Part 1 – Planning Information
Business Video Production
What to Ask & Look For When Selecting a Video Production Company
Part 1 – Planning Information:
In this PART 1 of the process of selecting a video company, we are going to explain some of the “INFORMATION YOU SHOULD HAVE“ when making the call to a video company when thinking of doing a Business Video Production. In subsequent parts, we’ll get into what “information you should know when planning a presentation recording”, “a training video”, “a trade show video” and several other types of video for business projects. We’ll also cover what you need to know and “ask about the video production company you are contacting”.
We’ve found that often when a company calls or looks to meet with us looking for “Business Video Production” or as it is often called “Corporate Video Production”, a lot of times they’ve never been involved with the video production process and aren’t quite sure what to ask or how to go about getting the answers they need. More often than not they haven’t really thought out what they want the video to do for them and what should be in it. We try to help people like this by leading them through a series of questions and giving information designed to crystalize their thoughts. We try to make the process as easy to understand and stress free as possible.
Hopefully information we are providing in this blog will help.
With all the videos people see on Youtube some think that the way it works is that you show up, shoot and then magically a video is created. This can happen for some types of video projects but for business video to be successful it requires a lot of planning first and throughout the process.
There are THREE PHASES OF VIDEO PRODUCTION; pre-production, production and post-production and they can and will differ depending on the type project that you want. This link will give more information.
Any legitimate, experienced company you call will want to ask you questions about your project. If they don’t and just say, “OK, we’ll show up and shoot your job”, that should raise a big red flag.
The same warning signal applies if they can give you a price without knowing the details of your needs. Invariably when this happens, they won’t be able to do the job or there will be more charges later.
Doing a business video project is like doing any other business project in that you need to first decide what you want to do and then gather information and plan how to accomplish your goal. We start by asking people who call questions to learn about what is needed:
Questions We Ask
We start by asking a client why do they want a video?
Hopefully this will uncover a reason where the video will satisfy some need. It could be that they need to show viewers why their product or service is better than the competition, publicize what they do or train on something where they want the best practices taught in a correct, repeatable message. More often than not today it is because a company needs to use video to explain something for marketing purposes on their website. They recognize that video gives them tremendous return with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value and can get their message to millions of people.
Sometimes it is to satisfy a requirement that is mandated on them. An example of this is that in certain states when operating equipment is installed in buildings, the equipment manufacturer/installer must provide a training video as part of the bid. Knowing the reason will shape the direction the video will take. So using our state requirement example, whatever is done must conform to the structure and directives that state gives and anything else is a waste of time and money. If we didn’t know the reason it would be easy to go down the wrong path.
Also in this section we’ll ask, how they want the video delivered to viewers. A video made for a TV Commercial which is limited to under 30 seconds and has to deal with broadcast specifications is different than a video which is designed to be on a website where the exact length isn’t as critical.
Who is the audience?
Different demographics require different treatments. If the target is a spanish speaking segment, then a video in english wouldn’t make much sense. If it is a certain category of workers, then the video needs to target what is important and use the jargon familiar to convey to that category. If it is to appeal to a customer base, it usually needs to be structured to give them either an appeal and reason to buy or information they need to use.
What do you want the viewer to do after watching?
This is extremely important because the entire video has to be directed at this goal. If it is a sales video, we need to make the appeal to buy attractive and something they feel will really solve a need they have. If it is for training, we need to be certain it is designed to train and that we insert training theory such as repetition and summary throughout.
What collateral material do you have?
If a company has a particular image with graphics branding that usually needs to be maintained. If they have successful marketing material that they feel can be used, we want to try to use it. If it is for training and they have practices they want us to develop into a script we need that. If they have other videos they want to match in style, we need to know that. If they have an outline or rough script, we can start with that. If they have a PowerPoint presentation, that is often a start. Sometimes there will be specific company people, customer testimonials, company locations or subject matter experts that need to be worked in. Going back to our state requirement example; we might need blueprints of the site and operation and maintenance manuals to develop a script.
Often in this questioning vein, we’ll ask the caller “what makes you different from your competition” or “why do your customers say they like your company/product” hoping to uncover what their competitive advantage really is. If they don’t know the answer, we’ll ask them to ask their customers.
All this material and ideas gives a sense of the direction and what the video can be.
What is your budget range?
After we’ve gotten all this information above we can determine if the budget range the client wants is reasonable and discuss what can and perhaps can’t be done for their budget. We can work with any budget large or small and what we ultimately design will be dictated by the budget.
