Tick tick tick goes the bomb. Our hero makes a mad dash through the abandoned warehouse to disarm it in time. The music crescendos as the hero pulls out wire clippers. He lines up the green wire… and a small child walks in front of the camera shouting about Cheerios, obstructing our view of the movie’s climactic moment.
If you’re thinking about adding videos to your business website, we know you don’t have the movie-making magic of a major studio behind you, but that’s OK. With just a little situational awareness and a small bag of tricks, you can create excellent quality videos to display on your site. We’ve talked about how to use your smartphone to create videos. Today, we’re going to focus on the “how not.”
What should you avoid, anticipate, and plan around when creating a video for your website?
Avoid uncontrollable sets
The first and most important thing to account for when filming your video is where you’re shooting it. You probably don’t have a professional set — a perfectly appointed, lit and wired location to create you videos. No problem. Just take these factors into consideration:
- You wont’ be able to control background noise or bystanders if you shoot in a public place. Street traffic, airplanes and screaming children could become uninvited extras.
- Lighting is tough to control when you shoot outside.
- Shooting at home with the kids and pets in residence? Put Rover in a separate room and square away the children if they aren’t already glued to the PlayStation. And make sure the place looks tidy.
You don’t want this:
When you’ve worked out the variables that you can’t control and have settled on a workable, quiet location, do a final sweep to check for things you can control — primarily objects or distractions in the background and, depending on your location, restriction of foot traffic. You want to be fully in control of what’s going to happen next so that nothing short of a sudden alien invasion will get in the way of you creating your video.
Don’t wing it
Speaking of being prepared, do you have a script? If you try to wing it, you’re far more likely to stutter, swear, fumble or forget what you want to get across.
You don’t want this:
Your script doesn’t have to be Shakespearian; you just a functional outline of what you are trying to accomplish. (Here’s a handy article with scriptwriting tips.) Of course, also do your best to ensure that the script isn’t boring. You don’t want people to lose interest in your video in the first 15 seconds, so be sure to grab their attention early on.
This can be accomplished by something as simple as asking them a question: “Do you want to know how to save money while keeping your car in peak condition?” Who the heck doesn’t want that? Do, however, be mindful of your claims. Don’t sell snake oil in your videos. Today’s consumers are well-versed in the art of detecting something that is too good to be true.
Shun the shakes
Situational awareness is the name of the game, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to just your location. Your cameraperson needs to have it as well. Whether you’re using a smartphone or handheld camcorder, keep these practices in mind:
- Hold the camera steady. Shaky video worked for “The Blair Witch Project,” but it’s probably not a good idea for your masterpiece.
- Don’t point directly at light sources.
- Keep fingers off the lens. Believe me, it happens.
You don’t want this:
Depending on your location and intent, you might be able to nix the extra body in favor of a tripod. The added benefit? You don’t have to buy your tripod lunch in exchange for doing you a favor.
If anyone is doing face-time in the video, remember: They are representing you, your business, and what you stand for. I doubt sloppy attire, poor grooming and bad grammar will contribute to the kind of impression you’re hoping to make.
Neither will a straight “talking head,” emotionless and mechanical. Let your passion for what you do shine through in the way you deliver your message on camera. That animation will translate into excitement in the video and a more memorable experience for your viewers. While your video series might not become the next “Will It Blend?” phenomenon, a little humor or excitement will definitely keep your viewers coming back for more.
And, if someone will edit your video, make sure they have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish — but understand that they are not miracle workers. By avoiding the “don’ts” when shooting your video, you’ll make their job infinitely easier. Especially when you’re just starting out, it’s best to keep the video process simple; the less moving parts in the machine, the less likely that machine will break down.
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Also published on Medium.