Coal Creative - Creative Juidce - Video: From Vision to Views

Video is ubiquitous in our lives. We see it all day from the morning news to social media and cinematic blockbusters to family videos. Video is an important tool for marketers, thanks to its effectiveness. The medium is perfectly suited for a documentary-style testimonial that introduces a business or a TV ad designed to close a sale — and everything in between. 

The ease of capturing footage gives the false impression that making a video is as simple as “point and shoot.” The trick is that well-produced video looks easy. The combination of talented professionals, high-tech recording equipment, advanced editing software and a dedication to details, unite to deliver a natural looking video. 

The Coal Creative video team works tirelessly to make videos that look genuine. Imagine a video where a person talks to the camera while standing outside. The video glides between their image and b-roll (industry speak for secondary footage that adds context and visual interest). The secret to success comes in the editing bay. The traffic noises from the background have been removed. The speakers “ums” have been cut and the message has been condensed to its most direct version.

If we just pointed a camera at the subject and posted the results, viewers would be distracted. The rumbling of engines and vocal tics would gobble up the viewers’ attention. Editing strips out impurities. The finished production should deliver a concise, easy-to-understand message, consistent with the objective we set at kickoff.

At Coal Creative we call our clients collaborators. By nature, every project is personal and unique. To help lay out the general process of taking a video from an idea to a final production, we coaxed the Coal Video Team out from behind computers and cameras for some insight into their world.


Meet the Coal Creative Video Team

Here’s a little background on the players you’ll hear from below.


Alex Manganella, Production Manager 

Alex leads our video production team as they turn proposals into award-winning films and promotional videos. He helps shape goals and makes sure all preparation is done before cameras roll. Alex handles much of the filming at Coal Creative, including operating our drone. 


Jay Nguyen, Video Specialist

Jay plays a key role in production by setting up and handling equipment at shoots. She is instrumental in shooting interviews and b-roll. Jay also assists editing. 


Will McHale, Post Production Manager

Will writes, directs, shoots and edits video content. As post production manager, he serves as the final editor on most of our projects. Will edits video and audio, while balancing color, incorporating music or sound effects and deploying motion graphics.


How to Kick Off a Video Production?

Every video project begins with a conversation. It starts with absorbing our collaborators’ needs and vision. This is where their passion is revealed. This conversation brings their wishes and the realities of production together.

“A big part of it is listening and trying to be empathetic about what they want,” Will said about kickoff discussions.

These conversations help us decide on the kind of video we’re making. Examples include: an advertisement, event video or testimonial — to name a few. At this time, we decide between a script or a looser framework that will be shaped in post-production. The kickoff also includes locking in a budget, timeline and schedule. 

Before we ever shoot a frame, we prepare. This ensures the day of the video shoot is smooth and efficient. The preparation depends on the video. Here are some things we line up in advance.

  • People — Who is going to be on camera for this shoot? It could be actors — though, most of the time — we’re filming regular people who are involved with local businesses and organizations. In advance, we schedule call times for everyone who will be on camera.
  • Words — We have our people, now what is coming out of their mouths? They could come from a pre-written script. They could also come from the heart. Our video team shares questions in advance to help our subject’s get their thoughts together. If necessary, we have a teleprompter to help.
  • Props — If the video has anything in it besides a person and their words, we’ll need to get that stuff together before the shoot. Having props on hand keeps the shoot on schedule.
  • Location — The “where” of every video sets the tone. The location should match the message and add to the overall experience. Let’s take a closer look at location selection.


How to Select a Video Shoot Location?

Location, location, location! This repetitive phrase applies to video shoots as much as real estate. Our video is telling a story. The setting will contribute — or detract, if picked haphazardly — to the finished product. Relevance, tone and quality are important to location selection. 

For many collaborators, the most relevant location is their place of business.  In these cases, our video team will travel to you. We also have a studio in our Wilkes-Barre office. The studio has a green screen for dynamic backdrops and a quiet atmosphere for audio recording.

As much as the setting needs to match the story it should also provide quality footage and audio. Blaring music and dancing patrons make excellent b-roll for a video about a night club. However, it would be a terrible place to interview the owner. The movement and the thumping bass will only distract.

For The Bench Project,  Alex and Jay met founder Beth Romanowski at her Shavertown farm to film this video. The farm is a beautiful and quiet place. They first shot Beth’s interview. Alex explains that it’s best practice to make mental notes about b-roll during the interview. In this case, Beth mentions several benches on the property. Alex and Jay captured images of those benches that were seamlessly edited in by Will in post-production.

Will pointed out that audio should be a consideration for indoor locations as well. The best choice is a small, sound-proof room. A caverness  gymnasium — on the other hand — provides a big echoey chamber for voices to bounce around.

“You want to consider the texture of the room, height of the ceiling, sound sources,” Will explained.


The Art of Interviewing for Video

For unscripted videos, an interview or testimonial becomes the lead narrative. In these cases, Jay and Alex set up the cameras and prompt the speaker with some questions. 

“The ideal person is prepared, excited and willing to roll with the punches,” Alex said. 

Luckily, for many business owners, preparedness and excitement come from passion. No one is better equipped to talk about a company than the person running it. Familiarity also breeds comfort in front of the camera. 

“We get the privilege of filming people more than once,” Alex said. “They get to experience the process and then see the finished project.”

The team also recognizes that speaking on camera is intimidating for a lot of people. 

“When people are in front of the camera they feel vulnerable because they understand it’s going to broadcast,” Jay said. “We try to be as human as possible and be vulnerable with them.”Prior to a shoot, we recommend the speaker makes some notes and thinks about the questions. When the shoot is happening, Jay said they encourage people to take their time. The relaxed, easy pace creates a friendly environment.

“It’s a small community. We try to approach everyone as a friend first,” Jay said.


The Basics of Video Editing

When a shoot is over, Jay and Alex will edit together all the best answers into a long clip. Will takes that footage and begins shaping it into the final production. The narrative is the skeleton, the b-roll is the flesh and the final effects are the clothes and makeup.

First the narrative is edited together. Will eliminates vocal crutches and even stitches together different sentences to deliver the message. This is when all the distractions are eliminated. Will takes out the droning air conditioner and reframes the shot so you can’t see the outlet on the wall. Without seeing the original footage, you’d never know those things were ever there.

When editing, Will goes back to the outline, which provides targets like duration and feel. With music, sound effects and transitions, an editor can impart mood. In-house graphic treatments — names plates, title cards, logos etc. — add the final polish.

To show how dramatic the difference between treated and untreated video can be, Will teamed up with Social Media Specialist Jesse Macko to show you what it looks like.


What Happens to my Video When It’s Done?

Once the video is approved by the Coal Creative team and our collaborators, it’s time to share our work. We handle distribution for some collaborators. That means we post the video across the platforms we agreed upon at kickoff. Then your video is available to the world on social media, YouTube or television.

If the collaborator is handling their own distribution we send them the final, maximum resolution video file and wait to see it in the wild. 


To learn more about video production or any of our other services, please fill out the form below and we’ll reach out. And don’t forget to stay Coal!

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