Making a better corporate video

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Have you ever had to be involved with a corporate video? Here are five suggestions that will help you achieve a better result…

I worked at a videotaping session last week — not for anything remotely Hollywood-ish or even corporate — but instead for a new non-profit society. They were creating a three-minute video to announce their new organization and describe the need for it.

Work went well, although I have to say this was no thanks to the crew brought in to do the work. I found them well-intentioned but slapdash and ill-prepared. They were obviously operating on the principle “shoot way more footage than we need and edit it later.” To some degree this is a wise principle of video making  but they took it to the bounds of haphazard. They had about 1,000 percent more than they needed rather then the 500 percent that would have been more realistic. (To preserve their confidentiality, however, the photo, above, is one I bought from a stock-art website.)

If you’re ever faced with the job of producing a video, here are some simple suggestions.

  1. Write a script. Even if you want some “natural” or “real-life” footage, you need a script to guide you. It’s perfectly okay to veer from the script but not okay not to have one. A script is a bit like a budget. You don’t always spend the expected money in every category but it acts as a valuable guideline. It’s your best expectation about what’s going to happen.
  2. Pre-interview the subjects. If your video will include some talking heads, be sure to interview them first, before taping day. Make sure they’re really comfortable with the subject matter and that they know what questions to expect. This will allow them to prepare themselves. More importantly, it will also allow you to eliminate anyone who isn’t well suited to the videotaping.
  3. Ask an unexpected question or two. An interview should be like a conversation rather than a cross-examination. If you only follow the script, in the exact order in which it was written, people will get too complacent and their answers may sound over-rehearsed. Instead, follow the natural flow of the conversation. Keep it casual.
  4. Have a timeline. Know how long it’s going to take to record each segment of the video so you can plan your day. Allow for extra set-up time at the beginning so the crew can do their sound checks and adjust their cameras and lighting.
  5. Have plenty of food. There’s a good reason that movie sets make a big deal about catering. When people are standing around and waiting they get hungry. Drinking a cup of coffee and eating a Danish also give you something to do while you’re waiting for the camera guy to adjust his lights.

Preparing a video isn’t as scary as it might sound. In fact, I’d even call it fun. But you need to be really well prepared before the cameras start to roll.


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