How to produce an effective video …without footage

Posted by Mark on June 29, 2017

Chances are you are reading this article because of its contradictory title. Maybe you are thinking “no way, this is pure clickbait. How can a video be produced without footage?” You may be thinking “Its animation!” Nope. Animation is a really expensive option, even in 2D. And 3D animation can quickly decimate the heartiest of budgets.

So I will take the concept one step further: How about producing an effective 2-3 minute product, company profile or training video without footage – on a reasonable budget. By reasonable I mean somewhere in the 3.5K to 5K range – which isn’t peanuts, but since the video can be utilized over multiple platforms such as website, blog, eblasts, YouTube channel, trade show booth and more the value is tremendous.

First, the Perfect Scenario

I write this all with a bit of trepidation, because creating a video without footage – but instead with a “Toolkit” of assets and sources I will get into shortly – is not the preferred way to go. In fact, it can be quite a pain and strain on the brain. So humor me and let me describe an ideal situation for producing a video. Or skip down to the chase…your call.

Let’s say we are producing a trade show loop for a company that manufactures “X” brand of car accessories. They have a lot of state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and processes they want to showcase in the video. My dream scenario:

  • The manufacturing facility is clean, well-lit and up to all codes and standards
  • The workforce is reasonably diverse and wearing fresh clothes or uniforms
  • It’s a sunny day outside – with the sun in the right position to facilitate a nice exterior shot of the building
  • The various machines and processes are humming along nicely for as long I need to shoot video of them
  • Finished product is shipping out the back door – always nice to shoot
  • I get finished early, beat traffic and start happy hour at 4pm sharp
  • The client provides hi-resolution, professionally-shot application photos to incorporate in the final video – as well as hi-res version of their company logo.

The Reality

To put in poker terms, if all the above elements fall into place it’s pretty much at least a Straight Flush – possibly a Royal Flush.

But as in poker, hands like that in the video production business are few and far between. The reality is that sometimes as far as assets and video resources are concerned you end up with two Jokers, along with a 3, 7 and maybe a Jack. Usually it’s somewhere between those two extremes.

This could be for a number of reasons – some possibly beyond anyone’s control. Perhaps the client’s product or service is more conceptual and isn’t something that can be shot with a video camera. Maybe the product is made overseas. Maybe they are a young company and their only application photos were quick smartphone shots done by sales people in the field that are photography challenged…even with smartphones. Maybe the manufacturing process is messy/dirty and doesn’t lend itself to impressive video.

For these reasons and others I have been called upon numerous times throughout the course of my 30 year career to PRODUCE EFFECTIVE VIDEOS WITHOUT FOOTAGE.

Here are my secrets. Let’s assume the client has given me very few assets to work with. Close to Zero.

The “No Footage” Video Tool Kit


Here is how it works. Every video needs a script. The first step is to obtain the necessary information about the product or service and develop a script for the video that will eventually be narrated. In most cases I glean the info I need from company brochures and websites.

Should you write the video script yourself? Maybe, but probably not. You are better off coming up with an outline and letting someone like me write it. Or a freelance writer. Use the power of Google, for Pete’s Sake!

Professional Narration

For the video voice over, you need to hire a seasoned pro. Since we are essentially “creatively winging” the footage aspect of the production, there is no excuse for the voice over to be anything less than stellar. Don’t even think about narrating the script yourself in the bathroom into the audio app in your smartphone and sending it to the video editor. (He or she will hate you.)

Animated Video Backgrounds

High-quality animated video backgrounds used behind onscreen text and images add visual interest and can be acquired at low cost from numerous places on the web. Some are even free. A trick of mine is to convert a color animated background to black and white in post-production, add a bit of blur if appropriate, and then apply the company’s corporate color to the animated background. Voila – I have essentially created a custom animated background to use in the video as needed.

Titles & Text

For the best communication, the appropriate amount of well-placed titles and on-screen text are crucial in any video. Again, to increase visual interest, it’s usually good to add some subtle motion and or fades to the text – or have text bullet points progressively appear.

Think of producing this type of video as a layering process. You start with your voice over as your foundation. The next layers are the animated background, then text layers, and finally other images and graphics as needed. It’s kind of like a pizza.

Foraged Client Assets

In my world, any graphics, photos, charts or video clips I can lift from a client’s website or company literature are fair game. If it’s there, I will find it and use it. If the resolution isn’t HD, I can place it in a frame as an inset over the animated background with a bit of descriptive text off to the side.

Here are a couple short clips that illustrate how the elements we have discussed so far come together. (The door graphic in the video was pulled from the client’s website and modified for use in this video.)

Stock Photography – ala Ken Burns

The availability of high resolution, affordable stock photography has exploded over the last several years. There are hundreds of millions of quality images available. I am consistently amazed at what I find that works perfectly for our clients’ videos.

Stock photos can be used as insets, with text or bullet points off to one side or below – similar to a PowerPoint look, but with motion elements discussed earlier. Stock photos can also be full screen with pans, zooms, or motion effects applied – a style popularized by famed PBS documentary director Ken Burns. If it works for Ken, it will work for any production.

Once I was tasked to produce a “high energy music video” to introduce a line of door locks and handles. Since the product was new, there were no installations, so there were no application shots. All I had were glamour shots of the hardware. Great.

The solution: I incorporated numerous background shots of the types of buildings and offices the hardware would be soon installed in. Done deal. You can check out a sample of it here:

Stock Video Footage

OK, I fibbed a little. Some “no footage” videos do have a bit of video footage. Like stock photography, stock video footage services have really come a long way, so I use a clip or two here and there if appropriate. You can run into some cost issues, because it can get expensive. One stock video clip generally costs as much as 4-5 stock photos. If it’s a shot of a building, a mountain or scenery you are better off using a still shot and adding a bit of motion in post-production.

Here is a video sample that combines stock footage, stock photography, on-screen text and product shots:

For the record, on a few occasions where cost was not an object, I have produced entire videos from stock video footage:

“Poor Mans” 2D Animation

This technique combines graphic arts, Photoshop skills and video editing knowledge – the trifecta. I’m not a graphics guy, but I’m solid in Photoshop and a black belt in Adobe Premiere video editing software. So, for me this technique is usually a team effort.

Basically, multiple Photoshop layers are manipulated in the video editing software with various effects to create a simple “animation” of a process or concept. It’s way more cost-effective than a standard frame by frame animation, and can be done fairly quickly.

The Infographic

The infographic is an art form into itself that combines graphic, text and 2D animated elements to effectively tell a story. The Wikipedia definition spells it out perfectly: “Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends.”

Infographic videos are excellent platforms to demonstrate information flows, data, concepts and other ideas that would be extremely challenging or downright impossible to shoot on video.

The Creative Factor

These various hacks and techniques to produce videos or parts of longer videos with little or no footage are proven, and have always pulled me through. That said, it’s a process that requires a LOT of thinking outside the box and improvising. It tests creativity and patience to the limit. There are often seriously high levels of frustration. In other words, don’t try this at home, it will drive you nuts, to drink or both.

Call me at Total Spectrum instead. I or one of my protégés can hopefully convince you to work toward the “Perfect Scenario” video described earlier. But if not, we’ll figure out a way to make you a great video with whatever you have or can provide. It’s just how we roll.

Mark Terpening is a seasoned copywriter, videographer, video editor and reluctant IT specialist for Total Spectrum Advertising. He is also a practitioner of other Strange and Unusual Arts too numerous to mention here.

What You Need to Know about the New Marketing Paradigm (Or, why content is now king)


Perhaps you’ve already noticed the big paradigm shift in the marketing world, and you’ve been working on figuring out how your company is going to take advantage of it. Maybe you have not yet understood the sea change that’s been going on, and you’re wondering why your marketing efforts have not been as successful as they used to be.

Either way, the reality is that the marketing paradigm really has shifted. This is especially true in the B-to-B world, and it’s also the case in many sectors of the B-to-C world as well. So what is this paradigm shift? What exactly has changed? Here is the deal:

  • The way that your prospective customers approach the buying process has changed
  • The technologies available for reaching prospective customers have changed
  • Lead generation and lead nurturing have changed
  • And marketing best practices have changed in response to these conditions

In this article, we will discuss these changes, and what direction your business needs to take to leverage this new marketing paradigm and close more sales.

But before we go any further, there’s something that needs to be made crystal clear: These new marketing methods are all “additive” to the traditional marketing methods that you are probably using now. They’re not a replacement. Even in the new marketing paradigm you still need to continue your branding activities, and have high levels of creativity in place to catch your prospects’ attention.

So What’s the Difference?

As Steve Jobs famously said, your company needs to “market, innovate or die.” To help you do that, let’s compare the old marketing paradigm to the new one.

In the past, the buying process that most customers followed was one that developed because of information scarcity. If a prospect was considering buying a product or service like yours, he had to rely on your sales people to educate him about your offering.

So it’s no surprise that in this world of information scarcity, lead generation was very much an “outbound” effort. Marketers bought, begged or bugged their way in the door with print ads, direct mail, cold calls, PR and commissioned salespeople. The main focus was on intrusive outreach techniques designed to set sales meetings with prospective customers, so that the sales people could educate the prospect and, hopefully, close the sale.

Today, however, information scarcity is history. A vast array of educational resources are now easily found online. Which means that today’s buyer takes a very different approach to the purchase decision than yesterday’s buyer did. Before they even speak to a sales person, most of your prospects will go online and do their own research. They’ll learn about your product category in general, and about both your products and your competitors’ products in specific.

In fact, studies show that prospects will gather 65 to 90% of their decision-making information before their first contact with your salesperson. They’ll gather their information, sift through it, digest it, and then contact your firm to either ask further questions or complete the sale.

So it’s no surprise that in a recent national survey, 80% of customers said “we found them” – referring to the product or service vendor, rather than “they found us.” Lead generation has shifted from being a primarily “outbound” effort to being a primarily “inbound” effort.

Content is Now King

In this new marketing paradigm, marketers essentially “earn their way in the door” by publishing helpful information. Consequently, content is now king.

For considered purchases, the reality is the buying cycle can be quite long. To thrive in this new marketing environment you need to provide the information that prospects are looking for and require. Today lead generation and lead nurturing are all about quality educational content.

Since buyers are now actively seeking information, so to build awareness and an affinity for your brand you need to conveniently provide high-quality marketing pieces that give prospects the information they are looking for at various points in their research process. Providing high-quality educational content – such as articles, white papers, videos, case studies and more – as part of your marketing efforts, will help you become a trusted resource to your prospects.

In fact, research has demonstrated that prospective customers are more likely to buy from and feel better about companies that are producing valuable content that educates them during the decision-making process.

Quality content (not sales materials) is key to nurturing potential buyers and building relationships so as to earn their business when they are ready to buy. Although this new marketing paradigm does not apply for impulse buys, content marketing can be vital for any company that has a long knowledge cycle and/or a long sales cycle. Educational content is today’s fuel for your marketing engine.

So how do you leverage this new inbound and content-based marketing paradigm to capture and nurture leads and close more sales? Check out Creating Effective marketing Content Efficiently and The 5 Secrets of Content Driven Sales to learn more.


If you have any questions about the art of content-driven marketing, call Total Spectrum at 714.637.3600 today and speak to a content development expert. We have the knowledge and experience to deliver top-quality content to fit any budget.

Interviewing for Content Creation (Or tips to get them to say what you need)

As discussed in “The 5 Secrets of Content Driven Sales” it’s a given in that in today’s marketing world, content is king. You get that.

