Our Top 10 Video Tips
We’ve learned a lot about digital media, through years of experience, and not all of it positive. Those years have taught us a lot about what to do (and what not to do) when you’re trying to get your message across to potential customers.
Whereas several years ago, video would have been seen as something ‘disruptive’ and incredibly engaging for your potential customers, it has by now become totally ubiquitous. If you’re in business, and you want people to understand what you do, video has become almost the only show in town.
You’ve probably thought a lot about making your own video to showcase your business, and Mobile Journalism has exploded in recent years, meaning access to the equipment and software needed to do just that has never been as ready or cost-effective.
So why shouldn’t you leave aside the professional help and make your own content? The quick answer is you totally should. You’d be surprised what you can achieve on your own, with your own understanding of your own business.
There will likely come a point where you’ll need the sort of help that we can offer you, and we’ll be more than happy to step in then and work with you to achieve your vision. But in the meantime, here’s a few tips that should help get you started (At least three of these ten points are going to refer to audio in particular, and we make no apology for that. You’ll find out why…).
- Stay on message. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. That’s one platform alone, generating that sort of demand for content. In fact, YouTube is now the world’s second biggest search engine. If you make it and upload it, someone will watch it – but only for a short period of time. Get your message straight, and stick to it.
- Know your audience. We’d love to tell you that it’s the simplest thing in the world to get a video out there that will appeal to everybody in one fell swoop. But we can’t. You have to know who you’re appealing to, and tailor your package accordingly.
Ask yourself who is interested in your product, what else interests them, and how quickly can you capture and hold their attention?
- Just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Your job when interacting for the first time with a potential new customer is to grab their attention, hold it, and entice them towards your product. Graphics can be an integral part of this, and can really help underline what you’re trying to say. But often, less is more. Too much flying in and out of beautifully preened motion graphics, charts, stats and sidebars can often be a distraction and mean the difference between a new contract and a click-through to a competitor’s site.
Don’t be the ‘shiny powerpoint guy’ with an amazing looking presentation that says nothing. Nobody likes that guy.
- Sound is key. Everybody has access to a video capture device (or ‘camera’) these days. Megapixels are great, and we all love loads of them, but there’s a reason that radio works without picture, whilst video without sound makes it difficult to tell your story. Bad sound is even worse. Put some thought into how you’re going to capture sound in order to put your message across.
- Light it up and open fire! There’s nothing worse than bland, flat video. Remember: you’re transferring a 3D reality into a 2D medium, so it’s important to put the appropriate level of thought into how you bring those shots to life and make things stand out. Lighting is absolutely key here.
So’s movement. If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn’t move, push it until it moves and then shoot it. You’ll thank me later when you’re in the editing suite.
And one other tip: You know those people you see everywhere shooting with their phones held in portrait mode? What shape do you reckon their TV is?
Shoot steady, measured footage in landscape mode and retain your audience. Unless your audience is on snapchat. But if your audience is on snapchat, you’ve definitely stopped reading this long ago.
- Choppy-choppy-chop-chop! Editing is often the last step on your production odyssey. And one of the most important. We’d all love to sit and discuss the pros and cons of your offering for ages, but the reality is, it ain’t gonna happen.
Think of editing as the final re-write of your script, and be prepared to let your baby go in the right hands. You’re only going to address your audience for a limited time, so know what’s got to be put across, and what you can live without.
Keep it short, and to the point. You can more easily polish a tight 90 seconds than a meandering 5 minutes, so invest a bit of time in telling your story before you worry what it looks like. If you build it properly, they will come.
- Think about the audio again. The world is full of really nifty software these days that can take a so-so image, and turn it into something stunning. But the reality is, if you record bad audio, you’re going to be stuck with bad audio. Fixing a ropey recording is often not impossible, but it is time-consuming and expensive.
- Lock that camera off. Figure out a way to keep your camera steady. Nobody wants to get seasick while they’re watching your latest foray into the visual arts. Invest in a decent tripod, or at least balance the camera on a sturdy level surface. Believe us, it will work better than you may think.
We’ve even been known to shoot mobile phone footage with a device secured to a flat-sided jam jar with elastic bands. The producer laughed, but we had access to our controls, a means to see our screen to check what was recording, and more importantly, had put an entire camera rig into a space a regular set up could never have gone.
- Never be afraid to get creative. It took us years of experience to come up with the jam jar solution that wound up saving a shoot.
Through those years, we’ve been caught on the hop by situations / scenarios we hadn’t planned for, like everyone else (anyone who claims otherwise is a liar), and every day is still a new. admittedly less steep, learning curve.
But, our years of experience have taught us that these are the most common mistakes people make when working on their first ever video.
Look at these rules again. Store them in the back of your mind. Think about them. Now: Go out and break them.
Nobody ever created a masterpiece without bending a few rules.
- Don’t let the sound guy get creative. Back to audio again. And flying in the face of what we’ve just said about creativity…
Light travels in straight lines, and is relatively easily captured and played with. Sound travels in waves, and getting it clean is paramount. The physics are way more complicated.
If you’re lucky enough to be working with someone who understands the physics of sound, use their experience. If you’re not, keep it simple. That shoot in an underground cave is probably going to raise challenges…
This might all sound like a lot to take in, and in many ways it is. But these ten rules can really help you produce something creative, fresh, informative and entertaining that presents your interests in the best possible light.
That’s why we want you to know about them. In the interim, if you’ve any questions, or if you feel we can help in any way, we’re happy for you to contact us, and we’ll see what we can do!
Also find us on facebook, linked in and twitter to keep up to date with more helpful tips and tricks about all things digital production and media related.