Prepping Interviews for Corporate Video

corporate video testimonial videos video production

This week continues our look at the relatively simple yet powerful testimonial video and how you can create your very own. To recap, a testimonial video's main content is the unscripted answers a person delivers based on questions asked by an interviewer. Testimonial videos can also include b-roll footage and a music track. These types of promotional videos can be a great way to effectively communicate the value that a business offers. People respond to word-of-mouth recommendations, and if you're a startup business this is often the most powerful way to gain trust and grow.

Here, we will be looking at the steps you can take during pre-production (preparations before the shoot day) to ensure that your shooting and interviewing go well and leave you with high quality content to work with in the edit room. Some of the points made here will be straightforward and logistical, while others will be more conceptual and strategical. Let's start with our first tip.

Tip #1 - Figure Out Your Messaging

Determine the Key Message

Determining the messaging for any type of video or marketing content is an important initial step. It can be tempting to start writing down questions for your interview subjects right away and then just go ahead and start shooting. However, it's best to figure out the key message you want the video to deliver, and direct your interview questions accordingly.

Oftentimes there will be several ideas that come to mind, especially when it comes to the testimonial video. You could guide the interview in a direction to focus on a business's end product or service, a particular aspect of that product, on the people behind the business, or the problem that their business solves, etc. While it can be tempting to include several different points that provide insight into all the wonderful ways a business is effective, this can cause the video to be less impactful by not focusing in on one clear, understandable, and strong message.

So, how do you define the core message for a testimonial video? At BiteSite, we like to meet with our clients and have a whiteboard brainstorming session. For testimonial videos, this session typically lasts about one hour and involves a lot of discussion on all the ideas for the video. By the end of this meeting you'll likely have several different key messages. Circle each key message so they stand out from all of the other information and ideas you'll have written down during the meeting. Then, decide on one or two key messages to focus on in your video.

Apply The Key Message To Your Interview Shoot

Once you've determined the direction you want to take the video, you'll need to apply that to an unscripted interview shooting scenario. It will be necessary to guide an interview in a particular direction since the interviewee will be delivering answers of his/her own accord and is likely unaware of what answers you're looking for. Besides knowing that the purpose of the interview is to speak favourably on a particular company, the interview subject won't know that you're wanting to focus in on one or two particular aspects about that business. In fact, it's best that the interview subject feels as free as possible in expressing themselves, even if that means communicating not as favourable sentiments about the company in question. Having an authentic and unscripted interview is an important factor in crafting an impactful video.

Despite this, you can prepare for and conduct the interview in such a way to draw out the answers you want from the interviewee as best you can. To do this, write down the ideal answers that you would want to hear from the interview subject, essentially writing out a script for your unscripted video. From these ideal answers, create the questions you would ask to get those answers. Those are the questions to ask in the interview. While it's unlikely that your interview subject will deliver your ideal answer word-for-word and sometimes will even give unexpected answers, your questions will now have a much better chance of getting the best answers from your interviewee that support the key message of the video. Once your interview questions have been crafted, that's it; you don't' want to be feeding lines to your interviewee or directing their answers to suit your messaging. It's worth mentioning again that the interviewee should feel as free as possible to deliver any answer they want.

To summarize, have a whiteboard session to determine a key message, write out ideal answers that support that key message, and then create interview questions that would warrant those ideal answers.

Tip #2 - Scheduling Your Interviews

Scheduling interviews is all about having a smooth-flowing and low-stress shoot day in order to save on everyone's time and get the best content possible from your interviews. Oftentimes it will be fitting to conduct just one interview at the interviewee's place of business. Other times, you'll be conducting multiple interviews to include in one testimonial video and the time and effort will compound. Each shoot requires travel time, setup and tear-down time, and correspondence with each interviewee to coordinate time and location. This is where it can be quite valuable to strategically schedule your interviews. The single-most effective way to save on your own time is to conduct all the interviews in one day, at one location. If conditions allow for that, it can make a lot more sense than setting up multiple sets over the course of several days. Understandably, this isn't always possible as you might be dealing with several people's schedules and trying to find one day where everyone is available to meet up at specific time periods.

Proving that it's not always possible to have the most ideal shooting schedule, we at BiteSite have produced videos where the shooting schedule differed considerably from project to project. Sometimes shoots have involved one interview at one location, multiple interviews in multiple locations (crossing cities and even countries!), and multiple interviews all at one location. It all depends on the project's unique scenario.

