We’ve been doing some thinking about how you can define the effectiveness of recruitment video. We’ve come up with three ways (quality of message, reach and impact & action) which we have affectionately dubbed ‘The Tripod’ of Recruitment Video Effectiveness. Have a read.
There are plenty of statistics on the power of video. It’s 5.33 times more effective than text for keeping people on your site. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, with over 3 billion views per day. If your site has video, it is 53 times more likely to appear on the front page of a Google search.
The use of video in recruitment communications has grown enormously for the same reasons it has elsewhere. It has an ability to engage an audience and bring an employer’s brand and culture to life that is unmatched by text and still images. Case studies that provide statistics to back these claims up do exist.
CERN’s new recruitment unit measured the effectiveness of video during their recruitment process. They found that a written job posting would receive on average 1000 views and 20 applications. After producing video content for the posting, it received 5000 views and 150 applications. These numbers add to the dearth of reliable information championing the effectiveness of video as a medium. However, they do little to help define the various parameters for success found in an individual piece of video.
Before we go into our breakdown of how to measure recruitment video effectiveness, it is useful to define what kind of video we’re talking about. The types of video used in recruitment fall typically into two camps – video that is used to replace CV’s or the initial stages of the interview process, and video that communicates and promotes an employer’s brand. The former most frequently relies on the employee for production and is the subject of a very different discussion. At Casual Films, we are engaged entirely in the latter.
This type of video has a variety of uses in the employee lifecycle, from attraction to onboarding, learning and development, and employee engagement. Video is commissioned for a wealth of different reasons. If you can connect with a candidate emotionally and give them a real insight into what they can expect from a role at your organisation, you are more likely to attract and retain them.
In order to measure effectiveness, you have to have a clearly defined objective. With video, more often that not, you need the co-operation of the client, the agency and the video production company to single this out. If a video is commissioned for the wrong reasons – ‘there’s a space on our website so we’d better make one’ or ‘everyone else has done one so let’s do one too’ – the only ways to quantify success would be that the video exists and that it looks pretty.
Without an objective to influence decisions throughout the video’s production – all the way from concept development to delivery strategies – its results will be left entirely to chance. Just having a video on your site will not achieve uplift in applications or quality of candidate. Only a highly targeted and tailor-made piece of video content can be considered intentionally effective.
Below we have defined the three main areas in which a video’s effectiveness at meeting an objective can usually be measured. By developing a better understanding of these measurements – what they entail, who they benefit, and how important they are – the process of determining a clear objective is made far simpler and more efficient.
1. Quality of Message
This can be defined by how a film looks, how it makes you feel, how original it is and how good the production values are. The production company has the most control over this and will therefore tend to champion these qualities as the thing that defines a video as effective.
This area can be hard to measure as certain elements are subjective or unquantifiable. The best approach for assessment would be to conduct focus groups or run questionnaires and interviews. By asking a series of questions before and after a subject watches a video we are able to monitor how their perceptions have been changed.
We trialled a messaging questionnaire for one of our own videos about the production process – ‘How to Make a Film Film’. After watching the video our target group reported a 15% increase in their understanding of video production.
This is perhaps most frequently used to assess effectiveness. Virals have shown that it is possible for a video to distribute itself across millions of viewers through sharing on social media sites. It is easy to measure the number of plays your video has had by using one of a plethora of tools that are available. Google Analytics and YouTube’s video statistics tool for example provide easily attainable audience and engagement data.
However, this area is also the most misleading when assessing the effectiveness of video in the recruitment space. We have spoken extensively in previous articles about when viral video is and is not appropriate. Put simply, what good comes of every man and his dog seeing your video if they do not react in a way that you want them to. Data gained in this area focuses more on the effectiveness of the distribution strategy rather than that of the video.
3. Impact & Action
Video is often at its best when it evokes emotions in people that inspire them to find out more or take another desired action. Provided that an objective and, by extension, a call to action are defined you can usually measure a video’s impact quite easily. For example, the CERN study we referenced earlier used this area to measure effectiveness by monitoring application rates.
The more subtle and difficult parts of impact to measure are emotional changes or actions that do not require immediate interaction with a website. These are best monitored with methods similar to those used for the quality of message.
This area is typically the most important as it is directly linked to the video’s objectives. However, impact is often the most difficult area to measure accurately. With sufficient planning and resources this can be accounted for early on in the production process which highlights the importance of the client, agency and production company collaborating to define objectives that are ambitious yet achievable.
A couple of years back we produced a recruitment video called “What Do You Want To Do?” through Tribal Resourcing for Thames Valley Police. It was an action-packed, high-octane piece rounded off with a high-speed car chase. The video went down a storm and has since won a whole bunch of awards. However, after reading a post on Radley Balko’s blog, The Agitator, we looked back on our TVP video in a slightly different light.
Radley contrasted a 2009 recruitment video from the Decatur, Georgia, police department with one from 2008 for the Newport Beach, California, police department.
DPD’s video puts emphasis on the force’s responsibility to “enforce a higher standard” and assist their community at large, it even has a bobby on a bike! NBPD’s video, on the other hand, takes a more Full Metal Jacket-esque approach and shows guns, shouting, more guns, angry dogs, even more guns and ties it all off with the friendly catchphrase “Stop resisting!”
The two videos couldn’t be further apart in their approach, but seeing them placed together clearly illustrates just how versatile video is. Both advertise essentially the same thing yet they target vastly different audiences. Further to this, it’s worth considering just how far these videos go to maintaining a certain style of policing, whether that approach is right and whether it dictates or is dictated by the levels of crime in that area.
Interestingly, according to data from the FBI Uniform Crime Rate database for 2008, Decatur had roughly 60 more violent crimes and nearly 2000 more property crimes per 100,000 people than Newport Beach. It would appear guns are slightly more efficient at stopping criminals than bicycles…
When watching “What Do You Want To Do?” back, I now can’t help but feel it errs more on the side of Newport Beach’s approach. Whilst being nowhere near as extreme it opts for excitement over social responsibility. The stats suggest that this may not necessarily be a bad thing but with this new perspective would we have taken the same approach if we were to do it all over again?
Recruitment based communications are evolving at an exponential rate. We need to constantly strive for new and better ways to reach audiences as what was relevant and effective only a few years ago quickly becomes outdated. By looking back at our past projects and seeing them in a wider context we can identify their strengths and weaknesses and take mental notes to help improve future projects.
Getting asked by Casual Films to be a guest blogger was a flattering surprise. The first time a production company’s asked an archivist to write for them? Small step for mankind but…
Barnaby offered me the gig after my recent visit to Casual, on an early leg of a mission I’ll be pursuing over coming months on behalf of the BFI National Archive: visiting every producer (as many as will have me…) of Gold winning comms films from this year’s IVCA Awards. In Casual’s case, ‘Chemistry All Around You’ and ‘Macmillan Online Community Animation’.
Purpose of mission? Threefold…
One: Encourage producers to place the films in the BFI National Archive for permanent preservation. Yes, I’m hoping to see ‘Chemistry…’ and ‘Macmillan…’ go into the BFI’s vaults, alongside the 35mm negatives of Brief Encounter and The Red Shoes, and thousands more films and programmes made since 1895. These include a rich heritage of British corporate or, as it used to be called, industrial film stretching way back (potted history here).
Second: To find out more about them. It always surprises me how little gets written about corporate film, outside the sector itself, considering how much gets produced, on behalf of virtually every institution shaping modern society. One of the fascinations of communications films is that they’re ‘in the thick of things’, the working world in which much of all our lives is spent. That makes them unique social documents (if not often high art). So we want to observe the scene – my plan is to publish blogs on the BFI’s site about those I’ve spoken to and the films they’ve given to the Archive. I hope, in a small way, to be helpful to the industry as well as future scholars, by exposing it to commentary from an informed outsider. I admire the unpretentiousness of everyone I’ve ever met in the business (can’t say the same of every branch of the film industry, but that’s another story…). But I’d like to challenge them a wee bit, to stand back and cast a constructively self-critical eye on the meaning of the work they produce. Not least by reminding them of the heritage to which it belongs.
