Getting the most out of video content

My Business’ tech expert Ritchie Djamhur guides us through creating online video content that actually works for your business.

A friend of mine told me recently that he’d learnt to make his own woodfire pizza oven, make his own dough, and cook the best pizza in town - all through online video tutorials. The democratising effect of free video content, particularly how-to and instructional videos, means that people from all walks of life can now find and use information in a very visual and easy to follow format.

Youtube and other popular video formats have decidedly shifted from one-off videos that go viral then disappear, to Youtube celebrities that are engaging and upload regularly to keep their audiences interested in their channel, and many online video channels now present with broadcast quality sets and editing. So what does this mean to a business that wants to throw up a video or two onto their website?

First of all, you have to decide why you want to do a video in the first place. Are you trying to describe your business in an easy to understand manner? Are you updating your regular clients or seeking new ones that may end up browsing your site? Does your business provide services or products that could use video as a tool to explain some of those offers that you bring to market?

Once you’ve decided if it’s a series or a one-off video, you need to write a script. The script should be kept to the bare minimum - around 300 to 400 words to keep the overall length of the video 3 to 4 minutes long, depending on the speaking pace. Once you’ve edited the script, edit it again, and then again. Keep the script tight and focused on the points you want to highlight. Anything else is just time wasted for the viewer.

Three video cameras next to each otherNext, you have to decide how the video will be shot. It might be a mixture of a person to camera, with some close up shots of the products or services you’re talking about. It might be a voiceover with shots dedicated to the topic at hand. Whatever the format, you need to develop a shooting script that shows the scenes blocked in with the script. This gives you all the scenes that you will need to shoot.

Once you have that, the shot list that comes from the shooting scripts helps you stay focused on the elements that you need shot.

When it comes to equipment for video production, there are a few basics that you’ll need to source. These include:

  • A Digital SLR - preferably one with autofocus in video mode
  • Wireless mic system
  • A set of strong, bright lights
  • A tripod
  • Optional: small sized tablet for auto cue and stand to suit

The shopping list above will give you a basic setup for capturing good audio and video. Remember, the name of the game is brevity. By keeping the video length down, you save time shooting unnecessary scenes on the production side and have more chance of a viewer staying with you to the end on the video delivery side.

Editing can be done with either a notebook with a decent video graphics card or even a high-end tablet.

There are tablet versions of popular software applications - for example, Pinnacle have a computer-based package as well as an app for tablets.

There are a lot of subtleties to the production and editing process - if you are doing this yourself you will
get a handle on these over time. One of the big ones is white balancing - using those big lights is the best way to produce a clear, strong image but you need to remember to light both your subject and the background. If you only use auto white balancing, each shot may differ slightly in tone, so it’s recommended to lock the white balance to create a consistent set of shots.

Another tip is to create visual depth in the videos - opening up the aperture brings the subject into sharp focus and the background is blurred out. This is a great way to highlight the talking head or product and ramp up the quality level of the videos.

Once you’ve completed the editing it’s worthwhile outputting the final video in at least full high definition, so 1080p. This results in a larger video file and takes a fair amount of time to upload to your chosen video streaming service, but the end result for viewers will be a much clearer and enjoyable viewing experience, even in mobile viewing circumstances.

This may sound like common sense, but you also need to make sure that the site you’re intending to use this on can support video embedding. This is usually a simple process of taking the embed code from the site where the video is held and copying that into the chosen webpage and it magically appears. You may want to specify the pixel dimensions of the video to fit a particular column width, which sites like YouTube allow you to do - the more views YouTube gets the better, so the tools they provide
are wide and highly regarded.

As you might have gleaned by now, there is a fair bit to consider if you have decided to grab a camera to shoot your own corporate video. If you follow some of the basics above and spend the right amount of time refining the video, you can ensure the quality of the video, or group of videos, matches the quality of your business.

Ritchie Djamhur is a Sydney-based technology media commentator who loves keeping up with the latest technology trends and telling anyone who will listen. Ritchie also runs technology news website Ritchie’s Room.

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