I stumbled onto an article yesterday about a conference speaker who awed his audience with the slick, beautiful campaign he had designed and implemented for his client. The author of the article, How Conference Bullies Victimize Fundraisers, said he heard sighs of admiration from the audience as he showed off all the beautiful components of the media blitz. But the author had inside information: The much-admired campaign had actually been a “crushing failure. It was killed by a combination of abstract messaging, an unclear call to action, and (most of all) high spending in unproven media.”
Beauty alone just isn’t enough.
This reminded me of the many videos I have done and seen over the years. Some of the most effective were not the most polished or beautiful. I remember one I produced for a local non-profit many years ago. They had virtually no budget but they did great work. I shot all the video myself—I am not a professional videographer and it showed. I edited it and did the voiceover. It had strong content but I was not proud of the production quality.
You guessed it: That video evoked tears and even standing ovations during training events for the next five years. I was as surprised as anyone. It may not have been beautiful but it had poignant testimonies of changed lives and rekindled hope. It worked.
Although we’d love for all of our videos to be cinema quality, this story provides a great lesson: Lower quality videos can be highly effective. They can help people stay connected to our ministry, church, or non-profit work on a more regular basis. They can take donors straight to the streets, dingy rooms, horse barns, or college campuses where we serve. Here’s an example of a lower-cost video I’ve done recently.
Having said that, it’s important to provide one essential caveat. The video needs to be as good as possible within your budget constraints. Anything connected with your organization should not be sloppy, thrown together, or half-baked. I just produced for a Christmas card video for a local non-profit. It was produced on a shoestring budget. This is how I did it:
- I shot this video on a Nikon Coolpix P7700. It is not considered a professional camera but shoots nice quality stills and HD video. It cost around $399. I did my homework and found a camera that was compact but had great video quality. I put it on a cheap tripod to keep the shot from bouncing around.
- Since the camera doesn’t record great audio, I used a little digital recorder called a Zoom H1 (around $94). I had to sync the audio and video when I began editing, but once they were linked, I was good to go.
- I shot b-roll (cover footage) so I could add some interesting shots and still shots to illustrate the words being spoken.
- I edited this on professional software (Final Cut Pro) but you don’t have to. This could have been edited on iMovie (Mac) or Movie Maker (Windows) which are provided with most personal computers these days.
- I bought the stock photo of the feet in bed for $3 at 123rf.com. Not as much selection as the more expensive sites but MUCH cheaper!
If this is too complicated for you, you can just buy a little flip camera, make sure you keep it very close to your subject so you get good audio and hold the camera still. Hey, that works too!
Bottom line: You’ll want to find someone who has some experience in video or photography OR you can spend some time learning it yourself. It’s fun! Getting everything set up is the hardest part but once you get your system down, you’ll be ready to roll.
If you need help getting started, I’ll be glad to work with you. Contact me and I’ll help you figure it out and even walk you through your first big production!