As a small business ourselves, we understand that the bottom line is often your primary concern – not every small business can afford to get professionally shot footage for their YouTube channel videos. With that in mind, here are our Top 10 Tips for getting the best possible results.
Our 10 Best Tips for Shooting Business Videos on your Phone
Ok, most professional videographers and editors are already shaking their heads at the very idea and we understand why. Ideally, all your video content should be shot and edited professionally to show your small business in the best possible light.
However as a small business ourselves, we get that the bottom line is going to dictate your video strategy – not every small business can afford professionally video production for their YouTube channel videos.
With that in mind, here are our Top 10 Tips for getting the best possible results.
1. Be Realistic!
If you’re using an older handheld device it’s unlikely you’re going to get anything worthy of posting online, particularly if the sound is critical. Shooting video alone is a different story. You can get away with a lot more if it’s just the video content and you replace the audio with properly recorded sound or voiceovers. Whatever you’re using, be realistic! You are not going to come out with a Steven Spielberg on an iPhone. That’s just a fact. You may pull off a ‘Wolf Creek’, but is that really what you had in mind? No offence is intended here to the makers of ‘Wolf Creek’, we’re just trying to make the point that dark, grainy and moody is not really what most small businesses are looking for! Whatever you are intending to shoot, keep it simple.
2. Sound Quality
Poor sound is single biggest mistake most people make when self-shooting footage. Most people assume that picture quality is more important than sound quality, yet the exact opposite is true. Sound quality is FAR more important than vision, it is the most important part of any quality video or film content. If you don’t believe us, think of the times you put up with a bad picture because you just HAD to see the end of that show. This was even more the case with old analog TV, but even the pixellated mess that is ‘bad’ digital TV can be tolerated, if you really want to see that show. It is bearable as long as you can still follow the story. The sound is key to this!The same applies to your business videos. If the picture isn’t great, people may still watch. We say ‘may’ because the audience retention online is about 30 seconds. You’ve got 30 secs to engage your audience, or else CLICK and they’re gone. If the sound is bad, there’s no hesitation. If they can’t understand your video, they are gone. If you’re planning to shoot an informational video using a hand-held device to record the sound, our first thought is DON’T. Record the sound separately using proper mics and sync it in your edit, or record the sound as a voice-over and add it in later on.
If you just don’t have the budget to get proper recording of sound, or you’re just a hobbyist and the video is for fun, not for business, we have a few hints that can help to improve your sound when recording using hand-held devices – we’ll write about that in a later article.
3. Use a Tablet or a new model phone
Tablets in particular and recent model smart phones are now giving amazing quality of image. You’ve probably seen those Apple iPhone billboards where the photo was shot on an iPhone 6. The bit they don’t mention is that it was also probably shot by a professional photographer, or selected from thousands of not-so-amazing shots.That said there is quality there. We’ll talk more about add-ons and small purchases that can make a difference in future blogs. Check your phone or tablet – how recent is it? There is a massive different between shooting on an iPhone 6, and trying to get a decent video for your website with an iPhone 3. If you have an iPhone 3, see if a friend will lend you their later model phone or pad to shoot with, or if anyone you know has a decent AVCHD or semi-professional video camera.
4. A Steady Hand
Make sure whoever is filming your footage has a steady hand and understands framing. Nothing screams ‘amateur’ so much as shaky camera, or wobbly panning (or lots of panning/zooming for that matter). Another mistake most beginners make is to assume that video equals movement, so the camera should move. Not so! The camera should remain still, it is the action in the camera lens that should be moving. We’ll go into more detail about framing in later articles, as a solid understanding of this can improve your videos out of sight!
An extension of the steady hand is footage that is in focus. If you are shooting on hand held devices, there is unlikely to be any control over this – the camera does it automatically. This means that keeping your camera static is even more essential. If you move about a lot the footage may well drop in and out of focus. Because you can’t alter the focus, everything either in the fore or background of the video will be at the same level of focus, so making your subject stand out is much more difficult. Choose a location with a background that won’t draw attention away from the subject.
