Monday, December 28, 2015

Videos: Take 127 and Counting


by Pam Hillman

A few months ago, my publisher asked me and several other authors to make videos for an event in Dallas, Texas. The plan was to use the 90-second videos on the overhead to showcase the authors and their latest novels. 
A 90-second video? About me and my book? How hard could that be? After all, the instructions said not to stress over it. This was to be spontaneous and fun. Just make a video using my smart phone and call it a day. Piece of cake, right?
Wrong.
It took—awhile. A lot of awhiles. In the end, I have to say I know more about what to do and, more importantly, what NOT to do than before. So, without further ado, here is what I learned making this video. These tips aren't in any particular order of importance, because honestly, every step of this process is important. You’re putting yourself out there in front of others, so you don’t want to goof up too much. 
First, prepare your script and make sure it matches the requested length of your video, if that’s an issue. Memorize it. (If you can wing it, you're way ahead of the game!) Remembering my script was the hardest part for me. I’d get half-way through and go blank or say the wrong thing. Notes and video cameras just don’t work well together, you know.
While you’re practicing, if you’re going to be recording at home, find a spot where you feel comfortable. Decide if you’re going to sit or stand. You might even have to organize (aka—clean) the space. But before you do that, record a few trial runs. Your ideal spot might not be so ideal for lighting.
Due to some pull-your-hair-out-scream-in-frustration technical difficulties that I’ll get to later, I ended up recording late at night, then having to start over the next morning. Take 15. The lighting was all wrong because I’d chosen a room with lots of windows. The night version had soft light and the day time had much brighter, harsher light. So, even though I had some good clips from the night before, I couldn't use them. I had to start completely over. In hindsight, a spot in the den where the light wasn’t affected as much by day/night would have been a better choice if you have to record on multiple days/nights.
You'll also notice that the night recording would have been much better as far as glare is concerned. But I was out of time. Lesson learned thinking this would be a 90 second job. :)

Still of a clip made at night.


Still of a clip recorded in the early morning.
Decide what you’re going to wear. If you end up like me and have to start over the next day, you’ll want to wear the same outfit if you’re going to splice your recording together.
Do you have any pets or children? Are they prone to bark, yowl, howl, or interrupt? My dog started barking around Take 27.
Is your A/C or Heat on? If so, turn it OFF. My recording was in August, and it’s hot in Mississippi in August, but the A/C would kick in and not only could you hear it, you could see a slight dimming of the overhead lights every time it came on…something I’d never noticed, but was noticeable on the video. Minor, but something that bugged me. Crank the heat up (or the A/C down), then turn it off when you get ready to record. Take 34.
Don’t forget to mute your phones and computers. Nothing is more frustrating than to be rocking along and almost to the end of your video to hear “ding” from your computer. Take 50. Sigh.
Adults who live with you are a little harder to anticipate. My husband came home during one take, then asked what I was doing (Take 59). Then he decided to watch Bonanza (Take 65). I’m not sure he realized that noise—ANY NOISE—was forbidden. If there’s no way to keep children, pets, and significant others out of the video, then just plan to incorporate them in. I’m sure I was too focused on trying to be pristine and perfect. Yes, I’m sure of it. But I was having a hard enough time remembering my script without stopping mid-sentence to announce, “Oh, that’s just the dog taking the wheels off the UPS truck. Now, where was I?”
Even if you’re used to speaking gigs, being recorded--or recording yourself--is different, and it’s a learned skill. I’m not an accomplished speaker, but I get by. I don’t get nervous, but when speaking, we’ve always been taught to pan the room, looking around at the audience. So, it took a lot of practice to get out of that habit for the recording. Do you have a habit of adjusting your glasses, scratching your nose, or your ear? Maybe rolling your eyes? :) Do some practice runs and see what your tics are. It’s okay to act natural, but scratching your cheek 10 times becomes noticeable after about the third time.
Figure out the best angle for the camera and where you need to look. On a smart phone, you look at the screen, I think we’re all pretty comfortable with that. But on a digital recorder with a view finder, it’s a bit trickier. Remember those technical difficulties? I had to switch to the recorder on my digital camera because my iPhone was suddenly full and no amount of deleting or uploading to the cloud or even upgrading to more cloud storage gave me more space. My camera was different to my phone and I had to learn where to look all over again. Oy vey!
Basically, everything I’ve told you is common sense, and most of you can probably do this type thing with your hands tied behind your back, but I’ve never been comfortable in front of a video camera or on stage. Drama? Not my thing. I’m too much of a stickler for delivering the lines exactly as they’re written, and if I don’t get my “cue”, I’m totally lost. All in all, my biggest issue was getting all tongue-tied in my script. I think if I could have gotten that part down pat, things would have gone much faster. But at my age, I’m not sure memorizing a script is going to happen at this point.
Which leads to the next tip. Don’t try to print the script and paste it behind the camera. Just don’t. The eyes jumping from the camera to the script and back is extremely nerve-wracking. Trust me on this one.
So, what else did I learn? Lots!
For instance, if you have trouble remembering your 90 second spiel, don’t keep starting over every time you mess up. Just stop, take a deep breath, scream, frown at the camera, stick out your tongue, whatever you feel like, then smile, hold it for several seconds, then pick up at a point before you goofed up and keep going. You can delete and splice sections together later.
I figured out how to merge clips together and it was about that time that I realized that if I’d made the recording from different angles … ie. NOT looking straight at the camera, I could have included some stills of the book cover and covered those "splices" a bit better. An aha moment somewhere around Take 89.
And, last, another tactic is to completely be yourself. Don’t worry about the gaffs. I could have recorded snippets of my house, my dog, the cows in the pasture, a few of me writing or cooking or walking across the pasture with the dog, and then dubbed (note to self: learn how to dub...) over that with the “spiel”. That would have been more entertaining and not as cardboard-cookie-cutter bland. But sometimes we have to try something before we realize what works and what doesn’t.
Was I able to apply everything I learned to the video I was working on? No. I wasted my time with my head stuck in the sand. But I have some ideas on how to make a better video next time. And as with just about anything, practice makes … uh… better. Obviously, I need more practice. I’ll see y’all again some time after Take 201.
We all start at different places in speaking, being interviewed for radio and TV spots, and even recording ourselves or being recorded by others. Hopefully, some of you started out a lot farther down the path than I did, so I’d love for you to share tips of your recording experiences.
Yes, yes, I know you all want to see the final recording. It's not pretty, so don't say I didn't warn you.