Tip #3 - Do a Location Scout

Check out the location before you shoot there. Doing a location scout saves you from having any unfortunate surprises on the shoot day. After having everything and everyone arrive at the location on the shoot day, you don't want to have any unforeseen disturbances that make shooting either less than ideal or flat out impossible. While you don't need to become a location scout expert (you can in fact hire professional scouts to search out and find suitable locations for your shoots), it's worth at least visiting the location before the shoot day to make sure it's workable. Some things that could warrant a change of location might be audio issues such as a persistent and loud ventilation system or lack of a private and quiet shooting area in an otherwise noisy office environment. Smaller things to look for could be control over lighting (window light can become an issue), access to power outlets, and accessibility (stairs vs. elevators, and parking).

Additionally, visiting the location allows for time to plan how you want to setup your shoot in terms of framing and lighting. This can help to reduce time-spent on the shoot day and keep things moving along smoothly.

Tip #4 - Conduct A Pre-Interview

Pre-Interviews are a very effective way to prep for interview shoots. In fact, this is probably the most important point made in this article. Having your interview subject deliver the best answers in the best way is going to be key in creating an effective video. Pre-interviews can help a lot to achieve this. So, what is a pre-interview?

A pre-interview is a casual conversation that you have with your interview subject at some point before the actual interview shoot. This conversation can be done in any manner, whether that's in-person, online through voice and/or video, or over the phone. During the pre-interview you're looking to learn things that may influence your questions on the shoot day as well as establish comfort and trust with the subject so that they feel able to express themselves as best they can on camera. Generally, you're looking to have that initial meeting (especially if you've never met the interviewee before) to establish comfort and set the stage. Going through this process will also refresh and prep both your and the interviewee's minds so that you're both mentally on-the-ball for the interview. Having a pre-interview can be the difference between "uhh I can't recall at the moment..." to "there's a great story behind that...". When it comes to influencing your actual questions, the pre-interview can be very helpful; you may learn new things that inspire new and relevant questions that you otherwise would not have thought of or would not have been as well prepared for on the interview day.

Up Next

That covers four important tips to consider when it comes to preparing for an interview video shoot. In our next post we'll be going over ways to improve the skills of conducting the interview on set. Until next time, happy interviewing!

Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

4 Great Music Services For Your Videos

corporate video video production

Whether you're creating a commercial promo video, interview testimonial, documentary, animated explainer, etc., the music track will be an important ingredient in the overall effectiveness of the video. While it's true that creating high quality video content largely relies on the fundamentals of video production (things such as having your frame look good and recording quality audio), the music track can be the element that elevates your video to a higher and more effective level of communication.

In fact, the music track you select plays a key role in the overall feeling a video gives off. While the spoken message of the video might remain the same, the emotional impact it leaves on a viewer can be greatly influenced by the music. At times you will have a lot of freedom in choosing what style of music you go with, and other times you'll be looking for a specific sound.

In this post, we'll be looking at 4 different websites that are all unique in their music offerings and license terms, and together should be a well-rounded song solution for almost any video project. At BiteSite, we've utilized all of these sites for our many and varied videos. We'll also mention a couple of additional options that work for either zero-budget productions or productions where you're looking for a more original or unique style of song selection.

After looking at these valuable resources, we'll go over some strategies that you can use on these sites to make your quest for the right song a little faster and more effective.


It should also be noted that while the licensing terms differ for each site (outlined below) all of them require that you pay a licensing fee in order to use their tracks. While there are always many terms and conditions outlined for licenses, you will generally be interested in two things: the term and the usage. The term refers to how long the license lasts before it expires (if it ever expires), and the usage refers to how many projects you're allowed to use the song in. Additionally, terms can change depending on the use of the video. For example, if a song is to be used in a paid advertisement, its terms and cost will generally differ.

We won't be going deep into all the legalities of music licensing in this post. The purpose here is to offer some options for music collections and outline generally how they compare so that you can be better equipped when going about selecting music for your own video project. Music selection can be a daunting process and sometimes requires a lot of time to be put into previewing tracks online. We hope this information makes that process a bit easier.


