Alexandria, VA — The pandemic forced everyone to pivot. At Convergence, we adapted to production constraints with a focus on using grab-n-go equipment like pocket-sized cameras.
Even pre-pandemic, most political ads rely heavily on stock footage and generic B-roll. But what you gain in efficiency, you lose in creativity. Big, movie-style setups take a ton of time to put together and strike, and they can make it difficult to capture authentic content.
We found that our pandemic workaround is a great approach moving forward. Using smaller equipment meant candidates could easily film engaging and unique content. And with advances in technology, you’re not sacrificing quality.
Take Eva Guzman’s launch video for Attorney General of Texas. It contains 30 shots – not an unusual number for a political video just under two minutes. But what sets it apart from a classic, stale political ad is the variety of shots combined with their active and purposeful movement. Guzman’s video uses only three shots that were not originally filmed by Convergence – a remarkably low number for a video of this length. Not relying on stock footage helps the audience connect with Guzman through content that is new and unique to her.
For many of the shots with Eva, our talented Director of Photography (DP), filmed with a smaller camera stabilized by a Gimbal to smoothly capture intricate shots without the limitations of a burdensome, heavy rig. The visual sequence of Eva at the University of Houston is dynamic and tells a story in one shot. And with the quicker setup, we could get several takes to optimize performance.
For the B-roll shots, Convergence used a drone in the neighborhood where she grew up, capturing everything from a bird’s-eye view of the grid of rooftops to a powerful liftoff from its streets to a unique view of Houston’s downtown skyline.
To fill out the B-roll and get even closer within her neighborhood, we incorporated a pocket-sized camera technique. Campaigns & Elections recently highlighted our unique approach:
Charles Barbour, who recently joined GOP shop Convergence as its director of production, noted how candidates can now easily film quick videos or get useable B-roll footage from pocket-sized cameras like the DJI Osmo Pocket.
“Quick, little videos are going to be key to reaching a younger audience that’s so used to that [format], and is far developed in that sense,” said Barbour, who joined Convergence after serving as a producer at Cartoon Network. “Everything is going to be shorter format and look like what you see on TikTok.”
The availability of inexpensive, small, hand held-cameras that generate TV-quality video means that a candidate can film a walk-and-talk with a local business owner without shutting down a sidewalk.
“We’re getting all these shots and no one knows that you’re filming because you’ve just got this tiny thing in your hand — it’s almost like a spy camera, and it moves while you move and the quality stands up,” said Barbour. “You want to have the camera moving and moving purposefully.”
There’s no need to return in every instance to pre-pandemic production techniques, according to Barbour.
“People’s impressions of what media looks like on TV has changed. You see someone’s filming themselves, and they’re filming themselves maybe not in the best light, but it still passes. That’s going to continue to happen.”
At Convergence, we are focused on telling our client’s story in a captivating and authentic way. We have found that the more quickly and effectively we adapt — whether it be to new technology or a global pandemic — the better equipped we are to avoid the shortcomings we often see in political advertising.