Producing video for your company or group is just one of the skills you need as part of a digital marketing plan. From filming to editing, here is a DIYer guide to create appealing video with a minimum of resources — no fancy equipment, expensive editing programs or massive amounts of time.
Let’s start with equipment. The camera on your phone is likely just fine, but recording sound with its built-in microphone will not be adequate, especially if you are in a noisy environment. Poor audio will ruin an otherwise great video. Add one of many plug-in directional microphones for your phone like the Movo Universal Video Microphone, which is compatible with both iPhones and Android phones for $39 on Amazon.
Choppy movement is another thing that will make your video unwatchable. While a tripod is fine if you’re shooting an interview, a handheld gimbal stabilizer will give you smooth video even if you’re running up and down stairs or shooting from a car window. This is a handheld device that holds your phone while you are moving. Kits like the Hohem 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer, also include a tabletop tripod. The latest model was just released and available on Amazon for $89.
You may also want to consider a portable light source. While not always necessary, there are plenty of instances when lighting conditions are poor. Lume Cube Air ($69) is a waterproof, magnetic light that you can snap onto any metal surface, including your phone and nearby objects to improve natural lighting or create a dramatic effect.
Before you start filming, there are a couple of things you need set on your phone for better video. First, just like you do when taking a photo, set the AF/AE (Auto Focus / Auto Exposure) on an area in your video frame. This will prevent the camera from auto adjusting while you’re filming. Make sure you have a continuous power source, so that your battery doesn’t run out during filming. This will mean either plugging your phone into an outlet or snapping on a wireless battery case. Apple makes these cases as does Mophie and others. Plan on spending between $75 and $130. Finally, switch on Airplane Mode to avoid interruptions, and remember to shoot with your phone turned horizontally for landscape mode.
Now that you have your equipment, don’t start shooting until you’ve made a detailed plan for your video. The process is called storyboarding, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. First, have a clear objective for your video — what do you want the viewer to do once he or she has watched your video? Not only will this give you your call to action (CTA) that you’ll add to the end of the video, but will help determine the shots you will include, as well as that all-important title. Like creating the outline for a presentation, make a sequential list of shots and any text that will accompany them. Now you can start filming.
With your raw footage complete, upload the clips to your computer. If you’ve filmed an interview or a presentation, run the video through an online transcriber service, which will give you a rough transcription along with timestamps. Doing this will save you a lot of time when you’re looking for that perfect soundbite. My team has been using Happy Scribe that offers 30 minutes of transcription on its free trial, and then $12 per hour or three hours per month for $30.
You do not need fancy software to edit your videos. In fact, your videos will look more professional if you stick with the basics. It’s more about telling a compelling story with well-shot video than applying tricky transitions and special effects.
Mac users can edit with iMovie, free software that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store. WIndows 10 users can find a simple built-in video editor in the Photos app. Search for Photos from the Start Menu, and you’ll see the editor under the “New video” button in the upper-right corner. For those using Windows 8 or earlier, you should have Microsoft’s Movie Maker installed on your device. This program was retired by Microsoft in 2017, and replaced by the app mentioned above in new machines. Microsoft warns, “Websites that offer free downloads of Movie Maker are not offering the real thing, and those downloads may contain malware, viruses, or hidden costs.”
Editing is similar on these three programs: drag your clips to the timeline, shorten and rearrange as needed, add title, text and music if that fits with your plan. If you are adding music, make sure it’s copyright free or you’ll run the risk of having your video removed from Youtube and other platforms. Promotional videos you plan to post to Facebook should be under 30 seconds. For Instagram, you can cut your videos into several parts with no one segment running much longer than 20 seconds. And while Youtube videos are unlimited, viewers will rarely watch a video longer than three minutes.