Features February 2018

How To – Use Video in Your Business


Written By: D J and Mary Beth Head

Let’s be honest. If you aren’t using video in your business, you are behind the times. The thought can be overwhelming but it’s relatively easy once you commit to the process. The first step is to decide on your equipment and software. Most importantly though, is allocating the time to plan, shoot, transfer, edit, upload and archive your video projects. You may also want to research and develop a relationship with a production company for support beyond your own ability.

We’ve created a basic step-by-step guide to help you shorten your learning curve.

Step One: Equipment

The essential items you will need are: camera, lighting, audio and editing software.

Camera –

Perhaps the easiest camera to operate is on your smart phone. The next level is a basic DSLR. The down side with these choices is most don’t have an external microphone input or adequate zoom capabilities. While your smart phone can be used for some internal and internet applications, it is not appropriate for broadcast or most external marketing projects.

A tripod or other stabilization apparatus is a must.  There’s nothing more frustrating for a viewer than a shaky image. The DJI Osmo camera is the perfect entry level choice if you plan on walking or moving while filming.

Lighting –

Invest in a good entry level lighting kit. A soft light or LED light is a must-have.

Under normal office situations, existing light should be adequate. However, for marketing applications, sculpt your shots with additional light. Watch tutorials online and become familiar with different lighting sources to produce natural skin color and environment. Use the white balance feature on your camera if you are shooting in mixed lighting situations.

Audio –

The old industry saying, “Your audience will excuse bad video but they won’t tolerate bad audio,” is tried and true here.

Your audio choices will depend on the type of program you are shooting, and your options will depend on the kind of camera you will be using. If you plan to record natural sound, your camera mic should be fine. The same goes with a simple walk through of the business with the camera operator talking. However, interviews and spokesperson segments require an external microphone. If you are using a smart phone and you are more than three feet from your source, use an external microphone and employ an app like Voice Record Pro.

Step Two:  The Process

How would you go about creating a video? There are three phases: pre-production planning, filming, and post-production.  Let’s use the example of an orientation video for new staff members and walk through the process.

Content –

Decide what will be in your video. Use your office manual as a guide or start from scratch. Brainstorm on all of the things a new hire would need to know. Write all of them down then organize into sections based on areas of importance, order of events, locations in the business – whatever makes the most sense to you. Create a shot list that describes the “scene.”

Planning –

Some of the things you will need to decide prior to filming are: When will you film?  What do you need to set up prior to filming?  Who will film? Who will do the talking or be talent?

Filming and stability –

Use a reliable tripod or stabilization device and make sure it is even with the horizon.

View the image in the viewfinder with a critical eye.  Look for a mirror or window that could be casting a reflection, an object or plant “growing” out of your subject’s head, or clutter in the shot. Is the subject’s face well lit and framed to allow head room? Make adjustments, do a test clip and review it before you begin.

Get several angles and shots. Let the camera roll longer than you think it should. Give yourself lots of editing options.

Recording sound –

Anticipate your sound challenges in advance and make arrangements to prevent them. Be aware of distracting background noise. Sounds that pose problems during filming are: air conditioning ducts above the subject, lawn crews, cell phones, airplanes, motorcycles and diesel engines, and people in adjacent rooms. And avoid rooms that have an echo.

Lighting –

Watch some Youtube videos on basic three-point lighting techniques. Mixed light sources – indoor and natural light –  can create challenges. Most cameras have an automatic white balance to adjust to different light sources. But they also have a manual white balance if you see that the color is a bit off. Always judge by skin tone.

Be aware of lighting reflections. If your subject wears glasses, you may see the lights in their lenses. Either adjust the lights or tilt their glasses. Avoid overhead lighting that can cause dark shadows under the eyes of your subject.

Editing –

Once you have all of your footage in the can, you are ready for the editing process.

FinalCut Pro by Apple and Premier Pro by Adobe are both good editing platforms. They are very intuitive and easy to follow, reducing your learning curve and there is a wealth of tutorials online at Lynda.com.

Editing is like piecing together a puzzle. Content and timing are crucial. To begin, review your footage, select the best takes and organize your material. Consider how support text, narration, music, effects and other graphics can be used. There are low-cost online resources for stock footage, narration, music and animation.

This is perhaps the most complicated part of the process and if you find it overwhelming, hand it over to a professional editor to complete the work for you. Be specific about what you want the finished product to look like, how it will be used and the length. Lock down a final price with one round of re-edits as opposed to an hourly rate to control your costs.

Once you tackle your first project, you won’t look back. Each time, you will learn something new and improve. The first step is making a commitment to the process.

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D J and Mary Beth Head  have been production award-winning video programs for over 36 years and are the best known for their outcome-based honest, unfiltered approach to production. Their work in corporate, non-profit, educational, medical and promotional arenas has taken them across the country and to many continents but they are proud to call north central Florida home. Their production oasis is nestled on a 6.5 acre old oak homestead they share with their three dogs. By far, their best production to date are their four adult children, born and raised in Gainesville. 

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