The A to Z of Film & Video Production

We’ve been working on this one for a while and so we’re very excited to get our A to Z of Film and Video Production launched.

For years we’ve thought it would be really cool to  have a guide to the sometimes crazy conventions and specialised terminology used in our industry. Somewhere our clients could find out everything they need to know about filming, equipment, crew members and techniques.


Cary Grant in a great example of rear projection

Along the way we’ve ended up learning a great deal about some of the most extraordinary scenes ever filmed and the people who worked on them.


Gaffer tape which literally holds the production industry together

Subjects covered include the practical like an explanation of ‘crossing the line’ in interviews, why gaffer tape is so important and the rules about lunchtime on a set to the slightly less useful but nonetheless fascinating like the potted history of the Oscars and a fascinating piece on propaganda.


Stanley Kubrick with his NASA lens. The story of the filming of Barry Lyndon gives a great insight into how exposure works

We’re working on a new batch of articles right now so make sure you check back soon.

Top tips for recording an on-camera interview

A Guide To Filming Interviews

Interviews are a staple of corporate video production. We should know. We’ve produced more than 3000 of them over the last decade. But for new clients there’s often some mystery, misconception and fear about what an interview for camera involves. In this definitive guide we unpick the process to debunk the myths, inform and calm those pre-interview jitters.

When is it best to do a video interview?

Given that there are various options for getting your message across in a corporate video, including animation and b-roll shots with voiceover, is an interview always the best approach? 

Without doubt having a representative of your company on screen provides a human touch, in particular for an About Us style video in which your goal is to convey your company’s ethos or character as well as your services. For viewers a human face on screen makes an otherwise anonymous entity feel more relatable, while with a smaller business it reassures them that there’s actually someone there to fulfil their order. 

An interview with a staff member is perhaps the most effective way to set the tone for the way in which your business operates, giving you control over how you present your company: through what they say; their tone; how they dress; the filming location; and what we might call the overall ‘production values’. High production values lend a glossiness to a video. The interview plays a key part in this, as does the way this material is edited together with other elements such as broll (general supporting shots), graphics (charts, kinetic text), stock footage (stills or video clips that have been purchased) and music. 

While viewers find it comforting to see someone from a business talking about their services, perhaps nothing quite beats a Case Study interview with a client of that business. When a client takes the time to speak on camera to promote a business other than their own, the audience finds this incredibly reassuring, especially if that client hails from a recognisable organisation or brand. Of course, it’s also possible to mix interviews from both company reps and clients in a case study video, with the client giving the praise. 

Interviews might also be the natural choice for conveying a message if the filming takes place at an event or if you’re capturing the thoughts of people on the street. These sorts of interviews are generally called vox-pops and the approach tends to be less formal. With vox-pops the subject is probably standing up (in a more formal interview setting the speaker tends to be seated) background noise is tolerated (though it helps to see what’s creating the noise) and if any lighting used it tends to be rudimentary. This piece is concerned primarily with themore formal interview approach. 

Who should be interviewed?

If you’ve established that a formal interview is the best format, then you will need to decide who appears on camera.

Of course, who you chose as an interviewee will depend on the exact nature of the video, and while it might make sense for the CEO or CFO to share their thoughts, it’s always best to put people in the hot seat who actually enjoy the process of filming and are good at speaking on camera. 

The challenge is to guess who will make a good interviewee if they haven’t tried it before. 

Certainly the presence of a camera can make the most garrulous freeze with uncertainty, while sometimes it’s the quietest colleague who takes to it instantly and finds talking clearly and engagingly a total cinch. If you don’t know who is comfortable on camera, then generally it pays off to chose people who are willing to give it a go.

In terms of the number of speakers you need, if you’re aiming for a 2-3 minute video then 3 contributors is probably the magic number. A two and a half minute video, once you’ve deducted some time for the video front and end cards, is about 130 seconds of interview content. When you allow for 3 spoken words per second – a surprisingly accurate rule of thumb – each of the three interviewees has 130 words in which to make their points. As each speaker is likely to appear in the edited video twice, that boils down to two soundbites of just 65 words – so it pays to feature people who can deliver their thoughts concisely and with some gusto.  

What are the different formats and interview filming styles?

The key formats for interviews – and we’re talking here about formal interviews where you only see the interviewee and not the person asking them questions – are off-camera and to-camera

An off-camera interview is what you typically see in a documentary film: the subject is addressing somebody that the viewer does not see that is sitting next to the camera. 

With an off-camera interview it’s typical to use two cameras to film. The cameras record two different shot sizes, typically a Medium Close-Up or MCU shot (breast bone to inch above head) and a Close-Up or CU shot (which includes the chin and cuts the top of the head in the frame). The CU shot tends to be at a greater angle to the subject that the MCU (ie more side-ish). Having two cameras shots in different sizes and at different angles enables the editor to switch between the two perspectives and to truncate the content in the edit while making it feel like a continuous piece. 

When speaking to-camera the format tends to be less of an interview and more of a spoken address, often with an autocue (also known as a teleprompter). These deliveries are sometimes called Pieces to Camera or PTCs – think a TV documentary presenter addressing the audience directly or a presidential address from the Oval Office. 

