While I was shooting time-lapse video in the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I received a message from a friend asking “what is the best corporate video camera?”.
My money is on the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. The features that seal the deal for me are the cinematic footage, mini XLR input, max ISO of 25600 for low light, timelapse mode, dual card recording, and improved battery life. In this article, I’ll tell you why I think this camera is best for corporate videos and what features are most imperative for producing corporate videos.
As a corporate filmmaker, it is difficult and overwhelming to be up to date on all the corporate video cameras that enter the market every single day. Moreover, with the influx of YouTube videos and reviews, it can be even more confusing and misleading for cinematographers. This happens to the best of us.
What are Corporate Videos?
Corporate videos are videos that are commissioned by corporate companies. They are usually non-advertisement videos. They are created to communicate information from the management to their audience. The audience could be their employees, investors, customers or clients. Anyone they want to talk to. Corporate videos are a lot like documentaries but they differ in one aspect. Corporate videos, unlike documentaries, have a stronger marketing agenda. Corporate videos usually do not have a neutral narrative like a news piece or video journalism.
What are different types of Corporate Video Shoots?
In this article when we talk about corporate video shoots, we are considering live action corporate videos. Of course, corporate videos require animation and graphics in post-production, but for the context of this article, we are focused on cameras, we will be considering live-action footage recorded on corporate video cameras.
There are different types of corporate videos. The videos depend on the type of production, narrative, and the corporate communication goal.
Let’s break them down into the most common types of Corporate Video Productions: The corporate marketing videos, explainer videos, and training video.
When it comes to corporate videos, especially, videos meant for marketing or training, the narrative and production is similar. Typically, there is a location, product, service or skilled resource team that needs to be featured in the video. The management sells these features to their target audience through the corporate video. When it comes to explainer videos or training videos, the videos focus a little more on understanding the product or service features better. The narrative is told from the perspective of the end user.
The videos might include shots of the location, service, or a product. The corporate video might include interviews from industry experts or leadership and employees. This footage is generally divided into two categories: First is the interviews and the second is the b-roll. The b-roll is the supporting footage that confirms what the interviewee is saying. For example, if the HR personal says “We have an excellent HR department” during the interview, the b-roll footage might be a shot showcasing some of the HR employees working with smiling faces.
Technical specifications for corporate video cameras.
Especially, when it comes to crafting corporate videos for marketing and training purposes we want to focus on the following technical specifications.
Dynamic range and codecs.
What is “dynamic range”?
Dynamic range in a camera is the range or difference between the darkest and the lightest tones in the footage. Larger the number, better the dynamic range. Sometimes, the sky looks completely white and pale coloured in a scene. During colour grading in post-production, we decrease the exposure in the highlights to bring some blues in. If the dynamic range of the camera is not that great or the codec sucks, you will start to see banding in the highlights, details in that colour range are lost. You will notice bands of different coloured blues in the skies.
The footage starts to break when you try to grade the colours. In other words, when the footage is of good quality, the footage is easy to colour grade. This makes it easy to match different scenes. You see more detail in the footage. This is important because during a corporate film you might be shooting outdoors and indoors with different lighting. Video codecs or formats are also key. Having a good codec with a high bitrate means that you will have more information in each pixel on your video footage. The result is better quality video. Most of the latest smartphones shoot in 4K, but if you look at the footage you might notice that there’s something a little off with it. It doesn’t look cinematic like a movie. The picture isn’t sharp and detailed in some areas. Same with webcams. This is because the footage to start with is quite bad and the in-camera software sharpens the footage and softens skin tones to make it more usable.
Audio is the next most important feature of the corporate video camera. Good audio quality can make a huge difference in your overall production of a corporate video. High quality audio contributes to the corporate video production being perceived as world class. Having XLR input or 3 pin audio input is imperative for good audio. The third pin provides a ground and protects the signal from noise. Having this feature built into your camera saves a lot of time during production. It also brings down costs. You don’t need an additional resource to manage the sound engineering on set. if you do not record audio directly into your video camera, you will need to record the audio separately on an audio recording device. The audio from the record device is then synchronised to the sound to the camera in post-production. That does seem like a lot of extra work and it sure is.
