15 Top Tips & Professional Secrets For How To Make Better Videos

As someone who’s spent many years working in television, I usually get requests for advice on how to make videos look better at this time of the year.  A lot of people received new video cameras over the holidays, they’ve tried them out, and don’t understand why their movies look pretty… Ed Wood-ish. I probably should have posted this BEFORE Christmas, but better late than never…

So here is a list of my personal best practices and tips:

  1. Think about your end product before you start shooting. Is this going to be a 2 minute video?  Is it going to be a 2 hour opus?  Is it just for your family to watch or is it going up on YouTube for the whole world to check out?   Is it a montage of your kids opening Christmas presents or is it a documentary about holiday traditions?  Is it supposed to be funny, informative, sweet, sad, or dramatic?  How much context does your audience need to understand it?  Is your audience younger or older?
    If you know the answers to these questions, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort. You’ll also have taken your first step to a focused video shoot, which is a must-have ingredient in a great final product.
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The Most Creative Resume I’ve Seen In Years

I get sent resumes every week and since the financial turmoil kicked in a few months ago, the number of resumes coming in has increased noticeably.  This week, I received one that I will not soon forget and thought it was worth sharing here (with permission!).

Creative vs Standard Resumes.

There’s always a great debate in resume-writing-land about how unique and creative to be with your C.V.   You want to stand out from the crowd, but you don’t want to come across as a showboat, an egomaniac, or a weirdo.  Some will say anything you can do to get noticed is good, from using coloured paper to having it couriered directly to the hiring decision maker (so they have to sign for it, will open it themselves instead of H.R., etc).

Others will say that you need to be professional, stick to standard formatting, and make yourself stand out with a customized version of your resume tailored to the particular position you’re applying for.   I’ve seen both work and have hired people with each type of resume.

As a rule of thumb, though, plain resumes are generally tougher to distinguish from other plain resumes.  And when you get a brilliant, creative resume like the one I’m going to show you, you won’t forget the person today, tomorrow, or next year when you’ve got the right position for them.

Success and Failure with Creative Resumes

About 10 years ago, I had a lot of success by using this site’s URL to host what was at the time very new – an online video demo reel.  I got so sick of dubbing and sending tapes that I put the reel online (in a VERY small quicktime window) and instead just gave everyone the link.  Some didn’t like it, but the ones who did were the ones I wanted to work for anyway.  And it helped let potential employers know that I was interested in digital media and was trying out new ideas.

And before I show you the amazing example of a creative resume, I should say that creative resumes can backfire pretty hard, too.  I once had someone applying to be an on-air host send me a giant plastic tube of candy… nice, except that there was  a GIANT, NUDE PHOTO of himself taped to the outside of the tube.  Creative yes.  Instant no for the job?  You bet.

The Most Creative Resume I’ve Seen In Years

So here’s the gold!  Sabrina Saccocio is a TV, radio print and web producer who has put together the perfect eye-grabbing resume for a young, creative type looking for unique and interesting work. Check this out and tell me you’re not impressed…

Continue reading “The Most Creative Resume I’ve Seen In Years”

Leadership Lessons of Web 2.0 – Secret #4: Permission To Fail

This is the fourth in a series of posts looking as how aspiring leaders can learn from Web 2.0 practices and theory.

On The Web: On the web, users are accountable for their own behaviours in a community and in most cases, the community will create its own champions and police those who don’t meet community standards. The community will learn from its mistakes and get stronger, faster, better over time.

Take Wikipedia as an example – as most people know, not every entry is 100% factually correct, but the community’s passionate, engaged users they have learned how to correct most of the mistakes themselves.  If Jimmy Wales hadn’t given them this trust, Wikipedia would have faltered early and often and would’ve ended up no better than the Encyclopedia Brittanica or World Book.

Another example of how communities deal with ‘failure’… If Ralph writes a horribly inappropriate comment on Jane’s blog,  Jane’s community (the audience) has several methods of policing itself.  It can chastise the behaviour within the community (in the comments) or it can flag inappropriate behaviour directly to Jane.  The key is that Jane doesn’t necessarily have to be the first one to act every time someone is offensive – in fact, it’s more valuable for Jane to let the community sort out its own problems, because THAT’s what strengthens and defines the community.

As A Leader: In order to build trust and full engagement with your team, you need to be okay with failure, too.  If a team tries something that’s different than the way YOU would have done it and it doesn’t work, you can’t panic and madly reach for the reins again so you can re-assert control.  Just as you trusted the team with the initial idea and execution, you need to trust that the team will learn from its mistakes and get stronger and better from each failure.

And you need to build in mechanisms for the team to deal with problems on its own.  Yes, you still need someone that let’s people ‘flag as inappropriate’ situations that you must solve yourself.  However, as a leader, you can’t solve everyone’s problems all the time.  The team needs to learn to solve its own problems – just like on the web, that’s how the team gets stronger, faster, and better.

It’s not about you.  It’s about your team.

Have you ever succeeded because you’ve been given ‘permission to fail’?

Related Posts:

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #1: Give Up Control

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #2: Engagement

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #3: Be A Valuable Community Member

13 YouTube Success Tips For Musicians

You’re a music artist.

Not enough people are hearing your music.

You’ve got your tunes up on MySpace and New Music Canada.

You’ve got your music video (if you’ve got one) up on YouTube, MySpace and New Music Canada.

What else should you be doing?

In the YouTube universe, the answer is LOTS. The goal is get people exposed to who you are and the music you create.  And the music video is far from your only tool.  Here are 13 OTHER ways to use YouTube to get new people to get to know you and your tunes…

  1. Tour diary. If you’re an artist that tours, give updates from the road.  All you need is a webcam , a laptop, and an internet connection.   Tell us about last night’s gig.  Tell us where you’re going next.  Talk about your favourite moments of being on the road.  Show us the dump of hotel you’re staying in (or the van you’re sleeping in).  Interview people who are at the show. Shoot something live during your show and tell the audience to check it out on your website tomorrow morning. EVERYONE secretly wants to go on tour and live ‘on the road.’  Show ’em how great it is… or dispel the myth.
  2. Making Your Record. Take your fans into the recording studio (or your basement).  Show them process.  Show them how you write, how you rehearse, how you record.  Show yourself making mistakes.  Show yourself figuring out the way you make your music great.  Give them a window in your creative process.
  3. Day Job. Show your fans what you REALLY do when you’re not making music.  Do you work at the GAP?  Do you sell insurance?  Do you live in your parents’ basement?  Be honest, be bold, and pull back the curtain.  Show your fans what your life is REALLY like when you’re not on stage.  You’ll be shocked at how much they might care and love you for it.
  4. Ask for help. Jammed with lyrics?  Want to know which version of a chorus works better or worse?  Curious whether a solo sounds better on a guitar or a keyboard?  Pose your dilemma to your audience.  Open up, put it out there – you might be totally shocked at the great suggestions you get from your audience.
  5. Create a video diary / blog. What do you care about besides music?  Politics?  Sports?  Filmmaking?  Throw it out there.  Be passionate.  Be emotional.  Be confident.  Say what you believe and ask for feedback, opposing opinions, and further thoughts.  Let people get to know the REAL you, not just the musician.
  6. Bring the Funny. If you’ve got a knack for humour, by God, use it.  Show people your lighter side.  Shoot a skit, pull a prank on your bandmates, do your best impression.  Making people laugh could be the best thing you ever did for your music career.
  7. Reply to other YouTube videos. Give your opinions on other artists videos by commenting.  Comment on videos about subjects other than music that you care about.  If you’re brave enough, create some video replies to other people’s content.
  8. Take Advantage Of What’s Already Popular. Pick a viral video, popular web meme, or web video celebrity.  Talk about why you love it/him/her.  Talk about why it/him/her is horrible, shameful or stupid.  Do a parody of it/him/her.  Tag your video with keywords that will turn up for people searching for the original.
  9. Make a video with another musician or band. Make a video together.  Have fun.  Do something that will stand out.  And post it to both of your sites, both of your YouTube, MySpace, New Music Canada accounts.  Email the fans from BOTH your bands and let them know what you’ve done. That way, you can introduce your fans to their music and personalities and vice versa.
  10. Subscribe to the videos of bands that are similar to yours. Subscribe to videos created by fans of bands that are similar to yours.  You might get good ideas from them.  They might check you out.  They might like what they find on your channel.  They might tell others.  That would be good.
  11. No matter what you put up on YouTube, tag it properly. Put in your name.  Put in your band’s name.  Put in your genre of music.  Pick the words for which you want to turn up as the top search result and put ’em in the tags of your videos.
  12. Whenever you put up a video on YouTube, put it everywhere else you can think of, too. Facebook, MySpace, Vimeo, Viddler, Blip.tv, you name it. YouTube is the 800 pound gorilla, but there are lots of other great niches where you can find audiences, too.
  13. Once the video is up live, tell EVERYONE you know about it. Put it on your website or blog.  Tweet about it on Twitter.  Put it on your Facebook and MySpace status.   Send it your newsletter or email subscribers.  And DEFINITELY ask your audience to pass it along to their friends, too.  If you can get others to pass it along to their networks, you’re off to the races…

What have I missed?  Any other ideas?  Let ‘er fly in the comments…

Why Musicians Need To Do More Than Make Music

In the last week, I’ve talked with Jordan Kawchuk (Producer of the Radio 3 video podcast, R3TV) and Grant Lawrence (Champion of Canadian music and web radio/satellite radio/podcasting host) before they spoke at panels about  ‘web 2.0’, ‘music 2.0’, and ‘the youtube era for musicians’.  Jordan spoke to a group at the Western Canadian Music Awards and Grant was moderating a great panel at CMJ in New York – thousands of miles away, but both organizers wanted a lot of the same advice for artists.

This makes me think that there’s a lot of musicians who are still daunted by the prospect of all the tools available to them on the web, who aren’t sure what kind of content they’re supposed to create with them, and who don’t understand why they’re so vital to their future success.

Whether you’re signed to a major label, signed to an indie label, or making music in your basement, you need to do more than make music and put it on MySpace (and New Music Canada, of course 🙂 ).

Here are the basics.  I’ll have more detailed thoughts on creating relevance and credibility online in the coming weeks.  But the price of entry is this:

You need to blog.  You need to use Twitter.  You need to use Flickr. You need to use Youtube – and not just for posting your music videos.  You need to participate in communities and comment on other people’s blogs.

Why? You need to build a community, communicate directly to them without a filter, and empower them to help make your music and your other creative projects reach more people.

If you’re a music artist looking to get more people to hear your music, looking to tour more to places outside of your hometown, province / state, or want to sell more of your music, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a blog?
  • If so, are you posting daily?  Or at least weekly?
  • Are you on Twitter? (Do you know what Twitter is?)  Are your tweets creating value – ie: should I as a potential new listener care about what you’re tweeting?
  • Have you put anything other than a music video up on YouTube?
  • Have you put up any photos on Flickr?
  • Do you visit and comment regularly on the blogs of music fans (especially those who write about your genre of music – or even better, YOUR music?)
  • Are you using Facebook, MySpace, Upcoming, New Music Canada, etc to post your gigs, album releases, etc?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is ‘no,’ you’re missing a chance to connect with and grow your audience and community.  What are you waiting for?