveying intent...
on Sep 4, 2013 at 9:20:52 pm

"I'll go back and realize that my third paragraph is a better "first paragraph" then the current one. I think it's about taking a few paragraphs to get my brain into what I'm writing and get the "flow" going. But who knows."


We call this: "Throat-clearing". Everybody does it, me too. You're lucky that you don't do ten pages of it before realizing. But this is what draft writing is all about: getting it out of your head and onto "paper", any which way, then going back to improve it.


Or think of it like writing a classic stand-up joke: you can't spend too much time on the set-up, or you bury the punchline, making it unworthy of the wait. In Corbin's example, I'm saying all that paper-passing does not advance the story: it's a barrier to the true start of the joke, which is: mail boy gets a tough order. The fact that others passed the buck on it before him is irrelevant.


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Corbin Gross
Re: Need a little advice for conveying intent...
on Sep 26, 2013 at 3:29:13 pm

Hey, guys. Thanks for the feedback. And sorry about the late reply.

OK. So I've tightened it up a bit, and added a few things to hopefully clarify the message. I haven't made any drastic changes, but I think it works for this time.

There are a few things that would be more clear to the typical viewer of our videos. Our customers will be much more familiar with the corporate environment and this type of gifting assignment. Though, this is a simplified/exaggerated scenario.

In retrospect, I'd probably have had the intern call the number on the catalog as switching between the book and the website isn't very handy. Though it's entirely plausible, it's probably not as common as one or the other. We were trying to show as many of our tools as possible.

I don't mind implying how the intern get's to be VP. I felt if I laid it out too much it'd read more like a tutorial. But it did seem funnier in meetings than it actually turned out. With better shooting and on-set decisions I think there are several shots that could be great instead of OK.

Overall though, I'm reasonably happy with my first attempt an something besides a talking head or testimonial. The rest of the team seems to like it OK too, but they're not you guys, so they're not able to give me the good, technical feedback of a pro.

So anyway, I really, really appreciate the feedback I got. I think there are several things I can take in to my next project that will help out tremendously. I think the video is launching Monday, but here's the link to the final if anybody would like to see how it turned out.







Thanks again!

Corbin Gross | SANMAR
Photographer/Videographer | Marketing
22833 SE Black Nugget Road | Issaquah, WA 98029
206.727.5501 x5237
http://www.sanmar.com


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