Testimonial-driven Corporate Videos

Too often corporate videos consist of the MD or executives and staff blagging about their own products and services. Nothing wrong with that, and when the people are sincere (and not forced to spout prepared marketing scripts or company ‘talking points’) they can be effective.

On the other hand, when you get the client of your multi-million dollar installation raving about you, you have to ask: “What will interest a potential new client more (and indeed make him or her directly contact you), a company spokesman or a satisfied customer?” And what if you landed on their site and all you found were 4 or 5 videos like this (which is how many we’ve done for Axiom)?

Anyway, I’m posting this really as another example of interviews and interview editing as covered in one of the chapters of Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide . The original interview was about 25 minutes from which I derived this narrative. It may not interest you as it’s rather technical, but for someone in that business, it would be of great interest because a few million bucks is not something you consider lightly.

The following video was directed and produced by Leapfrog Marketing (Alan Myers – 0116 278 7788) in association with The Video Whisperer.

A Good Corporate Video Sample

corporate video

The Lone Shooter: One day shoot, 2 day edit

I think this is a great example of a corporate video combining many of the chapters of Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide including:

  1. Message
  2. Using local talent
  3. Interviews
  4. B roll
  5. Music

The Message

The message is clear by the content of the narrative (which was distilled from about 40 minutes of interview), but also by choice of B roll. Yes, the use of relevant B roll shots is standard in editing this type of interview, but additionally there are shots in there one might not realise are important–unless you are in this business and know what you are looking for. And for those potential business clients, they will have seen what they are looking for: the top tier German machines in use at the plant. That’s why you see their names prominently in some of the shots.

Local Talent

As to local talent, in this case we used the co-managing directors who are brothers.

To my surprise, it was the younger brother (who appears first) who was the most put off by the camera. In fact, in looking at the footage I noticed his head appeared to be physically straining away from the camera as if to get as far away from it as possible. Correspondingly, there was a lot more to edit in his interview (pauses, ums, ahs, stumbles, etc.), all of which is hidden under the B roll. The end message of the video, however is carried entirely by him. And there’s a reason for that: He was asked the magic interview question at the end. I pointed out that they had a very successful and growing business in a niche market and that they had been at it for a very long time, growing all along the way. “So”, I asked him, “What makes you get up in the morning? What is your passion for this business?” (or words to that effect). His response is entirely uncut. I let it roll even despite a few long pauses because it was so obvious that he was completely sincere. And his message was in perfect alignment with the message of the video in its whole.  Who wouldn’t then want to do business with this guy?

B roll

It might appear, in some cases, that the B roll was shot after the interview to fit so nicely with a few bits that were being said, but no. It was all shot first. But I shot so much that I was able to fit shots very nicely to what was being said as if I had shot it afterwards or to a script.

Music

I must have spend an hour and 1/2 looking for a suitable piece of music for this video. Thanks to the search parameters of Audio Jungle (and now Audio Blocks) which allowed me to search for a pretty exact length, I was able to preview dozens of potential fits. Then I found this one. To my absolute amazement, I laid it down and didn’t have to do a thing to it. No editing. No adjusting. It’s entirely uncut. It fits the beginning and end titles, and, if you listen carefully, it even does several things along the way that would convince you that it was scored specifically for this video.

I liked this music so much that when I was editing a promo video for my sculptor wife I had it in the back of my head to see if it would work. Turns out the same thing happened. It just dropped right in as if it was written for that video too. That’s one magical piece of music.

Other Notes

It was a one day shoot and two day edit.

For those interested, it was shot on the Sony PXW X70 in AVCHD mode.

The interview lighting was done with 2 LED Flexlites which I reviewed in this blog. The ‘kick’ you see on the side of their faces would appear to be from the background windows, but was actually created by one of the Flexlites dialed way down. The frontal fill was another Flexlite opposite the backlight. Fill was simply ambient light in the room with the intensity of the key light being set to achieve a 2 1/2:1 contrast ratio with the ambient fill.

Edited on FCPX. Color balanced with Color Finale.

