Video tips

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No matter how much time you spend with pen and paper or keyboard and screen, the time will come sooner or later when you will have to make a video. It may seem highly improbable now, it may even seem ludicrous, but I promise you the time will come. For me it came last weekend when I still thought I had an imminent deadline for the start of my crowd funding campaign.

Here are some things to think about in preparation for your video, gleaned from my experience.

Video tips 1

First of all, don’t think you can do it on your own. This is what you will be carrying:

  • your camera (which may be a video camera or, as in my case, a regular digital camera that also films in HD);
  • a tripod for the camera to stand on (unless you’re going for the dogme/selfie effect);
  • your script, printed in very large letters so that you can read it at a distance despite your lack of 2020 vision;
  • a plastic bag full of sundry items including a large wad of kitchen paper with which to wipe the “shine” off your face (“shine” is what we TV personalities euphemistically call sweat).

Believe me, an assistant is essential.

Video tips 2

Secondly, remember that the picture in the camera lens is not the picture that you see with your eye. All those clichés about demon film producers wondering around with their hands up in front of their faces and their fingers framing the shot – they’re clichés for a reason. After you’ve seen the first take of your video, you’ll be doing it too. You’ll need to find a place which gives the camera something to look at besides your talking face. Something to bear in mind is the rule of thirds – you should occupy only about a third of the screen. If you let your face fill the whole of the screen, you will give your audience the impression that you are a ranting obsessive with shifty eyes and (because this is in HD) a really bad complexion.

Stepping back from the camera reduces all of that, but it does put you further away from the camera’s built-in microphone. (Because you don’t own a camera with a line-in jack for an external microphone, and even if you do you probably don’t own an external radio mike with a neat little clip that lets you fix it to your front. Even if you do own one of those, you probably forgot to charge the battery.) So here’s another tip, don’t waste your time recording if there is a wind blowing. It doesn’t need to be much of a wind, just a slight breeze and your words will be blown away and never picked up. I have about an hour of really nice film with almost no sound. But at least it was a good rehearsal.

Video tips 3

Of course, if you are little clever you will have taken with you your dictaphone or mobile telephone, which you will hold down around your midriff just off-screen. With this you can record your speech, shielding that microphone from the worst of the wind with your petite (or in my case ample) frame, and hope to match up recorded speech with your lip movements in the computer when you are preparing your video.

Your assistant now comes into her own as she can hold your script in front of the camera and just below the lens in such a way that you can read what you are supposed to say without looking far from the camera lens. Yes, your eyes will shift, but not so much and not so noticeably. Also you can always make several takes of the same speech and later use the one in which you look least untrustworthy.

If you are doing this bilingually your assistant’s language skills will be invaluable as she will be able to tell you where you are mispronouncing your speech and get you to repeat it. Again. And again. And again. In this respect I can say that there is a distinct period when your efforts will improve followed by a tailing off period when your efforts will become worse and worse and finally incomprehensible. It’s a good idea to be able to spot when you’ve peaked and not go on down into the trough on the other side because beyond that lies argument and recrimination and your assistant walking off a huff.

This didn’t happen on Saturday I hasten to add – I’m just giving truth space.

Video tips 4

Then – when you’ve done all that, and you’ve got your film and recording back home and transferred to your computer – then comes the exciting moment when you realise that the expensive video editing software you bought is not compatible with the video film format for your camera. Scream, curse, do whatever you need to do, but don’t despair. Go out on the Internet and search – the chances are you’ll find something that will work for you, which you can use free for a 30 day trial period. In this context I’d like to give two thumbs up for software called Camtasia Studio 8 (and a thumbs down for Adobe Premier Pro CS4).

Well, there you have it. Now – according to my Search Engine Optimisation programme – all I have to do is call this “7 Steps to a Great Promo Video” and I can expect to attract multiple hits from eager Googlers. Yeah, right.

Good luck with your video – or you could pay a professional to do it properly!

Video tips: John on Ramberget
The author on Ramberget with a part of Gothenburg behind. From what turned out to be my silent movie.


This article was written for the #Blogg52 challenge.

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5 thoughts on “Video tips”

  1. My first thought was “That will never happen, why should I need a video?”. Then I read your first words and now I must admit I feel a bit scared. What will happen that makes it necessary to make a video?

    But I must say your blog must be quite useful for anybody who wants to try crowdfunding. Maybe it will get the shape of a book one day?

    • Possibly I was overstating the case, Eva, but I know several indie-authors even among Egenutgivarna have produced (or paid for) videos to promote their writing.

      As for the shape of a book… yes, I agree. At this rate I certainly seem to be collecting quite a bit of material and experience.

      Sorry for the long delay in replying – I’ve been a bit preoccupied.

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