With businesses needing to become more creative with the types of content that they are creating it is becoming ever more important to have a range of skills that can be applied to specific styles of content, or to at least have a basic understanding of them.
The post will take you through the basics of directing a corporate video so that if your business ends up hiring a production company you will be in a stronger position to understand how the process works and how you may be able to contribute or even take part.
The role of the Director and Producer
In feature films and documentaries, the Director is the creative leader of the project. They hold the ultimate vision as to what the final product will look like and it is their responsibility to steer the crew in that direction. The Producer’s role is practical. They hold the purse strings and ensure that the production process runs efficiently.
When talking about corporate videos, it will often be the case that the same person takes on the directing and producing roles. If this is you, we have put together some guidance around the various responsibilities that you will be taking on.
Working with a video production company
If you decide to hire a production company, your role could be quite different. Production companies will come armed with experience, skills, the crew and the equipment. You have the option of providing them with a thorough brief and a budget and letting them do their thing. However, you may still want to direct the video. It is essential that you are clear about the role you want to take at the beginning so that they know what they are working with. Otherwise, you can end up with situations where people annoy each other, creating a resentment which will only impact negatively on the production.
The importance of a good brief
Whether you are working with a production company or freelancers you need to write a good brief. Your brief needs to be strong enough for everyone understand what you are trying to achieve with your video and how you are planning to do it. A good brief will include the aim of the video, who your audience is, the content it will include, the style of the video and how it will be narrated. It should also include practical information like a budget and the beginnings of a production schedule, especially a deadline.
The importance of a budget
Your budget should be a line by line statement of your expected expenditure on the project. It will be difficult to know exactly how long various elements will take, especially if this is your first video production, so be sure to ask the video production company for realistic timescales. Your budget should include costs for pre-production and post-production elements – as well as just the production process. Knowing how much you can spend from the outset will mean that you can plan within those parameters.
Your creative responsibilities in directing a corporate video
As Director, it is your role to translate the creative vision of the project into reality. Preparation is the key to ensuring you are ready to turn that creative vision into an actual video. Creative preparation should include scripts and storyboards.
A script will describe what should be happening on the screen at any one time. It is good practice to write the corporate video script in two columns; the first column can be used to describe the visuals (what we will see on screen at each point; the second column should describe the audio (what sound will accompany the visuals. Scripting also includes writing any dialogue that has been decided in advance of production.
The storyboard is the blueprint for your video production. It is a shot by shot visual description of what will be in your video and is a document that will ensure you and the team are focused and working together – because you all have the same idea about what you are trying to create. The process of creating a storyboard is particularly useful because it allows you to experiment with different potential structures and story lines. Storyboards don’t have to be Turner Prize winning pieces of art. They are worth investing the effort because they will save you time in the long run.
Top tip: If you are new to making videos, one of the most important things you can do is to educate yourself. Watch lots of other corporate videos. See how other people are doing things and get ideas about what to do and what not to do.
Your practical responsibilities
Directing a corporate video team
If you have made the choice to hire in freelance camera operators and other crew, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are briefed on all aspects of the job. It is your role to steer their work and also to look after them. Make sure you plan breaks into your production schedule. Ensure that these are communicated to them so that their expectations match what you deliver to them whilst they are working for you. You are also responsible for paying them – make sure you do it when you said you will do it!
Actors and presenters
If you are hiring in talent such as actors to be in your video, you are also responsible for making sure they are briefed and taken care of. They should know in advance of the shoot what you want them to wear and whether or not they need to learn a script or if they will be using an autocue. You also need to let them know what you want from their performance. This means that you need to decide how much creative control you want over their performance e.g. do you want them to improvise with a script or do you know exactly what you want them to say?
We wrote a short piece on choosing the right web presenter that may be worth a look.
It may be that you have non-professional participants lined up to be in your video, e.g. staff, customers or business partners. Non-professionals won’t always be accustomed to being in front of big camera, under lights and having to speak in front of an unfamiliar audience. It is your role to make sure they have been briefed in advance and to make them feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process.
An editor needs to be given the production brief, scripts and storyboards so that they know what the goals of the project are. As director, you are still responsible for directing the edit. However, you need to strike the right balance with your editor. You may be a hindrance to progress by watching over the editors shoulder the entire time. Another major aspect of your role in relation to the edit is ensuring that the editing team work to the schedule and therefore the budget.
Top tip: Don’t withhold praise from any of your teams. If someone is doing a good job, keep the vibe positive and let them know. Praise enhances performance – throw it around generously!
Summary of key points
The preparation for the project is your responsibility and if you do this well, you will make the production process a lot easier and less expensive
You are the keeper of the creative vision and it is your responsibility to communicate it to the team
You are the holder of the purse strings and you need to keep a handle on the budget
It is your responsibility to manage the production and ensure the process runs efficiently
You need to be clear about the boundaries of your own role so that you don’t annoy other creative production staff.