How to prepare for your company’s video production.

Once you’ve agreed to work with a production company, let them guide you through the creative process. This will basically fall into three stages: pre-production (planning, scripting, budgeting, etc.), production (filming), and post production (editing, graphics, music etc).

It is a good idea to include the producer and director in any meetings your organisation may have about the programme content, and to make sure everyone involved is happy with what is being planned.  Fundamental changes are best made at the pre-production stage. It is far more cost and time effective to make changes during pre-production than it is during or after actual production – so getting it right ‘on paper’ is well worth the effort.

Ok, so you’ve decided to hire a video production company to film a fantastic video to communicate your message to the outside world. Here are ten simple steps that you can follow to ensure that your shoot goes smoothly and that you get the most out of your investment:

First things first . . .what do you want to achieve?

Think about your audience and what message you want them to take from your video. How is the video going to be used? As a presentation tool? On a loop in your reception? On your company website?

Many companies want to make a ‘one-version-fits-all’ type of video, which fulfills all of the above purposes. However, making a video that is aimed at multiple audiences will diminish the impact of the main message. A better way is to structure your video with different sections that will appeal to your different audiences and then have a few versions that are tailored to each.

If you fail to prepare . . .

Organising the shooting day(s) is crucial. A well organised shoot will mean more footage is recorded, which will improve the final video and ensure you are getting the most out of your budget. So try and group all the interviews together, on the same day. There are lights, microphones and a load of other bits and pieces that need to be set up and adjusted by the crew so rather than spending time setting up and packing down several times, schedule all the interviews together, or set aside a room that can be left as a “set” and returned at intervals during the day.

Showing your best side . . .

Videos usually have a high percentage of interview content, with key speakers being interviewed to give a voice and a face to your company. It is crucial to have a pleasant space that is large enough to accommodate a camera crew, several lights, possibly a backdrop as well as your interviewees.  Whilst the crew will add light and shadows to make the background interesting, if the room is a good space to begin with the results will be even better. You will also need to ensure there will be no unwanted interruptions during the day – unscheduled meetings, for example.

Listen very carefully . . .

Sound is at least as important as picture. A professional microphone will make an excellent job of recording all the rich tones in your interviewee’s voices, and a good soundman will tweak and optimise the sound he is recording BUT the microphone has no brain. It can’t ignore background noise, the hum of the air-conditioning, the opening and closing of office doors. Make sure the room you select is as quiet as possible. Can the aircon be heard? If so can it be turned off?

Ensure your staff are aware that filming is taking place, and that they will need to be quiet, is vital to ensure the interviews are not interrupted. Interruptions can break an interviewees concentration and make them less relaxed. Not to mention reducing the amount of material that can be shot.

And relax . . .

It isn’t easy being filmed if you’re not used to it, so be mindful of your colleagues who may have not done anything like this before. A good film crew will make the interviewee feel at ease. They have probably interviewed thousands of people and it is in their interest to have a nice relaxed atmosphere when the cameras are rolling.

In the days prior to the shoot try not to let your team over prepare. They don’t need to memorise paragraphs of company speak – that’s what your website and brochure are there for. Have key messages in mind but remember the Producer will know what they are looking for so will tailor their questions to get the best results. Tape is cheap, so relax. You’re in good hands. Take your time and be yourself.

On the big day – getting access

Remember, that a good film crew will be equipped several bags of equipment which need moving from location to location. If possible, book a parking space near to the reception or interview room or find out the best place to unload and access your premises. It also helps if security is forewarned that the crew will be arriving at an agreed time, to avoid any unwanted delays to the shooting schedule

Take a look around

Remember, you know your business more than the visiting film crew. The cameraman will be scouting the offices for great shots, angles, faces etc, so if there are any old company logos, cuddly toys stuck to monitors, broken office equipment or other undesirable items that you won’t want to see in the final video, now is the time to take them down or hide them in the stationary cupboard. Remember: Everything the viewer sees will speak volumes about your company.

Projecting a responsible image

It is unlikely that the crew will be aware of your company’s health and safety policy, which means they won’t realise that your chief engineer should have been wearing a hard hat on the factory floor or that a machine operator forgot to wear gloves.

Make sure staff are adhering to all of your company’s regulations. The cameraman can crop things out of shot or simply not film undesired areas but air brushing things out later in the edit can be costly or ruin a really good take or section.

Past achievements

Still photographs and other examples of past or recent achievements can add a wider scope to your video. Even if a video crew wasn’t there to capture the event at the time, such examples can be still included in your film, using simple animation and dynamic music, or as interesting shots to accompany interviews. Take the time to look through the archives to find material that will further enhance the project.

And finally . . . on a lighter note

A camera runs on batteries, but a cameraman is fueled by hot drinks. So to insure the day starts well, ask him how many sugars he takes in his tea or coffee. If, at any point during the day, his energy appears to waning, just put the kettle on and normal service will be resumed.

In future posts we will be giving more tips and also discussing the next stage of your project – Post Production (or in plain English, the bit where it all gets put together).

In the meantime we would welcome your feedback and suggestions for other future topics, so feel free to leave a comment, subscribe to the blog or retweet the post.

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