The Video Vault

Video Production Ideas, Information & Anecdotes

Apple Box Studios has a long history of creating film and video projects for our clients. You name it—long form, TV spots, social media videos, training videos and more. We’ve done it all. In fact, our name comes from the feature film business. As a value added service to our clients and creative video partners, we are pleased to bring you The Video Vault: a collection of valuable information, resources and lessons learned over the years about all things video.

The Golden Apples

Our Top 10 Tips to Successful Video Production

1. Always start with your audience
When creating an engaging and effective video production, it is imperative to ask the question, “Who is our target audience?” Effective marketing is all about tailoring and communicating your message to a specific group. A single product will never appease everyone. Although it may seem risky leaving certain individuals out, you are more likely to get your message across to potential and interested clients. By failing to target your audience properly, your focus may be too broad and will most likely be overlooked. Keep in mind, audiences vary from regions to region. Is your audience a local Pittsburgh audience or a global audience?

2. Have a singular message
Having more than one message in your video can do much more harm than good. With too many points, your audience is often left feeling confused or overwhelmed as to what the main focus of the video is about. Keeping it simple and focusing your message not only holds your audience’s attention, but also allows for more impactful video production. Video is meant to deliver emotion not detail, so show, don’t tell.

3. Create an emotional connection
If you want your viewers to watch and remember your message, you have to connect with them on an emotional level. Most corporate videos tend to be fact and information driven, leaving the audience unaffected. However, when you produce a message that your viewers can personally relate to, it stirs up a more positive response making them likely to remember your video and to take action. A popular way to do this with a local audience is to speak their language so-to-speak. For instance, here in Pittsburgh, references to sports or regional history will capture and keep their attention.

4. Have a vision
Video production allows for a lot of freedom and creativity. Although your main focus is getting the correct message across to your target audience, it is also very important to embody your company’s values and beliefs. Keeping these elements in check uphold your companies brand image while also building a respectable reputation to the public.

5. Show what you know
Why try to explain your company or product when you can actually show people what you’re trying to convey? Video production is a great, effective way to pack a lot of information into a small amount of time. Demonstrating your services is a more visually stimulating way to engage your audience, rather than simply listing or bulleting facts.

6. Customer first
When it comes to video production, the customers should always be your first priority. You want to produce a video that will give your customers an answer to their problems, while explaining how your product or service will solve them. In order to do so, think from a client’s perspective. What are their difficulties? What do they care about? Your customer is the target of your marketing and keeping them first will drive success.

7. Incorporate a call to action
How do you want people to respond to your videos? Do you want them to call, click, order, subscribe or share? By having a call to action, you are providing you clients with the opportunity to participate in your promotion. Guiding your customers towards a specific response will lead to more active engagement.

8. Be in the know with techno
Being up to date with the latest technology in video production automatically gives you the competitive advantage. Having this upper hand not only proves to your audience what a successful, talented business you have, but also gives you the ability to create more appealing and dynamic material. Your video quality should strive to reflect your business capabilities.

9. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Use SEO practices in video production when naming, placing, and endorsing your video. Although many companies are integrating video content into their marketing strategies, many may not place SEO as a high priority. Successfully using SEO improves your business because your video and content are more likely to be found and seen by customers. Failure to implement SEO practices can allow your competitors content to be more prominent than your own. This includes local search terms such as “Pittsburgh video production” as we do here at Apple Box Studios.

10. Keep up with the competition
Collect benchmarks or samples of every cool and clever video project you can find. This is where your future inspiration will come from. Technically, someone is always doing something new. Creatively, someone is always pushing video editing in new and exciting directions.

The Rotten Apples

Our Top 10 Mistakes in Video Production

1. Not taking enough time to prepare
Failing to plan is planning to fail in video production. It is very important to leave enough time to be well prepared for producing your video. Especially in script writing, you need to have enough time to write a well thought out script, while also keeping in mind who your audience is and what visions you wish to portray through your works. Scout your video production set ahead of time and reach out to your talent so that you are organized and well prepared for the day of the shoot. Failing to prepare can lead to chaos on set and potentially extended shooting time. When it comes to film and video production, the will to succeed is important—the will to prepare is vital.

