Friday, November 13, 2009

Personalizing A Small Business With Multimedia

When Jana Armstrong came to me in September she had a definite goal for her title insurance company, Miami based Continental Title Services; grow her business and thrive in spite of our current world wide economic slump that has hammered the real estate industry.

She had thought through and articulately put on paper what her small business was all about and why her services were unique, and had distilled the information onto her redesigned web site.

She challenged me to help her differentiate her company's site from the crowd of title insurance company sites competing for attention in South Florida.

I suggested that a multimedia slide show - combining still photographs with recorded interviews - would present her as a real person, warm and approachable, professional and knowledgeable. By utilizing journalistic interview techniques and photographic styles we would place a unique voice and face to all the written material.

We all know from when we were kids with noses buried in the National Geographic that everybody looks at the photos first, then maybe, reads the story. And with the YouTube generation well reasoned sales copy may be skipped over, but two minutes of multimedia may just make the connection.

Here is the finished show, live this week, and link to a larger version.

To create the multimedia slide show we first discussed what handful of key points she wanted to make in a brief 2 minutes 46 seconds, and I interviewed her from a list of questions prepared from those points.

Next was recording ambient sound of their document scanner, keyboards and conversations, and then street traffic and the ocean, to lay a bed of colorful sound under her voice.

I created environmental portraits of her overlooking the financial district’s Brickell Avenue and on Biscayne Bay to place her in the midst of Miami, the vibrant crossroads city.

I shot journalistic photos of her conducting a closing with clients, and then detail shots of hands, papers and CDs to vary the show’s timing and pace.

Capturing a time lapse sequence of Miami Beach skyline from daylight to after dark, and photographing a condominium project described in the interview, added additional visual layers to the narrative, emphasizing her stature in her market area.

And lastly, screen shots grabbed from her web site would mark specific points touched in the audio story.

I loved working with Jana on this project, she being an equal partner in planning the interview, sketching out the story board and shaping the program's pace and tone. And I was able to combine my photographic favorites of environmental portraiture and city skylines with the newfound magic of audio.

Ah, then the really hard part began, post production, editing and mixing the audio, selecting and processing the digital photos, placing the ingredients into more software to set and adjust the time line. For every day in the field, several more are required on the computer to complete a multimedia project.

The results, I feel, humanize the rows of type on a screen in telling Jana Armstrong’s story to the world.

Here's a link to more Miami multimedia photography.

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