film-camera

As a content creator, an ongoing goal of mine is to experiment with different content formats to improve content marketing efforts. A big facet of this goal is the foray into video production. When you do it right, video is a great medium to use to entice viewers, get valuable content across in a visual format, and help add another element to the digital marketing mix.

But I know from experience that producing good videos that provide legitimate value is no easy feat. If you're trying to expand your content marketing efforts by entering into the digital video milieu, things may not go as smoothly as you expect. Here are 5 things I wish I had known about video production when I first started, which will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made.

1. You Need To Invest In A Good Camera

Fairly obvious, yes, but important nonetheless. No amount of tinkering will improve the quality of your video footage enough to be published if the source footage was filmed using a bad camera (trust me, I've tried). You may be apprehensive to put money into equipment if you're just starting out, but you need to if you want sharp, high-quality video content.

The good news is that you can get a camera that will produce professional quality video for a very reasonable price. I would suggest going with a DSLR – a Nikon or a Canon, for example – that shoots both video and stills. You can get a decent one for around $500 that shoots high-definition video and is easy to operate.

2. Finding The Right Place To Shoot Is An Uphill Battle

Life would be much easier if you could film wherever you wanted, but you can't. Particularly if you're filming interviews or instructional videos, the location you choose to shoot in is critical. Lighting, sound, and aesthetics all factor into the equation, and if one element is off it can make the footage completely unusable.

When I started with video production, I thought we could use an open space in our common area to film an interview. The lighting was excellent, and the shot itself looked very good, with the traffic creeping along in the distance while the interviewee spoke. When we wrapped up filming, everything seemed in order and we were excited to get the video ready for release.

But, in the editing process, we realized that the mic from the camera had picked up the white noise from the area. We tried tinkering with the audio, using noise reduction filters and other effects to lessen it, but the noise was just too prominent, and to our disappointment, we couldn't release the video. Which leads me to my next point

3. Audio Is As Important As Video

After the white noise incident, we decided to invest in a lapel mic and a directional mic so we could avoid making the same mistake in the future. When we tested it in the same place we had shot the initial interview, we realized that while it was much clearer and sounded much better, the white noise was still too much. In fact, everywhere we tested out on the entire floor elicited the same result. No matter how good the shot looked, the noise was too interruptive for us to shoot there.

The lesson here is that bad audio is just as problematic as bad footage. Audio editing software allows you to get rid of imperfections in the audio clips, but much like video footage, you can only improve it so much. The source audio needs to be good in order for it to be usable. The solution is to a) invest in a mic that records audio clearly and b) try and find a location to shoot that doesn't have too much background noise.

4. Getting Proper Lighting Will Be The Bane Of Your Existence

Sadly, my tale of failure doesn't end with bad audio. A colleague and I began to look for a spot to reshoot the interview that looked good and had very little background noise, so that our lapel mic could pick up good audio. We found another area on a different floor that was seemingly perfect. But, as amateurs, we didn't realize the impact the time of day would have on the lighting – after all, we were shooting inside. The place looked great in the morning, but by the time we went to film the interview in the afternoon, the sun was casting shadows where we didn't want them, and as it changed positions in the sky the lighting in the video became inconsistent. The footage was mostly usable, but we had to cut out some parts we would have rather included.

In the end, we realized that we needed to purchase a lighting kit so that we didn't have to rely on natural lighting, which is hard to predict because it changes so much throughout the day. Studio lighting kits allow you to have better control over how the video is lit, reduces shadowing, and makes the footage brighter prior to the editing process. If the lighting in your office is good, you may be able to get by without one, but investing in a kit definitely makes the video look better, and if you plan to do video regularly it's worth the cost (you can get a decent lighting kit for under $200, though depending on what you want to film the price can reach well beyond this).

5. Being On-camera Isn't For Everyone

When you're doing interviews or creating informative videos as part of your content marketing strategy, you need to think strategically about the people who will be on-camera. While it is prudent to leverage internal expertise in your organization, it's important to realize that being on-camera isn't for everybody. The trick is to find a balance between knowledge and presence. If you're lucky, you'll have somebody in your company who is very comfortable speaking while being filmed who also happens to be a subject matter expert. If you want to get more people speaking to their strengths, try a) asking who wants participate in creating a video and b) let them create their own topic that allows them to speak to something they know very well. Through trial and error, you will eventually be able to identify who is best, and you can continue to use them in future videos.

Quick Tips For Killer Video Production

As someone who's made many, many mistakes since I began creating videos regularly, I implore you to consider the following tips before you foray into video production:

  • Buy a decent camera. A DSLR will do the trick and lets you take video and stills.
  • If you're going to be doing a lot of interviews or videos that involve people in front of the camera talking, buy a mic (directional mics are good, but I would suggest you get a lapel mic as well).
  • Get a lighting kit. They are inexpensive and they make a world of difference.
  • Identify the on-camera talent in your company. Finding the right balance between expertise and presence will help you build brand authority with your videos.
  • Test out locations before the shoot. It's best that you identify what works in advance so that you avoid any mishaps when it's time to film.

Without a doubt, video production is challenging. For some companies, it may be worth it to outsource, but if you want to make video a regular element of your digital marketing mix, bringing it in-house will serve you better. If you choose the latter, the above tips can help you avoid some of the mistakes I made when I first started, and make the learning process that much quicker.

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* image by VCU Libraries

Daniel Kosir

Daniel is a Content Writer at Search Engine People. He is always experimenting with new formats and looking for creative ways to produce, optimize and promote content. He previously wrote for CanadaOne Magazine and helped create and implement online marketing strategies at Mongrel Media.

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