Ready to make a quality video for your website? If this is your first movie-making exploration, take heart; even seven-year old kids can make quality films with today’s equipment options. Here are start-up tips:
Lighting. Here’s a quick 5-step overview and video tutorial using an iPhone and quick lighting system to shoot quality video. Sound. Wista has a great guide to help you select the best microphone option for sound recording, based on your camera choice and needs. You can spend more on a microphone and less on post-production software (and time) or vice-versa. If you record sound separate from the camera, you’ll need to synch it during post-production, so this is a choice you want to make carefully. Post-production editing. If you have an Apple machine, the software (iMovie) is free. Otherwise, you might spend $20-$100 for a basic but perfectly adequate software package. I would recommend, if you are going to do more than one video, checking out Adobe’s subscription package.
iPhone. An iPhone can create outstanding footage, particularly if you want the ability to shoot at any time, anywhere. If this is going to be your primary camera, this Wista video is a great resource to improve technique. Some of the points it makes: Hold or fix the camera in a horizontal position, light the video, edit on your computer rather than phone, don’t use the zoom, stand close enough to get quality sound, and don’t overdo the slow motion option.
Tools. Use a camera stabilizer (see a sample here) to reduce jerky movement (average cost about $80), an Apple iPhone tripod for static shots (as cheap as $9 on Amazon). Try the app FilmicPro ($10) for advanced options. For a business or professional video, consider a professional sound option.
Camcorder. Like cameras, camcorders come in all models and price ranges now and it’s a blurred line between consumer and professional models. Because I’m a Canon camera buff, I’d choose the Canon Vixia HF 600 camcorder ($300) but personal preference allows for wide choice here. You can find online help, like this Canon tutorial, for almost any camcorder you might consider. Watching videos pre-purchase makes the selection process easier; then ask any additional questions at the time of purchase.
Compact Camera. If you think compact (pocket) cameras are passé since the advent of phone cameras and GoPro, think again. While overall quality depends on your personal preference for brand and budget, you have great options. I use a Canon SX50 H ($450) because of its superior zoom qualities, though there are better (more expensive) cameras for indoor and low-light conditions. Match the camera to your needs.
DSRL Camera. Here’s a great 12-minute tutorial on the basics of DSRL recording. Now you’re getting into the professional range and you should expect to spend about $1,000 for a camera. You’ll have more manual control over the camera and video results but the video will be easier to edit with more effects and correction options, and you can shoot in any light situation. DSRL takes some finesse and likely you’ll want to also invest in some special lenses for the best quality video production, but that pays off.
Action Camera. That’s synonymous with GoPro, though there are new product entries. If you have extreme action to film, investigate the HERO series, which has all of the accessories you’d need and a software editing option. Depending on choices, expect to spend about $700 for a quality video shoot.
Two warnings: (1) Content is still king and even the most professional shoot will fail if the message is weak, so here’s a checklist of 11 best practices for creating rich content videos; and (2) Shooting videos can become addictive. Yes, you can do it. You are as smart, and as capable, as a second grader. Ready, aim, video!