Not everyone is a professional videographer, with access to the equipment necessary to make their videos look great, or the top of the line editing software. Luckily you don’t need the very best to make something that’s interesting, engaging, and ultimately entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, all the top of the line equipment will do wonders, but if you don’t know what you’re doing with it, it will likely frustrate you more than help.
Tip 1: My first tip would be to make sure to have a good topic. Meaning is this something that people really want to hear about or watch? Technical hurdles aside, if the base content is boring or presented in a way that is confusing or not at your target audiences level, then it’s not going to make for a very good video.
Knowing who you are targeting with your video and what they are interested in is key. Don’t forget about your enthusiasm as well….make sure it’s something that you are passionate about as well. No one wants to make content they themselves don’t enjoy.
If you are on camera make sure to be comfortable in front of it. Speaking clearly and at a comprehensible pace. If you’re not a seasoned pro speaking to the camera, script out what you want to say. Even if it’s just a rough outline, having some sort of guideline to follow will help your audience follow along better than just random thoughts.
Tip 2: Length. This can not be stressed enough…make the length appropriate to the material. If it’s an advertisement shorter is almost always better. Follow the KISS method. Short, sweet and to the point. I usually advise under one minute. If it is a complex subject, or something that can’t be explained in a short amount of time the rule still applies to keep it concise and as brief as necessary.
Living in our fast as light paced world of the 21st century, most people have become accustomed to smaller and quicker tidbits of information. Just see new technologies like texting and Twitter for perfect examples.
Now onto the technical side of things.
Tip 3: Audio. The forgotten and overlooked red-headed step child of videos. Far too often have I seen this mistake. Simply put, bad audio can straight up tank your video. Even with the most polished visuals and presentation if you have low amplitude, too much interference, or just hollow audio it completely takes the viewer out of the experience and sets them on edge.
Having a discreet microphone is key. You want to place your microphone as close as you can to your speaking subject in order to cut down on both surrounding noise and making them sound like they are speaking from an echoing cave. This will give it a sense of fullness.
If it’s a simple voiceover there are many cheap ways to acquire a full sound, while blocking outside interference. Recording your audio in a “pillow fort” of sorts helps soften and thicken your voice, while not allowing the sound to bounce off of nearby flat surfaces.
Tip 4: Almost as often as bad audio, I see videos made without considering the impact of light. Your lighting makes all the difference in terms of visual quality. Of course the first requirement is to light your subject with enough light for the viewer to see them clearly. This can be as simple as a single light shining on their face, or a bank of lights with the proper 3-point lighting scheme. One way to make your subject “feel” better to the viewer is to use soft lights. You can do this easily by either bouncing the light off of another surface, so they aren’t hit by direct light, softening the shadows. Another way is to diffuse the light. There are special diffusers, but it could be as simple as placing a sheet of white paper or paper towel in front of the light to help soften it up.
Lighting affects not only what the viewer sees, but also the mood. Subtle splashes of color, or accents of light can cause one to feel apprehension, or set them at ease. Overhead lighting, or high key lighting is what appears normal to us humans, and is what we are used to. It feels natural. But lower the light to the ground aim it up and you have yourself low-key lighting, a technique often used in horror films to give a sense of foreboding and danger.
Try and avoid lighting people from directly above their head, as it casts long shadows over the eyes and face, causing your subject to look a bit “zombified”…..unless that’s what the shot calls for.
Use these pro tips to help improve your video, and remember to never stop learning different techniques!