Our factory tours and HQ visits are extremely popular posts on Bikerumor, giving readers an inside look at how their favorite brands operate! And the videos are some of the best performing videos on our YouTube Channel.
From a creator standpoint, they’re also really easy to make. From filming to editing, they can be quick to shoot and easy to edit. But they do take some pre-planning, and the right equipment. So, let’s start with the method, then I’ll show you the incredibly simple gear setup I use to produce killer factory tours. But first, here are two examples so you can see what I’m talking about…
Factory Tour video examples
This was a recent tour of ENVE composites. Two things to note: First, the casual nature of including some of the randomness of a workplace…it keeps it light and fun. Second, the addition of informational captions added to call out additional facts about the process. This last bit adds some production time, but keeps the viewer more engaged.
And this one was a straight walkthrough of Rapha’s UK headquarters with minimal editing. This format produces a very intimate, conversational style “interview” tour, which also helps humanize a brand. This is a big reason why I’ve recommended inviting the media, influencers, vloggers, bloggers, and other creators in to tour your operation…it’s great content for us, and great exposure for you. Here’s how to do it…
How to film a moving interview
No matter which side of the camera you’re on, it’s important to know how to film a good factory or headquarters tour…which are essentially a one-way interview in motion. Having (or being) a good spokesperson in front of the camera is key, and understanding what the videographer needs will speed up the process and produce a better outcome.
Here’s my process, from the media/creator side…adjust as necessary if you’re the brand:
1. COORDINATE WITH THE BRAND – A few days before arriving, I send them links to a few of these videos so they can see what we want to accomplish. I explain that the person giving the “tour” should be comfortable on camera, able to speak loudly and clearly, and be knowledgable about the processes and things we’ll be looking at.
2. PRE-INTERVIEW WALK THROUGH – Upon arrival, I ask the host for a quick walk-through of the tour with top-level explanations of what we’re going to see. This is usually when I snap my still photos that will go into the story that accompanies the video. It’s easier to get photos now than go back around a third time or pull still frames from the video.This is also when I ask questions and point out things I’d like be sure they mention or explain well during filming. This walk-through is kind of like a dress rehearsal, but quicker. It lets me plan my shots, know what I need to film and where to point the camera.
3. COACH THE INTRO – For Bikerumor, I ask the host to start off with “What’s up Bikerumor Fans! I’m (name) from (brand), and I’ll be showing off our (factory, HQ, etc.). Come on inside and let’s get started…”This creates consistency between all of our videos, and welcomes viewers in as though they’re part of our close circle. It also speeds up the process since the host doesn’t have to think up their own intro. I use these specific patterns because they are simple, easy to remember, and get us into the meat of the tour quickly.Also, I coach the host that I’ll give them a silent 3…2…1 countdown with my fingers, cueing them to start talking when I point to them. But I start filming before the countdown starts so I end up with clean, steady footage to transition or cut into.
4. FOLLOW THE HOST – There are two ways to do a tour. I (the creator) could be the subject, or I could film someone from the brand. The former is great, and I do that in some cases, too, especially if I’m already familiar with the process or brand and can rip through it efficiently. Not every brand has someone available who’s good on camera or can speak and explain things succinctly and in laymen’s terms.
The downside is that you need a camera person to film you. I’ve had someone from the brand help do that before, but the results are less reliable than if you’re working with someone who’s familliar with your style and understands what needs to be captured.
The latter is what you saw above in the ENVE and Rapha tours. And this is my preferred method (if there’s a good brand host available) for three reasons. First, it’s quicker and easier to just follow them through the factory. Second, viewers like seeing and getting to know the people behind the brand. Third, I can control what we see on camera, which is important because you want to…
5. CAPTURE THE DETAILS WHILE THE HOST IS TALKING – No one wants to watch 10 minutes of someone talking. Tell the host that you’ll be panning around to film what they’re talking about while they keep talking about it. I let them know that the camera may not always be pointed on them, but that they should just keep talking through the tour (you’ll see the equipment that makes this possible below). And that they can talk and walk at the same time if there’s stuff to see along the way…we don’t have to stop and stand still for every segment.
Notice in the ENVE video above that I’m constantly focusing in on the parts and processes. The camera isn’t always aimed at the host…I want to show readers what they’re talking about, not just them talking about it. Even if the host is standing still, I might be moving around to get different angles, then come back to reframe the shot with them in it as they’re wrapping up a segment.
Yes, you could stop and shoot distinct video clips of each process separately, but that will add a LOT of editing time. And you’re like me, the more editing a project takes, the longer it lingers in my “to do” list without getting done. The benefit to these “run and gun” style video tours and interviews is that they require almost no editing.
6. KEEP IT FOCUSED – I use my iPhone for most of these videos, and here’s why: I can continually focus on the exact thing I want to focus on. This takes practice, but touching the screen (very, very lightly) where you want it to focus will keep the intended subject sharp and focused on screen. This is extremely helpful when shooting different products close up, then transitioning to something farther away.It’s also helpful if the host is moving around while I’m static, I can continue to tap on their face so they stay in focus. The trick is not tapping so hard that you jolt the camera and end up with shaky footage. It’s a very subtle tap, and I encourage you to practice this at home first. It’s not hard, but it’s worth practicing.
7. COACH THE CLOSING – This is another area where hosts stumble…trying to think of a good closing. The truth is, you want it to be quick and simple. Here’s what I coach my hosts to say: “That’s the tour, thanks a ton for checking out our (factory, HQ, etc.), and we’ll see you (next time, out on the trails, etc.)”I also coach them to keep looking at the camera for 3-4 seconds after finishing their close. This is important because I often fade out or transition to something else (bloopers are always good) for the end screen, and I need clean footage to transition from. It looks weird if they finish and then immediately turn around or say “was that OK?”, because it forces me to have a very abrupt ending.
That’s the process. Which works really well 99% of the time, as long as you have the right equipment, so let’s look at the gear you need to do these video interviews while walking and touring a building…
The Best Video Gear for Factory Tours
Here’s the best part: It doesn’t take much to shoot these types of videos, just a wireless mic and, if you want, a small handle for your phone. These are the best wireless microphones for iPhone videos, along with the adapters and accessories you need to make great smartphone videos:
- Rode Wireless GO Mics
- Rode SC7 3.5mm TRS-TRRS Patch Cable
- Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter
- Movo PR-1 Smartphone Grip
The Rode mics come with a standard TRS cable that works if you’re using this mic with a DSLR and some other phones. But for iPhones with a Lightning cable port, you need a TRS-to-TRRS 3.5mm adapter, and then a 3.5mm headphone jack-to-Lightning adapter to make it work.
The mics, which are also available in white, are compact, have plenty of range, and easily clip onto a t-shirt, dress shirt, or even some backpack straps. If you prefer to keep them out of view, they have a lav mic input, so you could run a wired lavalier mic under the host’s shirt and keep the transmitter hidden in a pocket, though this can backfire…I’ve had cords get pulled loose mid-video, ruining the footage.
The grip comes in handy for several reasons. First, the detachable handle is weighted, which helps keep the phone steady. Second, there’s a cold-shoe mount and 1/4-20 mount on top for attaching accessories (see below). Third, there’s a wrist strap, which makes a great place to clip the receiver mic to so it’s not just dangling freely from your phone where it could fall out mid-video. It also has a 1/4-20 mount on the bottom, so you can stick it on a tripod if you’re recording yourself.
All in, this kit is under $300 and gives you nearly pro-level results from a kit that literally fits in your pocket. Click the links to buy directly from Amazon (full disclosure, they’re affiliate links, so I may earn a small commission if you buy through these links, which helps support my work here).
Alternative & Optional Video Gear
- Movo LED-WP Video Light
- Comica Wireless Microphone System
- Movo Lav Mic
- Crucial SSD Backup Drive
- Nektech 4-port 72W USB Charger
These are a few other bits of gear I use, depending on the situation. The Movo LED-WP is a compact, waterproof 700-lumen video light that comes with cold shoe and GoPro-style mounts, making it incredibly versatile for any type of video you’re shooting. It adds the necessary light for high frame rate slow motion video, especially indoors, and comes with three filters for underwater use. It’s also fully self-contained with an integrated rechargeable Li-Ion battery. And it’s cheap, lightweight, and tiny…only about as wide as a GoPro HERO 9.
The Comica wireless mic was my first wireless mic, and is now my backup behind the Rode. It has a longer range, and comes with a smartphone mount and small handle/tripod, for about $35 less than the Rode system. Honestly, it works great, but with a few caveats: First, it requires a wired lav mic (included), and I’ve had it come loose when shoving the receiver in my pocket, thus losing a lot of great video. Second, it has a gain dial that’s great for managing input levels, but it can easily get accidentally turned and messed up while handling it. But, if you’re on a budget, I still recommend it as it combines two things in one, saving you about $60 total. You’ll still need the same TRS-TRRS-3.5mm-Lightning adapter cables (not included) as the Rode setup, though, so don’t forget those.
Even though I prefer to use the Rode Wireless GO without a lav mic, I carry one just in case.
The Crucial X8 1TB Portable SSD backup drive is compact, wicked fast, and self-powered. It’s the perfect little external drive for video storage, and because it’s an SSD, it’s fast enough for 4K editing work, too. I bring one of these everywhere so I can offload video files from my phone so it’s ready for more shoots, and off my laptop so it stays fast.
Lastly, I bring this Nektech 4-port charger everywhere. It has one high-output USB-C port for my laptop, and three standard USB ports for everything else. This ensures I can keep everything charged and ready to shoot, even if there’s only one single outlet available.
For two-person interviews, the Rode Wireless GO 2 gives you two mics that sync with a single receiver and can record them as separate tracks. So, if you and the guest/host will be in front of the camera while you interview them, get the the GO 2 combo. It can even record up to 40 hours of onboard audio, which makes them a great option for untethered podcast interviews.
iPhone Camera Settings for Video Interviews
Last but not least, make sure your phone is setup correctly. I always shoot these types of videos in 4K/24. This gives me full 4K resolution, but the lower 24 frames per second saves on file size and gives it a nice, smooth film-like look. 4K/30 is similar, and makes it a bit easier to pull still images out of the footage in a pinch, just with a bit larger file sizes.
For action shots, which aren’t really “factory tour” type videos, I’ll switch to 4K/60 to get smoother footage of high speed stuff. My iPhone has a separate mode for Slow Motion, so it’s easy to keep a primary video mode set for regular footage, then just switch to SloMo for capturing machinery in action and other fun stuff.
Presumably, you’ll have similar settings for Android and other brands of phones. Just keep in mind, the higher the frame rate, the more light you need for clear, non-grainy footage…which is where an auxiliary video light comes in handy.
Pro Tip: Label stuff! I keep this little reminder with the cables so that I don’t forget how they need to be setup. This saves me from recording only to find out during editing that the audio didn’t capture. Which is why I also always do a pre-interview mic check.
That’s it! This gear turns you into a one-person video interviewer, letting you capture killer content your audience (or customers) will love!
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