online-video-production

According to Youtube’s Vice President of Global Content Robert Kyncl video be 90% of internet traffic by the end of 2013. First, let’s acknowledge that as the VP of the world’s largest single source for video this Robert character is probably a little partial…however, the data is there to back him up. Not only has video become the single most popular “thing” about the internet its popularity continues to grow.

As I’m in the (possibly bad) habit of doing, I’ll assume that the simple fact that you’re reading this is evidence enough that you don’t need to be convinced of the legitimacy behind internet videos. You understand their value in engaging an audience, converting users, increasing organic optimization and establishing you as the subject matter expert in your particular field. You also realize that there’s a problem with firing up the iPhone and having your Secretary rattle off a few quick shots of some of the better looking members of your sales team and throwing the clips up on the inter-tubes.

This issue is this – you’re not George Lucas. (Unless you are, in which case: please call me, I have so many questions.) Creating online videos carries with it a certain amount of angst typically associated with the fact that video production, despite the light years of advancement made in the industry, still requires quite a bit of a little something called the “I know what I’m doing” factor. Unless you’re a professional videographer you might not be equipped with this.

Web videos for businesses are tricky. Production quality means absolutely nothing when you’re browsing through the funny puppies section of the youtube machine but the very second you hit a professional pitch (no matter how creatively packaged it is) users are going to judge you based upon the quality of your online video. However (and this is where the brown guy talking in circles begins) it’s also very important to remain consistent with your videos in order to establish and keep a user base. This is database aggregation 101 ladies and gents – keep the content coming!

So you can’t afford to punch out a couple videos a month if they cost an appendage but you also don’t want to be the laughing stock at the industry meeting. The basic question we’re asking here is, when it comes to web videos for businesses, where do you draw the line in the battle between cost efficiency and quality?

I’m going to fight every instinct I have that is screaming at me to tell you to just call Solutions 8 and schedule a free, no obligation consultation where our in-house staff of professional videographers and editors can provide you with a free demo in our on-site, state of the art production studio located in North Scottsdale; along with your demo you’ll receive a quote (the reasonability of which is truly earth shatteringly shocking) on exactly what it will cost to produce a collection of videos each month in order to fulfill even the most ambitious, ongoing video marketing campaign. I’m fighting this urge because this is an informational blog and that would be a tacky thing to do. So, for now, let’s assume that you want to go the do-it-yourself route:

While there is no “right” answer – please accept my humble opinion regarding the three “must haves” for video production.

Sound

As counterintuitive as it may seem, sound quality trumps image quality on my list of things not to screw up. While fantastic sound can’t save you if you’re image quality is akin to an ’85 Macintosh even the sharpest looking videos get thrown into the proverbial wastepaper bin when the sound quality is even close to sub-par. Sound is funny in that its one of those things that you don’t notice only if its good. Here are some basic steps to make sure your sound quality isn’t ruining your chances:

Don’t record your sound directly into your camera. Chances are you’re using some sort of DSLR (if you’re not you should be) and, while these little guys are great for picture they’re choppy at best when it comes to sound. Spend $200 to $300 and grab yourself a sound recorder. My personal preference (and what we use in our studio) is the Zoom H4n. It’s easy to use, fairly intuitive and cost effective.

You also might want to consider picking up a lapel mic but don’t buy one of these until you’re ready to do it right. I made the mistake of purchasing the middle market options and they were literally worthless. A good lapel mic will usually run you at least $500. While I think that Sennheiser price gouges to an infuriating degree I also am forced to acknowledge the fact that they would appear to create the best product I’ve dealt with as far as microphones go. We use the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless lapel mics (which tend to be pretty standard with professionals).

There’s a problem here that you’ve probably already thought about – if you’re recording sound separately how on earth are you going to sync it to the video? This is done in the edit. It’s not nearly as tedious as you might think taking no more than a minute even with the tough to match tracks and some of the more advanced editing software even does it for you. You don’t have to be a master editor in order to pull this off but you will need editing software that allows you to pull in a separate sound file. I recommend Final Cut (something our editor Ian would likely have my head for saying).

Location

There’s nothing harder to watch than a poorly composed shot. Do a half hour of research and browse some online professional videos, you’ll notice a trend in some of the more amateur shoots and it’s the fact that there seems to be little to know real thought in where the shoot takes place or how it’s composed. You don’t have to read the Five C’s of Cinematography to figure this one out, just make the shots interesting and make sure they’re not distracting. I’m assuming you don’t have a green screen studio (like we do) so here are some tips:

  • That big, long, blank, bare, ugly wall…that’s a bad idea.
  • Don’t shoot straight on – if you have a wall as a backdrop that’s fine but think about putting your subject at an angle so the wall is running toward (or away) from you. It will give the shot some depth.
  • Outside shots are great for a lot of reasons but remember that they’re a big pain with it comes to sound!
  • Get close. Your natural inclination when you begin shooting these types of videos is to get a full body shot – there’s nothing engaging about this. Especially on the ity bity youtube screen that most of these will be played through. A half body shot is more than appropriate, close ups are fine too.
  • Comfort is key, especially when the person doing the video isn’t a seasoned professional. Often times sitting behind a desk helps people feel more comfortable and also gives a more professional appearance to their role in the organization.

Talent

While this word is highly subjective and refers to many things when used in the context of a video production “talent” refers to the on-screen personality. Let me preface this by saying that you do NOT need to go out and hire an actor to do your weekly web videos, in fact I think that’s a bad idea. It’s important that the person (or people) that appear in the videos be a part of your organization because that is who you’re branding. You’ll be amazed to find that you will begin attending meetings and people will already know who you are because they’ve watched some of your videos. You become what I like to call “a little famous”.

Now that I’ve gotten that part out of the way allow me to be more blunt: Don’t suck. There is nothing more painful than watching a bad orator stumble his way across a poorly written script and sweat bullets while trying to just make it through the end. If you need to, take a few acting classes; you’ll be surprised at how fun they can be. I have found that the simple practice of recording people and then allowing them to see it usually helps alleviate some of the stiffness. It’s not difficult to be on camera – the key is not acting like you’re on camera. Talk to the camera the same way you speak to your friends, clients, children…maybe not the last one.

I think you get the picture here. Make sure your “on camera personality” is an easily recognized (and preferably higher ranking) member of the organization and that he or she can speak casually with a lens in the face. Do not opt for the teleprompter! While I have a ton of clients that go this route I promise you the “ums” and “hms” are exponentially better than an even mediocre teleprompter read. Be natural, it comes across on screen!

That’s it for my list! You’ll notice that I didn’t include picture quality. The reason is that it’s nearly impossible to get a bad picture these days. Professional HD camera can be had for under $500 so if this is an issue you’re facing than I’m sorry to say my blog isn’t potent enough to help you.

Allow me to leave you with this: Once you’ve tried the do-it-yourself route and realized how much fun it is to try to pull it together on a regular basis think about giving us a call. We specialize in online media creation and I’m sure you’ll be quite surprised at how inexpensive video production can actually be.