With lockdown restrictions starting to change, there’s a wide range of filming options available, from fully remote production to trained location crews - and everything in between.
Each option caters for different needs while keeping your people safe within UK government guidelines. Most importantly, you can be sure the end result will build the emotional connection you need to land the message with your audience.
Here are the options we currently recommend:
With zero direct personal contact, Kaptcha guides your interviewees and presenters online to the best setup with the equipment they have available. Alternatively, we can provide a microphone for delivery to your spokesperson’s home for professional quality audio. This option can also be used to shoot cutaways of activities or remote locations.
We safely shoot location footage of building exteriors or work processes, combined with interview material using the remote filming option. This option also involves no direct personal contact.
Where your internal guidelines allow, we send a small crew trained in the safe working practices used by broadcasters. Our crews have been shooting safe interviews throughout the lockdown for news broadcasters, and use the same processes for this option.
We re-edit existing footage, including raw footage from your previous projects, user generated content and commercial archive material. Animation is another way to work around location restrictions.
We produce a live virtual event to bring your people together, mixing edited videos into the live stream.
Right now, there are some amazing stories out there, and your people are making tremendous sacrifices to help people in need. We can film those stories now, before they disappear – even if you don’t use the footage until later.
We help companies create more emotional connections with their audiences. What inspiring stories should we safely gather for you?
Have you noticed how brands are tapping into user-generated content from our time in lockdown for their advertising?
Some brands are collating emotive user-generated from social media to support their company narrative – like this film from Oreos
While others are going out to their people or customers asking them to send in material in response to a simple brief – like this film from Tesco.
And of course user-generated is just as powerful for internal films for your people as well.
If YOU want help producing a user-generated film – from brainstorming the creative idea, to writing a simple brief for potential contributors, editing the material to getting clearances for a commercial music track – you know what to do…
Get in touch with Kaptcha ASAP
For global organisations, communicating with your people and keeping them updated and motivated is now more important than ever.
Face to face has traditionally been the most powerful way of doing that but, let’s face it, there’s not going to be much of that in the near future.
Video is the next most powerful and engaging way of communicating with a large workforce and strengthening your community. Video conference calls are great for information exchange but rarely engage emotions.
So for key messages, how do you produce powerful, memorable video when people can’t be in close contact? Here are four ways you can get compelling video content made and delivered – safely and cost-effectively.
OPTION 1 – Talking Heads
You CAN still film interviews, even if the crew can’t safely visit your premises.
Online video technology has improved exponentially in recent years, to the point where it can be used for so much more than conference calls.
It works like this. The interviewee gets set up with their laptop and we help them make the most of the location. This includes framing, light, audio and background. Once the setup is complete, we film remotely over the internet. Our director can still direct the performance and the Comms or Marketing director can still join to check the messaging.
Existing company B-roll or library stock footage can be used, combined with music, to add pace and variety. Our bespoke process means we can edit these and turn them round quickly – within 24 hours if needs be (with or without subtitles) so you can communicate in a quick and timely manner with your people.
Talking heads are the bedrock of so many brand and corporate films. Fortunately, with a bit of smart thinking, they still can be.
OPTION 2 – Animations
The good news about animation is it requires no physical contact between people to deliver.
Animations can be voiceover-led, avoiding direct contact with the voice over artist, or in the same style as this film below. It uses a real interview with animation on top to tell a great story.
Capturing a great audio story is the start of the process. From there we can use simple 2D or more involved 3D animation to make your film.
OPTION 3 – User Generated Content (UGC)
So your people are now mainly working from home, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a voice. In fact, it could be a golden opportunity to gather powerful video stories for now and the future.
The best UGC on platforms like Twitter does that, but that’s selected from millions of ineffective videos. So how do you give yourself the best chance of gathering video that is authentic and on brand in these circumstances?
We can guide you and your people on how to film themselves, or get their family to film them, using their smartphones to tell their stories in the most powerful ways. Whether it’s a story about going above and beyond in these challenging times, or many colleagues from around the globe intercut into one film telling of their experiences, user generated can be powerfully structured and edited to tell your company’s most inspiring stories.
OPTION 4 – Library footage and/ or existing company B-roll
Many companies have existing B-roll that can be edited together with a voice over and/or dynamic typography to deliver key messages. Like this film from BAE.
But what if you don’t have any existing footage? Stock libraries like Adobe, Shutterstock and Pond 5 have a huge wealth of moving images and photos that can be used to support your communications.
These can be used in so many ways. From hints and tips for working from home to staying safe and well being.
It’s worth remembering that all these options can be delivered without necessarily sacrificing the quality your audience has come to expect from your comms.
We are monitoring how comms professionals use video during the coronavirus lockdown and will share further ideas as we find them. If you’d like a chat about using video during these extraordinary times, get in touch for simple, helpful ideas you can put into practice yourself.
Powerful video can still be created during COVID-19.
Many options remain open that do not require physical contact.
Here are a few ideas to help keep employees motivation high during this period of uncertainty.
IDEA 1 - Weekly CEO update
Things are moving quickly- and your people want to be kept updated. But sometimes an email just doesn’t cut it. Video allows your people to look the boss in the eye and connect on a human level. A regular, short sum-up video from your CEO or ExCo team can quickly let them know what’s happened in the business over the last week and what the focus is for the week to come. It can be filmed remotely and edited together with b-roll, text and graphics.
IDEA 2 - Something you’ve never done before…
Ask your people (UK and around the globe) to send in a short user-generated video clip sharing one work related activity they have done because of the crisis - that they have never done before! The clips are collated, edited to music and the final film subtitled. These can be filmed by a member of their household or self-filmed on smartphone/webcam.
Examples could include -
• Conference call while ‘Draw with Rob’ & pre-schooler
busy drawing in the background
• Using an ironing board as a desk
• Dressing for the day (waist up)
• Reaching out to old associates via Zoom
IDEA 3 - Top tips for working from home
What are your employees’ top tips for working from home? How do they manage their time, wellness and mental health, how much is too much news? Tips could include -
• Agree a weekly work schedule with your partner
• Have a dedicated space to work
• Remember to feed the dog
• Take a five minute break every 25 minutes
• Schedule two sets of deep work throughout the day
IDEA 4 - Whose desk is it, anyway?
This isn’t a video idea but still a great idea for team-building, on a Friday afternoon or during a coffee break. Each person takes a picture of their work desk, including one clue as to who they are… this is then sent to the coordinator. Coordinator then shares them. Everybody in the team has to
guess whose desk belongs to who.
According to a recent report by Forbes, employees trust their employer for information on COVID-19 (63%) more than they trust their government (58%). It’s a good indication of how honest and helpful employer communication is highly valued.
We’re less than three weeks into lockdown in the UK (as of 6th April 2020) and conventional comms and channels have been thrown out of the window. If there was ever a time in your comms career to try something new, now is the time. This is comms time to shine.
There for your employees…
Part of Internal comms job is to help your employees get through this – both practically and mentally. Now’s the time to be community organisers/ to be the glue that holds the organisation together. Your employees want to hear from their leadership, but they also want to hear from their colleagues. Amongst the daily COVID-19 reports, they want stuff that will make them smile, make them laugh and make them feel connected. Here are just a few examples of what companies employees are doing to keep connected:
· 'Staying connected' weekly packaged video news flash.
· Virtual coffee mornings
· Employee led yoga and fitness classes
· 10k April walking challenge
· Employee cooking club
· 4pm Friday drinks
· And of course, see our suggestions in our other blogs for great user-generated content during COVID-19
… and there for your leaders
76% of comms people believe that this has had a positive impact on their relationship with leaders. Comms professionals are there to help work with their leaders to show what to do and how to do it - there to help them shape the messages they want to get across. Leadership need to give their employees facts, but more than anything they need to give them reassurance and empathy. One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of clear and purposeful comms.
What – what do you want them to know
So what – why does it matter to them
Now what – what do you want them to do with that information?
So come on all you Comms professionals, this is your time to shine
So now your film is in great shape, how do you make the most of the post?
1. Go native
Linkedin likes it best when you post natively to the platform. This means you take your video file and attach it to your post, rather than putting a link to another platform like YouTube or Vimeo into your link). If you can, then post natively.
2. Start fast
Get momentum on your film in the first hour as Linkedin will then push it to more viewers’ timelines. The Linkedin algorithm does keep changing, but if you can get 10 likes and comments in the first hour after you post then you’ll get a boost. Ask 10 or more people on your team to like and/or comment soon after you post.
3. Tagging and timing
The most popular times to browse Linkedin are the morning and evening commute times, around 7.30 to 8.30am and then 5 to 6pm. If you post around or just before these times then you stand a better chance of more people seeing your post quickly. Don’t forget to allow for the time zone where your audience is based. Use relevant hashtags in the text, it will help people find your films.
4. Go where the audience is
If your company has a following, post on its Linkedin page. To get additional views of your film get some of your people to post the film on their own Linkedin profiles. Make sure they have the original film file so they can post natively.
5. Words count
The text you put in your post can grab people’s attention to make them want to watch the film. Think of your first line of text as an advert for your film. This poststarts: ‘Lynne Hanner is an amazing woman.’ Break text in the post into short lines. It’s easier to read and Linkedin likes the fact that more space is taken up.
So now you’re all set to start filming and get posting! For any questions, contact me on LinkedIn or firstname.lastname@example.org
LinkedIn is a great opportunity to reach a B2B audience with content that helps people solve a business problem. Video has been an option for a while now, but how do you make your video content fly? There are two elements to success with film on LinkedIn:
1. Making your film
2. Promoting your film
Here are the five essentials for making films that work on LinkedIn.
1. Get Emotional
Video is particularly powerful in the awareness phase of your customers buying journey, when you want to tell a story or evoke an emotional response. But for video to do its job properly, the story must be right too. The best brand videos – the ones made by Gillette, Airbnb or Nike, for example – don’t talk about products or services. They talk about how those products and services make you feel.
2. Strong visuals matter
Strong visuals grab attention. There’s a lot of dull video on LinkedIn and corporate filmmakers learned years ago to avoid talking heads where possible. Make yours quirky, dynamic, exciting. If your subject makes this difficult, faces are great for grabbing attention. Close-ups work well, like this hugely popular Nike film.
3. Don’t waste time
For Linkedin get straight into the film and the interesting visuals. Don’t put logos or the film title at the start. A faster cutting pace generally grabs more attention. It depends on the visuals, but generally about one cut per second keeps people watching. Viewing duration is more generous on Linkedin than some other platforms, but 30-90 seconds generally works best for most films. Speeches and strong stories can keep people watching longer.
4. Go vertical
Vertical or square video works well on Linkedin. It takes up more screen space as people scroll down, so they’re likely to see it. More people are watching on their phones, so vertical video takes up their whole screen. This film about Game of Thronesfrom Business Insider got it right.
5. Sound off
LinkedIn defaults to muting a video’s sound on first play and many people will leave it that way while they watch. Sub-titling films is one way to attract your audience, or even better incorporate graphic text into your film so the audience can understand even without sound. This World Economic Forum filmworks just as well with or without sound.
So now you’re all set to start filming. That means we're half way there. But there's still the critical question of posting your video effectively. We'll look at this in Part 2.
Why post-production matters in your recruitment film
Post-production includes editing, graphics, grading and sound mixing. This is where you can get maximum value from your recruitment film. At the filming stage, you should be thinking about the different ways your film will be used so you make sure to shoot all the material you need on your filming day/s.
1. Music to recruit staff
Choosing the right music to go with your story can make a HUGE difference to the feel of the film – and how watchable it is. It also says a lot about your brand. Recruitment films by the tech giant Apple are often a quirky and innovative, Red Bull choose dynamic, energetic music (music that gives you wings), whereas Aviva’s music, like this film we made about their Parental Leave policy, is generally warm and inviting.
Music should be appropriate to the story you are telling, and to your brand and its values. Library music is a lot cheaper than commercial music, where you can spend thousands to clear one commercial track, and with a little searching there are some good library tracks out there. Does the music in your films represent the personality of your brand and suit the story?