If you don’t booked an autocue (an operator with kit costs about £650 plus travel for a 10 hour day), then we’d advise against trying to use cue cards or a tablet prompter app. The way an autocue works is that it sits directly over the camera lens and so the speaker’s eye line remains straight down the barrel. Anything else is going to draw the eye line away from the lens, which is noticeable and distracting. 

One other advantage with an autocue is that if your business services require careful compliance and need to be run by a legal department (in Financial Services, for example), having a pre-approved script is advisable. On the flip side, it does mean someone is going to have to write it! 

Recently what typically would have been an off-camera interview is frequently being shot as a to-camera interview – to give the content a powerful and direct connection to the audience. However, corporate interviewees, unlike trained presenters, can be phased by answering a director’s questions while not looking in their direction and speaking to the lens. It’s also a challenge to answer a question fluently while you are aware of your own reflection in the camera lens that you’re addressing. To help with this set-up a new piece of equipment has been developed. It reflects the face of the interviewer over the lens, so that the interviewee feels like they are looking directly at them and responding to them, and in doing so it also covers the lens and any reflections that might be a distraction to the interviewee. 

Here are a few examples of this sort of product:

http://voxbox.pro/

https://eyedirect.tv/

We’re often asked if there’s anything different we can do with interviews. In truth, there’s a limit to the number of ways you can shoot an interview with the given that you want to clearly see the speaker’s face. However, there are a few ways to mix it up a little.

Instead of using a static second camera, this can be mounted on a track with a dolly or a long slider system. This gives you a second shot with smooth movement that brings production values and energy to the video. However, there will be parts of the shot that cannot be used (when the camera gets to the end of the track or slider and needs to change direction) which limits your options for editing between your two shots. Also, if you have just one operator they will not be able to monitor the static camera whilst also tracking or sliding the b camera. A tracking or sliding shot can also be used as a third shot, perhaps even showing Behind the Scenes (BTS) by including a part of the set or background in the frame. In terms of framing, a tracking shot would typically not be a Close Up (CU) as filming movement on a long lens tends to be less forgiving of any bumps in the movement. 

Shooting an interview against a chroma key screen (which is a particular shade of green or blue) enables you to separate your interviewee from the chroma key and drop in your own background in the edit. If this suits your type of project (for example you want to give the impression of a news studio behind your speaker) then it can be very effective. However, there tends to be a cost implication (about £300) for bringing in a background support system, the chroma key screen itself and the lighting needed to produce a good result. If done badly green screen filming leaves the editor with poor keying options with the result that a halo of green appears around the speaker’s body and in particular their hair. Never a good look. 

Interview filming location

There are plenty of interview filming locations in London that can be hired out by a production company for conducting interviews. Many studios are set up for chroma key filming with a lighting rig already in place for the background. Some studios have an industrial look & feel and corners that can double as an office. On the whole only small, plain studios are totally soundproof, and any other location is likely to be vulnerable to the most disruptive sounds – helicopters, angle-grinders, leaf-blowers and sirens. Of course, it makes sense to chose a location that is likely to be quiet – away from lifts, kitchens and off any flightpaths – but noise pollution is inevitable and so a few retakes are nearly always necessary for sound.  

Given the convenience for the speakers and the cost of hiring a space, it’s probable you’ll be filming interviews in your office. In an office the largest conference room is typically the best bet for interview filming, and it’s likely to have blinds. The production team will want to have control over the light that enters the room, as fluctuations in light levels and direct sunlight coming into the room can be problematic. Where the blinds aren’t effective we often black out the windows. Heavy duty bin bags and gaffer tape aren’t the most glamorous tools in the filmmakers arsenal, but they provide a quick and effective solution. So, while we’re often told ‘we’ve got the best view in London out of our office window’, it’s rare that we would voluntarily feature a window or the view through it in the back of our shot. 

This said, if the view is a part of the story and needs to be seen there are some ways around this. If it’s a consistently overcast day and it’s a short interview there’s less chance of fluctuating light levels creating an issue. If it is a sunny day then one way to control the brightness is to use Neutral Density gel rolls, which can be cut to the shape of the window.However, this is a fiddly process and normally only undertaken on a set that gets regular use. Alternatively, it’s possible to balance the natural light coming in from outside by throwing more artificial light on the subject from the inside. The issue with this is that directing massive amounts of light onto your subject can be startling for them and they’re likely to end up squinting. 

While filming against exterior windows is typically a no-no, the interview will certainly look better with an interesting background. What a director and Director of Photography (DOP) will seek out is depth. The greater the depth behind the subject the more interesting the shot will appear. Of course, the challenge in an office is that spaces with depth tend to be the open-plan areas where people are working or in corridors or common parts where there’s a lot of staff traffic. If it’s just one interview, then it might be worth getting in early to use the interesting space before anyone arrives. However, given it takes up to 90 minutes to get the interview equipment into a building and set up before any filming takes place, that’s going to be a call time of about 0600, and even then there will be cleaners and early-birds to work around. 

