Tom Hapgood’s animation class is working on a 15 second video project for local startup myDealCompass. Since many of the students plan to work in advertising when they finish school, this project gives them some real-world experience with thinking about an advertising message, working with a client, and dealing with constraints that are part of the normal workflow in real live commercial video.
When your company plans a video, you also have to think about your advertising message, working with all the people involved, and dealing with constraints.
Let me share some things I noticed at today’s shoot. We were shooting a trio of actors against a green screen for the artists to use in their animated shorts. The actors had their scripts, the artists had their storyboards, Tom had his camera, and the footage turned out well.
- Be prepared. Having scripts, actors who had rehearsed ahead of time, and storyboards made all the difference.
- When working with a green screen, remind your on-air talent not to wear green. The green screen isn’t invisible. It just provides a single color background that can easily be removed. If your earrings happen to match the green screen, you’ll just have holes in your ears.
- Have three good sources of light, one at each side and one above and slightly behind the subject.
- Remember that it gets hot under the lights. We saw a client’s video the other day that had blindingly shiny reflections off the speaker’s forehead, so I brought some rice paper sheets and powder. Water is also a good idea.
- Give people time to get comfortable. Unless they’re professional actors, they’ll need a little time to get themselves settled. Your cameraman will need a little time to get the lighting right, too. Combine those two things.
- Some people never get comfortable in front of the camera. Don’t have those people do your video, regardless of the position they hold in your company. We auditioned and chose volunteers who were able to relax and look good on camera.
- Leave the camera rolling and have your actors repeat their lines several times, possibly with different emphasis on the words. Then you can pick the best take.
- Direct your actors. Very specific instruction such as “Look at me” and “Emphasize the word ‘grow'” work well. Tom also asked our actors to “Bring the enthusiasm up a notch” several times so the artists could decide in production just how excited the actors should be about the product. As you know if you’ve watched commercials, the level of ecstasy evinced in commercials is often a bit more than would come naturally in daily life.
- If you have props, plan how the actors should hold them and what movements they should make. If the cell phone is important, as it was in this shot, be clear about where it needs to be in the shot and how much it ought to move.
- Plan for the sound. That might mean microphones for the actors, in which case they need to have a lapel, collar, or waistband to put them on. The microphone on the camera might work, too, in a quiet space, but be aware of wind. Outdoor settings may seem very quiet, but the movement of air past the microphone ends up sounding noisy.
Professional video continues to be a serious investment, even in these days of flip cameras and camera phones. If you’re doing your own company video with a hired cameraman, make the same efforts that professionals do, and you’ll be happier with your results.
Do you have some tips to share? Add them in the comments!