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Commercials Vs. Corporate Cinema

photo of an old movie projector

Commercials are dead.  The modern audience attention no longer responds effectively to standard forms of advertising.  Displaying a product and its price tag does little if nothing to connect the desires of viewers to your company.  It must be realized that your company is selling a brand that describes what you stand for and profit results as a symbiotic relationship between company brand image and customer communication.  Ideas of native advertising have opened markets to creating what is known as the “Brand Film” and takes on many forms from documentary style interviews to entertaining stories that can rival their cinematic counterparts.  There are similar aspects to achieving a powerful brand film that overlap with great movies including a brilliant story idea, proper lighting and production value, and efficient editing techniques.  However brand films are created with the intent of eventually selling a product and for this reason they differ slightly in their pre-production stages.  Here are a few ideas that to create a short film for your brand that connects with viewers on a much more powerful level.

Assert Your Goals – Every company has a reason for existing that transcends profit.  Your company might be selling a useful product but there is a lifestyle hope they are more trying to achieve.  Your clients should know what values their company stands for and how they intend to better the lives of their customers with their product or services.  Let this corporate mission statement be the motivating factor in how you want to tell the story.  Before you introduce the product itself let the beginning of the film assert what the company is there to do.  Be consistent and steadfast about this.  If you create a similar film for a different product for the same company then this message should be identical to previous films used by the same company.  When doing a brand film for a nonprofit the message is very clear because it defines itself with trying to help a cause.  Corporate messages should be quite similar.  Your company stands to help the world in some manner and intends to result in profit from that change.  Prime the video with these goals and reassert them throughout the video to appear as strong and focused on these goals as possible.  Your brand film will be a form of storytelling for how your company sees the world and how it hopes to change the problems it sees, even if it is beyond reasonable.  Storytelling is a form of imagination at work so take advantage of it.  View this short brand film for Kenzo fragrance  You will see how they define a world as they see it, bland and uptight with too many rules and before introducing their product suggest a different way of living.  The video takes on a life of its own with choreographed dance moves and special effects to entertain the viewer before finally unleashing the products name.

Define Your Aesthetic – Great film directors are known as auteurs but no one earns this title until they have refined a specific aesthetic look that is their artistic signature.  Your campaigns should have the same approach.  Clients and their video production companies should work closely together to define the visual aspects of the company.  The integration of a corporate aesthetic takes in pace the corporate logo and fonts along with the market they do most of their business with and sometimes the origin of their company.  Radio Flyer toy wagons have been a mainstay of American culture for almost a century.  They conjure up ideas of Norman Rockwell paintings and suburban America.  This short film from Moonbot Studios takes those visual concepts and applies them in an animated short film.  When working with smaller companies there will be a lot already defined but that gives a rise in opportunity to create a desired aesthetic.

Be Creative – George Lucas did not write the original Star Wars with the concept of how to sell plastic figurines in mind.  He wrote an interesting and relatable story then spiced up the film aspects with genius special FX and today I have a humidifier designed to look like R2-D2.  The point is your brand film should stand on its own as a creative force.  Consider story elements that might seem a little far-fetched but take your viewers into that imaginary world and let them forget about products for a second.  This does not always have to be a fantasy world as seen in this film from General Electric “A Snowball’s Chance in Hell” where they take a phrase literally and combine humor, drama and science into a 3 minute video.  GE is a company that can afford to create content like to celebrate their success but this is not exactly a “pat on the back” ad.  There are some real components as well as bizarre fictions that combine to make a video worth watching and there is no shortage of creativity implemented form the story concept to production value to edited graphics.  Some corporate films even take these shorts to film festivals and put the award leafs on their titles.

In the world of brand films, you are providing a form of entertainment that viewers will associate with your product.  Viewers will see your company as being able to support, sponsor and endorse an artistic video and carry that awareness into what your company does for its own products.  Even for smaller business there is real potential for them to create a small film that gets their brand name out there or at least to learn a few tips and apply them in their own videos.  Sometimes this type of film-making is used for internal videos to explain the story of the company’s origins and growth.  Hopefully your next corporate video can take a small piece of this and profit from it or at least have something a little more remarkable to identify yourself as.


