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Here are some guidelines for keeping production costs down without sacrificing the quality and effectiveness of your video program:

#1: Use the talent you have.

Professional actors command high fees. Unless theyíre willing to volunteer their services, professionals are out of the question for a low-budget program. Depending on the content of your program, you may be able to use non-actors. A good director should be able to get effective and realistic footage using members of your staff and volunteers.

#2: Keep locations to a minimum.

Shooting is the most expensive element in a video production. Many scriptwriters, nevertheless, make the mistake of writing programs that call for dozens of locations. A script calling for ďa fast-paced sequence of the high rises of Downtown Los Angeles, Chinatown, the Sunset Strip, Santa Monica Pier,ď would require at least a day to shoot and would use up the entire budget.  To keep costs down, limit the number of times you need to move the camera.

#3: Use only the frills you need.

A lot of production companies will tell you that no one will watch a straightforward video program anymore. They will tell you that you absolutely must have fast cuts and fancy effects. Remember, however, that your program is designed, in the end, to get a massage across. An excess of frills will detract from that message. Also, most frills are expensive. You donít want it to look as if you spent the organizationís entire annual budget on a video. That will offend the viewers and turn them off to your message. Fortunately, there are a number of cheap frills that can make even a low-budget program look snazzy. Computer animation, for example, and good quality music can add a lot to a low-budget production at little extra cost.

#4: Make several programs at once.

To save money when producing a video, consider doing two or three programs at a time. If you plan ahead, you can produce a training video, a marketing program, and an employee communication program all at the same time. Itís much easier to plan and shoot several programs at once than to shoot one program and then re-edit it to fit a second purpose.

#5: Put time into the script.

Yes, itís possible to start with existing footage and develop a video from that. Most people, though, are disappointed with the results. While the most expensive element of a video production is shooting, the least expensive element is scripting. Script first, script carefully, and script thoroughly, and shooting costs will be greatly reduced. Keep in mind that shorter programs are more effective than longer ones. No one wants to sit through a program thatís longer than twenty minutes.

#6: Work cooperatively.

If you canít afford to produce a program on your own, consider working with others who might benefit from the same program. For example, a nonprofit health care organization wanting a video on home care might pool resources with other area clinics to produce one video program that meets all their needs. While looking for groups with which you can pool resources, remember that you donít have to make only one program. A nonprofit agency providing health services for people with AIDS, for example, could work with an agency providing meals for people with AIDS or one providing health services for the elderly. With careful planning, you could make two videos for the price of one and a half.

#7: Know what color clothes will make you look best on video.

Stay away from bright yellow or red because they bleed on video.  White and black are also bad, especially if it contrasts with your skin tone.  For example, dark-skinned people should not wear white, or light-skinned people should not wear black, because the camera iris adjusts itself according to the lighting level so the darkest portions look even darker on video.  All other colors are fine as long as they have medium brightness and not too much contrast with accompanying colors.  You should also be conservative in the use of jewelry, for example, donít wear very large and too shiny earrings that may reflect the lighting and interfere with the shooting.  Your clothes should be styled in proportion with your body shape, for example, if you have a short neck then you should not wear clothes that have tight collars Ė open-necked tops will make your neck look longer.

#8: Make-up and hairstyle should be conservative.

In addition to the clothes, hair and make-up are also very important.  For example, hairstyles that show your hair with a lot of volume, especially in proportion to you body shape will not improve your appearance on video and may distract from the subject of your video.  It is recommended that you consult with professionals when creating your look for the camera.  Make-up is essential for everyone who will appear on video, no matter how well their complexion and natural facial tone are.  Because of the cameraís video signal response you may appear very different on screen.  For example if you have wrinkles, they may appear darker on screen, or if your complexion is oily that portion of your face will appear very shiny.  Your make-up should be light and use soft tones, to blend with your natural color.  It should enhance your natural appearance.


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