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8 tips for shooting a professional looking video

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It’s 2019, the digital world is complex and evolving quickly so the more skills you have, such as the basics of video shooting the better! A recent Wyzowl survey revealed that 87% of businesses are investing in creative video. Videos help brands standout from their competition and incorporating this new medium into their marketing strategy enables them to engage new audiences and more customers.

As a result of video marketing popularity, video is now accessible to businesses of all sizes, especially when working with video production companies like Fresh Cut, who love to work with budgets big and small. However, as a savvy marketer it’s useful to know how smaller companies or individuals can shoot professional looking videos in-house or by themselves.

Is making your own professional video a good call?


When your business is ready, has a specific requirement for video or the budget available you can partner with an experienced creative video team to produce a video with the ‘wow’ factor. In the meantime, we’re going to share our top videography tips to help you shoot a professional video on a very small budget and then you can decide if making your own video content is the right next step for your brand. First, let’s consider the rationale behind creating your own professional brand video.


Understanding video marketing strategy


The incredible growth of video consumption online has presented many measurable benefits to brand marketers. Before you master the basics of shooting a professional video we recommend you also understand the basics of video marketing. Your customers are online watching videos and it’s time to get their attention with an effective video marketing strategy.


Reasons to shoot your own professional video


If you are considering shooting your own video it’s very unlikely that you’re aiming to create a cinematic TV ad, glossy web commercial, slick corporate video etc. Leave that to the professionals! When you create your own professional looking videos it’s much more likely that you intend to:


  • share it with your fans and customers on social media or your website,

  • use it internally to engage and train staff, or recruit talent

  • attract investment from investors or secure a business partnership.

Types of video you can produce in-house


The kind of video content you may want to professionally shoot in-house or by yourself is likely to fall into one of the below video categories:


Interview videos can be formal or relaxed and give brands an opportunity to introduce team members, clients or partners. They invite viewers to “get to know our business” with a fool proof Q&A format.


Behind the scenes videos give viewers a glimpse of what’s happening within your office, at a photoshoot or other exciting event such as new product(s) in development. They create a buzz and add a unique, exclusive perspective on your brand.


How to videos are extremely popular as viewers can pick up tips and learn new skills in just a few minutes. From making crafts to growing tomatoes, these videos are great for demonstrating your expertise and adding value.


Pouring


Pitch videos can be a very effective B2B marketing tool and can be client, business partner or investor facing. They are used to tell the story of business to date and its future ambitions.


Selfie videos are becoming very popular amongst entrepreneurs, industry experts and influencers who want to build a more personal connection with their followers. They are simple to make and are often used for in the moment (E.g. live broadcasting) sharing of tips and advice, or a simple here’s what I’m up to or feeling right now. They can also be pre-recorded for a more professional look and feel.


How to shoot a professional looking video


If you need to create a video to advertise your brand, we recommend appointing video production experts. However, at Fresh Cut we love to share our expertise and are happy to share our top 8 tips for shooting professional looking videos with you below to help get you started on your endeavour into video marketing.


1. Create a great video storyboard 


Storyboard


Great videos don’t just happen, the production team and videographer make them happen. From the overall look and feel to the tiny details in each shot, a professional looking video is meticulously planned.


Creating a video storyboard is a vital first step in the video production process and they are an extremely useful tool for creating professional looking videos you can’t wait to share. A video storyboard is a graphic representation of how your video will unfold, shot by shot. Beneath each picture are notes about the shot style, what is going on in the scene, what is being said etc. If your video has sound you are also going to need to write a script to support your video storyboard.


2. Shoot a steady video


Wobbly or unsteady camerawork is nauseating and frustrating to watch, it’s definitely not synonymous with a professional looking video. A tripod, or smartphone video mount, is an obvious and credible choice for creating a steady video shot, and they are easy to manoeuvre in and out of multiple positions.


If you are working in a tight or awkward space, and the angle you want can’t be captured via a tripod or mount, you can hold your camera whilst leaning your body on something solid like a wall or the ground. Always keep your breathing slow and steady when you are filming.


3. Use plenty of light


Natural light is great for video – Bright videos look glossy and professional. Dark, grainy videos do not. The best source of light when shooting a video is natural sunlight, whether that is through a large window or outdoors. However, try to schedule your filming during the morning or late afternoon when the light is softer and more flattering, midday sunshine tends to be very bright and harsh as the light shines down from overhead. If you do shoot in the middle of the day try to find a partly shaded area for that softer light effect.


Creating good light for video indoors - Creating a good light source for videos indoors takes a little more skill. It is possible to create enough light using a large bright, fluorescent lamp or two if you are shooting a simple scene E.g. talking heads to camera or a selfie video. Practise manoeuvring your light source so that you cast zero or minimal shadows on your subject, this will make your video feel bright, open and professional.


Pro Tip! Always position your light source higher than the subject’s eyeline, if you are filming a person, and never directly above their head or the object. Start casting the light(s) straight above the camera and then manoeuvre into the perfect position from there, having two light sources at either side of the camera will create less shadows and a more professional looking video.


4. Capture crisp, clear audio


Indistinct, muffled audio is not going to encourage many views past the first couple of seconds of your video. Crisp, clear audio is a must whether it a music overlay or ‘in video’ audio. To capture clear sound from your subject(s) a good microphone is an essential piece of professional looking video kit. Invest in the best that you can afford so that it works great and lasts a long time. During filming your microphone needs to be as close to the subject as possible and consider using a pop filter to eliminate blips and crackles.


If you’re filming indoors a silent shoot is easier to control but outdoors be aware of traffic, birdsong etc.


5. Keep backgrounds simple


Orange Lady


Create scenes that compliment your story and subject rather than detract from it. If you are shooting a corporate or training video, keep the background minimal and perhaps add some of your branding, either a logo a paint the background in your brand colour(s). Alternatively, if you are filming a make up tutorial you might want to position your camera to see your products and give the feel of a beauty salon or dressing room.


Consider which props will add value to your story and resonate with your audiences to give your video the right look and feel. Once you’ve nailed your scene or set styling keep it consistent throughout the video, and reuse if you are creating a series of videos.


6. Produce a variety creative shots


When planning your video always think in shots, or frames. Plot your frames using a storyboard and consider incorporating multiple angles to really engage viewers and bring your story to life. There are variety of basic ways you can frames shots from full shot to close-up. Get creative and have fun finding the shots that work best for your video.


A variety of angles will make your video more interesting and engaging. Make sure there is a dramatic shift between angles otherwise they may come across as mistakes or pointless to your audience. Don’t be shy and only shoot from far away get amidst the action and mix it up.


7. Shoot video in the right format for publishing


Standard videos are shot in a 16:9 ratio which is great if your video is going to be published on video platforms such as YouTube and Facebook Watch. However, if you are planning to share your video in Facebook or Instagram stories then your video should be shot vertically with a ratio of 9:16. And if you want your video to look fantastic as it flows down the Facebook or Instagram newsfeed then shoot it in a square format. Before you shoot create a great video storyboard and ensure the video you produce will be exactly what you have in mind.


8. Practise, practise, practise


Please don’t turn up on shoot day with your camera or smartphone and expect everything to fall seamlessly into place – it definitely won’t. Practise filming every scene in your storyboard before you start, play back what you have done and reshoot until perfect. Once you’ve captured all of the video footage it’s time to begin post-production, we recommend experimenting with the various editing software and apps to find the one that you feel most competent with to create the final edit you desire.


The essential kit for videographers


You probably own a smartphone with a decent camera, so you’re 80% of the way there when it comes to shooting a professional looking video. You don’t need a DSLR or other expensive camera to shoot your video, if you have one great but it’s not essential. When filming with your smartphone always use the camera on the back of your phone as the front camera is not as high in quality.


In addition to a camera, to create a professional looking video you will also need a microphone, simple video editing software, and a couple of fluorescent lamps. Plus, lots of time and patience to perfect your new videography skills.


Two common beginner videographer mistakes to avoid


  • Use minimal zooms and pans and let the action create movement. Too many zooms and pans can make the viewer feel seasick and random use will distract from your story. If you need to change angle, cut to another shot rather than pan to it.

  • Don’t shoot with a reflective surface like a mirror or window in the scene, your reflection will be captured too and will be very distracting.

Let’s create a professional video

Fresh Cut are a leading video production company helping brands tell their stories on TV and online since 2006. With studios in Leeds, Manchester and London we are proud to work with brands and budgets of all sizes. Take a look inside our fantastic portfolio of creative video content and get in touch with our talented team to discuss your next video project.