What goes along with treating YouTube like a business, is creating high quality videos. It’s not enough to film something on your phone in poor lighting and with no script. And then to think ‘that will do’. If you do this, then your videos will look low quality. And even if you make enough for them to get seen, they might actually have the precise opposite impact to what you were intending.
Creating high quality videos isn’t necessarily easy but it is easier than you might think. You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg and you don’t even necessarily need expensive equipment. Here are some tips that will help you to make the best quality videos possible without breaking the bank…
The quality of your footage is one of the most important factors that will define how professional your videos eventually look. The surprising part though is that this doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money.
As long as your video is 1080p, then it will be high enough for most uses on YouTube. Today, most cameras that record video record at least 1080p, so you don’t need to spend a lot of money.
In fact, most phone cameras are capable of recording footage in high definition. Any Samsung from a Note 4 and above is able to record in 4K with 60fps. (60fps is a nice bonus but not a requirement).
The main limitations of camera phones really revolve around their ability to autofocus and record sound. The autofocus issue might just mean you need to stay in one place. Whereas a sound issue may mean you’ll need to invest in a small device like a lapel mic. They are very cheap but will allow you to record audio at much closer range and with much higher quality.
Audio quality is too often overlooked and is actually one of the most important factors for making a good impression with your content.
What’s also important is where you are going to be filming. If you’re filming somewhere with a lot going on around you, this can make your video difficult to hear. And at the same time become distracting from the subject of the videos – you.
Likewise if you record videos in your bedroom, it isn’t going to look very professional. And it doesn’t exactly inspire faith in your audience!
Instead, try to find somewhere to record your videos that looks professional and will provide a good backdrop. Standing in front of a completely white background is one option. This can be accomplished easily enough by using a bed sheet and a desk lamp (shine this onto the sheet to remove any shadows). Make sure the bed sheet is pulled taut.
Take a look at the videos made by Alpha M and you’ll notice they look very professional. All he uses is a wall that’s painted entirely dark gray to create that effect.
An office (even a home office) can work, or you can make your own set. If you watch the videos of NerdSync, you’ll notice that they’re recorded in front of some comic posters up on a wall. This is very simple but it looks great. You can even just print out an A3 image of your logo and use that!
To make this effect even more impressive, try using ‘macro mode’ on your camera. This will let you focus on the foreground (which will be you), while the background is somewhat blurred. Not only does this look professional but it also further avoids what’s going on in the background. Prevents distracting the viewer from your great presentation skills.
By using this technique you can actually get away with filming outside at the beach or at a park. Or perhaps in front of a city skyline. Just make sure that wherever you do film, it fits with the tone and intention of your video. And that it helps to say something about your topic – rather than just being distracting, out of place or forced.
There are a bunch of other things you can do as well to make your videos look better. One great example is to use colored lighting, such as the lighting you can create with the Philips Hue. This can lend an ethereal quality to your footage to make it stand out among the crowd.
And speaking of lighting – make sure your face is well lit throughout the recording. What you’re shooting for here is brightness as dark video will look grainy and also appear lower quality. You can invest in professional tools to accomplish the lighting look you’re going for. But what’s just as effective to use is natural lighting. This works best if you stand/sit adjacent to the light source so that it lights just one side of your face. This is called ‘Rembrandt’ lighting and it’s particularly flattering.
And speaking of that – make sure what you’re wearing and your general appearance is also top notch. Don’t just roll out of bed and start filming with your bed hair!
One of the things that is going to impact most on your success is storyboarding and the script. You can have the best quality footage in the world. But if what you’re saying isn’t engaging and you don’t edit out the mistakes, then no one is going to watch it.
Watching other videos can help you to make your own videos a little more impressive and professional. Watch some of the most popular YouTube channels and see what works for them. You’ll notice that many of them use lots of short video cuts, speak in short blocks and they move around on the screen.
Doing this allows you to memorize short passages of script, read them to the camera, move and repeat. You can then keep cutting from one clip to the next. And the video will have more energy and dynamism than if you just sat in one place and read it in one go.
Try to be outgoing and animated as you’re speaking and almost ‘act’ what you’re saying rather than reading it. Some of your emoting will be lost in translation, so try to be bigger and louder than you normally would be.
When filming, make sure to leave enough quiet space that you can more easily edit it. At the same time though, keep your editing tight so that there are no awkward pauses or silences.
Script-wise, the best approach is going to depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. But that said, try to engage your audience at once with a narrative structure. And get your point across quickly and in a way that will be captivating.
A few added touches can help make your videos even more high quality. And at the same time strengthen your brand recognition.
For example, one way you can get more likes and views for your videos is to create a ‘video opener’. A video opener is basically a very short clip that is seen at the beginning of each video. It can play some “theme music”, show off your logo and mark the start of each video. Instead, you might decide to add a short introduction at the start of each video followed by your opener.
Other touches that make a big difference are music, ‘bottom thirds’ (titles and captions seen in the bottom third of the screen) and your logo which should be ever present in one corner. If you can add these things, your videos will look more professional and you’ll make them more memorable at the same time.
A lot of this stuff you can make yourself. Or you can outsource it to a freelancer through a site like Fiverr (www.fiverr.com) or UpWork (www.upwork.com).
A small selection of people reading this right now will be thinking no way.
For some people, the thought of going in front of the camera is absolutely terrifying. Either that, or they just don’t have the presentation skills they need in order to make something compelling.
If that’s the case, what do you do? As it happens, you can actually create some great videos for YouTube without having to set foot in front of the camera at all!
One example is to make a slideshow. You can do this with Excel and then simply save as an MPG. Then simply record some narration over the top and you’re good to go.
Likewise, you can make tutorial videos demonstrating Internet marketing, coding, web design etc. You can simply do this by using some screen capture software. Or how about filming ‘let’s plays’ of video games – some personalities such as PewDiePie have been highly successful doing this.
You can also use tools like VideoMakerFX to create videos such as whiteboard animations and other business-like creations.
Doing all this will mean treating your YouTube efforts like a ‘real’ business and seeing the success that comes from it. You’re investing the time, resources and effort that you would with any other type of business and this is how you’re seeing returns.
But another part of treating your YouTube projects like a real business is to optimize. That means cutting back overheads, creating systems and generally streamlining the process of video creation and uploading.
For example, having a special spot set up in your home/office for filming. This can help you a great deal by saving set up time, which will lend itself to the creation of more videos. Likewise, finding a way to port your footage across automatically can also help.
Over time, you’ll develop the skills, tactics and tools to help you create more professional videos with less effort. This would include where you place your script and how you read from it without breaking eye contact. And it might mean thinking about things that can help you with editing afterwards.
Do you know why Hollywood movies use those clappers that say ‘Scene 1: Take 3’ on them etc.? It’s because this allows the editor to see what they’re working with quickly while they’re editing. They don’t have to search through the footage and keep playing it back. That’s because they can simply cut from the start of the scene they need. This way, you could film in one go even and make notes of which ‘takes’ were successful.
Clappers also help you to sync sound and video if they have been recorded separately. That’s because the clapping sound creates a spike in the audio and that means you can simply line the two spikes up in the editor. This is a strategy you can adopt, or maybe you’ll work out different tricks to help yourself get set up more easily.
You can use a piece of bluetack against the wall to ensure that you’re in the camera’s frame before filming!