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Web Hosting Provider Offers Tips on Video Production for the Web
In the era of Web 2.0 and the substantial market penetration of broadband services, videos are standard marketing tools on even small, one-man operations operating out of the company’s world headquarters in the spare room. Why the growing popularity?
Videos sell. They sell you, they sell your company, your products or services. Videos also go viral quickly. Post a video clip on a blog and, if it’s good, it’ll get picked up by other sites.
You can post videos on YouTube, social networking sites, mastermind sites and, of course, your own web site. But when the operating budget for that online business comes from the cookie jar, videos may seem out of reach. Not so.
Consider the expense. You’ll need a fast computer, a decent digital video camera and video editing software. Assume your current system is fast enough. You can pick up high-quality, easy-to-use video editing software on sale for less than $500. And a decent quality video camera will set you back about $800 – $1000.
So, if you only plan to make a single video, hire a professional shooter (a camera operator and editor) and save the investment in video production hardware and software. But, if you recognize the marketing value of a quality video and you plan on adding webcasts and other video features to your marketing tool kit, consider the capital outlay an investment in your future.
Website Video Production Values
Production values determine the final look, sound and feel of the finished video clip, whether it’s a short introduction to your company or a five-hour course for CEU credit. A poorly produced video is worse than no video at all so you have to get it right. Here are some suggestions on making quality video for your website or for DV downloads.
This is the raw footage that you shoot. It should be of as high a quality as the pocketbook will allow.
A lot of individuals use web cams – the low-resolution cameras that sit on top of the computer monitor. Don’t use a web cam. The resolution (picture quality) is poor, presenting a poor first impression of you or your company.
Again, the family digital video camera (DV) will have a higher resolution, providing a sharper, less grainy, larger image. Remember, the finished product can never be better than the source material so always start with the best raw footage you can afford.
What are you going to say? What’s the objective of the video clip? To sell? To create credibility? To demonstrate a product? Before and after clips? Before you shoot a single frame, prepare the content to suit the purpose of the clip.
Now, this does NOT mean that you write a 15-minute speech and read it. Even if your subject is compelling, there is nothing duller than listening to a talking head drone on. It’s life-threatening boredom.
Instead, develop a list of talking points – the five or 10 key points you want to make in the video. Rehearse the talking points until you have them done pat. Prepare cue cards that detail talking points, list statistics or provide other factual content that “can’t be missed. Use these cue cards to talk to the viewer – aka, the digital video camera. Look directly into the lens when you speak. In that way, you make “eye contact” with the viewer.
Organize the content using the old teaching adage: tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em; tell ’em; then tell them what you told them. Stage one prepares the viewer and establishes the viewer’s mindset. Stage two expands on stage one with examples and supporting data and stage three is the recap of talking points and the call to action – the part of the video that tells the viewer what’s expected next.
Unless you have a stash of cash, lighting could be a problem.
You can rent lighting equipment from any photo store though, unless you understand lighting placement, you could make that dark shadow behind you even worse. Use natural light if possible. In fact, shooting outdoors on an overcast day provides even, sharp images. And shots of you walking along the beach as you talk about your investment consultancy makes a nice, subliminal statement (I can give you all of this) and adds visual interest.
Voice Over (VO) Narration
One way to eliminate fire sirens, screaming kids and other street noise, is to use voice over narration. Shoot your DV. Then, record your narration using the microphone on your DV camera, or buy a decent quality mic. You can get everything you need to hear your VO for less than $50.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Less is definitely more when it comes to DV on web sites, blogs and other places online. You may think you have a lot to say and maybe you do, but you don’t have to say it all at once. You don’t need to describe every advantage, every option, every nuance of your message. Instead, use a site-based video to introduce yourself and make that positive impression.
Keep it short if it’s a sales promo. Keep it complete and accurate if it’s informational or instructional.
Text is added during the post-production stage – the stage at which you mix the sound with the video footage. Audio and video appear on a ‘time line’ that enables you to synchronize words and pictures.
Use text to re-enforce key points. For example, the CEO’s name and title would appear below the footage of her seated behind a desk. The CEO states her name, which is then reinforced with a text burn below the CEO’s image.
Cut away from the talking head (or head/torso combo) to text graphs – bullet points that appear on cue as the VO narrator reads the script. This adds visual interest. Text and other graphics are a great way to get across a lot of information quickly. It might take you five minutes to explain what is visually clear in a bar chart or other X/Y graph, chart, map or picture at a glance.
No, you don’t have to rent a tux but you should look the part whatever that part is. Financial advisor: three piece business suit. Fitness coach: attractive gym wear and no three-piece suit. It doesn’t fit with the gym look and feel.
This is your first and perhaps last opportunity to make an impression on a site visitor or blog visitor or YouTuber. Don’t blow it wearing a torn AC/DC t-shirt as you introduce your latest investment model buying up rain forest land in Brazil. Ummm, what’s wrong with this picture? But, if you’re the skateboard king of Boise, that AC/DC tee makes just the right statement. Who’s going to buy a skateboard from a geek in a three-piece suit, for goodness sake?
Add a Music Bed
There’s lots of rights free music online so you might as well take advantage of it. Avoid copyright issues by going with rights free.
The music should fade up under the opening shot or intro credits. Use music to cue the listener that the topic is about to change or some critical point is about to be made. However, and this is important, the music should never interfere or distract the viewer from the words. Even simple DV editing devices provide two channels for audio – one for music and one for narration. Think of music as aural wallpaper. You want the viewer to be aware of it but to focus on the narrator.
Again, synch your music bed up with the narration.
Finally, Squish It
Video runs at 32 frames a second. That’s a lot of digital information to be delivered straight up so, typically, videos for web upload are compressed using compression ratios contained as part of the editing suite.
The higher the compression ratio, the lower the quality of the image delivered to the viewer. On the other hand, less compression means longer download times as more video is delivered to the viewer’s browser.
It’s a balancing act. If you compress the finished piece too much, it’ll download quickly and hopefully hold the visitor’s attention. But the picture quality won’t be the best. Compress as needed and remember, only 10% of web users will sit through a 30-second download.
Gosh, we’re an impatient bunch.
write by johnson