Online content production

Catherine Scott reports from the practical sessions at Fast Train North, a day of free training for freelance media professionals, held on November 20th 2012. This session, led by trainer Ric Michael, gave an overview of multiplatform content for multiskilled producers.

"Who’s been online today?" asks trainer Ric Michael. Unsurprisingly, everyone in the room raises their hand. And there is the answer to the question, "Why does online content matter?". Today's session looks at multiplatform content from a production point of view, and is aimed at helping broadcast professionals stay up to date with the vast array of online platforms available.

Actor, producer and writer Ric spoke of the need to be adaptable – many directors are now also self-shooters, and broadcasting companies are increasingly recruiting staff based upon their ability to move easily between departments. Other tips that attendees learnt were:

With multiple platforms, audiences are much smaller and more fragmented. Alan Partridge's Mid Morning Matters online will be aimed at a much more specific audience than an episode of Eastenders watched by millions. Tailor your content to your audience.

Don't discount a very young audience – children will build 'brand loyalty' via multiple platforms. Peppa Pig began as a straightforward animation but is now also hugely popular on YouTube, in a live show and in Peppa Pig apps!

"The technology drives the creativity, not the other way around." – Ric Michael

Schedule wisely - use downtime on sets to film extra content that you can use online, e.g 'tasters' and 'behind the scenes' material. Actors usually welcome the extra exposure!

When shooting for small screens such as smartphones, think of it like making a passport photo – keep it simple and clear! Shoot straight, as acute angles don't work on phone screens. Have no more than 3 people in shot - individual 'talking heads' work best on small screens.

People who are less familiar with technology may be resistant to new platforms, but often just need help understanding how they work. Appeal to people's competitive instincts - if you don't make the most of a platform, someone else will.