How should a client prepare for a video and commission a videographer?
Ok, the dream business has been set up but there’s something still to do. That’s it! There’s no video to showcase it. Well perhaps it doesn’t happen quite this way but there may come a point in someone’s line of work when they decide that an online video to show aspects of the business or the company that they work for, might be a good idea. Maybe for drumming up some publicity and creating awareness of the brand and showing what they have to offer to potential clients. This makes total sense to us and there is nothing scary about it but for some people this could be a step into the unknown not having any idea of how to start going about this.
We would always advise anyone thinking of commissioning a video, even if they are going to record it themselves, to first put down in writing exactly what it is they want from the process. Effectively a list of requirements. This would be both for themselves obviously, to make sure that they had included everything as well as being a specification for a videographer should they be commissioned to make the video. To help we have created a list of some of the requirements that we would like to know before submitting video quotation.
How and where will the video be used?
What does the client want the video to show?
Is it mainly a product or service?
Who does the client anticipate the audience to be?
Where is it to be recorded?
Are multiple locations to be visited?
Can it be recorded on the same day or will multiple visits be required?
Where will the video be posted?
Is there a message that they want to convey?
Are there any other special requirements?
The list is not exhaustive, however, and there may be more pertinent questions to ask depending on the nature of a client’s business, but it’s a good start. Some business videos might require a narrative or a story to be told and therefore some thought will be needed to be given to this which might be done entirely by a client or they might want our input to help develop the concept or help them with some ideas. By following this process and answers to these questions we would also hope to know other things like whether or not we will be interviewing staff members or spending a day out on the road with someone or just recording in an office or on a factory floor. As you may have gathered it’s simply all about getting as much information as possible out from the client to prevent problems further down the line to provide the best product possible.
Another tip that we like to suggest to clients is to have a look at some videos that have been made in their industry, sector or line of work already. What good is this? First of all it let’s clients know what is possible. They might get to see things that they like and would clearly work for them and therefore want incorporating into their video. They will also see aspects that they don’t like and can categorically state as much. It will also let a videographer know the style of video that the client is aiming for too which is not an easy to put down on paper.
With the specification drafted there are still a few more things to consider that are under the control of the client before it can be finalised.
Is the recording location is suitable? If it has to be at a client’s place of work then the answer might have to be yes, unless it is flexible of course, but consider this. Is it clean? Marks on the wall or peeling wallpaper might stand out. Is it tidy? A pile of boxes in the corner doesn’t look great on video. Nor does unnecessary clutter.
Is the environment suitable? For someone wanting to pretend that a backroom storeroom is an office reception, for example, they might be pushing things a bit. People have to be realistic. If a suitable environment is not available, a more suitable area should be considered that might reside within a neighbouring office or business. Consideration could be given to hiring a venue in return for a business favour it cost was an issue.
And lighting, both the friend and enemy of the videographer, is extremely important. Whilst LED lights are good they are no substitute for good natural light if that is required which really brings out the detail in a shot.
Has the weather forcast been checked? Assuming no specific type of weather has been specified, a bright and not nessarily sunny day, is quite preferable, known as a ‘flat light’, one without dark shadows. We would advise that recording dates should be made with this in mind.
Does anyone have any objections? Anyone appearing in a video should have no objection to being recorded if on private property. We ask people to give their consent on a form to prevent any problems in the future.
Will the location be accessible on the day of recording? A large site might have areas off limits at certain times of the week or day. Gates get locked. An area might be occupied by others. Planning beforehand here is key.
If a client wanted aerial footage we would look at this on it’s own merit and after producing a risk assessment before submitting a quotation but where it can be done, again the weather on the day plays a major factor in whether or not a flight can go ahead. Other local issues on the day may prevent flights.
When a client approaches us and before we submit a quotation we like to talk with them beforehand and in doing do suggest to them that for our edit we will give thought to a few more factors, not least the following:
We believe that this is dependant on what and how the video is to be used but some clients think that they need 3, 4 or 5 minutes regardless. We thinks that it is horses for courses. If promoting a showroom or nail salon, for example, we maintain that short and punchy is the way forward. Explainer videos on the other hand may be much longer.
On screen titles/graphics
Titles can help by giving additional information to the viewer but might not always be suitable. The nature and subject of the video should dictate if this is required.
In terms of special graphics, we can only do so much with our software. Anything overly complicated can sometimes make a video look tacky and out of place in our opinion but if certain graphics were required and bring benefit to a project and this had to outsourced, then again it would have to factored into a quote.
Music and voice-overs
We would always chose suitable music for a client’s video if required, which it generally is, but if an element of voice over work was required and not as a result of an interview meaning a professional would be required, then this would have to be factored into a quote.
We would need to know when a client expected the delivery of their video. Contrary to what people might think, video doesn’t just come out the camera and is ready to be used. These things take time alongside other work so a final date would need to be realistic.
Remember the less complex a video request, the cheaper it will be!
Finally then, for someone having done their homework and knowing exactly what they are looking for in their new video they should find at least three video production companies or videographers with a view to receiving three quotes. Their websites should be visited and portfolio viewed and we are not just talking about looking at their showreel if there is one. Anyone can make a showreel look good. They are basically all the best bits that that has been recorded all edited together. In addition individual videos that they have made should be asked to be seen that are a close match to the client’s requirements.
And after saying everything that we have above, don’t be too specific! The video guy should be given some room for creativity. That’s what the client pays for. We once had a video request and the client had listed each specific shot that they wanted including speed and direction so we declined the invitation. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered so much if the videos that they had already commissioned were any good, which they weren’t. On this occasion perhaps the client should have taken a step back and let the new videographer off the lead a little, allowing them to put their creativity into it and bring with it more views.
Our final words are to expect variations if you’ve not made your intentions clear. Videography is just like any industry in which clear and concise communication prevents mistakes and keep the costs down.