Editing for DIY Video Marketing: What to Know to Get the Most Out of Your Time

A Successful First Video Edit [Case Study]

You know that awesome feeling when you teach something and then it totally lands?

That’s how I felt when I watched this video:

Last year, I taught a class at a Bronx high school for an EDsnaps summer program run by Susanne Cappendijk. Her daughter, Lisanne, listened to my class and then went off and made this video from scratch. I love every frame of it!

So, I called Lisanne and asked her what she had learned in my class and how she applied it, and where her challenges where. Turns out that this video is a collaborative effort.

  • The first interviews with the young ladies, I had shot on the day of my workshop. During the shoot, I taught one of the teachers how to replicate the shoot for the ‘after’ interviews three weeks later.
  • The photos were shot during the program.
  • The second round of interviews and with the girls, as well as the interview with her mom, where shot by Lisanne, who was given pointers by the teacher I had taught.
  • While shooting the girls, the most important advice was to remind them to look right into the camera and not get distracted by the interviewer or other people in the room.

Editing took her about 3 full days – which sounds about right for that amount of footage and for being a novice. Lisanne was surprised how long it took just to look through all the footage. Let alone organize it and plan on how to use it! I know!

She used a pre-set graphic template that iMovie offered with a school-theme (how perfect is that) and used music from a royalty-free YouTube music library recommended by her brother.

Lisanne is a fantastic example of how with a little guidance, you can create a great DIY video for your organization or business.

Throughout this blog post, I will provide you with what you need to know and consider when organizing your edit, choosing editing software/apps, and what to consider when you’re thinking of hiring a video editor.

Here’s what we’ll go over in this blog post:

  • Your Edit begins with Organizing your Footage and Creating a Workflow
  • How to Hire a Video Editor: 5 Questions to Ask
  • DIY Video Editing: What Apps to Use
  • A Post-Production Glossary for Editing

 

Your Edit begins with Organizing your Footage and Creating a Workflow

Video footage can be daunting. There are so many clips, and they all sound and look more or less alike. I’ve been there, I know.

Typically, there is a 20:1 ratio from shot material to the final video.

That means you have about TWENTY 30-second clips to go through for a 30-second video. It doesn’t sound like much, but much like a wine tasting, unless you’re a connoisseur, it all becomes an indiscernible mish-mash very quickly.

Establish a workflow from day one. Footage takes up a hell of a lot of space, cameras auto-name the video clips, and editing software creates render files you don’t want to touch. So make sure from the get-go that everything is where you want it to be!

Here are a few steps to remembering while Shooting your Video to set you up for a good edit.

  • Figure out how your footage gets from your smartphone (or camera) to your filing system (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc). Have a dedicated hard drive for editing – you do not want to edit off your computer’s hard drive.
    [Note: If you’re doing a bigger edit and using a professional software like Adobe Premiere Pro, the drive you edit from should run at 7200 rpm – those drives are a bit more expensive and will save you from project file ‘crashing’ issues and dropped frames.]
  • Have a second, dedicated hard drive for backups.
  • Establish a folder system and naming convention for the folders and keep it as a template (see screenshot examples below).
  • Create a folder for each video project. Below an example of what my nomenclature and folder structure look like.
  • Naming your files: I’m super particular and like to go about it in the following sequence: ProjectName_Date_Version#. If there is a job number associated with the project I put it first: Job#_ProjectName_Date_Version#.
  • I always insist on a date AND a version number, because more often than not, you will have several outputs (renders) on the same day, especially towards the end.

Sample folder structure for the project: “Video Marketing Introduction, May 2016”.

 

Same folder as above, but expanded [this is a sample only, based on a real project].

If this seems a bit of overkill for a simple iPhone video shoot, I can tell you from painful experience that it’s not. When I ventured into the DIY video marketing I realized that all the set-up we do on professional shoots is equally as necessary for a DIY shoot.

Here’s why: Any video recording device will name the clips you shoot at random (not random to them, but to humans), files are huge and will need to be stored on external hard drives, and professional edit software creates render files that need to have a “home”, because once they are created you do not want to move them (trust me).

Don’t fall into the trap of footage overwhelm before you even start editing:

  • Be realistic about what you can handle: Keep clips super short. Stay with a single clip.
  • Do an edit “dry-run” with a sample video clip. Try a few apps and see what you like (For guidance & inspiration.
  • Take notes while you shoot & identify each clip (see photo below)
  • Organize your footage into folders.
  • For in-depth video editing learning, I also recommend Lynda.com
  • If you have a longer, or complex story to tell: Hire an editor.
  • If you have little, or no time: Hire an editor.
  • If you’re not patient and don’t love figuring out “things” (aka software): Hire an editor.

How to Hire a Video Editor: 5 Questions to Ask

Of all the careers to be explored and be had in the film business, editing is probably the one I have the most respect for. Whatever producers, directors, camera people, and a myriad of other professionals screwed up en route to post-production, needs to be fixed and made look like it was the plan all along by the editor.

A good editor is as much a storyteller, visionary, and technician, and as she is a fixer, healer and diplomat.

As you see in the list above, if you don’t have (or want to put in) the time to first learn and then do the actual video edit then you might want to invest in hiring a video editor. If you do go down that path, here is what you should consider when making sure you get your money’s worth.

1. What makes a good editor?

  • A good editor is a person who can tell a story and make smart decisions.
  • A good editor will listen and understand how to tell YOUR story.
  • A good editor can take hours of footage (film clips) and sort through them quickly to find the nuggets.
  • A good editor will take direction and understand your video’s context.

2. What do you look for in an editor?

  • Look at an editor’s show-reel and sample videos. Make sure you ask them WHAT their role was on each – it can be a hodge-podge of straight editing, animation, motion graphics, sound mixing, and color correcting (these are all separate jobs in the TV/commercial world), and all of these can be done by one person on a small project. You just want to make sure you know exactly what you’re looking at and therefore, what you would be ‘buying’.
  • In their work, listen for the quality of sound, look for smooth transitions, look at overall style, and pay attention to the quality of the graphics.
  • If you need graphics and animations make sure they can show you samples that they created and animated themselves (don’t assume anything).
  • Make sure you like their style. Are their videos similar to what you are looking for? If not, keep looking.

3. What do you discuss with your editor?

  • Workflow! How do they get the footage from you or the shooter, what software are they using, and what are they giving back to you (insist on all source folders and project files (!). You want to be covered should you need to make changes and they are no longer available.
  • Discuss the scope of work (timeline, deliverables) and their hourly or day rate (here more than anywhere else: You get what you pay for).
  • Listen to their suggestion of how long it will take. In general, editing takes a lot longer than you would think.
  • Make sure you have at least two rounds of changes built into your scope of work.
  • Go over all of the above with your editor and have both of you agree to the terms in writing.

4. Where do you find an editor?

  • Word of mouth! I’d go with recommendations from people you trust.
  • Upwork – I wouldn’t hire under $60 an hour – give them a small job first to see how they work and if you are “compatible”.
  • Caution about working with editors in 3rd world countries: Ask them if they have a licensed copy of the software they are using if you want source-files! (bootleg copies might crash your computer!).I have also found that they typically work on ancient computers (after all, they charge you peanuts per hour), which means that your work will take a LOT LONGER (their machines don’t process very fast and editing can be very labor intense on a processor). The add-on time it takes them to process and render your video might wipe out the savings on hourly rate compared to a good deal in the US.

5. What does it cost? How long does it take?

  • It depends and it depends…
  • My 2-minute “talking-head” vlogs with graphics and titles but no music- take me about 3 hours to edit (this includes a thumbnail and graphics). It would take an editor about the same amount of time, but the product would be much better.
  • An editor goes into multiple clips and cuts together the best parts of each (which is what you want from an editor in the first place) and that takes a bit longer, especially since they are not familiar with the footage.
  • Most professional editors work on an eight-, or ten-hour day rate.From corporate, I’m used to paying $500 – 600 per day on the lower end. If you hire by the hour it’s going to be either a bit more, or your editor will have a minimum hourly. For one of my vlogs, I would expect to pay at least $350. But for something like that I’d likely do a ‘bulk’ deal to get a better rate and have three to five videos done at once.
  • The difference going from a $35/hour editor to a $60/hour editor is – with a few notable exceptions – well worth the investment: Both in terms of outcome and process.
  • Allow time for an editor to set up the edit, look at the footage and any other assets (logos, photos, graphic elements, music, etc.), plus about 2 hours of editing for a basic 2-minute talkie video. And then allow more time for the editor to finesse all the “moving parts” – i.e. transitions, audio, music, graphics, etc. For editors, it takes a moment to find the rhythm between speech, what you see, music, and graphics. I would say a 4-hour minimum for an edit that is just a talking head video. If you have b-roll (additional footage that plays while the “talking-head” keeps talking), double that time. Finally, allow at least two hours for feedback changes and final output.As you can see, even a small edit can turn into a 10-hour affair quickly!

DIY Video Editing: What Apps to Use

If you have the time to invest in learning and doing your own video editing then you’re going to want to use software/applications that give you the most support.

New apps and software, as well as software updates, can change the editing landscape fast. For Apple users, iPhone and Mac come pre-loaded with iMovie, which is very serviceable for a basic edit, but you will reach its limits fast.

Similarly, PC’s come pre-loaded with Windows Movie Maker, which is an even more limited software than iMovie.

In general what you want to look for – as a minimum – in an editing software or app, is the capability to do the following:

  • Trim & Cut: take apart your footage
  • Transitions: dissolve, cross dissolve, fade in from black or white, and fade out to black or white
  • Add a title
  • Add a photo
  • Add music
  • Have multiple video (visual) tracks so you can see one track, but hear the audio from another
  • Output to save to a folder of your choosing

What software do I use for video editing?

A myriad of different apps: sometimes it feels like I have one for each occasion!

  • Some are great for a quick in-phone edit and instant upload to social media (iMovie).
  • Others are full-featured apps for longer pieces, or videos with more layering in terms of graphics, b-roll, or slides (Premiere).
  • Some videos need lots of “love”, like fixing color-, or sound-issues, or editing away lots of runaway sentences in an interview (Premiere).
  • Sometimes it’s just important to show someone how to edit in the most time-effective way possible (iMovie).
  • Sometimes there’s a very specific feature you’re looking for and it’s easiest handled on a certain app (Animoto: Split screens, Magisto: Music beat-synching to cuts).
  • Sometimes you want full control (iMovie, Premiere) and sometimes you want an app to put it together for you with the magic of Artificial Intelligence (Magisto).

Here are a few apps and what I use them for and why:

Adobe Premiere Pro CC (aka Creative Cloud) | Desktop | Mac & PC

Premiere is the gold standard for professional editing and I use it for all the videos that I edit on my desktop.

  • It’s superior in its interaction with any other Adobe product, in particular Photoshop, which I use for graphics and to create custom thumbnails.
  • It can manipulate sound and layer pictures and additional stock footage easily.
  • It can output into any format, size, and codec

[Note: Final Cut Pro and Avid are still being used but compared to Premiere they are unnecessarily complicated, or not fully featured (Final Cut Pro X), or not supported anymore (Final Cut Pro 7)].

Pros:

  • Fully featured editing software
  • Fully integrated into ALL Adobe software
  • Intuitive and forgiving for “basic” editors like me with limited technical knowledge and skills (as compared to Final Cut Pro and Avid)

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve because it’s fully featured
  • Pricey compared to non-professional software. It’s part of the Adobe Cloud software package which includes After Effects (Animation), Photoshop, Illustrator (Graphic Design), etc.

Animoto | Cloud Platform | Apple & Android App

Animoto is a fast, super easy to learn video editing platform. I used it a few times a year ago when my Premiere chops weren’t that great yet. I just wanted to trim a few YouTube videos to show during my presentations and workshops, and not have to go through an entire editing “process” of setting up folders and workflows.

Animoto also has a few cool features like split screen templates, which are awesome if you want to produce a “how to video”. You could shoot a person explaining something in one section while showing the visual of that thing being done in another section.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Very basic: You can’t separate sound from your video
  • You can’t move around graphics much
  • You don’t have transition options

Magisto | Cloud Platform | Apple & Android App

Magisto’s magic is artificial intelligence. This means you don’t have control over the editing, but the application does put slideshows, photos and clips together within minutes and it has a very nice music library.

If you don’t care about control of your clips and the default hokey transitions (there are also templates with ‘clean’ transitions) then you will be in heaven.

Pros:

  • AI-based and automated editing
  • Auto sync to music
  • White-label solutionfor high-volume users
  • Decent pricing
  • Great customer service

Cons:

  • No control over your edit
  • Some templates are very tacky

iMovie | Desktop | Mac

Mac’s integrated video software is constantly evolving and the newer versions of iMovie are full-featured enough for a non-professional video marketer who needs a few videos for her small business to make it happen and then some.

Pros:

  • Free with your Mac (older versions are still clunky: Make sure to always be on the latest version)
  • Fairly easy to learn

Cons:

  • Graphics still not great
  • No import of Photoshop files or vector files with transparent backgrounds (i.e. no layering of Logos over footage possible)

iMovie | Mobile | Apple App

Similarly, to the desktop version, iMovie as an application is also constantly updating. The changes just in the past few months have been major. Today you can perform a pretty complex edit with b-roll and audio separated from the picture.

