Rookie video tips

Posted on 22 Dec 2016
Reader Question:

Doctor Digital I don’t know how to make a video and I know I need to! Can you please give me some tips?

Doctor Digital Says:

Video is sticky. With the increase of live streaming, Facebook’s new in app Livestream, and a host of other platforms, it is easier than ever to flick a switch and go to the people in full colour. But while video is sticky, bad video is bad sticky, like chewing gum on your shoe! If you want to avoid that kind of experience for your customers, here are some tips to get the very best out of your videos and keep your fans glued to their mobile screens.

Lighting: Good lighting is probably the most important factor in creating good video. Natural light is the best light to shoot simple videos in. Shooting in a bright room or even outside is always a good idea. Just make sure to avoid the midday sun - no one looks good with the sun blaring on them from above. The best times of day to shoot are morning or late afternoon when the sun is gentler. Tasmania is renowned for its magic hour of light about 4pm or 5pm in daylight saving, it’s like the whole place has been filtered by Instagram and everyone tends to look good. If you can, avoid backlighting. You don’t want to shoot with the light source behind the subject. In other words, don’t stand in front of a window. If you need to bump up the lighting indoors, you can always invest in a cheap lighting kit, but it isn’t necessary to achieve great results.

Sound: Sound is as critical as light to keep people entranced with your performance. Some classic no-nos: don’t shoot video in a bathroom or any tiled surface, aside from it being weird, it will sound like there is an echo. Likewise tunnels, bunkers, or any small hard surfaced room will not be optimum. On the flipside super noisy places are just as bad. Atmospherics are one thing, but are pretty intolerable for listeners. Most newish smartphones have good mics with condensers built in - the iPhone is pretty much broadcast quality, but make sure you have the mic close to the subject so the background noise is filtered out or you can use a shotgun microphone that will dampen the background sound. You can get relatively cheap mics that fit onto your mobile devices now, if you’re serious about making video, good sound is totally worth the investment.

Camera: This is a relatively important one in terms of needing to have a camera to shoot video.  You don’t need a fancy camera to create great video. In fact, the iPhone 6 and 6+ has a pretty stellar camera on it and you can purchase accessories like lenses, tripods and microphones to bump up the production value. If you do want to make an investment in a camera, many YouTubers and freelance journalists use a DSLR. They shoot gorgeous footage and stills. If budget is not holding you back, you can go all out and opt for a fancy professional video camera like a Canon C100 or C300.

Tripods: Here is a solid gold tip. Use a tripod. What we are after is video that is sticky, not shaky. Even if you have arms of steel, the slightest tremor or sneeze can run a whole video. You can invest in a tripod, and there are an increasing amount of gimbles and harnesses for taking your shots on the move. Otherwise get innovative, I’ve seen all kinds of kit used to secure iPhones for video.  The more mobile and steady the better.

Editing: Assuming you will perhaps not nail it in one take, there are a lot of editing software choices out there. Using live streaming you won’t have much of a choice as to fixing mistakes, but that is the beauty of live and people don’t expect perfection. A great starting point for video editing is iMovie because it is already on Macs and it’s a great entry-level product. If you want tutorials there are stacks on YouTube and Vimeo, just search and find something that is at your skill level. iMovie will have all the basics you need, and when you are ready to graduate to a more professional toolset, there are plenty of subscription products on the market.

Pre-Production: Even if you are making a 2 minute video, lets put it in the context of a professional shoot plan. What ever it is you are doing with the content, you need to have a plan of who you are speaking to (your audience) and what you are going to say. Even if you have just gone over it in your head, it is better to have some narrative structure that has a beginning, middle and an end. If you need to, write it down or even storyboard it if you are so inclined. Winging it is fine if you are used to improv performance and are natural on camera, but if you are a rookie, then you will want to have something to guide you and limit the ums, ahs and awkward pauses.

Of course the best way to learn is to dive right in and make some videos, learn from your early work, and refine, refine, refine, until like an Grade A maple syrup, you have a video that is entirely sticky.