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Monday, January 28, 2008

More for Less

I like to clip articles. Going through my collection, I rediscovered a story that ran in the WSJ about Magnatag. As the journal article described it, Magnatag "thrived making highly specialized versions of an item that couldn't be less special--the erasable whiteboard." You can go to their website and see some of those versions at www. magnatag.com.

Okay, you might say, so what? Well, here's what: I like it because it's an example of how you can rethink what you have, or what you're trying to communicate and version it to meet the specific needs or interests of your audience. For example, we're working on a project for a client that includes producing an identity video for the general public. And then we'll create different packages from the material for a variety of uses. One version will be for members, another will be to recruit new people to the organization, others will be used as outreach vehicles to specific audiences. You get the idea. And that way each video will be tighter, more focused and more useful for the viewer and our client.

So in a way, you could say we're taking advantage of the Magnatag approach. Instead of making one whiteboard and hoping it will work for every occasion, the old "one size fits all" approach, they take the basic material and refashion it to meet the needs of their clients.

Just like the video work we'll be doing for our client. Which is a great way of getting more for less.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Dan Bailes:When the Web first became popular, it was all about something new. Soon, every organization had to be part of it: have a web presence, their own website, reach out and communicate. And some do that well. But too often the website model organizations seem to select is that of the newsletter or the brochure. They may work as print but are boring and unattractive on the web. You've got to tell stories. And make a strong visual impact. First, capture the eye.

We're always looking for new, effective ways to communicate. Which brings me to Howtoons. What is howtoons? Take the old boring how-to idea and express it in comic book mode. Like it's part of a story. Howtoons. http://www.howtoons.com/

The whole concept of the site is exploratory. Go there and you'll see what I mean. You have to move your cursor over an illustration and you get a message. You can check it out or move to another picture. You're immediately engaged and curious. You want to know more. And when you go to check out some of the how-to concepts, they're also illustrated, comic book style.

It works very well for what it is, a way to get kids to explore, learn something and do an activity that could be both educational and fun. Okay, you say, kids stuff. But why do we adults often act as if we think that communications for us should be educational and dull?

I think it's because we too often focus on the message and not enough on how we package the message. What's the best way to say what we want to say? That's where the creativity comes in. And hopefully, the fun.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Change, part one

Dan Bailes: Okay, so all we seem to hear about these days is "change." Everyone seems to want change, talks about change and yet so often when change comes, it's disruptive and unsettling. No, I'm not talking about the elections. I'm talking about change in the workplace. Here at GVI we just swapped out our old Avid systems for brand new Avid systems, new monitors, the works. The same, but different, which got me thinking about change.

In my work experience as an editor I've had to master three completely different technologies. First film, then video, and then computer editing. And not only were the technologies completely different, I also had to learn new ways of thinking and approaching how I should go about my work. I want to write about those differences in another post, but for the moment I'd like to focus on something I've learned in the process.

Most of my professional life I've worked on my own, often as a freelancer, although I've also had my own business. Over the years I've developed close working relationships, but always on a project by project basis. So I've pretty much had to depend on myself to shepherd myself through these technology and workplace changes. Fortunately I found that I was pretty adaptable and eventually I was able to thrive within all the changes. Of course, editing is mostly about judgment, creativity and experience and technology is only a means to an end.

But the changes were also stressful. Since I pretty much had to educate myself, there often was no one readily available to ask. Sometimes I'd get stuck or frustrated, knowing there was a better way, but not knowing how to get there. And of course, not being sure or not knowing is a byproduct of change. And that can be quite unsettling.

At GVI, I've had a different experience. We support each other. And that support makes the transition fun and exciting. I'm looking forward to learning about the new features and new systems. And now I have backup, so the stressful part is gone. And thinking about it, it's the same for programs I've produced here, too. When I wasn't sure or didn't know, I had plenty of people here to consult with and brainstorm. And that's the key to making change a positive instead of a negative. Having support and back ups, so you're not in it all by yourself. And then also sharing your own process and what you're learning so that everyone benefits.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Olan Mills Schadenfreude

Bob Burnett: Go to this fun blog of photos from studio photography shoots from over the years for a moment of diversion.

While I was enjoying the photos at the expense of others, I began thinking about the importance of how people "look" on camera and the importance of the proper location and set-up in order to enhance a message. We recently did a production project for the Diversity Group of Booz Allen Hamilton that was very well received. The feedback we had was not only was the content of the interviews exceptional but everyone looked great--which enhanced the credibility and impact of the video. The moral of the story---a few minutes discussion about "look"---and thoughtful lighting, make-up and locations--can make a huge difference in how effectively you communicate.