Video Artisan has been providing video production services since 1985. We provide a vast array of business-video services throughout the UK and overseas. Creating great Video Production content is at our heart!
Furthermore, we aim to create video content which really works for our clients. Regardless of whether you are looking to generate sales or promote your brand – we can help you do it with video! Please have a look through our showreel section to see examples and case studies for previous clients.
Video Production Base
Video Artisan is located in Loughton, Essex – right on the edge of Epping Forest. This is perfect for servicing London and its surrounding counties. We are also on the tube – with Loughton’s Central Line station – and the M25 hooks us up with the motorway network. Stansted Airport is just 30-minutes away.
In addition to full production services, we provide a range of freelance services. We often work with client producers, agencies and other media production companies. Our range of video kit is broad and inclusive in our rate card.
There’s probably a thousand reasons why you might want to create your own corporate video and, as a professional video production company, we could probably suggest a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t be doing this yourself. You’ve already come to the conclusion that you need (or want) a video to help achieve your goals. You’ll understand the power of video as a communication tool, and seen it’s meteoric rise as a means of generating website traffic, helping to build brand loyalty, delivering a corporate message and motivating an audience to act in a certain way.
Commissioning a video production has traditionally been seen as an expensive exercise and, right now, you’ll be thinking that it’s going to be cheaper and easier to do it yourself – and with all the right knowledge, kit and experience you could possibly be right. It’s the latter part of that last sentence which presents your greatest challenge. Creating a great video looks pretty easy but the reality is that you’re going to face a steep learning curve and need much more kit than you think if you want it to represent you and your business the right way.
That said you’ve probably heard all this before and are still determined to give it a go. One of the important things about the video production process is that it can be a whole lot of fun – and extremely rewarding when you create something that delivers the results you desire. So here’s some practical notes for those determined to go down this path which highlights the obstacles and challenges you will face.
Getting the message right
Regardless of whether you go down the DIY route or commission a professional video production company to create your film, the one thing you have to do is know exactly what it is you want to say and how you want your audience to react. This is all about getting your message right. To do this successfully you’ll need to know your subject matter inside out, understand the needs and desire of your audience and have the mechanisms in place to allow them to do the thing you want them to do after watching your film. This could simply be buying your product from a website or retailer, registering to attend an event or understand how to use a product. The video might actually require your audience to do nothing other than to establish your product or brand as the market leader.
Once you know your message you’ll need to develop your script – never losing sight of what you are trying to motivate your audience to do. Do not waste a second on anything which deviates from this plan or is added purely to massage your own ego. You might well be the biggest widget maker in the world but unless you can get this information over in a way in which your audience can recognise this as a benefit to them then don’t waste their time with it. Never list features unless you can link them to benefits, and never knock your competitors.
Video cameras are everywhere these days – on phones, laptops, pads and all manner of devices. And the picture quality they can produce is increasingly impressive. Whilst there are some video production tasks these devices will be OK for, they are far from perfect and will limit what you’ll be able to create – and they will almost certainly fall very short on your expectations in recording sound.
The golden rule of good audio recording (which is equally as important as the pictures) is to get your microphone as close to the subject as possible. In-built microphones found on phones are simply not good enough to capture anything other than general ambient sound – and this is also true of purpose-built video cameras with internal mics. To get perfect audio you’ll also need to understand a little about microphone characteristics and their pick-up pattern – but the golden rule mentioned above is paramount which will often mean recording sound separately from the pictures or use a camera which can accept external audio connections so that you can place the mic close to the subject and yet still film from a distance. Ideally you’ll need a selection of microphone solutions and cables to connect them to the camera.
Keeping the camera steady is also extremely important unless you are trying to create a special effect or give the audience a voyeuristic point of view of a scene. You’ll therefore need a good tripod and a camera which can easily be mounted on it.
All video cameras these days are very light sensitive, even those found on mobile phones. However, good lighting is about controlling light and creating shadows to give your subject form and interest. Just slapping up a light and pointing it in the direction of your subject is rarely going to give you results that will be pleasing on the eye and look natural. The human eye is always attracted by the brightest part of a scene, so if there are other things in a scene which are brighter than your subject your viewers’ attention will be drawn to them. If you are filming people pay particular attention to their eyes as this is what your viewer will concentrate on – so adding light to give the eyes a sparkle will help keep the viewer’s attention on them.