Third: Awareness-raising. Archivists don’t just worry about preserving the past (yesterday’s present) but preserving the present (tomorrow’s past). More moving image is being produced now than ever, mostly 100% digital and web-distributed. How much will survive? Do today’s hi-res files and browsable streams stand a better chance than yesterday’s negs and prints? We simply don’t know but need to do more than twiddle our thumbs waiting to find out. Much blind faith is being placed in hard drives and cloud storage… Even if vast quantities of content did survive, how much sense will future generations be able to make of it all? Hence the value of public-sector archives acquiring ‘exemplars’ of every present genre of film for the record.
So, producers everywhere: keep an eye on your past productions. How are the master files being stored and how robust is that storage? Why not talk to an archivist sometime about cloning the most important films for long-term preservation and public access? It will cost you little but may benefit you much.
Casual is just one of many companies I’m speaking to. I admire and am fascinated by them all so I should stress that my presence here is in no way an ‘endorsement’. In the unlikely event this blog starts a trend of curators getting invited by producers to preach the archive gospel on their time, I’ll be only too delighted.
Senior Curator (Non-Fiction)
Paulo Nutini once sang ‘Jenny don’t be hasty’. I can’t really remember the rest of the song so the context is a little hazy, but as far as memory serves I think that Jenny was a post production professional working in the not too distant future.
Sounds about right.
And in composing such a niche song, it seems that Mr Nutini was actually offering a sage nugget of prophecy to editors around the world – especially ones named Jenny. If only we’d, or indeed anyone, had been listening back then, we may have thought twice last summer before dismissing Apple’s latest release, FCP X, out of hand.
Like everyone else in the world, we at Casual Towers were dumbstruck by just how bad this new piece of software was, and were left questioning Apple’s motives behind releasing a child’s play thing instead of a professional editing platform.
But like any good child’s toy, it’s only a matter of time before the adults secretly have a go themselves. And so imagine my surprise at the end of my first run out in FCP X that instead of a punctured space hopper, I was left with plenty to think about.
Yes, at first glance it has something of the iMovie/Windows Movie Maker about it, and you can see why ‘professionals’ scoffed. But people are always scared of change, and in FCP X you’ve got that by the bucket load. Nothing works as it’s ‘meant’ to and trying to apply traditional editing techniques leaves the user frustrated.
This is because Apple have slightly reinvented the editing wheel. They have switched from a track based timeline to a magnetic one, which does take a bit of getting your head round. But once you do, it starts to make a lot of sense. I won’t go into detail of how it all works, but let’s just say that manipulating your clips in this way is actually very efficient and intuitive, with trimming, rippling, rolling all fewer clicks away than ever before.
But Apple didn’t stop there. They have re jigged media organisation with ‘smart groups’ and keywords that make logging and binning footage a lot easier. You can access whatever clips you are looking for at the click of a button, or if you’re feeling lazy, FCP X will also automatically identify, and group, different types of shots without you doing anything at all! Combine this with a vastly improved keyframe interface, a powerful 64-bit engine and background rendering and you have plenty of food for thought.
In fact FCP X makes enough elements of editing so much easier that it almost feels like cheating, which I think is part of the problem. All its ‘one click’ solutions fuel an amateurish perception, like taking photos with Instgram. Yet just because these features are easy to use, doesn’t mean they can’t be effective. If the user can match colour between shots just by clicking a box, or sync and edit mutli clips with minimum fuss, then why the hell not.
I’ve always been a firm believer that your editing software only plays a very small part in the overall editing process. As long you understand what makes a good edit it doesn’t really matter how you arrive at it – be that FCP, AVID, Premiere, or indeed your iphone. The software should be as transparent as possible to facilitate your storytelling. And what FCP X has done, especially for the ‘prosumer’, is taken a lot of technical worries out of the equation by making the journey from ingest to finished product a lot simpler.
As a result I believe we’ll start to see higher quality films, from a wider base of ‘editors’ who might have struggled to achieve the effects they were looking for with more traditional platforms. So like it or not the ‘old school’ may need to move with the times to stay ahead – combining this new usability with their existing editing knowledge in order to maintain the distinction between professional film making and home movies.
However, and it is a big however, FCP X in it’s current state still lacks some vital ‘pro’ options that would need to be remedied before it became a truly viable option. Yet with announcements of RED support at this years NAB, it seems that we might not be too far away.
So only time will tell how far Apple take FCP X, and how widely it is eventually embraced by the editing community. But I’ve got a sneaky feeling that if you check back in 12 months time your may find Casual Films’ team of editors sitting around eating their words.
Last week saw the annual International Broadcasting Convention take place in Amsterdam. Described as ‘the leading global tradeshow for professionals engaged in the creation, management and delivery of broadcasting media and entertainment’. We thought it was only right that Casual should be there to rub shoulders with an international cast of boffins, nerds, geeks, and the odd Hollywood A-lister, to see to what was on offer at THE premiere event for the broadcast industry.
So after a long drive avoiding tulips, windmills and women of the night, Nick and Adam found their way to the colossal RAI Conference Centre to begin a two-day drool fest amid thirteen halls of cutting edge tech.
What follows is quite geeky in parts – we apologise to any normal readers for this, we just couldn’t help ourselves. However, if you are intrigued and would like to talk about or have any of this explained please feel free to email: nick or firstname.lastname@example.org
Having never been to the IBC before I was initially blown away by the scale of the place. There were thousands of exhibitors from all around the world showing off their latest creations; from the biggest and best-known names in the industry to eccentric one-man operations. Without fail, they all had something new, exciting and desirable to demonstrate and it was our mission to get round to see them all.
Nick, as an IBC veteran, led the charge into a hall that contained all the camera manufacturers, and I watched him pinball from stall to stall, occasionally stepping in to peel him off new releases from RED, Arri and Phantom before security had to be called. There was some truly impressive stuff and we spent a good morning talking all things cameras with those in the know.
There is however only so much comparing of chip sizes an editor like me can take, so after F-stopping off for some lunch (bam!), we headed over to post production. As I descended into the darkness of Hall Seven I could see a host of pale faces shuffling in a pool of social awkwardness. I knew I was in the right place. Here’s my top picks from post:
1) DaVinci Resolve.
This awesomely powerful grading tool really stole the show. Packed full of great features including a stablisation tool that could stop an earthquake and the fastest and most accurate 3D tracking capability I’ve ever come across, this software is a real step up from our own current Apple Color software.
Operating in 32 bit float YRGB, Resolve node-based image processing gives you what seemed like infinite possibilities for your grade, combined with a powerful engine that rips through 2 and 4k raw footage in real time. It also round trips easily with FCP and Premiere using XML or EDL, with smart conforming abilities meaning that editors can (not that we ever do) constantly change their mind without losing grades.
This can also be combined with either DaVincis own Control Surface, or a number of third party consoles which instantly makes you look and feel like a grading legend. And the best part is it’s cheap. You can go all in for the software and a Tangent Wave for £1500. We will be, and I strongly recommend you check it out and do the same.
2) Sony Trimaster OLED Monitor
After the elation at the Resolve stand, my mood was dampened somewhat when I realised that your grading software is only as good as the monitor you’re looking at it on. And here at Casual, we’ve historically gone for quantity, not quality. Thankfully the good people at Sony were on hand with a solution. Even after spilling my coffee on their pristine white stand, they were kind enough to show me their latest Trimaster monitors.
