12 Simple Video Tips for Creating Professional-Looking Content
We live in the golden era of video. Once limited to television and film, video is now literally everywhere. From billboards and online banners to social media feeds and messaging apps, there’s no escaping the video fever. This is why learning how to create professional-looking media clips has become such a crucial skill to have.
Being able to create amazing videos will not only open up doors for you to a whole new world of communication possibilities, but it will also expand your freelance work opportunities considerably. All you need to do is read this article, put all your newfound knowledge into practice, and create a website to share your portfolio with the world.
Ready to start your journey as a media creator? These 12 easy video tips will help you create professional-looking media content and take your work to the next level:
Plan the content
Choose a clear background
Focus each scene manually
Pay attention to composition
Use the right lighting
Invest in a sturdy tripod
Record the audio externally
Shoot in small segments
Get it right in camera
Nurture your skills
Keep it simple
Share your work
01. Plan the content
Behind every great video there’s a great amount of meticulous planning. Taking the time to properly prepare the content you want to create is key to ensure the results meet your expectations. Start by defining the purpose and goals of the video. Who is it aimed for? What do you want to communicate? Where is it meant to be shown?
Once you’ve defined the objective of your video, put together a storyboard and shooting script. These will allow you to visualize the content you aim to capture, and help you come up with a list of the types of shots, cameras, and lighting you’ll need in order to do so.
02. Choose a clear background
A messy background can make the most beautiful scene look sluggish. One of the most popular video tips for beginners is to never let any part of their video be an aftershot. Unfortunately, this is usually the case when it comes to the background of scenes as all attention is put on the subjects
What many don’t realize until it’s too late is that the background is as important to the story as the main characters. Imagine, for example, that a humpback whale was seen jumping behind Rose and Jack as they stood on the edge of the ship. Do you think the scene would have been as powerful, or would the whale have been too much of a distraction for you to pay attention to the characters?
Before you start recording, declutter the background of anything that doesn’t add value to the story you want to tell. If there’s something on the frame you cannot remove but doesn’t bring anything to the scene, like a McDonald’s drive thru sign, reposition yourself until it’s left out of the shot.
03. Focus each scene manually
Nowadays, many different types of cameras offer auto focusing capabilities. Beginners consider this a great blessing, as it allows them to concentrate on other camera settings without worrying whether or not images are properly focused. However, when it comes to video creation auto focus can do more damage than good.
When shooting under natural light or in dimly lit scenes, your camera will constantly try to re-focus to locate your subject. As a result, the footage will likely be unusable. By setting the focus manually, you’ll be able to avoid this issue, as well as easily make modifications to add engaging effects and direct your viewers’ attention where you want it to be. More than as a video tip, you should consider this a tool to step up your content game.
04. Pay attention to composition
Compositions is one of the most crucial elements in visual arts. From ‘The Last Supper’ of Leonardo da Vinci to Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ video clip, every work of art follows certain guidelines aimed to guide the attention of viewers across the frame.
Among the different composition rules, the most basic when it comes to video is the rule of thirds. Essentially, you need to imagine a 3-by-3 grid layout on your scene and place your subjects or key elements over the lines of the grid. This simple trick will have a huge impact on the way people perceive your content, as well as help you put together much more aesthetically pleasing shots.
05. Use the right lighting
If there’s one single element that can truly make or break any video, it’s lighting. As such, it should be at the very top of the list of video shooting basics you need to master. You’ll likely want to start shooting in natural light, and later on move towards artificial lighting. There are two main reasons for this: sunlight is one of the best light sources for video and it’s considerably cheaper than professional lighting equipment.
When shooting with natural light, you’ll want to work during the golden hour (early morning and late afternoon) or on cloudy days. These will give you a much softer and flattering light, as well as less harsh shadows. If you must record in the middle of a sunny day, try to find a shady area or use diffusion panels.
Regardless of the type of lighting you’re using, make sure to calibrate your camera’s white balance to match the temperature of your light source. Even if you want to keep its color casting on the final cut, it’s always better to do so in post production in order to maintain full control over the footage.
06. Invest in a sturdy tripod
Out of all the camera accessories available in the market, tripods are probably the most commonly used. Regardless of your skill level or the type of media content you focus on, having a robust piece of equipment where you can place your camera can make a huge difference in the quality of your work.
No matter how good your video’s story is, shaky footage will immediately be perceived as amateur work. This is why you should aim to keep your camera as still as possible during each scene. Move it only when necessary, cutting from one shot to the next whenever possible. If you must move around or simply cannot have a tripod with you, make sure to use a gimbal instead to keep your camera stabilized.
07. Record the audio externally
Here’s a video tip many are not aware of: audio quality is more important than video quality. Say what? The truth is most people will watch a video that was not in HD, but very few will put up with unclear audio. Unless your plan on completely getting rid of the audio in favor of music, or are going for a “The Artist” vibe, you’ll want to make sure the recorded sounds are crystal clear.
Most modern, high-end cameras come with a very capable audio recording system. If that’s not the case for yours, get your hands on an external microphone you can plug straight into your camera. Assuming you’re taking the melody route, make sure to use free music for videos that won’t violate any copyright laws. Otherwise, you might end up with a blocked video or even owe a fine.
08. Shoot in small segments
One of the most common mistakes of beginner video creators is to capture really long shots. For example, if you’re recording a surfer catching some waves, you might be tempted to keep the video going between swells in order to see the calmer side of this sport. And since you don’t know when the best wave will come, you just keep on recording just in case. As a result, you end up with an extremely long scene from which you’ll only use a few seconds or minutes at best.
To find the clip that you want to include in your final video, you’ll need to watch the whole thing at least a couple of times. Only then will you be able to move forward with your project. Oh, the amount of time and energy wasted on just one scene!
Instead, you should aim to capture much smaller segments of action. This will not only save you a lot of valuable editing time, but also help you get your mind used to anticipating action and knowing when and what to record. Furthermore, from a storytelling point of view it can be much more powerful to use different perspectives or jump cuts than to show the action from beginning to end over a long period of time.
09. Get it right in camera
Whenever you find yourself behind the camera, you should think not only like a video creator but also like an editor. Using the storyboard and shooting script you put together at the beginning of your project, keep in mind the different shots and perspectives you need for each scene.
This includes not only getting the most iconic locations when you make a travel video, but also ensuring that you have a safety net in case something goes wrong. This safety net is commonly known as “B-roll footage,” and is made up of multiple takes of each scene that you can later choose from in post production.
Speaking of which, don’t expect your free video editing software to do miracles with your raw footage. You should always aim to get each clip as close to perfection in camera, rather than relying on your editing skills (no matter how good they might be).
10. Nurture your skills
There’s a popular saying that goes “hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.” No matter how naturally gifted you might be at video creation, you won’t get far unless you put time into improving your skills.
Make an effort to keep up with the latest video trends and come up with new projects that challenge you. A few great ways to do so are to follow your favorite videographers on social media and join online classes and workshops. And, of course, practice as much as you can.
11. Keep it simple
One of the main things that photography and videography have in common is that they’re both true to the phrase “less is more.” As a beginner you might feel tempted to experiment with different types of shots, cuts, effects, and everything in between to make your videos stand out. But at the end of the day it’s the simple details that will make your work shine. In fact, the more attention people pay to your camera technique or editing effects, the more amateur your work will appear to them.
You should let the natural motion of the scenes dominate the video, without adding unnecessary zooms and pans. These movements, when used without a cause, will only distract the viewer and remove them from the action happening on the screen. The same concept applies to editing, where you should only aim to make your raw footage shine rather than adding every effect you can get your hands on.
12. Share your work
Few things compare to the feeling of seeing people enjoy your work. The best way to put your creations out in the world is to create a video website. This will allow you to present your videos in a way that follows your vision, as well as to be found on search engines and expand your potential audience reach.
You can easily put together an outstanding site by using ready-made free videographer website templates built by professional designers. Place your site at the center of your online presence, and make sure all your social media profiles link to and from it.
On top of serving as the complete online portfolio of all your work, creating a video website will also allow you to monetize your videos with no ads or hidden costs. With Wix Video, you can display your videos at their highest quality as well as sell viewing subscriptions or temporary passes.
By Judit Ruiz Ricart
Editor of the Wix Photography Blog