How to make a recipe video on a budget

Within our Using Video in Social Media workshop, a request we regularly get asked for is to use case studies that don’t feature videos for clients that were the result of huge production budgets. One of our favourite examples that we therefore talk about in the session is a video from Discover Great Veg (below), provided to us by Sara Davis from Ceres PR, who produced the video .

We therefore asked Sara to provide us with a guest blog post about the production of the video…
How to make a recipe video on a budget

Anyone who works in social media knows just how much content you need to populate a feed. Generating original content can be costly, so smaller brands could be put off producing video. Despite some production houses charging upwards of £20K per video, you can make a recipe video with an iPhone, a little help with the cooking, time and imagination. What you do need, is investment in production, props and a promotional budget if you’re distributing the content yourself.
Whilst the ‘Tasty’ type videos may look like a synch to knock up, there are certain factors to consider both in the content side and the technical side before you begin. At Ceres we always use a home economist to ensure the food is perfect, which leaves me free to do just about everything else myself.
Firstly, what you need is a simple recipe that’s going to look mouth-watering when cooked, the final video needs to inspire people. Think either colour or indulgence. Beef Bourguignon may taste great, but it’s difficult to get a brown stew to ‘Wow’.  Melted cheese and running poached eggs look particularly good, or something healthy and colourful that will ‘pop’ off the screen.
You then need to break it down into a few simple stages to give the gist. You can post the full recipe as a link at the end, so forget the minor details and focus on making it look easy, achievable and delicious.
Plan each stage and what props you will need. This is where you can add some subtle personality to the video.
Bowls, chopping boards, plates and napkins etc. all help create a certain ‘feel’- we have amassed quite a props store and I always keep an eye out for interesting stuff when I shop.
It’s worth taking note of food magazines as food styling in photography gives ideas on current trends. Years ago it was all white plates and close ups, now it is much more lifestyle based with wider shots and more props to create a mood. Avoid anything shiny if possible, go for matts and textures as everything will look much more ‘premium’ and you won’t get camera or light reflections.
At the planning stage it’s useful to know which platform you are shooting for – YouTube & Twitter require landscape, Instagram needs square and Facebook can take either. Knowing this in advance helps with props and framing, particularly for any captions you may need to include. You may need to shoot some sections twice to accommodate both formats.
Canon
I have a Canon 7D and an iPhone6 which I use to film. Both are good and I use them in different ways. The iPhone is particularly good for overhead shooting.
iphone overhead 
I try to set the position to the widest I will need during the recipe and leave it locked off so I can edit seamlessly. I use my DSLR for some close ups and cutaway shots which give more depth to the piece and can also be used as bridging shots to get from A to B if needed.
Lighting is something to watch out for. I try to use natural light where possible as it’s so powerful (and free!).  Unfortunately in the UK, though the weather isn’t consistent so artificial light is a necessity and I have a set of LEDs to give things a boost when needed.
The time needed depends on the recipe itself. We cook everything on camera, even if it might not make the edit, and we only re-shoot a section if there is a problem. What I do take time over is the final dish as this is the selling point, so I will spend time styling it with props and shoot a variety of shot sizes and angles. A word of warning – those delicious M&S type shots with cream running seductively down a dessert can take an AGE to film as food doesn’t take stage direction very well – so build in extra time and ingredients if you plan on getting some movement in there. It’s almost always worth it, but you do need patience.
I edit everything on Final Cut Pro X as I find this is the quickest programme to get professional results, especially with all the captions involved. Of course it’s not just about the footage, choosing the right music can take hours if you let it, as there are an infinite amount of tracks out there. It’s worth choosing a track first and then cutting to the beat as this can help give the video some rhythm and pace. Ideally the shorter the better and it should definitely be less than a minute to sit on Instagram. Facebook is less restrictive, and it will loop anything 30 seconds or less for a maximum of three times which can help to attract attention to your content. I try to start and end on a good shot of the final dish to lure people in – if I get hungry editing it then I think I’m on the right track! Fortunately, in my job there’s always loads of delicious food around and because the role is quite physical I tend to burn it all off straight away. The downside is…nope, sorry there isn’t one. What can I say?

Sara Davis

Content Manager
Ceres PR
Please use the contact form to enquire about fees and to book our Using Video in Social Media workshop at your offices for your wider team.

Time to update to Charades

My wife just said to me, “I’ve got half hour left of my book.”
I just don’t get it.  If you read my last post, you’ll know I am a fan of old fashion, touchy feely books.  When you’re reading a book, you have 54 pages left, or two chapters left.  But for Kindle users, like my wife, you have 30mins left, or 11%.
I argued that if you’re watching a film, you can say you have 30mins left, but a book has pages or chapters left to go, my justification being, when you play charades, if you are describing a book title, you place your hands together like you are about to pray, and unfold your palms, like opening a book.  You don’t hold one palm out, and take your index finger of the other hand and keep touching your other palm with it!
So it got me thinking, what other forms of media need new descriptions in that classic old game.  The topic of my next c-suite podcast that I am recording this week for the CIPR’s Social Media panel is on the influence of Social Talent, focussing on YouTubers.  If you were playing charades with my two kids, rather than ‘Morecambe & Wise’, or ‘Jaws’ (we have a very old set of clues!) a more relevant clue for them to describe would be ‘Danisnotonfire’.
So how would they do that?
It’s one word, five syllables.  OK.  But how do you describe a YouTube channel?  Drawing a big box in the air with your finger for the TV screen won’t work.
Well, thanks to the good old interweb, it looks like the team at Outsetmedia are already thinking about this kind of thing.  They have the following additions to what they list as ‘Standard Signals’:

  • Computer Game – Using both hands move your thumbs like you are using a game pad.
  • Website – Hold one hand out, palm down, horizontal to the ground, as if holding a computer mouse. Make a sweeping motion side to side, then stop and tap index finger as if “clicking”.

So there you have it, Christmas day is sorted, and it’s only August.
The CIPR Social Media Panel c-suite podcast is available to subscribe and download from iTunes.  Please do rate and review it too so that we can climb the ‘Management and Marketing’ podcast charts.

10 Essential Free Holiday Mobile Apps

Having just spent an incredible week at the lindosblu hotel in Rhodes, I realised this was one of the first holidays that I really made use of free wifi, that is pretty much everywhere in Lindos, and numerous apps that became a key element of the holiday experience.  So here in no order of importance, are my top 10.

  1. Spotify in the sky

I brought my ipod along, but didn’t use it once.  Instead, I used Spotify’s recommended playlists to chill out by the pool as well as (and this impressed me) on the beach, where the wifi was just as strong.  However, what’s also great about Spotify is the speed at which you can find new artists.  The hotel had some great playlists playing out by the pool and in the bar over the course of the week and one song in particular grabbed my attention, so I did a search and found it on Spotify – a most beautiful version of the Alan Parsons’ classic, ‘Eye in the sky’, by Alessandra Bosco

  1. Dinner courtesy of Google Maps

Staying just a 5min cab ride into Lindos, there was no shortage of great places to eat. However, we wanted to find something away from the masses, so I took to Google Maps, and using the link to ‘Restaurants’ feature, just moved around the local area searching for local restaurants on the beach, and discovered Milos, a fantastic family run restaurant where they even have a telescope pointing at the moon as it rises up over the horizon.  And in terms of customer service, it didn’t get much better than when, after the owner couldn’t manage to get a cab for us at the end of our meal, he gave us a lift back to our hotel himself!

  1. Check in, but not just at the airport – Foursquare/Swarm

I am not a huge Foursquare user on a day to day basis, tending to only check-in to places such as the theatre, that I can then share on Twitter and Facebook too, but I do like to use it on holiday, as it’s a good source of reviews and ideas for where to go in the area.  It worked well as the initial pointer for what other restaurants were close by, before we then checked out further reviews on Tripadvisor.

  1. Tripadvisor – #obvs

This one is a given for holidaymakers I guess, but reading the reviews and particularly some of the tips gave us some great recommendations, like trying the chilled house red at the Milos restaurant.

  1. A lorra lorra Twitter 🙁

Twitter was my go to app to keep up with the news and industry updates throughout the day.  Sadly, it’s where I found out about the death of Cilla Black this week.  Cilla was a fantastic entertainer and a genuine National Treasure.  We will miss her.  On a more positive front, and I mean this in terms of it being just a brilliant PR stunt, I also saw on Twitter the news that Kermit and Miss Piggie are to split.


Thankfully, they will continue to work together – lucky that, with a new series of The Muppets starting on ABC soon!

  1. WhatsApp’ening by the pool?

As well as keeping in touch with my kids back at home, WhatsApp turned out to be the communication channel for us and our friends who we were holidaying with, both in terms of meeting times and checking where we were, but also in sharing photos too.  We set up a group for the four of us and it meant we could easily share all our individual photos, creating our very own personal Storify of our holiday.

  1. Regular post(card)s on Facebook

Another obvious choice for showing off to friends and family about the great time we were having, whilst keeping up to date on how others were doing on their holidays.  Facebook of course also has Messenger, which was another way of keeping in touch with some friends for whom that is their message app of choice.

  1. It’s just the same old show on my TuneInRadio

I struggle to get to sleep without the radio on, and most nights I tend to go to bed with Ian Collins (not literally you understand).  I’ve known Ian personally for a good few years having met him through working at markettiers4dc, and I subscribe to his excellent podcast, which he started after leaving Talk Sport a couple of years ago.  However, he is now back on the radio, with a late evening show on LBC, so with me being 2hrs ahead on Greek time, it meant I could listen to him through TuneInRadio, an excellent app that also has stations from all over the world to choose from.

  1. Can’t Tunnel Bear to be without Netflix

I felt a little guilty about this one, but Tunnel Bear is a legitimate app, available from the App Store.  In layman’s terms, it basically makes other apps think your mobile/tablet etc. is still in the UK (or any other country you choose to ‘tunnel’ to from where you are), meaning I could continue to watch Netflix which, before I downloaded Tunnel Bear, was not available to me in Greece.  Tunnel Bear gives you 500mb of free data but if you tweet that you downloaded it, you get a further 1GB added to your account.  I used it to watch three more episodes of the remake of Battlestar Galactica (I know, geek!), which I’m so close to finishing, having watched almost all four seasons (no spoilers please).   FYI, a 45min episode used up around 250mb of streaming data, so I had plenty of free viewing time still to use.  (This being a blog post about free apps, Netflix didn’t qualify as I pay a monthly subscription for it.)

  1. As with Sky & the Beeb, the end of a great event needs a montage – Color Splash Effect

The last app in my list is one I downloaded on our final night, when playing around with some of the photos we’d all taken as a group of friends.  Color Splash Effect has some cool features, but the best one was the ability to create montages really easily from your phone’s photo gallery and then share them instantly on your social networks.  Here’s one I made earlier!
lindos
Final notes
For the record, I don’t have a Kindle because I am still a fan of ‘touchy feely’ books, hence there were no reading apps listed here, although I can recommend  Mark Haddon’sThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the night time’, which I read, and was a brilliantly written and truly original story.
There were, however, plenty of other apps I used during the week, like LinkedIn (I had recently posted a job there for Conversis as we are looking for a Senior Communications Exec, so was checking the applications we had received) and of course for those free calls, for business or pleasure, there’s Skype.  I also uploaded a couple of photos to Instagram, but if I was allowed one bonus app to recommend, then it would be Flashlight, because despite us having a fantastic meal at Tambakio on the moonlit sand in the beautiful setting of St Pauls Bay, without a torch on my phone, I wouldn’t have been able to read the bloody menu!
(If you have any other recommendations for free mobile holiday apps, please do add them in the comments box below.)
 

Are you linked in or out?

At my most recent CIPR Social Media Panel ‘csuite podcast’ recording, I had the pleasure of welcoming Ketchum’s Stephen Waddington to the studio as one of my guests on the show.
Before we sat down in front of the mic, we got chatting about the pros and cons of LinkedIn, as you do, with me being a fan of the platform and Wadds arguing that it’s just become very noisy and full of spam.
As a result, Wadds asked me to write a guest post for his blog highlighting a few tips on how to get some true value from this particular social network.
Without justifying anything with user stats or how important your personal social media profiles have become in terms of social selling (let’s take it as read that that is the case) here are the ten suggestions I shared for why you should be LinkedIn and not LinkedOut.

  1. Share knowledge

If you blog, you may find you get far more engagement to your posts if you publish them on LinkedIn, and you never know who might end up reading them.  Over Christmas, my family visited Disneyland Paris, and I wrote a post about why I thought the park needed a sprinkle of pixie dust on my return.  The post has been read 490 times to date, but interestingly, it found its way to a number of employees of Disneyland Paris, which led me to now be connected with the company’s Senior CRM manager.  Having discussed this with Wadds, on his birthday last week, he published his first post on the platform – 45 lessons at age 45 – which I’m proud to take some credit for as he commented that he followed his own rule No. 36 after our discussion – ‘Knowledge is power’, which stated ‘Never stop learning and develop an openness and enthusiasm about the world. Curiosity wouldn’t have killed the cat if it had read more books.’   In the space of one weekend, his post had 550 views, 64 likes and 32 comments (Wadds has a little more influence than me!)

  1. Plan your travels

If you are heading anywhere for the day, whether in the UK or further afield, and have time in your diary to fill, search on LinkedIn for the destination you are visiting and see who you know there.  You can do a more detailed search using the ‘Advanced’ search feature and typing in the post code or city that you are travelling to.  This does rely on whether users type in their home postcode or work post code when they first register of course, and often (myself included) may forget to update it when they move jobs.

  1. Reconnect

In the 20+ years I’ve been working since graduating, I’ve picked up just a few business cards and every now and then, I do a cull of the ones I’ve not been in contact with for years, or can’t even remember where I met them.  But not before I do a quick search on LinkedIn to see where they are now and so try to reconnect with them if relevant.

  1. Welcome visitors

Look under your Profile tab to see who is viewing your profile? There could be a whole bunch of reasons for people visiting your LinkedIn page, including some going to the wrong person with the same name of course, but wouldn’t it be good to know why?  Send them a note, thank them for stopping by and ask how you can help.

  1. Don’t be afraid to network

That doesn’t mean spam people. The LinkedIn mobile app doesn’t currently allow you to personalise invites, so I only ever send them via my desktop, using the ‘Personalise invitation’ option, as that way I can introduce myself and give a summary of why I want to connect.  There is nothing more frustrating than getting an invite, accepting it, and then getting hit by a standard sales email.

  1. Say who you are.  

I hate the fact that when I look to see who has viewed my profile, I see the following:
linekdin
The clue to getting the best out of Social Network like LinkedIn are in those two key words, i.e. being  sociable and using it to network.  You wouldn’t go up to someone in the real world at a conference, for example, ask them to explain who they are, but not introduce yourself, so why do it here?  What do you have to hide, even if you are a competitor?

  1. Join Groups

This, again, is a great way to find new people to connect with.  I am off to an industry conference in Seville this month, and so have joined the specific organisation’s group to start my networking early and see if I can set up meetings during the breaks at the conference. Being in a group also helps when you send out invites as it gives you more reason to connect with someone new, again enabling you to personalise invite further by saying you share x many connections and y number of groups, so you obviously have quite a bit in common.

  1. Give feedback

I’ll admit that I don’t tend to read many of the updates that appear in my home page stream – I often browse through the top few when I go on the site but that’s all – with over 2000 contacts, it’s impossible to read everything.  But if you’ve connected with likeminded individuals in a similar field to yours, then the chances are a lot of the updates will be relevant to your work, so it’s worth scrolling through every now and then and picking out the odd article to read that has been shared that catches your eye.  Similarly, if someone has taken the trouble to publish a post, and you liked it, or had something to add, tell them and share it too (feel free to do both to this).

  1. Keep your profile updated

Many people see LinkedIn as a dynamic CV to help find their next job and don’t appreciate that people/companies may be using it to seek you out for your expertise in your current role.  So keep your profile updated.  Let people know what you’ve been up to and what you do for a living.  Share your expertise by embedding your presentations from Slideshare, or if, like me, you record podcasts, you can embed those from Soundcloud.

  1. It’s not Facebook

And finally, just a polite reminder, this is a business social network, not a personal one.  Whilst I was flattered that 0.35% (8 people) of my LinkedIn network liked my new photo when I updated my profile recently, I also found it a little strange, but perhaps that’s just me.  Thanks all the same though!
 
There are lots more tips and ways to benefit from LinkedIn and these were just the first few that came to mind.  Of course, if you want to find out more, you can always connect with me and ask – I’m at uk.linkedin.com/in/russellgoldsmith

Why Disneyland Paris needs a sprinkle of pixie dust

Having recenlty returned from a Christmas family trip to Disneyland Paris, it was no surprise to read that the theme park had been reported to have received a €1 billion bail out a few months ago.
Don’t get me wrong, we had a great few days away and there is, without doubt, a magical feeling you get when you walk through the entrance, which is still the case for my 17 and 14 year old too.  However, the park looks tired and clearly shows a lack of investment and it’s therefore no suprise to read that it’s been losing money for years.
I can’t pretend to know how to run a theme park, nor do I have any idea of the cost of building rides and maintaining them, but here are my ten very simple observations as to where that huge investment could be spent to help restore my faith in the Magic Kingdom.

  1. It’s time for Michael Jackson to Beat It

In Discoveryland you will find what’s described as ‘A fantastic 3D film relating the adventures of Captain EO, alias Michael Jackson, featuring a rhythm-packed musical soundtrack and a whole host of dazzling special effects’

This film was made in 1986.   At the time, it was the most expensive film ever produced on a per-minute basis, averaging out at $1.76 million per minute and starred the biggest pop sensation directed by the guy that brought us Star Wars.  It didn’t get any better.  But what does that mean to kids of today? Michael Jackson sadly passed away over five years ago now and I understand the reasons that this attraction was brought back to the park as a tribute to him, but it’s time to move it on.  The film couldn’t look more dated and the ‘dazzling special effects’ look so basic compared to what we’ve come to expect with films such as Avatar and Gravity its almost embarrassing to watch.

  1. Did they not wanna build a snowman?

Wandering around the park are of course the famous five of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto but you’ll also spot the likes of Chip & Dale and … Mr Smee.  Where are the new heroes like Olaf, the snowman who stole the show in Frozen?  Disney need to stop living in the past.  The choice of characters you can meet still seems to be based on the ‘trying to live your childhood through your kids’ theory.

  1. Time to update the rides, Savvy?

I get that Pirates of the Caribbean was a ride before it was a blockbuster film, but would most kids going to the park know that?  So when you get to the ride, it makes no sense to me and must surely be huge disappointment to many not to see any reference to Captain Jack Sparrow.  Time to have a facelift.

  1. The not so Fastpass®

‘You can save time with Fastpass’, except that when you read your small print, ‘you may only have one Fastpass ticket at a time’ and despite Disney Hotel guests being able to enter the parks early, the Fastpass machines don’t open until 10am.  So choose wisely which one you want, because within minutes you are already only able to get into that ride say about an hour later.  By the time you have then used your Fastpass, the next one you try to use isn’t available until about 2-3pm, after which you’ll be lucky to get another one.  The system simply doesn’t work

  1. #nohashtagorwifi

Disneyland Paris has had over 14.2m visits in 2014, and almost every one of those must have been taking photos just as we were. So with the amount of pictures that were no doubt being uploaded to social media, the park could be trending online pretty much every day if they simply offered free wifi throughout it, which is not currently available, and perhaps ran competitions encouraging you to tag your photos with a hashtag where the best photos won Disney related prizes.

  1. Figaro Figaro Figaro

Far be it from me to tell Disney how to sell product, but I do find it odd that you come off a ride, say in Fantasyland, such as Pinocchio, and in the store you can buy a Lilo and Stitch toy.  I may have a vested interest in this one as my favourite Disney character is Figaro, Mister Geppeto’s cat.  I know, an odd choice out of all the characters there have ever been. But my point is, would there not be more chance of selling more product if, when you finished the ride you could perhaps buy a bigger selection of toys from that particular film?  After all, there are stores all over the two parks and in the Disney Village area where you can buy all the other stuff.   FYI, there was no Figaro on sale, and surprisingly, neither could we find a cuddly Olaf.

  1. Early Starts, but not for all the workers

Guests of the Disney Hotels benefit from being allowed into the park earlier than the general public, which is great, if all the rides were open.  But they are not.  For example, we made a bee-line for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Walt Disney Studios, but that didn’t open until 10am, so instead made the long walk back to the main park to go on Space Mountain, except that ride had ‘technical problems’ and was therefore closed at the time.  Unlucky I guess, so instead we went to the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, but by 9.30am, it was already at a 30min queue, and of course you couldn’t use a FastPass at it was too early!  Open all the rides and make it a true benefit to the guests to get up early.

  1. These are not the rides you are looking for

Disney paid over $4bn for LucasFilm, so I get that it wants to see an ROI out of Star Wars.  But still having the original Star Tours simulator, which like the Captain EO film, is almost 30 years old, is just simply not worth queuing for, when your time can be better spent on amazing new and original rides like Ratatouille, which opened earlied this year.  Star Wars also seems an odd choice to show on the screens in the Videopolis area which, despite having a stage, had no live show on it.  Instead, across the screens they were showing clips from the animated series Star Wars Rebels.  This seemed strange, especially at Christmas time.  Surely kids would prefer to see the songs of Frozen playing whilst they are having their lunch, or something from Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  I don’t have the stats, and haven’t done the research, but I can’t believe too many kids under 10 would get excited by Star Wars Rebels whilst at Disney.

  1. Interactive Queuing

We were lucky in that the longest queue we had was 45mins, but the timing of many queues were shown as 70 minutes or more.  So how hard can it be to make that time pass a little faster by giving something for you to do whilst standing in the freezing December cold.  The impressive ‘Crush’s Coaster’ ride did get it right by offering a local wifi link enabling you to download a game onto your smartphone, which certainly helps.  So why can’t they do something similar on all the rides, or why not have screens above the queues showing scenes from the films, or the characters walking along the queue giving the kids a chance to take a selfie with Snow White, for example.  How difficult could that last one be?

  1. Disney on-demand

And finally, when you do crash out in your room, why not offer the chance to watch a Disney movie of your choice on your TV.  I’ve never understood why, in this age of Netflix, which does indeed have Disney films on it menu, why the Disney Hotels don’t offer an on-demand service of all the films available to show.
 
So there you have it.  My 10 simple marketing tips (and I had plenty more) for the people at Disneyland Paris on where to start spending their billion Euros.
In summary, as I said, we had a great time away, but perhaps Disney need to take a leaf out of their own song that has driven just about everyone mad in 2014 and that I can’t get out of my head since returning from my trip:

“the past is in the past! Let it go, let it go.”

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