Form factor and camera size.
When shooting a corporate video, many a time, the shoot could be in a small space. Like a small meeting room, a small photocopy room or even a server room without much space to work around the servers. Having a camera that takes less space is advantages in these situations. Since most corporate locations are not designed like TV at, planting lights, stands and tripods become a challenge for some scenes. Also, some shots require the camera to be stabilised on a gimbal. Having a lighter camera is easy to balance on a gimbal and do shots while walking or tracking movements.
Timelapse and hyper-lapse mode.
Although time lapse and hyper-lapse shots seem to be a trend in corporate videos. These shots also have a narrative meaning. It’s a great way to express a fast-paced world, time running by and the sheer movement of people and information. Having a camera that has functions to record time lapses and hyper lapses help nail these shots.
Corporate video cameras for event videos.
Corporate event videos also have a narrative. But the focus is more on the chronology of events and sequence of what happens for the day or evening. The aim here is to not miss anything great. The camera should be able to record footage for long durations, continuously, so that no part of the event is missed. When it comes to corporate event videos, we want to shortlist a corporate video camera that has a good battery life and can record video on SD cards that are inexpensive. Next, if the corporate video camera is able to record footage on multiple cards continuously, life does get a lot easier.
Web conferences, streaming videos, and live videos.
When quality is not a priority, a webcam or even a smartphone can get this job done. for a more professional set up, however, a corporate event video camera can be used to capture the footage and streamed through a live mixer. It’s imperative for the corporate video camera to have the needed input and output sockets for audio and video.
Which corporate video camera is best for each type of corporate video shoot?
It’s not always about which camera, but it also depends on the professional and experience of the cinematographer using the camera. Which camera is the cinematographer most comfortable or familiar with? How is the camera’s ergonomics?
What corporate video cameras do professionals use?
The Sony PMW 300 is a good corporate video camera. It’s a successor to the popular Sony EX3 which had been my goto standard for documentary and television productions. The PMW 300 has all the necessary bells and whistles. It shoots in 4K and has a 10-bit output. the only downside is the small half inch sensor. Getting shots with shallow depth of field could be a challenge. But most experienced cinematographers don’t rely on this feature. The usually capture shallow depth of field by shooting from a distance and zooming in. This corporate video camera is great for shooting events, interviews and b-roll shorts for corporate videos. The Panasonic alternative is the Panasonic DVX 200.
Slow motion corporate video cameras.
Slow motion shots look cinematic. They’re really cool shots to introduce a team or show a character walking into a scene. If you’re looking at slow motion and using a high-speed camera, you could consider the Sony FS5 or Sony FS7. They come in at a much higher price point though and might not be feasible for the average corporate video package.
Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.
Most corporate videos, however are edited down to a duration of 2 to 3 minutes. in this scenario, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera has placed itself at the pinnacle. Why? The footage looks cinematic. It’s out of this world. Corporates are now making movies. With 4k, awesome dynamic range, raw format, and mini XLR input, the camera is a beast. Not to mention slow motion at full HD resolution and a time-lapse mode.
Canon c300 had hit a sweet spot for years but it doesn’t match the new 4K BMPCC. The Canon cameras are dated and their equivalent successors are at least three to four times more expensive.
Should I shoot corporate video in 4K?
For most use cases 4k video resolution is unnecessary. 4K is overkill for corporate videos.
If you were wondering, what is 4K resolution?
4K resolution is the horizontal resolution of video in pixels that is close to 4000 pixels. But the term 4K comes from four times the full HD resolution or it could be twice the line resolution. the resolution of the 4k video is 3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels.
