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The Nuts and bolts

by Helen Saks

Good visuals should be Striking. They should make people stand up and take notice, right? In this age of constant noise, nobody wants to blend into the background! 

So how to go about creating a video that serves your needs? Everyone’s got an opinion! “Film it yourself, your iphone is awesome,” says one voice. But where to start? The self shooting option certainly is one route, but bad production screams unprofessional and you want to be taken seriously. 

So we know that the idea of making a video can be overwhelming. Not everyone enjoys the spotlight on them, but in this age of social media and constant messaging, if you want your business to thrive, you have to have a presence and you have to be seen. 

So, how does it work? We take it in stages, make it manageable. Kind of like eating an apple in chunks … 

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the pre production

A personal favorite of the Striking Media team because we believe in the power of the planning. In essence, you talk, we listen. We read the unconscious signs and try to give you what you even don’t know you want. Like the peanut butter dip! Slightly more tricky with the COVID need for distance and much preferred in person but still, as long as we have the gift of time, the pre production can be well planned and thoughtful. 

A key part to the planning is the pre production interviewee calls. We’re all too aware that a set can look intimidating. Cameras, lights, expensive equipment. It’s not exactly the ideal situation to expect our interviewees to reveal deep, dark personal insights to their soul or to turn on the news presenter charm! We find a warm friendly bond building phone call in advance of filming day goes a long way to building trust. Time well spent. Always. 

Once the content plan is in place the technical planning begins. What kit do we need? Are we in a studio? We have studios to fit all budgets and requirements in a variety of locations across DC/ MD/ NOVA so we will make it easy for you. Or if we’re on location, do we need permits for filming?  All of this will be the role and the responsibility of Striking Media, never the client. Our goal – to lift the responsibility from your team to ours. 

now it’s our turn to shine

We will present you with the ideas that will connect you to your target audience, the right voices to portray your message to make a true connection that will get results. This may involve storyboarding, scriptwriting, question writing, or just collaborative meetings to make sure we’re on the same page. We’ll talk make up, clothing, whatever questions you have, we have answers and we are available for our clients. No question is too silly! 

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And we know our clients like to be pro-active, so this is the time to practice. Bear in mind that a one-minute script is 130-150 words so plan accordingly. Time your script, read it with a stopwatch. You’ll be amazed at how fast time flies by. 

People often ask, “How can I come across as good as possible on camera?” Great question. No simple answer. As with all things in life, it takes practice and … practice. If you’re reading a teleprompter, practice it. There are apps to download that will help you. Smile, relax, drop those shoulders, do some vocal warm-up exercises. Smile again! Your energy levels need to be high, and your voice speaking with emphasis. Go through your script and highlight words, speak as you mean it. You will have an audience as if you are on stage – perform! 

Show Day will roll around before you know it! There’s always a little bit of adrenaline running through your veins on show day and that’s a good thing. That feeling helps the performance. Whether we’re in the studio or on location, by the time you show up the team will be all set. Cameras in place, lighting, and audio ready to go. And the crew fed and watered. We can often be found listening to a bit of Dolly Parton to set the mood! 

There’s excitement in every type of production. With the live shows, you’ll always find there is one key crew member who is your point of contact. They will be making sure everyone knows what’s going on, the countdowns, the cue – they’re basically holding it together. Often they’ll be on talkback to the streaming crew, so if it looks like they’re talking to themselves … well, don’t be surprised! As you hear the countdown – the 3,2,1 – you know the audience is watching. Smile, go big and put that practice into place. Once it’s over, that’s it … we always debrief (more on that later) but it’s done. A glass of champagne and off we go! Pre-recorded is different. The atmosphere will be welcoming and you just need to focus on yourself and your answers or performance and let the crew work their magic. The beauty of pre-recorded is we can take our time, ask the questions multiple times to garner different responses. Try to focus on yourself, block out the noise, the kit, etc, but feel free to ask for a BTS shot for your social media!

the editing

So you get to go home and … eat cake. We will bring the footage back to our studio and bury our heads in it. We will log all the footage, and timecode it, focus on the parts we want, and build the video, like a jigsaw puzzle, piece by piece. With access to music libraries and stock footage, we can work with a ton of resources to create the most dynamic possible product. 

And in a short window of time, voila, ping, your video will appear in your inbox! We aim to make it easy, to serve you, the clients, and ultimately for you to see the benefit of your investment. 

And that pre-mentioned debrief – well we believe that’s how we grow and learn. So we will debrief internally and we welcome external debriefs too – and we promise we’re after more than just a glowing testimonial – although we’ll take that too! 

Ready to take that first bite? Get in touch with Striking Media today. 

