Corporate video communications? There’s an app for that

(I originally contributed this article to Simply Communicate)

In two of my previous posts, I described the pillars of an enterprise video program, as well as how you can start leveraging your mobile device to capture better video when you don’t have a camcorder.

This article will focus on smartphone and tablet apps, and how software can transform your portable and connected device into a mobile video system to create and share powerful stories with your audience.

Given how widespread Apple devices are among corporate communicators, I’m going to cover five mobile video scenarios that make creative use of your iPhone and/or iPad.


Editing video

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Picture this: You just shot a great interview with your phone, the lighting was just right and you were careful to be close enough to your subject, so her voice was loud and crisp. But your interviewee stumbled on one of the answers and you’d like to remove the bad part. Every video can benefit from some editing, and simple actions like trimming, cutting, adding captions, photos and transitions can all be accomplished right on your phone or tablet. The two apps that I like the most are Apple iMovie ($5) and Avid Studio for iPad ($5). While both apps are quite well designed, Avid Studio comes ahead on feature richness due to their recent release and given the heritage of the developer company in the professional video space.

If you prefer to shoot video on the iPhone and take advantage of the larger iPad screen for editing, you can transfer media between devices using Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit ($29) that consists of two separate adapters; one to connect your tablet to a USB device (like your iPhone), and the second to import photos / videos from a generic SD card. In my tests, I didn’t have any issues importing photos and videos captured with both my Canon point-and-shoot and DSLR.


Photo montages

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There are instances when you want to create a video and all that’s available are some nice still photos. Don’t despair; there are apps that will convert your images into high-energy animations inclusive of a custom music soundtrack. My favorite is Animoto (free) which is a cloud service that offers free and premium plans, depending on your need to output HD videos, their length and number of source files.

 

Tags

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Tags are a special breed of bar codes that can be scanned using a dedicated mobile app and can trigger actions like visiting a web site, dialing a number, sending a virtual contact card or simply displaying a message.

The two dominant types are QR codes and Microsoft Tags. Nowadays, you can find them pretty much everywhere, from magazines to food labels, on signs, promotional t-shirts, and more. Tags let you bridge the physical and virtual worlds, by facilitating the access to online information associated with the tagged object.

Microsoft offers a convenient free dashboard and mobile app called Tag (free) to generate and read both QR codes and its proprietary format.

If you work in internal communications, you may enjoy this video that shows how Microsoft used tags printed with edible ink on chocolate to deliver a promotional message to its employees.


Webinars

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If your workforce is increasingly becoming mobile, chances are that knowledge sharing inside your organization needs to adapt to this new trend too. Demos and presentations are integral elements of any readiness program, but how can they be delivered to a mobile audience? Companies that are not already enrolled in popular services like Webex or GoToMeeting, may want to check an app called TeamViewer for Meetings (free for non-commercial use) that lets a presenter share his desktop PC in real time with a mobile audience of up to 25 participants, including audio via VOIP, file sharing, whiteboard, instant chat and more. It’s definitely worth a look.


Video messaging

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Sending media across different mobile devices is risky business. Unless the handsets are from the same manufacturer, there is always the potential of video format incompatibility. MMS is a great solution that pretty much guarantees a uniform and reliable experience on smartphones, but the length of those clips is limited to less than a minute.

What about an ‘Outlook for video’? Eyejot ($4) is a video mail app that allows you to send personal video messages to other people regardless if they’re using Eyejot. The app includes a handy vCard feature that sends your contact information along with a personal video clip. Desktop users can watch Eyejot messages in their browsers and the service is free to record up to 5 minute long videos.

Do you have a favorite app that’s enhancing communications at work? Leave a comment with your feedback and experiences.

Making the most out of mobile video in internal communications

(I first contributed this article to Simply Communicate, UK)

Hyper-connected individuals will agree that we are living in an exciting time. It seems like there is always a new mobile app that can make your phone smarter and easier to use, the market is embracing devices with different form factors, and carriers are enhancing their networks to provide faster wireless connectivity in more areas.

But how can corporate PR and marketing professionals take advantage of these technological advancements? The way I like to look at new opportunities is by observing current and emerging trends and trying to intersect them in creative ways.

In this toolkit, I mix together social media, mobile, online video and enterprise communications to investigate if this is a recipe for success.

Platform wars

When it comes to mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, users are faced with a fundamental choice: selecting an ecosystem that will best fit their requirements.

The market today offers a good choice of platforms like iOS, Android, WebOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and others. If we take a closer look (at right) at how users consume mobile video today, Apple devices still come out ahead of the pack, with Android quickly catching up. (Source: Encoding.com)

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From the content generation perspective, both dominant platforms feature a variety of apps that can help you create mobile video, so you can’t go wrong either way. Because apps are such an important topic, I plan to cover them in the near future with a dedicated article.

Three simple tips for shooting better mobile video

Have you ever found yourself in a situation when a client or an executive were willing to release an important statement, and you weren’t ready to record them with a camcorder?

I’m a believer of the old motto, “The best camera is always the one you have with you”. Chances are that if you own a recent smartphone model, you can use it to shoot good quality photos and videos. But impressive hardware specifications are not a guarantee that your final video will look equally good.

Here are three easy tips that will help you achieve better results when you plan to shoot video with your device:

1. Stabilize your image. Your phone is light and it’s prone to shaking when you shoot video. Make sure to hold it steady with two hands while you’re assuming a solid posture on both your feet. If you plan to shoot ‘talking head’ style and you are near a desk, consider using a tripod with a special phone mount.

2. Pay attention to lighting. The small optics on your smartphone crave a well-lit subject. Try to position your interviewee near a light source, such as a window. But don’t shoot the person against the window, as your camera will compensate for the brighter light, making your subject appear like a silhouette. Instead, have your back - as well as your subject - face the window.

3. Mind your audio. Bad audio can turn off your viewers faster than bad images. When recording an interview, make sure you are close enough to your subject so his/her voice is very clear and audible. The little microphone that is embedded in your mobile device is designed to record sounds coming from all directions; therefore your interviewee’s voice needs to dominate the surrounding noise. Ideally, make use of an external microphone as the quality of your audio will dramatically improve. 

Creating your own mobile video kit

Here is a list of affordable accessories that will ‘supercharge’ your smartphone during your mobile video shoots:

If you feel really creative, you can assemble a mobile video rig yourself.

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So…are you intrigued by the possibilities? I hope you are!

Look out for my next article in an upcoming blog post in which I share some of the best apps that will help you take advantage of mobile video in your internal and external communications.

What mobile video scenarios interest you the most? Feel free to email me at paolo@tosolini.com.

A creative tribute to Steve Jobs
With the arrival of my new iPhone 4S this weekend, I felt compelled to offer my personal tribute to Steve Jobs in a creative way that he might have probably appreciated. 
Using my three household iPhones, I stitched together Steve’s portrait using an MIT web app called Junkyard Jumbotron. Then I used Penultimate on my iPad 2 for the handwritten caption.
Thanks Steve for continuing inspiring my creativity.

A creative tribute to Steve Jobs

With the arrival of my new iPhone 4S this weekend, I felt compelled to offer my personal tribute to Steve Jobs in a creative way that he might have probably appreciated. 

Using my three household iPhones, I stitched together Steve’s portrait using an MIT web app called Junkyard Jumbotron. Then I used Penultimate on my iPad 2 for the handwritten caption.

Thanks Steve for continuing inspiring my creativity.