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Tips and resources for creating film remotely for less

29 September 2020

We all know COVID-19 has brought ‘unprecedented and uncertain (we’ll also add unwelcome!) times’ for people all over the world. And as the virus takes the limelight it’s easy to forget about all the other things that were happening ‘pre-COVID-19’ and the services that need to continue throughout the pandemic.

Some charities we’ve worked with during this time are trying desperately to put their services online, so that users still have access to them remotely and aren’t completely cut off. While others are faced with the challenge of finding new ways to engage donors and coming up with fundraising ideas that don’t require large events or gatherings. As a sector, we are well aware that using storytelling captured as video content can be a great way to help us with these challenges as it enables us to keep a sense of contact remotely. But how do you utilise this useful tool if you can’t go and film with people?

Here are two methods we have used to continue telling our clients stories with video during COVID-19, which could be helpful to you too. They include using stock footage and overseeing the production of user generated content (UGC) and hopefully will provide some useful tips, advice and suggestions of free tools to help you to continue to generate content in cost-effective ways.

Embracing stock footage

Mental Health UK came to us for ideas on how to produce video content for a fundraising campaign they were about to launch and given we were in the midst of lockdown embracing stock footage seemed like an easy and practical solution for making this happen.

During the pandemic, we had been working on a Stock COVID-19 package which seemed perfect for what they needed. Focusing on locating and sourcing appropriate video content online and editing it together the benefit of going down the stock footage route meant not having to leave the office and risk our team’s wellbeing or conduct a difficult shoot with contributors behind masks.

Depending on your budget there are a number of sites to source your stock footage from. Granted, you are limited to the database but using them in conjunction with one another you may be surprised by the amount of footage you can find. It may take some time to find the assets you need from these sources, and you may need to be flexible with your original ideas. As Menaka Piyraratna, Corporate Partnerships Communications Manager Mental Health UK said, I really appreciated the time they took to understand our vision and the iterative working process that took the vision and made it ten times better.

A couple of our favourite sources for this are; Adobe Stock and Shutterstock.

With the added advantage of opting for Adobe Stock being that it can be used in combination with Adobe Spark for combining logos or lockups for a campaign with your video content.

Tip: I would recommend storyboarding and scripting the video content before sourcing the footage as this may save you time and money, although sometimes you can find inspiration from the source. A whole article could be written about pre-production, which we will save for another time!

Harnessing the power of UGC

Another example of adapting during COVID-19 can be seen in a campaign that is currently live with Steps Charity Worldwide. Steps, who are one of our long-standing clients, work to help educate parents of children who have lower limb conditions and video is an important tool for them in doing this.

Unable to physically go and film with the families, we helped them harnessed the power of user-generated content in a way that Managing Director Loredana Guetg-Wyatt says has been” instrumental in helping us through the challenges of the pandemic by generating meaningful content and adapting to a new way of working and supporting our beneficiaries”.

We worked closely with a family selected by Steps for this project, ensuring the quality of the UGC by producing a guide to help the family capture good sound and images. The importance of good lighting, limiting background noise and keeping the camera steady are all important things to consider and should be included in any guidance you give those you are working with. Additionally, we also asked the family to collect some general shots, or b-roll, of the family together which would help enrich the story in the edit and this is a useful practice to put in place for any UGC project.

Tip: I would recommend the contributor running some tests which they can send over to you. For example; the test could involve the contributor using a house lamp to help illuminate the scene or trying their piece to camera next to a window. By running these sorts of tests with a dummy script (which you can provide), the contributor will get used to speaking to camera, and in this example, be able to see how the light source can drastically affect the aesthetic.

Once the family had sent us their video content we edited it together, added stock music, colour correction, and readied it for social media use. In this case, the content was for IGTV (Instagram TV) so we ensured the specs were best suited for that platform. Here is a link to that project.

If you don’t have the ability or resources to use professional editors, then you could try Kinemaster and the editing functions on it. Kinemaster offers a totally free (with ads) video making tool for mobile phones (Apple and Android). This means If you had a clear brief and instructed your contributors on how to record themselves, you could ask for the video files to be sent to you and edit them using your mobile phone. This is a great tool to begin using that media to create something you can post online.

With the uncertainty of when and how we can return to ‘normal’, and what the ‘New Normal’ will be, we feel it’s necessary to develop strategies that allow us to continue producing content in the worst case scenario. The examples above will allow you to start doing that and we have also put together a free to access pack of ‘Top five freebies for charities and non profits’ if you are interested in finding out more.

Please download the pack ‘TOP 5 FREEBIES FOR CHARITIES AND NONPROFITS’ for more tools to help keep you creative and do get in contact if you have any more tools we can add as we may make a version 2 if we can find more which we think might be helpful.

Image: Pixabay on Pexels

Jake Smith

CEO, Tusko

Tusko Agency is an award-winning creative agency based in Bristol and London specialising in content creation, ethical marketing & design. They have designed a number of service packages that aim to get charities online and engaging with their donors and service users.