Tag Archives: Filming

Filming Services

Are you looking for Filming Services in Essex? Look no further than Video Artisan. We are a specialist provider of business video services throughout Essex and East London region. Filming is what we are all about!

Furthermore, are looking to harness the power of YouTube or website video to improve your search engine optimisation? Maybe you want to develop a series of public information films – or create a one-off company film? Therefore Video Artisan has the skills, resources and creative talents to deliver an imaginative and cost-effective solution for your next company video.

Filming Services Location

Our location is perfect for servicing London, Essex, Harlow and South Eastern England with London Underground connections, the M25 and Stansted Airport very close to our studio edit facilities on the edge of Epping Forest.

In addition, we offer freelance camera operator and video editing services to client producers, agencies and other video production companies. With various cameras, lenses, camera mount systems, rails, sliders, dollies, lighting and sound kit we can cater for most video assignments.

Shooting a holiday lip-dub

It must be love lip-dub title
The story behind the Lip-dub

Just to prove this job of mine isn’t really work I decided to produce a fun video whilst on holiday this year. It’s a lip-dub or musical mime, performed by a group of friends and I whilst we vacated on the amazing island resort of Cayo Levantado just off the Samana Bay on the Dominican Republic. I’m not really sure why I’m sharing this with you on my business blog but I’ve had so many questions about how it was done, and why, so maybe this will satisfy everyone. To those that have not seen it here it is, and if you want to know more about how this lip-dub was produced please read on.

The Lip-dub motivation

First of all I need to quickly tell you the back story behind this holiday. When the website Friends Reunited was in its heyday, I signed up and made contact with a whole bunch of old school friends – some dating back to my infant school days. The usual reunions took place; starting off with tens of people turning up but gradually dwindling down to little more than a handful of us who reformed their friendships and have continued to meet up on a monthly basis ever since.

It was on one of these booze-fuelled nights out that we pledged that in the year we reached 50 we would all go on a special holiday together, with partners, to somewhere exotic. We had originally decided on a cruise and started a joint savings account to pay for it. Like many great plans for one reason or another this did not materialise. However, the whole idea was rekindled when one of our group, Karen, announced that she was going to get married to Paul (the couple in the penultimate shot of the film) and some bright spark suggested that maybe we should join them on their honeymoon – and the rest is history.

I’m not sure at what point I decided to shoot a film whilst we were away but it was certainly months before we left. This gave me time to think about what I wanted to create and to pick a song that would mean something to everyone involved. This isn’t the first lip-dub I’ve shot but it’s certainly the most detailed and most labour intensive – but I have to admit that I really like doing them. Most of my time is spent producing corporate videos for other people, with a precisely defined objective. This was produced purely for fun and as a memento for all of us of this very special holiday.

Lip-dub pre-planning and musical choice

There’s no doubt that the 7 P’s play their part in shooting a lip-dub (Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance). This doesn’t only mean having a pretty good idea about what you are going to film and making sure you have the kit to do it, but also making sure that everyone involved knows what’s expected of them.

Labi's digital remastered album
Labi’s digital remastered album

The track, ‘It must be love’ was certainly a favourite amongst us but probably more so in the version sung by Madness. That was our era and we’d all been away together before on a Madness weekend at Butlins. However, that version didn’t really lend itself to a lip-dub but the original by Labi Siffre certainly does (to me anyhow). Choosing a song that we were all familiar with was important, but even so I’d urged everyone in the months beforehand to brush up on the lyrics. That’s probably my first tip to anyone thinking of doing something similar – make sure your talent knows the words! This worked for me, well maybe not in one person’s case who had spent weeks memorising, ‘All you need is love’ – which only came to light when we started filming with the complaint that, “I don’t even like the Beatles Cookie!” You came good in the end though Deb! : )

I’d put together a rough shot list and shared this with the group. I knew I wasn’t going to stick to this religiously but my aim was to make sure they understood what kind of commitment was going to be involved. The last thing you’ll need is talent moaning about having you taking them away from their holiday pleasures just to get another shot. I also wanted to make sure they understood that I wanted each of them to perform the entire song as a solo – from start to finish. I knew there was one or two shrinking violets among them but, on the whole, we’re always up for a laugh and I knew none of them would back down from the challenge. I tried to make it fun too – which is also important.

