Video Production Resources: What to consider when you’re going it alone

You’re familiar with the power of online video, and you want to create your own. Maybe you want to to build your brand, or drive more sales, or train your staff, and you know that video is the perfect way to do this.

To create excellent online video content, it’s best to hire a production company, but we understand there may be times when you decide to go it alone. So, if you’re shooting and editing your own video productions, here are some of our best tips you should focus on to avoid a disaster!

There's a lot to think about when you're planning a video production... as you can see here!

There’s a lot to think about when you’re planning a video production… as you can see here!

To start with, when you’re considering creating your own video content, it is a good idea to consider what’s at stake if you do.

What’s at stake?

Obviously, great online video is excellent at driving sales, or training staff, or building hype for your product or service. But a poorly-produced video can reflect badly on you and your business.

When you publish a video, it is judged on how it looks, how it delivers its message, and how good the content is. And the bar is set high for online videos.

If you churn out something that doesn’t look as crisp as your competitor’s work, you won’t stand out from the crowd, and worse – it will make your business look second-rate.

So, to create an online video that measures up, you need to give yourself the best shot of creating something that will impress people. Our first tip is to start at the beginning.

Planning your video production

As we’ve written before, good videos are made or are broken in the planning stage. And if you’re producing your own video content, it’s essential that you plan your video correctly! Because there’s one thing we want to emphasise to you that is absolutely crucial:

Don’t wing it!

We cannot stress this enough. If you arrive to a shoot without a plan for your video, you run the risk of not capturing what you need, and worse – you’ll appear unprofessional on behalf of your business.

Instead, you should carefully consider these questions when you’re planning your video:

What is the aim of my video?
How will I accomplish my aim?
What do I need to film?
What is the aim of my video?

Essentially, this is, “what is the point of my video?”

Do I want my video to drive me more sales? Am I looking to establish myself as a thought leader? Or am I training my staff?

As simple as it sounds, you need to keep this end goal in mind in order to keep your video on-course throughout the process.

How will I accomplish my aim?

Otherwise known as, “what kind of video is right for me?”  There are so many different kinds of video to choose from, you need to identify what style suits your needs best.

For example:

  • If you’re aiming to establish your expert status, then a straight-to-camera video featuring you would be great.
  • If you want to build your sales by showing what your product or service can do, then consider producing some case study videos, or testimonials with satisfied clients.
  • Or if you’re aiming to train employees, you can interview the experts and show the process in your video.
What do I need to film?

Once you know what kind of video you’re making, you can plan what you need to film. This will change from video-to-video, so it’s smart to sit down and properly work out what footage your specific video needs.

Does your video need seated interviews? How about vox pops? And have you considered “b-roll” (commonly referred to as “cutaways”) for your video, such as shots of the office, of the process, or of the people involved?

Case in point: when you're filming a promotional video about an app, shots of the app in use are essential!

Case in point: when you’re filming a promotional video about an app, shots of the app in use are essential!

Once you’ve brainstormed answers to these questions, we recommend creating:

  • A script, to outline exactly what your video needs to cover. And;
  • A shotlist, to ensure you’re shooting all the footage you need to.

Remember: the point of doing all this planning is to help keep you, and your video, on track! And once you’ve planned your video down to the finest detail, it’s time to tackle the shooting stage.

Shooting your video production

The shooting stage can be tricky for non-professionals. It is not just a case of pointing a camera at a person and hitting “record”! There is a lot more to consider than that, and it can be really daunting shooting something yourself, rather than hiring industry professionals.

So, to help you shoot the best quality video, here are the things we recommend you do:

Be wary of “fixing it in post”. Yes, there are a multitude of great editing programs out there that can fix strange colors, and dark shots, and some sound issues – but don’t rely on editing to save your video project! Aim to get it right “on the day”, with a nice camera shot and clear audio.

Keep that camera straight! You don’t want your audience to think you’re filming the sequel to Cloverfield. We recommend using a tripod. This will help keep your camera balanced, without any shakes or wobbles.

Use lighting. We can’t stress this enough: even if you’re filming in a nice, bright room, ensure that you’ve got some kind of lights on hand to shine on the subject. In a perfect world, you would use three-point lighting if you’re shooting an interview – but if you don’t have access to lights, cinematographer Alex Buono suggests using the sun:

Carefully scouting a scene will save you a lot of money. You have to participate in the location scouting and you have to pay attention to what time of the day the shoot is going to happen. The sun is going to do more for you than any light could ever do. The sun and a piece of foam core is a lighting package… I’ve also rejected locations because the sun’s position will actually hurt us more than help us.