If in the end we’re back to filming in the conference room and there’s no interesting angle (a glass wall for example) to give an pleasing shape to the shots (it’s worth bearing in mind we are in fact dealing with two backgrounds – one for each camera), then perhaps it’s best to forgo depth and interesting shapes and look for a way to make the shot look clean and uniform. The best bet for this is a portable background support system with a paper roll. Typically this is 2.72 metres wide and comes in a variety of colours (see backgrounds). The roll fits in a Ford Galaxy but not in all passenger lifts, so someone might have to walk it up the stairs! Besides the roll and support system this approach requires some extra lighting, so using a background has some cost implications (about £250).  

What to wear and what not to wear for an interview

Digital cameras used to have a strobing issue with really detailed repetitive patterns such as herringbone. This is less the case today, but for most interviews it’s still best not to wear anything too highly patterned or striped. Simple bold colours work best, but avoid a lot of black and white. It’s advisable to steer clear of obvious branding also. 

If you are using a coloured background roll then colour-blocking your outfit – ie picking a colour that complements but stands out against the background – is a smart move. Our clients at Stylus have taken this to another level with nine different backgrounds and colour-blocked outfits in their Look Ahead videos

If you are filming against a chroma key background (a blue or green that can be replaced in post production with an image or video layer) – then avoid the colour of the background in your clothing. 

The other thing to bear in mind with your outfit is that you might need to wear a lapel mic clipped to your clothing. If you’re wearing a polo neck or something very flimsy it could be hard to attach it. Having an outer layer always helps. If in doubt, bring a few clothing options. 

What does an on camera interview involve? 

The interview is likely to be lit with 2-3 lights. There will be one or two cameras and the sound might be captured using a lapel radio mic (attached to your clothing) or a microphone on a boom pole on a stand which is positioned just outside of the frame. Depending on your skin type, the temperature and the lighting set-up it may be necessary to apply some make-up. Typically this is a matt powder in your skin tone that removes any shine.

The director can show you the shot sizes for each camera, so you get an idea of how much of your body appears in the frame. It’s worth considering at what height your hand gestures can be seen in the wider frame. 

Then it all comes down to the interview itself. This is likely to have been scheduled for 45 to 60 minutes – to allow for some chat, positioning the microphone, adjusting the frames and a few runs at each question and answer. 

Typically there’s been some preparation ahead of a formal interview, and the speaker will have at least some sense of the questions they will be asked. For a video that edits to 2-3 minutes there’s likely to be 4 or 5 questions. 

Naturally most people, given some advance notice of their questions, will be tempted to script out their responses in long hand. We would strongly urge them not to do this. The goal of an interview is to come across as authentic and engaging. Scripting answers encourages learning the material by rote, which is tough to do, and leans towards language not used in conversation. The end result is often wooden, over-rehearsed and jargony. Instead we suggest you really do no more than think of 3 bullet points per response that are the key words for your answer and that will help plot the response you want to give. Once you get relaxed in front of the camera – and any director and camera team will aim to put you at ease and guide you through the process – you’ll find that with a few key beats to each answer you join up the dots quite naturally, and probably differently which each take. 

In most interview scenarios you will be asked the questions by a director. It’s worth remembering that their voice won’t be featured in the edited video, so you’ll need to include a sense of their question in your answer and use a complete sentence. 

Be conscious of not lapsing into ums, ahs and using loose language such as it’s like. Also remember to avoid saying ‘as I said before.’ By the time the editor has had their way, you may never have said this at all, or you might say it later.  

In terms of the sound, there should be no need to change your speaking level dramatically. It helps to project a little, but that’s all there is to it. The sound will be monitored by the dedicated sound person or the camera operator. If your hair touches the lapel mic or or you knock it, they will flag this up and that section will be reshot. The other note concerning sound is that the crew may record a ‘wild track’ of the room. This is a recording of the location’s ambient sound (typically the hum of air conditioning and fridges that could not be switched off). The editor can use this wild track to subtract the ambient noises from the actual interview. 

With an off-camera interview it’s important to keep your eye line to the interviewer and to avoid the temptation to flick your eyes towards the lens. With a to-camera interview, it’s the opposite: lock onto the lens and don’t be distracted by the director or crew.

For interviewees who find themselves in the unenviable situation where they freeze and forget how to speak in full sentences – it happens more often than you might imagine – there is a tried and tested way of getting through each answer. The main issue is that this sort of brain freeze is the video equivalent to ‘writer’s block’, whereby the creative and critical faculties are engaged simultaneously. No sooner do you think to say something than you imagine how it will sound to the audience. The result is gridlock. So the first thing to do is to relax and to put the audience out of mind. Then, with the guidance of the director, you can build an answer with three sentences. If you plot this out – like a short story or anecdote – and find a place to land at the end so that it feels like an emphatic final point, you can find your way to deliver a clear and concise answer after a few runs at it. This situation is not uncommon and so it’s why we strongly recommend having a director on site. It’s also much easier for the director from an external production company, rather than someone from the company’s own marketing team, to say to a CEO, CFO or Chairman that it would be best to have another go at that last answer. 

Whatever the interview format, do make sure to say something genuinely meaningful and insightful – you’re an expert and your audience can spot truisms a mile away. So, avoid business anacronyms and jargon – the web is awash with people talking incessantly about ecosystems, granularity and solutions – and tell your audience something they don’t know in language they do understand.

