Now more than ever, a lot of people are looking to produce their own videos as a way to share news and connect with their clients or staff. As the owner of a video production company, I know full well the power video has as a tool to connect us and share a message. When done properly, they can evoke emotion, inspire or challenge. Ignite passion or rage, or simply make us think. A good video leaves your audience wanting more. This is something I’ve specialized in for almost 10 years now as a visual storyteller and there are a few tips I wanted to pass along to you if you’re looking to create your own videos for your organization.

It may sound simple, but the single most important tip I have when it comes to creating quality videos is…… above all else…… capture quality video AND audio.

You see, right now there are thousands of titles available to watch on Netflix. 300 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube, every minute! So while it’s true that it’s never been easier to make your own video – you’re competing for people’s attention against a massive library of content. Of the top three things that will drive viewers away in the first 10 seconds, bad audio or bad video quality are the top two.

So what does that mean? I’ll break it down.

Just because your phone shoots in 4k, doesn’t make your video quality good. Other factors play into it – is your lighting good? How about your framing – can the audience see everything you intend for them to see – or conversely, are they seeing something in frame that doesn’t relate to the video that may cause a distraction? How about stabilization – shaky video can leave audiences clicking away from your video due to motion sickness!

For audio – think about where you’re filming. Is it echoy? Is there a lot of ambient noise in the area? If you’re filming any sort of dialog you’re going to want to be sure to film in a quiet location where there won’t be other sounds that you’re competing with. The microphone that comes with your camera usually isn’t good enough, and you’ll want to have a separate source of audio coming into your camera.

So here’s some quick tips to make your next video stand out:

Keep your camera on a tripod if at all possible. If you don’t have one, try propping the camera on something solid like a box or inside of a cupboard.

When it comes to lighting, don’t have your back to a window. Have you ever been in a dark room for a long period of time and then gone somewhere bright and your eyes hurt, you can’t see anything but a bright white because you’re so used to being in the dark? Well cameras expose the same way. If you’re indoors and are focusing on someone’s face, but there is a window nearby, that window will be overexposed into a bright white blob of awfulness. If you try to correct for that by exposing the camera to the window, now your subject is going to be really dark in comparison to the window and you won’t be able to make out their features. So, if you’re in a room with windows, put the camera between the window and your subject. This will allow you to use the window as what we call a ‘key light’ – and it will illuminate your subject and remove any awful shadows you may be getting from overhead lights.

When you’re framing up your subject make sure you don’t leave a lot of room between the top of their head and the top of the screen. Ideally, the top of their head should be about 90-95% of the way to the top of the screen – like mine is right now.

For audio – purchase a directional microphone you can mount on top of your camera or phone. This will allow you to get much better audio as they are built to only capture audio from whatever direction they are pointed, as opposed to the microphone built into your camera or phone which will record audio from all directions.

One of my favourite tricks to share with people trying to do things on the cheap is to take the earbuds that came with your phone and use them as a lavalier microphone. Plug them into your phone and launch a voice recording app. Then, get your on screen talent to bring the cable up under their shirt and tuck the microphone part just outside of the shirt. This will allow you to record great audio that you can then sync to the video using free editing software like iMovie or Davinci Resolve.

Don’t underestimate how important it is to get good audio. It’s just as important as video.

If you were paying attention, you’ll remember I mentioned there are three things that make a viewer decide if your video is worth watching or not. 1. Good Audio. 2. Good video and lighting and the third is a compelling story. More on that in an upcoming video.

Obviously these are tips for the Do It Yourself method of video creation and the videos created with these tips will be no match for a professionally created video. If you’re looking to maximize the effect of your video you owe it to yourself to connect with a video production professional who has the equipment and experience to make your organization’s films stand out and keep people’s attention.

Let me know in the comments below what creative ways you’ve been using to create engaging video content and if you have any questions feel free to reach out.