At a glance, the infographic below is deceptively simple. It’s a list of the most common types of videos that professionals are hired to produce. So what?
In a nutshell, there are hundreds of different types or formats of videos today, and there are even more names for them. And yet, the world operates under the assumption that any video producer can produce any video.
If you wanted to hire someone to write a technical software manual, you wouldn’t hire a novelist, poet, or journalist for the job, would you? We can all agree that there are many types of “writers” out there, and their talents or services are unique to their particular kind of writing.
And yet, when you want to make a video - any video - you simply look to hire a Video Producer. Or a Videographer. Filmmaker? We can’t even decide what to call ourselves. How can we decide what kind of videos we’re producing?
The truth is, it’s taken us many years in the business to arrive at this simple taxonomy of videos. And we think it’s a very important document for both video producers and video clients to review, upon the initial hire.
Why? Because during the hiring phase of video projects, clients and producers struggle with figuring out what exactly they’re going to produce.
This is precisely why the process of hiring a video producer - and equally, getting hired as a video producer - is the most challenging part of the video business.
And so we present an easy to read outline of what we believe are the most common types of videos-for-hire, their unique properties, and a variety of names for them.
Below the infographic, we go into much more detailed about the taxonomy as a whole, as well as each type of video project. You can click on the image for a larger, downloadable version.
Hiring a Videographer
Professional film and video production has existed for decades, and yet even today there is a mass confusion about what it is that we do. When a client emails or calls us about a potential job, what do they say they want to hire us for?
To be honest, most new clients don’t know precisely what they want. They are not the experts. Simply, they want a video. And we are in the business of making videos. How much do we charge for one?
Does this sound familiar? How much of our total conversation with new clients is simply trying to figure out what they want?
And so we take a deep breath, and begin the long and arduous process of figuring out what it is the client has in mind when they think of a video. We hear hundreds of different words to describe the type of video that clients want.
Sometimes the best approach is to simply ask a client for an example of what they’re envisioning. But on that first phone call or email, you don’t necessarily want to make the client work. Competing video producers might respond with a quick estimate, making it very simple for the client to make a hire decision, and meanwhile you’re pressing them for more information and examples of other video projects.
It’s no wonder video producers constantly struggle with getting hired. The work itself is a thousand times easier than the dance of finding and securing the work. And it’s because we’ve made it very difficult for the general public to hire us.
Asking the Right Questions
Quite often we resort to other strategies of determining the type of video the client wants. For example, it’s quite typical for a professional videographer to ask this question first and foremost: “How long will the video be?”
In essence, we’re asking about the length of a final video, before asking about any other components within that video itself. As if duration is the most important quality of a video. *Face palm*.
Is this really the best method we have today, of quickly and accurately settling on a video project scope, budget, and style? Asking how long will the video be?
But can we really blame the clients? Even within our inner circles, we don’t have a clear approach to identifying our various niche industries, or the types of video products we offer, or how they might look and sound, or how much any of it even costs. And if we do, we definitely aren’t good at passing on that knowledge quickly and efficiently to our new and potential clients.
It’s no wonder video producers constantly struggle with getting hired. The work itself is a thousand times easier than the dance of finding and securing the work. And it’s because we’ve made it very difficult for the general public to hire us.
Marketing with Video
As we’ve out lined in our corporate video production guide, most professional video producers believe that we should ask the client what they want, what their “goals” are. And honestly, it’s incredibly frustrating to hear this common advice from other videographers.
Why do we ask clients what their goals are, but not what kind of video they want and how much they’re willing to spend for one?
We already know what their goal is - it’s the other two pieces that we’re clueless about.
So what is their goal? It’s quite simple, clients want a video to promote something. That might be the image of their business, or a particular product or topic, or an event or something else that is a part of their doing business. Essentially, they want visual marketing. That’s all. For clients who are seeking your for-hire video production services, there’s no other goal.
To document an event, to educate an audience, to provide training - these are all reasons that stem from promotion and marketing.
