Make your videos truly effective - whether you offer them as part of your website, develop them for broadcast at trade shows or use them as training or workshops for clients, videos are increasingly a must-have.
But it's not simply a matter of shooting footage and uploading it, or expecting a production company to create a quality film when they don't know anything about your business. Effective videos aren't cheap to produce, and working closely with professional production experts will go a long way towards making every video dollar count.
Here are Peter Brebner's (our video production specialist) top tips for getting the most out of your video production agency.
1. Communicate your brand
Like most companies, you've spent time and money defining your brand. Communicate that to your production company so the video you end up with is a true representation of, and ideally, an expansion on your brand. An experienced producer will listen carefully, get to know your company thoroughly, and express your brand through the resulting video's form and style.
If you aren't sure how your brand will translate to video, investigate what others in your industry have done and decide what will work for your business. Go into your meetings with your producer with an open mind - it's good to have a strong idea of what you're looking for, but keep in mind that a production company will have experience making videos for a range of businesses. Within the necessary parameters of video production, their job is to fit in with your unique company, rather than trying to make you fit into their one-size-fits-all template.
2. Be clear on the media
Part of your production planning must be identifying where your video will be viewed. What works for one purpose may be completely unsuitable for another. Video for websites can include personal presentations, 'how-to' segments, and client case studies with interviews and plenty of chat. These will be vastly different from what is suitable for trade fairs, where visuals and graphics are more important and sound less so, since it mostly can't be heard.
You might want to use a range of outlets for your video. An experienced producer will know how to adapt and enhance the raw footage of your film for various formats, venues and audiences, through post-production editing and additions such as graphics, sound and music.
3. Choose wisely
Once you're ready with your brand and target market, look around your industry for video that comes close to your ideal and find out who made it.
Look for a producer with experience in the corporate sector. If they have mostly made short films or music videos, they may not have enough corporate experience to handle your job. Understanding your brand and expressing it through video is the specialist skill you need.
You should also be looking for a producer with a varied portfolio - this will show they listen carefully and produce best-fit videos, rather than rolling out the same formula.
If you're opting for a format that includes interviews, you should be mindful that not all production companies are skilled in this area. A good interviewer with have a clear idea beforehand of effective questions to ask, and be aware that most people being interviewed have never been on camera before. Getting the best responses from potentially nervous subjects is a skill all on its own. A capable interviewer will also keep the editing process in mind, and make sure that not only are questions and answers clear and easy to edit, but that everything is covered.
4. Keep an eye on timelines
If you've got a deadline - a conference or trade show, for instance - it's wise to allow at least a month for your video to be completed. That includes the planning and briefing phase, shooting and recording, and finally the editing phase, generally referred to as post-production. Normally a production company will complete a rough edit in about a week after shooting. You should allow yourself another week to review the work and give feedback.
At this point in post-production, changes may be made to graphics, music and voice-overs, and then the video is re-edited and refined to become the finished product. If you find you want to make a lot of changes, particularly if you depart from the original brief, you'll certainly extend the timeline and possibly need additional budget.
5. How long is too long?
You might have a duration in mind for your video, but it's a good idea to double-check with what other companies have done. Your producer should have a good gut feel for how long your video should be - resist the urge to go beyond that. You might be proud of your new product, or eager to promote a service, but shorter is nearly always better, especially online.
6. Keep true to your logo and brand
It's important that your video stays on brand. Even though there are lots of fancy ways a production company can digitally manipulate images these days, don't be tempted to animate your logo if it doesn't help tell your story or enhance your brand. What is fashionable this month may become old hat by next month, so hold out for a finished video that is simple to understand and relevant to your viewers.
7. Graphics that add value
Graphics can be useful in a number of ways. They can help illustrate what an interview subject is trying to say, and make potentially clumsy repetition of the brand name unnecessary. Graphics also help get your message across when video is intended for venues like trade shows, where a lot of other noise can compete with the sound track.
However graphics are used, they must add to the story, not clutter it up. Stick to key messages, and, remember, that less is more.
8. Sound and music
Sound can add to the mood of your video. It shouldn't be jarring, and it doesn't need to mimic what the competition has done. For music, unless you have a track you particularly want to use, ask your production company for some options so you can choose the one you feel fits best.
You can identify and enhance your brand with the right voice-over. The gender, age and intonation should be determined by your marketing team in the planning stage, as part of your brand expression. If you're not sure what kind of voice your brand should have, have a look at other corporate videos to get an idea of what's possible.
Sound design will be used to smooth openings and transitions in your video, and although not every corporate video will need it, it can add to the rhythm and intensity.