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Do’s and Don’t for Video Production

A VPT reader sent me an email asking for ten do’s and ten don’ts for making video.   I thought that was such a great question I turned it into this blog post since no doubt most newcomers to video production would ask the exact same question.

Since I look at videomaking as more of a DO task than a DON’T task, my little pea-brain was only able to muster 7 don’ts.

TEN DO'S FOR MAKING VIDEO

TEN DO’S FOR MAKING VIDEO

1.  DO have good lighting.

Good lighting is probably the single biggest determining factor in the quality of your video image.  Good lighting on an average camera will get you a better picture lousy lighting on a fantastic camera.
2.  DO have good sound.

Viewers will put up with poor image quality before they will tolerate poor sound quality.  If they can not hear your video they will click out of it.

3.  DO keep it short.

Concise is actually a better word.  If your topic is something complex, like explaining the world’s political conditions that lead up to WWII, then two hours would be concise.  But most online videos should be simple enough so that one or two minutes is sufficient.  However, total running time is not the best measure of whether a video is the “right” length.  You have to judge by the ability of the video to keep the audience’s attention.

4. DO keep the script focused.

Tangents should be avoided.  Don’t ramble, chop out extraneous words before you cut your narration.

5. DO make decisions based on the audience’s needs/desires and not yours.

The video is really for them, not you.  The video is also really not for the client who is paying the tab but you certainly need to make them think that it is!

It serves your client best if you make the video with the audience as a priority.

6.  Be bold, which often equals creative.

Being timid usually holds back the creative juices.  Take a risk, be bold and someone will call you a creative genius!

7.  Be honest and fair.

Video gives you the power to distort reality.  Unless you are doing fictional work, please don’t.  It’s called responsibility.  Too many people these days making video do not seem to much care about being honest or fair.  I raise my one small voice in protest.  🙂

8.  Be conversational with your storytelling techniques.

Writing video scripts is really the exact opposite of high-level academic writing.  A entertaining, watchable video needs to be structured as a conversational vehicle.  That is what appeals to people.

Very few people want to bother watching something that would make that stodgy college English professor happy.  You go ahead and read “Speculative Observations and Pretentious Analytical Goobledygook,” sir.  The rest of us prefer Captain Underpants.

9.  Pay attention to storytelling and vary your techniques.

Storytelling is the mission of any video.  Imparting your message, i.e. story, is the heart and soul of video making!

Variety keeps your audience awake.   Visual and auditory variety.  It is easy to get stuck in a creative rut.   I am guilty of that myself!  Spice it up.  watch other videos to get ideas for your own.

10. Just DO IT.

Absolutely the most important of all the do’s!

SEVEN DON’TS FOR VIDEO PRODUCTION

1.  Don’t be a perfectionist or too obsessed.
Notice I said “too” obsessed!  Good is good.  Perfect is unobtainable; so having a reasonable expectation of quality is a great idea for actually getting your project done without going insane.    I am a big fan of high-quality but perfectionism and obsession push the notion of high-quality into an extreme area that tends to bog down the whole process.

2.  Don’t be lazy/sloppy.

Coming quickly on the heels of my first DON’T, the exact opposite of the obsessed perfectionist is the lazy/sloppy attitude of “we’ll fix it in post,” or “no one will notice the green video and if they do, we’ll just say we were being creative!”

OK, neither flies with me.  Find the middle ground and keep the quality up there.

3.  Don’t let your ego run the show.

Wow, does this ever happen a lot!  It’s only natural since the creative process throws open the ego like few other tasks.  Everybody wants their personal creative ideas to be accepted, or even praised as brilliant.   Take it from me.  Collaborative video making means you need to be ok with hearing, “that’s a terrible idea,” and taking it in full stride.

IMHO, quality video making involves making lots of decisions based on what the audience needs or wants; not what you as a video maker need and want.  Now obviously, this is a fine line since being creative absolutely necessitates that you dive into it.  But you really are making the video for an audience, not just for you.

4.  Don’t be timid.

Go for the gold baby.   Insecurity is often the root cause of timidity.  When you are making a video, you are standing up and exposing yourself to an audience.  That can be scary,  no two ways about it.  What if the audience doesn’t like you?    Guess what?  They might not.  Or at least a handful of them might not but that is OK.  Most will and even the best videos are going to be criticized so get used to it.   Have the confidence to believe in your video project, then do a good job and let it fly.

5.  Don’t rely on  your equipment and technology as a substitute for good technique.

The word’s most fantastic equipment can not make a good video by itself.  Fantastic lighting and quality storytelling will produce a better video than HD resolution with lousy lighting and fancy, but empty, special effects.

6.  Don’t take your audience for granted.

No one except your mother (God love her) will watch your video simply because it exists.  Please your audience.

7.  Don’t forget to have fun!

Whenever I get too stressed and things stop being fun, I take a deep breath and exhale slowly.

I hope this list of ten do’s and don’t inspires you to think of your own list.  Leave a comment below!

JUST DO IT!  That’s the biggest DO!

Thanks for reading Video Production Tips

Lorraine Grula

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Lorraine Grula


Lorraine Grula enjoyed a fast-paced, multifaceted career in the television and video business, producing, shooting, writing, and editing documentary-style videos in both news and corporate settings. Later, she got to teach media and video production in two high schools, which then morphed into instructional design and corporate training. Lorraine is now dedicated to sharing her vast knowledge with others who wish to learn the art of video making, with an emphasis on storytelling and creating professional-quality videos for the internet as simply, yet creatively as possible.

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  1. Hi Lorraine

    Any tips for getting a little low end ‘growl’ on my voice-overs?

    I tend to present standing up as it gets a little better dynamics. I have a reasonable Logitech USB desk-top mic, and it can sometime come across as a little thin. See here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B73gwQy2Ihw

    Thanks so much – keep up the excellent site!

    Dave

  2. Hi Dave.
    Growl, huh? I love doing fun voice stuff. Practice and be bold. Think of a situation where you might growl like that naturally (or at least sort of!) and play around with it. Are you going for a sexy growl or a mean growl? Pretend you are in that situation and pay real close attention to how you do it. Then practice and let intimidation fly out the window.

    I also like doing voice overs standing up. I think most people do. I just feel more energetic. It also opens up the diaphram more and you can breathe better.

    The mic you have does sound a little hollow but it is not too bad. Different mics will sound vastly different.

    Keep making videos! Thanks for being a VPT reader.

    Lorraine

  3. Oh yeah, another thought…

    Loosen your voice up like a singer might. Drink lots of water and use cough drops if you irritate your throat! I usually manage to do that!
    Thanks Dave.
    LG

  4. dear lorraine,
    the 10 do’s & 7 do’nt is so cute & lovable piece of advise for all those who want to venture into this field. I believe in it and tell whoever,to remember it always.simple,direct and effective.
    More power to you,Lorraine. Best.

  5. This is awesome, I’m looking to make an amateur doccie; useful tips you gave here.

    Thanks.

  6. It was really interesting to learn that it is important to have good technique aside from having nice equipment. I'm starting my own bakeshop soon and I'm planning on advertising it on social media. Maybe it would be good if I hire a video production team to help me with this in the future.

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