There are a ton of cameras including your smartphone camera that offers 4K resolution. Why invest in the bulky expensive corporate video cameras then? You get what you pay for. Don’t fall for the fake marketing. With commercial phones and cameras in the market, consumers are misled. Most of the smartphone camera ads and promises make me laugh. The fancy marketing is never really true. The footage on smartphones and point and shoot camera are upscaled from a lower resolution to fit 4K. These cheaper cameras have tiny sensors. You could imagine the size of the sensor on your smartphone, just by looking at the size of your smrtphone lens. The camera sensor is going to be a lot smaller. The smaller camera sensors gather less light and fewer details compared to larger ones. This means less digital information per pixel. The inbuilt software of the camera processes the footage and digitally enhances the signals to make the video look presentable. This is why you might notice that DSLR and smartphone camera footage look a little murky compared to broadcast and cinema cameras. The cheaper cameras have sharp edges but go soft on the skin tones. There is not much detail in the footage. The dynamic range sucks. This makes it very difficult to colour grade the footage. It’s also difficult to match the colours of footage from different scenes, cameras, and lighting.
What are the disadvantages of shooting in 4k?
Obviously, shooting in 4K resolution is going to take more time and more storage space. The workflow is more expensive. For an end user, which are corporates, most corporate systems and laptops can’t play back 4K videos. Their company streaming platform content is also consumed at lower resolutions and bandwidths.
There are some advantages of using 4K. Shooting at a high resolution is great for cropping in and adjusting frame in post-production. the other use for 4K is that you could use one camera to record a corporate event video. In post-production, the editor could zoom in and make it another camera view of you when you downscale the footage to HD. For example, you could use a wide shot and crop it in to get a closeup because the 4k footage will have that detail. Another use for 4K would be if you are planning an advertisement, like a recruitment commercial. When you want to create a corporate video advertisement and if the video is to be published on large LED screens at an event or in a local cinema, having the large 4K format would meet local cinema standards and specifications. For most scenarios in corporate video productions, you do not need 4K.
4K cameras are more expensive and it is also more expensive to edit 4K footage since you need faster computers.
Should I shoot in camera raw or prores 422 videos?
The short answer, not really. Unless you are shooting a documentary production that has a requirement of a 422 raw specification, you don’t have to be bothered about this uncompressed format for corporate videos. There are times when you might want to shoot in raw. Say you’re shooting outdoors and in difficult lighting conditions. You could take advantage of the raw format to colour grade your footage in post. The extra information in the highlights and shadows can help decrease exposures in the bright areas and brighten up the underexposed areas to make your footage more usable. I find this highly useful while shooting footage outdoors or in natural light.
What’s so great about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for Corporate video production?
When it comes to corporate video productions and you are cherry picking a corporate video camera, we have to consider multiple factors carefully. Sadly, there isn’t one camera that gives you everything. It’s always a compromise. For me, the Blackmagic pocket cinema camera has the best of all worlds. it checks most of the boxes for corporate video productions. The most important feature for me is that cinematic look. The camera sports footage that could be compared to a RED or an ARRI camera. While making a corporate video cinematic looking footage in your corporate video message would set you apart from other low budget videos. You know the ones that are shot on DSLR. The films that are shaky (like the Blair witch project), underexposed, and look cheap and digital. Having cinematic looking footage gives a rich film feel to the entire production. As a corporate video filmmaker my aim is to get more cinematic and world class on every video production. The video on the BMPCC doesn’t look cheap. No sir, it looks cinematic and is movie quality. Having the MFT lens mount along with the metabones adaptor, gives an additional stop of light and can be used with different canon lenses. There are problems with vignetting. I must add but when you shoot in 4k the edges could be cropped out. This makes the camera body very versatile as a corporate video camera. It gives you more out of an ordinary lens. The autofocus and push to focus speeds are not bad by any standards. The camera supports lowlight and high speed recording. And now, having the mini XLR input for audio completes the circle. Audio is taken care of as well. this camera is packing a lot. A lot more than most cinematographers can bargain for.
Which corporate video camera do you recommend? What do you think about shooting in 4k? Do you have any questions regarding corporate video productions?
Let me know in the comments below.