You don’t need a Hollywood budget to create a great marketing video, TV ad, product demo or other video content. What you really need is: excellent planning, good lighting and a professional you can call in when in need. As video content creators with our own on-site animation and video expert, boxChilli regularly create great videos for our clients. Here’s how we do it.
Plan every detail
Retakes are a pain in the neck even if the whole cast and crew is just you and your smart phone. Finding out you’ve missed the opportunity to get a shot that would make the whole video hang together is a nightmare that brings professionals out in 2am sweats. The solution to both these problems – and dozens of others – is meticulous planning. The kind of planning which seems obsessive and over the top until you’re digging the t-shirt you wore 2 weeks ago out of the laundry and waiting until the sun’s coming in from exactly the same angle as it did and trying to match the clutter in your kitchen to what it was… all to get just a few more seconds of video.
Create a storyboard
There’s a reason story boards are stereotypically Hollywood: they work. Even if your entire video is demonstrating what’s ultimately a very simple to use product, and you expect the end product to be 30 seconds long, it’s still worth scripting it out scene by scene. You don’t need fancy equipment or great drawing skills – sticky notes and a blank wall will do the job. Go through the sequence until you’re satisfied you’ve got everything you need written down, including any dialogue or other spoken words, then talk someone else through it. Include any animation and effects you want to add in post-production.
Make a full list of shots needed
Great videos include lots of material the viewer absorbs but doesn’t really notice. As an example, a product demo of an ordinary plastic shopping bag might include a close up of the bag lying flat, a shot of the open empty bag, a sequence where someone actually fills the bag with shopping, shots of a person hefting the bag to show it’s easy to carry full and an emotional draw shot, perhaps someone walking down the street looking happy with a full shopping bag. Now, imagine how many more shots you’d need to create a narrative advert or a product demo for something more complex such as a car or a smartphone!
Keep it simple
Now you’ve got a plan, go back and cut out anything you don’t need. This will save time and money but also make your video more streamlined and thus more viewable. It’s particularly important to cut down the script so that it’s clear and precise throughout.
Get the lighting right
Professional photographers and camera operators can work miracles to catch a decent shot in a dark room, gloomy pub or back alley. They have years of expertise and thousands of pounds of equipment at their disposal though, so if you’re scrimping on those areas the single most effective way to improve your footage is to improve the lighting. Ideally you want to be using clear, uniform light which doesn’t come from a particular angle but which lights the subject evenly throughout without being too stark. Think noon in on a slightly cloudy summer’s day – the light is even and diffuse (no long or very dark shadows); it’s not so bright you’re washed out (like bright summer sun) but there’s still plenty of it. Artificial light is generally best as you can control it. Expect to need at least 2 strong lights, preferable adjustable.
Choose your setting to match your style
If you’re talking about cars, shoot in a garage or showroom. If you’re talking about nature, go outside. If you’re demonstrating a product to business people, stand in front of a white board in a suit. These aren’t hard and fast rules, but starting with an obvious visual shorthand lets your viewers know they’re in the right place and watching the right video. This is particularly important if you’re creating content for YouTube, Vimeo or other social networks as often people will arrive at your video without knowing anything about it or about your company or even your social media profile.
Add some flair
Once you’ve reassured your viewers that they’re in the right place and your content is both trustworthy and authoritative, then it’s time to stand out from the crowd. If at all possible, add something your competitors or hobby reviewers can’t offer – a glimpse inside the factory perhaps, if you’re demoing one of your own products, or the point of view of a professional. You can also use stylistic elements to tie a series of videos together. For example, you could use the same animation, title font, music and style to open each video.
Think about animation
From the title card and credits to special effects like words whooshing onto the screen, all the little details need to be put in place by someone. Animation covers not only talking cartoon animals, but also line drawings and mobile art used to convey information (such as ‘look inside this pump’). It can also be used to create bold effects which draw attention to particular elements on screen or even to create an entire video.
Know when to call in a professional
Many people manage to create high quality professional video without extensive training. If you’re struggling to get the results you need, or even to find the time to shoot your video, it’s time to call a professional. Our video and animation team offer multiple levels of service to suit every budget, from advice and planning through to tough up and editing. We can completely manage and shoot your video or simply edit it and add animation, all at very competitive prices. So don’t struggle to get your shot – get a pro to help.