Posts by: JarodLatch

The impact of video storytelling often hinges on the characters and in many cases, comes down to how well these characters tell their story on camera. This can present a number of challenges and create some anxiety.

How should you approach and conduct an interview to put yourself and your subject in the best position to succeed? We are sharing five things to remember when conducting on camera interviews.

Share Topics, Not Questions

Some of the anxiety on the interviewee side is related to the unknown. The unknown being the questions. If individuals are already uncomfortable on camera, they tend to over prepare or try to memorize. This is the worst thing that can happen. Memorization is a recipe for disaster. Mess up one word, mess up the whole delivery.

I suggest being very weary of sharing the actual questions. Instead, share general topics or conduct a pre call to talk through the goals of the piece. There will be certain scenarios where higher ups request the questions for legal purposes. In that case, hand them over — but make that a last resort.

Make it Conversational

If you are taking the interview style approach, make it as conversational as possible. This starts with reminding the interviewee that they will be looking at you instead of the camera.

Some of the normal tactics of strong communication apply here. Make eye contact while using a relaxed delivery. This will put the subject at ease. The last thing you want is a nervous subject. That nervousness will be felt directly by the viewer and will strangle getting great answers.

Don’t Check Boxes

Listen to your interviewee. What I mean by that is to ask the question, engage and have a conversation. Too many times I have seen interviewers stare at their sheet of questions with the goal of simply checking off the questions answered. If you’re staring at your questions, you’re not truly listening. By not being engaged, this closes the door on the potential of getting emotional responses or asking your subject to elaborate on a critical part of their story.

At Spiracle Media, we focus on 4-5 points max during an interview. The rest of the time is reserved for follow ups. You should also consider asking some softball question off the top to get your subject warmed up. Save the best for last.

Ask Relevant Questions

This sounds like a given, but you would be surprised how many times our partners submit questions that have nothing to do with the story. They get wrapped up in the “who” they’re interviewing, rather than focusing on their place within the story.

There are primary and complementary interviews. Primary interviews consist of the main character(s) that will drive the story forward. Who or what is the piece about? As for complementary, these interviews provide the key support. Each serves an essential purpose within the piece. With this in mind, tailor your questions to fit the role.

Simply ask a few of the following questions to yourself. What are they speaking to? Are they the main narrator or a bridge? Are they there for one specific sound bite or multiple?

This will help guide you with question generation. Most interviews go much longer than needed because of irrelevant questions.

Do Your Homework

Prep for your interviews. This can include reviewing the interviewee’s bio or running an online search. Building this knowledge base will give you more confidence to ask the right questions. It also provides additional context. This can go a long way with generating rapport on set.

I briefly mentioned this earlier, but pre calls with your main subjects are great opportunities to build trust and gather information ahead of the shoot. This takes away much of the awkwardness in meeting a person for the first time especially if the story deals with emotional topics.

 

These are all things that, if implemented, will work to your advantage. The main goal of every interview shoot is to put yourself (interviewer) and the interviewee in the best possible position to succeed.

Make it fun and conversational – the viewer will notice!

At one time or another, we have battled the urge to be a procrastinator. People have told us “don’t wait until the last minute.” Despite the warning, some of us naturally wait until the 11th hour to spring into action. I am not that guy, but I have certainly been a poster child for the practice in the past. During this season of my life, prioritization is a necessity for survival. If you wait until the last minute, you’re cheating whatever you’re a part of.

The same is true when it comes to last minute video requests and in general, not allowing enough time for what the project deserves. Creating effective content takes a great effort and by great I mean focused. If you rush the process, chances are that you are overwhelmed by something else at the same time.

Can you give optimal focus in that scenario? Let me answer that for you. Not likely. You’re cheating your team and potentially limiting the possibilities of the content. Here are a few things that can lead to “cheating” the process.

Have Your Information Organized

Easier said than done. Last minute requests happen for a variety of reasons. Some are warranted because of factors outside of your control, but most are a result of disjointed priorities that turn into a lack of think time. If quality video content is important, treat it as such. Make time to map out what you want. Ask a few basic questions. What will it take to execute? Who is the audience? How long is the video? If this request came from the top, be a polite pest and get those individuals involved at each stage of the game.

Urgency is Reciprocal

If you do have a quick turn request and a video agency decides to take it on, respect the timeline. Your urgency is now their urgency. Workflows have been interrupted. The worst thing you can do is not meet deadlines in terms of delivering aggregate feedback. Make sure that your team is aligned and that “ALL” key stakeholders have a voice when it comes to revisions. This will maximize the small window in play. If your comments are late, that can definitely cause the timeline to slide. Accountability is a two-way street.