Okay, here's a blooper, by request. You can tell I get off-track about 3 seconds into this clip. Then it goes downhill from there. At one point, I almost turn the camera off, but decide to take a deep breath, SMILE, and keep going. This is also after my iPhone had failed me, AND my digital camera was shutting off at the 30 second mark. That's when the clip just ends. Honestly, on the outside, I look very calm and collected, but on the inside, I am coming UNGLUED.

Also, this is a good example of the difference in the lighting. This clip was made at night while the full video was made during the day.



This is probably the point at which I screamed, stomped around and cried a few tears. Thank goodness that part was off camera. Drama worthy of a soap opera!


Don't forget to join us on December 31st as the Seekers bravely ring in the New Year!!! Come early, stay late!



108 comments :

  1. Well, I couldn't even get the video to play so I guess that goes to show you and I am definitely NOT digital recording savy! I'd probably never be able to figure it out, drama wasn't my thing in high school or beyond either. I hate being put "on the spot" and that's what I'd feel like. No acting career in my future....lol!! Bravo to you, Pam for sticking it out, maybe your 128th count will be the charm :-)

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  2. Aw, shucks, Marianne! lol :)

    Trixi, I don't think it's your fault that you can't view the video. I thought we'd be able to see it once the blog posted, but it's a tad too big for blogger. FYI, blogger says the videos have to be 100mb. This one is 112mb. So, I'm attempting to upload it to YouTube. Another first for me!

    Marianne, I'm thinking I'm just BRAVE, not amazing. It takes a lot of guts to put a video up on Youtube. :(

    58% uploaded to Youtube right now. I'm waiting for something to blow up and say, "Sorry, we're unable to upload your video!"

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  3. And... we have launch! I managed to upload the video to Youtube, then embed it here in Seekerville. Whew!

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  4. Great job Pam! I guess I saw the YouTube version.

    Have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  5. Given the fact that I can't stand to have my picture taken, I would probably break out in hives doing a video like yours. Well done, Pam!

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  6. Ah, the glory of youtube!!!! It makes everything user-friendly, Pam, and I found that out the hard way, too.

    This is such good information!!! I need to practice this (and so many other things, LOL!) but I love your ease with this now!

    SWEEEET!

    I brought COFFEE.... FRESH, HOT COFFEE and I've got the Keurig on hand, so jump in, folks and let's talk!!!!!

    THREE DAYS UNTIL THE NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY EXTRAVAGANZA!!!!!!!

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  7. Impressive! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Nicely done! Thanks for sharing your progress. I'm not a fan of video-taping myself. Never seem to get everything right!

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  9. Good Morning Pam!

    I just watched your video three times in a row. (I tried to watch it last night but it was a no go.) And, as a marketing guy, I give it five stars for sincerity and authenticity. I totally felt you were speaking from your heart without there being any marketing 'finger prints' on your effort. Reading something a fan wrote is the best way to read something as it is a kind of sharing with the viewer.

    The biggest surprise to me, after all these years, was hearing your soft warm southern accent. I've always imagined you as having a more formal Midwestern accent. Your sympathetic voice combined with the idea that your 'first attempt' novella was rejected had me rooting for you from the start! But you had me totally under your spell when you got to the words, 'forgiving our selves'.

