How to make a Training Video

Before you start…

PRE-PRODUCTION is the stage where, between yourself and the corporate or training video producer, everything is planned.  What should happen is that:

    A Script is written and agreed, based on your briefing to the writer.  Scriptwriting is the production company's job.  This step is essential unless this is purely a newsgathering exercise, for example a record of a conference or other event.  If it's not practical to write a full script, the producer should be working from at least a pre-arranged shot list or interview questionnaire.

    Casting: this is required if you are using actors for a drama.  Normally you can rely on the production company to find actors they have already used.  If you need to audition, limit the number of actors you invite;  shortlist from their CVs and photographs.  Audition videos are often available.  Television experience is more useful than theatre.

    Presenter: if you need a front-of-camera presenter, they all have showreels, so you can make a choice based on seeing them perform. Fees range enormously from £500 up to £10,000, depending on celebrity and ego.  We have an on-camera teleprompt unit so they don't have to memorise the pieces to camera. The presenter can also record the voiceover links.

    Director’s recce. Someone from the video production company must visit the location in advance, to see what is practical and work out how the scenes are going to be shot. Otherwise something could easily be overlooked.  Also this is a chance to meet key people at your end; video crews have been thrown off a location because no-one thought to check with the union, the operations director, the shopping centre management or whoever.

    Some form of coordinating document is produced to explain exactly how the shoot will run.  This may be called a “call sheet”, “schedule” or even a “storyboard” (but don’t expect a cartoon strip treatment with pictures – this is usually only for tv commercials and feature films). What this document should include is:  A list of all the key personnel and their contact details, both on the client and production company side.  A timetable for the shoot, location by location, scene by scene. Details of performers, props, etc and when and where they are required.




Corporate Training Video Production - e-Learning Design - Interactive Multimedia -

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On the Shoot

Interviews: the normal practice is for interviewees to be asked a number of questions by the video director; they will look “off camera” at the director, rather than the camera lens or “on camera”. These questions are then cut out, so the director will be looking for a “complete answer”, ie a statement that stands on its own. For example: “The key benefit of the new distribution centre will be…” rather than: “Yes. Same day delivery.” Each question may well be asked a number of times, so there are enough variations to edit together into a cohesive, articulate whole. The joins between questions may be covered with “cutaways” (shots showing what the interviewee is talking about), a change of shot (say from wide to close-up) or a quick fade to/from white or black. Interviewees can prepare by thinking about what they are going to say, but should never try and memorise a script; if they do, the result will almost certainly be very wooden.

Pieces to camera: here either a senior manager or a professional presenter talks direct to the camera lens. If the piece is short it can be memorised. Otherwise a teleprompt (or Autocue) mounted on the camera or a mini-recorder playing audio into the presenter’s earpiece will do the trick. Cue cards are not recommended, especially for non-professionals; it’s extremely difficult to look at a cue card and the lens at the same time.  Also, allow the crew at least 30 minutes set-up time before your CEO or whoever is due on set.

Chromakey: otherwise known as “blue screen” or “green screen”. The presenter or interviewee is shot against a flat blue or green background. In the edit, the blue or green is replaced electronically with a graphic or a shot taken elsewhere. This can be a very efficient way of rattling off a series of interviews in a controlled environment.

Sound: the microphone sitting on the camera itself is just for background. Speech will be picked up with a separate microphone on a boom, or through a “tie”, “clip” or “radio” mic worn by the speaker.  Drama with actors often calls for a sound recordist in additiion to the cameraman.

Actors will need somewhere to change and to sit while they’re not needed. They will have learned the script in advance, so don’t ask for last-minute script changes if you want a coherent performance. If actors are playing the part of your staff, you will need to provide uniforms, PPE, etc as appropriate.

Refreshment: a video shoot is hard work, so the crew will appreciate the occasional cup of coffee and a break for lunch.

Beyond the ordinary: we can add some of the trimmings of a feature film or broadcast television production to a corporate shoot if they help the story or the presentation.  These need not be particularly expensive.  For example:

    A make-up artist if you’re doing drama, especially in costume

    A stunt co-ordinator if staging an accident for a safety video

    A pyrotechnician or armourer to provide flashes and bangs and smoke

    Aerial photography, either from a helicopter or more often a remotely piloted drone

    Special “grip” equipment such as a track and dolly or a steadicam (both allow the camera to be moved smoothly over a distance), a crane, drone or a car mount.

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