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Shooting Product Introduction Videos

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Phillip Seitz
Shooting Product Introduction Videos
on Apr 12, 2017 at 7:56:29 pm

Hello readers. Abit of a rant ahead and looking for insight. So, here's my story:

I've been shooting and editing videos for quite some time here, including, but not limited to; macro shots of jewelry, aerial footage, product promo with/without talent and/or speaker, food shots, and much more. I have experience in a lot of video scenarios, and have used all sort of shot compositions and setups, each within the respect of the subject matter. I've tried to refer to my knowledge over the year regarding "video 101" of how to shoot things, depending on subject matter, and have never really had an issue until recently.

The new job I'm at owns many, many brands of merchandise. Each brand has it's own theme and is different from one another, and I believe my background helps understand how to separate these brands from one another with shooting style. However, this particular shoot had me so aggravated with the lack of planning with the product manager and authority figures that I ended up "winging it" because the shoot was so time sensitive (if not already past due) that when I was hired, I had less than a week to prep for this even though this had been in the books for months before I was hired and the guy before me left before the project started.

So, I get there and do my thing and finally wrap the videos up. The videos are based on product that released last fall, but they wanted videos to promote the "new" products that they've developed (about 12 different products within three brands, all similar in style, just different bits of technology for the specific brands). So, I planned out 3 sets to shoot, all within one location inside of a building that these products are produced in. There was a really nice lobby, all decked out in appropriate branded stuff, a high-tech meeting room for the second brand, and for the third brand I gathered a pop-up banner for the talent to stand in front of with the product. The idea of this video series was to have talent in front of a camera with the product in their hands while they discussed certain features and aspects of the new product and showed it off in front of the camera.

We're supposedly a leading authority figure in the fields in which each brand represents, so this technology goes right out to the front-lines for all of the consumers to buy potentially. So, in a nut shell, these videos had to look crisp and clean, hi-tech and very informative. However, the planning behind it wasn't and I struggled a bit because being the "new guy", I had no idea what these products did or what their names were or their specs, etc. My job was just to make the video look cool and such, and I believe I did just that.

So, with that being said, two of the three brands that were represented in these video series I had the talent sitting down at a table. One brand's new product were hand-sized and very detailed, which to me made sense to have them sitting down at a table with one locked-down camera at a medium shot and another on a steady cam with a tight shot purely focused on the product and the features that were being spoken about. The same goes for another brand, except the product was larger.

Because of the poor planning and lack of communication, an authority figure/manager-type person over all three brands knocked the whole series down, mentioned that it was poorly planned and therefore made the videos look foolish. However, I did not perceive that to be an issue in which I was at fault. However, they did make one comment about the people sitting down, stating, "... is there not a guide on filming 101 that states when you are trying to be an authority on something that giving a your spiel from the sitting position is a big no no". And, I can see their point. However, I think it's a subject-sensitive matter and each scenario doesn't exactly match that basic.

Have any of you shot interview/product footage with the talent sitting down? Is there a guide for something like this that I missed out there? What could the psychological advantages/disadvantages be in one scenario vs. another? I don't know, I felt like ranting, but I could just be whining here. What are your thoughts?

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Richard Herd
Re: Shooting Product Introduction Videos
on Apr 14, 2017 at 7:17:11 pm
Last Edited By Richard Herd on Apr 14, 2017 at 7:21:44 pm

[Phillip Seitz] "Have any of you shot interview/product footage with the talent sitting down? Is there a guide for something like this that I missed out there? What could the psychological advantages/disadvantages be in one scenario vs. another? I don't know, I felt like ranting, but I could just be whining here. What are your thoughts?"

Wow, you stepped into the middle of a political minefield. There are things going on that you don't know about. People don't like each other. They aren't making their sales goals. Who knows!?

Interview product footage with the talent sitting down? Of course. Everyone has. They do it every night on TV.

Is there a guide? Of course not. The single most important thing for me is that the talent is comfortable. Nothing create mediocre quicker than when we use non-professional talent. And I know product managers are good at being product managers and they often think "I can write this script and do the presentation"; then the lights go on and the camera is rolling and it's a disaster because it's actually a TALENT to be on camera, so it's best to hire real professional actors.

Psychological effects...omg. If that's what people are worried about, I officially call them grinders. I've put the camera at belly height and looked up at the talent to make them seem "powerful" and I have had the client complain, "I can see up their nose." Other times, I place the camera high to emphasize their eyes, and the client has complained "I feel to far away." And I've placed the camera exactly in classical eye height, even measuring it accurately. And client has complained about that too, "It's too plain." And we should ask a question "Whose psychology"? The viewer? HEre's what's happening: They're making a video not for their client but for themselves. They want that video to make them feel a certain way. I have seen this scenario more than any other, and it's normal enough. Make sense? As video creators we make a ton of stuff and our feelings about the end piece is somewhat objective. We've made so many we know how it goes. Then, we move on to the next project. Another video. And so on. We can see how there is a separation between the video-itself and the intended audience. I'm not sure the complainer-clients get that. I think these projects are "fun" and "self-aggrandizing." Normally, they are in their offices with MS Excel, but now for a few days they get to have "fun." We are good at making sure this video is for them. They are not good at making sure this video is for their clients, the demographic who buys their products. I have seen this happen so much, I think it's basically inevitable. Just wait if 2 people with differing senses of what-the-video-should-be start offering critique on the final edit. I suggest you stay way out in front of that process. You need to start with font and color scheme. (I'm not kidding.) Send emails about it and make sure you keep folks engaged in the process. Then as you cut the assemble, be sure to send a meeting invite to your suite/office and have them sit there. They might make it the full hour and then leave and you'll still be there, with huge piles of buy-in for your completed work. EDIT: Also if they can't make the meeting for the editing, then when they complain (and they'll complain), you can email back: How come you weren't at the meeting? Then send another invite. Office Politics.

These videos won't be seen by many people. Let's be honest. On aggregate, we hope at best maybe 500 people watch it for 10 seconds, and those are going to be very precise customers already interested in the product.

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