The Montage

Montage (/mɒnˈtɑːʒ/) is a film editing technique in which a series of short shots are sequenced to condense space, time, and information. … Later, the term “montage sequence” used primarily by British and American studios, became the common technique to suggest the passage of time.

“Always fade out in a montage …”

The montage. It calls up visions of Rocky Balboa stomping through the snow, racing along the beach in a crop-top, chasing chickens, doing one-armed push-ups. It brings to mind the A-Team turning a golf-cart and a length of piping into a tank in a matter of minutes. It conjures up images of smirking, spread-collared Tony Montana, shaking hands with some morally dubious official as his lackeys move bags of cash outside. Where would we be without it?

Al Pacino as Tony Montana in the Scarface 'Take it to the limit' montage
Al Pacino as Tony Montana in the Scarface ‘Take It To The Limit’ montage

It’s perhaps unsurprising that, nowadays, the montage examples we most easily call to mind seem to involve such affectedly dramatic Eighties pop music that, in our altogether less hammy modern cinematic era, they seem almost laughable. In fact Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the irreverent architects of South Park and The Book of Mormon, have trained their satirical eyes on the technique on more than one occasion for exactly this reason, with predictably amusing results.

But the montage is not the preserve of exuberant Eighties cinema directors or those impudent creative types who lampoon them. At the turn of the 20th century, the British filmmaker Robert W. Paul showed the possibilities of editing when he cut his film Come Along, Do!, one of the first films to be composed of more than one shot. This was “continuity editing”, a technique pioneer D. W. Griffith innovated further with “parallel editing”, which he used to build dramatic tension in the film Birth of a Nation—a film more notable, despite its place in cinematic history, for its extreme racism.

The Latvian-born theorist, filmmaker, and iconoclast Sergei Eisenstein became known as the “Father of Montage” following the release of the 1925 feature film, Strike, in which shots of a slaughtered cow are cut with those of the violent suppression of a strike. His montage creates an association between cattle and workers. It’s art as propaganda. Long before South Park’s Stan Marsh had to learn how to ski, Soviet filmmakers were provoking an intellectual response and reinforcing dogma through clever editing.

Slavko Vorkapich
Slavko Vorkapich

Arguably, the originator of those flamboyant Eighties scenes is the unlikely figure of Slavko Vorkapich, a Serbian born in 1894 in a tiny village in the former Austro-Hungarian empire. Vorkapich was a theorist and lecturer who mastered the visual montage sequence in Golden Age Hollywood. In fact so synonymous did this cinematic poet become with the technique that on Hollywood screenplays in the 1930s and 1940s, the montage was noted simply as the “Vorkapich”. For Vorkapich, the camera had until then been used only “as a passive sort of instrument”. In an interview in 1939 he said that “there is such an infinite variety of motion around us which, if properly explored with the camera in a creative manner and put together will, I think, create a new art.” Next time you watch Rocky Balboa running up the steps, or Patrick Swayze gyrating to the dulcet tones of Eric Carmen, think of Slavko Vorkapich.

And the montage has happily made its way out of the world of mainstream cinema to become a staple technique for the corporate video production company and the filmmaking agency. The applications of the showreel technique, for instance—a stylish, rapid-fire compilation, often of a brand’s best work or the best scenes from a feature film—run the gamut from fashion videography to event videography to video game trailers. Just as, in The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola juxtaposes Michael Corleone’s homespun “Night of the Long Knives” with shots of his son’s baptism, a corporate video production company or indeed any video production agency can evoke powerful emotion through the medium of montage.

The Coppola example points to the multiplicity of ways in which the montage can be deployed in film. Though always condensing space, time and information, the intention that lies behind the montage varies dramatically, and there will always be new approaches. No list of montage techniques can be exhaustive. But regardless, you can separate them roughly into three main categories: narrative, intellectual and artistic.

Narrative

By far the most common use of the montage relates to the immediate telling of the story itself—to giving an account of the events.

In films like Up, the montage is contextual: the opening sequence serves to get the viewer up to speed. Casablanca is one of the best examples of this. Rather than assume the viewer has the proper context to make sense of the story, it gives some historical background, specifically by discussing in brief the journey of war refugees from Paris to North Africa. The opening of A Bridge Too Far sets the scene in a similar way, by describing the events leading up to the doomed Operation Market Garden—the subject of Richard Attenborough’s multi-award-winning 1977 film.

The Karate Kid Training Montage
The Karate Kid Training Montage

From Karate Kid to Dirty Dancing to the iconic sequences in the Rocky franchise, training scenes are some of the most obvious sequences to which the montage may lend itself. In real life, training for almost anything is monotonous and time-consuming, and progress is incremental; needless to say this would not make for the most entertaining viewer experience. Accelerated by the montage however, variety and rapid progression replace what would be monotony and subtle improvement. Throw in a good piece of music et voilà, you have something highly watchable. Wax on, wax off.

The Cinderella style of montage is almost a sub-genre of the training montage, in that it entails a character’s slow transformation through work. But it’s less about learning a sport or preparing for a sporting competition in the case of the Cinderella, and often has to do with personal or intellectual development—or simply an elaborate makeover. In the Princess Diaries, Mia is a mostly passive participant in her own makeover, while in Legally Blonde, Elle Woods teaches herself law—to Joanna Pacitti’s “Watch Me Shine”, naturally.

Parodies of the montage straddle the narrative and the intellectual, since they might, as in Team America: World Police, serve a narrative purpose while also functioning as a pastiche of the technique. The training montage is the one most frequently parodied, and often specific training montages—those from Rocky being the best examples—might be directly satirised. But it’s also true that a montage parody can exist entirely outside the narrative, and exist solely for the purpose of making the audience smile.

Intellectual

Eisenstein did intend to tell a story by cross-cutting the slaughter of cattle with the murder of striking workers en masse in Strike, but it was a story that existed outside the story of the film. His narrative, and his aim, was ideological. He wanted to create a relationship in the mind of those watching between the savage but routine treatment of animals and the routine but unjustified behaviour of the authorities towards striking workers. In doing so, he hoped to show that workers in pre-revolutionary Russia were dehumanised by the ruling class and reduced to the status of cattle, thus confirming the party view. There is a sense in which the filmmaker is speaking directly to the audience or, indeed, trying to persuade the audience. As far away from Soviet filmmaking as it may seem, a video production agency making a perfume advert, for instance, might use montage in a similar way. Through association, with glamour or beauty in the case of perfume ads and similar product videos, for instance, it can persuade the viewer to purchase a product.

In Todd Phillips’ Joker, the psychological state of the eponymous Arthur Fleck is reflected, through montage, in the collapse of Gotham City into anarchy and chaos. Though the montage is part of the passage of events, it is also a kind of standing-back from the narrative and a commentary on its main character. To put it another way, Todd Phillips is saving the film critics and theorists some time by meeting them half-way with his own brief psychological commentary on the man who gives his film its name.

The Godfather Baptism/Massacre Montage
The Godfather Baptism/Massacre Montage

The intellectual montage entails a consideration of ideas, and few are more memorable and more effective than the baptism and assassination scene from The Godfather. Coppola uses 67 shots in five minutes in a compare/contrast montage which combines religious ritual and a series of brutal slayings. Through baptism, in view of Michael Corleone, the newest member of the family receives divine protection. At the same time Corleone is energetically taking life away. We are confronted by the hypocrisy of which human beings are capable.

Montage sequences that involve memories, reminiscences or flashbacks contextualise the current state in which a character finds themselves by showing what has gone on in their life before. Annie Hall’s ending is an iconic example of this. It tells the story through a flashback montage of a romance which begins, progresses, and ends. The main character reaches the conclusion that love is irrational, which he explains by telling a classic joke: “A man goes to the doctor and says, ‘Doc, my brother thinks he’s a chicken.’ The doctor says, ‘Well, tell him he isn’t a chicken.’ ‘I can’t,’ says the man ‘I need the eggs.’”

Artistic

In A Phantom Thread, we see how montage can be used to create a certain aesthetic. The entire film is a kind of love letter to beauty, and the fashion show montage, with its elegant music, gorgeous outfits and rich palette of colours that vary from shot to shot, is designed more to be felt than to be thought about. Scenes like this will be especially interesting to those in fashion videography, though any corporate video production company can glean something from this typically Paul Thomas Anderson scene.

The German Dadaists made montage into a modern art-form, though unquestionably there are forms of cinematic montage which, even isolated from context, rise to the same giddy artistic heights, if from a different direction. The 2011 Japanese film Kiseki (I Wish) includes a montage of still-life images taken from earlier on in the film that together work almost like a collage to produce a single impression and a powerful feeling in the viewer. Even stripped from its frame of reference the montage works.

So from the flamboyance of the Eighties, complete with synth pop and questionable attire, to the stuff of fashion videography. The broad montage “genre” contains techniques that would come in handy to any video production company or filmmaking agency—indeed for anyone looking to put together a product video or marketing video that catches the eye.

A final thought: for Eisenstein, editing was the essence of cinema. For his fellow film theorist Lev Kuleshov, montage was the essence of cinema technique. So perhaps to understand montage is really just to understand cinema. Fade out.

NextShoot is a video production company in London.

We love montages so much we’ve made a few ourselves.

Our showreel.

Our timelapse reel.

Our https://nextshoot.com/video/fashion-video-productionfashion reel.

Our construction reel.

And here is the undisputed heavyweight montage of the world. All the montages from all the Rocky movies spliced into one uber-montage.

The Best Corporate Videos

In recent years, the line dividing corporate video and traditional television advertising has blurred. Often what’s ostensibly an advert couldn’t run in a traditional ad spot. And though some would argue that a corporate video promotes the business, while an ad promotes the product or service that business provides, that distinction looks shakier by the day. Working out where corporate video ends and advertising begins is tricky, then, to say the least.

Despite this, you know a great corporate video when you see one. And the criteria by which you judge a corporate video remain the same as ever, even if the technology has evolved and media channels have proliferated. Storytelling, cinematography, editing, acting, sound and design all apply.  Avoiding cliché is as important as ever. A bit of irreverence goes a long way. And of course, in this over-caffeinated, content-saturated and altogether distractible era, we must always place a premium on the viewer’s attention.

But corporate videos also have contexts. The company that offers flatpack furniture will have to think more creatively than Apple or Nike. But that doesn’t mean the sofa-sellers and mattress-merchants can’t make superb corporate videos. Nor does it mean that their more inherently exciting counterparts can’t create something truly original and striking.

So with this all in mind, we set out to find and break down some of the best corporate videos around.

risual

Year: 2014

It’s clear from the get-go that this 2014 video by IT security and services provider risual isn’t your garden-variety corporate vid. Conceived and produced by Aspect, the video invokes the idea—accepted even within the industry—that IT can be perceived as, well, a little less than glamorous. In amusing documentary or even “mockumentary” style, using employees rather than actors, risual explains exactly what it does. But it also shows through its approach what can be achieved without a big time commitment, expensive kit or any real cinematographic or narrative complexity. The key to the success of risual’s video is boldness, self-awareness and intelligent scripting.

Slack

Year: 2014

This video or the communication software company Slack, plays like an episode from a comedy series. It tells the story of how Sandwich, the video team who made the video, were converted to the Slack cause. Despite the whimsical tone—reflected in music that sounds as if it was taken from a Woody Allen film— there’s an authenticity to the video for the simple reason that those interviewed are real people working at every level of the business. This is typical of the Sandwich approach. “We basically invented the modern explainer video”, they write on their website. Vox Media might disagree.

Storyhunter

Year: 2016

There’s nothing “stock” about this powerful video from Storyhunter, directed by John Ryan Johnson. Everything about it oozes creative cool, from the music to the locations. It’s a reflection of the creative types the platform serves. And those creative types will be reassured to see that all the footage is original, diverse and high-quality: it was shot not by a video production company, but by 17 filmmakers in 10 countries. As for the narration, here’s a great example of how powerful a voice can be. Pinning down what makes a great voice isn’t easy, but you definitely know one when you hear one.

Lyft

Year: 2016

There’s no point pretending that there’s anything wrong with exploiting the power of celebrity. It works. Ride-sharing company Lyft drafted in DJ Khaled as part of a series in which celebrities play the role of cab drivers and this video is pure entertainment. Lyft has been building its brand image through pop culture, and for this video it worked with the studio Alldayeveryday and director Alex Richanbach, who’s known for his Funny or Die shorts. Beneath the surface of this clip, there’s a suggestion that Lyft drivers are affable, cheerful and chatty. And, since we all know that celebrities tend never to drive themselves, Lyft is making a subtle claim to power: if it can get a celeb behind the steering wheel, what can’t it do?

Shopify

Year: 2017

“Ecommerce solutions” hardly sounds sexy, and Shopify knows it. So with this corporate video—one that has much in common with a feature-length documentary—it chooses instead to put on display the resilience and passion of the small business owners that make up its target audience. There is an underdog narrative here: a certain rawness, despite the sleek cinematography. The people featured here are fighting for themselves and for their families. Crucially, the brand uses real stories, told by real people, and keeps itself out of the spotlight until the very end. In doing so, it hints at a kind of understated, behind-the-curtain brilliance.

Nike

Year: 2017

“What are girls made of?” asks Nike in the first of three videos designed to shatter gender stereotypes by invoking them and then subverting them. A young girl sings to a packed auditorium of men and women in evening dress, only to be interrupted by the entrance of a skater, dancer, kickboxer, track athlete. The action rises as the child hero of the story takes confidence from each new arrival and changes the lyrics of her song to describe what girls are, in fact, really made of—to the confusion of the crowd. This is powerful storytelling, made all the more effective by a striking aesthetic. And it’s a story that reflects a wider, societal coming-of-age. Here Nike captures the mood of the moment.

Axe

Year: 2017

If Nike confronts gender stereotypes with girls and women in mind, Axe rolls up its sleeves and takes on toxic stereotypes of male behaviour. Opening with an arresting statistic—that nearly three-quarters of all men have been told how a “real man” ought to behave—it uses point-of-view shots to ask the kinds of questions men are forced to ask themselves because of rigid gender norms. The music is mostly ominous, at times sounding like the thudding of a heartbeat. The blending of voices puts the viewer in mind of racing thoughts. Made in 2017 by Amsterdam-based video production company 72andSunny, this is a brand awareness video that deftly reflects Axe’s stated purpose in its latest incarnation: to “redefine what it means to be a man”.

Dibbern

Year: 2018

This promotional video by bone china producers Dibbern may be on the long side, but it works beautifully. Here, the quality of the video reflects the quality of the brand. Footage of verdant forests, pouring rain, dew-coloured flowers and rushing water is interspersed with shots of finely crafted teapots, plates and cups, as well as the sophisticated machinery involved in their production. An understated but tasteful musical track reflects the quiet industry and focus of the craftsperson, as well as the elegance of the final product. This video comes courtesy of the Hamburg-based video production company 27 Kilometer Entertainment GmbH, and it’s a good one.

Google

Year: 2011

In this clip, put together by video production company Supermarché and walking the tight-rope between corporate video and advert, Google identifies and focuses on a problem every person has—and gives us its solution. Within this video there’s humour, variety, and an understated soundtrack that stays well in the background and makes way for dialogue. And there is a certain self-confidence implied in Google’s neglecting to tell the viewer at any point in this product video exactly how Express works.

LACMA

Year: 2012

Commissioned by Los Angeles County Museum of Art for their first annual “Art + Film Gala”, this six-minute video gives the viewer the “brief history” of artist John Baldessari, called the “godfather of conceptual art”. The film is amusingly self-aware, and the music suggests urgency while  the mellifluous narration of musician Tom Waits, which entails repeatedly saying the words “this is John Baldessari’s …” acknowledges that this history must necessarily be brief. Only part-way through does the narrative slow down and then, as if again recognising the need to be terse, accelerates to its end. There’s something very funny in the way a six-minute “history” chooses as its subject someone whose lifetime output was prodigious. And there’s something very impressive about it, too: the makers pull it off.

Harry’s

Year: 2017

Like many genuinely disruptive businesses, Harry’s has a good story. So why not not take advantage of it? It would be against the brand’s modus operandi to complicate things. This amusing two-and-a-half-minute video begins with the birth of its founders and ends with a room full of Harry’s employees over-celebrating. This goes beyond an “about us” video: the real thread that runs throughout the clip is all to do with relatability, since almost all men have to shave. The founders humanise themselves, make fun of themselves, and position themselves as down-to-earth, men of the people—quite the opposite of the shadowy figures who run what they dub “Big Razor.”

Fashion Insiders

 

The Best Corporate Videos
Fashion Insiders Video

http://www.acmedynasty.com/video-fashion.html?id=963

Year: 2019

And we would be remiss not to mention one of our own contributions, which emerged from our collaboration with Chinese media group Hantang Culture. Hantang commissioned content for Fashion Insiders, a series of short portrait films featuring leading fashion personalities and institutions, from brand founders and visual artists to couturiers and fashion icons. We worked closely with Hantang to produce, film and edit a number of videos in the series including this one, on fashion illustrator David Downton, and we like to think it speaks for itself. Our aim was to capture the essence of one of the most skilled and interesting people in the world of fashion and present that to the viewer in a way that reflected his personality and influence.

So there you have it: 12 of the very best corporate videos around. It’s a list that proves that in the right creative hands and with a good video production company on your side, any brand, large or small, glamorous or not-so-glamorous, can produce exceptional corporate video.

That’s a wrap.

Is Video Production a Good Career?

The Rise and Rise of Video Content

Across the globe, video is booming. 

Each day, more than 500 million hours of video are watched on YouTube alone, and it’s estimated that by 2021, 1 million minutes of video content will fly across global networks every second. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, consider this:  every 30 days, more video is uploaded to online platforms than was released on major television networks in the United States over the last 30 years.

This boom is fueled by a parallel explosion in broadband speeds, with 95% of premises in the UK having access to superfast broadband connections of up to 300 Mbit/s. 90% of consumers watch videos on mobile devices regularly, with the strongest showings on social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter, where 93% of videos uploaded to the platform are viewed on tablets and smartphones. 

People have a growing love for video because it has the potential to convey story, tone, emotion, and information quickly and engagingly, grabbing viewers’ attention and holding it while encouraging them to watch more.

What Are These Millions of Hours of Video Content?

Some of the material being uploaded and digested is entertainment which once would have been viewed in the cinema or on home media. Much of it is also what used to be traditional fare on TV networks, now finding an outlet online, often in conjunction with a terrestrial, cable, or satellite service. Lastly, video-on-demand (VOD) services like Netflix and Hulu have become major distributors for video content.

With easy access to the public through the internet, every brand has the potential to be a broadcaster, resulting in a wealth of quality corporate video production content. This could be branded content—interesting material that captures an audience’s imagination, but quietly sponsored by a brand—or it could be more plainly corporate content meant to promote products or services.

And, of course, much of this material is now user-generated content (UGC), sometimes posted in hopes of becoming a source of income, but much of it—most of it—mobile footage of holidays shared with friends and family  or other personal events (‘home-video’).   

With all this in mind, in many ways the statistics surrounding online video is only part of the picture for those looking to make a professional career out of video production.

What Does This Mean for Careers in Video Production? 

Amid all the noise generated by UGC and home video, it’s clear that there are nearly limitless new opportunities. The public has a voracious appetite for video, including everything from bingeable drama box-sets to universally-popular product explainer videos. In our desire for quick answers and easily-understood information, most people would rather watch a video explain how something works these days than read any text. On top of that, a demand for more content in the entertainment and business sectors inevitably means more people are required to make it. 

What Do We Mean by Video Production?

But before we have a closer look at whether or not video production is a good career, it’s best to be clear about what, exactly, we mean by video production.

Once upon a time, every inch of footage was shot on film. Then, videotape became the medium for television due to its low cost, while movies continued to shoot on film stock. Now film is restricted to auteurs and videotape is all but gone, but the name lives on in (digital) video, now used to shoot everything from ten-second ads to blockbuster movies. So really, video production covers the creation of every sort of video, from Game of Thrones sets in Croatia to YouTube influencers recording themselves with a ring-light and an iPhone in their bedroom.

Here’s a (brief) list of the different sectors of video production:

    • Film, including both studio feature films and independent productions.
    • TV productions such as documentaries, factual reports, dramas, and childrens’ shows.
    • Commercials for broadcasting on traditional television as well as for inclusion in online platforms like YouTube.
    • Corporate video on topics like events, training, recruitment, and product explainers.

 

  • Wedding videos

 

  • Social media influencers who create their own content in the hopes of attracting lucrative followings.

 As you can see from even this short list, there’s a wide range of fields and options for a video production career, from feature films to commercials to creating your own Youtube channel.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the size of productions can vary wildly: a feature film might be made by two people, while a corporate video might involve a team of 15, so the genre to which a video belongs doesn’t necessarily determine its complexity or number of contributors. 

Stages and Roles in the Video Production Process

Most people looking to get into video production already have a feel for the sector that draws them, whether that’s in action movies, animated children’s content, or becoming a YouTube influencer. 

