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Training/Demo Video with Voice Over

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Al HerrTraining/Demo Video with Voice Over
by on Oct 27, 2010 at 2:54:21 pm

Hello all,
Any tips for videoing a training/demo video.

The subject will be demonstrating how to put camouflage on an ATV (off rd. vehicle).

They want me to shoot all the video and then go back in and let them add the voice over of what they are doing. Probably this way because they don't speak well on camera (nervous, untrained etc..,)...

Thanks for any tips,

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Joel ServetzRe: Training/Demo Video with Voice Over
by on Oct 27, 2010 at 11:07:00 pm

How long are you expecting this video to be. I'd keep it under 10 minutes. And keep it simple. From your brief comments I have the impression this will be a very low budget production. First step is to have your subjects write out in exacting detail the entire process of applying the camouflage. From this you can develop both a script and a shot list. Even though they prefer not to speak on camera. record them and any sounds associated with the work for possible use later. If they're uncomfortable with their own voices, perhaps they, or you know of someone else who can read the script for the v.o. Will you be adding a music bed? There are plenty of inexpensive royalty free music collections available. Do not let them talk you into using anything that is copyrighted, unless they're willing to pay for the rights (not likely).
I'm guessing this is a single camera production, so make sure you plan your shots to cover every step in the process from multiple angles. Don't be shy about directing your subjects to get exactly what you need. Remember to shoot for the edit, thinking about each shot in terms of how it will cut together later. Make sure you spell out in your contract that you retain copyright to the raw material and can use it for promotional and competition use in the future without any compensation to anyone, and be sure to get model releases from anyone who appears on-camera. Make sure your contract spells out payment terms.

Joel Servetz
RGB Media Services, LLC
Sarasota, Fl

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Mark SuszkoRe: Training/Demo Video with Voice Over
by on Oct 28, 2010 at 2:33:51 am

What I would do is first arrange to go watch them pantomime going thru all the motions in a practice session, figure out what the best camera angle and lighting will be for each step, how you want the vehicle posed, what the key points are that video can show, then from that, make your shot list. The shot list is God: check off each shot as you do it and confirm it is good. Don't leave until all boxes are checked.

Don't forget to try and shoot one wide and one tight shot of everything, and to keep rolling for six to fifteen seconds before and after each key action is completed, which will give you some margin or what we call "handles" for the edit later. At certain steps, set up a still shot of the vehicle with some empty space next to it, for possible use as a background for still frames and graphics backdrops.

You will want to record some location ambient sound, where nobody is moving or talking, for about two minutes. This you will add to the edit later, as a low-level looping background, and you'd be surprised how this subtle addition livens up the perception later.

When the job is done, get some static and panning/tracking shots of the vehicle driving past the camera at high, low, and eye-level. Also take a long walk, twice, and show the thing at a distance, before, sticking out like a sore thumb, and later, blending in using the camo, by taking a long telephoto shot, and doing some slow zooms, pans, and rack-focus shots.

I would recommend that one of the guys who is expert stands next to your camera and narrates a rough "scratch" track that you will just use for logistical purposes in the editing room; later, that will be replaced by the polished narration you write and they or a voiceover guy performs. It may even come in handy as a reference while writing that narration. He can even say stuff like "don't show that part" where necessary. The shotgun of the camera will be good enough for that scratch track if he stays arms'-length from you.

Legal-to-use music can be bought cheap at or other sources, or if you have Garage Band, or Sonic Fire, Acid loops, etc. you can make your own.

Use a tripod as much as possible. Force yourself. Let action come into and move out of the pre-composed frame, and don't always have the camera in motion. That is one thing that will make a youtube video look way better than most.

Lighting, you say? But we're outside, what do I need lighting for? Maybe you don't need any. But Mr. sun is a contrary old bastard, not given to cooperation for long periods. You may find it useful to have a reflector to bounce the available light where you need it, like a spot the guy's body is throwing too much shade on, as well as possibly needing something to soften harsh light when you have too much of it. An overcast sky makes all the light nice and even without shadows, which is good, however, colors will look dull, and tiny details may get lost. Early morning and late afternoon sun is golden and pretty, but short duration, and there you will need reflectors to help, most likely. A simple reflector could be a chunk of styrofoam home insulation that comes with a foil backing on one side; these are cheap to buy at home centers, and the foam make it rigid and easy to aim by hand or attach to a stand or handy sapling to hold it in place. If the weather turns ugly and you wind up doing the shoot in a garage, bouncing lights off the large reflector will make a nice base light.