Video editing software is included on almost every computer or laptop these days – and all of them are capable of doing the vast majority of editing that will be found in your average corporate video. Where they fall short is on the niceties and their ability to correct errors made at the filming stage. The only other challenge of using editing programs is their complexity and ease of use. Your first few attempts at using an editing program will be spent learning how to import your footage and carry out basic cutting of shots – so give yourself plenty of time to get the editing completed.
Other refinements of a more professional editing program will include the ability to add more polished titles and graphics – and also in the control of how the final film is output and distributed. A beefier computer will also help to speed up the editing process as video files are data hungry. Some computers might not be man-enough or up-to-date enough to do the job at all!
The true cost of video production
Assuming you are starting from scratch, a basic video production toolkit will set you back something in the order of £5,000. This would include a proper video camera with external audio connections and controls, a reasonable directional microphone with cables and headphones for monitoring, a video tripod (not a photographic tripod), a couple of lights, a basic computer with free editing software and a bag full of cables and batteries. Armed with this an experienced videographer will be able to turn out something which is watchable – and if you achieve this on your first attempt you’ll have done pretty well.
But with all the best kit in the world and the technical skills to go with it, without a clear idea of the aims and objectives, and a creative way to achieve them using video, the whole exercise is unlikely to give you the results you desire. Whilst a DIY approach might save pennies on paper, bringing in a professional video production company might actually give you a much greater return on your investment.
If you’re planning to start using video on a regular basis then the DIY route could be the best solution by building an in-house team or individuals to manage the video production process. These people will need to be trained and whilst there are various video production training resources available, another solution could be to engage an established video production company to help them produce the first one or two films and perhaps be retained to assist in the process should additional help be required.
Hopefully this has given you a better idea of the challenges facing you. If it’s not dampened your enthusiasm then we wish you every success and hope that you soon start to benefit from using video within your business. If it all seems too much, we’re only a phone call away (020 3602 3356).
I’ve been shooting with the JVC GY-HM650 for over a year now and it’s become my go-to camera for many assignments. Being of handheld design, the camera is compact yet pro-feature rich, making it ideal for shooting conferences, newsgathering and any event where you need and all-in-one camera with professional connections and performance.
Since its launch the GY-HM650 has been an incredibly successful camera for JVC – a demonstration of which was its adoption by the BBC in 2013 when it purchased over 500 of them for newsgathering in the UK and overseas. But, as good as this camera is, there are still some applications where its handheld design makes it less than perfect. Whilst the camera is light and compact, the handheld design can be very tiring to use off-tripod for any length of time – which is true of any camera in this class.
To address this, at the beginning of 2014 JVC launched the 800 series cameras – namely the GY-HM850/ HM890. The 800 series has adopted all the very best features of the 600 series and designed them into an excellent shoulder-mount solution. All the bits that I really like about the HM650 are included, plus there’s a host of new features which will appeal to a wide range of camera operators.
If you have something to say, say it with video!
Towards the end of last year JVC approached me about creating a short documentary which explains why some applications are better suited to a shoulder-mount camera – and to reveal some of the other less obvious reasons why some camera operators prefer this design type. They also wanted something that would highlight some of the new features which have been introduced into this model to make it even more useful to the professional cameraman.
Once you have used both of these types of camera you’ll have a very good understanding of where one performs better than the other. However, in today’s world of DSLRs and the trend of making cameras smaller and smaller, its not that obvious to the uninitiated as to why a shoulder-mount camera could be preferable. Despite being substantially larger and heavier, the only way you can persuade someone that they are far more comfortable to use, easier to handle and far less fatiguing to operate off-tripod for any length of time is to actually get them to try it out. My challenge for this film was just that – to encourage camera buyers to actually consider the camera design more closely and to explore all possibilities – and ultimately to give shoulder-mount cameras a try. I hope it achieves this!
After an initial consultation with JVC I presented them with a short treatment. Following a few tweaks the format was agreed and I worked on developing the script and coming up with ideas on how to achieve the objectives.
Whilst it would be simple for me to simply talk people through the camera’s features I really believed that we needed to get some other people’s comments and views, so I planned a visit to the Kit Plus event in London and door-stepped a few of the delegates there to get their views on why the shoulder-mount design still has it’s place in video production. Apart from giving the viewer a break from my own on-screen performance, I thought it was extremely important to get other real users to reveal the important and less obvious benefits.
I’ve produced a number of this type of film before here at our studios in Loughton, Essex – so finding the location to shoot the pieces to camera and the studio pack shots wasn’t a challenge. Every shot you see in this film was shot using my GY-HM650, with the only exception being the one shot of the GY-HM650 which was created using the GY-HM850.
The only other material which was not actually filmed with the GY-HM650 was the GUI screen shots. These were created by capturing the camera’s HDMI output via the Intensity Pro card directly into my Edius edit suite.
A huge thanks to JVC for commissioning this film, and also to those who volunteered their time at Kit Plus London to be interviewed.
Filming internal video communications can often be dull and uninteresting – especially when you are not directly involved in the activity. However, every now and then a video communications job comes in which is rewarding, challenging, exciting and pushes us beyond our usual comfort zone. This job was an excellent example and not only put my filming skills and kit to the test but also tested my nerves and ability to rise (or should I say “descent”) to the challenge.
When Video Communications becomes great PR!
As part of their corporate social responsibility programme, on 20th August The Dorchester Hotel organised a sponsored abseil down the front of their iconic building in London’s Mayfair in aid of Cancer Research. With over 60 members of staff taking part, and under the guidance of abseiling specialists, Eiger Safety, the event was filmed by Video Artisan as a memento for those involved and to provide the hotel with some excellent PR opportunities.
It is not uncommon for an event such as this to pass by unnoticed, but by commissioning a video communications film you get two stabs at gaining as much publicity as possible. This was not only important for the hotel but also for Cancer Research and those members of staff who showed great spirit in making the descent, many of which were taking part in their own time. However, there wasn’t much chance of this event going unnoticed as the abseil was set up on the front of The Dorchester in full view of passers by, guests coming and going from the hotel as well as members of the press who had gathered below.
The right kit for the job
Unlike other video communications jobs this one required some specialist kit to give the viewer a much better view of the action and a sense drama. Apart from the obligatory safety kit (climbing hats, harnesses and other abseiling paraphernalia), Video Artisan had the opportunity to put their latest acquisition to good use – namely a JVC Adixxion Action Camera (GC-XA2BE) which was attached to the climbing hat of the main abseil instructor who was accompanying the volunteers as they descended down the building. The main action filming was carried out using our JVC GY-HM650.
Having looked at the features and benefits of all the alternative action cameras, Video Artisan chose the JVC Action Camera for a number of reasons. We regularly use the GY-HM650 camera on video communications projects and were looking to add a small POV camera to capture shots that are otherwise impossible. The Dorchester Hotel abseil gave us an excellent opportunity to put the camera to the test and provided us with an abseiler’s view of the activity. Apart from matching nicely with our GY-HM650, one of the main reasons for buying the Adixxion was its robustness. There were lots of opportunities for the camera to get knocked whist the abseilers made the descent down the hotel facia – and the last thing you need to worry about is the camera being damaged or, worst still, being knocked off its mounting and causing a hazard to the crowd below.
We’ve also used the Adixxion on another corporate shoot for a golf tutoring product which required a shot from the golf ball’s perspective (blog coming soon) and it would have been impossible to use anything other than a small POV to achieve this. In the next couple of weeks we’ll also be using the camera’s 5m depth waterproof feature (without the need for any additional housing) on a shoot in the Dominican Republic. With a whole host of mounting options and accessories I can see the Adixxion being used time and time again. The other features that really sold it to me are that it uses a full-sized SD card, has a preview screen built in, can shoot up to 50/60fps in 1920×1080 resolution and has both side and bottom mounting positions.
Keeping video communications safe
There were of course many safety issues to keep in mind throughout the day. The real action was at the top of the climb as the abseilers were prepared to go over the edge, so not only did we have to make sure that I was properly secured but also the main camera and anything attached to it. Filming the climbers’ reactions as they went over was very important, meaning that for much of the time we had to lean right over the edge to catch the action as they made their initial descent.
We also had to film some of the action as they reached the ground (which had its own risks) and meant that we were constantly having to rig and de-rig as we made our way from ground to roof and back again. In these situations it would be very easy to lose sight of your own safety and that of those around you but thankfully the guys at Eiger Safety were keeping a constant eye on all activities whilst making sure it was a great experience for those taking part whilst ensuring that we always had the best shots.
