DR-60D review – the definitive DSLR audio recording solution

DR-60D Review
DR-60D Review

Special note…
Watch the video review embedded at the foot of this article!

Tascam DR-60D review

In a world where technology changes at an ever increasing rate it is refreshing to discover something that’s “definitive” in its field of application. The good old Shure SM-58 vocal microphone is a classic example – and it’s pretty much the same today as it was in 1966 when it was first produced. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that Tascam have achieved this with the DR-60D audio recording solution.

Though aimed primarily at solving the audio issues facing DSLR users, what they’ve actually created with the DR-60D is professional audio recording solution that takes DSLR sound recording to a completely new level. Actually, it achieves a lot more than this and will provide anyone who is serious about audio with a neat and well-featured four-track field recorder/mixer – regardless of what you are shooting with or if you’re not shooting pictures at all.

Well thought out

I spotted the announcement by Proactive on the availability of the DR-60D and from the blurb I could tell that Tascam had thought through this product really well. With a street price that’s a shade under £300 including VAT the unit addresses all of the limitations of DSLR audio as well as providing the user with a range of additional features which should pretty much eradicate poor or missing audio. It’s everything I wanted it to be – and more.

I’m proof of the fact that you don’t have to be a mastermind to use it either. Even though we must all refer to them at some stage – I hate instruction manuals! But with a modicum of familiarity with professional audio connections and controls you’ll be making your first recording with the DR-60D almost as soon as you’ve taken it out of the box. If you are a total pro-audio newbie then reading the Quick Start Guide (a massive 4-page tome – with big pictures) will have you tweaking the levels and laying down tracks in minutes. Ease of use is another characteristic of an iconic product for which Tascam deserve a massive pat on the back.

DR-60D front
DR-60D – on the face of it

Whilst you could simply describe the unit as being box-shaped that would do an injustice to the amount of design and engineering that must have gone into it. The conclusion, I suspect, was that the design guys realised that box-shaped is best when it comes to fitting in with the various cameras, rigs, mounts and shooting conditions of a DSLR videographer – so why complicate it? Every side of the box is employed without waste – with the separated controls, inputs and outputs together in groups positioned where they should be. For me the form factor is totally in-tune with the form factor of DSLRs.

Chiefly made from durable rigid plastic it weighs in at just over half a kilo. The touch and feel of the unit gives you the impression that it’s a tough little nut – and it has to be. Whilst the immediate urge is to mount the unit betwixt camera and tripod (or crane or slider…) like me you’ll soon be exploring the other mounting solutions as well as using the unit completely detached from the camera as an auxiliary sound recording device. The strap attachment bars are in fact bumper bars too and will give some protection to the control face of the DR-60D whilst in use and transit.

DR-60D sides
The many sides to the DR-60D

It’s hard to list the features of the DR-60D in any logical order because they’ll be valued differently by different users, but here are the things that have impressed me and how I see the unit improving my DSLR audio workflow.

1 – DSLR Integration

My current workflow is to attach my mics (radio or otherwise) directly to my 5DMkii via the mic input. I’m running ML (Magic Lantern) on the camera so I can turn off AGC and adjust the overall analogue level as well as digitally adjusting the L/R channels independently within ML. Whilst this is great, with ML giving me a visual indication of levels, getting the levels perfect can be a little hit and miss. I do use the ML headphone output facility but the signal is pretty thin without another in-line headphone booster and therefore far from perfect for setting up levels and monitoring.

On a straightforward single-handed shoot that’s pretty much what I’ve to rely on. There are of course situations where I prefer to have the comfort of a sound recordist creating an auxiliary recording on a separate device. When someone is purely thinking about sound it should result in a better soundtrack and at the same time give me more time to think about the pictures. I don’t see those situations changing much other than the device the sound recordist uses will be a DR-60D (mine or theirs).

Where the unit will really come into its own for me is on my single-handed shoots – giving me two XLR/TRS inputs (balanced analogue XLR/ ¼” Jack combo sockets) to connect powered mics, phantom-powered mics (+24V/+48V) or line-level feeds. In addition I have a stereo 3.5 mini jack input to which a stereo mic can be added – either self-powered or one which requires powering through the device (menu-selectable).

DSLR integration with the DR-60D
DSLR integration with the DR-60D

This obviously gives me a lot more options sound-wise and means I have the best possible control over each of those sound sources and can record them on the DR-60D’s SD/SDHC media drive in either WAV or BWF (Broadcast WAV Format) at up to 96kHz/24-bit. As the unit employs Tascam’s HDDA microphone pre-amps and clean D/A converters this will result in a very high quality recording.

I could stop there, of course, simply using the DR-60D as an auxiliary recording device and then syncing up this with the pictures in post. I’ve done that a few times and whilst it’s manageable it does give me an additional post job which I’d rather do without. However, the full benefit comes when you join the DR-60D and DSLR together through the ‘Camera in’ and ‘Camera out’ mini-jack connections.

The Camera Out connector feeds the DSLR’s external mic input with the mixed signal. The output level of this signal is adjustable so you can match it to the input of your camera. For me this means using one of the ML modifications which enables me to first switch off the camera’s AGC, switch the input to ‘external stereo’ and set the input gains (both analogue and digital) down to zero. I can then set about adjusting the levels of my mic and line inputs, reach a decent mixed level to ensure no peaking, and then finally adjust the Camera Out level until my ML meters are matching the levels on the DR-60D.

The ‘Camera In’ connector takes the headphone out signal from the camera and feeds it back into the DR-60D. The Monitor control on the face of the unit enables you analyse every step of the signal as it passes through the chain by assigning it to the DR-60D’s headphone output. In four channel recording mode you can monitor any of the four input channels separately, Ch.1/2 or Ch.3/4 pairs of channels, your Mix or the Camera In. As the 5DMkii has no headphone socket I use ML to switch the TSSR jack AV out over to a headphone level output – and I give it the maximum 6dB gain in order to feed something reasonable back to the DR-60D. I also have to use a special converter cable to change the 4-pole TRRS mini jack to a standard 3-pole TRS mini jack in order to make the connection back to the DR-60D. If your DSLR has a standard headphone socket you’ll not have to worry about this.

This workflow should result in a good quality synchronised recording being made in the DSLR and we could leave it like that – using the DR-60D purely as an in-line mixer. This will overcome most of the shortcomings of the DSLR but there are further benefits of recording on the unit and camera simultaneously apart from the comfort of knowing that you have a high quality back-up audio track on SD card.

Mixing and Monitoring with the DR-60D
Mixing and Monitoring with the DR-60D

Safety First

Tascam have built in some really useful tools to reduce the risk of poor or no sound recording at all. Firstly, there are five different recording modes – Mono, Stereo, Dual-Mono, Dual-Stereo and 4-Channel. In either of the two ‘Dual’ modes the unit will record two files simultaneously. The first files will be at your main mix level whilst the second will be recorded at a lower level anywhere between 0dB and -12bB (menu selectable). As we all know, badly overloaded digital audio is impossible to correct, so this feature could well save the day for you. The default setting is -6dB which is fine for general use but it’s great to be able to vary this if you are filming in an environment where there’s the potential for the audio to raise suddenly. When in Dual mode the meter shows you the levels of both recordings – which is really handy.

The only drawback of the Dual settings is that you’ll be limited to using only two of the input sources (just one in the Dual-Mono mode). This can be set to either Ch.1/2 or Ch.3/4 so you’ll be back down to two mics/sources or just the stereo mini jack input to Ch.3/4. In Dual-Mono mode you can record any one of the four channels separately.

There are other features that will help you avoid missing a sound too. The full process of recording requires two presses of the record button. The first instigates the stand-by mode during which a constant buffer is being stored internally. It is not until you give a second press of the record button that the unit stars to record to the SD card. In Prerecord Mode, when you hit the record button, it actually saves the 2-seconds prior to final button press giving you a safety margin when something that needs to be recorded happens unexpectedly.

In Auto Recording Mode the unit is triggered into recording at the presence of pre-set audio levels being detected in the mixer (-6dB, -12dB, -24dB or -48dB). As well as varying the amount of time after the signal has faded that the recording is stopped, you can also set a base input level at which the recording is to be stopped too (-6dB, -12dB, -24dB or -48dB).

Once you are happy with all your input levels and adjustments – and set the unit into record mode (or not if you wish) you can engage the Hold switch. This recessed sliding switch locks out all of the controls and maintains the unit in its present state to prevent accidental operation.

