Class is in session. Undoubtedly you’re here because of the thrilling course title: Corporate Video 101. But, there’s truly never a dull moment in corporate video production.

You get to work with diverse clients, big and small, to create training and recruitment videos, testimonials, broadcast commercials, social media content, explainer films, branded content, and everything in between. Plus, unlike that indie zombie-slasher film you’re looking to shoot on weekends, you’ll actually get paid for your time and effort!

Let’s go over the syllabus: In this course we’ll go over building your filmmaking brand, finding corporate video opportunities, tips and tricks for all stages of production (pre-production, production and post-production), and to how to market and capitalize on your finished work. There’s a lot to cover. Let’s jump in.

Finding Clients

Cropped view of businessman signing contract at boardroom table Image downloaded by at 7:10 on the 15/06/15

To begin, you’ve got to find work. Whether you’re a full-time freelancer or someone looking to make extra income outside of a regular gig, your client-finding skills will be the same.

Networking

Networking

Networking is your best option for meeting new clients (along with contacts, collaborators, and friends). While there are services you can use to get leads and put your brand in front of those needing corporate videos, those options will never be as strong as meeting someone organically and having an actual conversation.

It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, so network with people who share common interests. Video production is a great place to start. Be yourself, share what it is about video production and filmmaking that you enjoy, and see if there are any opportunities to use your talent and passion to help others. Additionally, you can try these methods.

Making the Pitch

Pitch

After you’ve made some connections and have some potential clients, you may be asked to pitch your (or your company’s) services to create corporate videos. Now, keep in mind that a good pitch is much more than a well-typed document (although, that is still undoubtedly very important).

To deliver a stellar, impossible-to-ignore pitch, you must understand your client and show them exactly how your services will help their bottom line. You can accomplish this by researching their business and background and proving your own brand to be a subject-matter expert. If you can tackle these aspects upfront, the proposal will come down to semantics.

Here’s more on the nuances of pitching corporate video.

Writing the Script

Caucasian man writing in cafe

Once you’ve landed your project, it’s time to tackle the most important part of shooting corporate video: pre-production.

Pre-production involves some major decisions. What will your video look like and how will everything will fit together? Since you’re working with someone else’s needs in mind, you’ll have to work closely with your client to stay on the same page — you don’t want any changes popping up later in production when it’s too late to address them.

The first part of pre-production is the scripting stage. Corporate video scripts vary in detail and scope and often don’t resemble the uniform Hollywood film style you may be familiar with. Corporate video scripts are usually a combination of storyboards, shot lists, and call sheets, as they need to pass between producers, directors, and clients for feedback. Again, the more work you put into your script (and the more feedback you incorporate), the easier the rest of production will become.

Here are some great templates and tips to try out on your next script:

Scheduling

Schedule

The other main part of pre-production includes the careful scheduling and logistical planning of shooting and editing. While you may be a one-man band — producing, shooting and editing everything yourself — you’ll still need to treat yourself as three distinct people. Just because you can do all three doesn’t mean you can do them all at once.

A good schedule keeps in mind your strengths and weaknesses as a video production professional in addition to the needs of your project and client. Be conservative with your predictions of how long it will take to film non-actors. Include ample time for setting up, tearing down, and lunch breaks. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver than the opposite. (And the same is true with editing.)

Here are some good resources for scheduling corporate shoots:

Shooting

Video Production Written on a Lens of Camera. Closeup View, Selective Focus, Lens Flare Effect. Video Production Written on a SLR Camera Lens. 3D Illustration.; Shutterstock ID 403875643

Corporate video production, while varying from project to project, has changed drastically in the last fifteen years with the advent of digital cameras. These “prosumer” model cameras have made production much less expensive and much more accessible to many filmmakers.

It’s also allowed for more deviation and experimentation in terms of setups and production techniques. At a bare minimum, the only things you need these days are a camera, a tripod or rig, sound recording equipment, and lighting.

For your camera, you have options; you can spend thousands of dollars or you can spend the cost of your wireless plan and shoot with a smart phone. Here are some helpful posts that break down the categories and options to consider.

Recording Audio

Remote control for audio recording . Mixing console for audio recording with earphone on it.; Shutterstock ID 324736256

You need the highest-quality audio possible. Low-grade video is forgivable in a way that low-grade audio is not. At times it may feel more authentic to have something filmed “in the moment” — but it’s all for naught if the audio is too soft or loud for anything to be understood.

Unless you’re working with a camcorder or camera that has high-quality audio recording built in, use an external audio recorder coupled with a good shotgun mic or wireless lapel set. Here are some other recommendations for gear and recording.

Lighting

Video Lighting Led; Shutterstock ID 430248094

Lighting is another important part of corporate video production. Not many amateurs seem to consider it when shooting content for their companies or brands, but it can make a huge difference.

It doesn’t always need to be an elaborate setup either. Sure, you can make great use of a production studio for some beautifully lit productions (which is ideal if you’re working with a green screen), but you can usually make do with a simple three-piece lighting setup. Furthermore, if you’re shooting outside or in a particularly well-lit area, you may be able to get by with a reflector or single key. Here are some more tips.

Production Tips

Operator holding clapperboard during the production of short film outdoor in the night with sportive yellow car and actor on stage. Focus on the clapperboard and monitors; Shutterstock ID 334047899
Operator holding clapperboard during the production of short film outdoor in the night with sportive yellow car and actor on stage. Focus on the clapperboard and monitors; Shutterstock ID 334047899

Overall, your production will go best when it tightly follows all the work you put into your schedules and a scripts. Here are some additional tips and tricks for getting the most out of your production.

Setting Up the Review Process

Editing time line; Shutterstock ID 370937222

If you were diligent in scripting and shooting, post-production should be as simple as choosing the best takes and dropping them into a storyboarded outline. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. As such, set up a review system with your client early in the post-production process. Establish expected check-ins and review points. The greatest drag on post-production is having too many revisions not thoughtfully compiled together.

Editing

video editor with computer and professionnal video camera; Shutterstock ID 300213038

Once your review process is in place, editing basically becomes a high-level decision-making process. Do you like shot one or shot two better? Do you like shot two before or after shot three? Good editing is an art form, but it can be aided by the right tools.

It’s important to edit on machines and software you know well. For corporate video, the industry standards are Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and Avid. Here are some more tips and techniques for editing professional videos.

Choosing Music

Music

Music is another aspect to keep in mind for your corporate video. There are some situations where you may only want diegetic sound, but the majority of the time, background audio gives videos a more professional feel and tempo.

Picking and properly securing music can be a rather tricky subject for corporate video. Your options may be limited by who your client is and where and how the video will be used. No matter what, your music needs to be licensed and royalty-free to avoid YouTube and Vimeo takedowns and potential legal trouble.

There are some free options out there, but we recommend PremiumBeat.com for their royalty-free audio and diverse library. Here are some tips to keep in mind when making your selections.

Getting Final Approval

Frame

Once you have your video finished, share it with your client for the all-important final sign-off. There are some great review programs like Frame.io and Wipster available for real time revisions and feedback. You can also upload privately to Vimeo or Youtube to get final OKs.

Marketing

Business team drinking champagne and celebrating success in office

When you’re video is signed off on and delivered, it’s often up to you to sing your own praises. Depending on your agreement with your client, you may be able to host or link to the video on your personal pages. Share it around. Get feedback from friends and start the process all over again!

There’s no final exam for students of Corporate Video 101 — corporate video production never really ends. Hopefully you’ll be able to use some of this advice to improve your skills and get more and better projects in the future. If you’d like more tips, tricks, techniques, and advice, check out some of the links below.

Top image by wellphoto