In general, iMovie is pretty full featured. If it weren’t for the graphics still being very basic and the fact that my thumbs are too thick, I’d never bother with another edit software again.

Pros:

  • Free, comes with your iPhone
  • Multiple clips can be layered
  • Audio can be separated from clip
  • Audio can be manipulated
  • Clips can be re-sized, sped up and flipped

Cons:

  • In-app graphics are still very limited
  • No import of graphics possible

If you’re super ambitious: Adobe Premiere CC is a professional edit software within the Adobe Creative Cloud package and it’s the current industry standard.

It’s well worth learning if you’re interested in editing and investing some real time and creative juice. Adobe Premiere is subscription based and belongs to the entire Adobe bundle, which features Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, After Effects, etc.

No matter which editing software you end up using: Allow for some practice time and ‘finagling’. It takes a moment to make all the decisions: where to cut a sentence out; how to deal with transitions; if the music makes sense or not; and where the graphics go. When it doubt, keep it simple!

 

A Post-Production Glossary for Editing

Without going into crazy detail, it is important to get basic editing terminology right, to understand what some of the apps are offering and what some of the more advanced computer software programs are talking about.

Here a very basic glossary. The links connect to our online resource blog called Definition Day, where I post definitions of video marketing relevant words each week.

Linear vs. Non-Linear Editing

Ok, think TT (Throwback Thursday). In the not so distant, old days, editing was linear. You added one video clip to another in sequential order and going back and changing something, meant the entire sequence after your edit, meaning going forward, needed to be moved up as well. Think even further back to editing filmstrips: You took out a section of film you moved up the entire subsequent section to close the gap.

Today, all editing software is non-linear. Which mostly means that you can go into an edit totally unprepared and keep editing until you ‘strike gold’. As you can tell: I’m a fan of being prepared. A good edit is time-consuming with a precise plan and can be totally overwhelming and exponentially more time-consuming without one.

Sequence and Timeline

The video clips you are working within an editing software are put into a sequence, which is defined as a set of things next to each other in a set order. The timeline is the graphical representation of that chronological sequence of events (i.e. video clips strung together).

A timeline starts at the head and ends at the tail. There is a linear beginning and end to the clip and any subsequent clips that are being brought into that same timeline.

Layers:

The different tracks in a sequence that are stacked on top of each other. A good editing software has an allowance for many (unlimited) video and audio tracks. Graphics and effects live on the video tracks. Normally the outermost track (video tracks mostly get added on top of each other) is the one being seen in the preview window. Audio tracks are ALL heard unless they are muted.

Bin

A software folder into which video clips and other editing assets get organized in.

Insider fact: The term bin is a leftover from the manual editing days (not too long ago), when the editing process the physical filmstrips would be hanging from a frame built on top of a bin. The top bar of the frame had small nails every half-inch or so from which the filmstrips would hang from their sprocket holes. The bin itself would catch any filmstrips that fell off the frame.

Head and Tail:

Refers to the start and end of a video clip, or a timeline, or a sequence.

Edit Windows

Most professional editing software programs are set up in four main windows:

  • Assets, organized in bins
  • Source window
  • Preview window
  • Sequence, Timeline

The tools you use to work with these windows are often in toolbars on any of the screen edges. See sample below from Adobe Premiere CC.

  • The assets window has all the different files and folders in it you are working with, as well as tabs or links to effects, transitions, and other apps.
  • The source window shows you the video (or effect, or audio wave file) of the asset you are currently working with. I.e. choosing clips from to put into the timeline (for the most part)
  • The sequence window shows you your timeline and
  • The preview window shows you your edited video clip (sequence) at the moment where you are editing right now)

Trim, Cut, Split, and Splice:

All ways to take apart your video clips.

When you trim your video, you remove the head and/or the tail of the clip (much like giving your hair a trim: you’re sprucing it up, but not touching the ‘meat’).

cut is mostly referred to when you remove a section of your video clip, so you cut in two places and lift out the middle section and join the leftover video back together. If you have a very long video, you might just cut it into sections to work with separately, then you’re splitting your video. When you join two video clips together, you splice them.

In all cases make sure you SAVE AS your entire video clip before you edit away. Depending on your software, you might lose your cut or trimmed part of the clip (this goes especially for in-phone apps!).

Transitions (dissolve, cross dissolve, fade in from black or white, and fade out to black or white): 

Video transitions are used to make cuts from one clip to another smoother or to start and finish a sequence. Many in-phone apps have transitions which might be cute for social media, but really don’t belong in video marketing for businesses, unless you cater to an audience that appreciates dizzying transitions. The most common transitions are fading up from black and fading down to black. Those can be used at the head and tail of a clip, but also from one cut to another – the length of the transition can be as short as a few frames.

Frame Rate

A film strip is nothing else but a rapid sequence of still images. Classic film was played back at 24 frames per second. That was the rate at which the human eye could no longer distinguish the single frame images and perceived the flow of images as seamless. Today, in video production we mostly use 30 frames per second and, if we don’t mind a more ‘video’ looking feel, even 60 frames per second. When editing around transitions sometimes a single frame can make the difference between a smooth transition (both for audio and video), a jarring one.

Looking for more lingo? Here a link to a very comprehensive (and very long) glossary of all things post-production.

 

Final Thoughts on Video Editing

No matter which editing software you end up using, allow for some practice time and ‘finagling’. It takes a moment to make all the decisions: where to cut a sentence out, how to deal with transitions, if music makes sense or not, where the graphics go.

Even if you end up hiring an editor, you’ll still need to invest time in finding and interviewing the right collaborator and communicating with them to get the best results.

When it doubt: Keep it simple! When still in doubt: Call Nina!

DIY Video Shooting: Feel Comfortable Behind and in Front of the Camera

Once you’ve determined how Video Marketing fits into your overall business Strategy and determined what kind of Storytelling will best engage your target customer, it’s time to shoot your video.

This post will run down what you need to know when it comes to creating a video for your Small Business, whether you’ll be behind or in front of the camera, or both!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Choosing the Right Location for Your Shoot
  2. What Camera Should You Use for DIY Video
  3. Accessorizing for a Smart Phone Shoot
  4. How to Light a Talking Head Shoot
  5. A Bit More on Backgrounds
  6. What to Wear – or not Wear – on Camera
  7. Framing a Talking-Head Shoot
  8. Shooting a Talking-Head Video

There’s a lot of information, but I’ve broken it down into these chunks so you can feel aware and prepared going into your DIY video marketing shoot.

So let’s get started!

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LOCATION FOR YOUR SHOOT

Looking for and finding a good spot to shoot can make or break the “quality” look and feel you may want to portray of yourself and your company.

Modeled after the steps that a location scout will go through on a professional video shoot, I’ve created this simplified checklist for finding your DIY video location shoot.