Re-sync Solution

Going forward I will be recording to both camera and DR-60D. I’m sure most of the time I’ll be using the synchronised sound recorded in camera, but I’m also sure that I’ll be reaching for the recording on the DR-60D’s SD card to solve a problem or take advantage of the superior recording quality. There are two features to that will subsequently help me to quickly re-sync the unit’s recordings with those made in the camera – Slate and Auto Tone.

The Slate button applies a tone to the recording at any point during the recording process. This tone is also sent as part of the signal being fed to the camera making it dead easy to line up the tone marks of both recordings on my editing timeline. This feature is really neat for me as a fair part of my work is recording interviews where we pretty much let the camera run. Being able to mark the audio each time a new question is asked, or at the end of a good answer, will speed up my timeline scrubbing quite considerably. If you’re worried about inadvertent Slates button presses you can disabled the button altogether in menu.

DR-60D Slate function
DR-60D Slate function for re-syncing audio

The Auto-tone feature will apply the same tone automatically at either the head of the recording or both head and tail. This will be handy on shorter takes enabling even speedier alignment with the camera’s soundtrack once on the editing timeline.

Chosen workflow

I really like the idea of the Dual recording mode for the safety net it provides, but I could also use the 4-track mode and then reduce the level being fed from Camera Out to my camera to avoid peaking issues. This way I would have the safety net of dual-level recording whilst still being able to input to all four channels.

As for mounting I’ve quickly overcome my initial reservations about attaching the unit under-camera. I thought the combined unit would be simply too tall to be stable on a tripod and too heavy to use handheld or even shoulder-rigged – but it isn’t. The base of the unit has the usual 1/4 “ tripod screw hole and an additional fixed-pin hole which utilised on better tripod head plates and eliminates any side-twist between plate and unit. The top ¼” screw for attaching to the camera doesn’t have this additional pin as most DSLRs do not have a corresponding pin hole – so there is the potential for some twist between the units. However, you can get a fair purchase on the DR-60D’s large tightening wheel to lock the two together.

Using a multi-battery hand grip on your DSLR will take things too far though – and in my case extends the height of the whole assemble by about 5cm. Configured like this it all becomes a bit unstable and unwieldy and certainly not something that I would like to put on a crane or operate handheld for any length of time. Without the battery grip I will have to resort to disconnecting the DR-60D in order to get to the base of the camera in order to change its battery. That’s obviously not a problem when running the camera on mains but that’s a rare occasion for me.

For occasions when I need to keep the battery grip connected I’ll be using the DR-60D mounted separately from the camera. For a tripod or shoulder rig I have a number of magic-arm options for doing this, but I’ve also commissioned Hague Camera Supports to produce a bespoke camera offset plate so that I can mount the DR-60D alongside the camera with battery grip attached. Either way I will try to avoid lengthening the cable run between the two units as stereo mini jacks have a habit of getting knocked out.

Powering & Final Smart Features

Using four standard Alkaline batteries you’ll get around 4.5 hours use. Understandably, this drops quite significantly (2.5 hours) when you are phantom-powering your mic. Using Ni-MH batteries this goes up quite considerably returning about 14.5 hours and 9.5 hours respectively. You can also use the USB input to supply power, either directly from a mains-USB supply or through a lap-top or any other standard USB device.

Phantom Powering the DR-60D
Phantom Powering the DR-60D – Power hungry

There are other features of the DR-60D that I will no doubt come to value over time. The Line Out connector will give me a line-level stereo mini jack output to feed to another device or audio chain to which I can apply further level adjustment and EQ. I can also add limiters (to avoid peaking) and Low Cut Filters (to help remove things like the low level hum of air con units). In a multi-mic set up I can also independently adjust the delay between each channel to remove echoes caused by microphones set different distances from the sound source.

There are some features that I’ll probably not be using immediately but it’s nice to know they are there. For instance, the unit can perform selectable mid-side decoding for use with stereo MS microphone setups. There’s also an optional RC-10 Remote control unit and, though I’ve not got my head around the advantage to me, the Broadcast Wave Format might also prove useful.

