Government goes Hollywood

Contra Costa County needed a series of engaging emotional training videos that didn’t feel like homework to watch. Our award-winning video production Bay Area turned traditionally dry study material into an engaging cinematic experience that employees not only watched but actually enjoyed — and came back to.

We featured real employees and real stories about the challenges of helping people in need — from the challenges of connecting stressed parents with free childcare to helping the homeless find housing. We used handheld cameras, drones and an LA-based team to create a documentary feel that felt real — and stuck with viewers.

Watch the video here.

And check out the Behind the Scenes video below:

The three days shoot involved a crew of fifteen members, Red Epic Dragon cameras and real social workers who played both people in need and social workers.

A committee of eight experienced social workers acted as a consulting team, making sure the scripts are reflecting real scenarios they face every day.

The video is now a model for other local governments across California.

As a leading San Francisco Bay Area ad agency, we managed all aspects of production, including motion graphics, editing, music, voiceover, sound design and color correction.

Take a look and let us know what you think over at our Facebook page!

Straight up: How portrait mode is turning the video industry on its side

Things are looking up for video.

Most of us know that video is taking communications by storm—and projected to be fully 80% of web activity by 2020. We’re now entering a new era in the video revolution with the rise of portrait mode videos. That’s where videos are shot vertically to meet the “taller” dimensions of a smartphone or tablet when held naturally in your hand.

Landscape mode, or our typical widescreen format, has been the default size for videos, films and television for decades. Our televisions and movie screens are wider than they are tall, and generations of professionals have been brought up to create content within this format. To many, portrait mode videos have been flashing-red indicators of amateur hour.

Mobile devices invert that stigma. Experts report that we spend more than 30% of our screen time on a mobile device, which is mostly in vertical mode. Accordingly, apps from Snap to Facebook to Instagram often default to portrait mode with billions and billions of videos. Snap has said that vertical videos perform nine times better on many standards of viewer engagement, and many production studios are now creating new sets optimized for portrait mode. There’s no doubt that the latest generation of consumers are growing up with vertical videos as a standard.

This is sacrilege to many pros! But a new format simply presents a new challenge to creators in terms of layout and storytelling. By eliminating landscapes and extraneous detail from a camera shot, we’ve found that vertical videos create a tight focus that can draw the viewer in. It’s a natural fit for faces—which is how the term “portrait view” got its name! And it helps us eliminate the mild-but-real hassle of rotating a device in our hand or viewing a landscape video shrunk down to fit portrait mode.

At Feel Good Video, we’ve been producing a number of explainer videos that describe how to use products. These videos live inside a mobile app, which is typically held vertically. While it takes a little creativity to adjust to this direction, the format is ripe for creativity, and we’re working with clients to create fresh storylines that fit the space.

What does this mean for clients who want to cater to mobile users—which is most of us! Increasingly, we’re working with companies to first create baseline video content, such as a longer product or brand video. We then splice and dice that core content to generate additional videos, such as teasers or shorter videos optimized for quick viewing and sharing social media.

We’re now offering portrait videos as part of our base packages. It doesn’t take much more cost or effort to record vertically during a production shoot, and capturing video in this format opens many more doors for companies to engage their customers—and establish themselves as a creative leader.

Drop us a note to learn more about how to add portrait videos to your arsenal of communications weapons.

Five lessons I learned on The Bachelor to create amazing videos

I spent four years as executive producer of The Bachelor across Europe. From jetting around the globe on a moment’s notice to editing episodes for three days straight, it was a thrilling experience that profoundly shaped how I approach storytelling.

I was incredibly lucky to learn from the best and brightest in television about how to create amazing stories that kept people coming back for more. Today, Feel Good Video uses the same lessons to help companies create emotional connections—and help our clients achieve amazing things.

Casting is everything

Without compelling characters, it’s hard for viewers to care. On The Bachelor, thousands of real women—not actresses—applied for the show. As you might imagine, many of them were gorgeous, talented and brilliant.

But to have an interesting show, we had to go beyond the obvious and be more thoughtful about the type of people we brought on.

Was this person truly marriage material? Were they natural troublemakers—and sure to make things interesting? Did they play well with others? Were they competitive or docile? Did they represent the audience? Most importantly, was our Bachelor relentlessly interesting and handsome, precisely the type of well-rounded hunk viewers at home could envision giving everything up for?

At Feel Good Video, we take the same level of care into casting for our videos. We review hundreds of possible actors and see dozens in auditions before picking the perfect actors for your audiences to cheer for, care about, laugh with and occasionally root against. Some companies gloss over casting or opt for featuring low-cost actors or even employees. While some of us may have a latent Meryl Streep living inside, most of us have other strengths. Casting matters and is worth the hassle.

Honor traditions

We recruited a bachelor who hailed from the Romanov dynasty. That’s the equivalent of a British royal in the UK—and that connection to hundreds of years of history instantly appealed to large audience. Keep in mind the show itself is based on the classic Cinderella story—another instant connection with audiences.

The most successful stories are based on archetypes that we carry in our minds since childhood. We always keep this heritage in mind when creating new stories. Every symbol, every character we incorporate can reference a tradition—and make the video’s impact even more powerful.

Likewise, corporate videos that pay homage to the past instantly strike a chord with many more people. We recently produced a corporate video that honors today’s tradition of carpool karaoke with the “ancient” tradition of singing Bohemian Rhapsody in a crowded car (paging all Wayne’s World fans!). It was a double dip on tradition—and helped rake in 2M+ views in just a few weeks.

Take us on a rollercoaster

On The Bachelor, people went through the ultimate relationship rollercoaster. They met new people, visited new places, overcame fears, faced backstabbing, endured rejection and—if they were lucky—fell in love.

In a single episode, a participant could experience shame, stress, relief and joy while doing everything from enjoying a candlelit dinner to jumping out of an airplane.

Also: nonstop action with lots of twists and turns is inherently fun to watch.

When I think of the ultimate rollercoaster rides, I think of health technology videos—FGV’s fastest-growing market segment. Nearly every health technology product was invented to address seriously bad news. That means our videos kick off by putting viewer on a rollercoaster of sadness, fear and pain. The product’s healing and comforting qualities help help straighten out that roller coaster to reach a safe place of comfort and joy—but it’s important to keep at least one more loop-de-loop in there to keep the viewer engaged.

Wear your heart on your sleeve

When we see an emotion expressed by someone we care about, we usually internalize the feeling. This carries to stories on the screen too; sad movies bring us down, comedies pick us up. When we showed what The Bachelor participants were feeling—disappointment at not getting picked, joy after a romantic date—the audience responded in kind.

Power your audience with emotion. The more real and pure the on-screen emotion, the more powerful feedback you will get. Show the flood of tears, the barreling laughter, the confused eyebrow-knitted face-scrunch, the ugly face of agony, the broad, confident steps of someone in love.

Here I think of the multigenerational dance party we captured created for the VAVA Voom video—a smorgasbord of joyous, semi-competitive rug-cutting. The video was charged with fun and energy—and the viewers felt it.

When you leave all your feelings on the dance floor, the audience comes to dance.

Have a feel good moment!

Spending several weeks competing for one man, away from friends, family and your own bed—well, that’s really tough. And the viewers felt it too.

That’s why at the end of each episode of The Bachelor, we presented a “feel good moment” that kept viewers coming back.

A kiss after a series of dates and agonizing anticipation. A new exotic adventure after a mentally exhausting rose ceremony. The positive energy is inescapable. The crew can’t help but smile, and the viewer breathes out—and smiles as well.

Needless to say, this was my favorite part of the show—and it’s why we named Feel Good Video what we did. We seek to include a pick-me-up in every video we do here, be it a guy in a bear suit or a fun virtual reality sparring match.

Life’s hard enough—and leaving things on an up note goes a long way.

Follow the rules for a ratings bonanza

At The Bachelor, I’m delighted that our hard work following the directions above paid off. The season finale for our first season in Ukraine achieved a national rating of 48%. That means that 48% off all the televisions in the entire country were tuned in to see the Proposal. Incredible!

And at Feel Good Video, we’ve applied the same rules to create dozens of videos that have earned millions of views and helped advance their business. Now THAT makes us feel good!