You’ve been doing online video for a while now, you have five to ten videos to your name, and you’re comfortable enough with the whole process that you’re ready to up the ante and start producing videos that look closer to what the pros are producing.
It’s not that difficult to improve your videos, but many people never take the time. Since you’re reading this, you must be committed to giving your audience the best possible quality you can.
Nonetheless, we’re going to take baby steps. I’m not going to throw you into the world of crazy high tech audio video production. But I’d like to introduce you to a few simple things and a couple more complex things that will make your videos 100% better.
But before you start, just remember that if that little voice inside of you that doesn’t like learning new things starts to kick and scream, remind it that this is all for a good cause i.e. your business. And if you really really hate technology, well you probably shouldn’t be making online videos!
Right, let’s review how you can start getting videos that look more like the pros:
Pay attention to your lighting and get enough light.
Most videos are not shot with enough light, but you don’t realize that because you’re using your iPhone or video camera on automatic.
First off, automatic settings are the devil. Too strong? Sorry, but it's true. If you have the option of manual settings, start learning how to use them!
If you don't that's fine, but keep reading.
Automatic exposure (which is what your iPhone has) means that your camera will increase its sensitivity to light (the sun or your house lights) until it can produce a usable image. But if you didn’t really have enough light in the first place, your image will be muddy and fuzzy and grainy because your camera is basically producing light itself by making the image sensor ridiculously sensitive.
Sure your image will be visible, but it won’t be very good looking.
OPTIONS FOR ENHANCING YOUR LIGHTING ON A BUDGET
a) $50 Add cheap work lights from home depot with a white sheet or curtain hanging down in front of them to soften the light or if the lights aren't super hot you can wrap white fabric or nylons over them to soften the light.
b) FREE Shoot outside in the early morning or late afternoon when the light isn’t crazy harsh. Don't shoot at high noon on a super sunny day unless you're in the shade as the only way to make that work is to learn a bunch of techniques that are not within the scope of this post.
c) FREE to $5 Get way closer to that big window you’ve been using to light all your shots and pump up the volume of the sun with some white foam board which you can use to reflect even more light onto you. This involves some experimentation.
d) FREE to $5 Use your laptop screen set to a neutral screen saver as an extra light. Your computer screen emits a ton of light, if you use a skin-coloured screen saver this can actually work as an additional light source. Especially if you amplify it by adding white foam board into the mix.
Choose a great looking background and take the time to groom your set. Organize your backdrop so it pops. Imagine you’re cleaning up for an important visitor. Then get theatrical and think of fun things that you can add that will give visual interest to your “set”.
Add flowers or a glass of water or a stack of books. Groom your set like you would groom your hair (or in my case better since my hair is usually a disaster). Side note: it’s better to have crazy bad hair than a crazy bad set.
Pump the tunes, but not so loud that nobody can hear you speaking.
Music, my friends, this is what separates the caterpillars from the butterflies. Music is so important that I want to write this whole paragraph in capital letters. But I won’t, because that’s just passé.
If you don’t believe how important music is try watching a scary scene from a horror movie that would normally freak you out but turn off the sound. Not scary at all.
Music helps to make the experience of watching a video more emotional. It’s not an element to scoff at. Get great music for cheap from Vimeo.com, PremiumBeats.com, or Audioblocks.com
Resolution - not new year’s resolutions, but the resolution of your image i.e. the number of pixels in it is what makes or breaks your video. These days the internet can easily handle high definition footage (HD) and standard definition footage (SD) is becoming a thing of the past.
If your camera doesn’t provide HD footage, then make sure you use a hosting site that allows you to prevent your audience from expanding the video frame to full screen (available with Wistia or Vimeo) because if you don’t, they probably will expand it to full screen. And you don’t want low resolution footage being viewed on a big screen. It’s amateur hour of the worst kind.
Also, start looking at purchasing a camera or iPhone that can give you HD footage. Your image will be crisper and cleaner, and your audience will be happy that they no longer feel like they just took their glasses off when viewing your videos. This does not have to break the bank by the way. HD cameras are more common than every now.
Hire out your video editing. Editing can make the difference between a so-so video and an out-of-the-ball-park video. So one easy way to make your videos better is to start hiring a video editor to put your footage together in a clean, modern, and beautiful manner. You can find editors for reasonable rates on Elance or you can hire Story Envelope to do your editing.
Upgrade your editing skills or tools. If you are adamant about doing DIY all the way, look into going pro with your editing suite.
What you might not know is that iMovie and other amateur editing programs are actually harder to use than Final Cut or Premiere Pro (both professional tools). Yes, the pro editing suites give you way more options which can seem overwhelming at first, but they are designed to provide an intuitive and flexible experience, and that is what they do.
When I use iMovie (which I just did for the sake of this post...I needed to re-test my theory) I feel like an idiot. Whereas when I use Premier Pro, I feel unstoppable.
You can get free trials of both Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, so there's really no reason not to test them out and see how much better they are. In the long run, you won't regret it.
So yes, making your videos look more like the pros does take some time and effort and love, but it will pay off. You'll start feeling more confident about what you're doing, happier about sharing your work, and proud of the progress your making with this utterly magical medium!
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