What happens at a YouTube video shoot?

Mary Fletcher Jones loves shooting video!

Did you ever wonder what it’s like to shoot a video for YouTube?  Have you ever thought about producing a video for your company or nonprofit organization?

There really is no better way to tell your story than with video, and working on video projects is one of the things we like best to do at Fletcher Prince.  So far, I’ve produced more than 250 videos on YouTube on topics ranging from employee communications to water conservation, from autism to boudoir photography, and everything in between.  If  you’ve never been in a YouTube video to market your business or nonprofit organization, I hope this article will convince you how much fun (and effective!) it really is.  This is how we approach producing videos for our clients at Fletcher Prince.

Pre-Video Meeting

First, we meet with the client to talk about what goals the video (or videos)  is intended to accomplish.  We identify — or help the client identify — the call to action, audience, main messages, and other related marketing components.  Since we are marketers first, this type of consultation comes naturally to us!  David and I provide recommendations on how to get the most views for the video, as well as different ways to use the video (e.g., before meetings or conferences, in email communications, in blog posts, etc.)

We discuss who will appear in the video, and where we will shoot it (at Fletcher Prince, or on location).  If we’re shooting on location, we survey the room for space limitations, lighting, ambient sound, and other factors that could affect video quality.  We then discuss whether the person (or persons) appearing in the video will speak using an outline or a script, and we assist in writing and reviewing the script.  David and I provide all kinds of practical advice for how to prepare, what props to use, what to wear, hair, and makeup.  Then we set a date for the shoot.

We often set up YouTube channels for clients as well, so at the meeting or shortly afterward, we collect images, logos, links, bios, and background information to put together a search-engine friendly, branded YouTube site. I really enjoy this aspect of the project; it’s so creative, and it’s really gratifying to see the results and views we can help the client obtain.

After this meeting, I generally send the client a written outline summarizing what we discussed, and a sort of creative brief which will guide the production of the video.

On Video Day

The most fun part of the process is probably video day.  Because we’ve done so much advance preparation, we’re usually relaxed about the details, but excited to get started.  David and I bring in a big rolling bag with all our gear, including tripods, microphones, lights, umbrellas, cameras, reflectors, backdrops, clamps, and all kinds of stands.  We’ve become so experienced at setting up our gear that we are often ready to go quite quickly, but we like to allot a half hour to set up and test our equipment, and arrange furniture.  When we bring the client into the room, we are ready to go.  Most clients feel a little nervous at first and then relax quite quickly.  Usually we don’t dive right into the video.  I often record the client talking about something that is not related to the project, such as a pet or favorite hobby.  This relaxes the client and brings the energy to a nice level.

Among our clients, I have found that people have various approaches to communicating their message on video.  Some, like myself, can only record a sentence or two before pausing to look at their notes or a script.  (I usually use a script for my own videos.)  For most clients (and myself), we record short clips and edit them together.  Other clients are impressive “one-take wonders” who can speak at length without notes.

We have learned all kinds of tricks that help produce an energetic video.  David is especially good at this direction.  We’ve learned how to seat clients so that they project their voice well and their posture is perfect, but comfortable.  We know how to get clients to relax, smile, and pause between video clips.  One thing we are meticulous about is making sure clients appear their very best in the video.  If I have to arrange hair or add makeup, suggest a wardrobe change, adjust my camera angles, or retake a shot several times, I will.  I love that clients trust me to be their “stylist” for the shoot!

David Hyson photographing Dean Dates at Howard University

In addition to videotaping, David and I like to take lots of photographs during the video sessions.  David is a professional photographer with incredibly advanced equipment, and I take lots of shots with my small Canon digital camera, as I am still learning.  Video day is a perfect opportunity to get professional quality photographs of clients, as they have taken care to look their very best.  The photographs are terrific for print media, as well as Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.  We often use these shots in the video and on video and podcast sites, and on blogs.  In addition to the headshots, we like to get “on-location” shots of the clients, and pose with them ourselves, and we publish those images on our blog, Twitter, and Facebook Pages.

Our video sessions usually take about 2 to 3 hours, depending on how many people are participating (I usually videotape 1 to 3 people per 2-3 hour session, but I have videotaped as many as twelve participants in that space of time!).  About one hour of that is videotaping time, sometimes a bit less.  The rest of the time is allotted to tweaking the set and lights, and otherwise getting ready, and breaking down at the end.    By the end of the shoot, I usually find, with advance planning and no interruptions, that I can often obtain enough quality footage to produce two-three YouTube videos.

Editing the Video

Back in the office, I upload the digital files to my computer.  The editing part is both technical and artistic, and takes many hours, and I may take a few days or up to a week to complete the project at this stage.  Forty-five minutes of video may be cut down into 5 minutes, in edited form.  I feel I am sensitive to the natural changes in energy, tone, and facial expression when a person speaks on video, and so I try to capture and splice those moments in the finished version.  I then create titles and  graphics, and add images to the video, as needed.  Often, I have to locate high resolution images for the video project, which can be time-consuming, but which often results in a more interesting video to watch.  Depending on the project, I may add intro music.  I try to match the music to the personality of the speaker and the tone of the video.

When the video is finished, I send the client a preview version.  If edits are required, I make those, and then upload the final, approved production to YouTube, Facebook Pages,  blogs, and other online sites.

Learn more

To learn more about appearing in a video production with Fletcher Prince, download our new video-brochure.  You can also read the LinkedIn recommendations of people who have worked on YouTube videos and podcasts with us, and check out our YouTube video portfolio on Fletcher Prince’s YouTube channel.   On this blog, click on the Topic Category “Online Video Tips” to read more tips about how to appear your best on video.

Did you find this blog post helpful?

I hope so!  If you did, please feel free to leave a comment for me (your suggestions and advice are also welcome), and please visit Fletcher Prince on Facebook.


About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.

Posted on March 6, 2010, in YouTube Video Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: