By Steve Barnes
As a marketer, you’re faced with the task of producing great looking web video content if you’re going to compete in the social media game. If you‘ve never produced, shot and edited a video for mass consumption, there’s quite a learning curve to do it correctly. Making a wrong turn can cheapen the look of your video and be lethal reflection on your brand image.
The smartest way to produce web video content:
- -Know who you’re targeting with the content
- -Meet with your team and plot out content ideas
- -Have a pre-production meeting to work up a plan and schedule (This is going to save you time and lots of headaches later)
- -Allow twice the time you think you’re going to need to produce the content
- -Don’t cut corners when shooting. You’ll pay a price during post production
The biggest misconception when working with video is that you have to spend tons of money to get great looking web video content. There’s a difference between a “cheap” production and an “inexpensive” production. These days, technology is your friend. You can produce solid looking web video content without your company accountant blowing a decimal point.
These particular tips are intended for the video production beginner who doesn’t have access to professional video production tools. With very little investment, you can have a mobile video studio ready to create content like a modern day Cecil B. Demille.
5 Easy Steps to Great Looking Web Video Content:
Getting a solid camera is important for obvious reasons, but there are a few key items to consider when you purchase. First, make sure you have a “mic in” input so you can use a higher quality microphone. The preference is an “XLR” input, but you can get away with a “mini 1/4” input as there are adapters to get pro sound into the camera. Second, you want either a “3 CCD” or “HD” based camera. Lastly, think about how you’re going to get what you shoot to the computer for editing. This can be frustrating if you don’t understand video codecs and how they apply to editing. I would suggest a camera that shoots to memory cards so you can quickly pull them out and move the footage to your computer. Your other options are to use mini dv tapes (be sure your computer and the camera you use are compatibile), or to have a mini dv “deck” (again, be sure it’s compatible with the computer). You can also download your footage via USB. All of my experience is on a Mac, and they are generally very receptive to most cameras and decks.
Suggested cameras that meet the above criteria:
-The JVC GY-HM100U is an awesome camera (and the one we use at Vitrue) if you can spend a little more. (If you go this route, Final Cut Pro plays well with this video codec)
Lights are extremely important, but often overlooked. You want to get a decent light package, but you don’t have to break the bank. Depending on what kind of projects you’ll do, you should supplement your lighting with available sunlight. I think the best deal out there for a simple light package is this DayFlo EZ Lite 1050 3 Head Kit from Pacific Coast Lighting Systems. With this, you get a “Daylight” light which you can easily mix with sunlight for great results. These are also “cool” lights so your room doesn’t get boiling with hot lights. This kit also comes with a great instructional video on lighting a video production.
It would also be smart to get a travel-sized light like the Litepanel LP MicroPro (daylight balanced) for small shooting scenarios.
One of the biggest complaints in post production is that the sound was not recorded well. Choices depend on your shooting situation. All of the suggestions below can be used with the audio accessory mentioned above in the camera section:-Get a pair of lapel mics for use in interview situations. The Audio-Technica AT831B is a “wired” inexpensive choice, or you could go with the superior Sennheiser Evolution G3 100 Series “Wireless” combo kit which has 2 wireless “Lav” mics plus a base to make a standalone handheld mic a “wireless” (like one mentioned below)
-It would serve you well to have 2 Shure SM58’s in your production kit. These are an industry standard, and you can convert one to “wireless” with the above Sennheiser Evolution kit
-Avoid using the onboard camera mic if you can help it. A mic like The Panasonic MC-70 is a solid “shotgun” mic for picking up general sound
Completely understanding editing gear and technique takes years of hands-on experience. The numerous options in some software can be downright overwhelming. I’d suggest a MacBook Pro for your editing. Editing needs serious processing power, and you should “max out” your computer’s processing power for the editing to go smoothly and quickly. Apple provides iMovie with all Macs, which is more than sufficient for new editors and does a great job with footage and graphics.
These are other paid options, but remember, as the price and level go up, so does the learning curve:
-Final Cut X is brand new from Apple, and frankly, is taking a beating from editors around the world. Do your research on this one before getting it. The now discontinued Final Cut Express was an excellent choice for editors looking for a basic powerful solution. You can always pick up a used copy. My favorite and current choice is Final Cut Pro Studio, which you should approach with caution unless you know you’ll be comfortable with the level of editing savvy needed to get the most out of it. You’ll have to hunt this one down online as Apple has discontinued it (crazy!!)
-Adobe Premier Pro is also a very popular pro editing solution. I have no personal experience using this Adobe product, but it’s comparable to the Final Cut Studio mentioned above.
- Exporting For The Web
What a big can of worms. There are hundreds of ways to export footage. I’ll offer the easiest solution for beginners so that your video looks great but is also optimized for the web. The settings below are a great “catch all” solution when using Quicktime to export files for web use. The 2 best places, in my opinion, to host your video files are YouTube and Blip.TV, but there are many more to choose from. These days, they’re doing the heavy lifting for you by serving up HD video to users effortlessly.
Quicktime settings when exporting video:
Frame rate: Current
Key Frames: Auto
Encoding: Best (Multi-pass)
Date rate: Automatic
Size: Same size that you recorded in most cases. If you need to shrink the file size you can choose an alternate size but be sure and keep the video aspect ratio correct.
For Audio: AAC, Stereo, 48K and 128 kbps
Although this is meant as a reference for beginners, even these tips can be imposing for a beginner. The best thing to do is jump right in and start experimenting. There are countless tutorials on the web for free to help you along the way. Lights, Camera, Action!