THE BITESITE BLOG

The Shot List

video production corporate video

Let's look at what's involved in creating a shot list for your videos. First off, just note that our shot list template is available for download here. We've used it ourselves in many of our productions. For some context on why you might want a shot list in the first place, and an overview of what it contains, read on!

Within the plethora of tasks to be completed when producing any video, a large portion of them fall within pre-production. The type and number of tasks depend on the type of video. For example, you won't need to write a word-for-word script if you're shooting a documentary, and you won't need storyboards if you're only create an event coverage video. In that same vein, while shot lists can be useful for a variety of video types, they are best-suited for scripted videos. Scripted videos often rely on specific shots to be taken so that everything plays back logically in the edit. Given this rigid nature of scripted videos, a shot list becomes an effective tool for two main reasons...

Why Have A Shot List?

Firstly, you want a shot list in order to make clear all the logistical details that relate to capturing each shot. Going through the process of filling out the template ensures that you're considering ahead of time everything you might need and won't get stuck on a shoot day realizing you failed to consider something necessary to make the shoot successful (eg. missing a prop, piece of gear, or even forgetting to capture a shot itself).

Secondly, shot lists can be useful on the shoot day. As we'll mention below, timing is one of the ways that a shot list is most helpful. On the shoot day, your pre-planned timing for each shot should guide how long things take and will help to keep the shoot on a timed schedule. As with many shoots, not capturing everything in the planned time-slot could lead to issues such as increased financial cost, unhappy crew, and other unnecessary headaches.

Order, Number, Scene, and Description

So, let's start with the first four columns of our shot list template: Shot Order, Shot Number, Scene, and Shot Description. - Shot order refers to the order in which you plan to shoot the shots on the shoot day. - Shot number refers to the number a shot will actually take in the plot of the video. - Scene refers to any defined scenes in your script, and may be left out if your video script does not specify separate scenes. If you do have scenes, organizing shots by scene can sometimes be useful to make the shoot day seem more logical, as you're tackling each scene in one window of time, rather than jumping all around in the script and potentially confusing actors, crew, and yourself! - Description is just a brief reminder to let you know what the shot actually is.

Timing

Timing is perhaps the most useful part of the shot list. In planning the shoot, filling in the time columns allows you to estimate how long a shoot will take, allowing you to plan, schedule, and coordinate accordingly. On the shoot day itself, the time columns will be a useful reference to let you know whether you're on track and not heading towards a longer than planned shoot. Off-schedule shoots can lead to potential issues such as missing out on daylight, losing access to locations, or increased financial costs.

When it comes to Shot Duration, Start Time, and End Time, they can all be completed in such a way that it becomes incredibly efficient and easy to fill out and also tweak as you make changes after the fact. The secret to the timing columns lies in using equations that auto-fill "start time" and "end time", allowing you to input your own "shot duration" times and have the rest update automatically. Accomplishing this requires that you're using a spreadsheet application such as excel or google sheets. Fill out the columns as follows:

  • each of the three time columns must use a consistent time format that is recognized by the software. We used 00:00:00 AM/PM
  • Shot Duration will always be determined by you, with no equation being used
  • Shot End Time is simply the Shot Start time plus the Shot Duration time (the very first "shot start time" is determined by you)
  • Every additional Shot Start time simply equals the previous Shot End time.

For a visual of the equations, see below:

Additional Information

The remaining columns of Frame, Lens, Motion etc. complete the rest of the shot list. These columns pretty much take care of any additional information that must be known in order to shoot the shots. In the planning stages, filling out these columns is an exercise in diligence, making sure you have everything in order for the shoot. On the shoot day itself, these detail columns also become useful. Rather than needing to think back to the script and imagine what the framing should be or whether it's a motion shot or not, simply refer to the shot list and have that information literally at your fingertips.