DR-60D Review Conclusion

I appreciate there are other solutions and combinations of products out there that will give me everything that the DR-60D gives me. However, they won’t be such a neat, well-put together and adaptable package as the DR-60D. Everything about the unit feels right to me, from the general build quality to the metal toggle line level switches and soft-touch knobs and control buttons (aiding silent operation).

The menus are all logically set out and easy to navigate and, when things get a bit more complex, the instruction manual is nice and easy to follow. The ability to add Slate marks is going to be an absolute godsend to me, as is the user-defined word or date file naming format that will enable me to identify files quickly in post.

I’m now looking forward to putting the DR-60D to use on my next film with a new level of confidence and a whole lot more options in my sound recording. I’m sure it will, in some cases, be the difference between hiring in another hand on a shoot or not so it won’t be long before it’s paid its way. But I’m even more confident that it will save lots of time in post and, on the odd occasion, save my reputation by having a clean and unbroken back-up sound recording to turn to.

A big “Well done” to Tascam for producing the DR-60D. In my mind it’s a definitive product if ever I’ve seen one.

Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon.)

Notes: More details and specifications on the DR-60D can be found on the Proactive website – www.proav.co.uk/Tascam-DR-60D-Linear-PCM-Recorder-Mixer-For-DSLR/p32972.aspx

Kev’s Shed – A review of the Tascam DR-60D by Video Artisan from Kevin Cook on Vimeo.

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Online promotional video

5-top tips on producing an online promotional video

5-top tips for online promotional video

Here are my top five top tips for creating online promotional video content for your business which will help you to engage with customers and generate new business. Having video on your business website has become a vital part of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). All else being equal, a website that includes video content will rank higher than one without video.

I would of course recommend engaging a professional production company to produce your online promotional video. But I’m equally aware that some companies and organisations might prefer to start off by producing their own content in-house – if only as a proof of concept. The following five tips should help these organisations in the process and enable them to start harnessing the power of video on their website.

1 – Short, sweet and on message

Online promotional video - Clock
Time waits for no man

Don’t take liberties with your audience’s time. Decide what you want your online promotional video to achieve and don’t waste a second of your film deviating from it. Our attention spans have become extremely short and you will lose an audience the moment you stop engaging them. There is no minimum time an online promotional video should run for so if you can get your message over in a few seconds then do.

2 – Viral qualities

There’s a lot of talk about video content going viral and reaching millions of viewers in a very short period of time. Whilst this often happens with funny or current news clips on YouTube, gathering viral momentum for an online promotional video is extremely challenging.

Online promotional video viral
Making your online promotional video go viral

However, you can certainly increase your chances of your video content going viral within a target market sector. The simplest way to make your target audience to want to share your online promotional video it will have to be full of valuable information and of sector-wide relevance or interest. Only add humour to your video if you are confident that it will not offend anyone – and only if it’s actually funny and not just to you!

3 – Hosting on YouTube

Whilst there are plenty of places you can host your online promotional video these days the one that is going to help you most in achieving better SEO is YouTube – because it is part of Google and used by them in search returns. When you upload your file make sure you give it an SEO-friendly name. Think if what your intended audience is searching for on Google use that within the title and also within the additional description. Also, always use YouTube’s tagging facility to its maximum capacity with both long and short word descriptions of your content and the audience it’s aimed at. But beware! Don’t be tempted to include copyright music on your online promotional video as YouTube will detect it and will often remove content altogether.

4 – Spread the word

Once you have your online promotional video up on YouTube you need to spread the word about it. The first stage of this is to embed the YouTube version on the main splash page of your site – and enable it to play within that webpage. You should then share the news about your video through all your online social and business networking channels and post copies there if you can.

Social Networking Online promotional video
Sharing is good!

Finally, make sure you tell all your existing clients, suppliers, colleagues and friends about it and ask them what they think and to ‘Like’ it if they do.

5 – Do it!

If you have read this far then you’ve already realised that producing an online promotional video would be a great idea for your business. However, the problem with great ideas is that they’re useless unless you put them into action. If you are still determined to produce the film yourself then start by writing out your script and then set about planning the shooting and editing stage. If you are a complete video-novice there are plenty of free online resources that will cover the basics of how to shoot and edit video. One of the best of these can be found on www.videoskills.net

If you want to produce an online promotional video, but don’t have the time or inclination to learn the basic skills, then maybe it’s time to bring in the professionals who can do it all for you. You might be surprised at just how cost-effective this is. If you are at this stage then please feel free to contact us for a no-obligation consultation.