    This is exactly why I'd give your video 5 Stars as a marketing presentation:

    From the very opening you made me feel, as a viewer, that I was in your home and that you were talking directly to me and that you were sharing your heartfelt thoughts on why I might find reading "Stealing Jake" a rewarding experience.

    This is hitting the Gold Standard for marketing success. Believe me: no professional announcer supported by the best Hollywood production crew could have made that video with as much reader impact.

    The marketing lesson here is: don't get lost in the production details. Just be yourself and share your love for what you want to share with your readers.

    Vince

    P.S.
    I'd love to see you make a video for "The Evergreen Bride" (my favorite Hillman story) which is part of the "12 Brides of Christmas" but which can be bought separately for just .99 cents. (I wish all novella collections would offer this purchase alone option.)

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  10. This would definitely not be my deal. I'd fret myself to death.
    Thanks for the advice!

    We finally got a snow instead of just rain. Yay. It's not supposed to last but a couple of hours but I'm always glad to see a little of the white stuff.

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  11. I LOVE your accent!!!!!!!! Listened to it twice just to hear those dulcet tones. :-) And I think you are terribly brave. I'm like Jill, can't stand having my picture taken so doing a video would floor me. You look like a pro. But what a lot of work!

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  12. I'll join Jill and Kav in their dislike of having my picture taken, along with public speaking, that definitely will bring on a case of hives, LOL.

    You are both brave and amazing Pam, I loved your video, your voice sounds kind of country southern to me, so I felt right at home listening to you.

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  13. This would definitely be a challenge. Job well done. thanks for informing us as to what needs to be done.

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  15. Before Christmas, we tried to tape a family rendition of "Away in A Manger" for my in-laws. We had my wife on flute, my older son on clarinet, and my younger son on saxophone. (I tried to be on piano, but the piano was slightly out of tune. My contribution was transposing the music for the different instruments.)

    I have no idea how many takes we took, eventually eliminating them for squeaks, wrong notes, taking breaths at the wrong time, and too much of thumb in the picture recording. We eventually gave up.

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  16. Good morning, Seekerville!!! So, we've weathered all the yummy parties from daylight to dark and are heading into the final big blowout at the end of the year! Whoot!!

    Breakfast spread of coffee, tea, OJ, fruit, Greek yogurt and some light and fluffy eggs, bacon and toast. Dig in!

    PS... my sister-in-law made an Eggnog Cake for Christmas. To die for yummy, but so rich Croesus would have approved. Now you know what to do with all that leftover eggnog! :)

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  17. Yes, Cindy, the Youtube version loaded about 1:45 Eastern. For the record, it was only 12:45 here, so I didn't stay up quite as late as it looks fixing my techno glitch. I probably shouldn't tell that.... I'm undermining the sympathy card, you know! lol

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  18. Jill, I'm with you! But with cameras permanently attached to folks' hands in the form of smartphones, I'm starting to get more comfortable with it every day. Hey, even the most reclusive of us can adapt. :)

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  19. Ruthy, so true about Youtube. At least it occurred to me to route the video through there, and voila!, it worked!

    Thank, Jackie and Just Commonly. We probably should all get brave and take more videos. Then it would just be ho-hum, been there, done that, got the t-shirt. :)

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  20. Awww, Pam I am sorry it took so many takes to complete your video. But thank you for sharing what you learned! My foray into making videos of myself began when I recorded a vlog as my first blog post, when I began my blog. I thought 42 takes was a lot! I ended up recording at different times of the day.

    Don't laugh, but I ended up making my recording right after I got ready for the day because my hair looked good. :) Yes, I may be a little vain that way.

    I don't have time to read all the comments right now, but I'll add one crucial thing I learned: Make sure your background won't distract the viewers. My kitchen table sits in front of our pantry from certain angles, and it would have been really distracting! I ended up recording in my living room, with lamps providing soft lighting, at about you 6:30 in the morning, so kids wouldn't interrupt and so my hair looked good. The backdrop was a neutral beige with part of a large picture frame. It looked reasonably good, I think. :)

    LOVED reading your tips! Thanks for sharing from your adventure. :)

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  21. Vince, you are amazing. That assessment, coming from you, our resident marketing guru, is high praise indeed. I would never have found the "gems" you described that you saw and heard in that video. I only saw the flaws.

    I'm feeling so much better about that video now! :)

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  22. Connie, we have rain today, and I'm thankful to be snug here at home. Not planning to get out at all. The temperature has dropped to a refreshing 73 degrees after hovering around 79-81 with a 90-95% humidity all through Christmas. We had an extended family photo session on December 24th and it was hot, muggy, and just crazy for Christmas!

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  23. Hi Pam
    I loved your video because I got to hear your Voice voice, not your comment section "voice", if that makes any sense. Now when I read your comments, I will be able to really "hear" you. :)

    As a former film student, I'd say you just passed Film Making 101, the hard way. Congrats!!!! I think your list of dos/don'ts is wonderful and uber helpful for the average "joe/jane". All your "miscues" make for great examples. We always learn more from our mistakes than from perfection anyway. Thanks for sharing!!!!

