There’s no question about it, video has launched to the front of B2B marketers’ minds for its ability to grab the attention of potential leads. Though creating video is now a must-have strategy, many companies wonder where to start. Can you tackle production in-house?
I’ve been producing the gamut of content for brands, small to large, from B2C to influencer videos, since 2010. And over the years I’ve gathered some expert tips of what a Producer always keeps in the back of their mind when preparing a budget or time-strapped shoot. I’d like to share them with you in an effort to guide those looking to develop video content with a modest input, high output strategy.
Audio Makes It or Breaks It
If you’re not shooting in a dedicated studio or you’re still learning the ropes, viewers are willing to forgive and even accept the occasional boom microphone gracing the screen or the background of your kid’s artwork behind you. But what audiences are never truly able to forgive is poor audio quality.
And while audio mixing remains a highly sought after and investment-worthy component of any production, there are some steps even the greenest video producers can take in order to up the quality of your audio from the office, or from home!
Tip #1 When recording, find a secluded space
It’s challenging at best, most likely near impossible, to capture clear audio when you’re in common spaces of a home like your kitchen, living room with other humans or pets mîse-en-scene. Aim to avoid any highly trafficked areas or spaces close to any restrooms. You may not think it possible, but that microphone will catch every flush of that toilet. On the flip side, an empty room will not best serve you either, as you’ll notice an excessive amount of echo.
My personal go-to is a bedroom or an office space that can be commandeered as a studio for the hour without interruptions. Sometimes this means filming late in the evening or, if you’re an early bird like me, first thing in the morning before the rest of the office comes in — or before the family wakes up if you’re at home.
Tip #2 After recording grab “Room Tone”
What is room tone? It is the base sound of the room in which you’re filming, minus your voice! It’s the silence that takes into account the white noise shaped by the objects and human bodies in the one room that is completely unique to the setup you’ve created. Having this room tone can save you in post production when a need to re-record arises. Because although the difference is slight, it’s enough to ruin the continuity of your video and lose the trust and professionalism you want to gain.
If you want to utilize the full length of your recording for a webinar or any other purposes, or if you’re planning on working with a post production team to master your audio in post, they will thank you, no, praise you for recording room tone. The room tone you recorded will allow any post mixer to minimize if not eliminate the sound of any airplanes flying over head, trucks driving past, or say the AC was running and you couldn’t turn it off. Room tone is your saving grace! (This is also a pro tip for my podcaster friends.)
Here’s how to record Room Tone in 3 easy steps:
- Ask everyone in the room to be completely still and silent for 30 seconds
- Hit “Record” on your device of choice and allow it to roll for 30 full seconds before stopping
- Listen to your recording, is it clean? Is it silent? Perfect! If not, try again for another round.
Tip #3 Invest in a modest but effective microphone
Good audio equipment doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a list of microphones and recording equipment I recommend any business or video producer keep in their toolkit:
- Zoom H4n Pro 4-Input / 4-Track Recorder fro B&H (If you don’t have SD cards at home, I recommend the Home Studio Kit)
- Blue Yeti USB Microphone from B&H
- Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Microphone ( I suggest the Broadcasting Kit)
- Rode Procaster Broadcast-Quality Dynamic Microphone
Work the Camera, Not the Editor
Any video producer worth their salt will quickly raise a red flag when they hear the phrase “We’ll fix it in post.” The truth is, it’s more expensive to fix issues in post production, it’s not 100% possible to completely fix the issue every time (to use VFX to “paint out” something in the background or to “re-focus” the subject correctly). It’s actually pretty simple to make a quick checklist of things to look out before you go to shoot that can save you time and money!
Tip #1 Shoot in high resolution
Tip #2 Focus!
For any self filming interview, you’ll want to ensure you have an auto-focus ON. Luckily, recording from our laptop (via Zoom, Drift or QuickTime) does this automatically. Even our phones have the option to turn ON/OFF the auto focus (the default is generally “on”). But any camera or external recording device will need to be manually set or set to Auto focus. Remembering this step can save you time and the headache of needing to re-record!
Tip #3 Always save files to a back-up: hard-drive or cloud
Back in the day, we would have two hard drives and one copy of all footage shot on a card immediately managed after filming. While the stakes may not be as high as a 3M commercial, I do suggest uploading your footage files to a folder on Google Drive or Dropbox immediately after capturing them. This will prevent the devastation of losing the footage by a corrupt SD card or accidentally getting a hard-drive lost in snail mail. It happens. And it’s truly gut wrenching.
Style for Success
You don’t need to be Tyra Banks to know how to look good in front of the camera. It’s easy to look your best on camera if you know these secret tips!
Tip #1 Know what (not) to wear
- Avoid stripes, mainly because they’re difficult for the camera to read! ***
- Avoid logos
- Avoid clothing that is too tight
- Avoid wearing glasses to minimize any glare. Go for contacts the day of, if possible.
*** A Moiré Effect happens when stripes are worn on screen and the two colors create an optical illusion that makes the camera compete against each other.
Tip #2 Freshen up!
Here are some tips to look “fresh” on-screen.
- For women, a little lipstick and blush goes a long way. Keep hair out of your face.
- For men, go for clean shaven or a polished beard and a button up shirt (avoid T-shirts).
Tip #3 The simpler the background, the better.
With all of the world quarantined at home, you may feel disappointed with the options readily available. Take comfort that less really is more. Here are some ways to keep the viewers focused on YOU, the subject being filmed!
- White or solid background colors (avoid pictures, messy rooms, or windows in your background)
- Zoom backgrounds or virtual backgrounds found on websites, like these awesome digital art backgrounds from Niio.
BONUS Tip #4 Easy 3 point key lighting set up
By using a 3-key lighting setup, you will avoid any dark spots or unflattering lighting situations. It’s easy to remember the 3-key lighting as your BFF!
Here is a fabulous video on how to set up your own BFF lighting at home from Justin Brown.
Pro Note: If you leave enough space in the video frame on the top and sides of your subject, this will allow for a great space for motion graphics to appear. For example you can also end your videos with a call to action (CTA) link in the corner of your video to guide viewers to your website, a blog that matches the video content, or a “contact us” form in the description for your video. Whether on YouTube or Vimeo, this tactic is a great strategy to increase engagement and give viewers a next step after watching.
A Final Thought: It’s All in the Preparation
So in summary, here are the top tips on how to make video production more attainable, even if your team is new to the process:
- Audio makes it or breaks it
- Work the camera, not the editor
- Style for success
I’ll leave you with a mantra that has been instilled in me over the years: A successful production is 80% Planning, 20% Executing. So even a little planning can go a long way.
I hope these tips keep you on the right track and help you out wherever you may be in the video journey!
P.S. Here at Beacon Digital Marketing, we create, produce, and promote videos for B2B companies looking to leverage video storytelling through our Video Production Department. If you’d like to learn more about the services we offer, please check out our Production formats and offerings on our website.