A few days ago Creative Live posted this video of Benjamin Von Wong explaining the importance of creating meaningful behind the scenes videos and how they can help shape your career. It's no secret that I do post Ben's videos to the site often. His videos are not only educational, but fun to watch, as well. You too can go on to create your own informative and noticeable BTS videos with these tips.
Behind the scenes videos (or BTS videos for short) can be a fun way to engage your audience if you're a creative professional. Filming and publishing behind the scenes videos is one of the many marketing tools that photographers and videographers (among other professionals) use to bring recognition to their business and their brand. It can really spread the message that you're trying to convey whether it features the general work that you do or a particular project that you're pursuing. Many noteworthy artists have used these videos to help them stand out, including Joey L., Lindsay Adler, Erik Almas and Michael Zelbel. The benefits are pretty obvious, but how do you go about starting?
The most important star of your BTS videos isn't going to be you or the cinematography, but what you can provide to your audience. Many photographers (including myself I admit) make the mistake of just throwing clips together along to music with absolutely no other content. The majority of the people watching will become bored easily. Sure, if you're observant enough to catch certain things like what equipment was used or the settings on the back of the camera you might learn something, but most people will move on to the next video in a matter of seconds if you don't give them a reason to stay.
I know you're probably thinking to yourself, "But I don't want to attract other photographers to my videos, I want to appeal to actual clients." Let me stop you there. When you allow yourself to be on camera and explain in some detail what you're doing and how you're accomplishing your goal it makes you stand out as confident, knowledgable and personable not to just other photographers, but to current and potential clients, as well. It will also make you look more appealing to the client by showing how involved you are in the industry even if the only thing that you do is create these types of videos every so often.
"People hate videos that don't teach anything, and simply making a video that glamorizes you as a photographer is boring. Use it as a marketing tool and sell yourself by speaking to the camera and explaining what you are doing." -Patrick Hall
A BTS video doesn't need to be a super long and drawn out. It can be just a few short minutes (3-5 minutes long), and it doesn't necessarily need to be completely packed full of information. After all you're not producing a tutorial. It's just a sneak peek at your process as an artist. Here's a few tips on what to go over in a BTS video.
- Who you are and where you are.
- What it is that you're shooting? Take a little time to explain the project or concept and introduce any models/subjects you may be shooting.
- How do you plan on accomplishing your vision? For example, If you're doing some cool light painting magic quickly explain how that process works.
- Briefly point out any equipment you are using. I would limit this to your camera, lighting setups and any other speciality equipment (like underwater housing or tilt-shift lenses etc...).
- Don't forget to take a few moments while you're shooting to speak to the camera about what you're doing, no matter what it is. (Posing, changing settings and why.)
- After the shoot you can either show a timelapse of your post-process with a voice-over or simply a nice wrap up of the video along with the finished photos.
"Explain what you do. If you cant do it live on set, you can always add it later in post. The main reason people watch BTS videos are for the information, to understand what you did and how you did it. If you just show the set without explaining, it wont be interesting or educational enough."- Noam Galai
I cannot stress how important it is to show the final edited photos at the end of your video. If there is one thing that will insure to irritate an audience it's to dangle the carrot of a BTS video in front of them with no outcome. If you have to wait for client approval or for the photos to be entirely edited then hold off on publishing the video. The photos are the reasons you're making it to begin with.
THE TECHNICAL STUFF
Alright, so you have the shoot prepped and you know what you're going to cover in the video, now all that's needed is the actual technical aspects of shooting a BTS video. I'm going to cover just the basics to get you started. Behind the scenes videos can range in quality just like any creative service.
If you're on a tight budget which let's face it the majority of us are you can either put your camera on a tripod and film it yourself, which limits the quality of the video or you can collaborate with your fellow filmmaking peers. If you have friends or colleagues either in your area or in the area that you're going to be shooting your project you can see if they may be interested in coming together and creating an awesome BTS video with you. In the video at the top of the article Benjamin goes into detail about how best to collaborate with fellow filmmakers.
If you find someone who is willing to help you with your videos make sure they are well briefed about what you will be shooting so that they can decide if it's something that interests them and so that they can plan accordingly. What equipment do they need to bring, will they need continuous lighting or other any other gear to create a video for the conditions that you will be shooting in? I will say that you need to be careful when using continuous lighting in BTS videos, you don't want the video lights to affect your actual shoot in any way.
While you still want to maintain some control over how the video is going to be shot to help control your image, remember that the people you collaborate with are artists too with their own styles of shooting and editing. If they're helping you that means they are probably either wanting to build their portfolio or just lend a helpful hand to you. Don't squash their creativity by becoming a dictatorial over the shoulder editor. Obviously if you've hired someone and are paying them, you can be a little more hands on in the process.
Really this is going to depend simply on your budget. Any recent to the market DSLR will be able to shoot video. In a tight squeeze where a dedicated videographer isn't with me I will hand a friend my Canon 60D, some memory cards and let them take a crack at filming some BTS footage for me to later edit. You do want some quality to the video so make sure you follow your basic videography rules when filming (focus, movements, proper settings etc...)
This is definitely something that you don't want to overlook. Whatever you do, stay away from the DSLR's built-in mic. The sound quality is horrible. You want something that will sound clear and intelligible without all of the background noise coming through.
"If shooting with a DSLR a Rode video mic can make a huge difference; or a LAV mic plugged into an H1 can get solid voice over audio."- Mike Wilkinson Check out his post on audio accessories for your BTS videos.
What if you don't have an external mic that you can use at the moment? You can substitute an external mic using an iPhone of all things. Lee Morris explains in this post how you can use an iPhone to capture sound for your behind the scenes videos.
Ah, music every artist's muse for creating BTS videos. The thing though is that most popular music is copyrighted and just like we don't appreciate it when our images are swiped and used without our permission same goes with musicians. There are a number of royalty-free music sites that you can buy music for the background of your videos, some even have a few tracks that are free of charge. Check out sites like The Music Bed, AudioJungle, The Vimeo Music Store, Triple Scoop Music and SongFreedom just to name a few.
Sometimes when you're first starting out doing on camera interviews or behind the scenes videos it can be awkward to say the least. I particularly can't stand to look at myself in videos, but just keep in mind that most viewers are not going to dissect your appearance in the video like you may assume. They are watching to learn and not to see what you're wearing or if your hair is perfect. Just show up to your shoot looking moderately nice and groomed and the rest will be fine. Don't completely edit out those goofs from your video. Those moments where you messed up a line or started giggling uncontrollably are great to add in the video in various places. It shows your audience that you're human and that you have a sense of humor.
As far as speaking in front of the camera getting comfortable is probably one of the hardest things to get accustomed to. A few people use teleprompters to help them with dialogue like Benjamin Von Wong. You just have to be careful that you don't look like you're simply reading off of one. I really recommend the PadPrompter like in Von Wong's video. I plan on purchasing one for myself pretty soon.
So, the next time you plan a shoot whether it be for port or an assignment think about creating a behind the scenes video to accompany the final edited images. I would love to see what behind the scenes videos our readers are creating, after-all Fstoppers started out as a "behind the scenes" photography blog and I would love to feature your videos right here on the site. You can send me your videos to firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
Remember, content is king.