DIY Video Production

Canon XH A1

Some businesses out there are doing videos for their web on their own. Some do it well, some don’t. Some like it the natural home-video style, showing off the fun culture of the company, rather than producing a fancy video with a production company.

Look how these guys did it www.freshbooks.com, an online invoicing company that has videos of the staff introducing themselves, or answering questions from users. I thought the way they used video worked very well for them and bring their personalities alive, exactly what they need to do as an internet-based company.

Learning about them inspired me to write this blog post of tips on how to make your own simple videos.

1. Audio, Audio, Audio:  Audio comes before the video, believe it or not. We tend to lose interest in anything that has terrible audio. I’m not sure why but we can stand a terrible low quality video if it had decent audio, but we cannot stand a video if it’s got terrible audio. Important tip: never use the mic that comes with any camera… it never picks up audio like an XLR mic or ANY mic would. When buying a camera, always buy a mic that works with it, even if it’s not an expensive one. I highly recommend Sennheisers or Zoom.

2. Tripods: The shaky hand-held effect only works for Blair Witch Project. If that’s not the effect you’re going for with your company video, then invest in a tripod. If you go to Black’s, they often have a small one for sale. just make sure, it’s sturdy enough so that it doesn’t shake every time someone walks by it.

Also, hold each shot for 10 seconds. That is a general rule when it comes to B-Rolls. I always break this rule because I am so impatient but it really makes a difference to hold for 10 seconds.

3. Invest in an HD camcorder: Even for web, it does make a difference. Check out if the camera has XLR inputs for audio. I’d go with the one with XLR input if it’s for professional use. if not, you can live without it. Don’t need it more than twice? Rent a good one at Vistek or any other professional places that rent out equipments for half a day.

4.  Lighting: Lighting is important in making or breaking the video. Learn basics of lighting through tutorials online. Check out http://www.lowel.com/edu/

5. Check out other blogs and tutorialswww.izzyvideo.com is a great source for beginners, intermediate level shooters to advanced shooters all alike… Izzy has really useful tutorials on all kinds of video-related issues.  Going to his website is probably equal to taking some sort of workshop.

6. Add royalty-free images off the net to spice up your video. Check out Creative Commons or Wiki Commons and get additional images to illustrate your video.

7. Browse Vimeowww.vimeo.com Many talented video producers have their videos on vimeo and you can easily spend hours going through amazing videos they’ve produced. Get inspired.

8. Editing – this takes a long time and is more challenging but some people may enjoy doing it. Simple videos can be produced with many free programs you can find online, or using iMovie. Sometimes you just need to be creative. I’d suggest Final Cut Pro if you have it and if you’re not sure how to use it, check out izzy video. He has a great Final Cut related tutorial series that are easy to follow.

9. Content – is probably the most important above all. Be creative but make sure you have a clear focus for each video. If you’re producing a video for the web, it’s going to be short and under 3 minutes or so. Like everything else in life, web videos need a strong focus. Sit down and write out a storyboard, even if it’s a simple one. Figure out what content you need, what message you want to get out using the video, then what kind of visual shots you need to get to illustrate your messages, and shoot only that. It will save time.

10. Think: What angles can you try? What other shots can you get? Think about how to make your video more interesting. (but don’t go crazy with the effects)

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