You also get that in-depth, recorded interviews (either audio-only or shot on video) with industry experts, key company personnel, customers, installers, end users, etc., are excellent for generating valuable educational and marketing content that can be used as source material for case studies, white papers, YouTube Videos, thought leadership articles and much more.

If you just stumbled across this article, be sure to read Creating Effective Marketing Content Efficiently for more information about the content generating process.

What did I get myself into?

So you have finally pleaded, begged, cajoled or blackmailed some “people of knowledge” in your industry to consent to being interviewed for your content generating efforts. Let’s say for the sake of this exercise you have developed at least a dozen good, probing questions for each interview, and sent the questions to the interviewees ahead of time so they could prepare for the interview. You also booked a professional video studio and crew to capture the interviews so you can use video clips as well as the raw, transcribed content. What the heck do you do now?

The Interview Shoot

Let’s assume you have sufficiently vetted the video production company via viewing samples of their work and checking references. They have their end wired. This is more about what YOU have to do to ensure a successful “content generation” shoot. Here are some tips:

Tip #1: Warm Them Up

Most people are not accustomed to being on camera and in most cases be a little or extremely nervous. The “electric eye” can melt even the most seasoned public speakers and CEOs, so it’s important that you make your interviewees feel as comfortable and at-ease as possible.

Before diving right into your content questions, warm your interviewee up with a few questions about their education, career history, current job position, responsibilities and overall business philosophy. You probably won’t use much of this stuff, but it will get the session up to speed before getting to the meat of your interview.

Tip #2: Ask Open-Ended Questions

Whether an interview is videotaped or over the phone, from your end it’s really all about the questions and how you ask them. In addition to being pertinent, probing and timely, they need to be as open ended as possible – meaning that they can’t be answered in short phrases. You want the answers to be as detailed as possible. If a question gets your subject “on a roll” and he or she talks enthusiastically for 2-3 minutes, let them go – don’t interrupt – as this scenario is exactly what you want.

Bad question: “What are the 3 main factors that are driving sales in the industry today?”
Bad answer: “Factor A, Factor B and Factor C”

Good question: “From your viewpoint, discuss how factors A, B and C are driving sales in the industry today?”
Good answer: Subject gives his opinion on A, B and C for a couple of minutes or more

Tip #3: Have Them Rephrase the Questions

A good way to get solid, complete answers to questions is to request/prompt your interviewees to re-phrase questions as the beginning of their answers.

Question: “What effect does the weather have on productivity in your division?”
Answer: “Weather effects productivity in my division in a number of ways. To begin…”

This method gives your subject good launching points for their answers. It also makes it easier on the poor sucker who has to wade through and edit all the raw video because the answers exist as complete thoughts since the question is built into the response.

Tip #4: No Question Left Behind

If a short answer could be more detailed or needs clarification, don’t give up – by all means follow up with more questions. Re-ask, or re-phrase the same question if necessary. Do a second take. Don’t be afraid to dig deep; you probably only have one shot at this. That said, not all short answers are bad. If you get a nice concise sound bite that hits all the right notes, go with it. You will know one when you see one.

Tip #5: Wardrobe Choices

Have your interview subject bring at least 2-3 different wardrobe choices. Sometimes you just don’t know what looks best until the lights and cameras are turned on and video is reviewed on a monitor. Try to stay away from white, as it can look too “hot” under lights, and greens or light blues if shooting a green screen production – where the green background is later keyed out and replaced.

Clothes with odd stripes and patterns should be used with caution, as they can look too “busy” and distracting on-screen. Be sure to “iron out” wardrobe considerations well ahead of time to avoid last minute shopping trips to the local Walmart for a pair of wrinkled khaki’s that you have to steam in the bathroom.


That’s about all for this content-driven marketing installment. If you need any assistance with prepping for content interviews or any aspect of video production, Total Spectrum is your source. We have the experience, equipment and staff to help you acquire the content you need. Contact us at 714.637.3600 and speak to one of our experts today.

View this article as an infographic.


