Articles tagged Video

Video is taking over the Internet, and I don’t just mean those annoying auto-playing ones. According to Cisco, video will account for 84% of all U.S. Internet traffic in four years. Facebook’s VP thinks the social network will be all video in five years.

Ok, mandatory opening stats out of the way, let’s get to the topic.

People on the Internet want to watch videos. So naturally, that’s what businesses are giving them. And it’s not just B2C companies trying to get people’s play fingers. It’s B2B using videos to help establish their brand presence and to explain their complex offerings simply.

In other words, if you aren’t making videos, then, well, I don’t know, I guess you’re just hoping that people will parse all the text on your website.

But I’ll tell you this: No videos are still better than bad videos.

Videos are high-end collateral: High impact, high level of complexity, and high cost. They are investments, commitments, and a powerful part of a marketing strategy.

Except that a quick Google search will show you that you can get videos on the cheap…at least the animated kind most often used for explainer videos.

But there are few things more damaging to a brand than a cheap animation video. Cheap anything is a brand-damager. Unless, I guess, you’re like Wal-Mart, and they don’t even do cheap videos. No B2B brand should be associated with stock characters, cartoony animation, and generic imagery. And it’s not just mere association, video will be your leading collateral. And if your leading collateral is shoddy, so’s your brand.

But you still have a budget and it’s probably not in the Pixar range, so what can you do with limited resources to make videos that enhance your brand instead of detract from it?

  1. The first thing is to understand that videos are not a one-off investment. No collateral should just check a box, and that’s triply true for videos. They should be part of a detailed, overarching strategy. That way, it’s easier to secure the necessary funds for a great video, while on the other, being a part of a broader strategy increases the reach, relevance, and shelf-life of the video. In other words, those videos will provide more value to both you and to your audience.

  2. Make your videos shorter. For brand videos, that’s easy. You can communicate lasting impressions in under 30 seconds. B2B explainer videos are more difficult. Two minutes is a maximum many people use for explainer videos, but even at that length you’re looking at walls of narration and a lot of points to remember and connect. In reality, your audience will already need to be vested to even try to watch that length of video, and then they’ll probably only watch it once, and probably not all the way to the end. It can be tempting, when explaining a complex challenge or solution, to say everything in a video instead of just the absolute most important things. And even then, you should cut those things in half. Maybe by 90%. Break them into multiple videos is another option.

  3. Discuss a concept in advance with your vendor that will be less expensive to produce. In the same way that a $2 million indie flick can be more compelling than a $150 million Hollywood blockbuster, so too can a simple concept do more than a complex one. Google has told entire brand stories with four colored dots and a search field. And, again, those commercials were part of a larger, strategic story and were well polished.

Of course, we’re only dealing with half the battle here. Just because videos are priorities in the budget doesn’t mean they’ll be great B2B videos. Throwing money at something never guarantees quality. But that’s a different topic. Like a great video, I’ll keep this post short.

In the end, certainly make sure you’re making videos…but only if you’re making them smart and making them right.

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Glasses vs. Watches

So when we talk about wearable technology and Google, we immediately think Google Glass, but yesterday Google stepped into the burgeoning smartwatch arena. What it unveiled is probably the best-looking concept we’ve seen yet, especially when it comes to UI. Granted, the UI isn’t real yet and the bar for smartwatches isn’t very high, but it’s a great opportunity to compare and contrast the two prominent, near-future options we have for wearable tech: Glasses vs. Watches.

Now, the success of one doesn’t preclude the success of the other, but certainly most of the work around innovative experiences will be shunted to whichever devices catch on with the public at large.

Level of bias: I’m a watch guy. Always have been. Even today where I use my smartphone for telling time, I still wear a watch. I once wore a broken watch for an entire year. I’m completely invalidating this comparison, aren’t I?

Social Acceptance

Obviously, Google Glass has had some problems in this area. The fact that we have the term “glasshole” is testament enough to that. But the technology lends itself to disparagement…it’s showy and creates a filter between you and the people you’re interacting with.

Watches, on the other hand, are less obtrusive, stuck on a wrist, often hidden under a sleeve. Even the most expensive watch on the planet isn’t that showy for those reasons. Plus we’ve had centuries of getting used to the idea of a wearable timepieces (i.e., piece of tech). Heck, in many ways, the smartphone works on the same basic interaction principle as the pocket watch…you pull it out and look at it.

Personal Identity

Everything we do, everything we consume, everything we own, everything we wear contributes to our personal identity…how we perceive ourselves and how we want to be perceived by others. And we want to be in control of that.

For instance, many would wear a nice, expensive blazer, but few of us would raid Elton John’s closet circa 1975.

And that’s kind of the different between glasses and watches. Both say something about the person wearing it, but only one of the devices, like Elton John’s 1970s wardrobe, insists on us getting that message. And it’s that insistence that trips up glasses in the realm of social acceptance.

