Mark Montgomery: Welcome to Tips and techniques. I'm Mark Montgomery.
Charlie Fulton: And I'm Charlie Fulton.
Mark Montgomery: And we’re showing you the best of, so now we’ve got Tips and Techniques for a how to make your video better, specifically for video contests.
Charlie Fulton: Right.
Mark Montgomery: So, a little of inside information from us. So, Charlie, why have we chosen this one?
Charlie Fulton: We picked this one because we just came out of judging for 2006 Videomaker Sony short video contest. So, I’m sharing with you some of the observations that we’ve learned, well, some of the things that, well, kind of sour us in certain videos, you know. If you follow what we’re saying on this, then it’s more likely that your video will go further in the contest. Whatever the contest you’re in, whether it’s art, or, any third party contest, sponsored contests, what have you.
Mark Montgomery: It’s good. So, it’s just some general rules to follow.
Charlie Fulton: Exactly. Yeah, yeah.
Mark Montgomery: Well, great. Enjoy and we look forward to seeing your new and improved videos for the next year’s contests.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Hi, I’m Jennifer O’Rourke.
Charlie Fulton: And I’m Charlie Fulton.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And this is our Tips and Techniques section, and, a September’s issue has just come out on newsstands, and we have a couple of little things in September’s issue, if you want to look for, people who are into video contests and entering them, sending them to us. We have a contest entry forms going on right now, of our short video contest, it’s our annual contest.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah. And that also appeared in the August issue, if you are watching this when the August issue is out.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And we just thought we’re going to give you a couple of tips on how to enter contest, so that you can either enter our contest, and possibly win, but also any contest out there. There are certain rules and guidelines and tips and tricks to know, that will get your video shown, or at least seen the first time around. Before they just dump it completely and you never even get a chance to have it shown.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah, exactly. We’d say, ignore this at your peril. For the most part. And I’m saying this as the person who will be accepting or contacting you to try to make something right with your entry if there is a problem with it.
Jennifer O’Rourke: All the videos that come in, Charlie is the first who takes them in, he archives them, he categorizes them, and…
Charlie Fulton: Everything gets logged in. I make sure that you paid, and other things like that. That you’ve not gone over our 5 minute limit and all that good stuff.
Jennifer O’Rourke: So, if you don’t follow his rules, you don’t even get to be seen by us before we can judge them. So, Charlie’s got a couple of lists, and I’ve got a couple of things on my list to go. First go, Charlie.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah. So, first I would say, read the rules very carefully. The judges’ decisions and disqualifications are generally final, for the most part. If you’ve been disqualified, there’s usually no use in trying to appeal or saying, I’m going to contact your boss or something like that. We’ll just kind of say, well, sorry, guy.
Jennifer O’Rourke: So really, really, really pay attention to the fine print. They make the rules, not you. So if they say you have to be this way, then just, do it.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah, exactly.
Jennifer O’Rourke: It’s pretty easy.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah. And you know, we hate to be kind of hardnosed about this, but you wouldn’t believe how many entries we actually see around here. So, you know…
Jennifer O’Rourke: Hundreds… hundreds…
Charlie Fulton: Hundreds, yeah. We had over 200 last year. So…
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yes, yes. And they’re getting better too. Each year we get better videos, so it’s even harder to make the cut. So, if you can at least make the first cut of getting your video seen, that’s a start.
Charlie Fulton: Absolutely.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And next on that would be-
Charlie Fulton: Understanding the fee structure. How much money is due to us, or to whatever contest you’re entering, based upon on what you’re submitting. So, for example, if you enter, your video into more than one category with us, that’s more money. Because it causes more, extra money for more judges to see it, and then, everything’s like that.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And not all contests do this. Some contests will let you have one blanket entry, and you can enter that category, or that, that video in any category you want. And others want separate fees per category. And others also want separate applications. So, understand fee structure and how they want that done. And that’s your first hurdle. Next?
Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Copyrights.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Copyrights.
Charlie Fulton: We have to get a copy release form. And any contest that’s worth entering will also want to see where you got your material from. If you prevailed the material from off the shelf CDs, we’ve got a problem. You’ve got to use some stock footage, or you have to have permission from the record company, music publishing outfit that will say, yes, you have permission explicitly by name to use our content.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And if you make your own music, if you use a garage band, if you use some sort of a program to make your own, or if you actually physically make your own, tell us that. Say what it is. If you use a program, say what program you used. If you use buy out music, list what the company is and the song or the track is.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah. And then you’re going to be in easily. We have a timer in our contest, of five minutes. What happens if contest entry goes over five minutes is I have to go see if there’s the body of the contest entry of the five minutes. And if it isn’t, I’m going to contact you. If you didn’t send us your entry at the last minute. If you did, then you’re going to get disqualified. But if you didn’t, I’ll contact you and say, you submit another cut, or you tell us what you want us to cut out for you. And then you’ll, well, you’ll get commentary on that.
Jennifer O’Rourke: That’s really important. For a thirty second commercial. If you’re submitting a commercial, it has to be within what’s considered a standard commercial format. If it’s thirty seconds, it has to be thirty seconds, not thirty eight, or thirty six. Video formats.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah. If you’re in, you’re submitting something for a contest, or you’re in America, you’re sending something to European contest, make sure it’s the right video standard. We can always take NTSC entries on a tape. We have transcoded in the past, from PAL to NTSC, and that’s fine. We’re fine with this. One of our winners actually, last year, was from the Cook Islands, so her submission was in PAL. And we were able to import her video into NTSC. And we made that work.
