Everyone’s telling you that video is the future, or the present, or possibly even the past, and that your marketing is prehistoric. So you decide to invest a bit of time in making your own content
, and dive headfirst into Premiere Pro. And you’ve finally put something together – but it lacks panache, and you’re starting to doubt the point of the whole exercise.
While it’s true that video isn’t for everyone, it can be a powerful tool for driving traffic and engagement if you get it right. And very often, the things that separate a bad video from a good one are surprisingly small touches that demonstrate thought, effort and intent. Here are just five of these tricks you can use to produce more compelling video content.
Invest in proper hardware
There’s only so much you can fix in post, and the more attention you pay to filming your material, the better it will be. Proper lighting and sound are a must, as these can be incredibly laborious to smooth over. Overhead lighting for instance can cause issues with ‘rolling bands’ across the footage like a bad VHS, while natural lighting can change from minute to minute.
Your equipment doesn’t need to be flashy, but it needs to be there, so don’t think you can get away with just using your selfie camera. A simple lighting rig, a lapel mic and a tripod or other mount will lend a veneer of professionalism to your footage, and show that you’re taking your content seriously.
Once you’ve picked your equipment out – online reviews will help – it’s well worth browsing YouTube for guides on how to use your particular brand. While automatic settings are often fine to start with, a little bit of tweaking can go a long way. By learning about the functions, you’ll also start to recognise issues with the footage as they crop up, rather than spotting them in the edit.
Film plenty of B-roll
The hardest part of the editing process is often finding enough footage you can use. There will inevitably be moments where your interview is somewhat tainted, either by something weird happening on camera or the need for a quick edit. At these moments, it’s important that you have alternate footage to cut to – and this is where B-roll comes in.
B-roll usually refers to filler shots composed of scenery and background footage, such as cars passing in the street, or a shot of your company’s signage. Having plenty of varied and well composed B-roll will give you the flexibility to cover any mistakes or awkward edits in your footage, and prevent you from having to seek out paid stock footage or royalty free alternatives.
Ideally you want to link this footage thematically to what you’re saying in the video, whether that’s the key points or the general theme. Writing a script ahead of time will help you to define this, while reading it aloud will let you meter it out, and decide exactly how much additional footage you might need. If in doubt, err on the side of caution, and film as many different things (and as much of them) as you can.
Experiment with visual gags
Your script may be great – you may even be able to captivate people off-the-cuff – but if you haven’t got the visuals to back it up, it can easily fall flat. The simplest way to address this is to reinforce what you’re saying with simple visual flourishes, either in the form of graphics appearing subtly on screen, or animated elements whizzing about.
Depending on the tone of your video, these may be sharp little animations – think a banner fading in with the speaker’s name on it – or silly and lighthearted jokes. We tend to err towards the latter – video content should be inherently entertaining, and there’s usually a way to liven up even the dullest and most downbeat topics.
By adding animations to an otherwise serious video, you can establish your editing as a distinct voice and element of your videos. This essentially has you playing the role of the viewer, and making jokes before they do. This is not only a fun way to improve your videos visually, but also a way to poke fun at yourself, and control the way the viewer perceives you.
Find your music
You’d be surprised how integral music is to the majority of videos. While some people are so engaging that they can get away with just talking to camera – and some videos will do fine with just background noise – you often need the low hum of an appropriate score.
This is a surprisingly difficult thing to get right, with many tracks that will be available to you – i.e. royalty-free ones – not being suitable for your content, or needing to be looped so that they can be stretched over the course of a video.
You may find that it’s worth paying for something original, or even having a musically talented member of staff do it for you. An unobtrusive, repetitive loop and an introductory jingle can make the world of difference, and turn a slightly spartan video into something more polished.
Make the most of your environment
While the environment around you can make for great B-roll, you should also think about the way you’re using your location in the main footage. The background behind whoever is speaking is bound to draw the eye, while things off camera could also come into frame. By planning ahead of time, you can use this to your advantage in both a passive and active sense.
On the passive side, you might consider filming in different locations that relate (directly or indirectly) to the subject of the video. This will help tie your visuals and your script together in a natural way, and give the audience something more interesting to look at than the same whiteboard or conference room.
On the active side, this could involve the use of props and other elements to liven things up. This could mean holding things up or demonstrating things on camera, but it could also involve the use of B-roll in a slightly more direct manner. If you’re on location at a science museum, for instance, you could gesture to an exhibit and then insert a shot of that. By combining these passive and active elements, you’ll ensure that your video is actually visual, and not just a podcast with some static imagery.