Filmmaking is not for the faint at heart. It’s a creative field of a complex nature, often involving a number of collaborators, investors, video specialists, and the like. If you’re just starting to get your feet wet in the industry, or if you need some guidance in your independent filmmaking, then look no further. Read on for 5 elemental tips that’ll take your video from good to great.
Tip #1: Lay out the basics during pre-production.
Instead of jumping right into filming, be sure to lay down the law of your video’s direction through pre-planned hopes and visions. One of the most important things you should do at this stage is to make a schedule and stick to it. By planning a realistic outline of deadlines and meetings, you’ll avoid future surprises that can jeopardize your workflow. Be sure that all video collaborators are in the know and on the same page, and agree upon your schedule well in advance.
Next, a storyboard, script, or even a basic outline of the film’s content will guide you once you get to the filming stages, and keep you on track to shoot all elemental footage without wasting time and resources on extraneous content. During pre-production, you should map out the overall vision and ethos of your video’s key message, and have these points guide you in each step forward.
Tip #2: Keep things interesting.
You are likely filming your video in the hopes that people will watch, enjoy, and share it. Thus, be sure to choose interesting content that has a specific audience in mind. Whether that intended audience includes your family members, a specific industry, or a niche hobby or interest, tailor your content with this focus in the forefront of all of your video’s elements.
Next, as they say, it’s not what you say, but how you say it – or in the case of video, show it. Few people will enjoy watching videos from a single perspective with a monotonous feel to the visual and audio aspects. It’s suggested that shooting should be a multilayered endeavor: capture a variety of shots and settings from a variety of angles. Additionally, feel free to experiment with graphics, music, voiceovers, animations, and other multimedia, if you believe these elements could be good and relevant for your audience. Zooms (in and out) and pans (side to side) can similarly add complexity to your video. However, too many zooms, pans, and camera movements can become distracting, so less is more here. Finally, have a variety of stills and a healthy amount of B-roll; during post-production editing, you may find good slots to include extra footage in one of these openings. As the adage goes, to be forewarned is to be forearmed; it’s best to have extra footage rather than too little.
Tip #3: Keep tabs on the video’s quality.
Quality is key, and will heavily influence your audience’s reception of your video. First, be aware of your lighting. For instance, don’t shoot with a window or other reflective glass in the background, which can cause your subject to be backlit, casting an unwanted shadow that won’t be good for your shot. Natural and/or controlled lighting must be maintained. Next, optimize your video’s audio elements. Limit the chance for background noise and other distracting components. If needed, mute your audio while shooting and plan to include your audio content separately in the editing stage.
Another key tip is to use the right equipment that is good for your video’s unique story. For instance, it would be wise to use a GoPro for action shots showcasing extreme sports, and a camcorder on a tripod to film the horizon’s sunrise through sunset. If you’re just starting out as a video maker, you don’t have to have the fanciest equipment on the market, but simply a camcorder and/or camera with video capabilities that’s fit to film your vision will be good enough for a beginner. Finally, when you’re shooting, be sure to bring all the camera equipment and gear that’s available for use. Lugging five camcorders may be cumbersome, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Tip #4: Edit, then edit again.
No pain, no gain. Editing is a complex process, but with the right attitude and a good eye for detail and precision, you’ll inevitably reap plentiful rewards. Keep mind of your audience’s (typically short) attention spans; shorter videos are most often better, and will have a higher chance of complete viewing and social sharing. While shooting, it would also be wise to pad your shots. If you start rolling before the intended action and continue for several seconds afterward, you’ll make editing easier and more precise.
If you have several figures working on your video, a collaborative tool that shows the work in progress will allow everyone to visualize your edits and see the video’s progression. Team members will be able to directly mark up on the frame and add actionable comments to specific video elements.
Tip #5: Promote and distribute your final masterpiece.
Once shooting and editing is finalized, it’s time to show the world your creative endeavor. Make your video accessible to the intended audience through a variety of outreach methods. Optimize the scale and scope of your video through SEO descriptions and placement on selected blogs, forums, and social networks that speak to your video’s content.
As an independent filmmaker, you have to be a jack of all trades, and distribution and press will likely fall under your umbrella of duties. Embrace your challenges and let them make you a better, stronger, and more intelligent video maker.
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