So this post is probably going to put me out of a job, as by the end of this you’ll be able to create professional video content with just your phone.
Digital marketing is all about content, and early 2017 has seen a rising trend in online businesses putting out way more video than they did in 2016, high-end video marketing adverts still yield great results but to keep content fresh, improve SEO results and keep up with trending niche-related events, companies are utilising in-house staff to create a constant stream of video content for online marketing.
“I want professional looking videos, but have a tiny budget”
As the owner of a video production company, we’ve seen a spike in companies approaching us for training and advice on how to create the best possible video content on a budget, using only the tools they already have available – iPhones, mobiles, tablets etc.
This is a crash course in video production.
Allowing content marketers, vloggers and almost any video newbies to get the best possible results using just their phones, this guide will be sure to elevate the standard of all your video content and increase engagement.
What you’re doing wrong.
There are many common video production mistakes we see time and time again, believe it or not some of these are even made by people within our industry!
These mistakes are not just about creating a professional looking video, the following issues translate into audience engagement & view count, so learning what they are and how to avoid them is essential.
Bad Lighting / No Lighting – Sometimes you can get lucky, most of the time you won’t, knowing some basic techniques for lighting can make a massive difference to the overall look of you video – I’ll be sharing some simple methods below
Low Quality Audio – if you’ve ever watched a video with dreadful audio quality you see where I’m coming from, poor audio is one of the biggest oversights and makes a huge difference to engaging viewers.
Your video is too long / Lacks Focus – editing is one of the most important aspects of video production and if your video is too long viewers will switch off! Be sure to have a clear message in your video.
What I’m about to share with you is the culmination of 100’s hours of video production experience.
So you’ve decided who’s got the best camera phone in the office, they’ve had a chance to wipe anything NSFW from it and you’re ready to shoot your first piece of video marketing content.
When it comes down to it, if you’re phone was produced in the last 2 years it probably has a pretty awesome camera built in. The rate at which camera technology has developed over the last 10 years is staggering and the tech is getting smaller and smaller.
The days of giant cameras are well and truly over, we now turn up to professional shoots with cameras that are about one third of the size of the kit we were using 5 years ago, and they’re about 100 times better!
Landscape Over Portrait – 16:9 to get a professional looking video
If you want your video to look as though it was produced professionally, shooting landscape as opposed to portrait is going to instantly add production values and create the best playback experience for your audience – for a long time television was our main source of video consumption and since the early noughties 16:9 has been the standard aspect ratio for the majority of content, therefore the all devices iPads, Monitors, TV’s, Phones are all designed to play content in widescreen for optimum viewing.
Stablilise – Steady hands vs Tripods
We’ve all watched those classic shaky home-videos, and it’s fine if you’re watching a short clip that’s super engaging, however if you’re going to connect with you audience it’s important that your video is stabilised as shakiness is going to distract from your actual content.
I recommend purchasing a cheap tripod with a phone grip as simple, effective and low-cost option that’s going to cover you for a wide range of video creation, of course you could prop up your phone using any number of techniques.. blu-tac, books, bulldog clips, the frugal options are endless!
With that being said I’d certainly advise investing in a tripod with phone grip as it’s going to save you a huge amount of time, allow you to properly frame up your shots and quickly make adjustments whilst shooting.
Grip To Attach Your Phone To Tripod:
How to get smooth movement in your shots…
The alternative option is hold the camera whilst shooting, the built-in camera stablisation on most phones is actually rather good and this with give your video a slightly more dynamic feeling which is great for certain styles of content.
Pro Tip – When holding the camera don’t try and keep it rock solid (if you want no movement use a tripod!), relax as much as possible, keep your elbows tucked into your sides and stabilise the shot using your whole body.
Please Don’t Zoom – phone cameras are good, but they have their limitations.
There are two types of camera zooms – optical and digital. Optical zooms are actual focal zooms and digital zooms simply blow up the size of the digital image.
With our professional cameras we use inter-changeable lenses that have optical zooms, but most phones use a digital zoom, therefore if you need to get closer to the subject move the phone as opposed to zooming in.
If you skip the next section…your video will end up looking amateur.
The following lighting techniques are simple to replicate and will make a huge difference to your final video.
3-Point lighting is the simplest and most effective way to light your subject on camera, the diagram to the right-hand side demonstrates the position of the 3-point lighting technique.
Please note: This technique is achievable without expensive lighting equipment and I’ve provided some great tips below for achieving a professional look with free and low-cost light sources.
So what are the 3 points?
This is the brightest of the three lights.
Being the strongest light source you are using it has the most impact on the overall look of the shot. When using a single camera it is best positioned to one side of the camera/subject at a 45 degree angle so that one side is well lit and the other side has some shadow – these shadows create depth and stop the subject looking flat.
On a budget: Use a natural light source as a window if you’re inside or the Sun if you’re outside as your key light.
This is the secondary light and is placed on the opposite side of the key light to counteract it.
The fill light is used to fill in the shadows created by the more powerful key, the amount of fill light you use can alter the look of the shot quite significantly, for really dramatic lighting you can use no fill at all. For the majority of marketing style videos and vlog posts I’d recommend using a soft key to even out the shadows.
On a budget: A white-board is often used on film-shoots to bounce the light from the key, you can even use an A2 piece of paper to reflect the light from the window – you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
This light is positioned behind the subject and pulls them out from the background.
The back light, sometimes also known as a hair light, is primarily used to stop your subject blending into the background and focus the viewers attention, again this helps to create a three-dimensional look to the image and will result in a much more professional production.
On a budget: Use a torch app on another phone to light up the subject from behind.
How to capture high quality audio…
without breaking the bank.
This first tip won’t cost you a penny and is a great way to achieve good quality audio.
Think carefully about the location in which you’re filming, shooting indoors will always give you a headstart, make sure to close any windows & doors and turn off any air-conditioning units that may be in the room.
Try to find a room in your office with as little background noise as possible, if this isn’t an option consider the time of day that you’re going to be filming and schedule your shoot to coincide with the quietest period.
If for any reason you’re shooting in a confined space with electronic items, such as fridges, freezers, dishwashers, photocopiers, printers etc. make sure to flick them off at the switch to avoid getting a low background hum in your video.. just don’t forget to turn them back on again!
As a final tip, try and use a room that has furniture in and is carpeted, large empty spaces with hard floors create echos and this will come though in your video.
You’re almost there, these tips will stop your audio sounding like, well, it was done on your phone!
Using a second phone to capture the audio for your video is a must, I recommend purchasing a low cost iPhone / Android lapel mic which will provide you with significantly higher quality audio capture.
This technique requires the subject to clip the mic on to their clothing (ideally just below their mouth on their top) and then put their phone into their pocket, hiding the wires for that professional look.
Once you have your video and audio set up start recording and CLAP to make the audio quicker to line-up in the next stage.
Have fun, shoot your content and in the next section I’ll show you how to quickly sync your audio up with the video and create and awesome professional looking (& sounding) video ready to share online.
Depending on your budget, I’ve provided some different options below:
£15.00 – BOYA BY-M1
£55.00 – Rode Smartlav
£116.00 – Sennheiser Lapel Mic
When it comes to deciding how much to spend, generally the more your part with the higher quality audio you’ll be able to capture, however all three of these selected mics will result in significantly better results than just using your phone’s built-in microphone.
Free editing software.
Editing is a really important aspect of the video production process and producing a really tight edit can make all the difference to the level of engagement your video receives, as a golden rule try to keep your video content as short and focused as possible.
Windows Movie Maker: http://www.windows-movie-maker.org/
If you’re on Windows, then Windows Movie Maker is a simple and easier to use piece of software that will allow you to edit your video together in very little time.
If you’re on Mac, iMovie comes pre-installed and has loads of excellent features to produce professional edits using some really simple tools.
Syncing your audio.
– Start by transferring the video and audio files from your phones on to your PC / Mac.
– Import the files into your chosen editing program.
– Drag the video and audio clips into your timeline.
– Look for the spike in the audio waves on both the phone that recorded the video and the separate audio file.
– Simply line up the spikes so that they match, play it back and check that that they are both in sync.
– Mute the audio from the video recording leaving just the sound from your separate audio file.
– All finished!
Time to cut together your masterpiece.
Be creative, try out different techniques and don’t be afraid to cut out sections that are too long or didn’t work as you envisaged.
Remember as an editor you’re a storyteller, think about the most entertaining way to take your viewers on a journey – whether it’s a corporate promotional video, a vlog or a product review there is always a strong narrative that can be developed in your content.
[Free] Music is the gateway to your [viewer’s] soul.
Adding some music to your video will help keep it engaging to viewers and set the overall style for your content, to get some inspiration why not watch some of your favorite online videos and see how they used music in their video.
Don’t underestimate the power what music can do to improve your content, it’s one of the editor’s most powerful tools when it comes to altering the mood of a viewer.
Check out the following resources to find some tracks for your video.
Free Music Archive: http://freemusicarchive.org/curator/video
Top Free Music Sites: http://tubularinsights.com/free-royalty-free-music/
Pro Tip: Carefully adjust the volume of your music throughout the video so that it is much quieter when your subject is talking.
What are all these export settings!?
I know it can look extremely confusing and ridiculously technical, but don’t be put off. Choosing the right export settings is all about achieving the highest quality video and keep the file size to a minimum.
Choose .mp4 – An mp4 file is going to give you exceptional quality with a really small file size, perfect for sharing online and playing back on a variety of systems regardless of their hardware capabilities.
Time to share your video!
Congratulations you’ve created your first video, share it with as many people as you can and ask them to input feedback, make those final amendments before posting it online to get the best results!
To maximise the reach of your video online you can check out one of my previous blog posts where I shared some of my top tips for increasing those all-important viewing figures – [insert link]
So you’ve discovered the power of video marketing..
Time to take your content to the next level.
If you’re looking to take the level of production up a notch, why not get in touch, our team has the expertise & experience to create powerful video content to promote your business online.
That’s a wrap! If you have any questions, comments or other top tips please leave them below.