Strategic Thinking, Tactical Decisions Lead To Great Storytelling

This is a video about a wonderful non-profit organization that helps women escaping hostile situations, in many cases from countries oppressive to women.   The strategic goals of this video production were to; 1) highlight the effectiveness of Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women.,  2) showcase the path to self sufficiency the residents of Sarah’s follow , 3) give thanks to those who  supported the organization and expand the number of supporters for the future.

The organization celebrating twenty years of service to women in need, and was founded by and receives a good portion of its funding from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, (CSJ) St. Paul Province along with many individuals.


Here’s how the tactical decisions came together as with most videos you have to deal with resources, technical issues, and policies.

  1. In many cases we did not want to use images of current residents to preserve their anonymity, this pointed us toward using stock images.
  2. We wanted to capture sound and video at a large dinner using an iPad, this gave us decent video, but we battled some sound issues.  We decided to go with the soundbites in the piece because they carried the story and were from members that supported the strategic goals.
  3. We interviewed the executive director to showcase the continuity of leadership to layout the funding environment for the future and closed with a thank you for donors and in doing so a means to donate on the website.

This was a combination of internal staff and Give It A Think productions working together to build a heart warming, story about success in seemingly impossible situations. We did this cost effectively, with creative use of resources, video editing and showcasing authentic individuals.

VIP Experience At High Point Market Fall 2016

This is a video I shot and edited for the VIP Experience at High Point Market Fall 2016. Always a pleasure working with this group and producing videos with David Blair from Emisare PR.   The elements in this piece were the walking tours of some great showrooms, including EJ Victor, Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren, and Currey & Company and a series of excellent interviews done by David at the Suites at Market Square exhibit hall. The tour was conducted by Soft Design Lab with Deb Barrett and Jackie Von Tobel




Tips For Creative Video Editing

I was looking at some recent job descriptions for editors and they didn’t include something I think is essential in a video editor and that is the ability to be resourceful without many resources.   Here’s what I mean.   I was covering the High Point Market, it’s a large furniture and interior design show in High Point, North Carolina.   I passed this very small exhibit space in which a new manufacturer was displaying their sole line of chairs.  Ironically, very very big and very very beautiful chairs.

The name of the company is Bruce Andrews Design.   They only make one type of chair.  Their exhibit space was small and they had a total of 3 chairs in the space.   Ok that’s not a lot of visuals to work with and I was under significant time constraints.   So I grabbed a quick interview, and some product shots wondering how this was going to come together.  This was not a prepared shoot.  As I go through this show I look for things that catch my eye, stories that others are not covering.   It is not the kind of shoot where you have planning meetings and an agreed upon storyboard.  This is a classic “news gathering” shoot where on the spot resourcefulness will determine whether you have a good final piece.

Below you see the final video where I used soundbites from the interview and visuals shot on-site edited with stills from The Bruce Andrews Design website. What made this interesting was the story behind the chair.  The video highlights this story using some creative video editing.  I combine music, sound effects, video and still images to draw the richness of the story and the product.  Of course the thought process and finding the right elements take a little time.  It did, however, turn a potentially bland piece into one that holds the interest of the viewers and transports them into the richness of the chair.   Isn’t that the essence of storytelling?

Bruce Andrews Design – A Chair For Royalty

If you are really into the details of creative video editing, here is how I added a little ah ha to the piece with some motion graphics.

Don’t Be A Dummy About Viral Videos

A classic icon can be a catalyst for viral videos today.   The icon comes from a 1980s public service announcement on seat belt safety.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council created a series of ads based on safety tests with crash test dummies.  Ultimately they gave the dummies  a persona of their own, meet Vince and Larry.  The genesis of these ads was the actual testing devices used in car safety tests.   Sometimes the routine and mundane for a person in their daily grind may blinded them to the interest and fascination others may find in their work.  It could be the content from which successful viral videos are produced. It’s simply a result of when different people look at the same situation.

Take another example of different perspectives on the same picture.   Dog owners loath the dreaded burr.  The nuisance plant element that attaches itself to your pet and causes you all kinds of frustration removing it.   Burrs and dogs were tangling for hundreds of years, and then dog owner George de Mestral  returned from a hunting trip in the Swiss Alps with a dog full of burrs.  Mestral’s electrical engineering mind perceived something could be made useful from this tangled mess and such was the beginning of what is today called Velcro.

Viral videos source

Crash Test Dummies

Back to our dummies and viral videos. The point for many companies is to look at the routine within the organization through the eyes of those who don’t see it as routine.  View your technical processes through the eyes of the untrained, the eyes of a consumer who may see something very different in its final form, but who may be amazed how it got that way.  There could be something interesting to thousands right under your nose.

The term viral video is about as overused and misinterpreted as the word Best.   Just as there are many “bests” depending on circumstances and intent, there are many cases of the appeal of a certain video.  A viral video need not turn into an American icon like Vince and Larry, it might not garner the views of a Kardashian rant, but it might be interesting enough for a niche audience to share, a prospect group to understand, and a perhaps motivate the people of interest to you to take the action you want.

Pull From Past To Be Creative Today

I was trying to figure out a creative way to tell the story of a new product introduced at the High Point Furniture Market. There are plenty of products introduced at markets and trade shows, they all get to sound the same. In this case, Designer Tina Nicole of Nathan Anthony furniture shared the inspiration for the Elan Swivel chair was the historic art period called the Dutch De Stijl. One of that period’s most popular artists was Piet Mondrian. Even if you are not familiar with art you might recognize Mondrian’s style using geometric shapes and primary colors.

Piet Mondrian

Mondrian Design

Nicole’s inspiration turned out to be mine as well. I researched a bit of the De Stijl period with both images of 1920-1930 Holland, sourced a song that wrapped the visuals in the time period and used Mondrian’s image to set the foundation for what was to come. Once that tone was set I needed to transport the viewer to today, a quick zoom pan edit into a scene from Nathan Anthony’s showroom at High Point Market with text indicating location and dateline Fall 2015 (see :20 mark). I retained the closing lyric of the 1930s music here because I wanted to ease the viewer into the present and give them time to read the text. This edit was essentially the “time transition” which set up the next edit that completed the “time transition” and set the tone for today’s modern twist on the old inspiration.

To make this “time transition” complete I used a cut edit with a flash transition (see :25 mark). I’m a former music DJ, and I went with a bang audio edit that does several things for the scene; 1) Audio shock, kind of a wake up edit, 2) Strong down beat to get the viewer immediately into the music track and present time period. 3) Audio complemented the visual flash so both the visual and aural senses were receiving the same information.

If you really want to get into the details, listen closely, what I wanted to do was come close in song choices at this critical edit point. You’ll notice that the edit at the 1930s tune was on a high note from what sounds like a clarinet and the beginning note for the present day music was in that same note range with probably a keyboard instrument. Yes this is the kind of creative process that turns what could have been a solid straight news-style piece into something that has more depth, interest, and let’s call it storytelling appeal. Hope you enjoy it. It was produced for one of my clients who sends me to furniture shows for content marketing stories.