While wedding videographers and Youtube influencers may be a one-man band managing each process, for most video productions there are distinct phases, each handled by a range of specialised professionals. 

Let’s break it down.

The phases:

  • Pre-production involves the practical planning of a project, handled by producers, account managers, writers, storyboard artists, and others.
  • Production is the process of capturing footage, light, and sound by the director, camera operator, grip, lighting director or gaffer, riggers, and boom operator and sound mixer.
  • Post-production covers the shaping of footage into a finished film, overseen by the producer, director, script supervisor, video and sound editors, and digital imaging technician (DIT).

The range of choices within each stage is perhaps one of the most attractive parts of working in video production. By its nature, it requires all sorts of skills, from make-up and stunt-work to editing and graphics. Just like a rugby team, there’s a role for everyone, and it’s hugely collaborative. Nearly every role is going to rub up against other roles. Some of the production staff—the producer, the director—will be involved in the whole project, while others play a role in just one area. 

Other Factors Making Video Production a Good Career 

There are many influences on video production that make it a good career choice and which have democratised the industry.

First of all, having access to a distribution platform is no longer the preserve of big-hitters with broadcast licences. The internet has become the great equalizer in this respect as it has for other creative industries, removing intermediaries and other obstacles between the product and the consumer. 

The cost of equipment—and with it, a major production expense—has steadily dropped over the last decade. Whereas previously a video production company would hire a cameraman who’d invested in a camera worth £20,000, now a few thousand pounds can place a good quality camera body within the reach of recent graduates. Powerful computers and editing software (especially Apple Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro) are now also more readily available, varied, and affordable for professionals and prosumers. Additionally, technology and tools including digital libraries of music, sound effects, and stock footage make it possible to run a video agency from anywhere you please.

 Anyone can make a video now and get it online. There are even people making features on their iPhones. What matters most is storytelling and performance, rather than high-grade kit.

The advantage of this democratisation of kit and platform and resources means there’s a lower barrier of entry for companies (especially in corporate video production), but it also means that students and those looking to break into a career in video production can get their hands on the required tools and make content, experiment, improve their craft, develop a showreel, and find meaningful work. The ball is in their court as never before. 

More Choice Than Ever to Become Skilled Through Study

Since 2012, the number of students in film and media courses has risen from 5,000 to more than 50,000 per year as UK universities work to meet the demand of the growing industry. Universities now offer a more expanded selection of far-ranging courses, including film studies, film production, television and broadcast media, and digital technology and editing.

Before you select a university degree in any part of the broad church that makes up video production, you’ll need to consider what area appeals to you most. Often those who are technically minded already know this and are gunning to be a camera operator or an editor. 

Film studies degrees offer training in the basics of film and video production, as well as a thorough grounding in film theory and technique. These degrees are often a good prerequisite for jobs such as directing, writing, video editing, producing, and production design. Depending on how you decide to specialise, this can be a reliable degree for working in all three stages of video production. Media and broadcasting are aimed more at the informational and commercial sides of production for those more interested in writing and research in the pre-production phase. 

To work in the production and post-production phases, you’ll need to undertake training in some of the more technical aspects of film production. Editing, computer usage, camera operation, and sound recording will all require practical, hands-on experience, as found in a degree in film studies, film and broadcast television, or digital film technologies. 

Opportunities for Work Experience

It can be daunting working out which part of the industry to aim for. Fortunately, there are excellent opportunities to get work experience while studying at a video production company or video agency, often as part of your course work, or as an experience which you seek out independently. If these are part of your course, they won’t necessarily be paid. Otherwise, the national minimum wage applies.

Signing on with a production company to work on a feature film can be tricky to time correctly if the company in question is in the middle of a production. However, you’re likely to find some options with post-production houses, allowing you a chance to become familiar with the back end of the process.

For those technical-minded individuals who have ambitions of working as camera operators, sound technicians, or in lighting departments, it’s worth applying to work with equipment hiring companies. Handling the kit used to create video is a great way to get familiar with variety, specifics, and operation of a bewildering array of tools.

Many of the traditional broadcasters, such as the BBC or Channel 4, offer internship and work experience programs, but there’s often a high level of competition for these spots.

The many independent production companies of every size across the UK also offer similar placement opportunities. You’ll likely need to make speculative applications for these, particularly if they don’t have any open positions publicly listed, which is where a showreel and portfolio comes in handy. 

Getting work experience not only helps students determine where their skills and interests lie, it also helps to get their first job on leaving university. A successful internship or placement under your belt is an excellent foundation for your professional reputation, and the people you meet in the course of your experience can prove to be useful contacts.

Entry Level Jobs for Non-Graduates Exist

However, you may not find yourself drawn to a university degree. Luckily, not every job in video production requires one. It’s hard work, but there are plenty of opportunities for getting onto the beginning rungs of the video production ladder, so long as you’re willing to prove yourself.

There are different entry points into different types of video production, including:

  • Runners for feature films, TV, and corporate video productions. The most junior role on a set, runners are responsible for fetching items and tools and carrying out odd jobs until they’ve learned enough to take on more responsibility.
  • Editing assistants in post production who will help the lead editor gather and organize footage as well as assisting with the lists and instructions that will determine a video’s final form.
  • Technical work in rental houses requires practical thinking and skill to maintain, operate, and advise on the use and care of cameras, lights, sound equipment, and other tools and resources.

Are There Opportunities to Go It Alone?

Yes! As we’ve already seen, a few basic investments in kit, computing, and software can allow you to set yourself up in video production at any stage of the career journey. However, making the transition into self-employment might be easier for those who’ve managed to gain experience and contacts while working under someone else.. 

There are some success stories for individuals straight out of university, making their own materials straight away, and of course there are influencers and Youtube stars doing a more-than-respectable turn of business. 

But for every PewDiePie there are a million uploaders with just a couple of hits on their videos.

Truth be told, many people who try this approach end up leaving video production altogether. 

Studying, work experience, and apprenticeships maximise your chances and stand a better chance of providing you with the tools and the resources needed to succeed, either independently or collaboratively.. 

Prospects in Video Production

The truth is that video production has no real ceiling on your prospects. It may take some time, and quite a lot of work, but there’s no ceiling on how high one can rise in video production. You could end up running your own company, as a respected specialist, a major director like Steven Spielberg, or as an executive or head for a major TV studio.

Remember that the field is growing, and growing fast, but it’s also competitive. You won’t get hold of every opportunity that comes along, but remember that there are plenty more available.

Along with this expansive range of chances come great opportunities for financial reward, with entry-level video production professionals frequently earning an average minimum of £27,000 per year. You can find out more about basic pay rates as established by BECTU, the union for media and film professionals.

Additional Benefits of a Career in Video Production

  • The greatest prospect is perhaps the satisfaction it offers to creatives to produce meaningful work in an engaging industry.
  • Skilled individuals in this industry will find plenty of opportunities around the UK and abroad. A strong work ethic and the technical know-how for your chosen specialty will make you an asset to any production house, allowing you to fit in anywhere as part of a team of consummate creative professionals.
  • Teamwork is not only an essential in video production; it’s the norm. Just like a rugby team, a production crew consists of people with different, but overlapping, skill sets, each supporting the other in the effort to deliver a great product.
  • Finally, at the end of the day no matter your field, you’ll have something concrete to show for your efforts, a corporate video, feature film, television documentary, or any other piece of video in which you can take pride. And that’s not too shabby.

What is Video Production?

Intro to Video Production

Video production is a broad term, but in essence it means the end-to-end process of creating video content. It’s the planning, creation, and assembling of video across a number of different genres, from feature films to influencer videos. The name derives from video tape, which for some time was the ubiquitous format that replaced film for many productions. 

The term ‘video production’ has undergone significant changes in recent years. In fact, feature films weren’t always included in the video production bracket, as they were shot on 16mm or 35mm film stock, and film was also used for a great deal of TV broadcast material for many years.

But these days virtually everything is captured on video, with highly sophisticated digital movie cameras at one end of the market and relatively inexpensive digital cameras capable of shooting in broadcast resolution at the other. Even the cameras in our smartphones actually meet the quality needs of broadcasters. 

In short, everything that appears on your screen today is the result of video production, apart from user-generated content (UGC), or what used to be called “home video.”

Before we dive in, keep in mind that the medium in which a piece of video is distributed no longer defines what it is. Feature films that might once have been destined for long runs in the cinema, and TV drama series, are now easily available online. Recent films such as The Irishman or Dolemite is My Name received limited theatrical releases—just enough to count as films in awards categories—before jumping straight to video-on-demand (VOD) services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, which has released such notable drama boxsets as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which have never aired on cable, satellite or terrestrial television. 

For the purpose of this article, we’ve broken video production down into four broad categories: feature films, television, advertising, and corporate video. Each has its own particularities, requirements, and opportunities. Read on to learn more.

Feature Films 

Let’s start at the top of the food chain, with feature films in the premium spot. Loosely speaking, a feature film is defined by its length. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the British and American Film Institutes, consider anything over 40 minutes to be a feature, whereas the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) requires a 60 minute runtime.

More than 83% of feature films, and consequently a large share of the global market, are produced by the “Big Six” studios: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios, along with their subsidiary companies. These are typically the features that get multi-million pound budgets and wide distribution.

Studios like Warner Bros. are the descendants of the original Hollywood studio system

Studios like Warner Bros. are the descendants of the original Hollywood studio system, controlling a significant share of big-budget film production.

But there have always been alternatives to the big blockbuster-producing studios, and with the rise of affordable digital cameras and editing software, smaller films have increased in number and improved the quality of their output. 

These include:

  • Independent features: Independent features have traditionally been distinguished by receiving funding from production companies independent of the larger studios as well as a generally more experimental nature, but in recent years the line has blurred with larger companies establishing independent subsidiaries, offering an average budget of some £600,000
  • Low-budget: The definition of “low budget” is somewhat elastic, but a rough number lies somewhere between £134,000-£622,000. The main difference between a low-budget film and an independent one is that, at least traditionally, independent features are independent of the studio system, whereas a studio could easily provide a few hundred thousand for a low budget movie.
  • Micro-budget: Possibly the most confusing subcategory, a micro-budget could consist of anything from a ceiling of £133,000 to almost nothing (a so-called “no-budget”). These are a common form of feature for aspiring filmmakers to cut their teeth on, and there are some very successful examples out there including Jonathan Cauoette’s Tarnation or Shane Carruth’s Primer, made for $218.32 and $7,000 respectively.