 

Respect the Ask

This is a tough one especially if you are new to creating videos. Do your best to understand what you’re asking for especially if the turnaround is tight. It’s one thing to deploy a vendor or partner to capture an event. It’s a totally different ballgame to request a three minute feature that requires trips to three cities and needs edited in two days. Is what you’re asking realistic? Huddle with a trusted and experienced video team. They’ll be able to quickly walk you through multiple scenarios because they’ve been there — done that. Plus a trusted agency always has maximum value top of mind.

Be an Active Participant

This point is relevant to the shoot day especially if you have rushed to get to this moment. Take a breath to thoroughly consider what video(s) you are producing. Do you want shorter cut-downs for social media? Are these pieces general or specific? A common request after the fact is for very “specific” sound to support a very “specific” theme. Hint: If you didn’t ask a direct question that addresses that very “specific” theme — that sound doesn’t exist.

Make sure you bring your “A” game so that you’re an active listener on shoot day while interviews are in progress. If your attention is better served elsewhere, assign a member of your team to this support role.

Plan Ahead

This is a “do your best” scenario. We all know what busy feels like, but let’s circle back to priorities. Video storytelling isn’t new and you plan all other aspects of your marketing. Video doesn’t live in a separate world. It needs to live in harmony so that it contributes to the impact of the whole. Consult with a video agency and have a brainstorm. Outline the opportunities for the next several months so that you can better prepare and diagnose opportunities.

The goal of everything we do should be to bring value to the people around us and the audience we’re trying to reach. It makes everything better. For the love of video storytelling and the sanity of all-involved, don’t cheat the process.

Find out more about our team or visit our Vimeo channel to view our latest work.

Podcasts have become a useful vehicle when it comes to entertaining, educating and sharing information. People love to watch and listen. Podcasts take care of the latter and sometimes the former. Recently, Spiracle Media partnered with Nexagy Education, led by our friend and teammate Cassmer Ward, to develop a video series that features entrepreneurs and their respective stories. These interview driven segments are plentiful with advice, practical knowledge and real stories of failure that led to success.

To accompany the video segments, we have developed a podcast series that provides a behind-the-scenes conversation about each entrepreneurial case study. Cass, Tim Baier and myself (Jarod Latch) dissect each interview in order to extract additional information that might be helpful whether you’re seasoned or have just been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. We also share personal stories about our own journey.

Our first two podcast episodes include “Behind the Series” and “Enventys Partners” featuring Louis Foreman.

Stay tuned for additional podcasts to feature the following: David Campbell (Boxman Studios), Seth Gibson (Ex Gratia Brewing), Kathi Alexander (Sugar Handmade Gourmet Donuts), Chris Elmore (AvidXchange), Diona Kidd (Knowmad), Henry Rock (City Startup Labs), Hugh, John, Joe Gaither (Feetures), Landon & Kat Eckles (Clean Juice) and yours truly, Jarod Latch & Tim Baier (Spiracle Media).

You can listen on SoundCloud, iTunes or by visiting the home page of our website.

Everyone is a video storyteller! That’s a false statement although you wouldn’t know it by the amount of claims being made in the creative space. Agencies, production houses and individuals are selling themselves as experts in that area. Some of those claims are accurate, but remain vigilant. We are surrounded by imposters that hope to stake their claim and in turn, stand to tarnish the reputation of storytellers everywhere.

Storytelling, specifically when it comes to video, has moved into the buzz word category and for good reason. It’s the best way to reach and engage a specific audience. The desired takeaway is a memorable experience that creates a much deeper connection. As you head into your next project, here are a few questions to consider when selecting your video execution partner.

Who are the team members?

The make up of the team is imperative. Most likely, you will deal with multiple individuals during different phases of the project. Experience matters! A team that’s comprised of former journalists, seasoned copy writers, animators, etc. is a great start. Their experience should make you feel confident and lead to solid ideas. Hopefully solid execution as well.

Do they actually tell stories or create content?

Video storytelling and video content are two different things. Anyone can create content. Think of the short ads you see on social media, broadcast TV or the flashy clip that shows up in your instagram feed. Storytelling is different in that the characters drive the narrative rather than the product. It’s about using a number of different elements in order to create an emotional reaction.

Do they have a fine-tuned process?

Process is critical. It ensures that everything runs as smooth as possible. Communication is key whether in person, on the phone or over email. You want to make sure that your team of choice is organized and dedicated to service, not just creative. A partnership approach will yield the best results while limiting anxiety. Top notch video comes with an investment. The worst thing that can happen is for your vendor to go dark for a few weeks without a response.

Is their work high quality?

