The Importance of Content
The first step towards having a solid video for the web is good content. This means, that whatever form your video comes in, you need to make sure you have the best possible method and strategy for either shooting or creating your visual and audio content. In a live production, this means making sure that you have dedicated resources to fit your needs – the right cameras, microphones, and lighting all need to be considered to make a visually and aurally appealing product. Also consider your setting; the right location can add the missing touch to engage your audience. It is always better to produce more content than you actually need, as this is only the first step in the production process. The more good content one has, the more options there are when it comes to editing it for the web.
To produce high-quality live content, you need the right tools for the job. First, the camera. You don’t need to own camera worth thousands of dollars to shoot high definition video that looks good. Many smaller budget productions utilize modern SLR Cameras for video, as the leading products, such as the Canon 5D, can shoot very high quality video as well as photographs. Finding an affordable filming solution is easier than ever due to the proliferation of these cameras. Being able to capture a quality image is only the start, though.
Next you must ensure there is a quality image to capture: most cameras, even ones in the higher price ranges, have a hard time capturing good footage in poorly lit environments. Nowadays this is mostly due to the nature of digital sensors – on film, areas that are too dark appear as smooth black, but with electronic sensors, the cheaper the sensor the more noise there will be in the image as the light level decreases. The simplest (and cheapest) solution to this problem is lighting. Unless you are shooting in broad daylight outside (which may require some adjustments on the other side of the spectrum), a proper lighting setup can always improve the quality of your image by cutting out too-dark shadows and giving you a better raw image to edit with.
The final step is audio – most professional-grade cameras do not come with their own microphone, or if they do, the one attached will give you poor quality audio at best. There are many different kinds of microphones, all suited for varying purposes; for a more personal, one-one one interview scenario, a boom microphone with it’s tight focus and clear signal is the best choice. If you’re looking to capture ambient audio, such as room noise, an omnidirectional mic is your go-to. An audio recorder with XLR inputs, such as the Zoom, is the final link in the audio chain.
Crafting Your Story
Even the most finely produced shoot cannot result in good content without a plan for how to convey your message. On both the pre and post-production end, how you choose to present your story is integral. Before a shoot is even planned, it is a great idea to have a storyboard laid out (this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to create a story – it can be a schedule of events for a live event, or questions for an interview). The final iteration of this will serve as your plan for the actual shoot, which is paramount to producing your content on time and on budget. Video is time-consuming to shoot and to work with, so here is where one can minimize the overhead and make sure everything is as streamlined as possible. So your shoot has gone smoothly and as planned thanks to the thorough planning, and now you have tons of great looking and great sounding content, in fact, more than you need. This is what you want, as the next and final step, editing, is perhaps the most crucial to bringing your video home.
And now for arguably the most important part of the production process and, potentially, the most time-consuming: editing. Here is where you will take the content you have and pare it down the very best of what you have. A good rule of thumb for web videos is to keep them to 3 minutes maximum to ensure the most people will watch the whole thing. No matter the content, if it can’t be covered in 3 minutes or less there will be an exponential dropoff in the number of people who watch the whole thing. 3 minutes is the maximum, but around 2 minutes is the ideal sweet spot. Keep your cuts simple and to the point, refer to your storyboard to make sure your original vision is realized. Information should be presented in clear, focused chunks, making sure to cover the salient points. After your sequences are in order, the only thing that remains is the visual polish: any animation effects, transitions, color correction, and general fixes are handled last. With that, your video is ready to export using a web-friendly format – striking the right balance between file size and quality is integral here.
A wise investment
Making sure your video is produced by a skilled team who can take it from concept to stellar content is an investment that will repay itself many times over: there is no other medium like video for conveying your unique message to clients and potential partners, it is instantaneous and universally relatable, so making sure it is the best you can make it will ensure your first line of communication is also a great first impression.