Don’t magazine editors watch TV? Having viewed the videos they produce for their magazines, I conclude they do not. My chief complaints: The videos are too long. They consist only of talking heads. They are not compelling. They are boring. And sloppy. I’ve seen misspellings of proper names (companies and individuals) in the titles. How’s that for establishing authority?

Why are print editors, who are so good at telling stories on glossy paper, so bad at telling a story in a different medium? I’m going to single out one publication, only because it should know better.

Folio: is the business magazine of magazines. It, of all publications, has wide access to the best practices of the industry. So I expect better from it. But Folio: falls short (far short) with its video introducing 40 influential publishing executives.  The video, at 8 minutes, 30 seconds, is too long. I don’t want to watch nearly 9 minutes of a talking head. Do you?

The editors needed to break this one long video
into shorter chapters. Second, the video gives no visual relief. It’s talking heads all the time. TV news and documentary producers know their medium. Editors can learn from them. Watch and deconstruct a news broadcast.

Here are some techniques I gleaned from television to create better videos
• Use music and titles to introduce the piece.
• Cut away from the talking head from time to time.
• Use bullet points to summarize what the interview subject just said.
• Change the camera angle.
• Use “B” roll. These could be still photos sexed up with the Ken Burns effect.
• Put music underneath the audio.
• Use wipes, dissolves and other transitions.
• Keep it short. Like 60 to 90 seconds.

I follow the gift and furniture magazines, which have produced plenty of mediocre videos. But I like what Furniture/Today has done at trade shows with its “man in the street” videos that ask show attendees their opinions about products and business.

I believe in using video for magazine websites. I’ve just started a video channel for a magazine I edit. My body of work includes content ranging from 6 seconds to about 2 minutes. In the past I’ve shot video with my digital camera. These days I’m experimenting with FlipVideo. The camera comes with its own editing software, which isn’t very robust. You can only add opening and closing titles (but you can’t change the font or face). It offers a limited selection of music. It suffices for trade show coverage if you want to edit and post quickly.

We post some videos on our blog with embedded links to our YouTube channel. Each video on YouTube includes a synopsis and links. I’ve tried to optimize them for search so our website and blog receive hits. So how am I doing? I invite you my screening room. Send me your comments.