80/20 Video Rules
If you’ve ever filmed and edited a short video you know it’s an infuriatingly time-sucking process. After my company, Gotham Bicycle Defense Industries, ran our LaunchRock campaign we had hundreds of eager customers and we knew the best way to connect and create a bond was via video. But, holy crap, was it hard!
After dropping 350 team-hours storyboarding, filming, editing our Kickstarter video, we decided there had to be a better way. So we hired a dead Italian economist to help us.
Vilfredo Pareto, originator of the 80/20 Rule, governs all decisions within our company. You can read much more about the Pareto Principle, but in short it states that 80% of benefits come from 20% of efforts. We mastered 80/20 Video creation with Gotham’s latest bike light thief Christmas video. Here are four essential tactics we used:
1. A stitch in time: Whether you’re making a 30 second update message on your iPhone or submitting a 5 minute business competition entry, planning is key. Start with a storyboard: hand sketches and a few notes showing each shot of your film. We’ve found that a minute of planning saved us an hour of filming and editing.
2. Beware raccoon eyes: Lighting and sound trump expensive equipment. To find good lighting, go outside. If outdoors doesn’t work for your film, setup a series of halogen or incandescent lights to flood the scene. Brighter always better. But don’t use overhead lights – they will give your subject raccoon eyes and make them look hung over. As for cameras, my weapon of choice is a steady hand and an iPhone 5: it’s the ultimate 80/20 camera. If you have a couple thousand dollars to spend, my 2nd favorite is a Canon 7D and a 17-40mm L-series lens.
3. Avoid Used Car Dealers: How do you know when a local TV ad comes on? Cheesy salesmen with bad combovers and horrible sound quality. The audio just sounds cheap. If you want 80/20 audio quality and don’t have a separate microphone, separate audio from video with voiceovers. You can hold the mic directly up to your to record a voice narrative and drop that in the background of your video. If voiceover won’t work for your film, than you can still make it sound decent by carefully choosing the room. Listen for HVAC systems – the mic will amplify. Also, pay attention to the echo of the room – too echo-y and it’ll sound like your filming in the bathroom. Lastly a little background music can hide a lot.
4. These speakers go to 11: You may be very engaging in person, but on camera you’ll be boring. Your voice will sound monotone, your face will be lifeless, and your body language will be depressed. You have to overcompensate just to sound normal. Do you think Ellen Degeneris and Jon Stewart are that animated in real life? To pump ourselves up, we copied friends Miro and Tom and creators of the MBA Show. They would pump themselves up before every episode by jumping around and shouting “ELEVEN!”
80/20 video creation culminated in our latest and greatest music video, “Merry Christmas, Screw You”. 1:43 seconds of video took about 10 team-hours to create a jingle, film it, and edit it. And most importantly, we had a blast doing it.