I can’t tell you the number of calls we’ve gotten where people who really don’t know what is involved want months worth of work by multiple people and the use of hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment for a few hundred dollars. In their defense, they’ve never been involved before and have no familiarity with the process so we try to help them understand. A video project is variable like choosing a car with the many brands and options available. Depending on what goes into it, the cost will vary. A web commercial can require a half day of shooting by a 2 person crew and a portion of a day of editing and only be around $1000 or it could require, a month of scripting, multiple locations, multiple shooting days, a 3 member video crew, a full 3 member lighting crew with a truck of equipment, a teleprompter and operator, a makeup technician, multiple cameras, a green screen studio, etc. Of course with the added resources, the latter project will cost more.
Part 2 – Recording Presentations:
In this part 2 section on Business Video Production we are going to discuss WHAT GOES INTO PRESENTATION RECORDING and the steps you can take to get the best results.
Have you ever watched a recording someone made of a speaker which came out yellow, grainy and with audio you could barely understand that sounded like it was recorded in a cave? How about a video of a presenter that has more of the audience heads in view than the speaker, or the speaker is a washed out head in the distance you can barely see?
I’ve just described the results you can be stuck with unless you prepare before the presentation.
Here are some of the items that need to be addressed:
Coordination with the Venue
The key to success is pre-planning coordination with the venue or event planner when planning the setup. They have to know your shooter is coming and what is needed. In most cases, you’ll need to get permission to have a presentation shot. In some hotels there are also union rules that have to be adhered to. You’ll also need to have the AV or Event Planner’s contact information for your video production company to make arrangements with. If there are PowerPoint or similar presentations, you’ll need to plan so that the screens aren’t in the same area as the speaker. Your video production company will need an audio feed and often AC power. Additionally, where the camera will be placed needs to be thought out so that it is close enough to the action with a good angle, usually with the speaker speaking at a slight angle facing the camera.
For lighting, the first choice is to keep the room lights up. Professional cameras are amazingly light sensitive and can adjust so that the speaker is reasonably bright and not yellowish. Though the results won’t be perfect and will be somewhat monochromatic, in many cases, particularly smaller rooms or when limited setup time is available, this is all you’ll need or can do. In these cases, your speaker has to have direction on where they can stand for the best results. Obviously walking or standing in front of a projection screen won’t work.
If you want it to look better you can usually order lighting through the conference facility, if not your video production company can light the stage. If your speaker is directed to stand in one spot such as a podium, it is easier to light than if they wander the stage. If they wander, you might want what is called a “stage wash” which is lighting covering the whole stage evenly and if ceiling mounted lights aren’t available, a truss might be needed. If your speaker can stay in a certain area, lights on stands will do an adequate job though could be distracting to your audience. To look really professional you’ll want back-lighting also. Bear in mind that lighting needs to be setup and tested before hand and requires time and money, sometimes an extra day or evening before the presentation. When we setup and shoot, we bring a separate monitor so that we don’t have to rely on a camera viewfinder to get the right color balance, balanced lighting and to focus.
Often for presentations people forget that what is behind the speaker is what is going to be behind the speaker on the video. If a projector screen is behind the speaker you know that won’t work and has to be moved but how about an ugly doorway or a fire extinguisher in the shot? Pre-planning and even a location scouting visit can address the need for drapes in back or some speaker consistent signage. Most presentation venues can provide risers to create a stage and get your speaker above the audience. When we shoot we either get a similar riser in back or bring a portable riser we have to elevate the camera.
We spoke about that voice in a cave sound and that is what it will sound like unless your videographer connects his camera to the sound system or puts a separate wireless mic on the speaker. If multiple people will be speaking it is usually best to connect to the house system which is part of coordination as addressed in “Coordination with the Venue”. When we coordinate with the AV people we ask for an XLR cable at either mic or line level and connect that to a portable audio mixer we bring so that we have some control over what is fed us. If needed your video production company can usually care for all audio requirements if allowable by the venue.
Video of the audience
It is helpful to have footage of the audience that can be used for transitions of the speaker and reaction shots when the presentation is edited. We normally shoot short segments of such footage at no cost with a separate camera but if you want a second camera full-time recording, that is an option with us and most video production companies.
Getting You the Footage
OK, now the presentation is shot but what to do with the footage. We and most video production companies today record on solid state media and after the presentation can transfer your footage to a laptop you bring at no charge or put it on a hard drive or memory stick we can sell you.
Recording PowerPoint or Similar, Group Recording and Other Options – PART 3
Up until this point what we’ve described is recording a speaker. If that is all you want, you are done. However if you want the PPT included either live or in subsequent editing to be part of a finished product then more options are needed.
What about recording directly to a DVD you can take with you?
If you want to record a focus group or meeting with many people trying to talk at once, we have set ups for that we will describe. And if you want multiple cameras, the PPT and everything else included and streamed live, those are other options all of which will be described in PART 3 of this series.
Part 3 – Presentation Recording Options:
In Part 2 of this series on Business Video Production we spoke about planning to record a presentation and the importance of pre-planning, plus many of the variables you will run across and need to address. Part 3 takes this a step further by explaining some of the options and choices you have for recording more than just the speaker at the presentation such as the PowerPoint, Interviews and Shots of the Event. Our company, Aardvark Video, has been recording presentations for years and we are happy to share what can be important in your planning.
These are options you’ll want to discuss and decide on with your video production company when planning a presentation recording.
Very often a speaker has a PowerPoint (PPT) or similar graphics on screen to reinforce what they are saying. Without this, often what the presenter is saying is an incomplete story. The speaker might say something like “it is evident from this slide, etc.” and unless you can see the slide, it won’t make sense. Bottom line, you likely will want to include the PPT either with a live recording or later in editing.
Many companies handle this by during subsequent editing adding the PPT slides. This requires exporting the slides as images in PPT. Depending on the version of PPT you have, it might be as simple as using “save as” and choosing one of the image options. You can export individual images or the whole presentation. This works very well for slides that don’t have a lot of transitions or builds and particularly well if they are static on the screen for long intervals. It also helps if the presentation is easy to match voice to slides. You’ll need to sync up what is being said to the slides. A simple way to do this is during the presentation, have your video production company use a camera recording the sound, pointing at the screen and used as a guide during editing.
Though effective for many presentations the edit won’t capture PPT transitions, builds or anything else happening live on the screen. Additionally, if there is internet connectivity going on during the presentation, it will be nearly impossible to duplicate. Taking editing complexity a step further, instead of exporting slides, Camtasia or a similar screen capture application can be used in subsequent editing to capture a PPT presentation played back and synced to the voice/presentation captured with your screen camera. This isn’t ideal because it is a lot of work and expense to edit and still doesn’t address capturing some of what went on on screen.
Because of these limitations, we don’t recommend either of these options unless the presentation is very simple.
Our recommendation and the way we usually do it is to capture the PPT live by having the AV company staging the event give us a feed of the VGA going to the projector(s). We have equipment that converts this feed to video with audio and captures a high resolution copy of everything going on the screen including emphasis provided by the speaker with his cursor plus any video or internet connectivity shown. In editing you can combine the images or show each separately. You will want to consider this as an option and discuss it with your video production company and the AV people prior to the presentations because arrangements for equipment and testing is needed. Of course this will still require combining the speaker and the presentations later in editing. We provide the final product of this process often as presentations on the web and as DVD packages.
Presenter and Powerpoint (PPT)
Live Recording and Streaming
This is where both the speaker and the PPT are fed to a “video mixer” such as the Tricaster we have and combined as it occurs live. This opens the door for providing the presentation streamed online to more people than can attend the event either free or as a generator of revenue and gives you a finished copy which with limited subsequent editing can be available for viewing on the web or for other distribution. This can include multiple cameras, additional graphics and anything else you want to include as an input. If you plan on streaming, you’ll need to secure high-speed internet connectivity from the venue. If this is your option, advanced planning and testing is needed usually at least a day before the event. Additionally if graphics are to be added, they need to be prepared before the event.
So far we’ve discussed aspects of the presentation recording. However if you want to increase the ROI on having a video crew at the show, there are other things that can be done.
Video of the Venue
If you want to add more pizzazz to what is produced, you can have your video crew shoot shots of signage, audience, the venue itself and anything else going on which can be added to your finished video. You’ll need to cover this with your video production company because it may require additional time, equipment and crew.
If you want to get more utility from the day such as footage to be included for marketing purposes and creation of a marketing video for the presenter or your organization, either an interview area can be set up or your video crew can “wander” to get positive reaction interviews from the audience. You’ll need to cover this with your video production company because it may require additional time, equipment and crew.
