GUEST BLOG: Video Saved the Theater Star by the Vallés Brothers

It’s 2018. You need great video. Right. Now.

But why? Why great? And why now? To borrow that saying from the early days of film, let’s cut to the chase (and the stats).

Great, because over 500 million people are watching videos on Facebook every day.

Now, because a great video will make your show stand out regardless of its current phase of development, be it a crowdfunding campaign, investor meetings, social media marketing or B-roll footage for news outlets.

Whether on a Broadway budget or a church-basement-in-Soho budget, the way to get eyeballs on your show’s promotional materials for more than 5 seconds is with video.

So, who exactly is watching your videos? Yes, a viral video that racks millions of views is the Holy Grail of marketing tools, but pinning your hopes on that happening is probably not a wise business plan. The video you create will first be viewed by potential investors and avid theater fans that seek out special content about the ins and outs of the industry. It’s a narrower scope to begin with, but the great thing about having a solid video from the get-go is that, should it achieve viral status, it will henceforth convey a professional image of your show. The “money people” aren’t interested in seeing shaky, vertical cell phone video of a show where the bright lights blow out people’s faces and you can’t see the acting. Good footage will wow the folks who are in the best position to catapult your show to the next level.

And here’s the thing: video for your show doesn’t only mean video of your show. It means video of your rehearsals, interviews with the cast and creative team. Behind-the-scenes as they build the sets and costumes. All of this content can start generating a following on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram months before previews start.

But what’s involved in creating a great video, you ask? Start with great audio: bad video is unfortunate, but bad audio is unacceptable. If there’s a soundboard processing your live audio, the videographer should be able to plug into it to capture the actors’ clean microphone feed. Otherwise, microphones will need to be placed close to the performers specifically for the video. You can’t get good audio from the built-in microphone on a camera at the back of the performance space.

Speaking of which, make sure you allow enough room for the cameras on tripods at the back or sides of the venue. The videographer is often overlooked when planning the seating layout for the audience, leading to a last-minute scramble, reseating patrons minutes before the performance begins. Also, the videographer needs time to set up all the equipment and check sound levels before the audience enters.

A brief word about lighting. If your show is on a stage with theatrical lighting, you’re good to go. Stage lighting, in most cases, does not need to be enhanced when taking video. If you’re recording a rehearsal or a reading in a studio, the available overhead fluorescent lights (while not very flattering) are usually fine. For capturing interviews, however, the combination of a professional lighting setup and a visually interesting location will maximize the speaker’s impact and give your project much more legitimacy.

Unless you plan to ask your significant other to hold a Handycam for you (not recommended), be prepared to include videography in your budget. For a reading with a small number of actors, an elaborate multi-camera setup is not necessary. A few hundred dollars gets you a videographer with a good camera and a couple of well-placed microphones. This should be fine for capturing performers sitting with their scripts in hand. Conversely, if you’re recording a fully staged production, you’re going to want a variety of camera angles. It should include a wide shot of the entire stage, a medium shot following the performers, and a close-up of the actor delivering the lines. That’s certainly more expensive than hiring a solo camera operator, but it’s the best way to make sure your video doesn’t miss any part of the staging. Click here for a sample of a cabaret performance shot with three cameras (with over 64,000 views).

As you can see in the link above, a great video serves as a high-quality calling card. You reap its benefits long after the show is done, when you’re prepping your next one and beyond. People click on a video because it holds the promise of the unexpected. Make sure that when they do, they’re floored.

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We’re Tony and Jaime Vallés, brothers who’ve been working in the arts since the end of the last century. Ivy League grads, Eagle Scouts, fully bilingual family men. Our experience as screenwriters, stage actors and moviemakers gives our video work an emotional edge that’s hard to find elsewhere.

From corporate presentations to actor reels, live theatrical events to legal proceedings, human interest interviews to crowdfunding campaign videos: we plan, we adapt and we deliver.

Our home base is New York City, but we’ve taken our operation everywhere from Connecticut to Cancún. And we don’t just do video: we’re equipped for photography and graphic design, so you get a finished package, in either English or Spanish. Visit us atwww.ajvmedia.com to see all that we can offer.

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