…if ‘Music be the Food of Love’ for great novels, then April Taylor, accomplished writer of the Georgia Pattison crime novels, and no mean soprano in her own vocal right, serves up some great self-made videos… but more than that, she tells yeez how to go about creating similar productions yerselves… have a wee look and listen:
Promo vid/visual presentations for authors by April Taylor
This is aimed at writers who are not necessarily computer wizards and just need a few pointers on how to put together a short video/slideshow presentation to upload to social media to publicise their books. I shall use the term video throughout for convenience.
It is really important that you create this show in plenty of time and not at the last minute. There will be snags and you do not want to sit at your computer tearing out your hair as I did trying to create the video, from start to finish, in one day for Dearly Ransomed Soul.
Go to your favourite search engine and enter “Slideshow software” or “video software” as a search term to see what is out there, how much it costs and what it does. In other words, do your research, just like you would do when you are writing a book.
The most used software at the moment is probably Animoto www.animoto.com – videos are easy to create and you can get 30 seconds worth free but you will pay through the nose for anything more. If you only want to do a vid once or twice a year, think carefully. Here is the current pricing structure. https://animoto.com/pricing. That said, you may find the free 30 seconds is fine for what you want to achieve.
I use iMovie, but this doesn’t always play nicely and, in the case of Weebly, refuses to load into my website, which is why I have changed website provider.
Powerpoint. Available in MS Office for Macs and PCs. Creates quite sophisticated slideshows.
Here is a rough template of my process.
When I first began to make these videos, I subscribed to Animoto and became drunk with the powerful tools it has. However, people surfing the internet get bored very quickly, so I advise making the presentation/video last a minute or 90 seconds at most
- When I first began to make these videos, I subscribed to Animoto and became drunk with the powerful tools it has. However, people surfing the internet get bored very quickly, so I advise making the presentation/video last a minute or 90 seconds at most.
- How are you going to go about collecting the material you need, from where and how are you going to present it? Finally, what music do you think will best accompany your show?
- Crack on and play. Check it is right before publishing.
Let’s flesh that out.
First, you need to write a rough outline of the story you want the video to tell. Choose a few key points in your story and put them in a phrase or sentence. Make the sentences ramp up the tension. Include a question or two, especially in the last picture. Don’t forget, everything is tweakable, so don’t agonise too much at this point. Avoid using too many pictures. If you check the YouTube link below, you will see that all my videos to date are too long. Ideally, in the space of a minute, you only have time for 8 or 9 pictures, otherwise your audience will go cross-eyed. If your software allows, use two captions for one picture. Just because you can change your picture doesn’t mean you have to.
And here is a word of, not caution, but warning.
Do not assume you can romp into Google images or music sites and start downloading and using the pictures you find there. 98% of them will be subject to copyright. If you find the perfect picture, try to contact the copyright holder and ask their permission to use it. If you do not, you are liable to prosecution and a HUGE fine. Trust me, I’m a librarian!
Read this – http://libanswers.anglia.ac.uk/faq/78776
Infringing copyright is THEFT!
Collecting your source material
Right, now I have scared you half to death, how do you find the material you want?
There are several websites where images are free. I use www.pixabay.com, http://www.publicdomainpictures.net or https://picjumbo.com. I am also lucky enough to have a husband who can manipulate photos that we have taken. I sometimes realise I only need part of a picture, so I crop that in Powerpoint or Paul plays with it in Affinity.
Here is another beware. Loads of websites like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, freedigital photos et al, all have the word free in their banners. They are not free. Earlier, I said about creating your show in good time and not at the last minute. Why? Because in the stress of trying to get the whole thing put together and out there, you can fall into the trap of signing up to these websites, only to find afterwards that there is maybe a month’s trial free after which you pay megabucks for each image. If you do sign up, you will find your inbox stuffed with spam e-mails for months afterwards. Of course, if money is no object, go right ahead.
Music can be more tricky. There are no fixed amounts of a song you can use without violating copyright. Beware of sites that come with added payload you don’t know about, downloading things like MacKeeper to your computer and making Yahoo your default homepage without your permission or knowledge.
Because these sites come and go almost daily, my best advice is to enter “copyright free music” or “public domain music” into your favoured search engine. When I wanted to use Nigel Hess’s It Came Upon The Midnight Clear for the accompanying music to the Georgia Pattison Christmas short The Midnight Clear, I wrote and asked him. I was permitted to use one minute of the track on Facebook, Twitter and my website until 31st January. Very restricted. I have now put public domain music on it and it is on YouTube. Notice how the music is placed so that it begins to grow on the words The family dinner was not. From that point the music helps increase the tension of the video. Compare the number of pictures in the Midnight Clear video with the others. It is far less frenetic. By the way, if you do write and get permission to use music, make sure you acknowledge that in the video.
A final word on music. It can make or break a video. When the film Jaws was run without the music, the test audience laughed in the opening scenes where the shark is swimming back and forth. When the iconic soundtrack was added, some of the audience screamed.
Crack on and play
This is the fun bit. Getting the pictures in the right order, making sure they match the caption, getting the right bit of the music – if you end the video on a tense point, you need the music to reflect that, so probably use the end bit with the climax. When you are happy, keep playing it through. Wait until next day and play it through again to make sure. Chances are you will find something that needs amending. Then you can publish it.
To sum up.
- Don’t do this if time is short. Leave enough time to get it right without you becoming frazzled.
- Plan and outline what you want the video to say. This is a marketing tool after all.
- Do not infringe copyright. Get permission if necessary.
- Keep the photos in one folder. You may be able to use them next time.
- Remember that the video clip will likely be small in frame size and not hi-res so there is no point in having huge and busy pictures. A small portion of a picture is more likely a better choice.
Here is a link to April Taylor’s YouTube videos for The Tudor Enigma and the Georgia Pattison Mysteries:
You can read more about April Taylor here:
…many thanks, m’Lady, April… for the rest of yeez Lads and Lassies of Blog Land, I expect to see yeez transformed into mini-Scorsese clones in short order… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!
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