While Nick gawped at an F3, I watched a series of testimonials from colourists all over the world who sang the praises of trimaster technology. They even went as far as saying they would consider replacing/upgrading their precious CRT’s with the Sony kit. This is a big shout, so naturally wanted to see what all the fuss was about. However, if I’d known this meant being ushered into a tiny black room with eight other men I might have reconsidered. But when the presentation started I was glad I endured the dubious hygine of my fellow audience members as the monitor was truly stunning. Sony had lined up an LCD, CRT and Trimaster screen next to each other, and we all stood and watched in amazement as the Trimaster matched the CRT punch for punch. The blacks were as black as they come, the saturation was perfectly balanced in both light and dark and the colour temperature and picture quality were incredible.
Traditionally to get hold of a monitor for high end grading, you would need to re-mortgage your house and sell a few organs. What Sony have done is introduce an affordable digital alternative that sacrifices none of the performance and quality. Bravo! (or should that be Bravia?).
One of the great things about IBC that separates it from other conferences is that it’s not just a large showroom of tech porn. For those who care to look there is a load of forums, talks, seminars and tutorials given by industry leaders who keenly share their insights (albeit against a backdrop of tech porn). One such example was Eddie Hamilton who was talking over at the Avid stand. Eddie is the editor responsible for films like Kick Ass and X-Men and was explaining his techniques and workflows. What I found interesting wasn’t so much Avid itself (although having never used it, it was good to see what the Avid Suite was capable of) but rather how Eddie used it while editing.
As films become more and more complex in terms of VFX, I’ve often wondered how the work is shared around post-production professionals to get a coherent end result. In Eddie’s case, he hogged the lot. Showing us his timelines from Kick Ass he demonstrated how he created the edit, the sound design, and the VFX all at once in Avid Media Composer. He explained that to get a real sense of how the edit will turn out, it’s vital to be able to do all this as you cut the rushes. This means it’s possible to show the director and producers full scenes with no caveats or excuses, before handing them over to a VFX team who simply recreate exactly what has already been done.
This was really interesting to see, and reassuring for the multi skilled post team we have at Casual who have been adopting this DIY attitude for years!
Having worked on the door as an usher at IBC a couple of times in my student days I had a rough idea of the treats we had in store. That said, having been using the kit every day for the last five years did add a couple of extra layers of interest to the show. As Adam said, the scale is fairly overwhelming – anything and everything to do with the production and delivery of moving images and audio was there.
Following the success of the Canon DSLRs and the democratization of filmic imagery with their large sensors other brands have been quick to produce models which offer this in a slightly more usable platform.
Sony’s offering is the F3 with it’s super-35 size chip and XDCAM camera usability. Since we do a lot of work with the EX1 and the EX3, nice little touches like being able to use the same batteries and SxS memory cards was a big draw and with the price falling at around £10k + VAT for the body, it doesn’t seem an unattainable purchase. The image quality, when teamed up with lenses like the Zeiss Compact Primes, looks great even if you have to use an external recorder to take full advantage of the potential 4:4:4 uncompressed output. This colour latitude is a major plus over 8-bit DLSR footage which doesn’t hold up to much in the grade. Beautiful shallow depth of field shots with over-ramped hazy colours have become far too familiar – roll on lower end in camera 10-bit recording!
Anyway, one of the first things you noticed with the F3 was the zoom rocker – when it was first released it there were only primes available for it. On the Sony stand we found none other than a compatible zoom.
This 18mm-252mm T3.9 lens is aimed mainly at those looking to use the camera for ‘run and gun’ type filming. It is out later in the year and is going to retail for £7.5k + VAT. This will make the camera into an accessible self-contained recording package. We look forward to working with one in the near future.
2) Canon 5Dmk3 / 3D
This is more of a report on something we didn’t see rather than something we did. After working extensively with the 5 and 7D and more recently with their video focused camera, the 50mbps XF305 we were really hoping that Canon were going to announce a combination of the two at IBC. The ability to use our lovely Canon L-series EF mount lenses on the XF body, with a large chip, XLR microphone inputs, built in ND filters, peaking filters and all the other benefits of a proper video camera is an exciting prospect. Not this time though – maybe at NAB next year.
