We all know by now about the power of web video and how important it is for a well-rounded content strategy. So we decided to talk to someone with expertise in this field who produces lots of video for the web. Stuart from LemonChip has kindly offered up his time to answer a few questions for us so we can share with you some practical advice for creating your own web video.
Do you need a professional or professional quality equipment to get started with web video?
No definitely not. I think that this is one of the biggest perceived barriers that people run up against mentally when they try and think about playing in this space. Obviously it’s important to try and set the bar as high as you possibly can as far as the production of your videos, however, there’s a huge amount of room to move depending on what your goals are, and what your budget is.
The most important thing that I remind people of all the time is that even if you have a total budget of $0 for web video that is still OK!
If you own a smart phone, then you already have the capability to create good quality web videos. Most smartphones nowdays are capable to recording 720p video which is really good quality for web video, and if you bought your smart phone within the last year or 2 then there’s a strong chance that you can record 1080p video which is high definition! From a production standpoint you’ve already kicked a huge goal as far as the quality of your videos is concerned.
Another thing to remember is that it’s a web video, not a full-blown TV commercial. So nobody is expecting you to have amazing special effects, microphones, makeup and all that stuff. Depending on the context of your video, something recorded on a smartphone or a handycam might be just fine. Remember that the goal of most web videos for business is to educate customers. So as long as they’re able to quickly absorb the information you’re trying to present then you’ve probably gained the majority of the value from the video anyway.
If any of our readers are looking at making their first web videos themselves, are there any practical tips you can share to help increase the production quality for those on a budget?
Always try to make it look as professional as you possibly can. Essentially videos have 2 main components, the vision, and the audio.
Plan out exactly what you’re going to show visually during the video. Make sure that the lighting is good, and that (if possible) the camera will be steady too so that might require some kind of a tripod / stand, or a stack of books at a certain height.
With the audio obviously make sure that you are clear and easily heard. Try to minimise background noise, and if necessary use a script. Remember that it’s ok to record a video 10 times in order to get it perfect, don’t just run with the first video you shoot because you can’t be bothered. Be picky and use the best version you can possibly produce because it WILL make a big difference.
Do a test recording. Test how the audio sounds in the room you plan to record in, test the lighting, test the costumes and props you’re going to use etc. Testing will allow you to make adjustments and fix any issues and will result in a much better quality video.
Don’t go crazy using crazy transitions or tacky special effects in the video, it’s a trap that MANY people fall into. People are watching your video for the information you present, not to see how many filters or effects you can apply to a single video clip.
Are there any video editing applications you’ve used that you recommend for beginners?
Yes there are plenty! You can get really great results using Windows Movie Maker, or iMovie which is very affordable for MAC users. They’re quite user friendly, but if you don’t like those, you can even do some of your video editing on YouTube now too!
One which I’ve been using lately is called Camtasia Studio which is actually designed to create on-screen video tutorials, but it’s got some nice simple editing features which I really like.
Typically, how long should videos for the web be?
Ideally they should be as short as possible. Between 15 – 30 seconds is what I recommend in most cases unless there’s s really good reason to go longer than that.
The whole advantage of web videos is that you can get the audience to absorb a lot more information in less time than they could read it on the page so don’t make them sit through more than they need to (hence the importance of scripts and rehearsals).
Shorter videos will be more entertaining too, they can just watch it, get the information they need, and hopefully go and buy something from you straight away.
The other obvious advantage to making really short videos is that it’ll take less time to produce them too so it’s a win win situation for everyone.
Where do you recommend people host their videos? Do you recommend they put videos on their own site or use sites like YouTube, Vimeo etc.?
I basically use YouTube almost exclusively unless a client specifically requests otherwise. YouTube is the main video platform people use so you may as well put it there for maximum exposure. From there you just embed it within your website, which means that when someone watches the video you don’t have to pay for the bandwidth, YouTube does!
As well as that, there’s the social aspect to putting videos on YouTube. Your video might get shared around, embedded on someone else’s website, posted onto Facebook or any number of different things which at the end of the day only serves to give you more exposure online. For obvious reasons you’ll tend to get more benefit in every way, including SEO if you make your video available to the most number of people. So that means hosting on YouTube and enabling all the social features at your disposal.
Thanks so much Stuart for taking the time to share such great advice with us. If you have any questions for Stuart or any tips of your own that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you below.