Imagery tips from our guest blogger
In the age of short-attention-span internet quickness, reading is tough. Videos can help you catch the attention of someone visiting your website, and tell them everything they could know, too. With that in mind, please read this article on how to make a top-quality video using your smartphone, to save your visitors a whole lot of reading other articles!
Not everyone has a camera, and even fewer people will have a good quality camera or video camera. If you fit into these criteria, this is for you! The likelihood is that you have a smartphone with a fairly decent camera on it.
Now, while the camera and video on your phone may not be as good as purpose-built equipment with a range of semi-pro accessories and if you don’t have a professional photography studio – fear not. There are some simple tricks to utilize to help you achieve better results:
- Background: Be sure to be aware of your subject’s surroundings. Simple touches make a huge difference. A plain light background can rarely serve you wrong and shouldn’t be too hard to find. Failing that, when choosing a background, make it a conscious choice. Is the person in your photo a farmer? Don’t put him in a living room, but a field.
- Lighting: Can you afford professional lighting? Great! Go for it! If not, natural light is best. If you want a clear, comfortable photo of your subject, then taking the photo with daylight is likely your best option. Your average house light will give it a warm yellow glow.
- Spacing: Keep in mind what your photo is for. There’s a chance you’ll need to crop it. If this is the case, you’ll want to leave some space around the edges to allow yourself room to crop. Cropping on a video is slightly different, but is doable! However, that’s when you’ll have to think about continuity.
When using a smartphone to take photos and short videos, one advantage is that you can post them straight to social media. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all have apps which allow you to post from your phone. They can all be set up to link together, too. This means that when you post to one, the same image or movie (and caption) will simultaneously upload to the other two. This is a very handy setting for business-based social media accounts. You can also upload straight to Pinterest, websites and blogs.
When filming a video with audio, it’s good to have a script. No matter how well you think you know what you’re talking about – it’s better to play it safe! Before filming your video, practice! Make sure you know what you’re going to be saying so that you don’t end up reading it off of a piece of paper for the whole video. Practicing will also limber up your vocal chords, and you’ll get used to what you’re trying to say. You may need several takes to get it right, and even once you do get it right, feel free to have a few more takes! That way, during editing, you can pick whichever one you think came out best, or even edit some of them together. If you feel a little awkward talking to an inanimate object, you could ask a friend to help – they could help you set your eye-line (so you don’t end up looking into camera if you don’t want to be), remind you what questions you have to answer, and prevent you from feeling like you’re talking to yourself!
Top Tips for Video Shoots
- You’ll probably want a tripod. Tripods for smartphones are relatively affordable and easy to purchase; the only issue is that some of them may be short and/or flimsy – To counter this, there are a few simple tricks, for example, you could frame your shot so that the camera was standing on a desk, or a window-sill. If you’re filming an interview (and your interviewee agrees), they could be sitting/kneeling/standing in a way that helps you frame your shot nicely.
- A controllable light source is always best. If you can afford a couple of film lights – go for it! If not, daylight bulbs would work a treat. Filming in daylight itself is another option, and a good one if you’re quick and the weather is consistent. Otherwise,your light source (the sun) will be moving, getting brighter, darker, flirting with cloud cover, etc.
- Noise. This is a hard one, and something that is very under-considered when people film videos. If you’re going to have dialogue in your video, it has to be clear. For example, you don’t want to have construction noise going on in the background, or a plane overhead. Similarly, filming outside will create other issues – not only will there likely be wind, but also the acoustics need to be considered. Inside, a room will have a relatively controllable acoustical environment but outside, you’re in one big open space and the subjects’ voices will likely be less clear. You could turn it up in the edit, of course, but in doing that, you’ll also be making the wind that much louder. Definitely consider adding subtitles to your video! Not only will that allow the hearing impaired to watch it, but anyone who can’t grab a pair of headphones in a library or a cafe, too!
- If you can afford it, you could buy a microphone. There are multiple types one could get, but for a short, interview-style video full of factual information, your best option is likely a small clip-on microphone similar to those which you might see news presenters wearing.
- Your forehead is shiny. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is. If you can see a shine on your forehead (or further up, if you’re folically impaired), I recommend using a little bit of face powder to just take away that shine!
- Casting professionals can vastly improve promotional videos. If you can afford them, actors and voiceover actors are a great option to have in your video. They’re professional, natural and comfortable in front of camera, and will likely be good at remembering lines, to save you from having someone looking at their notes all the time! You may have an actor friend who’s willing to work for free, or a mention in the credits – but don’t get into the habit of not paying people for work (or for working for free yourself).
A short checklist of gear (as much as you can afford):
- Diffusers (dulls the lights if they’re too harsh)
- Uplighters (if you’re using a room’s ceiling’s lights, you’ll want these to counteract the shadows created on your subjects face)
- External mic
- Professional actors
Editing is a whole other topic…