Good video isn’t magic.
There is a process that goes into shooting and editing anything — you just don’t see the seams that hold a good video together because your attention is devoted to the story it tells. That little bit of misdirection might look like magic, but it’s really just what happens when a video team has its process down pat.
Below are 11 video production professionals who understand and respect those processes, which translate to great video and happy clients. This guide will explore three aspects of those processes. Follow their tips, and you will quickly find yourself with a bunch of happy clients, too.
Their Scripts Align With the Audience’s Needs
The foundation of a great video is its script, and audience engagement is either gained or lost during the scriptwriting phase (i.e. long before anyone watches your video).
You can have Hollywood-level production, but if your script doesn’t speak to the audience’s needs, desires, pain points and curiosities right up front, they’re going to tune you out.
“On the Internet, people are always looking for the solution to a problem (from finding a good chicken recipe to meeting an investor for a new chicken restaurant),” Juan Jose Mendez writes for Argentina’s Yum Yum Videos, which specializes in animated explainers. “You should not focus on your brand in your explainer video story, but on the problems that your brand can solve with your products or services.”
Here are three things Mendez recommends to do when approaching your script so that it connects with your video’s intended audience:
- Know what needs your audience has. Your client should have a pretty good idea about what these needs are, so bring this up early in your discussions with the client.
- Hold off on promoting your company or brand. If you have features to list, save those for the end of the video. You have to build rapport and make connections first.
- Make the script conversational. “Today’s marketing is based on human relationships, not robot branding,” Mendez says. “Keeping that in mind, our second piece of advice to you is to talk to your potential customers in their own language, like real people! If you communicate with them like a human being (you are a human being, right?) they will identify with your story easily.”
This last point needs to be unpacked a bit further.
How to Handle Technical Subjects
That last point can be difficult in an explainer video or any other kind of video that explores a complicated product. There is a fine line between the audience’s understanding of a topic and the audience’s desire to tune out.
The tune out can happen on either side of the explanation, says Anish Patel, the founder and head producer at video agency Revolution Productions. “The trick is finding the balance of words; you don’t want to confuse the viewer, but you don’t want to be condescending towards them either,” he writes at Vidyard.
Anish’s solution? Keep the script as simple as possible while still accurately getting across all of the information you need to convey. “You want to make sure that anyone who reads your script understands the concepts and tone and no one feels talked down to at any time,” he says.
Avoiding condescension requires some emotional intelligence on your part, and that IQ vs. EQ balance is where many scripts lose their audiences.
How to Balance Logic and Emotion
The best writing — whether literature or the copy in a TV spot — appeals to both the mind and the heart. The trick is knowing whether to appeal to a person’s intellect or emotions.
Russ Pond at Top Pup Media has a nice tip for knowing when to appeal to which:
- Use logic when demonstrating how useful something is to someone. “A sales video for a new product such as a smartphone will attempt to demonstrate that it is more convenient, more powerful and therefore better than the product you already have,” he writes.”
- Use emotion when the benefits of buying or doing something aren’t inherently obvious, and you need to appeal to someone’s humanity. Russ uses the ads nonprofits run as an example of this. Sure, the viewer understands logically that giving so much money can alleviate the suffering of another being, but “as consumers, we are less concerned about the logic of giving as we are about listening to the message.”
How to Compel Your Audience to Take Action
Now that your script is built to capture and hold someone’s attention, you need to do something with that attention. That’s why every video needs a call to action.
“Providing viewers with a clear, short and sweet call-to-action is a must for your final frame,” writes Adam Dunhoff, the community manager at video collaboration startup LookAt. “Your audience can’t read your mind, so where do you think they’ll go after the video? To be sure you aren’t making this common mistake, try organizing your call-to-action in pre-production.”
Dunhoff has four more production tips worth checking out, too. You can find those in his post at Videopixie.
They Know How to Manage a Client’s Expectations
If you’re doing a shoot for a client who is new to video marketing, you need to keep in mind that the client might be totally unfamiliar with the process.
