Why some video production graduates have more success than others
With every passing year it seems we get inundated with more emails from new video production graduates wanting to work with us than we did the previous year, and this appears to be a trend around the country. Some get hired, and some don’t – so what’s the big secret?
If you’ve ever watched the credits of a big Hollywood blockbuster, you’ll see that the number of people it took to create the film from start to finish can be in the hundreds – this includes everyone from writers and producers to the set designers and post-production teams. Each person has a specific job and a role to play in making the film. The problem is that very often even a London video production company may be working with more limited resources, and companies and clients will want to get as much bang for their buck as possible. Since the biggest cost to a production is often the crew, this means cutting it down and hiring a small number of multi-skilled individuals.
Being multi skilled and having knowledge that goes beyond a single ‘flagship skill’ is an excellent way of keeping yourself in demand in the industry, and as a new recruit, that’s incredibly important to getting your foot in the door. Camera operators who know how to light a scene, directors who can produce, or editors who can create even basic motion graphics are much more useful to a production company in terms of reliability and cost. If you have a camera operator who can handle lighting equipment, take on the post-production side of the project and do their share of producing, then one person has done the job that might otherwise have taken four people on a much larger budget.
To be a multi-skilled crew member requires a lot of enthusiasm and hard work, as all the various disciplines involved are a often more complex than they appear. But as you gain experience and branch out to widen your skill base, that varied experience will make you stand out amongst the other CVs. Getting more experience might seem like an obvious tip, but it wasn’t so long ago that people did specialise in just one area of production, and that’s all changing now. Even the seasoned pros are starting to crow about how knowledgeable they are in all aspects of video work, and you’d be amazed how many people don’t get hired because they haven’t got the right skills.
So to recap – widen your skill base as far as you can, and make it clear on your CV.
Here’re 7 simple tips to avoid some all too common mistakes when embarking on your brand’s corporate film production.
1: Not considering audience
This is one that should run right through any corporate film production, from concept to completion. Keeping your audience in mind from day one—like you would with any collateral—will have big benefits. It’s as simple as using the right language, answering the right questions, and thinking about what imagery will engage them effectively.
2: Not producing a script
What ever type of corporate film production you are creating a working script is vital. Even is the dialogue within your film is purely interview derived a script (of desired responses is still useful).
The script doesn’t have to be set in stone but it will provide useful signposts during the production of your corporate film and ensure you film all the elements that you require (your script can even be thought of a list of reminders to what content you require when filming to complete your film).
A working script will also save you lots of time when editing by helping structure the video and identify how items will segue.
3: Covering too many topics
A ton of jargon and endless statements about “why your company is special” can be a little overwhelming. The solution is dead simple: to think of your corporate film production as a storytelling process. Give it a beginning, middle, and end and use each segment wisely. Distill your film’s content down to the key ingredients so that you leave the viewer with a clear and concise message.
4: Making it too long
Have you ever glanced at the progress bar and bailed at the sight of how long’s left? Me too. Only include points that can be clearly communicated in a short time period. What’s more, keep an eye on the runtime of soundbites while you edit. Consider if the true value of what’s said warrants the time.
5: Forgetting to show
Interviews are great, but continuous shots of talking can be a bore. So remember to overlay “cutaway” shots of your product or service in action. Make the shots relevant to the interviews and lay them over the speech for a truly interesting video.
6: Skimping on production quality
A rushed corporate film production can mean one thing. A poor video. You wouldn’t upload copy before it’s proofed, or use photos that are blurred, so treat video in the same way. Taking time to find good lighting for interviews and getting the sound quality up to scratch are good places to start.
7: Not including a CTA
CTAs or “calls to action” are the backbone of digital marketing. To the viewer, they form the instruction to “do” something, like getting in touch with you for a quote. Not including them within your video is a huge mistake.
They can be either spoken, or as animated text. or for maximum benefit they can be hyperlinked (which can be achieved with YouTube Annotations). This means that as the film closes viewers can click on an on-screen CTA such as “click here for more information” which can take them directly to the relevant page on your website. This is really useful when using your video on social media as it’s the most effective way of driving customers directly to your door.
