How We Made Our Background Video

By Libby Cooper
September 2, 2015

At the top of most business websites is a hero image with an overlaid text message and a call to action button. This is a classic setup for many companies with an online presence and has been an internet trend for a number of years now.

If you are thinking about updating your website, a great way to take this concept up a notch is to switch out the hero image for a looped video. This background video creates richness that still image just cannot capture. It takes your brand to the next level, wowing your audience, with very little effort on your end! Companies like Airbnb, Cobble Hill Digital, and High Tide are some of our favorites.

But wait, how does one make a background video? Let’s take a look at the steps involved, and how we, here at Videopixie, handled the process.

1. Brainstorming your content

Sit back and observe your brand. What are you trying to achieve with your marketing? With Videopixie, we are a video marketplace and we want to emulate that feeling of being on set. There is an aspect of magic and wonder that comes from producing video so a production scene with a lot of people and interesting lighting was what we were looking for.

2. Finding your content

The best place to find content is on a stock footage site. Our favorite is Dissolve - the cheapest, but you should also check out Pond5, Shutterstock and Getty Images - the most expensive. Stock footage is great because it is royalty free and commercial use allowed. It is also incredibly easy to download a preview clip which you can use in your site as a test before buying. The preview image will be watermarked, but that’s okay for development and testing! Just don’t make it live yet!

3. Modifying your content

Once you have purchased the video you want to use, determine if you can use it as is, or if it needs modification. In our case, we really wanted to inspire that feeling of magic and wonder, so we needed to push the colors in the video to a more “fantasy” level. Then, we had to darken the content so that our hero message and call to action would be visible. And lastly, we wanted it to match our color scheme.

The way to modify your content is by color grading the video. Color grading is a specialized skill, which you might not have on your team… but don’t worry, there’s a simple solution: use your in-house designer. Have the designer take a screenshot of the video and bring it into Photoshop (or other photo editing tool) to manipulate the still to your desired levels. If you don’t have a designer on staff or are not familiar with Photoshop, just write a similar list of what you want the video to look like compared to what it looks like now.

Once you have the art direction locked down (still or written instructions), you can easily outsource the color grading to a specialist who can quickly and inexpensively apply the changes to the entire video. When making the Videopixie background video, I used Videopixie to run a project seeking out a color grader. Once I accepted a $300 bid from a creator, I handed off my reference materials and he got to work. Color graders have an amazing eye at matching your directions, and if you are not happy with the first pass, further iterations can be discussed.

4. Looping your content

Good background videos are seamless. This means that there is no point where the video stops and awkwardly jumps to the beginning again. The way to achieve a smooth transition is to have a fade in at the beginning and a fade out. Choosing your fade in and fade out color is up to you and your color grader, but at Videopixie, we went for an almost black transition. It matched with our overall website and the feeling of being at the movie theater.

Your clip will now be color graded to your liking and have a fade at the beginning and end. The length of the clip will vary based on what content you purchased, but typically you see these videos run from 2 seconds if it just one video up to 1 minute if it multiple videos cut together.

I hope you found this helpful! I would be happy to answer any specific questions about background videos and how to implement them into your hero section. It is a great way to impress your customers and convert potential clients.