Lights, Camera, Action! - Putting Your Business on Video (Part II)
Picking up where we left off, here are the other things you need to think about when planning, creating, shooting and editing a video to help promote your business and all the value you bring to your customers.
You can never have enough b-roll
B-roll, or background footage, is the wallpaper you use to help tell the story. It's run with a voiceover or narrative and makes the story you're telling come alive, giving it a sense of place. If you don't have enough, it's just talking heads. I just finished a shoot at a service bureau where I captured over an hour of widely varied b-roll, only a few fragments of which will wind up in the 5-7 minute video I'll ultimately produce. But all that footage gives me lots to choose from without using the same clips over and over again.
Light 'em up!
The lights in your offices and plant floors are fine for working, but fall short when it comes to video. They're the wrong color, nowhere near bright enough, and put shadows and highlights in places you don't want them to be. And natural light from outside the building may not be your friend. Quality video lights make a big difference in how the finished a video looks. Remember, although this video may be primarily viewed on the Web, it is still representing your company. Good lighting is one of the key points that differentiate quality video from homegrown footage.
Another differentiator is audio. Capturing good video is not too hard these days, but audio is still a challenge. Shooting video of press operators in your plant with masonry floors and walls, a high ceiling and equipment running is way beyond the capability of the microphones on typical consumer cameras. You need wired or wireless personal mikes or boom mikes to get good quality audio and control ambient noise.
There's an ad on TV these days for the Olympus Pen camera. It seems to shoot very nice video, and the commercial is purportedly shot with the cam (actually two or three of them, by the way). But at the end of the ad, you see the crew sporting an assortment of cameras, boom mikes, lights, dollies and other toys that made it work as a commercial shoot. So while Olympus made a good point with the ad, a full crew and audio gear was still needed to make it work.
We'll fix it in post
Then comes the hard part. Editing, or post-production, is where you put the story you want to tell—the one you planned up front—into a sequence that will best convey your message. Just as involved as the shoot itself, editing can take up to three days to turn a day of shooting into a finished 5-7 minute video. This is where mistakes are fixed, segments are re-ordered, color is corrected, audio adjusted and music and effects added.
Again, it's a matter of planning ahead. In the edit, keep transitions simple and tasteful. Video editing programs are sort of like PowerPoint on speed and steroids. There are lots of cool and funky things you can do, but if they get in the way of your story, they don't do anything for you. And don't forget music! You can get royalty-free tracks from a variety of sources that can add a lot of style to your story.
Video can be a powerful communication tool and engages people in ways that mere words cannot. Whether you do it in-house or hire a professional crew, pay attention to the details. Do all the planning and preparation, take your time, and have a good idea of what you want to end up with when you begin. And when it's done, you'll have a compelling new way to tell prospects why they should come to you.
Noel Ward is Managing Director of Brimstone Hill Associates, which specializes in marketing communications in the printing industry, including video production. He can be reached at 603-672-3635 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.