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Tips for shooting better video for the non video professional

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Video has proven to be one the best, if not the single best, communication tools for marketing departments. It’s ability to show, introduce, explain, demonstrate, and elicit an emotional response is without equal. I am a firm believer that “content is king.” What do I mean by that? I mean that it’s less important that your video be professionally shot and edited — with high-dollar graphics, scenes, actors, sets, and music beds — than it is that the content of that video be timely, accurate, and effective. Viewers will endure substandard production quality if the content is engaging.

A quick video shot from the convention floor of your booth within minutes of releasing a new product can be as effective (or more) as a professionally produced video. Additionally, the people who are often in the best position to acquire this valuable video content might not be “professionals” and might not have access to “professional” equipment.

With that in mind the quality of your video, to a certain extent, can help the retention of your audience, and enhance the perception of your brand. Reducing visual and audible distractions will allow viewers to concentrate and acquire the content, rather than having to labor to discern content from lousy audio or bad visuals. Luckily, today’s smart phones have the ability to capture excellent quality video, and in the hands of someone with some basic knowledge, can yield high quality results.

Here are 4 simple tips for the video non-professional to improve the quality of their video:

  1. AUDIO, AUDIO, AUDIO!
  2. Shot Composition
  3. Lighting
  4. Stability

AUDIO, AUDIO, AUDIO

As it has been said in the past, with video, audio is half the picture. Studies have shown that audio quality has a direct correlation to viewers response to video messages. The poorer the audio, the less retention, and the more averse they are to your message, and more importantly, your brand. So it becomes a double edge sword. You want to capitolize on guerilla-style video opportunities, but you don’t want it to hurt you. There are three tips for making sure your audio is as good as it can be.

On the most basic level, if you have options, choose to shoot in a location with the least amount of background noise. While it seems fairly obvious, sometimes it is overlooked.

The most ideal situation is to ALWAYS use an external microphone. While the onboard mic on many phones and camcorders are decent, they will always pick up every ambient noise, which can distract viewers from the actual message. Lavalier microphones are very effective, and cheap. The Audio Technica ATR3350 is very cheap (less than $30) and can plug directly into a smart phone.

As you may not always be prepared and have your external mic handy, a very cool guerilla audio technique for interviews is called the Pocket Commando. Today, just about everyone is carrying some form of smart phone. Smart phones all have the ability to record audio and video. If your subject is wearing a shirt with a breast pocket, you can put a smart phone in that breast pocket and record just the audio. Since the phone will be in much closer proximity to the persons mouth, there will be significantly less ambient noise. You can then match up the audio file from the pocket commando device to the video in your editing software. For example, here is quick video I shot that demonstrates the quality difference. 

 
Shot Composition
Very simply, this is called the rule of thirds, and it is best demonstrated in this short video. 
 
Make sure you tell the viewer what you want them to look at by making sure it is properly positioned in your shot.
 
Lighting
 
We’re going to go ahead and assume that you’re not always carrying a full lighting rig with you when video opportunities arise. Therefore, you have to be able to work with what you have, or natural light. The main thing to focus on is to make sure that you are not “back lighting” your subject. Make sure that the camera is in between the subject and the light source, which can be the sun, windows, anything that is the main source of the brightest light in the room. 
 
 
How does this translate to actual pictures?
 
GOOD!
 
NOT GOOD!
 
 
Stabilize
 
Unwanted motion in your video can be jarring and distract the viewer from the intended message. Using something to help the shooter steady the shot will help eliminate unwanted or unnecessary movement. Ideally, a tripod or stand configured for the camera you are using would be ideal. Understanding that may not always be possible, use 2 hands or lean against a wall or stable object to help steady your hands.
 
Utilizing these four tips will help the video non-professional obtain better quality videos which will help deliver the message more clearly with less distractions, and maintain a high quality look and feel to your brand image.

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