One final consideration with giving an interview concerns the tone and the energy to bring to it. The tone should always be authoritative but friendly. No crazy smiling is required, but it needs to feel positive and warm. In terms of energy, the exercise of giving an interview isn’t quite like chatting to a friend. It’s more like telling an anecdote to a group of people, which requires a sense of performance and timing. And it’s not just what you say. From JFK to Tony Blair, politicians are coached to use their hands, and for good reason. Using your hands brings physicality and energy into your responses, which comes across as dynamic and authoritative to your audience. 

A final thought concerns the end of each answer. After delivering a faultless response it’s natural to immediately judge yourself, and that look tends to register on camera. So we always encourage speakers to end strong, and to continue to push the performance energy through to the end of the sentence and beyond for a few seconds. This gives the editor the option of a few beats on the end of each take before they cut to the next shot. 

What happens after the interview? 

Once the interview is done, it’s time for the edit. Your production company will take the interview material away, load it into the editing software and, using the different camera angles, assemble the best sections of the interview so that it feels like a continuous conversation. The interview itself will often be supplemented by graphics, stock imagery and any b-roll that was captured. Title and end cards are added and a music track is often laid under the voice tracks.

Typically a production company will show the client two versions of the video – a rough cut and a fine cut – to comment on and request amendments.

Top tips for recording an on-camera interview

There you have it – everything you need to know about on camera interviews.

So, fInally, here’s a list of our top tips for sailing through recorded interviews with flying colours: 

  • Don’t over prepare – list 3 bullet points per answer
  • Think about what you are going to wear and bring some back-up options
  • Say something genuinely meaningful 
  • Avoid jargon 
  • Keep your eyeline (to camera or off camera, depending on the set-up)
  • Don’t say um and ah. Slow down if it helps you to line up your thoughts without hesitation
  • Bring energy to you answers and use your hands 
  • Keep performing beyond your last words until you hear ‘cut’

That’s a wrap. 

 

What does a corporate video cost?

Budgeting for a new corporate video can mean getting your head around a lot of variables. And having a clear idea of what kind of video you want to produce.

A lot of potential customers who call us simply want to know what a video costs. There’s not much information out there to go on, unless it’s the lowest common denominator packaged graphics video or a day’s filming from a single independent cameraman. The bottom line is it depends on the kind of video you want to make, hence the reticence of most decent production companies in supplying prices. However, we know sometimes you just want a ballpark figure without getting involved in a long and complicated conversation. It might even be that you just want to understand the parameters and variables to help you better brief a job. So we thought this simple (relatively speaking) guide would be of some use to you as you try to budget and plan for a corporate video project.

The Pitch

When does pitching stop and consultancy begin? We’re always delighted to talk a project through and come to meet you face to face but, just as in any other business, we can only do so much thinking before we have to start the meter running. We have three simple questions which we ask before we get into discussions.

Do you have a budget?
It’s a positive indicator for us prior to committing time and resources to a pitch to know that the video is part of a marketing and communications plan, that there’s a definite will to engage and complete and that we’re not wasting our time.

What is your budget?
People tend to react quite badly to this question. I think the assumption is that we’ll spend whatever you give us. This isn’t correct. We just want to know that your expectations for the video and the depths of your pocket are in some sort of alignment.

Do you sign off the budget?
You’d be surprised how often the responsibility for initial discussions are delegated to someone with no real understanding of the project or process. It’s very easy to waste a great deal of time putting an approach and budget together only to be told you’ve completely missed the brief.

Finally, is there a brief? We’re not expecting you to supply a completed creative and script, but if you’re going out to the market without one, there’s no assurance that you’re comparing like with like when you get the costs. Furthermore, there’s a huge variance in quality of crew (and how a shoot is crewed) and equipment that you really need to understand a little bit about if you’re going to make an informed judgement about who to work with and how to work with them.

We’d normally expect any prospective client to be talking to at least two other agencies. If you’re talking to more than five we’ll politely decline. There’s two good reasons for this. Firstly, you probably haven’t done your research so you’re throwing the net wide. In our experience these jobs don’t normally happen or evolve into something else. Second, you’re probably going to find someone very cheap who’ll do a not very good job.

So if you’re still speaking to us after that rude onslaught you’re presumably serious about making a video. So, onto the costs…

Pre-production

As the term suggests this is the work that happens before filming. It covers creative, script and storyboard development, creating a shooting script, shot list and schedule, and logistics and planning, for instance booking equipment and crew, locations and casting.

There’s normally three or four different skills involved depending on the complexity of the project. A simple single day interview shoot with a couple of cameras, some lighting, one location and a couple of calls to discuss the questioning approach and potential for addition on site filming can be handled by a Producer in one day. Budget for about £500.


If you’re looking to develop a more complicated approach then a creative or Executive Producer will be involved in the process. They will work with the Producer to create a script, storyboard where necessary, shooting script and shot list. All of this takes time and is necessarily a collaborative process requiring client meetings, calls and a lot of back and forth. Over the course of a couple of weeks it might take 5 to 6 days of people’s time. So look to budget for roughly £2500. It may also involve location scouting and potentially casting, both of which are time consuming.

Finally, depending on how developed a brand’s visual identity is and the scope of the project, there may be art direction involved in creating a look and feel and idents such as title cards and captions. You should budget at least £2000 for this.

