Video Production Tips for Newbies

Derek Gordon makes a great case for using video as part of your content strategy. I recently conducted a webcast on this very topic to train a client’s staff on how they could incorporate video into their content strategy, even if they had never produced a video before. We gave them a series of tips to get started, in an effort to lower the intimidation factor (barrier to entry) and encourage them to get filming.

The bottom line is that you can find a number of free resources online and a good place to start is YouTube, which has a full section on how to get started, tips and tricks.

I recommend a couple of purchases too:

  • A good headset if you are going to narrate video, record Skype, or record a podcast. You don’t need to spend more than $50 on a USB Logitec headset
  • A webcam ($50) if your laptop/monitor doesn’t have one already. Of course if you are going to be filming more than just yourself or your screen, you’ll need a video recording device such as a “flip cam”. These can run about $100-$200 for a decent one… They film in HD and have a built in close range microphone as well as storage and transfer the footage via USB. If you get a handheld camera, then you’ll need a tripod too. You can pick one up for about $25.
  • For editing, there are some great free tools:  Windows Media Maker, Avidemux, Wax, Zwei-Stein
  • There are some better tools that do cost a few bucks: Camtasia, Adobe Premiere, Vegas, Final Cut

Tips for filming:

  • Location
    • Indoors
    • Quiet
    • No extras (co-workers, friends, family, pets)
    • No background distractions
  • Camera Angles
    • Straight or 3/4 front
    • Don’t be too high or too low
  • Lighting
    • Directly ahead or 45-degrees on the side
    • No back light (from the windows or sun)
    • Don’t spotlight – not needed and will washout your video
  • Audio
    • Quiet room with little/no echo
    • No dogs, babies, phones, TV
    • Do not adjust mic during recording
  • You
    • Dress appropriately (no PJs)
    • Relax
    • Be yourself
    • Smile
  • Do multiple takes
  • Have a lead in (intro) and lead-out (outro)
  • Cut out major mistakes >5 seconds (use a transition effect that is simple)
  • Fix any major audio issues (software can do that for you
  • Don’t worry about the little stuff as you are getting started; that just demonstrates genuine/honest quality of the video
  • Keep clips short (under 5 minutes) for best consumption/watching on YouTube, etc.
  • Graphics
    • Keep it simple
    • Static slides as necessary between live video
    • Find a simple, clean, professional template
    • Avoid cheesy clip art
  • Audio Quality
    • High standards; you must be able to hear the clip perfectly!
    • Avoid cheesy music and sound effects
    • Overlay music is not recommended
    • Playback volume should sound good at 50% level
  • Don’t over produce with too many bells and whistles, focus on the content

Special thanks to Noah Shunfenthal for assisting with this presentation.

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