By doing this I knew (or hoped) I could cut to at least one good solo performance at any point within the song. Here’s a split screen showing all of our performances – which shows just how good (or bad) some of our individual miming turned out. Please keep in mind, I only gave each of them one chance to do their solo – so keep an eye open for the occasional slip.

I also got the entire group to perform the chorus line a few times at a few different locations – plus shot various GVs around the hotel to use as cover shots should I be short at the editing stage. I also asked each of the group to bring a small, heart-shaped prop with them which would be used somewhere within the film. This gave me the chance to give a little purpose to the GVs by placing each persons’ prop within the frame (seen towards the end of the film).

The only other props were the inflatable guitar and ukulele, bought from eBay for a couple of quid before we travelled and kindly repaired by the pool attendant when the bass developed a split! I knew these would be needed on the musical break in the middle of the song and primed Steve and Paul that I would need them to give that section of the song a good listen to.

Lip-dub filming kit

Even though there was a filming job to do on this holiday it was still supposed to be a holiday, so I had to cut my kit list back to the bare essentials so that we could still fit a full holiday wardrobe in our suitcases. Still, there were some things over and above a camera that I knew I’d need (or want) with me. The full list included:

  • Canon 550D (running Magic Lantern software)
  • Lenses (Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 / Vintage Fujinon 55mm f.18 / Vintage Fujinon 200mm f4)
  • Variable ND filter (too little lighting was never going to be a problem)
  • Handful of Canon batteries and a charger (I could have taken just a couple)
  • RODE video mic (this was never taken out of the case)
  • Lightweight photographic tripod (a very old one – see later)
  • Pico Flex Dolly (love it – with all my heart!)
  • Magic Arms (a couple – but one would have done)
  • JVC Adixxion Action Camera (for underwater shots)
  • SD Cards (took 4 but only used one 32Gb in Canon and one 16Gb in the JVC)

This lot was dispersed amongst our main cases and our hand luggage but still kept us within our weight limits. Everything arrived home safely afterwards – except the tripod which was pretty much knackered before it went away but completely so by the end of the shoot having spent some of the time stuck in the sand and sea. I wouldn’t have been without it though as I knew I wouldn’t want shaky hand-held shots – especially on the solos. I also wanted to be in the group shots myself so the camera needed to stand on its own at some point. The tripod was left in our hotel room bin as we checked out and probably occupies landfill space now. Even though I knew this would happen it was still sad as I’d had that tripod since the late 80’s. Maybe a Dominican has picked it up and making good use of it now.

Lip-dub tripod
Using a tripod – an essential lip-dub tool

I’d decided on the Canon 550D because I knew it could give me the look and quality I was after and was no bigger than a stills camera that I would take away normally. Also, whilst we wasn’t too bothered about what people were thinking of us as we were filming, a DSLR attracts far less attention than a conventional camera. We were often shooting amongst other guests and didn’t really want to cause them any concerns or raise any questions.

Canon 550D
Canon 550D with Fujinon 55mm f1.8 lens

The lens selection also had to be considered. The Tokina 11-16mm wide was my go-to lens most of the time, giving me an effective lens length of 17.6mm to 25.6mm on the 550D’s cropped sensor. The 55mm Fujinon was going to give me the equivalent of 88mm – so I didn’t really have a natural field of view lens with me (which is normally around 50mm). In practice, this meant having to position the camera back a bit more than I usually would in order to get my framing right. The 200mm Fujinon was taken just in case I needed a long shot, and was used only once in the film on one of the heart-shaped prop shots (I leave you to guess which one).

The variable ND was a must as I like to play with depth of field and the 55mm Fujinon, with its f1.8 aperture, needs a lot of knocking back when run fully open. This lens does get softer at the open end with the ND filter pretty much at its strongest, but I still love it. The lens also would prove useful should I want to shoot anything in low light. I didn’t – but I’d rather have it to hand if the needed. I certainly wasn’t going to take any kind of lighting away with me.

I did take the RODE mic with me but it wasn’t used. All the guide audio was recorded via the Canon’s internal mic, which though totally naff under normal circumstances, in this case I knew that I was never going to use the recorded sound on the finished video. The RODE was there just in case I was tempted to shoot anything other than the lip-dub – which I wasn’t.