The Filming Day

A filming day is typically 10+1 hours. So a 7am-5pm day with an hour for lunch. How much can be achieved in a single day depends upon what is being filmed, how it’s being filmed and of course, where it’s being filmed. It also depends on the ambition of the film, or what we would broadly characterise as ‘production values’.

To take a benchmark, let’s look at a typical ‘customer success story’ or case study, a stalwart of the corporate video roster. Typically, this might involve three interviewees – for the sake of argument, the CEO (overview), the Buyer (motivation and purchase decision) and an end-user (experience).

In addition to the interviews we’ll want to bring the story to life with shots of the client’s offices, meetings, exteriors. If it’s a manufacturer we might want to get material of the factory floor. If it’s an IT product, some over the shoulder shots of it being used. All of this material is known as ‘B-Roll’ or sometimes cut aways.

The filming schedule might then look something like this:

7am Setup
9.00am-10.00am Interview 1
10.00am-10.30am Flip Set
10.30am-12.00pm Interview 2
12.00pm-13.00pm Interview 3

13.00pm-14.00pm Lunch
14.00pm-14.30pm De-rig Interview Setup & Backup
14.30-15.30 General B-Roll
15.30-16.00 Meeting B-Roll
16.00-17.00 Product Shots
17.00 Wrap & Backup

For a filming day with a Director of Photography and a Director with two Sony FS7 cameras, three lights and simple sound equipment we charge £2000.

Crew

For a simple event video you could get away with a single camera operator working two cameras from different positions within the room.

For a shoot involving interviews we’d always recommend our DoP is accompanied by a Director who can steer the shots, manage the interview process to ensure the client is getting what they need and that it will cut in the edit.

For more complex, multi-person and multi-camera shoots we’d always recommend using a Soundman. They’ll always come equipped with multiple high quality radio mics, state of the art receivers and, of course, a boom mic. This allows the cameramen to get on with their job of filming while someone else worries about background noise and sound quality. Budget for £850 with kit.

If there are a lot of shots to get through in a day it may make sense for the DoP to have a a Camera Assistant. This is someone who can help change lenses, set the tripod, move lights and lug equipment. Depending on the complexity of the equipment involved budget anywhere from £500-£750. For really complex shoots you may also need to budget for a Prep-Day for the assistant. That’s another £500 or so.

If you’ve got a complex lighting setup to manage it may make sense to budget for a Gaffer. That’s going to be about £800. Most Gaffers come with some of their own lighting gear but if you need one, it may well be because you’ve hired a load in. If that’s the case your Gaffer will probably want a Spark to handle the rigging and electrics for the lights. Budget another £500 for them.

You may have heard of Runners. There’s a lot that can go wrong on a busy shoot and a lot that needs to be done without distracting any of the skilled crew. A decent runner with some experience will be another £200 on the budget.

As the volume of data created during a shoot has increased (think 8k footage) so has the amount of time required to back it up. We don’t leave a location without a double back up. If you’re filming at  large format and codec this can add a couple of hours to the day. So sometimes we use a DIT (Digital Imaging Technician). As well as bringing RAID drives and taking care of all the backups they look after a load of other issues around the footage and getting it into post-production. If the shoot is complex, you may well need one so budget £1350 for operator and kit.

Finally, if you need a Hair and Makeup Artist or Stylist budget a minimum of £600 each.

Equipment

Camera and lighting equipment can get exponentially expensive as the quality increases. Most production companies don’t own everything required for every eventuality but tend to hire kit in on a daily or weekly basis as needed.
Our standard equipment for a shoot like the case study discussed above would be as follows.

– 2 x Sony FS7 Cameras
– 2 x Miller Tripods
– 2 x LED Panels
– 1 x Large Soft Box
– 2 x Radio Mics
– 1 x Boom Mic
– Miscellaneous Grip & Stands

We throw these in with the daily filming cost of £2000 to keep things simple for everyone.

We’d recommend a couple of extras like a Gimbal with Sony A7S (£250) or a portable 2m Dana Dolly track and stand system for £300. These will get beautiful movement into the B-Roll shots and raise the quality of the final film.

If you’re looking to create something really striking, the next step up from the Sony would be something like an Arri Alexa Mini. This is a £40k camera (for the basic setup) so look to pay £400 a day. Once you’ve got the Arri into play, you’ll want some suitable lenses, something like some Zeiss Super Speed or Cooke primes.

 

Cooke SK4 Prime Lenses 6mm 9.5mm and 12mm
Cooke SK4 Prime Lenses 6mm 9.5mm and 12mm


Again, these don’t come cheap so it’s going to be another £300-£450 for a decent set that will do the beautiful camera and lighting justice. And, if you’re going to this trouble you’ll want an assistant who can pull focus. So another £250 for the kit (like an Arri WCU-4) and £600 for the assistant.

It’s very likely if you’re going to these lengths you’re going to want to see what you’re filming while you’re doing it. There are two options here – a couple of 17” monitors that are wired in for the director and client to review the shots, or if you’re going to be on the move a wireless solution like a Teradek. Budget £120 per monitor and another £150 for the wireless.