Quality matters more than ever. Within a crowed space, it serves as a differentiator. This quality applies to the clarity of the audio, music, cinematography, variety of shots and so on. The message needs to be clearly digestible while holding the attention of the viewer. Look and feel need to match the overall theme of the story.

We like to think that everything we do at Spiracle Media is done intentionally. We work toward the intended result by putting the necessary building blocks in place. At least we hope that’s the case. There is a prominent “why” in how we have assembled our team. It’s this “why” that supports our collective belief that we’re better than most when it comes to telling stories.

We’re a video content agency built to tell stories by using our journalistic background. The word “journalistic” is the differentiator. Our team is comprised of a number of former journalists and media minds, 6 of our 14 team members to be exact. Those that haven’t walked that treacherous path themselves have been empowered and influenced by that experience.

Let me clarify, we don’t just hire anyone with a TV background. We hire former journalists, news reporters, etc that understand the process of storytelling and shoot cinematically. Here are five reasons why former journalists, and specifically our team, excel in the storytelling environment.

Ask The Right Questions

Most video storytelling pieces are driven by real people. Real interviews. It is imperative in those settings that you ask the right questions that support the story. So often, interviewers spend a bulk of the time asking about points that have no chance of making it into the video. Pick 3-4 focal points and build around that. Keep it simple.

Follow the Story

Sometimes the best story is yet to be uncovered, but you have to be willing to follow the story. A good journalist looks for hints and when they see something that might enhance the piece, they poke and prod (in a polite way of course.) This can lead to emotional and compelling content that would have been left hidden.

Adaptability in the Field

Most people don’t like change. Former journalists thrive in a fast-paced and ever changing environment. This promotes a sense of peace with our partners when adversity enters the picture. It also allows us to keep an open mind. BTW – crunch time doesn’t bother us either.

Building a Story

A number of companies and individuals can shoot beautiful video, but they struggle to tell a story using what they’ve captured. It’s common these days to see something that resembles a music video with little or no narrative attached. Former journalists have the ability to select the right sound bites and add the rest of the elements in a way that brings forth emotion and personality.

Standing Out

Quality of storytelling matters more than ever. Everyone is adding video to the mix and they should. With that being the case, it’s time to trust those that tell the story best. A background in journalism mixed with a thorough understanding of the storytelling process, plenty of experience and strong dose of cinematography is a winning combination.

See more of our work here.

It’s no secret that video content is king. Its integration plays a key role and touches almost every part of the marketing process. As far as adoption, businesses remain scattered along the curve in terms of implementation and understanding. There are plenty of options out there. Most video production companies and freelancers claim to be storytellers that produce high end content. If we’re honest, that reality applies to very few. I compare that assertion to the days when everyone claimed to be a social media expert.

If you’re a company looking to get serious about video — where do you turn? Video Content Agency or Freelance? It’s a valid question with valid points associated with each. Within this blog, I do my best to provide an objective view on a series of points that matter when making the choice of who to hire. I’ve been on both sides.

As more companies get in the game, quality matters more than ever. One way to separate yourself is to create compelling content that looks great. That fact remains a differentiator and is a natural place to start the comparison.

Quality

Freelance:

Quality in this scenario will be hit or miss. Some freelancers produce solid content. However, you’re rolling the dice. There are plenty of quick response freelancers who are happy to show up and capture your next event. The finished product varies in terms of overall look and story composition. You might hit a home run, but that’s non-guaranteed.

Agency:

An experienced agency has a team behind it. Quality controls are part of the process. A solid agency reviews the work internally before sending along to the partner. Storytelling is less of a buzzword and more of a reality. There should be limited surprises when it comes to the final product.

Collective Braintrust

Freelance:

A one-person-shop has one or two people at their disposal. They take on the responsibilities of thinking, executing and editing. If they’re in demand, they likely won’t have time to effectively talk strategy or offer guidance in the area of distribution. There’s only so much you can do with limited resources.

Agency:

An experienced agency has been built with intentionality so that it can offer in-depth services when it comes to strategy, creation, distribution and education. Education is a key component. It’s important to convey to your partners why something is important and how the process works.

Responsiveness 

Freelance:

If you’re like everyone else, you crave instant gratification. We all expect a response to an email even when we send it in the middle of the night. A freelancer might struggle to effectively communicate when juggling multiple jobs. There is no one else in the office when they’re on a shoot or entranced in an edit.

Agency:

For the top agencies, responsiveness is a core value. It goes a long way in ensuring top-notch service. More resources allow for more eyes, ears and mouths to communicate. If someone is out of the office, responsibility is delegated to someone else on the team. This holds true for editing as well. Tweaks are made at a more rapid pace.