Use editing "magic" to compress time wherever possible; if you don't really need to show every second of every shot, then don't drag on, cut to the next bit. You can also create fast-motion parts to sort of time-lapse your way thru a really long shot if you have to show it beginning to end anyhow. Play with it, it can be fun.

How do you know the video is working? Make up a list of five questions a viewer should be able to answer after watching this for the first time. If they can answer at least three with just one viewing, you're doing great. if they can answer all five, fantastic. Two or less: go back and fix the script.

Ron will tell you where to mail my check:-)

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Al HerrRe: Training/Demo Video with Voice Over
by on Oct 28, 2010 at 1:17:31 pm

Yous guys have really figured out this project with your laser like radar.
It is a low budget but a corp client I have worked for before. It is about a 10 min finished video hopefully. Although they want something simple due to budget I want to really hit it out of the park and come up with something fantastic by pre-planning. Like Mark suggested I was planning on 2 cam angles , wide screen shots one locked down one with very slight movement to mix in. It is for youtube and a few DVD's. I was even going to bring along a SLR Canon for stills.

I will practice some rack focusing as I don't do that a lot.

I am mainly concerned with how to do the Voice Over. The wharehouse room is going to give a slight echo. Any other gotchas for the VO? The guy doing the application is prob the same guy who needs to do the VO.

it is an indoor shoot in a giant wharehouse that has white cinderblock walls. No way around it. Outside would be near the highway. I love the 5 questions idea and the ambient sound idea. Never thought of that one but I can see that being useful.

I have made a TO DO list based on yous guys posts.

Who is Ron, Mark? There must be a mole in this operation:)

Thanks a bunch for all the experience,

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Mark SuszkoRe: Training/Demo Video with Voice Over
by on Oct 28, 2010 at 1:51:18 pm

Don't bother recording any narration in the warehouse except for the scratch track.

Warehouse lighting can be very ugly, particulalrly sodium vapor. DO you know what kind of lights they use in there?

It might be good to hang or set up something to cover the white wall behind the vehicle that's in the shot, depends how bright a white it is... A banner with the company logo would be one idea. The other white walls, you can use to bounce bright lights off of to raise the overall light level. If the warehous is REALLY big and empty, you can make a pool of light shine down from above in the center, and let the walls fade into darkness, would look cool, especially for a before/after shot, where the only light is from overhead. Fog machines are dirt cheap around halloween; get one and fog up the room so when the overhead light shines down, it makes that cool visible beam look.... very dramatic!

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Bill DavisRe: Training/Demo Video with Voice Over
by on Nov 2, 2010 at 11:12:01 pm

Just one more word of warning to insert here.

I understand that you wish to make this the best damn video these folks have ever seen. That's the spirit that turns amateurs into pros and ignites careers.

Which is all well and good as far as it goes.

There is a hidden side, however of driving to give someone superb results on a meagre budget.

The problem is that in any good video - you should expect 70% of the work effort you put in to be totally hidden from the client — they will NEVER understand the effort you went to to deliver good quality . In a GREAT video - the "required effort" figure increases rapidly. You might have to double, or even triple your time AND effort to achieve each 10% extra in quality over what the "GOOD" effort. So if you do achieve a really outstanding program - expect that 90% of the effort to be hidden from all but the most discerning eyes. What I'm saying is that after a certain point, increasing quality extracts a toll disproportionate to it's return.

If you allow your client the false impression that they can have 90% quality at say 40% of the budget that a specific quality TRULY SHOULD command in the market place - then they will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER lower their expectations - and it will be equally difficult to get them to increase their budgets to the level where their business will pay what their work is actually worth.

Just fair warning.

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Al HerrRe: Training/Demo Video with Voice Over
by on Nov 3, 2010 at 1:03:37 am

Hey that is great advice Bill. I think that has happened to me before. It is like some sort of evil service equation. A conundrum. An enigma or something like that.

I am trying to keep everything in the middle so to speak but this is a repeat customer and there should be work down the road as well which is influencing me. My previous gig with them was really easy and I got paid well.

GOod insight,

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