Category Archives: video

The Limbcare Garden Video Story

Video of a Hampton Court Flower Show Garden

The story that the Limbcare Garden video tells has more emotion at it’s core than most business video. That’s because the Limbcare Garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show was inspired by the emotional response of the garden’s designer, Edward Mairis. He learned of Ray Edwards MBE, the UK’s Longest surviving quad amputee and his dream to build the Limbcare Well-Being Centre to support amputees and the limb-impaired.  Edward’s garden was intended to help the fund-raising and eventually enrich the experience of the centre. Edward’s first show garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show, ‘Journey of Lifetime’ was awarded a Bronze Medal by the Royal Horticultural Association. This year the RHA gave Limbcare Garden a Silver Medal.

 
designer Edward Mairis says:

 

“The judges recognised the Limbcare Garden as outstanding because it brings a message of hope to amputees and their families who have the huge challenge of accepting a dramatically changed life. The garden symbolises how the charity gives hope and security. Within this calming space, the amputee can face up to what has happened to them and then learn to think differently about what’s important in life. The garden offers a sense of hope in the healing process, the verve of nature showing great resilience, growth and adaptability to the amputee.

“It was important to us to involve amputees in the creation of the garden. This has been another example of the way that Ray inspires and motivates other amputees, and I am delighted to have had the support of so many people Limbcare has supported over the years.”

Filming with Ray and the other limb-impaired volunteers was a joy and an inspiration.
 
 

Using a Mobile Phone to Capture a Testimonial Video

testimonial video TeddingtonYou’ve got happy customers, right? They’d recommend you to friends, right? You’re leveraging this free advertising to build your business? No? Well, surely you’re at least thinking about testimonial video?

It’s worth putting in the effort to get them the testimonials, and to get then right – testimonials can really help your social media profile, and you can put them on your website.  But you’ve got to get the nitty-gritty right, or you might be wasting your time. 

testimonial video TeddingtonCollecting testimonial video is easier said than done, and employing a pro film maker will get much better results than you can do yourself. But, it’ll be much harder to pull off once you and your client have gone your separate ways. They’ll soon begin to forget just how pleased they were with your work, so why not grab a few words on video while they’re hot with enthusiasm? You have a pretty decent video camera with you all the time on your phone, so just do a few things to get yourself prepared, make up your mind to NOT be embarrassed, capture some words of adulation, then pump it up to social media.

9 Things That Will Help Make Your Testimonial Better

Here are four things to think about before you try it, and then another five things to keep in mind when you’re shooting your testimonial video.

Assuming you’re not a Hollywood film director, it’s ok if the vid is a bit rough and ready. But, it can’t be completely rubbish – that’ll reflect badly on you and your business, so put a bit of time aside and do these things…

  1. Make a resolution – to go through the video settings on your phone, make sure you understand how it works
  2. Don’t forget your memory – clear out of your phone’s memory so there’s space to record your video
  3. Rock Steady – how will you keep the phone stable while you shoot?
  4. Can you hear me mother? – how are you going to capture the sound?

Once someone agrees to record a testimonial move quickly before they change their mind. You’ve got to take control, move them to where you want them and even shift the furniture around to make a better shot.  

  1. Landscape, landscape, landscape – let me say it again, landscape! Use the phone on it’s side
  2. Let there be light – find the best light for shooting
  3. You’ve been framed – compose your shot, if it looks nice people will watch for longer
  4. Keep it Focused – check the camera’s focused in the right place
  5. Listen – encourage them by nodding and smiling. Ask open questions to illicit the comments you want, and make a mental note when they say something usable.

This post is part of a short talk on capturing testimonial video using a mobile that I gave to a business networking group, and this is the video we shot at the time using my mobile phone as a demonstration.

Resolution and Settings
Look at the user manual or some YouTube videos and go through the menus on the phone. Make sure you know how to work the video, and set it too record at 720p. It’s good enough for online and takes up less memory space than 1920p or even 4k!

Memory
How much does your phone have? You really don’t want to run out just as you subject’s getting into full flow, so copy everything you want onto your computer or up into the cloud and then delete it from your phone. If your camera can take extra memory, buy some! 1GB will hold 15-20 minutes of video.

Support
Unless you’re shooting a sequel to the Blair Witch Project, you need to keep the camera still. Wobbly video is horrible to watch. A tripod is ideal and there are some nifty mounts you can buy to hold the phone. However, a standard lamp and some elastic bands can work just as well. It’s best to have the phone at the same level as the speaker’s eyes, or slightly higher. You might be able to balance it on some books on a desk, but it can look a bit amateurish, and if it falls down.

