Making your First Online Video – What Not To Do
In 2008, I was an English teacher in Dublin. I signed up for a filmmaking course in Filmbase in the city centre. Little did I know that this would be a life-changing decision. I directed my first short film on the course and well and truly got the filmmaking bug.
Since then, I’ve made short docs and put 100’s of videos online. More recently, filming my own social media and website videos, with me speaking directly to my audience.
Were my first videos as good as my most recent? Absolutely not! Did I still put them online? Yes, I did because at the time I was quite happy with them. You have to start somewhere. You might as well start with making your first online video for your social channels or your website.
What Not To Do is Procrastinate
Video production takes a bit of learning. It’s something you build up over time. Luckily for us social media audiences are very forgiving. If there is a picture and sound and they are interested, they will watch and interact with your video. If a viewer finds the video off-putting they will just stop watching and move onto something else.
So what I have learned is, start simple and make your first video, put it online, see how it goes, learn from it and move onto your next video.
Smartphone Video Production
Most people these days make their first videos with their smartphones. It’s a good place to start that is inexpensive, giving good results. The same filmmaking principles apply whether you use a phone or a camera.
Some easy tips for making your first online video:
- Don’t use the camera app on your phone – use a filming app instead. One I recommended (with no affiliation) is Filmic Pro. The camera on your phone is really set to automatic. With a filming app you can control the colour, brightness, focus, audio etc. and lock the settings. As I learned from experience, your colour and brightness won’t change repeatedly during a short video.
- Don’t use the mic on your phone – buy an inexpensive ‘lav’ mic that you can plug into your phone and attach to your lapel. Half of the video experience is the audio. If your audience can hear you clearly it raises the production value of your video in the minds of your viewers. Having made my own social media videos in noisy locations, my preference now is if possible to film in a quiet location, because background noise is annoying.
- Don’t hold the phone/ camera (producing shaky footage) – place your camera on something firm and level or buy a little tripod to hold it steady. Your lens should be at eye level, not below pointed up at you as this is an unflattering angle.
- Don’t film your video in your work-out gear or in a cluttered untidy area – think about your appearance and what is in the background of your video. Think of your audience and the image you are trying to portray. Your attire should match your message and your audience. If in doubt about your background, film in front of a plain blank wall.
- Don’t look at the screen of your phone – Find where the lens is and look directly at it. It’s okay (and natural) to look away as you speak but always come back to the lens. Keeping eye contact maintains the connection with your viewer.
- Don’t just start filming – do a little research. I started my filmmaking journey in 2008. It was actually quite hard to find tutorials online. Now YouTube is a fantastic resource for budding filmmakers. There are fantastic channels with tutorials devoted to novice video producers who are using their smartphones to make their online videos.
Don’t make videos with content that is uninteresting to your audience. All of the above points will help you get your videos to a consistent level. However, the single most important lesson I’ve learned from years of producing videos is that your content, not your video production skill is the most important thing.
Always think about your audience and what they are interested in. Are you going to help them with a problem that they have or divert them with a great story?
If you can get your message across in 2 minutes, don’t take 10 minutes to get to the point. We are all video viewers and you know the first thing you look at when deciding to view a video is, how long is this video? We then make a split-second decision to play or move on. Keep your videos short and concise.
Remember, What Not To Do when you want to make your own videos is procrastinate.