Pico Flex
Pico Flex Dolly

The only bit of kit that might be considered as self-indulgent was the Pico Flex Dolly, but part of the drive to create this lip-dub was to serve my own creative desires. I simple love what a bit of temporal parallax brings to a film and the Pico Flex gave me the chance to have a play with it. There’s only a couple of shots that made it into the final edit in which this was used, but I still love them and wish I could have used it more. All you need with the Pico Flex is a good surface and the hotel had lots of nice smooth tables and marble floors for me to play on.

Managing the shoot

To end up with just over three minutes of usable material meant us shooting a little pretty much every day. I don’t think it took over the holiday for anyone but rather became an entertaining side attraction and topic of conversation. By the end of the holiday everyone seems to be really excited at how it was going to come together and at no time refused to take part or be the object of my amusement.

The three set-up scenes in the film (Ricky the bird man, 7-in a bed and Feet in bed) were all thought about beforehand but tweaked a bit on the day. We did try and get all nine of us on the bed at the same time but we couldn’t quite fit. Still, the bed sizes at the hotel were pretty impressive. My only regret here is that I should have shifted focus and rehearsed the 7-in a bed shot a few time. But it was a holiday after all.

Whenever the performers were miming or moving to the music I used my Samsung phone to play the music to them – either through its speaker just off camera when the environment wasn’t too noisy or via headphones when it was. I kind of set a precedent with this on my own solo which was self-framed with my wife, Tiffany, left to press the camera’s record button. I think we got away with it, though in an ideal world it would have been better to have the phone and headphones out of shot all the time.

The underwater shots were taken on my new toy, the JVC Adixxion camera which is waterproof down to 5m. This was also used on a couple of group shots and I think it stood up pretty well against the DSLR. The pool shots, with everyone doing the heart sign with their hands (in case you’d not worked that out) probably took the longest to do as some of us were having buoyancy problems. I’m not sure if this was down to too much fizzy beer or lunch, but keeping yourself low in the water and posing to the camera seemed to be a struggle. I also used the JVC to shoot the final sunset shot as a stills timelapse.

At the end of each day I would review the shots so by the time we got to the last few days I was confident that I had enough in the can – and the edit was starting to take place in my head. I have to admit that I was gagging to cut it by then.

Editing the lip-dub

The editing took me a couple of days in total using my Edius 6.5 system – including file transfers and working through all the rushes. In total there was about a 90-mins worth of material which is a high shoot-to-edit ratio but much of this was down to overrun on shooting solos and off the cuff shots that, with hindsight, just didn’t work.

The edit process was quite straight forward, working the solos first and syncing them to the music track. I’d first roughly line-up the music with the ambient sound on those takes where the headphones were not used, and purely by sight on those were the headphones were used. The only tricky parts came on Mick’s solo (shot by the hotel sign) where my phone handshaked with the hotel’s WIFI system causing the music to momentarily pause, and on Paul’s solo where he dropped the phone half way through his performance. This wasn’t any great hardship though.

edit suite
The Video Artisan edit suite

Refining the edits will always have to be carried out as regardless of how well your performer knows the lyrics they will always be a frame or two behind the actual singer. Just slipping the visuals back a notch normally sorts this out for the entire song. You’ve also got to accept that there will be one or two words which are just wrong, a point demonstrated in my own performance in the split screen example above. These were, in the main, hidden within the edit.

The hard part of the edit was deciding when enough was enough. Since releasing the video I’ve found myself going back to the rushes and doing an alternate edit but only for my own benefit and nothing that I would release in favour of the first cut.

Releasing the lip-dub

The ugly question of copyright was on my mind at the very early stages of planning this lip-dub. Would I fall foul of YouTube’s harshest treatment of videos with copyright music on them and it gets totally removed? I didn’t want to leave this to chance so made an attempt to contact Labi Siffre direct to see if we could get his blessing on its release. That didn’t prove successful so I tried the other angle of contacting the record company who released the recording I used – namely BMG Chrysalis. This proved more painless than I’d expected. After a quick call they asked me to send them the finished video and back came a reply within the hour… “This is something that would fall under YouTube’s ‘user generated content’ blanket license with the music collection societies. Please go ahead!” It does mean that ads get served on the video but, if this in someway compensates the rights owners, then I’m happy.