In this shot, we're using three-point lighting to light our subject.

In this shot, we’re using three-point lighting to light our subject.

Check your focus. There is nothing more disappointing than returning to the edit suite only to discover that your precious footage is entirely soft and out-of-focus! Our number one tip? Check your focus again, and again, and again until you’re 100% satisfied it’s clear and sharp!

Treat sound as king! When we’re asked “what’s more important, video or sound?”, we always stress that good sound is crucial. Your video can look outstanding, but if your audience can’t hear what you’re saying then it’s a failure.

As L. Scott Harrell writes:

In reality, even if the video component has some flaws and turns out much less than perfect (pixilated, grainy, out of focus, under-exposed, etc) but the audio is clear, at the right volume and free of distractions then the project can still be an overall success and can get positive results.

There’s one final bit of advice I want to share with you regarding the shooting stage. It may seem counter-intuitive. It may not be what you want to hear. But regardless, it’s important that you recognise that:

You’re going to make mistakes

When you’re filming your own video productions, things will go wrong. But the most important thing is to learn from those mistakes, so that you can make better videos down the track.

Once you’ve recorded your footage and audio, it’s time to move on to the editing stage.

Editing your video production

So far, you’ve planned a great video production and filmed all the footage you need. The next step is crucial. In fact, it’s the single most important step in creating an excellent video:

Back it up!

Once you’ve put so much thought, sweat, and effort in to your video – you owe it to yourself to ensure that the footage and audio don’t go missing! Don’t leave yourself open to losing your precious content, make as many copies as you need to make yourself 100% confident that you’ll never lose your work.

As a professional video production company, we always keep at least three copies of our footage for every project, including backups in a fire-proof safe. Use that as inspiration to keep your footage under lock-and-key!

Once you’ve backed up your footage, it’s time to move on to the edit.

Putting it together

I’m not going to talk about specific editing techniques here. Everyone has a different editing process, uses different software, and a different workflow. Instead, I’m going to answer a few common questions you may be considering before you start editing.

How long should my video go for?
How many graphics do I need?
What kinds of transitions should I use?
Where should my video go?
How long should my video go for?

This is important. Viewers will typically click away in the first thirty seconds if they’re not hooked on your video, and a whopping 60% will be gone after two minutes.

Essentially – less is more! Say what you need to say in the clearest, simplest way possible – and then finish up!

How many graphics do I need?

Sometimes the answer to this question is “none at all!” If you’ve produced an interview video, or a video including someone talking straight-to-camera, then graphics may not be necessary.

However, if you’re producing a training video, or a product video, then graphics can be included to emphasise key points about the process or product.

What kinds of transitions should I use?

The best transitions are the simple ones! Direct cuts, fading up and down, and dips to white and black are the safest bets.

Our advice is to steer well clear of star wipes and other dramatic transitions – especially if you’re trying to build credibility!

Where should my video go?

This depends on the purpose of your video. You can host it on social media, such as Facebook. Or you can upload it to a free video hosting service, such as Facebook or Vimeo, which will allow you to embed your video on your website, as well as the option for keeping it private and hidden, for employee eyes only!

Graphics can be used to re-enforce what the viewer is seeing on-screen.

Graphics can be used to re-enforce what the viewer is seeing on-screen.

Once your video is completed and uploaded – congratulations! It’s time to start measuring.

Measuring your video’s stats will help you discover how effective it is working, and whether or not it’s being watched by your audience.

As a professional video production company, we have specialised video hosting software that gives us all kinds of valuable analytics about how our client’s videos are performing. YouTube and Vimeo has some simple stats that are a great way for you to get started.

So, where to from here?

Simply put, the next step is to reflect on what worked well, and what didn’t, from the planning, shooting, and editing stage. Then, after some time has passed, reflect on your video’s stats, and ask yourself:

  • Did it do what I wanted it to?
  • Did people watch it the full way through?
  • And once they had – did they learn what they needed to/sign up to your e-letter/purchase your product?

All of this will help you make better videos next time!

You’re probably wondering, “why would a corporate video production company help me to shoot better videos myself?”

Well, we’re passionate about video production. We’ve already got a list of video production resources online for you to look at if you’re looking to produce a shoot in Melbourne. And if there’s something you need help with, you can contact us here – and we’re happy to help.