YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day

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You'll also need three light stands , which are available on Amazon. The traditional setup of video lights is known as three-point lighting. As you might guess, it involves three lights placed strategically around the subject, wrapping them in light and creating appealing shadows on their face. First, you'll need a key light. Place this at a degree angle to the left or right of the subject. Lift the light above their head and aim it downwards. As the name suggests, this is the key light and should be bright enough that it could be the only light in the scene … if it had to be.

Next, place the fill light at a degree angle on the other side and lift it close to or just above eye level. The purpose of the fill is to soften the shadows created by the key, but without getting rid of them completely. Therefore, the fill should be dimmer than the key light.

If you have to use the same type of light for both, scoot the fill back and diffuse it by clipping a clear shower curtain onto the clamp light with clothespins. Finally, the backlight will add a third layer of dimension. Scoot your subject away from the background.

Lift a light above the subject's head and place it behind them and off to the side so it's out of the frame. The light should be aimed at the back of their head, creating a subtle rim of light and separating them from the background. Now that you have all of your equipment, you're finally ready to build your office studio. While you could always grab a closet to store your equipment in, let's go a bit bigger and claim a conference room.

By having a designated studio, you'll save loads of prep time for each shoot. Just make sure the conference room isn't too empty. If you have to, bring in a couch, chairs, or blankets to minimize the echos in the room. Speaking of sound, pay special attention to the hum of the air conditioning. Find a room with minimal noise or turn down the fan during recording. Consider purchasing photography paper to create a background that's a little more appealing than a white conference room wall. When it comes time to shoot, clear out unnecessary people from the room and turn off the overhead lights.

With your three-point lighting setup, there will be no need for those harsh fluorescents. When — and only when — everything is set up, call in your talent. There's nothing worse than being nervous, and then having to anxiously watch as lights are turned on and the camera is tested.

If you have experienced, confident actors in your company, you're lucky. Video talent is a rare resource.

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But with a little bit of coaching and a fair share of nervous laughter , you can help your teammates thrive in front of the camera. No matter if it's your first video or your fiftieth, remember that getting in front of the camera is scary. Schedule plenty of time and give your talent the script early — but make it clear they don't need to memorize it. Instead, place a laptop below the eye-line of the camera. Break the script into short paragraphs and record it section by section until you capture a great take of each.

If you plan in advance when the final video will show b-roll supplementary footage or screenshots , you can have your talent read those lines directly off the laptop like a voice over.

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During the shoot, your job goes beyond pressing record. First and foremost, you need to be a coach. Balance critical feedback with support and be quick to give encouragement after each take. This is why conducting a table read during the scripting process is so important: It's easier to give feedback when there's not a camera in the room.

Remember, be a little silly during the shoot or your talent will be on edge and uncomfortable — and it will show in the footage. But while you're maintaining the fun level on set, remain vigilant. It's your job to pay attention to the little things, like making sure all of the mics are on or noticing if the lighting changes. Record each section many times and have your talent play with inflections. When you think they've nailed the shot … get just one more.

At this point, your talent is already on a roll, and options will help tremendously during editing. Finally, circle back to the beginning of the script at the end of your recording. Chances are your subject got more comfortable throughout the shoot. Since the beginning is often the most crucial part of the video, record that section again when they're feeling the most confident. There are some films that are simply beautiful. It's not the story or even the picturesque setting. In fact, the scene might take place in the dingiest of sets, but somehow each shot just feels right.

That's the power of composition. When objects appear where they should in the frame, the quality of your video increases exponentially. For video, the rules of composition are similar to what you may have learned in a photography or art class.

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First, consider the rule of thirds — the idea that you can create a sense of balance by imagining the canvas with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. Key elements should occur at the intersection of these lines. For example, if you are shooting an interview or a how-to video, the subject's eyes should align with the top horizontal line around one of the two intersections.

This is the empty space above the person's head. One of the best ways to improve the look of your video is to include b-roll. B-roll is the supplementary footage included as a cutaway. This might include shots of a customer service rep talking on a phone, a designer editing your website, visuals of your office, or even screenshots of your product. The key with b-roll is to make sure each and every piece enhances the story. When you're collecting b-roll, include a mix of shots from varying angles and distances.

In fact, film professionals use different names to describe these variations. As practice, try telling a story with your b-roll and planning out a shot sequence.

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For example, your subject might open a door from the hallway, walk into their office space, sit down at their desk, open their laptop, and begin typing. Seems simple, right? But a shot sequence showing this second scenario might consist of six or more different b-roll clips.

Here's where the final lesson of composition comes in: continuity. Continuity is the process of combining shots into a sequence so that they appear to have happened at the same time and place. A key part of continuity is making sure any ancillary objects in the scene — for example, a cup of water on a desk — stay in the same place and have the same amount of water throughout all of the shots.

The other part of learning continuity is match on action. For the scene described above, you'd want to record the subject opening the door and walking in from both inside and outside the room. In post-production, you could then flip between the clips at the exact right time to make the cut seamless. When it comes to video, some are better at shooting while others are better at editing. Whatever side you claim, you should understand the process and pain points of each.


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For instance, as the person behind the camera, you may believe you collect ample footage and ask all the right interview questions. But to the editor, you may actually be shooting too much of one type of shot and missing out on some that would make their job easier.


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Filmmakers teach a valuable lesson here: shoot for the edit. By remembering that the footage you record will be edited later, you can make smarter decisions and save countless hours in the editing room. The first step in adopting a shoot-for-the-edit mindset is remembering to leave a buffer at the beginning and the end of each clip.

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There are called handles and can save editors from the headache of cutting too close to an important shot. In the section on preparing talent, we discussed how to record your script in short sections. If the editor were to stitch these sections together side-by-side, the subject's face and hands might abruptly switch between clips. This is called a jump cut, and for editors, it poses an interesting challenge. Thankfully, this is where b-roll comes in handy, to mask these jump cuts. As a producer, your job is to capture plenty of b-roll to make sure your editor never runs out.

Create a shot list of more b-roll ideas than you think you'll need and mark them off as you record them. To mask jump cuts, you can also shoot with two cameras, especially if you're recording an interview without a script. Camera A would be the traditional, straight-on shot. Camera B should be angled 30 to degrees to the side and capture a distinctly different shot.