    I'm with other villager commenters on the fear factor of posting a video. I don't care what you think, but you ARE BRAVE for putting yourself out there to the Ethernet. Go you! I'm thinking there are a bunch of us needing to put the video fear in that fear chest come New Year's celebration...

    Thanks again, Pam. I love your "voice" (both literal and literary).

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  24. Great job, Pam! Thank you for sharing with us. Making a video would definitely be hard for me. I absolutely hate the sound of my voice on recordings, and I'm sure it would take me a thousand retakes to find one I could live with.

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  25. No.Freaking.Way. Or, Yes.Freaking.Way if it will get my message out. Thanks for a good nuts-and-bolts tutorial.
    Kathy Bailey
    Willing to try in NH

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  26. PAMMY!!! What are you talking about -- your video is AWESOME!! I totally agree with Vince that this is a 5-star video. He said:

    "From the very opening you made me feel, as a viewer, that I was in your home and that you were talking directly to me and that you were sharing your heartfelt thoughts on why I might find reading "Stealing Jake" a rewarding experience."

    That's exactly how I felt, too!! And ditto what Vince and Tracey said about your warm Southern accent -- you not only made me feel right at home, but I kept wanting to hug you too! ;)

    Great post, my friend, and if I do another video, YOU are the person I'm gonna call!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  27. Okay, apparently the southern drawl is a hit (Kav and Vince). Must remember to capitalize on that!

    And country southern even more so (waving at Tracey). ;)

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  28. You can do it, Wilani!

    Walt, I feel your pain. I daresay your video was beautiful and the in-laws would have loved it. We tend to be too hard on ourselves.

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  29. Jeanne T said: Don't laugh, but I ended up making my recording right after I got ready for the day because my hair looked good. :) Yes, I may be a little vain that way.


    Jeanne -- no way am I laughing!!! I am SO there with you! But 6:30 in the morning? I'm afraid I'd be yawning into the camera! lol

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  30. Pam, my aunt is a professional speaker. She's also a southerner. She once commented that her southern accent got deeper when she realized that people would pay to hear her talk southern.

    I would appreciate prayers on my aunt's behalf. She broke her leg last week.

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  31. Deb!!! Man, I could have used your expertise on Film Making 101 a few months ago! But thank you for

    And isn't it wonderful to hear someone's real voice? We get a picture in our heads, and then it's rarely like we think. I see (and hear) one of my aunts when I'm on video. I use some of the same facial expressions that she does, especially the little "chagrined" lip twisting.

    I tried to do more smiling and less chagrin! lol

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  32. Pam, I'm so impressed with your video! You were warm and inviting. Your advice is excellent and thorough. I've never made a video except by accident, but if I ever need to, this is my go-to post!

    Btw, I loved Stealing Jake!

    Janet

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  33. Rhonda, I figured I was not alone. But you can do it. Maybe we should have a Face Your Video Fear party some day! :)

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  34. Kathy, go for it! :)

    There's software that can do some of this a lot easier. A friend used her iPad to video the kids at school, then they merged and spliced and set it to music. The "fades" from one frame to the next were smooth, not jarring. I really need to see what she used. She's not high-tech, but she said it was SO easy. I'll ask her how she did it.

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  35. Julie... you'd put your professional "life" in my hands? Lord, woman, that is a scary thought!!! lol Trust me, I barely know where to find the record button.

    Oh, here's another tip... Remember that I started my video journey with the iPhone because I knew I could edit out clips on it. Then, of course, I had to send those to my laptop, which was a pain. But anyway, I didn't have any hi-tech equipment to set up my iPhone, so I used a small flat box and a couple of rubber bands. This held the camera upright ... on the stack of books on the table, in case you're wondering... Books are such versatile items, aren't they?

    In the end, my digital camera was the better option since it records to a 1gig memory card.

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  36. Oh, Walt, so sorry to hear about your aunt! Praying for her. And, I'll remember that about my accent.

    Shucks, I could have a whole new career just talkin' Southern to folks! lol

    Seriously, I know what you mean. Back when I worked in corporate America, many times people would keep me on the phone and eventually they'd admit it was just so they could hear me talk. ;)

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  37. Pam, I second what Vince and Julie said. You did a great job! I loved hearing your warm voice and smiling face welcoming me into your home.

    I'd never attempt to memorize a script, so bravo!!! I've always been an extemporaneous speaker...a debater in highschool and college, a Sunday night TV news gal, and public speaker and teacher. In other words, I wing it. My highschool debate coach broke my habit of saying, "uh" and "hum" by using one of those old tin cricket clickers during presentations. It was like nails on a chalkboard.

