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The perfect video

Ever wondered how to shoot the perfect video? Video is everywhere. As our ability to shoot video becomes easier than ever with..

our phone’s becoming legitimate movie-makers and internet platforms such as Instagram and YouTube making superstars out of the everyday person, it’s clear to see that video plays an essential part in our daily lives and in shaping our brands. It’s no longer enough to just have a Facebook page with a few status updates every once in a while when trying to establish yourself. You need to branch out into the world of multimedia, spreading across different platforms and using different tools. Whilst pointing your phone to record some video and getting a few likes on Instagram is fine, the successful brands implement video production into their routine and it’s the really successful ones that know how to distinguish themselves above the run of amateur productions.

 

It’s actually pretty simple to create fun and engaging videos that look professional and don’t require breaking the bank. You may want to consider hiring people to help you out or you could go about it alone, regardless, here’s a few key tips on how to take your videos, and your brand, to the next level.

I. Size doesn’t matter

It’s a common misconception out there that professional grade video is made because of big expensive cameras. Whilst there are definitely some major perks to forking out 10k and up for a shiny camera, it’s definitely not the be all and end all. In fact, even the biggest camera on the market can still look amateur if used incorrectly. With technology the way it is, our trusty smart phones can shoot video that’s high quality enough to be streamed on our TVs and even in cinemas. If you want a quick way to shoot some good video, your phone is fine. If your willing to spend a bit of money, DSLR cameras are also a great way to go as they can be fine tuned to get the best possible image in a way phones can’t be as you can swap out lenses and change things like exposure, white balance and shutter speed.

 

II. Keep it steady

Invest in a tripod or any device that will keep your footage looking as still and smooth as possible. Shaky footage is the quickest way to make things look cheap and tacky. Even if you don’t have access to a tripod, place your camera on a surface to counteract the shakiness of your hands. Anything you can do to reduce shaky footage will only make your film look more professional.

III. Show me the light

You may have a great camera that shoots 4K Ultra HD at 300FPS without losing any quality but your videos are still going to look crap if you don’t consider lighting. This may be the most important thing when starting out. Shooting in dark spaces with little light creates very grainy footage as your camera tries to create light artificially. This is called noise and this is what makes things look amateur (that and shaky footage). Consider your location and try to film with as much natural light as possible. If you’re shooting at night, light your subjects under direct sources (aka. street lamps, stage lights, the glow from a refrigerator light, it really doesn’t matter). Even better, try not to shoot at night at all if you can, sunlight is your best friend. If you can afford it, invest in some portable lighting setups so that way you have a source of light with you wherever you go. Trust me, lighting will make a huge difference.

IV. It needs to sound good too

There’s no use in shooting video properly if you don’t consider sound. Camera microphones aren’t like our ears as they don’t have brains to filter out background noise and focus on someone’s voice. If your shooting someone talking, your camera’s mic isn’t going to cut it as it’ll pick up every single little noise, even ones you can’t hear. If a pin drops closer to your camera than your talent is, you’ll hear it loud and clear. The solution? You need a microphone! You can buy relatively cheap lapel mics now that clip onto the talent (I have one that plugs into the headphone jack of my phone and uses the phone as a mic pack). Using these is essential for good sound and hence, good video. Also, location is vital. Don’t film dialogue in busy areas such as cafes and bars, even the innocent park can be a hive of car noises and plane sounds. The best way to record dialogue is to use the office, house or any private space where you can control the background noise. If it’s quiet enough, you can even forgo a microphone and use the camera, but do it at your own risk. Luckily, a lot of the best looking social media videos tend to use music to create a mood for the brand so if your not into interviews and dialogue, shooting with a music video style in mind can solve a lot of problems. However, at some point in your video journey, you’ll probably have to record sound.

V. You need to consider editing as well

I specialise in video editing and I realise it’s one of the most forgotten processes in the line of production. If you ever watch a video that has a ‘cut’ (that is, a jump from one shot to another), you’re witnessing the magic of editing. Very few videos don’t involve editing in some form so unless you’re intentionally trying to shoot your video in one take, you’re going to have to edit it together. This would normally be the part where I mention the importance of hiring a professional video editor (aka. me) to add the final touches to your film but if you’re all about DIY, you can still do a lot. Using free software like iMovie can be a great way to edit what you’ve filmed without needing a film degree. Just remember, always think ahead when your shooting videos. How will what you’ve shot edit together and do you have a vision in mind that you can accomplish with your skillset?

VI. Always shoot more than you need

Data storage really isn’t much of an issue in today’s world. You don’t need to worry too much about filling up memory cards with extra footage as standard memory cards hold heaps of data and are inexpensive to buy. As a result, always try to shoot beyond what you think you’ll need. Film things with the intention of using it as overlay (the random footage that goes over the top of interviews), it can literally be anything that’s relevant to what you’re doing. Film exteriors of buildings that you’re about to shoot in so you have an establishing shot, look for any quirky items you see in the space your using, roll your camera when your not meant to be to capture some candid moments. Really anything you can think of that’ll look good, capture it. It’s better to be spoilt for choice with footage rather than not having enough and having to re-shoot, costing precious time and resources.

 

Knowing how to share your brand is essential in today’s world and video is one of the key elements to this. Keeping these things in mind when beginning the video process can save you so much time and effort regardless of whether your just starting out and doing it all yourself, or if you’re happy to hire professionals for the job. At the end of the day, strong video makes for a strong presence in the online world.

By C. Taylor aka ‘The Lens’