Josh Andersen, production manager for Fred Meyer, shoots videos for Kroger grocery stores in the northwest, and, at times, for SIPA member BVR so he knows B2B. He wants your production values to be better. "Today's viewing audiences are savvy. They know regular production value and standards. Just by doing some little things, you can bring [your video] up a notch and make it look more professional."
Here are 11 takeaways from his session at last month's SIPA conference.
1. Have notes or a guide you can follow. "Everything starts with pre-production," Andersen said. "You want to think through your production before you start. I go back to what Steven Covey said—'Start with the end in mind.' What do you want this to look like when you're done?"
2. Know the message you want to convey. "What point do you want to get across? If you can't figure that out, nobody will get the message. Have a goal and message in mind. And don't let your message get lost in the technology
3. Know what your audience wants. What can you give them that they will watch? For Kroger, Andersen films things like training videos, cooking demos, talks by the company president. "When I work with BVR, I'll [do a video with] authors before their book comes out," he said. "'Here's what's new in the book, here what we're covering.' That five-minute video may take 30 minutes to produce, and the information is priceless. To hear the author tell me what's new in the book—that's amazing!"
4. Work closely with your "talent." Many people appearing on B2B videos are inexperienced, so Andersen gives them as much information as possible. He'll explain the set-up, the microphone, where they should look. "We're not the news. I don't want to stump them," he said.
5. Send out questions ahead of time if you can. That way they'll get more comfortable, and they know that you're in this together.
6. Use a teleprompter when needed. "It makes people feel more comfortable and gives them a place to look. You want them staying focused. Otherwise the viewer will wonder what they're looking at." If it's a scripted message, he asks people to read it out loud at least three times with a spouse or someone who will be honest. You want peaks and valleys in voices. "No inflection can be very 'Bueller.'" he said. "And have the talent practice with the teleprompter." He has seen his share of train wrecks. "Keep the bad performances; they will be fun to have."
7. Choose the right location. Do you want a quiet room, a noisy room? What are you going to see? Andersen will hear the ventilation in a room. "Put a mic on someone under the HVAC system," he said. Windows can appear great on a sunny day but you don't want to shoot there. Inside light isn't that bright and you won't see the person's face, "just a blob of movement." He shoots a lot in produce because it's colorful.
8. Use lapel mics. Andersen showed us the difference when he did not use the lapel mics and lights, and it was startling. The mic cancelled out the background noise we were hearing. The lights made people look much more attractive. An audience will get lost if they can't hear what the talent is saying. Clip on a mic, and people will forget they have it on. Andersen actually favors hard-wired mics over wireless ones because so much less can go wrong.
9. And use lights. "You need to light your subjects especially if you want them to come back," Andersen said. "Lighting will help them look good. One simple battery-operated light may suffice. Lighting makes a huge difference." Outdoor shooting can be ideal—with a microphone—but he said he might sometimes use a light with an orange gel in front of it to fill in shadows on people.
10. Reinforce your message. Think about what someone is saying on the video and what you can show to enhance that. "If they're talking about salmon in the salmon department, then I'm showing that salmon," Andersen said. And keep the message clear. "TV is like print in that it needs some white space," Andersen said. "You want narration to be slowed down—especially if [it's a compliance video and] people are going to be tested on it. If the message goes by way too fast, then they've just missed half of it."
11. Take generic footage that you can edit in. Once you've taken the footage—can be people walking down the sidewalk, someone logging on to your website or reading your publication—then "label it, archive it, keep it and repurpose it," Andersen said. One time Kroger even flew him to Alaska to film the fishing of salmon. Now he has video he can use every month.