    My husband used my Kindle Fire to make a video of me for my website. We chose a giant backyard tree for the backdrop, along with the cattle roaming on the other side of the fence. I sounded very Nashvillian, but you wouldn't believe all the background noise!! Wind, dogs, mooing cows, neighborhood children laughing. A friend who's a whiz cleaned up a lot of it, but it's still not a professional job. Then it wouldn't upload because it was too long so I had to record it a few more times to make it shorter. I'm taking a cue from you. Next time, I'll sit at my desk...inside. :)

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  38. I just texted my friend and she said the app she used was called Video Star. And the kids are the ones who knew how to operate it. She said she just turned the iPad ON and OFF. lol

    Yep, the kids are our ticket to video stardom!

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  39. Thank you, Janet!

    Video by accident reminds me of video I saw of a couple (I would say older, but I expect they were about MY age!!!) whose kids bought them a computer with a webcam. Somehow they turned on the webcam and maybe the "FaceTime" or sky ping or something and had this long conversation about how to get the computer to work, and all the time they were being recorded. It was hilarious.

    Hmmmm... I think I need to cover my camera on my laptop now... 8-\

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  40. You are a braver woman than I am! Video???? The thought scares me to death!

    But I love your video. And thank you for all of the tips - things I never would have thought about. I probably would have recorded the video with the washer and dryer both going in the background!

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  41. Hi Kav:

    You wrote:

    " Listened to it twice just to hear those dulcet tones. :-)"

    I'm jealous!
    I would have loved to have thought of using "dulcet tones". It's just perfect.

    It's always fun to read all the comments on Seekerville.

    Vince

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  42. Barbara, I'll have to check out your video! :)

    And, yes, the outside noise seems to be magnified ten-fold, especially wind, something we seem to tune out in everyday life. As you experiment with the videos, consider uploading it to Youtube, then copying the "Embed" link to your website while in html mode. That works well. Embed lets you view the video on your website, but it's "hosted" on Youtube.

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  43. Hi Pam:

    Think like a writer!

    In advertising there are always two forces usually in competition with each other. Copywriters look at the selling power of any piece of advertising. Artists and art directors look at the visual appearance of an advertisement.

    In a video like yours a copywriter will see how well it is working towards its purpose of selling the viewer on reading the book.

    An artist will be looking at the visuals to catch any flaws in the look of the product. This is the best approach if you want to create ads that have the best chance of winning graphic awards at Advertising Conventions and thus advancing your personal career. (Such ads look great in a portfolio).

    My advice is to always go with the copywriters. They are salesmen in print. Artists are creative and fun but few I ever met were salesmen.

    Just a little 'inside advertising'.

    Vince

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  44. What an encouraging and helpful post, Pam! Thank you! I love videos like yours, and I've wondered about doing one of my own, if I can work up the courage. :-)

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  45. Barbara!!! I just watched your video. Outstanding. What a wonderful way to welcome readers to your website.

    http://www.barbarajscott.com/for-readers.html

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  46. On The Topic of Videos

    While we are talking about videos, I'd like to point out that Myra and Dora Hiers made some absolutely wonderful, home made, 5-star, very short teaching videos for their online course:

    "CREATING CHARACTERS THAT COME ALIVE".

    Maybe we can get Myra or Dora to do a post on the making of those videos sometime in 2016.

    I think this is a much needed topic for writers to learn more about. And you have us off to a very strong start!

    Vince

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  47. I'd kinda like to see outtakes or you goofing up.

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  48. Oh, Pam, I could listen to your sweet voice all day!

    But I agree with Mary, outtakes would be fun!

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  49. Thanks, Pam!! When I have a good hair day, I'll think about recording one inside. :)

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  50. Pam it was so fun to see you and hear your voice. That great southern lilt.

    Great advice, too.

    I've done several 'live' video things and you are SO RIGHT that taping is different. Live ... honestly you're TRYING to jabber away, fill an hour. But 90 seconds and TAPED? Every word and second needs to count.

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  51. Fun post, Pam. I enjoyed your video. I agree that it is fun to hear your voice as I feel like I know everyone well here on Seekerville even though I have never met any of you, (other than Skyping with Julie for my book group!) Ok, I guess I did meet Mary at a book signing years ago, not that she would remember that! :) But it is really different to actually hear the voice. I knew you were from Mississippi so wasn't surprised to hear your accent, but I probably hadn't thought much about it. (In my head everybody speaks like a Nebraskan. Ha ha!)

    It takes me forever to take a picture and post it when Seekerville asks us to put up a certain picture, so I can't imagine how long it would take me to do a video on my phone.

    By the way, I did see that video of the couple trying to learn to Skype, and it was hilarious. They were quite a bit older than you, though, Pam.

    You will be interested to know that our church librarian just bought Stealing Jake for our church library. I was excited to see she had purchased a Seeker book!

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  52. Jan, I'm surprised that the washer and dryer WEREN'T going! lol

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  53. So sorry I'm late. The post office didn't have a line today!!

