Most business-to-business video and podcast productions I see (and hear) online drive me nuts. They may use the latest editing flourishes, provide elegant transitions and have great lighting and sound quality, but they don’t respect the environment in which they are consumed. Every time I’m faced with a voice-over introduction or a video title sequence that tells me the name of the production, who’s being interviewed, what products are being demonstrated, who produced the segment, and on an on I hear mouses clicking away in droves.
Until you hook me, I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU CALL YOUR SEGMENT. If I am in a conference room I’ll sit through the introductions. If I’m in a movie theater I’ll use the title sequence to arrange my popcorn box. If I’m on YouTube I’m off to the next funny cat.
The solution is a technique I adapted from years of editing and writing technical articles: the simple pull quote, aka sound bite. I began using this technique for a podcast series I produce for a client, and productions using the new format are by far the most popular.
The solution is a technique I adapted from years of editing and writing technical articles: the simple pull quote.
In case you’re not familiar with the term “pull quote”, you just read one. Unlike the sound bite, which has developed a reputation as being vacuous drivel often taken out of context, a pull quote is used to draw an audience deeper into a piece where the thought can be presented in it’s full context. The technique is simple and requires almost no incremental effort. Here’s my process:
- Edit the production as though nothing has changed. I do my podcast work in Adobe Soundbooth which provides great tools for noise reduction, internal edits to eliminate verbal tics, and multi-track mixing to lay in soundtracks, voiceovers, etc.
- As you’re editing, listen for the soundbites. For the podcast series in question I listen for 5 – 10 second clips that carry the core message of the segment and also telegraph human emotion. The audience for the series is mobile application developers so the content of the clip needs to have substance. For less technical audiences I would limit the sound bites to 2 – 5 seconds each.
- Every time I hear a potential clip I select it and “save as” a separate audio file. (Be sure to save it in a lossless format so you don’t degrade sound quality from multiple compression pipelines.)
- When you’re done with the body edit, go back and listen to your soundbites and select the one that is the most compelling. That’s your intro. I like to present it solo voce and unadorned. I follow it with a quick introduction of the speakers (preferably without distracting voice-over) then right into the content.
- If you absolutely must have an opening sequence, run it after the soundbite. Your audience is more likely to tolerate the intro now that they’re hooked.
Here are two podcasts that illustrate the technique:
- I recorded this interview with Michael Samarin and Riku Valtasola of Futurice in person with an Edirol high-resolution stereo recorder, but the technique works just as well over the phone.
- Here’s a podcast with Pico Brothers using the same editing technique with an over-the-phone audio source.