The Digital Naturalist is an inspired forum for video, film, and multimedia with a cause. It brings together an elite panel of experts to analyze what makes digital storytelling successful, establish helpful guidelines for advocacy groups, and shine a light on the most effective and inspiring work being produced today. Through analysis, forums, interviews, and personal accounts, we hope to help nonprofit organizations and the creatives working with them better communicate the most pressing, complex issues of our time.

Try This!

If your video is comprised of interviews, try to get your b-roll after you’ve recorded all or most of the interviews. The reason is that inevitably the people interviewed will say certain things that may inspire the kind of b-roll you’ll want to shoot. Read more bladeronner.com.


Entries in video inspiration (48)


3 Stumbles


Viral Videos: A Reality Check

Bev Stanton

There's no shortage of blog posts breaking down the "secret ingredients" of viral videos (here's a good one; check out this post too.) One of my favorite lessons on the topic is the video below, created a year ago by my NPCA coworker and video-team co-leader, Bev Stanton. It's a fun reminder-- and an important reality check-- that despite our best efforts, "viral" videos often capture a unique and surprising moment in time that would have been hard to plan and even harder to repeat.

In Bev's words: "I have been involved over the years in campaigns that hinge on video intended to 'GO VIRAL!' But often times, the resulting efforts don't inspire the urge to share like some the quirky, offbeat YouTube forwards that periodically arrive in my inbox. To help promote more reasonable expectations, I put together a montage of 'viral videos' that had been forwarded to me or were proliferating on Facebook feeds. I showed it to program staff at a video training last year to make a practical point: Although video can be an engaging, inspiring medium for non-profits, not everyone can be Susan Boyle or Nora the Piano-Playing Cat. The elements that compel a supporter to forward a video cannot be easily contrived, and creating a 'viral video' can be as elusive a goal as writing a hit pop song."

So what does this mean for an advocacy video producer? Stick with your process. Keep planning and storyboarding. Aim for the most riveting storylines and highest-quality production. But as every documentary filmmaker will tell you, serendipity plays a big role in the evolution of a film; so leave a little space for the magic to happen, and be ready to capture it when it does. You never know when the next Ted Williams will come along, and who knows-- he might even be an environmentalist.


3 Stumbles


3 Stumbles


Q&A: We Are All Connected

WWF - We Are All Connected - Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

The first time I watched this video, I was so excited about it that I blasted the link off to dozens of friends and colleagues, claiming that this was "the best advocacy video I've ever seen." Moments later, I got a reply from TDN contributor Scott Kirkwood, suggesting that maybe this was Amy talking, not The Digital Naturalist. (It's not that he didn't appreciate the video; it just didn't rise to his "best ever" standards as it did mine.)

He had a point. I've always favored the "everything's connected" message-- it's just how I see the world. So maybe my reaction came from a more personal than professional place. And perhaps this video will only really resonate with people who hold a similar world view. As you'll see in the Q&A below, it's hard to measure the results of a piece like this-- so whether or not it's the "best advocacy video ever" remains to be seen.

But I have to give credit to World Wildlife Fund for partnering with Troublemakers.tv, a creative production company in Paris, and taking such a visually creative leap. It's a bold departure from the kinds of videos we typically see from environmental groups, and that has to count for something. Read more about their process below.

TDN: How much was WWF involved in the creative vision?
TROUBLEMAKERS.TV: WWF was involved with the creative vision of the project as a result of the nature of the organization itself. Their vision is to build structures and solutions to protect this world, and we believe that kind of strength and clarity is what inspired the production team to communicate using these "threads."

TDN: At what moment did the concept click into place?
TROUBLEMAKERS.TV: At the moment that this big, great team was motivated to work together for the same cause. It clicked when different people on different continents decided at the same time that this pro-bono project was worth investing time, talent, and energy.

TDN: Whats the goal of this video? Is it a part of a larger campaign?
TROUBLEMAKERS.TV: We didn't want a serious, dramatic, solemn message to say something that everybody knows already. We wanted to inspire people with the message that this is a wonderful and beautiful world, and that there are still a lot of things that we can do to preserve it. So we tried to find a graphic way to illustrate the world as intimately connected to our actions. That's how the idea of showing a world artfully made of threads came up.

And yes, it is part of a larger campaign-- not only an advertising campaign, but a whole crusade for this complex and connected world.

TDN: Most conservation-focused videos rely on interviews with scientists and wildlife/landscape images to get supporters on board. They rarely venture into the symbolic area like you have; it's almost like your video appeals to an entirely different part of the brain. Was that intentional?
TROUBLEMAKERS.TV: It was our intention to speak not to people's brains, but to their gut. We didn't want people to think about something they already think about, because that's not good enough-- we wanted them to feel it. So there is no other science to it than trying to feel what we wanted to say.

TDN: Why is this kind of outside-the-box messaging important?
TROUBLEMAKERS.TV: They say there are two different ways to make your voice heard: To say interesting things, or to shout them-- and who has the money to shout something like this loudly enough?

TDN: How are you marketing this piece?
TROUBLEMAKERS.TV: The film will be shown in cinemas and on TV in Mexico, France, and Belgium for now, but we are also looking into broadcasting it in other countries. The film is also being spread on the internet globally.

TDN: How are you measuring results? Any numbers yet?
TROUBLEMAKERS.TV: It's hard to measure results with TV and cinema, but the film has already been seen by roughly 200,000 people on the internet.