So that’s it really. Yes there are loads more pitfalls that should be avoided but these are the most common errors we see in most video marketing we encounter.
Avoiding the mistakes many corporate video producers make is a definite way to make your company stand out.
If you’ve not yet produced video marketing material for your brand, then you may be a little confused by some of the terms used by your creative video company when on set or during pre and post production.
We’ve all seen enough behind the scenes and ‘making of’ material to have a reasonable idea of how a Hollywood blockbuster shoot works and the terminology used. But many of the names, terminology and language used in Hollywood will be identical to that used on your video shoot by pretty much all media production companies.
So here’s a short glossary of terms and language that may be used on your companies video shoot and their meanings.
OK so this is an obvious one, but many people are surprised to learn that these directions are still given even when shooting a corporate video. Clear communication from the director to the crew is essential even on small projects so when “action” is shouted that’s the cue to anyone who’s in shot to start doing whatever it is that the director has asked them to do, and of course “cut” tells them when to stop.
DOP is short for Director of Photography. While the director will focus on whats being captured, the DOP’s job is to focus on what it looks like on camera. So lighting, angles and camera position are the aspects of the shoot that the DOP is concerned with.
The Gaffer’s job is to look after the technical side of the lighting. He often works with the DOP to agree where the lights need to go and what their effect should be. In the world of corporate video you’ll probably only encounter a gaffer on the medium to large shoots and more often than not these shoots are studio based. The Gaffer will ensure that all lighting is rigged and working to the DOP’s wishes.
Grip is a term that is applied to anything (or sometimes anyone) who moves the camera. So if your video marketing requires beautiful sweeping elevated shots using a jib (small crane) or tracking shots using a dolly (basically a tripod on a track) then the general term applied to these items is grip.
As mentioned above, a dolly comes under the term ‘grip’, and it’s used to achieve sliding shots in a straight or curved line. The camera stays on the tripod, which will then sit on a flat panel or base that moves along a smooth track. These shots don’t typically take long to set up as the equipment can be surprisingly mobile, and they add instant value to any corporate video.
‘Post’, or ‘post production’, is everything that a video production company does after the shooting stage has been completed. So editing, sound mixing, animation of logos etc and visual effects are all generally referred to as ‘post’.
Likewise, ‘Pre’ or ‘PP’ is ‘pre-production’. Basically, it’s the planning and logistical work that is required before the cameras come out. This can involve a very wide scope of tasks from scripting and casting to scheduling crew and organising equipment, but quite simply it’s all the stuff that happens before the cameras come out!
Often when producing a corporate video 90% of the footage shot ends up being discarded, as only the best takes, comments or angles end up making their way into the final cut.
However before the editing starts the better media production companies will review every single frame of footage shot for them to work with. This footage is known as the rushes, from back in the days when film negatives were literally “rushed” to the developers so the editor could begin work.
A runner or ‘production/shoot assistant’ is an important part of any video production company. They will deal with a wide variety of tasks that arise throughout the shoot day and will contribute to the smooth running of the filming. From ensuring that clients, crew and artists are looked after and comfortable to helping with loading and unloading of equipment, their role requires them to be problem solvers, and a good runner can respond quickly and efficiently to any situation that can arise whilst filming.
‘Slate’ or ‘Mark it’
In the past, sound and footage could only be synchronised using a visual and audible reference point. This was done by using a clapper board which makes a snapping sound when shut and has an obvious visual cue to the sound that the snap generated. Hence the visual and audio elements of a film were easy to sync.
In the modern day world of digital filming, both sound and picture come ready loaded with ‘time of day’ and ‘date of shoot’ information. However a clapper board is often still used as a failsafe for syncing and also as a visual reference to the editor as to what the scene is – the clapperboard can be marked with information about the scene that is being shot. So don’t be surprised to see one used on the shoot of your latest corporate video.
So there you have it. Working with a creative video company may involve a lot of jargon that can leave you a little confused, and while this isn’t a full list of terms, they are some of the more common words and phrases that should help you on your next video shoot!
All you need to know before directing a school promotional video
No promotional video is ever the same, but the corporate world is one thing. Promotional video production for schools (or school promo video) is quite another. Due to the nature of what you’re capturing many areas of production require a rethink from the ground up, such as equipment, direction, and time management. We’ve outlined ten important tips you need to consider when creating a school video.
We know from experience that turning up, switching the camera on and expecting magic to unfold before you just isn’t going to happen. Kids and staff won’t always give you great smiles or dynamic action (especially first thing on a Monday morning!) unless you provoke it from them, and sometimes this involves directing the action you want. It’s a great way to set up scenarios where you can capture genuine emotions is every shot so when it comes to the edit you’ve got some great shots to choose from.
Lower the Camera
Whenever you’re capturing footage of young students, lowering the camera down to their head height is a given. Aside from it being easier to see what they’re doing, it puts the audience into the student’s world and makes it easier to form an emotional connection with what you’re watching.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Another thing we’ve found from experience is that there’s only so much vibrancy and enthusiasm you can get out of a maths or English lesson. Important subjects they may be, but unless you step in and direct the students, you’ll find most of the time they’ll be hunched over their desks staring at a book. To get more dynamic shots, we try to mix in as much physical activity as we can – PE, after school clubs, students playing at break and lunchtimes, and other sporting activities. Mixing shots like this in with the more rudimentary academic content you’d expect from a school injects it with vibrancy and personality, which we can honestly say is completely different for every school.
Make Sure Students Are Engaged
If you’ve ever watched a school promotional video – or any promotional video for that matter – you will have noticed straight away when someone doesn’t have a huge smile on their face. The music will be uplifting or inspirational and there could be an enthusiastic voiceover, so the very second the video cuts to someone who looks anything less than overjoyed, it will seem a bit off. You might even laugh at how miserable they look in comparison to any others, which isn’t the right reaction.
It’s a good idea to get single shots of enthusiastic pupils, and to try and elicit a positive response from them to really get the audience on board with the message of the video.
Broaden Your Range
Promotional videos are very often interview-led, piecing together soundbites from relevant individuals. In schools, that’s students and teachers, but they aren’t the only ones involved in the day-to-day running of the school. Depending on the message or the intended audience of your video, consider interviewing parents, school governors, volunteers and local community leaders. This broader range of interview subjects could provide you with interesting and insightful viewpoints you might not find with just students and teachers, which add another level or message to the promotional video.
Get 2X More Than You Think You Need
Whenever you watch a promotional video, it’s easy to think that the shots you’ve seen were the only ones that were filmed. If that was the case, we could shoot a promotional video at a school in less than an hour. In reality, for every great shot in a school promotional video, there will be about 10 other shots that weren’t used. To facilitate the immense number of shots captured over two days for example (typically around 300 – 350), it’s vital that we move around the school quickly and spend no more than a few minutes at each location. This means we can capture a variety of shots over a relatively short school day.
Move the Camera
We’ve talked about why you should move the camera during shots before (see blog about grip) and explained that it’s essentially about production values. A sweeping shot of a leafy exterior on a jib, or a dolly shot that glides effortlessly down a hallway towards a student looks far more impressive than a static camera angle of the same action. Dollies and jibs are mobile and relatively quick to set up and instantly provide that “wow” factor that is needed to blow the audience away right from the start.
So there you have it – the sum total of our experience filming in schools! We learned many of these lessons the hard way, but we’ve found that by using these ten simple ideas we can boost the production values of a school promotional video and increase its chances of overall success with the target audience.
Make your videos stand out with these six simple pieces of video filming advice.
1: A different angle
There’s a ton of videos on sites like Vimeo and YouTube, so make yours memorable by picking an angle people haven’t seen before. In this example, the camera’s high up and captures the tennis ball as it flies past, putting the viewer right at the centre of the action. So when it comes to angle, think outside the box.
2: Rule of thirds
A sure fire way of making an aesthetically pleasing shot nigh on every time. As you set up your frame, imagine lines diving the image three ways, both horizontally and vertically. Place your action on one of the intersections and your shot will look great.
3: Looking Space
If there’s a person looking off to one side of your shot, simply give that side of your frame more space. It gives a sense of space without distracting the viewer, no matter what size room you’re filming in. Similarly, if something is moving through the shot (like in the rule of thirds example), give the frame more room in the direction it’s moving.