Creating Effective Marketing Content Efficiently

Content Doesn’t have to Cost the Crown Jewels

Introduction to “Content”

You’ve probably heard it before in the modern marketing realm: “Content is King”. Over time, the chorus kept growing louder: Content! Content! Content… so you think to yourself, “The marketing gurus just won’t let this one go.” You know the drill: “Gotta have more content to drive more people to the website”, or blog or whatever.

While it is certainly true that in today’s marketplace prospects gather 65% to 90% of their decision-making information before contacting a salesperson – and the company with the most quality content regarding its product or service has a much better shot at closing the sale or landing the business – creating all this “content” is very difficult and costs the proverbial arm and a leg, right?

Wrong. That’s been proven to be pretty much a myth. In fact, if you use the right methodology it can save or stretch marketing dollars significantly. The purpose of this short article is to help take the mystery out of the whole content creation process and show how it can be implemented in almost any company’s marketing and lead generation plan.

Without going off on a major tangent, keep in mind that content-driven marketing doesn’t necessarily replace traditional marketing methods, but instead adds more arrows to your quiver. And we can all use more and sharper arrows.

The Process

First, let’s define “Content” as it relates to helping potential customers self-educate via your website or other portal – and how it can all flow from just a few key sources. “Content” is:

  • Website or YouTube Videos
  • Thought Leadership Articles
  • Blogs
  • Case Studies
  • White papers
  • Magazine Articles
  • Advertorials
  • Instructional materials
  • eBooks
  • Podcasts and more

So here we go. The first step is to identify 2-3 (or more) experts in your company, the industry at large and even customers or distributors who are willing to be interviewed in depth on camera or audio recording. Interviewees should be asked probing questions that require full explanations. A few punchy short sound bites here and there are OK, but the key is to get them to open up and talk on important topics related to your industry. 30 to 45 minute interviews are good target lengths.

Once the interviews are “in the can” they can be transcribed to text and used as content source material. 2-3 successful in-depth video interviews can provide enough material to generate a ton of quality content in numerous formats and delivery systems – essentially many or all of the items listed above.

The #1 Rule of Content Creation

This is a biggie, so read carefully. If you ignore this advice, proceed at your own risk. Although you may be tempted to fire up the video camera on your smart phone and shoot some interviews, or take on writing a thought leadership article or blog article once a week, DON’T DO IT. The fact of the matter is it probably won’t get done, or get done properly. Leave it to the writers and other professionals who do this stuff day in and day out – as they will provide much more quality and value in both the short and long run.

Why Go Pro?

Professionally-shot video interviews in an office or studio with proper lighting and sound will give you a huge advantage in creating great-looking and sounding YouTube or website videos. Good sound is also essential for a podcast. A professional freelance writer can knock out a quality white paper or case study in a couple of days – and there are plenty to choose from out there.

Re-purpose, Re-purpose, Re-purpose

Naturally, any content gleaned from the interviews can also be repurposed in traditional marketing methods such as print ads, brochures, direct mailers, etc. If you do it right you can base a completely integrated ad campaign on the acquired content that also dovetails with your new and improved educational content library.


Content is king, but it can be created efficiently. The hardest part on your end of the content creation process is asking the right people the right questions about the right topics – and capturing it effectively. Once you have the raw material in hand, hand it off to the pros and watch your content library grow.

Need a hand holding the camera steady or asking the right questions? Contact Total Spectrum and we’ll get you started in the right direction toward creating quality content.

5 Secrets of Effective Content-Driven Sales

It’s a fact: research has shown that prospective customers are more likely to buy from and feel better about companies that offer valuable content educating them during the decision-making process. 77% of all prospects will gather decision-making information before their first contact with a salesperson.

If you provide high-quality educational content about your product or service, customers will come to you.

Learn more by downloading the free eBook, “5 Secrets of Effective Content-Driven Sales” by Total Spectrum Advertising and start generating solid in-bound sales leads.



Download the eBook by clicking on the link below.

5 Secrets of Effective Content-Driven Sales