DIY video

The perilous world of in-house video production

Technology has made video production accessible to all. Smartphones can shoot and edit great videos. So what should stop keen and creative colleagues making videos for companies in-house? It makes sense: they know the company well, they know the right people to get involved and it saves the cost of hiring an agency.

To anyone considering this route I would advise proceeding with extreme caution. 

There are lots of reasons why. First and foremost, remember that any piece of video you produce is representing your brand. Even if the video is for a relatively small internal audience of colleagues, be aware that any video must enhance the reputation of your company. Low quality material circulated internally will have a negative impact on colleagues’ respect and appreciation for where they work. You can be assured that an external audience will take a similarly dim view of poor quality content.

Despite advances in technology providing easy-to-use means of production, making successful videos isn’t easy. Does the team member charged with making video have the correct editorial and technical experience when it comes to making videos? (More on this later). 

Video production is very time consuming when it is done correctly and is particularly time consuming when it is something you are not used to doing. Be careful that your keen and creative team member’s time doesn’t get absorbed on a video project when they should be doing their core job. Their enthusiasm may (and yours surely will) soon run out if other necessary and important work is being neglected.

Making videos can be very enjoyable; people usually like the experience of being involved; it is novel and a change from the usual routine. But this enthusiasm has to be managed. I have seen content produced by internal teams where they and their colleagues are clearly having a great time making the video but it leaves the audience cold because nobody else is in on the joke. This has the effect of creating something with a ‘studenty’ and amateurish feel; again not usually a desirable addition to a brand’s reputation. 

Without wishing to sound too dramatic, there are legal and health and safety issues to consider also. If the in-house producer/editor adds their favourite track of music to their video without getting the correct rights clearance, the company may soon be hearing from the legal team representing the artist whose track has been used. This could end up with the firm being liable for many thousands of pounds. Furthermore, in the pursuit of the perfect shot for the video, the in-house producer may be taking some risks eg filming a tracking shot whilst driving, or failing to tape down cables leading from a lighting stand they are using and causing a trip hazard. What if a member of the public is injured as a result of filming? Keeping everyone in the vicinity of the shoot safe is the number one priority of any experienced, professional crew on a shoot. 

Returning to the technical aspect of video production, some common flaws with in-house produced content are:

Films being shot on the vertical plane (when using a smartphone) but being presented in a horizontal format. The tall, narrow picture can give an unsatisfactory and unprofessional appearance.

Poor lighting: eg interviewees being shot against a window as a background. The camera adjusts to the bright light leaving the interviewee with a silhouetted face and the audience unable to see their facial expression.

Poor audio: eg the subject’s voice sounds echoey and distant; distracting background noises such as sirens or chatter in the room where it is being recorded; the background music being too high in the audio mix leaving the interviews hard to hear.

Badly framed shots: eg too much headroom above the interviewee, or the interviewee looking too far to the right or left of camera leaving us looking at their profile. 

Bad editing: such as interview clips that are too short and abrupt, self generated text  that looks crude etc

Elaborating on the editorial for a moment, this is a massive aspect of producing a video that companies would do well to consider. An experienced producer working in conjunction with an expert crew knows many techniques and effects that help to make a video look and feel its best especially when working with modest budgets. When hiring an agency, the client is buying this valuable expertise.

A producer knows:

How to shape/structure a story.

How and when to identify and promote the key messages.

How to make an on screen contributor feel relaxed and confident.

How to manage the expectations and requirements of the various stakeholders on a project.

How to make sure a video’s presentation fits a company’s brand guidelines.

How to deliver a video on budget and on time.

Furthermore, a producer knows the importance of making sure the video enhances a brand’s reputation. 

I recently watched a video clip on Twitter that a large global bank had produced in-house. I was surprised. I had previously thought of the bank as a premium brand. That assumption changed after watching the video. Whilst the clip managed to avoid all the technical common pitfalls listed above for instance, it had fallen in to others: the on screen interviewee was a member of the bank’s senior management team but she looked stiff and tense; the stock footage they had used as b-roll didn’t quite match the subject matter we were hearing. Overall, the messaging in the video was unclear. 

The effect that the video had on me was that I wondered about the quality of the decision making at this bank. Who decided to cut costs in this way and allow the bank to be represented by below average content? Is it really a premium bank or does this video signify some problems at the organisation I had previously been unaware of? 

This is why at shortstories we encourage companies to think carefully before pursuing any project in-house. Video assets generated in-house can be used effectively but I would always encourage utilising the expertise of a professional who is experienced in creating high quality video to make sure your brand is represented well. 

Please send us an email at if you would like us to get in touch to discuss your next video project.

Philip Pickard - Head of Production