Videos - bringing the web to life

Part 1: Making your video

By Joe Bell

Why use videos, what benefits do they bring, should we use them and more importantly how do we make them?

This is the first article in our two part series on video production, discussing how to create and post videos for businesses. This article will be focussing on the production of the video itself.

Planning

One of the first steps of video planning is to undertake research; look at how other people have addressed this problem and work out which ideas work best. Keep in mind who your audience is. Once you've got your basic idea established, think about how you can present your subject in the most informative yet simplest way. Start by writing bullet points or drawing mind maps to help think of ideas. Developing a script will be fairly easy after following this process.

After writing the script, it's very important to create a storyboard. A storyboard helps you to visualise what the finished video will look like and makes the filming process much easier. You don't have to be an artist to create a storyboard, simple line drawings or stick figures will do.

Image of a Storyboard

Location, location, location. You should always plan your filming locations ahead of filming. Work out whether you can supply adequate power to the filming equipment, ease of access, permission to film, conduct a risk assessment and figure out if there will be lighting or sound issues. Don't forget to provide release forms (many templates can be found online for free) for people who are in the film.

Corporate Guidelines

Before starting to film your video it may be worth looking to see if your company has a Style Guide provided by their web design or graphic design agency. A style guide ensures the brand is kept consistent and provides guidelines on how to use the company logo and name.

Professional video production

Before starting to film your video it's very important to consider whether or not to use an external professional video production company. It may well be that the extra money will be worth spending.

In-house video production

For a professional looking corporate video, it's important to find a camera that suits your needs. If you're not confident with video recording, your best option is to buy a Full HD camcorder which can be found quite cheaply at around £100 minimum.

If you're a bit more confident it might be worth using a cheap SLR camera with video recording capability, for instance a Canon EOS 1100D at approximately £250, which allows more room for filming experimentation as well as the ability to change and upgrade to different lenses.

In terms of composition, the best advice is to use the "rule-of-thirds"; this is where the image is divided into nine equal parts. Important elements should be placed along these lines.

An example of a photograph using the rule of thirds

Essential Equipment

Good lighting is the key to producing a professional video and it's very easy to make mistakes; one of the most common mistakes is filming a subject in front of a window, causing the light behind them to overpower the shot, creating a silhouette.

One of the simplest and cheapest methods of light control is a pop-up reflector or diffuser which is held directly towards the light source and tilted to light up the subject, helping to reduce shadows and creating a more balanced and professional result.

Sound can also create many issues if recorded incorrectly through wind, not testing sound levels before recording, pedestrians and other ambient noise such as traffic. All could ruin a perfectly crafted shoot. The easiest way to combat this is by placing a microphone near the source of the sound but out of shot, cheap microphones and even mobile phone headphones provided with an inbuilt microphone can work successfully. Professionals may want to use wind protectors to combat noise distortion however they can often be expensive.

A professional film crew in action

Editing software

There are a range of video editors available and it is important to pick one that suits your needs. If you're not experienced with video editing, iMovie for Mac and Windows Live Movie Maker are the good options. iMovie provides more advanced features such as sound engineering at no extra cost but both are simple and easy-to-use editors.

For the more advanced user there's software such as Final Cut Pro for Mac and Avid Media Composer of Adobe Premier for both Windows and Mac may be appropriate.

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Joe Bell of Ecru Joe Bell of Ecru

This article was written by Joe Bell of Ecru. If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to discuss your next web site project please call us on 0800 0433 963 or get in touch via our contact form.

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