2. Having a script that is too technical
Keep in mind when writing your script that you’re trying to get a message across to people who may not know what you’re talking about. Your script should be in terms that the average viewer will understand and be able to connect with. Videos can often be too factual and contain too technical of terms that lose entertainment values—and essentially viewers. You can present a product or service in a fun, enjoyable way while still being informational. Finding a balance between being enjoyable and being factual is the key.

3. TMI!
Are you trying to fit too much information into one video? This could be a reason that you do not have your ideal amount of viewers. Produce videos that are short, sweet, and to the point. Contain a call to action in your video that can guide your viewers to all of the other information that had to be left out. A video should not be used as the only source of information, but should be used as a bridge to continue their interest in your product or service.

4. Selling Points in the wrong places
Having your selling points in the wrong places in your video can be detrimental to the success of your promotion. Selling points are parts of your video that “hook” your viewer and keep them wanting more information. So, if your selling points are all located at the end of your video, then chances are slim that your viewers will ever see them. If nothing keeps them wanting to watch, they will most likely turn off the video before they see what you are trying to communicate. Therefore, introduce your selling points at the beginning and throughout your video in order to secure viewers.

5. Being too promotional
You always try to avoid those people who knock on your front door to sell you something, don’t you? And those telemarketer phone calls?  While in video production, it is important to create videos that keep viewers from thinking that you are only trying to sell them something. Avoid being too promotional and tell a story to connect with your potential customers. Keep them engaged and interested to learn more.

6. Failure to share video
Promotion of your video is just as important as the development process. Sharing your video on YouTube is a great way to start, but utilize all social media platforms along with your website in order to reach as many people as possible. Sending your video out in an email blast and linking it to your website is also a great tactic to keep loyal clients up to date and interested in your business. Any way that you can promote your video should be used to get as much exposure to the public.

7. Visually reinforce your message
When appropriate, reinforce your video message with graphic titles. The power of seeing a word or phrase as well as hearing it will help with retention. When all is said and done, we want the audience to retain something, even it’s a single word or simple phrase. Motion graphic titles can be included in countless creative ways.

8. Sound
Audio components play an imperative role in video production. While voices are used to tell a story and to relay information, sound sets the feel, tone, and mood of your video. Although both elements play important roles, it’s crucial to never let your music overpower your vocals. To avoid this, raise music levels in between scripted dialogue and lower it (probably more than you think you should) when coupled with words. Advanced equipment ensures clear, crisp, and quality sound so that your video seems more professional.

9. Partner
One of the biggest mistakes in video production is selecting the wrong video partner. Choosing the right partner takes time, resources, knowledge, and industry expertise. As a company, you never want to put out a video that is a poor-representation of your business. Let’s face it, your potential customers are going to be critically judging your video and when they see poor quality work, they think your business is poor quality as well. Make every video count!

10.Rushed Editing
Before starting your project, be sure to understand how much time it takes to properly edit a video. Tight timelines often lead to video producers rushing the final editing process making for a messy, unpolished final product. You’re much more prone to overlooking mistakes when too eager to finish your video. So rather than slopping scenes together to meet a deadline, allot an appropriate amount of time to create a refined finished project.

Video Glossary

Video Production Terms: Know the Lingo

Crossing the Line
In video production, the 180-degree rule keeps the camera angles on one side of a pretend line running through set. If the camera crosses this “line” confusing discontinuity may occur. An action axis is an imaginary line drawn between two subjects or along a line of motion in order to maintain continuity of screen direction. Crossing it from one shot to the next creates an error in continuity.

Apple Box
An apple box is a simple, wooden device used on the set of a movie to raise equipment. The apple box is also used by the cameraperson as a step to gain a higher perspective during filming.

An auteur is a heavily involved film or video director, exercising creative control to implement his or her own unique, personal style.

A backlight is used in video production to brighten from behind to form a sense of depth, separating foreground characters from the background.

Barndoors are light modifiers that direct and shape light during video production.

