It’s all about location: the scene sets the tone of your video

They’re the “Big Five” questions that every reporter knows to ask: Who, What, Why, When and Where? These are questions you also have to ask during the pre-production phase leading up to your video shoot.

The “Who”, of course, is you. In this case you can also include your product or service. “What” is the video you’re making. “Why” is your end goal—more clients, more publicity, stronger branding, etc. “When” is not only the day(s) of your video shoot, but also your deadline for final project completion AND your timeline for distributing the video.

That just leaves “Where”. It’s a huge part of the equation in developing a successful video. While the focus of the video will be on you, your product or service, it has to be presented against the right backdrop.

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The right place is a huge part of sending the right message in your video.

Too many videos are shot in understated locations, based on the mistaken view that anything else will detract from the overall message. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than becoming a muted afterthought, an appropriate location goes a long way in telling people who you are, and confirming the image you want to project.

Let’s start with the kind of image you don’t want to project. Infomercials are notorious for low-budget locales, and frequently are set among some of the most dismal scenery imaginable.

Here’s an example. Take a look. Dark surroundings. “Windows” that overlook a black backdrop curtain, making it seem like this interview is taking place at midnight. A flower arrangement that might have been stolen from a grave is the inexplicable centerpiece between the two men. That blue thing in front of it? That’s the book which, supposedly, is what is being sold. You’d never know it, because there isn’t so much as a closeup of the cover to identify it. And to highlight all the morbid festivity, the man pitching his book wears a dark suit that makes him appear to be a disembodied head and hands in every profile shot. The poor lamp in the background valiantly tries to fight back the darkness with its 40-watt bulb, but the attempt is doomed.

The half-hour nightmare is compounded by a handful of static camera shots with no attempt to find any b-roll or pictures related to the pitchman’s claims, not even stills of the man giving seminars or closeups of his book. There is nothing at all to break up the monotony. This piece is every professional director of phtography’s personal vision of George Orwell’s Room 101.

We’ve covered what you don’t want as the setting for your video. So what do you want?

You want something that represents you. Your image, your product, your goals. How do you want the viewer to feel about these aspects of your business? If you want to generate excitement, a breakneck motorcycle ride in an urban setting will do it. If you want the viewer to trust your judgment and feel safe with you, better park the bike and go for a setting such as a high-paced workspace that projects an aura of competence and efficiency. If you want the viewer to long for a trip to your spa, you should opt for shots of customers peacefully smiling while lying down surrounded by scented candles as they get a languid, soothing massage.

Believe it or not, sometimes the most effective location is not the one where you feel most comfortable. Not that we would ever suggest dangling you over a raging volcano to pitch your designer cupcakes. But instead of a video that shows interiors of your bakery, how about a football locker room? The team has just won the big game, they’re busy high-fiving each other, hefting the trophy and dumping buckets of Gatorade over their coach. Suddenly they spy a plate of your cupcakes on one of the benches. Team camaraderie goes out the window as they race each other to get the goodies, shoving and elbowing their teammates out of the way.

That example may not be the way you want to go, but discussions like this help the production company get a better understanding of what you do want, while opening your eyes to possibilities that you hadn’t thought about. Like all of the major aspects of video production, location not only gives you a chance to sell yourself, but to express yourself. If you’re not sold on and excited by a proposed location, don’t just settle for the first suggested locale. At Hencar, we promise that if you dream it, we’ll deliver.

It’s your video. Who do you want to be?