Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 20 seconds

Telling Your Firm's Story on Camera

Video cameraThere are not many feature movies made about an accountant. Some of you may remember a 1974 movie about an angry vigilante fighting against street criminals. The movie, you may not realize, changed the profession of the writer's hero. In the movie Paul, played by Charles Bronson, was an architect. In the book by Brian Garfield, Paul is a middle-aged, overweight New York accountant. There was a time when I was a middle-aged overweight New York accountant. No one ever made a movie about me.
Today, everyone - middle-aged, seniors, millennials, kids and more - is making movies. Professional or amateur, the technology of video imaging has provided tools for anyone to create and display movies of any length. Lord of the Rings Extended Edition is 13.5 hours. Super Bowl commercials are 15 to 30 seconds long

The world of video reaches out to the universe and beyond. For any business, especially professional services, video is an essential method of communications. YouTube states that more than 72 hours of video content is uploaded every minute. If you watch it all, it will require three days to view what is uploaded in just 60 seconds. Moral of this story: you will never be able to watch all videos that are available.

Video comes from a wide range of vendors from entertainment to education to replays of anything previously recorded. Some of the high-profile companies are: Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, ESPN and more and more. These companies are using video streaming for revenue generation through replays accessible 24/7.

The personal video shot by everyone has been embraced by news organizations and described as video created by "iReporters." This translates to individually donated pictures. Paparazzi get paid for images, average videographers do not.

With all this video being created there has to be a place for you to use video as part of your outreach efforts. There are many accounting firms that have already integrated video within their web presence. Here are just a few randomly selected examples:

Four years ago, Deloitte, had a contest to produce recruiting videos
• WithumSmith+Brown (http://www.withum.com)
• The Siegfried Group, LLP as part of E-Myth Success stories (http://bit.ly/OSFbk1 )
• Cassady Schiller (http://csa-cpa.com/)

Today's digital technologies enable any video producer to add text, images or a short animation anywhere on the screen. On commercial stations, there is no apology if they overlay any part of the movie or show that you are watching. When you create videos, there are choices to make asa to how much information you want to show during any movie second. You need to use similar criteria that you do/did with PowerPoint.

Do not overcrowd the image frame
• Too many words become unreadable
• Music too loud has a certain generational appeal and a certain generation turn-off
• Audio needs to be understandable
• Color, brightness, contrast all have to balanc

Video Everywhere
The world of photographic images began around two centuries ago. In the past 18 years, the key advances surround the capacity to store all of this picture and video content. The following is extracted from the Security Watch column on PC Magazine: "There are already 2.2 zettabytes of data being stored around the world. The amount of data to be store is expected to double in a year. Images and video are becoming so much more than entertainment. http://bit.ly/MV9011"

Your digital video starts with quality content and followed with good video techniques. All accountants have skills and expertise, which equals quality content. Video and audio technologies make the production of good video. Greater video requires better lighting, better microphone, green screens and lots of competent editing. With this said there are significant factors to consider as you decide about how, what and why for your firm's video production.

Getting started with video should be accomplished in 2012. Ideas for content can range from putting a face to a topic expert to recruiting new employees to accounting and your firm. Above all, know that simple is the way to begin. Do not compete for academy awards or special effects that will compete with Lucas or Spielberg. The video, especially as you move into this genre, has to appear real - not just a talking head. A few other factors to consider include:

• Speak in a style that matches with who will watch - client, non-client, young, old.
• To obtain and keep viewer's attention, stories need to be told. It is not just rules and regs
• Digital video takes up hard disk space; there are no tapes or DVDs to inventory
• Content does not have to be scripted. Reality show format or workshop recording is OK
• Always be prepared to update videos. Delete and add are important steps to stay current
• Someone needs to know how to do edit, crop, extract audio, add still images, et al

Using Video
There are lots of ways you can create movies without reaching for an Academy Award. Whatever your reasons to create videos, you have options for what to use, where to record, where to view and how you can share. The options are many.

Camera selection - the key to is to determine most frequent use and what quality is required for your task. Most personal and business use can be met with smartphone, pocket camera, or webcam. Practice taking and showing, ask friends and co-workers, and then assess results with your efforts.

Video software - edit, crop, merge, add text, transitions, music and voiceover
• ArcSoft - http://www.arcsoft.com/
• Avid Studio - http://www.avid.com/US/
• Cyberlink - http://www.cyberlink.com/index_en_US.html?r=1
• Muvee - http://www.muvee.com/en/
• Serif - http://www.serif.com/

You do not have to be a great artist or require lots of techie training. Typically, basic functions can be learned by those who are using various computer programs like word and email.
Photo software allows you to steady camera shake, sharpen images, use controllable transitions, add music, add voice-over commentary, overlay text and insert special effects. I use Cyberlink and Muvee for most of my efforts. You get to use what works for your needs.

Video streaming hosting websites
• Upload your file so others can view it
o Youtube.com - Free - requires a Gmail account to upload videos
o Vimeo.com - Free
o Pixorial.com - Free and fee options
o Your own site
• Most business and personal web hosts can display video
o Wordpress, BlueHost GoDaddy, 1&1
o Embed code to link with video host
• Editing capabilities, add description, enable video to be public or private
o Store mp3, mp4, wmv, or other format

Screens range from 3.5 inches to 90 inches. Video needs to be viewable at some minimum dimension. If text and detail does not display well on a smartphone, say so upfront. You cannot control what display the viewer uses. There are many viewing options to watch videos
• Portable - Phone, Tablet, Laptop, Automobile
• Stationary - Desktop, Home/office television screen
• Monitors - 13 inches to the new Sharp 90 inches ($11,000 + installation)

Story board. The process of creating a video is better when you create an outline for what you want the audience to see and take away from watching. In the movie world this is a ‘story board' and provides the sequence of the final video. Other questions to move you through the process:

• Determine the purpose of video:- Firm marketing, Firm history, local color, teaching, current events issues.
• How long do you want it to be - five minutes, 20 minutes, more?
o When making lengthy videos, consider breaking into chapters for easier start and stop by the viewer. This is similar to reading a book.
• What do you want to say about you and your service or product?
• Other
o Will video be viewed once or multiple times?
o Will the video be updated?
o Will the video be viewed by one person at a time or by an audience of many?

Video Streaming Ahead
The millennial generation prides itself on being able to text, watch videos and do homework at the same time. Baby boomers hate the interruptions and turn devices off. The key to recognize, at least for this decade, is that video will expand its enormous impact whether it is news of a political uprising, a major weather event, a live music concert or you delivering some expert advice. Video is what customers anticipate and are disappointed when not available.

Our ever-changing world is growing a larger appetite for content. Facebook and social media are only one example. The important focus is how best to grab and hold viewer attention in small and medium sized amounts. When producing a video, ask these same questions to determine what works for your message.

• Adding video links to blogs, newsletters and social media
• Radio broadcasts can be extracted from video files for a second distribution method
o Blog talk radio
o Internet radio
• Setup one or more YouTube Channels
• Create video/audio alerts - broadcast public or customized user list

Technology is both a provider of new ideas as well as the temptress that attracts users to adapt to new ways of access to volumes of content from volumes of sources. We all compete in this space for attention. It is not just about competition from other professional firms, it is clearly competition from movies, sports, outer space and the Discovery channel. YouTube statistics provide a message - "People Are Watching."

The world ahead makes us more adaptable to what technology can deliver. We used to have notebook photo albums, now we have huge digital photo albums. We used to watch a TV program when it was live, now we can record and watch any time. Computers used to be behind locked doors, now we carry computers in our pockets.

Perhaps you know people who think video is for the other guy. No, digital images from still to moving video is for everyone. The video train is moving ahead; you might as well get on board and start taking pictures.

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