Call Sheet
Call Sheets are sheets printed and handed out every day to the video crew. This sheet contains scenes to be shot the next day, call times for the actors and other staff, and other information needed for the shoot.

A close-up is a tightly framed camera shot where the main subject is viewed at close range, appearing large and dominant on screen.

A composite is a video image that is made from combining multiple pictures into a single plane to make one picture.

Composition is the visual make-up of a video picture including aesthetic considerations such as balance, framing, field of view and texture. These combined assets form an image that’s pleasant to view.

The crew of a video production includes personnel who generally operate equipment and are not typically seen by the camera. Pittsburgh is known to have some of the most professional video and film crews in the country.

Crop Out
Crop out is a postproduction technique used to tighten up a shot that has unwanted images in the borders of the frame.

A director is the key individual in charge of planning and organizing the video production.

Depth of field
Depth of field is the range in front of a camera’s lens in which objects seem in focus.

A dolly is a piece of video production equipment that lets the camera roll/move seamlessly across a scene.

Essential area
Essential areas are borders within which contents of a television picture are certain to be seen. This area includes the inner 80 percent of the screen.

Establishing shot
Establishing shot is the opening image of a scene. Typically, it is a wide and/or distant perspective that orients viewers to the overall setting and surroundings.

Fade in
A fade in is the act of fading in audio to avoid the snap cut to music or effects.

Fade Out
A fade out is an audio cue in video production that eases out the sound of music or effects so that there is no abrupt cut off.

Follow Focus
Follow focus is controlling the lens focus so that an image maintains sharpness and clarity despite camera or subject movement.

Frame Rate
The frame rate is the amount of frames that are displayed per second. Having a higher frame rate allows the video to appear smoother.

Headroom is considered the space between the top of a subject or scene from a frame’s top. It’s important the cameraperson takes into account any cropping that may occur later on the top or sides of footage.

Interlaced video changes the pixels on the screen twice for every frame displayed. Scanlines are changed alternatively, evens changing first and odds second.

Long shot
A long shot is a camera view of a subject or scene from a distance, showing a broad perspective with any character in his or her entirety.

Medium shot
A medium shot is any camera perspective between a long shot and a close-up, viewing the subjects from a medium distance. Typically the character in scene is shown from the waste up.

Meta Data
Meta Data is data that describes your video’s data. For instance, an example of this would be for videos on YouTube, the meta data is the title, description, and tags.

NTSC (National Television System Committee)
NTSC is the North American and South American video system, transmitting 30 frames per second and 525 scanlines per frame.

Over-crank (Slow Motion)
Over-cranking is when a film crew runs their camera at a faster rate to create a slow motion effect.

Over-the-shoulder shot
An-over-the-shoulder shot is a view of the main individual with the back of another person’s shoulder and head in the forefront.

PAL (Phase Alternating by Line)
PAL is the standard video system used by most countries overseas (ex: South Africa, India, Germany), transmitting 25 frames per second with 625 scanlines per frame.

Point-of-view shot (POV)
Point-of-view is a shot perspective whereby the video camera assumes a character’s view and therefore viewers see what the character sees.

Pre-production includes any activity that happens prior to the time the camera starts rolling.

Progressive video is when every pixel displayed on a monitor is refreshed in sequential order repeatedly, drawing one continuous image.

Rack focus
Rack focus can be described as the shifting focus between characters in the background and foreground of a scene so a viewer’s attention moves from character to character as the focus changes.

A remote is a video shoot that is executed on location, outside a controlled studio.

Resolution is the maximum number or pixels that a monitor is able to display.
It can be presented in the format of (number of horizontal pixels) x (number of vertical pixels). The higher the amount of pixels, the clearer your image will be.

Reverse Shot
A reverse shot is the act of capturing the same action at different angles to show a counter perspective.

Rule of thirds
In video production, rule of thirds is a composition theory based on separating the screen into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, with the placement of the main subject along those lines.

Soft Focus
Soft Focus can be achieved by using a special lens to get a slightly blurred effect. This can also be done using a normal lens slightly out of focus.

