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#BEA11: Ten Tips for Publishers Producing Videos

digital video camera

By Kathleen Sweeney

Anyone who has been reading our coverage of BEA knows just how much we enjoy shooting video. As with any medium, practice makes perfect and it always pays to learn from the pros.

Steve Stockman should know how to shoot a video that doesn’t suck, which — actually — was the title of his session earlier today. With over 200 films, videos and commercials to his credit, he’s been in the business for quite some time. With a title like this, one wonders how he intends to assist in raising the bar. Is the goal to produce something superlative, edgy and…dare I say it…viral, or just one that “doesn’t suck”? Stockman, the author of the panel’s titular book, How to Shoot a Video That Doesn’t Suck, offers a step by step approach for book world videomaking.

With some 2 billion videos viewed daily on YouTube (yes 2 billion), how do book trailers and author interview videos compete for eyeballs on the web? And, with the majority of top 100 videos on YouTube now being produced by some of the big budget players in the film and ad industries, what does that mean for the literary set? Luck? Prayers? LOL kitties?

Stockman developed his book in part based on teaching at Summer Star, a Masschusetts arts camp for underprivileged youth, where he developed a curriculum that surprisingly applies to just about everyone. As he describes it, “It turns out nobody knows anything about video.” Except the pros of course! So how does a Hollywood guy dish up advice for authors and publishers new to the concepts of thinking like a camera?

The best part of his presentation is summed up in tip #10, “The Book Brain and the Video Brain are Different Brains.” The video brain, or “lizard brain” responds emotionally to stories — think mood music, sex appeal and intrigue. The book brain is, well, the intellect. We don’t read movies like we read books.

Advertising has been playing to the lizard brain since Mad Men became selling geniuses.

He offers ten basic tips for novices:

  1. Think in shots (create motion, don’t press play and let it run endlessly)
  2. Treat Your Video Camera Like a Still Camera
  3. Don’t Shoot Until You See the Whites of Their Eyes (close-ups, faces, reactions)
  4. Use an External Mic
  5. The Rubbermaid Rule (don’t overestimate the length of your video; if you think 10 minutes, 3 minutes is better)
  6. Two Words Guaranteed to Take Your Video Viral: Naked Celebrity (if you don’t have that, there’s no guarantee, so make the best video possible for your book’s audience)
  7. Take Video Seriously (ie. invest in it, train staff to do it right, or hire the pros…)
  8. Treat Your Author Like a Star (avoid bad lighting, poor sound quality and don’t use video that doesn’t make them look like a rock star…)
  9. Tell a Story (beginning, middle and end…)
  10. The Book Brain and the Video Brain are Different Brains

Here’s Steve Stockman’s own book trailer, which he hopes “doesn’t suck.”

What’s your verdict?

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  1. Posted May 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Love the trailer but it begs the question: Why not do a series of videos rather than a book? I learned more in a three minute trailer from seeing the concepts in action than from the blog post (and I am an experienced commercial video producer along with being a publisher).
    Good stuff. I’m buying the book, assuming it’s on Kindle!

  2. Posted May 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely love the clip. Will take it to heart! TY!

    And major Kudos to Steve Stockman!