Top 5 Ways to Shoot Stronger Videos
- Joseph Olesh
- On October 4, 2011
Any online marketer will tell you the best way to organically improve your company’s digital visibility is with video content. However, gone are the days when a webcam video would suffice; the online viewer is more sophisticated and expects a higher level of quality. A sound online video strategy is not only about quantity, but quality that will speak to the integrity of the brand it represents.
Google rewards sites with video assets a “Page One” ranking more than traditional web pages. The way to get Google to recognize your video requires one of two exercises: Upload your video to YouTube, or upload your video to your site. (If uploading to your site, be sure to employ sound video SEO tactics to ensure Google sees/indexes your video.) Video SEO is a discussion unto itself. For this post, we’ll focus on producing strong video content.
It may seem obvious, but these shoots should be planned and taken seriously. Looking to have online viewers take your brand seriously? Do not take your video production lightly. Pay attention to the details, make sure the messaging is clear, and deploy a launch strategy that will give your videos the highest viral coefficient (the variable that assumes your video’s chances of going “viral”).
Don’t worry about expensive audio/visual equipment. You’ll need a camera, lights, a mic, and a computer.
- Per cameras, I highly suggest dSLRs — Canon and Nikon offer inexpensive, high-quality solutions. Many television shows and independent films are using Canon 5Ds and 7Ds. These cameras are nice, but the lower-end EOS Rebel T2i will work for most cases. The other advantage for a business to invest in a dSLR video solution is that you’ll also have, by default, a high-end stills camera.
- Most cameras come with external audio inputs; you’ll need this with an external mic. I recommend the RODE Shotgun Microphone. It’ll grab sharper, clearer audio than any on-camera mic.
- Finally, proper lights. Photo lights are fine, so long as they are constants (meaning they stay on, rather than flash.) For best results, position lights above the eye-line of your speaker. (We’ll go into lighting a bit more later.) As for kits, most any basic setup will do, so long as they employ some sort of softbox.
Lighting can make a poor camera look strong, enhancing the video quality and the message it carries. At the least, employ a strong key light. The key light is the primary light source illuminating your subject. This light is usually positioned behind the camera and always above your subject’s eye-line. Aim the light at the bridge of your subject’s brow and adjust your camera’s aperture accordingly (raise/lower your f-stop/ISO until properly exposed.)
This technique will brighten the eyes, making that visceral connection between ‘video’ and ‘viewer’ that much stronger. Bringing in a fill light (light to “fill” in the side of your subject’s face) and an edge light (light from behind to “edge” the subject from the background) will add further sophistication to your video’s aesthetic.
Per “Shooting,” we’ll focus on two items: Composition and Capture Settings. Composition is key, whether you’re shooting on a RED or iPhone. This is the easiest variable to control and one that can make or brake your video. For a head-and-shoulders setup, look to capture the eyes of your subject at the upper-third of the frame. Do not crop too tight, but create a frame that is close enough to see the light in your subject’s eyes.
As far as your settings go, pay specific attention to three items: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. Your shutter speed should be double your frame rate. If shooting at 30 frames per second, your shutter should be set to 1/60; if at 24 fps, set shutter to 1/50. As a rule, try to keep your ISO as low as possible, ideally between 100 – 400. The greater your aperture, the greater your focal range. f/2.8 will give you a very shallow depth of field, where f/8 will give you a much broader range. For head-and-shoulder setups, I like to be around f/4. That’ll give me a soft background, while still giving my subject some room to move without falling out of focus.
4. Length & Edit
Shoot for 1 to 3 minutes. If you have more content, post multiple videos — each video can then be optimized. I find that cutting to b-roll during a video presentation increases engagement and adds context to the subject matter. For basic videos, iMovie and Final Cut Studio X will do the job. Final Cut Pro, Avid, and Adobe Premier allow for more detail in your edits, but do require a greater learning curve.
If you incorporate your logo, BE SUBTLE! I suggest the lower right or left corner, depending on the orientation of the logo. Titles, too, should be placed creatively within the negative space your composition creates. They should be legible (use a sans serif font like Arial or Helvetica) and as unassuming as possible.
Each of these items are summarized, but the objective of each should set you on the right track. If nothing else, please take away the fact that online video is absolutely vital to the success of any website moving forward. As internet speeds increase, video’s value as a commodity will increase in kind. Looking for proof? An estimated 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute on YouTube. Use these videos for “digital” eye-to-eye contact with your customer. They’ll live and work for you online, around the clock.
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