Two-shot is a video production term that describes a camera view encompassing two characters.

TV Safe
TV Safe is considered the areas that are visible on your TV, without being cut off.

Voice Over
A voice over is the audio that’s put over an image or video from a character that is not usually present in the video itself.

A vignette is a special effect where viewers see images through a shaped (keyhole, heart shape, diamond, etc.).

Whip pan
A whip pan is extremely rapid camera movement that often blurs the video image.

In video production, zoom is the change of focal length from wide-angle to telephoto, or telephoto to wide-angle, in one continuous motion.

The Up & Coming

“How bout them apples!?”

1. 4K
As 4K resolution becomes the new HD, professionals are predicting this type of video production to become more prominent over the next few years. This 4K technology produces a sharper, clearer image for all pictures and video because of its much-improved resolution. Compared to HD resolution with 1920 x 1080 pixels, 4K has 3840 x 2160 pixels- nearly four times the amount of pixels and resolution. Although many cameras have the capability to record in 4K, it is taking an extended amount of time for consumers to switch from Standard or HD resolutions. However, some recent technology is still not compatible with the new video capabilities, creating a slight technology gap.
Learn More

2. Drone/Arial Video
One of the most booming trends in video production involves drone technology. With allowance from the Federal Aviation Administration, drones are now more readily available and permitted to be used with a license. Through an experienced operator, drone technology is a fairly inexpensive way to capture dynamic video footage. Drones have the capability to film aerial views you would never be able to capture on foot. Here at Apple Box Studios, we’ve utilized drone technology to shoot the video Mighty Beautiful Pittsburgh- check it out!
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3. Hyperlapse Video
A hyperlapse video is a sequence of time-lapse videos in addition to small camera movements using motorized sliders. Although time-consuming, these videos create unique and attention-grabbing motion pictures. With camera movements up to a mile in length, hyperlapse videos are bringing elaborate, wide shots and intricate movement into video production.
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4. Shallow Depth of Field
This video production technique has the ability to sharply focus on one subject of a scene while blurring out all other objects in the frame. As shallow depth of field becomes easier to implement, videographers utilize the method to draw viewers’ eyes to a specific point or object on the screen. These high quality videos create stunning images for any video production.
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5. HDR Monitor
HDR, or high dynamic range, is a relatively new technology used on devices that enriches the amount of color that can be seen when making and viewing videos. It allows you to be able to see many more shades of colors, deeper colors, and brighter colors. HDR Monitors help to make your videos look like they are real life and right in front of you. Contrast is a very important factor to consider in HDR devices because it controls the light and darkness in your picture. Color and contrast improvements are what make HDR Monitors produce such a rich and eye-catching video.
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6. Slow Motion
With the help of smartphones, slow motion videos have made a major comeback being one of the top video production trends in 2016. The slow motion feature creates dramatic, unique content that clearly showcases what’s occurring in the clip. Smart phones even give users the ability to determine which section of the video they want normal speed and which section they want in slow motion. This feature may be simple, but it is being used more than ever as it turns fast pace content into an intricate, dynamic video.
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7. Interactive Video
Interactive Video is a type of video production allowing viewers to have a more engaging experience. This creative technique gives consumers the ability to participate by clicking on their screen in order to purchase a product, to take a survey, or to answer a questionnaire. Because of this capability, marketers are able to gain a better insight as to what people think about their products and services, while consumers are involved and entertained at the same time.
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8. Real Time
With apps such as Snapchat, YouTube, Periscope, and Meerkat live-streaming worldwide video content, real time video production has become increasingly popular in 2016. This engaging approach offers a behind-the-scene glimpse into people’s lives, adventures, and news happening all over the world. These live stream videos are a great way to be quickly updated, informed and entertained with a simple tap on your mobile device.
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9. 360 Degree Video
With a simple click of a mouse, 360-degree video production allows viewers to see a scene from any position, angle or view. With top industry names like Disney, Star Wars, GoPro, Google, and Gatorade using 360 technologies, we can expect this video production technique to occur more and more frequently in the years to come. These 360-degree videos create an interactive feel for viewers, making it seem as though they are actually experiencing the event real time.
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10. Short Form Content
Creating short form content videos is one of the biggest trends in video production right now. Any viewer will be driven away by a long and drawn out video, so posting videos that are short and sweet can be much more effective from a marketing point of view. About twenty percent of people click away from a video within the first ten seconds; so keeping your content short can help to retain viewers. These short videos are also great for posting to social media like Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat because they only are able to post short clips, so having this form handy will greatly benefit your social media posts.
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Behind the Scenes: Anatomy of Production

