Lessons Learned Producing Business Videos

Business Video Production

I’ve produced about 30 videos for my company over the years and I’ve decided to focus on making a lot more of them.

The reason is, they are fun to do, and it gives me more channels to connect with prospects. It’s not my main marketing focus, but it gives me the opportunity to be found through my blog content on Google, my video content on YouTube, and I have the content to promote through social channels.

The funny thing about creating videos is: there is a stiff learning curve!

What’s Involved with Producing Business Videos

For some reason people think making videos is easy. These are people without experience. Making videos is actually quite difficult.

Now it’s true that this is the YouTube generation and people are pretty forgiving when it comes to video production values, even if they aren’t forgiving at all about your weight, your haircut, or the way you talk. But, you can’t just shoot a video and post it online – even if that’s what people would lead you to believe.

Here’s what it takes to create a video:

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Sound recorder
  • Background
  • Lighting
  • Script
  • Editing Software
  • Knowledge to use editing software, including resolution sizes, video and audio compression, and much more.

Sound simple? Others are telling you to just get out your iPhone and shoot a video in your kitchen.

Have you tried it? I have.

The video sucks. It’s dark, and you can’t hear what is being said. On top of that, you need someone else to hold the iPhone.

Plus, have you ever tried to say something verbatim that you have prepared ahead of time? It’s near impossible to get it right.

I had a potential client tell me, “I’ll just do it in one take.”

Here’s the thing: No you won’t!

Professional actors can’t do it in one take and their lines are one, maybe two sentences. No one can speak off the cuff well for 3 minutes in one take. It’s impossible, it’s never happened.

I know Grant Cardone tries to do it all the time, but he just looks like a doofus!

If you are going to create videos for your business, you need a minimum level of gear to make it decent.

Basic Video Problems You will Encounter

Now before I get into the gear I use that allows me to do a fairly decent job, let’s look back at a recent video to see some of the basic problems I’m still experiencing. This is going to give you a better idea of what not to do than any of the training I have attended. This is also going to give you a new found respect for video production companies.

The most recent video I put out was entitled NLP for Sales: Presuppositions.

There are two major mistakes in this video that you can’t overlook when creating a video: Lighting and sound.

First, some backstory. My AC just can’t cope with the swealtering Atlanta heat, so I have to move my office around my house as the seasons change. I went from the upstairs office to the main level office but didn’t want to take time to set up the lights. After all, there are two large windows in this room that let in natural light.

Natural light is ideal for photography because you get warmth and shadow you wouldn’t expect. But for video, I’ve never had good luck with natural light – and I forgot.

Natural light changes as clouds pass by overhead. That makes the light go from warm (orange) to cool (blue). My camera automatically adjusts the white balance, but the difference is especially noticeable when you are making jump cuts when editing the video.

You can see the difference in the light here in these two images:

Image shows lighting changes due to sun while producing business video

 

 

 

You want to have an even tone in your videos so you can edit them and not have lighting changes. The only way to do that is to have lights set up.

Second, you will want to have the best sound possible. I’ve found that good quality sound will save crappy video.

I’ve tried a lot of ways to capture sound. My $5,000 mini DV video camera recorded great sound until it broke. Then I decided to listen to “experts” and try the iPhone.

I’ve used an inexpensive lavalier mic connected to an iPhone with a special cord as I shot video. It wasn’t that great.

So I bought a professional wireless mic set with a lavelier mic and a shotgun mic and bought a high-end sound recording app for the iPhone that I could plug my high-end mics into.

It ran words together in the recording randomly, only recorded in mono, and was a pain to use because you can’t audit (listen to) what it is recording as it’s recording. After you are done you get to find out if it worked or not.

So, then I tried a high-end sound recording app for my Android. It decided to turn off and stop recording without warning. You also couldn’t audit the sound it was recording, so it was a guessing game as to whether it worked or not as well.

I finally got a Tascam DR-05 digital audio recorder. This is a portable model that video production companies use. The sound is exceptional, but the first one I got had an issue with the microphones. It would throw static into the recording randomly. It might be fine for 15 minutes, then all the sudden, like an electrical storm, the microphone would start endlessly crackling.

The unit allows a user to audit the recording live using a pair of headphones. I used it three times in a row and had my wife audit the recording. All three times it was fine for 10 minutes or so before it started crackling. So I thought I was in the clear to record this last video on my own without having to force my wife to sit and listen to me talk into the camera.

Well, I was wrong.

Everything was fine until the last statement I made in my wrap up. Then, the Tascam started crackling. I didn’t realize it until I was editing the video a couple hours later.

That’s when I learned another very important lesson:

I set up the sound recorder the exact same way to make the over dub as I did previously when I recorded it originally, and it sounds completely different. Just like the sun’s natural light changes, something happens with microphones too, because everything was the same and the sound was completely different.

You can hear the audio change here:
https://youtu.be/258-UzYJ62U?t=6m59s

So with sound recording, it’s not only important to have good quality sound, you also have to have someone monitoring the sound as it’s being recorded to let you know if there are any odd sounds in the recording.

Plus, depending upon the type of mic you have, the other person might have to hold the mic just out of the frame of the camera using a pole called a boom pole. The only other options are a mic stand or a lavelier mic.

So think about this. Just to get a decent sound quality that you can rely on, you need specialized equipment and another person.

When you ad the necessity to have lighting equipment to make your videos, a decent camera with a tripod, a pleasing background, and editing software – you are a small video production company.

That’s why those people who tell you to grab your iPhone and start filming are kinda lying. It’s one thing to film 10 seconds of video from the train window and add a musical score over it in whatever Apple’s video editing tool is called. And it’s quite another to create a talking head, or interview style video that has to be mic’d for sound.

And if you are thinking of shooting a feature film. I know you can do it with an iPad, I’ve heard of it being done, but it was because their main camera crashed and there was still a cameraperson, a sound person, a lighting crew, a director, gaffers and more to help pull it off. So don’t be mistaken and buy into a story that all you need is an iPhone. It’s not true.

The Basic Gear Needed to Produce a Video

As I said, you can’t make decent videos with crap, or limited gear – unless you want them to look like you made them with your webcam and be hard to hear.

So, even though I don’t have high-end equipment, because my $5,000 video camera that was barely used just decided to quit working, here is the gear I use to make videos.

Camera

I use a Sony Handycam. It has a Carl Zeiss lens, it’s inexpensive and the video quality is as good as my $5,000 camera with much less work. Can it do everything the $5,000 camera did? Of course not! It won’t allow me to plug in a microphone for instance, but the ease of use and video quality makes it an easy choice. There is a version that has an external mic input. I haven’t tried it and it doubles the price to about $600.

Tripod

I use a Manfrotto tripod. Manfrotto makes the best tripods. If you buy anything else, you will have problems with shaking, easily stripped plastic parts, and general crappiness.

Sound recorder

I use a Tascam DR-05 digital audio recorder. As I said, the first one had issues. It produced random static. I returned it and got another. This one, so far is fine.

I can plug my microphones into the DR-05, record in stereo, and my wife can audit the recording live with headphones. All musts! Also, the quality of the sound the DR-05 captures is very close to studio quality. Sure, it depends on the room or environment you are in and the quality of your microphone, but it’s better than anything else I have used, even with the same microphones.

Background

Backgrounds are tricky because you can use a photography background, a room, or outside. Inside you are going to need to light the background. With a photography background, a standard 3 light set-up is fine. With a large room, in order to keep it from being too dark, unless that’s the look you are going for, you will need a lot more lights.

How many? It depends, but think about any TV show with a studio audience. They have hundreds of lights to eliminate any dark spots on the stage. Lighting can be very technical. It’s best to keep it simple with basic backgrounds.

Lighting

For lighting, I use a standard 3 video light system with softboxes. Photography lights flash when you take a picture. Video lights are always on. A basic system will cost you about $300.

If you have any questions about lighting, or video for that matter, and you are in Atlanta, go to Showcase Photo/Video. They are the masters. For video, ask for Kenny. He’s been selling video equipment for 25 or 30 years. He is a walking encyclopedia of video knowledge.

Script

The script is a huge topic. You could write a script and try to memorize it, or you could try to use a teleprompter. I’ve used teleprompters. All of my personality disappears and I’m dry and stiff. I don’t have a lot of personality to begin with, so it kills the video. Plus, you have to have another person to run the teleprompter.

I’ve found that if I have a general idea of what I’m trying to say, I can wing it, off the cuff, and then edit that 20 – 30 minutes down to a 3 – 4 minute video.

I’m sure I’ll get better at speaking off the cuff, but I can never foresee a time where I will be able to speak perfectly in one take. Everyone needs to edit their video.

Editing Software and Knowledge to use it

I use Adobe products. I use Premier to edit videos, but I also use Photoshop, Sound Booth, and sometimes After Effects.

The software is complicated. There is a lot to learn just to be marginally proficient with it. There are easier options, like Vegas Studio, or Apple’s iMovie, but they are still going to require learning how to edit the movie and export the movie in a format that YouTube will accept.

The reason understanding how to use the video software and exporting the movie is so important is, if you choose incorrectly, you can ruin the video and audio quality.

Now It’s Your Turn

I’ve given you a lot of food for thought in this article.

No matter what your setup is and how you create your videos, it’s going to require several hours of testing on your part to get it right. Here’s another tip: Just remember to take notes when you find something that works, because you will think you can remember, but you won’t.

If you have a basic set-up, you can create professional videos, but you can’t do it “on the cheap.” You will pull your hair out and be stressed and it’s really not pleasant – believe me.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

About Michael Miller

Michael Miller is the owner of Mindwhirl.com, a sales and marketing coaching and training company in Atlanta, Georgia.

Michael’s mission is helping small business owners understand, and organize their marketing so they can make money and grow.

Mindwhirl helps business owners plan and implement effective, profitable marketing campaigns and sales programs.

If you need more sales, we know how to get leads and grow businesses. Call us today at (404) 858-3105, or email me at mmiller@mindwhirl.com.

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