Video For Internal Corporate Communication

Business People Corporate Connection Discussion Meeting Concept

Maybe your company has an important email to send to all employees.  Maybe there is pertinent information that needs to be conferred in a meeting.  There is a lot of middle ground between these two and video has become a wonderful option for internal company communication.  There are advantages such as watching videos when the viewer has time and re-watching when needed to scripting points that might be missed in live meetings and explaining facts that could be misinterpreted in emails.

Corporate meetings have their own disadvantages from scheduling conflicts to food budget and securing a location large enough to accommodate the expected persons.  Some companies have offices in multiple cities and patching them all in Cisco networks is not always a viable option.  Not everyone will have a speaking part in a meeting and watching an edited video of the meeting might be the best way for them to get the information they need.

Animated features are something only video can provide.  It combines training with communication and gives the viewer a sense of entertainment.  Because animation is a precise format,  it limits the length to exactly what needs to be said.

Employee generated content can provide feedback to the daily operations of a company that the higher-ups may be unaware of.  One of the uses to video communication can be just that.  Businesses can ask employees to film segments of their workday, particularly the frustrating details that can be improved on.  This does not require a high budget like most video productions and can be a way to spread the practical operations to everyone in the company.

The metrics of effectiveness are also an advantage to video.  It can be seen through the view counts and drop off rates as well shares and comments.  Testing video as a method of internal communication only a few times can provide your production unit with the knowledge to create more effective content in the future.  The goal is the same for any video in that it aims to keep the viewer’s attention focused on the information at hand.

Technology is at the point where videos are as easily accessible as emails.  The modern workforce is composed of the millennial generation that has grown up on videos so communicating through this device is the most effective method getting the point across.

Thermal Vision Lenses

When you mention the phrase “night vision” it conjures up images of military raids or hotel heiresses eating powdered treats.  Well, we should put those days behind us and focus on the high quality imagery new lenses are able to capture with incredibly low amounts of lights.  Light sensitive digital cameras can now open a world of images not yet before seen to the human eye.

Celluloid film has a magnificent resolution but under low lighting conditions suffers from suffers from tiny particles of silver halide that creans the “grainy” effect.  This results in a finished product that in almost no way resembles the actual actions taking place and puts the quality to a dismal resolution.  Infra-red lenses were an advancement for a time but filmed light-waves that were outside the scope of human vision.  This is a nice thing for weather patterns but not for seeing what is happening in the dark.  Once filtered through reflective lenses this advancement did eventually create a monochromatic image that was much clearly and less grainy but still not in full color.  Then thermal cameras came about and took the infra-red a step further by capturing emitted light from the subjects.  Since these wavelengths travel at different frequencies they displayed various forms of colors.  Still not always the natural ones the objects exists in but enough to distinguish what is going on.

However technology has advanced and thermal cameras can actuate real images into the perceived colors.  One of the new cameras that capture this is the Sony A7s which retails for under $3,000 and also captures remarkable 4k footage.  The way the camera does this is oddly by having a lower pixel rate allowing each pixel to absorb more light and lower noise reduction for a clearer image.  The Sony A7s is a handheld camera with interchangeable lenses and perfect for various operations from attaching to drone or concealing in an waterproof case for a range of filming options.

These types of cameras have evolved immaculately over the last few years and the perceivable future will develop ways of filming we can only dream of.  The best part is this technology once only available to the military is in the palm of any consumer’s hand.


Lower Production Costs in 7 Easy Steps

There’s nothing more embarrassing than asking your client for more money.  You agree on a price and if the production goes over budget then it comes out of your company profits.  This is the honorable way of doing business.  Sometimes things change with the client’s requests and there is reasonable room for renegotiation but if everything falls your way and you still go over budget then you need to re-plan on the next project.  Experience is the best way to understand what costs will arise and how to best plan for them.  Until then, knowledge is a decent road to take.  Let the experience of others provide some useful tips on how to cut costs.

