Move over Spielberg; How to record gorgeous videos

Video is a critical format for online marketing. It’s engaging. It gets the message across to even the most attention-challenged audience. And social networks such as Facebook give priority to video over static images (because it is more engaging).

But there’s video and then there’s video. You see, quality matters.

Getting the basics right makes a huge difference to your video’s watchability. In content streams packed with media vying for audience attention, a slick video will always stand out.

Here’s your 2-minute guide to making gorgeous videos.

Landscape or portrait?

Always film in landscape. Landscape is considered to be more professional and premium looking, regardless of the content. Plus, landscape video looks better in your Facebook feed,  crops better for Instagram, and works well on mobile.

Lighting

It doesn’t matter how expensive your camera or smartphone is; if your subject is in the dark, no-one’s going to have any idea what’s happening.

Before you start recording, ask yourself: “Where’s the light coming from?” (Probably the windows, with the ceiling lights helping out a little.) Make sure the light’s shining onto your subject.



You definitely don’t want it coming from behind the subject and casting shadows on their face.

This will probably mean you need to move around. So do it. Fifty percent of making a great smartphone video is being ready to walk over to the other side of the room.

Don’t overlook audio quality

Don’t think that video is 100% visual. One of the biggest rookie mistakes is not paying attention to audio quality.

You don’t have to be a sound engineer, but you do have to avoid making some crucial mistakes. For example, if someone is presenting and you can’t hear them, the video is useless. No matter how good it looks.

However if the audio is decent but the visuals look a bit gloomy, you can still follow and fill in the gaps
So listen to background noise. If there is any loud music, air conditioning and traffic noise for example, either turn them off (would be nice with traffic!) or move to a quieter place.

As well as compromising audio quality, background music presents other risks. Licensed music, which is basically anything on the radio or produced by a music label, is subject to licensing regulations. Airing it without written approval from the copyright owner can land you in trouble.

Facebook has built-in software that won’t allow you to play copyrighted music. They will block your post and potentially take down your page.

Thankfully, Digital Stack also has built-in software to scan for unlicensed music to prevent you from getting banned.

Video framing

You’ve picked up the camera. You’ve sorted out your lighting. You’re about to press record… but first, take a big step forward.

Some people use the ‘pinch to zoom’ functionality, but you shouldn’t.

When you do this, the lens doesn’t zoom optically, you’re just enlarging the picture digitally. The result is ugly, pixelated footage.

If you’re filming someone talking, you want a nice close shot of their face, and maybe their hands if they’re gesturing or holding something.

You want to capture their expressiveness. The presenter needs to be talking to the person on the other side of the camera as if they were chatting in a coffee shop. That’s key to holding audience attention.

With action shots, think about the things that are in motion and the angle from which you’re showing that motion. Is it better to shoot a squat front on, side on, or on a 45 degree angle?

And the answer is, it depends. As with static photography, you need to think through what you want the audience to take away from this shot? And do you need a different perspective to add visual interest?

Before you record someone doing a demonstration, it’s a good idea to get them to do a rehearsal for you. That way, you know if you’re too close or far away, and you’ll know if you need to move during the shot.

Also, don’t be surprised if you fluke it and the rehearsal becomes the final. It’s very common for the presenter to be very natural and at ease during the rehearsal so it could work out for the better!

Steady now…

Finally, when filming you want to keep a steady hand. If you don’t have the steadiest hands, and you don’t want to make your viewers seasick, get a smartphone tripod. You can buy them easily enough or even build a simple one yourself.

Over to you

Finally, practice makes perfect. Your fifth video will be waaay better than your first so jump in!