Imagine asking a bride and groom what their video goals are? To simply document their day? No. They want a video that makes their wedding day look amazing, for their target audience, which is their friends and family. They are promoting themselves and their wedding day - i.e. marketing.
Even with a documentary, or a performance or educational lecture - the goal is always marketing. The very act of making a series of cuts, transfers the role of a video from archival purposes to a promotional vessel. A nationwide Public Service Announcement, though not commercial in nature, is promotional.
Marketing is the singular purpose of a paid video production. If you agree with that statement, then you'll never again ask a client what their "goal" or "objective" is with a video.
Getting to the Root of Video Production Services
So now that we’ve got the goal question out of the way, how can we improve our ability to get hired and execute a succesful video project that makes the client happy and resonates with the intended audience?
We need to quickly arrive at consensus with potential clients about what kind of video they want.
That's the underlying goal of this first ever Gear Dads Infographic. Yes, we write about filmmaking gear and videography equipment. But if you’ve read any of our posts, you’ll notice that most of our gear reviews are actually industry advice and lessons disguised as gear reviews. (Shh, don’t tell the gear companies.)
The whole point of testing and reviewing video production gear is to enhance our abilities as professional video producers. Right? Anyway, back to the infographic.
In researching and putting together this infographic, we started to list every type of video we have been asked to create by a client, and the alternating ways they’ve been described. We list the average duration of these videos because - as you’ve read above - we tend to ask clients for an estimated video duration in order to quickly figure out the type of video they’re envisioning. It’s maddening, but it does help guide the overall conversation about production, audience, distribution, and budget.
Below the introduction, there is a more extended description of this catalogue of the most common types of video productions for-hire. But in its basic form, the infographic is a great way to lead the conversation with a new client.
Marketing is the singular purpose of a paid video production. If you agree with that statement, then you'll never again ask a client what their "goal" or "objective" is with a video.
using the infographic to respond to an inquiry
If a client calls up and says, “We’re having an annual meeting coming up, and we’d like a video produced for it,” you could use the infographic to quickly sort out what the client is envisioning.
Do they want a very short trailer or teaser, like a music video featuring short clips from the event, but without an audio story? Do they want an edited or live to tape multicam production of the event’s speeches or events? Or maybe they want a docu-style corporate video, that features visuals from the event, along with interviews from participants that tell a story about the company and the event?
After a moment of thought, maybe they’ll say, “Whatever we do, I think we want something for Social Media.” Ok, so are they interested in creating one of the types of videos mentioned above, and then boosting the video for Facebook and Instagram views? Or do they want a unique “Social Media Text” type of short video where the viewer mostly watches it on mute, and there’s dynamic text over images and video from the event, promoting the event and company to online audiences.
“Yeah, all that.”
Now you’re on to something. Now you can suggest a package, where on the event day, you hustle and capture a lot of video, you do a few spot interviews with participants, and then go back and produce a 3 minute docu-style corporate video that tells an engaging and inspiring story about the event, company and its people. And then you can also cut a shorter 60-90 second music video that can be sent to all the event participants as a “highlight reel” or a visual recap of the event. And then finally you can produce a 30 second Social Media Text video that can be used online to heavily promote the event next year.
And if they like all of that, you can even suggest a multicam event video where 3 static cameras can be recording the speeches and either end up on a DVD or web link for a limited audience, or the feed can be broadcast live to Facebook or Youtube during the event itself.
You could achieve all of those videos in one day with a crew of 2-3 people. And by simply defining the various types of videos you could be hired to create for a one-day corporate event, you’ve now set your client up to have clear expectations about what they’re getting. And in the process, you may have turned a standard day rate gig into a sophisticated multi-video package.
What about other videos?
You’ll notice this infographic is missing many types of popular video formats, such as narrative or fiction films, vlogs, or the myriad of show types on broadcast and cable television.
The reason those types of formats aren’t included is because they are not common projects that hire video production businesses. These are projects that are either unpaid, or they’re staffed internally, or for the vast majority of them, they are industry jobs filled by specialists.
