Monthly Archives: May 2015

3 Steps to Better Video

Planning your video before you pull out the gear helps produce the best video possible. This is true whether it is your first video or you consider yourself an expert. It’s important to put the information you gather on paper, because this makes the actual shooting go more smoothly and quickly. Here are three steps to planning your video to help make a better video

Focus On Your Audience

First thing to do when planning the content of your shoot is to consider the audience you are addressing. When doing this, you will find a script is the most important part of the video. No matter what type of video you are planning, you must have a script. In some cases, an outline may be sufficient. In others, you will want to write out pen and paper form clipart modevery word. The script is your guide during the shoot. Stick to it.

A script helps focus on your audience. In most cases, your audience will be your existing customer-base.   However, if you are reaching out to new customers, don’t assume they understand your terminology. Make sure your script explains anything someone not familiar with your business might not know about your business.

Read over your script several times. Then have someone else read it. If you are shooting a ‘how to’ video, double check your script to make sure you haven’t skipped a step that may seem obvious to you, but may not be as obvious to someone only casually acquainted with your business.

If you plan to use an on-camera talent, make sure your spokesperson is comfortable when reading the script aloud before you set up the camera. It is important they speak the script aloud before you are ready to shoot. This way, your talent is completely familiar with the script and it helps find areas in the script with wording that may be awkward to say aloud.

It may not be necessary for your spokesperson to memorize the entire script. Since you will most likely edit the final video, your talent will probably only need to have small sections of the script committed to memory during the shoot.

Show Your Stuff

cooking-dslr-shoot-41The second step is to consider what you need to show your audience. A person speaking on camera for 3-minutes can be an incredibly long time if the speaker is the only thing shown in the video. If your video is about a specific product or service, you will want to make sure to display prominently the product or service.

After recording the person speaking on camera, record scenes of the product or service close up.   If, for example, your video is about a special technique you use to repair a bumper, be sure to show a technician using that technique. A close up of hands doing the process is always good to show while the talent talks about the process or product. Use this video to illustrate what your spokesperson is describing.

We call these “B-roll” shots. You will find it greatly enhances a video to show a close up of the product or the service that is the subject of the video. As you write your script, consider what b-roll shots you might need. Write them down in a shot list that you can refer to when you shoot. This way you do not forget to record the scenes during production.

Time and Place

The third step is to consider when and where you will shoot the video. Planning these basic logistics helps not only with the efficiency of your production, but they also affect the overall look of the final DSC_0661-2video.

Wherever you decide to shoot, keep in mind what you want to have as the focus, or main object of each shot. Be aware of everything else around the main object. In addition, is there something in the background that might distract from what you want the viewer to see? Always look carefully at the scene through the camera to see if anything distracts from the primary focus of the shot.

There may be times you want something extra in the shot, like a logo or something you specifically talk about in the video. You can make room for it in the shot or have it in the background.

When you are recording audio with your video, listen carefully for any background noise that might interfere with your main audio source. Is your scene in an area where people are working? If so, you might plan your shoot for a time when they are not working – like during a lunch break – or ask if they can take a break while you shoot. If nothing else, request they keep noise to a minimum.

If you take a systematic approach to planning your video, you will find the video shoot goes much smoother and editing will be much easier as a result.

No More Silent Films

If you want to make great looking videos and use a quality camera, like a DSLR, you are half way to audio-volume-high-hiyour successful venture. However, don’t overlook one very important piece of the puzzle – the sound.

Unless you are in the business of shooting silent movies or music videos, audio is rest of the story. In most cases, your audio will probably be someone talking. Hearing the speaker clearly is every bit as important as camera framing, scene selection or lighting in a quality video.

This post covers tips to help make the sound in your video be as compelling as the rest of the production values.

Why Does My Audio Sound Bad?

You should never rely on the built-in microphone of your video camera for recording a person speaking – no matter how expensive your camera. The audio recorded from speakers in the camera’s built-in microphone will sound very hollow. It’s not the best choice for recording the human voice.

The reason is that the camera’s built-in mic picks up every sound around it. It picks up not only sounds from the front of the camera, but also sounds behind the camera. Any sound your camera operator makes, the servo-motors in the camera – for the zoom lens and such, and the fan from your heating and cooling equipment, will all be heard.

If you have a DSLR camera, it most likely has a separate mic input that accepts an 1/8 inch plug. Use this for recording your audio. The only time you should use the built-in microphone from your camera is for recording ambient background sounds of your environment.

Lavalier Microphones

atr7000_lavalier_1_sqThe ideal microphone for recording a single person speaking is a lavalier mic – one that attaches to clothing. The design of a lavalier mic is specifically for recording the human voice.   This is the type of mic television newscasters use.

Clip the mic on the clothing about 6 inches from the speaker’s mouth – usually about the second button on a shirt or blouse. This positioning avoids picking up room noises or anything in the background that is not a part of the video.

There are two types of lavalier microphones – wired and wireless. A wired lavalier mic is good to use when the speaker is close to the camera. A wired lavaliere has a long cable that plugs into your camera. The price range for a good wired of lavalier mic ranges from about 30 dollars to 100 dollars.

A wireless lavalier microphone is a good choice if you have a situation where the on-camera speaker is required to walk around for a demonstration or is a great distance from the camera. The wireless mic eliminates a situation where the mic cable might pull the camera or cause a trip hazard.

A wireless mic has two parts – a transmitter and a receiver – in addition to the microphone itself. The subject wears the small transmitter. The receiver is at the camera. Wireless microphones start around 150 dollars and can cost up to a thousand dollars.

Whether you use wired or wireless microphones, depending on the manufacturer, you may need an audio adaptor. This box-like piece of equipment converts the large plug (called an “XLR” plug) to a plug that fits into your camera.

Handheld Microphones

There may be videos that require several people to speak on camera.   This is a good situation for your SM58-2moderator, or lead person, to hold a handheld microphone in front of each person who speaks. This would include the moderator himself.

There are wired and wireless handheld microphones. The prices start at just under $100 to several hundred dollars.

For all microphones – lavalier and handheld – the price is based on the frequency response of the mic. Usually, the more you pay, the better sound quality you will receive.

Don’t Forget The Headphones

shure-srh440-studio-headphonesWhen you record a speaker, it is always a good idea to have your camera operator, or another person, monitor the sound as you record your video. You must use headphones to monitor the sound. With headphones, you hear only what is recorded. It also allows you to listen carefully for any extraneous background noises. Most cameras have a headphone jack for listening as you record.

Remember, sound is an important part of every video, don’t leave it to chance!