Today's post is a purely technical one. This is some information that I gathered for a client who was considering creating her own talking-head videos. The information struck me as very useful, so I've decided to publish it. Hopefully this will help those of you who are looking at DIY video as a way to promote your business.
Side note: The options I've recommended are either ones I've used and enjoyed or ones that seem logical and easy. Nothing on this post is a solicited endorsement.
Equipment You Need for DIY Talking Head Videos
This is a super simple breakdown of some of the tools you could use to make your own high quality talking head videos, training videos, welcome videos, or how-to videos.
- Use the video option on you have on your iPhone or iPad
- Use the video option on your camera (most cameras have video options that their owners are just not aware of!)
- Buy any consumer-level HD camera $250+
- If you're super serious, then buy a DSLR camera $250+ (Sony and Canon have good video options on their DSLR cameras) Side note: DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex and is a combo of traditional optics and digital capture.
TIP: Don't buy more technology than what you'll feel comfortable using. And don't be afraid of used gear. A LOT of people buy video cameras that they never use and then sell on Craigslist after it has collected dust for two years. The technology is still good! And most cameras and video cameras can withstand a lot of abuse anyway.
You need a tripod to keep the image stable, no matter what. You cannot have a talking-head video that wobbles, and you shouldn't rely on being able to prop up your camera somewhere as this really limits your location choices.
- Sunpak Tripod $25.00, Best Buy
- Whatever feels comfortable and fits your budget
TIP: Make sure your tripod goes high enough. You don't want a mini tripod for a video shoot. AND make sure you buy a tripod that works with the video-capture method you're using. There are special tripods for iPhones and iPads. And very different tripods for video cameras and photographic cameras. So decide on a camera first then go get your tripod.
This is very important, but also not as complex as people like to make it out to be. Just make sure your face is lit well. Your eyes are key. And if you have a room that is super sunny maybe you can ever go without any special lighting.
- Bower Camera-mounted Led Light $60, Best Buy
This simply illuminates the face, cheaply. It will result in proper exposure but won’t be super elegant.
- Camera Mounted Manfrotto Mini Led $100, Vistek.ca or bhphotovideo.com
Better products will last longer, and light better.
- Metz MecaLight $110, Vistek.ca or bhphotovideo.com
Can be used with inside lights and outdoor sunlight for a correct colour exposure. If you're going to be serious about your tech, this is a good cheap option.
TIP: Decent lighting is a great and cheap way to make your video look more professional. Just by having enough light, your colours will be more saturated and the image more clear.
No, the audio on your camera is not good enough. Not by a long shot. Unless you're feeling really darn cheap and you're using an iPhone. iPhones have surprisingly good audio. You won't get a ton of volume on an iPhone, but you will get a pretty clean sound.
- Rode SmartLav for iPhone and iPad $75, Vistek.ca or bhphotovideo.com
This gives you fairly pristine audio from your iPhone, which can then easily be synced with your footage by an editor. The APP comes with the product. With this microphone you would wear it attached to your shirt and have the phone hidden.
- Rode iPhone Mic $180, Vistek.ca or bhphotovideo.com
This microphone fits onto the iPhone which would be then place out of the shot. In this case you don’t have to wear the microphone on your body. It has better quality than the Lavalier Microphone above and you don’t have to worry about accidentally jostling the microphone.
TIP: If there is one place you don't want to spare any expense, that would be here! I have tendency to sound like a broken record on this one. But it's true. And it's my pet peeve. Terrible audio renders great visuals utterly useless. Especially as we move more and more into watching videos on mobile with earbuds. If your audio doesn't pass the earbud test, my opinion is that it shouldn't exist. Unless its utterly hilarious, then and only then can I accept it.
- White or Black Backdrop & Stand $120.00, Vistek.ca or bhphotovideo.com
- Use your own home. This is my preference as you will then have an original background and one that reflects your brand.
- Outside can be a great option too, especially if you don't want to deal with lighting. Just make sure you find a place that isn't noisy!
- Camtasia which is also a screen capture software. It's extremely simple to use. Trust me, if editing is the only thing holding you back from video making, check out their trial software. You will be very pleasantly surprised.
- iMovie will work in a pinch.
- Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro are both excellent professional quality editing programs which are intuitive and a joy to use if you don't mind the first hurdle of learning how to use them. (I use Premiere)
Make sure your computer has enough juice to run the editing software. If the software is running slowly on your computer or keeps shutting down. It's probably because you don't have enough RAM or your storage is almost completely full. Clean your computer, go to the local computer shop, tell them what you're trying to do and ask about RAM.
As you can see there are quite a few pieces involved in the video making equation, which is why those who are not technologically inclined often hire someone else to take care of this for them. That being said if you love the idea of creating videos, and you are into using technology, then you will find online video extremely fulfilling.
In a pinch, if your clients are not expecting premium quality, you can always record videos with a web cam, using Camtasia (editing and screen capture software) to clean up the audio and visual as well as to put in some titles and cut off the awkward ending.
And remember once you've gotten over the technology hurdle, creating videos will just be a matter of time and creativity. Two things which the universe happens to provide an infinite supply.
-Colette Nichol, Vancouver