For example, narrative films and series hire independent contractors or specialists for their creative positions, such as director, director of photography, grip, gaffer, and so on. Reality and nonfiction television tends to hire production companies which in-turn hire freelance camera operators to shoot, and post-production houses to edit. News stations have their own photography crew.
The reality is, none of these video projects are going on the web to look for local videographers or for-hire video production companies. There’s an entire industry of production work that hires crew completely within their own circles. And we’d say that for the majority of people in the video making business, working as a freelance or on-staff specialist (like a camera operator) is the only sure way to make a career out of this work.
For one man band or small crews who produce, shoot, and edit, however, our bread and better are clients who aren’t already in the production industry. They are businesses who occasionally need video work done, and they need somebody they can hand over the project to, and so they seek you out.
There are exceptions, always, and as a start-up video production business, you ought to be open to taking any jobs that pay, including crew positions, day gigs, and so on. In fact, that’s a great way to accelerate your learning. Every once in a while, a production company out of LA will seek local video crew in your area to help shoot a house-buying reality show, for example. The pay won’t be great, but the experience is worthwhile.
The other exception is that at times, the streamlined production business does hire independent companies like yourself to produce video that is distinct from their core product. We’ve been hired by news stations to produce docu-style stories that are cinematic and different than a typical news feature. Stations also produce promos/ads, although often there are internal promotions staff to make them.
We also have colleagues who produce behind-the-scenes features for narrative and documentary features. These are essentially docu-style corporate video productions, with the film or series standing in for a typical corporation or organization. They hire a video production company to tackle the featurette, rather than taking any of their on-set crew away from the primary objective of filming the feature.
And lastly, there are Youtube or Social Media video formats out there that are framed as authentic video stories created by individuals, like Vlogs or Travelogues, but they can be sponsored by a brand and involve paid video producers.
For example, a company may hire a video production team to create a slick vlog, featuring staff or talent who is focused on content rather than learning the ins and outs of shooting and editing video. There's no shortage of corporate blogs, so it's not unreasonable to imagine big companies entering the Vlog arena in order to promote their brand.
Another example is the travelogue. We’ve all shot photos and videos during a vacation, and then edited them into a fun music video, with maybe some highlights of dialogue or diary-style entries sprinkled throughout. Well, now there are outdoor-niche brands that hire video production companies to create authentic travelogue videos. As a bonus, sometimes the subjects are even the paid filmmakers themselves.
So to summarize, there are many more types of videos and formats that aren’t included in in this infographic. But we’ve done our best to include only the video styles that paying clients will seek to hire independent video producers to create from beginning to end.
Documentary / docu-style video Production
Without a doubt, Docu-Style is the primary type of video that every single professional videographer or video producer makes for a living. There are many slight variations on the format, but the core qualities stay the same.
You take a nonfiction subject or topic, select people to serve as the interview subjects as well as possibly the visual subjects, you interview them, cut a story out of their interviews (the A-roll), and then lay down a variety of visuals (the B-roll) to hide the interview cuts.
In this format, the story is almost entirely told through the subject interviews, and everything else is there to increase the emotional effect of the interviews for the viewing audience. Whether it’s music, or cinematic visuals, photo montages, text breaks, motion graphics . . . it’s all there to support the interview-based story.
This is why we believe the skill of the interviewer and editor is what makes or breaks success in this industry. Clients see beautiful imagery everywhere these days, and they may or may not understand the difference between what we think is stunning versus terrible visuals. But every person responds to a video that affects them, and whether they think it’s the visuals, or the great interview subject, or the topic, they are hiring you because you are really good at cutting interviews into a good story.
In The Style of Documentary
We all call this type of video a Documentary, but what it really is Documentary-Style, or Docu-Style. A true documentary would follow a subject along as the camera captures a ton of raw data that has a natural story arc somewhere within it. An editor then creates a story out of a series of events unfolding on screen, dialogue between subjects, interviews, voice-over narration, and text cues.
A true documentary takes a considerable amount of work to produce, shoot, and edit, because it relies on time and events unfolding in order to generate enough footage for a story. A docu-style video, however, can be created in a matter of hours, because the story is being generated by an interview alone.