    Wow this is so much information! Thank you, Pam!!

    Any hints for how to make ourselves look thinner on camera???

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  54. Very interesting, Vince. So, if I listen to what I'm saying and how I say it without looking at the video and I like that part, you think that's what viewers are drawn to more than the visual?

    I just listened without looking and I like it except for a few little hiccups.

    Hmmm, now that I think about it... incorporating cute puppies, baby calves, running horses, and grazing cows is definitely looking more appealing. Hey, I even have a short video of two of our bulls fighting. Now that I could really get behind! :)

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  55. Vince, I agree! I'd love to see more of this too.

    Mary, I don't know if I'm THAT brave. And, truthfully, I deleted most of them, CRINGING! But I think I might have a few left. I'll see what I can do. If I can remember how to do the clips. This was back in August, btw.

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  56. Hi Pam:

    You asked:

    "So, if I listen to what I'm saying and how I say it without looking at the video and I like that part, you think that's what viewers are drawn to more than the visual?"

    Oh, no, Pam, that's not it at all. The visual must be looked at as well since it is a visual presentation. You definitely want great artwork and the best artists you can find. That's a given. However, when it comes to judging the video for selling power, this is where you should think like a copywriter. Does the ad do its job? Is it sincere? Is it authentic? Is it persuasive? Is anything important missing? (Like a call to action).

    So given two ads to compare.

    Ad 1 has the best graphics. It is beautiful to watch. But it is not personal. It is not authentic in that any other author could run the same ad. The ad is not persuasive. It's just pretty.

    Ad 2 is home made and lacks any professional polish from the graphic POV. But ad 2 is an authentic, sincere, personal and persuasive presentation.

    My believe is, from much experience working with artists in the retail advertising industry, that the artists will select Ad 1 and the copywriter will pick Ad 2.

    That's what I meant about thinking like a writer (copywriter); however, I might have said it better if I said: "Think like a salesman."

    Vince

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  57. Pam, I'm impressed! Great job! Love your voice, as many have mentioned. It's warm and soothing, and I feel that you're sitting across from me in my own office. But wait, my office is piled with papers...so we're definitely in YOUR office!

    Thanks for sharing all your tips and takes! I wouldn't know where to start, although after reading your post, I know who to ask for HELP!!!

    Have you posted the video on your website? If not, you should.

    Happy Christmas Monday! I'm trying to get back into the work routine, but it's a struggle.

    Hugs to all!

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  58. Now, we have a BLOOPER for your viewing pleasure.

    Honestly, how did you guys get me to DO this?

    I may never show my face in public again...

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  59. I've done several 'live' video things and you are SO RIGHT that taping is different. Live ... honestly you're TRYING to jabber away, fill an hour. But 90 seconds and TAPED? Every word and second needs to count.


    So true, Mary! I did a live interview thing on Blab with Johnnie Alexander, Diana Brandmeyer and Johnnie's daughter who was our "hostess". It was just plain out fun, even though it was recorded for later. Just different. Maybe that's the way to go instead of attempting to record myself.

    Or, maybe just NOT record myself ever again. Ah... now THAT's a thought! :)

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  60. Sandy, I'm convinced photos and videos are all part of Darth Vadar's plot to take over the world! lol But we do what we have to. :)

    And that is SO cool that your librarian got a copy of Stealing Jake for the library! Thank her from me! And if she wants some bookmarks, I'd be glad to send them. Just let me know. :)

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  61. Any hints for how to make ourselves look thinner on camera???

    Ugh, Tina, I think that's impossible. We had extended family photos made last week and had so much fun together, but the camera really does add 10 pounds. Or, in my case, I think it adds 30-40! Yes, it is the camera's fault. ;)

    Seriously, I think there are different tricks to use for photos vs. video. For instance, in waist-up shots of the video, it seems to me that my face looks thinner on video than it does in photos. Maybe it's the 3D effect of video where photos are more 2D. Maybe?

    And... a full body video? You've GOT to be kidding! No. No. Just No.

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  62. Got it, Vince. Thanks for the additional explanation. :)

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  63. Love the blooper! You still seem so poised! And I'm still impressed!

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  64. I haven't posted it on the website, Debby, since the end specifically mentions "hope you have a good time tonight". Now that it's posted to Youtube, it would be easy to embed it on my website on the Stealing Jake book page.

    Vince, I might even be able to do a short one for The Evergreen Bride for that page. :)

    And I especially like Barbara's idea of a "welcome" video.

    I'm sure one could go overboard with videos.

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  65. VINCE: You said My advice is to always go with the copywriters. They are salesmen in print. Artists are creative and fun but few I ever met were salesmen.

