Approaching the subject of corporate video can be difficult. Where do you start, who do you get in contact with, and how much will it cost me? Well, unless you plan on having a few media students shoot your video on a ‘rustic’ handi-cam, chances are that the video will not come for free.
We would never pressure anyone into paying us to make them a video – in fact, we’d like to share some handy tips with you should you want to make your own! The more decent video on the internet, the better.
1. Make sure you’re clear on what you want.
When a company ask us to make them a video, it’s imperative that both parties understand implicitly what the purpose and message of the video is. Even if you’re making your own video and you think you have a good understanding of what you’re trying to get across, some of that could get lost in unnecessary frills or other factors. “I’ve found an awesome location!” or “I have a friend who could be in it!” sometimes end up taking priority over the most important consideration of the whole video – will it communicate exactly what it needs to?
2. Lend some time to pre-production.
It’s often very tempting to turn up to an abandoned warehouse or a forest somewhere and start shooting something. However, pre-production is often a lengthier consideration than any other part of the project. Basically, pre-production is anything from the concept right through to the day of filming, which isn’t always just making a few phone calls. Think about the concept, the story boards if you need them, the script, the locations, the actors, the equipment…planning a shoot is essentially event management, and bringing everything together can be a juggling act.
3. Do you know how to use your equipment?
One of the biggest snags when we’re on set is problems with equipment – batteries on cameras draining quicker than expected, or the head of a tripod refusing to function for some reason. But not knowing how to use your equipment, regardless of technical snags, could halt your entire production. Always sit down and have an internet masterclass with your cameras and sound equipment, because not knowing how to correctly work with your equipment reduces the quality of your video immensely.
4. Now that we’ve mentioned sound equipment…
Following on from the last point, we’ve found that one of the biggest let downs for corporate video tends to be the sound. Most cameras have some kind of on board microphone, and there are also external microphones that you can buy to attach to the tops of some cameras, but nothing replaces the quality and effectiveness of live sound mixer on set. They’re the guys who stand around in cargo shorts holding long poles with fluffy bits on the end and fiddling with knobs on a mixer slung over their shoulder. Some do it yourself video makers address the need for sound by attaching a lapel microphone to whoever is speaking in the video, which, without the correct mixing, could prove to not improve the sound at all. If you won’t be investing in sound equipment, here are some tips for making your video sound as good as possible:
- If you have someone speaking in your video, have them stand close to the camera.
- Try to film in the a quiet place, without people noise or traffic noise.
- Avoid large echoing spaces.
- Wear quiet clothes; this may not make sense as a consideration, but synthetic fabrics tend to make more noise and can be distracting. For example, wearing a waterproof coat and then shifting from foot to foot whilst filming can come out quite prominently on the sound if you’re standing close to camera.
- Try not to move your hands on your camera too much: the vibrations travel from all parts of the camera and even the tripod, then up to the on board microphone.
- Attempt your own post production sound mix, which means trying to make every part of your video the same sound level. This can be done on most basic editing softwares by moving sliders for each scene up or down until you find a decent correlation between all scenes.
5. Are the people that you’re working with reliable?
It’s often very tempting to ask your friends to help with video projects, or find people willing to do little bits here and there for experience. On some projects, this kind of thing works very well, but on others, it can crash and burn. It’s all about feeling out who are the best people to make your video work, and then those who might not turn up on time, ignore your calls after a while, and delay production.
6. Does the quality of the video match your business?
If you’re a law firm looking to put across a trustworthy image to your clients, you’ll want a professional looking video to match. Filming something on an early 2000’s camera that records to tape won’t necessarily put across the best image to your potential customers. There are a lot of high quality cameras available for day rentals that produce a good picture with little ‘fiddling’ around and technical knowledge on your part, so it’s all about researching and finding the best equipment that you can reasonably operate.
7. Are you cutting corners and making too many sacrifices?
Money is always a factor with video – but if there’s one big piece of advice that we can give you, it’s to visit the idea of giving your video as much of a budget as you can. We’re not saying pay everyone involved £1000 per day and buy a cinema quality camera for the occasion, but investing some time and money into a video project often yields the best results. The second biggest bit of advice would be to work with experienced people. Even under a good budget, a production may suffer due to lack of knowledge and experience in that area. A seasoned producer would be able to keep a good eye on the project management and expenditure, and a decent camera man will get the best possible image from the camera. It’s all about balance, and finding what works best for you.
We always encourage people to experiment with video – it’s fun, rewarding, and you can learn a lot. Picking up a camera and just getting stuck in is often the best way to start, and you never know – you might find that you’re quite good at it!