And also, if they accept tapes, make sure they’re in the right format of tapes. Like, some of them are VTechS, some of them will accept VHS, or SVHS for example. For example, if you sent us a digital white tape, we have no digital camcorders in the building.
Jennifer O’Rourke: There’s no way of converting it.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah, nobody makes them anymore, well, Sony makes one, but, you know, they’re not easy to find. So, we’re not going to be able to accept your entry.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And that goes to our Charlie’s next point, is don’t work till last minute, because-
Charlie Fulton: Right. If we do have problems with your entry, there’s going to be no way for us to contact you in time for you to get the thing back to us in time to qualify. So, all the deadlines are there for a reason. They worked good for us in the past. And if you, also, get to us your entry late, there’s really nothing that you can do, that’s unfortunate truth about it.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Right. And, you know, some, we talked about this before, some people have Saturday delivery, some don’t. So if you think you’re going to have it sent on Saturday delivery because the postmark happens to be on Saturday, and nobody gets it till Monday, then you’ve wasted your time on it. And again-
Charlie Fulton: And we’re not looking at postmarks at most video contests. Don’t look at postmarks.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Right. When it’s right there on person’s desk.
Charlie Fulton: Right. So, and the final thing that I want to say is, make sure that we can read your entry forms. If you’ve got awful handwriting, get out the old typewriter or word processor, please, I beg you! Please!
Jennifer O’Rourke: If we can’t read it, we can’t categorize it. I want to talk to you real quick on a couple of techniques that you need to know, that you need to know about, when you enter a video contest, when you’re making your video. I did a lot of contests, I’ve won a lot of contests, and one of the things I’ve learned is, different things they want to see, but production value, production value, production value! That’s your very first one. You really need to watch about. Audio, good audio; good lighting; good story concept, continuity, if you don’t have a good production value, those are the points that people will be taking off you almost right at the top. Each story has to have good intro, good beginning, a good ending. It has to have a concept that they can follow, they know the ending is there. Sometimes we have some videos that seem to fade off, and you don’t know why it ended or how it ended, is that all. And…
Charlie Fulton: Yeah.
Jennifer O’Rourke: If you get that, you’re going to lose some points on that, too. So, keep those things in mind, your production value.
Also, keep the viewer’s attention. Learn how to edit yourself down. If it’s a seven minute long piece and you know it would probably be more acceptable by the judges if it’s four minutes, learn to cut some of it down. Show it to other people first, and see what they think it needs to be trimmed, see where they think it, if it’s a little bit too slow. You always want to keep their attention.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah, there’s an old adage about killing your baby, as far as creative content is concerned, generating content, and it’s true. You’ve got to kill your baby.
Jennifer O’Rourke: You can have that one shot, that you just work that, work that, work that, with a hardest shot in the world of shoe , but if it just doesn’t fit with your story line, let it go, use it somewhere else.
Speaking of good production value, pay attention to audio. Audio is one thing that people totally forget about, a lot. And audio is your second half of what your story is. It’s video and audio, it’s not silent pictures; especially if you do a music video category. That sound has to be legible, we need to hear it, we need to understand what the lyrics are, especially if it’s a music video. And the music can’t override audio, have good separation between your sound. Play it on several different sound systems. After you have it done, play it out. Listen to it on your TV, listen to it on your mum’s TV, listen to it on your uncle’s big huge stereo system, and then make some tweaking.
Charlie Fulton: Yeah. I had a professor in college who said, one time he was in audio production house, and they had this excellent, great sounding mix. It sounded like a full orchestra or something like that. So he took out this little speaker that they carried around, from that old decrepit television, this awful little speaker, and said, play it on this. And, so, it sounded awful, of course, and so, you know, you have to adjust your mix sometimes, to make it sound good on any TV.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And that makes really good sense. I had a news director who would get resume tape, and he would stick the resume tape in the machine that’s in their office, and they would play only one channel of audio, say the voice track, and the news director says, how come we didn’t use any background sound? And they said it’s on the other channel, but didn’t carry through. So, think that out. They’re not listening to it on the same system you’re listening to on.
Charlie Fulton: Right.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Safe title and action area. This is something people forget about a lot. When you’ve got your safe title action lines up on your editor, show it up and make sure that your, if you have titles and graphics, make sure they’re on the right line. Make sure your action stays within the right lines, and follow that. That’s really important.
Tightness of editing? Tight, tight, tight. Make your story very, very tight. Edit it tight.
And, content. Last thing I want to talk about real quick is content. No violence, no sex, no bad language unless that’s a story subject that you’re going into, if that’s category for that. Otherwise, they don’t want it, they don’t know where it’s going to be popping up. You don’t know who your judges are. Judges may be offended by something like that. So, keep that stuff down.
And, there’s more in our April issue, April 2006 of Videomaker. We have a whole lot more tips like this for you, so if you want to find out more about entering contest, please enter our contest and your tips, send your tapes, and we’ll take a look at them.
Charlie Fulton: Definitely. We look forward to seeing all of your entries.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yes.
Charlie Fulton: And not the commercial I see either.
Jennifer O’Rourke: (laughs)