Have you ever needed to create a video? Then why not do it by yourself? Be bold, and try out some tips in this blog article. You may end up surprising someone! You can also use these tips for private video production. It may take a while to master it, but I nevertheless encourage you to start now. In my exciting video journey at the SAP Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC), I learnt a few handy tricks that I would like to share with you. It’s not targeted at professionals, but rather for people who are looking to get started, and don’t want to waste time making mistakes.
My name is Thomas Biedermann, and I work as a Senior Strategic Design Consultant at SAP. My daily business is targeted towards helping customers like Mercedes-AMG and Coca-Cola Hellenic develop user experiences that are not only pleasing to the user, but also enables them to forget about the software they are using. To achieve this, we used the Design Thinking method and, based on our excellent customer feedback, we proved that we are able to bring design into companies, and support them in achieving first-class results.
You may be asking yourself why a user experience design specialist is writing a blog about video creation. Well, here’s why. It was about three years ago that the DCC team discovered a need to create videos, and, at that time, I was the person with the most experience in this field. Of course, being the “most experienced” doesn’t make you an expert. I’d accumulated my basic knowledge during my student days in the 90’s working in a classic video studio, and from editing my own 3D rendered movies with Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects. Because I was the only one with these specific skills, it was down to me to care of the video production. We wanted to incorporate videos to generate awareness about our projects, and, in order to do that, we began to share customer references, and show the world exactly how we work. We were in agreement that videos are a more impressive medium than simple written formats, so for us it was an obvious choice. That was how the journey started, and in the last three years I have been able to refine my skills, and hone my knowledge on video production.
Take a look at my latest video relating to a co-innovation project with Mercedes-AMG (car fanatics won’t be disappointed…): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq9bV3paMAs
In all professions, experience is an integral part of the creative process, and distractions can lead to small mistakes that can have drastic consequences. In the video production process, it’s important to take care, and not let yourself become overwhelmed by the amount of details. This list is intended to help you to focus on the important stuff, and not let the challenges of video production intimidate you. Inevitably, it’s difficult to consolidate all tips into one short list, but I am confident it will be helpful, and can be expanded through your own experiences. Stay focused on the top priorities, and avail yourself to new knowledge during your own video production. In no time you’ll have your own star of fame in the office…
1. Things to Think About Upfront
When it comes to starting a project, it’s important to talk to your customer, and draw up a written briefing. Very often the client will only have a vague idea about what they want to say (or sell), especially in a company environment. During this session, the client will come to think more about this video than ever before. This is an important part, as the client gains an understanding about the complexity, and you gain insights about the needs of your client (even if it is your boss). During this talk, initial ideas will often appear in your mind. The briefing should address the following information:
- Project Title
Talking about the title is a great way to work out the essence of the video.
- Goal of the video
Define how you want the viewer to react or respond to the video (e.g. click a link, have greater interest in your service etc.)
- Length estimation
Discuss the length of the video that you have in mind. Although bear in mind that sticking to a pre-defined length estimation is often very difficult.
- Basic Facts
Define the language, broadcasting countries, and specific target group.
- Initial story ideas
I recommend having a relaxed and informal chat about how the story should be told. This will help initial ideas to flow regarding the video’s style (comical, educational, documentary etc.).
Give your client a rough cost estimate for the video. As a beginner, estimations can be tricky, and it’s important that you seek the right advice for this. I recommend that you constantly maintain a detailed timesheet of your project.
- Publishing Media
(TV, cinema, internet) Check out the most popular video platforms: youtube.com, vimeo.com, flickr.com, dailymotion.com, myspace.com
2. The Power of Storytelling
It may sound obvious, but it’s not always easy to develop a compelling story; one which connects with the audience, pulls the viewer inside, and can sustain a high level of interest. By focusing on the story first, you’re taking an important step, for it’s not the storyboard that should come first, but the story itself. What do you want your video to say? What is the message you want to transfer? There are various techniques about how to do this. Some helpful links are listed below:
- An inspiring video about storytelling – The Hero’s Journey:
- Prezi – Carmine Gallo, the Storyteller’s Secret:
- Take a look at the Puma by Dan Roam:
- Simon Cade’s blog offers many tips about filmmaking:
Also check out his other videos:
3. A Collaborative and Essential Tool: The Storyboard
After you’ve developed your story, then it’s time to create a storyboard. A storyboard is a series of frames, and a very helpful tool that helps you better plan and shape your video. It should be a living document, and adapted to your needs. I initially tried out several different templates from the internet, but I eventually created my own template, which I modify from video to video depending on the information I want to work on and what I want to share with others. The storyboard is the basic document that you can show to shareholders, receive approval, and tell the story to others. Take a look at the storyboard I created for the Mercedes-AMG video.
- Scene length:
Try to simulate the length of a scene by simply reading the text in your scenes out loud. If you record it, you can use it in your rough cut later. I’m very often surprised how long a single sentence can be. If you don’t follow this tip, you may be surprised at the video’s final length 😉
- Sound and text:
Fill in all the audio information you have collected, whether it’s sound, music or spoken text.
