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Six ways to get it right on camera

by AprilSix Proof

Proof has just returned from a jam-packed two days in Scotland accompanying Reuters TV to film innovation features on a couple of our clients.

We can’t say too much on the stories we were filming – we wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise now would we? However, the trip confirmed some key ways to make the most out of a film shoot, which we thought would be useful to share. In comparison to being quoted or featured in a written article, being on camera can be pretty intimidating and a lot more goes into getting it right, as you have to think about look and tone as well as content. However, with the rise of on-demand video online, opportunities for film coverage are a great way to reach different audiences you may not get with traditional print media. This is highlighted by the fact that Reuters launched the world’s first mobile TV news service – Reuters TV, aimed at a growing segment of informed, mobile, and globally engaged people in their 30s and 40s. So, whether you’re filming for your own marketing video, or being filmed by the media, here are our tips on how to ensure that you and your company come across well on film.

Plan, plan… and plan some more. If you can, have the whole shoot planned, outlining the location, content and picture of each shot. Try to find out from the producer what their focus areas will be ahead of time and then piece together a logical order and narrative to cover those topics. Once you have that sorted, try creating a storyboard, detailing what will be on screen when, who will be talking and what they will be saying. This will really help to visualise the film in advance – that way you can plug any gaps and identify problems in advance.  The more planning you do, the less time will need to be spent filming and editing and the producer and stars of the show will certainly thank you for that!

This week, when filming with CelluComp, who develop Curran®, a material developed from the extraction of nano-cellulose fibres of root vegetables, almost every scene was planned. From filming a sugar beet as the raw material, through the various stages of processing, all the way to the end products.  The result was a well organised and efficient filming process.

Assign people roles. Ensure you have an expert spokesperson for each topic. The more someone knows about the area they’re speaking on, the more likely they are to be enthusiastic and passionate about it, something that is vital to making watchable film!

However, it’s important to brief your spokespeople, even if they have spoken on the topic hundreds of times before. Every audience is different so make they know what level to pitch it at (based on age, level of expertise, investment in the topic etc). Also make sure they know the wider scope of the content, and what points they are expected to cover. This will help reduce any repetition, ensure everyone is ‘singing from the same hymnsheet’, cover any key messages and confirm any key facts and figures.

Call in favours. You never know if you can get something unless you ask. Know of a place or item that would really add to your story? Try asking if you can shoot at that location, or borrow a relevant product. You’d be amazed how often people agree – whether in exchange for a positive mention or just because they’re kind souls. We’ve asked the Science Museum to shoot in front of the first accurate atomic clock from the 1950s before (to which they happily agreed). Earlier this week we were stumped on locations for our opening frame shooting with Celtic Renewables. The company produces biobutanol from whisky production waste and we knew we needed to get in some whisky shots… que a trip to the company President’s local pub! As the pub owners had known the family running the company for years, it was easy not only to get permission but to get more ‘stars’ for the film. Not only did this engage many of the local regulars in the story but also with the media attending and Proof’s work too. This snippet really helped communicate the story in terms that most people can relate to (some perhaps too much…)

Inject novelty. Anything that is a bit different will generate interest from the producer and the eventual audience of the film. So, think about what you can offer that others can’t. On another project we were featuring this week, digital hydraulics innovators Artemis Intelligent Power, we took the producer for a personal spin in a hybrid BMW and bus. The company was also able to hoist the vehicles up so Reuters could film underneath them – not your usual angle. Nothing like standing under a bus weighing tonnes to add a little novelty!

Cram in visual aids. Films are usually very limited in timeframe, so the more you can demonstrate your meaning rather than explaining it, the more content you’ll actually get in. Visual aids and examples will help the audience understand complex machinery or technology and keep the film interesting too. Who wants to just watch a person talking for three minutes?

If you can’t show your technology in action, are there any demos you can film? Or do you have graphics showing how it works? If you don’t, it would be worth investing in having these created- they’d be useful as a sales tool too.

Don’t forget the fun! There will always be lots of waiting around in between shot set-ups and mic-ing up. Keeping a light, enthusiastic and friendly atmosphere going throughout will be key to keeping the various spokespeople engaged and upbeat until it’s their turn in front of the camera. If in doubt, keep some coffee and snacks around! Given the high calibre content we knew the companies would have to share this week, we expected the shoots would be successful. The most surprising feedback this week however was hearing from our clients, the various companies and the producer about how much FUN they had! Only with Proof…

Finally, pay attention to what you like to watch. We are all part of an audience ourselves, with our own preferences on what makes a good TV programme/ film/ YouTube video. There’s probably little you can learn from Game of Thrones (that would be professionally appropriate anyway) but next time you’re sat watching a documentary cast an analytical eye over what you think works and what doesn’t. It might just give you some inspiration!

If you have any questions, please contact Fareha Lasker via or Alex Cloney via