Video promotion and advertising online has become commonplace and many businesses opt for making their own videos in-house. Anyone can appreciate the financial savings from producing your own promo videos rather than using a dedicated video production service but beware, if you’re not careful, the end result can look badly lit, poorly framed, sound terrible and may detract from the quality product or service that you want to show off to your client.

Have no fear. Here are some top tips for shooting your next promo video like a pro.

 

Camera or smartphone camera?

If you have the option of using a modern DSLR camera for your video, take it. Dedicated cameras have many more options for shooting professional-looking video than your average smartphone, as well as being easily mountable on a tripod. Just make sure to check the manual camera settings for exposure and focus. The last thing you want to see when you start reviewing your footage from a 2-day shoot is blurry, washed out video or conversely, shots that are way too dark to use.

✘Blurry and Bright

Dark

✓Correct

If you only have access to a smartphone for video, no problem. Just make sure you shoot at the highest available resolution. 720 or 1080 are a good standard and if you’re lucky enough to have a top end smartphone, UHD or 4K will provide even crisper video. One drawback to using a smartphone is the lack of built-in tripod support, however, dedicated mounts or mini tripods are widely available for purchase.

Lighting

Access to lights should always be exploited, as even a single light on your subject will improve the shot. 2 lights facing your subject – one from either side behind the camera – looks twice as good and is a great optimum setup. For those without access to lighting, natural sunlight is the next best source of light, but it has its disadvantages.   

A heavily day-lit room on a bright but partly cloudy day will keep lowering and raising the auto-exposure on either a DSLR or smartphone, which is a tell-tale sign of amateur video production. If you shoot in a room with internal lighting, which also has closed blinds or curtains this will provide more consistent results. Even better, shoot with manual settings for rock-solid exposure.

Try to avoid shooting anything with bright lights behind, such as against a window if you’re inside, or opposite the sun if you’re outside. It’s always best to put a light source behind the camera, as it will light your subject better and won’t interfere with auto-exposure as much.

Sound

Nothing sounds worse than a subject talking to the camera in a sparsely-furnished room, because of echos. Echoes are not something that can be easily removed afterwards without a severe impact on the quality of your subject’s voice. The more soft furnishings in the room the better and try to get your camera as near to your subject as possible without getting too close and messing up your composition. If you have the option to use a microphone, take it. This can improve sound quality immensely but is only really an option when using a DSLR rather than a smartphone.

Framing and composition

Ever had someone taken your photo where the top of your head is cut off, or there’s too much space on one side? Frustrating to say the least. Good framing can make a world of difference to your finished video. A medium, head and shoulders ‘talking head’ shot should be central if your subject is talking to a camera, or to one side if your subject is talking to an ‘interviewer’ who is off-screen behind the camera. Left or right depending on your preference and where the most light is coming from.

If you desire a wider shot of your speaker, sat in a chair, for instance, try to frame them to one side of the shot with some furniture or feature on the opposite side to create balance. Large office plants or pop-up displays with a company logo are good examples.

Another good tip is to not let any of your subjects or props get too close to the edge of the shot. Allow a 5-10% margin around the edge of the screen to give your composition some space and to prevent the shot from looking crowded.

Takes

It’s always a good idea to shoot your ‘talking head’ subject multiple times, repeating their lines with different framing. For instance, once with a wider shot, again with a medium shot and once again as a close-up. This will allow you to edit the finished video to remove mistakes and bloopers more effectively, as you can cut to a different shot rather than the same shot. This way you can pick the best bits of their performance as well as keeping the visual effect interesting.

This is particularly useful if your subject has difficulty in remembering long scripts or performing long speeches in one go without mistakes.

Editing and Post Production

Once you have all your well-lit, perfectly framed footage on the computer, you are ready to edit it all together into your final masterpiece, complete with music and titles. Lots of software exists, both free and paid that will give you the tools needed for this task. Each has its own learning curve and feature set and is very much determined by your budget and skill level.

The list of editing software is way too long to cover here, but honourable mentions go to Adobe Premiere (paid) and Davinci Resolve basic (free). Both are production quality pieces of software that WILL get the job done but will need some time to learn.

If you have shot a bunch of videos but would like us to help you edit it together into a finished production, get in touch with us to discuss your project further.

 

Lights. Camera. Action. Happy Shooting!