Reactive vs. Strategic

Freelance:

A freelancer might have an advantage when it comes to short notice and availability. However, this varies as well. I stand by the thought that a solid freelancer has limited bandwidth and will proceed with a reactive approach. The nature of the freelance beast lends itself to a “show up and shoot” mentality.

Agency:

On the flip side, an agency operates with a strategic mindset. A creative brainstorm with the partner coupled with internal sessions ensure that the intricacies of the message are front and center. This is vital when it comes to postproduction and the edit. It leads to greater efficiency.

True Partnership 

Freelance:

It’s not that freelancers aren’t true partners. Their struggle comes with spreading themselves across multiple projects at the same time. Freelancers also might struggle to get the story right because of their inability to spend ample time on the front-end of the project. This leads to more guidance than necessary from the partner and leads to frustration.

Agency:

An agency built to tell stories understands the whole process. They have the ability to sit with the partner and then go execute. The first draft of the video should be close to the final version. A video content agency brings the partners vision to life and alleviates any stress associated with the process.

Cost

What’s it cost? I want to paint this point with a broad brush. It’s listed last for a reason because it shouldn’t be the first thing you consider when looking for a video partner. If it is, you might need to re-evaluate your marketing strategy.

I know it’s a big deal for most businesses. I’m a small business owner that evaluates cost every day, so I get it. I’m merely suggesting that cost should be considered after you evaluate the body of work and team that you’re considering. Don’t let it be a conversation stopper. There might be flexibility in that area.

As far overall cost, freelancers don’t play in the same ballpark. Video content agencies come with a much higher price tag. As a buyer, it comes down to whether you think a team of experienced subject matter experts who deliver a likely outcome are worth the investment or whether you’d rather take a chance. I’d love to tell you which way I lean.

Check out our work section or Vimeo page

Civil + Structural Engineer Magazine officially recognized Aerial Buzz, a Spiracle Media brand, as the winner of the Engineering Drone Video of the Year in its May edition. The video was focused on the Atherton Mill site in the South End of Charlotte. The project was a collaborative effort between Thomas Wilson, Director of Drone Operations, and AJ Chodora.

“I think autonomous drones are the future. It might be two to three years from now or it could be 10 years from now. As drone technology evolves, the pilot is going to be minimized to just maintaining flight safety. You can already see it in some of our current applications,” says Wilson. (Read the full article)

Find out more about Aerial Buzz

More Videos from Spiracle Media

The Spiracle Media team is excited to introduce “The Hive Life.” This podcast will pull back the curtain when it comes to process, partners and technology within the video marketing space.

Each episode will feature a relevant subject matter expert, a partner or other guests from related industries. The goal is to deliver a listening experience that is informative, encouraging, candid and fun.

In Episode 0, the partners at Spiracle Media talk through how things got started and what ingredients have served as a catalyst for growth.

On this episode:

Jarod Latch, Co-Founder & Director of Creative Content
Tim Baier, Co-Founder & Director of Business Development
David Kernodle, Partner & Director of Video Services

Meet our entire team.

Storytelling Overview

When we hear the words video storytelling, our mind most likely defaults to long-form storytelling. There are many applications for using this device and it’s still the best way to connect with characters and storylines. Long-form pieces are great in an epidsode format, at an event or during a sales meeting. These can be powerful ways of connecting with a specific audience.

On the flip side, shorter videos generate strong results as well. We know that utilizing shorter content to drive traffic via social media is a big deal. Our ongoing project with Queens University of Charlotte is a great example. The marketing team at Queens was looking for short, dynamic videos. One of the videos featured the MBA program.

The Idea

Our creative team, led by David Kernodle, pitched a style and tone that was intended to reach a younger audience. It’s goal was to showcase the hustle and bustle of life and why the MBA program is a viable option within the midst of that chaos. Planning is the most important part of any production. It is something that can’t be underestimated and serves as a catalyst for going from good to great on the execution side.

The Execution

The use of quick cuts and natural sound was imperative. Each video in the series will take on it’s own personality depending on the audience and messaging. Using your time wisely is extra important when working with an abbreviated window. Every second counts especially off the top.

Check out more of our partners or visit our Vimeo page.

Partner relationships are at the heart of everything Spiracle Media does. One of those relationships is with EVERFI. Over the last 5 years, our work together has resulted in an avalanche of content. The goal has always been to present the impact of EVERFI and its programs. They are powering more than 4,300 partner organizations and reaching over 16 million learners across all 50 states and Canada. In this brief testimonial, EVERFI CEO Tom Davidson shares his thoughts on the partnership and the important role that video has played.

Testimonial from CEO Tom Davidson


Check out more of our partners here or visit our aerial brand, Aerial Buzz.