Dec '16 | Video Production Tips: Capturing High Quality on a Low Budget (Part 3 of 4)

San Francisco Video Producer & Founder of Patina Pictures gives it to you straight…


Guess what? Videos don’t have to cost a fortune. But in order to maintain a certain level of quality, they do require some planning.

In this four part blog series, we’re taking you behind the scenes and sharing video production tips and tricks unlike those shared before. Today, we focus on how to capture high quality content on a shoestring budget.

Now, before we begin, let’s lay some ground rules. By “low budget” I don’t mean you hire a college kid with a camera. No offense to college kids with cameras, I used to be one myself. But that route typically doesn’t produce the type of high quality content I’m referring to.

By low budget, I mean anything below $5,000. And by high quality content, I mean corporate videos shot in the same vein as the three examples below.

The owners of Scout & Molly’s wanted to advertise the opening of their boutique clothing store on social media, but like most owners starting out, they didn’t have a lot to spend. Here are a few ways in which we provided several high quality social media videos for one very low price.

  • Be adventurous when picking your locations! There are a lot of great locations out there you don’t have to pay for. In this case, we took to the great outdoors. And by great outdoors we mean the very well groomed parks of Connecticut. We also set up shop on a subway platform and waited for a train to roll in, and our patience paid off!
  • Hiring talent wasn’t an affordable option for these videos, so we put our heads together and came up with a marketing ploy that paid off. Instead of hiring talent, we hired real people from the community. And those real people turned out to be incredible publicity agents!
  • Instead of hiring a make up artist, we treated our real people models to a makeover at the local Benefit Cosmetics. Not only did they walk away with a new product, but the process also allowed Scout & Molly owners a chance to meet and support other local business owners.

Shapeways wanted to produce a series of educational videos that helped designers by taking them behind the scenes of the manufacturing process, but they didn’t want to spend a lot. Here’s how we got that done:

  • We found a free location that had naturally great light.
  • With the help of the marketing team, we found a Shapeways designer and asked him to be our “spokesperson.”
  • Then we hired a “One-Man-Band.” Yes, there are cameramen and women out there that have developed a slew of skill sets so that they can efficiently and effectively set up basic lighting, sound, and operate two cameras on their own. And typically these rock star crew members also come with their own equipment package.

So if you can’t afford hiring an entire camera crew, and your storyline and video premise is of a simple nature, consider finding and hiring a “One Man Band.” But again, this isn’t a kid with a camera. This is a highly skilled individual who has gone to great lengths to hone their skills in several diverse areas.

Finally, the founder of Tuesday Recipe, Tori Ritchie, wanted a video that introduced the launch of her new website, but needed to do it on a shoestring budget. Here’s how we accomplished that:

  • Great Scripting: When you take the time to write a great story, you don’t need a lot of extra bells and whistles. In this case, we incorporated Tori’s fun sense of humor and her bubbly personality, and got the necessary information across in a way that was highly entertaining. And we did this all in four hours, with only two cameras, two lights, and one cameraman.
  • Art Direction: If you don’t have the budget to hire an art director, then set aside some time to think like an art director. You’ll notice in this shot, the fabric on the bench matches the apples, which matches the flowers. A coincidence? No. A smart $10 purchase made by this San Francisco video producer prior to filming? Yes.
  • Smart Scheduling: For a piece like this, lighting is very important. But when you don’t have the money to hire a gaffer or rent lights, then use natural light. It’s free! But the trick with natural light is that it’s finicky. With one location scout prior, we determined the best time to film Tori was been 11-2pm, when the sun wasn’t directly hitting the windows, yet the light was bright enough to provide a soft warm glow.

Want a bonus tip? See how Tori received over 2,000 views within the first two weeks of posting her video.

san Francisco video producer


Did you miss parts one and two of this series? Check out our tips on Event Videos and Customer Testimonials, or check back next week as this San Francisco video producer helps you tackle the art of video scheduling, showing you how to film more, for less.

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K'Dee Miller is the Founder & Creative Director of Patina Pictures.

Her feature films have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, AFI Fest, Newport Beach Film Festival, among others. Her corporate video clients span from technology companies such as Microsoft, RingCentral, DocuSign and Adobe, to Bay Area nonprofits such as Team4Tech and Hamilton Families.

She's studied her industry from every angle, receiving production training from The Juilliard School, an MFA of Writing from University of San Francisco, and a BFA of Acting from Marymount Manhattan College.

She is currently in the process of writing a memoir about growing up in the wilderness of Alaska.