With each level of the approach to feature film production, there are a variety of jobs directly involved in the creation of a film, from directors and line managers to stunt coordinators and greensmen. There are also people working behind the scenes—those involved in the commissioning at a studio or in the daily running of an independent video agency, for example—who play an equally important role in the video production process. 

TV

If defining a feature film is tricky today, then defining TV may be more complex still. It used to be a simple matter to define television: it was any content which was produced by a television studio for the purpose of broadcasting through a limited number of channels over airwaves, or via satellite or cable distribution. 

In the century since John Logie Baird invented the first television, a cabinet-like appliance which remained recognisable for years, a lot has changed in the way television is made and consumed. As recently as a decade ago, this was the simplest way to define TV: it was made by TV studios and watched on a TV set.

One of Baird’s early television sets
One of Baird’s early television sets

One of Baird’s early television sets, demonstrating the characteristic box shape which would make it distinctive for generations.

The internet has changed all that. Today, viewers can watch drama, sport, news and the latest cat video at will on a flatscreen television connected to their home WiFi network. But complicating matters is the fact that TV can also be watched on laptops, mobile phones, and tablets inside and outside the home.

So how do we define television?

What defines television is not the TV set—it’s about the content.

If you’re watching Love Island on your tablet, you’re watching TV. Subscription VOD, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu: that is TV.

Of course, it’s possible to watch all sorts of video content on a mobile device, but that doesn’t necessarily make it TV. In truth it’s no longer easy to find a definition of what content does count as television. A presenter broadcasting on YouTube isn’t necessarily on TV, and this might be framed in terms of the quality of their product. Traditionally much television has relied on advertising revenue and so one rule of thumb is that if the quality of the broadcast is not stable enough to support advertising by household brands, then it’s not television.

The crafted, reputable content which we might call television, from Game of Thrones to live magazine-style programmes like The One Show, is produced in a number of ways.

In the UK, broadcasters like the BBC, ITV and Sky produce some of their own content including documentaries, drama, children’s programming, or sport, while also filling their schedules with content bought in from independent production companies. 

The independent video production companies providing this content tend to specialise in key sectors like factual, drama, or children’s TV, and vary in size from a one-person outfit to enormous indies like the Endemol Shine Group, which owns global superbrand products such as MasterChef and Big Brother

VOD platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video typically started out by buying in all of their content from major or independent producers, offering themselves as a supplementary distribution network in addition to television and cinemas. In 2013, they broke new ground with shows like Netflix’ House of Cards and Prime’s The Man in the High Castle, ushering in a new era of direct-to-VOD original content independent of the traditional television producers. 

Given the range of content on TV, it’s no surprise that the jobs involved in planning, making and shaping the content are equally varied—from writing, accountancy, set construction, continuity and props, to floor managing, studio directing, researching and grading.  

Advertising 

If we’re thinking about types of video content production then inevitably adverts will be on the menu.

Here it helps to understand the traditional structures for making a video advert. An advertising company or creative agency will work with a brand to devise a brief, structure, and approach for an advert. To execute this, however, they will go out to a video agency, because maintaining the broad range of skills required to make ads in-house—which can be anything from an animation to a celebrity-endorsed 30-second spot with high production valueswould be cost-prohibitive and inefficient. That production company may itself consist of little more than a few key production staff representing a number of directors and cinematographers, but with the know-how to organise locations, set-builds, music composition, and more. Traditionally, the advertising agency would then manage the media-buying and distribution of the ads using their own in-house team or a specialist media-buyer. 

So if you think you’d like to be involved in the actual production of ads rather than shaping the concepts behind them, then it’s not the advertising company you should be writing to, but the production houses that service their needs. 

So what is an advert these days? Is it a massive multi-million pound endeavour with a top-name director and recognisable on-screen talent? It can be, but given the fragmentation of the way we consume information, it should come as no surprise that set-piece ads for the cinema and TV have been supplemented by pre-roll, in-stream, and bumper ads on platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Meanwhile, a general malaise with traditional advertising methods and the sophistication of ad blockers has forced brands to seek new ways to connect with audiences in more creative ways, such as branded content, a soft-sell form of advertising.

Consider this example from camera manufacturer GoPro from way back in 2013, which is real footage and cost nothing to produce.

The combo of firemen and kittens is obviously a winner, topped off with a great tagline in ‘Be a Hero.’ The relatable video was made without any ad agency or for that matter any planning or filming, and yet this instantly shareable video product turned into a significant boon for the company, netting almost 44 million views on YouTube alone and playing some part in a value increase by over 40% in just a year.

Another marked shift is that advertising companies are being disintermediated. Brands have more in-house creatives able to give shape to their own campaigns. They also manage the delivery of these campaigns, as the channels are often their own, such as their website and social media platforms. Meanwhile, greater accessibility to, and emphasis on, digital technology and the expansion of online advertising means they can manage a campaign themselves on platforms such as Facebook or Youtube. 

The other key factor is that there are now a plethora of corporate video production companies available to create the video content for them directly, following their brief and introducing their own expertise to best create and deliver one off-ads or whole campaigns. 

Corporate Video Production

When we say video production, more often than not we mean corporate video production. Other video production professionals will say they work in films or in documentaries, for example, for the sake of clarity.

There has been an explosion of corporate video production companies in London and around the UK as a result of a few factors:

As a corporate video production company in London (full disclosure!), we’ve seen a lot of changes in our field over the past decade, but we’ve also paid careful attention to the sort of video production that remains constant for internal and external communications. 

With external communications, key video formats include:

About Us Videos

An ‘about us’ video is all about identity. It’s used to give viewers insight into what a business does, who’s behind it and what the company stands for.

Events & Conferences Videos

There are different sorts of video products for events and conferences, including:

  • Kick-off videos to get a meeting started right, to set the agenda, and, most importantly, the tone.

  • Video that captures the key-note or panel speakers at an event, which is either live-streamed or recorded to be edited and distributed later.
  • Video that captures the essence of an event: a sense of the place, the people who’ve attended, the purpose, snippets of key speakers on the stage, and interviews with them and the event organisers to set the context of the event. These can often be used as marketing collateral for the next year’s event or as promotional material.

Case Study Videos

In a case study video, the product or service in question is being talked about by someone whose shoes the reader can place themselves in. It’s a demonstration of success, innovation, and effectiveness as seen through the eyes of a satisfied client. With the product actually having been used, it proves its value through trial. 

Case studies typically follow a narrative structure outlining a problem faced by the hero, presented with a solution (i.e., the brand), and describing the successful outcome. At the end of this we find a ‘Call To Action’ (CTA) to provoke an immediate response in the viewer.

Explainer Videos

On the more technical side of corporate video production is the explainer video. These are meant to help explainin the most user-friendly terms possiblehow your product or service works, in particular a tech product.

Explainer videos might feature a presenter in order to translate the concepts in question for the average viewer, and animation is often used as a further means of illustrating otherwise complicated technical ideas.

Viral Videos

Happily, we rarely get clients asking for a viral video. While we can certainly understand the appeal, the truth is that nobody understands why videos go viral. Ultimately, virality is an organic quality which is decided by audiences, not commissioners or producers.

With internal communications, video formats often include:

Education & Training 

Videos produced to help teach a specific skill or topic or to deliver educational lessons to students or workers, including updates to procedures such as Health & Safety protocols. 

CEO Updates

These tend to be shorter videos used to engage with a company’s employees more warmly and directly than a memo, often focusing on corporate culture, goals and results.

Corporate Video Production Techniques

We’ve touched on some of the key formats for the use of video in corporate comms, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the formats can include a wide array of techniques.

Animation in Video Production

Whether it’s 2D, 3D or stop-motion, animation  is a popular way to convey information. 

Graphics

Even if the chosen format centres on interview content and b-roll (as in a case study), there are opportunities to incorporate infographics like graphs, maps, and pie charts, or motion graphics such as kinetic typography which underlines points made in the interview content.

Interactive Video

By combining traditional video with interactive technology, viewers can interact with additional content through hotspots overlaid on the video. This takes the viewer to extra information. This type of video, it’s claimed, has an engagement rate of nearly twice that for linear (normal) video. It can work well in conjunction with retail videos that sell clothes for examplegiving the viewer extra information on the range and prices and the ability to add items directly to a shopping basket. 

Aerial Filming

Whether it’s shot from a helicopter or a drone, aerial footage offers exciting and dynamic views of subjects whose scale or importance may not be conveyed as effectively through footage shot at ground level. 

Video Production Goals

One other way to define video production, apart from describing the processes and types of content produced, is to think about it in terms of its intentions.

In marketing terms a video’s goals will probably depend on where it will intersect with the consumer in their buying journey. Not every video has to have a sale as the goal, and many are intended to popularise ideas or grow awareness of a brand or campaign. 

Video can be used at the top of the sales funnel to bring awareness to a product or service, for example an About Us or Case Study video. This spreads awareness of a brand or product, increases visibility, and lays the foundation for a relationship between a company and the public.

With some products an accompanying video that shows its functions and unique features at the  point of sale can be the difference in completing a purchase or not. After a sale, video can be the medium to explain how to use it, maintain it or fix it, or to encourage the exploration of other products or services. 

The Three Phases of Video Production

We’ve explored the different branches of video production: 

  • Feature films
  • TV/broadcast
  • Advertising & commercials
  • Corporate video production

What these have in common is a similar workflow which can be broken into three key phases:

1. Pre-production: In this planning stage team members—including  writers, producers, directors, casting directors, and line-producers—work together to shape a story, a budget, and a shooting plan. 

 

2. Production: This is the creation stage of the project. Key production staff—including Directors, Directors of Photography, lighting technicians, sound recordists, grips, riggers, gaffers and sparks—are responsible for capturing the footage and audio that make up the building blocks of the final product.

3. Post-production: This is the final stage in the project workflow, during which the materials are assembled and crafted into a finished product by staff including editors, colourists, compositors, and sound-mixers.

The current trend common to all types of video production is that the world is becoming increasingly connected to the internet, and this connection is speeding up every day. Whether you’re a feature film producer or making your own make-up tutorials, your audience is going to get bigger.

Whatever the type of video production, wherever it may be shown and whether it’s in pre-production, production or post-production, there is a hugely rich variety of output and job roles, making video production an incredibly creative vocation with ever-expanding opportunities. 

What Does the Future Hold for Video Production?

A significant shift is that we will be sharing more content across language barriers. The success of feature films like 2019’s Parasite suggest that the English-speaking world is warming up to the idea of foreign language video. Perhaps it’s because reading subtitles is now an everyday experience. 80% of videos on LinkedIn are watched without sound, and 85% on Facebook, reflecting a growing comfort with subtitled footage in our daily lives.

