By Rachelle Cullum, Director of Client Engagement
& Tatianna Montoya, Sr. Manager, Client Services
In 2019, “remote” meant on-location in unusual locations, like rural Nigeria and urban Bhutan. Today, “remote production” has taken on a whole new meaning.
Propelled by the pandemic, many companies, big and small, have been forced to consider new ways to put people on camera. While social distancing is (un)officially 6-feet, in reality it’s often 6000 miles. That’s the distance at which we’ve conducted many video interviews over the past year, monitor-to-monitor instead of face-to-face.
Perhaps surprisingly, results have often exceeded expectations. In the right circumstances, remote production has proven to be a desirable path (and not a desperate Plan B). Especially for interview-driven content.
While the ‘remote option’ will not replace the intimacy or production values of a traditional ‘in-person’ experience, it can get the job done. The key is to play to the strengths of the format--cost, efficiency, flexibility and authenticity.
Here are a few ‘pros and cons’ that can help determine if a remote video is right for you.
Cost. Traditional in-person productions require investment that may include airfare, lodging, a production crew, location or venue costs and more. Remote productions are limited to incremental, optional costs---perhaps mailing a microphone to the interview subject and/or paying for a platform upgrade to optimize captured content.
Efficiency. Production logistics are immensely simplified. Interview scheduling, which often requires multiple subjects in diverse locations and time zones, becomes as easy as organizing a conference call. Last minute changes are an inconvenience, not a budget breaker.
Flexibility. A remote video interview can be conducted via PC, or through a ‘hybrid’ approach where a local videographer is onsite with the subject while interviewer is virtual. The hybrid option also provides an opportunity to capture b-roll of the subject and environment. It’s best for quality, marginally more expensive and of course dependent upon safety protocols during the pandemic.
Authenticity. The narrative is perceived as timely, digital-first, and real. When the pandemic struck, many companies were unable to produce new content--so out came banked footage from the archive. Then, sure enough, early-adopters began to integrate remote interviews with existing B-roll, photos and user-generated content. Experimentation has resulted in some truly effective and inspiring videos.
Nonetheless, there are a few ‘cons’ when it comes to remote production. They’re often surmountable, but it pays to weigh all considerations.
Performance. Remote production limits visual options, putting a premium on an interviewee’s performance. Simply put, a dynamic speaker can shine--others, not so much. Less experienced interviewees benefit when the director/interviewer is physically present. The next best thing is a ‘pre-interview’ prep call between interviewer and subject to help focus answers and build confidence.
Technical quality. Even the best interviews are diminished if video and audio quality is subpar (which, given the vagaries of broadband connectivity, is a possibility.) We’ll often send subjects an external microphone to ensure high-quality audio, while doing pre-checks to ensure that the picture is best quality with no lag time. (The ‘hybrid’ option avoids this issue.)
Production design. There are fewer creative options when it comes to remote productions. You don’t have the option to use a full set, employ a moving camera or put bodies in motion. When capturing multiple people in different places, their environments will also be ‘all over the place.’ The pre-interview call is a great opportunity to ensure that lighting, framing and backgrounds are as clean, consistent and professional as possible.
So which production plan is best for you? That will always be a question of mission, budget and logistics. There’s no one answer--but plenty of right ones. For example:
A recent Loma video for a Fortune 50 company required interviews in 12 countries, and concept to completion in just 10 days. You guessed it--all remote.
Carefully following safety protocols, we produced a video featuring multiple in-person interviews in a single location. This more ‘personal’ approach helped the client land a $50 million contract.
And we also executed a multi-national production employed a “combo” plan, integrating interviews shot onsite and via broadband. That mix was unthinkable yesterday, acceptable today--and a very likely option for tomorrow.
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