The final challenge
Having witnessed close-up the buzz and excitement throughout the day I simply couldn’t refuse the offer of having a go down the ropes myself. I have worked with Eiger Safety on their promotional video and have filmed in some amazing situations as they carried out their various height-safety services but never actually managed to do any abseiling myself. I can’t honestly say I’m fearful of heights but don’t mind admitting this was outside of my comfort zone. But, having watched so many people who were truly nervous going down for the benefit of others, I couldn’t resist their offer.
Your next video communications project
I like to think I have proved my dedication to helping organisations create excellent video communications – so next time you are doing something which is worth telling others about then I am your man. Any challenge accepted – as long as it is safe!
I’m massively impressed with my Edius system from DVC – head over heels in love with it to be more precise. It’s as steady and reliable as you can get and does 99% of what I want to do in a quick and logical way. However, the one thing that always fills me with envy is seeing some of the more sexy things other producers seem to be able to do, with ease, with their titles and graphic effects. Edius basic QuickTitler is just that, pretty basic.
Towards the end of last year I came to the conclusion that I really had to start getting my head around Adobe After Effects as it seemed to be the program of choice for the videographers whose work had inspired me. I’d flirted with it for many years previously, in various editions, but it simply wouldn’t stick in my head. Unless I’m using a program day-in day-out it doesn’t take long for me to have to re-learn basics in order to get results out in a reasonable amount of time.
Determined to get going with After Effects I signed up for the Adobe Creative Suite free month’s trial and set myself a challenge. If I could get to the stage of being able to quickly knock up attractive lower-thirds caption backs and animated title sequences within the free trial period I’d take out one of Adobe’s subscriptions. I failed miserably. After Effects simply doesn’t fit in my head – and I doubt I’m the only one to have come to this conclusion.
At that point I had accepted the fact that if I ever wanted anything more than I can currently do using Edius (and a bit of Photoshopping) I’d probably be hiring those services in. Either that or maybe it was time for me to start looking elsewhere.
My route to Vistitle 2.5
It was shortly after my final After Effects experience that David Clarke of DVC approached me about reviewing the latest edition of Vistitle (2.5). When I originally ordered my edit suite from them they’d bundled it up within the quote but it had been one of the cutbacks I had to make in order to get the system that I thought I wanted. Whilst I thought I knew what Vistitle was and how it might help me, I didn’t really fully appreciate how I’d grow to need and want it.
Even though Vistitle was very popular within the Edius community (integrating neatly with it from very early editions) at that time it all seemed a little too template driven to me – and the examples I’d seen produced with it left me a little cold. I really should have given it a go back then as I think I’ve been missing a real gem. What is it they say about hindsight?
With its close integration with Edius, Vistitle hasn’t really gained much take up outside of that community. That’s very understandable, especially in a marketplace where you have such a strong standalone product as After Effects and its complete integration with Premiere. But Vistitle 2.5 has changed all that as it now integrates neatly with Avid and Premiere too giving a really powerful alternative for many more PC-based editors looking for a little more than their NLE’s basic titling package can offer.
The full review pack sent to me by DVC included the five additional plug-ins and retails for around £250 inc. VAT. There’s upgrade paths too for those with earlier versions of the software plus you can also buy the plug-ins separately to keep your initial investment low.
What is Vistitle 2.5
In a nutshell, Vistitle is a PC-based title effects/animation software package. It enables users to quickly create complex, multi-layered 2D/3D animations of text and objects – applying textures, depth, glows, sparkles and lighting effects. It also enables you to quickly add dynamic graphic backgrounds for text and graphics, and with the optional plug-in packs provides particle effects, handwriting animations, 3D charts, converts 2D paths to 3D and there’s also a dedicated Karaoke plug-in should you need it.
Edius users will find the layout, menus and controls very familiar – mainly because it was specifically developed to address that NLE’s titling shortcomings. Whilst Avid and Premiere users might be daunted with this prospect I can only urge you to give it a go (there’s a watermarked demo you can download here). I’ve played with most NLE packages in my time and I think that Edius is, by far, the most intuitive and easiest to pick up. Vistitle follows that example.
