My daughter learned her first video production tip before
she turned two:
"Big smile Daddy?” she asked as I turned our video camera to
record a picture she had colored for Momma.
"Yeah, but show me the picture too,” I replied.
These two instructions are probably the best tips I can
share about creating effective video – a smile and a demonstration are all it
takes for many forms of successful communication and whether you realize it or
not, you most likely mastered those skills at a very young age.
At its core, video is simply a tool that can be used to
capture and repeat a message. It’s never been cheaper or easier to produce a
video and most owners of a smart phone can create and share a video with the world. In fact, YouTube reports that over 100 hours
of video content are uploaded each minute on their video-sharing site. At that rate it would take a fulltime
employee 23 years to watch all of the video that will be uploaded today.
However, as comedian Deon Cole has noted, there are a
billion smart phones in the world and at any given time, 300 million of them
are filming something stupid. The
purpose of this article is to encourage you to use video as a business tool and
to share with you three very basic tips that can elevate your message to a
professional look and feel.
We’ve used video in more than a dozen ways at Boomer
Consulting. We use live video primarily
for communications – video conferencing and webinars for example. We use on-demand video primarily for
training, marketing and producing intellectual capital. The questions I field are normally related to
the startup use of video in training programs so the three tips in this article
will be within that context.
Tip #1: What type of
camera should you use? The camera type
won’t really matter until you learn how to manipulate several other basic
I often recommend that beginners use an inexpensive or
borrowed camera to develop their workflow before they invest in purchasing a
camera or cameras. That’s because in
terms of visual quality, a $100 camera is adequate to produce something like a
corporate training video. However,
visual quality is not the most important element of most videos. For a professional look and feel, audio
quality, lighting, and the ability to switch between video sources are more
important than an upgrade in visual quality.
Audio quality, lighting, camera placement, content and performance are
like links in a chain and a weakness in any one of those areas can affect the
effectiveness of the entire production.
You can achieve some control of these factors by spending more on camera
features but you will most likely find it more beneficial to invest first in an
excellent tripod, a diverse audio recording system, a post-production editing
system and some practice. The good news
is that because of technology advances, you can do more today with $20,000 in
equipment than most TV stations could do ten years ago with $250,000 in
Tip #2: Can you hear me now?
In my opinion, the production element that is most likely to be
overlooked by a beginner is audio quality.
It’s also an element you can improve vastly for an investment of less
$1,000 may seem like a lot if you have a mindset that the
camera is the only critical piece of equipment (it’s not, see tip #1). However, if you look at this expenditure
after the production of your 100th video you’re going to realize
that this was the best money you ever spent.
For all of the improvements in audio-video technology, audio
capture still depends on a microphone catching sound waves as they pass through
air. Generally speaking, you will get
better quality audio as you get closer to the source. However, there are a number of things that
can complicate this ideal. For example,
what if someone in the audience asks a great question? The resulting discussion is sometimes the
most valuable portion of the presentation but a single microphone located on or
close to the presenter will not be able to capture the discussion.
Audio capture is complicated enough that most production
teams either employ or consult with a sound engineer when planning any unique
or important production. It’s also
simple enough that you will easily master basic techniques that will be
sufficient for the majority of your productions. You might not discern the importance of audio
in the first few videos that you produce – in part because you’ll be so excited
to have achieved the visual portion of the capture. But similar to enjoying a fine wine, with
time you’ll appreciate the ease and value of elevating your audio to a
#3: May I have your attention please?
You’ve got 30 seconds to earn five minutes of attention.
The rule of thumb I’ve been taught suggests that 85% of
people who start a 30 second video will watch it entirely while only 50% will
completely watch a video two to ten minutes long. Obviously the content and the quality of the
video influence the effectiveness of the video.
But it’s also obvious that one advantage of video is that learning can
be broken into small, easily digested segments and a large percentage of your
audience will prefer it that way. That
implies that you will need to invest time in post-production in order to
maximize the value of your recording.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Ultimately video is just another evolution in the way we
communicate. Businesses that accept and
adapt will have a competitive advantage over those which ignore. Fortunately, almost everyone is producing
some kind of video. You can easily
elevate your productions to a professional look and feel with a little
practice, an investment in audio capture and by offering short excerpts of