The Apple Core

We’ve broken down the anatomy of video production into four main stages. Each stage includes guidelines and advices to point you in the right direction when creating a successful motion picture.

Stage 1 – Development
We like to call this our, “get to know you phase.” After a client first requests your services, start building upon their thinking in order to initiate a plan of action.

  • Develop a relationship with client
  • Become knowledgeable about the company
  • Create an idea
  • Make a plan
  • Construct a timeline
  • Set a budget

Stage 2- Pre- Production
This stage in video production is critical as it includes the bulk of planning and preparation before filming begins.

  • Develop a story and script
  • Determine video length
  • Find and secure location
  • Hire talent
  • Communicate with video crew
  • Decide equipment needs
  • Create a production schedule
  • Review clients original proposal
  • Get props and select wardrobe
  • Preview and prepare location

Stage 3 – Production
The production phase is where all your time and efforts come into fruition. The main purpose of this stage is to make you and your client’s visions come to life.

  • Provide meals for crew and talent
  • Keep props and set organized
  • Follow pre-made script
  • Stay on schedule

Stage 4 – Post Production
Post-production allows you to assemble and put the finishing touches on your video project.

  • Allot enough time for editing
  • Select best shots/scenes from filming
  • Add effects/audio/music/etc.
  • Code the video
  • Present project to clients for revisions
  • Release to public/target audience
  • Promote video

Although simple guidelines, we hope these core points will help you delve into the video production process with ease. Following these four stages, while taking the proper time to plan and execute, should lead you to a well-prepared and effective video shoot. Whether you’re a Pittsburgh ad-agency, digital media, or video production company, having a thoroughly planned out production schedule will lead to a successful motion picture. Happy videoing!

Benefits of Video on the Web

Online video content has become a standard for business promotion, the sharing of knowledge, and a platform for instantaneous communication. As social media continues to rise, we continue to see increasing usage as well as the increasing benefits of video content on the web. Small businesses, large corporations, bloggers, and individuals of all ages have been progressively incorporating this approach and utilizing a digital marketing strategy within the past few years. You never know when your web video could be the next big hit sensation!


  • Social media provides many different channels to reach target audience.
  • Higher Google ranking
  • Engaging audience longer
  • Comments on video increases user interaction
  • Shares on social media increases reach
  • Easy distribution and quick delivery of message
  • Drives people to your website
  • More accessible and stimulate viewers
  • Increased amount of content in video
  • More affordable as production costs decrease
  • More suitable to explain complex ideas or information
  • Innovative technology allows for cheaper video production
  • Videos get more exposure over time, rather than dying out ads

Video Statistics

  • Videos have a higher priority on search engines making it 50x easier to have a first page ranking on Google. – Forrester
  • 62% of consumers are more likely to have a negative perception of a brand that published a poor quality video. – Brightcove
  • 62% of viewers tend to have a negative outlook on a brand that advertises with a poorly made video  – Brightcove
  • 4x as many consumers prefer to watch a video of a product over reading about it. – eMarketer
  • Videos increase organic traffic by 157% from various search engines. – Brightcove

As these benefits and statistics show, incorporating online video content will undoubtedly stimulate positive results for your company’s marketing strategy and promotion. Although initiating the process of creating a professional video may seem daunting at first, it’s clear that your time and efforts will be rewarded with succeeding, constructive results. Companies all over Pittsburgh, including Apple Box Studios, have implemented online video content through their web pages and through social media, and are acquiring the many benefits that coincide. Make your business go viral; create the next big hit sensation today.