Category Archives: Video Artisan

Welcome

Video Artisan pride themselves on producing cost-effective video communication tools for business clients.  They understand their clients’ needs – and how to achieve their video production goals. This is why more and more businesses are using them for their video production needs.

These articles will keep you up to date with what’s been happening at Video Artisan.  Short stories, news updates and comments are published by the company’s founder, Kevin Cook.  Kevin has been in the professional video industry since 1985 and always aims to provide his clients with exceptional levels of customer satisfaction.  The company motto is, “Under promise and over deliver”.   At Video Artisan they always go that extra mile to provide an excellent product at a competitive price.

For further details

In conclusion, the areas of expertise include corporate video, company films and all professional video services.  Please contact Kevin Cook for further advice on this website – kevin@video-artisan.com or call 020 83602 3356

 

Producing a video review

Video review title
Tips on shooting a video review

I’ve just uploaded the latest instalment from Kev’s Shed which is a video review of the Tascam DR-60D audio recorder/mixer. Having already blogged about the product I was so impressed that it inspired me to turn the camera on myself and produce a video review telling you why I think Tascam have a smashing bit of kit on their hands. If you’ve got about 12 minutes to spare, and want to know how this little beauty is going to make your DSLR shooting life better, whiz down to the bottom of this blog and enjoy.

So what goes into making a video review like this?

The making of a video review

First of all, whoever is going to present the video review must have a good understand the key features of the product. Having already swatted up on the DR-60D whilst producing the written review I pretty much knew what I wanted to say about it on video. Whilst you wouldn’t always be supporting a video review with a written piece you must allow time as a producer/presenter to gather the facts and form opinions. There’s no point in just reading out the sales brochure.

Believe it or not, I did my entire presentation in one take. This is true, but not without stumbles, passages of pure nonsense, plenty of “erms” and a couple of coughing fits. All these breaks are skilfully plastered with b-roll footage – well maybe not all the “erms”! The idea is to get it all in the can in one go but at the same time understand where the editor can cut and repair. You need to think how you can link from one feature to the next and, if you can’t, make sure your viewer knows you are moving on to something else, “Another great feature I like….”

This video review was filmed in my edit suite, which is a room measuring about 3m x 4m. That’s enough space for my camera set up (see Tech Bits below) and for me to present to camera seated about 2m from the lens. It is a little too small for a standing presentation but I have another room to do these in with a greenscreen backdrop for keying.

Presenting a video review
Presenting a video review

There would have been room in my edit suite for a camera operator but in this instance I wanted to create the entire film single-handed. I had a volunteer to sit in shot whilst I checked focus but after that I managed everything on my own. The framing choice was intentionally off to the left slightly as I knew I’d also want to introduce a few captions in places where I thought the viewer would like more detail.

I then set about cutting this take into a logical story but not worrying at this stage about continuity between the shots as I would be covering these with b-roll footage of the DR-60D. This sometimes meant cutting words from one section into another, changing the order of some sections completely and cutting out about 70% of the “erms”. I had to leave at least some “erms” in as that’s what I’m like in real life!

With the narrative in place I was now at a stage of knowing exactly what I needed b-roll wise to cover the cracks and help tell the story. This consisted of a range of action shots demonstrating features that I was talking about, general pack shots and macro shots of switches etc. Again these were all shot single-handed in the edit suite plus one outdoor shot in the garden of me and the unit in action (this time using a tree as my focus marker).

Me shooting me
Me shooting me

That was day one over. With everything in the can I spent the following day adding b-roll and refining the main take to make sure the video review was telling the story that I wanted it to tell. Allowing for a bit of research time, encoding and uploading to Vimeo and YouTube, the entire film took two days or about 20-man hours to produce. I also put together a short teaser trailer too which only took a couple of hours on top of this.

Financing a video review

Whilst Proactive had supported me to write the original written piece (thanks again Neil – and buy your DR-60D here) I self-funded the production of the video review. I am genuinely impressed with the DR-60D but it’s obviously not my only motivation for making the video. I hope there are other manufacturers and distributors out there who would also like me to do something similar about their products – but obviously on a commercial basis. At least I can now show them something.

Applying my normal rate card to this job I would do something similar for around the £1,000 mark. On less complicated products I could see me turning the whole thing round in a single day – and maybe even get more than one product done in this time. That’s a fair price in my mind but happy to talk “bulk” with anyone : )

Technical Bits of the video review

Presenting a video review
The subject of the review

I filmed all content using my trusty old Canon 550D running ML (Magic Lantern). I could have used my 5Dmkii but wanted to show this being used on screen with the DR-60D as that’ll be my normal combination. It was mounted on my Sachtler Ace whilst the DR-60D rig was mounted on my Vinten Vision 3 (note the nice smooth rotation shot).

