The common problem of most low-budget video commercials is that they give an impression of being coarse and cheap. Limited budget is a main cause leading to flimsy scripts, selection of irrelevant actors, careless shooting and clumsy composition with poor or no audio-visual effects.
But we believe that with proper planning, producing a high-quality video commercial is possible even on a low budget. The TVC on Viet Bac chili sauce for Binh Minh Vegetables Vietnam LTD is a case that proves our point. To balance the budget constraints with technical feasibility here are things that we did for the production of the video:
- We developed a script based on simplicity with simple setting, minimal props and minimal actor performance. Yet our script is creative as it combines computer animation with real acting.
- We cast a school girl who is a family member of the client as the leading character to save cost. This teen girl who fit right in the sauce’s target group in terms of age has an inborn ability to express emotions and act natural in front of cameras.
- We hired a well-known professional actor from the Hanoi Drama Theatre who has a full, warm and pleasant voice to play the supporting role of the chef who reads the advertising message toward the end. Voice quality is critical for delivering the message in TVCs so we had to pick a professional. Trying to save cost here would be counter-productive.
- We used a studio and video shooting equipment of the middle level just enough to ensure quality needed while not adding to cost burden. In our experience, for mid-end TVCs, the shooting skill will be more important than the equipment.
- We took high-resolution photos of Binh Minh’s food products separately to replace some unqualified images in the video thus avoiding costly reshoots.
- We chose not to hire a professional director from outside but directed the shoot ourselves instead.
- We took great care in video composting, being very selective on audio-visual effects to maximize the TVC’s appeal in compensation for limitations of studio setting and shooting techniques.
Our efforts finally resulted in a 30-second TVC which was satisfactory to our client beyond their expectation. Though being fairly happy with the video, upon a close look, we found two shortcomings:
- Video shooting: The shooting angles were not diverse and creative enough while camera movements were too limited to make scenes more dynamic. The lesson learnt from this is that for a similar TVC we need to apply more creative shooting angles and camera moves to enhance visual expression.
- The background: We realized after the fact that choosing a white backdrop in the studio was a mistake as it turned out greyish and uneven because lighting was inadequate. In the editing process, we spent a lot of time removing the greyish background behind the chef in the later half of the TVC and replacing it with a one with color. The lesson learnt from this is that if the studio fails to offer the suited background, we should apply the chrome key technique shooting the video agaisnt a green background which could be easily removed and replaced by any other backgrounds of choice afterwards.
From the above lessons, we will certainly know better what to do make more refined commercials in the future.