That’s not the only way you can give your audience a sense of space. Putting your camera at an angle to your subject– a person or a production–will give a 3D feel to the space you’re in. It makes your subject stand out and makes for a more engaging video.
5: Head Space
Continuing our space based video production advice, give a moment to consider the room between the top of your subject’s head and the top of your frame. For a high end look, this needs to be limited to roughly 5% of your image. Too small and your subject’s head could be cropped, too big and it’ll distract your viewers.
One way to add a deeper 3D feel is to include blurred objects in the foreground (between your subject and the camera). It works especially well if the camera moves, like in this example where the camera is panning with out of focus grass overlapping the subjects.
Video for Schools – What we shoot and how we structure it
Every brief we get from a school wanting a promotional video made is slightly different – the messages they want to communicate will vary, and they may have their own ideas about the style and tone of the video. That being said, the goal of every school is the same: to provide a quality, varied education for pupils that feel happy and safe.
Therefore, the key messages will often be a variation on these:
“Pupils excel academically”
“There are plenty of extra-curricular activities on offer”
“Pupils are happy here and have a great relationship with staff”
As this is usually the kind of brief that we get, we’ve learned what the best shots to facilitate these messages are, and how and where to shoot them. As a result, we’ve developed an efficient way of structuring the shoot requirements around the school day to maximise our time and make the best film possible. Below is a rough guide to how we would plan our day around the timetable when producing video for schools.
Before School 07:00 – 09:00
You can use this time to get in and set up your equipment before the school becomes too busy. It’s always helpful to have an empty room we can use as our base for the day, as not all your equipment may be needed for the whole shoot.
If the video is going to be interview-led, consider scheduling your interviews for this time so you don’t have to ask teachers and students to interrupt their lessons. Any interviews that can’t be completed in this time can be pushed back to after school.
The key to school promotional video production is to only stay in one location for a few minutes in order to get the shots you need before moving on, so we recommend that you dip in and out of as many different classes as possible. A good rule of thumb we’ve come to adopt is to assume that you’ll only have 3-4 seconds of great footage from one class/location. This way you can tot up the total for a 2 minute film and you’ll will know if you have enough to cut a great promotional video.
You may want to shoot some of the students on their break time outside if it’s a nice day. Smiling students outside in the sun is the perfect way to show that the pupils are happy, and may be an opportunity to show off the exterior of the building if it’s particularly pretty.
More Morning Lessons
You may want to shoot an even mix of academic and practical lessons, as you can only get so much excitement from a maths lesson. P.E, drama and dance lessons convey a sense of dynamism and vibrancy that shows off the school’s diverse subject range.
It could be a good idea to go to the canteen during lunch times to get some footage of students eating – this gives you the option to show the pupils in a casual setting and shows off the community atmosphere as well as the meals the school provides.
At this point you can review the footage to determine if there’s anything you’re missing – whether that’s something in particular from the brief or just a type of lesson or activity you haven’t visited yet.
After School 15:00 – 17:00
Most people assume that the school day just ends at half past three every day, but when many schools have a promotional video made, they want to emphasise the number of after school clubs they have available. This will also allow you to capture a greater variety of activities than the normal school curriculum allows for.
Don’t forget that this is a great time to finish off any interviews you have to complete as well. Due to it being the end of the school day you may have fewer time restrictions.
Of course, this is only a rough guide for shooting video for schools and is almost always subject to change on the day, as shooting on a school day is always somewhat unpredictable!
As a leading explainer video company, we know that the world around us moves at an ever-increasing pace, and the way customers consume media and information seems to be evolving at the same speed. We know that animated explainer videos are great tools for businesses to boost their online presence in an accessible way but how should you start to plan them and most importantly, how long should they be. Well statistics show that when it comes to animated explainer videos or corporate videos the optimum length of any material you produce is 2 minutes. After that you’ll start to lose viewers pretty quickly.
Retaining your message
But why are short online videos more effective in engaging your audience? Surely you can get more messages across in a longer video? In theory, yes, but research shows that if you try to bombard the viewer with multiple messages in a 5 minute video, they will retain less of your messaging than they would if you kept your video short and simple. If the online video is too long or contains multiple messages, it can even end up creating a negative impact on the viewer (as they’ll associate boredom with your brand!). The stats certainly back this up.
