Experienced communications’ professionals will tell you how amazed they were that it ‘took so long’ to film that ‘little’ three-minute video. To put it into context, the next time you are watching a commercial break take a moment to consider the elements which might have gone into producing that thirty-second video – which might have cost millions of pounds.
There are so many variables, including presenters, actors, multiple locations, sweeping helicopter shots and props. OK so you probably don’t need sweeping helicopter shots for your short internal video but you do need to consider lots of other aspects, all of which will affect the shooting day and the overall video.
Let’s consider a scenario of producing a short video with a senior manager wishing to communicate to staff internally. Senior managers might be confident speaking to an audience as part of a presentation, often with visual aids, but speaking into a camera lens for most people is an alien experience. Aside from politicians and professional television presenters, it’s quite a skill to deliver a message to a camera – especially in a single take.
There are some techniques that the video director and camera operator can help you with. By varying the size of the shot, e.g. shooting a close up shot on the face and then a wider shot showing the person from the waist upwards, this can enable a sequence to be cut together. This will allow the senior manager to concentrate on delivering their words in ‘sections’.
Alternatively, an autocue could be used, allowing the senior manager to read from a script that is projected onto glass in front of the camera lens. Whichever way you do it, you need to plan what you want to say in advance. The risk of ‘winging it’ on the day is that the video editor will have lots of footage to wade through and in cutting together sections there might be intonations in the voice which will make for a ‘clunky’ or non-smooth video.
If you decide your video involves the need for overlay shots to illustrate what is being said, a script will help determine the schedule of the day. This is important because most camera crews and video production agencies will be billing you on the basis of a day rate, so you want to ensure your schedule is realistic and efficient – if there are multiple people and locations involved make sure you’ve planned everything and allow a little contingency time.
If you know it’s going to be a long day think about the basic needs of the people involved; talent and crew will expect someone to have considered how they access their lunch and refreshments. Remember it might be an exciting day away from your traditional desk-based work but for professional presenters and television crews this is a standard working day.
Once you’ve got some experience in video production you will soon realise how people talking on camera is vastly different from preparing some quotes for a press release. Not only does body language and the way in which words are conveyed have an impact but you will notice how, as humans, we will occasionally use ummms and errrs in our onscreen delivery.
An experienced video director will know what is acceptable and what might require another take – crucially you need to ensure you’ve covered off all the on screen messages you need and you are happy with what has been said, and how it has been said. There might be scope to enhance the impression of a person in the edit suite but you can’t rely on this – editing video is not like editing the words in a press release.
If you don’t film it on the day you won’t be able to use it in the edit. That said, an experienced video director will not overshoot, because they will have a plan of what they actually need to make your video work.