Read any marketing book or take a social media course and you’ll understand the power of video in all your marketing communications The overwhelming power of using video for marketing and communication is undeniable. In the digital world, video is king above all. And now, more than ever, the technology to produce your own videos is readily available. Smartphones contain powerful cameras; editing software is downloadable as an app; special effects are readily available, etc.
However, no app or smartphone can help you avoid some of the little mistakes that can ruin your big chance to use video to your advantage. Let’s work through some of those pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Making a Video
The steps to making a compelling video are the same across the board. When making a film, there are a million sub-steps that occur throughout the process. For the sake of this article, we will assume you are not making a feature film but may be considering starting a video blog (AKA “VLOG”) or communicating with your staff via video, for example.
There are many industry terms to describe these steps, but a simple outline would consist of the following:
A brief walkthrough of each step and how to avoid critical yet straightforward mistakes is appropriate.
Although many believe they can “wing it” or improvise their message may be in for a rude awakening. There is a reason why trained actors are considered artists and experts in their field – they are professionals at what they do. And what they do is prepare and practice endlessly until they can deliver a performance worthy of the material.
That all starts with a script. Write it, read it, then write it again. Once it looks good on the paper, then start reading it aloud. The written word sounds much better in your mind than the spoken word and can often become an unintentional tongue-twister. Read your script aloud and revise it as needed.
Tip: Providing you never look directly at the camera, no one will notice if you are reading from a script held slightly off to the left, right, or just below the camera. Also, several very inexpensive apps provide simple teleprompting services. Finally, if using Zoom or something similar, minimize the camera window to make room for your script on the screen.
Using professional talent is ideal. Not everyone has acting talent or access to it, but that should not hold you back. As mentioned above, practising your script to the point where it flows when you read it should do the job. You may not be comfortable on camera, so a voice-over is also an acceptable option to appearing on camera.
Be aware that attempting to create a video that uses a voice-over will require post-production editing to include images and information to accompany your audio.
Avoid “winging it” or attempting a “one-take” shot. To eliminate frustration and rework, record each scene at least three times.
Tip: Some of us do not want to be on camera or record our voices. We live in a modern age, and as such, you can generate a professional voice-over. Blaster Online provides a very affordable service called Speechelo. You type your script into the browser, select the voice, language, gender, and accent, and an audio file is generated and ready to use.
Believe it or not, this is the easy part. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops all come with pre-installed cameras. It is unnecessary to invest in an expensive camera, providing you are satisfied with your video’s quality, and your recording is available for download in an editable format, such as an MP4 file.
Framing your shot is essential and being able to see yourself as you appear on camera is necessary. You must give framing greater attention if you intend to use on-screen visuals or overlays. Viewers would rather see charts and graphs to the left or right of the person on camera. If your framing does not provide enough room for both, then the visuals will sit atop the talent, which could be unintentionally humorous and undermine your message.
Tip: A tripod or place to secure the position of your camera is recommended. A shaky camera will lose your audience quickly.
There is a saying in the film industry that goes something like this: “If you have a good script, people will forgive poor video quality. No matter how good your script and video quality is, no one will forgive poor audio.”
Unlike video, where acceptable results are often achieved with everyday devices, audio cannot. Invest in a microphone of decent quality. The Blue Yeti microphone, for example, is well known as being a reliable microphone for your PC. Features such as the ability to choose between various recording modes and headphone monitoring will become essential to your audio/video setup.
Give special attention to background noises we often take for granted. Air conditioning, ringing telephones, outside construction, etc. can all result in poor audio.
Tip: When you start your recording, do not forget to declare “Action!”. Saying “Action” may seem like something you only see in the movies, but there’s a very legitimate reason for doing so. “Action!” is how you will marry your audio and video files during the upcoming post-production stage.
Setting up the proper lighting for a shoot is both an art and a craft and far too complex to fully address this article. The best advice is to take the time to get your lighting as best as it can be.
Your standard shot in a professional video shoot contains no less than three lights. For your purposes, try using off-camera lamps and lights to create a warm atmosphere. Experiment with various positions to achieve the look you want.
Avoid lighting setups that are too dark, too bright, or drastically alter your skin tone. Warmth should be your goal. If you struggle to control your room’s lighting, turn off all overhead lights, and use the lamps instead.
Tip: If you are using a green screen in your video, give additional attention to lighting. Illuminate your screen as evenly and consistently as possible. Shadows created by folds in the screen or low lighting will cause issues in post-production.
Post-production is where all these elements come together, and the “magic” happens. Since the development of the non-linear editor (NLE), the process of editing has become infinitely more accessible than it has been in decades past. The NLE allows editors to use computers to visualize, combine, and edit video and audio assets.
Although editors no longer need to cut and splice together actual film strips manually, the mental process and dedication to detail remain crucial. Regardless of which post-production editing software is being used, concepts such as “the timeline,” “keyframes,” “J-Cut,” and “L-Cut” must all be mastered and understood.
The amount of money invested in editing software dictates the flexibility and enhancements that can be applied to the project. For example, Adobe’s Premiere Pro software is used to perform post-production chores for the IHS Hospitality Report. The software allows for exceptional control over green-screen effects, titles, special effects, and more.
Tip: Not everyone has the patience for editing. IHS Supplier, A-V-A Video Productions, offers affordable editing services for all kinds of projects and offers training and consulting for each step outlined above.