10 Ways to Improve Your Corporate Video Production
It’s always surprised me how much time, money, and effort organizations will pour into implementing the right technical infrastructure to support video-driven training, communications, and marketing—yet how little time, money, and effort they typically invest in the quality of a corporate video production.
“Content is king” is a popular catch phrase in the media and entertainment world. The reality is that even if you put in place the most advanced system for publishing, managing, and measuring video content, you may not realize the full value unless you learn some basics around the creation of the content in the first place.
The majority of corporate videos center around instructor-driven or presenter-driven content. Typically, a subject matter expert will walk viewers through a slide presentation, an interactive quiz or poll, or simply present a stand-alone web cam segment. In many of these cases, there are simple measures you can take to make sure what you capture is of the highest technical quality possible.
Improving Your Corporate Video Production
Let’s start with the basics:
Setting up the Shot
Pockets to headroom. This is a framing approach for instructor or presenter-driven videos that will increase the polish of your video product. Frame yourself so that the subject’s body (or your body, if you’re the star) fills the frame from mid-chest upward, and include some “headroom” or empty space above the top of the subject’s head.
Also, make sure the subject is centered in the frame from left to right. To get a visual sense of what this looks like, simply tune in to any network news program and note how the pros do it. You’ll see the same approach, regardless of the network.
Stay in focus. If the camera you’re using to capture the segment has an autofocus, disable it. While it may seem like a handy feature, the autofocus will be challenged to stay in focus as the subject moves. Even slight body movement can trigger the autofocus to flutter in and out of focus, and this is a very annoying thing to watch.
Instead, use a technique borrowed from network television. Zoom into the subject’s eyeballs and manually adjust your focus until it is clear; then zoom out and frame the shot. This will result in a steady and clear focus throughout the segment.
Mind the horizon. Many people make the mistake of using the horizon or any horizontal line in the room as a guide to determine whether their shot is level or not. This is a mistake. Instead, line up one vertical edge of your shot with something in the background like the edge of a doorway or a corner of the room.
Why? Horizontal objects are usually not perfectly horizontal, while vertical building features are. Every vertical line in your building was probably tested with a plumb bob or laser, and therefore is a much more reliable object to level your shot against. If your shot isn’t level, your audience may be visually distracted.
Use sound judgment. A beautifully framed picture isn’t worth much if the accompanying sound is of poor quality. Instead of using the microphone on your computer, consider investing in a lavalier microphone. This is a very inexpensive tool that will help you be heard clearly. Again, this is what network television relies on to get clear audio from on-camera talent. Simply clip the small microphone to your lapel or pocket about a foot below your mouth, then use the audio settings on your computer to adjust the audio level.
Another sound consideration is the level of noise in the room where you’re recording. Try to find an isolated room, and if you can’t, just ask everyone for a few minutes of silence while you record. Temporarily turning off air conditioners and any other noisy appliance is a good step as well. Just don’t forget to turn them back on after you finish!
Lighten up. It would be difficult to summarize expert tactics in television lighting that you can recreate in an office space, but it’s important to remember that this is a visual medium, and if they can’t see you, you won’t be as effective. Contrasting light from windows that are behind the subject are very distracting and actually cause the lens of your camera to darken. Placing yourself or another subject in front of a basic wall painted with flat paint is a better option. Fluttering fluorescent lights are another thing to avoid. Just try to achieve an even level of light without distracting light sources and you’ll be fine.
Performing in a Corporate Video Production
Choose solid-colored clothing. Busy patterns and stripes can wreak havoc on your shot. Let’s just say they are “confusing” to the camera. It’s better to wear solid non-primary colors for your on camera performance.
Look them in the eye. One reason you’re producing a corporate video to communicate is so you can establish a connection to the viewer. That’s hard to do if you fix your gaze on screen several inches below your camera lens. Practice running through your presentation multiple times until you become comfortable divorcing yourself from the script, at least to the extent that you can frequently look into the camera lens throughout your segment. Bullets are often better than verbatim scripts as they provide you the freedom to ad lib and deliver more naturally.
Sit up straight. You probably heard this command many times as a child. Suffice to say that slouching provides a nonverbal signal to your viewers that you are not excited about the message you’re delivering. This and many other nonverbal distractions can reduce the effectiveness of a corporate video.
Calm down. While it may seem like you’re creating television, you’re not broadcasting live to millions of viewers who are scrutinizing your every move. You’re using video to communicate a highly relevant message to what is usually a very focused and interested viewer base.
One trick to reducing feelings of being overwhelmed is to simply picture one person and speak only to them. Some people even find it helpful to place a photo of a loved one or friend next to the camera to remind them who they’re presenting to. This is a great way to change your focus and reduce any anxiety, and will result in a more personal message for every viewer.
A little makeup goes a long way. It’s not TV, but it exposes you in the same way; there’s nothing more distracting than a perspiring presenter. One way to give yourself or your subject a polished look is to at least use a light dusting of translucent powder. It’s inexpensive, simple to apply, and will erase any perspiration on your face and forehead. Any guest on any network interview program gets a light dusting of translucent powder before going on camera. No one looks good while perspiring on camera.
Practice makes perfect. You wouldn’t just “wing it” if you had to present to a boardroom or auditorium full of your peers and superiors, so you might consider preparing properly for every video segment. Giving yourself enough time for at least a few dry runs will go a long way to enabling you to present a polished and professional finished product.