Personal Small Business Enterprise

Getting Started With Video Marketing, Part 2

In my previous post in this series, I gave you five good reasons why you should use video on your website and in your other marketing activities. Arguably the most important reasons I covered are that video helps make your website easier to find, encourages visitors to stay longer and helps increase conversions. Within that post, I also suggested that cost and complexity might be holding you back from using video. But if you’re ready to take the plunge and shoot some videos to connect with your potential customers, the good news is that modern consumer technology means that shooting a video need not be an expensive or even technically challenging task.

If your business doesn’t want to have video produced externally – either due to budget restrictions or the desire to make something of your own – then this post is for you. The sections below offer some tips to help you make good quality videos in-house.

The camera
High-quality, high-definition cameras are so ubiquitous these days that even most smartphones come with them embedded, and of course there’s also a large range of attractively priced consumer-grade cameras that will do very nicely. Here are some features you should look for:

  • Resolution: Most HD cameras today shoot at the same full high definition 1080p resolution of your HD television set. There’s no good reason to select anything less.
  • Frames per second: The more frames per second, the clearer the picture will be. Any decent camera will shoot 60 FPS.
  • Image stabilizer: This is technology used to compensate for shaking and jarring that happens when the camera is hand-held. Most cameras will have it.
  • Zoom: There are two kinds of zoom. Optical zoom uses the camera’s lens to zoom and preserves image quality. Digital zoom enlarges the pixels to zoom and so degrades the image quality. All cameras will have both; your best options will have an optical zoom of 25 or higher. Whichever zoom type you’re using, make sure to use it sparingly.
  • Lux rating: The lower the lux rating, the better the camera will be at shooting video in low-light situations.
  • Focal length: Measures how strongly a lens focuses light. Make sure your camera has a broad focal length range.
  • Memory: Most cameras will have internal memory capacity of 32 GB or higher, good for about an hour and a half of HD video. Most will also have a slot for SD memory cards, the most advanced version of which, SDXC, can hold up to 2 TB.

Pro tip: If at all possible, use a tripod. It might seem a bit bulky and reduce the spontaneity of things but it will add considerably to the quality of the finished product. A tripod is particularly critical if you are going to use long zoom shots that exaggerate the slightest camera movement.

Most cameras feature a built-in microphone, and this will probably be good enough for most applications. The exception will be when you might want to have the camera at some distance from the subject who is speaking. In such a case, using a remote microphone that plugs directly into the camera would be worthwhile.

If you want to get really tricky, you can record the audio and video separately. This will give you a great deal of control over what you’re doing but will require that you synchronize the two during post-production, and that’s no easy task. Most people will forgive poor-quality video if the audio is clear but will not forgive poor-quality audio even if the video is excellent.

Pro tip: Use a set of headphones plugged into the camera to check your audio levels. Even if the camera has a built-in speaker, it is usually much too unreliable for this.

Studio-grade lighting is a tricky proposition even for professionals who have been at it for years so it’s fortunate that you’ll probably be able to get away with whatever ambient lighting exists at the shooting location. Keep it as simple as possible, though, and try to use only one type of light — just the sunlight coming through a window, for example, or just the overhead fluorescent lights. If you are shooting video of people, make sure their faces are not in shadow.

The bottom line
Shooting decent video for your marketing program does not have to break the bank. High-quality equipment is available at an affordable cost and, with a little experimentation, you’ll quickly become quite good at using it. In my next post in this series, I’ll talk about properly planning your video shoot so it accomplishes your objective.

What kinds of experiences have you had with video recording equipment? Do you have tips or techniques you’d like to share? If so, please do in the comments section.

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