3) Super High Vision Video
On display in the ‘Future Zone’ section of the show was Super High Vision a system pioneered by the NHK, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation working with our very own BBC.
Despite the slightly strange name, this camera system delivers a stunning 8K image – effectively 7680 × 4320 pixel video. That’s 16x the resolution of normal High-Definition. To put it into perspective we were treated to a demonstration, complete with a 22.2 surround sound system, of some coverage of the Copa América football. The resolution was so high we could identify individuals in the crowd on the other side of the stadium. Very impressive. To think that the arrival of HD put some actresses’ futures in question.
Apparently the BBC are going to be broadcasting the Olympics next year to three separate screens in London in SHV. That should slightly make up for the farce that was the (mis)allocation of tickets.
A steadicam mounted on a Segway. It looked like something out of Batman with a dash of Robocop. Seriously cool, seriously above our budget. Filmmaking toys don’t come much better.
3D was pretty much everywhere at the show.
We were lucky enough to go to an evening presentation on 3D featuring none other than the world’s most bankable filmmaker, Mr. James Cameron. We’ve never been massive fans of 3D here at Casual Films but this evening tried its best to change our minds.
To start we were shown some sequences from the 3D version of Titanic, which is being worked on at the minute and by happy, savvy, coincidence will be ready just in time to cash in on the centenary of the sinking of the eponymous ship. This was all fine, but I didn’t feel that the 3D really added that much to the experience. That said the sequence just after they have spotted the iceberg and are trying to stop/turn/avoid it is inspiringly superb and well worth another look, 3D or no.
We then saw Circe de Soleil 3D, a project that James Cameron’s Cameron Pace Group have been working on. This was where 3D really came into it’s own. Seeing the circus performers skipping on rapidly spinning wheels on wheels 60 feet above the ground with no safety ropes in 3D was nerve racking and we were just watching video. In this application the depth and scale that was illustrated by the stereoscopic cameras was incredibly effective, significantly adding to the experience.
The last part of the evening was taken up with a showing of Atlantic Productions’’ ‘Flying Monsters 3D’ with David Attenborough. This had just won the IBC International Honour for Excellence and was a master class in thoughtful, creative filmmaking. The stereoscopic element really added to the production with the flying dinosaurs brought to life above the perfectly rendered prehistoric landscapes. A personal favorite moment was when an 80 million year old fossil popped out of its slab and walked around on the table in front of Sir David and a paleontologist. It then flew across the lab onto one of their jackets knocking over a bin in the process. We’d seriously recommend watching it if you get a chance.
In general we found the show extremely inspiring and are now itching to put all the skills and toys we saw to work for us and our clients. We’ve only touched on a few things here. Also worth a mention are:
Phantom slow motion camera which can shoot 2000 frames per second. Allowing for 2K or HD video to be slowed down 80x. Great for filming close-up face slaps.
The radio control helicopter with a seven gyro mounted camera to ensure perfectly stable shots.
The Arri Alexa camera with loads of latitude, usability and awesome image quality. To be used very shortly.
Robert Howard, CEO from Cooke Lenses who chatted at length about their production process and his hopes for the future. We’re now saving up for a set of their beautiful Panchro lenses.
The whole trip would not have been possible without the kindness of Andy and Ady. We used to work with them at Work Communications and they have now relocated to work for Amsterdam based agency, Iris. They put us up in their spare room and then were working too hard for us to buy them a beer to say thank you. Next time gentlemen.
I’ll be honest with you, we at the Casual Films office are to fashion what George Michael is to road safety campaigns. Few of us have defined styles, and even then they’re invariably questionable. That said, we still know a good thing when we see it, and Collect London is one such ‘good thing’.
Set up by Islington designer Woody Morley, Collect London has been building a reputation for his designer t-shirts for the last few years, and he’s just launched his summer collection. Having initially featured guest designers on his work, this latest collection is all his own, and like all of Collect’s range they’re strictly limited.