Lens wise I opted to use my vintage Fujinon 55mm f1.8 lens. On a 550D, with its cropped sensor, this gives an effective focal length of 83mm. I wanted to use this lens as its fast and I like its look. I wanted to create a fair bit of separation between me and the edit suite itself but at the same time didn’t want to struggle keeping myself in focus with having too shallower depth of field. I was therefore running the lens at f.4 and the camera set to 320 iso using ML’s controls. For the extreme close-up shots I used my cheap-as-chips eBay macro tube.

Canon 550D
Video review shot with Canon 550D

The only lighting was provided by my two Lishuai LED lighting panels (also available from Proactive). I’ve got a blackout screen on the edit suite window so could eliminate any natural light falling on the set and also turned off all house lighting. The LEDs were set to 3200k and placed just out of shot left and right and faded to give a little shaping to my already perfectly shaped body. I used my edit suite programme monitor as a practical back light source by getting a bright picture up on my Edius timeline.

Audio, and here’s the irony, was not recorded through the DR-60D as I wanted to have it in hand during my presentation. I didn’t have another one to use on the shoot so had to resort to attaching my Sony radio mic directly into the 550D and tweaking the levels within ML. Whilst I am used to working this way I have to say it only just emphasised just how much easier the DR-60D is going to make my audio recording in the future.

The cut and shut was done on Edius 6.5. I hope you enjoy the film and, if you’re in the market for a video review yourself, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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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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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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Filming a Corporate Away Day

I had a really busy June this year including filming a corporate away day at Highgate House, Creaton, Northants for CAT Publications Ltd – the publishers of M&IT magazine (Meetings and Incentive Travel).

The event was sponsored by the Norway Convention Bureau and Visit Norway and attended by event organisers from various companies across the UK. The purpose of the event was to introduce delegates to the various regions and conference/event facilities in Norway so that they might point their clients towards holding events there.

The underlying theme to the day was the work of the famous Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch and his iconic painting, ‘The Scream’. Apart from formal classroom-type presentations on the various Norwegian venues and regions, delegates were divided into teams to take part in fun and challenging activities including painting their own version of The Scream, making a short film based on the painting and taking part in an extreme crossing activity.

Painting like Munch
Painting like Munch

Video Artisan was brought in for two reasons. Firstly, CAT Publications wanted to produce a short overview of the event to help them promote future events and give an insight into their unique approach to managing corporate away days. The second part of the brief was to supply camera kits for the teams to produce their Scream films and to provide them with technical support. In addition, each team’s film had to be edited by the end of the day for a screening and judging session.

Filming a Corporate Away Day
Delegates shooting their Munch Film

Filming a Corporate Away Day

Having had previous experience in filming a corporate away day the short promo film wasn’t going to be too challenging on its own, but the addition of supporting the delegate teams in making their own films and then editing them together meant bringing in two additional crew members (Dilip Patel & Martin Baker). This left me to concentrate on managing the delegate teams and trying to get them to keep their ideas simple and easy to churn out on the edit suite within the given time. Earlier on in the day they had all watched a fantastic film that was commissioned by Visit Norway based on the same theme – so they were already building up some ambitious ideas for their own creations

In the quieter periods (there weren’t that many) I was also able to shoot interviews with the organisers, sponsors and delegates to help me tell the story for the promo film. I also used these moments to pick up on some establishing shots of the venue as well as more abstract coverage of the activities.

the Interviews
Filming a Corporate Away Day – the Interviews

Apart from the usual mass of filming equipment I take on these assignments I also had to rig up my old Edius 4.5 edit suite in a separate room away from the main conference area. This had to be able to output to DVD for the screening session and possibly a number of other digital formats just to be sure that the delegate’s films could be seen and judged when they needed to be.

The camera kits (two Canon XF105s) were supplied by Hireacamera and were been delivered on the previous day. I chose these cameras as I’d used them on similar events last year and they’d been incredibly easy to use in their ‘Auto-everything’ mode. The MXF file format that they record to is also ideal as my Edius system (as old as it is) can use these files on the timeline in their native form. I used Hireacamera because they are both dependable and really understand my needs – and they didn’t disappoint on this occasion either.

Another satisfied customer

After a couple of minor tweaks the promo film was signed off last week and I’m sure it will not be long before CAT Publications are pumping it out there to promote their next event. Following the event I’d also encoded the delegate team films to MP4 so they could be screened on their YouTube channel (Green Team, Blue Team, Yellow Team and Red Team)

The client certainly seem to be very pleased with the end result and have said there’s more work in the pipeline that they want to get me involved in. That’s exactly the response I aim for on every project and I hope to be filming a corporate away day for them again very soon.

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