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Monthly Archives

June 2017

Corporate Event Video and Filming Types

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corporate event videoIn the video industry, there are several substantially different event video types.  Today, we’re going to talk about the Corporate Event Video coverage and what various styles come with that.  Many people will search the internet for a video event production company.  But they might be thinking of covering their child’s birthday, a wedding, or a family reunion.  This article today will discuss the corporate event– the conference, seminar, corporate party, or meeting.

Video Coverage of the Corporate Event

Video production services for events can vary.  The first service is Event Coverage.  This is where we place a camera or several cameras, to record the event, which for corporate clients usually involves speaking from a stage.  Occasionally, it might be an event out on location where a demonstration is taking place.  We will usually provide a camera with long lenses from the back or side of the room.  Then we patch into the house sound to record quality audio.  Normally, our lighting is not needed.  It’s provided by the event location, or by a lighting company you’ve hired to build the stage, screens, projection and audio.

Video coverage at seminars and conferences can also include “b-roll.”  This is where a camera goes around and gets candid shots of people and activities that are happening at your corporate event.  (We talk about b-roll and it’s importance here.) . This is great for using inside a recap video (like this one here).

Another event video service is the “man on the street” style interviews.  We take a camera, operator and a microphone and grab feedback and experiences from the conference participants.  There might be a light we place on top of the camera.  This is also referred to as “news style.”

Onsite Video Editing at the Event

Combine all those services together and you can add onsite editing.  With a good team, you can be video capturing the event.  This includes the speakers on the stage, the b-roll, the quick interviews.  The editor brings them all together for an emotional, impactful recap video that can play at the end of the event. This can be a powerful video service at an event, especially the longer meetings.

Utilizing video coverage at corporate events can be a gold mine for video content, both internal to the company and external.  With footage captured, you can create social media marketing videos throughout the year, provide education to employees and customers, and help build company morale.  Make sure you make the most of your corporate event by having a qualified video team onsite to deliver powerful videos.  Call us at SFilms to handle your video needs for your corporate event!

Commercial Studio Shoot

National Commercial Shoot- The Quick Turnaround

By | Corporate Video Production, Tips/Techniques, Video Production | No Comments

Sometimes, your client needs a quick turnaround on a commercial shoot.  How can you plan and prepare for a tight deadline?  In today’s blog, we go through some tips, tricks and techniques to successfully deliver a national spot in a week or less.  And how do you deliver on such a tight turnaround while maintaining quality and effectiveness?  The number one key to turning around a video production in a short time is Decisiveness.  You won’t have the luxury of time to go back and forth.  And even though we are a Dallas based production company, our commercial shoots take us all around the company.

The Normal National Spot

For a normal national spot, it can take months.  Usually, the creatives (at our production house, the agency, the client) get together and come up with concepts.  Then maybe storyboards (whether handdrawn or mocked up from stock pictures) are created.  A script is created.  Then the production company lines up the location or studio.  Casting is done– first auditions, then maybe callbacks if necessary, and final choosing the actors.  Then comes the day of the shoot.  After the shoot day, the editing begins.  Once the rough picture is locked, then graphics, coloring and sound design can begin.  Maybe original music is composed.  Then it goes through revisions with the agency and the client.  And finally, the commercial is approved and uploaded to the broadcast platforms.  Months.

The One Week Commercial Turnaround

The Commercial’s Concept

The creative concept is a key for the quick commercial turnaround.  Some ideas lend themselves better for a quick turnaround.  If your script calls for elaborate construction, multiple days of shooting with many locations, it will be difficult to complete.  But in our scenario here, we’re assuming the client has come to us with the stated goal that they need a finished commercial to air in a very short timeframe.  When the creatives get together, the concept has to be one that can be pulled off in such a short time.  The concept has to be decided on in the first day.  Then boards and script can be worked on.

Storyboards and scriptwriting begin immediately.  And once these are approved, on the backend of production, your graphics people can start building the tags and overlays that will go over the footage.  If these can be quickly approved, you won’t be going back and forth at the end of post.

The key here is that instead of waiting for dominoes to fall– you have to be knocking some of the dominoes down the line before they would have fallen.  For instance, you start casting before the script is approved.

Casting the Commercial

You have to move fast– maybe use actors you’ve used in the past and know that they’d be perfect.  If you have to audition, start auditioning right away.  Fortunately, actors in this day and age are used to iPhone auditions and you can get a lot of looks in a very short time to pull from.  So decisively pick the actors and you’re moving on.