Preparation + Execution = Desired Result

With scripted videos, the end result is directly related to the preparation you put into the shoot. A shot list is a fundamental tool to get things in order in the planning stages. Again, you can download our shot list template here

Timclark
Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

Software Demo Videos - How-To Tips!

video production corporate video

Demo videos are a great way to showcase what a particular software application can do. After all, that's exactly what they're meant for! There are some important tips to pay attention to when creating these types of videos, and we'll be outlining them below. First off, how can these videos be useful? Software demo videos can be used to attract potential clients, update paying customers on the latest additions to your software app, or even take the place of live webinars in order to educate people on what your app offers. While there are a variety of ways you can showcase your software in the video format, this post is specifically looking at the screencast video, where the majority of the content is comprised of screencast recordings.

One advantage of screencast videos is that they are logistically simple to produce and with minimal effort involved. Rather than having to shoot video content with a camera or create all the graphics from scratch in a motion graphics explainer style video, you are simply recording your computer screen. The only other recording aspect involves recording audio, but even that is not completely necessary; on-screen text can take the place of a voice-over audio recording if desired. Generally though, recording audio is much easier to execute than recording video. Additionally, a great option for audio is to hire a professional voice actor to take care of it for you. As for everything else involved in producing screencast demo videos, you'll still need to put in the time to edit everything together.

Before diving in, I'll note that this post is not an in depth "how-to" on creating your own screencast demo video. Rather, we will be looking at a few important tips to get you started on the right path. Let's begin!

Writing the Script

Writing a script is a key part of the process in producing a screencast demo video (or any video for that matter). To some, writing the script may not seem necessary at first. You may feel that you know your software completely, and have a clear idea of what you want to showcase in the video. This may be true, but going through the script writing process forces you to really consider what you want to include in the video and how you want everything to flow together.

In the cases where you're including a voice-over (recommended), a script becomes that much more effective. When you write out word-for-word what the voice-over is going to say, your video comes across much more professional and clear for the viewer. Rather than having a conversational tone, with filler words and the risk of going off-tangent from time to time, the script will have the voice-over actor (whoever that may be) speaking in the most helpful and concise way for the viewer. Additionally, delivering the voice-over based on a script is always a big help in keeping the length of the video to a minimum.

Recording Audio

As mentioned above, you can hire out a professional voice-over actor to record the script for you. The reason you would do this is simply to get a professional sounding video as opposed to a 'semi-professional' sounding video. Voice-over actors will send you a quality recording that would be fit for radio or television. We recently made a post here on a voice-over service that we use, so definitely check that out if you're looking to have this done. It may also be the case that you simply don't have the necessary equipment and know-how to produce your own audio recording that meets your expectations. In that case as well, having someone else get the job done for you can of course be very handy.

If you are looking to record audio yourself, besides considering all the basics of recording good audio (using a quality microphone, recorder, recording location, and voice actor), one thing that may slip your mind is to consider potential revisions in the audio recording. While a script greatly reduces the likelihood that you'll want to change the wording in the script/voice-over, there is always the possibility that you'll want to re-record part of the voice-over, perhaps a week after the original recording for example. In these cases, it's very helpful to have access to the same recording equipment, and more importantly, the same recording location. Audio recordings are greatly affected by the locations in which they're recorded due to echo and acoustics. If you re-record a part of your video in a different location, and splice in the new recording to your video edit, the change in audio characteristics will stand out like a sore thumb. So, just make sure that you either record the original audio in a scenario that can be easily reproduced (eg. inside a very small room), or that you can still get access to that same room in the future.

Recording Screencasts

Recording a screencast is perhaps the most straightforward of the activities mentioned thus far. For recording screencasts, we'll touch on a couple things. First, how do you get the job done? While there are services that are made specifically to help record screencasts, we've gotten by quite well by using the built-in functionality that the Quicktime video player offers. If you have Quicktime, feel free to use it. Just select the screen recording from the dropdown menu, select whether or not you want a full screen recording or just part of your screen, and voila... you're off to the races!

Secondly, you'll want to record screencasts in such a way that they work well in the video edit. The tip here is to take your time. You don't want to be whipping the cursor around your screen, not leaving time to have things looking and sounding as you want in the edit. The voice-over recording will largely determine the pacing of the video; you will be editing the screencast recordings to match the voice-over recording, not vice-versa. So if you don't pause on a particular part of your screencast recording for long enough for the voice-over to speak to it, you'll cause unnecessary editing in order to remedy all those timing issues (attempting to add time back in, rather than the simpler option of cutting out excess content).

Besides that, timing need not be a big consideration. You might imagine that you need to record the screencast to perfectly match the voice-over. This is not the case as you can simply make cuts in the edit to proceed quicker through the screencast than the speed at which you recorded.

Editing

Once you've recorded the screencasts and voice-over audio, everything is ready to be put together in the editing timeline. The tip here is to supplement that main content with other things in order to keep the video both organized and engaging. You can use title cards throughout the video to keep viewers aware of the main points being made (similar to the video attached to this blog post). Your software application will have multiple capabilities, and having the repetitive nature of both the screencast, audio, and title cards stating what those capabilities are will help to cement in the viewer's mind the main points that were made in the video.

You can also consider adding simple motion graphics, or even static graphics to the screencast video. Depending on what you want to communicate in a given video, a graphic will sometimes be more effective in showcasing what you're offering. The screencasts act as the tangible evidence of your product's quality, and any additional graphics can help to give context or additional information. Some examples of these graphics might be the different payment tiers that your service is available under, or perhaps help to portray the problem that your software solves before actually jumping into the software solution itself.

Demos Are For Everyone!

That covers some important tips to consider as you go to create your very own software demo video. These videos are great in that almost everyone has the capability to create them. The more time and money you invest into each production will play a part in its outcome, but at the very least, they're for anyone who wants to have a demo video of their software application. These tips can also play a big part in having your video sound and look professional. When you compare a scripted screencast video with a webinar style live-recorded screencast that is instantly uploaded to YouTube after recording, the difference is night and day. Happy recording!

Timclark
Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

Why we use Storyboards

video production corporate video marketing

As BiteSite gets more and more into scripted works, we're starting to realize the huge benefit of using a very powerful yet simple tool: Storyboards. Storyboards are a great way to answer a lot of questions and in this article we're going to explore why and how we use them.

Why bother doing storyboards?

The biggest reason we use storyboards is it gives us a preview of what the final video will look like and let us know if our vision will actually work. When you write a script and have a vague idea of what your visuals are going to look like, it's not enough to dictate what shots you're going to use and if they'll work together in the final edit.

Storyboards to the rescue!

Storyboards are a cheap way early in the production to figure out exactly what it is you're going to shoot. When you're on set, busy with squeezing in 30 or 40 shots in a 10 hour day, it can be hard to keep track of the bigger vision. By doing storyboards, you're guaranteeing that up front, your vision is going to work. Once you get to the set, things get very expensive and if you're not sure your vision is going to work, things could get very difficult.

When you do your storyboards and base your shots on your storyboards - you can concentrate on getting great shots and not whether or not things are going to flow together.

How do we use storyboards?

It's a pretty simple process that we employ at BiteSite.

  1. Everything starts with the script and a visual ideas. The script will give us a vague idea of what we'll be seeing on screen.
  2. Then using the script, we'll draw storyboards using either simple pencil and paper, or apps like Paper for iPad.
  3. After the storyboards are done, we'll sometimes edit them together in Final Cut Pro and put music to it to see how everything fits together.
  4. If all goes well, we'll base our shot list directly on the shots we see in the storyboard edit.

You don't have to be a professional storyboard artist to see how things are going to work. Just some simple drawings to guide you.

Outcome?

Our latest project with App8 showed that we stuck very close to the storyboards and we were very happy with the results.

So if you find yourself working on a video production, take some time to layout your ideas using storyboards. It'll make the shoot go a lot smoother and you'll end up with a great video in the end.

Be sure to checkout out our video above to see a side by side comparison of the App8 Promo Video storyboards and the final video.

Caseyli
Casey Li
CEO & Founder, BiteSite

Adding Professional Voice-Over to your Corporate Videos

video production corporate video video marketing

When you're creating a corporate video or working with an external video production company, you'll have a lot of choice when it comes to format. You could go live-action, animated, unscripted, scripted and more. One thing you should consider, however, is using voice-over.