There is also an ongoing appetite for short-content. On sites like Instagram and TikTok, 15-second videos of wildly varying genres have taken viewers of all demographics by storm. There’s no turning back. Less is more. 

Live streaming, particularly on social media sites, is already one of the most popular forms of video consumption around, and it shows no sign of letting up, with 63% of viewers in the 18-34 demographic watching live streams regularly. 

Tutorials and educational videos have also seen a notable uptick as audiences grow increasingly interested in gaining new skills and new insights. YouTube tutorials, for example, can show everything from the practical, like folding a fitted sheet, to the fantastic, such as how to escape quicksand. 

Lastly, a key driver for video production is going to continue to be mobility. 

75% of all videos viewed are on mobile devices, and that number is expected to rise by 100% annually. With that in mind, we will see content and formats optimised for mobile viewing including adding subtitles. 83% of all videos are watched without sound by viewers who still want to know what’s being said, and the option to translate dialogue will open up new markets like Latin America, currently home to the highest level of demand for video content in the world.

A Guide to Video on Social Media

A Guide to Video on Social Media

Among social media professionals, opinions on trends and new developments vary wildly, but one thing that’s held to be nearly certain is that video is set to dominate marketing and media for at least the next decade. By 2021, video will account for 80% of all web traffic.

 

The increasing ubiquity of smartphones and a wide array of social media platforms and apps have become the avenue for an average of almost 3.5 hours of video watched every day in the UK alone. Video quickly grabs the attention and engagement of diverse audiences—without them even realizing it, if done well—by rapidly transmitting ideas in marketing content as visual entertainment. This represents a unique opportunity to strengthen relationships with customers and consumers, enhance brand awareness, and establish reputations for engaging and thought-provoking content. 

In this guide, we explore the current lay of the land in social media and the role video content plays in it. As an unparalleled opportunity to establish relationships with customers and consumers, boost brand awareness, and enhance your reputation for thought-provoking and innovative ideas, video content should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. Here, we’ve broken down the basics specs and benefits of some of the most popular video-hosting social media sites for you in one convenient place.

Top Video Social Media Platforms in 2020

We’ll focus on nine of the most popular, promising, and profitable ones in use today. While platforms like Facebook and YouTube continue to attract usersa in their hundreds of millions, there’s plenty newcomers with distinct advantages and characteristics to suit businesses and products of all types through their features and the audiences they attract.

Instagram

Famed as the progenitor of stripped-back, nothing-but-essentials social media posts, Instagram is wildly popular among users and businesses alike. Since its launch in 2013, it’s seen its business accounts grow to 25 million, all run by people who know that the app is a surefire way to catch the attention of over 1 billion users.

Available Formats 

Landscape, square, and portrait/vertical

Max Video Length

15 seconds for Instagram Stories, 10 minutes for Instagram TV, 60 seconds for all others.

Ideal Audience

  • Instagram is the perfect platform for entertainment, fashion, and media brands, as well as (famously) food. It’s a particularly good way to reach those under the age of 35, who make up 65% of the platform’s active user base, but with over 1 billion daily users, it’s hard to go wrong with reaching a wide variety of demographics.

Subtitle Support

  • Instagram doesn’t support the addition of optional subtitles, so you’ll have to “burn” them into your video with simple editing software prior to uploading. This kind of non-optional captioning is also called  “open captioning.”

    LinkedIn

    LinkedIn has recently enjoyed a boom in popularity among professionals and thought leaders who use it to quickly and simply convey core concepts from their respective fields of expertise. Video content is consumed by 75% of business owners every week, making LinkedIn a perfect place for B2B communication. Videos on LinkedIn see share rates more than 20 times higher than other forms of content, with video campaigns commonly resulting in viewing rates of 50%. LinkedIn content should be informative and professional but friendly and interesting in tone.

    Available Formats

    “CinemaScope” landscape and portrait/vertical

    Max Video Length

    10 minutes for shared videos, 30 minutes for ads. However, LinkedIn recommends 15 seconds for best performance.

    Ideal Audience

    • Longer average supported runtimes and an extensive catalogue of editing options make this platform stand out as a way to reach professional audiences interested in tutorials, documentary-style footage, and live broadcasts explaining your work and the benefits it offers.

    Subtitle Support

    • SubRip Subtitle files (SRT) can be added via a transcript of dialogue, making subtitles optional for users.

    Twitter

    Twitter is the go-to for sports, entertainment, and current events. Videos and ads are presented in identical formats in a seamless stream, so users organically encounter both as they explore their feeds. Because these videos play automatically and perform best in shorter lengths, viewers are more likely to watch them all the way through, consider the content actively, and remember the point of the video and the branding within after it’s finished.

    Available Formats

    Landscape and portrait/vertical

    Max Video Length

    140 seconds.

    Ideal Audience

    • While Twitter has a strong presence among young professionals in the English-speaking world, it also has tens of millions of users in China, India, and Japan, many of whom use it to track short segments of political news, music, TV and film releases, and influencers.

    Subtitle Support

    • SubRip Subtitle file (SRT). In the past, Twitter only supported the use of auto-generated closed captions, which describe ambient sounds as well as dialogue.

    Snapchat

    Snapchat is built on the back of short, snappy videos attracting 229 million daily users, over half of whom are 15-25 years of age. If you have a range of products to advertise, these can be inserted organically into a purpose-built story which gives viewers control over how and when to watch. You also have the option to create 15 second videos or single image ads for unobtrusive, but memorable, content.

    Available Formats

    Landscape and portrait/vertical

    Max Video Length

    10 seconds for standard video, 15 seconds for ads.

    Ideal Audience

    • Viewers younger than 25 years of age interested in eye-catching clips focused on current topics and trends in entertainment, fashion, and sport. Snapchat works best for video content when used in conjunction with other sites like Facebook, particularly if you’re trying to build a wide base of awareness. Remember that usership drops off sharply among age groups older than 25.

    Subtitle Support

    • Snapchat videos must either have open captioning, or the subtitled or captioned version of a video can be back-linked through a platform that supports SRT files, such as Facebook or YouTube.

YouTube

YouTube has reach like no other video-focused social media site, with 2 billion users worldwide and strong appeal across all demographics. Nearly 5 billion videos are watched on the site every day on both the desktop site and on mobile apps, hosting longer content comfortably and simply while providing ample ground for short pre-video ads.

Available Formats

Landscape only; vertical videos are automatically ‘pillar-boxed’

Max Video Length

  • Skippable Video Ad – 5 seconds
  • Non-Skippable Video Ad – 15 seconds
  • Mid-roll Video Ad –  available for content longer than 10 minutes. Can be skippable, but users must watch 30 seconds or entire ad, whichever is shorter.
  • Bumper Video Ads – 6 seconds
  • Standard videos – 12 hours 

Ideal Audience

  • Everyone uses YouTube, from teenagers to pensioners. The best way to boost engagement and awareness is through episodic playlists. These encourage viewers to click through to more content just because they play automatically, anchoring your image and name firmly in audiences’ minds.

Subtitle Support

SubRip Subtitle file (SRT) are supported for transcripted dialogue. Through the use of the proprietary YouTube Studio editing suite, you can also create closed captions which include details of sound, e.g., [doors closing] or [thunder].

Facebook

Facebook is outstanding for shared videos and ads with tons of options for formats and new features. Viewers are more likely to engage with honest, down-to-earth videos showing surprising but believable situations that get straight to the point. Memorable or surprising hooks are more likely to drive engagement and shares.

Available Formats

Landscape, portrait/vertical, 360° immersive video, square, right-hand column

Max Video Length

  • Shared post video – 120 minutes
  • 360 video – 40 minutes
  • Desktop news feed link video – 120 minutes
  • Carousel video ads – 30 seconds
  • Collection video ads (mobile) – 120 minutes
  • Canvas video ads in news feed (mobile) – 120 minutes
  • Autoplay video within canvas ad (mobile) – 120 minutes
  • Slideshow video ad – 120 minutes
  • Facebook Stories – 15 seconds

Ideal Audience

Subtitle Support

  • Facebook offers exceptional support for SRT files. You can use free software like Descript or oTranscribe to quickly generate and tweak thorough transcripts from which to create an SRT file.

TikTok

TikTok is one of China’s most significant social media exports, blossoming into the third most downloaded app worldwide with over 800 million users. Similarly to other platforms which favor ultra-short video content, it capitalises on 15-second shorts featuring popular topics like food, sport, athletic apparel, and fashion.

Available Formats

Landscape and portrait/vertical

Max Video Length

15 seconds or four 15-second segments for 60 seconds total.

Ideal Audience

  • TikTok’s appeal partly lies in the casual, homemade appearance of its best-performing content. Users are keen to engage with visually surprising and clever videos of ideally 16 seconds.

Subtitle Support

  • Only open captioning or burned subtitles can be used with TikTok content. Alternatively, you can add text directly through the platform with the use of the “Text” option in the uploader.

Vimeo

Vimeo has earned a reputation for more artisanal content than near-parallel YouTube, as demonstrated by its unlimited running time for full members. Its special business package, Vimeo Business, offers analytics, marketing insights, and advice for calls to action, placing a hefty array of controls in your hands when it comes to spreading the word about your business.

Available Formats

Landscape

Max Video Length

Unlimited for full members.

Ideal Audience

  • Vimeo offers almost unbeatable options for video and subtitle formats as well as terrific support for audio. This makes it perfect for film creators, animators, and musicians. Users are highly likely to visit the site for pop-up and banner ad-free content which is longer and more in-depth.

Subtitle Support

  • Vimeo offers the widest array of options for subtitling of the platforms in this guide, including the preferred WebVTT (.vtt), as well as SubRip Subtitle file (SRT), DXFP/TTML (.dxfp), Scenarist (.scc), and SAMI (.SAMI).

WeChat

WeChat operates in China with almost minimal competition, meaning more than 1 billion global users rely on this app for everything from simple messaging to paying bills and shopping. It’s also gaining steady ground in Europe and North America. The platform’s versatility and user-friendliness make it a natural home for natural placement for videos featuring entertainment, convenient financial apps, and lifestyle content.

Available Formats

Widescreen/landscape, square, and portrait/vertical

Max Video Length

Short video – 1-15 seconds

WeChat Moments ads – 6 to 15 seconds for preview, 5 minutes for full video.

Ideal Audience

  • Those interested in ultra-compact content on new trends and entertainment. WeChat is a giant in China, so if you’re looking to expand your reach there, it’s a good idea to craft brief videos focused on luxury products and entertainment like upcoming film releases. The Lunar New Year can see a significant boom in engagement as audiences look to gather gifts for friends and loved ones.

Subtitle Support

  • No innate support. However, basic video editing software will allow you to add captions directly to the video file. The edited file can then be uploaded with non-optional subtitles to the platform

What crew do you need to film a corporate video?

Who’s who on the film crew?

If you’ve watched the credits rolling by at the end of a feature film you will have gotten a feel for the number of people and the range of skills involved in creating a ninety minute movie. Many of the job titles are incomprehensible to anyone but an industry insider: the Best Boy (Grip), Foley artist, Chaperone or Greensman. We’ve tackled some of those roles in our A to Z of Film & Video Production, but here we thought it would be helpful to break down the composition of a crew that’s likely to turn up on a range of typical corporate video shoots – from a simple case study to a 30 second ad spot involving actors and grip equipment.

Let’s start at the shallow end.

Option 1 

FILMMAKER 

It’s possible that all a shoot requires is an operator with some self-directing nous and a camera. We might call them a Filmmaker. Crucially this person has to be able to manage all their kit on their own, so they probably won’t bring much more than the camera, a tripod, small monitor, a few lenses and perhaps a light with a stand. A filmmaker operating alone will make decisions based on a brief that has been agreed in advance and roll with the punches on the day, using their initiative. For filming broll (ie general location shots) a lone filmmaker is a low-key and cost-effective approach, but if there’s an interview involved or more nuanced requirements, then you’ll need an extra person.

Option 2  

PRODUCER/ DIRECTOR
DIRECTOR of PHOTOGRAPHY

A Producer/ Director (also known as a PD) is the go-to production person (as opposed to technician) for the bulk of corporate work. As the title suggests a PD wears two hats – a producer’s (all things practical involving client liaison, budgets, schedules, deliverables) and a director’s (scripting, literally giving direction to the camera team, working with the editor after the shoot). On big productions the producer and director roles are separated and compartmentalised, so that the director – who is more concerned with the vision of the piece than the fiscals – would have to approach the producer for more of anything (time, celebrity actors, explosions) rather than just reward him/herself.

On a corporate video the PD is likely to have been involved in all the pre-production leading up to the shoot including the extrapolation of information from the brief to create a script, visiting the location for filming on a ‘recce’ (a ‘scouting’ to our American cousins and ‘un repérage’ in France), the crewing and the scheduling. On the day the PD will direct, guiding the Director of Photography on what needs to be achieved visually, asking interview questions and liaising with the client. After the shoot the PD will manage the edit, working alongside the editor, and be responsible for client management right up to delivery. 

In this instance we have called the camera technician a Director of Photography, often abbreviated to DP or DOP and alternatively called a cinematographer, though that term is more typically associated with feature films. Any corporate video production company worth its salt will have an in-house DoP. There is a distinction being made by using the term DoP from filmmaker (more a jack-of-all trades who may also edit), and a Camera Operator, who will be technically sound but who will follow the vision of the DoP. The DoP works with the PD to achieve the look of each shot, which often involves lighting. A DoP is therefore often also called a Lighting Cameraman or Camerawoman, and on a typical corporate shoot will set up and adjust the lights him/herself. As shoots get bigger the DoP will stop operating the camera and handling the lights, leaving this to other individuals who work to realise their vision.

In corporate video production the DoP will also manage the sound, whether that’s a lapel mic clipped to the speaker or a boom mic positioned just out of frame on a stand. This approach presumes that the sound being captured is from a static position and that only one or two contributors are speaking at the same time. As soon as there is a requirement to capture sound on the move or there are a number of contributors speaking concurrently, then its time to introduce a new member of the team: the Sound Recordist

Here are some example of NextShoot videos created using the above crew structure:

Stylus Look Ahead 2020 Trailer
https://nextshoot.com/video/stylus-look-ahead-2020

The National Gallery: Courtaud Impressionists – Manet https://nextshoot.com/video/the-national-gallery-manet

The Creative Land Trust
https://nextshoot.com/video/creative-land-trust-launch-video

Arup – Tunnel Ventilation
https://nextshoot.com/video/arup-tunnel-ventilation

Clayton/ Deliveroo Case Study
https://nextshoot.com/video/clayton-deliveroo-customer-story

CBRE- the Royal college of Pathologists
https://nextshoot.com/video/cbre-royal-college-of-pathologists

 

Option 3  

PRODUCER/ DIRECTOR
DIRECTOR of PHOTOGRAPHY
CAMERA OPERATOR
SOUND RECORDIST
RUNNER

We’ve established the role of the PD and the DoP. 

Joining them in this scenario are further team members for a filming day that involves:

  • a three camera interview shoot with two contributors speaking to each other in an interview format 
  • these two contributors walking together through an office and delivering lines that we need to capture as both pictures and audio
  • the capture of high quality ‘natural sound’ of the office environment . 
  • the use of some heavy kit (a dolly and track with stands, for example) 
  • a very tight schedule 

The specifics of this shoot will require three extra crew members. 

First of all, because we need to cover 2 interviewees talking to each other with 3 cameras (ie one wide and two close-up shots), the DOP is going to need the support of a Camera Operator. The DoP would manage one close-up, the Camera Operator the second close-up and the PD can make sure the wide shot is running and in focus. As we touched on above, the Camera Operator is not being called on to make any decisions about the shot size or lighting set-up, just to follow the instructions of the DoP and to adjust the framing and focus of the shot during the interview. 

Next up, we’re going to need a Sound Recordist. The nomenclature for roles in film and TV is evolving and fortunately it’s no longer accurate or acceptable to assume that the person operating a camera or a sound mixer is a male. So while cameraman and soundman as generic terms are on the way out, the gender neutral terms are not universally agreed. At NextShoot we refer to someone recording sound on set as a Sound Recordist. In this scenario we’re going to need one, in particular to boom the ‘walk & talk’ sequence, and also to ensure that the quality of the ‘natural sound’ is very good. A Sound Recordist is not only an extra pair of hands to sling a boom on the move, they also monitor the sound input to the camera through their mixer/ record, adjusting it as needed, and record all the sound separately onto their own device. So, when the budget allows, a Sound Recordist is always welcome on the team, especially as they remove the responsibility of the often fiddly business of capturing sound from the DoP.

And finally, given the broll is going to involve some heavy kit and we’re on a tight schedule we would recommend a Runner. What does a runner run after, you ask? Tea, mainly, but having an extra pair of hands on set can be invaluable as it frees up the creatives and technicians to focus on their job rather than ordering lunch and feeding the metre. 

Here’s an example of NextShoot content created using the above crew structure:

Royal Shakespeare Company:
https://nextshoot.com/video/royal-shakespeare-company-video-production

 

Option 4  

PRODUCER
DIRECTOR
1ST AD
2ND AD
RUNNER
DIRECTOR of PHOTOGRAPHY
GIMBAL OPERATOR
1ST AC
2ND AC
SOUND RECORDIST
GAFFER
SPARK
GRIP
VIDEO PLAYBACK
DIT
HAIR & MAKE-UP
WARDROBE SUPERVISOR
ACTORS

We’ve arrived at the deep end. 

A complex corporate video shoot
Track and dolly for a camera mounted on a crane with a remote head. The crew are gathered round the monitor to try and figure out how we’re going to get the shot.

A corporate video production company works directly with brands and organisations, and is also hired by agencies as a service production company to fulfil the vision they have created with the brand directly. Either way, a video production company like NextShoot is working on increasingly sophisticated content with higher production values. 

As ambitions for a video develop so does the need for specialisation on the crew, and while a corporate video production company may have a number of in-house experts there’s inevitably a time when it calls on its roster of freelance specialists to support its core team.

In this scenario – a real one in fact – we introduce a crew with the specific skills and expertise that you would find on sophisticated branded content or a 30 second commercial spot, and someway up the ladder towards the sort of crew used on a small independent movie. 

In this instance there is a separation between the Producer and the Director, whose roles we have touched on above, both supported by a First Assistant Director (1st AD).

Contrary to their title, 1st ADs don’t actually direct. Above all are responsible for managing the filming schedule. To do this effectively a 1st AD will attend a technical recce ahead of the shoot day with other key crew, typically including the Producer, Director, DoP, Gaffer and First Assistant Camera (1st AC). From the technical recce the 1st AD builds a filming schedule that allows time for each set-up, sequence, move and break. 

On the shoot day the 1st AD typically calls for the talent, shouts out the start and end of each take (‘Action! and ‘Cut!), gives cues for the background artists, keeps the director and the crew on time and assists the director and producer in checking off the shot list. 

The 1st AD is often supported by a Second Assistant Camera (2nd AD) who works more closely with the background artists, often chaperoning them into the right position in frame from instructions given by the 1st AD on a walkie-talkie.

On set the 1st AD and the director often discuss the schedule. The 1st AD is empowered to be blunt with a director telling them that they can have another take, but perhaps at the cost of another shot, or (less often) advising them that they’re ahead of schedule and have time to try something different. 

There can be a number of other production team members on a shoot (an Assistant Producer for example), but for most corporate work a producer will suffice. One industry entry-point role is invaluable, however: the Runner. Runners often report to the Assistant Directors, but generally assist wherever they are needed and their duties vary depending on where they are assigned. These may include acting as a courier, keeping the set tidy and distributing call sheets and other paperwork. Where there isn’t a catering team on set, runners help with food orders and, crucially, organise tea & coffee for the crew between breaks.

The DoP is head of the Camera Department and works with the director to translate their vision of the mood of the film into a lit frame. Ahead of the shoot the DoP will assemble the equipment list needed for each shot and sequence – from cameras, lenses and lights to jibs, cranes and drones. On set, the DoP is responsible for all lighting plans and the quality of the light. The DoP suggests the lens, angles and camera movement for each shot, working with the director and then passing instructions to their team. A DoP on a medium sized production is likely to operate a camera if it’s on a tripod or a dolly. As soon as a camera gets mounted onto a crane with multiple axes a specialist operator is required, overseen by the DOP. 

If your production requires smooth tracking shots of people on the move that cannot be achieved on a track, then you’re going to be adding a Gimbal Operator to the call sheet. A motorized gimbal can keep a camera level on all axes while the operator moves with the camera. This gives the impression to the viewer that the camera is floating through the air, an effect achieved previously by the Steadicam (often seen up and down the touchlines of football games). Gimbals can be mounted on vehicles and even drones, where vibrations or sudden movements would make it impractical to use a tripod or other camera mounts.

The First Assistant Camera (1st AC or Focus Puller) is on set to support all the cameras, whether on a gimbal, tripod or jib.