AudioJungle is the first site we used at BiteSite for selecting our music tracks. It offers decent quality music tracks at low prices. Their site's current tagline reads "royalty free music and audio tracks from $1". While AudioJungle does offer cheaper prices than the others, it requires that you re-purchase the song every time you use it in a new project. The term however is ongoing; you can use the track indefinitely once purchased. The one-time-use stipulation can be reason enough for some to not use AudioJungle at all. Once purchasing a song, it's nice to know that you can use it as much as you want, essentially getting more bang for your buck. However, if you're confident the song won't be used again or you wouldn't mind repurchasing, AudioJungle's licensing may not be as much of a problem.

AudioJungle does also offer higher priced tracks, with the general quality of music increasing with the price. Generally though, you'll have a harder time finding a quality track to suit your video.


Pond5 is similar to AudioJungle, yet differs in its licensing terms and generally offers a higher quality of music at higher prices. Pond5 offers the majority of its selection for an unlimited number number of projects, and also for an unlimited amount of time. For this reason only, we've said goodbye to AudioJungle and have used Pond5 ever since. You never know when a client might come back asking for a re-edit or a new version of a video to put out. Not having to repurchase the song is a nice thing to have in these cases. Even if it's not planned outright, knowing that you can use a song in multiple projects if needed offers peace of mind. As mentioned, we've also found that the quality on Pond5 is generally better in comparison to AudioJungle.


MusicBed differs greatly from the sources mentioned so far and is generally used for scripted videos that are looking to inject a lot of emotion and tone into their messaging. MusicBed provides very high quality music from legitimate musicians who create tracks that you could imagine hearing in a Hollywood movie, documentary, or high-gloss commercial video. You could classify a lot of the songs MusicBed offers as singer-songwriter style music.

Most of MusicBed's licenses are perpetual and single-use only. That is, while a song can be used for an indefinite amount of time once purchased, it can only be used for one individual project.

Since the quality is so high, you're probably assuming the tracks from MusicBed are therefore quite a bit more pricy, and you're right. However, Musicbed recently started offering a subscription-based payment plan that makes their songs quite a bit more affordable. Plans differ based on who is using them (personal vs. business), but generally these plans are a great option if you're putting out multiple videos a month.

It's quite impressive that Musicbed has a subscription-based payment plan for such high-quality songs and can be a very attractive option if it's the type of music you're looking for.


Filmstro differs substantially from the previous three options in terms of its service offering. Filmstro offers a software application that can integrate with most editing apps that allows you to customize how a particular music track sounds. To see how it works, you can visit their website. Basically, you have three parameters that you can modify in each song: Momentum, Depth, and Power. Each song can therefore be adjusted considerably. We've found this functionality that Filmstro offers to be very effective. It's clear that a lot of thought and ingenuity went into the creation of this software.

When it comes to its application, you can adjust a song to match your edit rather than vice-versa. Normally you would be editing your video to match a song's beat, length, or intensity. With Filmstro, the song can be adjusted to match your edit just as you need. As well, finding the right tone for your video becomes a little easier. Using other sites, you'll find songs that are almost right, but are just a bit too fast or have something in them that makes them not right. Filmstro can generally solve this issue with it's added functionality.

In terms of quality, Filmstro generally offers high quality tracks that you could argue rival Pond5's. Filmstro's tracks, while not as original and singer-songwriter as MusicBed, are generally more suited to scripted and cinematic style videos.

Filmstro is a subscription based service only and each song can be used for multiple projects for an indefinite amount of time. As with all music providers, licensing and pricing changes if you're using the music for paid-advertising.

Feel free to use the Filmstro Partner widget below to preview what Filmstro can do. (Full disclosure: By including this widget in our post, we are considered a Filmstro partner and are entitled to discounts.)

Other Options

In addition to the four options listed so far, there are also options that offer music free of charge, such as FreeMusicArchive. Generally, these sites will have lower quality music, but can be suitable for videos that are not meant to come across as super high quality. Additionally, you can support musicians on Patreon in return for usage of their music. Each musician will have their own terms outlined for how their music can be used, along with a tiered payment system with different benefits for different price-points.

How To Go About Choosing

So, once you've decided on a service to use for selecting your music, what is the best way to utilize that platform? It's always a good idea to use the search tools that each site offers to the best of their ability.

First and foremost, knowing the right keywords to use is key. Once you've begun, you should start to get a feel for what results different keywords return. You might be using words like upbeat, inspiring, cinematic, calm, alternative, etc. You can also sort your search results by popularity, price, tempo, and duration. You can also search for a well-known artist that you know of that has the sound you're going for. Sometimes songs will have names or tags of that same band (eg. Coldplay) if the song has a similar sound.

