So one of your New Year’s resolutions was to make more videos and boost your business’ social media presence, right?  But are you really prepared to do so? And do you have the cash to put on a big production?

Before your moment in the spotlight comes and catches you off-guard like a deer in headlights, let’s make sure you’ve got everything in place to be the on-cam rock star you’ve always aspired to be.

CAMERA

First, you’ll need a camera. And odds are, you have one already. It’s the phone in your pocket. Most people film in 1080p, which nearly all phones can handle nowadays. But if you shoot in 4K, your video will look significantly better when uploaded, due to the way social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube compress the video.  And if you’re not sure if your phone is 4K-capable, know that most phones made over the last few years can natively shoot in 4K.

Once you have your camera, it’s best to know how to use it.  Don’t be a newb and wave it all around or cause the image to shake. Most camera phones have some degree of stabilization built in but it’s still best to use a tripod with a phone mount. Also, you’ll want to keep the phone away from your face, at least at arm’s length, so your head isn’t taking up too much of the screen. People love you, that’s why they’re tuning in. But no one needs to know what each and every one of your pores is doing throughout your video.

Also, try and keep the camera at eye level or slightly above. Never keep it under your face, as it will draw too much attention to the underside of your chin…or it’ll give viewers a peek right up your nose. Unless that’s the look you’re going for. But let’s be honest…it’s not.

SOUND

You may not realize it, but audio is the most important part of video. While most people watch videos without sound, for those that do – if your video sounds terrible, there’s a good chance they might not stick with it. Indeed, they’ll scroll past or swipe it away – and never see it again. And if that happens often enough, you must ask yourself, “Self: what’s the point of all this effort…if no one’s watching?”

So to combat poor audio, there are countless inexpensive lavalier mics that easily clip to your lapel or blouse. For instance, this wireless mic would be great for casual vlogging.

While on-cam mics will suffice, they won’t add that extra level of clarity and full-bodied bass to your overall sound. So do yourself a favor and pick up a little something to help with the production value. It won’t break the bank, and it’ll help make your videos that much more pro than the average joe.

LOCATION

Ok, so you’ve got a camera and a mic…now you have to find a place to film. And not any old place will do. You want your videos to stand out…but you don’t want your viewer to be distracted. You want your surroundings to be quiet, but you also don’t want to film in a boring locale. It’s a tricky balance, but it’s certainly important to consider. If you work from home, and your office is a cluttered mess, avoid filming there. Or at least clean it up to show viewers you care about the appearance of your space.  Less mess in your workspace means you can spend more time focusing on the important things – like your clients, for instance.

You’ll also want to limit background distractions while you’re filming, so viewers pay attention to your message and not the myriad activities going on all around you. For instance, don’t film a serious video  while walking around inside a store, or near a dog park. If people are tuning in to you because you’re the thought leader they want to hear from, don’t lose all that goodwill by choosing a poor filming location. Like all business decisions you make – and don’t be fooled, this IS a business decision – be smart and be intentional!

Wherever you choose, try finding someplace new and exciting for the viewer. Or go outside if it’s a nice day. Just try to avoid large crowds (the noise can be hard to combat when talking on video) and direct high noon sun. Why? Well, that leads to our next batch of tips on lighting, so read on!

LIGHTING

Lighting is the most visible invisible element in any video production. Oftentimes, you never see the source of the light, but if your shot isn’t bright enough, viewers won’t be able to see you. And if your scene is too bright, you’ll be blinded and/or your shot will be entirely blown out. Neither are good options.  So what can you do to achieve optimal lighting on a budget?

Well, for starters, the sun is your best, and cheapest, light source – so use it wisely!

That’s especially true in the early morning (or late afternoon), when it’s emanating that glorious golden hue. Just know that the higher the sun gets in the sky, the harsher the shadows will be – and it ain’t pretty.  If the sun’s not out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Clouds provide a natural diffusion of light, casting even light across the land. But if the clouds get too dark, you may have to run inside. So what to do then? Turn on some lights!

Household lights are great! Soft white bulbs in a lamp with a shade set close to your subject will cast a nice, warm light on them. But if you’re going for a more neutral lighting setup, invest in some ‘daylight’ LED bulbs. As a general rule, stay away from fluorescents for videos. They’ll make you look green. Plus, they’re prone to flickering due to a mismatch between the bulb’s subtle pulsing light and your camera’s frame rate.

To kick your production up a notch, you may want to invest in a ring light, for starters. Many of them include a stand (i.e. tripod) with a phone grip in the middle of the ring light. They have many benefits for beginner vloggers – the most important of which is that they provide nice, even light across your face. They’re not expensive and provide a great ROI.

RECAP 

By now, you can see that there are a ton of factors to consider before filming your first video. If you own a small business, the world has shifted so much over the past decade that you’ve practically been forced to jump into the video game, whether you like it or not. So there’s no time like the present to embrace it.  And if you won’t, your competition will.

If everything we’ve described still seems daunting, or you want your brand’s videos to look more polished than what you can do with your smartphone, then give us a call – we’re happy to help you out! The Social Ginger is the best marketing partner you never knew you needed, offering high-quality video at an affordable price for your small business. While we’re based in Richmond, we’ve got clients around the country – so there’s no need to hesitate. Reach out today, we’d love to hear from you!

Blog contributed by Justin Lenart (videographer/photographer at The Social Ginger)

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