Make your video shoot successful

Recently I responded to an RFP to produce a “virtual plant tour” video. As part of the proposal each team was asked to identify best practices to follow and pitfalls to avoid. Here’s some of what I wrote:

Best Practices

  • Plan well: the videos that are the most successful are the ones that are planned properly. This means using storyboards and shot lists to plan out exactly how each portion of the script will be illustrated.
    Shoot additional b-roll while you’re on site. Today’s viewing audience is used to fast-paced video with many transitions. You never have too much video but it’s easy to end up with not enough.
  • Spend enough money to make the video look good. Your video will be around for a long time. Many of our clients are still using videos that we shot a decade ago. Hiring a cinematographer who knows how to light properly and use equipment that will produce a quality product that will warrant your investment.
  • Shoot in High Definition. Some clients believe it isn’t really necessary but we disagree with you. HD is now the standard – even on YouTube. If you shoot it in another format you immediately label your information as dated. Even when shown in smaller formats it is apparent as HD is a different aspect ratio than standard video.
  • Think small as well as big. YouTube is now the second largest search engine and one of the largest broadcast channels for video in the world. When you plan your big corporate video, think about how you can break it into modules and show them on YouTube. This approach will help you reach a broader audience very quickly. If you don’t have your own YouTube Channel, this would be a good time to set one up.

Biggest pitfalls:

  • Not hiring a professional scriptwriter. Conveying information via the spoken word is different from writing articles or brochures. Including a scriptwriter on the team – someone who is familiar with how to meld words and images in a package that is easy to listen to – makes a huge difference. I know many folks think they can do it themselves but if you’re hiring a camera crew and spending the amount of time necessary to do a video, don’t skimp on the writing.
  • Trying to shoot it yourself. Don’t kid yourself. Your customers can tell when you shoot your own video and they are generally not impressed. Think about the message that it sends: we don’t (or can’t) invest the money in doing this professionally. Flip videos are great but unless you’re going for that Blair Witch Project effect, will backfire.
  • Shooting “from the hip”: if you don’t plan your video shoot it’s easy to end up in the editing suite with not enough footage to illustrate your script.

Video is definitely making a comeback now that the bandwidth exists to watch it online. With some pre-planning and vision, your next video project will be a success that lasts for many years.

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