Posts Tagged ‘policies and procedures’

Managing Risks in Video Content

January 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Day to day life in content production in my current industry involves a large amount of risk management. Every piece that works its way through the process is vetted for risky content—are we overstating the case? Are we mentioning private information that we shouldn’t? Are we using language that we shouldn’t use? It got me thinking about risk concerns during the creation and distribution of video – what are some of the things we need to think about?

Some industries are more risk-conscious than others. Consulting/Advisory (where I am now), Healthcare (where I’ve been), Financial Services/Banking (haven’t gotten to this one so far) are among the most risk-aware fields out there. A lot of this is driven by the extreme sensitivity of the information companies in these fields possess—critical proprietary business information, your private health information or your money. Some is driven by the need for consumer protection—government regulations abound to make sure the information these organizations hold is protected and safe from prying eyes and that companies do not make promises they can’t keep. 

If you’re in one of those industries, the safeguards on language and information are likely in place. It’s possible there’s a whole department with responsibility for making sure the videos you produce comply with regulations & company policies. As a producer you should be aware of the organization’s needs and anticipate the pitfalls. If you’re writing a script, think about the messages you’re delivering, and how they fit the company’s risk profile. You can save yourselves and the risk reviewers a lot of time and effort by keeping it front and center at every step of the way. Even if it’s not required, think about having the risk people review the script before you schedule recording—if you can spot potential issues ahead of time it can save messy re-shoots later.

If you’re interviewing people (as opposed to a scripted shoot) have a conversation with your talent before the camera rolls about the kinds of things to avoid. While it can get crowded and certainly take some of the energy out of an interview, consider having a risk-aware person in the room with you during the shoot to keep an ear out for risk problems. It may not be ideal from a production standpoint, but it can head off the kinds of problems that will force a re-shoot later to clean it up.

If you’re in another industry where the risk management effort gets less attention, it’s still good practice to think about these concerns. What kinds of language might reflect poorly on the organization? What statements might disturb or offend your key audiences? What private information—including proprietary to your company—should not be shared with a general audience? Even without a formal risk review process, your company’s leadership is likely to be concerned about what gets shared on video. If you can demonstrate to them an awareness and respect for this important consideration you’ll go a long way towards earning their trust to get the job done the right way.


Preparation Can Make All the Difference

February 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Producer Anthony Burokas posted an excellent breakdown of, well, breakdowns and how to avoid them:

Streamline Your Production Pipeline

There’s really no question that the event he worked on could’ve run more quickly, efficiently and of course cheaply if the producers had taken the time to sit down and map out what they needed to do and how to best set up their tools and personnel to make that work as smoothly as possible.

The same is really true of any video production – it doesn’t need to be a 7-camera setup in a major event space. A one or two camera shoot can be equally complicated and taking some time beforehand to walk through it can really make a big difference. If you’re planning a video involving senior executives, their time is extremely valuable and hard to schedule. Do you really want to sit down with the CEO and realize as he’s getting in place that the lighting is unacceptable, or the background is inappropriate, or you’ve scheduled someone else at the same time?

I had a conversation recently about a new effort to deliver live events via online video. What’s become clear to them is that rules will have to be set down and adhered to if the effort is going to succeed. Some of this involves developing those rules for preparation and requiring their content partners to provide their materials well in advance of the event getting underway. For the end user, especially during a live event, the fumbling and stumbling as presenters get situated is torture – by getting all of that in place with time to spare, the event can begin without delay, showing off the presenters in their best light and making it a better experience for the viewers.

None of this is rocket science of course, and with experience and the right team the processes will become more natural. But the process of production usually has a lot of moving parts and the more you can think through and get in place before you start the better it will come off.

Copyrights and Wrongs

July 24, 2012 Leave a comment

I was on a call this morning for people involved in video production around the organization. One of the subjects that came up was the use of music as part of a video production.  In the midst of all the technical advice (test on PC speakers & headphones both to be sure of  sound quality in each case; don’t have anything with lyrics playing under someone talking) they brought up the issue of where to get music for a video piece and what could reasonably be used.

My employer for many reasons is very sensitive about copyright violations, but all organizations should be extremely careful about adding music to video productions and the permissions involved. It’s very common for personal video producers to grab any song they like and toss it into their production. In most cases it’s a fairly low-risk proposition for someone creating a slideshow of their child’s elementary school milestones. The copyright owners are at worst going to send along some kind of cease-and-desist letter, and most of the time even if it ends up on YouTube they won’t pursue it terribly far. This doesn’t change the copyright violation or moral questions involved, but from a consequences perspective the average home video creator probably won’t feel much.

For the enterprise content creator, however, the use of copyrighted material should be strictly avoided unless permission is formally granted. Certainly the morality is clear that one shouldn’t use another person’s creative work without the express right to do so. For most companies the legal issues are paramount and it’s really not worth anyone’s job to risk a legal complication arising simply because a commercial song is perfect for a video.

There are a number of fairly simple and affordable solutions for corporate content producers to add music to a piece. Here are several companies that provide pre-cleared audio tracks that can be used in productions:

Some sites offer package deals, some offer a per-song fee, but generally it’s for unlimited use of a song track. Some will require a credit line in the video, but in all cases it can really simplify the process of adding music to a piece without having to worry about violating copyright issues.

