Produce Your Own Promo Video
The immediate question, of course, is why I would offer to show someone how to do something for free that I am hoping to get paid to do. I’m not. This is not a blog on how to get professional results. I don’t believe you can get professional results without the right equipment and experience. The equipment is enough to acquire, and it’s more affordable now than ever before, BUT the experience—that just flat out takes time. Some people have a knack for it, but the vast majority learn by hard work and repetition. What I’m talking about here is how to produce solid content that people will be willing to watch. That’s the goal—to get your message exposed.
Tools to Get the Job Done
Here they are in order of most important to least:
Wait! Audio?! Yes, audio…don’t look at me like that. Fact is, people can watch a terrible image with great audio much longer than a great image with terrible audio. Get the audio right first.
On board microphone
You can. You should not. I added it to the list only to highlight high prodigiously bad this is. It’s top notch awfulness. Just don’t.
A camera mounted shotgun mic
This is MUCH better. It’s not perfect, it still has the struggle of noise to signal ratio, because it “hears” more of the room, but the difference is so significant when compared with the onboard mic.
A wired lavalier
Actually I recommend the Rode SmartLav+ as a solid choice. That’s not an affiliate link (I don’t get paid). It’s just a solid and inexpensive solution to one of the biggest challenges.
Okay, bear with me here. I know this is probably not what many would say, but I think I can make the case. If you look ahead (I invite you to do so now), you’ll see that I have 3 options listed. ANY of those options are decent options. People almost never get the camera part wrong. It’s everything else. I can’t tell you how often I think, “The camera was fine, but the audio and lighting were so bad…” Get the audio right, get the lighting right, whichever camera you choose will be fine. So, what’s a good lighting choice?
o A couple of lamps
Yep, a lamp for a keep light and a lamp for a backlight. Just make sure it’s diffused (not direct and harsh). The backlight can be more direct, but make sure it’s off camera unless you have a specific reason for it to be visible (i.e. to achieve a specific look). Anyway, it’s free (unless you don’t own a lamp).
o Shop lights
Think hardware store lights or even Walmart. They can be purchased for as little as $6.50. Just remember that the light will be too harsh, so you’ll need to diffused it or bounce it off of something (e.g. a ceiling or a wall).
o Something else…
Let us know what you find and share it with the group! We all win!
Possibly the most expensive option (and likely the one you already own), but I’m not going to kid you. It’s not the best option. It’s ok. The image is fine, but it’s not going to look as good as a dedicated camera. It just won’t. Part of the issue is the physics of form factor and the size of the sensor, as well as focal length limitations, etc. Still, in a pinch it’ll do the job.
o Handy Cam (A decent one)
I don’t use them, but many do. There’s a lot to like: optical zoom, a larger sensor, possible image stabilization, and other goodies. Also, these can be very inexpensive.
o DSLR or Mirrorless Camera
These are going to provide the best image and, if the settings are on auto, can be nearly foolproof as long as conditions (location and lighting) remain unchanged.
Getting Solid Footage
Critical to your success here is shot composition. This is all the “stuff” in the shot (including the person—if there is one). Here it is in a nutshell: Have something that applies to the content of your video in the foreground, something in the middle, and something in the background. Make sure there are some parts lit and some parts shadowed in the background. Make the foreground stuff and the background stuff as blurry as possible to focus attention on what’s in the middle. As ridiculous as that sounds—I can almost (ALMOST) guarantee good shot composition if you follow the above steps.
If you don’t have a tripod, a steady hand might do the trick. Panning is left and right movement. Tilting is up and down movement. The most important thing here is that the movement is smooth and steady. Don’t rush the movement; start smoothly and stop smoothly.
You can do this with iMovie, Movie Maker, or whatever you want…just know that it’s probably necessary to put all the pieces together in a way that is both cohesive and compelling.
Used licensed music. It’s not cool how many songs with Copyrights are being infringed upon. You can’t just walk into a restaurant and steal some fries. How big they are or how much money they make is irrelevant—they didn’t make it so you could have it for free. There are plenty of services for this and, while it definitely adds cost, I can’t stress how much it adds to the look and feel of the video. It’s worth it. Besides, your saving big bucks in other way, so pay up here.
So, if you do everything I’ve suggested as I’ve written it here, will you have a professional video? No. No, no won’t. What you WILL have is a video that most people will be willing to watch. If you have solid messaging and you can tell the story well—then you’ll be really glad you took these extra steps.