As another political season approaches even in an off-year like 2015, there are always a few political campaigns going on somewhere in the U.S. Our company, Zan Media, has produced hundreds of TV commercials and videos for candidates, issues and measures, and one of our toughest jobs is making the candidate look appealing on camera. Here are a few tips we’ve learned over the years that seem to work well when dealing with politicians who are not professional talent.
When setting up your camera (or if you prefer to do your colorizing in post) always keep the saturation high, as you want your candidate to look healthy, not washed out or too bland. One of our cameras, the Canon XF 300 has a special ”political preset” which we have tweaked to insure healthy facial tones. If we need to adjust color in post, the color board in Apple Final Cut Pro is fine for pumping up the saturation.
When filming the candidate, we try to shoot from a low angle to give them stature and a feeling of power. This also helps to eliminate too many eye shadows, which can give the squeakiest candidate a possible “shifty” look.
When we film politicians for B-roll or non-speaking shots, we use a steady handheld camera to convey a feel of action and movement. We stress stable handheld, not a jerky one – no need for a “search and destroy” movement. Good walking shots following the candidate or in front of the candidate really convey a sense of purpose, something always needed in a political setting.
Lastly, either in camera or in post, we try to keep the candidates’ movement at about 80% of normal speed, just enough slo-mo to convey that sense of importance and gravity every politician wants to have.
With a bit of preplanning such as above, we believe you can significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of any political TV commercial or web video you may produce.
If you try any of these techniques, let us know how they work for you, firstname.lastname@example.org.