Making Your Videos Look the Part (Part 1)

So… where did we leave off? Oh yes that’s right, before last week’s break to take a behind the scenes look at what life is like behind the lens on a studio shoot, I said that we’d take a look into simple but effective filming techniques and ideas that can make your videos look more professional and therefore be more effective!

storyboard

We begin with something that isn’t actually a filming technique but will probably have more impact on the quality of the final video than anything else… having a storyboard, or to put it more simply, having a plan.

It’s the most simple of all the steps and yet it’s the one that is so often overlooked outside of the professional realm. Begin by asking yourself the following questions;

What is the goal of this video? (Why am I doing this?)

If you can’t answer this question you risk creating something with no clearly defined aims and therefore no clear results. What is your message? What are you hoping to convey to your audience in your video? Take the time to understand this first and make sure you use this as your guiding principle for all other decisions down the line.

For example, you’re filming a short video explaining how to use your product, so the goal here is to educate your audience in a clear and simple to understand manner. Therefore, the goal of this video isn’t to show off your fancy new camera’s excellent low light response, or to showcase a slick new filming technique you’ve learnt, the goal is to keep it simple, so that the information is clearly communicated to your audience.

Excerpt from a storyboard we produced

Excerpt from a storyboard we produced

What form will this video take?

Now it’s time to put the information you’ve learnt about your project, from answering the previous question, to practical use. Will this video feature you or someone else talking / presenting to camera? Will there be a voiceover? Will additional information be communicated by graphics or subtitles onscreen rather than spoken? Will this video be filmed inside or out on location?

These questions are key in making sure you can give the right answers to…

What equipment do I need?

Another area of filming that’s often overlooked by amateurs, making sure you have the right equipment with you in advance. Want a crisp, static shot of a colleague presenting to camera? You’ll probably need a tripod. Want to film a walkthrough tour of your office? You’ll benefit greatly from having a gyroscopic device like a gimbal, which dramatically reduces handheld camera shake, something that will provide a tremendous boost to the quality of your finished video.

If there will be someone presenting to camera, take the time to understand how you will record the audio (with a built in microphone or a dedicated unit?) and also in what location you can guarantee the best sound quality.

Script

So you’ve established both what you want to communicate and how you’ll go about that, now it’s time to work on the script. This can take a few different forms. You don’t need to plan out everything that’s going to be said word for word (especially if it’s a subject you are intimately familiar with as you may find that speaking off the cuff actually provides a better result) but it’s important that you plan roughly what’s being said and in what order.

This has multiple benefits, first anyone who’s being asked to speak on camera can prepare what they are saying in advance, thus giving them more confidence and that will likely lead to a more natural delivery.

Secondly it gives you a checklist of what you need to film. You can use this to make sure that, if you’re pressed for time for example, you’ve got everything filmed that you’re going to need to make your finished video.

Thirdly this is a concrete reminder of your original plan. If you’ve scripted well before you start filming, you shouldn’t need to worry about adding anything else. In fact, chances are trying to film extra unplanned sections will only complicate your message.

Okay so I actually got a little carried away writing this (as I can’t emphasise how important this is) so this will act as part one and next week I’ll look more into the actual techniques etc. in what will now be part 2.

Until next time…

Nicholas Langdon