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Do-It-Yourself Video: Stephen Spielberg or Ed Wood Jr.?

Tampa Bay video production
There are many reasons you might want to create a corporate video for your business—video blogging, demonstrating a new product, offering a tour of your premises. The good news is that this form of communication has never been more accessible and easy to use than it is today. Many modern smartphones deliver higher quality video than some professional cameras of just 25 years ago. Additionally, there are inexpensive video-editing programs that will let you trim footage, add special effects, lay sound tracks and include graphics that can be mastered in just a few hours.

On the other hand, it’s still very easy to produce a very bad video, and all of today’s technology and editing capabilities sometimes give amateur film-makers a false sense of security. If you’re going to produce a video for your company, here are 10 steps for improving the process.

  • Have a clear purpose for your video. Before you dedicate a single pixel to your production, know what message you’re trying to convey and focus your energy on presenting that communication as concisely and effectively as possible.
  • Write a script. This will get you thinking about location, the people (“talent”) you will need, necessary props, and any graphics you may wish to create. If this is going to be a short production, you may not need an official script to share with others, but it’s important to have an outline so everything will proceed smoothly. Chances are, you’ll be taking people away from their regular duties so don’t waste anyone’s time by having to figure things out while on the set.
  • Make sure you’ll have adequate lighting.  When people think of poor-quality video, bad lighting is one thing that comes immediately to mind. You’ll need to take pains to overcome the shadows, sickly hues or graininess that often comes from inadequate indoor lighting. If at all practical, the best option may be stay near windows or to go outside in the sunlight. Not only will the lighting be great, it will add a certain freshness to your work.
  • Focus on sound quality. First try to shoot in isolation from background noise. If indoors, disconnect phones, intercom systems, computer alerts, etc. Let others know that you’re filming and to be quiet if they’re nearby. Next, have microphones for people who will be speaking on camera; external mics simply don’t sound very good. Also, as you film, stop to do a sound check. No one wants to sit down to edit video and discover there’s no audio.
  • Avoid extended shots of ‘talking heads.’ Having a single person talking on screen for a long time (20 seconds or more) gets monotonous. Consider using B-roll (secondary footage to appear on screen in accompaniment of narration) as a good way to change things up. If nothing else, at least change the camera angle.
  • Be careful with ‘jump cuts.’ It used to be a no-no to have someone talking on screen with an obvious edit taking place right in the middle of their speaking, but some film-makers like the effect. A good guide as to what’s acceptable might be that the break appears to be an artistic choice, rather than something you’re hoping to get away with.
  • Let the talent ‘act natural.’ If you want someone to be terrible on camera, just tell them to “act natural,” so don’t ever say those words … and yet … The best approach is to tell the person being filmed to just “talk to you.” Then turn the camera on and let them go. If they mess up, you can always fix it in editing (and maybe with some B-roll). And don’t be too critical. Nobody’s a professional here.
  • Change up the angle of action scenes. Just as is the case with the talking heads, you don’t want to linger too long on any single shot, even if the subjects are engaged in an on-screen activity. Change the angle of the shot, or consider a semi close-up of a participant’s face.
  • Make sure your anchorperson or narrator speaks clearly. You want inflection in your speaker’s voice but don’t overdo it. (This is an amateur corporate video, not Shakespeare’s King Lear.) He or she should speak at a good pace but fully enunciate each word. It’s also usually best to avoid thick accents.
  • Don’t worry about “it.” When you finish work on your video, there will inevitably be something that bothers you … something that you would like to have done differently or that didn’t come out the way you imagined. Remember, when people view your film, they’ll only see what you show them on screen. They’ll never know all the “shoulda, woulda, couldas” that are floating around in your own hyper-critical head. Simply learn from your experience … you’ll get better with time.
  • Hire a consultant. If you’re producing weekly or monthly blogs and want to be able to do your video in house, but also want to do a great job, consider hiring a video consultant like Pinstripe Marketing, who will give you advice on location, lighting, equipment, audio, and editing programs to suit your purpose. They can even point you in the direction of stock footage and music to spice up your videos. Spending a little money up front on a pro consultant can help your videos stand out and make sure you are not wasting money on costly errors.

Want some help producing a corporate video? We’re ready!