The minimum spec for the PC is an Intel CPU with 3GHz processor or faster (Intel i5 or i7 is recommended). You’ll need a Direct3D 9.0c or later supported graphics card, at least 2GB of RAM (4GB if you are running Edius 7) and at least 4GB of storage space for the installation. You’ll also need a spare USB port to connect the USB dongle – and your system must first have either Edius, Avid or Premiere installed.
Vistitle utilises the graphics card to render in real-time – so the better card, processor and RAM you have the better performance you’ll achieve. But even with a minimum specification system you’ll be able to work at full HD and render out complex text and graphic animations – which it does comparatively quickly.
YouTube is awash with free tutorials about After Effects, along with books and online resources aimed at beginners and advance users alike. That’s no surprise when you consider the size of the user base and the complexity of the program. Despite accessing many of these resources by the time I’d reached the end of my month’s trial I was still an After Effects stumbling fool.
Vistitle tutorials on the other hand are sparse – but thankfully most are well thought out and, mores the point, easy to follow. The program comes with the usual PDF user manual but, in addition, you also get a set of mute video tutorials covering most of the program’s features. DVC have also got an excellent collection of beginner tutorials on their website which is where I started and they got me up and running in no time. There’s also a range of more advanced tutorials on DivideByeZero’s YouTube channel which I’m presently working my way through – plus there’s a new set of paid-for tutorials at http://sgdvtutorials.com/ (which will be available through DVC) but I’ve not looked at these at all yet.
The end result for me was that by the end of the first day I’d got my head around basic navigation and controls of the program and had output a rudimentary title with an animation. By the end of a month of using it I’m far from being expert but I am at the stage where I’m choosing to use Vistitle more often that Edius’ own QuickTitle.
Vistitle Interface & Workflow
I understand that there are some differences to workflow between using Vistitle with other NLEs, so anything talked about here is purely relating to using it alongside Edius. Outside of your NLE you’ll be working within the main Vistitle interface, but once used inside your NLE you’ll be accessing it in a number of ways.
Adding a Vistitle is a simple as clicking on the ‘T’ (add title) button in Edius, which will launch you straight into the main interface. Once you’ve created a Vistitle, double-clicking it on your timeline will first take you into the Vistitle Mini interface. In here you can simply and easily adjust the text content of your title (the actual words, font, weight, kerning, layer ordering etc.) without the need to go into the full interface. That’s a smart feature and is great for quickly editing and adding captions of a similar design. For instance, once you have created the look and feel of your captions, added lighting effects and swirling backdrops, logos and particle effects, all you have to do to create another matching caption is to open the first in Vistitle Mini, change the text and then ‘save as’ with a different name.
If you want to change the Vistitle in more detail, such as amending the animation or altering light effects and colours, then you need to click on the button to take you to the full interface from within Vistitle Mini.
Whilst there’s definitely a link to Edius in Vistitle’s layout it is not going to seem too alien to an After Effects user. There’s a timeline, a preview window and a properties/control box for editing the currently-selected object.
The preview window is switchable between the main title graphic design and its effect view which includes the selected object’s animation path. Dividing the views up like this gives you a very uncluttered and easy-to-work-with view of your title and the objects within it.
The timeline area will also appear very familiar to NLE and effects package users with each object having an expandable view for controlling transformations, effects, in & out points and key frames. This window can also be switched to reveal a template library of graphic elements, backgrounds, sub-titles, multi-layered particle effects captions, 3D objects etc. – for you to easily and quickly add to your design and customise as you see fit.
For really quick application you can also call up a template design to drag and drop straight on to your Edius timeline. Once installed Vistitle will add an item to your ‘Tools’ menu in Edius, called ‘Edius Title Template Library’. The library consists of a variety of pre-constructed Layouts, Sub-titles, Images, Movies and DynaTextures.
Layouts include a vast range of lower-third captions, full-screen graphic designs with 3D objects and other demonstration templates which show off all the capabilities of Vistitle. Just drag one to your timeline, double-click to change the text content in Vistitle Mini – or completely change its properties within the full Vistitle interface and then save them. You can also import any previously designed Vistitle projects into this library for quick deployment.
Many of these templates are cheesy – but the point of them is they get you started quickly – and in opening them up and starting to tweak them to your own design is a great way to learn how to create your own Vistitles from scratch.