Production Brief – Research is always the first step in any project.  Study what the impact of the video will be and how much you have to work with.  The client may want a video that is not going to have a very profitable result and this is something you might not want to venture into.  On the same token, the client might present you with a very unrealistic budget.  It’s your company’s job to guide them to the best options.

Actors – Professional actors can run you up the wazoo.  There are plenty of aspiring talent that is just begging for any screen-time possible.  Most casting websites have a non-paid option.  See:




And these are just a few.  There is also the option to cast your own company employees.  You will find many of them begging to do this job and if they can handle the task of delivering lines in front of a camera you are obtaining them for their regular salary.  This can sometimes cost even more than an established actor but it does give a realistic touch.  If in the case, you do want to hire an actor with some Hollywood credits get to know people out there.  You will be surprised who may want to work with you.  There is the story of Zero Impact Home, an ecological company in Sherman Oaks, who wanted to make a “Back to the Future” parody as a promotional video.  One of the producers of the video attended the same church as actress Claudia Wells from the original film.  She was more than happy to provide her services to help with a cause she believed in and all it costs the production company was her specific request of a 12 pack of Diet Barq’s Root Beer.

Music – I’ll never forget the story of a video game that came to my production office stating they had blown their entire million dollar advertising budget procuring the rights to 30 seconds of “Free Bird” and needed something on the fly for no budget at all.  There is no need to be one of those idiots.  Library music cues are efficient and precise for any task.  There are public domain options for songs older than 35 years as well.  I recommend finding local musicians and forming in a symbiotic relationship between promoting their music and the product.  Regional audiences will definitely respond to this.

Schedule – Plan your shoot days as efficiently as possible.  Try to maximize on all locations and hours.  Doing pick-up shots and re-shoots is the most costly part and real pain for consistency.  If you are paying someone by the hour it is best to make the most use of their time when they are around.  Don’t ask people to show up early only to have them wait around.  Know when you will need which crew departments when and plan it into the schedule.  This also has the effect of showing you appreciate the crew’s time.  When securing locations determine when it would be cheaper to shoot.  Some places are not open on weekends or nights and you could use this to your advantage.

Graphics – Ask yourself if the video needs specific graphics and texts.  How animated do they need to be and is it truly relevant to the message.  Is this addition a gimmick or is it informational.  Gimmicks can be thrown out unless the client really wants to go that angle.  Information should not be over provided, the idea is to connect with the viewers and entice them to do further research for the full information.

Equipment – Before your company buys any new equipment, ask yourself if this is going to be worth it.  Technology advances all the time.  Smaller and newer production companies will struggle at first to procure the right equipment as well as clients.  It may be beneficial to rent certain cameras or audio devices until you can afford to buy one.  Used is always a good option so being in contact with some of your larger competitors can do you some good there.

Editing – The final product may be a 30 second video that took 12 hours to shoot but the time it spends in the editing room could be an undetermined length.  You can do the editing in house but remember your time is valuable as well.  There are some ways to make things easier on your editors such as pre-cutting clips and being specific with your time codes.  You could also hire a freelance editor to do the creative work and then do the finishing rendering yourself.  The best way to learn how much an editor will cost is to learn how they think.  The video below will give you some aspect as to how they will consider charging you to make their time worth it.

A lower budget proposal may help you land a job over your competitors and can often increase profit margins but there is no shortcut to good work.  High production value does not mean wasting money but these tips can be a valuable resource if your clients agree to it.  You are in the business of pleasing those who pay you and showing them that a nice project can be obtainable for less money is always welcomed.


Aspects of A Corporate Video Script

There are aspects of a corporate video script that differ from that of a motion picture but both have the same basic elements of storytelling. Besides the aspect of trying to please and work with your clients intent for a video product, there is a greater need to know the audience in corporate videos than in a script for pure entertainment. Knowing the audience is the first priority in any script.  After you know the mind you trying to reach you have the pleasure of tackling the ideas of connecting with them through the content and building a story arc within the given time-frame.

Know Your Audience – these are the first questions the production needs to ask the client. Who is their target demographic for each ad. The next is the research, what are the desires of this market and how will this product affect them. If you can answer these questions you will have the fundamental basis for what the story line needs to fill. Maybe this is an internal video for the client but the questions still apply.

