There is no hotter ticket item these days in the world of digital marketing than video. Once thought of as a luxury, video is now a defined budget line item for many businesses. This comes as no surprise as the cost has come down, and the convenience of creating videos has improved significantly over the years. Many website builders can easily incorporate some form of video, and almost all social media platforms rely heavily on video as core content including TikTok as well as Instagram and Facebook Stories.
If that’s not enough to convince you, YouTube is considered by many to be the #2 search engine on the internet, and considering that Google’s search-related products account for 91% of the search market share in Canada (according to Statista.com), video is a format that cannot be ignored.
There are still gaps in knowledge for most business owners when it comes to creating videos. Yes, the technology is there and at our fingertips, but a small dose of advice and some easy tips can help video novices create that perfect video to feature their business.
Tip #1: Understand Your Equipment and Aspect Ratios
With all the options available, it can be easy to get confused. Are you shooting in HD or 4K? Are you using a mobile device or video equipment?
Keeping the dimensions of your end medium (i.e. web video, Instagram story, banner ad) in mind while filming will help you set up and frame your shot in a way that will create an attractive final result. Are you shooting for a variety of media? Grab a few different versions of the shot simultaneously with each one in mind to speed up the process.
Other technical considerations may include file type, size, resolution, and more! This is where things quickly become confusing, and the tech landscape of video production may elude many. The bottom line is – research your particular equipment. Know its capabilities and understand the platforms you are promoting your video on as thoroughly as possible.
Tip #2: Plan Your Video Shoot
Planning ahead usually yields superior results. Although there is a long-standing joke in the film industry, “we’ll fix it in post,” the key to success in video production is to consider quality even before you pick up the camera. Whether you are shooting on your iPhone, DSLR or high-end camera, planning out your shots goes a long way. Is it a close shot you want or an extreme long shot? Is there going to be movement? Do you have the skill or equipment to achieve your desired result (i.e. drone, stabilizing equipment, etc.)? Producers will do a shot list or storyboard at this stage, which helps to stay on schedule on filming day and ensures no shots are missed.
Tip #3: Stabilization
Using a tripod or stabilization device like a monopod can help if you have one at your disposal. In a pinch, there are ways to hold a camera that mimic the action of a tripod. Taking a wide stance with your feet comfortably apart while resting a third part of your body on a static object will give those three points of contact that a tripod offers.
Tip #4: Shot Composition
Although knowing what a good shot entails can be somewhat instinctual, a few cinematic rules of thumb can help. Use the rule of thirds when framing your shots. Lastly, when possible, balance the colour within the frame, to draw the eye.
Keeping in mind that a video shot is not exactly like a static photo image, movement will add complication but harnesses the power of video to engage viewers. Whether the movement is happening in front of the camera, or the camera itself is moving, have an action plan. Think about how you will begin and end a camera movement and keep all camera movements fluid in between, or consider how an object will enter and exit the frame.
Overall, try to be engaging with your shot composition, but do not attempt anything overly complex if you are a beginner. Draw the viewer into your world and think about each shot as an individual work of art.
Tip #5: Lighting
You do not need a lighting kit to capture a great image, and sometimes this is may not be practical. A lot can be done with natural lighting.
Position your subject so they are illuminated by a nice soft light, avoiding harsh shadows. If shadows cannot be avoided, an on-the-spot “bounce board” may be helpful (use anything from a vehicle car reflector, piece of white poster board, etc.) to fill in the shadows.
Be aware of backlit objects if you are a beginner. This occurs when your subject appears as a silhouette rather than being illuminated from the front. It often happens when filming an object with a window or primary light source behind it.
With the availability of great soft lighting kits and accessories at a reasonable price, they are no longer impractical for the average person. Three-point lighting is a professional standard, but two-point lighting can also be effective. Once you have your lights, learn how to use them. The key here is to illuminate with one light and fill the shadows created with the other.
Tip #6: Sound
There really is no excuse for poor sound as there are reasonably priced, quality microphones starting at $20. Other tips include using a windsock on your mic on a windy day. Rattling jewelry can be an issue as well, so ensure your subjects dress appropriately and lastly place the mic as close to the source as is practical.
If all else fails and you do not have the option of utilizing an external mic, use your camera’s internal one to the best of your abilities. If you have to go this route, positioning the camera close to your subject will help to yield better sound. This may not allow you to be the most creative with your shots, but some sacrifice may be necessary if there is essential dialogue.
There you have it. Be assured that it is possible to create stunning videos with just a few easy tips. So get out there, grab your camera and make some magic!