So let’s look at why shorter animated explainer videos are more effective when delivering your message and engaging your audience.
In the digital world, addressing attention spans (or lack of them) is critical for any explainer video company. Generally our digital attention span is much shorter than our real world attention span. We know that whatever digital media we are viewing can be replaced and substituted with something else in a heartbeat. We can click ‘Stop’, ‘Next’, ‘More’ or even ‘Close’ way before we’ve engaged with even half the content we’re presented with.
Be honest, how many times have you closed a page that you’ve not yet reached the bottom of?
So the online digital experience exaggerates modern life’s shortening attention spans and makes short bursts of communication much more powerful.
Shorter animated films cost less! Its that simple.
Now we need to stress that this is NOT always the case with live action video marketing but it’s certainly true when producing animated explainer videos.
Yes, you can spend just as much producing a 30 second viral as you could producing a 10 minute brand film, but generally speaking, shorter videos require less post production (ie animation etc), less pre-production (much less to storyboard etc) and even less delivery time – They can be uploaded and shared much quicker due to the final smaller file size. So producing short play animated explainer videos can be beneficial to your marketing budget.
However, one of the main reasons that short online videos have greater traction and impact is down to mobile streaming. We’re now very used to seeing video online and we don’t accept blocky, grainy, overly compressed footage anymore, as we’re now accustomed to watching HD on our portable devices even if we’re in the middle of the woods!
Shorter video will stream and download much quicker due to it’s physical attributes. Their file sizes are smaller and so they are easy and quick for customers to view and more importantly share or send.
As mentioned earlier on, keeping your online video message simple and clear will result in greater impact and engagement. Yes, your product may have 20 USPs but if you try to ram them down your customers throats they’ll end up dazed and overloaded with all the points you want to get across. Or worse still, they’ll become snow-blind by all your information and click off the video, having remembered none of it. If you have lots to say then the best way is to produce several short videos rather than one long epic!
There’s not really much else to say on this. However, one of the best ways to highlight why shorter video marketing works is to examine your own online video habits. Make a mental note every time you don’t finish a video that you’ve started playing – check to see when you stopped, and ask yourself why.
Most online behaviour is universal so when producing your video marketing material ask yourself whether you’d be willing to watch it to the end. If the answer is no then you can put good money on the chance that no-one else will either.
Motion graphics or animation are a great way to enhance any corporate video and give it an added “wow factor”. The problem is that not everyone is a gifted graphic designer or animation maker, but luckily you don’t have to be in order to create some effective graphics. Below we’ve highlighted some simple tips on how to make better motion graphics for your latest corporate video or video marketing production.
Use branding to help you
It’s very likely that businesses will have branding guidelines for any artwork that is created for their use. This could just be as simple as size and colour information, but often logos and colour palettes will have been created by a dedicated graphic designer so there may be examples of previous work that you can use as a starting point.
Reflect the tone
Let the mood of the video provide a structure for the graphics. If the overall tone is gentle, consider fading artwork in. If the video is more like a high impact fitness video, you could design the graphics to crash in.
Music and sound effects can really bring motion graphics to life. If you haven’t considered bringing the soundtrack in underneath your motion graphics, give it a try. This effect works especially well with soundtracks that fade in, as the music will give you a bit of extra time to establish the tone of the video before you bring your footage or other assets in.
Bigger isn’t always better
The general rule about size is that if you design your title and something doesn’t seem right or you’re not sure about placement, the chances are you’ve made your text/other assets too big. Try scaling them back and re-positioning them and you may increase their effectiveness.
Avoid iMovie-like effects
Now that video editing and motion graphics software is becoming increasingly commonplace, standard home-movie effects that everyone recognises can look amateurish and a bit heavy-handed, which isn’t what you want for work that represents your company. That being said, some are simple enough to be appropriately used, for example the simple cross dissolve, or the ‘dip to white’ if you’re fading footage to a white solid. The same goes for font types – Comic Sans and Lucida Handwriting may have had their uses but as a standard font they have gone out of style. Do check branding guidelines where available if you can however, as you’ll most likely need to use a specific font.
