Well… your reaction to my new Academy video (aka most ridiculous video ever made!) was really lovely and excitable… and ya’ll asked lots of questions… so I thought I’d make good on my promise to talk about how to create a video like that.
Might be helpful for you if you’re planning on doing your own.
Also might just be interesting as a behind the scenes!
Warning: this is a bit of a long one! I’ve tried to include as many details + systems + screenshots as I can to make it as useful for you as possible!
First Up: Find The Right Videographer
So… I might be a hippy, but I’m an anal one.
I like to make my decision using a spreadsheet.
So, I have spreadsheets pre-set up for different local providers (i.e. videographers, photographers, designers)… when I find someone I like the work of, I pop them in my spreadsheet.
I’ve used this spreadsheet so many times now for different things!
When it comes to a new project, I set up columns for the different parameters of the project and questions I need to ask:
- Are they available in the time I need?
- How fast is their turnaround time?
- Do they have an aesthetic/visual style that aligns with what I’m wanting to create?
- Are they within budget?
- Do they come recommended by a business associate or company you’re already connected with?
- Do they specialise in the kind of video you want to create?
- Are they switched on, professional, lovely to work with (you can tell a lot from phone calls!)
For the Academy sales video, we had a super tight deadline.
We’d just raced out of one project (the workbook pre-order sale) and had three weeks to pull off a videoshoot and publish it, along with all the other marketing materials, sales page & set up we needed to make happen.
Mel, my Project Manager, did the ring around based off my spreadsheet and started to populate answers. As you can tell – their availability was the first question we asked and most weren’t.
You can also tell a lot from a phone call about whether they are going to be the right fit.
There was one dude who was grumpy and rude on the phone, and asked if I was going to be a pain to work with. We really wanted to make sure we found a company that was happy and lovely to work with. It would be a total mood-killer and a wreck of a day if I had to spend it with grumpy fucktards! When I left the public service + created my company, I decided that I really didn’t want to work with anyone anymore who were less than lovely and joyful and helpful… because I didn’t have to! I’ve got my own Unicorn Utopia here… why would I put up with an Eeyore moping about?
Who we ended up was with Screencraft.
They could fit us in with our tight deadline, had tonnes of experience, had a visual style I liked, and were just lovely to work with.
Should you just use a photographer instead of a videographer?
This is definitely up to you.
I’ve used a photographer in the past to capture videos.
For example, we had the amazing Tracy Lee do the photographs for our 2016 workbooks, and we managed to pull off a video shoot for it as well all in the same day. We then edited it together ourselves, and I was really happy with the video for it!
This time I wanted to see what it was like to do it with a full video crew.
I wanted to get more shots done, more audio quality, and just see what the difference was.
Here’s the pro video crew one so you can do comparisons.
It’s a step up in quality… there’s a LOT of preparation time put into it (as you’ll soon find out), and a big team to pull it off. A big step up in cost, but I was at the right stage of business to be doing that.
I will definitely be doing more pro videos with with Screencraft in the future!
Next stage: Tell ’em what you want
Depending on the agency, you’ll need to fill out some kind of briefing to give them as much information as possible.
You might also do this step at the videographer selection stage in order to get quotes for the work you want to have happen, and compare prices.
You’ll need to decide if:
- You want them to edit it afterwards (this adds significantly to cost, but unless you are video-edit savvy already, is probably worth it!)
- How long the final piece will be
- How much editing you want to have happen – if it’s only going to be a straight to camera piece, if it will have some other shots interwoven, if you want animation to happen in the video, if it is going to be fast-moving with lots of different shots.
I thought it might be helpful to actually show you the brief I made!
Ready for your FREE copy of my video brief?!!!
Once we’d shared the script and details with Screencraft, we started brainstorming with them on how the video would look for different parts of it.
The script was divided into sections and put into a spreadsheet.
Then for each section, we brainstormed the video shots, animations and illustrations we would need for each part.
This is part of the spreadsheet below:
The last column is the script, the other columns are the video shots and assets we needed to edit it together.
We decided to do the shot at two different places:
- Mel’s house (because my house has children and children are fucking nuts. Adorable, but insane.) If you are doing speaking parts in the video, you will probably need to do them in a controlled sound location (i.e. inside in a private space).
- Weston Park. I chose Weston Park because in a really short distance (150 metres) there’s three distinct backdrops – a lake, a cafe and a forest. It’s also very quiet (especially on weekdays).
At the same time as I wrote the script, I created a spreadsheet of props that I would need so that I didn’t have to think of them later. I assigned who would be responsible for them. The day before the shoot, I printed it out and marked them off one by one as I put them in our van. It’s at this point, I was pretty bloody glad I drive a mum-van… those shagging wagons can fit SO MUCH shit in them!
Helpful hint: I took two suitcases, and tried to divide up stuff into the two different locations they would need to be used in.
Helpful hint #2: I assigned Mel to buy snacks + drinks for the day. I gave her a list and sent her to the health food store. So needed throughout the day!
Last-minute location change
The day before the shoot, I had a long time with our producer from Screencraft and realised we needed to do a location change. Inside shoots need a lot of house length to create depth within the set. And I knew we were going to get totally crammed at Mel’s place.
So I decided to hire an apartment that had the kind of dimensions we needed.
I called around a couple of places.
I should note – some apartments I’d hired in the past for staying in, or using for day-long business meetings – were NOT happy with being hired for videoshoots. Even when I promised them that it was NOT for porn purposes! Ha!
I eventually found a great waterfront apartment through Nagee Apartments, and made sure I double-checked they were fine with videoshoots.
Of course, last minute location shoots are NOT the best choice…
the night before was an almighty clusterfuck as we rearranged all our suppliers again to make sure they had the right address.
So… think about location in advance! Heed my mistakes!
Which reminds me… need to book in for our next videoshoot!
See??? LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES… LEST YOUR STAFF TEASE YOU MERCILESSLY!
Now, I’ve been staunchly anti-hair for a long time.
Until last year when I totally forgot about my hair and ended up with SUPER messy wild hair at last year’s photoshoot.
I’d spent a LOT of time and cash on that shoot… and when I saw the shots I was like “Yeah super funnnnn! But… oh dear… not a great hair day!” And decided if I was going to invest cash in again, I would get someone in to do my hair for me so I didn’t have to worry about it myself. Or have to do the sweaty standing in the bathroom, blind without my glasses, blindly putting on mascara so I didn’t look like a white apparition with camera lights on. Let someone else take care of it!
Because of my brilliant last-minute location change, we lost the makeup and hair team we had organised in advance, so we had a last minute scramble at 8pm at night trying to find someone for 8am the next morning!
Luckily, Mel has an amazing network of lovely people she’s fostered connections with over the years, and called in an old staff member who had since become a hair and make-up artist!
Sandy was awesome – highly recommend her. And she’s already booked in for our next one!
How The Day Went Down
I packaged everything from the props list into the van the day before.
We were scheduled to start shooting at 9am, so I was out the door by 7am, found the apartment, and found Mel, Sandy our makeup/hair artist and Alyssa our set designer waiting out front.
We hauled all our stuff up to the apartment, and Alyssa immediately set to work rearranging furniture and setting up backdrops for the videoshoot.
Sandy got started on hair and makeup. When she asked me what I wanted to look like, I said “Like me… but TV Leonie!” Hahaha!
I think she succeeded.
Clothes & Jewellery:
I brought about 12 changes of clothes all up, and while I originally thought it would be overkill, it ended up being SUPER helpful. Whenever we changed scene, I would change clothes… it just helped make everything look fresh and create visual difference in the video.
I have a huge collection of costume jewellery that I bought specifically for video and photo shoots and speaking gigs – I like things that are super bold and vibrant. They tend to not fade into the distance as much as smaller pieces. Plus, ya know, nothing about me is subtle! Ha! #onbrand
A lot of costume changes were done on the fly outside. I wore black leggings and a black crop top under everything so it was super easy for me to get changed in public and give no fucks.
I had in mind what I wanted our different sets to look like through the day, and realised the day before the shoot (just call me Last Minute Leonie) that I wouldn’t actually be able to do it all.
Instead I had a mad scramble through my contacts list, and called Lisa Lamaitre (creator of Canberra Wise Women and Canberra Wellness Hub – two places I spoke at this year) to see if she knew anyone.
As always, she did, because she’s brilliant like that!
At ridiculously late notice, we had the amazing Alyssa Johnson who did the set design for Sammy J’s Playground Politics show!!! She was fantastic and was able to create scenes like this, while I was too busy running around the park half-naked getting into my next outfit for the next shot.
Once the film crew had arrived and set-up we did about 3 hours of shooting direct-to-camera with voice.
This means I was looking at the camera as I spoke, and they were recording my voice that would end up being used for the whole video, including over the top of everything else we shot that day.
Me, sound dude + set designer! Awww yissss!
To achieve this, we used a teleprompter. It was my first time using one and it was really fucking cool!
On top of the producer, sound guy and camera guy, there was a teleprompter guy who controlled the speed as I spoke.
Food, Water + Breaks
Mel was my Project Manager/Personal Assistant for the shoot (as well as for the rest of my life! Ha!)
I gave her really clear instructions on the Care + Feeding of Leonie before the day.
I know from experience that when I’m in the moment, I forget to look after myself. I get really excitable and want to do and achieve everything. I want to talk to everybody and help everybody and be all things to all people.
I told her I needed her to manage me by:
- getting me to take breathers whenever I could – I function better and longer when I fill my well with little moments of quiet. Between takes when they were resetting things up, she’d usher me into the bedroom and close the door and tell me to take five minutes to lay down. It was SO helpful.
- telling me to use the bathroom. I forget!
- force-feeding me as much water and food as she could. I usually don’t forget these things, but when I’m in performer mode, forgettttttt about it!
Getting her to do this ended up being brilliant. I didn’t crash and burn by the end of the day, so I count that as a WIN!
On location shoot
After the direct-to-camera shoot in the apartment, we grabbed lunch, then headed to Weston Park for the location shoot.
Here we recorded take after take of me climbing trees, drinking hot chocolate in a cafe, pretending to do Skype calls, setting up a painting camp and walking through the forest.
I sent out a last minute call on FB to my local mates to ask if anyone was free to be in the video, and luckily a bunch of them were!
Baby J stole the day with his bear outfit and chubby baby cheeeeeeeks for daaaaaaays.
In return, I gave them my ever lasting love… and promise of dinner… which reeeeeminds me… NEED TO ORGANISE THAT NOW! Thanks blog post, you’ve reminded me of so much!
We did the final shots for the video just as the sun was setting…
Here’s the crew as we wearily headed out to the carpark…
Eight hours of shooting and weeks of planning to create these eight minutes:
A huge effort… but well worth it I think!
I so hope this post has been useful to you.
I know when I first started creating pro videos I was COMPLETELY bloody overwhelmed at everything I had to do… hopefully the resources + insights I shared here will help you create yours!
P.S. In the ancient wisdom of Confucius: