Lots of crew faces with 'YOU?' over their eyes

Co-create stories with us!

By | Design, Narrative, Research | No Comments

We want you to sign up for our co-creation workshops, so you can help us make dangerously fun stories you’ll love. We’re pioneering a new technique in making theatre, film and virtual reality. We call it audience-centred storytelling, and it’s all about getting our audience in before a word is written, and testing our ideas with you. Ultimately, we want to create stories you’ll love, and the easiest way to do it is to ask! http://eepurl.com/lF2O9

The usual way to make a piece of art is to have an idea, and then use a huge amount of physical and emotional effort to make it. Then, once it’s finished, hope the world wants to see it. Most of the time, sadly, the world is a cruel butthead and does not want to see it. So we took the big fat brains of smarter people in the worlds of human-centred design, lean, agile and design thinking, smooshed their techniques together and created audience-centred storytelling.

We have an idea, and we take it to a diverse group of people who will ultimately be our audience. We show you our idea in its embryonic form, and seek your feedback. At the same time we find out what you, our audience wants, likes, needs from entertainment. We use that feedback to reiterate or redraft our idea in its simplest form. Rinse and repeat until we’ve developed a concept we know you like and will watch. We continue to advance the concept stage by stage with our audience until it’s released.

Why go to the ridiculous amount of effort making movies, theatre and virtual reality unless we know you wanna see ’em? So, let’s find out what you think is dangerously fun. Sign up to our list: we only ever use it to offer opportunities to co-create with us.

If you have any questions, ask Simon J Green via simon@thexgene.com or Messenger (voice messages welcome!)


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IMAGE: Astronaut embarking on journey

Audience-Centred Storytelling

By | Innovation, Narrative, Research | No Comments

Narrative concepts are often developed in a bubble. The writer comes up with an idea and away the team goes, often only asking at the very end, “Does anyone actually want to see this?”

IMAGE: a straight line with Idea, through production to "Will anyone want this?" Old Fashioned Linear Concept Dev
Industries like technology, software and product design approach what they do very differently.

IMAGE: a cycle showing an idea, tested against who might want it, what they like, leading to change and adapting. Iterative Concept Development

Audience-centred storytelling uses human-centred design principles (a mix of UX, Design Thinking and Lean methodologies) to bring the audience in from day one, before a single word is written, to test the idea of a creative team. The best creatives know that a brief, or some sort of constraint is needed. it’s against this constraint that creativity is used in order to overcome those limitations. Give someone a blank piece of paper and say, “Be creative” and everyone is in for a world of hurt.

Orson welles quote The Enemy of Art is the Absence of Limitations

The X Gene is pioneering what it calls Audience-Centred Storytelling, working with other pioneering geniuses like Kylie Eddy at Lean Filmmaking, meaningful strategic designers Huddle, and forward thinking distributors The Backlot Studios to prototype, test and reiterate the steps and processes that let us either take a concept and ensure it’s gonna connect with a valuable audience, or start with a valuable audience and get them to help us create a story they’ll love.

Video seeding blog post feature

Video Seeding: Getting Video Views

By | Marketing, Research, Viral Video | No Comments

Nothing hurts our feelings more than a low view count on a piece of content we made for a client. We’re human creatures, if you cut us we bleed, and if people don’t watch your videos, we roll into a ball on the floor and cry and cry and cry. A low view count is mostly because the owners of the content didn’t push it. A fantastic piece of video does not guarantee eyeballs without a solid strategy to push it. You can’t just throw it up on YouTube and rub your hands together.

Crying because no one watched your video

Crying because no one watched your video

Putting the video itself on multiple sources can help you get a good aggregate view count – chuck it on YouTube, obvs, but also upload it to your Facebook page, your LinkedIn business page and your Vimeo account. All of this should be covered with strong descriptions and tags and titles that feature keywords, but don’t go over the top. Google is looking for relevancy, and if they see a bunch of videos about your service, with your name near it, they’ll boost you up in their estimates.

But wanna know how stuff goes viral? Video seeding. We spoke with Lava Communications about how video seeding works, and now we’re excited to offer their services along side our own. Essentially, you give the video a boost in views, so that the organic views can pick up from there. It’s like boosting a Facebook post. You pay per view, less than 50c (as of Nov 2014), and away you go. Know how many views you want? Then we know your budget. Know your budget? Then we know how many views you can get. There’s a minimum guarantee on views, and away you go.

A fantastic short piece that divides the detail of this can be found here, by Loren Rochelle.

Next time you see a campaign that went viral, think about the behind the scenes work that went into getting those videos out there. It wasn’t just set and forget: video is part of an active marketing strategy, just like any other communications channel. Ours just happens to be the best!

CBS Twitter Freewheel Weather CHannel logos

CBS, Twitter, Weather Channel and FreeWheel Talk Video Content

By | Advertising, Research, Technology, Video, Video Blogs | No Comments

From Brightcove:

Recently, we brought together several of our media customers and partners for an excellent networking breakfast in New York City that included a panel discussion on how to maximize the performance of video content, as well as a session of case study-driven best practices shared by Brightcove’s CTO for Media, Albert Lai.

On the panel, CBS, Twitter, The Weather Channel and FreeWheel weighed in on opportunities for broadcasters in the year ahead, as well as how to measure the performance of video initiatives as it relates to advertising, user experience, reach and engagement across devices. Their thoughts seemed to resonate with many Brightcove customers in the room, some of whom contributed their own 2014 areas of focus in the video below after the sessions.

Feature for blog with stats on what counts as a video view

What Counts As A Video View? You’d Be Surprised!

By | Research, Technology, Video | No Comments

Just because someone sees your video, doesn’t mean it’ll count as a view! Turns out there are varying definitions of what counts as a ‘view’ on video content.

Depending on the website that’s hosting your video, TubeMogul informs us that a half view, and autoplay or a refresh can an affect on whether your view count goes up or stays as it is. Below is the table of results from TubeMogul’s research, updated in 2010 and found here via Creative Commons license. One/session is one count per session (monitored via the viewer’s IP address), > 1/2 view means the viewer got through more than half the video. Note that autoplays aren’t always counted, which is important if you want that intro video on your homepage to gather a nice collection of views. You’ll have to weigh up the importance of people seeing your video vs raising the view count.

III. Summary of Findings

Site Full View >1/2 View Refresh Embedded Embedded Autoplay 
blip.tv one/sess. one/sess. no count one/sess. one/sess.
Dailymotion count count count count count
Metacafe count count no count count count
MySpace count count count count count
Viddler count count count count count
Vimeo one/sess. one/sess. no count count count
Yahoo! Video count count count count count
YouTube count count count count no count

By David Burch, Director of Communications – Link to Report

Feature for blog explaining shorter videos are better for engagement

How Long Your Web Video Should Be

By | Research, Video | No Comments

Wistia are a neato burrito video hosting company that love the moving image as much as we do. Every couple of years they seek to answer the eternal question: how long should a video be? Click the article link to read more, but here’s the overview graphs.





Data on how audiences react to video content

DIY + Professionally Produced = More Sales, More Happiness

By | Advertising, Research, Technology, Video | No Comments

Sales and happiness aren’t necessarily one in the same, and conversion is the preferred industry term, but isn’t happiness better than sales or converting? Yeah, agreed.

At The X Gene, we produce videos to make people happy, but ultimately to get our clients sales, conversions or just getting a thumbs up. We’re completely aware that with technology advancing and prices for that tech falling, folks can make videos at home or in the office. Obviously, we’re really good at it and would prefer to do it for you, but ignoring the growing trend of DIY would be insane. Our producers actually come out and consult with companies around Melbourne, giving them hints or showing them even more cool stuff out there.

It turns out, when you combine us with you, the results are even more impressive than just DIY or pro video production on their own. That’s marriage, baby, and it’s happy.

This study by comScore and EXPO found that offering viewers and potential customers both a user-generated video along with a professionally produced how-to video, the sales, conversions and happiness increased way more than just one or the other, alone.

So, chat with us to combine your DNA with ours, and we’ll make a beautiful conversion sales happiness baby.

LINK: comScore Study Finds Professionally-Produced Video Content And User-Generated Product Videos Exhibit Strong Synergy in Driving Sales Effectiveness

Effectiveness of video and ads online

Length, Placement & Rolling Over: How Do You Perfect A Video?

By | Advertising, Research, Video | No Comments

We know video is the best one of all the ones. Radio is audio. Design is static images. Copy is reading word. Video combines all of those, and moves! C’mon!

Still, proof is better than jabbering unfounded, so we’re gonna show you some examples not only of the effectiveness of video, but how to achieve the optimum effectiveness. (Hint: it’s half science, half art, just like The X Gene)

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is like our mothership. Their research council undertook a study to see just how long a video should be, and where the best place to pop it is. Here’s a quick overview, but click the link below to see the gritty details:

  • 15 seconds appears to be an optimal length for digital video creative in the pre-roll position. 5-second spots had trouble conveying a message; while 30-second spots risked turning off a viewer waiting to watch something else.
  • 30-second spots do well at conveying a complex or emotionally resonant message, but work best in user-initiated placements (where the user must take an action, like clicking on an ad or rolling over an in-text link, to begin playing the ad) where viewers display more patience for long messages.
  • Pre-roll, in-text, and in-banner video ad placements can all contribute to achieving the goals of a campaign; however, different placements may perform optimally with different creative lengths.

LINK: IAB Digital Video Ad Effectiveness Case Study