making vzaar videosOver the last year or so we’ve been on a bit of a quest to learn more about how to make business videos that work. And we’ve tried to share that with you all via our various blog posts.

I thought this week, I’d pull all those various tips, tricks and bits of advice into one post. So here is your go to guide to the video production lessons we’ve learned the hard way – so you shouldn’t have to!

1. Get The Brief Right

If you’re using a video production agency then it’s really, really important that you brief them properly. Both parties should be crystal clear on what type of video you need for your business – that way there’s no surprises when the end product comes through. We chatted with video pros TNR Communications on this back in October; they told us there’s 7 questions your brief should answer.

      1. What’s your video objective?
      2. How much video budget do you have?
      3. Who is your target audience?
      4. Where will the video be filmed?
      5. Who will be in your video?
      6. When is your deadline?
    7. Do you have any stock footage to use?

Answer those questions and you’ll have a pretty decent brief from which to create a business video that will meet your goals.

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How To Brief A Video Production Company (Properly!)

2. Planning is Everything

Planning Your Business Video

When you’ve got a great idea for a video often it can be tempted to just do it. Don’t. You’ll wind up reshooting sections because you haven’t got the footage you expected. We use a 4 stage plan that works pretty well for us:

      1. Conceptualise
      2. Test
      3. Take a break
    4. Reassess

Essentially, you need to brainstorm some ideas and ask a few key critical questions (do I have the budget for this, is this relevant to my audience…), test the concept, give your brain a chance to digest and rest, and then reassess your plan with a fresh pair of eyes. Rinse and repeat this as many times as it takes until you’ve got a video plan that you’re satisfied with.

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3. Collaborate Early

Really, this falls into the planning section of your video campaign. But it’s important so I wanted to pull it out into a separate point. Think about all the assets you need for your video. Want some nifty graphics? Tell your designer. Want a colleague to star? Make sure they know about it.

The point is, everyone is busy with their own work. If you need something from them it’s best to make sure they’ve got plenty of notice. That way you’re not springing a job on them right at the last minute. That’s just stressful for everyone. Not cool.

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4. Vary the Visual

A 90 second business video which is just one long take can be pretty boring (not to mention hard to pull off without your talent fluffing their lines!). Our advice is to vary the visual to keep your viewers interest – especially if you’ve got a longish story to tell.

Video production agency Casual Films shared with us their top tip, “Vary the visual. You could, for example, use hand drawn illustrations which will bring the benefits of animation, without the associated costs of computer generation.

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5. Get A Bit Of B Roll

two camera set up making business videos

Having a two camera set up makes the edit so much easier. It gives you with a bit of extra footage so that you can vary the visual, for a start.

But it’s also great if you find that you have an unusable take. You can just cut to the b-roll until the a-roll can kick in again.

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Making Great Business Videos: The Benefits Of B Roll

6. Video Kit doesn’t have to cost the earth

Making Business Videos - Using Light Reflector

One thing we’ve struggled with when filming outdoors is the Great British weather. You may think that to combat poor lighting conditions you need a fancy lighting rig. Not so. You can make your own light reflector fairly easily. You just need a big piece of white card, some tin foil, some sticky tape and voila.

Another great tip is to steady a flimsy tripod by weighting it with a brick on a piece of string. There’s all sorts of little hacks you can try out that mean you don’t need to spend a fortune, and we’re looking forward to experimenting with some more this coming year – so stay tuned for more on that.

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How To: DIY Light Reflector

7. Use Real People

Here at vzaar we always use real team members in our business videos. It lends an air of authenticity and shows the human side of our business. Of course it can be tricky. Not everyone is at home in front of the camera, but there’s a few ways you can help put your talent at ease:

      1. Get them to practice in front of the camera first. Nothing prepares you for being on camera, like being on camera.
      2. If you’re behind the camera make sure you keep smiling. It’s contagious.
    3. Accept mistakes – they happen to everyone. Laugh about it. Make sure they know it’s not a big deal.

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8. Save Time In The Video Edit By Shooting Right

It’s surprising how much footage you’ll amass just for a 90 second video. And come editing time it can be a real nightmare to sift through it all. We save time during the edit by using a few different techniques during the shoot itself:

      1. Tails on takes give you a bit of room to play with.
      2. Mark a good take with hand swipe in front of the lens so you can find it again easily.
    3. Clap to mark audio to help you sync the audio by providing a big peak to work from.

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9. Shoot More Than You Need

It’s a lot easier to shoot extra footage while you’ve got the camera set up and everyone you need is in the room. It’s better to have too much to play with, rather than find out later you need an extra shot and have to set everything up all over again.

We’ve found this holds particularly true whenever we try to inject humour into our videos. What’s funny on paper isn’t always funny in real life. It’s better to film a few different alternatives so you can work out what works best for your particular business objectives.

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Our Video Mistakes (And How We Fixed ‘Em)

10. Video Retrospective

Making great business videos means you need to be constantly improving and thinking critically. Always, always look back on what you did. All of the insights listed here have come from taking the time to analyse our processes. In fact we’ve started to share a lot of that process with you in our video retrospective blog posts. Making notes during all stages of your video process is a good habit to get into. That way you can look back through and question why you did what you did, and whether you can improve on anything next time.

Because of these video retrospectives, we’ve made lots of changes in the past year. For example, we:

      1. Bought a second camera to allow us to capture B roll
      2. Formalised our planning process
      3. Allowed more time for planning, shooting, editing

As always, we hope that’s useful. We like to share our video making process in the hopes that when we mistakes, it means you don’t have to.