Updated: Aug 25, 2020
With the rise of social media and influencers, being a media content creator has never been more accessible or alluring. The tech is to be thanked, within just a decade we've seen an incredible leap in the capability and compactness of consumer recording equipment. A lot of people are now wielding a 4k 60fps capable camera in their pocket.
In this post, I'm going to share 10 things you can do to up the quality of your videos, whether for your business or your hobby.
1. Get A Dedicated Light
Light is fundamental to video, it's what we work with, what we shape. Light is to a film-maker what paint is to an artist. But if you want to create high quality work, then you need to learn to control light yourself.
Something I find quite entertaining (and also frustrating), is the fact that a lot of the aspects of a production that are essential and the most technical, do their job correctly when no one in the audience realises they were being done. To understand what I mean, and to keep this short and sweet, go take a look at Epic Light's video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAImXQgUPkU). The bottom line - a good use of light creates higher quality and doesn't draw attention to itself.
Now, lights can cost thousands when investing in high budget productions, but don't let that deter you, there are plenty of low cost ways to improve the quality of your videos. Take vloggers like Ryan Higa for example (shown above). He uses a ring light that shrouds his camera lens, they are most commonly known for their use by beauty product reviewers. The forming of social media personalities and storytellers has made for a dramatic shift in industry conventions, not to the point where lighting science is diminished, but at least that a simple rig making a subject's eyes pop now communicates a decent level of production value.
While on the topic of vloggers and a changing industry, it's worth bringing Casey Neistat to light. He's a man who's career has been filled with obstacles formed of industry conventions, but he has managed to push through by breaking the rules of film-making. The result? A changed industry and a new arena for storytelling.
2. Vary Locations For Talking Heads
Our main man Casey is back in the lime-light. When he is vlogging, he will travel around from location to location as he tells whatever story is on the episode's agenda. It's powerful because it makes the video feel like it is progressing and changing, which is important because the content put out on social media now is very fast paced. Take another instance as well, interview or explanation videos for businesses. It can be helpful to be in a place relevant to what you are talking about. For a construction company, for example, this could be on a building site (health and safety provided!).
Ultimately, just keep it interesting and creative, use all the little aspects that make up a video to tell a story and engage your audience.
3. Don't Overlook The Script
I've recently started to pay more attention to scripting in video production. When I'm watching films I'm growing a real appreciation for the art of dialogue. This is another one of those elements that does its job well when no one notices it. So with your productions, think carefully about what you are saying, the tone it is communicated in and how you are telling the story through the way you go from sentence to sentence - it can really make a video.
4. Think Like A Photographer
I came from a background of about 3-4 years of amateur photography when I began experimenting with videography. This was a great advantage because I'd spent a lot of time testing how to communicate a message or make a piece of art with a single frame. Walking into video, I now had hundreds, if not thousands to use to my advantage.
Knowing the science behind an effective composition is essential to making videos that people's brains enjoy. This includes things like the golden ratio, colour contrast, leading lines and lens distortion, all of which are likely to be cultivated earlier in one's journey of learning photography than they might be in video.
Experimenting with and learning photography will help you to master a lot of the elements that go into an audio-visual production.
The average film has roughly 165,600 frames - that is a lot of potential pieces of art.
5. Edit With Intention
As little Luke sat in the IT room, the clock rolled by on his presentation assignment, the deadline drawing near. What was it that was taking so long? Surely these slides must have been filled with line upon line of text - nope. You see, Luke had been mesmerised by the ability to make a slide dissolve into the abyss, with the following one materialising soon after.
You can't tell me you didn't leave the transitions tab in PowerPoint without going through every single one, when you were at school. It was fun! It was arty! It looked flippin' dope!
However, I would recommend restraining yourself slightly now you're all grown up. Transitions can be cool, they can be art, but if there is too much focus on them, the story they're turning the pages of can have its words turn into a blur. Don't get me wrong, I'm still wrestling with this. As someone who appreciates Daniel Schiffer's work, I love the way a video can be injected with charisma and I definitely take inspiration from him. Nevertheless, there is a lot to be said for simple cuts and transitions, don't over-complicate it.
You may only be editing your videos on your phone, even if it's for your business. In which case, there are some great apps you can get to help you take a little more control of your shots and the ordering of them.
6. Get Shooting Close-Ups
Coming from (and still working in) photography, I've been down the avenue of macro and close-up shots. When I was first starting out it was something I really enjoyed, the ability to find things incredibly beautiful or interesting to shoot, even within the bounds my property, it was fascinating.
In videography, the potential is also there to make art with the details. Even more so, in fact. Having close-up shots of relevant objects and scenes can make your production more dynamic; it can help impress upon your audience key details in your message.
7. Know When To Break The Rules
This is a big one. Knowing when to do things differently is very important for making videos that stand out. One huge piece of advice I would give you is to spend time comparing aesthetic trend and technical merit. There are things that are done because enough people have done them for you to register them as pleasing (or cool), and there are things that are done because it scientifically makes sense. Knowing how logical an element or aspect of video production is (take stabilised footage for example), will help you decide how much of it must be retained in order to tell a functional story in a proper way. So, with stabilised footage, it makes sense that you would have some level of stability, because it helps the audience to see what is going on clearly in the scene. But you can take away some stability, and create something that reflects the style of the previous century's film-making for art's sake. This can be used to stand out from other people. It all rides on your ability to balance technical merit with aesthetic trend.
I hope you found this list helpful and informative. If you are interested in what I do, whether it be one of the creations shaken over and paid for, or made while sitting in my pyjamas and eating peanut butter straight out of the jar - make sure to follow me on Instagram, like my Facebook page and send any questions into email cyber-space at: