Monday, October 19, 2015

11 Tips for Shooting Professional Video on a Budget

No matter how much you read and how well you write, you can’t deny that we live in a screen-dominated age. So many screens are vying for our attention--and your clients’ attention—that you need to start sharing your expertise visually. Many of you get it and have asked about shooting your own videos since you don’t have the budget to hire professional video crews. At the same time, you don’t want to embarrass yourself. So how do you get a good result?

It reminds me of that poster hanging in the back of my lawn mower repair shop: “We do three types of jobs here: Good, Fast and Cheap, you can choose any two.” In other words…

   If it’s Good and Cheap--it won’t be Fast

   If it’s Good and Fast--it won’t be Cheap

   If it’s Fast and Cheap—it won’t be Good

Until recently, that summed up your thought leadership video options, but now we’d like to add a fourth option:

   If you’re Smart and Well Organized, you can get a solid result that won’t break the bank.

To that end, the folks from Marketing Profs recently published a post chock-full of tips to help professionals like you create high quality videos. The tips are pretty basic, but our colleague Brooke Sessions, a New York-based network TV director who helps us out on special projects added a few of her own.

1. Shoot during the day,
especially if you don’t have a professional lighting set up. According to Marketing Profs, natural lighting will complement your skin and won't typically make you look washed out or grainy.
2. Don't shoot backlit or with a window behind you. People want to see your face and a backlit light source will leave your face dark.

3. Be wary of background noise, especially when shooing outside. All too often a plane, train, car alarm, or annoying pedestrians having a conversation will come out of nowhere to disrupt your shoot. “If you do have to shoot outside, try to pick a quiet spot,” recommends Sessions.

4. Don't shoot in a car—even if you're busy.
According to Marketing Profs, shooting in a moving vehicle adds a new layer of sounds to deal with. No road is perfectly smooth and your video will be bouncy

5. Acknowledge you have shaky hands. “
ALWAYS use a tripod,” recommended Sessions. You don’t have to break the bank to find a good stable tripod that will save you countless hours (and dollars) of editing time.

6. Silence your devices while shooting. Even if your phone is on vibrate mode, that sound can get picked up by the microphone.

7. Be aware of where the camera lens is. According to Marketing Profs, if you're looking at your face on the screen, you're not looking at the camera—and not looking at your audience. It just feels awkward to watch a video in which someone looks like he or she is peering behind you. When we shoot with Sessions, we don’t use teleprompters, but we have summary bullet points taped right beneath the camera lens. That helps us keep our focus on the lens.

8. Always review and edit your video before posting. Watch for any weird lighting changes, advises Marketing Profs, as your phone tried to decide on a light source. Listen to the video with headphones on—did you capture a lot of background noise, such as people talking or phones buzzing? You may have to re-shoot.

9. If you are using a Smartphone or iPad, “hold it horizontally, NOT vertically. “No one wants to look at vertical video,” lamented Sessions.
10. Use a microphone. “The audio quality will be far superior,” recommended Sessions. Mary Shaw, of Shaw Media Group agrees. “I think audio is THE most important production element, even though it’s video. You’ll have a much better chance to attracting and holding a viewer’s attention when the visual content can be heard clearly by using a high-quality microphone.”

11. Watch your framing. “Is there too much headroom (i.e. the space between the top of your head and the top of the screen)? Is it centered? These are concepts from still photography that must be considered when shooting video,” said Sessions.


Keep these 11 tips in mind and experiment with video before you go live. At first you may be surprised by how you look and sound on camera, but learn to embrace your new onscreen persona, even if you don’t think it looks and sounds exactly like you. It’s a whole new way of communicating with clients and prospects, but it’s what many are expecting, especially the next generation.

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