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Video Production 2: Capturing Speaker Videos

This is a tale of two Rands.

More accurately, it’s a tale of two videos that happen to feature Moz founder, Rand Fishkin, a popular speaker and presenter at top marketing conferences.

One of the videos is a self-produced video that Rand and his team created at Moz, an SEO technology firm, and the other is a video that my agency produced of him speaking at one of our events several years ago. These two videos provide an opportunity to discuss the value of producing presentation videos, at two distinctly different levels of production value.

Why Produce Videos of Speaker Presentations?

Demand for video in the content marketing mix is high. Equally high are the human and financial resources needed to produce video, especially when a video needs to be created from scratch. Creating original content from scratch is a challenge, in any format, creatively, logistically, and financially. Video is even more so.

But, a beautiful thing happens when businesses have executives–or others–on the team, who are good presenters. The very act of creating the presentation takes care of the most daunting creative challenge in video, and then the bulk of what remains to be done is primarily mechanical and technical.

In this article, we use two videos of Rand Fishkin to discuss, contrast and compare what’s needed to create a quality in-house video, as well as a quality speaker video.

The In-House Presentation Video

As the founder of SEO technology firm MOZ, Rand is considered one of the foremost authorities on the topic of Search Engine Optimization. The combination of his expertise and his comfort before the camera were the basis for producing a successful presentation video series called Whiteboard Friday.

An essential element of Whiteboard Friday is its simplicity. It’s Rand, in front of a whiteboard. It doesn’t get much more stripped down than that.

But, it’s the attention to three essential production details that make it work.

According to Rand, they dedicated a room to serve as the “whiteboard studio.” The three most important features of the studio are:

  • A fixed lighting set up that eliminates shadows and reflections from the whiteboard, while at the same time looks flattering on the talent
  • Investment in quality microphones, lavalier mics especially
  • A room that is free from outside, ambient sounds, with sound dampening materials added to the walls

This combination of fixed studio lighting, quality microphones, and a dedicated space removes several barriers to producing quality videos consistently because the cameraman and talent walk into a predictable, ready-to-go set up, just like your Evening News talent walks onto the newsroom’s set.

From a content marketing ROI point of view, is the effort worth it?

According to Rand, “Whiteboard Friday is one of the highest ROI activities we have at Moz because of the relatively small per video investment and the large payoff in traffic and amplification.”

Executive Presentations at Conferences

It’s often surprising to us how many businesses have executives who are regulars on the speaking circuit for their industry, yet very seldom go through the effort–human or financial–to record those presentations for use in their content mix.

During the years that we produced a Content Marketing Retreat on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, we were mindful of the value of shooting videos of our presenters, and made it a priority to do so, such as this video of Rand Fishkin’s keynote address at our event:

Reasons to consider prioritizing the capture of conference presentations by executives include:

  • One-of-a-kind presentations often rise to the level of performance, and can be both compelling and informative
  • At a well produced conference, there’s often quality staging, quality lighting and quality sound that can be leveraged for a quality video
  • Executive and keynote presentations often have a long shelf life, being worthy of publishing and distributing for many years

When you think of the above bullet points, think of the popular, widely shared TED Talk video series.

Specifically, elements of our Rand Fishkin keynote address video worth noticing and appreciating include:

  • The use of a two camera set up–one to capture a wide angle view and one to capture tight shots, primarily head and shoulders-which lends itself to a more interesting final edit
  • We took full advantage of quality stage lighting, which many conference main stages will have
  • Audio was recorded to the cameras, as well as to a separate digital audio recorder, for both quality as well as back up security reasons–remember, bad or nonexistent speaker audio means no speaker video 
  • Custom title graphics and final credits provide for a professional, polished presentation

Here are four tips for capturing your executives or other public speaking rock stars in your company:

  1. Ask the event producers if they will have a camera crew available, and if so, what their plans are for the video, post conference. If their plans don’t include making a quality final edit, ask for access to the raw footage so that you can produce your own.
  2. If the event producers do not have a camera crew available, ask about bringing in your own. A skilled video crew will know the right questions to ask the event producers about the stage, lighting, and audio, to insure you get what you need, in terms of quality.
  3. Do you have enough budget for one camera? Then stretch the budget, and add a second camera.  You won’t regret it.
  4. Today, many audio set ups at large conferences have the ability to record audio at the mixing board. At minimum, if you can’t get video of your executive, ask if you can provide digital media (i.e. a USB drive, or a flash card), to capture the audio onto. In a situation where your speaker has a slidedeck, then you can pair the audio with the slidedecks to create a video presentation.