Voice-over is the process of recording spoken words separate from the video and the reason we're a big fan of using it at BiteSite is that it is a relatively low-cost, low-logistics way of getting professional, high-quality videos.

Let's explore this a bit deeper.

The benefits of using voice-over

The biggest benefit to using voice-over is that it is a low-risk way to get professional quality results. When you're recording video, there is a lot that can go wrong. The lighting might be off because the sun is in the wrong place. The weather might not corporate. Your on-screen subjects might not behave the way you want them too. The location might not be ideal. There is a lot to consider. However, one thing that has a lot less risk and that almost always go well is recording voice-over.

With the right talent, voice-over can be as easy as providing a script and some direction. With as little as that, you'll end up with something that rivals broadcast television commercials.

Not too mention, if voice-over and music is all that you envision in your final video, a lot of technical logistics are removed because you don't have to record any location audio.

So for these reasons, we're huge fans of this format.

Prepping for the voice-over

At BiteSite, there are a few steps we take to prepare a voice-over. The first is writing the script. We could write a whole article on this, but obviously you need to put together a script that contains the important messages you're trying to communicate.

Next, we time the script. Reading the script in your head or just picturing how long the script will be can be dangerous in that you might be way off in terms of how long you think it'll be. What's best is to grab a timer and actually read the script aloud in the tone of voice and speed you anticipate the final product to feature.

With those two things out of the way, the script is ready.

Book your talent

Although there are many sites out there that offer voice-over work, we've dealt with two: www.voxtalent.com and www.voicebunny.com. Most of our dealings have been with VoxTalent so for the rest of this article we will speak to that. However, VoiceBunny is still a good alternative to explore.

With VoxTalent, you should start by browsing their rates. For a typical corporate video, you're looking at spending between $250.00 and $400.00 CAD. Once you're familiar with the rates, you can then browse their actors and actresses. You'll have to option of dealing with actors/actresses who can attend a recording session in person, or have them record at home. Again because of the ease of logistics, we typically pick the latter.

You'll be able to listen to their demo reels and check their availability so you can get right person for the job.

After you're happy with a candidate, it's just a matter of filling out a form and dealing with the VoxTalent agents to book your talent.

Prepare Director's Notes

After your actor or actress is booked, you'll be sending a script but also director's notes if you choose to have them record the voice-over at home. Director's notes help your talent nail the tone and style you're going for and clarify any questions they may have.

You can download a director's notes template from our downloads page https://www.bitesite.ca/download.

Here is a brief breakdown of what we include:

Project - The name of the project.

Non-disclosure - Any non-disclosure notes if you are working on a project that has not yet been announced to the public.

Type - Whether it's animated or live-action.

Talent - Name of the actor or actress selected.

Ideal Length - The final length of the voice-over (e.g. 1:10, 1 minute and 10 seconds).

Narration Tone - Notes about the tone of the voice-over (e.g. 'Serious with authority, but calm')

References - Sections of the talent's demo, or YouTube videos that are similar to the tone you are going for.

Music Inspiration - Links to samples of music that might help convey the tone.

Pronunciation Notes - Pronunciation of words that are not obvious including company names, regional words.

Wrapping it all up

After you've booked your talent, and sent them the script and director's notes, you'll play the waiting game. VoxTalent has been very responsive and in some cases had a 24 hour turn-around. However, it does vary from case to case as the actors and actresses may be booked up.

When they are finished, they'll send you an audio file that you can easily throw into your timeline of your edit and then you're all done.

Consider using Voice-over on your next project

As mentioned, video production can have a lot go wrong and if things are not executed properly, you might lose out on some of that gloss or shine that other videos have. Voice-over is a low-risk way to ensure you're video will sound professional.

Every actor and actress that we've worked with to date has delivered incredible work that has taken our videos to the next level.

If you're producing a corporate video yourself or working with a video production company, you should highly consider incorporating professional voice-over into your video.

Caseyli
Casey Li
CEO & Founder, BiteSite

Adding Logos To Videos

video production corporate video

Similar to our previous post, here we are looking at different methods on how to include visual elements in videos. While some of the techniques outlined here are similar to that last post, they're slightly more aligned with having a logo appear at the end of your video as opposed to having text appear throughout. It's often desirable to include a logo at the end of a video in order to remind the viewer of the company or brand and leave them with that final image in their minds. You can find this method being used in promotional videos, advertisements, and other corporate/commercial videos.

If you're editing a video for your own company or a client's, the methods that we go over here should help to solve potential issues as well as show different creative options that you might use when including logos in videos. First, we'll cover the most common way that logos are displayed after a video is completed.

Overlaid On Black or White

If you're not looking for different or creative ways to display a logo in your videos, the most logical and easy method is to simply cut to black and have the logo appear there. This method works fine and will in no way take away from the professional look in your video that you might be going for. Cutting to black and bringing up either ending credits or logos is something you see in many feature films and other professional video formats (commercial/corporate included). Cutting to black keeps things clean and is a great go-to method when adding logos to videos.

Alternatively, you can have the logo appear on a white background instead of cutting to black. This can be useful for a couple reasons. First, the logo in question might simply look better on white than on black. For example, if the logo has any black visual elements in it, they will get lost in a black background; placing the logo on white resolves that issue. Second, a white background can better suit the feel of the video it's being used in. A white background could help to keep the tone lighter and happier, while a black background could come across as more serious and cinematic. At BiteSite, we have even opted for white backgrounds for this very reason, even when the logo would have appeared just as visually pleasing on a black background.

Overlaid On Video Footage

Pushing things a bit further in terms of creativity, logos can be displayed on top of video footage rather than simply on black or white. This requires that the final shot of the video is chosen with the logo in mind so that everything looks clean and works well together visually. Using this method can help to create a unified feel to the entire video; you're not cutting away to a completely new visual to end it off. Cutting to black or white can sometimes be a bit jarring. Rather, you're sticking with a similar visual look that the viewer has grown accustomed to as they've been viewing the video up to that point. Simply cutting to a different shot (rather than black or white) and having the logo appear on top can help to mitigate that jarring sensation you might otherwise create.

Even if none of the shots that you have available are well suited for placing a logo on, you can still use this method if you first apply a blur effect to the footage to have it appear less visually noisy. Many visual backgrounds can be used once blur is applied, some might just require more blurring than others. That being said, blur doesn't necessarily solve the issue of your logo potentially looking better on a lighter or darker background. Blur will only solve the visual noise, not the lightness or darkness of an image.

Composited Into The Shot

While this technique requires a bit of planning and creativity and can also require a little more work in post-production, it's not too difficult or time-consuming to implement. Compositing the logo into the shot refers to having a shot that is specifically meant to have a logo placed in it. This can be as simple as shooting the shot in such a way that the logo fits well on top of it, for example shooting an outdoor landscape shot with enough empty sky to hold the logo. You can also push this further and have motion occur in the shot where someone or something in the frame moves out of the frame, revealing the logo from behind. For example, someone speaking to the camera in the frame can deliver their final line, and then walk out of frame, revealing the logo which would appear to have been floating behind them the entire time. To see what I'm struggling to convey here in writing, check out the video that is posted along with this article.

When you use techniques like this, it can help to add a little more visual appeal and gives more attention to the logo itself. It can be a great way to have a stronger ending to your video without going overboard.

Full Screen Logo

Lastly, you can have a logo animation that takes up the entire frame of the video. Picture for a moment the Paramount logo intro that you see in many feature length Hollywood films; that constitutes a full frame logo animation. When displaying the logo in this way, you no longer need to display it on black, white, or overlaid on top of video footage. Rather, the entire logo becomes a video clip in itself which you can simply end the video with. Furthermore, you can incorporate this full screen animation into the edit by creatively wiping to it rather than having a potentially jarring cut from the video footage to the full screen animated logo scene. For an example of this, check out the video posted along with this article.

Keep It Simple

That covers some different methods you can use for adding logos to videos. When it's all said and done, you can always just cut to black (or white) and have the logo appear there. It's generally best to keep things simple or in line with whatever brand or company you are dealing with. When using any of the other methods outlined here, just make sure that it does fit in with the overall tone and feel of the video and suits the company's wishes as well.

Timclark
Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite