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Kansas City Diaries: the 3 new rules for social video

Kansas City Diaries is an exclusive article series by Natalie Pool as she goes undercover at VML’s global agency headquarters in Kansas City, USA, to find out how organic search, Snapchat and other technologies are changing the advertising and marketing industry.

Just when you get comfortable with social video, the rules change. Here are three that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Don’t sacrifice quality for speed

“There is an expectation of the quality of work a brand puts out,” says Director of Integrated Production, Scott Stone, who heads up VML’s internal production team, Vault.

“Regardless of the channel it goes on, video should match consumers’ expectations.”

Of course, social video should be created for the platform it lives on but just because it’s social doesn’t mean it should stray from the standards set by TV ads and billboards.

It’s not uncommon to find a food stylist, prop stylist, producer and Creative Director in the Vault studio, working on an Instagram video or making a Facebook carousel post come to life. There are story boards and motion graphic designers and weeks of pre-production planning that go into creating 15 second videos for the likes of Kellogg’s, PepsiCo and Kimberly-Clark to name a few.

‘Regardless of the channel it goes on, video should match consumers’ expectations’

This may be the sound of your budget simultaneously shrinking and imploding. But for Scott, it’s all about working smart. Even with brands that don’t have a huge budget, the team is able to create many pieces of high quality content from one hero piece.

For example, a slick manifesto video may take weeks of planning and script writing, hours of set building and three days of filming but it can result in 50 pieces of hub content ranging from gifs and cinemagraphs to images, interviews and shorter videos that last the year.

The trick is not really a trick at all. It’s about thinking and planning ahead.

Know thy platform

I know a DOP who not that long ago would have caused grievous bodily harm at the mention of shooting video vertically (“Rookie mistake!” he yelled). Now with the rise of Snapchat, Instagram and dependency on our smartphones, content creators need to not only accept vertical video, we need to embrace it.

(Digital shop Laundry Service reports that view rates for square videos are 28% higher than horizontal content.)

When it comes to sound and social video we know that people often watch them with the sound off — probably because they’re in a meeting and pretending to check their emails while secretly watching cat carpools, I assume.

However, that doesn’t mean your video content should get the silent treatment.

When it comes to sound and social video we know that people often watch them with the sound off

“People are intrigued when they see the volume bars bouncing on a Facebook or Twitter video,” says Scott. “They can’t help but wonder: ‘What am I missing?’”

Case in point: VML created a series of cute little Kleenex videos for Facebook, animating the Star Wars graphics on the tissue box. And the one that performed the best? The one accompanied by the sound of “pew-pew-pew”, created by the Vault team in the sound booth.

Make it. Don’t fake it

What’s perhaps most surprising is the fact the Vault team physically creates what many assume “can be done quickly in post-production”.

When the location scout couldn’t find the kitchen of the creative team’s dreams for a Wright Brand Bacon shoot, they designed and built the kitchen themselves.

When they needed to show off the cool features of Puma’s Titantour golf shoe, they actually froze the shoe in blocks of ice, filmed it melting and reversed it in post.

There is also a mesmerising scene of ripples made possible by water, some black board and pumping subwoofers.

“People often underestimate the cost of post and the time it takes,” explains Scott.

“A lot of it also has do with pride of ownership. We like to do something cool and go the extra mile.”

And scene.

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