    Truer words never said, my friend. I'm an artist born and cannot make a sale to save my life (well, maybe to save my life, but egad... the pain *ack* *cough* *whine*). Although, I've done enough work with animation and creating things that I would probably pick AD#2 (heartfelt but lacking graphics polish) because I'm all about story. I'd cringe a tad, but I'd pick it. Perhaps that's the writer in me that may sometimes battle the ol' arteeeest. *heh*

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  66. Deb, I have a bit of both in me, the writer and the graphics artist. Is one left brain, the other right brain? Maybe...

    So, I feel the effects of the story (the words being spoken and how they're spoken), but I also notice the visual affects to. I suppose in a amateur video presentation that's not a bad thing. :)

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  67. Pam, I will pass along your thanks to our church librarian and see if she wants bookmarks. Thanks.

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  68. The trouble with full body videos is the camera has to be AWAY from us. I only have the skill to do a video with my laptop or, probably with my iPad.
    To get the camera far away don't you HAVE to get help?

    Although I did find a way to crop minutes out of a youtube video.

    I have about a 20 second video of my youngest daughter trying to take her first steps ... it's at the end of an hour long School Christmas Program.

    And I managed to crop that out. It's very cute but few people will hunt through an hour long video to find her.....including her.

    So I suppose I could start the video camera and walk over to where ever I wanted to stand or sit, and do it.

    Now that I know how to edit video.

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  69. Hi Pam:

    I think a 'welcome' video is a very good idea to have on your website. Such a video can quickly invest the viewer in an author's world within just a minute or two. This short exposure may well give the author a 'position' in the viewer's mind that is far more memorable and emotionally personable than other authors who are known only from their pictures and comments as blog guests.

    Some elements I'd like to see in a 90 second welcoming video:

    Opening: "I'm Pam Hillman. Welcome to my world."

    Scene 1: author is on porch of house pointing out the view and surrounding landscape.

    Scene 2: author entering her house giving a mini tour through the rooms and into the kitchen. (No valuables are shown).

    Scene 3: author shows pictures of her family on display on the fireplace mantle or hung on a wall.

    Scene 4: author walks into the room where she does her writing. (She could already be sitting at the computer as the scene opens.)
    "Here's where the magic happens."

    Scene 5: author sitting down on a sofa or recliner with any special pets wanting attention.

    "Now that you've seen my real world, I'd like to also welcome you to my writing world."

    After watching this 90 second video I may feel I know more about you than I do my aunt Tillie by East!

    Vince

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  70. Hi Pam:

    If you do a video about "The Evergreen Bride" I'd like to suggest that you read some of "Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow first to get into the mood.

    Your pine tree location writing always makes me think of this famous line, "This is the forest primeval". Your descriptions of the settings always seem very Longfellowish to me. :)

    To wit:

    "THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
    Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
    Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
    Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
    Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
    Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest."


    ***

    I think your settings not only have the importance of a major character but at times also seem to have the centrality of a narrator.

    Vince

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  71. Barbara that is excellent. The video of you welcoming people to your website!

    I LOVE IT!

    I wonder if I could be that cool.


    Barbara Scott being VERY COOL!

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  72. Pam, I love the blooper video. Even when your tongue and brain won't stay in sync you keep smiling and exuding southern charm.

    Janet

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  73. Barbara, I'm impressed that you even thought to use a video to welcome readers to your blog. Great job!

    Janet

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  74. Thanks for sharing your experiences and all these great tips, Pam! So much to think about . . . if I ever get brave enough to try this--LOL!

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  75. BTW it's been snowing here in Good Old Nebraska since 8 a.m. and it continues on.

    I just got a package from the UPS man. Except he left it at the neighbors and said he was afraid to drive any farther on our roads.

    The wimp.

    I actually feel sorry for the UPS man. I buy so much everyday stuff from Amazon (I get free shipping and mostly it costs less than in the stores and the stores are mostly a LONG LONG WAY FROM ME!)

    He comes so often I'm sure he now has a Pavlovian dismay reflex when he sorts the packages and sees my name. I picture him in tears saying, "I"m not a mailman! I'm not supposed to go everyday!"

    I was at the neighbors when he came there and she rushed out with a baggie full of COOKIES!

    That was so sweet but I don't have enough cookies for that, plus I try and hide when he comes. I avoid direct interaction with most human beings.

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  76. Pam if you ever learn that 'dubbing' thing let me know.
    I agree so completely that I'd like to take pictures around my place or pictures of book covers or ANYTHING BUT ME!
    Then just talk behind it.

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  77. Also, something I told my students when I used to write and direct a Christmas Program for my church.

    To memorize something read it out loud to yourself ten times. You not only read it, but you HEAR it. By that time you've had twenty interactions with your line and even if it's not exactly memorized it will be very familiar.

    Pam, I suppose reading it 127 would also work.

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  78. Oh, wow, Pam! This looks complicated and time consuming--but you pulled it off! Great tips--but I don't plan to try this anytime soon! :)

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  79. Sorry, folks! My Cowboy came home and we went to check the cows and ended up fixing fence for about an hour. But supper's cooking and I'm back to chat! :)

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  80. Oh Pam, I so identify with the howling dogs! Mine would definitely do that. Loved watching your video blooper, but my computer wouldn't open the final good version.