 

1st AC with Magliner on Shoot
Two cameras, lenses, tripods and all the other bits and pieces can be a real headache to drag around on location. A Magliner trolley makes light work of it.

The 1st AC will visit to the equipment hire company ahead of a shoot for a prep day or longer, depending on the amount on equipment being used. During this prep period the 1st AC checks every piece of kit, in particular the cameras and lenses, to ensure nothing is missing or broken. If an unchecked camera or lens is found to be faulty on a shoot day it could jeopardise the ability to get a crucial shot or impact the schedule adversely before a replacement is received. 

On location the 1st AC is responsible for setting up the cameras at the start of the day, requiring a good deal of technical know-how across a range of camera and ancillary equipment such as wireless monitoring kits.

The 1st AC is also know as a Focus Puller. Pulling focus is their primary responsibility on set, which is typically done using a wireless follow-focus lens control system and a monitor. They also ensure batteries are charged, that media cards are on standby and often take the camera between takes to give the DoP or Camera Operator a break.

At the end of the day they make sure everything gets put back in its box before being returned to the hire company. 

Depending on the number of cameras being used, a production may also require a Second Assistant Camera (2nd AC, or Clapper Loader) and even a 3rd AC. The Second Assistant Camera operates the clapperboard at the beginning of each take. When film stock was more commonly used, the 2nd AC loaded the raw film stock into the camera magazines.

We’ve touched on the role of the Sound Recordist already, whose prime function is to make sound recordings of excellent quality, free from all unwanted noise. On a corporate production the Sound Recordist will typically be taking sound via radio mics and/or a boom mic to their recorder/mixer which they wear in a special shoulder-mounted bag. The sound can be passed directly to the camera and/or recorded separately. 

While ‘the Gaffer’ is a respectful term used by football players for their manager, on a set it’s the name given to the head electrician and the person responsible for executing the DoP’s lighting plan. Essentially gaffers shape the light to meet the DoPs objectives using flags, nets or diffusion filters to control their direction, softness and intensity. Gaffers traditionally manage the electricians on set.

A Spark is an electrician who reports to the Gaffer. The electrical team handles power on a set, usually for lighting, and manages the power draw on the building or generator. 

Grips have their own department on a film set and are headed by a Key Grip. They work closely with the camera department to provide camera support, especially if the camera is mounted to a dolly, jib or a crane.

Setting up a dolly track for a crane

After a take the DoP and director are often found peering into a monitor (maybe with the client), reviewing the last shot – picture and often sound. This immediate review process is made possible by Playback or Video Assist. During playback a shot can be looped so that those watching have ample opportunity to see and hear the take under review before deciding whether to reshoot or move on.

As the person responsible for transferring the filming data on a camera’s media cards to hard drives, the Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) has become one of the most important crew members on set. 

DITs use their own kit, including programs that perform checks on data totals to make sure all media files are accounted for. DITs have their own processes, but what they have in common is that they back up each card at least twice. 

DITs perform quality control checks throughout the filming day to ensure nothing is corrupted and although data corruption is rare, it’s better to know about it on set while there’s still a chance to reshoot. 

A DIT also knows how to manipulate colour profiles to execute the specific look wanted for a project. DITs feedback to the Director and DoP about the quality of the image – for example about the graininess of a sequence shot in low light.

On corporate videos Make-up Artists also tend to a contributor’s or actor’s hair (ie they’re a Hair & Make-up Artist). On bigger productions these roles are split. After their initial work, Hair & Make-up artists are always present on set for final adjustments before the camera roles.

The Wardrobe Supervisor is in charge of the maintenance and organisation of the costumes during the production. On larger productions the Wardrobe Supervisor will manage a team of Costume Assistants and Costume Dressers, overseeing which outfits will be needed for each scene. A Wardrobe Supervisor needs to ensure that all costumes arrive on set or on location along with the necessary equipment (sewing machines, irons, steamers) and ensure that all hired in costumes are returned safely. 

On a corporate video it’s likely many of the actors will wear their own clothing on camera, but they will have been instructed by the production team to bring a selection of outfits. In this situation the Wardrobe Supervisor will oversee which option is worn.

Finally, we come to ‘the talent’: the actors who speak or take specific direction, and then the ‘extras’, ‘Background Actors’ or ‘Supporting Artistes. For corporate content it’s likely that actors will have been cast through a Casting Agent (who might hold auditions and send video footage of options to the production company) and then booked through an Agent. For extras there are now plenty of online platforms that make it quick and easy to book Supporting Artistes. As soon as children of  school age are involved in filming there are a number of protocols that need to be carefully followed. A permit may be required from the council where they go to school and they will require a parent or Chaperone to accompany them.

Here are some example of NextShoot content created using this crew structure:

Bloomberg Press Video: https://nextshoot.com/video/bloomberg-london-building-press-video

Bloomberg Inside Story: https://nextshoot.com/video/inside-bloomberg-london-video

That’s a wrap on a possible crew for a high end corporate shoot, but if that’s whet the appetite for an even more comprehensive list of possible team and crew members, then you’ll find that list here

Who does what in a corporate video film crew?

Here’s a breakdown of many (though by no means all) of the job titles and roles that could be involved on a corporate video shoot so you’ll never again mix the Boom Operator with the DIT or the Runner with the 1st AC.

KEY CREATIVE TEAM

PRODUCER

The producer oversees the project, though they might report up to an Executive Producer, working with the client to understand the brief and their goals. Typically the producer will stay involved throughout the project lifecycle from pre-production, through production to post-production and delivery.

A part of the Producer’s role is the management of the budget, working with a Line Manager and the Accounts Department on larger productions. The Producer will assemble a production team in line with the budget and the project objectives, often in tandem with the Director who may want to work with preferred crew. 

DIRECTOR

The image most people conjure up of a director is on set: in a folding chair, looking at the monitor or resting up in an ice-cold winnebago (Why winnebago? See W in our our A-Z of Film & Video Production). In fact, the work for a director starts long before any cameras roll on set. A massive part of the job is the office-based preparation ahead of a shoot, including decisions on the crew, selecting the cast and choosing locations.

Working with the Producer and heads of each department Directors oversee all parts of the production and all creative questions get funneled up to them.

On set the director is the quarterback of the show. He or she is best kept in a pocket away from the noise, given space to focus on the key creative decisions with their immediate team and, crucially, directs and works with the talent. 

PRODUCTION TEAM

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

An Executive Producer is usually a senior member of the production company who will be act as an executive on a number of projects simultaneously. On feature films the Executive Producer is likely to be an investor in the project or someone who has facilitated the funding of the project. 

LINE PRODUCER

The most senior member of the production team after the Producer, a Line Producer manages the budget of a film production. Working closely with heads of department, they decide how money gets spent, delivering the best possible solution to the Producer while offering the Director and heads of department what they need to realise their vision.  

Line producers hire crew and facilities, overseeing all the contracts and paperwork. A good Line Producer understands the artistry of film-making and spends time on set as well as in the office. They help to spot potential pitfalls and find creative solutions. At the end of the shoot, they oversee the wrap of the production and hand over to the post-production team.

PRODUCTION MANAGER

The Production Manager supervises the personnel, budget, and scheduling of a production. It is the Production Manager who ensures filming stays on schedule and on budget. The Production Manager often works under the supervision of a Line Producer and oversees the Production Coordinator.

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR

 

The Production Coordinator supports the Production Manager and Line Producer in organising all the logistics involved in hiring crew, renting equipment and booking talent. 

FIRST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (1st AD)

Contrary to their title, 1st ADs don’t actually direct the film, but above all are responsible for managing the filming schedule. To do this effectively a 1st AD will attend a technical recce ahead of the shoot day with other key crew, typically the Producer, Director, DoP, Gaffer and First Assistant Camera (1st AC). From the technical recce the 1st AD builds a filming schedule that allows time for each set-up, sequence, move and break. 

On the shoot day the 1st AD typically calls for the talent, shouts out the start and end of each take (‘Action! and ‘Cut!), gives cues for the background artists, keeps the director and the crew on time and assists the Director and Producer in checking off the shot list. 

On set the 1st AD and the Director often discuss how to make the best use of the filming time. The 1st AD is empowered to be blunt with a Director, telling them that they can have another take, but that they will have to lose another shot.

SECOND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (2nd AD)

The 1st AD is often supported by a 2nd AD who works more closely with the background artists, often chaperoning them into the right position in frame from instructions given by the 1st AD on a walkie-talkie.

RUNNER

Runners often report to the Assistant Directors, but generally assist wherever they are needed and their duties vary depending on where they are assigned. These may include distributing call sheets, acting as a courier and keeping the set tidy. Where there isn’t a catering team on set, runners help with food orders and, crucially, organise tea & coffee for the crew between breaks.

CASTING DIRECTOR 

The Casting Director works closely with the Director and Producer to understand a project’s casting requirements. They suggest actors for each role, and arrange and attend auditions, which typically are filmed and presented to the Director and Producer..

CAMERA DEPARTMENT

 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY (DoP, DP or CINEMATOGRAPHER)

The DoP works with the Director to translate their vision of the film into a lit frame. Ahead of the shoot the DoP will assemble the equipment list needed for each shot and sequence – from cameras, lenses and lights to jibs, cranes and drones. On set, the DoP is typically responsible for all lighting plans and the quality of the light. The DoP suggests the lens, angles and camera movement for each shot, working with the Director and then passing instructions to their team. A DoP on a medium sized production is likely to still operate the camera if it’s on a tripod or a dolly. As soon as the camera gets mounted onto a crane with multiple axes a specialist operator is required. 

GIMBAL OPERATOR

If your production requires smooth tracking shots of people that cannot be achieved on a track, then you’re going to be adding a Gimbal Operator to the call sheet. A 3-axis motorised gimbal can keep a camera level on all axes as the operator moves the camera. This gives the impression to the viewer that the camera is floating through the air, an effect achieved previously by the Steadicam. Gimbals can be mounted on vehicles and drones, where vibrations or sudden movements would make it impractical to use tripods or other camera mounts.

CAMERA OPERATOR

On smaller productions, the DoP will operate the camera. However, on larger productions this task is sometimes given to a Camera Operator. After choices have been made on framing and movement the DoP directs the operator with specific instructions. 

FIRST ASSISTANT CAMERA (1st AC, FOCUS PULLER)

The 1st AC will typically go to the equipment hire company ahead of a shoot for a prep day or longer, depending on the amount on equipment being used. During this prep period the 1st AC checks every piece of kit, in particular the cameras and the lenses, to make sure nothing is missing or broken. If an unchecked camera or lens is found to be faulty on a shoot day it could jeopardise the ability to get a shot or impact the schedule adversely before a replacement is received. 

