Dixie Dixon’s No-Sweat Approach to Business-Boosting Videos

August 21, 2015

By Jacqueline Tobin

A behind-the-scenes video on making behind-the-scenes videos—yes, this is pretty meta. BTS videos are both good for your brand (sharing the knowledge is always nice, isn’t it?) and can really boost business, even open up doors to pair up with some major manufacturers.

There are, however, some obstacles to making behind-the-scenes videos. Even fashion photographer Dixie Dixon, who’s become fairly seasoned in the making of BTS videos, acknowledges some challenges—chiefly, the frustrating lack of budget starting out.

“I would look for people to collaborate with who might just want to add a new promo video or images to their website,” Dixon says. “That way, both parties benefit from the creation of the video. Now, I hire a BTS cinematographer/editor for almost every commercial shoot I do, and the client pays for that so they can use it on their website as well. They usually request these BTS videos because they saw those first videos on my site, so if you can create a few pro-bono videos for promotional purposes, you’ll start attracting clients who request them.”

One somewhat unfamiliar aspect of making BTS videos is working with the aforementioned cinematographers. As Dixon says, “When working with cinematographers and editors, the more direction you can give them, the better.” Before her BTS shoots, she goes over all the essential pieces that need to be covered (which she explains in the video), but she’s also found it super helpful to cover more ground. Here’s what she’s learned:

1. Choose the song before you start. “The song should match the mood of the video,” Dixon says. “A video with a slower song will usually have longer cuts and a moody vibe, and vice versa. Deciding this early on will help you communicate your vision with your cinematographer. I get most of my tracks on The Music Bed. If I’m doing a lifestyle shoot, I might choose a lighthearted song like this one.”

2. Come up with an opening and closing shot idea beforehand. “That way during the shoot, the cinematographer can remind me to direct those ever-so-important shots, and they only take a few extra minutes,” she says. “I love a beautiful time-lapse of the location, like this, or a wide-angle shot for the opening and an energetic shot for the closing.”

3. Go over the equipment. “If you are looking for a high-energy, action-type of video, you might have your cinematographer use a MOVI or DJI Ronin for fluid motion shots like this promo video we created for the new Nikon D5500,” Dixon says. “Or maybe you just need a slider to create beautiful, long, slow panning shots for a moody fashion video. It all depends on your vision. When you are starting out, keep it simple. You can create a great behind-the-scenes video with only a tripod and handheld footage.”

4. Discuss cuts and angles. “Fast cuts go with fast-paced videos (here’s an example) while the slower cuts go with slower-paced videos,” she says, adding that you should also mix up your angles. “From wide angles (overhead drone footage always adds production value) to close-ups, the more angles, the better—especially during interviews.”

5. Rack focus. “The beauty of the DSLRs like the Nikon D810 and lenses is that you can utilize shallow depth-of-field, which looks gorgeous in video,” she says. “It brings more emphasis to your subject and blurs the background.”

6. Direct the models for the video. “After I have accomplished the still image for the client, this adds an extra dimension to the video,” Dixon says. “One thing to keep in mind when directing models for video is they have to be very fluid in their movements, not pausing like they do for still images.”

7. Know your frames per second. “24 fps tends to look cinematic, while you’ll need 60 fps for slow motion,” Dixon advises, “so communicate what you want with your cinematographer.”

8. Choose the video’s overall coloring. “I tend to use warm coloring in my lifestyle videos,” she says, “while cooler coloring can add a moody, whimsical feel. Make sure to communicate which one you want.”

9. Choose your fonts and graphics. “I always tell my editors to keep it simple and use only one or two fonts throughout,” Dixon says.

10. Go for feeling. “Make sure your editor chooses the shots with the most emotion,” Dixon says. “Sometimes it’s easiest to be there when your editor is working so you can give feedback immediately.”

Dixie Dixon created this video in collaboration with Nikon — see their post on the topic here.