In 2005, Jeff and I moved to a tiny town in Colorado and I kept my job as a grant writer working on Skid Row in Los Angeles. My boss suggested setting up a camera in my home office so we could stay connected virtually through Skype. This was his 2005 version of remote video production.
No thank you! (I very politely got out of it.)
As an employee, I felt like a pioneer in what is now so common as to earn the abbreviation WFH (“work from home”). But back then, I felt like “stay connected virtually” was code for: “hover over me to make sure I’m working.”
Well 15 years later, here I am.
Here we all are.
And for entrepreneurs, remote video production is not just a tool of empowerment. It may actually be an essential tool to survive as a business right now.
For the sake of this guide, I’m going to consider remote video production a process that includes any part of the production process remote. I’ll further define it as film production process that requires the participation of someone who isn’t trained in the technical aspects of production. (A “non-techie” as my mom would say).
First, let’s consider one of my favorite mantras:
Obviously, sometimes it makes sense. But I like to get the objections out of the way first. Now, on to business.
When to do remotely-recorded video
First and foremost, your questions about whether or not to do remote video production should include:
- Does the lower quality nature of remote recording serve the message? Does it make it better?
- Who is receiving this message?
- Can I tell the story and provide the same or more value to my business and community by creating this video remotely?
- Do I need to get a message out quickly?
- How often do I need to produce videos?
- Do I need a lot of video content or one evergreen anchor piece?
- Are these videos meant to be consumed quickly and often or will they be part of my messaging strategy for a long time?
- What are the expectations of my audience?
Asking these questions first will help you really think about your video marketing strategy before you dive in. It’s popular to create a lot of content cheaply.
That might serve your goals.
But if the right people aren’t watching it and it’s not providing value, what’s the point of investing any amount of time or dollars in video if you’re not getting the results you’re after? (Answer: no point!)
There are of course, some obvious advantages of remote video production.
- No travel
- Zoom fatigue is real
- If you can make a remotely recorded video to automate some of your process instead of a two way zoom call, do it!
Being in the middle of a global pandemic that restricts travel is a prettttttty darn good reason to engage in remote video production. I might even venture to say it’s the number one reason you’re reading an article about how to do remote video production.
In some cases, it can even be more effective than a beautifully polished video (said the honest video producer).
Customer testimonials are an especially great reason to turn the disadvantage of lower quality production into an advantage. There’s an authenticity to it that immediately shines through.
In fact, way back in olden times (pre-pandemic, fall 2019), we had an amazing client who was curious about our cost to fly around the country to interview four customers in different states. Our proposal to do this far exceeded their budget not just because of travel but because of what it really takes to set up an in-person production, times four.
In this case, we leaned into the lower technical quality of the production and created a great evergreen customer story that was within their budget. Here it is:
Even if you decide it’s 100% for you, it is worth considering some drawbacks of remote video production (still be honest here!)
- Lower quality production
- Content overload
- Zoom fatigue is still real (hello again!)
- If you’re remotely recording something on zoom, think about whether or not you really need to have a two way zoom call and if it really needs to be recorded. (See mantra above.)
It can be easy to think of your investment in video as a quantity over quality question. And, in some cases, building a library of videos or having regular video posts is an amazing idea. But not always. Shorter videos are often better.
A high quality video on your home page may reflect your brand much better than weekly video posts on social media. It just depends on your situation. If remote video production meets your goals, great!
You might be wondering now: What type of remote video production should I do?
Methods of remotely recorded video production
1. Semi-professional in-home studio
OK. I’m going to start with the anomaly because I think knowing about this option provides value to you if you’re reading this post. And this is my blog so I’m going to promote my services. One of the services we now offer is setting up a semi-professional home office film studio.
Is this technically remote video production? I’m calling it yes because you’re hiring someone to set it and forget it for you. With this service, our technical crew advises you on gear purchase (audio, lighting, camera) and sets everything up in your space. (We’re also equipped for planing set design including furniture and decor.)
