It may sound counter-intuitive but it’s true. While you’ll be paying fees for presenters to appear in your L&D videos as opposed to using staff, their experience and speed can allow for numerous videos to be shot in a singe day, amortising a ton of other costs. Coupled with the fact that good presenters are great at delivering content in a warm and engaging way on screen, and can offer you the chance to showcase diversity and inclusivity, they are well worth considering when planning your L&D projects.
Scripting content for delivery by staff or professional presenters will take you longer pre-shoot but allow for two big benefits. Firstly, you can get your scripts pre-approved by stakeholders leaving no ambiguity ahead of filming where mistakes can be costly. Secondly, scripted content is far quicker to edit. When capturing unscripted content (such as interviews) you’ll need to ‘find the story’ in post production which will take you longer to cut and could need a video editor working with a SME and producer. However, for those not used to using autocue, interviews can often come across better and more genuine.
As an option to using an autocue that can feel a bit ‘wooden’ when featuring on screen contributors that aren’t used to using one, there are devices that can be camera mounted and allow the contributor to be interviewed by someone while they see the interviewer down the lens. This is a trick widely used on Netflix documentaries (and by ourselves) and results in a far warmer delivery, portraying contributors as ‘super confident’ as their eyeline remains unbroken down the lens at all times….a hard thing to do without the device!
When shooting training videos you have choices as to where you shoot. Work premises may be free to access but you’ll have to be mindful of the audio as this is often an issue, while sound proof studios aren’t crazily expensive and are tailor made for achieving the sound quality and lighting you require. Hiring locations can be a great option too and allow you to source exactly what you want to portray, whether that be an office or restaurant, factory or park but expect to pay more than you would for a studio.
A great way to up the deliverables from your training video shoot days (while potentially tapping into different budgets to help fund them) is to plan to capture content for other purposes. Throughout our years in L&D we’ve noticed a lot of cross-over with the content we capture for L&D and that required for employee engagement, recruitment and other corporate communications. As standard we actively encourage our clients to think this way and you’ll be surprised at what else is needed by the business when you have access to some key people and/or locations.
Depending on which studies you read, video is most-effective when it’s kept to bursts of 3 to 5 minutes. When planning your content, think of it in terms of a series of short form films like a box set. Focus each video on one or two topics and use them almost like chapters. Not only do series like this hold the attention of viewers more effectively, they also allow them to watch the content in smaller chunks around their work and life commitments.
A lot of what we produce involves on screen input from SMEs within organisations and we see first hand the power of this type of programming. Experts from within the business can be used as on screen presenters delivering scripted content but often work better in content made from interview set ups. These interviews can be cut to help contextualise learning and share specific knowledge gained within a company even if the main learning points are then delivered by professional presenters or voice overs.
This may sound basic and really it is. But it’s also something so many get wrong. Production is all about solving problems and experienced producers will pre-empt most of them. Things will however always surface ‘on set’…timings may slip or contributors may take longer than expected. But keep your shoots relaxed. Contributors, who may be nervous themselves, will pick up on a stressed crew and this will compound your problems. From the moment any on screen talent (be they staff, clients, stakeholders or professionals) enter your studio, location or set, it’s important to build a warm relationship, briefing and relaxing them as much as possible to make them feel part of it.
We believe processes allow you to get the most creatively from your projects which may sound counter-intuitive. But by organising and prepping your media properly (which takes more time), you’ll not only ensure that you use the very best shots and takes you have, you’ll also be able to adjust, amend, revise and repurpose in future with ease. Organising media this way seems to be a dying art but it’s vital if you want to get the most from your post-production.
Agreeing a maximum budget for production with stakeholders ahead of the treatment (or ideas) stage is key to getting the best out of projects. Video projects can follow various approaches but all will have cost implications. Knowing your budget from the outset will help focus your ideas to what’s achievable within any cost constraints and ensure time isn’t wasted pursuing those that are inherently too expensive.
We shoot 4K and 6K as standard now when filming delivery to camera. The resolution allows for ‘jumping in’ to close ups in the edit, enabling you to seamlessly stitch together various takes, cutting out unwanted material while also keeping your films dynamic, adding some visual interest and pace. Using this technique not only saves you money as you won’t need a second camera but also means that all delivery is to camera rather than using a more traditional second camera shooting a profile angle.
Since lockdown we’ve been commissioned to do a lot of remote filming and, while we find people are generally sick of Zoom and Teams records, done well remote recording enjoys some big benefits. We use a platform that is ‘plug and play’ for interviewees, keeping things very simple, but records in a way that delivers high quality audio and video allowing us to professional edit to create engaging content. Recording remotely doesn’t mean sacrificing too much quality while reducing costs substantially and, importantly, allowing for ease of access with contributors based anywhere and around their schedules.
Many production companies make the mistake of not respecting audio quality and this can cause issues in post. For interviews and ‘controlled environments’ a radio mic and boom should both be used, additionally shooting reference audio through the camera for safety. Also hiding the radio mic is something most don’t do and to us this looks ‘newsy’. Issues with video and pictures can generally be improved greatly in the edit but with bad audio you’re stuck with it and your viewers will immediately notice! I know the sound recordists we work with will appreciate this post as they feel more and more marginalised by the reduction in production budgets but pre-empting issues with audio can save you a lot of time and money in post trying to fix things.
Shooting one or two videos will cost the same in terms of equipment, crew, location, make up, catering (the list goes on) so think about planning your shoots to film as much as possible in a single day. We’re forever ‘banging this drum’ as the cost per video deliverable can be greatly reduced while still delivering TV quality films, something that’s important to us. To get you thinking about the possibilities, see our page on volume production to look at some examples where we’ve done this.
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