Yes, each and every t-shirt is on a strictly limited 100 print run, meaning that you’re not just buying a cool piece of clothing, but a rare piece of art too. Not only does this make the range more interesting, but it seriously limits the likelihood of you bumping into someone in the same get-up on a night out (unless you’re in Shoreditch where it’s pretty much a certainty…) which improves your street-cred no end.
We think Woody is incredibly creative and he’s on to a winner, so why not online his online shop and get yourself something few others will get the chance to own.
Ever wondered how illustrators, animators and artists get their buzz on? You at the back, sniggering and saying something about Moroccan woodbines, stop it. Much like Dopey, the dim witted 7th dwarf, drugs are neither big nor clever and apart from the hundreds of obvious exceptions in music, art and literature they have never been used to assist the creative process. I digress. These arty folks enjoy a thrill just as much as the next man, but rather than jumping off a bridge or getting their arm trapped under a boulder for a very specific length of time they do some extreme drawing!
Yes, extreme drawing is real. Renoir would have midgets throw knives at him as he put his thoughts to canvas, Picasso would work straddling train tracks – only moving at the very last second as a locomotive hurtled toward him – and today there is the ‘Hourly Comic Day’ challenge. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds too crazy to comprehend, producing a comic strip every hour – without ropes or a safety net – for a whole day? “Why that sort of madness can only lead to some sort of horrific pencil related injury, perhaps leading to scarring or at the very least a sore finger.” You’re almost certainly screaming at your computer right now – and I agree.
Despite my pleas that he reconsider, Casual Films maverick resident cartoon whizz, tea lover and all round daredevil Rob “Colt Seavers” Cureton took the job on and, fortunately for us, he survived unscathed.
Take a look at Rob’s cartoon pieces for the day, featuring many a friendly soul from the Casual office.
I’m sure you’ll agree that, if nothing else, he really did very little of the work we pay him for.
For Jennifer Aniston read the Canon 5D MkII. Universally lauded, adored and admired, it came on the scene as a digital SLR that could shoot full HD video and instantly changed the game. Everybody – and I mean everybody – loved the quality, the style and the price and it’s been at the top of the game for two years now. But what’s that coming on the horizon? Why it’s the beautiful Panasonic AG-AF101, or Angelina Jolie, and do you know what? It’s turning my head.
As wonderful as the Jennifer may once have seemed, this compact little minx will do things she simply won’t. Sorry, not Jennifer, the 5D MkII. This analogy has got out of hand. Yes, Panasonic had a look at the 5D and said righty ho, it’s great and all that, but what’s with the 4GB file limit? How come the sound recording’s so naff? Why no ND filter? Where’s the viewfinder? When at least half their market is buying as a video camera why are Canon insisting on keeping it as a stills camera that shoots video… all are questions they may have quite reasonably asked, and once you’ve seen the 5D in that light it suddenly doesn’t seem as marvellous as it once was. Once you’ve seen her on the loo without her make-up on it can’t be unseen. There’s no way back.
Panasonic’s master stroke is to keep all the good stuff, the stuff that made the 5D such a hit – the compact SLR style body, the huge SLR sensor that allows you to capture beautiful and rich images, the true HD – and garnished it with a load of filming essentials on to make a digital SLR that’s specifically for film. The industry buzz is that this is going to change the game again, and that the AF101 is going to be THE camera for the independent film industry – and it could go bigger than that. The House season finale was videoed on a Canon 5D MkII and we’ve established that it’s now just an ugly, smelly and predictable in bed version of our exciting new love, so the sky really is the limit.
We’ll be doing our damndest to get one when they’re released in December (that’s a hint Santa) and give you a user report then, but in the meantime go to the Panasonic website here to get the full measurements of the saucy little beast and start distancing yourself from your 5D – it’s for the best.
The advertising business is, despite what some people might try and tell you, a very simple one. You get thirty seconds of people’s ever more valuable time in which to capture their imagination and get them interested in a product or service they may not need, may not want and that might not even be the best in the market. Hit the right note at the right time and you’re a genius, companies will flock to you demanding the same ingenuity for their campaign, get it wrong and you’re an imbecile they wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.