Now that you’ve got what will feel like a small motion picture crew, there are a few more options that may be worth considering. Video Assist is a realtime video capture system that is like the monitors above but offers instantaneous playback and review – budget something like £800 per day for crew and kit. Your assistant (1st AC) will probably now want his own assistant as he has so much to look after so allow £500 for a 2nd AC.

Finally, if want long, moving shots, for instance following people through office spaces, you might want to consider a Steadicam or MOVI and operator.  Allow for £800-£1k for this.

You’re also going to need a way to move all this equipment around and a couple of Magliners will make everybody’s job much easier. They’re only £50 each per day and will make your crew very happy.

 

Magliners making light work of lugging kit
Magliners making light work of lugging kit


To do this kind of work, you’ll need a really experienced production company who have the knowledge, expertise and contacts to bring it all together. They can also advise on how raising the bar like this will affect the scheduling. Filming becomes a lot more complicated in terms of logistics and setup and overtime on kit and crew can really increase your costs if you get it wrong.

And also, don’t forget the hidden costs. With all this extra kit and crew you’ll need to think about insurance, kit delivery, travel and food.

Graphics

As I’m sure you’re beginning to understand by now there are a myriad of possibilities that can affect the cost of video and graphics are no exception.

A lot of brands we work with already have guidelines and in some cases assets for simple things like title cards, captions and calls-to-action. If you’re going to be making a lot of content with different companies in different locations, it’s definitely worth taking a look at this in advance and bringing in some art direction at an early stage. Imagine the difference in your YouTube channel if all the thumbnails and graphic elements are uniform as opposed to all done in different styles by different graphics artists.

Sticking with our example above, three captions, title cards and some kinetic text are probably going to take about a half day. So allow £250.

Animated charts, graphs and maps are more complex so allow 2 days (£1000) for four.

We’ll keep more complex stuff like entire motion graphic videos and 3D for another time.

Editing

A very rough rule of thumb for editing a simple corporate video would be one day per minute. However, if you’ve created a huge amount of content without much forethought the editor will need to sync the audio and review the material which can take some additional time. Look to pay £600 per day for a senior editor and £450 for someone less experienced.

Typically, you would look to get three cuts from this process, so in other words two rounds of changes prior to getting the final graded cut. We very rarely charge editing costs in addition to what we quote (we’ve been doing this for a while so normally get it more of less right), however, in the event of a complete change of mind we will keep you informed on how it might impact on editing time.

So returning to our case study above, we’d anticipate three days editing at a cost of £1800.

Miscellaneous Costs

One of the other costs you may incur could be a voiceover. For a three minute read you should budget a minimum of £600 for a home studio read and around £1200 for a directed sound studio record.

Royalty free music is readily available through numerous online providers. Make sure anything you buy has worldwide rights and is in perpetuity. We work with audionetwork.com. Normal online usage comes in at around £150 per track per execution. Be careful if you intend to use the video for paid for advertising (that includes YouTube pre-roll as well as broadcast) as you’ll need to negotiate a more complex commercial agreement.

Finally, you may want to use stock footage. There’s a lot more choice than there used to be and you can get okay material from £49 upwards. The good stuff tends to start more around £200. We’d recommend Dissolve and Shutterstock. Recently, the BBC has started selling news archive through Getty Images. If it’s for limited corporate use you can get great material from around £250. It’s well worth exploring.

Conclusion

So, in the final analysis, what did it end up costing?

Well, the low cost option came in at £4477.50 as follows:

Description Units Days Total Units Cost Total
Pre-production
Producer 1 0.5 0.5 £450.00 £225.00
Subtotal £225.00
Filming
Crew
Director 1 1 1 £500.00 £500.00
DoP 1 1 1 £825.00 £825.00
Sony FS7, Sound & Lens Kit 2 1 2 £180.00 £360.00
Lighting 3 1 3 £85.00 £255.00
Dana Dolly 1 1 1 £300.00 £300.00
Travel & Parking 2 1 2 £50.00 £100.00
Subtotal £2,340.00
Post-Production
Editor 1 3 3 £600.00 £1,800.00
Graphics 1 0.25 0.25 £450.00 £112.50
Subtotal £1,912.50
Total £4,477.50

 

For a similar one day shoot but using the Arri cameras, autocue and a Gaffer for lighting, as well as a filming location, the budget was just over £16000.

Description Units Days Total Units Cost Total
Pre-Production
Producer 1 3 3 £450.00 £1,350.00
Subtotal £1,350.00
Crew
Director 1 1 1 £500.00 £500.00
DoP 1 1 1 £850.00 £850.00
Camera Assistant 1 1 1 £700.00 £700.00
Prep Day 1st AC 1 1 1 £525.00 £525.00
Soundman 1 1 1 £850.00 £850.00
Gaffer 1 1 1 £850.00 £850.00
Hair & Makeup 1 1 1 £600.00 £600.00
Autocue 1 1 1 £650.00 £650.00
Travel & Parking 8 1 8 £50.00 £400.00
Per Diems 8 1 8 £25.00 £200.00
Subtotal £6,125.00
Equipment
Arri Alexa Mini 1 2 2 £400.00 £800.00
Zeiss Super Speed Mk3 Lens Kit 1 1 1 £375.00 £375.00
Dana Dolly 1 1 1 £300.00 £300.00
Arri M18 1 2 2 £180.00 £360.00
Lighting Kit 1 1 1 £175.00 £175.00
Monitors (2 x 17 inch) 2 1 2 £120.00 £240.00
Arri WCU-4 Follow Focus 1 1 1 £250.00 £250.00
Delivery 1 1 1 £80.00 £80.00
Location 1 1 1 £1,500.00 £1,500.00
Subtotal £4,080.00
Post-production
Editor 1 5 5 £600.00 £3,000.00
Graphics 1 3 3 £450.00 £1,350.00
Music 1 2 2 £150.00 £300.00
Subtotal £4,650.00
Total £16,205.00

 

So that’s why when you ask how much a video costs, nobody wants to give you a straight answer. Well, without a little bit of interrogation.

I hope that’s been helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions at all, please get in touch.

Video Production Tips

Making a Corporate Video

If this is your first time managing the process of commissioning, developing and producing a corporate video on behalf of your company or a client, there’s some simple guiding principles that will help you succeed in making the most of your budget and time, and help you deliver a marketing video or corporate communication video that connects with customers and gets results.

What is a corporate video? We get involved in a range of video projects from internal training videos and corporate communications to event videos, explainer videos, videos specifically for social media to ‘thought leadership’ interview videos and customer case studies.

In the interests of keeping this article simple we’ll limit ourselves a bit by assuming you’re looking to produce what we’d call an ‘about us’ or ‘home page’ video. This is something that’s going to introduce visitors to your website, your YouTube or other social channels or even your event stand to your products, services or company.

We’re a video production company with over ten years of experience so we’ve gone through this process more than a few times. Here’s six priceless (and free) tips to get you started and help you produce a great video.

1. Who is your audience and what are the objectives?

It’s essential to understand your viewers and keep it simple and succinct

So, first up, who is the audience for your video? It’s likely they won’t be familiar with you and, in common with most people’s behaviour online, that they’re not very patient. So how to you attract their attention? We’d say the ideal length for a video of this type is 90 seconds but even so, you have about 10 seconds to get them hooked. If you think that even the fastest talkers speak at 300 words per minute and a normal rate is more like 200, then, with pauses we have approximately 260 words to communicate what you’re about. That’s 50 less than this article so far. Ultimately, the viewers are your potential customers so ask yourself, if you had 90 seconds to pitch what would you say?

You need a clear objective and it needs to be clearly communicated. Think of it as your shop window. You want your best products and best offering out front. You can’t fit everything in so don’t try. A good video production company will guide you through this process (we’ll discuss this in more detail below) and help you decide whether the video needs to rely on your company’s heritage and expertise, new innovations, a specific product or benefit and whether it needs to make an emotional connection or make a persuasive, cognitive case.

2. Consider why potential customers are watching the video

The best videos deliver what the customer wants, just like the best businesses

Someone’s watching your video because they want to know about you and your services in a quick and convincing way. They want to be sold to, they’re browsing and looking to make a purchase. So what do they need to know? What are the absolute basics? Steer clear of corporate speak unless you’re audience is highly specialised and your sales B2B. If it’s a product or online service you’re selling stick to the benefits and do it in an engaging way – animation can be great for simple explainer videos.

You’re looking to create an emotional resonance and a connection. PDFs are cheap and plentiful so keep the technical details and the ugly screen grabs out of the film.

3. Work with your agency to get the creative right

Your video needs to stand out and communicate what’s great about your company. Think a bit different.

Once you’ve decided what you need to say and to whom, it’s time to decide on how. While your budget may be limited, your thinking shouldn’t be. A really simple idea well executed can be incredibly powerful. Don’t get drawn into the trap of trying to do too much or as we like to call it ‘first novel syndrome’ – that irresistible urge we all feel to say everything that’s on our mind and every good idea we’ve ever had all at once. Don’t be tempted to listen to everyone in your organisation. Your potential clients are not interested in what laptops you use, your investment in health and safety programs or indeed the staff canteen.

A good production company will be able to guide and advise you in this. We understand what’s achievable in a filming day and where the budget is best allocated. We also have a very developed sense of what looks good and the interplay of visuals and information that are at the heart of any successful video project.

This first stage of the production process is all about collaboration- us getting an understanding of you and your business and you understanding the work we do. So sit round a table, get the coffee machine on and the marker pens out.

4. Know exactly what you’re doing before you start filming

Shooting video is expensive so decide what you need in advance and get it right first time

Once the creative is broadly agreed on it’s time to put pen to paper and develop the script. This doesn’t always have to be exactly what will be said – in the instance of using interview material we tend to develop questions and draft an ideal outcome to lead the speaker in the right direction.

From that we create what we call a shooting script. In it’s simplest form this is basically two columns, one with the script/voiceover, ideal outcomes of an interview or graphic callouts, the other with the shots.

Having established what shots are possible and/or necessary we can then develop the shot list. This covers details like what we’ll film, how we’ll film it, for instance on tripod, steadicam or dolly, and what it will look like – is it a wide, medium or tight shot, a focus pull or a tilt down? This then lets us think about the equipment we’ll use for each shot – which camera, lens and other equipment like lighting and sound – and ultimately figure out the logistics of crew and equipment. Finally, we’re going to need a schedule – how long we have for filming each element and when it will happen. It’s important to note that the shots probably won’t happen in the same sequence that they appear in the film – light conditions, timing, equipment and location all dictate what is shot when.

We’d never attempt a filming day without these in place and neither should you.

Some simple rules –

  • It takes longer than you think to get equipment into a building
  • A three light two camera interviews takes at least 90 minutes (if not more) to set up and at least 30 minutes to de-rig
  • Don’t forget lunch – a crew marches on its stomach!
  • Moving between locations is complicated. Book transport and parking in advanceFinally, take care of the details. If you’re filming at your office ask some simple questions of facilities – can the desk be moved, the lights controlled, the noisy air con switched off? If you’re planning to film on location it always advisable to visit the site in advance. We can also help with issues around filming in public, aerial shots and risk assessments.

5. Be involved in the edit

After all the effort of managing this process you’ll want to see it through

Now that you’ve done all the hard work – make sure you work with an agency who will let you sit in! It’s incredible how a good editor can make all the difference to a video, it really is as equally important as the brainstorming creative and the logistics and technique of filming in delivering the end product.

It involves shot selection, choosing the best takes from interviews, deciding what’s important and assembling and intercutting them in a way that works best. Timing and the choice of music as well as where certain shots sit can really raise the production values of a video. So stay focussed and stay involved.

Ask your agency to sit in on the assembly of the first cut. We welcome our clients being involved in the process and so should they. The editing process should also be collaborative so work with an agency who will do at least three cuts and are prepared for your comments and criticisms.

6. Think about how the video will be watched

You might need different versions, even different content for different platforms

We all know how important social media is for any business. There are limitations on duration and size on some of the most popular platforms. However, there’s also what’s appropriate for different mediums and means of consumption – what is right for your home page isn’t necessarily right for your LinkedIn page.

This isn’t all bad news though, on the contrary, with some forethought and planning we can repurpose interview content and location filming to create additional videos. For instance, your CEO has taken two hours out of his day for a formal, two-camera interview. Your production company is there with lights, cameras and sound kit.

It’s the perfect opportunity to film additional material for short, punchy social media videos. So get the director to dive a little deeper on a couple of questions, thrown in some extra ones. A forty second clip on recruitment might work brilliantly on LinkedIn. A 60 second film on your sustainability credentials might really fly on Facebook.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions about your video project, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.

 

An Introduction to ‘Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light’

Here’s the first of three short films produced for The National Gallery in London to support their current exhibition, ‘Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light’.

As you’ll see from previous posts, the project involved filming in New York and across Spain at numerous locations including Madrid at the Museo Sorolla and Museo del Prado, the artist’s hometown of Valencia and in Granada and Seville.

Some of the interviews were conducted in our studio near Kings’ Cross in London.

The project involved a lot of different skills. Shot on Sony FS7 it also incorporates dolly shots, drone filming of the Spanish coast and electronic slider shots of some of Sorolla’s paintings.

Sorrola’s Grave, Valencia

We were honoured to be allowed to film at the grave of Joaquin Sorolla in Valencia with the kind permission of his family and the assistance of the Ayuntamiento de Valencia and the Valencia film Office.

Using our Dana Dolly we were able to capture beautiful tracking shots while keeping our footprint to an absolute minimum.

Filming at the Museo del Prado, Madrid

Sometimes we really have to pinch ourselves. As part of our ongoing filming for The National Gallery’s Sorolla exhibition, we were lucky enough to film at one of the World’s most famous galleries, the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

We were also fortunate enough to be allowed to setup in the Velazquez room right opposite his masterpiece Las Meninas. We were there to interview Javier Barón Thaidigsmann, Director of 19th Century Paintings at the Prado and a renowned expert on Sorolla.

Madrid for The National Gallery’s Sorolla Exhibition Film

This March, The National Gallery will host ‘Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light’,  the first UK exhibition of Spain’s Impressionist, Sorolla, in over a century.

Known as the ‘master of light’ for his iridescent canvases, this is a rare opportunity to see the most complete exhibition of Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida’s (1863–1923) paintings outside Spain.

From the vivid seascapes, garden views, and bather scenes for which he is most renowned, to portraits, landscapes and genre scenes of Spanish life, the exhibition features more than 60 works spanning Sorolla’s career – many of which are travelling from private collections and from afar.

NextShoot have been commissioned to produce a film to support the exhibition, detailing Sorolla’s life and times and some of his most notable works. This involves filming in Spain and America at numerous institutions and locations which were central to Sorolla’s work.

We started in Madrid, at Sorolla’s former house, which is now home to Museo Sorolla. As well as an incredible collection of his paintings, the museum also has a vast archive of photographs, letters and personal possessions.

The National Gallery Courtauld Impressionists

We’ve worked with The National Gallery in London over the last few years on various projects and were delighted to be asked back to film a series of short films for this Autumn’s blockbuster show ‘Courtauld Impressionists’ featuring works by Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin and many more.

For the first time in London for 70 years the National Gallery displays major Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterworks from the Courtauld Gallery, purchased in the 1920s by Samuel Courtauld (1876-1947). These will be shown alongside paintings from the National Gallery’s own collection which the businessman and philanthropist financed and helped acquire.