The Risks of DIY Production in Corporate Video

When is a communications professional also a corporate video content producer? The correct answer should be “never.”

But we’ve had budget-minded clients try to produce brand films or videos themselves.  I can understand the temptation; when price is driving decision-making and many talented professionals can be hired by the day, why not cut out the middleman and produce a company branding video yourself? This can be especially appealing on a small, internal project that will never be seen outside the company.

But before you set off down this rocky road, first consider the value of internal communications videos to your organization, and the value of your own time and energy. Much can be lost without the help of an experienced video production agency that understands your business, brand and strategy, as well as the art and craft of filmmaking.

Here’s a real-world example. I was recently contacted by a client with whom we’ve produced many projects for both internal and external use. His company started a long-term planning initiative five years ago. Since this year marks the halfway point, it wanted to conduct employee focus groups at dozens of locations worldwide to solicit feedback on the planning initiative as well as asking employees to share hopes and dreams for the company’s future.

The assignment was to conduct exit interviews with select employees after these focus groups in seven locations; four here in the United States and three overseas. Having learned from a difficult experience the last time, my client asked Tribe to ensure consistent quality in the look and feel of the videos. Five years ago, employee videos were captured at similar events in a haphazard fashion, with little or no coordination on technical or visual aspects, resulting in a patchwork of lighting, audio, framing and composition, not to mention picture quality. The edit was riddled with landmines and unexpected costs.

This time, although appropriately cost-conscious, the company wanted to make sure all the video could be used to create one seamless film that would be shown to top leadership. We developed a plan that both ensured a consistent look and feel, and was able to minimize travel costs by picking up local crew in each location.

Tribe also composed detailed guidelines and shared them with the seven two-person teams responsible for recording the interviews. It provided them with background on the project and ran through all sorts of technical directions – choosing the best location; required camera format, aspect ratio and frame rate; how to record audio; framing of shots; how to position the subjects and adjusting eye line; helping the interview subject to look their best with makeup as well as camera angle; shooting b-roll; uploading audio for transcription; and instructions on how to organize the footage for editing.

All of this is valuable knowledge we’ve gathered in decades of corporate film production, learning from experience with hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews. But the value of Tribe’s management went beyond merely composing a document. We handpicked trusted crew people in each location, then organized a conference call to review the specifications with each team prior to its shoot day.

Interestingly, in a few of the locations, our client suggested a team it was familiar with, but asked us to vet it first. It turns out that when the client reached out to one crew in a European city, we already had the same team on hold for the job! It’s a small world, indeed.

The overarching contribution Tribe provided our client was speaking both the language of filmmaking and corporate video production. By acting as the video production agency, we freed up valuable time for our client to focus on their job and not worry unnecessarily about coordinating the details of seven film shoots.

We captured the footage needed to make a compelling and creative corporate video presentation that seamlessly wove honest, authentic conversations from all corners of the client’s global operation. Our internal communications video will be seen by the most senior leadership of the company and most certainly will bring kudos to our client for a job well done. While this was a small project for Tribe, it may well be a valuable win for our client, saving him time that’s better spent using his remarkable talent and communications skills to advance the overall goals of his organization.

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“It’s one thing to understand the role of video in business communication, it’s another to know how to use video to solve actual business problems. Vern Oakley gets that.”


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