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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Turning Raw Footage into Promo (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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David Thiel
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I have footage of several grandstand shows done this summer -- and I want to create a promo video out of them. Aside from suggesting that I source local editors, any thoughts on how to get this developed? What have YOU had good luck with?

David
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.


www.MindGemsBrainTrust.com
www.magicpendulums.com
www.MidnightMagicAndMentalism.com
Mindpro
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How's the audio?
David Thiel
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Not awful....pretty good actually.

David
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.


www.MindGemsBrainTrust.com
www.magicpendulums.com
www.MidnightMagicAndMentalism.com
Dimitri Mystery Artist
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I think you have answered yourself...
hire a professional to do the work.

Dimitri
Michael Messing
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David, Are you asking what software we have used? If so, I have had great success using iMovie to make my videos.
Scott Burton
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Is it just me, or is the culture changing in that people expect to see some longer performance clips on youtube? In addition to a demo video, I think some unedited raw clips would be good too to have on-line. I'm interested if others agree or not.
David Thiel
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I've been 20+ years without a promo video. Strange, huh? So now that I've decided it's time to make one I've really immersed myself in the process. I've spent a lot of time over the past few days watching promos from various performers -- mentalists as well as magicians. And here's the thing: many of them look the same to me. Funny/amazing/shocking moments followed by testimonials from the audience and/or clients.

As I watch, I find myself trying to see both the performers and their sales messsage through the eyes of a potential client. What do THEY see? It's a pretty important question, since THEY are the whole purpose of a demo, right? So I lined up ten promos in a row and watched them from beginning to end. I was struck again by the notion that they were all being made by the same company -- or at least created from the same script...or based on the same idea set.

What IS the purpose of a promo piece? To show the client the flavor and professionalism of a performer AND to intrigue them enough to be favorably disposed toward booking the performer. It's the same way I see my websites.

When I watched all ten of the promos I sat back and tried to list what things really stood out to me: was there one performer that I remembered well -- perhaps by something he'd done...or not done? Not distinctly. There were snatches I remembered...impressions of things I liked.

As I did this, I also tried to put myself into the mindset of a busy client or event planner with a million things to do. I'm mindful that they sift through many of these each day...and that the final impression is just a mish mash of images and people that just kind of swirl together.

It was an interesting perspective.

There were one or two entertainers I liked better than the rest -- but this was on the strength of their live presentations -- not the structure or the script of the promo piece.

I do know the things I liked and didn't like, though:

Music MOST of the time detracted from the power of the video. Too often the music felt "tossed in" and it was like a tap dancing hippo. It kept drawing my attention away from the main message. When the music WAS used well, it had a huge impact on the piece.

I found the optimal time to be about 3.5 minutes. This gave me a good sense for who the performers were without letting my attention wander.

I didn't like promos that used too much text. I was surprised how often this happened. Why scroll endless lines of text across the screen when it is already a visual medium?

I liked performance pieces that were about 45 seconds long -- enough to give me a taste for what was happening and ended just before I had had enough. AND I liked segments where several performances of the same effect were shown with different reactions from different people.

I DIDN'T like gratuitous use of special effects and/or sound effects. This resulted in more D.H.S. ("Dancing Hippo Syndrome")

My question wasn't so much about software -- although the recommendations are appreciated. It was more about trying to develop something unique, trying to turn raw footage into a video with a distinct flavor -- something that would stand out.

Just a pile of thoughts that tell me that once again I am at the bottom of yet another steep learning curve.

I love my job. Smile

David
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.


www.MindGemsBrainTrust.com
www.magicpendulums.com
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Dannydoyle
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Here is some "general advice".

If the audio is not up to standard but "OK" don't use it. This is simple. If you don't care enough to get the thing done to standards, what is a customer to inturpret that into how you do other things?

OK if you want to get a video done here is how you go about it. THINK about what you want the video to be. Put it together in your head. Storyboard the thing. Seriously. Then don't HOPE you get those shots in your show but rather CREATE them in the show and make sure a video guy is there for you. It may take you 5 tapings or more to get those moments done right, but then when you do the result is a video with the quality all the way through up to your standards.

Also one thing NOT to do is EVER send one with the hope that people know it will be better in your show. People only know what they see and what they hear.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Bazinga
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David Thiel and Dannydoyle,

Those two posts are perhaps the best I've read here in a long time.

I'm in a similar situation as David. I had my first show 42 years ago and have yet to use a video to get gigs. I have a few handfuls of film and video, including that first gig. I personally think most of them suck. In some of them I look and sound tired. But with David's post I have a list of what to look for, not just in those but in future shows.

And with Danny's advice I have good reminders to be conscience of setting up future shows to look better.

It really helps to be reminded of those things and see them said with different words.

Thank you both,
Bazinga!
patrick1515
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Although I disagree with a few of David's "likes and dislikes", it is refreshing to see how much time and effort he has put into pre-production. Danny Doyle offered up some great advise also. One bit I might add to the discussion would be to rent a venue or set-up a controlled studio. Invite a crowd of family/friends and previous clients to a free show (think L&L audience) then you can "cast your audience", control their wardrobe and how they will appear on camera. You will be able to have complete control over the lighting, the sound quality and can utilize multiple cameras. And best of all with video shoot everything 2 or 3 times allowing you plenty of footage to get creative in the editing room.
DWRackley
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David, I appreciate your starting this thread. One of my biggest frustrations has been that I can't get enough footage to make a demo (usually because of the audio), although this is HIGH on my list. Seeing your thoughts on what does and doesn’t work for you is extremely helpful in choosing from what I am able to do. Thanks.
...what if I could read your mind?

Chattanooga's Premier Mentalist

Donatelli and Company at ChattanoogaPerformers.com

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Mindpro
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I find this very interesting as I have some definite strong beliefs about this as both a performer and agency owner that views and receives hundreds of demos per year. While I will refrain from offering my true full opinions, I will say what most consider "industry standards" or the norm are not what I would ever accept or adhere to. Too many today create a demo for the wrong reasons without a true understanding of it's use. They make it for them, for their needs, likes and beliefs. A demo is not meant for you it's meant for those that have an interest or need in potentially booking your services, therefore it is them and these interests for which it should be created.

With that said, any self recorded or unprofessionally captured video is usually useless to what is needed or required. Forget about your video camera being operated by a friend or spouse or on a tripod (not David, but in general - David's wife is a photog and may be an exception to the generalization). That will rarely ever capture what is truly needed. If you are going to be serious about a demo, hire and trust professionals to do this. As Danny said, you may want to capture an actual performance but it should be predetermined what you want, how it should look and the logistics required to make it happen, to actually create it within your performance. Don't expect it to be done by recording a single show. Once you have the footage you want, then the entire rest of the project comes down to post production (editing). Again, this is what can make your footage come to life. If audio or video needs sweetening this is where it happens. Consistent audio levels is important. Proper cuts and edits that our minds are subconsciously tuned to. This should not be something you get intimidated by, if it is a tool in your success, you need to embrace it, accept it, and become comfortable with it.

If you are relying on a demo to get bookings or representation, this can be one of the most important investments you can make in yourself and your business. Again, if you feel the demo is necessary.

Personally I haven't had a demo in years (12-15) as I believe if you know how to position and offer yourself, and depending on the markets you choose, it is not always as necessary as many think. A demo, like a web site will do nothing on it's own. It's what you physically do with it that determines your actual and expected results.
Dannydoyle
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To follow up on mindpros wonderful post I must say I have not had a demo for a LOOOOONG time.

It can be about positioning. I have thousands of hours OF video as I record every show.

So the first thing is to ask why you are doing it? That helps frame everything else.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Robin4Kids
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I think that a professionally produced video (of a good entertainer) is especially important for kids entertainers. It becomes an educational tool to help sell those parents that have never experienced a magician at a birthday party. Their concept of your magic show may be based on seeing magicians on tv that are more aimed at adults. You can tell them all you want to about how your show is going to be fun for the kids, but nothing seals the deal any better than them seeing the kids in your video laughing and having a great time. In a market where magicians are commonplace at birthday parties or you have been around so long that your reputation and word of mouth sells your show... then a video may not be so important. But if someone is trying to decide who to hire and you have a well-produced video and your competition doesn't, I believe the odds of you getting hired are much better.
ku7uk3
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This is my latest promo: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X1zBIfR--Ho

What I've learnt since making video promos since 2007.

1: It requires at least five different performances on video to make a decent promo. Basically, you want different backgrounds to show that you do lots of shows and so that the image varies a lot. It also helps to have the camera at a different angle each time so that when editing clips next to each other, there is a visual change in the viewing angle. If they all come from the same angle it just looks wrong.

2: You don't need a pro camera crew, family and friends holding the camera will do for what you want from the footage. Some of my videos had the camera left on the windowsill sat still for the entire show. 95% of the footage was useless, but that 5% which made it was golden. Because you only going to be after seconds from each video, you should be able to get that from what your family can get.

3. If you use multiple cameras, try and keep the video settings the same. All widescreen, at the same resolution. Don't bother with HD, its more trouble than its worth. Stick to standard video settings to make your life headache free in the edit suite. If you get footage recorded on an iPhone, make sure its in landscape view (not horizontal). You will have trouble matching video formats later for editing but any footage you can get is better than none.

4. If you can educate the camera operator before the show, ask them to limit zooming in and out like a madman. Its better they walk forwards and backwards if possible for technical reasons. Zooming isn't a big problem and can sometimes work, but more often than not, its not worth dealing with it. Tell them to try and capture audience reactions but keep you in the frame of the shot. Footage of a laughing child looks good, but only when its clear to the viewer that you were the one that made them laugh. If possible, ask them to change positions (unless you have multiple cameras) between the tricks. The varying camera angle will help you later in editing. Go through your entire show with them and point out certain times that are defiantly needed on tape like your big ending. You don't want them to be changing tapes in the camera during your finish so let them know what tricks are less visual and better times for tape changing or battery changing.

5. Visual tricks are key. Mentalism is useless and you want the magic to be visible without you having to say anything. So go through your show and perform the most visual tricks you can. If during those five shows you could do all different tricks, you will be rewarded with more options when its comes to editing it together later. But I understand that wont be an option for everyone.

6. If you can, control your sound. In the above video, I was working next to a generator powering a bouncy castle. It was so noisy that even with my microphone it was tough for the audience to hear me. I can do wonders in the editing process, but I'm not a miracle worker. At the set, turn off all electronic devises that you can, especially fridges. They are an invisible noise that the human ear has learned to ignore but the camera amplifies badly.
If the footage you got was bad for sound (like mine), you can cover the 'hum' with music.

7. Choose the right music for you. The music sets the tone and atmosphere and is crucial to the viewer watching past the ten second mark. Avoid music with lyrics or sends the wrong message. There are lots of great royalty free tracks you can buy from audiojungle. I've seen promos without music, and they simply don't sell the performer enough in my opinion.

8. Having said that, like suggested above it doesn't hurt to have an unedited live performance of one effect from your show to place on your website with the promo. That footage would have to be well chosen and show you in the best possible way. Avoid static camera clips if possible and do edit it with an intro and outro leading to your website.

9. Length should be around the 2 minute mark for the promo. Just enough to make them interested. If the song you choose is around this length, then edit it with the music and find points where the clip your watching blends seeming with the song.

10. If you host on YouTube and embed the video in your site, deactivate the rating and comment options. Its not worth dealing with bad comments and constant people asking you 'what is the name of your music?'.

11. Editing programs come in a variety of difficulty levels and price tags. Windows movie maker will do a sufficient job and is free but lacks placing layer over layer which limits what you can do with the promo. I use adobe premier cs3 but it took me years to master and I'm still learning.

12. At the show, try and set-up under a room light to give you better illumination. Avoid windows like the plague as back lighting will stick you in silhouette. Watch what's behind you, as you don't want to get visually lost in front of a loud background or some woman walking a dog in the field behind you during your show. In the real world, we block these things out, but on camera they are very noticeable. If you know how to white balance, don't forget to do it.

