Want one of the best pieces of advice on marketing your film? Here it is in a nutshell: you can make the best or worst film in the world, but the only way you'll ever get someone to press play is if the thumbnail (the "preview frame") you are using is representative, exciting, and thoughtful.
Sounds easy, right? Well, we've learned the hard way over the years that picking the right frame leads to more views (heck way back when Youtube randomly assigned a still to your video it was so damn frustrating!) but nowdays most sites allow you to either choose from a number of still shots or upload your own. The viral competition is fierce, so make sure you got something spectacular spectacular!!
Let's start off with a simple representative screen shot from your post. Here is a Streetfilm we shot on "The Porch" a new public space in Philadelphia. We simply chose a specific shot that showed the space, the amenities, and people using it in large numbers. It's very important to show people using facilities in transportation and public space videos. Imagine this same shot with no people in it on a dreary day? Not so enticing to watch.
The next shot above is going one step further: not only using a representative shot from your video, but also putting in the text of the title. That way if someone doesn't read any text that accompanies it, they will know that this is a Streetfilm from the Green Lane Project and they are in New York City using protected bike lanes. It gives an additional note and way to promote. And in this day and age of Facebook and Twitter where you only get a few lines of text to convince people to watch, but usually get that wonderful thumbnail preview, it's that much more important.
Sometimes you'll feel your topic is a little too complicated or ambitious to be explained just with one snapshot. In that case I usually choose multiple frames and make a poster frame that is dynamic and hopefully piques interest further. Here's one from our current Streetfacts series. Yes, it takes a little more time, but really not so much in the long run as it will help you when promoting it and getting others to use it on their blog and advocacy.
Finally, well sometimes you have to just get really inventive or just try something different. The above is from the Women's Bike Summit in D.C. this past March. Since this is just coverage of a gathering of people and speeches, which can sometimes be a difficult topic to get viewers to sample, I wanted to up the creative quotient and get dynamic. It worked for us. But it also could have backfired since it is so busy.
I urge you to look thru Streetfilms and just see the thumbnails we have used over the years. We have a pretty good track record. Not perfect, but we have had a lot of practice. Good luck.
It might sound a little unbelievable, but you can get pretty good quality voiceovers for your projects using a simple smart phone. For our latest series Streetfacts we decided to go a little bit more low-tech: rather than using a microphone to record directly into the computer or renting out a studio and spending a ton of money, well, we just used our iPhones!
In actuality it started out as a test to do some rough drafts with some early-version scripts. But when I married the images to the recordings and played it with the soundtrack I realized they sounded pretty good. Now I'm not suggesting these videos feature award-winning, movie quality sound, but the ability to be able to record at a moment's notice ended up letting us do many revisions without worry. Simple process: record in a voice notes program, email it to yourself, and then simply drag and drop onto your desktop and into your edit timeline.
I'd suggest a few things if you go this route. 1) Make sure you are in a quiet area (and as a bonus make sure the room isn't too "echo-y". 2) You'll need to get the smart phone fairly close to your subject. 3) Make sure your talent doesn't hold the paper as they read it (it makes noise). And most important, 4) I'd only recommend this if you plan on having background music in your piece.
Here's our Streetfacts #4 which I think shows off the quality. For those of you making your own transportation videos, you might want to try it out. And in the future look for more Streetfilms University tips!
While on a shoot in Indianapolis to document the grand opening of the Cultural Rail Trail (look for a great Streetfilm on it shortly), Jaimson Hutchins, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the city was leading a group ride showing off its bike amenities to some of the group gathered there from National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
While riding along the Canal Tow Path, Jamison and others spied a robin in distress. It was tangled badly in a fishing line and the crew jumped into action to to try extricate the bird. After calming the bird a bit - and a futile search to see if anyone had a tool sharp enough to cut the line - Jamison just did the superhero thing and used his teeth to give the baby robin its freedom. See it as it happened here:
Jamison said later, "The Canal Tow Path is a great spot to take in a quiet ride in a natural habitat, so any time I can do my part to save a robin, I will do whatever I can. Sorry worms!"
As bicyclists all around the world know, almost every day you get on a bike something exciting and fun happens. I just happened to have the camera rolling this time. What's the coolest/weirdest/funniest thing that has ever happened to you?
Friends, as you may know our major funder for Streetfilms, Mark Gorton, has a wonderful touring presentation called "Rethinking the Automobile" which he's been delivering at many gatherings throughout the country. Recently he was in Portland, Oregon at the Active Transportation Summit a few weeks ago.
Dan Kaufman of PDXK Productions (and CrankMyChainCycle TV!)captured the entire speech and did a wonderful edit job putting this together for any of those who may have missed it. See it below. (There is also a shorter highlight version here.)
Dan also did a great guest editorial in The Oregonian which is a great read.
Spring has arrived! And along with it an explosion of livable streets activity. Every time I ride my bike, or relax in a public plaza, or walk down a nice wide street where I can stop and say hello to my neighbors, I think how lucky I am to live in a place with growing amenities for better biking, walking and public space. Streetfilms helps fuel the fire for positive change to our streets.
Today we’re launching our spring pledge drive, and if you value the work we do please make a contribution to Streetfilms so we can keep bringing you the latest in livable streets news and advocacy.
This spring we'll be covering the roll-out of the largest North American bike share system in New York City, new public space and bike trails in Indianapolis, and filming the fantastic BRT and light-rail in Salt Lake City. The videos that Streetfilms distributes continually make the case for safer walking and biking and more effective transit. And we need you to help us.
If you've ever enjoyed one of our films, shared them with your neighbors, or used them to build your own local livable streets movement, please make a donation today. And remember all of our films are available now for FREE via Vimeo in case you want to show them to your politicians or community.
For some extra motivation, we also have a very fine folding bike to give away at the end of the pledge drive. Everyone who makes a gift of $50 or more (or a monthly gift of $5 or more) will be entered into the drawing to take home this beauty, courtesy of Dahon:
Thanks to all our donors for making Streetfilms possible. Please make a tax-deductible gift to help us raise $40,000 by June 1 and keep us going through 2013 and beyond.