A picture tells more than thousand words. Add whatever you need to visualize. You can start with basic scribbles and end with screenshots of existing scenes.
The last row on a scene is reserved for comments, where anyone reviewing the storyboard can add ideas, questions or feedback.
4. Setting the Tone
Music is a very helpful tool that directly connects to human emotions. It’s not always easy to find a suitable song, but it’s certainly worth investing the time to research. Music can influence your video more than you think. If you find time, experiment with contrasting music styles, and you will be surprised at the intensity this brings to your video. Try to determine the music right from the initial rough cutting, as it will serve as an important influence in the later cutting process. Just imagine using a symphony orchestra instead of a rock band. Otherwise, it will be a lot of work to change it at a later stage. It’s also necessary to consider the legal aspects, such as licenses. It’s a painstaking but necessary part of the process. Whilst some providers will tell you that their music is free, most of the time it isn’t. Sometimes you have to add a link or add a name in the video credits, sometimes you have to pay whatever the case. Even some songs from the YouTube Audio library require a name attribution. Every single song and every single sound you pull from the web has to be verified, not only to promote the author, but also to protect you from possible legal consequences.
The web is full of resources, but the following pages helped me to find affordable music and sound:
- Pond 5: http://www.pond5.com/royalty-free-music
- Jamendo: https://licensing.jamendo.com/en/catalog
- Premiumbeat: http://www.premiumbeat.com
- Freesound: http://www.freesound.org
- Freemusicarchive: http://www.freemusicarchive.org
- Audiojungle: http://www.audiojungle.net
- Marmosetmusic: http://www.marmosetmusic.com
- Musopen: http://www.musopen.org
5. Make Use of Your Corporate Eco-System
owadays there are unlimited possibilities to market your video. To reach a bigger audience, you can extend the scope of your video by embedding it within a bigger marketing campaign, or by writing a blog about the topic and including the video. The list below provides you with more examples about how to market your video:
- Personal mails
Sending direct mails is an effective way to promote your video. Be mindful to choose your contacts wisely, and only send it to people interested in that topic. Don’t send unnecessary spam emails.
- Facebook campaigns
Facebook campaigns can be extremely powerful. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?
- Corporate Blogs
Publish your blog article on various blogging platforms such as medium.com, wordpress.com or tumblr.com. Also check if your company has its own blog space. Use these channels to promote your video. Blog articles give you the opportunity to include additional information that didn’t fit in the video.
- Corporate News Get in contact with your company’s marketing department, and ask for their assistance. It is worth consulting the right people during the preparation phase so they can find space to include your video.
- Platforms Big internet platforms such as reddit.com, one of the most renown websites in the world (542 million visitors monthly), can be tremendously effective in increasing the awareness of your content. This is the place where many viral videos begin.
6. Good Planning Is Half the Work
Effective planning can save time, money, and your nerves! Here are some tips to prevent you getting into trouble:
Every person featuring in your video owns the rights to their own picture. Their agreement is a necessary requirement, and the best way to settle this is for all participants to sign a consent release form. There are other factors to consider if children feature in your video.
In corporate videos, people often talk about cooperating with other companies. This relationship also needs putting in writing. More often than not, you can contact the marketing department directly, and they will help you with required release forms.
- Public Space
If you film in public spaces, be sure to check that this is permitted, and carry your consent forms with you. Particularly in non-democratic countries, the consequences can be severe if you ignore this rule.
- Filming Area
To prevent the film from being distracted by the public, I recommend that you cordon off the filming location. This will make people aware of the situation, and keep them away from the set. I also suggest you use some “Please be quiet!” signs to reduce background noise.
- People’s needs
People involved are the most important asset of your video, so don’t forget to think about their needs. Remember to bring some food and drink for the team, keep an eye on the weather, and maybe think about how they can spend their waiting time. At the end of the video production I often like to give some kind of thank-you gifts. It is a joy to see how appreciative people are if you honor their time.
- Check Equipment
Before you leave for production, always check your equipment. It is important to do this upfront so you have the chance replace missing material. Always bring a few extra extension cables. You won’t believe how hard it is to find enough power plugs within reach! Remember to charge all batteries before the production. It may seem obvious, but devices running out of power happens time and time again. So make a checklist and add this one to the top.
