How to Make Videos (That Don't Suck)
Benjamin Packard is a Producer at Retainer Media
The statistics about video as a medium are clear. Video is important. Twice as many people have seen a Harry Potter movie than have read one of the books in the series. YouTube is the second largest search engine.
The reason that video is more effective than other mediums is that it brings people to your website and keeps them on your site longer. With all of the free technology available to laypeople, it’s easier than ever for people who are not professionals to produce their own videos
Although it’s difficult and takes a special skill set to make a great video, most people can make a perfectly good video. Most people can make a video that doesn’t suck.
In a series of articles, I will offer short tutorials on how to make videos that don’t suck. I will elaborate briefly on several topics related to video production: camera, filming, b-roll, photographs, lighting, audio, interviews, editing, music, content, and distribution. If you decide to follow these guidelines, you will be on your way to telling any story in a compelling way.
As a videographer, I focus my work on videos for non-profits and topics related to social issues, and my advice reflects that. However, the same guidelines apply to all content related to your area of small business expertise.
For the first episode in this series on how to make videos that don’t suck, I will discuss b-roll footage, optimizing your video’s audio, and different types of cameras.
How to Make Videos with B-roll Footage
When you are watching a video, it can get boring watching a person talk. To combat this, videographers deploy the “b-roll” weapon. A b-roll is an interesting sequence that is overlaid on an interview to give the viewer something to visually engage with while listening to the interview’s audio.
Here are some quick tips for B-roll footage:
-Film b-roll footage in 5-second chunks so there isn’t a lot of material to go through while editing
-Crop in close
-Film at unexpected angles
-Use the rule of thirds
-Footage doesn’t have to be relevant to the topic of the interview. For example, a herpes medication commercial that shows a person doing yoga.
How to Make Videos with Optimal Audio
The audio aspect of a video is the element most often neglected, but is arguably the most important. This might seem counter-intuitive, but consider this point: you can listen to a radio program and fill in any missing parts, but a television show that is muted is for the most part incomprehensible.
Audio is one part of creating video that you have to get right. If your audience cannot decipher what your subject is saying, your video is practically useless. It can’t communicate anything. The bad news is that most novice filmmakers suck at audio. The good news is that audio can be easy to get right.
Keeping in mind that most video cameras are bad at capturing audio, the key is to get the microphone close to your subject. Try less than a foot away.
I suggest investing in an external microphone. When using the camera’s built-in mic, in order for the sound to be the appropriate level, the video will end up being too close to the subject. The most common type of external microphone is a lapel microphone. The lapel microphone I bought cost only $15.
For a complete discussion of different kinds of microphones, watch my video here.
How Make Videos with the Right Camera
It doesn’t matter which camera you choose. Or, it doesn’t matter that much. Picasso is not famous for the paint he uses, Beyonce is not famous for the microphone she uses and Spielberg is not famous for the camera he uses. Nearly every modern camera is capable of taking incredible footage. They all capture high definition footage, and their auto-focus is satisfactory.
However, a tripod mount for whatever camera you choose is important. Smartphones don’t have one but you can buy a simple tripod mount for a smartphone that costs only $7.
An audio input, called a microphone jack can also be useful. I recommend purchasing one if you’re using a camera that doesn’t have a microphone jack.
A few final pointers: conduct interviews in a quiet place, keep your video under two minutes and find as many video-sharing channels as you can to post your final product.
To conclude our first episode, you now have the confidence to use b-roll footage and a tripod, and a few pointers to up your game when it comes to making videos for your small business. See you soon for our next episode, where I will cover what kind of content you should include in your video, where you should upload your video and some tips for editing your video.