If your website includes video—and most today should—you can’t get away with shoddy quality anymore. Once upon a time, grainy visuals and muddled sounds made for an acceptable YouTube clip, but with modern advancements in even the average phone camera, viewers have higher expectations. But if you didn’t go to film school, how do you pull off a professional quality video?
Luckily, there are now tools available to make your videos look more polished, and a few simple rules that can prevent a lot of common problems.
Before you call action, review this checklist— your Web video will be all the better for it.
Head in the Right Direction
Have you ever seen a Web video with big black bars along the sides? That’s what happens when you shoot your video in the wrong orientation. By shooting vertically instead of horizontally, you limit how much you can fit into your shot and cause an egregious visual effect. When you import vertical video into software, those bars remain— not an impressive look for your Web video.
Get the Lighting Right
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of your video, so it’s important to get it right. You want to use as much natural light as possible, so outdoor shooting is ideal, but halogen lamps make a fair stand in if you must film inside. Focus on keeping people and products well lit throughout the video and avoid any awkward shadows that might obscure your shot.
Choose Your Star
Not everyone is made to be in front of the camera, yet too often it seems like companies choose the stars of their Web videos based on their position in the company, not based on their congenial personality. Rather than just stick your social media director in front of the camera, find your most enthusiastic staff member to be the voice of your video.
Of course, your star should also be well spoken and professional, but Web videos are short, so enthusiasm counts for a lot. If you’re not sure you’ve got the right person, try this test: would you find this speaker compelling even if you couldn’t understand them? Take a peek at Slava Ilyayev’s “In The Artist’s Studio” video for a demonstration of star quality across the language barrier. The artist, who speaks Russian, is the focal point, regardless of shared language.
Consider the Script
We live in an “off the cuff” kind of culture, but that isn’t the best philosophy for Web video. A professional video is conversational, but still scripted. Your script should include both the words you plan to use—particularly key product and sales terms—as well as any movement that occurs in the video. This will help you follow the movement with the camera and set up any scenery that you need.
Good Web video is brief. If your content is enjoyable, it’s better to have the audience begging for more than dragging on endlessly when they’ve lost interest. Keep your videos between 30 seconds and three minutes, depending on the purpose of the clip. You can get away with a longer video in the “explainer” or how-to genres—videos that teach the viewer how to do something—than in generic brand videos.
Video content has proven its value on the Web, keeping audience attention longer than text or pictures alone, but you have to handle the format correctly and think about how likely it will be shared on social media or its chances of moving website visitors to action. Do your homework before you start to film and accept that it will take a few tries to get video right.
Your favorite videos may seem like they emerged organically, but the best content is always well prepared.