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.

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.

Video Production Tips

Making a Corporate Video

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Consider why potential customers are watching the video

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

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

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

3. Work with your agency to get the creative right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some simple rules –

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

5. Be involved in the edit

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

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

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

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

6. Think about how the video will be watched

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

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

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

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

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