How to make your corporate video cinematic

Friend and supporter of this blog Chris Esper recently sent me this article giving tips on how to make your corporate videos more cinematic.

In the article, they give pointers on what camera to use, what lenses, what frame rates, what lighting, colour and sound effects, etc. without once discussing the content of the videos.

This is as ridiculous as advising that you can paint like Van Gogh by telling you what canvas, brushes and paint to use or that you can drive your bottom-of-the-range hatchback like a Maclaren 650S simply by putting the right wheels on it.

“They have completely missed the point”

What is cinema?  Cinema is a medium whereby the emotions of the viewer are manipulated through the use of images and sound.  It is not about the images and sound.

Cinema wielding its power over an audience

Cinema wielding its power over an audience

Therefore, to make your corporate videos more cinematic, your primary goal is to make videos that move or involve your audience on an emotional level.  You certainly might try to achieve this by using the bells and whistles that the original article mentioned, but your best bet would be to concentrate on the three most important parts of any film – story, characters and performance.

I give tips on story in this article and performance here.  Character is something that can be partly helped by performance, but is mostly down to your casting choices.

When you’re making a corporate video, you may feel that you haven’t got much freedom in your casting choices, because you have to shoot interviews with the spokespeople that the company puts forward.

However, you can make “casting decisions” in the edit.

Let’s say you’ve shot interviews with the CEO, COO and Sales Manager.  You’ve asked them all the same set of questions.   You’ve helped them with their stories and performance.  They have all given perfectly serviceable answers.

“The secret of casting”

However, when you get back to the edit and look through your rushes, you’ll maybe find that the Sales Manager tells the story about the development of the Super-Widget so much better than the CEO.

Conversely, it may be that the Sales Manager’s take on the distribution network isn’t as clear as the COO’s, so you’ll let the COO take the lead on that.

So you effectively “cast” each one as the lead for that particular story by constructing your edit in such a way as to have them tell that part and then hand back to their colleagues for the other parts of the story.

Award-winning director Brian Barnes with the lead cast of the feature film The Redeeming

A CEO arguing for more screen time

Now, you might find that you come up against some ‘political’ issues within the organisation you’re dealing with – “The CEO won’t be happy if you make him look like he knows less than his Sales Manager” – but you can probably find a middle ground to negotiate your way through this.

If you follow these principles, you’ll have a video that presents a clear story in an engaging manner.

And then it won’t matter that you shot it on cutting-edge 9.5mm centre perforation.


[Audience image by marcolm at]

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