Presenter Marketing Video
When there are many people sitting around a table, at a panel table or in the audience you’ll want to be certain that the person speaking is recorded clearly. Often people interrupt each other and go back and forth in dialogue quickly. This is extremely difficult with the standard audio microphones and audio mixers commonly used because it requires an operator who must be quick enough to adjust the level up for the person speaking’s mic and put the audio level down for everyone else. If all mic channels are left with the levels up it introduces a lot of noise. One solution used is to have tabletop omni-directional mics in the center of a table so that when people interrupt each other, they all can be heard. However this leads to noise from all sides of the table instead of just recording the person speaking. The solution we’ve found most effective is to use directional tabletop microphones and an “automatic audio mixer”. If a moderator walks around or stands in front of the group, a wireless mic on that person is used additionally. An “automatic audio mixer”, as the name implies automatically opens the mic channel for the person speaking and lowers the other channels for the other microphones. This tends to record very clear sound. An automatic mixer with multiple directional mics is an option you can pursue if you are planning this type of event. It is an option we recommend when requested to record this type session.
Often for this type of event we also record directly to a DVD Recorder so that the participants have a record to review immediately. A DVD recorder produces DVDs that can be played on any DVD Player. Again this is an option you can discuss if you are planning a live event. The image you see above is a crew at a focus group using an automatic audio mixer and recording directly to DVD.
Video is of course more inclusive than photography. However if you have a need for print resources, it is always best to hire a photographer. Many video companies do this as part of their services and arrangements will need to be made.
Recording at Trade Shows
Written by Richard DePaso
Business Video Production for Trade shows:
In our experiences with business video production, we’ve frequently helped people who are involved with trade shows such as; meeting planners, exhibitors, show organizers, and presenters increase the benefits and ROI of their effort with trade show video projects.
Every meeting planner knows that for any large meeting, implementing a video for business and using audio/visual techniques plays a major role in creating the staging for displaying information during presentations. However, there are other equally important aspects of video production which are sometimes overlooked and omitted from meeting, convention and trade show planning. These aspects give added value and subsequent utility and financial return on what occurs at the event. If your business video production company includes this planning and capability you are doing a more complete job for clients and providing value added and additional revenue for your company. Let’s look at not only the benefits to you but also to your client.
Trade Show Video for Business
If you are a convention planner running a trade show, you know how the revenue stream is fed by exhibitors showing their products and the number of attendees. The lifeblood of sustaining a show is to attract exhibitors. You can tell exhibitors about your show but there is no way for them to see and identify with how it can help them like viewing a professionally produced video for business where they can see, hear, and identify with the experiences and successes of current exhibitors. We recently did four videos for a trade show producer for this purpose. Each one was tailored to match the vibe and customer base of each individual show. The organizers’ sales team that are now able to use these videos as a “tool” are ecstatic with their results attracting new exhibitors.
At every show there are presentations and seminars. A presenter has likely spent months preparing and rehearsing the perfect presentation. After the presentation, a month or even a week down the road, will people remember what was said? Did everyone who should have seen the presentation see it? Once a presentation has been made the value of the content and effort need not end, and it definitely shouldn’t be limited to the people attending. Utilizing a business video production company allows the content to be documented and distributed either with media such as DVDs or put on the web allowing distribution to a much larger universe. Many times the presentations can be live streamed in real time over the web to large audiences who couldn’t attend. If the presentations are part of a paid program such as continuing education, the distributable content such as a DVD set or web access can be value added to the seminar cost and a convenient alternative to note taking, as well as a product which can be sold.
Using Video Production for Exhibitor Publicity
If you are an exhibitor at a show you’ve spent money on your booth, travel, and on your employee accommodations. You are hoping that by exhibiting you are going to get new customers and increased business from current customers as a return on your exhibit investment. Your visitors and current customers can be a valuable source for a business video production, by recording testimonial interviews, getting more publicity on your exhibit, or having your best sales reps do demos on your product or service. The finished product can be used as video for your website, or as other promotional material that allows you to keep generating a return on your booth investment.
Often, even in difficult times as a company, you want to reward your employees or generate morale and team building by sponsoring events such as golf outings, trips and dinners. Having a video production company to record these events is always well received and can be a lot of fun while adding to your goal accomplishments.
There are many more instances where a business video production can add favorably and financially to your venue. Our website can provide you a lot more information and professional examples on how video can help you increase ROI and drive in new business from your involvement at trade shows.