6. Light Source
The rule of thumb is don’t film into the sun or any other kind of light source. Position your subject (whatever you’re filming), so that you (the cameraman) have your back to the light source. You can also improve the look of your footage considerably by using a reflector – a white board, a photography reflector, some shiny cloth or metal, anything that will reflect the light from your principle light source back toward the subject.
7. Test runs and multiple ‘takes’
Film something. Look at it. Listen to it. Then try again. This will save you a massive amount of time later on. If you can fix something in the actual video shoot, it will cost you almost nothing. If you try to fix it later in the editing or post production, it’s going to cost a LOT. It’s always better to fix it in the shoot if possible. Post Production and Editing are about getting the best from what you’ve shot, but you know what they say about Silk Purses and Sow’s Ears! Ever wondered what they are doing when they use a ‘clapper board’ on a film shoot? The board tells you which part of the movie they’re shooting, and which take (there can be hundreds!) so the editor knows what’s going on when we get the footage.No one shoots anything in just one take. Not ever. Not unless it’s live TV and even then they have multiple different cameras to choose the best shot from.
You should always allow for multiple ‘takes’ of your footage, so you have several versions to choose from in your editing and can pick out the best bits. Always make sure that you check everything is looking and sounding great first, before your subjects pack up and go home.
Think about where you are going to film. We don’t just mean ‘away from wind-sound and lots of noise’. If you are trying to advertise your gardening business, it makes sense to shoot your video in a beautiful garden, but if your business is all about finance, for example, an office space may be more suitable. Just try to ensure that it is clean, attractive, and there are no distractions behind the subject. As mentioned above, if you are shooting on something like an iPhone, the focus is going to be pretty much the same between your subject and the background, so put them in front of something that isn’t too distracting to help them stand out in the video.
In the film industry, incidental and ‘safety’ shots are called b-roll. This means ‘something else that is not the main subject, that we can cut to if required’. You should always shoot lots of this if time permits. MUCH more than you think. B-roll footage is used for several reasons. One is to backup whatever your video is about – images or vision of what they’re talking about in the video, for example. The other intention of shooting b-roll is to give the editor options to use to cover ‘bad’ transitions between shots, or use a different take if one is out of focus or has other quality issues. Some useful b-roll standard ideas are shots of an audience watching/listening/participating, the subject’s hands if it is a static interview, or the location you’re in (back to that gardening business example – get some shots of flowers, someone mowing, garden beds, whatever might add to the video).The more options you give your editor, the more likely you’ll come out with a great finished video. To see some examples of small business videos with and without b-roll footage, head to our Small Business Video Portfolio.
10. Professional Editing
Seriously, unless you know what you are doing, tackling your own post-production is a bad idea. Not only will you be using consumer-grade software, but a professional editor can make well-shot footage look awesome, and even the worst-shot footage look better. Just browse on YouTube for a while, you’ll soon get the picture. If you DO know what you’re doing, we’d still recommend going Pro for the Online editing.An Online editor is not someone who posts videos online. This term comes from the film and TV industries – it means the technical editor who combines all the content (video, graphics, sound), sometimes also colour grades the footage and then outputs it in the appropriate format at the right compression to look amazing on the medium it’s being delivered on – Film, TV, and yes, the web.Invest in this if you can. Online editing is another why professional business, film and streaming content looks so good. There is no way you’d ever get the same quality online unless you have the software for professional compression and a sound knowledge of the skills required.
So those are our top 10 tips for DIY business videos using mobile devices. We’re going to write more material for small businesses – simple, practical step-by-step guides to help small business get the best possible results.
You can find more advice for DIY Small Business Videos on our blog.
Thalia Kemp is the video and sound editor at Sonic Eye sound and video editing, Sydney