Video is a useful tool for any business to market themselves and get the attention of consumers. The trend of businesses using video has not slowed down. In fact, it’s only grown with time. Consumers also love video. In a 2020 study, 90% of viewers responded that they wanted to see more videos from brands and businesses.
Video production can be intimidating for anyone to get into. However, creating a professional-looking video doesn’t have to be expensive and complex. With a few best practices and the right equipment, you can have a well-made, inexpensive video.
This blog post will give you tips and tricks on how to prepare for a video production shoot to make the best video possible. Whether you’re filming the video yourself, appearing on video, or hiring a professional video production company to do it for you, following these pointers will help the shoot go off without a hitch.
Create a Video Script
Ad-libbing is a unique skill that not a lot of people have. The last thing you want is to stall the production day because of someone stuttering or not knowing what to say.
Video scripts get the entire production crew on the same page. They also help you envision the video idea beforehand to ensure that the purpose of the video is being met and that the idea sufficiently supports it.
Many video scripts are formatted with two columns. The left column is for audio and the right column is for video.
In a two-column script, each row represents a camera shot. The audio section is for you to describe what viewers will hear in each shot and the video section is for you to describe what viewers will see.
Shot List and Storyboard
Video scripts serve as a great framework for a video. However, scripts aren’t the best way for you to visualize each shot and the details within them. That’s where storyboards and shot lists come in.
Storyboards are a sequence of drawings that represent the shots planned for a video. Storyboarding is a previsualization tool that isn’t essential, but can help save a lot of time on set when it comes to framing and positioning talent.
A shot list is a document that outlines all of the shots needed for the video, organized in chronological order. Usually shot lists delineate the equipment being used for each shot like the camera, lens, tripod, or the focal length being used.
On a fast-paced video shoot, it’s easy to forget essential things like equipment or even a shot. Shot lists can help keep video shoots efficient and organized.
Location scouting is one of the most important elements of pre-production. The location you choose for your video can actually make or break your video.
When looking for a potential location, you want to find a place with a lot of room, great lighting, and an interesting but not distracting space. There are a lot of other details to look for as well such as…
- An environment that is clean and well-organized.
- A location that represents the business in the best light.
- Utilize deep space instead of flat space. Deep space has significant elements in the foreground and background.
- Look for spaces with excellent natural lighting (daylight or sunlight). Natural light typically has a higher quality than artificial lighting.
- A quiet location without unwanted noises like vents, heating, cars, or refrigerators.
- A space with enough room to move the camera in a variety of positions.
Create a List of Equipment
If you’re working with talent or with a crew, you’ll want to be considerate with their time. As mentioned before, the demanding, fast-paced schedule of a production is set up for efficiency and doesn’t leave a lot of time for thinking.
Any forgotten equipment or prop could heavily decrease the value of your video and you probably won’t realize it until it’s too late.
Creating a list of needed equipment for each shot will ensure that you have everything you need on set, so you can keep your thoughts organized. Ask yourself fundamental questions before the shoot. Questions like…
- What camera are you using?
- What lens will you need for each shot?
- Do you need a tripod or a Steadicam?
- What are you using for audio? What microphone?
- What lights are you bringing? What light is already at the location?
Plan Your Lighting
One of the biggest differences between a video with high production value and low production value is the lighting. Production value is a term used in the video industry to reference the overall technical quality of a video. In other words how the video looks and sounds.
Lighting makes all the difference in video. In order to achieve good lighting, it’s best to plan ahead. Sometimes natural lighting is just not an option because of the location, weather, or time of day. This is where artificial lighting comes into play.
Artificial lighting is a term that refers to the light used on a set that isn’t created by nature. In most cases, you will be using artificial light alone or to supplement the natural lighting.
There are many techniques and tricks to lighting a scene, but the basic and universally used lighting technique is called three-point lighting. The setup consists of 3 lights facing the subject from different positions. There is a key light, fill light, and a backlight.
The key light is the main light source on the subject. It should be the brightest light and should strike the subject the most.
The fill light is the secondary light source that fills in the shadows cast by the key light. The fill isn’t as bright as the key and is used to bring out more detail in the shadows.
The backlight can be used as a way to differentiate your subject with the background if their colors mesh together or as a light to highlight their hair.
You won’t always use all three lights in a shot, and as you get used to using 3 point lighting, you’ll learn which lights you need and which you don’t. Here are a few more lighting tips you can use:
- The key light should be positioned at a 45-degree angle from your subject and tilted down at a 45-degree angle from their face. The fill should be placed opposite of the key to fill in the shadows but not eliminate the shadows.
- A ring light can light your subjects evenly while giving them a unique eye light.
- Changing the color of the backlight can be a great way to add some flavor to your shot.
- Eye light or the reflection of light in the eye can add a lot of depth to a talent’s face.
- Avoid having a window or a bright light behind your subject. The talent will look like a silhouette. However, windows can be a great key light.
What To Wear
A concern that isn’t addressed as much for video production is what crew members and talent should wear on shoot day.
For crew members, subtlety is everything. It’s best practice to wear neutral colors so you can blend in with the environment. For bottoms, it’s useful to wear pants with a lot of pockets in case you need to carry a lot of items. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, dress for the weather. Even if the shoot is indoors, video shoots can be unpredictable and you may find yourself outside for a prolonged period of time.
For talent, whether it’s you on camera or someone else, they should wear something that represents the company well. This can be business casual attire like a button-down or blouse.
Talent can also wear a company shirt if they want to dress casually. If the talent wants to look their best, they should wear colors that complement their skin tone. Most importantly, the talent should be confident and comfortable with what they’re wearing.
What NOT To Wear
What you shouldn’t wear on a video shoot is just as important as what you should wear. As a crew member, you always want to maintain a level of professionalism and as talent, you want to wear something that works on camera and is flattering.
If you’re behind the camera, try not to wear flip-flops, sandals, heels or anything open-toed. Video shoots can go on for a long time and during that time you will be on your feet, constantly moving. You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes that you can stay in for at least half the day and won’t make noise while you’re walking.
Try to avoid wearing dresses or skirts. As fashionable as they might be, they aren’t flexible or functional on a set. You will be moving equipment around and doing a variety of tasks that will be more comfortable in pants.
If you’re in front of the camera, you’ll want to wear an outfit that looks and feels natural. The talent should be the center of attention when they are on screen and what you wear could affect that greatly.
Most clothes with patterns are problematic to put in front of a camera. They can take attention away from the talent and can give a “busy” appearance on camera.
Small patterns, in particular, can cause a strange visual phenomenon on camera called the “moiré effect”, where the pattern looks like it’s moving or buzzing on camera. The moiré effect is all-around unprofessional and can easily distract viewers.
Avoid wearing clothes that blend into the background. One of the main goals of video is to capture as much detail as possible. Clothes that disappear into the background look unnatural and will make your talent look like a floating head.
Last but not least, don’t wear anything that makes a lot of noise. Jackets, zippers, jewelry, or other accessories can be distractingly loud. The last thing you want is your voice to be drowned out by the rustling from your clothes or jewelry. Try to keep your clothing and your jewelry simple and subtle.
Always Remember Audio!
Audio is an essential part of video production. However, many people forget how important audio is until they are in post-production. Unfortunately, audio cannot be fixed in post. It has to be captured properly on set.
The first thing you’ll want to consider is how many people you need to capture the audio for. If you are doing a simple interview of one or two people at a time, then you can probably use just an on-camera shotgun mic for the shoot.
On-camera mics are great for simple and intimate videos. They plug right into the camera so you don’t have to worry about syncing the audio with the video in post.
However, if your video is more intricate and includes multiple people on-screen talking at once at various distances, then you may need to invest in a more robust audio setup.
Most video shoots will have an audio recorder that is separate from the camera and a microphone that records to it. You’ve probably seen a boom operator before that holds a pole with a microphone at the end.
The boom mic is one of the most versatile audio recording equipment. You simply point the microphone on the boom pole where the talent is and try to get as close as possible. What’s difficult is getting the boom close without getting it in the shot.
The other common option for audio equipment is the lavalier microphone. The lavalier mic is smaller and usually captures one person’s voice instead of multiple people like the boom mic. Lavaliers are usually attached to the talent’s clothes in a way that is invisible to the camera and so that it doesn’t get muffled by the cloth. Lavs are more complex than booms but they are extremely useful for intricate shots.
Contact a Professional To Help You Create Professional Videos
Video production isn’t always demanding and intimidating. You can easily use your phone to create a video in your backyard. However, the more effort you put into your videos, the more that video is likely to bring you a return on investment. Not to mention seeing a high-quality video that you helped create is extremely rewarding.
If you want to create professional-grade videos but don’t have experience in that arena, you can always contact a professional firm to help you out. Jungle Films, for example, is a New Jersey based video production company that specializes in creating a variety of videos for businesses. Their seasoned professionals can guide you through the production process while at the same time providing the latest gear to make your video the best it can be. You can learn more about Jungle Films here.