Has a commercial caught your attention in the last week? Did you watch any documentaries on Netflix? Stream any YouTube videos? Even if you answered no to all of the above, you were likely pulled into a social media video vortex — maybe without even realizing it — for at least a few minutes.
Video has become inescapable on social platforms in recent years. Our Video Department creates pieces for these platforms and more to help brands communicate with their audiences and capture attention. In fact, 85 percent of businesses use video in their marketing plan — a number that’s likely to continue to grow.
It’s such a captivating medium because it plays to your visual and auditory senses. Because we’re using so many tools at once — music, visuals, lighting, emotion and more.
“It’s such a captivating medium because it plays to your visual and auditory senses,” said Nathan McNurlen, Trilix’s post-production video director. “Because we’re using so many tools at once — music, visuals, lighting, emotion and more — the audience doesn’t need to work very hard to absorb the story.”
In a new series of Journals, we’re taking you behind the scenes to see how our Video Department creates their masterpieces. For this first installment, we’ll walk you through what our team does before the cameras start rolling.
The key to an effective video and a smooth shoot is extensive preproduction planning. However, the planning process is as diverse as the client and their objective.
“Sometimes our clients aren’t as familiar with video marketing, so we have more extensive conversations about what they want to achieve,” said Sydney Dhabalt, producer and editor. “Other times, we’re just helping mold a client’s established vision.”
We always begin by talking to clients about their goals. Some want to highlight a specific product, initiative or milestone while others want to showcase company culture or feature something else entirely. Once our team understands the objectives, we start to consider the video formats we’ll produce. Some want a series of short videos to share over social media, others want a commercial to broadcast on TV and in digital ads, and others still may want a longer piece for their YouTube channel or website.
The ability to repurpose the footage from one shoot across multiple platforms is another way brands can benefit from using video. For instance, one three-minute video can be hosted on a business’ website, shared with media and stakeholders, viewed during an internal meeting and pared into shorter clips for social platforms.
Once we’ve outlined the client’s goals, it’s time to talk about style and determine who the video subjects will be. For some projects, company officials and employees are the main stars while other videos require hired talent. We want to ensure whoever is the main storyteller in the piece best represents the video’s purpose.
There are a thousand different ways you can shoot the same topic.
“There are a thousand different ways you can shoot the same topic,” said James Drescher, senior producer and cinematographer. “If a client has a new product line, we could shoot a customer testimonial; an in-depth look at how the product is developed, featuring employees; a scripted video with a voiceover; or a combination. The key is finding the best, most compelling way to tell the story.”
Once we define the goal of the piece and determine format and participants, we may start writing scripts for voiceovers, gathering photography and developing graphics to layer into the piece before shooting.
An online tool helps us plan interviews with clients, create storyboards to visualize the final product before shooting and editing footage, and schedule shoots. For some shoots, we travel multiple hours or even days to capture footage. We may schedule several interviews with subjects on the same day while capturing b-roll footage of their workplaces. Some videos, such as a 26-minute documentary we produced about the Jolly Holiday Lights fundraiser, require months of preproduction to plan interviews. For this particular video, we interviewed more than 15 participants. Having an online tool means we can easily share schedules with our team members, clients and any hired talent.
It’s so helpful to share those storyboards and schedules with clients before the shoot. It helps us make sure we’re all on the same page with the look and feel of the video.
“It’s so helpful to share those storyboards and schedules with clients before the shoot,” Sydney said. “It helps us make sure we’re all on the same page with the look and feel of the video. We also can make sure that we’re getting the exact shots we need on shoot days.”
No matter the objective, one thing is clear: preproduction helps a video tell the full story.
“If we skip preproduction and go straight to production, how do we know what we’re shooting is worthwhile?” James said. “If we take the time to plan our story during preproduction, the shooting process is much smoother, and our video editors will create a much more cohesive piece.”
Interested in learning more about how our team creates award-winning videos? Stay tuned for the second installment of our Behind the Scenes series where we’ll detail production.