A promotional video is a powerful way of increasing awareness for your product or service. In this guide, we’ll explain how to make a promotional video to best achieve your objectives.
What is a promotional video?
Before we explain how to make a promotional video, it’s important to make sure you understand what it is in comparison to other ‘commercial‘ type advertising.
A promotional video is specifically designed to promote a product, service or event. It typically shows how something works and how it will make the consumer’s life easier. Production videos tend to be relatively short in length, as they need to quickly captivate the audience’s attention, deliver the key information, and leave the viewer wanting to learn more.
Aim / Audience
Before you start planning and definitely before you start filming, you need to think about the purpose of the video you’re about to make. Let’s use this example of if you were commissioned to make a video to promote a new foreign language school.
Here, the aim would likely be enrolment: be to get more students, and therefore increase and expand the business. To do this, you would want to identify traits that make the school a fun and valuable place to be. Ideally, you’d sell it as something people want, or better yet, need! Think about the unique selling points the school contains: is it cheap/good value for your money? Do students learn faster/get better grades? Are the teachers well-qualified?
After these targets are established with your client, it’s a good idea to brainstorm about what style would best suit these aims. Technically, this step belongs under pre-production, but many times when negotiating with a company for a project, the client will choose whoever’s idea they like best.
Ask for examples from the client of videos similar to what they are looking for. This is a great way to get their thoughts in a tangible form and avoid any misunderstandings.
When communicating with the client about styles, you will begin to get a better idea of what type of promotional video you will be creating. Here are some of the main types:
Explainer Videos: These are often animated, but also can be live action too. Usually, there is a step-by-step visual representation of the message, with a voice-over artist reinforcing that knowledge with their dialogue.
Talking head videos: The phrase ‘talking head’ means simply a standard interview of someone talking on camera. Often for promotional videos, these would be key stakeholders in what the business and video are about. Going back to the school example, it might be a mixture of interviews with the teachers and current students, giving it a genuine feel.
Testimonial videos: Testimonial videos feature someone who has experience the product or service, and are talking about what they liked about it. This would be the students of the school: they would talk about why they chose the institute, what stood out to them, how they liked their classes, how much they were challenged; the list goes on.
Fiction piece: You can also go down the fiction route and have a story of an individual, couple, or group of people, which incorporates the school significantly into the story. For example, the video could feature a student who met his best friend while they were learning a language, which ends with them going to a foreign country and conversing with the locals. A big difference with this type is it involves actors, whereas others would feature ‘normal people’.
Here is a fictional piece we created for digital currency app Colu, which explains how the app works through a fictional day in the life of our protagonist:
A big factor to keep in mind is the budget of the client. Oftentimes, this can affect the type of promotional video you can create for them. For example, the client will not be able to have an action-packed promo with car chases and exploding buildings on a shoestring budget.
Not all videos cost the same to make. A talking head video with a single camera could be done relatively quickly with a day shoot and a day or two of editing. A detailed, 3-minute animated explainer could take at least a week.
It’s advised to discus the budget before you do too much pre-production. Remind your client that it is better to do a simple video very well, than do a complex one badly. Line out exactly what you will need to fulfil the client’s wishes: what crew you will need, how much time you will need, any special props, location fees, ect. Transparency is important–the last thing you want is to create a fantastic, expensive video and then have the client back out of the deal because you weren’t clear on costs.
Production value basically means, how much ‘bang for your buck’ is the client going to get. It links to how big or expensive the production ‘feels’ to the viewer, or how well-made the video is.
For example, some people will spend too much of their budget on a high-end camera, then have little or no money for good lighting or sound, so the video still comes across as low budget. Whereas if you did somewhat of the reverse and spent time and money on making the lighting look great, then even on low-end cameras like the Sony a7s series, you can get great results that others will assume were shot on a much more expensive camera. Being smart with your equipment investments is a start.
Other ways to increase the production value is clever use of locations or sets, and the use of props and costumes. For example, there may be an expensive location you wish to use in your video, but due to budget, you can’t book it. Utilize talented crew to find a similar location for cheaper and re-create it as closely as possible. This can help give an overall impression of a higher budget.
How To Make A Promotional Video
As touched upon above, gear is part of making your video look great. With any size budget, there are essentials you must have and you can move up from there.
