Every video team knows mission creep—that’s when producing one video leads to creating multiple versions and iterations. Let’s say you begin producing a two-minute branded marketing video with the goal to release it on your website. Your team has agreed on a particular style, length, and delivery spec. Your shoot is over, your graphics are in production, and halfway through your edit, you are asked to deliver additional versions for social media platforms, a large-screen live event, and an email campaign. Each of these requests requires different acquisition and delivery specs and a unique post workflow. And if you only develop your new versions in post, you will likely miss opportunities, water down your initial concept, and lose the power of an integrated campaign.
So, how do you avoid those pitfalls and create great cross-platform marketing videos? Here are a few strategies I’ve learned.
1. Start with audience outcomes
Many production meetings start with a discussion around how everyone envisions the final video, or with team members sharing examples they’ve seen on YouTube. It’s great to talk about what inspires you and your creative vision. But it can be more helpful to kick off a launch meeting with everyone sharing their ideas for audience “personas” for each distribution platform:
Who are we trying to reach?
What are we trying to help that person understand, learn, or do?
What do we want them to do after they view our content?
And what are the demographics of our target audience on each platform?
Only when you answer these questions can you begin to consider creative story approaches.
TIP: A great tool for summarizing your findings and strategy is a Creative Brief—a short document that outlines all the possible distribution platforms, as well as the acquisition format, timeframe, budget, style, and creative approach for your project.
2. Define existing assets and brand guidelines
When you have existing assets, you are ahead of the game when it comes to multi-platform campaigns, since you already own this content (see my notes below on rights). Logos, infographics, past video footage, interviews, event photography, social media posts, and other content can all contribute to your new project and help make your multi-platform campaign more affordable.
If you’re going to work with any outside video, photography, or graphics vendors on this campaign, be sure to provide examples, shooting specs, and brand guidelines—as doing so will make it easier for these partners to match the earlier assets and particular requirements. And don’t forget audio—an often-overlooked asset. We’ll talk more about this in a moment.
TIP: Create a list of existing assets and attach it to your Creative Brief so that everyone working on the project understands what already exists, and can start digging for those hidden gems that will empower you to create a cohesive campaign.
3. Use proof of concept and storyboards
Storyboards don’t have to be fancy. But they are extremely helpful when developing any kind of video content. Having everyone agree to the visual concept is even more important when launching a cross-platform video campaign. Whether you are creating live-streamed content, short packaged videos, social platform ads, teasers, or promos, a few pages of visual concept will save you time and money in production and post. Often, when we have a particularly unusual concept or motion graphics idea, our team also develops Proof of Concept “Motion Boards” so that everyone can see a few snippets of video—and we can vet the concept fully before moving ahead with the shooting script.
TIP: Even if you don’t have access to Photoshop or Illustrator, you can create storyboards by using basic tools like Piktochart.com or StoryboardThat.com— or simply dropping stock images into a brief Powerpoint.
4. Consider “outputs” to build your schedule
As you begin to conceptualize, budget, and schedule your project, list all of the “outputs” or deliverables you want to create. Then, build a schedule that leverages some parts of your production days for multiple purposes.
For example, consider allocating time for an assistant producer to shoot behind-the-scenes photography and video during key set-ups, especially when filming client testimonials. You can share this content on your social channels immediately, while you’re still on location—and then also incorporate it into the primary footage for some fun angles on your main characters. Remember that interview transcripts will help speed up your post workflow, and can serve as an additional deliverable: You can use excerpts in newsletters and add audio clips to your website with pull quotes.
TIP: A second camera is almost always a must for multi-platform content, and I love to add a slider for some visual interest. By having this additional equipment on site, you can get double the coverage with more editing options, ensuring a faster turnaround for interview-driven content.
5. Remember: The higher the resolution, the better
When cutting up and repurposing your assets in different ways for various delivery platforms and audiences, it’s important to remember that generally speaking, the more pixels you acquire up front for video (with the best quality audio), the greater your flexibility on the back end.
You may be familiar with the various formats that we know in short-hand as “720,” “1080,” “2K,” “4K UHD,” and “4K.” It’s important to remember that pixels rule, especially when you want to cut up assets for different platforms and delivery specs. When acquiring photographic or video assets, seek the highest resolution you can afford in gear, storage, and workflow—so that you have the flexibility to make smaller versions for social media, but can still use the high-res versions for larger-screen delivery and even screen grabs for print.
TIP: Acquire visuals and audio at the highest resolution you can afford. This generally means shooting your video project in 4K at 24 or 30 FPS and 24 bit/48kHz audio. Make sure you know the exact deliverable spec of each delivery platform, such as vertical video for Instagram and Facebook.
6. Secure proper rights and permissions
Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney! But I can provide you with my own experience as a multi-platform producer. And here’s the gist: When using any licensed assets, such as stock footage and music, clear broad usage of these materials for as long a period of time as you can afford up front. As you probably know, there’s always another delivery medium or version that you may want after you’ve already finished delivering one or more videos. It’s just the way our multimedia world works. Look for language such as “in any and all media,” “in perpetuity,” and “in whole or in part…without restriction as to changes or alterations.” This type of terminology gives you the right to crop, colorize, or otherwise edit sound and image assets without having to go back and acquire another license. Many stock licenses already include this language as long as you are paying a fee for this broad usage. Remember to clear talent for multiple deliverables, as well. And always refer your questions to an expert copyright attorney.
TIP: Don’t assume that a license allows you to recut the video for another platform or version.
To wrap up, creating cross-platform marketing videos can be a challenge, but when you do some up-front planning, it can be a fun and rewarding way to tell your brand story across multiple channels, to many different audiences.
Catch Amy's entire presentation on video trends for content creators—The Future of Story—from Brightcove's annual PLAY conference on demand at REPLAY.