Don’t want to incur the time and cost of hiring a videographer to shoot and edit your business’ promo videos? Here’s how you can use a tablet or smart phone to get it done fast, easy, and for no cost.
Here’s your guide to:
• The Basics of story telling
• The Basics of framing and composition
• How to use existing light to get great results
• Dealing with sound
• Editing tips to get professional looking results
• YouTube made easy
You hear it all the time. Movies that had so-so production values but turned out to be winners because they had great story.
People love stories, and you can use that to make sure that movies you make on your cellular phone or tablet turn your audience on, and engage with you.
Good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sounds dumb and obvious but here’s what this means in other terms. At the beginning there’s an unexpected challenge, during the middle we struggle to overcome the challenge, and at the end (thanks to our heroic efforts) everybody lives happily ever after.
Remember that basic form when you’re making videos, and chances are you’ll get people’s attention and hold it right to the end of your video. Of course, that’s where you have your call to action or special offer and tell them how to engage with you.
Framing and Composition
Make your shots steady!
Mobile phones and tablets are pretty good when it comes to not bouncing the frame around much. If you find you can’t hold your shots still enough, you can pop out and get an inexpensive monopod with a clamp made to hold your device.
The idea is to hold the camera steady, in one place, and let the action take place within the frame. A lot of camera movement will disturb viewers, so go easy on panning and tilting—only move the camera if you really have to.
One of the most basic ideas in shot composition is The Rule of Thirds. If you divide your screen into thirds horizontally and do the same vertically, you’ll have four points at which the lines cross. The Rule of Thirds tells us that you get the most pleasing frames when you place your principle subject on one of those four points.
A word about zooming in or out—don’t. Zooming in or out is generally avoided even by the pros.
Do use closeups. Generally thought to be one of video’s really strong aspects, you can do a lot with closeups when you go to edit. They add variety and can show interesting and important detail.
Be creative. These days you can get a number of add-on lenses for your phone or tablet starting at just a few bucks on eBay. So if you’re feeling the creative urge check out your choices. There are some other cool add on toys at iographer.com, so you can trick out your tablet with a bunch of extras to make your life easier and your production look more professional.
Make the Most Out of Natural Light
Really good video doesn’t look artificially lit, even when it is.
You can do a few things in and around your business to give your video good light. The basic idea is to make sure that the foreground is brighter than the background. That means you want the light behind you when you shoot. Take advantage of a large, natural light source for best results. As a rule, don’t shoot toward the light.
Human eyes always look to the brightest part of a video screen first. The brightest part appears to the most important part, so make sure the principle subject in your frame is the brightest compositional element.
If you want to, you can get an inexpensive LED panel or even use a work lamp to brighten up your principle subject. Just make sure the light is constant and steady.
If you really want to get fancy, choose an LED panel that lets you match the light coming from your bay doors. Daylight is noticeably more blue than artificial light, which appears yellow or orange in colour by comparison. In general, it’s nicer if all of the light is the same colour.
Finally, before you shoot, look to see where shadows fall, especially if you are using artificial light. Your light source can often cast unwanted shadows that are easy to overlook when you are concentrating on action or how your principle subject looks.
Dealing with Sound
Handheld devices do have built in mics, and they’re OK when it comes to capturing ambient sound. But if you plan to have your subject speak, or you want more control over sound, you’ll want to get your hands on an external mic.
Built in mics are what’s known as omnidirectional. The capture pretty much 360 degrees of sound. If you only want sound from a single source, an external “shotgun” type of mic is worth looking into.
For somebody speaking, a lapel pin or lavalier mic works best. These mics are designed for close up applications, and will let your audience clearly hear the speaker without a lot of echo or background noise from passing traffic, for example.
You can find external mics starting at about $25.
A word of caution. Be careful when you use any mic. They pick up sounds your ears don’t. Sounds like HVAC systems, fans, interior lighting hum and other noise that you can’t hear well with the naked ear can wreck your audio when you record using both built in and external microphones. Make sure you test your recording quality so you don’t get unheard and unwanted noise. Here’s where headphones or earbuds can be handy.
Editing for Best Results
Edit suites for video and film are still hugely expensive and complex. But it’s incredible how much you can do these days on a handheld device and a five dollar app.
You may find a tablet a bit easier to work on than a phone. The extra screen real estate is pretty useful. Still, it can be done on a five inch screen if you really want to.
Video editing apps are either cheap or free, so go ahead and download and get to work. Here are a few suggested editing apps.
The benchmark video app, iMovie should have a home on every iOS device. For starters it makes it ridiculously easy to cut together footage shot on your iPhone or iPad, but you can also use it to add titles, music, voiceovers and photos to your work of art—and if you want to cheese it up, you can take your pick from a bunch of TV-style templates and movie trailer themes
While iMovie is great at what it does, it’s clearly geared more towards casual use. So if you’re looking step it up to the next level, try Pinnacle Studio. This long-established editor—the desktop version has been around since the ‘90s—adds more complex transitions between clips and some fancy picture-in-picture effects.
You also get control over the placing of captions and titles and you can use imports too. There’s a bit more waiting, though, so work your coffee break around the rendering.
Movie or Pinnacle Studio work fine on Android, but VidTrim works well with single clips from your device or elsewhere. You can trim footage, add music and retro or psychedelic effects and export the result as an MP4. There’s a free version, or you can pay five bucks to remove the watermark and get 1080p support.
Movie Edit Touch
This shows Windows 8 has the potential to hammer Android and even iOS in the app stakes. It’s a generously featured video editor that works much like iMovie, allowing you to make frame-by-frame edits, join clips up with neat transitions, add titles and soundtracks and export the results as HD movies.
There are some unusually precise editing features available in VideoShow, such as the ability to specify a particular section of a song for a backing track. You also get freedom to choose the size, style and positioning of titles, and colour effects. Its one major weakness is that it doesn’t have any transitions.
Editing for Story
The edit suite is often where the story really comes together. So keep your story in mind when you’re cutting.
Over time, audiences have become accustomed to faster paced video. Just compare any movie shot in the 1950s to something like The Bourne series for a good example. Two or three seconds per shot or angle can often be plenty to get your point across.
When you’re planning your video, bear in mind the number of shots you’ll need—say fifteen or twenty—per minute of finished video.
Whenever possible when editing video, use straight cuts, not cross fades. Cross fades can be used to indicate the passage of time, but bear in mind that they slow the video down, and unless you’re quite good at matching your two cross faded shots, they can look ugly. Always try to match composition at the end of one shot with the beginning of the next. The basic idea is not to jar the viewer with transitions, just as you want to make sure you hold your camera steady when you shoot.
The best way to learn how to edit is to do it. Download an app, shoot some video, open the app and play. Try importing music, graphics, using the titling, transitions and effects. Experiment and have fun.
As a final word on editing, cut or review without audio and make sure that the montage, the string of images that go together to make your video, tell your story as clearly as possible without sound. If your viewers can “get it” without sound, chances are you’ve got a winning video.
YouTube Made Easy
If you’re going to distribute your video and get an audience, you pretty much have to go YouTube.
Set up a YouTube account under your business name. That may seem obvious, but people have been known to overlook this detail.
You can easily upload your finished video directly to your YouTube account from your tablet or phone, typically with a single click.
YouTube gives you a number of opportunities to add descriptive information to your video, so that more of your potential customers can find it. Your video title, description, tags and keywords, and playlist entries can all be used to reinforce your video’s message, so make sure not to neglect this part of your effort.
You can also embed your videos on your website. But you’ll probably want to turn off the list of YouTube suggested videos that pops up when your video ends.
To do that, click on the “Share” link right under your video. Next, click the “Embed” link that appears, and then select “SHOW MORE.” On the lower left of your screen you’ll see four check boxes. Deselect the top choice, “Show suggested videos when the video finishes.” After you can copy and paste the embed code into your site and the video will play without unwanted, unrelated suggested videos popping up at the end.
Now you have it. Making your own videos using quick and inexpensive techniques available on your handheld device to promote your business can be that easy, and a whole lot of fun.
Let your imagination loose and get your people involved. It’s one of the best ways to build team spirit and showcase your collision repair skills. That’s a wrap!