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  81. Mary, Quicktime Player on my MacPro lets me edit clips. My iPhone does too. I'm sure there are fancier programs and lots of bells and whistles even on Quicktime that I'm unaware of. And, I did do exactly what you said.... I cropped the beginning and the ends of the videos where I turned the recorder on and off.

    Maybe having someone help would have been easier, but the thought of someone else holding the camera and listening to me goof up 157 times was NOT appealing!

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  82. Vince, I love your suggestions!

    I'll work on that when I finally get the house clean.

    Or remodeled.... there's a whole story behind THAT three syllable word.

    Ahem!

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  83. Vince, that's interesting about setting as a narrator given the fact that I tend to paint the landscape during my first pass. I listen to waterfalls, birds, ocean waves, creaking wagons, wind, rain, etc....depending on the scene, so that I hear those sounds while I'm writing. Maybe I'm doing something right with that. :)

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  84. By that point the smile was frozen in place, Janet! lol

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  85. Yes, Mary, I like the idea of videoing other people. places, things, with a few book covers thrown in for good measure, and me explaining the chaos from afar.

    Perfect solution! :)

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  86. But Mary, your students and Christmas play(ers) were kids, or at least young adults.

    My memory left the building with Elvis.

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  87. Oh, sorry about that, Terri! :( My internet is so slow, I was afraid I wouldn't even get it uploaded, but thankfully, I did. Country living isn't always compatible with high-speed technology.

    Most of the time they're not even on speaking terms.

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  88. Fun to read this, Pam. And barking dogs...yes, I have a few. They might have to become the soundtrack for a video I'd make. Thanks for the post and all your expertise.

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  89. Wow, Pam - - I'm impressed! Your voice is so calm and soothing (even in your "bloopers" LOL) and you appear so at ease. This is going into my Keeper File so if/when I ever need to make a video, I'll have your expert advice. :)
    Hugs, Patti Jo

    p.s. STEALING JAKE is an amazing book!! Sooo glad I was finally able to order it in print! :)

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  90. p.p.s. Just happened to think if I ever make a video, I don't have barking dogs or little kiddos around, but would most likely have a few curious cats who'd make an appearance (or meow!).

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  91. HI Pammers I'm laughing so hard. I can just picture it. The whole doing something you don't know how to do thing. I'm just laughing so hard. I'm also in awe because I doubt I would ever be able todo this. I'm so proud of you. I agree with the other comments that you did a great job. I love hearing your southern accent.

    One thing though. Why didn't your publisher hire someone to make this?????

    Thanks for all the "Not to do" list.


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  92. kWalt Praying for your aunt.

    Vince I agree with you. Great marketing on Pam's part. smile

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  93. Lyndee, you could have a lot of fun with those dogs barking! :)

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  94. Patti Jo, I didn't have time to get flustered! :) The cats would be a treat in the video!

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  95. Sandra, I'm not sure if hiring someone to do a video like that would be feasible. I'm not sure of the logistics of that. And it wasn't a trailer. It was me. :) And they did say just do it with my iPhone. Nothing fancy. The Laurel-and-Hardy-technical difficulties was all MY doing! lol

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  96. Hi Walt:

    I'll be happy to include your aunt in my prayers. I was a professional speaker who has broken a leg and is now marooned at home with back pain. I'd love to do something that I can actually do to be helpful.

    Vince

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  97. Hi Pam,

    Great post! I feel your pain. I had to record 90-second video for a workshop I presented a few years ago. I think we finally got it right around take 250.

    The Eggnog Cake sounds great - I made an Eggnog Pie that was relish!

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  98. Edwina, it sounds so easy at first, doesn't it? :)

    That eggnog cake was VERY rich, but it was good. I'm not sure what all my sister-in-law put in, but it was yummy!

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  99. Oh, I am so impressed. You are my hero, Pam. Thanks for sharing such great and humorous (sorry) advice! I need to practice, practice ...

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  100. I see I need to move Stealing Jake to the top of my TBR stack! I enjoyed your post! Felt good to start my day off smiling :)

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  101. PAM, Thanks for sharing your amazing videos! They were so fun watch.

    Please put my name in the drawing.

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  102. Well, I'm here from searching the archives.
    I've agreed to make a video about being an author and various aspects of books and their production for high school seniors.

    TOTALLY green so, where did I turn?
    Why Seekerville of course.

    And here we are.

    Thanks Pam, and all commenters.

    We'll see how it goes.

    Thanks for all the info.

    Now, to go forth and record (after organizing, memorizing, quieting, hair fixing, light adjusting...) ;)

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  103. KC!!! Just saw where you stopped by. Please, let me know when you get your video done. I'd love to see it. :)

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