After all, these people have their own businesses to run, Garrett Hemmerich writes for New Jersey video production company KVibe Productions. Hemmerich’s post is full of great tips. Here are a few things he suggests you might need to watch out for:
- Clients might want to squeeze unrelated material into the video. This could include trying to get everyone in the office involved in some way or scheduling a specific activity so the camera can capture the team “in action.”
- Clients might shoot for goals that are too general. This comes back to the scriptwriting process. The client needs to understand who their audience is and what specific message they want to deliver to this audience. “Too many business owners strive to achieve a universal appeal when they’d be far better off aiming for a specific part of their potential viewers with specific video content to match,” Hemmerich writes.
- Clients might be reluctant to hand over the actual storytelling to you. Often, a client will have a specific format in mind — a talking head interview, an animated explainer — that doesn’t align with the video’s real purpose. ” It’s our business to understand and take advantage of the power of visual storytelling, but to most businesses, it’s a foreign language,” Hemmerich writes. Make this clear during initial consultations.
One last note on managing client expectations: Don’t low-ball your budget just to land a client. This could end up costing you money and/or compromising the work you do.
“Later into your project you may find yourself encountering additional costs,” writes James Rostance, the CEO at WOW Video Production in England. “It is essential to prepare yourself for these from the very start so that your project reaches completion before you run out of funds. It is therefore recommended that you put aside a contingency budget of roughly 10-20%, depending on the size of your project, to prepare you for any costs that arise later into the project.”
They Know What Distinguishes a Good Video From a Great Video
During production, two things will make or break a video: Your lighting and your audio. Let’s take these one at a time.
How to Get the Lighting Just Right
You have two options with lighting, says creative consultant Brandon Clarke, who has a great piece at Amazing Studios. You can either learn everything you can about angles, shadows, etc., and do it yourself, or you can hire an expert gaffer.
“A gaffer really understands lighting design can take your video production to the next level,” Clarke says. “They’ll know how to remove shadows off your subject without washing them out, and they’ll know how to properly separate your foreground and background elements.”
If your budget does not accommodate the hiring of a lighting professional, then you’ll want to take a look at the DIY guide to lighting Jan Ozer has put together at OnlineVideo.net.
How to Get the Audio Just Right
Colin Burgess, head of content at the London-based video training company Video Arts, has a nice instructive video at TrainingZone.co.uk that covers some of the most important aspects of recording sound.
Burgess has three tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t film in a noisy environment.
- Have the speaker wear a clip-on mic.
- Make sure everyone on set turns their phones to Airplane Mode.
As with lighting, this DIY approach to sound engineering forces a director to be in charge of more than just shooting video. Russ Fairley at Videomaker learned the difficulties of this the hard way. After a long day of shooting for a client in early 2015, Russ writes, he discovered he hadn’t hooked up his mics properly. Despite efforts to dub over some of the dialogue in post-production, the client wasn’t happy with how the sound turned out.
“Lesson for myself?” Russ writes. “Eat meals, take breaks, don’t skip anything. Shoot days get complicated with lists and double checks, but it’s for great reason, and the complexity of the procedure is still far simpler than trying to fix something that was overlooked or done incorrectly.”
But that’s not the real moral of the story.
As a handful of commenters pointed out, Russ could have saved himself by hiring a sound mixer.
A sound mixer on the shoot, then, “could always monitoring the track and running the wireless equipment which can be frustrating, difficult and need tweaking during the shoot to keep it working best,” one commenter wrote. “It keeps your eyes and mind on what’s important for you — getting the shots, keeping up with the client and spending time making the picture better.”
How to Deliver High-Quality Video
Your perfect lighting and audio go out the window, though, if you compress your video too much.
“Compression can make or break a video,” the team at Sheffield Audio/Video Productions in Maryland writes. “Too much compression will lower the quality of the video in extreme ways. The video may become distorted or blurry, pixelated, and possibly even choppy depending on the level of compression.”
So, whenever you compress your own video, go with lossless compression codecs (and be sure to back up your work before you compress).