Video Shopping: Good Results in the Field

Last month I wrote about tips for preparing for a mystery shopping video shoot. This month’s column gives tips for producing good video and audio once at the shoot.

Something elementary but crucial to remember is to get your camera in place and make sure it is on before entering your shop location. If you think you can adjust or check the camera in the bathroom after you arrive, you risk tipping off your assigned video subject or other employees.

If you are shooting outside, wind, traffic or other type of noise can easily drown out what you and/or your subject are saying. As a precaution, think of a way to get the subject to repeat what they have said. Some ideas include simply saying, “What?” or “Did you say…..?” In the past I have explained that I had an ear infection and was having a hard time hearing, so would they mind repeating the info or speaking up? Remember to be natural: asking the subject to repeat everything could raise suspicion. This works well inside, too, if your subject is soft-spoken or there is noise in the background.

Once on the shoot, the shopper, of course, needs to keep their subject in the frame as often as possible (unless otherwise instructed). However, remembering the Rule of Thirds will help to place your subject in the most artistic position. To do this, mentally divide the scene you are shooting into thirds left-to-right and top-to-bottom, and try to place your subject where the imaginary lines would intersect. A person’s eye goes to these places, said a videographer in Chicago, Illinois. If you can position your subject on one of those intersections, you can get some “amazing looks,” he said. If that is too difficult, just try framing your subject in the right or left of the screen. It creates a more pleasing picture and gives the client a better idea of the workspace as well.

Another tip for filming aesthetic shots is to watch for and avoid distractions to the subject, such as plants in the background that appear to be coming out of the subject’s head or side. Also be careful to watch for and avoid filming mirrors or other reflective glass might catch your reflection.

Know what your focus distance is with the camera. If a shopper gets too close to a subject, the subject could be out of focus, depending on the camera used.

Another simple but crucial tip: turn off the camera when using the restroom. Besides avoiding unwanted noises on the tape, it could be an illegal invasion of privacy if you film someone other than your intended target in there.

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