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Corporate B roll suggestions

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Mark AlexanderCorporate B roll suggestions
by on Sep 27, 2013 at 1:06:15 am

I have been doing shoots for law firms lately that basically consists of the attorney telling the viewer about the firm. Nothing new under the sun here but that is the problem. I have no desire to see the same old cutaways that seem to be on every corporate executive video ad nauseum: answering the phone, writing at desk, working on computer etc.

I looked online trying to find different approaches but so far there just doesn't seem to many variations out there. Does anyone have any suggestions for cutaways that take place within the office environment that may be "different"? Or can you suggest where I might see some cool ideas for this type of thing. Hmm - cool and corporate - now that's a challenge!

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Chris TompkinsRe: Corporate B roll suggestions
by on Sep 27, 2013 at 12:15:08 pm

It's a good question, there is only so much variety in an office.
Maybe; more energy in the music for the edit, with shorter cuts, Have a wide,medium and close of the guy on cam to help keep it moving.
Creative shots of the name/logo on the wall or out front.
Getting staff to move around for a staged shot. Using a jib in a larger office can make for a nice shot or 3.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Corporate B roll suggestions
by on Sep 27, 2013 at 2:48:15 pm

Well, there's a couple issues. Legal-related spot work is riddled with cliche' shots of courtrooms, law book stacks, desk work, judge gavels, etc. because these things are iconic. Cliche's grow because they work: they become expected. By viewers as well as clients. Question number one is then: do they really WANT anything different, or just a more artful re-hash of the expected iconic imagery?

Assuming they want to break the mold, well, what is the message of the spot? "We're competent experts on your side" is a common theme. Or you could work backwards from results: from people who have won their cases and are enjoying whatever. Some scenarios:

Couple playing with young child in the park. Lawyer in foreground, mentions this couple needed help with adoption or custody.

Recovering accident victim getting the cast cut off their arm and going home, the figure intones how their firm got a fast settlement.

Front door of a home being replaced with a nice new one, speaker talks about help with re-organization and bankruptcy or etc.

Those images are selling the customer benefit: positive results. You want the customers to identify with the winning clients, and this spot features people over things.

Another way to personalize this is to make one person represent the whole outfit. Typically, this is done with an uncomfortable guy or gal stiffly posed against a wall of books or a conference room. But how about instead, you make it a story:

Bedside clock radio large in frame goes off at an early hour, you can tell someone gets out of bed and wanders off to get cleaned up and dressed, but that's all out of focus. The shot moves along the edge of the bed and nightstand to reveal stacks and stacks of law reference books and note pads, a laptop (might have the firm's logo on there somewhere) with notes on it, evidence someone was up late in bed, researching a case. Next shot is a tight shot of someone eating breakfast with the paper and still more notes and books crowding the breakfast table, alternating slurps of cereal with hand-written notes.. Then a commuter shot, and the person is seated on a bus, rummaging thru a briefcase and putting papers in order. All these shots so far only feature the person's torso or a view of them from an odd angle, not showing their face. Next shot is that briefcase being laid on a defense table in a court room, and NOW, the shots open up and pull back to reveal the lawyer, fully briefed and prepared, ready to take on the case and win it. All thru this, your narration would talk about how much effort is put into each case and each client's unique needs, about a record of success and people who are driven to win on your behalf.

Another way to go could be to shoot inside a car, all POV from the passenger side looking at the driver, as the lawyer/spokesman talks about what goes into making a case, about working with and for people, and why he or she likes working for xyz firm. You could inter-cut traffic lights changing from red to green as they talk about cutting thru red tape and navigating the process, the way a commuter navigates morning traffic. that's a little more "high concept", but if this is a high end firm we're talking about, it could be made pretty slick (be sure to use a process car trailer for shooting this, so the driver only has to concentrate on talking. Got to be safe.

Here's an idea for a different graphic approach: do the expected long trucking camera move flying over law books, scattered on a table. Now, as camera flies in lower, the scale changes and the books become the high walls of a maze-like canyon of what to most of us is incomprehensible legal stuff. But projected on the white edges of the closed books, are your shots of the staffers on the phone, researching, and pleading a case. The narration talks about negotiating the legal maze with experienced guides who serve your interests and won't quit, and the camera flies back up out of the "canyon" as the cover of one of the law books flips open. The page inside is the firm's name, logo, tag phrase, etc.

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Mark AlexanderRe: Corporate B roll suggestions
by on Sep 27, 2013 at 7:08:56 pm

Chris and Mark,

Thank you for your replies. I like those ideas. My challenge though is that I am confined to working inside their offices on a one day shoot. You're right, Mark - those iconic images work because it's what the viewer expects and because it is seemingly the only shots to be had in the office itself. I'd like to try and break the pattern a little but still need to work within the constraints of the lawyers tight schedules. I will keep these ideas you suggested. Again, thank you.

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Nick GriffinRe: Corporate B roll suggestions
by on Sep 27, 2013 at 8:43:18 pm

If you're stuck in an all too familiar environment, try looking at it from very different points of view. For example, put a camera, maybe even a tiny GoPro behind the law book that's being removed from the shelf. That will cut nicely with the medium front view.

Another thing is to approach the cliches using extreme close-ups: note taking, fingering skimming a brief or a law book, eyes darting back, and forth, tapping a pencil, dialing a phone. All of these can produce a very cinematic look when cut with establishing shots.

Try high camera shots with cross-over activities in the foreground. Try POV camera shots where you enter the firm through their impressive glass doors and go through their elegant lobby.

Anyway, just a few additional ideas. I shoot factories and I'm always looking for ways to enhance the work and avoid completely falling into the cliches.

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Mark AlexanderRe: Corporate B roll suggestions
by on Sep 27, 2013 at 8:54:16 pm

Nice! Thank you.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Corporate B roll suggestions
by on Sep 28, 2013 at 12:03:55 am

"I'd like to try and break the pattern a little but still need to work within the constraints of the lawyers tight schedules."

This is why all the competing spots look the same; they are all telling themselves the same thing. This is not going to change until you break the old pattern by asking questions.

Ask the client some time what they think about breaking away from the stereotypes, and they *might* surprise you.

If they love the stereotypes, then, well, maybe you can project the stock images onto rotating 3-d cubes or something, or do a Prezi style fly-around with the images and text.

Good luck!

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