The video was released on YouTube and Vimeo on the same day (though I know that the Vimeo version might be pulled as they don’t have the same agreements in place as YouTube). Within the first week it had been viewed around 600 times and it’s still rising. I’ve shared it all over the place, and so too have my holiday buddies who have shared it with their friends via Facebook. I’ve also emailed the hotel with it (they do get a fair plug) and included it in a TripAdvisor review of the hotel. On top of that I’ve also tweeted it to various people who have a connection with either the island, hotel group or Labi Siffre.

Thanks

There’s really only a handful of very special people I need to thank for their help and input on the making of this lip-dub and that’s my fellow performers… Tiff, Karen, Kim, Deb, Paul, Mick, Steve and Ricky. I’d also like to thank Labi Siffre for writing and performing the song which will forever remind us of a fantastic holiday shared with some amazing friends. It must be love! xx

Lip-dub cast
My lip-dub performers enjoying an evening meal
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Video CV

Filming a Video CV

Would a Video CV be right for you?

This week I’ve been at the marvellous Ashridge Business School (www.ashridge.org.uk) in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire shooting a Video CV with my colleague, and often fellow-shooter, Dilip Patel from double-barrelled.tv

The Video CV (or Visumé, or VCV or Video Resumes) is nothing new. When video cameras became commonplace there were some recruitment specialists who thought that they were going to replace the written curriculum vitae altogether. That obviously didn’t happen – for a number of very good reasons. Firstly, they are not suitable for every job position – and not all potential employers would find them useful. Employers cannot quickly scan through a Video CV – and they can also, “allegedly”, leave the employer open to allegations of discrimination. There’s also the fact that some candidates would be completely terrified at the thought of having to project themselves positively on screen.

In addition, a Video CV will also add to the costs and time involved in gaining an interview – and it will always need to be accompanied by a written curriculum vitae as the inclusion of full educational and employment histories would make for a very dull video – especially when the candidate has extensive experience.

However, there are situations and job prospects where a Video CV is absolutely perfect and could help to set you above other candidates. This is especially true when the position entails face-to-face communication and the employer is looking for someone with exceptional presentation skills. In these situations a Video CV can be exceptionally good at revealing your enthusiasm, how you engage with an audience, your knowledge, confidence and your personality. Whilst you can say all these things in a written curriculum vitae, in a Video CV you can make them a whole lot more believable.

Shooting a Video CV might be perfect - for you!
Shooting a Video CV might be perfect – for you!

A personalised Video CV

I’m sure you will understand why I’ve not including details of the person we were shooting the Video CV for. At the time of writing this piece the video had not been released by the client – and there’s a reasonably good chance that it will not be publicly released at all. Confidentially issues are obviously high on the agenda in these situations so it is always something that has to be talked through with the candidate and faithfully observed.

Suffice to say that this person was pitching for an executive-level appointment within an industry which values and rewards exceptional communication skills and creative thinking. Our candidate was blessed with both, and the interview-style Video CV enabled them to communicate this and give any potential employer an understanding of their expertise, industry connections and successes. These things can obviously be set out within a written curriculum vitae, but on video you can deliver them with personality and passion.

Whilst a Video CV can be shot pretty much anywhere, Ashridge Business School was chosen because it has an excellent reputation in educating business leaders. As our candidate was a previous degree student at Ashridge the venue also added some relevance to the piece and was referenced to within the interview. This gave us the opportunity to shoot some b-roll shots around the grounds to help carry the interview along – and at the same time gave the piece additional credibility.

Ashridge Business School
Content is King – and adds to your credibility

Not every Video CV has to be produced this way but it was perfect for this candidate and the positions they are seeking. There is not a “one size fits all” solution to producing a Video CV so each commission needs to be considered carefully and creatively to produce something that’s right for the candidate and the employment they seek. No two Video CVs should ever be the same.

The shoot

I was working freelance for Dilip on this occasion. We often work for each other and have a great working relationship where we both concentrate totally on creating the best possible content for our clients – whoever they “belong” to.

On this occasion we were shooting on two Canon 5D Mkii’s, one as a “safe” shot and the other shooting “dirty” (wide of set including lighting rig and camera one, shot of camera monitor screen, pull focussing etc.). We also had a Canon 550D on a slider placed on the table in front of our candidate and we took turns in giving that a whiz during various takes.

Lighting was great in the room we were in with its floor to ceiling windows, but we added the sparkle on the candidate’s eyes by using my Lishuai LED lighting panels. Dilip handed all the audio side which was via cabled tie-clip mic and an additional stand-mounted directional mic fed back to his mixer and Tascam recorder. The audio would be synced up in post, which was again in Dilip’s hands.

