The Making of an Industrial Promotional Video with Timelapses, Sliders, and Crafty Editing

Creating promotional video content for industrial and corporate clients is an often overlooked, yet very large, part of the market when it comes to the amount of work they can generate for production companies. A few years ago my business was hired to produce such a video, and I (finally) have the behind-the-scenes video completed to show how we put everything together.

Our direction for this project was to produce a company capability video for our client, an electronics service/repair facility. Something no longer than 5 minutes that would explain a little bit about their background, their staff, the services they offer, but also provide a bit of a personal touch. To me, this seemed to be a great opportunity to use interviews with the staff to put a "face" on certain aspects of their services and allow them to connect with potential customers. (Keep in mind that their customers are not the public– they are other businesses and industrial facilities.)

Interviews

Rather than rely on interviews for the entire video, we opted to do a mix of interview content with a scripted voiceover. This allowed my client to keep their marketing messages concise and succinct, and made it so the interview subjects could stick to their opinions and stories– something that would come much more naturally than trying to rehearse marketing messages.

To capture interviews, we decided to incorporate a slowly moving slider move, and at the time of our production, the best tool for that job was Red Rock Micro's One Man Crew (the first version). It was robust enough to handle a fully-loaded Sony FS700 setup, and just quiet enough to not screw up our audio recording. We monitored our image with a SmallHD AC7 monitor that was mounted with a Cinevate Proteus Grip Stick. This was essential for keeping an eye on the video being recorded without having to follow the LCD of the camera itself as it moved back and forth on the slider.

Audio was recorded through a Sennheiser wireless lavalier setup, with a backup source coming from a camera-mounted Rode NTG-2. It was pivotal for us to work with the staff in each area to ensure there wouldn't be any noise from machines running or people walking about. The client was very diligent in communicating with everyone to let them know when and where we would be shooting interviews, so it made our jobs easier and put our nerves at rest during the interview sessions.

Second Camera Unit

With over 50 individual shots to get in just three days, we had two camera units going at all times in order to maximize the amount of content we could capture. I had brought on Seth McCubbin to shoot timelapses and more basic b-roll shots, so he and an assistant would spend their time executing those shots while myself and a lighting assistant shot interviews and other more elaborate visuals. Besides a couple of assistants and a makeup artist, I also had enlisted the help of producer and longtime friend Eleanor Shelton, who worked with the client from day one to craft the script, and conducted the interview sessions.

For the timelapses, obviously accentuating motion and the passage of time is kind of the point, so we did a few sliding timelapses of people working at a bench, but also tried something a bit different where we had one technician stand still for the duration of the timelapse, while other techs moved about, creating motion in the scene. This was accomplished by using a slower shutter speed, I think around 1/15. You can see the final result at around 2:15 the final video below.

With both a Canon 5Dmii and a Canon 60D at his disposal, Seth was able to get a few video clips while waiting for the timelapses to complete. These extra shots came in handy in the final edit– it's always a good idea to get a handful of "safety" shots when time allows.

Lighting

One challenge on this shoot was capturing visuals that didn't look the same, as many areas had a very similar setup in terms of lighting, colors, layout of workspaces, and the kinds of equipment. Not only that, but some areas are true work benches, so they weren't exactly clean and tidy. That's completely understandable, so we weren't going to ask for them to clean it up, but instead we decided to try and light these areas with our lights and turn off the overheads, giving us a darker, more dramatic feel. For the opening slow-motion section, this worked extremely well as a way to separate the style of visuals from the main body of the video.

In some other shots, we used our video LEDs to add some soft fill onto the technicians in the shot, just so they would "pop" a bit more and hopefully not have unflattering shadows all over their face from the overhead lighting. This might sound tricky, but it's as simple as having an assistant carry around a light on a stand, with diffusion and an extension cord, and once you're set for a shot, they just need to get the source close to the subject and control the spill/direction. Mixing color temperature can be risky, but thankfully the overheads weren't terribly green and with a watchful eye on our white balancing, the shots came out great.

Match Cut Shots

In order to visually unite one shot to the next, we decided to use a few match cuts, as well as transitions that blended one shot to the next. The rationale behind this was to show the lifecycle of a product repair. From the point of first contact, to data entry, to tracking the repair process. These were not the most exciting things to show, so we decided on the match cut idea as a way to add some visual interest to this part of the video.

If you've not ever seen the opening to the movie "Snatch," here it is below:

Note how one "scene" or shot moves fluidly into the next, either through an action in the frame or a creative transition that almost hides the edit that is going on right before your eyes. We tried to recreate a few of these concepts with things like throwing a clipboard, blur dissolves, and matching the action of a frame to the direction of a wipe transition.

I've found that trying to do some more creative and interesting shots as a part of my corporate/industrial projects always makes my clients excited at first and please in the end– it's a nice break from the usual boring content that is all too often produced in these markets.

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4 Comments
Chuck Eggen's picture

Very interesting. Love these BTS videos. Not to mention the tips and tricks.

Joe Watson's picture

Hey Mike, lovely work man. The interview segments are really nicely lit and look gorgeous.
I think my main issue is unrelated to your side of things... but the company itself. A 5 minute promo!!!? I've always tried to keep things between a minute or two, short and punchy.
This video was just waaaay too long, I tuned out. Kudos to you and your team though on your side of things.

Matt Green's picture

If I can sit down and watch your BTS as well as a fairly long finished product and remain interested, you've done an excellent job. Great work!

Tony Roslund's picture

Awesome Godfather, love the match cuts!