It's also a good idea to create collections of songs that are possibilities for your video. Once you have a selection of five to ten songs, you can compare them to each other and hopefully find one that works best in comparison to the rest. Most websites will allow you to curate collections of your top picks.

Another strategy that can be quite telling is to playback songs from the website as you playback your video at the same time in your editing application. This can be help in determining how a song will match up with your video. Sometimes you'll find a song that you think will work well, but when played back against your video, doesn't match as well as you thought it would. You can even take this a step further and download a preview of the song before moving forward with the purchase. The preview will have an audio watermark, making it unusable for a final cut, but you can still use the preview to determine if the song will work in the edit. Once you're confident in your song choice, you can go ahead and make the purchase.

Happy Searching

The four resources listed above should provide a solid and well-rounded solution for your song needs. Song selection usually requires a certain degree of patience as you playback sample after sample, but having these strategies and a variety in sources will hopefully help to speed up that process. While the type of project you're working on will determine how much time you want to spend on song selection, it's always a good idea to put some effort into picking out the right track.

Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

5 Tips For Editing Your Own Interview Testimonial Video

corporate video video production

This week continues our dive into all the steps involved in creating your very own interview testimonial video. Testimonial videos, whether you're creating them for your own company or for a client, are a great way to approach video production for the first time. In addition to offering a lot of value, testimonial videos are straight-forward in their creative concept and don't need to have any fancy production or editing techniques in order to end up with a professional and high quality video.

In this post we'll be outlining five important tips to consider before you start the editing process. These tips should be helpful to you whether you have a lot of experience editing under your belt, or haven't ever opened up an application like Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere Pro before. They are all in support of ensuring that your video plays back smoothly and looks and sounds great.

Once you've shot all the footage needed for the testimonial video, the editing process can begin. Editing tackles the task of crafting together a short, concise, and smooth flowing video that engages the viewer. The footage involved in many testimonial videos will consist of the interviewees delivering their answers on camera and other footage such as b-roll, graphic assets, music, and titles.

With all that in mind, let's get started.

Tip #1 - Organize

Video Timestamp:

Once you've opened up your editing application of choice and imported all of the camera footage, your next task is to determine which soundbites will work best for the edit. In some cases, you will have already heard the interview being conducted live on set (or you may have conducted the interview yourself). In these cases where you're already somewhat familiar with the content, it can be tempting to start editing right away, grabbing clips from the media pool and placing them into the timeline to craft your story.

However, starting the editing process without first organizing the footage could lead to a less than ideal edit. This can be especially true if you have a lot of footage to go through, perhaps several hours worth of interview footage.

Let's say you have an interview that lasted one hour. That one hour shooting session will likely need to be edited down into a two minute video that contains only the most relevant content from the shoot that supports the message you're trying to deliver. There will be a lot of possible structures and storylines that you could edit together, and many answers that will sound positive and valuable to include. This is where organization can help in planning out and executing an effective edit. It will also prove to be very helpful to have content based on a similar topic grouped together so that searching for certain content is less time consuming.

Organize in the App

There are a couple methods you can use to organize video footage. One method is to isolate and categorize sections of video clips using the organizational tools in the editing application you are using. All editing applications of a certain caliber will have these tools.

Organize in Writing

The second way to organize is to write out a summary of each answer given by the interview subject and then categorize each answer based on the broad topics that were covered in the interview.

This method of writing out (in a word document) a brief bullet point description of each answer may not seem as useful or worth the effort at first. However, seeing all the content laid out in writing can help to make the editing process much easier and more effective. Rather than having to sift through video footage and listen for certain topics and answers (even if they are already grouped by topic in the editing application), you can quickly skim through a word doc, identifying key words and key phrases that you're looking for to fill a particular section of the edit.

Each editor will have their own preferred method of organization, perhaps different from anything outlined here. No matter which way you go about it, organization is an important initial step in your editing process.

Tip #2 - Start With the Rough Edit

Video Timestamp:

Once the footage is organized and prepared, you can start putting together the rough edit. For our purposes, we'll define the 'rough edit' as the first video you create that includes only the interview footage and nothing else.

