How to create video content, despite the limitations on filming imposed by COVID-19

All of a sudden, we’ve been driven online like never before.

Video is already a proven marketing winner, with the power to cut through in such a noisy, cluttered virtual space.

However, it is a specialist asset to develop and it just got even harder to make in the real world we find ourselves in today.

At the time of writing, limitations on physical movement and social contact mean productions on any scale, from a single camera operator up to big-budget studio shoots, are either fraught with issues or close to impossible. While some of the restrictions will likely lift in the weeks ahead, we often plan content many months in advance, so we’re being mindful that we could see a return in these restrictions later on in autumn if our population’s viral load returns.

So, is bespoke video off the table in 2020? 

Of course not. We wouldn’t be doing our job properly unless we could show marketers how to create jaw dropping video and other content that will knock your audiences socks off and get your campaigns and posts soaring this summer. 

You can still create new video marketing content and make sure your comms grab this larger, more engaged audience.

We’ve put this guide together to help you consider all the options that are still open to you during, after, and between any strict periods of lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, or any other measures which we need to be respectful of now and in the year ahead. 

Each of these approaches are actually great ways to add creative value to any productions at any time. We usually employ these techniques to help solve budgetary, geographical, messaging and other challenges when creating motion and other assets. 

So try a thought prescription from our medicine cabinet of creative remedies below, and keep your video marketing campaigns healthy in the year ahead:

Establish a ‘content library’ approach:

A general principle for good video marketing is to ensure your content library is fuelling your content strategy with high quality, consistent, adaptable assets. Knowing all your content is available as a content library of raw assets is always going to bring you advantages in the long term. 

The most versatile and effective way of using all of the other approaches listed below is to audit your existing footage, even if it’s been shot for other brands or campaigns, and then explore what could be repurposed and integrated with new messaging. 

The techniques below all remain powerful approaches in and of themselves, but combining them with existing video can create a firm start point from which to begin considering how these alternative methods can help.

We aim to keep all our clients’ archives backed up on and off site so they are never lost and unused. Repurposed elements are always available to use in any new outputs.

If we have content of yours already, it will likely be available in our archives, which are still fully accessible and editable to us, even while our creative teams and editors are working remotely.

So don’t forget to ask us what you already have that could be reversioned or embellished this year.

Get filming, whenever possible

Create a capture plan, so that whenever restrictions are lifted, content that is likely to be the most versatile and reusable material in the edit can be quickly acquired and added to your content library as a creative resource for later in the year.

As those of you who’ve worked with us already know, as well as capturing the main story, we shoot left and right of the target, informed by the thematic approach we create for our clients, capturing more of your stories every day we’re out in the field.

This is our fundamental advantage to our clients – our approach means that every content opportunity delivers the maximum creative acquisition for each content library, for the minimum outlay and activity. So more than ever, it is the safest yet most productive way to create.

We are currently planning how to make the most of any windows of opportunity to film while ensuring our shoots are not only compliant, but capture content with which to build a variety of film assets.

We’re currently being mindful that in the autumn, this year at least, there could be periods when restrictions are reimposed to protect against any resurgence in the virus, as a precaution in our planning.

So thinking ahead and planning for what you need to capture this summer is a great acquisition strategy, even if you’re not editing or outputting assets until much later in the year. 

Embellish User Generated Content (UGC)

As you will undoubtedly have noticed over the last few weeks, user-generated content (UGC) has been a super alternative for marketing departments around the world. 

Yes, when created without craft, UGC can seem amateurish, loose or inconsequential; however, in the right hands it can be incredibly powerful. 

A classic, uplifting example of UGC at a cinematic level is Ridley Scott’s Life In A Day. 

When integrated into a brand’s narrative strategy, UGC can be unparalleled in terms of creating genuine connections as part of a campaign. It comes in many different forms. For a great current example of lo-fi DIY creation by an influencer, one simply has to take a look at the user content springing up around P.E. With Joe / The Body Coach.

Another successful example of the power of UGC to give content a unique and different perspective, and also create authenticity, was when we empowered pensioners of a retirement home to create their own charity music video. We put cameras in the hands of the subject and created UGC for the heart of this PR campaign, and the results got picked up and aired on UK television. It was a very simple lo-fi project, yet shows how UGC footage can add something different.

Importantly, if created thoughtfully, UGC can readily be combined with professionally shot footage, elevating it, and creating dynamic, authentic content. 

Stock libraries are great

So you’ll find most filmmakers running to the hills at the first mention of ‘stock footage’, but with the right approach in post, and a thoughtful look at your treatment, it can be used effectively to create original content that feels fresh, on brand and connects with audiences. 

The ingredients are simple: a thorough search for the right footage (almost always an extensive process but definitely worth the effort!), inspired transitions, and a solid control of pacing will mean a high-quality output. This aesthetic can be further elevated through a creative use of graphics and/or still imagery.

Graphics count

Graphics are a powerful and incredibly malleable tool; influencing a film’s tone through their look and feel, as well as positively impacting KPIs like audience engagement and retention. 

Graphics can vary in complexity, from your basic lower third title card to a walking, talking Mona Lisa. This expansive spectrum of graphic options will equally offer a wide range of positive effects on your output. From subtly enhancing your footage and brand to completely transforming a film. 

By virtue of virtual video meetings, school closures and more, the lines between our personal and professional lives are blurring. Making use of the more intimate, personal touch that graphics provides could be a powerful way to further convey message and brand to your audience. 

Where possible, complementing your graphics with some basic motion and animation is a simple and powerful way to help boost production values and hold audience engagement. It allows brands to not only emphasise and highlight their own graphic assets and motifs, but to also exaggerate certain key points and messaging to ensure this is conveyed in an accurate and aesthetically pleasing way.

Stills photography archive work within video

Integrating still photography in video edits can be an effective way to convey key concepts as it encourages them to connect the dots. To really employ this technique at the highest level, incorporating parallax movement, supporting graphics or a fitting voice-over is a fast, cost-effective way to radically boost your production value.

Voice-overs are invaluable

A large number of the voice-over artists we work with make use of home studios to reach clients all around the world. This development has given us an incredible amount of flexibility in times when working remotely is a necessity. Admittedly, we still prefer to work in-studio with voice over artists when guiding them towards our vision for an edit. It’s nicer to be in a shared space and provide feedback in person, but doing so via video call is a reliable and effective backup solution and something we have done on many occasions in the past. 

Re-editing existing footage with a new voice-over allows us to create an entirely new film and should always be considered as an option at a time when any restrictions are in place.

We hope you find the above list of approaches useful and reassuring during this uncertain period. If you are encouraged by them and keen to make sure you have the best assets for your revised targets this year, then feel free to get in touch with us and we can cover these approaches more in-depth, providing specific suggestions with your brand, objectives and key messaging in mind.