Creating videos for podcasting, tutorials and even promotional pieces and training products is a very rewarding experience in and of itself, though when you’re starting out there is so much to learn. The other week I needed to create a self-promo piece. Overall it went well, but once I watched the final post-production version … it wasn’t as great as I thought. This experience taught me a lot about video creation. Here’s what I learned.
Creating videos can be a great way to enhance your brand image and while it can be you can just start and get going, it takes a good bit of experience (and money) to get to the professional level. I do not mean professional as in HD TV nor cinema quality, professional quality as in a really well produced, edited and well thought out video.
The single most important thing for you to know when starting to make videos is: Just start making the videos. Make videos, screw up, learn, improve.
No matter what type of video you will be making (video podcast, tutorial, screencast, training product, or sales video) there are three main parts of the whole process:
In these beginning stages you are getting everything ready, planned out and ready to start recording video. In this part you’ll be:
- Creating the script
- Planning out the scene(s)
- Getting a general idea for the look and feel you want to achieve
- Making sure all the equipment, files, and stuff you need is ready
The most important things I’ve learned in this step are:
- Get to know your equipment so that you can at least get the basics done and use it without wasting time.
- Make sure 90% of the script is done before going on to the next stage. Improvisation is great, though if you want a very clear and concise message and want to sound truly professional write a script.
- At a minimum for the script: have well thought out talking points, ideas and topics you want to touch on.
- Test your equipment fully at the locations you will record. Is the background noise too loud? Are the cables long enough? Do we have enough time? Light good? ect…
- Run through the script a few times to make sure it sounds good out loud.
- If you know the general look and feel you want: get the clothing, make-up and personal styling stuff ready.
Now comes the fun part: recording the video. If you have someone helping you this part will be a lot easier. If not, that’s ok too. You will just have to do more work and it will take longer. For most things you can do everything yourself.
At this stage you’ll be filming, taking many takes (retries), and recording all that you can.
Recording is rarely done in one try (take). I learned:
- Make scenes short so that it’s easier for you to say your lines and parts.
- Keeping the scenes short allows you to splice together the best takes together easier.
- Do not assume your first try (take) is perfect. Record it many times so make sure you’ve gotten it down and have some good video (and audio) to work with.
- If you’re not sure how everything will look: do some test videos first. Walk through the scene and script while recording, though don’t care about being perfect. Try different angles, see how the light works, does everything sounds ok? It’s ok to stop recording, take the video to your computer and see how the tests came out and then adjust the scene!
- If you’re recording outside, try to record in the shade. Direct sunlight gives very harsh shadows which may not look good on camera. If possible, you can try using a light diffuser (it’s a piece of farbic that’s partially transparent and gives you a nice shade effect).
- When walking around, the light and shading might change and if it does: use a light (or lights) to help keep the lighting consistent.
- If you’re filming in-doors: use video quality lights! The lights will allow your video camera to record in the highest quality, and you’ll look a heck of a lot better when properly lit.
This is the toughest part for me as I’m no video editor. But I can still produce decently quality videos IF I do the first two stages right. Why? Since I did my best to have everything setup as well as possible most of my editing it generally limited to adding my (premade) intro, credits and background music where appropriate … of course also adding the video clips and scenes together.
- Play around with your video editor to learn the basics. It’s OK to learn on the job. Search engines are your friend here.
- Avoid the low end video studio products if possible.
- Get a professional video editing studio software such as Final Cut Pro (OSX only) or Adobe Premier Pro (OSX & Windows).
- If you’re going to have longer talking clips avoid having background music for them. Mostly for those that’ll just sound cheesy.
- Unless you’re making something like a drama movie, have an intro and outro (credits) that are very short and to the point.
- Intro and ending music are ok.
- Learn how to do transitions and music/audio fading. Most programs will have that built in, so learn how to use those features.
- Keep scenes short and if possible use multiple camera angles to keep things interesting.