Before Covid-19, video marketing had seen a decade of near constant growth. In a world that was increasingly connected, it seemed impossible to slow its ascendancy as the way to communicate directly to your customers. Of course, there was one way: disconnect the world. As lockdowns and social distancing proliferated – rightly, we might add – throughout many countries in March, the demand for live-action marketing videos disappeared almost overnight. It’s tough to make a marketing video if you can’t be in a room with a group of people. Much of the business has pivoted to animated videos in the intervening months but marketers are still trying to crack the code for how to get live-action content back out into the world.

Production companies have spent much of the year in a quiet arms race to solve the problem of remote video making and their first products and services are just beginning to hit the market: behold, the shoot-it-yourself kit.

You may be thinking, with a high degree of self-awareness, that no matter what sort of professionally-vetted, completely-disinfected equipment is dropped at your door, you could never in a million YouTube tutorials create professional-quality content by yourself. You would be right. That’s why these kits aren’t really a DIY solution; they are a way for the team of pros in a production company to create content for you without physically entering your premises. You’re still getting the expertise of the producers, directors, filmers, animators and editors but you’re getting it remotely.

How Do Shoot-It-Yourself Kits Work?

Shoot It Yourself vlogger

When you decide you want to make a live-action video with a shoot-it-yourself kit you contact a production company. Depending on the comprehensiveness of their product, they will help you develop your idea, then talk you through the best ways to execute it. Now comes the interesting part: instead of showing up to your shoot with lights, cameras, directors, producers, etc., they’ll drop off a high tech care package which includes everything you need to shoot the content for them along with instructions on how to set everything up – from lights and camera placement all the way down to the wardrobe of people who will be appearing on video.

Once you have shot the content you send it back to the company who will then go about the post-production process as normal, using their editors and graphics artists to polish off your video. If they have done their jobs properly from start to finish, you won’t feel that you are making a video by yourself; you will feel like you are helping them make a video for you – part of the crew, so to speak.

How Do I Choose the Right One?

Shoot It Yourself kit

There are already a number of shoot-it-yourself products on the market and as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, more will appear. In order to find the right one for you, it’s important to know which elements add up to a good product, and what is just savvy marketing.

Don’t Get Bogged Down in the Tech Specs

Is the camera top of the range? What lenses come in the kit? What is the power on the key light? Guess what? None of these things matter. Just as many in the industry roll their eyes at tech talk, you should be suspicious of anyone promoting the high-end specs of their shoot-it-yourself kit. The truth is that you don’t need the best camera on the market. Much like a formula 1 race car or an F-15 fighter jet, you can barely even turn on that type of camera without years of training and experience, much less get professional-level footage with it. A good shoot-it-yourself kit takes your knowledge and experience into account by balancing quality gear with large dollops of user-friendliness.

Tailored, But Not Bespoke

Every shoot is different and you need a company that is going to adapt its product to suit your specific needs. However, if they have to build your solution from scratch it probably means they don’t have much of a product to begin with and they’re making it up as they go along. A solid shoot-it-yourself solution has had hundreds of hours of development and testing before it hits your doorstep because what you’re paying for is not the tech or the door-to-door service, it’s the expertise of the people behind it. You want a product that has been tried and tested, not one that they are testing on you, so make sure they have established packages at varying levels and don’t jump at a product just because it claims to be fully-bespoke.

Do They Offer Enough Pre-Production?

Shoot It Yourself kit

Preproduction is the unsung hero of all video making and it’s even more important on shoots in which no one from the production team will be attending on the day. Any worthy shoot-it-yourself solution will offer as much pre-production as you need to feel comfortable and prepared when your lights and camera show up. Anything less will almost certainly doom you to inferior footage.

Is It Foolproof?

The revolutionary idea of any good shoot-it-yourself product is not to turn you into a professional camera-person overnight, it’s to make shooting professional-grade content accessible to anyone who can turn on a camera and follow instructions. You’ll learn a lot of new things from using these products, but none of those things should be a prerequisite for success. To this end, all of the instructions you receive should be clear, concise, and easily actionable. You shouldn’t need to practice anything, make dry-runs, or consult outside sources. However, if you do encounter issues on the day, you should have someone who is waiting to take your call and troubleshoot any issues with you. 

So Where Can I Start?

Now with all your newfound Shoot-It-Yourself knowledge, why not start your campaign? Carve out your place in what’s to come by speaking directly to your audience, and if you don’t have an audience, use video to create one! Here’s your next steps below:

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