On location the 1st AC is responsible for setting up the cameras at the start of the day, requiring a good deal of technical know-how across a range of camera and ancillary equipment such as wireless monitoring kit.

The 1st AC is also know as a Focus Puller. Pulling focus is their primary responsibility on set, which is typically done using a wireless follow-focus lens control system and monitor. They also ensure batteries are charged, that media cards are ready and often take the camera between takes to give the DoP or Camera Operator a break.

At the end of the day they make sure everything gets put back in its box before being returned to the hire company. 

SECOND ASSISTANT CAMERA (2nd AC, CLAPPER LOADER)

Depending on the number of cameras being used, a production may also require a 2nd and even a 3rd AC. The Second Assistant Camera operates the clapperboard at the beginning of each take. When film stock was more common, the 2nd AC loaded the raw film stock into the camera magazines.

PLAYBACK/ VIDEO ASSIST

After a take the DoP, Director and often the 1st AC (Focus Puller) are frequently found peering into a monitor, reviewing the last shot – picture and often sound. This immediate review process is made possible by Playback or Video Assist. During playback a shot can be looped so that those watching have ample opportunities to see and hear the take under review before deciding whether to reshoot or move on.

DIGITAL IMAGING TECHNICIAN (DIT)

As the person responsible for transferring the filming data on a camera’s media cards to hard drives, the Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) has become one of the most important crew members on set. 

DITs use their own kit, including programs that perform checks on data totals to make sure all media files are accounted for. DITs have their own processes, but what they have in common is that they back up each card at least twice. 

DITs perform quality control checks throughout the filming day to ensure nothing is corrupted and although data corruption is rare, it’s better to know about it on set while there’s still a chance to reshoot. 

A DIT also knows how to manipulate colour profiles to execute the specific look wanted for a project. DITs feedback to the Director and DoP about the quality of the image – for example about the graininess of a sequence shot in low light.

SOUND DEPARTMENT

SOUND RECORDIST

A Sound Recordist’s prime function is to make sound recordings of outstanding quality, free from all unwanted noise. On a corporate production the Sound Recordist will typically take sound via radio mics and/or a boom mic through to their recorder/mixer, which is carried in a special shoulder mounted bag. The sound can be passed from there directly to the camera and/or recorded separately. 

 

On a feature film the Sound Department would be larger and likely consist of a Sound Recordist, one or two Boom Operators and a Sound Trainee. The quantity of microphones and equipment employed differs, with two boom microphones being operated and recorded simultaneously, possibly in conjunction with clip mics fitted to actors. This requires the Sound Recordist to monitor several mic inputs at the same time via a small mobile mixing desk, usually installed on a custom made trolley.

A boom operator at work.
A boom operator at work. Strong arms are a requirement.

BOOM OPERATOR 

The Boom Operator is easily identifiable as the crew member wieding a microphone on a pole while wearing headphones. The Boom Op gets the microphone as close as possible to the sound (which could be speech, but equally might just be ‘natural sounds’), while making sure their mic, boom poll and their shadow does not encroach on the shot.

ELECTRICAL DEPARTMENT

GAFFER

While ‘the gaffer’ is an affectionate term used by football players for their manager, on a set it’s the title given to the head electrician and the person responsible for executing the DoP’s lighting plan. Essentially Gaffers shape the light to meet the DoPs objectives using flags, nets or diffusion filters to control their direction, softness and intensity. Gaffers traditionally manage the electricians on set.

SPARK

A Spark is an electrician who reports to the Gaffer. The electrical team handles power on a set, usually for lighting, and manages the power draw on the building or generator. 

BEST BOY (ELECTRICAL)

The Best Boy (Electrical) is the Spark who is chief assistant to the Gaffer.

GRIP DEPARTMENT

KEY GRIP

Grips have their own department on a film set and are headed by a Key Grip. They work closely with the camera department to provide camera support, especially if the camera is mounted to a dolly, jib or a crane. In the United States and Canada, the title Grip is also given to those who work closely with the electrical department to create lighting set-ups, under the direction of the DoP and Gaffer. 

BEST BOY (GRIP)

Best Boy (Grip) is the chief assistant to the Key Grip. They are also responsible for organisation of the grip truck throughout the filming day.

A dolly grip at work
A dolly grip at work

DOLLY GRIP

The grip in charge of operating the camera dolly is called the Dolly Grip. They place, level, and move the dolly track, then push and pull the dolly up and down the track with the DoP/ Camera Operator on board.

ART DEPARTMENT

PRODUCTION DESIGNER

The Production Designer is responsible for creating the overall physical and visual appearance of a film – from sets, costumes and props to make-up. 

ART DIRECTOR

The Art Director works with the Production Designer, Set Designer, Prop Master and others in the Art Department. The Art Director is responsible for realising the creative vision set by the Director to give the film its look & feel. Often it’s the Art Director who in charge of bringing a brand’s personality to life in a commercial or branded content piece.

SET DESIGNER 

The Set Designer is the draftsman who realises the external structures or interior spaces outlined by the Production Designer.

A set designer’s model which will later be realised full size, or of course rendered using CGI


STORYBOARD ARTIST

A Storyboard Artist turns the words of a script into a visual story through key frames. The storyboard artist aims to convey everything from gestures to emotion, with minimal (or no) words or dialogue. Their sketches suggest the shot size and also the camera movement and movement of people within the frame. Directors work in different ways with storyboards. Some will refine them in advance of filming and then follow them closely, others use them more like a visual aide-memoir.

PROP MASTER

The Prop Master is in charge of finding all the props on a production ahead of filming and then managing those props on set. 

ARMOURER

Rarely featured on the call sheet for a corporate video (!), the armourer is a specialised props technician who deals with firearms, swords and other weapons.

GREENSMAN
The Greensman deals with the procurement and artistic arrangement or landscape design of any plants used on a set, both real and fake.

 

Impressive work from the Greensman on the set of Edward Scissorhands
Impressive work from the Greensman on the set of Edward Scissorhands

 

WARDROBE DEPARTMENT

WARDROBE SUPERVISOR

There are two parts to a Costume Department, the Running Wardrobe and the Making Wardrobe, all of which is overseen by the Costume Designer. The Making Wardrobe incorporates the design and creation of the costumes during the pre-production period (rare for corporate content). The Running Wardrobe, overseen by the Wardrobe Supervisor, includes the maintenance and organisation of the costumes during the production.

A Wardrobe Supervisor ensures that all costumes arrive on set/ location along with the necessary equipment (sewing machines, irons, steamers). They are across which costumes will be needed for each scene on a shoot, and manage a team of Costume Assistants and Costume Dressers to ensure the talent is in the right costume for the right scene.

After the shoot the Wardrobe Supervisor is responsible to making sure all hired costumes are returned safely.

 

LOCATION DEPARTMENT

LOCATION MANAGER

The Location Manager is responsible for finding and securing locations for the production and coordinating the logistics, permits and costs involved. They make the decisions on the Unit Base and arrange for the necessary facilities (parking, catering, ‘honey-wagons’). They also act as the face of the production to the public.

LOCATION ASSISTANT

Location Assistants support the Location Manager. They are typically the first to arrive on set and the last to leave.

HAIR & MAKE-UP DEPARTMENT

MAKE-UP ARTIST (MUA)

Make-up Artists on corporate videos tend to also tend to a contributor’s or actor’s hair (ie they are a Hair & Make-up Artist). On bigger productions they may be involved in the use of prosthetics and other effects to manipulate how talent appears on screen. 

HAIR STYLIST

The Hair Stylist is responsible for maintaining and styling the hair of anyone appearing on screen. They work in conjunction with the Make-up Artist often sharing the same base. Both Hair and Make-up are especially important in fashion video production, of course, and the Hair and Make-up Artists are always on set to make final adjustments before the camera roles.

 

POST PRODUCTION 

EDITOR

The Editor assembles the various shots captured during the shooting period into a coherent narrative, working closely with the Director. 

COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGERY (CGI) 

CGI is a catch-all term for the application of computer graphics to create or contribute to images, whether static or moving, 2-D or 3-D.

2D computer graphics is the computer-based generation of digital images from two-dimensional models. In corporate content this tends to be name and job title banners, infographics (maps, charts, graphs) and kinetic typography (text that develops onto the screen to support what the viewer is seeing or hearing). It could also be a 2-D animation with flat sets and characters. 

3D computer graphics use a three-dimensional representation of data to give a volumetric visual image of an object. 3D computer graphics are often used in architecture and construction videos and in product videos. The creation of volumetric content is supported by Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. 

Of course, besides real-life objects like buildings and consumer products. 3D computer graphics can be used to create abstract volumetric visual images. 

Under the umbrella of CGI there are number of specialist job roles. For example, a Roto Artist manually creates mattes for use in compositing and may also paint visual information out of a scene, such as removing wires and rigs from green screen shots or telephone pylons from a landscape shot.

A compositor is a visual effects artist responsible for compositing images from different sources such as video, computer generated 3-D imagery and matte paintings into one image.

ARCHIVE & STILLS RESEARCHER

Some projects may require specific film or video imagery which needs to be sourced from a specialist archive library, such the the Imperial War Museum Film & Archive Collection or BBC Motion Gallery, managed by Getty Images. 

An Archive & Stills Researcher has the experience to dig out well known clips and unearth new finds of historical imagery. For most corporate work online stock footage companies such as Dissolve and Shutterstock have a suitable collection of high quality material, which can be easily sourced by a Producer, Director or Editor. 

COLOURIST  

A Colourist adjusts the colour of each shot, in a process often referred to as grading,  to bring consistency to the overall look & feel of the content and to give the video a distinct look. While expert Colourists are the stars of London’s West End post production houses, much can be achieved in-house at a corporate video production company using readily available software such as DaVinci.

FOLEY ARTIST

A Foley Artist creates and records many of the sound effects for a feature film. See F in our A-Z of Film & Video Production for details on this extraordinary profession. For most corporate video work sounds sourced from an online library will cover the vast majority of sound effects required. 

VOICEOVER ARTIST (VO Artist) 

A Voiceover Artist records the script commentary which is then laid over the pictures by the Editor. Prior to recording the final voiceover track the production team use a guide voiceover, often recorded by the Director. Many VO Artists are able to work from a home recording studio and deliver their sound files online, making it a cost-effective process. At NextShoot we have over 300 Voiceover Artists on our books with a variety of local, regional and international accents and, of course, many are able to speak foreign languages.

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.

 


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.