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) [insert samples]
  • 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 trough 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 where 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 make up – 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 into 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!

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