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The Video War Room: How to Make A "Smash" Video

The Video War Room: How to Make A

We’ve gotten a ton of emails, and interest, after the release of our most recent “Next Day Video” about Oscar Night. The majority of the emails asked the simple question: How did you turn that video around so quickly?

The Oscars ended after midnight, and the video, which included original music, and a bunch of Oscar moments. went live on youtube at 4:30 AM, or a couple hours before people started logging on the next morning.

We did this to make a point to prospective clients – a good video does not always need a storyboard, a DP, three rounds of edits and a month of post production work.  In fact, in this new social media-driven world, a lot of times ads, and campaigns can grow stale if they take too much time to post them.

Oreo set an amazing example at last year’s Super Bowl.  They put a “marketing war room” together the night of the Super Bowl. When a “water-cooler event” happened, they got to work.  The power went out, and they put the now-famous “you can still dunk in the dark” pic on social media.  It blew up.  In fact, it became the biggest advertising success of the night, at an infinitesimal fraction of the cost to run a TV ad.

That motivated us to try the first-ever “Video War Room” the night of the Oscars.  Here were the rules:

1. Come into it with the framework of something good.  For us, it was the theme that as parents we didn’t see any of these movies.  We had already written the “hook” (the chorus), and several verses as well, knowing many of them would get cut for the sake of more current events.

2. Be patient.  This is something you learn as a news reporter.  Don’t take the first good thing you hear and skedaddle to the editing room.  Sit back, and digest what is going on.  Ellen had a great opening monologue (especially the Liza Minelli bit), but if we had taken that and gotten to work, we would’ve missed the water-cooler event of the night (Paging Mr. Travolta…)

3. Listen to your friends. If possible, watch the event with buddies, people who don’t have a vested interest in creating the video. They will give you an honest reaction to everything that is going on.

4. Scour Twitter.  That is honestly 99% of what my wife did that night.  We were actually downstairs making some changes when Adele Dazeem happened.  Twitter blew up, we went upstairs and hit rewind, and we knew we had the water-cooler event.

5. Don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen.  For a War Room, you need the smartest people you know, but one clear voice that will make the final decisions.  If that voice can also be the writer and editor, that is ideal.

6. S.M.A.S.H.  This is a strategyWalk West (formerly Greenroom Communications) adopted on its first day, and it is still working well.  make sure your production includes each of the following:

Speed : explained above – quick turnaround keeps it fresh

Music : Whether its at the forefront, a bed or and open/close, it’s pretty standard for anything that isn’t a vine or gif.

Asymmetry : Look for, or create, moments that are out of balance, things that you don’t normally see.

Spontaneity : in the course of the writing, editing, and shooting, don’t be afraid to take any additional great moments and fit them into the piece.  They may not have been part of your original plan, but they are often the best, and most memorable, moments.

Humor : Not for every video, but unless it’s an incredibly serious subject, you need to find a way to make the viewer smile.  How? That’s worth an entirely different blog post.

Thanks for reading… Agree? Disagree? By all means, let me know.

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