7. Show Respect
Please consider the needs all of your viewers by providing subtitles.Don’t rely on the ones YouTube creates automatically. If you check videos on YouTube, you will see that many have automatic subtitles, although often the quality leaves a lot to be desired. This is owing to the fact that YouTube uses automatic translation software, which does not always guarantee good results. The automatic translation has error rates from 5%-40%. One solution could be to simply delete all automatic subtitles, but this would leave a lot of people across the world at a disadvantage. The better option is to write and upload your own subtitles, and a simple search will lead you to appropriate software packages. Here is a good website with some hints about subtitles: http://www.engagemedia.org/blog/best-practices-for-online-subtitling
8. Choose Your Style
Think about the style you’d like to use at an early stage of your video production. The style of the video is crucial, as it serves as a strong additional communication dimension to convey different moods. Given that style has a major cost implication – just think of complex animated 3D illustrations – it is necessary to plan this in the first phase and include it in your storyboard. Here are some examples of different techniques and styles. I encourage you to now take a break, get some popcorn and lean back 😉
Way out: https://vimeo.com/116099110
An object at rest: https://vimeo.com/126177413
Science of Persuasion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFdCzN7RYbw
Unmasking a Killer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7kz60He-Jo
All about Migration in Switzerland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9stl3r3ij4
Lily & the Snowman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qehqv13PJwI
L3.0 (2014)A: https://vimeo.com/105329112
The reinvention of Normal: https://vimeo.com/123602803
9. Narration is an Art Form
A professional speaker can lift your video to new heights, and relate to how people feel while watching. They know where to pause and where to accentuate, which creates an emotional connection between the message that is being transferred and the audience. Don’t hesitate to invest in a professional speaker, even though you might think that yours would work just as well! When you hire a professional speaker, they will typically work in a professional sound studio with state of the art technology. This avoids the difficulty of you having to record it on your own. If you add up all the time needed to record the audio, add the editing time, and finally still have a semi-professional result, it often ends up being most costly than hiring a professional.
10. Don’t Waste Your Time, Use Existing Content
If you create a movie in cooperation with a customer, check if they have pre-existing footage available. Existing footage can save you a lot of time. Most of the bigger companies offer free footage for you to use. For SAP, check this site: https://www.sap-tv.com/stockfootage/ Especially if you have interviews in your video, B-Roll material helps you to avoid the so called “talking heads” problem. This occurs when you show a lot of people in your video; even if the content is interesting, it can become quite mundane to watch people talking for a long time. To get round this, it is good to shoot with two cameras, change the angle during the interview, and add B-Roll material during the dialogue. It is important to choose footage that fits the content of the interview. Besides that, I recommend that you observe how professional videographers shoot company footage, and you can adapt their approach and style to create footage for your company.
11. Money, Money, Money…
Without the necessary experience, it is virtually impossible to correctly estimate how much creating a video will cost. Try to get a feeling about the work you put into a video. Soon you will understand that creating a good video is not a small project that is finished in a couple of days. My experience tells me that everybody starting with video creation (includes myself) underestimates the amount of work involved. If you take into account everything you’ve read above, creating a professional video is very time consuming, and it is easy to overlook this during the process. The only tip I can give you is to track the time of all involved people, and summarize it after the video is published. Don’t forget that your time, as well as the time of colleagues who are supporting you, is also a cost factor for your company. With every video you gain more experience and your cost-benefit ratio will change from unprofitable to valuable. I simply encourage you to start and always have a look at this blog. Don’t forget to share your feedback about your experiences 😉
12. Some Thoughts…
This blog is becoming pretty long despite my efforts to keep it as short as possible. At the end, I have a few more tips for you.
– When it comes to clothing, avoid busy patterns or small plaids, stripes and checks. I’m sure you’ll have seen this kind of flickering on a TV.
– Avoid very bright or dark clothes. Instead stick to wearing ivory, gray or muted pastels.
– Shiny fabrics or jewelry can cause reflections on the camera.
– Velvet and velour fabrics will lead to details looking muddy.
– Wear neckties that are solid or have simple patterns.
– To provide a good place to clip a microphone, wear a jacket or a shirt with a lapel.
– If you are filming on green screen, green clothing and objects are a no-go. This may sound obvious, but it is easy to forget. The same goes for chrome surfaces that you often have in chairs. If you forget this, it will give you a headache in the post-production.
– Do white balancing.
– Control filmed material as soon as possible.
– Check the sound or voice recording regularly.
- Release on Video Platforms
– Create a preview image that fits best to your message.
– Write a summary description to support search and information for your video.
– Thumbnail selection or creation
– Add a call to action to the description of the video.
Picture by: https://www.pexels.com/u/donaldtong94/
To create a great video, it is good to follow these tips, but it’s always a balancing act between effort and impact. As is often the case in life, experience will inform you of the best possible path for your project. I’m pretty sure that there are different opinions how to tackle the production of a video. But I found that these topics helped me to get better, faster and more comfortable doing it. So if you need support or you would like to chat a bit, feel free to contact me: email@example.com.
With that in mind I want to share with you an unknown quote that I particularly like, and something for you to keep in mind: “The more precisely you plan, the harder destiny hits you.” Remember that failure is part of living, so embrace it.
This article is also posted on Medium:
Creating videos for business related ideas is one perfect method to get your service or products be known well when advertise. However, creating videos is not only a matter of virtual expertise or materials and props you use. One does matters all is how you give life to your video by using voice over presenter. Sometimes, voice is more attracting than of the video frame that moves. Your voice actor should be one that perfectly fit for your campaign and it should be one that provides more affectionate and comprehensive voice overs.
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