All you do is press record and turn on the lights and microphones. You’ll also be outsourcing your post-production: video editing, color correcting, sound mixing, music, and graphics, which is all finished remotely.
2. Guided remote interviews
A guided remote interview means that I’m conducting my typical interview process through zoom and the interviewee is being recorded on the other side either directly through zoom or a smartphone. Only the interviewee is in the final video.
The customer story featured above for Retrium is a great example of this type of remote video production. Another similar option is below.
The main difference here is that the following includes some B-roll. It was created for Gravity Payments to feature their contactless payment options for veterinarians.
This one is also a customer testimonial:
3. Semi-DIY (outsource your editing!)
Unless you’re remotely recording something like a video podcast or webinar, it’s likely that you’ll want some editing on your video. If your video is intended for most marketing or sales purposes, you need a very short video. Or, you might want to create a promotional video showing clips of an event.
Investing some money in outsourced editing with a professional editor can go a long way to put a professional polish on remote video production. Editing for length and adding graphics and music can also do a lot to unify your brand messaging in remotely recorded video.
4. Low investment, fully DIY
If you have more time than money, a fully DIY edit may be the way to go. (We get it! We started out very bootstrapped and scrappy ourselves!) There are some very simple edits you can make on YouTube. And iMovie is a pretty easy editing tool for the basics, if you’re an Apple user. (Skip to 5 if you’ll never edit.)
Descript is a free consumer-friendly product I tested myself. However, it’s intended more for audio. Video editing is quite slow because you’re editing ultra-remotely through the cloud. I recommend this tool if you have a lot more time than money and are very “non-techy.”
Most of you won’t have the interest or time to learn to be a video editor, but since you’re here to learn about remote video production. So if you really want to learn to edit, you can dive in to Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro.
5. Existing footage edit with voiceover
If you have existing video footage in your remote video production, one creative way to use it is to record a voiceover to go with it. Truth be told in the examples that follow, we recorded our interview in person with high quality audio equipment and then edited those along with existing footage. But I’m including them here because we could have captured the same story with a remote audio recording (you have to have some standard for audio quality though.)
6. Live stream recording – webinar
A few months ago, I was a panelist on the topic of Building Your Business with Creative Storytelling & Messaging hosted by the Beverly Hills Bar Association. This is a great example of a live stream webinar as a method of remotely recorded video. The panel added value both to live attendees and now lives evergreen in the Association’s library of educational resources. In a case like this, no edits are needed.
When you have great clients who are really happy with your work, customer testimonials are always valuable marketing collateral. This case study with our client HazardHub was built around a remotely recorded client exit interview.
8. Live stream recording – event (and guided remote interview)
The world is constantly being re-invented in amazingly innovative ways, and that includes live virtual events.
The goal of the video aboev video is to engage additional corporate partners by highlighting the experience of participating in the event and attract more. To create this video, for instance, we remotely recorded the entire event on three computers to capture each breakout room. And that was edited into a short marketing video alongside two guided remote interviews to tell a compelling story.
Cost of remote video recording
Pricing? OK, I’ll get straight to it and get as specific as possible without knowing your specific situation or needs which every smart salesperson will tell you: I can’t give you a quote without knowing what you need. (And it’s true).
We recommend DIY gear packages from $150-$1,000+ which all include some technical instruction, basic lighting and background/set design consulting. Just want a few pro tips for your DIY set up? Email us and ask! Because we’re happy to share.
Overall, cost-efficiency is definitely an advantage of remotely-recorded video production and there’s a wide range of cost variations based on the types of remote recording you need. It will be less expensive (about 10%-50% less) than a full production and can be a great option to deliver the right message to the right audience and at the right time.
Now go forth and make a RRV (remotely recorded video) while you WFH! I promise I won’t be hovering over you while you work but you know where to find me if you have any questions.