Sound
Most of the information  in a testimonial video is in the sound, not the pictures. It’s really important that this is not left to chance, and probably means buying and external microphone. The built-in mics are really just souped-up telephone mics so there’s a limit to how good it can ever be. To get the best sound, the microphone must at its optimal distance, which depends on the type you’re using. The aim is to deliver as much of the desired sound as the microphone needs to operate effectively, and as little background noise as possible. The nearer to the subject the phone is the better the sound will be, but getting too close starts to distort the image seen by the camera. Practice makes perfect, so annoy your family by videoing them lots, then look and listen on a computer so you can judge the quality and learn from it.

Types of Microphone

Mobile phone built-in microphone
Working distance – No more than 1.5 metres
Pros – No cost! Convenient, Will work
Cons – Picks all sounds equally, including handling noise, not high quality
Expect to pay – nothing

Levalier or clip-on
Working distance – Clip to clothing, but mind where the wire goes
Pros – Good quality sound, excludes other noises
Cons – Only suitable for a single person speaking. In shot.
Expect to pay – £14 upwards

Directional or gun
Working distance – 2-4 metres
Pros – Good quality sound, versatile. Can be out of shot.
Cons – Still picks up other sounds.
Expect to pay – £50 upwards

testimonial video TeddingtonPicture Format
Always shoot in Landscape format, not portrait. That means using the camera on its side, otherwise there’ll be wide black lines either side of the video when it’s viewed on a computer, tablet or TV. Some aps like Facebook Live can accommodate portrait format, but only when live.

Composition/zoom
Don’t be tempted to use the zoom, instead move the phone closer to the subject or further away. Most phones only have a digital zoom, which can lower the picture quality.
Rely on your own eye to frame the subject and compose the picture, does it look right? Then it is right. The ‘rule of thirds’ can be useful, rather than having the subject slap bang in the centre, frame the shot with the subject one-third in from either side and balance with something like a pot plant or shadow on a wall.

It’s behind you!
What is? The thing that’s going to distract the viewer from your subject. Look around the image on screen, once someone has agreed to be videoed they’ll put up with being told what to do, so move them to a better position or move the ornaments.

Focus
Take care that the camera hasn’t latched the focus onto a background object. Mobile phone cameras are really made for selfies, so they’re good at spotting a face and focusing on it. But, it’s still worth double-checking by touching the screen on the subjects face, the camera will also adjust exposure and colour to that spot. Beware that phone cameras find it harder to focus in low light.

Lighting
The way the subject in the video is lit is single, biggest influence on the aesthetic quality of image. My favourite light is from a north-facing window, it’s soft and flattering. It doesn’t have to be north facing, but there can’t be any direct sunlight. Put your subject sideways to the window, then look to see how the shadows fall. Does it remind you of a Rembrandt painting?
Here are some suggestions for the light source in video, in my order of preference.

  1. Window, but no sun
  2. Outdoors on an overcast day
  3. Outdoors on a sunny day, but in the shade (if there’s a sunlit area behind the subject they could be silhouetted or at least under-exposed)
  4. Indoors with diffuse ambient light (no strong shadows)
  5. Indoors, under a spotlight or top-light, with a reflector to fill the shadows
  6. As a last resort, outdoors in sunshine, using a reflector to fill the shadows (don’t let the subject wear sunglasses but make sure they don’t squint)

The camera sensor in a mobile phone is tiny, so to work properly they need plenty of light. If it’s too dark the camera will compensate by increasing the ISO or sensitivity. This may make the video noisy or gritty and effect the colours. Or the camera might slow the shutter speed, which could result in blurry image. Most mobiles have fully automatic cameras with little option to take manual control. Try not to have more than one source of light, they may have different colours and the camera will be confused! Don’t expect the cameras to be as good or as versatile as a proper camera, their strength is their portability and convenience – it always with you, so use it!


Another meeting, and another talk about testimonial video. This one was in a noisy hotel bar next to a wedding reception, so really not the right place to record video! Sometimes you can’t change things – there wasn’t time to drag the audience of thirty to another location, so should I have given up? I made the point that if it’s your only opportunity to record a testimonial then why not give it go? I positioned the phone quite close to Margaret so it could hear her, so it’s not a great shot. Judge of yourself whether it was good enough. Thanks to Margaret for being a good sport!

Read Twitter’s advice on what people want to see in videos.

Journey of Life – Promotional Garden Design Video at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

garden design video exhibition photographer Hampton CourtI stopped shooting for my garden design video, picked up my camera and tripod and got out of the way of the BBC’s double-decker sized camera crane. It was the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Flower Show 2017. The camera crane belonged to ‘Gardner’s World’, one of my favourite television programmes, so I was more than happy to move. I had to step inside the RSPB stand to get out of the way, and had a nice chat about bird feeders.

Like me, Gardener’s World were filming ‘Journey of Life’, a garden designed and created by Edward Mairis. Unlike me, the BBC had a large crew recording pictures throughout the show for the TV programmes. I was a little intimidated, partly because it was their filming style that I was attempting to emulate.

Creating a Marketing Asset

Edward’s marketing consultant Lisa Woodward had encouraged him to make the video when she saw how wonderful the garden was. So, my commission to make the film came just a few days before the opening. Spending a day in a garden filming flowers – what a joy. Gentle tracks past colourful flower beds. Dramatically craning up over a tree, or pulling focus from one bloom to another. These are the sort of shots that typify BBC coverage of garden show. I love them, but I was working on my own with equipment a lot more modest than the BBC’s, so I had to adjust my pictorial ambition.

The objective for the film was to reflect the connections Edward had created between the garden and the poem, so I had to be sure I had all the footage I needed to do it. Edward felt the film succeeded, to quote the message he left on my voicemail – ‘Love it, love it, love it…’.

garden design video Hampton Court event photographer

The Royal Horticultural Society Awarded Edward a bronze medal

Promotional Video – ‘How to Drive Your Business to the Next Level’

This seminar was filmed for a promotional video. Beverley Corson and Bryan Charter are Engineering Business Growth. They are a good example of the value of business networking – they met at a breakfast meeting, realised they shared a lot of their business philosophy and formed a partnership. This seminar – How to Drive Your Business to the Next Level’ is a taster for their ‘Engineering Business Growth Club’. 

I used my BBC training and skills to make this promotional video, filming editing and post-producing. If you’d like your business to benefit from a BBC-quality video, call on 020 8977 2529 or message me.

‘Builder’ Doesn’t have to Mean Nightmare! Home Renovation Video

Watching Julie’s house turning into the home she wanted was fascinating, a good education about the experience of the renovation of an old house. The work was carried out by ‘By Word of Mouth Renovations Ltd’, and was well under way when I made my first visit, everything that was going to be stripped out had gone. The building was just a carcass waiting for the ‘sinews’ of services – plumbing and electrics and ‘flesh’ of decoration to be installed. Along with the fixtures, fittings and belongings that turn a house into home. In this video, the owner, Julie describes her feelings before, during and after the building work.

If You’ve Got a Smartphone You Can Have a Business Video

Video is a brilliant asset for any business website, and one great way of using it is in testimonials from current clients and customers. I advocated this to a meeting of OmniLocal Business Networking recently, and to illustrate the point got a few of attendees to record a short piece to camera explaining what they got out of Omni’s networking. Nearly everyone has a video camera in their phone which is more than adequate for the purpose, but you have to take a little extra care setting things up. As a former radio producer and sound recordist I’m absolutely passionate about sound quality, and this is where phones can let you down, so here’re a few tips…

  1. Microphones need to be close to the source of the sound, in this case, the mouth!
  2. It’s worth buying a dedicated microphone if you’re going to do a lot.
  3. Get the phone as close as you can to the subject, without compromising the picture too much.
  4. Tell the subjects to speak up!

These are the testimonials we recorded for OmniLocal Business Networking with an iPhone 5c using available light. There were no windows in the room where we shot this video, only down-lighters. They produce very strong shadows, so we used a reflector to fill them in. A large piece of white card is effective. If you have to put the lights on it’s best to get away from windows – the light should be either  natural or artificial, but not both. 

 

 Make sure you can see the subject, natural light is the easiest and usually looks good. The footage below was shot in a hotel meeting room, we sat the subjects  in a window and placed a reflector on the opposite side. 

So far it’s been too cold to shoot anything outside, but if there’s a good background that can look, but not in direct sunlight. 

 

“Every picture tells a story, make sure it’s the right one!”
Trevor Aston Photography and Video is based in Teddington, Richmond upon Thames in southwest London close Kingston, Twickenham and Surrey.