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Q: We need to produce a series of low cost web videos for our client, a major banking group.

Initially we need 4 thirty second clips for their website, each with a senior manager talking to camera. Maybe we could have some shots of their impressive corporate headquarters in the opening sequences?

What is the best way we can approach this to keep our production costs down, without compromising video quality?

City of London

A: Web videos at low cost and high quality aren’t incompatible production objectives.

I can suggest a number of simple production measures that will help you achieve your corporate goal on a tight budget.

Avoid teleprompt

Using a teleprompt will require an extra member on the film crew (either director or teleprompt operator), and this increases the price you pay for your web video.

So you have to decide whether your speakers can manage without an autocue.

Since the video clips you require are only 30 seconds long, and for a web audience, then there’s every chance that the subjects can deliver their scripts reasonably flawlessly without the need to read the words from a teleprompt screen.

By contrast, if the runtime of the video clips was 2 minutes then I’d almost certainly suggest a teleprompt, as very few non-professionals can deliver a flawless 2 minute delivery without mixing up their lines. In this situation, I could almost guarantee that one of your four talking heads would have a problem gettng it right on the day.

Use white screen

A white screen background offers a number of advantages over green screen or natural background.

  • It makes pasty English complexions look healthier
  • It looks clean and fresh as video on a website

The alternative, green screen, allows the keying of animated graphic captions and charts, similar to newsroom-style talking heads.

But inside a physically small web video window these are not often clear, or easy to read. And they further add to the price.

By contrast, keeping to simple short video clips with great spoken content shot, against white, will give you a fine fresh look, and keep you within your limited budget.

Don’t use a director

Using a video director will increase your costs.

Using solely an intelligent camera operator for all filming will keep the shoot down to a one-person operation.

The camera op can do all the lighting and screen setup easily enough, and cue the speakers when to start.

Three (to maybe five) takes for each speaker should be sufficient to successfully shoot 4 short web video clips.

Obviously, there’s a role for the video director in filming web videos, but this is more for interviewing voxpops, or for a longer voiceover-driven productions, where a senior person may have to speak for 2-4 minutes.

In which case, teleprompt, director, graphics, charts and captions would all be recommended, or at least closely considered.

The video intro sequence

The quick advice is don’t have one.

A corporate video in 2007, or 2009 would have almost always had some sort of introductory sequence, maybe titles, fast edited cuts of the building or interiors or premises, and probably a music jingle.

But today in 2015, it’s a known fact that internet viewers want simple no-fuss no-frill web video that gets straight to the point (you’ll rarely see a winner youtube or vimeo video that has a traditional intro sequence)

By contrast, a DVD corporate video production assumes a captive audience for viewing, say, during a presentation.

Web videos offer no such guarantees. Web audiences are impatient and fickle. So get to the point quickly and deliver your proposition.

The Future

Though this isn’t part of the original question, it’s likely that the bank will want to produce more web videos at low cost, needing to frequently share fast video information with employees. Very few web video customners are one-offs, least of all a distributed retail network like a bank. You’ll want an intranet tv channel next, which includes hosts of things like advertising to your own internal market, and management training, and streaming to multiple sites, which in turns means a server /systems review and suchlike. Lots of planning work. Now is the time to start anticipating, thinking more than a few days ahead.

Or simply keep outsourcing at low cost for individual programmes

Or outsource the whole of your web video distribution,extra facilities like free internal webcam conferencing.

Summary – producing low cost web videos

  • Keep the web video runtime short
  • Keep it simple so extra video crew aren’t necessary.
  • Use white screen background. It looks great on the web page.
  • Avoid music, graphics, captions and charts unless you really must.
  • Get to the point quickly, and deliver a convincing proposition.

Low cost web video production is entirely feasible without compromising quality. It’s all in the production approach.

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