13. In most cases, keep the camera on auto settings. It may mean you get some soft shots and focus issues on the tape. But your only after segments anyway and I've learnt that unless the camera operators knows what there doing and understands the camera your giving them, your more likely to get better end footage with the auto settings.

14. A picture is worth a thousand words. Don't overload the video with text for the client to read, that's what your website is for. The video is suppose to be something they watch, not read. A website address and your name will often suffice.

15. Save your project constantly while editing as video editing software have a high crash rate and don't auto save. Also save it often under a new filename each time, as some crashes can corrupt the original file and destroy all your work, no matter how many saves you did. Working with video is often a strain on a pc computer especially.


That's it for now. Good luck and don't expect perfection first time out. Like magic, editing and video production takes years of practice. We may live in a word of instant gratification, but you didn't master the double-lift in five minutes, so don't expect to be making broadcast quality video on your very first try.

Steve
Ring Tricks, Marketing Magic, Key Project and more!
www.amazingstephen.co.uk
Dannydoyle
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All of that might be great for kids performers, but the direction of what is produced there might not cut it in other markets.

I could not disagree more with not having professional video camera operators. They are worth the expense. They have an eye for framing, they have an eye for light and contrast and you can get some fantastic shots. It really can make a difference.

Also the problem with an all music video like this is simply that they have no idea who YOU are. It is a showcase of your video editing skills more than what it is you are selling. After that video nobody has even heard you utter a single word. They are buying YOU and hiring YOU and that is what should be showcased in a good video that is designed to sell YOU.

Keep in mind I have NO idea how kids performance works. I have no idea what a good kids show video would look like. I just know that in other markets this type of video might need to be a lot different to be effective.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
ku7uk3
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A little old now, but here is my close-up adult promo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IJzrbBsx0E
Ring Tricks, Marketing Magic, Key Project and more!
www.amazingstephen.co.uk
Dannydoyle
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Yes it seems to have the same thought process.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
David Thiel
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The more I work on this project, the more I realize it's one of those Really Big Jobs.

On the one hand you have Steven with a number of clips that just show kids and the performer having fun. The whole emphasis is on the interaction between the performer and his audience. An outstanding video geared to people looking to book a kids performer. This promo tells me that I'm going to get a guy who likes kids...a performer the kids like back. I really enjoyed this one because it did exactly what it was supposed to do. It made me smile.

Steven's promo is light years better than some I've seen. Many have horrid lighting, unintelligible sound and camera people who are just at the beginning stages of some sort of seizure. We can call this "anti-promo."

On the other extreme are those WAY over-produced promos aimed at the corporate market. Honestly I don't like these a lot better. Special effects, ballsy voice overs, perfect camera angles. While I understand why they are made this way, they so often don't show me the performer's unique heart.

Then Danny posed an interesting question: "Why are you doing it?"

I see no actual business reason for this other than to show a prospective client the performer in a real world situation. A good promo answers the unspoken question: "What am I going to get with this person?"

Honestly, I find that many of the videos (is that an old guy word?) I've seen lately -- and I've watched a LOT of them -- really obscure the answer to that question. I see words...I see testimonials...I see corporate logos and supernovas exploding. But my honest sense is that these really tend to get in the way of introducing me, the potential client, to the performer.

Isn't that what a promo REALLY is about? Aren't you trying to interest the client in booking YOU?

I can see from the way the performer carries himself, the way he treats his volunteers, the way the audience responds to him -- what caliber of performer he is. Testimonials help -- but I think most savvy clients know it's not too difficult for a half-way decent performer to get someone to say nice things.

How about a reasonably well produced "real world" performance clip? No words...no narration...no testimonial -- just a performer doing his thing. And YES...I realize this is not a full promo package...but it does seem to satisfy many of the criteria.

What do you guys think?

David
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.


www.MindGemsBrainTrust.com
www.magicpendulums.com
www.MidnightMagicAndMentalism.com
Dannydoyle
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David you hit the nail on the head.

SO many want to showcase their video editing skills they lose site of the fact that it is about them. They lose the personality they are selling.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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