12 Tips for doing a Corporate Training Video
Living in Taiwan I had the opportunity to work with some local and foreign companies in need of a corporate video in Taiwan. Some of the shoots were a basic one-hour shoot. The last one I shot for an international pharmaceutical company was a 4-day all day training shoot across many locations. This project required me to wear a number of hats from camera operator, audio technician, to project manager. Here are some of my tips that you can apply to your next corporate training shoot
How I got this opportunity
My website has been live for about 3 years. Over time I’ve been able to produce content on it that has led to business. It also led to this opportunity. I often ask potential clients how did they hear about me. They often respond through a Google search. It’s important that your website has the fundamental pages. What are the these pages?
About – talk about yourself and company and a bit of background
Services – Describe the services you provide and your approach to video and what makes you unique
Contact – Have a contact form or your contact information for people to reach you
Portfolio – Showcase your past work and video reels on this page. Keep it current
In addition if you travel or relocate it’s important to create an SEO friendly page. When I moved to Taipei, Taiwan I created a seo friendly page if someone searched for video productions in Taipei I would rank high on the first page in English. This is especially important if you don’t have a brick and mortar office
Clarify the requirements
Once you have a potential lead you want to clarify what the customer is looking for. This will give you the information to provide a quote. When is the shoot? Is it one hour, a day, or a number of days? What kind of video is this? Is it a corporate testimonial or a training video? Where are the location(s)? You also want the client to describe some of their expectations to you. Perhaps they want to get more than one angle that requires more than one camera. One on a projector slide and the speaker and one to capture b-roll of the audience. Do they have special audio requirements? Is a shotgun okay or do they need a lav mic attached to someone’s shirt. Ask lots of questions if you are unclear about what the client is looking for.
Pricing can be a difficult thing to figure out especially if the project you are doing has some unique requirements. It also depends on the client, city, and market you are doing the video. When I first started shooting video I was a bit more flexible as I didn’t have a feel for pricing. I was in Taiwan where the local market was more price sensitive compared to Western companies. For a standard 1 hour corporate HD shoot with audio within the city I would charge $1000 US with no editing. For a Western company you can charge a bit more. If you price too high then they will look at other options. Know what those options are and what you are offering. In my case my additional strengths included speaking fluent English and understanding how to work with Western clients.
Generally this is how I approach pricing in a project. I figure out the requirements of the project. I know the gear I own and have to figure out what additional equipment I need to meet the client’s requirements and how much does that cost. This step can take a long time, as it requires some research and experience. Some camera rental stores will provide some guidance, as they know their gear well. Some camera rental websites will list the prices out. Once you have your gear costs then you have to build in transportation and costs if you need team for the project. Figure out the number of hours you are shooting and what additional services they need and build that into the project. You also have to know you your own worth and value. If you started out at $1000 US and know for sure that the quality of your productions have improved because of increased training, experience, and gear then I wouldn’t have a problem charging more than you did initially. At the end you will have a rough number that you can share with the client. Be prepared to at least outline how the cost is broken down at a high level if requirements in the project change. If the scope of the project increases let the client know. For a 4 day all day corporate shoot with 2 camera’s a crew of 2-3 for an international company I think you could charge anywhere between $6-8000 US. If you are priced to high the client will let you know and you can try to remove some things like gear, crew, or shooting time to get to a mutually acceptable price. Once you have an agreement I recommend you ask for at least a 30% upfront deposit with the rest paid upon delivery of the footage.
Rent additional equipment that you need and practice using it
You should at least have your camera, tripod, and some key lenses. If you need additional equipment that you won’t use all the time then renting it may make sense. For this corporate video it required additional equipment like lav mics, additional tripods, and telephoto lenses. Figure out the cost of renting versus purchasing and whether you can see your business requiring this equipment in the future.
Another important point is to rent the gear a day or 2 in advance to practice using it. Tech in this field changes quickly and it’s difficult for someone to know everything. I took some time to get familiar with the tripod, lighting, audio recorder, and new lenses. I invited a friend over to help me test the lav mic system with the audio recorder. Sometimes it doesn’t take that long and is a lot easier to figure out when you don’t have the pressure of a live shoot.
Gopro 4 can be a great supplementary camera for training videos
I used a Gopro 4 with suction cup mount as a 3rd camera to get in tight spaces and document training procedures. For example, there was a lab procedure that was tough to get a good angle for training purposes. I stuck a Gopro to get a close birds eye angle of the procedure where an SLR camera could not fit. You don’t need to focus the camera and once you frame it and press record you can forget about it for awhile.