Most likely, you'll also have other great content to include in the edit besides just the interview footage. This content could be b-roll shots that will help to illustrate whatever is being talked about, graphic images, motion graphics, music, special effects, and more. Starting your edit by working with only the interview footage will help to ensure that the final video plays back in logical way. It can be tempting to start adding b-roll right away, experimenting with creative cuts and transitions, or even skipping to the end of the edit perhaps to create that awesome vision you had in mind for the closing titles. However, the strength and effectiveness of the testimonial video relies on its strong foundation, which is the interview itself; all other tasks should be taken care of after that foundation has been laid.

After completing this rough edit of only the interviewees answers, you should be able to close your eyes, play it back, and have it sound great and flow in a logical way from soundbite to soundbite. Naturally, the edit will look quite incomplete, plain, and choppy without the b-roll or other assets to cover up the edits. This is to be expected. When starting with only the rough edit, you're ensuring that everything you do from this point on will only be in support of a very solid and effective storyline.

Furthermore, having to go back and re-edit the main content of the edit (the interview) after you've already added in b-roll, music, and effects, will only lead to headaches. Once everything is working together, adjusting edits can sometimes have a ripple effect down the editing timeline and put other areas out of sync.

When all is said and done, the classic concept of laying a solid foundation in support of a stronger finished product holds true for video editing, especially when it comes to interview testimonial videos.

Tip #3 - Tighten Up the Edit

video timestamp:

Tightening up the edit means making sure that every cut from one shot to the next is clean and not distracting to the viewer. One way to achieve this is to make sure you don't have any pauses in a person's speech either just before or just after an edit point (and especially not just before). Imagine for a moment that a person is speaking rather quickly with cuts throughout their speech in order to remove pauses or word fumbles. If after any one of these cuts, a pause in speech is left in, it makes the cut that much more noticeable. Having the person speaking right from the first frame of a cut keeps the viewer engaged and less distracted by all the edit points.

It should be noted as well that pauses or even word fumbles can sometimes work when left in the edit. These are called 'motivated' edits. Pauses in speech can in fact support a point that is being made. In these cases, it will be clear that the pause was intentional and supports the storyline. Most of the time these pauses will come in the middle of a person's speech, but sometimes can be left in even just before or after an edit point. There are no hard and fast rules, only guidelines. Generally, it's best to keep your edit tight with minimal pauses at the edit points.

Tip #4 - Clean up the Edit

video timestamp:

Similar to tightening up the edit, cleaning up the edit means removing any word fumbles, 'ums', or pauses. Cleaning up is less to do about timing and having clean edit points, and more to do with removing unflattering or unnecessary content. Removing instances like these will support the interview subject in appearing the best that they can and also aids in keeping the viewer engaged. While it's not necessary to remove every single 'um' or stutter, sometimes having too many of them in your video will give the impression that the video was not crafted with care, and it may lose some of its effectiveness.

When it comes to pauses in speech, they can be noticeable errors as well, especially during a fast-paced cut. In another case, a person may say "um" more than is preferable (I confess that I am a heavy 'um'-sayer when on camera). Other examples of unwanted content include word stutters, coughing, visual or auditory distractions off-camera, the interviewer's voice, or echos that trail on from just before the edit point.

Tip #5 - Add in B-Roll

video timestamp:

Our final tip to improve your edit is to include b-roll. So far, all of the tips have been regarding the main content (interview answers) of the testimonial video. Here, we are focusing on video footage that is other than the main interview, also known as b-roll. Including b-roll in your edit not only plays a big part in keeping it engaging and visually appealing, but can also be very helpful in covering up edits that you don't want to show.

It depends on the editing style you're going for, but for testimonial videos you'll oftentimes prefer to not see any 'jump-cut' edits in a person's speech. That is, cutting from the same shot of a person to the exact same shot of them again, causing them to 'jump' in the edit. For an example of this jump-cut style of editing, just check out the video posted along with this blog! Jump-cut editing can work if the video has a more care-free feel and is not intended to appear as a polished piece meant to fit in with a brand or sell a product or service. Jump-cut editing has long been the preferred editing style for YouTubers as it allows for quick edits without the need to spend time covering up those edits with b-roll or recording multiple takes to get the perfect delivery with no mistakes.

Most of the time, b-roll will not include any audio and can be overlaid on top of the interview footage. This creates the effect of still hearing the interviewees answers while you are seeing something else in the video. For example, the subject may be answering the question of why they like a particular product, while the b-roll is showing the person in a separate location using that product.

B-roll does not need to directly relate to what is being said (an editing technique sometimes referred to as "mickey-mousing"), as long as it relates to the overall subject of the video. Showing the interview subject walking down the street might not relate directly to their career history, but still relates to the main subject of the video. You surely would not want to show totally unrelated b-roll, as can sometimes be seen in less cared-for edits, perhaps where stock footage is being used (stock footage has a greater chance of appearing less than motivated).

However you go about adding b-roll, whether you're using it cover up edits or simply to add to the storyline and keep the video engaging, you can be sure it will improve the edit over-all. For tips on shooting great b-roll footage, you can check out our last post on this blog.

Edit Away!

That covers five important areas to consider before you start editing a testimonial video. Of course, editing involves many more subtleties and tasks, as well as many techniques and workflows that can be used to your benefit. For now, these five tips should aid in getting you started down the right path. Once learned and performed, you should be able to dive into your edit with less hassle, at a faster pace, and end up with better video in the end!

Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

Fixing Rails + Carrierwave + Amazon S3 403 Forbidden Error

amazon s3 carrierwave coding software ruby on rails

So we've been using CarrierWave for a long time now for our Ruby on Rails projects. Even when we converted to direct upload, we were still using CarrierWave for image processing. It has stood the test of time and I've heard from other developers that it offers more flexibility than ActiveStorage in its current state.

The Problem

We were implementing a very basic CarrierWave solution over the past while to upload files and attach them to an active record. The requirement was that the files that were uploaded needed to be publicly visible (so default CarrierWave behaviour). It's was very standard, basic CarrierWave:

  • Create an Amazon AWS Account
  • Create an IAM User that has full access to S3
  • Create a Rails initializer to use the IAM User Keys and Fog/AWS
  • Create a CarrierWave Uploader and attach it to the ActiveRecord model
  • Add the appropriate fields to the form
  • Get the user to upload files!

All good! This is what we've been doing for years and things have been working great.

But during this implementation, we got the following error:

Excon::Error::Forbidden (Expected(200) <=> Actual(403 Forbidden)
  :body          => "<?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"UTF-8\"?>\n<Error><Code>AccessDenied</Code><Message>Access Denied</Message><RequestId>(obfuscated)</RequestId><HostId>(obfuscated)</HostId></Error>"
  :cookies       => [
  :headers       => {
    "Connection"       => "close"
    "Content-Type"     => "application/xml"
    "Date"             => "Thu, 14 Mar 2019 12:34:03 GMT"
    "Server"           => "AmazonS3"
    "x-amz-id-2"       => "(obfuscated)"
    "x-amz-request-id" => "(obfuscated)"
  :host          => "(obfuscated)"
  :local_address => "(obfuscated)"
  :local_port    => 49582
  :path          => "(obfuscated)"
  :port          => 443
  :reason_phrase => "Forbidden"
  :remote_ip     => "(obfuscated)"
  :status        => 403
  :status_line   => "HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden\r\n"

What was going on?

Realization of the issue

So it turns out the issue has to do with the fact that what we needed and what Carrierwave by default is set up to do does not play nicely with Amazon's current default S3 settings. We needed our app to upload files and make them publicly visible. However, when you create a new S3 bucket - it is not by default set up to allow that.


So how to you fix it? You want to go to your bucket and click on the "Permissions" tab. From there you want to make sure that both "Block new public ACLs and uploading public objects" and "Remove public access granted through public ACLs" are set to false. There is a little "edit" link in the upper right to allow you to set this. You can even read the little blurb about these settings if you hover on the "i" icon when you go to edit and you'll see that these control, you'll see that these affect objects uploaded with public ACL settings.

So set those to false and that should resolve the issue.

Be careful

Now one thing I should mention is that you might want to be careful when it comes to your app and your specific security requirements. Our app was all about posting public files. If you're in a situation where you need more fine grained privacy control or are dealing with sensitive files, you might want to look into creating custom policies and custom users. The solution I've detailed here is a barebones, public file upload solution. It's also a good way to just get things going if you're in a prototyping phase or in that phase where you just needs to get things working.

Hopefully this helped some of you out.

Thanks for reading.

Casey Li
CEO & Founder, BiteSite

5 Tips for Shooting Better B-roll

corporate video video production

When it comes to shooting testimonial videos (or any video for that matter), there are several things you can do to make sure your video comes out sounding and looking great. In our last post, we looked at three tips for shooting better interviews. Here, we'll be looking at another aspect of the interview video: ways to shoot better b-roll. B-roll is often a key element in putting together a video, and it can sometimes make or break your edit. It's important to do b-roll right. B-roll can also be the small touch that takes your video to the next level in terms of its visual quality. This being the case, we're going go take a look at everything you should consider when it comes to using b-roll most effectively in your next video.

First of all, what is b-roll exactly?

What is B-roll?

B-Roll constitutes any footage that is secondary to and compliments the main content, or A-Roll footage, of a video. In an interview testimonial video, the interview itself is the A-Roll while the B-roll is any other shot included in the edit. For example, if you have a CEO being interviewed about his business, the b-roll could be shots of his employees working at their desks, computer screens showing the software in action, or people interacting in the office.

Sometimes every shot in a video might be considered b-roll. This can be the case in event coverage videos where all the shots share equal importance in the edit and there is no one shot that is consistent throughout. As well, you can have videos where all you have is the main content with no b-roll footage to spice up the edit. This can be suitable in the case of a quick talking-head video where someone is talking to the camera at length with no need to cut away to anything else. No matter the case, b-roll will always help to improve an edit.

The Advantages of B-Roll

So, if b-roll is secondary to the primary content of a video, does it follow that it is also of secondary importance? This is arguable; it really depends on what style of video you're going for. Generally b-roll is of secondary importance, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort. In the case of an interview video, the main content is more important because without it, you would have no video. However, oftentimes a video will seem incomplete or dull without any b-roll. For example, if you have an interview that is all about the new renovations that have just been done at a particular location, it might seem quite strange to have no b-roll footage showing the final result of those renovations.

B-roll can be more or less advantageous, depending on the type of video. Overall however, it's safe to say that having b-roll in your video can only work to improve it, as long as the footage is of an acceptable quality.

Let's look at some specific ways b-roll can improve your video.

Show rather than tell

In any situation where you have someone talking about a subject in your video, it will always improve the video immensely to adequately show, in the form of cutaway b-roll shots, what it is that the person is talking about. Sometimes the decision to include b-roll in the edit is quite obvious, and the video would seem incomplete without it.

For example, at BiteSite, we filmed a recruitment video for a company looking to hire. Besides the professionalism, warmth, and enthusiasm shown by the interview subjects, it was also very effective to show what the workplace was like (using b-roll) in order to entice potential employees to apply for a position. You can view that video here.

In other cases where b-roll isn't absolutely necessary, it still does a great job in more fully conveying what a person is communicating. Consider another topic; an entrepreneur talking about their experience over the past several months in a coaching program. Getting shots to illustrate what they are speaking on can help to convey the experience that they had more fully. You might have that person interacting with others, working in the location that the program took place in, or have detail shots of the location that might be relevant to what is being said.

Hold Attention

B-Roll is also very effective in holding a viewer's attention. Constantly cutting away to different shots keeps the video interesting and engaging. Rather than staring at the same shot for a lengthy period of time and perhaps getting tired or bored, the viewer is constantly being shown new and interesting images. To illustrate this point further, you can also imagine a video to be more engaging even when there is only one other shot added to the main a-roll shot. For example having one interview filmed at two different angles (showing two slightly different backgrounds), can help to reduce the potential of viewers becoming bored and clicking away. At least there is one element (the second camera) that can be used to switch up the shot.

Cover Up Edits

B-Roll can also be used to cover up cuts in the editing timeline. This is sometimes just as big a reason to capture b-roll as the reasons listed so far. If you're having an interview subject talking to the camera, and you cut out a long pause or fumble in their speech, you're going to have a "jump" in the video where the person suddenly jumps ahead in time. Sometimes this jump-cut style of editing can actually suit the style of the video. However, when the video isn't meant to have jump-cuts, then you really don't want any at all; they stand out like a sore thumb. If you're planning to cut up the interview in post (rather than having a long-form conversation with no edits), you'll want to shoot b-roll simply as a way to cover up these a-roll edits.

Tips on Shooting B-Roll

Hopefully you now have a solid understanding of what constitutes b-roll and why it can be so beneficial to a video. While having b-roll is great, you also want to have the best possible b-roll you can get. There are some things you can do to make sure the b-roll shots you have are quality and will work well in your edit.

Shoot as much as you can

For unscripted videos, it's not certain how many shots you'll need for the edit or even what type of shots will work best to compliment the A-roll. This being the case, it's good to go by the phrase, "better safe than sorry" when it comes to how much b-roll you shoot. Hopefully you'll have an idea of what the most important b-roll shots are (key people, details, or moments that will be important to the storyline of the video), but after you've captured those shots, shoot more!

Having a lot of variety in the edit room will allow you to be flexible and creative, resulting in a video that is best suited to your vision. As well, variety oftentimes leads to creative and engaging edits that otherwise would not have been possible; you'll find yourself telling small little side stories in your b-roll shots. A quick montage of people laughing as an interview subject talks about the positivity of a certain group of people can be the perfect creative beat for the edit. You'll oftentimes be relieved to have gotten a certain shot rather than not. As well, you never know if a client or colleague might come back asking if you happened to get a shot of this or that... it's always nice to have that shot in your back pocket!

Shoot a Variety of Content

While it's good to have ample b-roll to play with when editing together the video, it's also good to ensure you have variety in what the b-roll is showing. Variety helps to better convey the message of the video and gives a fuller picture of whatever it is that is being shown. For example if you're showing what a company's workplace is like, having only still-life shots wouldn't tell the whole story; you would also want to show the people that work there as well. Additionally, capture the moments when those people are working, interacting, taking breaks, laughing, focusing, etc. Variety can also mean getting both interior and exterior shots. Perhaps having some scenic shots on a bright sunny day would really support the feeling you're after, or showing the hustle and bustle of a downtown location might help to get the viewer in touch with experience of the video's subject.

You can even consider b-roll of the a-roll itself! Having an extra camera to capture a closeup of the interviewees hands or eyes as they speak can compliment the main footage of the interview. You can also set up extra cameras to capture motion shots to inject some more energy into the interview; having a slider moving back and forth can add a more professional feel, or having a handheld camera on the subject to compliment a static tripod shot.

Shoot a Variety of Shots

While variety in subject matter is key, variety in the type of shot will help your b-roll even further. Type of shot refers to the framing of the shot (wide, medium, closeup etc) and any kind of camera motion that might be added as well. Wide shots showing the big picture of a location can help to establish a scene or show the scope of the location. Close-up detail shots can help to focus on key elements in a location that might tell the bigger picture. For example focusing in on an award hanging on the wall can portray the pride the interview subject might feel towards his work. When it comes to people, variety in shot-type helps as well. Closeups of facial expressions, or wider shots of people interacting or performing actions, will all help to fill out the edit nicely.

Adding motion to your shots can be a big help in keeping the video engaging. Depending on the feel and flow, sometimes adding a pan or tilt to the camera will work well in the edit. There are also gimbals that can be used with minimal setup time that can keep the camera moving smoothly as you walk around a location. The angle at which the camera is positioned should always be considered as well. You'll oftentimes want to be "eye-level" with whatever you are shooting, whether that's a person or an inanimate object. Angling your camera to either look down or up at whatever you're shooting should always be motivated. For example, the "hero" shot has the camera looking up at a person in order to portray them in a positive and powerful way. Drone shots looking down at a location are also very effective in establishing a location or simply injecting a professional look into a video.

Hold the Shot For At Least 5 Seconds

When shooting b-roll, it can be tempting to capture what is happening around you at a rapid pace in order to not miss anything. This can lead to very quick shots that don't stay on a subject or object long enough to be of any use to the editor in post-production. If a b-roll shot only lasts a couple of seconds long, and the editor wants it to last 5 seconds, it won't work in edit. Sometimes it's not so obvious during the shoot, and can require some extra patience, but holding every shot for at least five seconds is a safe way to ensure that it will be of use in the editing room. If you're editing your own footage, you'll definitely see the benefit of this discipline. Generally, it's always good to have keep the edit in mind when shooting.

Practice, Practice, Practice

It's also beneficial to shoot a lot of b-roll just for the practice of it. Practice in getting a variety of content and shot types. The more b-roll you shoot, the more creative and effective shots you'll find yourself capturing. Oftentimes there will come a time in your shoot where you feel you've got enough b-roll to stitch together a video. It's here that you have the opportunity to get a bit more daring and creative in your shots. You'll likely see things you hadn't before, and come across spontaneous moments that would have slipped by if the camera weren't recording. Practice shooting more to improve your shooting skills and to broaden your creative horizons.

Your Next Shoot

We hope this informations helps you out on your next shoot! Generally, capturing b-roll should be a fun and stress-free occasion, as it allows you to get creative and there's often ample opportunity to get the shots you need. Just keep in mind the things mentioned above, which is to shoot enough, and shoot well!

Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite