Aaron King

Elm Digital & MOST

6 min read

Inexpensive video production is hard to find, but that doesn't mean that video marketing isn't important. Aaron King with Elm Digital shares how entrepreneurs can produce low cost videos that will effectively capture the attention of your audience:

Video is engaging more viewers than ever before, and its popularity will continue to grow in 2015. To give you an idea of how quickly this form of communication is spreading: Forbes reported that people in the US viewed 38.2 billion videos online in Q2 of 2014, a 43% increase over the same quarter of the previous year (YOY). With the growth of mobile viewership, those numbers can only be expected to multiply.

This far-reaching form of communication can be especially important for entrepreneurs, whose budgets tend to be small. Fortunately, not having the resources for professional video production does not mean you can't create quality, low-cost videos for tutorials, product demos or even video blogs.

Here are 7 tips for anyone wanting to make online videos without expensive production.

1. Outline your content first.

When preparing for your video, have a solid idea of how you will structure your content, but don't feel like you have to write down every word. Before you shoot, create a basic outline of the topics you want to cover. This is more efficient than writing a full script and eliminates the need to memorize line by line.

Remember, you are the expert and you know what you want to say; an outline simply organizes your thoughts so that your message is clear. A degree of improvisation brings a level of authenticity that helps your audience believe you and trust your authority.

2. Record in segments a.k.a. short complete thoughts.

Recording in segments helps you in the recording process and will help you later in the editing process. When recording, simply speak on a few bullet points at a stretch, or as many as you feel comfortable with. This will prevent wasting a great couple thoughts because of a mistake later in that take. Then, if you do this well, you will be able to dump your footage into your editing software and have less footage to edit out.

Note: Take a pause at the end of each segment so you have room to cut. Otherwise, your eyes and body language will noticeably move away from the camera.

We used this style of bullet point scripting and recording in segments for this King Sports training video. The audio portion took maybe 10 minutes to record.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=VE9K9w6rOmM

3. Don't ignore lighting.

Avoid harsh shadows from nasty overhead lights. The quickest and cheapest solution for getting the right light is to face a window while you're being filmed. This will provide a great deal of quality light that removes shadows without making you squint. Ever wonder why so many people take pictures while driving? Well, it's because all that natural light softens harsh shadows and brings out the best in your complexion.

Natural lighting will bring a great deal of production value to your video without the need for expensive lighting.

4. Audio is a deal breaker. Use a microphone.

Of all the things that can ruin a video, bad audio is at the top of the list. We can forgive some camera shake, some out of focus frames, even ugly lighting. Terrible audio, however, will ruin your video and reduce audience retention.

Since this is such an important aspect, I will give you both the "free" solution as well as a low-budget solution.

Free Solution:

Use the voice recorder from your smartphone as an external recorder. This will require either two smartphones-one to record video and one for audio-or if you have a digital camera, just the one for audio.

The closer the mic is to your mouth, the better the audio. So, you can either hold it and treat it like a microphone, or, if you are in the film, place it on a desk or table as close to you as possible.

Low-Budget Solution:

If you are filming video for your business, invest in the Rode smartLav mic. This is about an $80 investment, but will provide hundreds of dollars worth of audio improvement.

It acts as any on body mic would work, by clipping to your shirt and plugging directly into your phone. The downside is that it comes with a relatively short wire, so it still makes sense to use two phones (or a camera and a phone) to record video and audio separately, but this is an overall better quality mic than a headphone or camera mic.

6. Edit your footage.

There are simple transitions in iMovie, but don't get too crazy. Personally, I like quick, clean cuts. Just make sure you outlined your content in a way that flows smoothly and makes sense from thought to thought. iMovie comes with most Macs and now even on iPhones. It does requires a little software savviness if you don't already know how to use it, but we've provided a link to a really helpful tutorial below. More professional programs are Apple's Final Cut Pro X (about $300 from the Apple Store) or Adobe Premiere Pro ($20/ month as a Creative Cloud (CC) subscription or about $800 for CS6, if you don't have an earlier version). Premiere Pro is definitely the more difficult of three to learn, with Final Cut falling somewhere in between. Here are a few starter tutorials. You may even want to check them out before you decide on a program, to give you an idea of how much learning each will require.

Tutorial for iMovie

Intro tutorial for Final Cut Pro X

Intro tutorial for Premiere Pro (Way more intimidating)

7. Customize text and titles.

Just about every editing software includes simple drag-and-drop title templates, but be sure to edit the typeface to match your branding. This will add a custom look to your text or title and a great deal of production value to your video.

Obviously there is a steep learning curve to video production and there is no substitute for a professionally made product. However, creating this kind of content for online viewers is extremely powerful in today's digital world. These simple production tips will take a terrible video to a useful piece of content that converts new business.

written by Aaron King

Aaron leads creative direction for startups and SMBs. He manages everything from brand creation to website analytics, with technical proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite, HTML, CSS, including UX, full scope video production and branding strategy. He loves to work in fast-paced environments like his digital agency, Elm Digital.

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