[email protected] / www.strikingmedia.com 

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Basic Video lighting

by Matthew Christiansen

Understanding lighting dynamics for video can be a head scratcher. You want to stand out from the crowd with bold lighting that takes in your best qualities, but you don’t want to overdo it either. Too often selfshot videos feature people using odd colors for their skin palette or have harsh lighting either in front or behind them. You need to look good to get results!

So what principles can we implement to make an impression on your audience? Whether you’re using Zoom or making a DIY vlog, proper lighting can make or break your video. 

Whether you realize it or not, you are dealing with practical forms of lighting on a daily basis. It blends into your daily routine, turning on the bathroom light, drawing a shade in the afternoon when it gets too bright. The first comment most people make when they wake up and look outside is a statement about the weather. They either say “Ahh what a beautiful morning!”, or “Ugh what a dreary day…”.  This comment is a direct response to what the light outside looks like.  

Golden hour is a term many of you have heard muttered by your photographer friends droning on about its charming qualities. But what makes the golden hour so special? The Golden Hour gets its name from the bright orange and red colors that are present during this period of time. This warm color temperature bathes everything in a soft golden glow. This is very flattering for portraits and creates a warm and cozy look (we’ll get into why later).

Now I’m not suggesting that you record every video and Zoom meeting at the crack of dawn! But understanding how we can apply this magic light to our videos might just be the game changer you’re looking for! 

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1: Back to the Basics – Three Point Lighting

Three-point lighting is the bread and butter of video lighting. If you can understand how to master this simple yet powerful lighting setup you can make any set look like that beautiful morning! 

As the name suggests, there are three main points of light with this setup each with their own unique job. First, you have the “keylight”. This is your main source of light on your subject, highlighting form, dimension and surface detail. If we were going to apply this to an everyday light source this would be the light on your bathroom mirror, or “beauty light”. You want this light to be large and soft (we’ll get to why soon).  Next, you have your “fill light”. This light is normally set up perpendicular to your keylight and its job is to fill in the shadows. The third light is known as the “hairlight”. This light is set up opposite your keylight and helps your subject stand out from the background of the scene by lighting its back. 

Now that we’ve discussed these lights, let’s get into how you can use this setup in your daily Zoom meeting! 

2. Setting the Keylight

The keylight is arguably the most important light in this set up. The angle, color, brightness, and relative softness of the light all need to be taken into account. In the three-point (formula) lighting the key light is placed at an angle of between 30- and 45-degrees from either the left or the right of the camera. 45 degrees off to one side is best because, among other things, it brings out optimum form (dimension) in the subject. Does it matter if the key is on the right or the left? Possibly. There are four things you need to think about in making this decision.

  • Follow Source: Is there an apparent source of light in the setting such as a window or nearby table lamp? If so, be sure to light from this direction.
  • Consistency: In most settings it will look a bit strange if two people are sitting next to each other and one is keyed from the left and one from the right.


  • What’s your good side?  (Yes, everyone has a goodside) Put the key on this side. It will emphasize the positive and downplay the less flattering side.
  • What’s most practical? If there is a wall or obstruction on one side of the subject — a possible problem when doing on-location shoots — you will generally want to key from the side that will enable you to use a 45-degree angle.


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The key light should be as large and soft as possible. Soft light prevents hard shadows from diminishing the form and dimensions of your subject. Making sure the light source is large prevents pin lighting which can make eyes look small, and further softens the light.

3. Setting the fill light

Now that we’ve finished setting the keylight we can move on to the fill light. This is your most subtle light source, but not to be underestimated! The fill is there to make sure the shadows from the key light aren’t too dark. The fill light is usually about only about a quarter as bright as your key light. You place it on the opposite side from the key light, at about the height of the camera. There may be a temptation to put it at the same angle as the key — after all, we like symmetry — but don’t do that. One thing we’re trying to do here is use shadowing to make the two sides of the face look different, so try your fill light at an angle of 15 or 25 degrees, and adjust it to suit your aesthetic.

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4. Setting the Backlight

We’re almost there! Now that we’ve set the key and fill lights, it’s time to put a little flare into your shot! The back light, sometimes called a hair or kicker, is aimed at the subject’s back, and, like the key light, it is usually 45-degrees off the axis and shines down upon the subject. This creates a bright rim around part of the subject, creating an outline which then appears to separate the shoulders from the background. The back light should be at least as bright as the key, often brighter.

Now you know how to use three-point lighting in your next video project. You understand why 3-point lighting is important, and what are a few of the fundamentals. Hungry for more content? Next, you’ll want to check out our blog on how to start your next video project. We’ll go over the ins and outs of the production process and how you can take these new lighting skills and hit the ground running! 

Interested in starting a new video project and letting the professionals do the work? Get in touch with Striking Media today. 

[email protected] / www.strikingmedia.com