The other major difference between the two is that a Documentary often operates under strict ethics on how much interview cutting is allowed before it wades into truth-bending territory. A docu-style video, however, has no such rules about ethics whatsoever. In fact, it is customary for the editor to create sentences out of distant pieces of an interview. It’s almost essential, actually, in order to take an hour-long interview and cut it into a 90 second story, for example.
A docu-style video is always promotional. Therefore, it’s not only allowed but required for the story to be generated by the producer, rather than extracted from reality. On a spectrum, that can mean anything from a scripted, teleprompted, or guided interview, to interview questions that are written or approved by the client in order to facilitate a response that is effective as a promotional vehicle.
The only thing that is a hard truth about a docu-style video is that it takes place in the real world, using real people and their voices to tell a story. Many video producers don’t understand that we have a job that is very similar to a narrative filmmaker, except our script, actors, and sets are based in reality.
Now, where do we see docu-style video production? Almost all of reality TV is docu-style, although they do feature a little bit more footage of events unfolding rather than relying on pure interviews to fill up 30 minute windows.
Historic documentaries on public television, sports featurettes during games, late night infomercials - these are all typical docu-style productions on broadcast television. Some 30-second ads that feature real-life subjects are also docu-style, although it’s difficult to perform surgery on interviews to create 30 second cuts, so often the cuts are highly visible, or the subjects are scripted and teleprompted or recited. (Above is a good example of a 30-second docu-style commercial, featuring a friend of ours).
And of course news features can be docu-style. The difference is that both feature and hard news rely heavily on a voice-over narration - the reporter or anchor - to deliver the story, and the subject interviews are usually secondary.
The main thing to remember about Documentary or Docu-style is that it forms the basis for a thousand different types of video productions out there, whether they’re event based, or a wedding, commercial, educational, or any number of shooting scenarios and target audiences. So it’s important to understand this style and know when your job is to make a docu-style video, even when a client calls it by another name.
If you're interested in reading more about our philosophy and gear guide to documentary filmmaking, check out our filmmaking equipment article.
Corporate Video Production
Now that we know Docu-style is often the video format used in promotional or corporate video productions, why do we have a separate category for Corporate Video?
Often the only reason a video is called a “corporate video” is because the client is a for-profit company. A nonprofit or educational institution would never seek a quote for a corporate video. However, a for-profit company is likely to call their video anything from documentary to corporate to promotional and anything in between.
There are corporate videos that are indeed different from documentary or docu-style videos. For example, a long training video that combines interviews with voice-over narration, text cues, B-roll, and even fictional subjects and scenes can be considered a corporate video. Imagine the video that a new hire at a trucking company must watch on their first day.
The essential thing to remember is, corporate video simply means a for-profit company is the client, which makes this category the largest and most difficult to pin down precisely.
On an initial client call, the term corporate video can encompass quite a lot of types of videos. Here are just a few: Product Video, Testimonial, Case Study, Showpiece, Sponsored Content, Brand Culture Video, Talking Head Video, Promo, Sizzle Reel, Tutorial, Live Stream, Behind The Scenes, Presentation or Lecture, Webinar, and so on.
If you haven’t yet, spend some time reading our promo video guide to make a living producing corporate videos that don't suck. The fact that this category is so wide means that you don’t have to stick to boring productions just because you’re in the corporate video business.
Commercial / Ad Video Production
When clients talk about producing a commercial or ad, they are most likely interested in a very short promotional video, whether it’s for TV broadcast or for the web. So even though the production of an ad might look very much like a docu-style corporate video, the term is used to describe the final output.
This is why more experienced clients tend to call this kind of video a “:30”. It cuts right down to what they’re trying to achieve. More recently, we’ve begun hearing requests for a “:15”, since that’s a more likely web product.
Most likely, a local video production company will produce, shoot, and edit a :30 for local TV broadcast, and there is an endless stream of small businesses that are looking for short commercials. That’s especially true for time-based ads, promoting upcoming events or sales and promotions.
The problem for many videographers attempting to break into this business, however, is that local TV station affiliates typically have their own commercial production department. And they often will offer their production for free, if a client buys a certain amount of air time.
For more wide reaching audiences, an ad can become extremely creative and highly produced. Typically a video production company will be hired by an ad agency to help produce, direct, and possibly edit the spot, but the creative ideas will come from the agency.
These days, many short commercials end up primarily online rather than with TV ad buys. It’s much cheaper to place a sponsored ad on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, with targeted audiences, than to broadcast to a wide audience and hope for a small return. This is why Facebook is a billion dollar company, after all.
There are also opportunities for the ad to serve as a “Pre-Roll,” where it will play before the main content on a number of sites. Larger clients might already know how to place a pre-roll on Youtube, targeting audiences in a particular area, but local clients most often will want a pre-roll to play before a news video embedded in a web story. But again, these web pre-roll buys are sold by local TV affiliates, so your production services will need to be miles above what the local news station can produce.
Finally, it’s important to note that even though they’re virtually identical to a commercial or advertisement, many clients will refer to these productions as a “Spot.” This is especially true for clients who don’t want to consider what they’re doing as commercial in nature. Non-profit clients, public broadcasting stations, and educational institutions will almost always refer to these short videos as spots.
Real Estate Videography
Like wedding films, this is a category that has carved out an entire niche based on one client: the realtor trying to promote a property for sale. To be fair, property managers and independent people listing a house might also be in the market for a real estate film, but more often it’s the professional realtor who hires the videographer.
This industry has been dominated by photographers who have broadened their skills into video, so it’s a super tough market to get into. It’s not likely that both a photographer and a videographer will be hired to create beautiful images of one piece of property.
The exception is if a photographer refuses to fly a drone, where the realtor requests aerial shots. Other than that, most photographers have figured out how to shoot beauty video shots on gimbals and sliders, and they already have lighting down as a science.
There are still opportunities for video producers to gain traction in this market, and that’s with cutting edge VR or 360 video. Not just panaromas, but high resolution walk throughs where the potential buyer can feel like they’re in the space. This technology is improving rapidly, and it’s only a matter of time before VR as well as AR (Augmented Reality) will be commonplace in high level real estate.
Social Media Text Video
The rise of Facebook video sharing was initially seen as an easy win for marketing campaigns. You could upload a video to Youtube, share the link on Facebook, and collect all the views. But of course, Facebook soon moved to promoting its own video sharing platform.
Whatever you think of Facebook, it’s undeniable that Facebook video uploads tend to receive much more views than Youtube uploads, especially for small campaigns or local video productions. What is deniable is how legitimate those views are. Some speculate that a video view is counted even as a user is scrolling through their timeline and barely stops to watch the first 2-3 seconds of your video on autoplay.
Having only a few seconds to catch a viewer’s attention has led to a transformation in how we produce web video. Instead of long title introductions, it is customary now to start every video right to the point, leading with the best content first, or at least a 15-20 second hook.
Facebook once again changed the way we produce web video when they turned the sound off for videos when they autoplay. It makes sense, because no one wants to hear the first 2-3 seconds of a bunch of videos as they’re scrolling through their Facebook feed. But nonetheless, this change led to the creation of an entirely new web format, which we often call Social Media Text video.
Traditional videos uploaded to Facebook rely on viewers going out of their way to unmute the sound, or the hope that viewers watch a video at least with the captions on (this is why captions are 100% required for anything uploaded to the web today). Some smart video producers even create on-screen graphics that remind the viewer to unmute their sound, in addition to clicking HD for the best viewing experience.
All of that is putting a lot of work in the hands of the viewer. So as an alternative, news sites such as AJ+ started to create short Facebook videos which targeted the sound-free experience, rather than attempt to overcome it. Their short videos featured compelling video or photos, with highly visible and easy to read text overlays to drive the story.
Fast forward a few years, and the “Social Media Text” video is omnipresent. Some online brands use these types of videos exclusively, whereas others create them as secondary promotional videos for their full length videos. You now see the bold yellow text (often in the “Intro” font for some reason) on videos across Social Media, including Twitter, Instagram, and even Youtube.
The main problem we come across with this type of video is there’s not a simple term to describe it. So, when clients ask for a “Facebook” video, they could mean a Social Media Text video, or they could mean they want to promote a corporate video or promo on Facebook. We also hear this video being called a Captioned or Subtitled video, a “Text Over Video,” or a Highlights Reel.
If it were up to us, we would call this type of video a “Muted Video.” Because we can all agree what a video without sound should look like, in order to provide the viewer relevant info without audio narration. But all we can do is respond to what clients tend to call the videos they seek to produce, and as of today “Social Media Text Video” will most likely remain the name for this kind of project.
Music Video Production
Chances are, if you’re getting a call to produce a music video, you are already in the business of producing music videos. It’s rare that an artist will hire a videographer or small video production agency to create a music video if they don’t already have that experience.
Whether a music video is an assembly of live performance footage, or an entirely creative film that may not feature the artist at all, the basic template of a music video is a visual feast over a music bed, without a spoken audio story.
However, there are times when a corporate client will hire a videographer or small agency to create a video that is very much like a music video - in that they want a series of lively visuals over music, without an audio narrative - but they may not specifically describe their vision as a music video.
For example, a corporate client might want a video about a new product or brand line, or a video about an event they’re putting on, but they don’t particularly want the video to feature a representative talking about the company, product, or event. They might want some text narration to add a little context to the video, but otherwise, there is no story being told apart from the visuals.
There are more industry standard words to describe this type of video, including a Trailer, Teaser, or Sizzle (or Sizzle Reel), and your average corporate client may use one of these terms, when in fact they’re describing a music video.
It’s important to note that a music video can certainly have “nat audio,” or snippets of people talking, but that doesn’t mean the story is driven by spoken audio. This is especially true of event recap videos, where a video may include brief pieces of a keynote speech, or a final thank you, or even chattering among the crowd, but the story is only told with text on screen or within the video description.
The difference between a Music Video and a Social Media Text video is that the Music Video is intended to be heard, so there’s less information being expressed with text on screen.
This is a really great video product for videographers new to the industry, because they can hone their skills as image makers fairly quickly, whereas learning to tell a story from a series of interviews - scripted or improvised - can take a very long time to perfect.
And for the more established video professional, a music video can be the easiest and quickest type of video to produce. So when a nonprofit organization or a friend of a friend asks for a free video, or very, very low budget video - it’s often easier to simply offer a music video that takes a couple hours to make, rather than go through a long process of explaining why you can’t offer your sophisticated services for free or your business will go broke.
Event Video Production
The event teaser or recap video is in many ways similar to the music video we describe above. It can be created to promote an upcoming event, or simply to celebrate an event that recently occured. But the reason why “Event Video” has its own category is because the typical event video is something entirely different than this type of short promo.
When a client looks for event video services, they’re most often seeking a multicamera setup, feeding into a mixer board, that might be fed live to a large screen display for the audience, or recorded for archival purposes.
An event videographer will most often make his or her living from the production day or hourly rate, rather than the creative edit, so typically the event will be mixed and recorded live, requiring only minor editing work after the event.
However, the quick turnaround event video is not always the case. Whether it’s a performance, lecture, concert, meeting, or a sporting event, in some cases a client will want an event-based video that is for more than archival purposes. And in this case, an event video might take months to edit, and may include post-event interviews, rendering it closer to a Docu-Style video.
One thing to consider is that event video is often a packaged deal along with the venue rental. There may be a local AV company who specializes in event media, and they may have an in-house camera crew. But there are always new clients who haven’t had a history of putting on events, so they look for local videographers or filmmakers before considering a suite of AV services.
Event videographers tend to be a different kind of breed than wedding, commercial, or music and social media video producers. In an event, the priority is reliability, with solid workhorse cameras with timecode sync, a series of wireless transmitters and receivers, dependable camera operators who know how to get the shot without getting in the way, and a dedicated crew operating the mixing board. And a van to fit all the gear.
These are vastly different skillsets and gear requirements than many solo DSLR cinema shooters can provide, which is why event production tends to go to the same 1-2 companies who have been doing it for decades, and have relationships with the local venues.
However, there is always the chance you’ll get a call from someone who says, “We just want a camera or two recording an event, and then have it burned to DVD.” And in this case, your main consideration is the duration of the event, because it will usually take 3-4 times the length of an event to simply edit a two-camera multicam project, render, and export/burn to DVD.
What can we say about a Wedding Film? If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Well, sort of.
The irony about Wedding Films is that with the exception of Real Estate and Social Media videos, Wedding Films are probably the only type of video projects to never have been shot on actual film. We don’t mean the retro 8mm film your uncle liked to take to weddings. We’re talking specifically about for-hire video production.
We believe the reason there is a distinct difference between Wedding Video and Wedding Film is to distinguish the style of the product. A wedding video has existed for decades, as simply a videotaped document of the entire wedding ceremony, and possibly the reception.
A Wedding Film, on the other hand, is a unique, artistic type of video that has only recently been popularized. The birth of affordable DSLRs with shallow depth of field have ushered in a huge industry of weekend filmmakers. But a few have turned the wedding film into an entire business model, which has created a templatetized version of the wedding film.
Also frequently called a “Love Story,” the wedding film is typically a 5-15 minute highlights reel of the wedding day, starting with the bride and groom getting ready with their wedding party in seperate rooms. From hair and makeup, to putting on the tie, to giving gifts to the wedding party, these scenes are meant to show the behind-the-scenes leadup to the big event. Then comes the first look, followed by highlights from the ceremony itself, and then we quickly move to scenes from the after party.
The wedding filmmaker certainly has a huge challenge in capturing all the moments throughout the day, including opposing angles, using a variety of focal distances, and ensure that every shot is properly focused, exposed, and steady. But with so much footage throughout the day, the 5 minute edit can hide a ton of sloppy or unusable shots, replacing even the all-important “I do” moment with cinematic B-roll from a different part of the day.
The one part that can’t be skimmed on is the audio, because the entire wedding film relies on just a few key moments that will drive the whole film. The ceremony itself, including the officient’s words and the bride and groom’s vows are very important indeed, but the meat of a “Love Story” is often the reception speeches.
Together, the ceremony and reception speeches make up the entire audio that will drive the wedding film, and both situations can be harrowing to the videographer, because there is no way to troubleshoot technical issues during the speeches, and there is never a second chance to get them. And since they are recorded with either a wireless pack, or an unmonitored pocket recorder, there is a great probability of technical issues.
We’ve produced a few wedding films, and the stress of capturing all the key moments - often as a solo shooter - while ensuring the ceremony and reception speeches sound good, can be disasterous when mixed with the wedding day drama already present.
We’ve had wireless feeds go out right at the beginning of the ceremony, after hours of testing. And with pocket recorders, you typically leave them on and recording long before speeches begin, since you won’t be able to turn them on at the precise moment someone speeks. Which means most certainly, the recorder battery will go out during or before the speeches begin.
Then there is the battle of where do you stand and place your equipment. The bride and groom - your clients - of course want you to get the best shots possible. But the guests, the photographer, the officient, the wedding party - they would rather that you stay out of the way.
What we’re getting here is that the wedding film is an uphill battle during the entire day of production. It’s incredibly challenging to do it well, and to do it well you have to shoot weddings pretty regularly. Some businesses end up working 1-2 weddings a week during the entire summer season. And that’s just the shooting - nevermind the editing and delivery process.
So in response to these challenges, the wedding film has experimented with variations on the format, in order to lighten the burden on the actual wedding day. For example, instead of depending on ceremony and reception speeches to drive the audio story, producers have interviewed wedding couples and family and friends in advance of the wedding day. We’ve also seen “Love Stories” that feature B-roll sequences taken days before the wedding itself.
One of the benefits of creating the audio story days before the event, is that a few scenes from the actual wedding can be edited in fairly quickly. In the video example above, the filmmakers could have this ready to show by the time of the reception, for a smart variation on the typically grueling SDE or Same Day Edit.
Alternatively, we’ve seen (and produced) a wedding film that is shot weeks or months before the wedding, and is then presented at the reception, similar to how photo slideshows can be presented at a reception, alongside the speeches. This kind of wedding film avoids shooting on the wedding day - reserving that for photography - but still provides the couple a poignant love story that they can share with their social media on the night of their wedding, rather than months later when a typical wedding film is completed.
The primary concern with this type of wedding video product is the presentation needs to go off without a hitch, with a large projected image and loud speakers that can reach everyone in the audience. You could leave that up to the venue staff, or you could make it part of your service to attend the reception and setup and run the video yourself.
So there are clearly variations on the format, and we may see an entirely different trend take shape in the next few years. But for now, the Wedding Film is here to stay. In addition to Love Story, it's also sometimes called a Highlights Reel or Highlight Film, Short Film Edit, Cinematic Edit, or Wedding Story.
We should also note that in the wedding video business, there are typically a series of packages, which offer additional coverage, more camera operators, and more final products. The Wedding Film can be an add-on item to the full ceremony video, or the other way around. That ceremony video becomes more of an Event Video, and it can include many of the components that an event video might have, including live streaming, live to tape editing, and large screen projection of the mix.
Educational Video Production
Finally, we come to Educational video. The most important difference between this type of video and the others in this infographic is the client.
The Educational Video client is most often an employee at a nonprofit organization, tasked with executing a project that has been initiated or approved by a board or advisory council, and often funded by an entirely different organization. In essence, the client is actually many clients, each with a say in the production process.
In addition to the client being completely different than a typical for-profit company or individual, the educational video is often promoting something other than the hiring organization itself. That’s not to say nonprofits don’t hire videographers to make videos about the nonprofit. They do that often, but their marketing budget is often very small, so these jobs are highly underpaid.
But when the project is an educational campaign that promotes an idea or theme rather than the organization, the campaign is often funded by a seperate organization or group, through a grant, community fund, private donors, and so on. And often the budget for the video campaign has been predetermined, most likely before any bids were even requested from production agencies.
Apart from the client and the purpose of the project, Educational videos themselves are not any different from other productions, such as commercials, docu-style and corporate videos, event productions, and even Social Media Text videos. But the educational client will use different terms to describe the video.
For example, an educational client will never hire to make a commercial or advertisement. Instead, they’ll call about a “spot,” or a “:30” if they’ve made one before. Of course they won’t call anything they do a Corporate Video, even for a training project that looks and feels like any other corporate training video. They might use other non-profit specific terms, like a Fundraiser Video, or Mission Piece.
For educational campaigns, most often we hear the term PSA or Public Service Announcement used to describe a wide variety of video types, but with the purpose of promoting a theme or idea that benefits the public (or the nonprofit coalitions setup to promote their particular goals). The term PSA comes from the commercial broadcasting world, where stations were required to air a certain amount of free messages in their broadcast schedule, from nonprofit, educational, and government sources.
But now, an organization could hire an agency to create a very slick :30 that promotes a particular nonprofit group, spend a lot of money on media buys, and still call it a PSA. The other term we’ve heard for this is a Community Initative, and more recently the term “Explainer Video,” which often indicates that the video will feature motion graphics.
There are, of course, Explainer, How-To, Tutorial, and other educational types of videos that we see all over Youtube. But they rarely, if ever, hire a video production agency to create them. A large company will have internal staff to produce how-to or tutorial videos, and even product demonstrations. And an educational brand will likely work with the same one company over a long period of time to produce their explainer or informative video products.
Well, there you have it, a summary of the most common video production services by videographers and small independent video production companies, and the varying names that clients call these types of videos. We hope that it has been useful to you, and that it may help you and your business handle new job requests better and more efficiently.
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Thanks! - Gear Dads