FROM THE BLOG:

A Beginner’s Guide to Taking Professional-Looking Videos

We all know that online, video is king. Your audience not only loves it, they’ve grown to expect it. According to Forbes, “90% of users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process”. If that’s not convincing enough, here’s another: “Video in an email leads to 200-300% increase in click-through rates.” The point is, professional-looking video is crucial for marketing.

So, you get it. You need video. But knowing how to get started when capturing footage in-house can be overwhelming. There are so many options out there. We’ll keep it simple with a basic introduction to two likely devices you have access to, with suggestions for each.

Smart phone

Nowadays, we all have a decent recording device right in our own pockets. Depending on the phone, you can get footage that ranges from “good enough” to “wow”. Here are some tips for getting closer to “wow”:

ALWAYS shoot your footage horizontally. Most standard video platforms are horizontal, so when you take vertical footage, you end up with those ugly black bars on each side. Horizontal footage gives us more to work with.

Smart phone

Use a tripod. This might involve a small investment, but it will stabilize your footage and help you avoid a wobbly picture. You can purchase a smart phone adapter for most standard tripods. If you don’t have a tripod, keep the phone steadier by holding it closer to your body or propping it against something sturdy.

Never use the digital zoom. When you use your smart phone’s zoom feature to get closer to a subject, this pixilates the footage. If you want to get closer, just move the camera closer instead.

Stay in focus. Take the time to ensure the subject of your video is in focus before you begin recording. With a smart phone, this may involving touching the screen where you would like the camera to target (also known as “tap to focus”).

Check your resolution. Many phones allow you to adjust your video resolution under general settings. If you have enough memory to store larger files, chose something at least above 720p to get the most out of your device.

DSLR

If someone in your office has a nicer camera with interchangeable lenses, take advantage of the higher quality while keeping the following in mind:

Use a tripod. Do we sound like a broken record? Use a tripod! Your arms (and the final video) will thank you.

Stay in focus. Take the time to ensure the subject of your video is in focus. With a DSLR, this might mean adjusting your lens or using autofocus to settle on your target before pressing record.

Think about your lighting. Harsh lighting can ruin your footage. If you’re comfortable with your camera, you can adjust your white balance, aperture, or ISO. If it’s a bright day outside, you can also use an ND filter, which decreases the amount of light entering the lens. If those sentences sent you running for the hills and you are not comfortable with these more advanced settings, just be more selective about the time of day or weather conditions you shoot in. Avoid extremes like bright sunlight or very low light, find some shade, or wait for a cloudy day with more diffuse lighting. Also avoid lighting scenarios that involve a bright light directly behind your subject; this will only create a harsh silhouette. 

Additional tips

Regardless of which device you’re using, here are some more tips to get that extra polish.

Audio: If you don’t want to invest in an external audio recording device, at least be mindful of any background noise, like traffic or loud air conditioners, that might make your subject difficult to hear. Windy days or shooting right next to the ocean can make things extra tricky. If you’re worried about sound, consider keeping your device close to your subject to decrease the distance between them and the microphone. This might mean framing your video as a half-body instead of a full-body shot.

Framing: Stop to consider how your subject looks inside the frame. Choose a neutral or visually pleasing background. Here are some examples you can use for inspiration:

Composing your video

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Emily is one of our Graphic Designers. She covers topics related to the design process, branding, illustration and animation.

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