The Best Video Gear for Weddings

Recently, a few friends have asked for advice on the video gear they should use when moving into freelance wedding videography. I’ve been out of the video world for a few years, but if I was starting out, here’s the gear I’d pick up.

Legendary creative Chase Jarvis says “The best camera is the one that’s with you”. I learned on a Sony DCRTRV-38—literally any camera on the market is now better than that. Gear can be a great help, but also a huge distraction. Try before you buy. Get to know your gear inside and out. And remember that all the best gear in the world won’t help if you’re not comfortable with it.

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10 Best Non-Profit Videos of 2012

10 years ago, non-profit videos were different. They were on brand, on message, had voice-over narration and showed children suffering terribly. It turns out, people don’t especially seek out this content to watch (although arguably still effective in fundraising with older demographics).

With the rise of online video, there’s been a trend in the industry to create art, or entertainment that people want to watch.

After looking at 2012’s top non-profit videos (mainly 1M+ views) nearly all are one of the following:

  • Funny
  • Shocking
  • Sexy
  • Amazing/Beautiful

Here’s ten that we thought made the biggest waves in 2012.

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Creative Fridays

"do a lot of work" ira glass

Master storyteller Ira Glass gives this advice to creatives:

“Do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that your will be as good as your ambition”

Today is my first week of a 4-day work week! I’m talkingt Fridays off to (hopefully) do a lot of creative work. I’ve never worked on a documentary, I’ve always wanted to, so what better time than now?

Big thanks to work for the flexibility, and to my wife, friends, family (and commenters) for the encouragement to be risky, chase dreams, and tell stories. And thanks Mr. Ira Glass, for this:


5 beautifully produced NGO videos

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of filming at CBM’s partner organisation, CCBRT in Tanzania, and community based organisations and clinics in Kenya. I was fortunate to work with Greg Low, a veteran documentary producer, and learned a ton from him. We met individuals living with–or caring for children with–disability. It was humbling, powerful and inspiring.

For me, making videos has always invoked equal parts excitement and fear. I’m often overwhelmed with the tremendous responsibility it is to share stories from the field with our donors. Sometimes it’s a good overwhelmed: it keeps me honest, focused, and aware of my role. Other times, it’s simply overwhelming and I become frozen or fearful. I’m usually nervous to review the footage and start editing, for fear that I won’t be able to relay the story as compellingly or as powerful as I first heard it. I’m learning to work within the tension.

In the spirit of inspiration and sharing, here’s five videos from producers I admire. I love the style (most are shot on Canon DSLR’s) and the way the stories are told. I’m keen to hear what others think.

Title: Radar Development People with Disabilities
Organisation: CCBRT


Title: Voices for Change, Delhi
Organisation: Greenpeace
Produced by Philip Bloom

Title: 37 Scars
Organisation: World Vision USA
Produced by Josh Batchelder

Title: Clean Water for the Bayaka
Organisation: charity: water

Title: Baby Heart
Produced by Ricky Norris, Discover The Journey

10 Reason Non-Profits Should Choose YouTube

How should your non-profit share video online? There’s no shortage of options. Brightcove, YouTube, Vimeo, Kewego, SeeToo, Akami, and so on.

Most media websites, like the NYTimes or TV channels, have their own custom video players. This is so they can earn ad revenue, or exclusively show their content in the context of their website. As a NGO, your goals look different. Whether you’re advocating, informing or motivating, the point of your non-profit video is for people to see it, not to make ad revenue. Here’s 10 reasons why I think your org should go with YouTube.

1. Get the most views
Hosting and embedding on YouTube practically guarantee the highest amount of views. YouTube has the best sharing rate and best embedding rate (probably because people are already familiar to the user experience). Additionally:

  • YouTube auto populates embeds links in twitter, Facebook, gmail, and heaps of other social sites.
  • YouTube allows viewers to subscribe to your video uploads, and pushes them notifications.
  • YouTube works on nearly all mobile phones, ipads, web browsers and other platforms.

Think back. When’s the last time someone sent you an email to check out a video that was buried in a site, and hosted on a 3rd party platform?

To be honest, the odds are already against your video “going viral”. If you don’t host via YouTube, your chances become almost laughable.

2. Technology
3d, 4k, HTML5, mobile-ready, social embedding… head spinning yet? You want to choose a video platform that is going to change as quickly as the web technology that delivers it. Brightcove is famously behind, Vimeo is quickly improving, but for implementing the latest technology, my money is on YouTube. And so is Google’s (Google purchased YouTube in 2004).

3. Search
YouTube is the second highest search engine. Not hosting your videos on YouTube is the SEO equivalent of not letting Google index your website. But it’s not just hosting. YouTube/Google give preference in search results to videos with higher view counts. In plain english: it’s not enough to just upload a copy of your video to YouTube and host via something else. You’ll want your video views to be “counted” for on YouTube, thus increasing your search result rankings, thus increasing your views via the worlds second highest search engine…. you get the picture.

4. Search (Part 2) or The United Airlines Effect
If you’re not the number one video result for your brand, someone else is. This is the number one result for United Airlines.

In the non-profit world, your top search result might be a homemade video from a donor. Chances are, it doesn’t pass branding control. Perhaps they’ve misinterpreted your message, or paternalised your recipients, or worse.

…It’s best for you to own your search results (or at least try).

5. In-video clickable giving
Interactive videos! As long as you’re a registered non-profit, you can add giving links, find our more links, and download our Annual Report links from within your videos. You can also link to other videos, like in these “choose your own adventure” style series. Brilliant!

6. Accessibility
To my knowledge, YouTube is the only video site actively pursing accessibility options. They’re working on auto-captioning, but until it’s perfect, CaptionTube syncs with YouTube to manually create subtitles. Plus, with such a large user base, many people are proactively adding their captions and translations. Online video has still has a way to go to establishing standards for accessibility–expect to see YouTube lead the way.

7. Community
The biggest difference between YouTube and other social video platforms (vimeo, metacafe) is the community. Like facebook and twitter, youtube has a community of users, celebrities and voices who are already popular. Recently, some NGO’s have begun tapping into these vloggers to spread the word about their work.

…If you’re an NGO not using YouTube, you probably won’t have much credibility with the “YouTubers”.

8. Video Quality
If you’re still under the impression that YouTube videos are all fuzzy and pixelated, you’re wrong. In 2009 YouTube announced support for full HD 1920×1080, blu-ray quality video. And in 2010, YouTube announced support for 4k resolution–best viewed on a 25 ft screen.

Think you’ll never need high resolution video? It’s an hour before your annual fundraising gala and you left the DVD at home… no problem if you have the video uploaded in high-def. Preload and stream it fullscreen… no need to tell the boss.

For registered non-profits YouTube has added optional “download” functionality. For free. Burning and shipping DVD copies will soon (hopefully) become a thing of the past.

10. Faster International Uploading
When uploading videos from rural Tanzania, it’s important to have fast uploads and resumeable uploads (if you lose your connection for a moment, you don’t have to restart the entire process). Plus, YouTube processes video quicker than any other host I’ve worked with, including the expensive platforms.

…And it’s Free
You’re a non-profit. Hosting and serving up videos is expensive. I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument to spend thousands of dollars on what YouTube provides, better, and for free.

What does all that look like in practise? Check out charity:water’s use of youtube embedding here:

Agree? Disagree? Eager to hear your comments below.