How to Make Videos (That Don't Suck), Pt. 3

June 22, 2017 • 8 min read

Benjamin Packard is a Producer at Retainer Media

Welcome to the third and final episode of my series, How to Make Videos (That Don’t Suck)!

In Part 1 of “How to Make Video (That Don’t Suck)”, we covered how to use b-roll footage and tripods, how to choose the right camera, and a few easy tips to improve the quality of the videos that you produce. In Part 2 of “How to Make Videos (That Don’t Suck)”, we covered what kind of content you should include in your video, where you should upload your video and some tips for editing your video. In our final segment, I will discuss getting feedback on the videos you’ve created, advice for the filming process, interviews in videos, lighting and music.

You are so close to mastering the art of making videos to communicate the story of your business!

Making Videos that Incorporate Feedback

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After so much work, you will likely be convinced that your video is wonderful. But everybody’s first drafts suck. The best way to get around this is to get feedback from other people.

One way to generate feedback is to ask your viewers two things: 1. Where do you get bored? 2. Where do you get confused?

It’s a good idea to get feedback from people who do not default to thinking everything that you do is amazing, i.e. your mother or your partner.

It’s not necessary to incorporate every piece of feedback you get, but if the feedback you are getting is consistent, it’s likely something that you should consider.

Making Videos Using the Best Techniques

When you are setting up your camera, I advise using a tripod or a tripod adapter if you are using a smartphone. If your footage is shaky, it will detract from the content.

Today’s cameras are so smart about adjusting to the conditions of the environment where you are filming that you can use the automatic settings confidently

While you are capturing footage, keep in mind that the key to good footage is capturing lots of footage. While filming big budget movies, a director might do several takes of a single scene. Photojournalists shoot hundreds of picture before selecting one image to publish.

This doesn’t mean that should film haphazardly. By being conscientious of what you film, you’ll save hours of time when you are editing.

Many photographers and videographers practice the rules of thirds. The rule of thirds is a design principle that states that the image or shot will look better when the main subject is on the left or right side, and not centered.

Finally, get up close to your subject. The face is the most engaging part of a person, and reveals the most information.

Making Videos with Interviews

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Interviews are often at the heart of an effective video made for a business. Here are a few things I recommend when interviewing:

1. Choose a quiet location. Film indoors for better audio.

2. Research your subject ahead of time. Prepare 5-10 questions to ask but don’t be afraid to improvise. If you send the questions ahead of time, you might get canned responses. Ask your subjects to respond to your questions in complete sentences.

3. Crop shots of your subjects so they show their face and the background

Making Videos with Good Lighting

Videographers love light. They only shoot in low light when they are forced to.

When you are filming outdoors, it’s best to shoot either in the morning, at night or when it’s overcast. The bright sun in midday can produce harsh shadows, but if you have to shoot then do it in the shade. Shooting with the sun behind the your back and in front of your subject also helps you avoid shadows.

Making Videos with Music

Music is video’s secret weapon, because it has the ability to pull at your heartstrings. With the right song, a video can be improved in no time. Music can move people to tears, and even energize them to respond to your organization’s call to action.

Here are some tips for including music in your video:

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– Avoid music with lyrics in it because they can compete with the narration. Viewers can become inundated with too much feedback when one person is talking and there are musical lyrics.

– Mimic the mood of your video with the music: if the video is sad, use sad music. If the video is happy, use happy music.

– Use a classic song. If you use a Billboard Hot 100 song, your video may seem dated within a few months

– Pay for your music (unless you’re a non-profit). Non-profit organizations can get away with using copyrighted music. This is not true for businesses that are for-profit, but several sites provide rights to a song for about $100. I like, and

It’s a Wrap!

My last pointer is that you don’t actually need to video to make a video. More specifically, photographs and a good soundtrack can make a visually compelling sequence.

I consider the best video I’ve ever made to be about a man who traveled all over the world making balloon hats. I thought the first interview he gave was mediocre, but he had wonderful pictures. The result was a smashing success. You can watch it here if you’re curious.

I hope by now you have enough skills and confidence in yourself to know that you don’t need to be a professional filmmaker to make a great video. Good luck!

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