10 Tips for Producing Your First Video
September 2nd, 2016 | Natasha EnglehardtProducing your first video can be intimidating, and even scary. There are tons of articles and tutorials out there, and lots of them call for serious equipment and skills. Our advice to you, however, is this: your first video isn’t supposed to be perfect, so just take the plunge and get it done. Check out these 10 tips for producing your first video, and you’ll be way ahead of the game.
Choose one specific topicIt’s exciting to embark on producing videos, but don’t take on too much. Your first video should cover only one topic that is very specific or one short snapshot story. Consider how you’d tackle a question you answer authoritatively nearly every day, or a short story that you can tell by heart. Even if it seems like a “nothing” topic or a childlike story, if it’s something you’ve mastered, it can make a great short video, especially as you gain traction on the technical skills of video making.
Define your audienceWho do you expect will see this video? You should have a clear image of your audience in mind throughout your planning and production process. Don’t lose sight of that audience, or you might end up with a product that doesn’t suit them.
Write down your ideasFirst, get your ideas down in some form. You can draft the script later, but as an initial matter you need to get a list of ideas in a solid, usable form. What’s the main idea or message? What examples, ideas, or story elements support that main message? Get these bullet points down on a single page.
Study great examplesChances are excellent that you have some ideas in mind of the kind of video you want to create. If so, study the best examples you can, even if you’ve seen them before. Watch them again closely, with an eye on production details. Look for the techniques that are being used, and from those examples take away the techniques you like best as well as those you want to avoid.
Plan for distribution and promotionIf you want to make a video, you probably want people to see it. Plan for the distribution and promotion of your video before you ever produce it. How will you get it to your target audience? What social media will you use? What SEO techniques will you employ, and which keywords will your project be targeting?
Write your scriptOnce your ideas are organized, start writing. Remember, you’re not going to go with your first draft! You’re going to distill your ideas down so that you’re communicating all of your ideas without being too wordy, but you’re also going to stick to natural sounding language that you know. As you edit your script, make sure it is broken into manageable chunks of just one or two sentences each; this will help you avoid overly long monologues that lose your audience’s attention.
Light it upLighting is perhaps the most overlooked yet most critical component of making videos that look great and are easy to watch. In fact, you might have world’s nicest camera, but if your lighting is bad, no one will notice or care. Remember, avoid being backlit, and conduct lighting tests so you confirm that your lighting for each scene is working.
Plan your productionThere are so many little details that go into producing video that are easy to forget without a plan. For example, remember that for each shot you will need an extra second or two on each end for editing purposes. Plan for close-ups as well as wide shots, as close-ups tend to provide more visual interest, especially for mobile viewers. If you’re recording a tutorial and physically showing viewers how to do something, remember to plot out each step carefully in advance so nothing is forgotten.
Remember additional footageYou will usually need to gather additional footage to edit into your video. This can help you illustrate what you’re explaining, help flesh out a story, or simply add visual interest to your video. Additional footage can also be made up of still images, as you often see in documentaries.
Editing tips and tricksGreat editing is so important to any video. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind as you edit your first video:
- Edit relentlessly; take out anything that isn’t necessary. Less is more.
- Speed up your instructional video anywhere you can, such as while typing text or during downloads.
- Zoom in to show URLs, text, or anything else your audience will need to see clearly.
- If you’re producing a tutorial, business video, or similar project, use callout and effects to highlight key points and takeaways.