Tips for the creative team when designing personalised videos

Tips for the creative team when designing personalised videos

  • Data Creative

One of Data Creative’s inherent strengths is its close relationship with sister company, Visual Domain, an extremely talented creative production company. Most prospective Data Creative clients find it convenient and desirable to tap Visual Domain’s video design resources at the outset of a Data Creative campaign, leading to a seamless transition from design to application. However, with the growth and success of Data Creative throughout 2016, our clients are becoming increasingly interested in using their own creative department.

With this in mind, to assist a transition from external creatives, I offer the following tips when designing a personalised video for a Data Creative campaign. If in doubt over any of the following, do get in touch! We will be more than happy to discuss your ideas.

—Matthew Judd, Data Creative Production Developer

For further examples of Data Creative campaigns, check out our YouTube channel.

First, the basics

For the standard video, my team usually gets involved as soon as a design concept has been signed off. After assessing the concept, we ask for the following to be provided:

  • Full sample video(s) with example data in place
  • A full export of the video in .png frames (25 f/s, 1280p), having removed any text relating to the variable data being placed within the video. These .png files will need to be sequentially numbered.
  • The full audio soundtrack (.wav, 44.1 MHz, 16-bit)
  • Any font or colour information that may be required.

Personalised video design tips


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1. Use your design layers

It is relatively simple for us to support visual designs that overlap/cover variable text, provided it is possible for the designer to export the overlying design independently of the backdrop. Masking and clipping can be avoided!
Overlaying frames with transparencies can be exported in the same fashion as the underlying png frames. They will need to be numbered in sync with their underlying counterparts.


2. Be aware of the potential lengths of your variables

There will always be a longer name!
When designing your personalised video, you will need to use example variables throughout (eg, “Hi Matt, we haven’t heard from you in a while”). Here, it is easy to fall into the trap of designing space that works very well for the examples, but not so much for the broad range of potential variables intended to sit there. A fancy box designed specifically for “Hi Matt”, may not work so well when the target’s name is Christopher-Robin.


3. Avoid “slow creep” or “zoom creep”

Creep is the term we have coined for any variable elements moving/zooming at a rate slower than 1 pixel per frame. I will spare you the technical details of why this is difficult for us to support, but it usually results in staggered motion, not smooth.
If variable elements move around the video frame, then it is desirable for all parties that they do so relatively quickly.


4. We need your fonts

When making that all-important font decision, please ensure that it will be possible for this font to be be shared with the Data Creative production team.


5. Motion-matching challenges

Often we are asked to apply a variable (eg, name) to an object (eg, coffee cup, placard) that has been filmed moving within the video frame (eg, picked up from a desk, held above your head). If it is your intention to record footage with something like this in mind, you are encouraged to swap notes with our production team first.  

  • Keep the object steady, where possible.
    Shaky and jittery motion can be matched, but it is vulnerable to perceptible flaws.
  • Keep the object at a consistent angle to the camera, where possible.
    While 3D curves and perspective depth can be reasonably faked with 2D distortions and skews, actual 3D movement is not currently supported for variable elements.
  • Provide at least 3 tracking points on your object.
    A tracking point is a consistent point that can be seen on the surface of the object in every frame of the scene. It can be a corner, a mark, a vertical line, etc, — in one recent case it was been the thumb tip of the hand holding a cup!
    Providing these visual reference points allows us to more accurately track the position, scale, orientation, and motion of your object.

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6. Transitions

  • Simple text transitions work.
    Don’t expend too much energy over-designing quick appearances for your variables. Simple and quick opacity fades, wipes, or slides are usually sufficient when unveiling/disappearing text, not to mention straight-up jump cuts. This keeps the more interesting visual designs to the video presentation in the background/overlay.
  • Transitioning character-by-character.
    It is possible for us to build transition rules to text at the character level, provided each character transition follows a similar/scalable rule.

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7. Yes, we can easily support alternative scenes

This is our bread and butter. Seriously.
Do you want to present a different introduction to your targets that haven’t been in touch in while? Perhaps there’s an additional benefits scene you need to deliver, but only to the targets currently living overseas? No problem.
Go ahead and design your various narratives, then get in touch with us to discuss the next steps.

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