Theme – the thematic elements of your story are what you pay your dream team creatives for. They will best know the trends and nuances of the target audience, how to draw an emotional connection between the product and viewer. The idea is to match the story and setting details to something that particular audience finds engaging. Sometimes the client may have an idea of what themes work on a particular demographic. Details do count and consistent aspects in that world help with the relating factor.

Emotional Arc – Viewers will respond to withdrawal or denial of something more than to the addition. Every story should be set up with the possibility of something being greater or being currently okay and then shown what it is like not to have that. When it comes to advertising the story ends here. The idea of teasing the audience into something they would want is the goal. Further information to obtain the product must be hinted at and accessible but not completely explained. Finding where the line is between drawing the viewer’s interest into the story and cutting it right at the point where they will want more without giving them a solid conclusion is a fine art form. Sometime it is as simple as a cut at the right moment but more importantly it should be the basis of the writing stage. Even if you are making an internal company video you will find the resolution comes from the employees taking some kind of action. You are still selling a story where the viewer completes the tale.

Once these three elements have been observed in the formation of the script it is up to your creative department to work within the budget and create a concept that pleases everyone.

Setting Up Lenses for Interviews

Interviews make up a large chunk of corporate videos.  When setting up these shots there is very little difference from that of filming a documentary or cinematic sit-down shot.  You might have to ask if the client wants a single or a double camera setup and the choice is not just aesthetic.  There are dramatic effects that can be implemented with a double shot as well as the functionality of having backup footage.  You can get away with re-positioning the single camera setup but then you have a slew of consistency problems to worry about.  There is a lot to be said about which lenses you chose for each of these setups and the types of lenses needed for close-up interviews do make a huge difference.

For single camera setups your best option is to start with a prime lens at 50mm and then switch to a zoom lens of over 70mm.  70mm is an excellent choice for this but you can go as high as a 200mm.  You can set the shot up once and will not have move for the close-up shot; simply switch the lens and use the zoom feature when ready.  If you can’t afford the zoom lens then try to set the shot up with enough room to be able to move forward with the 50mm prime lens.  This will still give you a wonderful, professional looking output.

With a two camera setup you will be able to set up the prime lens on camera A and the zoom lens on camera B so you can get the entire interview in one take, ideally.  This feature will allow one camera, the 50mm, to stay stationary while the zoom lens camera moves around the subject.  You always have your stable footage and then some close ups from various angles to edit in later.

Another option for a two camera setup is to treat them both like the one camera setup where you prime both shots with 50mm lenses then switch to 70mm or wider when needed.  The idea being that your cameras are pointed in opposing directions is you want to include two speakers engaging in a dialogue or pointed at the same speaker to capture a front and side view.

The goal is to capture the best footage possible but it should obstruct with the information in the interview so discuss the options with the person on the screen and let them know they should feel at ease and your intent is to capture the best image possible of them.

Canon C 100 Lens Test: In search of the perfect interview lens. from Eric Gould on Vimeo.

3 Tips to Maximizing Your Shoot Days

You pay for the lights, you put in a request for caterers, you secure locations, you go through the almost impossible task of making sure all your cast and crew shows up on the same day so you can have a few hours of actual production.  There is the idea of covering your ends so you don’t have to dare do the dreaded re-shoots but I’d like to offer a further notion and suggest ways to bulk up the amount of content produced on shoot days to maximize productivity and avoid the difficulties of rescheduling another shoot day.

