Read this article on LinkedIn.
Editing an upcoming video for the German Desk of Ravenscroft & Schmierer.
Outsourcing videography work to an external production company is the norm for most corporate firms. There are many articles online such as “5 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Video Production”, arguing that it is faster, cheaper, of higher quality, trendier and more visionary. However, while spending part of my summer as an intern at a law firm in Hong Kong, I discovered that there are several advantages to having an in-house videographer.
As a law student who does freelance videography, I never thought I would be able to find an opportunity that combined the two worlds. Like many other penultimate year students, I was scrolling through the careers page of my university and, to my surprise, found a job posting from a law firm with an interesting YouTube channel. I applied immediately, interviewed a couple of weeks later and, after successfully going through the entire selection process, gladly accepted an offer as a summer intern. After I started the internship, and to my pleasant surprise, I was invited to work on producing videos, as my new colleagues discovered my videography skills. Because I never worked in-house as a videographer before, this opportunity was particularly exciting.
Working at Ravenscroft & Schmierer as an intern and producing videos in-house gave me new perspectives into videography. Prior to my internship, I only worked as an external videographer: my experience with making corporate videos never involved me being based at the office. I only showed up to shoot and did all the editing at home. However, upon finishing my internship, I realised that videography work in-house is completely different from what I expected.
Benefit 1: Better awareness of the office space
One big advantage of being based in the office is that it provides a much greater understanding of the office space—finding interesting and aesthetic angles to film from is much easier. In the past, when working as an external videographer, I arrived at the location with little knowledge of the space I was working with. This made it difficult to find the ideal lighting and camera angles, especially when the time given to produce the videos was limited.
For example, after familiarising myself with the office for a few days, I realised it was best to use natural light in the conference room, as opposed to artificial light. Artificial light, which was used in the previous videos produced by the firm gave the office a very yellow and clinical look to the videos. The large windows in the conference room let in enough sunlight for the videos to be well lit without the need for artificial light.
One of my favorite shots taken in the conference room overlooking Victoria Harbour.
Benefit 2: Closer familiarity with our colleagues
I also came to realise that spending more time in the office and getting to know our colleagues truly helped with creating effective and high-quality videos. For one, I was able to get to know the people working at Ravenscroft & Schmierer, which helped me present their personalities in front of the camera. People who are outgoing and extroverted tend to be well-suited for more casual graduate-oriented videos, while people with more earnest sensibilities present better in client-focused videos.
Knowing each person well meant that I also had to adapt my cinematography style to each personality. For our incoming trainee solicitor Kelly, I placed the camera at eye-level because the angle communicated familiarity and friendliness, which was perfect for displaying her outgoing personality. When I shot the video for our managing partner Stefan, however, I made sure to place the camera at a lower angle to communicate authority and power, which helped bring out his determined and resolute personality.
Screenshot from the video we made about trainee solicitor Erica.
Benefit 3: More room for flexibility. creativity and improvisation
Producing videos in-house also granted me a lot of flexibility. During my time at Ravenscroft & Schmierer, I worked closely with the marketing executive, Bruno. We planned every project from beginning to end together, where my vision and ideas were considered seriously. This was quite different from my past experiences where clients usually already had an idea of what they wanted before they reached out to a videographer. Instead of just providing technical expertise, I was able to exercise my creativity. Most, if not all, of our videos were the result of collaborative brainstorming efforts.
An example of this flexibility can be seen from how the career workshop video came to be, since the video project was initiated and planned in a completely ad hoc manner. There were no plans to make a video of the workshop before it happened. It was just a sudden idea in the office right before the event that it would be a good idea to document it. Bruno and I did not have any idea of what we wanted the video to look like. We simply took the camera with us to the event and improvised the rest. The result was a fun, short, and snappy montage of people interacting with each other. The flexibility from doing videography in-house provides a lot of room for creative and fresh ideas.
Documenting the career workshop we held with the Law Association of the University of Hong Kong.
Challenge 1: Facing camera shyness and limited motivation
However, this flexibility came with challenges. Previously, as an external videographer, a team of people willing to be in front of the camera would already be gathered by the time I arrived at the filming location — I would not have to worry about whether or not I had permission to film the people there. However, when working in-house, I had to constantly gauge whether I could film a certain person or not. This was especially challenging when shooting B-roll (which refers to the extra footage that is shot to compliment the primary footage for a video).
To make the footage look natural and unrehearsed, I tried to film candid shots of people going about their workday without them noticing me. For the B-roll, I also made sure to make slight movements with the camera to make the shots more dynamic. However, I was often concerned about whether it was okay to film or not.
Challenge 2: Last-minute cancellations and scheduling conflicts
Another challenge I faced was scheduling. In my past experiences, the shoot times were rigid. However, working in-house meant that the shoot times were contingent upon the other employees’ schedules. Consequently, there have been many cases when someone cancelled a shoot because another appointment or some urgent work came up. I realised that videography is not usually a priority for people at a law firm. This happened often, but I was able to nevertheless reschedule the shoots easily since I was always in the office during working hours.
Benefits of working in-house outweigh its challenges
There are many benefits and challenges to producing videos in-house, as opposed to hiring an external videographer or production company. Nonetheless, the benefits of working in-house outweigh the challenges, and working in-house allowed me to make better videos.
Bowen Xu is currently a fourth year UCL (University College London) - HKU (University of Hong Kong) dual law degree student. He was born and raised in Finland, and you can find more of his work here.