8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 8

MISTAKE 8.  LETTING YOUR IN-HOUSE “TALENT” JUST WING IT

Let’s face it, your co-workers are not professional actors, and they need some help to remember all the things they need to say and do on camera.  I discussed this recently with another producer friend of mine, and he commented, “If I had a nickel for every time I shot an exec who said he could just talk off the top of his head…  What disasters!”

I agree.  Use a teleprompter.  We’ve shown these in blog posts, and here it is again. This speaker standing in front of the green screen will be looking up at the camera and delivering his script.

video production prompter

In this shoot with Steve Young, he’ll be addressing the camera using the prompter that our crew member is adjusting.

prompter for Steve Young

As you can see, the prompter mounts in front of the camera.  Your executive or employee can look right at the camera and read the words as if he were looking into the lens.  After a couple of practice runs, amateurs are almost always comfortable enough to blast right through the script.  It’s money well spent as it means faster shooting, less errors, and fewer frayed nerves.

And if your executive looks stiff or really doesn’t like the feel of “reading” the words, we can put up bullet points or PowerPoint slides on the prompter so that he or she can still appear to be looking at the audience.  This avoids the problem of the presenter looking away to notes or cue cards and looking “shifty eyed” as a result.

 

 

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 7

VIDEO PRODUCTION MISTAKE 7. USE THE CAMERA MICROPHONE TO RECORD THE AUDIO

You can see in video production that the rapid improvement and compactness of video is also manifested in the audio that accompanies it. Camcorders today record excellent sound. But there is a problem.

The problem is that the sound source closest to the camcorder microphone will be recorded best. And this may not be what you want recorded.

Have you ever set up a camcorder in the back of the room to record a live seminar for your corporate video production and listened to the result? Isn’t it amazing how the comments, coughs and collisions in the back of the room sound so clear – and the speaker is unintelligible at those points?

I simply can’t count the number of times people have come to us to ask if we can enhance the audio from just such presentations, and other live events as well. In short, the answer is unfortunately “No.” We can not bring out audio that essentially is not there.

What is the solution? First, you must have a camcorder that will take an external microphone input. If yours doesn’t, get another one.

After that, it’s all just a matter of microphone placement. If you have just one speaker in your video production, you should invest in a lavaliere microphone for the presenter to wear. The mic is then in place less than a foot from the presenter’s mouth and will record clear audio.

Here I am placing a lavaliere mic on blues guitarist B.B. King prior to shooting a TV commercial. In this case, the microphone will be hidden from view. I’m tucking it under his collar, out of sight.

microphone for BB King

Another option would have been to use a mic on a boom pole just out of frame as we did for football Hall of Famer Steve Young. Here a boom operator holds the mic on a boom pole becuase Steve is walking and talking, so the mic has to move with him.

boom microphone for Steve YoungHere’s another example of a boom operator holding the mic above the talent in this corporate training video production with actors.prod16If the speaker in your video production is stationary, the boom mic can be anchored just above and out of camera view. In addition to giving a consistent level of audio, it eliminates the need for another person to operate the boom.

boom microphone over child actor

If possible when buying or renting a lavaliere, get a good wireless microphone. Don’t defeat the purpose by getting a cheap microphone that feeds buzzes and hisses to your recording system. A pair of decent, yet inexpensive headphones will let you listen to the audio that you are getting. If you don’t get a clean signal, take the microphone back to the store and get one that works for you.

Prices for good quality mics have come down dramatically over the years, so if you are going to do much of this type of “talking head” recording, it’s worth the small investment.

Microphones are obviously not just for amplification. You need a good mic close to the subject to get good clear audio.

 

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 6

CORPORATE VIDEO PRODUCTION MISTAKE 6.  DON’T USE A TRIPOD OR OTHER CAMERA SUPPORT

Video production pros know that a steady camera is critical to getting a good, interesting image.  If the camera is bouncing around, the viewer gets distracted and often, annoyed.  If the viewer’s mind is busy following the subject around the screen, it won’t be concentrating on your message.

At certain times, a moving camera becomes an art form, such as is seen in music videos.  But corporate videos are typically not music videos. Keep the camera on the tripod and keep the camera movements smooth.

When the video production pros shoot, there are a wide variety of camera mounts available for image stabilization.  These include various sizes of tripods, jib arms, cranes, dollies and a Steadicam®. 

The most common camera mount is the tripod. It’s portable, easily transported, and functions well at getting most of the basic shots. It provides a stable mount for lock down shots, zooms, pans and tilts. Here you see one in use in a video production we did outdoors in France.

video production in France

You always want your video production tripod to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the camera and anything else that might be added to it. A good example is this prompter which goes in front of the camera so that the speaker can be looking at the words while appearing to look right at the lens.

video production tripod and prompter

Here’s a look at a video production dolly, with the camera operator on board, and the dolly grip pushing it on tracks.  The dolly gives great smooth shots, but due to the expense of rental and the two people needed to operate it, it can be a pricey addition to the program.

video production dolly

Below we are using a jib arm in preparation to making swooping and climbing shots of a store facade.  The jib can be rented in various sizes and can create an almost 3D look, as it can be made to travel in three axes above and around the subject.  It needs a trained operator.

video production jib arm

Another less intimidating arm would be a smaller version of the jib which allows the camera operator to raise or lower the shot smoothly. This is called “pedding up” or “pedding down” short for raising or lowering the pedestal of the camera. This move is different from tiliting up or down with a tripod. Also, this mount is easily mastered and requires less training than the large jib arm.

small video production jib

While the jib can move extensively around a subject, for true 3D views, a Steadicam® is called for.  This is a specialized harness that needs to be used by an experienced camera operator.  It can give dramatic looks at the subject, including moving smoothly around them for 360 degrees or more. Unless you have a Steadicam® and trained operator, don’t follow your subject around with the camera – leave it to the pros.

video production steadicam

 

 

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 5

MISTAKE 5.  SKIP THE LIGHTING AND OTHER EQUIPMENT THAT WILL REALLY MAKE THE IMAGE “POP” IN A CORPORATE VIDEO PRODUCTION

When it comes to corporate video production, the current level of electronic technology is truly extraordinary.  Home camcorders are easy to use and affordable, and everyone fancies himself or herself a TV director.  But as good as these cameras have become, a professional, high-impact look will only come when additional lighting and other equipment are applied.  Even current reality shows are supplemented by lots of lighting instruments and other gear specially designed to make the shots look good. 

Knowing how to light is a complete art and science unto itself.  If you were to review the movie credits at the end of a major motion picture (without animation or special effects) over half the people would be involved in lighting and related areas to make the image look just right.

Of course, we’re talking corporate video production; we’re not trying to duplicate “Gone with the Wind. But remember that the image that you show, is the image that represents YOU.

In addition to lighting instruments, some of the gear that might be called into play includes soft lights, gels, reflectors, bounce cards, cookies, scrims and light diffusion.  You can see a couple of these here: 

corporate video production using a steadicam

In the above shoot we did, starring Steve Young of 49er fame, you can see 2 big soft lights as the primary lighting source.  We have also have other “harder” (e.g. not soft) lights out of frame – including fill and back lights.

The light cutter at the top center is used to keep too much light from flooding the background.

In the picture, note the large reflector to the right that one man is adjusting.  This is used to redirect sunlight for an outdoor shoot. Another man runs the fog machine for a dream-like effect. Finally,  

corporate video producting using a video reflector                                 

While this array of lighting and grip equipment is typically not available for shooting corporate video on your own, it can enhance the image dramatically.  And if your budget does not allow a complete video production crew to shoot the video, freelance lighting directors with rental equipment are available, and that could give a corporate video production a look that will set it apart from other more amateurish efforts.