Between innovations in image technology and the falling costs of DIY production, learning the pros and cons of video creation has never been easier. This became even clearer as we moved to distant work life. In 2020, total video creation grew 135%, and 60% of those business videos were user-created.
There are tons of reasons and ways to use video marketing to grow your business. Some of the most effective business videos focus on a single subject speaking directly to the camera to get a message across. For people who are recording their own talking head videos, these can be used for:
- Updates from executives or departments
- Project starts describing the main objectives and messaging
- Quarterly reports and presentations on business success
- Instructions, explanations or tutorials
- Demos with tips and tricks for using your product like the Lego example below
- Live webinars or conferences
Video content doesn’t have to be highly produced to be effective. With just a cell phone or laptop and a few tricks, you can easily create polished videos in a remote setting. In this article, we are going to walk you step by step through setting up your remote video production.
1. Follow the 60/40 rule for preproduction
If you’re excited about a video content idea, you may want to start recording right away. However, your final product will depend on the work you do ahead of time.
The 60/40 rule for the preproduction rule means that 60% of your effort should go into fine-tuning your plan and logistics before filming. This includes conception, treatment, storyboarding, scripting, preparation of your tools and location search.
2. Select a recording device
When choosing a recording device, consider your output quality, distribution channels, and goals.
If you have an HD camera, you can power it! A DSLR or mirrorless camera gives you the highest quality image and output options. However, if you are on a budget and have minimal video production experience, your cell phone or laptop will be fine.
Use your laptop’s built-in camera and simple pre-installed recording apps like QuickTime. With additional support from video recording tools such as CloudApp or Vidyard, which can be downloaded for free, you can also present your screen in such a way that you can step through slides or other visual support elements while speaking. The only minor limitation to using a laptop is that most laptop cameras are of lower quality.
The smartphone manufacturers are constantly working to develop the most modern high-resolution cameras. Unless you’re still rocking a flip phone, your phone camera is a great option for filming.
Whichever device you choose, make sure it’s charged and has enough storage space before you start filming.
Once you’ve established your shooting schedule and recording device, it’s time for the accessories. There are several other devices that can aid your recording and result in better quality footage.
Tripods and stabilizers
Shaky footage is a huge distraction and can undermine the integrity of your video. The support of your camera is essential for a smooth shot that contains the frame you intended. There are plenty of inexpensive tripods, stands, and stabilizers that you can buy or try one of the many DIY options. A tripod also gives you more flexibility when filming.
One advantage of filming with your laptop is the built-in, stable camera. Remember, the most important rule for recording speaking heads is to align your laptop or phone at the height of your eyes or forehead, whether you are sitting or standing. With a laptop, you can use a bookcase, windowsill, or laptop stand to raise your camera to the correct height.
We touched on the importance of space on the camera itself, but having an external hard drive or cloud storage option for transferring and storing video files is also a good idea.
Remember to fully charge batteries, phones, tablets, lights, and laptops in advance so you don’t have to stop production. For backup, make sure that all chargers are available between shots.
Sunlight is the best light, but it’s not always an option. Video lights are a great investment if you regularly produce video content. They allow for even lighting in most indoor spaces and often have adjustable settings to fine-tune their performance. When buying a panel or ring light, be sure to look for two-tone settings that mimic both daylight (a cooler bluer color) and tungsten interior lighting (a warmer orange light).
If you record with your smartphone or laptop’s internal microphone, or with wireless headphones, you will get decent sound quality. However, if you regularly produce video content, investing in a microphone is a smart idea. This will give you higher quality sound while allowing you to move farther away from your camera for wider recordings and demonstrations.
4. Choose Your layout
Think how your audience is most likely to view your video. If you are shooting for cell phones, choose a vertical format. If people are mostly viewing from their laptop, go horizontally. For consistency, stick to this format throughout the video.
5. Prepare your location
When filming interviews, mini-documents, process videos, and creative projects, using multiple locations increases your production value and brings context and variety to the audience. However, a lot of very engaging content can be created in an office, studio, or at home.
No matter where you’re shooting, a top-notch location should have:
- A large window or a source of light in front of you
- A quiet environment for clear audio
- Options to configure your camera at eye level
- A neat background with minimal distractions
6. Find your light
Daylight is the most powerful light source for mobile and laptop photography – yes, even on a gray day.
Cameras love light. You can avoid grainy footage, improve your on-screen appearance, and set the mood of your story by increasing the front light. Whether you are buying a video light or using the natural light in your home or office, considering the angles of your light source also has a huge impact on the quality of your video.
Place your camera at eye level and point it at your light source or sit down at a 45-degree angle. Never be fully side or back lit. As you can see in the GIF above, simply shifting your angle can have a dramatic effect on the lighting.
If you put your laptop or mobile phone between you and your light source, make sure that the shadow is not cast on you.
7. Microphone test
For crystal clear sound, turn off all fans, close windows, and mute notifications or other controllable items that make ambient noise. If you work from home and have roommates, ask them to be quiet while filming so that your microphone doesn’t pick up extra voices. Good old-fashioned “test, one, two, three” never hurts either, and listening to the video playing will help you spot problems or background noise.
8. Look good and feel safe in front of the camera
Once you’ve determined a location, light, and camera, it’s time to focus on the star of the show – you!
Wear anything that makes you feel safe in front of the camera, but keep in mind that it can be difficult to evenly light pure white or black. Also, make sure your clothing is wrinkle-free and lint-free.
If you wear glasses, raise your light at a higher angle and to the side about 45 degrees to avoid glare in your glasses or a shadow on your eyes. Frame your chest or waist and leave space above your head so you don’t get cut off.
Bright lights tend to make everyone shine. So powder your face to soften any shine and even your skin tone.
It might sound silly, but practice speaking in the mirror before recording. That way, you can get used to seeing yourself, practicing your delivery, and increasing the energy both physically and vocally to make your videos more engaging.
Do a 10-second test recording to make sure everything looks, sounds, and feels right so you can make the adjustments you need. Then test again. Once everything is checked out, you’re good to go.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you hit the record button you are actually recording – you will usually see a red light or indicator on your screen. Curl up, take a break, and smile at the camera. Remember, you don’t have to film all of the dialogue in one take. It is common practice to break your script into manageable pieces that you can then work on together. Feel free to take a break to review recordings, shake off all nerves, and adjust as needed.
It is helpful to take notes on the go. These could be ideas that include b-roll to illustrate a point you’ve made, reminders for editing, or takes that you want to repeat.
At the end of your recording, pause before reaching for the camera to stop recording. That way, when you edit, you have room to reduce this.
Get the ball rolling with video content
Video content is a very valuable and engaging way to achieve your business goals, attract new fans, and spread brand messages. Plus, it can be an easy and fun way to flex your creative muscles.
Make sure you have a plan to maximize the impact of the videos you create as your company pursues more video production opportunities. Download our free workbook to learn how to extend the life, value, and reach of branded video content.