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Up-beat music for your business films

Music for business films
Aimed directly as those producing business films

Music for Business Films

You’ll have guessed from previous copyright-free music album reviews that I’m a sucker for them. Having a wide collection to hand is great for my line of work as I can quickly audition, ingest and edit my music score and, most importantly, distribute my completed works pretty much anywhere and anyhow without thought to obtaining further permissions and paying potentially expensive licence agreements. The more copyright-free albums the merrier in my mind – and as wide a variety as is imaginable.

With most of my work being in the business films sector I keep a special ear open for anything new that’s been composed for this purpose. Whilst music suitable for business films is a very broad genre, it is the middle of the road stuff that you’ll need most of the time – and this new album from AKM Music, AK157 Positivity, fits the bill perfectly.

Available on Audio CD, CD-ROM and download, AK157 contains 12 full tracks which are all uplifting, inspirational, joyous and triumphant (with one exception which you’ll read about later). AKM describe this as “feel-good” music and that’s pretty much what you’ll get – with all tracks building to a positive conclusion. There’s certainly enough variety, mood and pace with each track having a slightly different feel to it making the collection suitable for a wide variety of business film commissions.

Track 1 – Positivity 4:55

I guess as the title track this is the score that started it all off. With a gentle and repetitive piano intro which leads to an uplifting strings section, and then back down to the calm of the piano. Waves of this seem to come and go before there’s a change of feel about half way through with the introduction of electronic synth instruments. This score is typical of much of the music produced for business films and usually ends up well under the main soundtrack – being inoffensive and unobtrusive but at the same time adding a bit of warmth to the pictures. I don’t think this is the best track on the album – but it’s got a strong opening and closing so I’ll probably use it one day.

Track 2 – Aspire 3:20

Think of a Lloyds Bank commercial and you’ve got this track playing in your head. A classic orchestral strings and piano piece with medium-paced soft rhythmic beat that you can imagine a middle-aged VO voice popping through every now and then telling you what a lovely bank they are. But hang on… Midway through it gets a little bit weird (I like it when it does that) and goes all Blade Runner – before getting back on with the job of helping you to tell a feel-good story for the bank. Great ending.

Track 3 – Celebration 4:08

‘Together in Electric Dreams’ with the Backstreet Boys doing the dance routine. Sad but true – well in my mind anyhow. With its Euro Pop-style synth beat and keyboard passages I could really see this being used on the Eurovision Song Contest trailer. I would say its medium-fast pace, but with breaks of orchestral strings stabs that would be neat to cut to. I can’t think of anything I’ve produced to date that this would fit – but who knows what business films are round the corner?

Track 4 – Climbing High 3:04

Your head lifts from the pillow and the sun sprinkles its dappled pattern across your face. Ahead of you a day full of hope, kind faces and happy thoughts. I just can’t get ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ out of my head when listening to this but not the original BBC drama, which was one of my favourite TV treats as a child, but rather an updated modern version produced by Channel 4. I can imagine lots of gliding, craning, sliding and certainly aerial shots over a green landscape of opportunity.

Track 5 – Corporate Technology 3:38

A strong beat leads you through this one. Again lots of big orchestral string sections but backed up by an electronic swirling underscore which I’m sure is the inspiration of its ‘Corporate Technology’ title. It does go a bit ‘Do the Hustle’ in parts but never strays too far into the world of disco beat. Quite fast paced, but I would tend to use the slower swirling string parts as my inspiration to edit with this. Could be a bit more ‘Techie’ for my liking.

Track 6 – Green Day 2:49

Oh out come U2 again. What is it that makes U2’s music the inspiration behind a lot of business film music scores? I’ll tell you – much of U2’s is very anthem-like – and that’s often what you need in order to give your film a positive, uplifting feel. It doesn’t get all rocky, but more of a gentle guitar and drum driven tune with a nice subtle keyboard lift that builds. At its crescendo orchestral strings drift by driving the rhythm onwards. It doesn’t have a pronounced end to it though, but rather drifts away.