The Commercial Shoot

Commercial Shoot in San DiegoThe production coordination began on day one.  The location or the studio was reserved right away.  The crew needs were determined by the concept.  Any sets or props are built right away so that they could be ready in three days or less.

Usually, a national spot like this is a one day shoot.  Possibly two– all depends on concept.  To get ready for the fast turnaround, what you might do differently is have the editor come onto the set.  Probably after lunch– that way she can start cutting right away.  In the meantime, the commercial shoot goes like a normal shoot would.

Post Production of a Quick Turnaround National Commercial Spot

With the editor working away into the evening of the shoot day, a rough draft is ready for the client late that night. (That’s the same night as the shoot).  In the morning, the client’s team sends their notes, and a second draft is worked on throughout the afternoon.  By that evening, it’s sent on to the client.  By this time, tags and graphics should be ready to go.  The next morning, a polish is made from last minute nites and the commercial is then colored and the sound is designed.  By the next day, final polished draft is ready for client approval and upload to the broadcast platforms.

In our business, our response to difficult commercial shoot “asks” is always “yes, we can.”  Too many times, production companies grumble and complain about the big ask and it shows.  Sure, it’s going to be a crazy couple of days– but we love this business and also love a good challenge.


The Explainer Infographic Animated Video

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What is an Explainer Video?

The Explainer Video has it’s root in cell animation going back decades– before the use of computers.  Educational films, both for schools and industry would be an animated, cell by cell, to demonstrate the subject.  Once computers became available, animation migrated over to that platform.  Today, computer generated graphics is the basis for an Explainer Video.  

So what is the Explainer Video?  An Explainer Video is a short 2D animation that demonstrates your product or service on top of a voice over with sound and music.  The style can be cartoonish or text driven, and can be very simple or complex depending on what you need and how much time it takes the animators to do it.

How Do You Make an Explainer Video?

  1. Script – The first step in an Explainer Video is to write the script.  It is the blueprint for the construction of the video.  
  2. Voice Over (if needed) – Then the script is voiced.  Sometimes, an Explainer Video will not have voice over, but instead will rely on text and images to tell the story.  
  3. Then samples of the animation style are created and approved by you, the client.  
  4. Animation Begins– The animators then begin working, usually by creating all their assets first.  Then after they have all their assets and elements, they begin do the motion, the animation.  When that is complete, the video is rendered out.  
  5. Music and Sound Design– After the animations are complete, sound design and music are added (like this video here).

And one thing to keep in mind, depending on the complexity, animation rendering can take a long time.  3D animation can take several days or more of just rendering.  (Like this 3D video here).  So keep that in mind for your deadline.  But usually, Explainer Videos don’t take as much time as say, 3D animations.  We had one project of a 40 second video in 3D take two weeks just to render because of the huge complexity.

Event Editing onsiteAlso when creating the animation, some things that look very simple can be extremely time consuming (and costly) while other things that look complex can be easy.  For instance, a simple line drawing cartoon might look overly simple when there might be hours of work the animator has to do to make it look easy.  Whereas, a full color cartoon, like this one, doesn’t move every frame, so it’s not as time consuming.  A good rule of thumb is that the more motion you have, the more time consuming it will be.

And one style is really grabbing people’s attention is to combine live action with explainer video animations like this one.   In this case, the explainer video animations become elements for the live action and can be a lot of fun—which leads to better viewer engagement and stronger education recall.

building corporate video library

The Importance of Building the Corporate Video Library

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Lots of Shooting = Corporate Video Library

There’s power in having a lot of footage to pull from when creating the corporate video.  So let’s talk about how to build a library of footage and videos.  When we start shooting for a new corporate client, it’s usually for a very specific video… maybe a training video or a web video.  When we shoot, we don’t ever delete anything.  That footage goes onto harddrives and those harddrives are backed up to tapes.

The Corporate Office Needs a Video

Then you have a short conference that needs recording.  After that, the CEO wants to send a video message out to the corporate employees.  And there’s that new office renovation that could use a timelapse.   Oh and the corporate headquarters needs a drone shot.  All that footage starts to build up.  Your corporate video library.