It really is that simple. Which makes you wonder why some companies make things so complicated. You watch some adverts and come away bewildered, confused and even annoyed – what are they trying to sell? Who are they trying to sell it to? And why did they think that a sinister bunch of patchwork people would appeal to people (yes Lenor, I’m blaming you for my nightmares!)?
So, all that said, it makes it all the more pleasurable to see an ad as perfectly pitched as The Man Your Man Could Smell Like – one of the simplest, funniest and best executed ads I’ve seen in many years.
The script is brilliant, Isaiah Mustafa is perfectly cast as the man men want to be and women want to be with, and his deadpan delivery is impeccable. The flow of the ad is flawless. Producers Wieden & Kennedy have shown they know their product and their audience and, what’s more, know how to reach them –11 million hits on YouTube speak for themselves.
Unfortunately for them I don’t like Old Spice and this won’t change my mind about buying it, but I will be watching out for the next ad – and whatever way you look at it, that’s a victory.
And now they’ve made their next ad, and we love this too.
The future is here. Well, obviously it’s not, the future will always be just that, in the future, but saying that “a new futuristic thing is here” doesn’t really have the same ring to it.
Nevertheless we’re finally getting a piece of the world promised to us by Back to the Future Part II (where Marty’s house featured no less than 4 ‘state of the art’ fax machines!) and Minority Report where a pale bald woman tells Tom Cruise to do what he does best – RUN!. No, I’m afraid it’s not hoverboards, self fastening trainers or even those really cool sick sticks, it’s fully digital magazines.
We saw this video and couldn’t help but think that this really is the future of publishing. So take a look for yourself, but whatever you do, don’t let Biff see the DeLorean.
The world used to be a simpler place. A place where you used your phone to call people up, your Walkman to listen to the tape of the Top 40 you recorded off the radio, and a stills camera to take photos of attractive young tennis players scratching their bottoms. All that has changed with the relentless advance of mobile phones, and most notably the iPhone that, before long, will surely become self-aware and lead us in to Armageddon – an “Are you Sarah Connor” app is just around the corner.
The point being that multi-functionalism is all important to the modern day technology user, and this was illustrated in no uncertain terms when we went to an event in Austin featuring local sultry indie band Monarchs. There were five guys filming and not one of them had the decency to be holding a video camera of any kind, instead they were all eagerly pointing their digital SLR’s.
Cameras like the Canon 5D mkII and 7D have had a huge impact on the market and, speaking to British videographer Philip Bloom, it’s clear that this isn’t just a phase. If you can ignore the problem of keeping the image sharp – or cure it by using a small Marshall monitor – then the quality of footage you can get from these bits of kit is astounding. I particularly liked the out of focus neon’s in the background of the exterior shots of the singer, I’d go as far as saying they’re comparable to RED One footage, but with a basic SLR set up costing as little as £1200 the comparisons with the expensive RED must end at the quality.
So could this be the start of the true democratisation of high quality filmic video? Perhaps, but three things are clear:
1) The quality is only going to get better.
2) The price is only going to come down.
3) We’re getting one.
Now if only they could do a DSLR that was also a phone…
Probably the most impressive thing we saw at SXSW this year (apart from the steaks, man Texans like a steak!) was the Panasonic Full HD 3D demo van. It does pretty much what it says on the tin, providing a small cinema on a big truck. They showed images from the Beijing Olympics and a small independent film called Avatar and the clarity was stunning – if this is the way home entertainment is heading then invest in a new sofa, because you’ll be using it a lot. The glasses remain of course, which is a bit of a pain, but thankfully we’re just about cool enough to pull them off.
The Panasonic rep also told us about the upcoming 3D camcorder (we’re assuming it records in 3D, rather than just being a three dimensional object in itself) which sounds very exciting and shall be subjected to a full review in the Casual offices as soon as we can get our grubby little hands on one.