Creating your own video for your blog or website: how to make it look professional

As technology moves us farther and farther on in terms of what we can achieve with relatively simple kit to put ourselves online in visual and audio terms as well as in pure text, we can be grateful that decent quality video has finally become affordable for nearly everyone.

With video cameras being so easy to use and video material being so easy to upload, it’s not surprising that many people think it’s equally easy to produce good video content and performance. However, they’re wrong.

Whereas there are high-tech, high-quality solutions for all the practical elements of making a video, once it comes to who says what and how, no amount of technology can improve on a bad performance.

The camera exaggerates even the slightest movement and makes it look maniacal. On the other hand, once you recognize this point and make yourself sit absolutely bolt still, you’ll look like a ventriloquist’s dummy. It takes a lot of training and practice to hit the right balance, as any TV newsreader will tell you.

The answer? Unless you happen to be very good at on-camera presenting, don’t do it. Instead use the off-camera interview technique.

This technique is often used on TV by news reporters and documentary directors, where you see the interviewee talking to an unseen someone just beside the camera.

It’s brilliant for two reasons: one, the camera in this case is recording one half of a genuine conversation between two people which is far more natural and relaxed than a “talking head” and two, you don’t have to remember your lines in anything like the same detail.

All it needs is for someone to sit beside the camera (or it can be the person running the camera, depending on whether you use remote control or not) and ask you questions which you will have pre-agreed, but not over-rehearsed.

You then look at the person (so your eyeline ends just to one side of the camera) and reply to him or her. The person’s questions can then be cut out afterwards, or if you really like the “fly-on-the-wall” approach, you can leave them in.

Whoever asks the questions must take care not to phrase them in such a way that you automatically respond with either a “yes” or a “no” as this can make the dialogue fall rather flat. The way to avoid that is to ask “open” questions and these are what journalists use – start every question with:

  • what
  • who
  • where
  • why
  • when
  • which
  • how
  • etc.

And finally, leave a short gap between the question and your answer so that if you decide to edit out the questions later, it can be done cleanly. Similarly, don’t talk over each other as that can mess up the soundtrack.

Another damning element of some amateur videos can be that the voice of the speaker sounds like s/he was talking from the bottom of a well – echoing, hollow and distorted.

This usually arises when you are using the camera microphone to record the sound; no matter how much camera manufacturers swear up and down that their on-camera mics are of excellent quality, in the main they are not.

Rather than go to the expense and palaver of setting up individual mics, you can simply ensure that the place where you record your video is as sound-dead as possible. A nice, fluffy, thickly carpeted, softly furnished living room is ideal, well away from domestic noises. And avoid shooting in large open spaces, outdoors, and anywhere with hard floors and few soft furnishings.

Do you have any favourite tips of your own on how to shoot a DIY video? If so please share them with us here. And let me know if this topic interests you a lot, as I can expand on it at some length…!! (I wrote and produced corporate videos for a long time back in the Ming Dynasty…)

For now, here’s some useful further reading:

MakeAVideo.net … they seem very fond of one particular brand of software but there could be commercial reasons for this! However they offer some useful advice.

Tim Carter from AskTheBuilder.com, on YouTube … this assumes you want to do a relatively fancy video, but the basic advice is good.

Web Design Discussion … some good tips in this post of theirs.

…and there are some really good pieces of advice from Indie Filmaking.

Let’s make sure you get the words right:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

Comments

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Thoughts

  1. Andy Fairgrieve says:

    Excellent points Suze.

    Three more things:-

    1. Do not have notes on your knee, they’ll rustle and by constantly glancing down, you’ll look shifty.
    2. If you find it difficult to look into the eyes of the interviewer for long periods, pop a small post it note on their forehead.
    3. Water – nothing worse than your mouth drying out.

    This method however requires some thought regarding the edit and this should be planned in advance.
    I can go into more detail about that if you like.

  2. Great tips Andy – especially the one about putting a sticky note on the interviewer’s forehead. I’m amazed no-one ever did that to me even though I conducted over 1,000 corporate interviews when I was doing that job!!

    For everyone else – Andy is an ace cameraman and video producer specializing in corporate documentaries, so if you have any more technical questions write them here and I’ll persuade Andy to answer them for us. (Won’t I, OF? 🙂

    Sz

Trackbacks

  1. BizSugar.com says:

    DIY video: how to create a good one for your blog or website…

    DIY video has become very affordable and easy to make. Here former video scriptwriter and producer Suzan St Maur shares her tips on how to do it simply and easily….

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