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Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?

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Jonathan AlsopVideo producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on Apr 28, 2013 at 12:06:35 pm

I have started a new full-time job for a mobile network operating in the UK. I am not a freelancer and don't own my own equipment.

I'm responsible for tutorial style videos that get published on YouTube and their support website, to aid customers that struggle to set up products from mobile handsets to home signal adapters. I also do one off promo videos.

The big challenge I've had is to do with budget and equipment. Their current set up is quite poor for the amount of video they want me to produce. They have no lighting equipment and the quality of my predecessors videos were fairly poor because of this.

They've given me what is left off the old regime- a canon 500d, basic tripod, Adobe Premiere and an iMac.

My head of department has been fairly supportive with bringing in additional equipment that I have said we can't do without (basically things to get me started such as hard drive) but I'm really struggling to get my point across that we need to upgrade our cameras.

The eyebrows have been raised at the bare mention of upgrading the 4 year old 500d. It's seen as a longer goal. As my job is to produce more video, at improved quality, it is obvious to me that the current set up will achieve neither of those objectives.

So the essence of the post was to get a feel for how other sole one man band video producers handle client education when it comes to upgrading equipment and making business cases?

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Mike SmithRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on Apr 28, 2013 at 2:17:20 pm

Though you also have the Panasonic AG AC 160 ... -

Without seeing your work, very often with sponsored or corporate video it is in the script, imagination, story ideas more than anything else that the big shortcomings show up. Though trying to work without lights would be a big issue.

I'd guess you'd want to impress your new boss with how well you can do with what you've got - and begin a slow process of showing up problems if and as the occur, how you've gor round them, and how extra investment might improve either end product or workflow. But just pitching that you need the latest kit isn't likely to impress an experienced manager.

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Jonathan AlsopRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on Apr 28, 2013 at 3:06:08 pm

Thanks for the post Mike. Good bit of detective work! Unfortunately it was my last job that gave me the Panasonic AG AC160 and I've left that company now.

I see your point, and I have previously taken it into consideration to work with what I've got. The first thing I've done to the Canon 500d is install magic lantern to try and get a bit more performance out of the camera. I've also told the company that they can use the purchase of Premiere to get discount on the entire CS package via Creative Cloud, which would allow me to utilise photoshop, after effects, audition and illustrator at a minimal monthly cost- thus improving the screenbased stuff we do in the tutorials.

One of my main gripes about the DSLR the new company gave me to shoot on though, is that it has severe limitations with it mainly being automatic settings and I almost feel like I can't trust it on a shoot.
I have to interview very senior people, and I don't want to be let down by the equipment.

Basically I think it's a case of some clever investment now rather than later so that they can see improvements in the quality of the video right away- the challenge is trying to get them to understand the increase in quality.

I think because the predecessor seemed to bash out loads of videos (she was freelance so didn't mind working 20 hour days- she got paid for it), without thinking of the general video infrastructure and the management of expectations it has set a precedent, which means I have to educate the boss on how to raise the quality whilst not coming across as inept.

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Mike SmithRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on Apr 28, 2013 at 4:25:33 pm

You make good points Jonathan. If I'd been smart enough to realise you have only the 500D, as you indicated, I'd have responded differently. You do urgently need kit you can depend on (such as the missing Panasonic.)

Trying to film interviews with the Digital Rebel / T1i / D500 must be very stressful; you'd want at the very least manual mode and much better audio control.

Would you be thinking something like a 7D or T4i / 650D might be enough for you for now, maybe sticking with whatever lenses and accessories you might have? (I guess I'm dreaming there!) Or wouild you be thinking of some other DSLR-style kit, like the 5D, the Nikon D7100 or the lumix GH3 ...?

Or migbt you do much better with something more video-oriented and versatile like the Panasonic, or a Canon XF100 - much better video ergonomics, high quality pics, much better audio handling?

I still think that making the very best out of what you have is the right approach, but I do feel that the kit you have is tying both hands behind your back. For the company to put over the right kind of image to its customers it must really want to do a little better than the 500D will allow ...

Good luck with it. Maybe you can work with your boss on some kind of vision of how you want to represent the company in video, what kit you might consider, and what kind of approach to keeping up to date is going to be appropriate and affordable. With camera technology at advancing at least as fast as in mobile phones or other areas, 4 year old kit is quite long in the toorh ..

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Paul TrunkfieldRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on Apr 29, 2013 at 8:18:19 am

Hi Jonathan, Your situation sure does sound frustrating.
I wonder if you could sit down with your head of department and talk through with him/her what is currently achievable with the gear you have at your disposable.

Then tell them about your vision of the great videos you could create if you had a decent camera, lighting kit, audio equipment etc and then suggest that you hire the kit for say a week and create some videos for them.

Once they see the different in quality and how good the senior management look that might just sway them to invest.

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Guy McLoughlinRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on Apr 29, 2013 at 6:35:47 pm

...I am a big believer in the philosophy of "the proof is in the pudding", where you need to show your financial decision makers the difference between using what you have now and what you should have.

I've done this in the past by using some of my own personal gear to demo the difference, and this was enough to convince management to invest in better gear.

The first thing I would look at with your set-up is audio, as I really think good audio is more important than good video. This would mean things like a wireless UHF lav system like the Sennheiser G3 system, a good portable audio recorder like the Tascam DR-100 or Olympus LS-100. If you budget allows for it, a good indoor dialog mic like the AT-4053b, a boom-stand ( Manfrotto make a great combi-stand that is both a stand and converts to a 6 foot boom ), and a high quality audio mixer like the Sound Devices MixPre-D.

With audio taken care of, I would look at the type of videos you are shooting. If you shoot mostly live event work, then an ENG style camera like the Canon XA25, Panasonic AC90, or Panasonic AC130 would be a good investment.

If most of your work is interviews, then the Panasonic GH3 camera would be my first choice, as it's one of the best DSLR cameras for video work.

A good tripod would also be on my list, which would start with something like a Benro S6 tripod+head, which runs around $300. Up from this would be the Sachtler ACE M tripod which costs about $535. Both of these tripods have smooth panning heads with proper counter-balance, so you can let go of the camera and it will stay positioned where you point it.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on Apr 29, 2013 at 7:30:04 pm

If this is a mobile phone company, chances are that the majority of your videos could be user training on phone handsets or similar gear, and this implies mostly shooting macro-photography of the phone on a table or in someone's hand, as an operator punches buttons or works on the screen. Text graphics pop up alongside as needed.

Your existing Canon should be okay for this provided you have good lighting and use manual settings, and you can add the sound track in post as voice-over.

When I say "good lighting", I mean you'll need some soft light that won;t bounce off the screen into your lens. Lucky for you, you can make soft boxes or light tents with inexpensive, even scrap materials, and some cool-running flo light bulbs. Mounting the camera overhead, looking down on the phone, using a threaded bolt and a microphone stand may be all you need, long as it's sturdy and doesn't wobble.

The backdrop the phone sits on can be any kind of cloth, greenscreen material, or even a swatch of cool wallpaper from a decorator store. You can make a killer-looking demo of the phone this way for about $20 USD, if you know what you're doing, using your existing gear.

For other kinds of videos showing people in environments, interviews or speeches, ask permission to rent the proper camera, some softbox lights, and mic, one time. Or explore buying a used model of the camera you want.

Making a softbox light is pretty simple and inexpensive, and it can be as effective as a purchased one. There are also cheap Asian knockoff softbox type lights on Ebay, if you're feeling like a gamble.

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Jonathan AlsopRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on May 6, 2013 at 6:52:32 pm

Some great suggestions on approaches to equipment. I have really pushed the need to invest to my boss over the last week and it sounds like further up the chain they are starting to understand my situation.

I've made a bit of a breakthrough anyway short term. I've now got the full cs package via creative cloud in addition to basics like a hard drive, camera batteries, clapperboard, reflector and a hard drive. This will allow me to at least replicate what was being produced previously, because I have essentially replaced what belonged to the freelancer.

Now that I have that sorted, I'm looking to improve the overall video infrastructure.

My current production kit I've been given is a 500d with kit lens, tascam dr 05 with a basic mic and a basic tripod.

I've been told to compile a report on why the current equipment isn't
suitable and to come up with ideas to improve the kit.

I really like the suggestions to get the Panasonic dmc gh3. I've been reading a lot about it, and it sounds like a suitable camera for the mixture of product demonstrations and talking heads.

I'm still considering audio solutions. I've used a Sennheiser EW112-p G3 Portable Camera System with fantastic results in the past so may push for that.

Thanks again for everyone's feedback on kit and how to approach the challenge of getting businesses to understand video production.

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charles meadowsRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on May 16, 2013 at 7:40:32 pm

My suggestion of what you need is more of a typical video camera as opposed to a DSLR. Look at getting the Panasonic AG-AC90 or the Canon XA 10. For audio get a Sennheiser wireless lapel kit (there is nothing worse than bad audio and don't rely on the camera mic). Finally, I'd suggest you get an LED light for times when you need to put a little extra light on the lecturer. The difference in image and audio quality will be huge and should convince the powers that be that it was a worthwhile investment.

"There's no point in filming if you don't have fun"
Charles Meadows
Creative Director
Incubate Productions South Africa

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Peter FitzGeraldRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on Jun 2, 2013 at 6:12:45 pm

I have worked in a corporate situation like this, The manager is only interested in results, use your own money to buy a cheap wired LAV $20-30, and DIY a few lights. Lighting and sound are the quickest way to improve the production value of a video.

Once you've made 2-3 "better" looking videos than your predecessor you dealing from a better position, and can bargin.

The other thought spend a few hours trying to find out (A) if your company's competitors are doing video, If somehow you meet/strike up a on-line conversion, Ask about your kit, better yet start a topic in a few forums looking for "In-House" to swap ideas & kit lists. If the competitors videos look better, your manager (and those above) may be more motivated to invest.

My 2 cents ~ Peter

Peter FitzGerald,
Cost effective, creative and engaging video production for small business

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Jonathan AlsopRe: Video producer in the corporate world, how to guide please?
by on Jun 19, 2013 at 9:43:33 am

Just here to write a conclusion to this thread.

I realise now that the problem was political. The issue was to do with the department I'm sat in not wanting to spend a chunk of their budget on equipment. However, this is a fast growing company that makes a lot of money. In short, the amount wanted to increase quality would be a drop in the ocean for the business overall.

So what did I do to overcome this?

I firstly had to push the issue beyond our department. I knew I was hitting a brick wall asking my manager so I asked people higher up the chain, who in turn pushed it to the people with purchasing power.

I then had to justify the purchases. This was easy because I knew the equipment I was using before was unfit for the types of videos we wanted to produce and I wrote a detailed list of recommended kit after researching the most quality but cost effective kit available.

Then there was a lot of delays due to forms not getting signed etc, but in the end I got what I wanted.

A conclusion:

1. Know the commercial status of the business you are working in before asking for kit. If you're in a company that spends millions on marketing campaigns, then you're probably at a company that has a pot of gold somewhere and can set realistic aims for acquisition of equipment. However if at a small/medium business you may have to lower your expectations for kit.

2. Do research. Forums, reviews, footage tests. Build it into a document.

3. Create a proper business case, use your research, translate it into terms that people unfamiliar with the technology can understand, look at competitors videos, look at the limitations of the current set up. Also look at the long term goals of the company and why they hired you to back up any statements of intent with the new kit.

4. Ask for everything. I was told that the company would probably only be able to get me a new camera, but I have a whole new kit as a result of outlining my full needs. Also it saves you having to later request more items and going through the laborious process again.

5. Be aware of politics. Try sending issues higher up if hit a brick wall, and be pushy when someone shows a sign of acknowledging your issue, to make sure it is dealt with. Generally noone cares, so it's up to you to make them care.

I hope this helps people in a similar situation to myself.

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