  1. Use Multiple Cameras – Find a location large enough to angle more cameras than usual.  Remember you will have to set up lighting for each angle and that requires more room.  You need them to be comfortable and at least one of your camera operators should not be stationary.  Allow at least one camera operator to flow through the set; not exactly freely but in a plotted line of movement.  A good way to do this is to mark the floor with tape like a yellow brick road so they have a path to glide in unseen by the other cameras and close up to the action and then pull away back to an outside view.  Choreographic this dance is common on sets and rarely is the ground filmed thus there is often tape marking positions for actors and camera operators.  With this extra footage your editors have much more to work with and reusing particular parts of scenes is not always redundant but sometimes favorable for viewers.  Not all viewers will watch all the videos you create so a lot of times this will hardly be noticed.
  2. Stagger Your Scheduling – Not everyone needs to take a break at the same time.  Your wardrobe and makeup departments will often be the first to arrive in the morning and others will pour in afterwards.  Schedule meal breaks and rest periods throughout the day.  This is a benefit that extends beyond maximizing the footage and allows crew to get their food more quickly and be much more at peace when not on duty.  You are not thinking of the entire crew as a congruent unit but as piece on a chess board that move one at a time throughout yet in a focussed system to achieve one goal.  Only one piece will capture the king but many others will play defense and some are just used for distraction.
  3. Prepare Multiple Scripts  I can’t stress this part enough.  So many times do writers think of things that they should have added once the whole shebang is done.  Write down the various ways to say the same thing and get it all filmed with take after take.  Prepare all the material you can and just get it filmed.  Most of the filmed footage from sets is discarded to create the final project but the more the editors have to work with the more possibilities.

This can be a risky tactic if you have to rely on multiple on-camera talents so make sure to cast responsible actors and double check on their health status and transportation throughout the week.  Most of the time your crew will be iron-clad troopers determined to stay long hours and get things done.  Your editors might require more time to sort through the footage but it is still way cheaper and less stressful than organizing a re-shoot.

Skull Island on Google Maps: An Innovative Marketing Tactic

Have you wanted to visit Narnia but weren’t sure how to get from Mr. Tumnus’ place to the castle?  How about which space bus can drop you off at Dagobah so you can chill with Yoda.  Well we are not far off from flirting with these notions as Google Maps has now posted the fictitious location for the new movie Kong: Skull Island on its actual maps.  Yes, you can now locate a made up place in a real navigation tool.

The partnered venture between Universal Pictures and Google Industries becomes a first for this type of marketing.  Blending reality with fiction to promote a movie has been done before but never on this scale.  There actually is a Skull Island, two in fact.  One of the north coast of Australia and one just off Long Beach in California.  Kong’s Skull Island is listed as an archeological site and based on its location along the equator west of South America conjures up the idea of the Galapagos islands where Charles Darwin did his biological research.  It’s doubtful to think this recent Kong movie will inspire much educational research.  The current trailers make it to be the most action packed Kong film yet.  Still there are new creatures that emerge from the hidden jungles and the CGI effects to create them are obviously done with some zoological basis.

When you go to the Google Maps – Skull Island Link https://goo.gl/maps/a1d5YDdZWMz you will notice it is a bare bones setup with no street view or directions.  A major mistake since the video was available from the film to take stills from.  It would have been nice to do a 360 view, turn and see Sam L. Jackson frowning at you.  Yet there are a few reviews already which read quite humorously such as the restaurant review.

The fact that this exists has been making news and promoting a movie that was unleashed unto the public without as much expectation or desire as the last King Kong (2005) film.  Stretching the limits of advertising is what makes this exciting.  There is an interactive, virtual experience that participates in our real lives despite its hokiness that appeals to our imaginations.  It makes the audience double think if they have slipped into a dimensional warp and woken up into Kong universe.  Maybe this instance lasts for only a fraction of a second but that possibility is questionable for viewers that want to believe in something.

At the very least this form of marketing creates a buzz that can go viral and stimulates more people to view the movie’s trailer or go to the film’s website just to check it out.


Video Marketing – How Non-Profit Corporations Benefit

Whether a corporate entity exists as a for profit or charitable organization the process is essentially the same: the company works to raise revenue.  The method is similar in that both need to raise awareness about the services offered and there is no better way to do this than creating video content and posting in the right places.

In the nonprofit world, videos are made to raise awareness about an issue that might pertain to a cause they are willing to support by donating money, to thank past donors and show how the improvements are going and remind those participating that the process of helping is highly active.  An organization might need to persuade people to offer up their time volunteering rather than money and video can do this by showing participants involved and get them excited about the work they could be doing.

