How to Produce a Superior Trade Show Video

A common misconception is that any video – whether it is a short corporate promo, an installation piece or a product knowledge clip shot on a smart phone – is perfect fodder for trade show viewing.

In reality, a properly produced trade show video is really its own animal and needs to be approached as such. Elements of existing videos can certainly be incorporated into a new trade show video production – but not relied upon to do the job by themselves. Here are 5 good rules to live by:

#1 Production Quality

In this day and age, any video should be in HD and crisply and professionally produced. (For tips on affordable, high-quality video production check out How to Concept and Executive Produce a Short, Effective Video Production.)

Since most trade show booth video monitors tend to be on the larger side (32” and up) this is particularly important. Due to the massive proliferation of hi-quality consumer HD video and audio equipment, audiences are getting more and more sophisticated. (A properly used smartphone can shoot damn fine HD video in the right lighting and conditions.) People are accustomed to viewing hi-quality video pretty much everywhere – your booth should be no exception.

#2 Length and Structure

Since trade show booth videos are typically played/repeated all day throughout the show, a 1-2 minute video generally doesn’t make sense – as it will pretty much drive everyone nuts in short order – show attendees and booth staff alike. Most attendees are at a show to learn more about a service or product and are willing to spend some time doing so.

Conversely, a 15 minute training video is much too long and detailed for trade show use. In our experience, 5 to7 minutes is the sweet spot for the majority of booth/product applications.


#3 Think Infomercial:

Much like trade show videos, infomercials are often repeated over and over so they are worth examining. Let’s briefly look at the structure of a typical infomercial. Usually an infomercial begins with an upbeat (or dramatic) “commercial” that hits all the key points of the product or service. Then it stretches out with more detailed information and demonstrations. Then the cycle repeats: commercial – detailed information, commercial – detailed information, etc. Maybe there are a few customer testimonials thrown in randomly as well.

The point here is that the style and pace of infomercials changes up frequently – instead of repeating one video segment over and over until it becomes a droning buzz in the background that people tune out…or turn off.

An Example:

Let’s say you sell racing go-karts and want to produce a trade show video. A basic format would be as follows:

  • The first minute or two can be a voiced-over “commercial” – that quickly focuses on the company and models of go-karts provided
  • Cut to a minute or two of racing shots of the go-karts set to music – with no narration or voice over – just music
  • Have the voice over return and cover go-kart features and benefits. Then cut to a customer testimonial or two
  • Repeat more go-karts in action set to music

You get the idea. The main point is to change up the style and pace to better hold viewer interest. Of course, in the “music video” portions you can also fly-in copy points or logos as needed to help reinforce your message or brand.

#4 Voice Over and Music

Trade shows can often be very noisy environments, and narration from video playback in a booth can add to uncomfortable noise levels and/or not be heard properly.

If trade shows or conferences where you exhibit tend to get really loud, you may want to consider ditching the voice over format in favor of a music video format where footage, text and graphics are cut to an instrumental music track appropriate to your industry and company.

The challenge when taking the music video route is communicating your message, business philosophy or brand with on-screen text and graphics. The up-side is that if you do it right and your visual content and text points are solid, a music video is a powerful and effective way to communicate – even without the benefit of a voice over.

Conversely, if your booth is large and perhaps has a separate conference area for meetings with interested attendees, a video with a voice over is preferred as it is a more “formal” sales setting. In a perfect scenario, your prospect would have been drawn in by the informative and fast moving music video playing at the front of the booth!

#5 The “No Sound” Test

One more tip and we are wrapped-up. A good test for almost any trade show video is as follows: turn the sound all the way down and watch the video. Does it still communicate effectively, a little bit or at all? If it still communicates clearly without sound, it’s a winner. Hands down.

So how do you present your finished trade show video? Check out How to Effectively Deploy Your Finished Video Production, where we touch upon the best practices and hardware for playing a video in a trade show booth or environment.

If you are looking for “winning” trade show videos, Total Spectrum is your production company. We have the in-house staff, equipment and experience to make it happen in time for your next trade show. Contact us at 714.637.3600 and speak to one of our experts today.

De-mystified: What to Expect When Making a Professionally Produced Corporate Video

Short videos for websites, tradeshows, eBlast campaigns, social media and other delivery platforms are becoming larger portions of the marketing pie – exponentially, in some industries. So this article isn’t about the need for video – or how to do it yourself on your smartphone or GoPro.

Instead, we are going to cover the professional video production process from nose to tail – so when you do decide to produce a high-quality custom video you will know exactly how to proceed and what to expect.

Where do you begin?