Assemble the right team
Perhaps you are someone that can do everything on your own, but sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes the client may feel more comfortable seeing a crew. For this project I had to assess what I could handle and where the gaps were. I had too much gear and it required someone that could help me transport the gear and with camera operating and assistant duties. I also needed someone with some good audio knowledge with a Zoom H6 audio recorder and lav mics. In each city the way to find talent will be different. In Taiwan I joined a filmmaking group on Facebook. I created a couple of job posters and clearly outlined the skills I needed, dates, and asked for a website or video reel. In addition to their technical skills I was looking for people who were courteous and professional in their communications. I also needed to check their availability and negotiate a mutually acceptable rate. There are many factors that are out of your control so don’t be surprised if you find this to be one of the most challenging parts of your project. Make sure you have a backup person if someone in your crew is sick and can’t make it. The project is going ahead without them or not.
Communicate with your stakeholders throughout the project
It’s important to know who are your key contacts as well as the roles of the rest of the team. My initial contact was someone in the United States who was communicating the initial requirements of the projects and who was paying me. However; the project leader would be in Taiwan and be the main subject of the videos. It would be key to maintain strong communications with both of these stakeholders. Once the project kicked off the requirements of the project changed. Many of the changes camera from the project leader in Taiwan. However; my initial contact wanted daily updates and if certain budget approvals were need they would go through my US contact. I would send a quick email summary at the end of the day as a way to keep him updated daily. Know your key stakeholders and communicate with them regularly.
Scout the location
If possible build some time to visit and scout the location(s) you will be filming beforehand. This will help you determine the type of gear you will need and get a better sense of the space. In this project most of the filming was done in one building in numerous floors. From my initial scouting I knew I would an XLR output wire to connect to the house audio system would be needed. This gave me time to find this part in Taiwan before the first day of shooting. I also discovered that there wasn’t much space, and I would need a wide lense to capture the scene. Scouting the location at your earliest opportunity can only help you prepare for the clients project.
Manage your budget
I used an itemized spreadsheet to lists all my expenses for the project. This included gear rentals, crew, and transportation. I monitored expenses as the project progressed to make sure I was staying on budget. When I was hiring for crew I got a couple of people that were overqualified with the wrong skillset and over my budget. If there were changes to the requirement like increased shooting hours I would communicate this to my US contact for approval to increase the budget.
Quality audio is just as important as video
If you are filming a corporate interview or corporate training video you will need to provide just as much attention on audio as the visuals. I would need to capture multiple audio sources from a primary speaker and the audience. Usually I use a shotgun mic for youtube videos or a blue yeti for voiceovers. This project would require a zoom recorder to capture multiple sources of audio, wireless lav mics to capture audio from the speaker to the recorder, and a shotgun mic from backup audio. Don’t forget to clap to help the editors synch the video to the audio. You can read a dedicated article on this topic.
Setup a temporary power and data area
All your planning, filming, and effort gets captured as data on a single memory card. Imagine the data becomes corrupted or misplaced. I don’t even want to imagine, which is why I brought a laptop on-site. I recommend setting up an area with a table and near power outlets as a temporary area for charging and copying date. As we were filming all day I would need to do data dumps onto external hard-drives during lunch breaks. I would make 2 copies. If you don’t have a chance to copy data on-site it would be the first thing I do once you are at your office.
I have 3 camera batteries for 2 SLR cameras. I made sure I had at least 2 X 32GB SD primary cards in additional to various extras to keep recording as long as possible. Occasionally I would need the assistant to swap out batteries during the shoot. One would be charging while the others were filming. As we were on a tight schedule we didn’t have time to wait for a battery to charge.
Stay cool under pressure and rise to the occasion
You might encounter something you didn’t expect where you might need to step up to plate to save the day. It was our last day of the shoot, which was shot in a large auditorium. The speaker would be on stage and it was important to get light on his face due to the room. We had requested many times to get the stage lighting turned up. Suddenly one of the speakers started talking and I had to start recording and had to think quickly. The team started scrambling, but for whatever reason that stage light wasn’t getting turned up. I need to do something to solve the issue. I brought additional lighting to attach to my SLR camera hotshoe. I set it up close to the stage to shoot video and provide the lighting we needed. If you encounter an obstacle to the project, stay calm and think quickly of a solution. Take responsibility and be the person to step up because there are chances that no one else will.
Hopefully you can use some of these tips on your next corporate video shoot. If you enjoyed this content please let me know. You may enjoy my on-line video course going in depth into the business side of videography.