If they say that a picture paints a thousand words then a video must paint over 25,000 words per second. Video is an incredibly powerful medium which is becoming more and more expected by users online. If you are producing your own video there are several things you can do to ensure that it is the highest quality you can make it.
Choose a style
Think about what you want to get from your video. Who is your audience? Do you want a slick corporate interview or a fun, engaging viral video? Can you make it hand-held or do you need a tripod? The style of your video sets the tone and depending on what style you choose it will affect how you handle some of the other points below. Know what you want, and then go for it.
Know your content
Part of your preparation is to know exactly what you want to film. It can be much more difficult to just go out with a camera not really knowing what shots you want. If you know from the start what you need to get then these shots will come out better. Draw up a storyboard. Print out your questions and know them well. If you’re interviewing someone and they address three of your questions in one answer you will want to be able to adapt on the move and adjust any further questions to fit.
Get your kit ready
Whether you are using a high-end Sony Z5 HD camera, a consumer level camcorder or your iPhone you need to know your kit. Make sure you know how to switch it on quickly and know of anything that can happen accidentally like a particular mode button that can be easily knocked. When you’re busy filming you don’t want to have to be messing about with the menus. Also double-check and triple-check that you have all the batteries charged, spare tapes/memory sticks etc before you leave the office. If your basic kit is 100% ready then that gives you more confidence and less things that can go wrong. Keep these things ready all the time in case you get called out in a rush.
Find a good location
Location, location, location. If you can get a good location then it puts you in control. You need as much control over the lighting and background noise as you can, plus you will want the background and scenery to look interesting whilst not distracting. If you’re filming at someone’s office then try to make sure they book you a room in advance which is big enough for your needs, has decent lighting and most importantly does not have background noise. There are ways to handle small rooms or bring your own lighting, but background noise is one thing that you cannot remove in post-production. Also make sure you arrive 30mins before the subject walks in the room so that you can get setup with camera angles and lighting before you have to manage with the subject.
Some people waste money on cameras or lenses which are superfluous to their needs. These are worth nothing unless you have good lighting. A good lighting setup will improve your picture tenfold. Soft lights are better than hard lights as they don’t produce as much shadow. Direct sunlight can be quite harsh and if you rely on using natural light from a window just be watchful for cloudy periods during filming as that can make your shot look hugely different when you’re editing it later. Ideally a 3 point lighting system is the way to go but even if you have only one light point you can be creative by having that light the subject from an angle, or bounce it off a wall to soften it even more.
Good audio is extremely important. Think about how you can happily watch an in-flight movie on a small screen a few rows ahead of you as long as you have the audio at a nice level in your headphones, but conversely when you’re watching TV on your brand new 42″ HDTV at home and the volume is too low it can be very uncomfortable. The one thing that makes the biggest difference in the quality of a final video is the quality of the audio. Bad audio screams ‘amateur’. Not only can you not remove any background noise in post-production, but editing audio quality is much harder than colour correcting poor visuals. Ideally use a boom mic, a radio lapel mic or even just get the camera’s internal mic as close as you can to the subject.
Put your subject at ease
Many people, even CEOS, melt in front of a camera. Be prepared for this. You may have to record segments several times and then edit the good takes together later. If they have to read text out try to make sure they are familiar with the text in advance. Attempting to tape a makeshift autocue underneath the camera lens doesn’t work as you can see their eyes move. If you are filming an interview on your own, try to get the camera all setup and recording and then leave it alone. If you are fidgeting with the camera during the interview you will break eye contact with the subject and also make them more aware of the camera being there.
Editing out the pauses
You’ll notice from any good video, TV show or movie that the editing is very tight. Try to minimise the awkward pauses at the beginning and end of takes. Tighter editing is better than loose editing. If you are having to cut between different takes of the same headshot, it’s handy to have shot some extra shots of the building, environment, and related activities that you can cut away to during the transition. This way the audio of the speaker continues in the background and you don’t notice the jump cut.
Below are a few examples of our videos, filmed using various techniques and in various situations. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to ask for any advice in video production.
[via LEWIS PR]