This is often the biggest stumbling block and it’s the first step. It’s what seems to mystify the most. So where to begin? The first step before approaching a production company or agency for a proposal is to determine how long a video you need, and the range of your budget. Attention spans are getting shorter, so brevity is paramount. A good target length is two minutes – three minutes on the outside. 90 seconds would be even better.

If it’s a complicated subject, think of producing multiple short video “modules” instead of a 15-minute snooze-fest. Recent studies have shown that the most effective length for videos on platforms like Facebook and Instagram is from 6 to 30 seconds! That’s not a typo…6 seconds!

What do you like?

Next, find and bookmark a few videos on YouTube or Vimeo that you like or would like to emulate. They don’t even have to be related to your industry. Then write up a detailed outline of what topics you would like to cover – keeping in mind more than 3-5 major topics or points in a short video becomes an unwieldy mess.

A simple breakdown or outline of a video could look like this:

  • Logo or title sequence with music swell (5-10 seconds)
  • Introduction to the company, service or product (15-30 seconds)
  • Key Point #1 (20-30 seconds)
  • Key Point #2 (20-30 seconds)
  • Key Point #3 (20-30 seconds)
  • Summary or Call to Action (30 seconds)
  • Final screen: web URL / Phone #, etc. (10 seconds)

As far as total running time is concerned, research has shown that for marketing videos you are generally better off shooting for the shorter end of the spectrum.

What does it cost?

As far as budgets are concerned, prices from production companies vary wildly but plan on spending at least $3,000 to $5,000 for a broadcast-quality finished product in HD or $4K with a moderate amount of bells and whistles. Three finished minutes of custom video for $5,000 is a good rule of thumb – depending on location, crew needs and the number of shoot days.

We realize that’s a healthy chunk of change. That’s because when all is said and done – from scripting to delivery of the final video – there are at least a few dozen hours of time invested – and significant outside costs for voice over professionals, music licensing and possibly other special services.

The value? Not only will a professionally produced video best represent your brand, but a strategically conceived video production can be deployed /repurposed on a variety of platforms, including websites, tradeshows, sales presentations/meetings YouTube, social media, eBlast campaigns and more.

How does the production process work?

The next big question to de-mystify. Let’s break it down into three key areas:

The Script

Generally, the video production people will take the outline you provided and flesh it out into a script for the voice over or on-camera talent. The script will most likely go back and forth a couple of times for approvals, revisions or tweaks. From there the script gets recorded by a professional narrator or on-camera host.

Note: It’s very important to really nail down the exact script verbiage because it gets expensive to make changes after everything has been recorded and edited. Trust us on this; it’s pure experience and wisdom.

The Shoot

Unless it is a complete 2D or 3D graphics production, there needs to be “video for the video”. Most short marketing or company overview videos are shot on location over the course of 1-2 days at a corporate office, plant, construction site or wherever the desired activity is taking place. It’s always good to get a few shots of every job or process for plenty of variety. Wide, establishing shots of the offices, lobbies or facilities are always a must.

A super-effective and flexible video production tool is green screen technology – where you can have the host of a video appear in multiple locations without the need for travel. With modern keying technology, equipment and techniques it can look very crisp and realistic, and can add another dimension to your project.

The Editing

So you have your script written, your narration recorded and your raw footage in the can…it’s editing time, people! There are two approaches: Let the video editor take all the assets and come up with a first cut for your review and revision, or sit with him or her the whole time.

Unless it is very technical subject matter, I strongly discourage the latter approach as it invariably takes way more time and having someone sit there often drives the editor nuts. Just the way it is. Some editors may want you to hold their hand the whole time, but that’s not who you need. A professional should drive the process at this point – with input from the producer as needed. Like the script, there will be a couple of rounds of back and forth, and then it’s a done deal!

How long will it take?

Video production time frames vary depending on scheduling, availability, script and video draft approvals and a number of other variables – some often unseen. That said, in a reasonable world the whole process should take about a month. Basically, a week each for scripting, shooting, editing and revisions/approval is a good rule of thumb. However, sometimes scripts or video draft approvals get hung up in corporate, legal or both for weeks at a time.

Naturally, time frames can be compressed – but that can often result in higher fees. Plan on a month or so for the process to unfold (if you can) and help keep everyone involved sane.

What formats are best for the final video?

Finished videos should be delivered in a few different formats. First and foremost, a full-resolution HD mp4 file that can be used for both uploads to YouTube and played from a computer or USB drive connected to a large screen TV; an HD Windows Media version for older PC media players that don’t play mp4s and a physical DVD – either standard or Blu-Ray. 

Of course, every project is different, but these basics apply to the vast majority of short video productions. If you need a proposal for a project or want more information about any type of video production, contact Total Spectrum at 714.637.3600 and ask for Mark. (He is hell on wheels when he is half-drunk at the editing bay.)