A Ken Burns Solution to a Small Video Problem

February 22, 2012 | Jason Thompson
A Ken Burns Solution to a Small Video Problem

We recently sat down to record our CEO Joe Gustafson’s annual Brainshark State of the Union interview, to provide it on-demand rather than in a live webinar. Instead of going through the production antics of shooting and editing video, we did an audio recording and used it as narration to a series of PowerPoint slides illustrating what was being said. Brainshark software does handle video just as well as PowerPoint, but we decided to use PowerPoint slides this time. The interview went really well and was very engaging. But we wanted to bump the engagement-factor up to eleven. We realized it was important to add an even more personal touch for something like this.

How could we get a video feel without  the burden of taping and editing?

We asked ourselves: what would Ken Burns do?  He didn’t have much video for his Civil War series, but it is arguably the most engaging documentary in history.  So in the great tradition of ‘good artists borrow, great artists steal’ credo, we put together a quick and informal photo shoot of Joe and interviewer Irwin Hipsman, converted the pictures to black-and-white

(which you can do in PowerPoint 2010 by right-clicking the photo > Format Picture > Picture Color > Saturation = 0%),

and interspersed a few into our presentation.  Add in a few slow fades from one picture to the next along with some titles, and voila.

Adding personality to presentations is an effective way to set yourself or your organization apart from others, and we already know that adding voiceovers make presentations more engaging.  Being the visual creatures that we are, we often want to see who’s behind the microphone.  We found that visual personality can be as simple as adding a few photos, if you don’t want to go through all the trouble of adding a video. Just keep it short, sweet and conversational.


Here is the finished product:

View the presentation in a separate window.

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