Automotive Film Production – How We Did It

This month, WDA’s Automotive Film Production team were filming on location in Southam, Warwickshire. Client Auto-Fasteners is a young and dynamic Tier 1 fastener supplier serving major global serial production and aftermarket customers. Their unique and super agile business model is disrupting the market and has seen the business go from strength to strength.

WDA have been commissioned to deliver a complete root-and-branch Brand Repositioning and Visual Identity for Auto-Fasteners, to be officially launched later this year with a whole range of new marketing assets and promotional materials currently in development. As part of the project Auto-Fasteners wanted WDA to create a suite of new videos to take advantage of the increasing popularity of video content in B2B marketing.

This first video will feature on the Company’s new website, and has been soft launched as the first visible glimpse of the brand’s new logotype. In this article, WDA’s videographer Matt Baguley takes you through the approach and processes involved in its production:

How we did it – Matt Baguley:

We wanted our first video to effectively convey Auto-Fasteners unique proposition in a more engaging way. Whilst appreciating the target audience are viewing a business communication, they are still people – and still respond on an emotive level. We didn’t want to follow the usual b2b format which can tend to result in highly technical, complicated and often pretty dull videos.

WDA had already taken the client through a brand re-positioning exercise, and it was important that the video built upon that foundation. Our experience in the sector allowed us to understand what is quite a complicated and technical subject – enabling us to ‘tell the story’.

Pre-Production

Automotive Film Production Script Writing

Everything Starts with the Concept 

For effective Automotive Film Production, everything starts with the concept. The brief is developed to ensure that the final piece delivers the right message to the right audience, but the effectiveness of those things is determined by the core idea. This is the part the client often doesn’t see, and involves different members of our team basically sat around a table brainstorming. To achieve cut-through for Auto-Fasteners, we decided to go for a ‘to camera’ presenter style shoot. We decided that we wanted someone professional enough to represent the serious aspects of the business, but also someone with a little bit of  ‘Top Gear’ about them! We needed confidence, enthusiasm and an engaging conversational style.

Thankfully our automotive connections came to rescue in the form of Paul Woodford, a Presenter, Podcaster, Race Circuit Manager and fellow petrolhead from Kingston Upon Hull. Paul has over 10 years experience presenting various motoring and motorsport events and his enthusiasm and ability to grab the viewer’s attention in front of the camera is second to none. One of the benefits of using someone from inside the industry is the ability to liaise and take input to further refine and tighten the concept. This ultimately not only makes for a better video, but also brings everyone onto exactly the same page for a much smoother shoot.

Creating the Storyboard

After the client had approved the concept, we move onto creating a storyboard. Whilst very time consuming, planning out the visual components of a video is one of the most vital parts of the video production process. As WDA’s Videographer, I know that the creative process on set can determine the success of a video. This is why it is so important to plan out each shot, so that once you have all the planned footage, you can capture more to give yourself more options, rather than not planning and ending up being short of footage in certain areas. The storyboard consists of a sample image of what the shot will look like, the shot type and transition, and a description of what I want to achieve with the shot. With this shoot having a script, there are also references to specific sections of that document too.

Automotive Video Story Board Example

Writing the Script

A tight script is critical with a presenter style video as we don’t really have the luxury of editing spoken words in post production. However, because we wanted an authentic conversational style, it was important that we struck a balance between giving Paul enough room for ad-lib commentary, whilst ensuring the technical accuracy of what he would say. Our copywriting team were able to write a script that put across the necessary information to the target audience, while breaking it down into sections to create a structure and continuity for the video itself.

Choosing Locations and Vehicles

We needed two locations for this video shoot, one for the vehicle tracking and in-car commentary shots, and the other being the client’s distribution hub. I would usually carry out a location recce to assess the space, lighting, sound and safety concerns. However, in this instance due to time constraints and travel distance we had to use client information and a series of photographs of the different office and warehouse spaces. For the car shots I relied on Google Maps and Street View to plan route and look at different locations for setting up the camera equipment.

With the car I wanted something modern but inconspicuous so that the focus was not taken away from Paul or the subject matter. Since Auto-Fasteners are moving into prototyping and BEV fastener technology, an electric car seemed the obvious choice – and thankfully we have a Tesla company car we were able to use.

Creating a Production Schedule

The final piece of pre-production documentation that I created before the Auto Fasteners shoot was the Production Schedule. This document acts as a guide to the crew and cast for the schedule of the day ahead, including travel arrangements, information about locations and a timetable for the day.

Production

The Day of the Shoot

By the time filming day comes around most of the work has already been done in planning. However, there are still lots of things outside of your control – chief of which when shooting outdoor scenes is the weather, but thankfully we had near perfect conditions.

First up was a meet and greet with the client. Often overlooked is the value in striking up a great rapport with members of the client’s team, especially when you will be filming them and their work spaces. I find you always get the best results when the client is brought fully into the process and feels a part of it. Not only will they perform more naturally in front of the camera, but they can often help out with suggesting and granting access to subject matter and locations.

The day was broadly split down into shooting the car in the morning, and the interior HQ shots in the afternoon. I use all kinds of equipment to shoot cars, including suction mounts which give me the stability to achieve some great shots both in and out of a moving vehicle. For really smooth and steady tracking shots, I will typically film out of the boot – whilst quite an old school trick, I can get what we need without the need for renting expensive equipment or spending ages on setup. To capture cutaway shots of the exterior of the car I used a collection of grip equipment including a gimbal, tripods, sliders and the suction cup mount again. All shots were reviewed on the fly on my laptop to check for any technical issues – again, often much easier to re-shoot on the day rather than create headaches in post production. Back at the HQ, I mainly used a handheld gimbal to capture tracking shots of Paul and small cutaway shots of the different areas of Auto Fasteners. However I also used the tripod for some of the static shots to break up the different scenes and create more variation.

WDA Tesla Model 3 Tracking Shot

As touched on, I’d say by far the most important part of an automotive film production shoot like this is preparation. Both in terms of planning, scripting, storyboarding and working out all the logistics – in advance; but also on the day by making sure I carry more kit and equipment than I think I’ll need, and in capturing much more footage than necessary, as the post-production process can throw up different issues and it is better to be prepared. Managing the tempo of the day and keeping a close eye on the schedule is also critical to ensure each scene receives equal care and attention. As is checking and reviewing footage as you go – especially when you have talent, vehicles, locations and crew who cannot viably be reassembled after the event. Other than that, I’d say it’s also important to remain a little flexible as unforeseen challenges and opportunities can present themselves on the day, and sticking rigidly to plan can sometimes be detrimental to the final outcome.

Overall, the shoot itself ran perfectly, with only a few small variations to the original script and storyboard.

Post-Production

Automotive Video Post Production Editing

Automotive Film Production Workflow

Any video editor will tell you that it is crucial to plan your project before you begin working on it, from the software you use to the labelling and storing of different files. In my post-production workflow, I work through a four stage process.

Adobe Premiere Pro

First of all I import my media into Adobe Premiere Pro, this includes footage and audio gathered from the Auto Fasteners shoot day, sound effects and visual assets such as logos and text files. Once this is complete I set up my project and sequence settings to match the footage. Once the sequence is set up, I organise the clips on the timeline as a ‘rough cut’ and I use audio tracks 1 and 2 as a mix guide to sync up the footage and audio and apply sound effects before I move over to Adobe Audition.

Davinci Resolve and Adobe Audition

In the second stage of the project I move my video footage over to Davinci Resolve and audio files over to Adobe Audition. Moving my footage over to Davinci Resolve allows me to colour grade the footage using different tools before exporting the colour graded footage as a Premiere Pro specific file. With Adobe Audition the link between the software is the same, I am able to open Adobe Audition to edit the audio files. Here I add sound effects, move around the audio files, setup transitions between them, monitor different levels and ensure the quality of the audio is to the correct standard.

Exporting from Adobe Premiere Pro

Once the Davinci Resolve and the Adobe Audition files are moved back to Premiere Pro and put back together, I then add visual assets such as text, logos and title screens to finish off the video, as well as any special effects or animations. Once all this is complete, I can then export the video using Adobe Media Encoder and send the footage back to the client for feedback.

Feedback from Auto Fasteners

Overall I was very happy with how the video turned out. From the pre-production process through to post-production, the whole project ran smoothly. Once we sent the final copy of the video over to Auto Fasteners, we received a small amount of feedback, including blurring specific items. Once this feedback had been completed and sent back, we received very positive feedback from Scott and the rest of the team. Moving forward, we are now looking at other areas where we can strengthen the video output of Auto Fasteners.

‘ The video is fantastic! Very Impressed with it. Great work by all involved! 

– Scott Simpson, Managing Director, Auto Fasteners.

Looking for Automotive Film Production which really drives business?

WDA can source cars, drivers and props; and access exclusive automotive locations. For studio projects our automotive cove features a 360 degree electric turntable big enough for limo sized vehicles. We also have a licensed drone. To complement our automotive film production capabilities, we are also able to deliver a whole range of video marketing support to enable you to fully leverage your video and get it in front of your target audience. Discover more here.

https://wda-automotive.com/content-creation/video/

Ready to drive more business?

Start your journey to driving more business today by simply completing your details on our contact form below.