Key types of gear are:
The camera you use might be as simple as using the one you have, or have access to. However if you are buying or renting a camera it is important to factor in what you will use it for and buy for that, not what you wish you were using it for.
Buying or Renting?
If you are regularly making videos then it will be better in the long run to buy outright a camera system that suits your needs. Think about what level of camera is the one that will do the job 90% of the time and is affordable to your budget.
For example we have sony FS7 which is our A cam on most shoots, then we also have FS700 and two a7s (a mark 1 and a mark 2) as extras which all have their place within our filmmaking arsenal. On big budget commercial shoots we will then hire in cameras such as RED dragon or Alexa Mini, these are cameras which are not needed on most of our jobs as the budget are of a range where such an expensive camera is not a wise use of the money available.
The same can also be said about specialist cameras such as a drone setup or a live broadcast system, these if not use regularly would be poor investments.
When comparing cameras one often overlooked aspect is the cameras codec. For example lets look at the sony FS5 and FS7. They have some similarities but also key differences, especially in the codec. The big difference is that FS7 does 4k 10bit 422 whereas FS5 only does HD in 10bit 422, its 4k is in 8 bit 420.
The choice comes because when decked out into a shooting kit the camera with batteries, cards etc enough to shoot a full day the price difference is about £3000, that’s about £6000 for the FS5 and £9000 for the FS7. There are other difference between the cameras but often people raise this codec difference as the main one.
So what does this mean? Well think about how often you have to grade or change the exposure/contrast of your image in post, the 10bit will help with that massively compared to the 8 bit. The other point is are you needing to do this in 4k?
We use the FS7 because as a company we want flexibility, we use it for talking heads all the way up to medium budget commercials and promos. So we needed something which can be a HD burnt in colour profile camera and the next be a 4k pristine image shot in log format with a heavy grade in post, so the 10 bit 4k was essential.
However if your mainly doing videos that are HD, then the FS5 would suffice, it has good 4k but mainly if your not grading the 4k heavily, for example if your filming talking heads, low to medium budget promos that have a fairly quick turnaround and you used a fairly burnt in colour profile then the HD 10 bit will be your workhorse mode with some 4k for times we you need that extra resolution for example a 1 camera interview and you want to punch in to cover edit points.
Lenses are key, what is the point in buying a great 4k camera but putting horrific lenses on it which negate all the benefits. Think about it, everything the cameras sensor sees comes through the lens first. You wouldn’t wear glasses that are suited to your eyes, so don’t use lenses that will impair your camera.
Invest in Glass
Lenses, sometimes referred to in the industry by the term glass, can be a big expenditure and sometimes people think they shouldn’t spend too much on any one lens especially if the lens is half the price of the camera they use. However lenses should be seen as a long term investment. The reason why is simple they age better than cameras, especially if you do your research and choose for your longer term needs not just the immediate short term. For example some people who started with their first kit during the ‘dslr revolution’ with 5dmk2 and canon L-series lenses then most wouldn’t still be using that camera, but they will probably still be using those high end canon photo lenses for their video needs. For example a great lens for the sony fs7 is the canon 24-70 2.8L.
Its important at this point to also mention the importance of flange size when buying a lens. Lenses come in all sorts of mouts such as canon lenses will be EF mount, lots of modern sony ones are E-mount and high end cine cameras are almost always PL mount. Why these are important when buying lenses is in general you can only adapt a lens that has a bigger mount than the camera your adapting it too. For example you can adapt a canon EF mount lens to a sony fs7
through and adapted such as metabones, but you can’t adapt a sony e-mount lens to a Canon EF mount camera such as ac300.
With this in mind, most people have PL when using cine systems and then EF mount lenses when using non-cine solutions. On paper, the Nikon F mount would be slightly more versatile than the EF mount but as Nikon themselves don’t venture into video cameras it’s more about covering the range from EF and below. Also, EF mounts are more plentiful and often the go-to mount for new third party lenses.
Native vs Non-Native lenses
For video this is not a huge debate as the main drawback of non-native lenses is lack of autofocus, whilst used occasionally for things so as gimbal work, mostly you will not want to be using anything but manual. Size is a slight consideration as native E-mount lenses are a lot smaller and lighter than an EF version however this is not an issue in any circumstances other than, again gimbal work so this goes back to the advice about buying mostly workhorse lenses that will work over most cameras, with a few specialist lenses for particular purposes whether gimbal, drone or other uses.
Focal length and lens types
Lenses can broadly be divided into two types, zooms and primes. Zooms are lenses which the focal length varies such as the aforementioned 24-70mm, or a 70-200mm. Primes, however, are a fixed focal length, some common prime focal lengths are 24, 35, 50, 85mm.
The benefits of zooms to many are more easily seen as it can mean you can get a wide and a med from the same spot without moving, or that you can adjust slightly wider or tighter on your CU as you can go from 70 all the way up to 200mm if using the 70-200 lens for example. So some might wonder why you would want a prime lens? In general terms prime lenses are going to be faster and better quality than a zoom at that equivalent focal length, assuming the lenses are at a comparable price point. Of course, a £2000 zoom is probably going to be better than a £50 lens but a £1500 prime would trump the £2000 zoom by a long way.
I mentioned primes being faster, what this means is the aperture opens wider letting in more light, this is desirable if working in darker places but also stylistically you can have a shallow depth of field which is popular nowadays. For example in the canon L series, they have a 50mm f1.2 prime lens, and a 24-70 f2.8 zoom lens. So whilst the difference between 1.2 and 2.8 doesn’t sound much that is over 2 f stops difference, each f-stop wider open is doubling the amount of light so f2 is twice as bright as f2.8 and f1.4 is twice as bright as f2.8, 1.2 is therefore over 4 times as bright as the f2.8 zoom lens.
As you might imagine why some lenses are better than others is like anything, they are made by different people in different ways, therefore aside from factual quality, there is also an aesthetic difference between say the slight warmer colours of canon glass and the more neutral colour profiles of Zeiss lenses. This is something to think about as if you are mixing different types of lenses it could cause some matching issues in post so you might consider buying mainly one manufacturer of a lens.
So lenses are an important but complex buy when it comes to investing your budgets wisely. I think work out what you can spend, what focal lengths you need to cover and what shooting style it will be, for example, event filming uses lots of zoom lenses so your not having to change lens all the time, but interviews and commercial work its about that image fidelity and so primes might be a good way to go.
I would say make sure you can cover (in full frame) at least 24mm on the wider end and up to around 100mm+ at the longer end, this would give you a good choice. If going with primes also make sure you have a good cover in-between these two focal lengths.
Some combinations I recommend would be:
24-105L F4 canon lens
Mid-range Zoom set
70-200L IS f4 (OR f2.8 version if you can afford it)
24mm + 35/50mm + 85/100mm Samyang VDSLR or Zeiss ZE ranges
Similar focal lengths as the budget but get Zeiss Cp3 or canon CN-E ranges.
Lighting is a much-neglected art when it comes to video production. The videos that you watch and think this looks amazing, is usually because the lighting is nice, regardless of camera/lens.
Of course, if you just had lights but no camera of lenses then you couldn’t film, so get your camera and lenses bought before lighting but plan your budget with lighting in it. There is no point in having a full set of Zeiss Cp3’s on all your shoots but you have no lights for a talking head, that is bad management of budgets.
With lighting, you will never and should never own solutions for all situations as its just not cost effective, compared the lens and cameras there is an endless list of types of lighting fixtures. The best way to think about lighting when planning purchases are flexibility and which situations does the budget of a project not allow for rental of extra lights.
A good place to start is to be able to light an interview without renting gear. Typically people do this using three-point lighting but actually often interviews can be lit nicely with 2 sources, so I would recommend splitting your budget into about 50% getting 1 very good and somewhat versatile light, then spending the other 50% on getting another 1 or 2 good but cheaper lights that match well with your main source, and also the needed grip gear such as lighting stands, reflectors, clamps, sandbags etc. In traditional tungsten lighting, this might have been a kit such as having a 1k or 800watt key light, then a couple of 300ws for when you need fill and hair or background lights. However, types of lighting have changed a lot over the last 10+ years.
Type of light
There are lots of types of lighting at filmmakers disposal nowadays such as traditional tungsten lighting, HMI, fluorescent and LED.
This has been the workhorse of the film and video industry for years. These are fairly cheap for their output compared to other sources and when used effectively can be very flexible lights with the use of modifiers. They cast harsh shadows when its bare bulb but when you punch it into a bounce board or sheet of diffusion then it can also be an amazing soft source. In comparison, other soft sources such as fluorescents and LED panels cant be as harsh as tungsten so it’s about thinking what type of lighting you do on most of your shoots.
Nowadays the big negative people talk about is heat, before it was accepted as the norm, but now with cool sources coming to the forefront such as LED panels, now when people have the choice often the high heat output puts people off tungsten for shoots such as interviews.
There are lots to say about HMI lights but for most small and even mid-range video companies it’s not a technology they often invest in for themselves, its kit they hire in. HMI lights have a much higher output than tungsten (at the same wattage) and have a cooler temperature, so HMI is great for matching daylight or using when competing with the sun. Tungsten lights would need to be gelled with CTB gel to cool it down in a daylight situation.
The main barrier to HMI lighting for people is the cost, a good HMI can cost a lot, so unless you are needing such a high-end light regularly it just doesn’t make fiscal sense.
Fluorescent lighting has been used in situations where you want nice soft light as standard. A popular brand is kino flow and these lights have been used on all types of productions. They can be a bit bulky as often the bulbs are very long and also the output is usually not great for the size. However, there are certain situations where they are great. If you want a ready to go soft key light then having a fluorescent solution in your kit is a great choice. Also with some fluorescent fixtures, you can detach the bulbs and wiring from the main unit and use it in ways such as tape it behind things lie doors, tables, bars etc.
LED technology, in particular, has changed a lot over the last 5-10 years as its gone from being seen as a low-quality solution to a 100% viable high-end solution as the technology has got better. The main issues in the past were colour accuracy and output; the colour accuracy has mostly been eradicated even at the fairly low ends of LED fixtures. The output has also improved although for the money you spend often you get low output compared to tungsten lighting.
LED technology has also diversified the types of lighting fixtures we see. You can get single LED light sources which create hard shadows like tungsten/HMI lighting, and you can get LED panels which are a larger light source so softer more akin to fluorescent.
The size of the LED sources are also very interesting for example you can get lights the size of a credit card that can be a camera top light or be taped into the smallest of spaces. They have also had flexible LED mats which can be rolled up, folded and bent any which way which both means transporting the lights are easy but also the various ways you can use the light.
If there is one light that is going to be the dominant force in the future, I imagine a lot of people will say its LED lighting as it is advancing the fastest and help DPs, Gaffers and camerapeople all over the word get more creative with their lighting options.
To compliment your lovely lighting fixtures you are going to want some accessories in order to use them to their full capacity. Here are some key ones.
Stands – Whether using standard lighting stands or C-stands capable of booming a light over a subject you need some stands for your lights to sit on. Always make sure is that your stands can take the weight of your fixture, don’t put your expensive 2.5k HMI on a £20 light stand of Amazon!
Clamps & Arms – We use a mixture of clamps and arms on our projects, whether is to hold gel’s onto the barn doors of our lights or to mount a fixture onto the top of a door with a magic arm. These help you solve tricky lighting situations and make your images the best they can be.
Reflectors / Diff frames/bounce boards – These are to help you manipulate your light fixtures output, but bouncing it to fill a space, putting a layer of diffusion between the light and subject to soften the harsh light out, or a reflector to bounce some of the light back onto the subject to provide a fill.
Gels – When you buy a light a big choice you will make is whether it’s a daylight balanced (cooler colour wise) source or a tungsten balanced (warmer) source. Now nobody buys enough of each so they are covered, we use gels to convert it in a given situation. For example HMI is daylight but you can put gels such as CTO to warm it up, inversely you can cool down tungsten colours with CTB. Of course creative colour gels can be used too such as green, red, purple etc. The main thing to think about is which do you need it at its highest output as gelling a light cuts down its output. For this reason if given the choice between say a tungsten or daylight balanced LED panel I would choose daylight as if in a daylight environment you need as high and output as possible whereas if lighting interiors with tungsten practical sources you can afford to loose output using gels on your light.
Another type of gel is neutral density gels which are used to cut down light but not change the quality or colour of it, so if a light is too bright or more commonly if you have windows that you want to cut down the overpowering sunlight you can use it on those.
Too many times have people spent so much time and effort on making a video look great for the sound to really let it down and be horrific. Imagine a perfectly lit interview but there is an echo-y sound all the way through because it was recorded into an on-camera microphone. Or you have got interference on the radio mics your using so there is a crackle at regular intervals. These are common issue we see on a regular basis that people do.
Sound gear shouldn’t be an after thought, it should have its place in the budget and high up on priority after camera and lenses. With sound, you have some options depending on the types of videos your shooting.
Lavalier or Shotgun
Two main types of microphone we use are lavalier mics and shotgun mics. Lavalier microphones are sometimes know by other names such as clip mics or tie mics but are basically very small microphones that are fairly omnidirectional that are clipped or attached onto a subjects person often a collar, tie or another part of their clothing. Mostly we use wired lav mics which have a wire leading down from them along the floor to the camera through XLR inputs, but sometimes if we need the subject moving about we will use radio mic which are the same just wireless. They are more prone to sound issues due to possible interference with other nearby signals so we use wired where at all possible.
Shotgun mics are more directional than lavalier mics in that they pick up the sound that is mostly directly in front of them. This means in some situations they can effectively cut out or dampen unwanted noise from other sources. These are mostly wired rather than wireless and usually when you either have someone to operate the microphone by used of a boom or hand held, or if you are doing a static setup and have the time and space to rig up a shotgun solution overhead.
Lavalier mounting options – These could be simple clip mounts, vampire mounts which allow you to hide the mic by hooking into clothing. Also if outside you might want some sort of fluffy mic cover which helps cut down wind noise.
XLR cables – These are key as most microphones you use will use these cables and they plug into your camera to allow you to record the audio. You will want several of varying lengths as sometimes you need a long 20m one or other times just a 1m one to keep it tidy, each key length ideally has 2 or 3 so that if one has an issue or breaks after wear that you are covered.
Shotgun mounts – Popular options are hand grip to allow for hand held use, or boom pole to allow for an operator to get the mic close to the action and also a really handy one we use is the boom buddy which allows you to attach a boom pole securely to a stand so that for static interviews you don’t need a dedicated sound op.
I have mentioned in the other gear types lots of gear which falls under the general banner of grip such as lighting stands, arms, clamps etc but here I will mention the key bits of gear that are needed grip wise that hasn’t been covered above.
Tripods are essential, otherwise where are you going to put your camera? Handheld work is good for some projects but tripod work is needed on 99% of projects. Make sure you get a tripod that can more than support the weight of you camera, lens, and anything else you will mount such as external monitor, on-camera light, microphone. The other key aspect is one that had a video head, this means you can do smooth movements such as pans and tilts whereas photo tripod heads are not designed for this.
For some shots or some situations you might want to go handheld. For this you need extra gear to allow for effective use, as most cameras do not have good ergonomics out of the box for handheld work. Standard rig would have things like handles, cheese plate or cage to provide mounting options, rods to allow for matte box to be attached in front of lens and also ideally and option for counterweights to be adjusted so that the rig rests balanced on your shoulder.
Gimbals are relatively new in the world of filmmaking and have become hugely popular especially as a relatively cheap option to getting that steadicam type one shot. Like all technology it is always changing but as it stands gimbals are used on the majority of projects in some form or other whether it’s a one hand gimbal with a DSLR or mirrorless camera on it or a huge vehicle mounted gimbal to smooth out those extreme action shots.
Sliders are great bits of kit to add some simple movement whether it’s a sideways track alongside someone or moving smoothly from medium to close up shot. There are lots of different types nowadays some cheaper ones can be cumbersome and less smooth but whatever your budget there will be a slider for you.
How to make a promotional video
Key crew for video production
Before you start shooting you will want to lock in your crew, whether this is a lone videographer or a 20 person crew for a commercial it is a key aspect of the pre-production phase. If the crew is not organized or skilled enough then the project will suffer, or worse, fail!
The producer organizes the production, they deal with hiring the other members of the crew, deal with budgets and liaising with the end client to know what they are looking for from this project.
