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Monthly Archives

August 2017

Shooting Video at Tradeshows

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Video Tradeshows

Shooting video at tradeshowOne of the calls we get a lot, is to see if we can shoot video at tradeshows.  Because companies and corporations drop a serious investment in tradeshows.  The cost of attending, with travel. The exhibitor fees.  And the booth construction.  With all this investment, businesses want to make sure the marketing pays off.  And that’s the bottom line: Sales.

So video at the tradeshow extends the reach of that investment.  Whether video is used to grab the attention of potential customers walking by or used as a broadcaster on social media, video at the tradeshow can magnify the marketing and multiply the results.

Tradeshow Video’s 4 Components

Usually this has four components:

  1. Pre-shot and edited content to be displayed at tradeshow
  2. Video coverage of the tradeshow, both the booth and the tradeshow itself
  3. Interviews and testimonials with clients attending
  4. Onsite editing for immediately use for social media or at the event itself

Pre-Event Videos

You have those huge monitors.  You want people walking by to be drawn in to your booth.  Engaging videos playing on the screens, usually in a loop is an ideal method for capturing attention.  Videos are usually made with the soundtrack optional– most tradeshow floors are noisy and the videos playing cannot be dependent on sound.  Here’s an example of a video we did for a construction company client.

Video Coverage

Clients sometimes want video coverage of their booth.  They might use it later for social media or other marketing.  Or to cover a big announcement happening at the tradeshow.


This by far is the biggest call we get.  A tradeshow floor is the perfect place to grab those customer testimonials that are otherwise hard to get or expensive due to all the different geographical locations you’d have to go to get that interview.  We bring the camera, small lighting package, audio and setup to move quickly.  Here’s an example we did for Pratt & Whitney Canada at the recent HeliExpo.

Onsite Editing

This has become an increasingly important service. For the Pratt & Whitney job above, they wanted the videos same-day to post to social media.  Therefore, having an editor with computer at the tradeshow can power a lot of marketing muscle.

If you’d like to know more about our tradeshow and conference capabilities, click on contact above and give us a ring.


Dallas Area Can Help Houston

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Here in the DFW area, many of us have friends, family, clients, loved ones in the Houston and South Texas area.  While it’s good to donate to national organizations, I like to see help at the local level… where the rubber meets the road.  If you live here in DFW, one of our partners Encore Live, is actively taking steps to help.   Here’s what they write:help houston

Encore Live will be headed to Houston later this week to help with the cleanup from #Harvey – we will be taking donated goods to various Houston based charities seeking help. If you have supplies listed below you would like to donate, please drop them by our office at 1635 Rogers Road Fort Worth, Texas 76107 between now and Wednesday at the close of business.

The supplies they list include:

• Canned goods
• Non-perishable food
• Water
• All-purpose cleaning supplies
• Gloves
• Towels
• Batteries
• Industrial strength trash bags & cans
• Diapers & wipes
• Baby food & formula
• Toiletries
• Ziplock bags
• Pet food

So pick up some items and drop them off at Encore Live by tomorrow afternoon.  Here at SFilms, we will take some stuff over to Encore Live, so if you want to drop off at our studio, that will be fine.  Click on our contact info for address.  Let us know if you have any questions!

#harvey #helphouston

The Corporate Video Documentary

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The Corporate Video Documentary

There are many different styles to use when crafting a corporate video.  Some might be news-style– a “reporter” or spokesperson talking directly to camera.  Others might be conceptual– recreating scenes out in the sales environment or such.  But out of all the video styles in use in corporate America, the documentary is probably the most common. 

corporate video documentary talking headThe Documentary Style

This is the video that is interview driven, what people call talking heads.  Some might view this style as boring or flat.  But it all depends on how you approach it. The talking head, documentary-style video can be highly effective.  There’s a reason it’s the most common style of corporate video out there.

The Power of BRoll

To make it more engaging, the key is to cover the interviews with footage about what they’re talking about.  This is called “B Roll”—the “A Roll” is their interview talking head.  BRoll goes over that.  It’s an old news term and you’ll hear us use the term.  For example, if I was on screen right now talking to you, and you see me talking—that’s the A Roll.  Now if while I’m talking about the beautiful corporate campus, we go away to footage of what I’m describing, that’s the BRoll.

Length Matters

When building a corporate documentary video, it’s good to keep it short.  Two minutes is great.  Definitely under five.  There are times for a ten to twelve minute video, but the subject matter needs to be engaging or necessary, like a training or education video.  And if you’re doing that under five minute video, three people interviewed would be nice for pacing.  You can do one person for a real short video.  Avoid just doing two people.  Three’s a better number.  Call it part of the rule of thirds.

Order of the Shoot

We usually like to shoot the interviews first—that way we can determine what BRoll would be best to shoot.  A common shoot is interviews in the morning, lunch break and then BRoll in the afternoon.  Or we shoot an interview, then supporting BRoll and then go to the next interview.

An interview can take thirty minutes to an hour to setup and then the interviewee is in front of the camera answering questions for maybe ten minutes.  I can go as long as twenty, but anything over that can wear the interviewee down and the laws of diminishing returns take over.

Graphics are Great

One thing you’ll need to decide, is how much and what type of graphics you might need.  Maybe it’s just text only.  Or maybe you need some animation to keep it interesting.  In some industries, like medical or mechanical, you might even need 3D animation.

One other common technique is the use of photos and client supplied videos.  It can be as simple as putting photos over the talking head, or it might be as complicated as layering the photos and giving it some movement.  These are all options for you when you make your corporate documentary video.

Last Thoughts

Just because the corporate video documentary relies on talking heads, you can still be incredibly creative and effective.  Your corporate story is important and needs to be told in a way that gets your audience engaging.  If you like this blog article, please share on social media, leave comments, or click like.

Aerial Video- Drones, Helicopters and Airplanes

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helicopter aerial videoWe are often asked by our clients for aerial video.  And with the latest technologies for drones, this has made aerial photography much more accessible and led to higher production values.  But what are the different methods for aerial video?

Helicopters and Airplanes

Today, it’s easy to point at the drone.  But an important tool in the aerial arsenal, is the helicopter or fixed wing platform.  For many years, this was the only way to get the aerial shot.  And when you shoot from a helicopter or airplane, there are several different methods.  At the top of the production value is the remote controlled, enclosed gimbal camera.  This is inside a housing hanging off the helicopter (or airplane).  Some of these camera platforms easily run $200,000 to $400,000.  That’s the camera, gimbal and housing– not the helicopter or airplane.

A pilot is needed to fly the helicopter and a camera operate works the camera remotely.  This video was done by us with such a setup:

helicopter aerial dan a promise keptFor the budget minded– an operator can shoot out the window with a handheld gimbal system.  Or even just hold the camera out the window.  In which case, support ties are encouraged.  When we shot our feature film “A Promise Kept” (shown in the picture), we shot our final shot this way– holding the 35mm camera out of the helicopter.  To combat the shakiness, there are ways to make the video smooth in the editing.


Drones have opened up a new world of aerial photography.  The helicopter and airplane was primarily used for higher shots– over 500 feet and more.  But with drones, now shots could be made from ten feet up.  Or less.  And you could fly indoors and get shots only cranes could get before.

At SFilms, we utilize three different drone platforms.  On the large side, we use a professional Matrice 100 that can handle bigger payloads and better cameras.  We also use the phantom and 3DR Solo products for the medium jobs.  And for small, extremely portable jobs, we use the Mavic Pro.

Drones versus Helicopters

So when is it best to use drones versus a helicopter?  Drones have some serious limitations.  To be legal (unless you get a COA that allows different from the FAA), you need to keep the drone within sight of the pilot in command or spotter.  Also, you’re not supposed to fly over 400 feet (500 in some cases).  In the above video, our client needed a continuous video of a 12 mile stretch of highway, right next to a major airport.  It’s very difficult to get that by drone, but with a helicopter, it’s perfect.

And when you just need that quick shot from 50 feet in the air of the outside of your corporate offices, the drone is the perfect tool, not the helicopter.

Other Considerations for your Corporate Aerial Video

remote controller for aerial videoInsurance is an important part of the package.  Things can and will go wrong.  make sure your aerial video team is properly insured.

Are the operators licensed properly?  Is the helicopter pilot commercially rated?  Does the drone operator have a 107 license?  In addition to the proper paperwork, are they more than technicians– are they artists?  You need both.

What’s critical is that you find a company for your aerial video needs that has all sorts of tools in their toolbox and that they know how to use them.

Why Video Tape a Corporate Conference?

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

Video at Corporate Aw3ards ShowCorporate Conference Video

All the sales people from all around the country are gathering at a hotel in the big city.  An agenda is set– you’re going to hear from the president and CEO.  VP of Sales.  The marketing team might present their plan for the new fiscal year.  A motivational keynote speaker inspires the troops.  The national team goes into the city for a dinner cruise on the river.  And the top producers in the company get awarded.

Your Story

Why are they gathered?  To hear your STORY.  The company STORY.  And if you don’t tell the story, someone else will.  Your competitors.  Or your colleagues.  Or someone who doesn’t tell your story accurately.  Your story your way.

Your STORY can live longer than the moment it was told by using video.  You spend all this time, resources and money on telling your story at this conference.  Make it last.  Put it on video.  Let your story be told over and over.

By incorporating video at your corporate conference, you bring sustainability, motivation, and excitement to the team.  Your story, on video, reminds them of your company mission, corporate culture and the values throughout the year.

A Sale is the Transfer of Enthusiasm

As the budgets for the big sales conference are poured over, it can be difficult to substantiate the importance of video.  Some people might only look at the cost versus a direct measurable metric.  But what our clients have seen, over and over, is that when video is used strategically, it can motivate and lift the sales team. Furthermore, it keeps them motivated much longer than without.  Sales rise.  Over and over.

A recap video brings the feelings, the motivation, the excitement right back up to the forefront of their minds weeks and months later.  When there’s no video, things vanish from the memory at a much faster rate.  Lots of clips of faces, stunning and compelling excerpts from powerful talks, that moment when the guy was honored for his community work, unbeknownst to him, the fun of the golf tournament.  All these things continue to motivate, pull the team closer together, energize the field force.  It’s the STORY of the event.  The story of the company.

With planning, videos can be created pre-event to add excitement and spice to the meeting.  Whether they’re funny segues and meeting openers, or support videos to illustrate important speaking points, conference video is powerful.

The Hollywood Effect

video at corporate conferenceWhat we have found is just having camera crews following representatives makes them feel special– like they’re a player in Hollywood.  And that’s one purpose of the national sales conference– to let them know how special they are to the company.  Lights.  Cameras.  Action.  It’s part of your STORY to the team.

And then that moment, in the last hours of the conference, they see the week played out on the big screen.  They laugh.  And learn.  They experience the passion and culture of the company.  The team will remember the meeting for the next twelve months by continually reliving it every time they click play.


Some of our clients make use of the large national conferences and seminars to build a training library.  At this event, they’ll have some of their best and brightest on the stage, and the magic from the lights and the energy from the audience can create wonderful messages that need to be repeated throughout the year.

Even if you aren’t a believer in the power of video to motivate the sales team, the training that can come from your conference can be a huge cost saver throughout the year.  Proper video training creates consistent methods, cost saving techniques, sales tips, and many other ways to increase a corporation’s bottom line.  This establishes the STORY for the team.  They are taught to go back home and repeat the story to their team members and to their customers and clients.

Video at the Corporate Conference Pays for Itself

Video coverage at the corporate conference pays for itself.  So the investment the company makes by utilizing the powerful tool of video, consistently comes back in creased productivity, increased sales, and renewed passion.  Video makes a difference.


Top 4 Tips for Freelancers in Video Production

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The Top 4 things every Freelancer needs to know about Video Production

History of the Freelancer

The word freelancer comes from medieval times– when a fiefdom needed an extra lance or two for the defense of their city or for the attack on someone else’s city, the would hire an extra knight or two to bring their sword and lance along.  A “free lancer” did not belong to anyone or any fiefdom.  Today, a freelancer is usually not employed, but works job to job, gig to gig.  And they usually make more money for working less days than someone employed.

And it’s easy to start a freelancing career in corporate video.  You can begin at the entry level– a production assistant.  And this goes all the way up to directors and producers.  How you set yourself apart will determine how often you get called and what rate you’ll get paid.

Corporate Video Freelancer Tips

corporate video studioWhen you start working as a freelancer in video production, it’s a great opportunity to work for several companies and hopefully catch the attention of those video production companies,  by showing them just how professional you are, so that they continue to want to ask you to come back to work for them.

  1. COMMUNICATE.  When you are contacted to work for a production company as a freelancer,  it is important to respond to phone calls, emails or texts  from the production coordinator of that company as soon as possible.   Sometimes the person who contacts you has plenty of time to schedule crew for a shoot, but often times,  productions pop up fast and scheduling crew can be tedious.  If you do not respond in a timely manner, the coordinator may need to start looking for another freelancer to book for the job.
  2. BE ON TIME – Honestly, “On time” usually means “Be Early” in this business.  Being consistently late to set,  can result in not being asked back to work for that production company. Go ahead and map out the directions to the shoot and check to see how long GPS expects it will take for you to arrive and allow for extra  driving time to get there.  Always plan for bad traffic, because that can pop up at any moment.
  3. Dress Appropriately.  Remember you are representing a production company when arriving on set, and more importantly,  yourself.  Wearing something casual is often appropriate, but you could also be asked to dress in “Business Casual”…something a little nicer for certain clients or business locations, or Dress Blacks for more formal occasions.    If you aren’t sure what you should wear, then you should ask.
  4. ATTITUDE. Always have a friendly and professional behavior on set.  Keeping a good attitude is always appreciated , even if the shoot becomes fast paced or a little intense.   Talking with your peers  is fine, but don’t let it interfere with getting the job done.  Respect the client’s time by doing your job efficiently.  And… It is the Director’s place to talk with the client and discuss thoughts or suggestions about the shoot.  Unless you are directly asked for your opinion, you should let the director and client make the decisions.   Listen to your instructions from the director, follow through on your tasks, and always be open to new ideas and suggestions.

Keeping  these tips in mind next time you step on a set , will ensure that the director sees you as someone who is giving 100%, and wanting to be a team player.