Everyone and their pet has a camera of some sort that's capable of shooting HD video; whether it's their phone, a compact digital camera, or a DSLR - but the real question is, how do we shoot quality footage that can be presented to an audience?
In order to put together video that is presentable for your business (excluding real time events), we suggest investing in a quality SLR camera and video marketing studio capable of shooting HD video. Just getting your video marketing studio set up? We would highly recommend having a look at Vidyard's Ultimate Video Marketing Studio checklist.
Now that we've got the equipment, we need to determine the proper steps to take to make sure quality material is being delivered, whether that's for personal use or for clients.
We've put together five essential lessons that we've learned from experience when preparing and shooting video, by sticking to these principles we'll create videos that delight everyone involved and are also ready to implement into our video marketing and content strategy.
Step 1: Knowing is half the battle - have your equipment prepared and ready to go!
One of the worst things that could happen is heading out for the shoot, showing up at the location, unloading the equipment and realizing some of your equipment is missing. The best thing to do to make sure the equipment is always ready to go is to have all of the video equipment stored in the same location; this way, upon packing anything left behind will be clearly visible.
Also, a checklist. On a phone or old fashion pen and paper, make a check list! It may sound unnecessary, but believe us it works. Checking off each piece of equipment before heading out for the day will make sure nothing is left behind.
Re- scheduling with a client because of this simple mistake will cost you both money and professional credibility.
Step 2: To thine own setup be true.
Positioning, lighting and angles are three important aspects of the video to nail. All three of these aspects work in the same process - the camera operator will decide on the angel and position based on the lighting and other distraction that could occur in the background of the shot.
When the shot is backlit, the viewer will not be able to see the interviewee or items that are expected to be shown. If anything, shoot the camera the opposite direction of the window to use that natural sunlight to enhance the image.
The angle at which the video is shot from is all up to the person behind the camera.
At Honeypot, we like to set the camera just off to the side for interview type videos so it actually appears the interviewee is talking to someone slightly off-camera. For any videos targeting products or services, we like to position the camera head on so the host is speaking directly to the viewer.
Pro tip: when a subject is looking directly at the camera it can in fact add an "infomercial" or "television commercial" quality to your interview style video. Be wary of the impact this can have on your content.
Below is an example of an "interview style" video we shot for our friends at Beertown Waterloo - you can see how we positioned the camera off to the side to create the appearance that Megan is actually having a conversation with someone and not the camera.
Step 3: When you think you're ready to record, you're not.
The equipment is ready, position and angle is set, now it's time to roll!
Well maybe not yet.
Before pressing record there are some things to check on your camera that will save you from disaster. Do a couple test runs having the interviewee speaking into the mic to make sure all volume levels are where they should be. Depending on the lighting, determine the correct white balance level to be used in the camera settings, this can make a big difference on the quality of picture shot.
Of course, we cannot forget to check the focus; probably the most important aspect of the setup to check before shooting. If the camera is out of focus for some or all of the video shoot, the clips are only going to be suitable for the cutting room floor. Time has just been wasted, more importantly everyone's time. You know what they say, 'Time is money'.
Once these volume levels and focus are where they should be, now is the time to push that little red button and spin it up!
Pro tip: fine focus "loupes" can be purchased for about $100, they fit over the LCD display on many DSLR cameras. Although it may seem like overkill, if you get back to your office with hours of ever so slightly out of focus video you'll be glad you purchased that $100 magnifying glass!
Step 4: Remember when we had to clean up our toys? The post-shoot clean up
Once the video shoot is complete and the team is happy with the footage that has been captured, it's time to tear down the set.
I probably don't have to tell say 'carefully' dismantle the equipment setup, because I'm sure no one wants to damage the equipment the company invested in - but if the set is located in the clients office or building, quietly and carefully is the best way to assure those around the set are not disrupted.
Remember that checklist from Step 1?
Time to take it out again. Check off each item of equipment that was brought to the shoot to make sure nothing was left behind - Nothing's worse then getting a call from a client afterwards saying "Hi there, you forgot your camera, mics and lights".
This will help with that organization thing you've been working on.
Step 5: Mama said there ain't no such thing as bad footage
When back at the office, immediately import the recently shot footage to a computer or hard drive. Doing this right away will eliminate the chance that that exact memory card will get used again and either deleted or recorded over; losing the time and footage shot.
Also, the editing mind is fresh after shooting the footage. Even if it's a rough edit, through all the clips in an editor, add simple transitions and share it privately with those involved. Once feedback is received, begin to finalize the editing process and implement the video in a marketing strategy!
These five simple steps have helped us on the days of our video shoots. There's no sense in rushing the process when mistakes are bound to be made.
Although we say 'Time is money' it costs a lot more time to go back and re- shoot then it does to take the time needed in the moment and make sure everything is running smoothly.