A Medieval Corporate Video Production?
One of our most critical production principles at Pixel Pi is our insistence that video productions you’d expect to be banal or tacky transcend that low standard. That’s why when it comes to crafting corporate video productions – that starchy, pleated-pants genre people love to parody…
…we make a point of stirring up all our creative juices to concoct something watchable and respectable for clients.
It’s maybe not quite common knowledge that even video production companies doing outstanding creative work with brands and artists effectively keep their doors open by partnering with a roster of highly varied clients. This means that a sizeable portion of any video production company’s slated projects may include developing online videos in the corporate world. This may sound like standard fare commissioned work, straightforward and simple, even mindless technical work at its very worst. But if you think about it, that’s precisely where the problem lies! The corporate video is typically approached with little, if any, imaginative gusto and often relegated to the status of merely “competent”.
We think this is why corporate videos have landed themselves such a bad rap in this super clever and savvy time of hyper-saturated online marketing. There’s so much artistic talent and storytelling innovation going into new video outreach campaigns that it can feel like the corporate video, at least how it’s conventionally approached, is all but dead – a fossilized and forgotten form of communication for dinosaur companies only. Even the phrase “corporate video” itself is often enough to produce a thin but socially significant layer of glaze over the hearer of said phrase’s eyes. It seems to us that this is largely because the concept of what a corporate video is and can be has been handcuffed by it’s own self-concept as something dry, stiff and just a little disingenuous. So it’s certainly a task and a half to come at a corporate video project from an angle that moves past the kind of cardboard cutout video projects born blandly in the boardroom (the ‘boredroom’?) where much of what’s envisioned is really just a replica of what’s been done before.
Achieving something more can admittedly be a tough nut to crack: to encode the sometimes bland or data-driven outreach goals into a corporate video that beats the watchability factor of grey paint drying in super-slo-mo…or a talking head waxing economic about the excitement of watching said wall and how you should be doing it too. But that’s what we’re here for, after all: to capture the spirit and value of a company, give it the ideas and storytelling tools it needs to reach out to the world with some class and maybe a bit of gumption.
This is why we set out with every corporate video production to find at least one aspect to the project we can achieve differently. Maybe it’s a way of heightening the visual messaging with an unexpected videography style; it might mean having clients present their information in the form of a story, personal narrative, through a fictional character, or even through song and dance; it could be an arresting pace of editing or a daring way of mirroring image to your sound design. Whatever stylistic approach to videography services or editing services we offer to our corporate video clients, we always push ourselves and our clients in pre-production to strive for something a little bit different.
This is what we tried to do with a recent series of videos with the amazing Metcalf Foundation.
CrSI Program – Video Production Details
Recently, we just wrapped an 8-month long contract with the Metcalf Foundation. For those who are unfamiliar with them, Metcalf is a foundation that supports community outreach programs, social justice organizations and funds a large portion of the performing arts sector. The particular program that they wanted to profile was their newly created Creative Strategies Incubator Program or their CrSI program. The program itself comprised of 5 organizations that had been looking for funding and the Foundation decided instead of simply writing a cheque, why not help them find ways to generate revenue on their own. The project involved the following organizations: Spacefinder Toronto, Acting Up Stage, Tafelmusik, Art of Time ensemble and the Toronto Fringe Festival.
As we forged ahead and created our production schedule, we shot a number of the interviews in some gorgeous locations – the Trinity St.Paul’s Center where we shot with Tafelmusik is an exceptional piece of Toronto architecture, a converted church re-purposed for pristine acoustical resonance and elaborate artistic performance. A two-camera 3-point lighting system was often enough to bring out the natural awesomeness of these surroundings. Like most corporate video shoots, the production team doesn’t have much time to set up and sometimes the interview subject needs to be coached along during the shooting. Réjean Tremblay, senior marketing manager at Tafelmusik, sat with us and discussed all of the exciting new approaches they are taking at the Toronto-based Baroque orchestra. The interview proved to be challenging because Réjean had to describe all of the complicated marketing tools they were employing at the orchestra, all within the one-hour time slot we were given with him. He had made extensive notes but once the cameras are rolling, it becomes very difficult to articulate what you had written down a day before. The participants had to recount everything that they had learned over the course of the 3 year CrSI program. It would be an understatement to say that these videos took a lot of thought and mental review.
The two camera system was a massive help here. To be able to take an hour and a half interview, and boil it down to 5 minutes, took us a lot of condensing and management. As we were cutting out the unusable elements, we had the ability to make jump cuts anywhere because we could always jump to a secondary angle. We decided to film the interviews on the Canon C100 and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Both cameras tend to shoot very flat images which allows for better color correction in post. Since we were editing in Premiere Pro, there were a number of built in LUTS (Look Up Tables) that pre-correct your shots within the program. During the colour correction process we decided to put all of the interviews in black and white as a style for all of the videos. The idea here was to have greater contrast between the interview sections and the B-roll / screen capture sections.
Additionally, Tafelmusik offered their full audiovisual archives – landmark past performances and behind-the-scenes videos – so that we would be able to make the most entertaining and visually interesting video for them and the foundation. Overall, we had a great time working with such an awe-inspiring artistic organization and look forward to see what they produce in the future.
Have a look below at one of our newly finalized and hopefully satisfying corporate video productions and feel free to leave us any feedback in the comments section below.