Today, video has become a major tool in corporate communication. Many of our clients come to us for tips and pointers when they are producing their own videos, and we are always happy to help! The 10 steps below are some of the steps we have shared with our clients to ensure they produce the best video possible. We hope you will find them helpful in your next video production!
- Identify your audience: Make sure your message fits the style and taste of your audience. This will help you create a story structure that engages your audience. Will your audience view your video on a PC or mobile device? How and when your audience will view, will also help you determine how long your video should be. The viewing environment and the amount of time spent plays a big role in length and tempo. The more you know about the audience; the more you can hone in on their sensibilities and instincts. It will help you determine whether to appeal more to emotions or take a more analytical approach. Some audiences may not want to read a series of text graphics while others appreciate animated or motion graphics. Keep in mind that you are creating your video for other people’s viewing habits and styles not necessarily your own.
- Know your objective: What do you want to happen after your video is viewed? Do you want someone to know, buy, do or understand something? We think of it as a sales presentation that leads up to a customer saying “yes.” So as you tell your story, every scene is a step toward achieving your objective. You may also have a secondary objective like building affinity for the brand, while you are training a customer on the use of a product. We always write down our objective and make sure our client is in agreement with it. Also, we always try to create a measurement element, so we will know if we hit the mark or not.
- Keep it simple, don’t over complicate your video. Viewing attention is very short these days so get to the point and be very clear about your message. Don’t over complicate your message with too much film razzle dazzle. Special effects are great if used to emphasize a point, but they can dilute your theme and purpose. There is an old TV adage that goes like: show the viewer what they want to see, when they want to see it. It still works today.
- Graphics are a great way to drive home an idea or copy point. Keep them short and to the point. No one wants to read a lot during a video, but graphics that are integrated into the story and add to both comprehension and retention work. You don’t have to spell out the complete thought. Sometimes one word can sub consciously create a more memorable experience. Use graphics to get your message across, without overwhelming your audience. When used properly, graphics are great in video, they keep the audience’s attention and get the point across.
- Music sets the mood and tempo for your message. However, it can be as harmful as it can be helpful. We try to find agreement between the background music and the spoken word. If there is narration, we try to play the music while the voice talent reads the script. That keeps the voice cadence in agreement with the music tempo. Also, we select music that will accent the editing tempo. Some videos will have several themes and tempos. Just like a feature movie, different scenes or chapters may call for a different mood from soft and gentle to bold and brassy. There is enough stock music to give you plenty of choices for the mood you want to create. But always have other people listen to your selections with the voice track to make sure your music is not adding discord or clashing with the tempo of the voice.
- Audio is just as important as the photography. Distorted or muffled audio will ruin the best video. Most movie sound is recorded in a sound booth after the filming. That is why it is always so clean vibrant. Also, background sound can compete with the dialog and make it hard to hear. Try to film in a place where there is no interfering sound, like air conditioners or a busy highway. And, never use the built in microphone. It is too far away from your talent to pick up a strong voice signal. Instead, try a small clip-on lavaliere or wireless microphone, which can be purchased from any electronic store and sounds so much better.
- If you have an autofocus camera be careful, advanced autofocus cameras are sometimes hard to understand, if the autofocus is not done correctly the image will be out of focus and not usable. If you have a manual focus camera zoom into the subject and focus, so when you zoom out the image will not be grainy. Most cameras will describe how the autofocus works in great detail, but trial and error can be your best teacher.
- Lighting is extremely important and is often times the hardest to get perfect. Video shot under room light and florescent light are the opposite of complementing. To avoid flat and uncomplimentary lighting, we suggest moving the subject close to a window with good natural light and to try to avoid bright sunlight or dark shadows. Sometimes the sun can work as a great back light, but you will need white or silver reflectors to bounce light into your subject. Small lighting kits are available, ranging in price from $700 to $2000 and can make a world of a difference. Use of some lighting equipment requires professional training to work safe and to get the look you want.
- Having a good and steady shot is crucial to holding the viewer’s attention. Always use a good (professional) tripod if you intend to pan, tilt, and zoom with the camera. We suggest use of a fluid head, which uses fluid moving between cylinders to dampen the movement making it smooth. You can easily adjust the “drag” on either the pan or tilt functions. Practice is the key here. Try using the tripod with camera outside, possibly panning with cars on the highway or moving between subjects that requires different focus. Don’t be afraid to get creative with the angle of view and the framing of your shot. Be sure to show the viewer exactly what you want them to see and nothing more. Have you ever watched 60 Minutes? If so you may have notices some of the shots are very close, this is for strong story emphasis.
- Exposure can make or break your video. Like autofocus, your camera may have auto-exposure, you may be able to adjust to give high and low levels of control. If your camera has a manual iris (an adjustable aperture that is used to control the amount of light coming through the lens) you can set the exact exposure. An iris, or aperture opening, that is too small will make your shot darker and an opening that is too large will make your shot too bright. Experimentation will also help here, use your camera with different subjects, light and dark, close and far away.
Thank you for taking the time to read our 10 Easy Steps to Make Your Video Better. We hope it will help in your next video project. We are always happy to help answer any questions you may have. Or, we would be happy to do all of the work for you, give us a call today to get started!