The Sub-title templates work in a similar way. These give you a range of single lines of text which you can add to your timeline as sub-titles – at timed intervals. Simply drag and drop the subtitle on to your Edius timeline, stretch it out over the video section that you want to sub-title, double-click and then start adding the titles line-by-line and place exactly over the right section of video.
The Image library contains both static images and static graphical elements – which again can be just dragged onto your timeline. You can also import your own TGA, PSD, BMP, JPG, GIF, EMF, WMF, TIF, PNG and ICO images to this library for easy deployment to your timeline.
The Movie library contains a handy set of animated icons and graphics in .VXMOVIE format. This includes spinning globes, explosions and other more obscure objects which can be dragged and dropped onto your timeline. Unfortunately you can’t import normal video files into this such as AVIs or MOVs – but why would you want to? However, if you have an animation created in another program, and can export that out as an image sequence, you can then import these into a separate utility program that comes with Vistitle called VxMvMaker. This gives you the option to output your image sequence in various video formats – including .VXMOVIE.
The final section in the library contains DynaTextures (Dynamic Textures). This wide selection of swirling masses of colours and shapes are ideal for creating backdrops for titles or video. You simply drag them on to your timeline and then stretch them out to the required time length and they automatically animate over that period. You can then of course alter the qualities of these within Edius’ own effects and image adjustments. I’ve used these plenty of times already.
My first Vistitle project
With my head pretty much around the program I set about creating my first Vistitle project from scratch. I’ve wanted to create a suitable video ident or credit for Video Artisan for a while now and it’s the kind of project that Vistitle was created for. News also came in around that time of my entry winning the IOV’s Video of the Month competition so I thought it would also give me an opportunity to shout about that too. The end result can be seen here…
I’m not saying the end result is an amazing, multi-layered marvel that demonstrates everything that Vistitle can do – but it works for me. It does however utilise lighting, animation and particle effects – and the very, very useful DynaTextures. The award wreath is a PNG file with transparent background and was imported as an image into Vistitle. After deselecting the ‘Always Use Image Colour as Face Colour’ option I was able to apply colour, lighting, texture and depth effects to these objects and easily time the glows to coincide with the passing of the 3D particle effect underneath.
Since then I’ve gone on to use Vistitle in a couple of real, paid-for, projects. The most recent is the short doc on the M&IT Agency Challenge which was filmed at the Landmark Hotel, London (https://vimeo.com/85261908). I’ve mentioned this project as it’s typical of how I’ll be using Vistitle going forward. The only Vistitles in this are the interviewee caption backs (the first comes in at 1’ 30”) which have a very subtle 3D particle effect in the background just to help the text stand out.
Final thoughts for this Vistitle Review
Whilst the additional plug-ins do add to the overall cost of ownership I think they are vitally important addition – if only for the ‘3D Particle Effects’. The ‘Handwriting’ plug-in is also really nice to have in your arsenal as one day you will be asked if you can do this. Not only can you use it to reveal text as if it’s being written on the screen but you can also do the same with objects and images. ‘3D Charts’ are also something that your clients will just expect you to be able to do, so again another useful tool to have in your box. I have to admit that I’ve not spent much time playing with the ‘2D path to 3D’ plug-in (enabling you to extrude 2D objects to 3D and add textures, light paths etc.), and I can’t imagine me ever using the ‘Karaoke’ plug-in but suspect there’s a market where this too would prove to be very handy.
I guess that it’s a good sign that I’ve not found much at all to moan about with Vistitle so far. The only thing that had me stumped for a while is that in the full interface, by default, the project layers are displayed back to front – with the top layer being at the bottom! However David at DVC pointed out that if you right-click in the timeline area and select, “track layer matched with object layer” it puts them the sensible way round.
Like all whiz-bang effects you have to learn to use title and graphics effects in moderation. They are never a substitute for good basic cameracraft, editing and storytelling. I would even go as far as saying that if you notice them then you’ve probably overdone them. You must also keep in mind that every minute spent creating a nice title and graphic is costing you or your client money. Even with its simplicity and ease of use, Vistitle will absorb a lot of time in designing, tweaking and rendering out graphics – all of which adds to the production’s budget. Therefore you’ll need to always ask yourself if the film really needs it and whether your client is prepared to pay for the work involved. My own Video Artisan credit piece took about a day to create including aborted designs and fiddling about with the animations and lighting effects.
The big question is, is Vistitle a direct replacement for After Effects? I guess the simple answer to that is “no” – but only because of After Effects’ many years of development and take-up within the creative industries. But for anyone who is starting from scratch or looking for a much simpler and more intuitive title effects package that you can get your head around in a much more reasonable amount of time, then Vistitle is a much better solution. With the introduction of version 2.5 and its integration with Avid and Premiere I can see the user base expanding quite rapidly – and with that I can see Vistitle being developed and improved even further.
2014 kicked off with us filming a team building event hosted by CAT Publications – namely the ‘M&IT Agency Challenge’ held at the Landmark Hotel in Central London. As publishers of Meetings & Incentives Travel Magazine, these events bring together buyers and sellers from within the corporate travel industry for a fun-packed day of activities and presentations.
This is the second time we’ve been engaged to film one of these tremendously successful events (see here). Through better engagement buyers get a clearer understanding of the range of services and destinations available to them – whilst suppliers are provided with the opportunity to build better relationships with new and existing clients. Going by the feedback from all attendees and the general atmosphere I think CAT Publications have got the mix of learning and fun in the right proportions – and it was great to be part of it.
More than just filming a team building event
Filming a team building event presents its own challenges, but in addition at these events we also supply video camera kits for the teams of delegates to use in one of the many challenges which they have to complete during the day. The video challenge this time was to create a 30-second commercial based on any one of the supplier presentations given on the day. If that wasn’t challenging enough, they only had 30-minutes in which to plan, script and shoot it!
Thankfully for them they didn’t have to edit it too. That was left to me and meant that I had to complete the edit on all six team videos only an hour or so after the last team finished filming so they could be judged and then screened later on in the evening during a gala dinner.
Whilst I was tucked away in a separate break-out room for much of the day either editing or briefing teams on how to use the cameras, my wingman for the day, Dilip Patel, was doing the ‘filming a team building event’ bit. This was far from filming entire coverage of each and every presentation and team challenge but rather gathering enough b-roll material so that I could cut together a 3-minute short documentary of the day.
The narrative was achieved by filming an opening and closing piece with Martin Lewis, the Managing Editor of CAT Publications. Luckily Martin is a natural in front of camera and he also acted as interviewer at the end of the day to capture some of the feedback from delegates which helped us tell the whole story.
The video challenges were staggered throughout the day, with either one or two teams doing this challenge at any one time. This started off with me giving them a very brief introduction to the cameras they’d be using. Once again we’d relied on Hireacamera to supply Canon XF105 cameras which were configured in full-auto mode to free up the teams from having to learn how to control focus, exposure and sound levels. Once they’d started creating their films I would then follow the teams to make sure they didn’t have any technical issues and, at the same time, capture of few shots of them creating their films to add to my b-roll. Thankfully these cameras are extremely easy to use in full-auto mode and didn’t present any problems for the teams who were working to an extremely tight deadline.
I’d installed my backup desktop Edius edit suite in my breakout room and, thankfully, none of the teams presented me with too much of an editing challenge – although not one of them managed to stick to the 30-second duration. This was one of the criteria the films were being judged on so no one managed to get an advantage in this respect.
Once the judging was completed I had to then get the files out in a format that the staging company could play out later that evening. There were one or two challenges with this but we got there in the end. The result was it created a fun opening to the gala dinner that evening where each team got to see their own film, and the other team’s, for the first time.
Kit used for the event documentary
Canon 5D DSLRs are great for filming a team building event but even they struggled under a range of challenging lighting conditions. In the main presentation area the staging company were using those wonderful blue LED lights to create a wash of light around the room – and this was coupled with natural daylight from windows and mix of tungsten and fluorescent house lights. No matter how hard you try it’s impossible to get a really accurate white balance under those conditions. During the evening events we had to work pretty much under candlelight alone. Other than that it was perfect!!!
Will we be filming a team building event for CAT Publications again? You bet! Plans are already underway for another one in the not too distant future. Like anything in life the more you do something the better you get at it. Whilst we managed to tick all the boxes for CAT Publications again this time we’ve got some ideas on how the video challenges can be improved further.
If you are thinking of running a team building event or corporate away day in the future and are looking for a fun and productive way in which to engage your delegates – and at the same time capture the event on film for future promotions – then please give us a call.