How To Create Great Looking & Sounding Videos At Home
It seems like video is EVERYWHERE at the minute (lucky for us, huh?). We’re always on hand if you’re looking for great quality, professional film and videos but, ultimately, businesses and individuals don’t always have the budget to outsource their video to production companies. The good news is, you can still create great looking (and sounding!) videos using minimal equipment or even what you most likely already have at home.
A few common mistakes that I see when people post their own videos are:
- a lack of considered lighting
- a lack of considered background or environment
- low quality audio
- shaky/unstable footage
- the video is long and rambles on with little focus
Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you’re in the car or out-and-about and want to create a video to react to/talk about something that has just happened then you aren’t going to start setting up lights and a backdrop. However, if you’re recording a pre-planned video then the above points are things that you should really consider. There are simply ways to fix these issues, so whether you’re shooting on a specially purchased camera or just using an iPhone, be sure to follow these tips in order to make your videos look and sound as good as possible!
1. Lighting & Background
When it comes to lighting you should really try and make sure that you’ve got 3 lighting sources. This is called Three Point Lighting - and is essentially made up of a key light, a fill light and a back light.
Key Light: The main light. This is the strongest of the 3 lights and should be placed to the side of the subject in the video. This will initially create some shadows on the far side of the subject’s face.
Fill Light: The secondary light. This should be placed on the other side of the subject, opposite the key light. This should be used to fill in the shadows created by the key light - hence it’s name! This light should be softer and not as bright as the key light, and should be a more feathered, less direct light. If your lights aren’t adjustable you can create this effect by moving the fill light further away from the subject than the key light.
Back Light: Does what it says on the tin - it lights the subject from behind. This light shouldn’t be too harsh or bright, and should instead be used to create some subtle definition to the subject and separate them from the background. This light is important to avoid your image looking flat and 2 dimensional. Any of your lights can be ““practical” light sources - meaning lights that make up part of the image and serve as part of the overall look of the frame as well as part of the lighting. The back light is a great one to use this way - maybe as a lamp on the desk behind you. It looks great, adds interest to your image and serves a purpose in your lighting.
Okay, lighting is sorted! Now, you must also think about your background. If you’re struggling to find a nice looking area to film in, you can consider using a backdrop and hanging a background of your chosen colour/design from it. However, this really isn’t necessary and you may find that you better show your personality and brand by having a part of your home or office in the background. Backdrops are a great option for keeping consistency across your videos if you know you won’t always be able to guarantee a great looking filming space, but a physical space with a thoughtful background is best. If you can, try and film in the same place each time. This will help with creating a cohesive and considered feeling across your video content. When it comes to what you see in the background, it’s best to keep the area as un-cluttered as possible to avoid distraction, but make sure there is more than just a plain white wall behind you - you want to create depth! Avoid having mirrors or framed pictures with glass covers in shot as you don’t want to be showing your lights and camera set-up in any reflections. There is a great opportunity here to show off your branding - maybe sit in front of a desk with a practical lighting source (a lamp), a cup of coffee with your logo on the mug and your laptop open to your website homepage. A well considered background with very little effort!
You can either purchase some relatively cheap lights like this one (this set also comes with a backdrop if you need one!) - Lighting & Backdrop Kit - or just use what you have at home. Lamps and even windows at the right time of day can make great light sources! Try to make sure your bulbs are all of a similar colour if you go this route, as a mix of white (daylight) and orange (tungsten) can look a little odd. If you’re using a window as a light source, the rest of your lights should have daylight bulbs fitted.
Next up, audio! The quality of audio on your videos can make or break it - your video can look amazing but if it sounds awful it is a sure sign that it was an amateur production. There are lots of things you can do to make sure that your audio sounds great before you even hit record. Close your windows, bribe your kids with ice cream, chose a time when the dog is out for a walk, record at a quiet time of day (3.30pm when you live near a school may not be the best time!), switch off background noises like TVs, radios, fans, etc. and choose a room that doesn’t back onto a main road if possible. The room you actually record in can help, too. Choosing carpeted rooms over rooms with hardwood floors, rooms with lots of soft furnishings over bare rooms with little furniture, rooms that don’t spontaneously burst into song etc. will all help with ensuring your audio sounds as natural and clear as possible. Even if you’re using your camera or IPhone’s in-built microphone, this will all go a long way to ensuring your audio sounds great. If you want to take it one-step further, you can purchase a cheap clip-mic and external audio recorder and sync the audio up with your footage before posting it. These are good, cheap options:
3. Shaky, Unstable Footage
Again, if you’re going handheld in a car or walking down a street nobody is going to find shaky or wonky footage. But if you’re sat doing a talk-to-camera video then your camera should be level and stable. Tripods and GorillaPods area great option (Here is a great, cheap option if you’re recording on a smartphone, and there are cheap tripod options for whatever camera you’re using on Amazon).
If you’re using something more makeshift like a stack of books or a chair, do a few test shots first to make sure the footage is level and not wobbling about.
4. Long, Unfocused Videos
It’s natural to be nervous on camera and to start waffling on about thing entirely unrelated to the point you’re trying to make. Try to eliminate these nerves by having a clear focus and plan for your video before you sit down to film it. Rather than thinking “today i’m going to film a video announcing a new, upcoming product” and then sitting down and talking about the time your childhood hamster chewed a hole in your curtains because you left the cage too close to the window, make a plan and stick to it! That doesn’t mean you can’t tell funny anecdotes and show off your personality, but plan the stories you’re telling ahead of time and make sure they’re relevant to the main point of the video. Try not to script your video because, just like we mentioned previously in this blog, scripted human beings can tend to sound like robots and nobody trusts a robot. If you really need reminders and prompts consider writing them on a whiteboard and setting it up next to your camera where you can easily glance at it.
Now, you’re ready to go! If you follow the above tips and tricks you should be well on your way to created better looking and sounding video! If you’re ready to outsource your content to a production company for professional quality film and video, you know where we are! but, until then - happy filming!
Teri is our resident producer, writer and cat-lover. Rumour has it she makes shot-lists in her sleep, and only eats popcorn and her words. She enjoys long walks on the beach, complaining about her sunburn after long walks on the beach and generally looking like she knows what she’s doing when really she’s singing Taylor Swift songs to herself in her head and thinking about where her next coffee is coming from