Nonprofit corporations also still the same internal videos for training and communication that all businesses need. This is even more important for the nonprofits as volunteers are less likely to read material essential to the task but will watch entertaining videos with joy like the ones that convinced them to participate.

Reenactments play a big part in the videos nonprofits tend to use.  If you have a hospital that is working on developing a scientific cure then it is rare to go inside a working lab and film such.  Being there when a discovery happens is not exciting for viewers as it is for scientists but the idea of the impact can be spread through a scripted reenactment.  This is the same with showing the reasons how a patient could have gotten sick.  These mini-movies help to get your message across and make the videos alive from a third person omniscient view and should be filmed by a professional video company with such experience.  Even the work the company does itself should be carefully planned when filming to highlight the best aspects.  Viewers of video want to be entertained and emotionally provoked.

Nonprofits often exist on a tighter budget but that is not always the case.  They receive large tax incentives which trickle down to all those participating.  Some video production companies might take a loss to help create video content because it is a tax write off for them or because they believe in the project so dearly.  The best advice is to spread the word and find those who want to be included.  It’s all about communication and planning.

Video has the power to touch its viewers emotionally and when combined with a brilliant message of compassion can do wonders.  Don’t limit yourself just because you have a message and your experience in business has been cruel.  A lot of successful people are looking to help and convincing them to join your cause is what video content is all about.

Grow Your Business With Content Marketing

The use of traditional advertising has slipped over last few years and in it’s place most of the world’s largest organizations are switching to content marketing focused on attracting a specific target audience with valuable, interesting and unique articles and videos. This blog post will outline the “how’s” but the “why” is always the bottom line of increasing profitable customer relations.

Content marketing is used by businesses large and small to engage an audience on issues relevant their lives. It does more than just blast out their name to the public yet it does allow branding to seem in if done correctly. The idea is to generate awareness of your company strategically and draw traffic to your website which will potentially lead to sales and increase your SEO. This form of marketing is often created at a much lower cost than traditional advertising campaigns and it can establish your company as an innovator in the technical knowledge you are discussing. For smaller businesses this is particularly important because as it shows you have the same know-how as the mega-conglomerates but can give personalized attention to your individual customers.

Creating interesting content is the key and videos have the most potential for this as the story element is much more engaging than the written word. Your viewers will have a chance to see what you are talking about and relate on a much more personal level. There is an entertainment value to video which if done with a professional touch will form the desire to be watched repeatedly for enjoyment as well as informative reasons.

Tips on the various ways to create content marketing are as follows:

Set Up a Podcast

While there are advantages to the audio format of podcast including smaller amounts of data to transmit and the ability to listen while driving or working, the video potential is still possible. The best podcasts are short, edited pieces that get down to the point as quickly as they can. Video content created for your podcast can also be re-posted on sites like YouTube to reach a larger audience.

Design Videos for Your Audience

Your company knows what they are selling but they should also know who they are selling to. Shoot and post videos with content that informs the viewers about subjects they care about even if it is on the fringe of your services. Potential customers will want to do business with a company that shares the same values as they do.
Blog to Reinforce Your Videos: Sometimes viewers can become lost in the entertainment value of videos or forget what they heard over the course of time. Providing a written companion to this can backup the facts previously stated in a concise visual format to increase comprehension. Written, audio and video blogs can also be redirected across a multitude of social media platforms.

Adding a Professional Touch

Your videos should be visually appealing. This means filming with the proper equipment and editing concisely. The addition of annotations and graphics can strongly achieve this goal if used wisely. Formatting an aesthetically pleasing and well-informed cover image can help target the ideal audience that will want to know more about the content you are presenting.
Stay Consistent with email lists: Every blog along these lines will tell you to grow your email list but the real idea is to stay on top of it over time. Subscribers may forget about your company for a time but will eventually see the emails in their promotions folder and be reminded that was a thing they were interested in and a catchy title can regenerate their desire to investigate your company at a better time.

Creating valuable content marketing means taking a different approach. It is about knowing your values as a company and allowing interested parties to be drawn to you rather than chasing them.


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