Using video to enhance your intranet: 15 pocket camera tips and tricks

Don’t forget to shoot some B-roll.


HR, communications, and marketing departments are tapping into video to enhance their intranets, static websites, and blogs. This can be daunting, especially if you’ve never used a pocket camera before.

Pocket cameras deliver videos that are economical and simple. They give you the ability to use YouTube to deliver stories, late-breaking news, employee communication, and community updates.

Here are 15 things you should keep in mind:

1. Beware of ambient (background) noise. Examples: air conditioners, loud computer humming, road noise, or walking noises. Sudden loud noises are worse than a steady hum of activity. Close doors if possible to avoid access noise.

2. Environment. Find an out-of-the-way spot, but in the subject’s typical environment. Get details of the subject’s routine and daily activities to illustrate their character and core values. When shooting this type of content, treat the video camera like you’re taking a photograph. Compose the shot and clean up the environment, so the area is not cluttered. Never have the tripod or other photo equipment in the video frame.

3. Avoid stripes and other detailed patterns on clothes. Complicated backgrounds are difficult to reproduce on pocket cameras, which have fewer pixels per inch.

4. Interviewees should remain still—unless they are performing an action relevant to filming. Watch out for too much head movement or nodding. Watch for twitches such as playing with their hair or jewelry.

5. Maintain eye contact with the interviewees throughout filming.

6. Before and after the take, hold the camera motionless on a scene for 10 seconds and let people, cars, and objects move through. If you want to follow or track motion, try to start or stop your movement with a still shot.

7. Have a general goal of what you want the subjects to say. Interview them with easy questions to get them to relax and also to get the info you want to frame the story with.

8. Interviewees should use part of your question as the beginning of their answer. Make sure the videographer remains silent, while the interviewees are responding.

9. Use playback during the interview to review what you have filmed and see if any retakes are needed. Don’t hesitate to do more than one take.
10. B-roll. If you have time, B-roll is a great addition. Extra footage of the scene provides a visual overview and illustrates added detail of the story. It also helps the video in the editing phase if there are “bad” parts of the interview.

11. Making the subject comfortable. When interviewing someone, ask some “softball” questions first to get your subject comfortable. Look for an entry to a deeper discussion. Try to get them to summarize their thoughts in a sentence or two.

12. Have fun. Don’t worry too much about getting it “right.” Good content will compensate for technical difficulties (within reason).

13. Record in one or a few segments. Final product will be easier to deliver rather than trying to “fix” it in editing.

14. Speak at a normal speed. People get nervous and talk faster on camera. If they are a fast talker anyway, ask them to speak more slowly.

15. 30 seconds of video = 75-80 words. 60 seconds = 150-160 words. Every word is precious. Make them count.

Stacy Carter is a partner and creative director for ABZ Design Group.

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