How to format video

The question brands should be asking themselves these days is not so much “should I use video for marketing?” but rather, “what kind of video should I produce?” Whether B2B or B2C, video simply has to form part of your marketing mix in order for your brand marketing to gain traction and get taken seriously. 

To properly execute the brand film you have in mind, this chapter is going to look at how to create a detailed video brief and then go onto look at the various formats and approaches available to you, so you can pick which one best fits your brief.

Creating a Brief

A video brief is a must-have prior to shooting any film. This will help your entire crew (from the writers to the designers to the video developers) follow and execute your vision. It will also save you time and money during production, as everyone will know what the end goal is, especially when challenges come up. 

Follow these steps when creating a video brief:

  • Keep it short — Stick to the facts. The longer your brief gets, the more confusing it can be. Short paragraphs and bullet points will do.
  • Include background information about your business — Let the video developers know your brand, your target audience, brand message, brand personality, and other pertinent info, so they’ll know the tone and style that they can take.  
  • Detail your expectations — What are your goals? What do you plan to achieve with your videos? Is this help, hub or hero content? Where will your video be published? Which video format do you prefer?
  • State your budget and deadline — How much you’re willing to spend and the timeframe you’re working with will help your production team give you a realistic output given your resources.

Remember that the more details you can provide, the better. However, don’t go overboard, as you wouldn’t want to cause any confusion with your vision. 

Live vs Animated: Weighing up the Pros and Cons

Despite the myriad of styles and approaches you can take, there are really two main video approaches you can choose from and that’s to use live footage or animated. More often than not you may want to use a combination of live footage with visual effects but for the most part your content will be one or the other. Let’s look at each in turn.

Animation

Animated videos are not confined to cartoon movies and TV shows anymore; this style can also be used in creating brand films. For your video campaign, you can choose from these techniques:

  • 2D — Although it may look simplistic, 2D videos remain popular in marketing campaigns, be it for B2C or B2B industries. This style is characterised by scenes and characters shot in perspective to create the illusion of depth. 

Video: https://youtu.be/OJg7H7Ssbog 

This technique is usually used as explainer videos, especially when a product or service can be confusing to the target market. They can be colourful and dynamic, as opposed to having one of your staff manually explain how your product or service works. 

There’s a variety of 2D styles you can choose from, including 2D character animation, 2D motion graphics, and whiteboard animation.

  • 3D — Also called CGI or computer animation, the 3D animation technique can give you a world of possibilities, be it for the scenery, characters, and storyline. 

Video: https://youtu.be/mSGbiOETgxA

3D videos help brands stand out, thanks to its state-of-the-art elements and camera manipulations. While this style can best immerse the viewer, production often takes longer and is heavier on resources.

Animation Videos Pros:

  • Cheaper — You don’t need to hire actors or scout for and shoot on locations. You also won’t need to deal with multiple schedule conflicts to get everyone on-board.
  • Flexible — Is something doesn’t work then there is no need to schedule re-shoots with actors as all your locations and characters exist on a hard drive, not in the real world. 
  • Creativity without boundaries — Whether you want your video to be on top of Everest or deep underwater, the only limit is your imagination, not your budget. You can defy the laws of physics or create worlds that are completely different from real life. 
  • Create memorable charactersAnimation allows you to create very unique and distinct characters that can come to represent your brand for many years to come. Think the Ribena berries, Tony the Tiger or more recently, the meerkats of Compare the Market.
  • Tap into emotions — Since you can create any character and location you want, you have more opportunities to hook the emotions of your target market. More than the VFX, transitions and colours, you can also use metaphors and symbolism that allow you to bring your brand story to life in far more ways than traditional film. 

Video: https://youtu.be/sssqDACf5m4 

Animation Videos Cons:

  • Not for every situation — There are certain situations that animated videos would not do justice. If you need to demonstrate how your product works in real world situations, then animation is obviously not the way to go. Despite its ability to represent the real, animation will lack a lot of the nuances and subtleties of working with a great actor or presenter. Look at your competitors and see if any of them invests in animation. If it works for them, it might be worth a shot. 
  • You will need an expert — Although we’d always recommend working with experts whatever type of brand film you’re creating, animation requires specific technical know-how, so unless you have that, then there’s no way you can do this in-house.
  • Slower to produce — You need to take time into consideration, as the animation process often takes longer (minimum 5 to 7 weeks). This includes scriptwriting, storyboarding, animation, voice overs, and sound effects. 
  • Impersonal — You won’t be talking directly to your audience, giving it a more impersonal vibe, as opposed to you (or your staff) standing in front of the camera and talking about your own brand.

Live action

Live action videos is the traditional way of producing film. You can show real people behind the brand, giving these videos more authenticity. Your audience will also be able to relate better, as they can see your body language and hear your tone of voice.

Video: https://youtu.be/ZUG9qYTJMsI 

You can do the straightforward live action route or add 3D elements into live action videos. Crowdfunding sites often use live action videos to better demonstrate a product in real-world settings.

Live Action Pros:

  • Faster — Shooting live action videos is often faster than animated videos, as long as you don’t add a lot of complicated elements (e.g. location, characters). Although the process includes scriptwriting, storyboarding, casting, location, props/wardrobe, and post-production, a lot brands can complete one video in a few days. 
  • Use what you already have — You can use your office or home as location, and ask your colleagues or friends to be your actors. 
  • Improvise — You can improvise the script as you go, or adjust the storyline while filming.
  • Relatable — Live videos humanise your brand. The audience will see you (or your staff) and hear your voice, instead of looking at animated characters. This will allow you to communicate emotion much better.

Live Action Cons:

  • Less flexible — The scope and scale of your brand film will always be directly tied to your budget, so if you want exotic locations, good actors and lots of extras then it’s going to cost you. Animation doesn’t suffer as significantly from these physical and logistical considerations.  
  • Risk of gadgets/props breaking down —  If your camera or props break during the shoot, you won’t be able to take the shots that you want.
  • Future editing can be challenging — Once you’ve shot each scene, that’s all you’ll have to work with, unless you’re ready to incur reshooting costs.

Which One Should You Use?

The format you’ll use depends on your needs and your budget. 

Use animated videos if want to explain abstract concepts (e.g. explainer videos). Animated videos are also best if you want a content asset that you can edit later on in the future.

Live action videos, on the other hand, are best used for connecting with your audience and creating a more personal brand. You can also demonstrate your product in real-life situations. This style is best used if you are working within a constrained timeline.

QUICK CHAPTER SUMMARY

  • When creating your videos, you need to first come up with a video brief, so that everyone in your production crew will be on the same page
  • Animated videos that you can use for your brand can be in the 2D, 3D, and whiteboard formats
  • Live action videos, on the other hand, can stick with the traditional process of being in front of the camera or having additional 3D elements thrown into the mix
  • If you’re torn between using animated videos and live action videos, it’s best to look at the pros and cons of each, so you can pick a style that would best represent your brand