Promo video production

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Theatre company promo video

Working as a freelance filmmaker, I produce, film and edit short films and promotional videos. Recently, the Boundless Theatre Company commissioned me to film and edit a short promo video for their forthcoming new play ‘Natives’ by Glen Waldron. In this case study, I explain the process behind the creation of this promo video.

Filming a promo photoshoot

The Boundless team was planning a photoshoot of the cast of their new play to provide some promotional publicity material for it. They wanted to film the photoshoot taking place and also to film some interviews with individual members of the cast. These could then all be edited together into a short promo video.

Packing my filming kit

To ensure that I was organised in preparation for the scheduled filming day, I packed all my filming kit the night before. Lighting – wise, I packed two LED panel lights, and a Dedo DL4 LED spotlight. As always I had two cameras and a range of lenses. For sound, I included various microphones and sound gear. I also selected the correct tripod and my Manfrotto fig rig, so that I would have options for either a more static look with the tripod or handheld look using the fig rig, depending on what the client would prefer.

Filming on location

The filming location was a large empty office space in the same building as the Boundless Theatre’s main office. It was a perfect space for the shoot as it was a large, clean room with white walls and a high ceiling. The first thing I did was to unpack all the kit stands and get all three lights mounted and ready to go. I set up my sound recording kit in readiness for filming the interviews with my Sennheiser direction microphone fitted to a stand. This would save me time during filming.

Working with the photographer

Shortly after I arrived, I was joined by the photographer Lidia Crisafulli. We had a brief chat about the filming and how to manage the lighting so as to get the best footage that we both needed for the photography and filming. Lidia had brought some large pieces of black cloth so we were able to blackout the large windows to get more control of the light in the room. I then put some orange gel filters on my LED panel lights so that my lights matched the photographers’ lights.

Filming the promo video

Then, as the rest of the production team arrived, the first actor went into make-up. I asked the production team what sort of look they would prefer for their promotional video and they opted to go for the more hand-held look. Two promotional banners with branded graphics had been set up in front of the room windows and we planned to use these as a backdrop to the interviews. Once the first actor was ready, Lidia started working with him and the creative director to get the photographic shots she wanted.

So I then also started filming the action that was taking place. As well as recording the sound on my camera, I was also recording the sound from a directional microphone connected to my Tascam digital audio recorder. Filming with the fig rig helped me to move around the room quickly while filming a variety of shots.

Once Lidia had captured all the photographs she needed, it was my turn to film the interview with the first actor. Meanwhile, the other two cast members had been in make-up and, once the first interview was finished, it was time for the group stills. After these, the first actor was released so that he could meet his other obligations that day. We then had more time with the rest of the cast members to film all the footage we needed to capture.

Starting the editing for the promo video

After I had copied all the 4K media onto my RAID 5 hard drives, I backed it all up then transcoded the files into the Avid DNx codec. Once transcoded, I synced up the video with the external audio recorder files so that I had a master in sync timeline containing all the footage. The next step of the editing process was to make a separate timeline of all the interviews. By continuously editing this timeline down, and making new copies of the timeline at each stage, I ended up with the most succinct and relevant interview sections available. I then started moving the clip order around and breaking them up so that I had a more dynamic edit close to the agreed duration of 90 seconds.

Editing in the music

With the interviews flowing nicely, it was time to edit in the music. The production team had already supplied me with a music track that they wanted to use. After laying down the track, I was able to adjust the positioning of the interviews so that they worked well with the beat of the music. I also added some gaps between the interviews so that I could include some graphics and also increase the sound level of the music to make the promo sound more dynamic.

Painting the edit with cutaways

With the interviews and music edited in a good order and roughly to time, I started editing in additional cutaways from the photo-shoot. I had previously edited all the photo-shoot footage together. I had also edited that timeline down so that I had a shorter timeline containing all the best shots to be used in the final promo.

At this point, I also started to add in the opening and closing graphics along with the extra branded elements that had been supplied to me. Also edited in at this stage were the name titles and textual elements needed for the promo.

Reviewing the edit after a break

Once an edit has been completed, I always find it best to review it again after a break or after a good night’s sleep. Good ideas always come to mind whilst an edit is in progress. I might wake up with a good creative idea or one might come to me while at the gym. I’ve learnt to value taking some extra time to consider the final edited version before deciding to deliver it for approval by the client.

Promo editing sign off

I then uploaded the final first edit of the Boundless promo to my Vimeo channel and sent a password protected link for the client to view. The client responded with some positive feedback and required a few minor detailed changes to ensure that the promotional video met with all their brand guidelines. Once I had edited these amends, I then sent the client the final digital file.

If you would like any help with producing, filming or editing a promotional video, please do get in touch. More examples of my work can be viewed in my portfolio.