Upgrade Your Video Production Game with VanillaSoft's Daniel Allard
On this week's episode, we have Daniel Allard, Senior Video Producer of VanillaSoft, who is our first video producer on the show! Though he works behind the camera now, he started with a love for drama and improv and eventually transitioned into video production, going back and forth between broadcast and corporate video productions. Listen now and hear Daniel share how you can make the most out of the shows we create.
Daniel AllardMedia Production and Communications Professional
Lindsay Tjepkema: Welcome to season six of the Casted Podcast, where we're back with more of our very own users. Why? Because becoming a Casted customer makes it pretty clear just how committed you are, not only to podcasting as a key piece of the future of your marketing efforts, but also to the bigger picture of how these shows all fit into your integrated marketing strategy. These people are the most forward- thinking leaders of the forward- thinking brands. They're all harnessing the perspectives of experts with their podcasts, and then they're ringing out those interviews to be amplified across all other channels. They're practicing what we preach, and I want you to hear all about what they're doing, why they're doing it, and how you can do it too. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted, the first and the only amplified marketing platform for B2B marketers, and this is our podcast. So what's the best way to fix a broken iPod? A podcast. Get it? Okay, maybe I should leave the jokes for today's guest. Daniel Allard is the senior video producer of VanillaSoft, and before handling production of the many, and I mean many, shows his company is doing, as you will hear, Daniel turned a love of improv into a career behind the camera. During his career, he's seen media, video and audio, used as a way for brands to connect with their audiences through storytelling and showcasing passion and expertise. Listen in as Daniel shares his best advice for how we can make the most out of the shows we're creating, and he drops in some funny stories of his own career journey along the way. Hi, Daniel. Thanks for being-
Daniel Allard: Hey-
Lindsay Tjepkema: ...here. I'm so glad to have you on the show.
Daniel Allard: Thanks very much. It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Well, you're the first video producer we have, so I'm very conscious of how we all appear and make sure that we're doing all the things right, because you're the expert here today.
Daniel Allard: Yeah, no, I like your framing, I like the background. We even got the Casted license plate up there, and it's adding to the branding. Very well done.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Sweet, okay. Well, I'm a little bit competitive, so I feel good now. Starting on the right foot. We were talking before we hit record about your background, and it's just kind of a fun way to introduce who you are to our audience, because you've got a lot of expertise in all things video and production, so tell us a little bit about that and then we'll get into what you're doing at VanillaSoft.
Daniel Allard: Sure, yeah. It's quite funny, actually. I started out in front of the camera, which is kind of the backwards way of doing things. I got heavily into drama and improv in high school, and my school would often compete in a local thing we had called the Improv Olympics, where we would compete against other schools. The point was, if you were the funniest, you won. We were the funniest, but we didn't win. It was this neighboring school that would always win because they had a cast member who could cry on demand, which as you probably know, isn't-
Lindsay Tjepkema: I mean-
Daniel Allard: ...the funniest.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's not funny.
Daniel Allard: No, it's not. But they would win because she was very dramatic and they would blow us away every time, even though we were funnier, and ever since they kept winning, that's... led me to have a lot of sour grapes towards Sandra Oh.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Sandra Oh. Who knew?
Daniel Allard: I don't know.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Who knew? And I bet she remembers those days too. I bet she still feels bad about it.
Daniel Allard: Oh, yeah. Yeah, she does. I'm not sure she remembers me, but she remembers those Improv Olympics days. But-
Lindsay Tjepkema: I'm sure she does, yes.
Daniel Allard: ...I worked with a friend later on who was a friend of hers from high school, and he would get texts from her, and he would show me, and my daughters would get jealous. So I moved from improv into the local cable channel, like a Wayne's World channel, gave me my own comedy show. So I did that for a few years. It was quite popular in the city where I live, in Ottawa. And I remember we were winding down the show, it only had a few episodes left, and I was walking through the station, and I ran into a musician who was recording an interview for a music show that someone else was doing. And he recognized me and I recognized him because he had an Ottawa Senators hat in his music video, and he was very excited. He was very happy to meet me. He asked if he could be on my show and I told him," Well, we're actually winding it down. You might want to go to the station across the city and maybe they'll give you your own show," and that's exactly what Tom Green did.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Tom Green, crazy. Wonder what he's doing now.
Daniel Allard: Well, it's funny. My friend was his producer at that other channel, and I called her up one day and said," Where have you been? You've been gone for a week. I've been trying to get a hold of you." She was like," Yeah, I was at Tom and Drew's wedding in Malibu and it was crazy. Courtney Love was yelling at her daughter because she didn't wear a sweater, and you're supposed to wear a sweater in Malibu. What was she thinking?" And then I met the author of Riding in Cars with Boys, and we got along really well, and I was on this huge high. And then I bumped into Adam Sandler, and I fan- girled all over him, and he patted my my head and walked away. I was like," Oh my gosh, is this not very surreal to you?" Oh yeah, yeah, it was very surreal.
Lindsay Tjepkema: You just never know. You never know where video production is going to take you, right?
Daniel Allard: No, not at all.
Lindsay Tjepkema: You just never do. So on that note, that's what you do. You do video production over at VanillaSoft, which you've got a lot going on. You have multiple shows, multiple projects, and we're excited to be working on some of them with you. So tell us about that and what that start has led to now.
Daniel Allard: Mm- hmm(affirmative). Well, since I'm snubbing Tom Green, I've gone back and forth between the broadcast and corporate video production worlds, going national news channels and national NGOs in Canada. And now, I'm at VanillaSoft where they have a great approach to video. It's not really about the product, it's about, how can we help you be better at sales, because that's what the software does. So we've got this great CRO, Darryl Praill, and he's very, very visible, he's very on- camera. And he's had his own podcast, so I produce that one. It's called the INSIDE Inside Sales Podcast. You have to pronounce it that way. The first crosstalk all caps. Next week will be episode number 124, so it's going great guns. We also have another new show that we do that appears on The Sales Expert Channel called The DRIVE, and it's a sales and business news show. So we're at episode 11 of that, but it's been very well received. We shoot it on Friday mornings, and then I have to edit it all together and have it ready to broadcast at 3: 00 PM, so it's a fun one to put together, yeah. It's a special Friday.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, definitely, definitely. Well, and one thing that is so important in content regardless, whether you're B2C, B2B, whether it's multimedia, or text, or audio or video storytelling. And clearly, in just so far in our conversation, you're a great storyteller, so tell me the role that that plays from your perspective, and as we get into guidance and advice for all of the marketers who are listening, about the mindset that they should have as they approach getting started in video or improving how they're approaching video today, where does storytelling fit into it and how should they be thinking about it strategically?
Daniel Allard: Mm- hmm( affirmative). Yeah, absolutely. I'm a big believer and storyteller. As I mentioned before, many times, video does not just transmit audio and video, it transmits emotion, it transmits feeling and transmitting your heart. And if you are not into your production, that's going to show. Thankfully, video production is so much more accessible now than it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. I remember starting out-
Lindsay Tjepkema: Even a couple years ago. I mean, it's so much more accessible now than it was two or three years ago, yeah.
Daniel Allard: Yeah, when I first started, if you wanted to have a mobile production, you needed pretty much an 18 wheeler and a big rig mobile truck to show up to your event. About 20 years ago, you could fit that in the trunk of a Chevy Cavalier, and now it's a backpack. If you have a laptop and a phone, you can do some pretty amazing things. If you're a marketer who wants to get your message out via video, I mean, A, there's no better time, and B it's never been easier. The problem is, some people just don't know how to do it. Some people just wing it and it's not great. People will not watch. I mean, if you have a story to tell, if you have a brand to pitch, if you have anything that you want to share, video is your best bet for doing it. Until we have the Star Wars holograms that come up out of the table, I mean, this is what you got and it's a great tool.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. Okay, so let's talk about that. What are some of the things that marketers today should know? Let's start with things to avoid, common things that you see happening that just make you cringe, that it's like, oh my gosh, if they would just change this one thing, if they would just get this one thing figured out, they have no idea how much better it would be. What are some of those things that drive you bonkers?
Daniel Allard: As an editor, the one thing I really hate is when people shoot video like this. Please, please, please, please, come on. Make it look like your TV. That drives me nuts. More important than that is your audio. There are studies that show that if the video is not great quality, but the audio is strong, people will still watch. However, if the video is fantastic, but the audio is crackly, or intermittent, or just weak, or echo- y, people won't watch that. They will eventually turn that off, so focus on good audio, get a good mic. As far as cameras go, like I've just shown, any phone made in the last five, 10 years will be able to provide you a great crisp and clear image. The bad audio and the vertical shooting is what I would like to eliminate and probably make criminal.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That can be your next life, is being video police. But I think those are such easy things, right, such easy things. You don't need a huge studio, because we can ask about that one sometimes too, like, if I want to start doing a show, do I need to go rent a studio space? Do I need all this expensive equipment? And so, it's like, no, you can do what you need to do to get that high audio quality, and to just turn your camera the right way, and that will make such a big difference, so make sure you've got the right equipment. What are some tips that you have for achieving really great personality, and conveying the right emotion, and getting people jazzed up and ready to be on camera? Is there any tips that you have there as people are starting to... They're getting comfortable being on camera because of Zoom. However, there's a lot of Zoom fatigue, so what advice do you have for conveying the emotion that you want on video?
Daniel Allard: Practice giving presentations to yourself, I mean, first and foremost, and always keep in your mind, even if it's... like right now, I'm looking at a camera. I have no idea how many people are going to be watching this podcast. Is it 20 million? Is it a hundred million?
Lindsay Tjepkema: Oh, at least. We're getting close to a billion.
Daniel Allard: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, of course. But that would intimidate me, and I've been in front of the camera many times. So focus on just talking to yourself, practice with that, get an ease with just speaking to the camera, just practice, practice, practice. That's all it takes. And then you pick up on the other things as well, like keep your camera eye level or just above, have some lighting, maybe look at what a three- point lighting chart looks like with a key light, a fill light, and a backlight, and then maybe even get into accent lights or plants, get a ficus or something. Oh, another thing I wanted to mention is, motion during your video is really great. So if you want to do one of those walking, talking things, you might want to invest in a gimbal or a phone that has fantastic image stabilization.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I mean, working with someone like Darryl, who, like you said, is very comfortable in front of the camera, how do you, as in your role, work to make sure that he's prepared, I mean, that's one end of the spectrum, all the way down to somebody who maybe is not comfortable, so somebody in your position or a marketer who's going to be behind the scenes? What advice do you have for getting the talent ready?
Daniel Allard: Mm- hmm( affirmative). I once worked for Canada's largest think tank, The Conference Board of Canada, and they had experts from every field that you could possibly imagine. So one of my jobs was to help them feel comfortable because we had egos, we had people with lack of ego, just all over the spectrum. And getting people to be comfortable is the number one thing, because as I mentioned, video will transmit your emotion and mood, so if you're nervous, people will know you're nervous, if you're happy, people will know you're happy. So I would tell them to be engaged. I would tell them to really have a vested interest, have a passion for whatever they're going to be talking about, because if you don't, it's going to come across. People will know. I would also say, whatever your worry is, I would downplay that, because at the end of the day, you're just talking to the camera about stuff you know about, especially in that case where they were the expert something, they are the experts on things, so people are going to them. They are the ones who know. So just tell people what you know, tell them what you're passionate about. And that puts people at ease when they feel more in control, right? There's a lot of feeling out of control when you have a camera in your face and a mic held up to your mouth, so just dictate what you know, talk about your passions.
Lindsay Tjepkema: For sure. Well, I think that that's really important too, as far as in the marketer's seat, when you have the ability... when you're putting together a show, or maybe you're changing things up in a show, thinking about who's going to be hosting, or who's going to be on that show, it's really important. It's not necessarily the first person that comes to mind. It's not always the CEO, or the CMO, or the CRO, or the head of product. I mean, it could be the product manager or the account executive. If they're the person who is super passionate about whatever that subject matter is, or is really excited, or just very eloquent about that topic, they're probably going to be your best bet, because like you said, it's going to be more natural. Even if they're not the face of the brand, it's going to be a more natural conversation for them to have on camera, just like they would off.
Daniel Allard: Yeah, precisely. If it's their passion, they should absolutely be allowed to speak about it, and yeah, feel comfortable speaking about their passion as well. I would encourage that.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, for sure. So at VanillaSoft, you've got lots of different shows. We were talking about that as well. There's shows and projects and there's webinars. So let's talk a little bit about all the different things that you're doing and how that's either... I'd love to hear what you're doing, and then I'd also love to hear how your role changes, if it does at all, for the different things that you're working on, if you do a little bit more of this here, a little bit more of that over here. Tell me about that. Tell me about your role today.
Daniel Allard: Sure. One thing that helps with my role is that, you probably can't tell, but I'm a bit of a nerd, so I love the new technology crosstalk-
Lindsay Tjepkema: Doesn't show. Doesn't show at all.
Daniel Allard: Yes. But yeah, the technology for recording these interviews has been fantastic, especially now with the lockdowns everywhere, people have been forced to use new technologies. I know when we started doing the podcast, the INSIDE Inside Sales Podcast, it was audio only, and I pushed to go to video. At the time where I pushed, we were using a software program called RINGR, which records the audio locally and then uploads it, so there's no dropouts, there's no cutouts, there's no digitization. It was great. And then we went to video... enough for that at the time, so we went with a software switcher called vMix. So I would bring in the call through my switcher, and I would record everything, and we had had interviews all over the world. It worked really well. But sometimes, internet drops out, and sometimes it gets digitized, sometimes you get that crackly noise, or just gone altogether. So we've now found a product called Riverside. fm, and it's kind of like RINGR where it records locally and then uploads to the cloud, but it does audio and video as well and it syncs them up really nicely. So we've been using that for all of our prerecorded productions, all our prerecorded podcasts, prerecorded shows, prerecorded webinars, and it's been a dream to work with. You can't really do live with it, but that's what you can use vMix for, right? And with live, you will get the glitches and the dropouts, but that's no big deal. So what we've been working on with the softwares, as you mentioned, is the INSIDE Inside Sales Podcast, The DRIVE podcast, the many webinars that we do. VanillaSoft purchased a company last year called Autoklose, and so we'll have VanillaSoft webinars, we'll have Autoklose webinars, we have VanillaSoft podcasts, we have Autoklose podcasts. And the Autoklose podcasts, we're actually looking at having hosts join Casted as well, so that could be coming up very quickly. And it's called The 0 To 5 Million Podcast, so keep an eye out for that one.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Very cool.
Daniel Allard: Yes. And when we were allowed to go places and visit people, I would also produce the speaking engagements at some of the larger expos that VanillaSoft would attend, because we have some fantastic presentations on who owns the inaudible, is it sales or marketing, and the many different marketing and sales tutorial- type things that we would do at these events. So there was that thrown in there as well, and then all the promos that we do for all these things as well. And as people who are in the business know, editing takes a lot of time, so it's a very crosstalk slate.
Lindsay Tjepkema: So you're a little bit busy. You're a little bit busy, you're a little bit busy. Okay, so with all of that, you're doing a lot, which I think is really important for all of the marketers that are listening to understand what your life is like, right, and that there is a lot that goes into keeping all of these shows flowing and throughput going smoothly. So what advice do you have, or maybe even a wishlist, for the marketing audiences listening and what you wish they knew about working with a video producer, or how to make that relationship go even more smoothly?
Daniel Allard: I just want to back up one second there because we're not done with the podcast productions.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Oh my goodness.
Daniel Allard: No, we're not. We have a very robust and aggressive schedule to reuse material, right, so as something becomes relevant again, we will reissue links and takeaways, what have you, and re- promote it on as many channels as we can, so Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, mostly, YouTube as well. So it's everywhere we can, and we will repurpose and reshuffle, so if you ever appear on a VanillaSoft podcast, you will get tagged and tagged and tagged and tagged. Sometimes it will go away crosstalk-
Lindsay Tjepkema: Which is how it should be done. That's a huge part of Casted, is saying, okay, if you get the ability to go have a great conversation with someone, don't let it die with just one show. I mean, keep using it. If it's relevant once, it's going to continue to be relevant.
Daniel Allard: Yep, yep. That content is fantastic, and you can just keep sending it out there. I mean, truth is truth, and as long as you keep staying relevant, there's no reason why you can't keep issuing that and sharing it with people who might not have seen it and bringing them back to your brand.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Of course, of course. Okay, so advice for the marketing audiences listening, what do you wish they knew about working with you, about working with video producers? What do you think would help make that relationship smoother or stronger, better?
Daniel Allard: We are here to make you look good. That's our goal. We strive for perfection and we want you to be the best you that we can make you look to be. That sounds like a Michael Scott quote.
Lindsay Tjepkema: inaudible it belongs on a coffee mug.
Daniel Allard: Yeah, I have a whiteboard behind me with that. So yeah, I know with Darryl, all the time, I will stop him during a recording and say," Okay, can you go back and maybe look at the camera this time when you say that?" And I know when we record The DRIVE, it starts out with him saying," It's Friday, March, whatever, welcome to The DRIVE," but he always will look to the side where his calendar is to make sure he has the date right. And I'll stop him every time and say," Okay, go back and just don't look away from the camera when you're saying the date because that's a huge tell that you don't know what the date is today."
Lindsay Tjepkema: Now we're all going to watch for it.
Daniel Allard: Yep, yep. Oh, and you-
Lindsay Tjepkema: crosstalk a little note, I'm-
Daniel Allard: And if I'm directing, you will never see him look away again. So yeah, we're there to make you look good, we're there to make you sound good, we're there to make you successful on camera.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. And to give you, I would imagine, put words in your mouth, but would it be helpful if marketers understood your process in order to make sure that you have the time you need to get it done, because-
Daniel Allard: Yeah, crosstalk-
Lindsay Tjepkema: ...I think there's probably a lot of like," Hey, can you do this today? Can you turn it around in five minutes?" And it's like," No, I can't."
Daniel Allard: Well, I've been in long enough. Sometimes I can, but for the most part, I like to pull a... and I hate to do the sci- fi, nerdy thing again, but I like to do the Scotty trick where if it takes a day, you say," You know what, this'll take three days," and then you give it to them in a day and you're a miracle worker.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Over- promise, under- deliver. I mean-
Daniel Allard: That's right. That's-
Lindsay Tjepkema: ...under- promise, over- deliver. Yeah, you don't want to do the first one.
Daniel Allard: Yeah, that's right, that's right. Thank you. So yeah, that's a huge thing. So we may pad things out, but really, that gives us a cushion to not be too stressed out, it allows for last- minute emergency things that do pop up, and it gives us time to fine- tune as well, because I used to work for Canada's equivalent of C- SPAN. It's a bilingual channel. And if you know C- SPAN, there's graphics up all the time, right? So this channel would have English, then French, then English, then French, and go back and forth, and if there was a typo, you had to re- edit the entire show. It's long format shows. This was back in the days of tape to tape, so you couldn't just go in there, find what was wrong, and fix it, you had to do the whole thing. So if it was a 90- minute Senate committee, you had to do the whole 90- minute Senate committee. So if you had an E with an accent that was this way, but it should have been the little circumflex, well, yeah, guess what you're editing for the next two hours?
Lindsay Tjepkema: Wow.
Daniel Allard: Yeah. So when we do pad it out, it does give us that time to make sure everything's right-
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yep, because like you said, to-
Daniel Allard: ...everything's good.
Lindsay Tjepkema: ...make sure everybody looks good, right?
Daniel Allard: Yep.
Lindsay Tjepkema: You need time and space to be able to do that.
Daniel Allard: Yep. And another tip I would give, don't discount the power of background music. Background music can change so many... It changes the mood entirely. It really adds to it. I remember seeing on YouTube, you can look it up, I think someone re- edited The Shining trailer with Solsbury Hill and made it into this family- friendly, happy time movie of this family going on a vacation. It was great. Conversely, someone did a Mary Poppins trailer with a whole bunch of scary- sounding stuff and heads turning all over the place, and it-
Lindsay Tjepkema: It-
Daniel Allard: ...looked horrific.
Lindsay Tjepkema: ...changes everything.
Daniel Allard: Yeah.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, it does, it does. Well, that's fantastic. Well, thank you for sharing your knowledge from all those years of building up your expertise. It makes a difference for those of us who are coming into video production, perhaps for the first time, or really starting to take it more seriously, or get more intentional about it, because it's the future. I mean, so much of what you're already doing, other companies are signing on board and saying," Okay, it's time to build those connections with our audiences in ways that are much richer and much more full of multimedia content as opposed to just tech space." So thanks for sharing.
Daniel Allard: Well, Lindsay, you're very welcome. Thank you for having me on the show. If anyone wants to reach out and get in touch, I'm on LinkedIn. I think my LinkedIn URL is Mr. Allard. I couldn't get Dan Allard, or Daniel Allard, or Dallard, or D. C. Allard, or anything like that, so I had to go with Mr. Allard, which, I used to volunteer at my kids' schools a lot, so it kind of fits.
Lindsay Tjepkema: inaudible. I like it, I like it. And also, I mean, because you're, obviously, as you mentioned, you're doing so many shows and so much rich content at VanillaSoft, so everyone who's listening and watching, make sure you go check it out because it's not only great content that's really helpful for marketers and sales alike, but also, it's really great to see what you're doing to get ideas and thoughts for how to approach things behind the scenes and some creative ideas, so definitely recommend you check it out.
Daniel Allard: Thanks.
Lindsay Tjepkema: All right, well thank you, Daniel.
Daniel Allard: Thank you.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Or Mr. Allard. That's our show. Thanks so much for listening, and for more from today's guest and some pretty amazing content that they've inspired, visit casted. us and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest on all things amplified marketing, B2B podcasting, and a lot more.