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by Dean Marsden on 10th February 2012
When the idea that Koozai would start producing digital marketing videos came up, we immediately started thinking big. We wanted our videos to be of professional quality but without the professional costs. Luckily we had already experimented with video in the past and we had a couple of softbox lights, a HD camcorder and a wired clip on mic in storage at Koozai HQ.
Set out your objectives and goals
Before rushing in to record our first video we took some time to analyse a lot of videos that are out there already, not necessarily in the marketing industry. Likes and dislikes were noted down and these lists grew to fill our whiteboard edge to edge. Reviewing other videos was a really good idea and we were able to put together a specific brief about what we wanted to achieve from our videos and how we wanted the Koozai brand to come across.
Next on the list was to check if we needed any more equipment to get started. The editing software and hardware was to be critical to our goal of being able to quickly and easily turnaround videos. Although our current PC’s were not the slowest machines, we opted to invest in a new 27inch iMac and the included iMovie did the job for what we wanted.
With a clear idea of how the videos should look, we started recording some test shots in one of our meeting rooms. We’d already decided the subject would not be lit by sunlight but it became apparent that with the blinds drawn the sunlight still drastically affected the light levels. This light was promptly blocked out using large black sheet.
When setting up the lights, we knew the traditional lighting set up would not work for our set up. We did not have the ceiling height or space behind the subject to deploy a standard three point lighting set up. We experimented with the two softbox lights in different positions; either side, one side and high and low to find what worked. An issue that caused particular difficulties was preventing the lights from being reflected on the shiny whiteboard. We squeezed in the lights either side and the shot was cropped to just the presenters head and whiteboard.
Softbox Lights - Image Credit
After a *few* takes, we published Mike’s first video:
We had already decided where the videos were going to be uploaded. We’d use Vimeo Plus to embed videos into our website and upload them to YouTube as the size of the audience there is too hard to ignore. After posting a few videos on Vimeo we realised we would need to upgrade to the business package in order to use the service as a commercial publisher. The costs involved were much higher so we looked for an alternative, Wistia looked good and we signed up for an account. (This was at the time when Vimeo had not released their new, excellent value PRO accounts).
Wistia provides good video stats and more recently has a system to customise the video player style. We also spent some time setting up and customising our YouTube Channel.
Refining the set up
Throughout the filming of the first batch of videos we found that we were looking for more space in the video composition to be able to show hand gestures and expand on the whiteboard drawings. Instead of limiting ourselves to another whiteboard we found IdeaPaint, a special paint that works like a standard dry wipe whiteboard.
At this point we decided to move the set up into its own dedicated studio room. In order to create our whiteboard wall studio we needed to have our wall re-plastered and the paint professionally applied. If you are interested in using Whiteboard paint, make sure you budget carefully as it can become costly. But we would say this, IdeaPaintis just awesome, we love it so much that we’ve also used in it one of our other office rooms.
Having moved to a bigger room, we had the opportunity to add more lights to the set up.It also helped us to add a recommendation from the SEOmoz team who advised us to add as many lights as we possibly could!
This would allow us to better light the new, larger presenting area and whiteboard. For this we got 3 more, large 5 bulb softbox lights. We also upgraded to a wireless mic to help with the ease of filming and give the presenter the freedom to walk around without worrying about tripping over wires!
With the wider composition, we again had troubles with the lights reflecting on the whiteboard wall, however we managed to find a shot that worked well enough.
Another issue we had in our new room was the colour of whites on the video footage due to the colour of the remaining three walls of the studio being a pale yellow and the thus reflecting from the brighter lights. This was easily solved by simply applying a plain white coat of paint.
Despite the brighter room, we have still had to increase the exposure of our video camera to achieve the level of whiteness we wanted in the videos. Over time we developed a nice clear image, as you’ll see in this video for Tara. Notice how much more we can show by having the whiteboard paint, how clearer the audio is and how the whiteness levels are more even.
To see Pinterest in use, follow Koozai.
The final set up
As it stands this is how our studio is set up and where everything takes place in one dedicated room.
Whether we’ve done it the way the professionals do or not, we’ve experimented and found a set up and process that works very well for us.
One More Thing
Don’t forget the importance of training your speakers. We invested in public speaking courses, which Sam looks at in more detail here.