Industrial filming in a specialised niche of filming that targets the industry and its primary audience; whether that be manufacturing, production, engineering or automation. Industrial films can be an educational explainer video to illustrate the full manufacturing process or to be used as a training video.
While the primary purpose of an industrial film is to inform or train the client, the purpose on industrial filming can vary depending on the client.
Industrial films can be used for:
- Training as training videos or informative educational videos.
- Marketing, communicating to potential clients the value of services or products.
- Customers, such as a video that explains how to use a product.
- Sales, such as a demonstration of capital equipment in working order to enhance sales overseas.
Because of the changing pace of technology and the reduced cost of video production, industrial filming as been on the increase as well as the development of automation. Most industries have started building digital assets (product photography and video) to improve sales and communication with their clients. These digital assets are also used at trade shows and conferences to demonstrate services in their industry.
The Industrial Filming Environment
The industrial filming environments we usually film in requires a safety mindset. Steel toe-cap boots and high-vis jackets are usually the norm, and in some factories we need to wear hair nets and hard hards to ensure we don’t contaminate the product. Some factories we work in such as the lead-acid battery industry can be hazardous to health; lead dust can be an issue and it doesn’t do the cameras much good.
Industrial Filming process
The industrial filming process requires careful planning, not only for your own safety, but the safety of others. If it involves working with capital equipment manufacturing, we work alongside the engineers on their factory acceptance testing, and these automation machines are usually at the end of their test-development stage and ready to be shipped to their customer.
Cleaning up the site is the first thing we will do to make sure there are no unsightly marks on the machine, loose bits of paper or PVCA tape stuck to any of the components in shot. Pallets may be in the way of the shot, and these things can be distracting to say the least when watching the final video. Once this is all out of the way, we can set up a powerful main key light to counter the horrible industrial lighting which is commonplace in a factory or industrial unit. Once we have a powerful key light in place with a softbox, or diffuser, we can begin fitting practical lights inside of the machine or automation itself.
Some machines are well lit and fitted with internal inspection lighting, specifically for visibility. Some machines are not fitted with lights, and you literally cannot see anything that is happening past the machine’s metal framed construction. Smaller magnetic-base practical lighting can be use to highlight key parts of the machine that our customers wish to show their clients, so we’ll highlight these areas ready for the shoot.
Video and The Internet
It is worth pointing out that the internet is most likely where your video is going to be used, unless you target audience is at a trade show and you want to loop some videos on a display screen. Most video productions will end up on either one or all social media platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Your company website can display this video in all its glory, with the footage embedded from your company’s YouTube account.
Video is also excellent to build traffic on Google, and YouTube is the second most popular search engine above Bing.
Filming and Production
Like all filmmaking, industrial videos go through the stages of development, pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution. Choosing us to film and produce an industrial video is a wise choice because we started filming capital equipment manufacturing. We have specialised in this field ever since.
Pre-production is where it’s at with good video production – fancy cameras can only go so far with a good industrial video. Some of the worst films you have seen had top of the line cinema cameras and lighting, so it goes to show a lack of planning and clear perspective of the objective can be a disaster, only a disaster with fancy cameras and crisp footage.
Learning to communicate as simple as possible what the video is about and how it can benefit the client is all it can take to turn a bad video into a good video. Some advice I once received that I have always used was ‘Tell them what is it, tell them again, and then tell them what you’ve just told them’. This may mean that the end product will be simpler and thus more effective at achieving a desired outcome of increasing sales, closing the deal or perhaps just to communicate the throughput and output of your capital equipment.
At the pre-production stage, we work closely with the client to research the environment or facility where we will be filming, the key messages to get across and the purpose of the video, and the manufacturing process that we need to capture in clean logical order. Together we will produce either a storyboard or a shot list to minimise the margin of error and to ensure we capture all of the footage we will need.
We will also use this time to plan the aerial drone flight, choosing the best weather as well as providing a pre-site safety assessment for a safe flight.
With pre-production, the 6P Rule (aka Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance) is vital to ensuring everything goes to plan. An example of this could be making sure there is a shot list in place and allowing creative freedom can make or break the video production before it has even begun.
At the filming stage, we usually aim to get all of the footage within a single day, filming any interviews (when a video camera records the talent and audio is captured by a microphone). in the morning, having a break at midday and then proceeding to film industrial b-roll footage in the afternoon. A top priority is minimising any disruption to the workplace.
For automation or capital equipment manufacturing clients we are usually assigned an employee or somebody from the marketing department who can assist with the production, and their role would be to liaise between the filming crew and on-site engineers who will be setting up the machine, stopping and starting automated sequences for filming.
During post-production, the footage from the production phase is assembled into a coherent video ready for review by the client. Once the video is complete, the industrial video is distributed and exhibited. If the project was a training video, the video may be included with the product, so the buyer can learn to use it most effectively. If the project was a marketing video or capital equipment manufacturing video, it may be directly mailed to potential clients to encourage them to invest in automation. Or if the product was designed for exhibition, it may be shown at a trade fair. The use of industrial videos for corporate use has been increasing, suggesting that industrial videos will continue to be produced in the future.
At the time of writing this article, we currently shoot with around £20k of equipment. We use small cameras as opposed to large bulky cinema cameras which are very awkward to work with, and the gap between smaller cameras and cinema cameras have been closing drastically when it comes to cinema quality video and colour. The cameras we use would qualify for Netflix if only Sony had enabled timecoding. If the production requires insanely good footage we will hire a Sony FX9 with a cinema lens and opt for RAW 12-bit video.
We prefer to use the Sony A7SIII, A7III with Slog-2 as well as D-log on the Mavic Pro 2 drone, and these all work well together. The smaller A7 cameras are ideal for mounting onto the structural parts of automated machines if required, and we like to use a mixture of footage and time-lapses / hyperlapses on fixed tripods, sliders and gimbals.
We use Zeiss Batis and Sony’s G-master lenses because they have beautiful clarity, good autofocus performance and colour.
We specialise in industrial videos – this is our bread and butter after all. We approach each video production as a challenge. We look at the objective laterally and try to sell the video or product for you. This involves proper planning beforehand and a good eye for detail.a