Thu 05 / 09 / 19
Ten top tips for using video
Stephen Engelhard, Angel Productions, shares his top ten tips for getting the most out of video.
You'd like a video on your website. Of course you would. Everyone would like a video on their website. But you know that professional video can cost a lot of money and you are, quite rightly, anxious about wasting money on something that’s not very good or not very useful.
Here are my top ten tips for commissioning a video without pouring money down the drain. These are based on my many years' experience making TV programmes, videos for employers and for universities, and viewing the best and the worst of other people's productions as a judge on various national awards.
1. Know what your video is for
It might sound obvious, but before you start, be very clear whether your video is to sell a product, to promote a brand, to campaign for a cause, to train or educate or recruit people, or for something completely different. Unless you know what it's for, you can't explain the project to your producer, and you can't expect good work from them.
2. Know who your video is for
Is your video for your existing audience, or staff or customers? New people you're trying to reach? A particular age group, or people with specific cultural or political leanings? Are they on social media or will you find them somewhere else?
3. Know what the key messages are that you want to deliver
If your audience only remembers one thing after watching your video, what would you like it to be?
4. Choose your producer wisely
Find a producer who understands 1, 2 and 3 above, and is able to discuss a range of 'treatments' with you - different ways of turning your key messages into an engaging video that people will want to watch. Make sure to choose a producer with the patience to discuss your ideas with you, even if they are not yet fully formed.
5. Know what it will cost
Your producer should agree a price with you and stick to it - unless you change your mind about the contents and ask for work that will cost more.
6. Style or substance?
Or both? If your video is to promote a fashion label or a cool new lifestyle product, it needs to reflect those values with brilliant photography and snappy editing. View your producer's showreel to make sure they can deliver that sort of work. But if you're telling a story about refugees, or explaining how to use a spreadsheet, or recruiting volunteers for your charity, you might do better to keep it simple. Too much glitzy style can be a distraction from your message.
7. Don't be seduced by bells and whistles
Your video is for you to deliver your message, not for the producer to show off all the clever tricks in his or her toy box. If drone photography or flashy animations add something (and are affordable) then use them. If they don't, don't.
8. Well recorded sound is at least as important as well shot pictures
It's not unusual to see even high budget drama and feature films spoiled by dialogue that's inaudible, or that's drowned out by music and sound effects.
9. Don't use background music
Avoid background music unless it's relevant and carefully chosen, and be wary of a producer who wants to overuse it. Turn on the TV any day of the week, and you can see mediocre programmes strung together with music which is only there to paper over the cracks in an incoherent narrative.
10. Tempted to do it yourself?
We all have technology in our pockets these days that's capable of shooting and editing HD video, and you might wonder what's the point of hiring professionals. Well, even if you have a kitchen like Gordon Ramsey's, can you cook like him? If you can, then do it. Or if you're just boiling a kettle or frying an egg, nobody will know the difference. But for something more complicated, there's no substitute for professional skills and experience.
Good luck: a well made video can be one of the most persuasive forms of communication. Just think it through and discuss it thoroughly with the producers before signing a contract and letting the cameras roll!
Contact Steve Engelhard at Angel Productions for more advice about using video firstname.lastname@example.org
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