Use professional assets
It may not be necessary for many projects, but you can buy professional animated or still image assets in packages to accompany or form the basis of your motion graphics. These can often be customised or manipulated easily in motion graphics software (such as Adobe After Effects) and have many appropriate uses. These are being developed all the time by various designers so you can always find inspiration for your own motion graphics and title design.
Our roots are in graphic design, so we learned these lessons through experience and took them to heart, and we’ve become better graphic designers as a result – use these tips to integrate better design in your company’s video production.
Digital media production is increasingly one of the most important digital marketing tools in today’s world. Developing a great video will engage viewers and increase the time they spend browsing your website by a considerable margin, so getting your video strategy right is important. But a lot of online viewers admit to not watching a lot of videos all the way to the end. But why is that? These are some of the mistakes you can make that cause your audience to tune out.
It’s too long
We’ve talked before about optimum runtimes for video marketing (see blog) but the thrust of it is that beyond 2 minutes, you start to see a major drop off in viewing figures, and from there it’s a downward curve. We live in an age of constant on-demand content, where we no longer have to commit to one source for our entertainment. If you want more people to engage with your video, you have get to the point quickly. If you review your video and find that it’s dragging, chances are the audience will come to the same conclusion and stop watching.
This is normally only an issue in the corporate sector and depends on the audience you’re trying to reach, but if your audience includes the average person, you may have to adjust your mode of address to keep people interested. The corporate sector can include a lot of “boardroom language” which can be hard to separate yourself from when you need to boil a concept down to it’s simplest form in a way that understandable to a layman. This is where your digital media production company should make script suggestions.
We’ve covered this before but we really can’t stress enough how important good quality sound is in digital media production. People can tolerate bad images to an extent, but won’t give an inch to poor quality sound and will turn your video off straight away.
If you ask someone if they’re likely to buy a product if they want a good quality video about it, they’ll probably say no. Nobody likes to think that they can be swayed by typical marketing tricks and many make the decision to rail against them. But a presenter or an interviewee comes along with just the right amount of charisma, those people might suspend their disbelief for the duration of the video. All it takes is for a representative of a brand to come across as laughably unenthusiastic, and the engagement with your video will be dead.
The most successful corporate videos are the culmination of solid planning, productive shoot days and considered editing. It’s within grasp for companies and organisations alike to manage these elements in house. But it’s often the shoot days that turn out to be the most complicated and potentially stressful, and it’s here that novice producers could find themselves under the most pressure to get things done. Here are 5 simple things that you can do to ensure you have the most productive shoot day possible.
Do a Recce
On a previous blog, we talked about how important it is that you do a recce before the shoot. This is important because every location presents certain opportunities and certain limitations, and you should know what these are before you turn up with a camera in hand – you could come across something you didn’t anticipate which causes you to change your plans. Things to consider on recces include power facilities, position of the sun (if it’s outside) and noise considerations.
Know Your Shots
Doing a recce will also help you to plan the shots you need to get in a rough order. By laying out exactly what you need to capture, you can create a timetable to record your content, which will help to keep you on schedule during the shoot day.
Bring Spares of Everything
The last thing you want on a corporate video shoot is to be caught out by not having all the equipment you need. Plans can change and shoots can overrun, so plan for the worst by bringing spares of as much equipment as you can. Batteries and media cards are two things that are famous for running out just as you need them, so bring as many as possible. On bigger and longer shoots it’s worth taking battery charging units to charge spares as you shoot, and bringing a card reader to offload and reformat media cards if you’re not sure you’ve got enough to last you the day.
Employ a Runner
If you’ve taken charge of the shoot as a producer/director, then you’re at the centre of the action and the shoot can’t proceed without you. So what happens if you need to put some batteries on charge, load spare equipment into a van, or provide lunch for everyone at the shoot? It’s simple – bring a runner on to the shoot with you. Brief them before the shoot starts and they can get on with taking care of the simpler tasks leaving you free to do your job.
Of course shoots are often unpredictable anyway, but these problems are typical of corporate video shoots. If you take the time to plan and build in safeguards like these, you’ll have a more productive shoot day.