Most of our clients know they should be producing more videos. One reason they don’t is because is it can be expensive to use us every time. Another is that they want to shoot a video ‘now’ and lead times make that impossible. It may seem counterintuitive for us to be saying this, but we are all for our clients producing their own films. And we want them to look as good as possible.
One of the best starting points if you are shooting videos yourself is to create your own production studio. This is a lot easier than it sounds and done well will make a massive difference to the end result. Here are our 4 tips for creating your own video studio and one extra tip for creating a finished product you’ll be proud of.
Unless your video is a parody along the lines of The Office, don’t sit someone behind their desk or in a meeting room. Hide the bland wooden tables, the swivel chairs and the indoor plants.
Don’t be tempted either to place your subject in front of a stark white wall. Trust us, this will look dull and boring. Instead, set up a paper background that with the right lighting (see below) will give your video depth and texture. Seamless paper is available in all sorts of colours and sizes both online and from photography shops. It’s cheap to buy and its smooth, non-reflective surface makes it the ideal backdrop.
A quick tip to avoid a mistake you’ll only make once: make sure the colour of the background and the clothes your subject is making don’t clash or merge together.
John Malkovich was right when he said: “Movies are all about the lighting.” It’s the main thing that distinguishes videos shot by professionals and those shot by amateurs. You can make huge strides in narrowing that gap by following some easy steps. First off, cut out all outside light. The sun has a nasty habit of changing brightness throughout the day so blocking it out entirely gives you total control over the light.
Next, turn off all overhead lights. These can cast unflattering shadows across the subject’s face. You’ll only need three lights to make a real difference. ‘Three point lighting’ is a standard technique used in photoshoots and videos and its rules are simple to apply.
The ‘key’ light is the main light. It is the strongest light and is placed to one side of the subject so that this side is well lit and the other side has some shadow.
Next is the ‘fill’ light. This secondary light is placed opposite the key light. It is so called because it fills the shadows created by the key light. Both the key and fill lights should ideally be placed slightly higher than the subject’s head. The ‘back’ light is placed behind your subject. It should be aimed at the back wall and light the subject from the rear.
Echo is the big enemy when it comes to audio. Hanging blankets from the walls or bringing sofas into the room will help with sound dampening and limit reverberation. Most cameras have an inbuilt microphone but this should be avoided. It’s better to use a lapel mike clipped to your subject instead. Most important of all, turn off noisy heating or air conditioning systems.
Decent cameras are expensive to buy but can be reasonable to hire. Suppliers such as Genesis Hire in London can advise on the most suitable camera for your purposes. (They supply other equipment such as lighting, too.)
5. Post production
This is where things get a bit trickier. Yes, you can edit your video yourself (if you have the right software). Post-production is where everything comes together: visuals, colour and sound unite in one package to create the finished product. Not everyone has the skill set required for this though and if this is the point at which you get stuck, we’d be delighted to help you. You can find out more about our post-production facilities here.
To find out more about Element 26’s post-production services, please contact us now.