Then, one day you decide you need a quick internal video on your company culture.  You send us a script (or you have us write one) or voice over and we pull from these previous shoots to put video over that voice over.  Without ever shooting anything.  And it’s fast.  Look how we made this video blog.

Clients that we’ve been working with for years, will call us and need a short, quick video that they can put on the web, sent out as a video news release, or in their e-learning portal and with a growing library, this becomes a much easier process.  Of course, sometimes it’s a mixture.  We might need to shoot a little and use some library footage.  Maybe someone needs to go on-camera with a standup to introduce something or bring attention to an important corporate strategy.  Having a library to pull from gives you the flexibility to have great looking videos at lower cost and quicker turnarounds.

And we’ll use that footage often to increase production value.  Maybe the talking head interview talks about the warehouse… we could stay on that shot, or pull from the library that time we shot in the warehouse.  This corporate image piece of our client Progressive Leasing utilizes library footage from other projects we shot for the client.

Over-Shooting for the Corporate Video Library

At SFilms, we use current corporate video shoots as an opportunity to build the library—maybe asking some questions in a video interview that aren’t necessarily the focus of the current video that can be re-purposed from something down the road.  One client we have, we were shooting events at their retail locations.  In addition to asking associates the questions of the day, we also asked them what they liked about working for the company.  Later, human resources needed a video to play at job fairs—they were extremely pleased that we were able to get them a great video from existing footage. The only expense was in editing and we didn’t have to wait to try and schedule shoots.

Who Owns the Corporate Video Footage

One note—if you’re using outside video companies, the industry standard is that you, the client, own the footage, even if the video company keeps it at their place.  You should never have to pay to get footage back from a video production vendor.

the keyman adam baldwin

First Time Filmmaker – Lessons Learned

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Making the Feature Film “The Keyman”

First Time FilmmakerIt’s been 17 years.  20 if you count the birth of the script—which was in the summer of 1997.  I worked in corporate and commercial videography and always dreamed of being a filmmaker.  The idea for the movie “The Keyman”  came to me in the parking lot of a grocery store.  It was a huge “what if” question to something that had just happened to me.  We shot the film in September of 2000, and released it in 2002.

After my first film “The Keyman” (now available on iTunes and Amazon Prime) , I went on to direct four more movies over the next decade.  But the first film is usually special and it was no different for me.  Here are some of the biggest things I learned.

First Time Filmmaker Needs to Hire Seasoned Department Heads

No matter how good you are, it’s critical to surround yourself with people who have done this before and are skilled.  As a first time director, you will make lots of first time mistakes.  You can’t afford others making first time mistakes.  You probably can’t afford your own either.

Learning Some Psychology is Critical on the Set

My mentor is a psychologist.  I bounced script and characters off him.  I had him visit the set.  He taught me how to read the DSM IV.  By clinical definition, actors are insane.  To be a good and skilled actor, you have to have a fair amount of disassociative disorder, mixed with a multitude of other disorders to pull from.  No wonder Hollywood is crazy.  This movie set was where I first learned all about “passive aggressive” and how to deal with it. (You act aggressive to confront the PA person).

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I was sitting at lunch with an investor in the movie, after we had wrapped principle photography.  He was talking about something in his personal life, and he said in response to an action he’d taken “no good deed goes unpunished.”  This was brought home a little while later when a crew person I had bent over backwards to help announced publicly I had done little or nothing.  What I took away was that while it’s good to give someone a “win,” it’s equally important to make sure it’s a win for me too.  Otherwise, it opens the door for bitterness down the road.

Genre Is Critical to Distribution

A dark drama (which is what “The Keyman” is) is juicy and fun to shoot for cast and crew.  But it is a difficult genre to get distribution.  If you want distribution, you need action or horror.  Every new filmmaker has a dark drama.  The only thing worse would be a comedy.

the keyman adam baldwinAll Distributors Care About is Who and the One Sheet

A recognizable name actor is the most important element you can have for distribution.  You move to the front of the line if you have that.  We got Adam Baldwin to star in the movie and we got multiple offers for distribution.  The next biggest factor is the movie poster, called the “one sheet” in distribution.  All the foreign buyers take a look at those two things, then watch the trailer, and make their decision to buy your movie based on that.

The Investors are the Last Ones to the Buffet Line

Hollywood feasts on the indie filmmakers.  They snap up films that are the hopes and dreams of hundreds of young creatives.  And they have a system where they take the least amount of risk.  And the first revenue always goes right to them.  The investors are the last ones to get revenue, taking whatever scraps and bones left by the distributors.  Yes, it’s a cynical view, but I have found it’s true.  Self distribution is more of a possibility today than it was 17 years ago.  And recently, we were able to go back into the lab and restore the beautiful 35mm and get a digital print made for iTunes and Amazon Prime.

These were only a few of the lessons I learned from making “The Keyman.”  One of the most rewarding things about the making of this movie has been all those people who reached out to me or left reviews about how powerful the film was or how it touched them.  I hope you enjoy the movie.

drones corporate video

The 3 Levels of Drone Quality in Corporate Video Production

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Drones taking Corporate Video by Storm

Drones hit corporate video by storm over five years ago.  They were a video production tool that offered a fresh and different view.  And they were cool.  Until they flew into the client’s car or that building.  And looking back five years ago, there were two levels of drones– the consumer level (DJI had just introduced the original phantom) and the professional level (custom built kits, some with eight blades that could carry the big cinema cameras).

The Hurdles in the Sky

Back then, there were many hurdles to using drones in corporate video.  First and foremost was legality.   The airspace in the US is regulated by the FAA, and to accept any money for use of an aircraft in the FAA’s airspace, you had to have a commercial pilots license.  This could take years and upwards $60K to obtain.  And with the sudden proliferation of all these consumer (or call them hobby) drones, most videographers said screw it, and took to the skies.

The FAA was behind the curve, but several years ago, they gave one concession: they implemented a program where they would grant “exemption” from the commercial pilot’s license, so that the drone operator could make commercial use of their drone.  This was called the FAA 333 Exemption.  But to be the pilot in charge (PIC), you still had to have some level of pilot’s license.  And it took a long time to get your Exemption. (We were one of the first ones to get our 333 exemption in Dallas and Fort Worth).

And then one year ago, the FAA brought to a close the 333 program by starting a newer one– the 107 UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) license.  Now, many videographers could apply to get licensed to fly drones commercially.

Drone Insurance

The other hurdles included insurance– specifically liability.  When we got our first policy, there was only one company we could find offering drone liability insurance.  Today, there are many.  And now, you can even get comprehensive insurance on your drone.  Because of one of the other biggest hurdles–

Drones have been known to fail.  They have just fallen from the sky.  They’ve taken off in some weird direction.  Early on, I had a phantom 2 just drop from the sky (several times, different drones).  I also had one just take off one direction until it hit something.  We had a large, custom built octocopter that flipped and flew itself into the pavement.  (Here’s a video of an earlier problem with the octocopter: https://youtu.be/AEmzxYBXjgg ) The early days of these drones came with a bunch of bugs.  Fortunately today, many of the bugs have been worked out and the drones are much more stable and reliable.

Today’s Levels of Drones in Corporate Video

So we talked about the Consumer level of drones briefly above.  Today, there are lots of brands at the consumer level and prices can go from $20 up to $800.  These include the Parrot line, Yuneek, and DJI hobby line of drones and their competitors.  The price difference is usually going to be because of the quality of the camera and the stability of the gyro the camera sits in.  At the highest consumer level for drones, you’re talking GoPro quality.  This is fine for a lot of usage, but if you’re in lower light, or need high resolution, they’re not ideal for the job.

Enter the Prosumer level of drones.  These are going to be the top of the line DJI Phantom, Yuneek Typhoon and 3DR Solo (before the company stopped making drones) and the DJI Mavic.  Cameras are better (still not great in low light) and these drones have more features, like obstacle avoidance and programmable flight paths.

At the top level, you have the professional drones.  These are the ones that have great cameras, or the ability to carry high end cameras.  They include the DJI Matrice line Inspire line, and Yuneek has some higher offerings.  Now your cost is going to be over $2K and possibly close to $10K or over depending on what you get and what kind of cameras.  For a search and rescue drone, you can spend $15K just on a thermal camera alone before you even buy the drone.  Fortunately for corporate video, there’s not as much call for a thermal camera.

You Get What You Pay For Drones in Corporate Production

If all you need is some social media videos, then quality might not be crucial.  But you pretty much have to go with the prosumer level to get video from your drone that’s acceptable to post.  But if you’re needing high end aerial photography and videography, you will need the use of a professional drone.  Your video production company can help direct you to the right tool.  Here’s a video featuring some of our drone work.