8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 6


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


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.



8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 4


Let’s face facts: your audience is comprised of sophisticated television and media viewers.  According to Nielsen Research, as of 2006, the average American watched 4 hours and 35 minutes of TV each day.

corporate video


With your viewers constantly bombarded with video images, they are quite jaded to “ordinary” video.  They are sophisticated consumers of the media, so do not think that they will excuse shoddy production values if you want to deliver an effective message.


If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

I will be the first to admit that there are projects that are exceptions to the “it’s only corporate video” rule.  For example, if you are just recording a technical seminar or other “mind dump” for future new hires or people that are out of town, then by all means set up the camcorder in the back of the room and let it run.  But even if that is the case, please be sure that you use a good microphone located close to the speaker(s). Cameras microphones do not cut it even for a low-budget corporate video if accurate recording of information is important.

More on that in a future blog post.


8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 3


Corporate video production and multimedia are not the solution to all problems of communications, training, sales, etc. So that is why it is so important to understand the answers to mistakes #1 and #2 in my previous blog posts. 

In the area of sales and marketing, video and multimedia can be an important strategic component in the mix.  In other areas, such a skills training, a video presentation might be just the ticket to be able to demonstrate proper technique to newly hired or promoted people.

In general, corporate video production and multimedia projects are best used where showing the product, service or process is advised.  In sales and marketing, a particularly effective use is to show products in use that are impractical to bring to the prospective client for a demonstration.  Over the years, we have done programs showing hotels, large assembly line robots, clean room processes, exercise programs, and many other areas where a demonstration in an office of the product or service is just not practical.

In areas involving interpersonal skills, such as management training, corporate video productions might also be a part of the solution.  Establishing the groundwork in an area could be an excellent use of video, especially if there will be many employees over time who require this training.  But for smaller groups, or for brief periods of time, role playing and other techniques could be warranted, whereas video and multimedia would not.


8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 2


This goes hand-in-hand with my post from January 2nd. In addition to knowing who your video production ise talking to, you need to know what you want them to do or feel after the program has been delivered.

Whenever possible, the video production objective should be quantifiable. It is certainly easier to measure results in the area of training. As any good training professional knows, pre- and post-training assessment tests can quantify the results of any training program, including video productions.

It’s similar to the field of MBO or Management by Objectives. Being measurable is the key.

target marketSimilarly, for sales and marketing or communications, detailed testing and statistics can be gathered about project awareness and attitudes before and after the presentation of the overall program package. But each of those probably aren’t the real desired results – the true goal is pumping up the sales figures.

As in training, it is desirable to measure the effectiveness the sales or communications program has in meeting the stated goals.

There is a problem, however. Measurement of the specific impact of the video production or multimedia program is difficult, as the production is typically not used in isolation. Instead the video production is usually only one part of a package of other material delivered in conjunction with the video or multimedia program.

Ideally, we would like to emulate large consumer companies, where extensive market research provides detailed analysis of specific advertising and promotional techniques. They can isolate the effects of individual components of an overall brand marketing strategy, for example. But this requires an extensive historical background and a very large sample size to help isolate variables and establish causal relationships.

However, this is more problematic in the business-to-business world.

B to B companies rarely have the historical data to statistically isolate the cause and effect relationships of individual marketing components, including a video production. This is compounded because a new product or service introduction is often where we see the merger of these packages of video, trade show booth, collateral and trade publication advertising. This renders historical comparisons largely irrelevant.

The opportunity to measure program effectiveness is not impossible, however. Anecdotal evidence can be gathered from clients as to what portions of the total package made the biggest impact. This can even be formally quantified through the use of surveys. Mix in a good portion of industry experience and common sense, and the sales or marketing exec can often get a pretty good feel for the impact of the video or multimedia portion of the campaign, as well as the other individual components.


8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 1


video production audienceVideo productions, like any kind of communications program, has certain principles that must be followed. This is the first and foremost rule: know your audience. It is universally recognized as fundamental to creating an effective program. Yet it is amazing how often it gets violated. This rule is certainly not unique to video or multimedia programming. In all forms of audio and visual communication, it is imperative to develop a precise definition of the target audience – and remember it.

Market research firms and departments spend billions of dollars annually to determine who will receive a message so that proper product placement, advertising and promotions can be done. And it can be money well spent.

Yet we often see companies approaching their video productions with a “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach. They use a shotgun when a rifle is called for. They try to appeal to several audiences with the hope that the program will serve multiple purposes. Remember, when you try to appeal to everybody, you appeal to nobody.

While the same basic video production can sometimes be used for different audiences, it is recommended that different variations or versions be developed for those different groups. It’s a simple matter to re-edit or re-narrate portions of a video production. However, efficiency demands that this is planned from the beginning of the project.

So remember to plan the project with your audience in mind.

Know what their level of expertise or experience is with the topic. This will avoid the problem of shooting too low (e.g. wasting their time showing or telling them something they know) or too high (losing them because you assume a level of expertise they haven’t yet attained).


30 Years in San Francisco Bay Area Video Productions: Reflections

Video production: it’s been a truly amazing journey. 

I’ve been in the video and multimedia production business since 1981 and in my 30+ years in the business, I’ve seen some absolutely incredible leaps in the industry.  To put video in historical perspective, it was only 22 years before I took the plunge into professional video that Sony, Matsushita, Toshiba, and JVC introduced helical-scan recording, which is the method used since to record on video tape recorders.  It took almost the entire subsequent 22-year span to bring these helical scan recorders into the home.

When I started in video production in 1981, consumer video recording was in its infancy.  Most American homes did not have a VCR.  VHS was still battling Betamax (what’s that?!) for supremacy in the home video format wars.  ¾” tape (huh?) was the staple of industrial and advertising video production and 2” “Quad” machines (what??) were what the “real” broadcast studios used for their best quality editing and studio work.  We rejoiced when the broadcast standard became the relatively inexpensive 1″ machines.

Sony 1 inch video recorderField cameras capable of producing the best broadcast-quality pictures cost more than most houses at the time.  (And now these have been surpassed in quality by today’s consumer camcorders.)  The CD-Rom had not yet come on the scene, and internet use was years away.  Tape to tape video production has given want to compressed video and streaming on web sites were barely the proverbial “figment” of someone’s imagination.  DVDs?  HDTV?  You’re kidding!

 Field cameras capable of producing the best broadcast-quality pictures cost more than most houses at the time.  (And now these have been surpassed in quality by today’s consumer camcorders.)  The CD-Rom had not yet come on the scene, and internet use was years away.  Tape to tape video production has given want to compressed video and streaming on web sites were barely the proverbial “figment” of someone’s imagination.  DVDs?  HDTV?  You’re kidding!

Yet despite the incredible technological advances in video production in my over my three decades, many things have remained constant.  The need to capture and retain audience interest, tell a story, and accomplish one’s objectives were all critical to effectively communicating then, and remain so today.

And as technological advances have brought affordable high-quality video and multimedia into the hands of the neophyte, the need to use them “correctly” has remained.  Just because you’ve got a paint brush, that doesn’t make you Rembrandt!