Plus, it messes with our face, the single biggest contributor to our personal identities. Even many people who love tattoos and get them all over their bodies reserve that space as a no-tattoo zone.

Interaction

Both glasses and smartwatches have voice and touch interactions, but one is a bit more alien than the other. Speaking into the air for Glass is different than speaking into a device on your wrist. Touching your face, different from touching a device on your wrist. In fact, speaking into or tapping a device on your wrist isn’t that far removed from speaking into or tapping a device in your hand.

Customizability

This aspect is connected to personal identity. Technically, there are a thousand different styles of frames a thousand different styles of watches, but the range of diversity is obviously much wider for watches.

In a way, personal devices have always been about fashion (and even when the devices themselves weren’t customizable, an enormous market for customizable cases opened up around them), but once we get to wearable technology, it’s even more so about how a device looks.

Watches allow customizability in the face (or, home screen in this case, I guess) and the band, whereas glasses lack that. And even if we were going to try to bedazzle our glasses like we bedazzle our phone cases, we get back into that trap of insisting on our personal identity that turns people off. Again, with watches, that’s less of a problem.

Future-Cool

Here, Glass should have the decided advantage, right? It’s way more futuristic than a mere smartwatch. The problem, though, is that it’s not the future we’ve been promised. In pop culture, all the cool personal technology advances we were promised were around our watches…James Bond, Dick Tracy…um…Inspector Gadget. So we’re not really looking for the future, we’re looking for the future we’ve been promised and which we’re comfortable with out of mere familiarity.

In pop culture, the heads-up display was always given to robots and invading aliens. Hm. Maybe that’s the real reason many are resistant to Glass. Bad connotations. Thanks a lot, movies.

Utility

Okay, here is where I think Google Glass finally wins and will ultimately win. Smartwatches are extremely tiny screens in out of the way spot on our body. Glass has the potential to offer screens of unlimited size, augmented reality, holographic projection, and all the conventional benefits of a heads up display. And that’s just scratching the surface. The eventual benefits of being able to have a large, hands-free screen anywhere under any conditions that can interact with the physical world as we see it has an unlimited number of applications.

Smartwatches are more constrained and seem more of a transitional technology at their best…which is basically the point of all the other points in this post: Right now, we ‘re probably more comfortable with the idea of smartwatches than Google Glass.

But cultural norms can change fast, especially with things that prove to be wildly useful.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Posted by Jason Ocker

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Our new world of Apple FaceTime, Facebook Video Calling, Google Hangouts, and WebRTC is pretty awesome, but sometimes I miss just being able to give somebody a high-five.

And so do the guys at MIT.

The Tangible Media Group over there have developed a system using a Kinect motion sensor, a grid of “physical pixels,” and some secret herbs and spices to allow people to manipulate physical objects over a video call. It’s called InForm, and they describe it as a “dynamic shape display.” From a CNET article:

The InForm…turns 3D data into crude, physical representations in real time…It can scan bodily movements and recreate them on a table of physical “pixels,” allowing you to manipulate objects on the other end. The pixels on the InForm table are actually a grid of 900 motorized, polystyrene pins that can extend about 4 inches from the surface.

It looks a lot like those grids of metal pins you find on people’s desks that you can press shapes into. Watch the video, it’s more clear than any explanation. It’s also extremely trippy. Of course, the system is in proto form right now, but it still looks pretty cool. High-five guys.

Man Recreates iOS 7 in Word

Posted by Jason Ocker

Man Recreates iOS 7 in Word

I’ve been using Microsoft Word my entire life, and I can barely put one paragraph after another. This guy shows how the entire interface…heck, the entire device, can be recreated using the program.

I’ve got no real commentary on this one. The video speaks for itself…hypnotically.

Movies Gettin' Around

Posted by Jason Ocker

Movies Gettin’ Around

All movie-goers (and industry representatives) are wondering it. What happens after 3D? Does it go away like it has in decades past? Does it linger around as a price upgrade that nobody really wants? Does another technology come along and up the stakes?

Well, if a South Korean theater has any say, it wants to accomplish that last bit, upping the stakes…stratospherically.

They call the new experience ScreenX, and it basically projects the movie in 270 degrees…on the screen in front of you and on the two walls beside you. Action takes place on all three screens (although not the entire time), and the movies have to be scripted and filmed specially for this format.

According to pieces on Slate and the Verge, filming for this format is extremely difficult and watching the movies can be discombobulating, but here’s where you throw in the “new technology” caveat.

However, as we’ve seen, if Hollywood sees a chance to charge a premium regardless of the quality of the experience, they’ll jump at it.

Mostly, this reminds me of the home entertainment systems in _Fahrenheit 451, _where each wall of a room was a massive television set, making for a surrounding, immersive, addictive experience.

You can see a bunch of ScreenX examples here.