While many editors agree that nothing can replace thick glossy pages of a print magazine, they also know that multimedia tools such as video are increasingly important in terms of informing their readers, and entertaining them.
This reporter chatted with Newell Turner, Editorial Director of the Hearst Design Group, who shared how House Beautiful, Veranda and Elle Décor editors are using video to tell a design story.
Latest HB Video: Behind the Issue March 2014. Turner talks about the new Name This Color Contest.
How is the Hearst Design Group using video these days?
We're really in the early stages, but that being said, House Beautiful was an early adopter and has had a print-to-mobile program since 2011. We work with a company called Digimarc which makes it possible for us to embed or digitally watermark invisible codes into pages that when scanned link to digital content, which is mostly video.
What is the typical length of each video?
When we started a few years ago, I couldn't imagine creating anything worth watching that would be under four or five minutes. That really makes me laugh today. Now, I can't imagine taking more than 60-90 seconds for a video—good content can even be delivered in 30 seconds. We've found it's the best timing for mobile videos.
What kind of video content are you creating?
We take advantage of some pre-existing videos that companies create to tell stories about their products, but we also shoot our own short videos with iPhones and digital cameras. These are often short interviews with designers or tastemakers featured in a story.
HB's February Guest Editor Sara Ruffin Costello gives viewers a behind the scenes look at the bedding makeover story in the issue.
We didn’t really have a lot of options. We simply started trying it out—shooting with iPhones and editing on our desktops. Our youngest editors are coming out of school with some video experience. We've even had editors shoot a few stop-motion animations. It's kind of amazing what you can do, and I don't think we should be too polished. We're living in a YouTube age and "homemade" videos have a real sense of authenticity. In fact, right now we prefer to shoot our own videos for interviews—for that authenticity. I am, though, obsessed with audio. Poor audio can kill anything.
Are all the videos formatted the same way?
We try to direct and shoot for small, mobile screens. All of our videos are housed on Brightcove and linked from there. We shoot in high definition or the best possible. Fortunately, we don't need to know any more of the technicalities for it to work. The key here is to keep it as simple as possible for my editors to work with the most ease.
A team from Apple recently stopped by our offices to share info on some apps that they thought we might like to know about for shooting and editing. I can't wait to try some of them out. I've been using an app called Videolicious to shoot a video attached to my editor's letter in every issue. It's easy to use, but it's one take. No editing. It's best for on the fly shooting and posting.
Alexa Hampton talks about club chairs, a must-have comfortable and stylish piece for every home.
Are the videos paid for by ads or are they purely editorial?
So far our video program in House Beautiful has mostly been pure editorial. We've been learning what we can do and our sales team is learning how to sell them. We are getting very close to developing an ad program or sponsorship for some of the video content, especially with fellow Hearst titles ELLE DECOR and VERANDA now implementing their own print-to-mobile programs.
How has the reader response been to the videos you've done?
Our readers are watching. Are the numbers high? No, but they are growing. We've been very early adopters of video to stay out in the front of our industry. We are all learning how and what role video plays and will play in our editorial content. In my role as editorial director for the Hearst Design Group, I'm starting to spend more time exploring what consumers want from us in video content, such as how video content can enhance our print editions with the print-to-mobile program, as enhancements for our digital editions, interviews with designers, and interesting videos telling the story of how something is made. We've already found that these types of videos are popular.
So, then, where do we go with how we're producing them? I believe there are many more types of videos we may soon want to do in conveying the experience of projects we feature, stories we tell. For one example, how light affects decor. Still photography only captures one second, but light in a room or out a window is always changing. And, sometimes that's an interesting part of the design story. We're not only informing our audience; we're entertaining them, too.
I've been in the magazine business long enough to know that very soon we'll look back at what we're doing with video today and laugh at how simple, maybe even primitive it is.