The director is head of the creative side of production, they will often be involved with the concept, shot lists, sourcing of acting talent, shooting locations, locking in a certain style or feeling of the piece and much more. Therefore this is obviously a hugely important role in any narrative or concept videos.
Cinematographer or camera operator
This is a role that is always needed. Even on the smallest of production, you need a camera operator, then as the scale gets bigger they might turn into a lighting cameraperson or cinematographer who is managing several camera people. This role deals with all things both technical & creative to do with the look of the video. Some of the things they might cover are managing which kit is needed to achieve the director’s vision, lighting designs, manage other camera and lighting crew, keep things on schedule by know how to film efficiently as well as troubleshooting any technical issues on set.
Sound recordist is a role often neglected on the lower end of filmmaking due to the fact that many camera operators can get a good result with sound by themselves when doing a simple video like talking head combined with general ambient noise for the b-roll. However, when the productions get bigger a dedicated sound recordist is essential. Example of recent shoots where we have use sound recordists are when dealing with multiple radio mics, when changing mics frequently between people so a camera op has no time to do it themselves, or when doing a documentary with a budget you want a sound op to be fluid with the cameraman so having 2 dedicated people work better than 1 person trying to do both jobs.
Once you have your footage you need to piece it together to create a final video, this is where an editor comes in. Editors in a general term deal with everything post production wise whether it’s the first cut, the titles, the colour grade, music editing and much more. When on bigger productions often you will specialize certain aspects such as have a dedicated colourist do your colouring, a sound designer work on their side of it and so on. If you are a one man band
Planning the shoot
So you know the type of video you are looking to create, who you might use for the crew, what kit you can or might use, and what budget you have at your disposal. Now its time to do a few key parts of the planning before you can start shooting.
Whether it is a full shooting script or simply a list of interviewee questions you need a script. This allows the director or the
cameraperson to be aware of the content that is needed to create the video and tell the story. No matter how good your editor they can only edit what footage they have, so if you nail the content on the day it will help the editor start with a great foundation with which to craft the final video on.
It should be obvious why you want a shooting schedule but you would be surprised how many shoots don’t use one! You need to plan where you are filming and when what time the crew are needed at which locations, how long at a given location you have so the director/dp can plan how many shots or how long they can take lighting.
Time and budget allowing you should really try and scout the shooting locations before the filming day, don’t just turn up on the day and wing it. When you visit a location you can check that spaces are sufficient for your needs as once crew, it and subject are in a room it can start to feel very cramped.
Take the DP or camera op with you to let them assess and flag up any technical concerns. Lighting is a big consideration such as what lights exist there, what colour temperature are they? Is the main light source daylight from a window? how does time of day affect this room? These questions allow them to make an informed decision about kit, it might be they suggest hiring a particular light to achieve the desired effect or they know to bring enough bounce to effectively use the natural light that exists.
The sound is another thing to think about, don’t just listen, ask! Is the location going to be the same on the day? Sometimes building works can start after your scout and cause havoc for the filming day, or the adjacent room can be vacant on the scout but have a big event on the day of filming. Even small things like arranging the air con to be turned off, or have an email go round asking for people to be considerate to filming on that day can be big benefits for production sound.
Whilst it is often not an option, a scout also gives you the time and ability to change the location if it is extremely unsuitable.
This depends on lots of factors but in this phase, you need to nail down who is needed. Is it a simple talking head with b-roll that needs a crew of a lighting cameraman and an assistant or is it a more involved promo video with multiple camera people, a director, DP, sound op and production assistants.
How To Make A Promotional Video
Assuming you have taken notice of the above and planned your shoot, you are likely to be chomping at the bit to get on and start shooting.
Arrive early and set up
As a rule of thumb arrive 1-2 hours before your schedule to start filming. The setup time depends on the complexity of the project but as a rule of thumb, it should be at least 1 hour unless there is a reason with the client/location why this is not possible. Also make sure the crew or relevant crew is on set at the correct time.
Once you’re at the location, you will need to get the kit inside and set up. Start with the essentials such as camera, tripod, sound then work on other things such as lighting, DIT computer, gimbals.
The aim is to have everything ready before the interviewee or subjects are ready to film, you don’t want them waiting for you.
A good tip for framing and lighting is to use a stand-in which can be anyone from your crew just to see in general terms how the shot looks. Once the subject arrives you can tweak the setup to suit them.
Before diving into recording once your subject arrives to do some final checks, involving the subjects. If they are still talking about the content with a director or producer then get them in position and attach the microphone while they do this. Whilst they are speaking check the audio, if they are not speaking then ask them casual simple light-hearted questions like what did you have for breakfast or how did you get to work, this not only allows you to do a test for audio levels but also can relax the subject.
In terms of the camera, make sure you have a fresh battery and a formatted blank memory card so you don’t get rushes from two shoots mixed up in post-production. Check the tripod is solid and level as well as check lights are in the right position and securely mounted.
Mention a few basic ground rules to everyone in the room like no talking when rolling, phones off or on airplane mode and also instruct the subject if you haven’t already as to where they look when talking, whether to the camera or off camera to an interviewee.
Now you’re ready to roll!
Once you have started filming its key to keep an eye on the time, on smaller shoots this might be yourself, on bigger shoots, there will be a dedicated person such as the 1st AD (assistant director) to keep you on track. Sometimes you have lots of time to do each shot many times, other times your up against it and just need lots of content even if at the expenses of each shot not being perfect.
Let’s use a standard day of talking heads and b-roll. You need to interview 3 people and get enough b-roll to make a 3-minute promo video. You will not want to spend all day doing interviews with only an hour left for b-roll as you will not capture enough b-roll and not to a high standard as you will rush. A good way to approach this scenario is to arrange the talking heads to be done first so you can film b-roll that might be relevant to what they are talking about. When you are filming the interviews be aware of what content you need, as in a 3 minute video you obviously only need so many comments from interviewers, so film the interviews efficiently taking no more than an hour with each subject, ideally 30-45 mins is a good time to get them comfortable, sound check, ask questions let them speak, tweak their wording and usually shorted the answers and then finally go over any questions that you do not currently have the answer your needing from.
How To Make A Promotional Video
Before you get to the post stage you will know what editing software you are using, for most people they use one system and so it’s a no brainer, but often you will use some other programs for specialist purposes outside of your main edit. For example we use adobe premiere but also use davinci resolve for colour grading.
There are a few key stages in the editing process. First you will do a rough cut which is basically going through all the rushes you captured and editing according to the brief of what the final video should be like. As the name suggest this is not about getting it to a final video instantly it’s a rough cut, so often you will finish this then let the client see this for some initial feedback so you haven’t done too much finessing work on shots or sections they are going to be cut. Then once you receive feedback there will often be several rounds of back and forth where the editor makes updates then the client gives feedback
I cannot think of a video we have worked on where there was zero feedback from the client. Feedback is normal and to be expected so you should plan for this. If the deadline is 1st June then don’t leave it till 31st May to send the client the video as they will inevitably have feedback and you need time to change and resend. Therefore factor this in to your deadline, if you have a month to completed the video from concept to completion then you want to have at least a week if not 10 days set aside to go through feedback and re-edit.
Nowadays there are some very good ways of getting client feedback such as vimeo, wipster and frame.io. There are a few key benefits of these, the main one being ability for clients to input their name then start commenting on the video in realtime as they watch it. When they make a comment it also ties it to the video timecode so that and editor can click on each comment and it will show them which shot this is referencing rather than guessing. This also means it can be marked as done so different editors or editors who go away and come back to the project know what has been done and needs to be done. When sending links to clients always password protect them so public people cannot see half-finished videos or videos which are sensitive and not to be released until a certain date. Most free video hosting websites offer this and definitely, the paid ones do.
Another part of the client feedback process to think about is situations such as the client keeps making changes back and forth when the deadline is fast approaching or clients who are slow to make feedback then wait till the last minute and expect wholesale changes. A good way to avoid this is to set our from the start what the quote and timeframe involves. For example, you can state all changes need to be received within 5 days before the agreed deadline, or there are only 2 rounds of feedback in this current quote. This is also important in order to keep the video profitable as editors time is money if the client only paid for X days worth of editing after that point your starting to eat away the profit of that video. So consider putting a clause such as any editing over the agreed amount will be charged at X per day or per hour.