Whether it’s a quirky animation, a corporate interview with the CEO, or a tutorial, there are many things to consider before getting started. In order to stand out, your video should inform, entertain, communicate the quality of your brand and above all, get your message across in order to generate product sales or leads.
Many of the tasks below will probably be performed by your production team, but having insight into the process will empower you make better decisions and will help you save costs.
This is the less glamorous part of the process, but spending time on this task ultimately results in a more organised shoot with a better outcome.
- Camera equipment: Any camera in the upper end of the pro-sumer range will be suitable. At Refresh we use the Sony NX5, which records directly to memory card or hard-drive for easier workflow.
- Lighting Equipment: A 3 point lighting system is preferable to natural light if the budget and shoot venue allows. Generally you probably need upwards of 650 Watt lights for an indoor shoot. At Refresh we use the 650Watt Cosmo Kit.
- Sound Equipment: For a web video, radio lapel microphones are usually acceptable. At Refresh, we use a Sony URXP2 Radio Mic. Unless you have a sound engineer recording sound separately, cameras are usually limited to 2 microphones inputs on either or both sound channels. Using a sound boom with a directional mic is a great backup for the radio mics, but requires an additional team member.
- Backdrop: A quality Chroma key backdrop (green screen) allows you key-out or remove the background and insert a static image or video in post production. A 3m x 3m stand with cross bar works really well for draping the backdrop. Make sure the backdrop is properly lit with no shadows or hotspots. Alternatively you can also use a corporate banner or shoot in a scenic location.
- The shoot location: A location viewing is a must before shoot day. The venue should have adequate space for lighting equipment, camera and backdrop, and should be be free of ambient noise and urban buzz. Make sure you also have a backup location if things go wrong!
2. The Script & Shot-list
The script and shot-list should preferably be finalised before shooting begins, and should carry the overal tone and style of the brand or company. Shooting without this kind of preparation is really difficult.
For interviews it is a really good idea to have a shot-list of related cut-aways to allow for editing of different parts of the interview together. A list of interview questions or points should always be on hand to prompt the subject.
We find a 3 column document with voice-over script in column one, titles in column two, and the video shot in column three, works great as a shot-list format. Some companies may also sketch the different scenes in the shot list to help on the shoot day.
3. The Shoot Day
When the shoot day looms equipment should be thoroughly checked, batteries must be charged and the crew should be early for setup before everyone arrives. For the shoot setup the following should be considered:
- Lighting: Lighting is possibly the most time consuming part of the setup and getting this right is essential. A correctly setup key light and a filler light creates the optimal ratio of light and shadow on the subject’s face. The backlight pops the subject out of the background. It’s also recommended to have a light on the green screen for easier keying in the final edit.
- Sound: Keep the radio microphone or directional microphone close to the subject to remove unwanted ambient background noise and make sure the correct volume levels are set on the camera to prevent any sound distortion. Always do a sound check with headphones before commencing.
- Camerawork: For interviews, a subject can present straight to the camera in the case of a regular show or review, or past the camera to a interviewer in the case of a corporate video. Technically there are 4 main items to remember for the camerawork: set the white balance on the camera, set the focus, make sure you have correct correct exposure, and frame the subject with the zoom ring. With high definition video it’s possible to crop areas of the footage in the edit to achieve your optimal framing.
Cutaways are also important and allow more flexibility in terms of shot selection in the edit. Shots of related material (such as closeups of the product you are reviewing) help disguise breaks in the footage or bad takes and also allow a more interesting final production.
Format should also be considered and you may want to shoot in high definition despite only need standard definition to ensure you future-proof the production for other display types.
4. Post production & Editing
Now we head to the edit suite for the real magic. For web video the two most popular editing packages are Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro.
Make sure you have the correct balance of branding in your video along with your website address or call-to-action at the end.
Some important editing considerations are:
- Storyboarding: For a edit involving many different scene changes or animation, storyboarding is essential to plan the edit. Styling of the titling can also be presented in the storyboarding stage.
- Music: A soundtrack or jingle can be created with the help of a sound designer, or if you have budget constraints, royalty-free music can be purchased from a sound library.
- Voice-over: Voice-overs (VO) are used to bind the story together. It’s best to record VOs in a sound studio with a professional artist . It is a good idea to record your final VO before starting the edit to ensure you have the correct timings.
- Length: This is an important consideration for web video, due to limited attention spans. Three minutes is generally a good length for web videos, which are also generally small enough in file size for uploading and downloading.
- Final Mix: This involves the refining process before the final edit and render of your your web video. It’s best to show to a couple of co-workers to judge their attention levels and hopefully get some constructive criticism. Grading and adjusting colour and sound levels is the final step to ensure a professional picture quality.
- Upload to Web & Format Considerations: To save on bandwidth costs it’s recommended to upload the video to a popular video community such as YouTube or Vimeo and embed the video into your website using their players. You also take advantage of community of these networks to get increased viewership. YouTube has a much larger community, although Vimeo generally has a better video display quality and is favoured by many production houses. These are the available video formats available for YouTube and they also have a creators section for further reading on how to upload to their service.
Once your video has been uploaded, make sure it gets the viewership that it deserves with promotion on your social media platforms, via your email newsletter, and on your website. Great web videos lend themselves to easy sharing online especially if they are entertaining and informative.
Regular videos on a specific topic can also establish your company as a leader in that field and can build a community of viewers who regularly return to your website for more advice. It’s also important to create a formula that your viewers enjoy and is cost effective to roll-out for each video you create to ensure maximum benefit for you and your customers.