Posts Tagged ‘video’

Make Decent Videos 2

Video is exploding on the Internet, and companies that incorporate video into their social marketing strategies have a decided advantage over companies that don’t. While web surfers accept—even prefer—amateur video productions over slick, professional recordings, don’t let this lead to sloppiness. Your videography shouldn’t distract from your message. If a video is bad enough, even very interested viewers may click away to something a bit more polished.

This is the second installment in a three-part series about creating decent video for your social marketing effort. My point isn’t to turn you into a master videographer. Rather, I hope to encourage you to improve your product. If your viewers aren’t thinking about the production quality of your video messages, they’re more likely to focus on the messages in your videos.

While Recording Video

In part one of this series, I posted seven things to fix before you start shooting video. In this post, we look at seven things to do—or not to do—while you’re recording:

Fill the frame. The subject of your video should be front-and-center. If you’re teaching about planting herbs in pots, make sure your viewers can see the herbs and the pots. I’ve seen video demonstrations in which the presenter filled the frame, but the items the presenter was demonstrating were too small to discern clearly. If you are the most important thing in your video, then place the camera appropriately. However, if you’re demonstrating something, arrange the camera so your demonstration is easy to see in the video. If your video camera won’t focus at close range, use a digital camera to capture detail and include the digital stills within your finished video.

Record multiple takes from several angles. For videos that feature a person talking, a single take from one camera angle works well. And, for many demonstrations, a single camera angle is adequate. Doing multiple takes from multiple camera angles increases the chance of capturing detail that’s relevant to your demonstration. Sometimes your hands interfere with a shot as you demonstrate a procedure simply because you didn’t anticipate the full range of motion you’d employ. Do the demo twice and move the camera between takes; this will probably result in sequences you can edit together to tell your story well.

Put the camera down. This may be the most important point in my discussion about making good video: Don’t hold the camera while you’re recording. Get a tripod and learn to use it. Even if you’re following a moving subject, mount the camera on a tripod and limit the camera’s movement to horizontal or vertical pans. Please, please, please don’t hold the camera and walk while you’re recording unless there is no other way to get the shot you need.

An amateur videographer once asked me what equipment I used to make videos—we had created videos at the same venue. Before answering, I watched his recording; it was very shaky and hard to follow… though the image quality seemed quite good. I could see that his video camera would have made a great video if he’d mounted the camera on a tripod.

Pan slowly and rarely. Panning means moving the camera across a scene. There’s a lot of crummy panning in Youtube videos: people swing this way and that to follow action, and they leave viewers feeling dizzy. Try to record videos from a stationary camera. If you must pan, pan slowly… and if you think you’re panning slowly enough, pan a little slower still. If you really must pan quickly, it should be to follow a moving subject… and keep the subject in the frame so viewers have a decent place to focus while the rest of the scene is a blur.

Don’t one-hand the camera at your face. Seriously. This is so cheesy. Get a tripod or a friend.

Zoom in and out only if you must. If a scene requires a long shot followed by a tight shot or vice-versa, do viewers a favor and cut the two views together. Watching a scene zoom rarely increases understanding of the subject matter the scene presents.

Pause often and long if you’re narrating as your record a scene. Why would I suggest this? When you play back a recording, it’s likely you’ll spot bits that you ought to leave out of the finished video. But, if the original recording contains an endless stream of narration, it’s tricky to cut without creating awkward transitions. If stream-of-concsiousness is the best delivery mechanism for your massage, go for it. If you want to present a clear, understandable message, pace yourself and pause often so your video will be easier to edit.


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Make Decent Videos 1

Kudos to you if video is already a component of your social marketing strategies. Goodness, some businesses successfully use video exclusively in their social marketing efforts. But nearly everyone promoting their businesses through social media can get a boost from video.

Amazingly, video need not be slick to be effective. In fact, there is a growing population of folks who prefer amateur productions over professional ones. The success of Youtube supports this contention.

Learn Video Recording Skills

When you’re ready to add video as one of your social marketing strategies, don’t get all hung up about equipment, and don’t run off and build a sound studio; you can do a good enough job with even modest equipment and locales.

On the other hand, please, please, please, take care with a few fundamentals of camera work. Overlooking these basics can reduce a perfectly adequate video to an annoying mess that does more harm to your marketing effort than it does good.

Did I say “a few fundamentals?” Forgive me. I’ve watched a lot of online videos and collected a lot of suggestions for improvement. This is part one of a series on shooting decent video.

Seven Things to fix BEFORE you Start Shooting Video

Use ample light. Video cameras are amazingly good at using whatever light is available. However, when there is less light on a scene, the camera can’t capture as many details as it can when there is more light. Especially when you shoot indoors, supplement a room’s normal lighting: turn on all the lights, add a clip-on spotlight pointed at your subject, or hang an extra set of fluorescents. It’s almost impossible to have too much light on a scene.

Manage the light source. Watch out for light sources behind your subject: a floor lamp, a bright window, even a mirror reflecting a light from behind the camera can cast your subject in shadow (the camera may adjust itself to reduce glare, darkening everything in the scene). Equally important: a bright light near the camera may cause people or animals to squint; make sure you’re comfortable with the amount of light hitting your face before you start recording.

Eliminate extreme contrasts. Your video camera’s automatic brightness control feature doesn’t know whether to emphasize a light subject against a dark background, or the dark background itself. With extreme contrast, your camera may turn a light subject into a bright patch of light. Conversely, a dark subject on a light background may become a black hole in your scene. If you plan to pan (move the camera from subject-to-subject while recording), the transition from a dark object to a light one can cause the camera to struggle and may result in a blotchy sequence in your video.

Remove clutter. Even a tidy office with houseplants, bookshelves, and knick-knacks in the background can be distracting from the main subject. But if you’re shooting in a messy living room, or in a cluttered kitchen, your audience may not focus well on your message. Video shot in your warehouse or customer support center ought to show your company in better shape than it might typically be.

Get decent sound levels. Most recorders have built-in microphones, while some let you plug in an external microphone that will stretch many feet from the camera. If you can’t use an external mic, don’t get so far from the camera that it can’t pick up your voice. Even then, make sure you don’t turn away from the camera and block your voice from reaching the onboard microphone. Finally, if you can’t be close to the camera, make sure you speak loudly and clearly so your viewers can understand what you say.

Control ambient noise. Is your video better or worse when the people in it are shouting over the noise of heavy machinery? Is it better when a dog bark or a honking horn momentarily drowns out real-time narration? Is it possible the high frequency hum from your power generator might bother viewers and make them leave the video early? One way to control ambient noise is to record video without narration. Then, edit the video and record narration in a quiet room with the doors closed. Even very simple video editing software lets you record sound while you’re playing back the video.

Modulate sound according to location. Huh? If you’re narrating while you record or if your video includes a conversation, location can have a profound effect on the sound level. Indoors in a modest room, sound bounces around so a camera’s microphone can pick up even very quiet speech. Outdoors, sound goes off in all directions so less makes it to the camera. What’s more, there tends to be ambient noise outdoors that simply doesn’t exist in most indoor settings. When you create video with audio outdoors (or in very large rooms), people may need to speak more loudly to get a good recording.


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