Oh, and did anyone notice I added the sky, clouds and sunbeams to the opening shot? (it was a lousy day in Leicester that day)

The following video was directed and produced by Leapfrog Marketing (Alan Myers – 0116 278 7788) in association with The Video Whisperer.

And just for a bit of fun, here’s the video I did for my wife with the same music:

Getting Marketing Mileage out of Seminar, Workshop or Training Video

I recently covered a 90 minute seminar by a Lettings Specialist who has come up with an innovative, sensible and effective approach to get landlords to switch lettings agents. It’s all rather obtuse unless you’re in that industry, but in short lettings agents want more and more properties to manage and properties are owned by landlords. Landlords presumably (unless they’re brand new) already have agents representing their properties. So why change? You have a bank. Can you be bothered to change banks if another comes along touting their services? No. –and that’s the conundrum all lettings agents face.

Anyway it was a fascinating seminar. I covered the whole thing with two cameras, one locked off and one hand-held. I then broke it down into 9 parts which the client will release one by one.

I knew he wanted at least one testimonial video in addition to the whole series, but I saw the potential to produce a couple more ‘teaser’ videos to promote the series in addition to the testimonials video.

This is an example of taking some interesting bits out of a long seminar–or similar event–and producing a video that can be used to promote it. It’s short enough to watch ( a 9 or 10 minute video might put one off in terms of time), and if it contains the ‘go buttons’ (the sort of thing that the guy is interested in), he’ll then want to watch the series.

The main point is, it’s really easy and fast to put together and is a great marketing tool for the client. In this case, it was more than he asked for (I did a couple of these covering different aspects of the seminar in addition to the one he asked for–which was a video with testimonials). In all I gave him 3 different videos to promote his seminar series instead of 1. And I didn’t fleece him either. In fact, having done work with him before, he was so impressed with the result and confident in me, he didn’t even ask for a quote for the job. He knew I’d be fair and would produce a good result. In return, I always give him better value for the money–all of which leads to certain repeat business.

Anyway, here’s one of the ‘teaser videos’ I pulled from the material  followed by the testimonial one–both of which achieve the same purpose.

Even if you’re not in this industry, I think you’ll see that these would effectively interest someone who was to watch the video series being referred to.

( I just checked–he’s released the first 4 videos over the last 3 weeks with 1000 views so far.  That’s better than a kick up the bum.)

More Bang for the Buck

I thought I had covered this in the book Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide, but on quick review, it appears that I didn’t.

So here we go.

If you’ve read the book, you know how I go about shooting corporate videos. In short, I do an extensive interview or interviews with the relevant people and then I shoot a lot of B roll of their business. A lot. Then, as a result of being thoroughly indoctrinated into the business (by reason of the interviews–which are usually with the Managing Director, other executives and sometimes staff), I edit the interviews down to a final length of about 3 minutes to forward the marketing message in the best way possible and then cover up the dozens of edits with relevant B roll. The ‘script’ is created from the narrative.

Producing Multiple Videos For Different Purposes (from the same content)

Anyway, in most cases it is quite possible to create multiple videos from the material obtained on a one or two day shoot. They don’t always ask for it, but I always point out that this can be done because I make sure to obtain adequate footage during the shoot day(s) to facilitate multiple videos. I’d do it anyway, because it’s always good to have lots of B roll to choose from, but of course, not all of it will get used.

Probably half the time they think this is a good idea. They’re already spending the money, and it won’t be that much more to get multiple videos for different purposes out of the spend. And that’s good because it can double your income or more, depending on how much they want and what you can do. They’re essentially paying for additional editing time–and frankly, after the initial editing process, the creation of further videos goes much faster as much of the basic work has already been done.

Case in point and the reason for this post…

I recently posted a sample video from a shoot where I said 11 videos were produced. The purpose of that post was to give an example of the interview -style approach I just mentioned above. But this was also an example of the client realising the benefit of obtaining additional video content from the paid shoot days.

I did three different kinds of videos for this client.

1) From his interview I created several different narrative-driven videos about specific top selling products.

2) We created several more videos that were simple demos of these products.

3) I then created an ‘overall’ video for his Home Page or About US page which used music and graphics to get across all the things that they do.

As a note, for the first two types of video I created a template to massively speed up the editing process. When done with one edit, I could simply copy-paste it into a new project, change out the narrative bits, change the wording of the title or graphics, adjust a few shots if necessary and adjust the music to the length of the new video. Also, each of the narrative versions had the same ending (where he talks about branding and ‘UK made’). This is because those different products would never really be seen by the same audience. People will tend to watch the product they are looking for and won’t know several other videos have the same ending. And if they did watch other product videos, so what?

It might be a bit tedious, but I’m going to string all the videos out below. You don’t have to watch them all, but it might be of interest to watch a few to see what I mean about creating a template.

As a note, all 11 edits were approved as submitted with no changes required.

The ‘Interview-driven’ series

 

The ‘Product Demo’ series

 

The ‘Overall’ graphics/music driven summary of the business

Chapter 12 and 16 Supplement

This video is a good example for various aspects of corporate video production in the style described on the book Run ‘n Gun Videography–specifically the use of an interview to produce the narrative script and the selection and editing of stock music to make it appear more as if it was specifically scored for your video.

This was a case study, so was longer than the usual video–meant as part of an information package along with other videos and case studies for PTA UK.

The original interview in this case was 70 minutes long. From that I produced this 6 minute version and another 9 minute version, the difference being the longer one started off talking specifically about how the student body was transformed from incorrigible and low grades to one of the most productive student bodies in all of England.

Because there was a lot of history it required some documentation to be able to cover edits in the interview. All I had for this was a small collection of low quality photographs given to me by the school. I was able to make them work to fit my holes. As to the quality, that will be forgiven by most viewers–if not all– because it is obvious that they are old snap shots documenting parts of the history of the school.

The rest of the many edits done to produce this narrative were covered by my own B roll. Notice how the use of ‘walking shots’ B roll can be used to cover just about anything compared with other B roll shots that were more relevant to what was being said.

This was also one of a very few videos where I used two completely different pieces of music, the first covering the beginning of the video in which the ‘problem’ is discussed, and the second more upbeat piece covering the 2nd half of the video which covers the ‘solution’.

This was shot on the Sony PXW X70 in AVCHD mode and can be watched in 1080 HD.

Corporate Video Sample

This is another sample of utilizing royalty-free music in such a way that it appears to be scored specifically for the video as covered in Chapter 16 Notes on Music.

It is also an example of a different utilization of interview narrative by an end-user (testimonial) covered in Chapter 12 Corporate Shoot-outs. In this case I had 45 minutes of interview which could have been cut into a full description of the production line and all its benefits with further descriptions of how the contractor set up this massive production line while the facility was still in full production on the old line–an impressive feat.

That edit, however, would have been anywhere between 5 and 7 minutes–far longer than needed to get the marketing message across. So I opted to use the narrative as a book-end to the video (a good beginning piece and a good ending piece) with the full production line featured for most of the video using descriptive graphics suggested by me and then modified slightly by the client who loved the approach.

That gave us a 3 minute video which still accomplished it’s purpose for anyone who might be looking to invest in the automation of a large plant.

Notice that it is the choice of music and how it was used in the edit that makes it all work. This was shot on the Sony PXW X70 in AVCHD mode. It is also the first time I used the LED light panels that I will be doing a review on shortly.

The following video was directed and produced by Leapfrog Marketing (Alan Myers – 0116 278 7788) in association with The Video Whisperer.

B Roll, What it is and how it will save your bacon

B roll

First of all, what is it?

For a comprehensive definition and history, here’s the Wiki.

In short, in the early days of linear film editing (and tape editing) of documentaries, interviews or dramatic films, the main scene, master scene or main interview was strung together on one roll of film or tape called the A roll. Wherever that scene was to cut to another shot (a cut away, an insert or simply another scene not from the main scene) the A roll would get a piece of opaque leader and in the corresponding blank spot, the appropriate shot would be synced up on the ‘B roll’, itself separated by opaque leader which corresponded to those parts of the ‘A roll’ that were meant to be seen.

Later it would all be married up. This procedure is what made editing ‘seamless’ (otherwise you’d see constant flashes every time two pieces of film were joined together with editing tape). It also allowed for seamless transitional treatments (such as dissolves, fade to black, etc.)

These days it’s all done on computer—even features shot on film. The film is transferred to video where it is edited and then output back to film. Computer editing programs, of course, are called non-liner editing systems where you can simply drag and drop shots, transitions, effects, etc. with impunity. It’s intrinsically seamless.

Anyway, while B roll retains its original meaning, it has also modernized itself through the magic of Time and Slang.

Today in corporate video work, wedding videos, events we generally mean B roll to be any shot that’s not part of the narrative (such as an interview) or story, such as a scripted film. In film they generally call this ‘coverage’, which means you shoot a bunch of detail shots (the clock on the wall, the leaves blowing on the trees, birds in flight, people walking down the street, etc, ad infinitum) that might come in handy for the editor if he’s in a tight spot. Great film makers with large crews usually plan their films to the nth degree and specify all these things. Even then, smart cameramen shoot more than was asked for even by a detailed script.

In the run and gun category, when you don’t have crew support (assistant directors, script supervisors, etc.) B roll is essential. It will be, in fact, the main pictorial content of your video.

Let’s say you have a 15 minute interview. Or even a 3 minute one (in final edited form).

Who wants to see a talking head for 3 minutes or 15 minutes straight?

More to the point, most interviews of any length have to be edited. How do you cover up the cuts?

B roll.

But the purpose of B roll isn’t just to cover up cuts. Yes, that’s where it can save your bacon when you found yourself forced to do an edit and have absolutely nothing relevant to cover it with. More importantly, B roll should help forward the story of the narrative. It should help forward the overall message of the video. It needs to be relevant to what’s being said.

Let’s say you’re planning a documentary which involves traveling across the United States and stopping in various cities to interview certain people on the same basic set of questions. One thing is for certain. You’re going to interview those people. That’s what you do know. But you’ve never been to these places and have no idea in advance what also should be shot in terms of B roll, so you’re going to ‘wing it’ and hope you’re covered.

Well actually, you already know more than that. You know you’re going to a particular city or town.

Most every city or town has a ‘Welcome to ___’ sign. Shoot it.

Mount your camera on the windshield or handhold it and shoot some traveling shots, highway signs, landmarks and anything of interest as you arrive. You may only wind up using one or two of those shots—or none—, but so what? You’re not doing anything but driving. (let me clarify that: If you’re alone, use a mount. If you’re with someone, have them hold the camera).

Shoot some establishment shots of the town and its landmarks. Long shots, medium shots, close shots, detail shots.

Shoot the bustling downtown–or the vacant one.

Shoot the exterior sign and buildings of the location you’re going to.

You know something else too. You know what the questions are and the subject material to be covered. So shoot stuff in that town that’s relevant to the subjects that will be discussed.

If relevant, shoot the interior of the establishment you’re going to. Not just long shots of interesting rooms, but detail shots of interesting details.

Yea, shoot atmospheric shots of flowers, trees, birds, lakes or whatever is there and may be relevant to what you’re doing.

And if it turns out you need a bird in flight for the Chicago edit and you didn’t shoot one, use the St. Louis bird you shot. Who will know?  It’s called ‘cheating’ and Hollywood has always gotten a kick out of cheating.

If you spend an hour or two on the interview, spend that much or much more on the B roll.

After the interview you may realize you need to shoot something else based on what was discussed.

So shoot that.

You get the idea.

For a video to be interesting, it should not only have interesting narrative or story content, it should also be rich in story-telling pictures (footage). You won’t use a fraction of what you shoot, but you will have so much latitude in editing for having shot it that you will be free to make a great video no matter the headaches you may have endured during the interview itself.

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