2. Subtitles. Always.
Subtitles are now a must for all brand films online, and nowhere is this more true than with your recruitment film. Many videos are viewed on social media without audio – for example 85% of Facebook videos are watched on mute. Subtitles allow the viewer to still see what people are saying even if they can’t hear it. In fact, many people prefer watching videos with subtitles even if they don’t have to.
Subtitles can also give your film and brand a boost in search rankings. Subtitles improve SEO, because Google indexes captions that you’ve added to videos (they don’t index automatically generated captions, like those YouTube can add for you). If you are using the video on social networks, be conscious of the sizing and format, and that subtitles don’t get obscured by set features – such as LinkedIn’s time countdown feature on mobile.
But it’s not just the stats and SEO that make subtitles a must. The context of watching a recruitment film is likely to be personal and on mobile, and mobile viewing is more likely to be without sound. No-one who is thinking of changing jobs is going to watch a recruitment video on their desktop machine in the open office.
3. Sweat the assets
Users interact with different social platforms in different ways. In short the length and style of your video should be different for different platforms. For Instagram and Twitter where people are scrolling through, 15-30 seconds in duration works best. For LinkedIn around 60 to 90 seconds works well, whereas on YouTube and your own website viewers are more likely to watch for longer, although we’d still recommend keeping films to between 2-3 minutes maximum. Think about where your potential audience are most likely to be watching and make the most of your recruitment films by re-cutting and re-purposing for the different social channels where you’ll be posting.
Once you find and start to share those powerful people stories, you’ll find other people will come forward with stories they want to share. There’s no better way to recruit staff than sharing powerful films about people and your brand values.
Being featured in a film is an honour. Well-made people films make your colleagues, customers and candidates feel proud to be part of your brand story.
As part of our series on the most effective video strategies for business, we have pulled together 10 tips to recruit staff with film – as well as engaging your colleagues. Part One deals with setting up your film for success, while here in Part Two we cover the business end of the process: shooting the film/s. In Part 3 we will look at getting the most from your recruitment films in the post-production stage.
1. Make it authentic
One of the most common errors in corporate film-making is writing the script for interviews in advance. Avoid this unless you are lucky enough to have colleagues who are brilliant actors.
So instead of telling contributors the exact words to say, use an interview setup to ask them questions that lead them to speak naturally.
Research is the key to ensuring that when the cameras roll, the director knows what they want the contributors to say. The director asking questions off-camera is a tried and tested way to interview. This applies to an interview on Graham Norton, to a talking head on Panorama and to your film.
The subject’s performance on camera is key too. The contributor must come across as natural, authentic, genuine. An experienced director will get this, and a really good one will get unexpected nuggets from the interview that will make the film feel really special. They could be moments of warmth, pain or humour that enhance the narrative like this film we made for Carphone Warehouse.
If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is. It’s hard to coax a great interview because most of us are not naturals on camera. Add corporate management structures into the mix, and you’ve got a risky situation where a senior manager might come across badly on camera, reflecting badly on you as the comms manager. You don’t want to go there.
This is why many experienced comms professionals prefer to use an experienced crew and director. The stakes can be too high to get it wrong.
2. Share feelings and emotions
Film is a great medium for connecting emotionally with audiences. It creates emotional bonds between your brand and the audience, and people are more likely to share emotional content.
But to do this you need to get compelling content from your people. Personal stories are a great way of doing this. People remember stories and the way they made them feel longer than they remember facts and figures.
In particular, ask people questions that about their feelings. How did that make you feel? Why is that important to you?
People relate to feelings. Also when people are talking about their feelings they tend to be more animated and expressive on camera – which makes the film not only more powerful, but also more watchable.
3. Location, location, location
We are often asked to film interviews, and are then given a small office room to film the interview, with the obligatory potted plant in the background. They almost always look dull and grey on camera and they won’t help you recruit staff.
Very few broadcast interviews are shot in small office rooms as TV crews know this will look dull. A better option is filming in unexpected office locations, like the office stairwell or the roof. It is less expected for the viewer, so it tends to keep the audience’s attention longer, even if what is being said is exactly the same as in the small dull office.
If must be a room in your building, then generally the bigger the better. Space allows the director to add more depth and perspective to the shot and potentially light and dress the room to be more visually interesting.
Another option is to film away from the office completely. If you can, make it somewhere relevant to the interviewee and the story, like their home or a place that’s relevant to a hobby featured in the film. This film we made for Middlesex University with one of their lecturers is a good example of where taking them away from their office environment added to the story.
4. Use cutaways
Without cutaways you could be relying primarily on talking heads. Pure talking heads can be watchable (more so if you make the background interesting as in point 3), and it is possible to jump cut or use quick dissolves from one sound bite to another. But general interview sequences are helped massively by additional cutaways.
Cutaways add pace and visual interest for the viewer – subliminally keeping them more interested and engaged with the film. They work because in real-life conversations, we don’t stare non-stop at the person who’s speaking. Cutaways mimic that reflex to look away briefly while listening.
Cutaways also enhance the story by giving extra information that isn’t offered by just the talking head interviews. Our brains are hard-wired to blend different sensory inputs simultaneously. Associating images and sound, when done expertly, is hugely powerful.
And, as with the interview, a really good director will spot moments and cutaways that bring something extra and special to the film. The best cutaways might not be the obvious ones because viewers are engaged more by surprising associations than predictable ones.
These are just some of the filming techniques you can use to recruit staff. For the full picture, click here to ask a question or look out for Part 3 of our blog series, which will show you what to do at the edit stage.
Knowing how to retain your staff is the biggest challenge for many of the comms professionals we speak to. With skills shortages, high employment and political uncertainty, good team members may well have more options than ever.
As part of our series on the most effective video strategies for business, we have pulled together 10 tips for engaging your colleagues – as well as the talent you want to attract. Here we cover prepping your film, while Part Two deals with the shoot and Part Three will cover post-production..
People stories help retain staff
There’s a phrase in business: ‘People buy from people’. Your people are your brand, so putting those that best represent your brand on film can be massively powerful.
Putting your people on film motivates colleagues, customers and recruits by:
- demonstrating your company values
- making people feel proud of themselves, their colleagues and what their company does
- bringing your vision and strategy alive
- encouraging them to share best practice stories and raise standards
- showing customers stories of how much they rate your company
- showing your brand personality through your people.
Other than face to face, film is the best way of bringing your brand alive. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do, and people can get it wrong.
How do you make people stories?
1. Find the story
The first step is to find powerful stories that reflect your brand – that show your company’s human character and culture. Unearthing those people and their amazing stories is the most important step in how to retain staff with film. It’s also the most important one to get right.
People stories might come from colleagues or customers. Customer testimonials are the most influential, so don’t be afraid to ask them to feature. A satisfied client will often be more than happy to endorse what your business does.
You will need to hunt down the best stories, so actively ask people to send them in. Don’t just look in the work environment, some of your people will reflect your brand values in their own time. Life at HSBC is a great example of a brand covering everything from diversity to sporting achievements and weight loss. These narratives communicate powerful emotions that resonate with the brand’s values.
2. Research the story
If finding the story is the most important part of the film process, researching it is the most under-rated.
Filming is expensive so it is important to get the most from each shoot day. Brands can miss out on the best deal by filming without proper research, resulting in wasted budget. Good research costs less than a crew day, so it’s better value to prep the shoot carefully.
Smart research will include topic, locations and contributors. The result will be a crew who know how to make the most of the schedule and interviewees who are confident and well-briefed. It is possible to make an effective brand film on the hoof, but your budget will generate stronger and more predictable ROI with research.
Good research and a recce led to an extremely organised shoot on this story for Aviva, which we filmed in one day. Without the recce it would have used more crew days and added to the budget.
3. Find the best angle
Every comms professional knows that a story has a beginning, middle and an end. But how can that work amid a torrent of content on social media?
In our world of decreasing attention spans, the beginning needs to grab attention quickly. It could be something visual, or a hook at the start that makes people want to watch. In broadcast we talk about what question are you posing at the start, a question that the audience will want to keep watching to find the answer to. The same applies to brand film.
That’s partly why the research stage matters. It allows the creative team to look at the components of the story and work out the most powerful way to tell that story with the available elements.
This film from The New Zealand Police grabs the audience’s attention right from the start. The force chose an action-packed theme laced with humour that gets the tone just right.
With good pre-production, your film project will be built on strong foundations. Successful brand films deliver high ROI because video is uniquely able to generate a positive emotional response. It’s that emotional response that helps your business retain staff, but engaging content is rarely created in a hurry. If it is, good fortune plays its part.
So you’re all set to start filming. What are the expert tips to delivering your finished film in time and on budget? In Part Two of this article we look at the second key step in production: filming.
Click here to ask a question.
Why is pre-production so important for your film?
In the broadcast world a huge amount of work happens in the pre-production stage (before any filming starts). Filming is expensive so the aim is to get the most out of filming days – and being prepared helps do that.
Information on the topic, potential contributors, locations, archive that could be used and much more is all gathered in advance – usually far more than can go into the programme. The creative team will then look at all of this and start to work out the most powerful way to tell that story with the elements they have. Usually the director will talk to potential contributors in advance, or even better meet them in person – and also go and recce potential filming locations.
The main benefits of thorough pre-production:
- It allows the producer/ director thinking time to come up with the most compelling way of telling the story
- it means filming days are efficient– and that saves money
- it means people (including contributors and crew) are far clearer of what is expected from them on filming days
- at the end of the day you get a better film for less money
Pre-production is just as important when filming branded content and corporate films – it means the client gets a better film and can often save them money.
A trend we’re seeing in 2018 and 2019 is brands wanting films that are genuine. Films that create emotional connections with their audiences - with real people telling real stories.
We work a lot with the finance, tech and cyber security sectors where there isn’t a physical product to show – so getting your own people or customers on film is a great way for brands to bring their purpose and personality to life.
But it’s moved on from simple talking heads. Short editorially strong films are on trend – mini documentaries. And brands are investing more time into contributor research finding those who have a great story to tell and telling it with passion.
One day roughly a year ago, Rich, (our Creative Director) and I were working in the office brainstorming ideas. I could tell he was annoyed but I wasn't sure why. Then he said – “Rich…” (yes, we’re both called Rich – I know it can be confusing, even for us) “… why do you call them videos? We don’t make videos, we make films”
At first I didn’t understand what he meant. The vast majority of what we do is work with big global brands making short marketing or comms ‘messages’ for them. We generally don’t make feature films you’d see at the movies. But then he explained.
“Over the last 5 to 10 years the term video has been de-valued. If you have a smart phone you can shoot a ‘video’ and the term video is now associated with lower quality”
I understood straight away. Rich and I and many of our team came from the very top end of the BBC and broadcast television. We don’t ‘do’ low quality and we certainly don’t want to. We make high quality, creative films for our clients.
It still took me a while to stop using the term video but, after being shouted at several times I’ve finally stopped. So, if you want a video then I’m happy to lend you my old i-phone – but if you want a film, please give us a call.
People often ask about what we do about the rain. Very expensive commercial shoots and movies pay for weather insurance, but, generally we don’t and that’s because it’s costly, and unless it’s really important that you only shoot in sunshine it isn’t really worth it.
What I’ve discovered over the years is that it very rarely rains hard for very long. There have been exceptions, but generally, if you leave it an hour or two, things clear up anyway.
However, the way to deal with rain is to shoot with it. A lot of things actually look visually great in the rain – cars can look spectacular in the rain for example. Cameras and equipment can be put in rain covers and the crew carry waterproofs – we can still shoot in the rain.
The only real problem is when the rain combines with wind and blows back into the lens – that can be a bit tricky. But, as I say, that only happens once in a blue moon.
So, don’t worry about the rain, we’ll work with it, or we’ll work around it.
When my first child was born roughly 19 years ago, I was a bit overweight and occasionally smoked. I decided I wanted to make sure I lived to see my daughter grow up and, hopefully, grow old – so soon after I stopped smoking for good and took up running as a hobby.
Eighteen years on and I am still a regular runner. For the last 4 years I’ve set myself the target of running 1000km in the year. It might sound a lot to some people, and it is (for me) but I tackle it by breaking it down into 20km a week (with a couple of weeks off in case I’m ill/ away or just need a break).
It’s still 3 runs a week (1 x 10km and 2 x 5km) and if I miss a run or even a whole week of runs then I have to make it up. But that yearly target motivates me for the whole year and keeps me on track and I’ve hit 1000km (sometimes with just a day to go) for the last 4 years.
I do a similar thing with the business. Set myself a target I want it to achieve for the year – and monitor it every week. It helps me keep on track to grow the business in the direction I want it to go.
It’s not quite as easy to make that final push to hit the target if we’re a little behind. With business other factors (like the economy and client needs) can come into play. But we’re never far off – and for me it’s a great way of keeping motivated throughout the whole year.
It’s an age old question. Or at least, it’s as old as Autocue. Surely if you have to deliver a piece to camera then the easiest, simplest thing is to use Autocue right? Well, sort of. It probably is the easiest way, but it isn’t the necessarily the best way.
The trouble with Autocue is that as soon as you start reading Autocue, you sound like you’re reading, because you are. You’ll get all your facts right, but you won’t necessarily sound like you know what you’re talking about, or that you are even really thinking about what you are saying.
It takes professional presenters years to be able to read autocue and sound like they are just talking to you – in fact some still can’t do it. Ant and Dec are pretty good at it, but then that’s part of what makes them worth the money they’re paid (probably).
So autocue is great if you are really good at reading without sounding like reading, but otherwise, memorise the key points of what you want to say and then freestyle straight to the lens – you’ll be a lot more believable and people will take more notice of what you have to say.
My Grandfather was a professional musician – he once explained to me that the difference between an amateur musician and a professional is that an amateur practices until they get it right, a professional practices until they can’t get it wrong. I’m sure he was right – he was a very good musician. Practice really did make perfect.
However, that isn’t always true when it comes to performing in front of a camera.
The truth is there is a big difference between professional presenters and amateurs. Professional presenters can learn a script and then deliver it as if it has just come into their heads. This is a lot harder than it looks.
If you’ve been asked to appear in a film, it’s tempting to go away and rehearse a script of exactly what you want to say. However, unless you really do have a future as a professional presenter, that might not be the best idea.
Let me explain. If I asked you about your job, over a pint, in the pub, you wouldn’t have a problem explaining what you did. You’d naturally remove all the jargon, that you know I wouldn’t understand, and you’d speak quite seamlessly, without having to stop and correct yourself. It’s because you’d be speaking ‘off the cuff’.
However, if I told you I was going to film you answering the same question, you’d be likely to go and prepare what you were going to say – and then you’d suddenly struggle to remember, you’d become stilted and unnatural. It’s what everyone does – it’s what I’d do if someone pointed a camera at me. The trick is to try and pretend you’re just talking to a mate in the pub – that way you’ll sound natural and believable. And it’s that authenticity that will make your audience listen to you.
So, don’t over rehearse. Certainly make a list of points you might want to mention, but unless you are a professional presenter – don’t bother learning a script – it’ll never be as good as you ‘talking in the pub’.
Choosing the right location for a shoot can make the difference between an ordinary film and one that really stands out. But what makes a good location?
The secret is to think with your eyes, think with your head, and think with your ears.
You need to find something that looks visually great. But it needs to be relevant too. The right kind of location adds to the story, the wrong location just confuses things.
Ideally the location tells you something about the story that you’re not hearing from the script. If it can’t do that, then at least it should be visually interesting, but neutral.
Think about light. Everyone knows the sun moves through the sky, but people forget that when planning where to shoot. A location that can look amazing in the morning, might be in deep shadow by the afternoon.
And of course, a location needs to work for sound as well as vision. A location that looks stunning visually, but has a jack hammer working just out of shot isn’t going to be much good if you’re filming an interview or pieces to camera.
Finally, think about the practicalities – that fort in the middle of the Solent might be a great location, but how are you going to get the crew and kit there – and how long is it going to take?
Remember the three Ps – power, provisions and parking. Find a location that looks great, is relevant, quiet, and has easy access for crew, kit and food, and you’re onto a winner.