Audience and Message
Whether it’s a Gamecock spirit video or a seasonal engagement piece, every video should
have a clearly defined audience and message. The message map — which shows how to create benefits-driven messages that align with key university
attributes — can help guide this process.
Is Video the Best Fit?
Don’t dive into the expense of a video project unless you’re sure it’s the most effective
way to tell your story. As engaging as video can be, it is also a challenging and
resource-intensive medium. Consider not only your audience and message, but also your
available distribution channels, and ask yourself whether video is the best way to
communicate your message. There are many other types of communication that might fill
Types of Video
Once you have determined that video is the right medium for your message, it’s time to think about what type of video would best serve the message. Some video types are:
- Event recap videos
- Student / faculty profiles and story-based videos
- College / program showpieces
- Internal initiatives
- Seasonal engagement pieces
By determining your audience, message and communication vehicle, you have laid much of the groundwork that will guide your video production. Now it’s time to document your efforts in a creative brief or outline and dig into the essential building blocks of your project. Be sure to plan for creating audio descriptions, video captions, and an accessible transcript.
Step Towards Planning
As engaging as video can be, it is also a challenging medium that requires substantial planning and collaboration. Great video production should be driven by collaboration, propelled by buy-in from stakeholders, and shaped by constructive feedback. It is truly interdisciplinary and should involve writers, designers, videographers and multimedia producers. In short: Don’t make your video in a vacuum, because it won’t be distributed in a vacuum.
You’ve already talked with key stakeholders about who your audience is, what your message is, and what you are hoping to achieve. Document the shared understanding that has come from those conversations in the form of a creative brief or outline that will guide the development and implementation of the video project. Be sure to plan for accessibility, including creating audio descriptions, captions, and/or a transcript.
Make It Accessible
What to Film
The university is filled with beautiful places and fascinating people. It’s important that we let those strengths shine through, simply and authentically. An expensive camera is not necessary; just make sure your image is stable and well-composed, your audio is clear and uncluttered, and then let our engaging people and places do the talking.
The photography library divides our assets into the subject areas of People, Place,
Spirit and Details — and it’s helpful to think of your video footage in a similar
Getting thorough coverage, i.e., lots of different shots of your subjects and environment, is a great way to ensure flexibility in editing and help create a more dynamic video. When you have a B-roll opportunity in which subjects are interacting in an environment, grab some footage of the people (medium and close-ups), but also the place (wide environmental shots) and details (the mentor talking with their hands, the student taking notes). And rather like a photo conveying Gamecock spirit, try to capture some emotion, pride, excitement in the scene.
Once you decide what to film, there are additional elements that you should take into account in order to create the best video experience.
B-roll is supplemental footage of an event, a place, or a person. Even when staged, this is typically meant to resemble fly-on-the-wall observation. It helps to fill in the gaps between your main shots.
The University of South Carolina is a beautiful, welcoming environment. Don’t take our strengths for granted: If you walk past the historic Horseshoe every day, then you may forget how stunning it can be for outside audiences. Think about the university’s visual appeal, and how its inviting scenes can help support your message.
Remember that USC has an official color palette. The easiest way to incorporate garnet and black is to ask subjects to wear Gamecock colors, or to schedule interviews and b-roll in locations with visible signage or banners. Do not add unnatural coloration effects, such as a garnet-colored vignette effect or a full-screen color wash. Always ensure that your colors follow the university's accessible color usage guidelines.
Consider that a compelling video piece should have a very clear narrative or call to action. A clear message can be diminished by too many details, redundant soundbites, a wandering anecdote, etc. Consult your creative brief or outline to guide you through tough editing choices. Aggressive editing, with very few exceptions, can only make a video stronger. Editing content for accessibility is not only a requirement, but a way to create even more refined, compelling content.
Your video should include the following: (1) A title card utilizing the Berlingske font family and formatting indicated in the demo video on the toolbox. (2) Lower-third graphics to identify on-screen speakers, using the Berlingske font family and formatting indicated in the demo video on the toolbox. (3) All university videos should end with the primary logo. The toolbox includes motion and static versions of this mark; use whichever version fits your editing needs. All university logos and graphics have standard alt text that you must incorporate into your captions. Note: Be sure each of these graphics remains onscreen for enough time to allow readability (typically between 3 and 5 seconds).
You could tell your story through concise on-screen blurbs. This is standard for social media pieces, which are often viewed without sound. All videos must also provide audio descriptions and an accessible transcript or captions to describe all on-screen text and actions.
As you are building from the creative brief or an outline, ask yourself: What is the story? What are the takeaways? Why should anyone watch the video? Work with your team to develop a script. Try to capture in print the video you would like to see. Share it with your team members and be sure it serves the central message. If you or your team members are having difficulty reading through it, simplify it. A script might not always be necessary, but it will always help, even if it includes placeholder text rather than final copy.
A beautiful video needs sound that is equally compelling. (An exception to this may be found among videos on social media; for example, according to 2016 data, 85 percent of Facebook viewers will not unmute videos on the platform.) For video in which sound is needed, consider investing in a license to a music library. The investment will ensure maximum quality and access, and save time otherwise spent hunting down free music or navigating stipulations that come with “free” licensing options.
You must also consider all sound effects in your captions and transcript so that viewers with hearing impairements can enjoy the same video experience.
Testimonials can be crucial to a story, especially for a student/faculty profile, or an impact/outreach story. However, such footage is rarely enough to carry a video on its own and is not always needed. Additional considerations include on-screen text, voiceovers, music, and logos and graphics.
A scripted, professionally spoken voiceover works well for videos with a holistic, emotional story. They are also ideal for internal pieces, such as training videos. However, they are not recommended to tell a detailed narrative, such as an in-depth student profile, or a recap of a signature event. Be sure to consider on-screen action that is not captured in the voiceover in audio descriptions.