The 80% Solution

July 25, 2011 2 comments

There’s an often cited report from Cisco that “80% of the bandwidth across the internet will be video traffic by 2015” (Here’s the report, and here’s a breakdown from a blogger).  Leaving aside the quality and accuracy of Cisco’s forecasting, it raises an important question for video and communications managers:

How much of that video will serve any purpose for our business?

Over 50% of the reported video delivered is Hulu, Netflix streaming, set-top delivery, etc. – all the entertainment a viewer could want.  But what about the enterprise?  Will 80% of the available network bandwidth for businesses be taken up by video communication?  And will that video contain material that communicates necessary information to enable the employees to do their jobs correctly, or even better than before?

I think we have to highlight the difference between volume of data and impact of that data.  Video uses a lot of bandwidth – there’s simply a lot of information that needs to travel from one location to another, or to many other locations.  Yes, a five minute video, even streamed at a low bitrate, involves sending 50-100 MB of data from a server or encoder across a pipe.  But that doesn’t mean the data is more important than a one-page memo in Word format that eats up only 150KB of space – it only means that it needs more resources to travel from point A to B.

There’s no overall “owner” of the internet that cares about getting the most out of its bandwidth and resources.  There are millions of individual content owners and billions of content consumers who care about their individual transactions and experiences, but viewed overall it’s a mosaic of billions of independent events.  At the enterprise level, however, there is a contained universe of people driven by a broad strategic goal – do what we do as well as we can to help our organization succeed.  That could be selling more widgets than anyone else, or delivering the most food aid possible to starving people.

Whatever the goal, there needs to be an overall understanding that the limited resources of the organization need to be deployed in the best way possible to meet that goal.  So even if Cisco’s prediction is accurate for a broad mosaic of transactions across the globe, it doesn’t necessarily translate into 80% of the enterprise’s bandwidth being turned towards video.  I’m a proud supporter of video in the enterprise, and I do believe it’s the best way to communicate internally and externally.  I do think a larger chunk of bandwidth used in the enterprise will be video, and that it will be used for important business functions.  But when you look at the use of video within the smaller universe of organizations, I’d be surprised if the volume keeps pace with that of the wider world.

IT and Streaming Media – Part I

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Like most other corporate efforts in the modern age, there are two sides to every streaming media deployment – the business side and the technology side.  There’s no real rule about where multimedia efforts lie – sometimes IT owns it, sometimes a business department.  (I happen to be on the business end – our department is part of the marketing arm of the organization.)  The key issue, as you might expect, is the quality of the communication and relationship between the two sides – a strong partnership leads to successful efforts, and antagonism leads to failure.  This is no different from virtually all other corporate activity. I’m going to attempt to highlight some of the possible contentious points and suggest some ideas to prevent them in advance, or short-circuit them before they become insurmountable.

I’m fortunate that I speak passable tech as well as good business priorities.  It’s a lot simpler to have detailed conversations with the IT side if you understand a bit about what they do and how their technology is deployed and administered.  80-90% of the problems between the business and IT sides develop because they aren’t communicating to each other clearly.  As has been said about the US and Great Britain, they are two peoples separated by a common language. Read more…

Adding Video to the Classroom

December 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Interesting article at the NY Times about changes to teacher evaluations:

Teacher Ratings Get New Look, Pushed by a Rich Watcher

Leaving Bill Gates out of the equation, it’s an interesting change to a profession that’s always been under a lot of scrutiny.  I would not be surprised to see the teacher’s unions questioning or fighting this, but either way it does raise some questions about the effectiveness of the effort.

The idea, of course, is to monitor the teacher in their natural environment, acting as they normally would.  But will they act as they usually would when they know a camera is pointing at them?  Especially if they know that the purpose is specifically to evaluate their performance?  It does work nicely in some industries – professional athletes are recorded constantly, and a major portion of their workweek is spent reviewing film of their performance, their competition, etc.  The athletes know it, of course, and it’s an expected part of the job.  Likewise in casinos and banks, employees know there are cameras in many places for security reasons, and it’s expected there as well.

Teachers, of course, are not pro athletes, nor are most of us.  How would we perform if we were constantly under video scrutiny?  This is a unique application of media in a very high profile industry – it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

User Generated Content

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s a bit of a hot topic these days in the multimedia world – there were a number of sessions on the subject at Streaming Media East this year, and some discussion of it at the Communications Media Managers Association (CMMA) meeting I attended last month.

(Incidentally, both of those fine organizations are linked on the blogroll to the right – highly worth checking both of them out.  Dan Rayburn over at is a one man industry monitor/guru/genius, and the CMMA folks are an extremely gifted bunch of people in the trenches at the enterprise level.  SM sessions are online from all of their conferences, including my celebrity debut at a panel on Webcasting Tips & Tricks for the Enterprise [/shamelessplug].)

The theory of UGC is pretty straightforward – you’ve got a body of knowledge and a wealth of talent in your organization, and allowing them to produce content provides an outlet for them and an instant knowledgebase for the organization as a whole. The reality has been a little different, I think, and as usual it’s a complicated story. Read more…

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