With a leadership video things don’t just get serious when the camera starts running. For top-level executives time probably is one of the most important resources. Disposition and availability of the leadership video’s main character is always an issue. Whoever sticks their neck out in the name of corporate communications – and that’s what a leadership video requires you to do – no matter what the time pressures, has to be considered and consulted in all important decisions made.
There are several good and valid reasons, why a leadership video might not be a suitable means of communication for you or your company answer (more about that in part 1 of the leadership video series). Fear of making a mess of things in preparation or during filming with regard to content or planning is not one of those. Every video and every film is a project. Be it part of a series or a one-off, projects too have to go by established courses of action and rules. This article informs you about the processes and timeframes necessary for the creation of a professional leadership video.
In this three-part article series Videothink explains what’s important when it comes to leadership communication. Part 1 of the series focuses on cost and conception, this article as a follow up deals with the preparations of preproduction, the shooting itself as well as image and sound postproduction. Part three will focus on how to formally produce and create content. This series will culminate with the analysis of real-life examples and the learning’s derived from such.
Preparation and shooting of leadership videos
For an experienced film production company, CEO videos – at least from a logical standpoint – aren’t rocket science. Unlike the shooting of a fiction feature film, where there’s a crew of over 80 people involved (on average when filming a TV spot or image film you rely on a crew of a couple of dozen people), CEO-videos require a lot less manpower. Usually there are no more than a dozen people involved. It does however require great precision in planning. To you’re your CEO stand around and wait on a film set – because some last minute arrangements have to be done – simply isn’t an option.
The 4 steps to the perfect CEO video can take up to three to five days, starting from the moment the video has been commissioned and the proposal has subsequently been approved by the client. Outlines for deadlines and timeframes are:
- Step 1 – Definition: 15 days *
- Step 2 – Formatting: 20 days *
- Step 3 – Piloting: 10 days *
- Step 4- Production and impact assessment: 10 days *
* including client’s approval process and time for corrections to be made.
In other words: for a professional CEO video to be completed from A-Z – which might include planning for later serial follow ups, test shots and quality control, 45 working days (i.e. 9 weeks) should be planned for it, whereby 4 of those 9 weeks are for the customer and company internal approval process. Depending on how quickly the video is approved, the overall working time in terms of video production can take up to 5 weeks.
In an ideal world, the CEO should be included in three important moments during planning and production:
- Presentation of the style of the CEO video (towards the end of step 2, Formatting) Average time required: 45 min. *
- Test for piloting. Average time required: 60 min. *
- Filming of video (Shooting). Average time required: 60 min. – 90 min. *
* for the presentation of the concept no preparation is required. In piloting and shooting it is assumed that the content has been memorised as keywords. The final approval/ release by the CEO is, like the possible content-related approval by the client’s legal department , included in the average 10 day deadline of step 4 (see above).
Drafting of content
The content of the leadership videos in general is the client’s responsibility. In most cases the client already has a rough content proposal before the video is commissioned. This doesn’t mean that the production partner doesn’t have a say: Form follows function only applies to a certain degree with CEO videos. Here the eye listens too. Text and image have to harmoniously come together as one, and are often supplemented with further layers of information, like animated graphics. That’s why it’s the job of the producer, to provide the client with a text-raster based on the formatting chosen. This template should include at least a minimal amount of information on the duration, structure and layout of the text, based on the form of the video and its required effect.
An example to illustrate: the desired message and channel of distribution (social media) of a leadership video in step 2 lead to the conception of a video format, which in its visual language consciously sets the CEO as a focal point. If that CEO however only talks numbers in the video – verbalises an excel sheet, so to speak – this can create a stark contrast to the rest of the takes which might be more emotional close-ups. The viewer in general won’t recognise this gap in content and form, as its known in the industry, as a “scissor” effect, but instead – and quite rightly so – feel irritated by it.
Number guidelines regarding production costs are described in part 1 of this article series. The budget for a CEO video can be guided by the same parameters and production values of any calculation for film and video. The price of a leadership video comprises of four different components:
- the price of the technology and equipment used for the takes and for image and sound postproduction, as well as the design of graphics;
- the salary –based on talent, experience and know how – of those experts involved in the processes of creation, production and postproduction;
- any costs for locations and possible expenses;
- possible licence fees for music and/or archive footage used.
A decisive factor in costing is also the question, if the CEO video will be planned, conceived and produced as part of a series. The budget of the first video will then oftentimes include onetime costs. Typical examples for onetime costs in a CEO video are creation, graphics or the start and end credits (intro and end sequence)
Test shots (Piloting)
Test shots (Step 3 in the process) can be completed in different ways and with different goals in mind. They can either serve as technical run throughs for the film crew, as a final “dress rehearsal” with the CEO a few hours or days prior to actual filming or as a combination of both these factors. It isn’t necessary for the CEO to be present for the technical test shots. Someone can stand in to replace them (at the standing desk, in the office chair etc.) where the CEO will be filmed in later. The film crew can then run through the planned takes, optimise camera positions and light, to ensure everything runs smoothly when actual filming commences.
The filming process for CEO testimonials does not differ greatly from the course of action behind filming video-testimonials. With leadership videos, it goes without saying, a high level of authenticity should be aimed for. CEO’s in front of the camera, like famous actors, have a right to have one, competent person of contact, who will guide them through the takes and filming process. As a general rule that responsibility usually lies with the director or producer. Either way: a person who has experience and knowledge of both the content and the filming process and who can meet the CEO at his or her level.
Image and sound postproduction
Properly planned and implemented postproduction should fit in seamlessly – and as precisely as a gear wheel in a Swiss watch – into the overall process. Two to three days of postproduction work is average, until the CEO video can be presented to the client in its final version. In the case of prior announcement and relevant planning, shortened completion times – usually at the cost of an express fee – are possible if the work is done in shifts.
Continuation (Part 3)
Part 3 of this three part series lists the most important types and styles of leadership videos. The article should be understood as an orientation aid for creation and conception of leadership videos.