I’ll go deeper into some of the steps below (background, lighting) in this guide, but if you don’t start off with a decent location then you’ll be setting yourself up for a more difficult experience than necessary.

So, remember to ask:

    • Do I have permission to shoot in this location?
      If you’re using someone else’s space, I recommend getting their permission down in writing somewhere – even if it’s in an email.If it’s your home or office, do you have general liability insurance, or a homeowner’s policy, just in case someone helping you hurts themselves? (Note: this holds true if you have a bigger shoot, than just yourself and a smart phone).
    • What is the background you’ll be in front of?
      iPhones, and most non-professional cameras you will not allow you to throw the background out of focus. Keep to a neutral, non-distracting background. A solid colored wall is probably your best friend.
    • What is the lighting situation?
      If there is a window does it have direct sunlight? If so: what hours of the day? Can you shoot what you need to shoot while there is no direct sunlight? Are there shades that can control the outside light?If there is no window, do you have a few lamps that you can use to adjust the lighting?
    • What is the noise level in this room?
      Listen for or ask about: air conditioning; heater noise; street noise; hallway noise; elevator “ding”; thin walls to neighbors.
    • How big is the room?
      Do you get enough distance in length between the background and yourself, and between the camera and yourself, so you won’t cast a shadow on the wall and the camera won’t cast a shadow on you?Do I have enough width to get a clean background, and not see other walls in the shot?
    • Can you set yourself and the camera up such that you are close enough to camera for good sound?
      If you’re working with a larger distance between you and the camera then you may need to invest in microphone equipment. We’ll talk about that in the equipment section of this guide.
    • Do you have enough time to do what you need to do?
      One page of traditional script format (one audio and one video column) typically equals one minute of video, once it’s all edited.When planning on how long your shooting day will take, a good rule of thumb is to give yourself an hour per page. Then add an hour for set up at the beginning of the shoot and an additional 30 minutes for backing up footage and breaking down the equipment at the end. (Note: this holds true for a shoot that goes byond just you and your smart phone)
    • Can the room handle all your equipment?
      Are there enough outlets and is there enough power for all the ‘stuff’ you’re plugging in? Do you need to bring extension cords?

WHAT CAMERA SHOULD YOU USE FOR DIY VIDEO?

I once produced and directed a video to rave reviews from the agency and the clients. Everyone especially liked the camera work, which was done by the amazingly talented Peter Mariuzza. A fellow producer wanted to know which camera and lenses Peter had used. We dutifully answered the question, but we both had the same reaction to the question: it’s not about WHAT you shoot with, but about HOW you use the equipment.

If you’re a true do-it-yourselfer, start with your smart phone.
They have great video cameras today, even in “selfie” mode, and if your objective is a video introducing you, as the face of your company, it might work just fine for you and your budget. Make sure to keep it short and simple.

If you shoot close enough, the built-in microphone is probably good enough (but do make sure to record in a quiet environment to avoid audio headaches).

Mark my words. If you start geeking out on equipment too early, chances are you’re not focusing on content and how to engage your audience.

If you are looking for some good tools to make your video experience a little easier, there are accessories that you can use with your phone won’t break the bank.

 

ACESSORIZING FOR A SMART PHONE SHOOT

There are a gazillion gizmos out there to stabilize, strap, and mount your phone. If you live in Manhattan like me, just look at all the tourists with their selfie-sticks. And there are equally as many apps to enhance your in-phone camera, and help you edit, distort, and upload video. If you have extra time: you can really have a lot of fun trying out different video software. A popular camera enhancement app is: http://www.filmicpro.com/

But for shooting a straight into camera talking-head, some b-roll footage, or an interview, the camera itself is just fine.

I’m going to stick to the basics and focus on getting you something you can achieve in a timely manner and use without years of experience in video production!

First and foremost, make sure you have enough memory on your smart phone to shoot!
For an iPhone, you check this under Settings => Photos & Camera => Record Video and it will tell you your recording format choices and how much memory is being used in the process. I recommend you shoot a test at “1080p HD and 30 fps” and see how your memory stacks up. Note that most iPhone selfie-cameras shoot at 720p.

If you do NOT have enough memory for a few 30 – 60 second video clips, borrow a phone, before you spend ANY money.

In my mind, there are two approaches to shooting with a smart phone camera: either, you and your phone OR you, your friend and your phone.

However, if you have the means accessories (even a simple tripod) can be very helpful. Here are a handful of simple items that you can add to your video shoot without breaking the bank. Note: These items are suggestions and not professional grade. They are adequate however for staring out and tinkering.

  • An adjustable phone grip and tripod with carry bag.
    These are probably two of the most useful tools for making sure your shots stay consistent and look professional.For the tripod, make sure the legs extend high enough for you to be eye level with the lens of your smart phone and look to find the sweet spot between sturdy and bulky. If it has a “head” make sure it pans and tilts smoothly and has a watermark for leveling.
  • lavaliere microphone.
    If you are working with distance from your camera for your ideal shot then you’ll definitely want to get a microphone like this to keep the quality of your audio. Make sure you get one with a long enough cable to reach from your tripod to wherever you will be.
  • A light kit.
    If you have tons of daylight in your shooting space you don’t need a light, because nothing strong enough to counter or enhance daylight you’d want to carry, store, nor pay for. I’ll speak more about lighting for video next.

And here are some things that fall outside physical ‘equipment’, but you’ll still likely want to have at the ready for your shoot:

  • Your script
  • Tons of post-it’s and a sharpie
  • One trusting friend, or family member, who isn’t prone to giggle-fits
  • A rubbery protective cover for your phone because you will (and yes, you will!) forget that you’re tethered to the camera via your microphone, and walk away, and pull the entire enchilada with you, so PROTECT YOUR PHONE
  • A Dropbox account (or other cloud-based platform) that automatically syncs files with your phone
  • A good internet connection where you shoot or shortly thereafter to back up files
  • Time and patience

 

HOW TO LIGHT A “TALKING-HEAD” SHOOT

For Clock Wise Productions, I often shoot in my home office, mostly with available light from south facing windows with tons of light. Sometimes tons of natural light is great, but it can also have some complications.

In general, it’s best to have complete control over your lighting situation so that you can have matching shots when you edit later.
If you are working with light from a window, you may have to redo a section of your script if the lighting in the room changes.

I recommend shooting during the time of day when there’s no direct sunlight into your window.
Shadows on walls move fast, you won’t be able to keep up with shooting. That being said, even indirect sunlight can be tricky. The light in a room will look different on a rainy day from an overcast day.

Here’s a quick trick: if the light coming through the window is too bright, use a bed sheet, or blinds to diffuse it and gain more control.

Sometimes I also use a DIY light kit that I put together when I want more control over the light situation or when the weather isn’t cooperating.
This is a screen shot of what an order for 2 lights would look like. The bulbs are “daylight” to complement a window. If you had no window you would be looking for “warmer” light bulbs, called tungsten.

Below a few floor plans and matching stills from iPhone video I shot in my office:

I like this one; the indirect light on a sunny day coming through my window is enough to light my face. The left side (facing the window slightly) has a nice light on it and the right side is a bit shadier for a good contrast. (Now I just have to figure out an angle that removes the glare from the window in the art work behind me…)

 

A BIT MORE ON BACKGROUNDS

 I just want to reiterate the importance of shooting in front of a neutral background. You want the viewer to pay attention to you, not what’s going on behind you.

The picture above might look cool, but while Samir was talking viewers got distracted by the lively ongoing traffic behind him.

If you have the option, shooting with a window can be a great light source, but you want that light hitting the speaker’s face, not her back. Daylight behind the speaker will overpower everything else and her face will be dark.

 

WHAT TO WEAR – OR NOT TO WEAR – ON CAMERA

If you’re selling a service or representing your business in front of a camera, then you definitely want to show off your best self.

I wanted to share some wardrobe tips to give you a full picture. Here some basic guidelines I send out to corporate types for the shoot day that you can draw from in your DIY shoot:

Please bring more than one outfit ‐ especially tops, and ties where appropriate, so we have some choices.

The camera picks up certain colors and patterns better than others.

  • Colors that work well are beige, blue/dark blue, gray, brown, purple, green, and pink
  • Wear a shirt that a microphone can be attached to
  • Avoid stark white or bright yellow shirts that tend to reflect light and be too vivid on camera
  • Avoid black suits, which tend to diminish your appearance because they absorb too much light
  • Avoid fabrics with complicated patterns such as checks, tight/close stripes, herringbones, tweeds, and loud plaids. Fabrics of this design tend to strobe on camera
  • Avoid neckties with bold, tightly designed patterns, including plaids, polka dots, and shiny fabrics. They too will flutter on camera
  • Avoid jewelry that rattles, or clanks, and might make noise
  • Avoid any logos and references to brands, including sports teams, locations, films, etc.
  • Style your hair off your face to avoid shadows

The bottom line is: “less is more” and “keep it simple”.

I also prefer people to stand and not sit in front of the camera if feasible. Not only does it help your posture, standing also makes your clothes look better on camera: less bunching, longer lines, and fabric can fall as it was intended to.

  • Choose a color you know complements your complexion. It’s probably the color you get the most compliments for looking great, when wearing
  • Stay with solids – can’t go wrong there
  • Avoid ruffled or asymmetric tops
  • Look at your outfit from waist up and from chest up – that’s what you’ll most likely will work with, don’t worry about shoes
  • Avoid scarves (I’m a HUGE fan of scarves, but for interviews or talking-head shots I take them off) – they are often a continuitynightmare and jump cuts will look awful.

For my own videos, before deciding on an outfit, I put each of my choices on and take a photo and look at it on a big(ger) screen, to get a good impression of what it will look like on video.

 

FRAMING A TALKING-HEAD SHOT

 Video is a multi-layered medium. It is brilliant at conveying messaging between the lines and can pull at your emotions without you even being aware. A master craftsman knows how to play to those emotions setting up a scene on-camera. For the rest of us, we want to be careful, not to convey unintentional information.

Here’s what to keep in mind while framing your perfect shot.

  • Video is (for now) a horizontal medium, so always shoot horizontal!
    Know that if you hold your smart phone in a vertical position, start recording, and then turn it horizontal, the phone will continue shooting in vertical mode. Always start and stay in horizontal mode.
  • Look into the camera, or just off camera at an interviewer, but do not (ever) shift your eye line between the lens and an off-camera person, or cheat sheet or prompter.
    If there is one advice only, this would be the most important one get right in order to look trustworthy. Eyes on ONE thing, period.
  • Check if the lens of your phone on the same height as your eye line.
    If it’s too high, it makes you look meek. If it’s too low, it gives you a double chin and makes you look intimidating.
  • Check what is inside the frame.
    You can cut off the top of your head but be sure to leave enough space at the bottom for closed captions and graphics (never frame a shot to be right on your chin, go to at least mid-chest).
  • Put yourself slightly off center in the frame.
    Many might think that you would want to keep yourself front and center, but off to the side is a more pleasing composition.
  • As we said in the lighting section, make sure the light source is behind the camera.
    If there is a window in the room, you should be facing it – don’t have it behind you or the background light will make editing a nightmare. It looks even better if you turn on a 30-degree angle and have the light source hit your face halfway from the front and side. Definitely, don’t stand under a headlight – it will cause shadows under your eyes and nose.
  • If you’re using a ‘natural’ background, make sure there’s nothing weird in the shot.
    The last thing you want is a plant that appears to be growing out of your head or a book shelf with embarrassing book titles, etc.

 

SHOOTING A TALKING-HEAD VIDEO

 When it comes to shooting a DIY video, patience is very necessary. Allow extra time for trial and error (and if you don’t have that time – consider hiring a professional).

Follow these simple steps for a successful talking-head video shoot:

  • Err on the side of authenticity and a longer natural shoot.
    Even with a great script, rather than a fully scripted and prompted one or a stiff-from-memory-delivery.
  • This might sound basic but, don’t forget to hit record!
    I just recently did a GREAT shoot, only to realize that I never recorded it.
  • Talk slowly and be aware of your filler words.
    I tend to go nuts on “ahems”… a nightmare to edit and tedious for the listener.
  • Record a first take and then immediately watch to make sure everything looks and sounds great.
    This will give you a chance to fix anything before you sink too much time into your shooting.
  • Between takes turn the recorder off and back on again it.
    Doing this will make finding stuff easier later while your editing, rather than having to slosh through a massively long take.
  • Also, if you take notes (and I suggest you take notes!), hold up a post-it with consecutive numbers for each take.
    Write down which takes are the best and refer to the numbers on the post-its – this will make editing later so much easier.
  • When you’re done with your take, smile and look into the lens for a few seconds.
    You need a bit of ‘extra’ at the end to give the editor a chance for a clean cut to make you look good.
  • Upload your clips immediately after shooting.
    Personally, I use airdrop – which is much faster than uploading to Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud.

There are many variables to any shoot. If you’re starting out with DIY video marketing, keep it simple and short. Give yourself time to try out what works for you and what doesn’t.

If there’s anything else you’d like to add to these lists, let me know! I’d love to hear your comments.

Happy (video) shooting!

Storytelling for Video: How to Create Authentic, Consistent and Value Driven Content

FROM EVERYDAY STORYTELLING TO BUSINESS STORYTELLING

Everyday we tell stories, we invent stories, we share stories, and we make stories up. It’s how we communicate and relate to each other on a daily basis.

So, why are so many business owners petrified of telling their company’s story on video? We’re just sharing what we’re up to, right?

This is what gets in the way:

  • Overthinking the story
  • Cramming too much information and detail into ONE message
  • Getting tangled up in industry jargon
  • Talking about concepts rather than sharing stories
  • Being attached to looking good, rather than being real, like-able, and authentic
  • Packing too much content into one video

So, how do you remedy being stuck on telling your story on video? Continue reading

Video Marketing Begins With Strategy

A few years ago, as I started focusing on video marketing for small business, it all seemed crystal clear to me. There were five stages of video marketing: development, creative, pre-production, production, and post-production. Those categories were what I knew as a filmmaker.

As you can see, these five steps did not include strategy, distribution, or analytics! Since, I have come to realize, that what I knew about back then was video PRODUCTION, not video MARKETING.

Today, after years of hands-on experience, I have a clear understanding of what a small business owner needs to know to be successful at video marketing.

My focus has shifted from sharing all that I know, to sharing what clients need to know for a successful, sustainable, cost-, and time-effective video marketing strategy.

With smartphones and social media platforms prominent in our daily lives, video is the most powerful marketing tool for any size business. Using strategy, you can optimize video marketing for your goals.

As a small business owner, what are the 3 most important things to know about a video marketing strategy?

    1. Strategy informs distribution, and the outcome of your distribution efforts informs your next round of strategy. In other words: Video marketing is a feedback loop that starts and ends with strategy (see diagram above). 

    2. Storytelling, shooting and editing are merely the execution steps, called Video Production.

    3. Video content is directly impacted by the context of where it is watched.

To get started: your video marketing strategy should center around your audience.

When approaching the strategy step of video marketing, start by asking the following questions:

  1. How does video tie into my overall marketing strategy?

    Almost 50% of internet users are looking for video related to a product or service. Marketing giant HubSpot reports, “Video is often cited as the tool that help drive various areas of business performance, and the numbers back up these claims”. For instance, they report that 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service. Plus, video content is very shareable. HubSpot also reports that 83% of consumers would consider sharing a brand video that they like with their friends. 1

    Determine what assets you already have in your marketing strategy and what is missing. Think about what video can do that still images, audio podcasts, and written text (newsletters, blog posts, web presence) will not do.

  2. Who is my audience and on which channels do they hang-out?

    Determine where you are planning on hosting and disturbing your videos. Are you planning on using your videos only on your website or also on social media channels and the second biggest search engine, YouTube? Chances are that you’ll want to focus on the distribution channels where most of your target audience hangs out.Each distribution platform has its own technical specs, and they change regularly and often. Some of them auto-start videos and others will let you watch a video without audio.

    Your video content will not be found and watched if it isn’t in direct conversation with its context. And if you are using distribution channels outside your own web presences, make sure your video content leads back to your business!

  3. What do I want my prospects to do after watching the video?

    The kind of video content that you make should be directly related to where your audience is in the buying cycle. Are you trying to create awareness on your product or covert them from prospective buyer to a customer? Before you figure out what kind of message (call to action) to focus on, you need to know what you want your audience to do next.Here’s a buyer cycle that I reference when I’m making my own marketing videos:

     

  4. What video style works for my message, and the platform that I’m using?

    There are many kinds of video: live action, explainer, interview, testimonial, animation, motion graphic, etc. Spend some time on-line “shopping” for videos. Look at videos in your niche, check out your competition, look at random businesses you think are your size, and search YouTube and Vimeo.Which videos do you love, which videos do you find most useful, what styles do you like, which videos to you not like? Make a list to inspire your future videos.

    Some types of videos (explainer, testimonial) are easier to do as a DIY marketer, while others (animation, motion graphic) will definitely require hiring a third party. Based on your available resources (timeframe, assets, budget, etc.), choose the type that best suits your business’ needs.

  5. What’s my story?

    Video is a storytelling tool and has an emotional impact. What is the call to action within your video? Depending on which step you are focusing on in the buyer cycle, you will likely want to tell a different kind of story with a specific call to action.For example, if you want your potential customers to consider your product as the best solution to their problem, you may want to create an explainer video to highlight free consultations and benefits of working with you.

    You’ll want to make sure your video lives within your sales-environment and does not stand alone. For this kind of product-aware step, I’d recommend posting videos on your website or embedding them on your social media pages. Your call to action may be something like “We are the best solution for you” with a link or button to your detailed product/service page.

If these steps raise more questions then they generate clear answers, I would suggest investing in a consultation with a video marketing professional to get answers to YOUR questions and to make sure you don’t make in the moment decisions that end up negatively impacting your time and your budget.

Be sure that whoever you hire understands all aspects of video marketing and production from an overall creative, technical, logistical and financial perspective.

Keep in mind: best practices for video marketing today [updated for 2018]

So, what’s dominating trend predictions and what can we call best practices for this year?

  • “Mobile First”: Videos are mostly watched first and foremost on mobile devices

    90% of video content is being consumed on mobile devices. That means you should be creating video content that will display and play best on mobile devices. It’s important to note that 75% of all video content watched on mobile is being consumed without sound. Make sure your video is still clear and relevant if watched without sound OR give them a reason to turn on the sound.

  • Attention spans are getting shorter by the minute

    Video content is competing with other distractions – the time you have to “hook” your audience has dropped from 8 seconds to 3 seconds!

  • Vulnerability & authenticity are key

    As more and more video content become desirable for marketing, and videos are produced by non-video-professionals, the focus shifts from video as a highly-designed art form to authentic, accessible, and raw video content. Live streaming gets prioritized above video, images, and text by search engines and for that reason alone it will be used more and more.

  • There will be more consumer-generated video content

    This points to two trends: first, a growing DIY approach to video content and secondly, businesses using client and customer-generated content, which is crowd-sourced and therefore cannot be controlled or only minimally influenced.

  • Video will go deeper into the conversion funnel

    More video is expected and consumed in less prominent places like emails, sub-pages of websites, and proposals.

  • There will be many more purpose-driven brand videos

    Companies are aligning themselves with worthy causes and will leverage those relationships for their marketing and advertising.

 

So, when it comes to video content and strategy in 2018, the overall best practice is to focus on getting shorter, more authentic video out there that is well suited for mobile-first viewing.

With these considerations, you are on your way to start thinking about strategy and getting ready to tackle the next step in the Video Marketing cycle: Storytelling.

And remember: there’s strategy and distribution (and with that analytics) to contend with when dealing with video marketing. Storytelling, shooting and editing is video production. If you do your homework upfront and keep the video marketing cycle in mind your videos will produce the results you are going for!

 

 

 

1 Hubspot Blog “The State of Video Marketing in 2018 [New Data]” https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/state-of-video-marketing-new-data

What Gives? Video Marketing in 2018

The advantage to being late to the year-beginning trend-game is, that you get to wear the “hindsight-is-20-20” glasses and hold the “I knew it!” space.

And, since I gave up calling video marketing trends last year in favor of talking about best practices my timing is perfect: Right after everyone else has posted their 2018 trend blog posts. So, what’s dominating trend predictions and what can we call best practices for this year?

TOP DIGITAL- AND VIDEO-MARKETING TREND FOR 2018?   => MOBILE FIRST

So, what does that mean for you?

  • Mobile First means that your content, i.e. your videos will be watched FIRST AND FOREMOST on mobile devices.
  • That means you should be creating video content that will display and play best on mobile devices.
  • With Mobile First, the best practice is to take mobile user and consummation behavior into consideration when creating your videos.
    • 90% of video content is being consumed on mobile devices: If you do produce videos, make sure they look their best on mobile!
    • Almost 50% of internet users are looking for video related to a product or service: If you’re not into video yet, you’re losing out on 50% of potential customers!
    • 75% of all video content watched on mobile is being consumed without sound: Make sure your video is still relevant if watched without sound, OR: give them a reason to turn on the sound!

Of course, there are plenty more trends, some more obvious than others. I put the ones I found to be of interest for Video Marketing into categories for ease of navigation and ‘digestion’:

VIDEO STRATEGY AND CONTENT TRENDS:

  • Attention spans are getting shorter by the minute, and your content is competing with other distractions – the time you have to “hook” your audience has dropped from 8 seconds to 3 seconds! (A goldfish has a 9 second attention span, just sayin’)
  • Vulnerability & authenticity are key: As more and more video content is needed and videos are produced by non-video-professionals, the focus shifts from video as an highly-designed art form to authentic, accessible, and raw video content.
  • There will be many more purpose-driven brand videos: Companies are aligning themselves with worthy causes and will leverage those relationships for their marketing and advertising.
  • There will be more consumer-generated video content: This points to two trends: first, An DIY approach to video content and secondly, client and customer generated content, which is crowd-sourced content that content cannot be controlled, or only minimally influenced.
  • Video will go deeper into the conversion funnel: More video is expected and consumed in less prominent places like emails, sub-pages of websites, and proposals.

So, when it comes to video content and strategy in 2018, the overall best practices are to focus on getting regular, shorter, less perfect, and authentic video out there.

VIDEO PRODUCTION TRENDS:

  • Produce for mobile first: As we looked at first in this article, with 90% of video being consumed on mobile devices, it is essential to create content that suits the mobile users’ behavior:
    • Most mobile users watch video without volume, at least initially
    • The space between the video and the viewer is an intimate one (users hold the phone in their hands and near their face)
    • The screen is small (Not too much detail will read on the screen)
  • Livestreaming on social media: Livestreaming gets prioritized above video, images, and text by search engines and for that reason alone it will be used more and more. AND with the trend towards raw, authentic and vulnerable content, unedited, real-time livestreaming is bound to become one of the most popular mediums.
  • Transcribed video content is key for SEO: search engine crawlers cannot yet, search video content. A transcription of your video will allow for your video content to be found when someone looks for your product or services.
  • Square video format (Facebook, Instagram): You can still shoot in traditional horizontal format and crop a video into the necessary square format when uploading to Facebook or Instagram. However, you do want to make sure you keep the side edges “empty” as you will lose those in the process.
  • Drones: they have been on the list for a few years now. I’m keeping them in, just because they are so much fun and produce great images if well (and legally!) used.

So when, it comes to video production in 2018, the overall best practices are to focus on producing video for mobile consumption and for a specific social media platform.

GENERAL VIDEO TRENDS:

  • Personalized video content: This is a HUGE topic! Video advertising content, tailored to YOU specifically, based on browser behavior and social media content.An example from the 2016 presidential election: Personalized videos were used by the pro-gun lobby. If you are pro-gun as a hunter: You see a video of a father going hunting with his son. If you are pro-gun living in a big city: You see a video of a person defending themselves from a robber with a gun. AND: There’s was a gender, socio-economic, and race- specific version for each scenario.
  • 6 second videos: As we discuss before, shorter videos are targeting short attention spans. And, I’m already seeing 5 second videos… For inspiration watch this compilation:
  • Shoppable video: This for companies that want consumers to buy while watching a video and directly by interacting with the video, by clicking on a link, or touching the screen. Here a sample I found on YouTube:
  • Virtual Reality (VR) with 5G approaching: Virtual reality is coming to mobile thanks to 5G (much more speed), which was rolled out during the Olympics. Apparently. We’ll see if 5G can be the catalyst to give VR a boost and make it available to the masses on mobile.
  • 360 Video: Is reportedly coming to a mobile device near you soon. Let’s see if it makes it beyond the current use in real-estate and tourism. Similar to Virtual Reality, 360 video needs a bit more bandwidth to play and 5G could be a game-changer.

So when, it comes to general video trends in 2018, the overall best practices are to keep aware of the most current technology and how consumers interact with it.

These a few trends I’ve been observing from my point of view of working with small businesses and non-profits and mostly teaching them a do-it-yourself approach to video marketing.

As always, I would love to hear from you what you are observing in the digital- and video marketing space! Please share below.

2017 Blog and Vlog Roundup on DIY Video Editing

I’ve written so much about video editing this year, that I am putting together Roundup of Blogs  & Vlogs I’ve written and produced about all things DIY video editing.

The blog post below are up to date and I’ve included a fresh Curated Link Pack for in-depth reading and learning from trusted sources (other than me), to give you different perspectives.

Blogs:

Vlogs (Video Blogs):

Curated Link Pack

Happy Thanksgiving!

The holiday season is upon us and with it, for most of us, general – and specific – holiday madness. I wanted to share a bit of news from this year with you, and put it – what else – into a video:

How to Survive a DIY Video Marketing Shoot: When it Moves, Shoot!

You’re ready to shoot! You know what to say, you’re wearing your power outfit, your hair and make-up are done. Now what?

WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR A TALKING-HEAD SHOT?

Here’s your DIY video shoot check-list:

  • A quiet, well-lit place
  • A neutral and/or subject appropriate background
  • A fully charged, smart phone with enough memory for a few video clips
  • A way to prop up your phone – either with a phone grip and tripod, or a mini tripod, or even a stack of books
  • A microphone and double-sticky wardrobe tape to hold it in place (if you are using a microphone)
  • No microphone if you are shooting in a quiet setting and close enough to the phone (5 feet away or closer)
  • Post-its & a sharpie for notes
  • Powder and/or blotter, comb and lipstick if applicable to keep you looking great
  • A script or outline of what you will say
  • WiFi (to upload your video clips to your cloud storage)

For equipment ideas, and further check-list items read: Accessorizing for a Smart Phone Shoot. And watch the following videos:

Now that you have all your tools, it’s time to frame your perfect shot.

FRAMING A TALKING-HEAD SHOT 

As you choose your frame look out for the following:

  • Check if the lens of your phone on the same height as your eye line (for details see video below)
  • Check what is inside the frame: you can cut off the top of your head, but be sure to leave enough space at the bottom for closed captions and graphics (never frame a shot to be right on your chin, go to at least mid-chest)
  • Put yourself slightly off center in the frame, it’s a more pleasing composition
  • Make sure the light source is behind the camera. If there is a window in the room, you should be facing it – don’t have it behind you or the background light will make editing a nightmare. It looks even better if you turn on a 30-degree angle and have the light source hit your face halfway from the front and side
  • Don’t stand under a headlight – it will cause shadows under your eyes and nose
  • If you’re not comfortable with lots of editing, shoot until you have an entire run-through that’s good and can be used as is
  • Do not use a cheat sheet – the camera will pick up your eyes shifting back and forth
  • If you need to, make sure you powder or blot your face between takes
  • If you’re using a ‘natural’ background make sure there’s nothing weird: like a plant that appears to be growing out of your head or a book shelf with embarrassing book titles, etc.

Find out more about framing by watching this video:

SHOOTING A TALKING-HEAD SHOT

Be patient and follow these tips and you should be all set:

  • This might sound basic but, don’t forget to hit record! I just recently did a GREAT shoot, only to realize that I never recorded it
  • Talk slowly and be aware of your filler words. I tend to go nuts on “ahems”… a nightmare to edit and tedious for the listener
  • Err on the side of authenticity and a longer natural shoot, rather than a fully scripted and prompted one or a stiff-from-memory-delivery
  • Record a first take and then immediately watch to make sure everything looks and sounds great
  • Between takes turn the recorder off and back on again it makes finding stuff easier later than having to slosh through a massively long take
  • If you take notes (and I suggest you take notes!) hold up a post-it with consecutive numbers for each take. Write down which takes are the best and refer to the numbers on the post-its – this will make editing later so much easier
  • Upload your clips immediately after shooting (I use airdrop – which is much faster than uploading to Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud)

The following video has tips on how to look and sound your best on-camera:

The videos above were all shot with an iPhone 7 using a clip-on microphone and edited on Adobe Premiere. The graphics were prepared in Adobe Photoshop and then imported into Premiere.

Altogether, it took me about 50 minutes to shoot four 2 to 3.5-minute-long videos. That time does not include scripting beforehand and getting ready in terms of wardrobe and makeup – everyone has a different threshold for preparation.

WHEN IT COMES TO B-ROLL

Keep it simple and get lots and lots of coverage

B-roll is the footage or the clips that support the story you are telling, often things like establishing shots of a building or the room you are in. So, if you own a bike shop, your b-roll might be interior shots of the shop, the mechanics at work, customers shopping, a cyclist pulling up to the store with her bike, etc.

You might ask yourself what b-roll is for? Let’s say you give an interview and you’re talking about your bike shop it’s a hundred times more interesting to see images of the bike shop than hearing you talk about it. The principle is: Show don’t tell.  If you are a service provider this is – obviously – a bit harder, because you don’t have a physical product to show.

  • Don’t try to follow the action, let the action unfold in the frame (following action is for pros)
  • Keep the camera as still as possible (see above)
  • Get as close to the action as possible
  • Shoot in short concise spurts
  • Don’t attempt to “cover” the entire event or happening: Choose key moments and concentrate on those
  • If you shoot your product (i.e. bicycles) go slow and steady and keep camera movements to a minimum. You can always create movement in editing or jazz the footage up with upbeat music

There are many variables to any shoot. If you’re starting out with DIY video marketing, keep it simple and short. Give yourself time to try out what works for you and what doesn’t.

If there’s anything else you’d like to add to these lists, let me know! I’d love to hear your comments.

Happy (video) shooting!

The Story About Storytelling

Storytelling is as old as language.

We tell stories, we invent stories, we share stories, and we make stories up. Some stories are small others epic, but they all are a constant in our everyday lives.

So, why are so many business owners petrified of corporate storytelling, especially when it comes to video marketing?

We’re just sharing what we’re up to, right?

This is what gets in the way:

  • Overthinking the storytelling process
  • Getting tangled up in industry jargon
  • Talking about concepts rather than telling a story
  • Being attached to looking good, rather than real, like-able, and authentic – there, I used the “a” word
  • Trying to pack too many stories into one video

And the list goes on.

So, how do you remedy being stuck on telling your story on video?

If you’re selling a product, show the product while you tell the story about why you are selling it.

If you’re selling a service, you are the product! People are buying working with you.

Show them the product: You! And, tell them your story.

Most of my clients are service providers and when they ask me what kind of story to tell, I recommend a couple kinds:

There’s “The Classic”: i.e.This is my passion and this is my business. Chances are, that you have the content for that video already. It’s what you talk about when you meet new people and introduce yourself.

Blow a sample: And a note to reader: if you have any samples of your own, I’d love to feature it here and replace the below video!

And here a video that talks about finding content for those kinds of videos:

I also love any kind of expert tip series, especially if you are a service provider.

For instance, I’m just finishing up a 22-video series “Nina’s Top Tips to Survive DIY Video Marketing“.

Here the first video in that series:

I was hugely worried about coming up with content, but once I found a chapter structure for the 22 videos, it was so easy to come up with expert tips, because I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping small business owners.

And, if you sell a product you can even do a tip series on that product: how to take care of it, use it, and work with it. Or you can talk about something related to the product.

So, if your product is road biking gear, you could talk about bike maintenance tips, race training tips, and bike routes.

No matter what kind of video you’re putting together, my advice is:

  • Keep it simple
  • Keep it short
  • Work with what you have
  • Stay clear of jargon
  • Be yourself, and
  • Have fun!

What are your storytelling-challenges? I’d love to hear from you!

Storytelling: Curated Link Pack

  1. How you speak to your audience is just as important as what you are saying. This brilliant blog post breaks down how Language, Tone, and Content all go into making an effective video… https://wistia.com/blog/successful-videos-respect-intelligence
  2. Do you love data and analytics? These seven successful companies do too. Plus, they all smartly use it to craft storytelling for their marketing… https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/data-driven-storytelling-brand-examples
  3. In video marketing, many lead with the solution and forget to set up the story. But the story is what is going to make your client connect to you and your business… https://wistia.com/blog/kindra-hall-strategic-storytelling
  4. Video lends itself to high impact (especially with today’s short attention spans). These videos prove you can create fantastic stories with only 6 seconds of content!… https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/youtube-bumper-ads-six-second-storytelling/
  5. Strategic storytelling is just as important for a business’ sales team as it is for the business’ leader… https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/how-to-train-salespeople-to-tell-stories