Ashridge Business School
Finding a suitable location to help tell your story

How much would a Video CV cost to produce?

There are some situations where a home produced Video CV would be perfectly adequate and some where it certainly wouldn’t. In these situations you need to use a professional who is going to be able to create something credible for you. Apart from any pre-production planning and script development, for a relatively simple Video CV format the filming itself shouldn’t take any more than half a day to complete and, as long as there’s a clearly defined brief, no more than a day to edit. You can work out ballpark figures using my freelance rate card here.

The budget is however always wholly governed by the creative brief. A more complex idea might involve many more days filming, at various locations, with additional crew and kit requirements. This is normally quickly established in a confidential briefing with the delegate during which ideas, budgets and objectives can be discussed and agreed.

If your next appointment really matters, a Video CV might be just the thing to get you noticed. If you think this might be right for you, then please do get in touch.

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Filming at High Street TV in Harrogate

Another filming job for BT was signed off in the past week.  This time it was a short film about High Street TV incorporating the Avaya IP Office solution into their Harrogate offices.

Filming in the call centre at High Street TV
Filming in the call centre at High Street TV

High Street TV is a multi-channel retailer selling a very broad range of products through mainstream broadcast TV Infomercials, websites, high street retailers and also through its own Sky channel (648). BT supplied them with a one-stop-shop telecommunications solution – at the heart of which was their Avaya IP Office solution.

This short film reveals the benefits that BT has brought to High Street TV by way of increased productivity, greater reliability and flexibility through using their Avaya IP Office solution and other telecoms services.

This was another great filming commission for BT.  All the staff and management at High Street TV made our job seem easy on the day.  Nothing was too much trouble and they were all well prepared for the upheaval that filming can often create.  This was especially challenging in such a busy environment – and High Street TV are a very busy company.

During this one-day shoot we had to carry out filming in various departments throughout the building – including a few shots within their own TV studio area (which didn’t make the final edit unfortunately).   Our two main interviewees were Sharon Green and Malissa Wong who were both instrumental in specifying and overseeing the installation of the BT Avaya IP system.  Whilst this was their first ever experience of being filmed I think they did extremely well.

The end result…  Everyone was absolutely chuffed with the final film – including me. : )

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corporate video production

Corporate Video production for All

Get your next corporate video on-line, on-cue and on-budget!

Thank you for your interest in our corporate video and business-based media production services.  We specialise in the creation and delivery of effective company video communications to businesses and organisations of all sizes.  Our aim is to help our clients to benefit from incorporating video content into their day-to-day business communications. Video Artisan has a wealth of experience and the creative talents to match any business film requirement.

Why commission a corporate video?

A well produced video is the best way to engage with your audience.  It delivers a consistent message in an easy to consume and adaptable format.  You only have to look at the rising prevalence of YouTube and Vimeo to see just how important online video has become in SEO.  Today, a website without a properly indexed and relevant video will rank lower than one that does – full stop!

There are probably many more reasons to commission a video but the most common goals are that you want to:

  • create wealth for your business
  • offer a more cost effective means of achieving a goal
  • and/or augment your brand and raise its profile.

Why Video Artisan?

Above everything else, we understand that your video is a business tool that has one of the above objectives to meet.

With our in-depth understanding of the technology, coupled with our creative approach to developing innovative ways of engaging your audience, Video Artisan can offer a complete script-to-screen service at very competitive prices.

Want to know how much a corporate video production will cost? Click here to read our useful article.

Are you ready to find out more?

For a no-obligation consultation please feel free to contact us today.  We would be more than happy to discuss your ideas and requirements and come up with a proposal which fits your needs, desires and budget.

Please call 020 3602 3356 or 0777 153 5692  – or Email: kevin@video-artisan.com

A bit more about Kevin Cook and Video Artisan

Kevin Cook first started in corporate video in 1985 and has helped many companies and organisations develop their video content for training, promotional, online and branding purposes. Kevin has also written many articles and papers on the subject, as well as giving presentations throughout the UK and Ireland on corporate video.

With contacts throughout the film, tv and creative-freelance community, Kevin is able to pool together and manage large creative teams on more demanding projects.

One of the few cameramen with NATO Secret Clearance.

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