Track 7 – Inspiration 4:03

We’re back at Lloyds Bank with this one, but with an urgent beat generated through stabs of orchestral strings that make things appear a bit more serious and upright. Lots of edit points in this one as the stabs continue and are joined by more strings in slow swirls. I like tracks with this feature as you can cut them down easily without any seams. More and more instruments join these repetitive passages until they finally burst and then fade to the twinkling sound of symbols. Phew – I’m glad that’s over! The full track is a bit much but edited it’s got a lot of potential.

Track 8 – Opening Up To Grace 3:14

I didn’t know what to expect when I read the title of the track. On listening to it I can see the point entirely. The soft, slow, thoughtful opening passage with solo piano, choir-voice and low orchestral strings had be thinking of some deep-voiced classical actor reading the Ten Commandments. Just when you think they are going to go one and read the whole flipping Bible, a crash of symbols breaks the pace and lifts us into a more positive tempo with string and choir-voice stabs. The main feeling I got from this track is one of benevolence rather than conjuring up a ‘Seen the light’ experience. It’s therefore really suitable for charity-based business films where you are trying to win the hearts and minds of your audience. Massive ending which is spot on for a, “donate here” call to action.

Track 9 – Orange Sky 2:50

This starts with a melancholy piano solo telling a story or woe and despair which is not the kind of stuff you’d expect on an album called ‘Positivity’. More instruments join the gloom but the story doesn’t get any happier – just more gloom. The final part to this track is back with the poor old lonely and depressed piano soloist who just plays on till he drops. If this music was used in a film about Bob, the old faithful pet bloodhound, I’m sorry to have to tell you that Bob dies in the end. Maybe not right for this album but a proper bonus track if you are ever commissioned to make business films about sad and hopeless causes. Filmmaking is, after all, about message and story.

Track 10 – Rising Up 4:04

Do you ever dream about running across the finish line in gold position at the Olympics? If you do the opening of this track is probably akin to the music going on in your mind at the time. It’s got a very positive feel about it and has similar electronic passages as the Euro-pop styled ‘Celebration’. Again there’s lots of edit points in this if you need to pad out or reduce the music length logically. Didn’t think much of the ending though – it kind of just ends.

Track 11 – The Perfect Moment 3:45

We’re halfway between Lloyds Bank and All Creatures Great and Small’ here. It certainly has a countryside feel about it. I could easily imagine this track being used on a documentary about a country house – which in turn would make it great for a top-notch country house hotel promo. Musically it’s another blend of orchestral strings and piano with a swirling upbeat rhythm. Words that come to mind are ‘quality’, ‘expense’, and ‘luxury’ so it could work well on a promo about other luxury goods or lifestyles. Neat and tidy on the end too!

12. Trust 4:40

Our final track tells the alternate story of Bob so wickedly written off in track 9. Here Bob not only avoids demise but he gets a whole lot better and goes on the win the ‘Bloodhound of the Year’ competition seven times and then fathers lots of competition-winning pups. The story finishes with Bob walking off into the sunset with his master – a contented dog. To be honest this one got on my tits a bit after a while – but in the vein of Positivity this track has it oozing out of every crevice. I’m sure it will go down well State-side.

Conclusion

This is another welcome addition to my copyright-free music collection – and I’d hazard a guess that one of the tracks will be used on my next film. This type of music is always useful as nearly all business film commissions are about telling a positive story – and this has it in oodles. It will certainly be one of the first places in my collection that’ll look.

Album cover
See notes at end for 10%off code

From early October onwards you’ll be able to download the tracks individually for just under £11 inc. VAT each but you might as well go the whole hog and buy the entire album on CD (Audio CD format) or Download (WAV format) at £36.00 inc. VAT (£38 if you want the WAV file version shipped on a CDROM). As with all AKM Music albums you can preview AK157 on their website (www.akmmusic.co.uk) and the cost includes the all-important commercial licence to use the music on all your future business films.

Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon.)

Notes: You can get 10% off this new release by using the following promo code at the online checkout (www.akmmusic.co.uk) or when calling AKM Music on 01926 864068 : AKM5XA

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A simple but effective website promotional film

Just before I went off on annual leave at the beginning of September I completed another website promotional film – this time for IT sales recruitment specialists, Robertson Sumner.

Robertson Sumner
Creating a Website Promotional Film for Robertson Sumner

Robertson Sumner is amongst the growing number of businesses who recognise the vitally important role that a website promotional film can play in raising their Internet visibility. In addition to helping to maintain their search engine rankings, this video will also form part of their general marketing activities and used to promote their business through social networking channels.

But apart from the fact that a website with video content will rank higher than one that doesn’t, commissioning a website promotional film can also help businesses of all sizes to augment their brand and communicate their business culture. People buy from people, and there is no better way to introduce potential clients to the key people and values within a business than to get them on-screen with a short personal pitch.

I think this is a good example of how simple and effective a website promotional film can be. Running for just 1-minute 44-seconds, Robertson Sumner’s managing director, Marc Sumner, gives an introduction to their specialist IT sales recruitment business based in Gerrards Cross. It explains who they are, what they provide and why so many major IT companies choose Robertson Sumner as their preferred recruitment consultancy.

Filmed, edited and mastered in just two days, it’s also a great example of just how cost effective and pain-free it can be to commission a website promotional film. Following a familiar production format it was also easy for us to provide Robertson Sumner with an accurate and realistic quotation over the phone – resulting in the film going from enquiry to delivery stages in very quick succession.

The making of this website promotional film

The film was shot at their Gerrards Cross offices. Whilst these were very neat, tidy and professional, Marc Sumner wanted his presentation to be filmed against a greenscreen and keyed over an alternate office background – similar to a previous film we produced for another recruitment company, Hyper Recruitment Solutions. The advantages of this are that we have more control over the finished look of the film and create minimal interruption to their real office in having to move furniture and fixings around which might prove to be distracting to the viewer.

Greenscreen shooting
Shooting Greenscreen for Robertson Sumner

The film was shot on a Canon 5DMkii (running Magic Lantern software) using Canon EF 24-105mm 1:4 USM lens against our pop-up greenscreen.  All post production and keying was carried out using Edius 6.5. The office image was supplied by www.iStock.com under licence and was then manipulated in PhotoShop by adding the Robertson Sumner logo to the glass partition wall and colour grading to match the shot of Marc.

Composition
The finished composition after greenscreen keying

Needless to say we have another happy website promotional film customer who is now benefiting from the power of video in their marketing activities.

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Creating Customer Reference Videos

We all want to share great customer stories and there really is no better way than commissioning customer reference videos.  Few understand the value of this marketing activity more than BT (British Telecom).  They are constantly researching success cases across all the businesses within BT Global group and set about capturing and sharing these stories through customer reference videos.

We’ve produced a number of these customer reference videos for BT now and the most recently completed film tells the story of how South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT) has adopted BT’s Workstyle Managed Service at the core of their WorkSmart programme. This multi-faceted offering from BT enables flexible working practices within organisations and helps maximise efficiency within their workforce by allowing them to work any time, any place, anywhere and on any device.

SEPT HQ
Filming Customer Reference Videos for BT

BT have helped to deliver so many benefits to SEPT that the story just had to be added to their growing list of customer reference videos.  As with all NHS Trusts, SEPT have growing pressures to deliver more and more healthcare services with ever greater cost efficiency.  Flexible working is not just about letting employees work from home.  It’s about developing and managing culture change within the business; it’s about managing processes and people – and ultimately making huge savings which, in the case of SEPT, can be channelled back into front-line healthcare services.

Long-form film

The initial brief was to produce a more detailed film for BT’s Workstyle Managed Service division for use on their website and at exhibitions and presentations.  This original film runs for around 5-minutes and gives a fuller picture of SEPT’s WorkSmart programme and the role that BT played in delivering and rolling out the project.

Short-form film

After the initial launch of the long-form film BT Global commissioned a much shorter edit that concentrated on the key benefits to SEPT. This version was to be used within an online and social network marketing campaign – as well eye-candy for exhibitions and presentations.

Creating Customer Reference Videos
BT see these films as highly valuable marketing collateral and have an ongoing commitment to commissioning more films whenever and wherever possible.  Video Artisan helps them to create customer reference videos that tell the story from the customers’ perspective which promotes BT in a credible and engaging way.

If you would like to start incorporating customer reference videos into your marketing mix please contact us today.

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