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Issue #14 – Video Virtuosity – Part 2

If you read Video Virtuosity – Part 1 (if you haven’t, you should), you will remember that we believe video content has become requisite to marketing your business. Creating the culture of employees capturing candid video of testimonials, events, fun around the office, and product promotion allows you to compile the volume of content needed to uniquely showcase your brand in a way that is much more dynamic and engaging than mere written or photo content and that will bolster your digital media marketing. Now that you are recording a high quantity of videos consistently, and posting those videos in the right places has become a habit, how do you take your videos to the next level of quality?

As we explained in Part 1, you do not need a fancy camera or professional hair and makeup to create great video content for social media feeds or websites. In fact, content consumers often prefer the authenticity of candid videos to those that are professionally produced. Here in Part 2, we provide tips on how companies with even the leanest budgets can polish those candid videos and create more professional-looking content in-house with a smartphone and a few accessories.

  1. Shoot in landscape – You should see our Vice President Ed watch someone film a video in portrait – to him, it’s the visual equivalent of listening to fingernails on a chalkboard. While it’s natural for one to hold the phone vertically to shoot a video since that is how we normally hold our phones, the truth is we live in a “widescreen world” – viewing videos on wide TVs, computer screens, and even our phones turned to landscape orientation. Make sure your backdrop is wide enough for horizontal filming, and we recommend finding a clean, solid color wall in front of which to shoot. A quiet, back corner of the office could be a perfectly suitable spot to set up a “video studio” to capture podcasts, testimonials, or answer FAQs.
  2. Use a tripod – Even the steadiest hand will have slight movements that are distracting and make editing difficult, not to mention that each time you press record, the height, and angle at which you are holding the phone may change slightly. Any simple, portable tripod from will suffice and will hold the phone still, allowing you to splice together different clips without it appearing jarring. Make sure you buy an adapter that will allow you to mount your phone if the tripod doesn’t come with one.
  3. Don’t zoom – The camera lens on a smartphone doesn’t zoom optically, only digitally, which creates a “pixelated” look, reducing the definition of the video. Go old-school analog and just move the tripod closer to the subject.
  4. Upgrade your lighting – In our opinion, the biggest difference between amateur- and professional-looking video is correctly angled, soft, flat, lighting on a subject’s face. Never rely on the phone flash. You can use natural light, buy a lighting kit, or hack one together as we did from Ace Hardware – some PVC pipes, Tiki torch stands, cheap clip-on lamps, some parchment paper for light diffusion, and the right bulbs will go a long way.
  5. Separate your audio – In order to get good quality sound, you should record a separate audio track and overlay it onto the video. We do this for our sister company’s (YellowTelescope) podcasts in order to minimize background noise and enhance the sound of Jon and Ed waxing poetic. You can simply use another smartphone or can get fancier and spend the extra bucks on a plug-in microphone, and record a voice memo. Either way, position the mic off-camera, just above and in front of the subject as you would a boom mike to get the clearest sound. Clap your hands at the beginning of each take so you can easily line up the audio and video when editing. Film in a quiet place and put up a sign so people know to be quiet while you are filming. Turn off computers, fans, and phones that you are not using to film (and the ringer on the phones you are using to film).

By following these basic tips, you should see the quality of your videos improve and may even trick people into thinking you hired a professional crew. Share your success stories with us.! Finally, don’t forget the most basic step – make sure you’ve actually pressed “record.” Nothing is more painful than thinking you’ve gotten the perfect clip and then realizing it never recorded – except maybe filming in portrait mode.
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